Star Fleet Fiction Continued
THE THREADS OF WAR, Part 5
Before he could turn to find the Lyran he knew was now behind him, something hit his upper arm, numbing it, and his disruptor carbine fell to the floor. Korgan reacted immediately, leaping to grapple with the Lyran, forcing him to drop the crow bar that the catman had been holding. The Lyran was good at his job as a security man, but Korgan had the advantage and was a combat trained warrior. One good shove with his legs slammed the Lyran against a crate, knocking the wind out of him. Korgan jerked hard and broke the Lyran's back. As the Lyran slumped to the deck, Korgan struck a final blow, killing the catman.
"Korgan to Renegade, Alert!" he spoke into his communicator, but the hollow echo that came back to him said that his frequency was being jammed.
Bridge of the IKV Renegade
"Alert!" Kerdres announced. "The open channels to the boarding teams just went dead. All of them at once!"
Kreeg reported from the scanner console. "Orion has doubled his engines, raised his shields, and begun jamming."
"Weapons, Fire!" Kivv ordered, not waiting another second. Whether it was incompetence or betrayal, the Orion must pay for it.
Every bit of firepower that the Renegade could muster slammed into the heavily-reinforced rear shields of the raider.
Kreeg continued to report. "Our tractor is broken. They are firing phasers." The screen lit up a bright white and the Renegade's forward shield was struck by four light phasers. "Shield is holding. Orion is starting to accelerate."
Kivv yelled at the helmsman. "Helm, pursue. Keep up with him. Weapons, reload disruptors to standard, recharge all phasers."
"...they are now accelerating to warp two point five."
Kivv suddenly realized something. "Helm, angle to starboard!" His thought was correct, but too slow. A transporter bomb dropped from the hatch of the raider exploded against the forward shields. The helmsman turned the ship back toward the Orion and continued to accelerate, only to strike a second mine on the same shield, bringing it completely down, but hardly touching the ship itself.
Kivv went into a fury. "Helm, pursue!"
Kreeg reported, "They are accelerating to high warp."
"So are we," Lieutenant Kripner responded.
Kivv hit the com button. "Engineering, give me everything the engines have and more, and keep it up until she flies apart or I say stop. And get that forward shield repaired and reinforced, understood?"
"Aye sir, it is done!" came the reply from engineering.
Kreeg reported again. "The raider is now at warp 6.4 and increasing."
Captain Kivv sat in his command chair in a fuming rage. He took several deep breaths to calm himself. "Kerdres, contact sector command. Apprise them of our situation and find out if we have anyone in front of that ship. Also find out who they really are."
Kivv squinted when he heard Kreeg's voice yet again. "They're changing course again ... heading 236 degrees ... right towards Kzinti lines."
Kivv was rubbing his temples and shaking his head. That is no surprise, he thought to himself.
Orion CR+ Return Fire
Korgan crept down the companionway, checking compartments as he went. Where is everybody? he asked himself more than once. He had been forced to dive into a compartment or around a corner twice when two or three Orions went by, but for a half-hour of exploring the crew quarters and auxiliary compartments of a fully operational warship, the lack of people moving around was astonishing.
Korgan had slung his carbine and was holding the phaser that the Orion had used on his bodyguard, as it was smaller and easier to handle. In his left hand, Korgan was using his scanner, on passive, to search ahead for crewmen or energy signatures. His scanner had easily detected the handful of internal cameras and he had disabled them with a smear of kavala paste from his ration pack. Despite his efforts, no reaction force arrived to search for him. Are they ignoring their internal scanners? Korgan wondered to himself. He had to force himself to realize that Orions did not have an ESS detachment that always monitored everything. The Orions probably didn't use their internal monitors until they knew they had a problem.
Finding nothing that required a battle, Korgan circled his way back to the secondary cargo compartment. The dead bodies of the two Orion crewmen and the Slirdarian remained where he had fallen. The Slirdarian's corpse laid in the hatchway. Korgan slipped into the compartment and began scanning actively for what he had come here for in the first place.
It wasn't that hard to find, given that the ESS man had told him what size it was. Korgan tried a scan, but his scanner reported only polymag crystals, which it could not penetrate. Finding the same crowbar which had nearly broken his right arm a half-hour earlier, Korgan pried the lid from one end of the container and allowed the crystals to spread onto the floor. Kicking himself that such a mess would be easy for the next Orion patrol to find, he began digging into the crystals with his hands.
He heard the cargo lifter coming down the hallway long before he would have seen it, and took cover behind a box, listening to the noises as a pair of Orion stevedores tried to get it into position around the Slirdarian's corpse. Korgan thought through the situation. If he shot the Orions, a weapons discharge might be detected. Even if not, they would eventually be missed, but if the hatchway was locked, Korgan might be trapped inside. Better to be trapped and have time to solve this mystery, he decided, staying out of sight. If the Orion who entered the compartment to pick up the Lyran's body noticed the spilled crystals, he didn't say so out loud.
As the hatchway slid closed, Korgan took a quick look at the situation. The Orion stevedore had simply shoved the Slirdarian's corpse into the compartment and closed the hatch. Korgan took a moment to check the body, confirmed he was dead, and took the opportunity to help himself to the man's knife, grenades, ration packs, and some explosive charges. Slirdarians hardly felt the weight they carried, and most of them became packrats in combat. This one, Korgan didn't even know his name, had carried fifty kilos of assorted weapons on a simple board and search mission. Must have been packing light, Korgan chuckled.
Returning to the opened crate, Korgan continued scooping out polymag crystals until he reached one of the cartons inside. He noted that the writing was in Klingonese and indicated that whatever this thing was had originated in Klingon factory, and had passed through Deep Space Fleet security and inventory controls. By the time he had pulled the third carton out of the larger crate, Korgan realized what it actually contained.
His throat let out a low growl. He had a new mission.
Bridge of the Orion CR+ Return Fire
"Good job in auxiliary control," Santana said as Arareem returned to the bridge. "You hit him square and got us out of there."
Santana moved to shake his friend's hand as the rest of the regular bridge crew took their seats. It had been the third shift that the Klingons arrested, and who had been stunned by the counter-boarding system. The primary crew had been in auxiliary control and only now returned to the main bridge.
"It gets worse, Arloh," said Arareem, calling up the tactical situation on the monitor. "There is an escorted Klingon convoy at 181 degrees half a parsec away. With the Lyrans approaching at 188 and 233, and the Klingons pursuing at 396, we are effectively surrounded. I see only one hope. There is the Kzinti ship that has been watching for us dead ahead, just over a parsec away. He cannot fight the Klingons and Lyrans in the area, but may have sent for more Kzinti ships. If we can barge through the Lyrans, we might be home free. If we run past the convoy, that will slow us down enough that the Lyrans or the Klingons will catch us. Of course, we don't want to head back to the Klingons either."
Santana scratched his head. "Just 'barge through' the Lyrans, huh. Of all the people in the galaxy you don't just barge through..." He turned and walked to his command chair and punched in a few command codes.
"All right folks, here we go. Red alert! All stations red alert. Begin arming a scatter pack, charge all weapons to full standard loads, helm full ahead, straight at the smaller Lyran!"
Bridge of the Lyran DD+ Rage
Commander Tulohka and his first officer, Lieutenant Frenand, studied the screen carefully. Frenand made several calculations on his key pad with a rapid tapping of his claws on the keys.
"The raider, of course, is making his way to first engage the Slammer. We should swing in just after they slow to tactical and then deliver the final blows," said Frenand.
"Acceptable. We will have them before the Klingons arrive, and take the ship and its cargo for ourselves." Tulohka practically pounced into his command chair. Capturing a raider would mean a promotion and prize money. "Make course heading 049 degrees and prepare to enter tactical range at maximum speed; all weapons charged and ready!"
Gunner Zuopin swung his chair around. "Generators at maximum, disruptors armed standard, and phaser capacitors charged. Beginning to activate a weapons distraction shuttle. We are ready for combat, Sir."
Deep space, sector 0904
In what used to be Kzinti space and was now held jointly by the Klingons and Lyrans, Captain Kivv and the bridge crew of the Renegade watched the fleeing Orion charge at the intercepting Lyran ships, too far away to engage with their own weapons but expecting the Lyrans to stop the Orion.
Kerdress had confirmed that the Rogue was following behind them at maximum warp, but the Resilience was too far away to matter and had been released to cover their original sector. Even the Rogue wouldn't be here before the battle was over, but if something unexpected developed, Rogue would arrive in time to support Renegade.
The interception unfolded as Kivv and his bridge crew watched. At first, the Orion raider had tried to dodge to the right, then the left, but these maneuvers gained him nothing as the Lyran frigate Slammer easily matched his every move and maintained an intercept heading. The Orion had launched a pair of drones at the Lyran, who easily stopped them with phasers. The raider, with no other choice, turned boldly toward the Lyran frigate and dropped a shuttle out of his bay. The Orion again flared his engines for more power and headed directly at the obliging Lyran. The frigate raised his energy sphere and prepared to ram, but the Orion suddenly slammed to a stop as the scatter-pack released its missiles.
The Lyran frigate, surprised by this maneuver, could not react in any way that would make a difference. After the Lyran ESG field smashed into the raider's heavily-reinforced forward shield, the Orion slapped a tractor beam onto the poor frigate and fired his load of weapons into its forward shield. A moment later, the Lyran attempted to turn a new shield and bring more phasers into arc. The drones from the scatter pack raced in to catch the struggling frigate, which was able to shoot down two of them and damage a third. Four nuclear warheads detonated against the forward quarter shield, knocking it down and tearing deeply into the hull. Fires erupted all over the Lyran ship and she listed heavily to starboard, practically dead in space.
With no time to lose, the Orion powered up his engines and accelerated away at maximum speed, trying to escape before the second Lyran ship could reach the scene.
But Kivv could see that the Orion had made a dangerous error in assuming that the Lyran frigate was dead. As the Orion ship flew past the wounded Slammer, that ship returned the previous favor and attached its own tractor beam to the fleeing Orion. The raider was not prepared for this maneuver, and lacked enough energy to break the beam. In desperation, it fired its rear phasers at the Lyran hoping to target the tractor emitter. The second shot worked, severing the link, but too much time had been lost and the Lyran destroyer had come within battle range before the Orion could work up to breakaway speed.