The Final Push - Part Two
Posted on Sun Sep 12th, 2021 @ 1:47pm by Captain Nycolas Temple & Commander Owen Nash & Lieutenant Farizah Alani & Lieutenant Mindo & Lieutenant Kalin Brennan-Griffin PhD & Lieutenant James Smith & Lieutenant Krysia Kaleri-Smith & Ensign Aenardha Sh'vastarth & Cailus Griffin & Federation Diplomat Briya Valriya & Admiral Gordon Francis & Lieutenant JG Aeryn Jameson
The Bridge of the Pandora shook violently as another round of attacks from a Breen cruiser hit the ship, everyone gripping onto their seats amidst the torrid motion.
"Shields down to 68 percent." Cried an Ensign.
"Captain, Thot Syn's ship is coming about for an attacking run." Another called out.
Nyx gritted his teeth, "Milkovich, defensive position beta-six. Let the aft hull take the brunt."
"Aye!" Ian called back urgently, making the necessary adjustments.
In the battlefield, the Pandora turned sharply as the Breen warship fired off another volley of phasers; some streaking past the Starfleet vessel but some striking the Pandora on the hull, causing it to shake some more.
Lieutenant Farizah Alani had taken the Operations station on the USS Pandora's bridge, and it was not the least bit easy for her to remain there. Part of her wanted to shove the tactical officer aside, not because they were incapable of performing their duties, but because her cobalt blood was pumping. This was her thing. She loved these sorts of battles and it ate her down to the pit.
"Avoid that damn weapons fire!" she shouted from her station and slapped the console. Farizah could hold her tongue for only so long. "Captain, if we keep trying to distance ourselves from that warship, we are going to be nothing but dust and debris. You need to re-evaluate your tactics and fast, this is not the sort of fight a Luna class starship wins by brute force. You have a Shih Tzu of a starship against a Pitbull of a Breen warship. Try to put distance between us and it will just tear us to bow to stern, port to starboard."
Nyx grimaced as the ship shook, "It's not just us on the battlefield, Lieutenant." He said. "We have to take the heavy fire until Katya can get her Resistance forces back in line."
The Bolian gritted her teeth with every shake. "I know," she replied quickly. "I just hate being shot at" she added.
"Me too." Milkovich called out as he tried to make an evasive manoeuvre.
"I didn't plan on going to war today." Nyx commented, looking back to the viewscreen. "But we had to, to help our friends. Speaking of, hail the Fire Queen."
As soon as the connection was made, Nyx called out, "Katya, what is your status?"
"Captain." Katya's voice over the comms line was faint but sad. She had witnessed her dear friend almost murdered by the Breen and now her fleet was being pummelled by the Alrakis Pact. Her confidence was shaken, it was clear. "I... don't know what I am doing. Without Qaraq, I am lost."
"What is the battle plan?!" Nyx insisted firmly.
Katya merely replied, "I don't know."
There was a noticeable sense of dread in the air.
=== INTELLIGENCE ===
The little girl was again skipping along and humming away at the incomprehensible tune. The very same one Aenardha had attempted many times to call to mind; either the tune or a name to apply to it. Aenardha jogged after the little girl calling out to her but never did the little girl show any form of a response. And no amount of jogging proved adequate enough for Aenardha to catch up to her. The little girl just skipped along gingerly, humming away.
Aenardha did not bother to notice the lack of personnel in the corridors. She did have a fleeting thought that the Pandora was in some kind of situation, but nothing at all proved more important than her catching up to and discovering the identity of the little girl.
Rounding a corner, again calling out to her, Aenardha found the little girl still skipping, but skipping in place. Her little feet moved as though she was still in forward motion; they just slid along the floor as though all friction had been removed. Still, the unimaginable tune echoed about the corridors as she hummed ever louder.
Reaching with an outstretched hand, Aenardha almost had a hand on the little girl’s shoulder when she suddenly veered off to the side, into the wall, through it, and was gone. The tune was gone. The light was gone. And, exploding into existence was a sudden pain filling her very being. There came a recognizable beep and a sound that she was able to identify as a scanner.
“She’s OK,” said a voice. “No emergency here. Have her drink water and remain seated until she fully recovers. We’ve got more important injuries to tend to right now.”
“Thank you nurse,” said one of the Intelligence crewmen. He was holding her by the shoulder, holding her upright in her chair.
“What happened,” Aenardha managed. She heard a set of hurried footfalls take someone out of the room. Must have been the nurse.
“You passed out, ma’am. We don’t know why. We called a medical emergency.”
“It’s ok,” she said. “I’m ok.” Her head still hurt and her telepathy was still completely silent. A sudden wave of terror came over her that it could be gone forever. “My eyes,” she continued and for the first time ever, “they hurt.”
“They are a bit bloodshot ma’am. Nurse said they will clear up in a day or so.”
Aenardha nodded her understanding. “Return to your work. I will do what I can here.”
“Yes, ma’am,” and he was off. Aenardha sat there without any form of telepathy to speak of. The only information she was getting was from her ears; all that was spoken in the office. She could do nothing else and was not even sure her idea to call the other Broots had or would even work.
=== BRIDGE ===
The Pandora shook once more as she came about and delivered a spray of phaser fire across Thot Syn's ship, receiving a fire hits in return.
"Shields at 54 per cent." The Ensign called out.
Lieutenant Farizah Alani shook her head. "54 percent and dropping with each shot they land, Captain" the Bolian noted. She was not trying to be disobedient or problematic, but this close...halfway to complete shield collapse was irritating and worrisome.
"I'm working on that," Mindo replied, cursing the interface of the Engineering terminal. It was all they could do down there to keep up.
Frustrated, Nyx slammed his comms button, =/\= Bridge to Sickbay, what is the status of our injured friend? =/\=
Aeryn’s voice came over the comms from Sickbay. =^= I’m sorry Captain, I’m afraid Qaraq passed away not too long ago. =^=
"What?" Nyx breathed, looking around at the others. "I thought... I thought we got him in time?"
At the bridge's Engineering station, Mindo gasped. He'd only met Qaraq for a short time but was well aware of the large part he had played in assisting the Pandora.
There was a silence in the room again, until finally a small voice spoke out, seemingly from nowhere.
"He is dead?" Katya said hoarsely.
Nyx's eyes widened as he realised Katya was still on the open comms line and she had heard the news. He took in a breath and sighed, "Yes, Katya. Qaraq is dead. And we are quickly losing this battle; the Alrakis Pact have the upper hand."
"No!" Katya cried out painfully, ending the call.
"Try to get her back," Nyx instructed, shaking his head. They needed to get the Pandora out of there, but it would mean leave Katya and the Resistance to be destroyed.
=== Fire Queen ===
Katya had doubled over from the shock of it all, releasing her grasp from the ship's controls as she fell to the floor. The Fire Queen limped into a stuttering stop.
"My infant!" Her mother called out, rushing to her side.
Mauricio felt the ship lurch as its commander gave up the helm and he did what he could to steady the Fire Bird again. The room was palpably hot and he was already sweating profusely from the intense battle. Without Katya at the helm, the Fire Bird was a sitting duck; it would only be a matter of time before the Breen closed in on them, their front line already pushing against the Resistance's weakened defences. He did what he could, despite the heat of the Bridge getting to him.
Malka quickly reached her daughter and put an arm around her, "Come, my infant. We must retreat back to the protective walls of Paradise before it is too late."
"They killed him." Katya sobbed, shaking her head. "I can't believe they killed him!"
"We will grieve in time, Katya." Malka said firmly, "But more will die unless we give the signal to retreat. We put up a valiant fight but the Pact is too strong."
Katya held her hands to her face, taking in several long, strained breaths. She felt the sorrow washing over her, her mind telling her to listen to her mother. The sudden loss, the tragedy of it all, the ruination of the great Resistance. It had happened so swiftly and brutally. But there also was something else rising within her at the same time; a growing storm of anger had begun. A voice demanding justice in the face of shocking unfairness. The tears stained her tattooed cheeks, but before long she was no longer crying. She was enraged.
Finally Katya removed her hands and looked to her mother with a stubborn sense of defiance. "No." She growled. "They will be held to account."
"Katya?" Malka frowned, disturbed by her daughter's words. "What do you mean?"
"The Pact line is closing in; the Breen cruisers will be back in torpedo range in twenty seconds." Mauricio warned, wiping his damp brow.
Silently Katya stood again, shrugging off her mother's attempt to hold onto her. She returned to the command platform and the two control orbs opened immediately, revealing the fiery energy inside. With a snarl on her lips, bracing herself for the pain to come, she dove her hands and forearm into the control orbs with fierce determination. The ship immediately responded, coming to life again with a jolt, feeding off the angry energy Katya was sending to it. She tilted her head and the Fire Bird made a sharp turn, facing back towards the Alrakis Pact's front line.
"What is she doing?" Malka asked as she got back on her feet, heading over to Mauricio's station.
"I've lost all non-essential power." Mauricio reported, the worried tone in his voice very evident. "Engines, shields, nav, all gone. We're on basic life support."
"It's all going to the weapons." Malka said, reading the screen.
With a sudden rising voice, Katya screamed, "FOR QAAAAAARRRAAAAAQQQ!"
The Fire Queen's main canon opened, revealing a rapidly building ball of Ultra-Plinian force. At Katya's command, a blazing beam of energy cut across the space between them and the Alrakis Pact. The beam hit the first Breen fighter with such ferocity that it took mere seconds for it to explode in a fireball of plasma. Grunting and straining, Katya tilted the controls and the beam continued across the Pact ships, slicing through ship after ship. Wings and nacelles were dismembered, burning gashes torn through the hulls and decks of the enemy vessels as Katya's righteous rage blasted across their front line. They tried to turn away but she was determined to tear them all apart, one by one.
From his vessel, Thot Syn tilted his head. "We were not prepared for this." He commented in his garbled Breen voice.
=== Pandora ===
The Bridge watched with mouths agape as the Fire Queen cut her way through the Alrakis Pact forces, quickly devastating their front line.
Admiral Francis returned to the bridge with a somber face and returned to his original spot where he'd been standing before. "Captain Temple," he said quietly, "I don't care how you do it. Just get us out of here and take out as many of those whoreson hooligans on the way."
"I agree," Nyx nodded, before turning back to the Helm, "What's the status?"
"The Fire Queen has taken out two small ships and disabled three more." Ensign Milkovich replied, "She's done considerable damage but..."
"But?" Nyx asked, furrowed brow.
"The Pact's second line is moving into position; a fleet of Tzenkethi ships." Ian reported, "They'll overwhelm the Fire Queen in thirty seconds."
If Katya had noticed the second line, she didn't pay it any attention. Having cut a swathe across the Breen squadron, she began to focus her firepower on Thot Syn's cruiser. She was hurdling directly towards him now on a collision course, the Fire Queen's canon trained on his Bridge. The Breen's shields were holding up against the barrage of energy for now. She was now solely focused on destroying Syn's ship.
"Twelve seconds." Ensign Milkovich called out, seeing Katya was making a direct line for Thot Syn and ignoring the incoming threat.
Suddenly, the tactical screen lit up with new ships coming out of warp! Twenty ships! Then thirty! The numbers continued to grow as the new arrivals began opening fire on the Tzenkethi fighters.
"To anyone who's listening," came a loud female voice, "this is Ertha, leader of the Delavi Resistance Force, founded by my husband Qaraq... who you bastards just made the grave mistake of killing! To all resistance forces who can hear my words, FREE THE PANDORA, FREE THE EXPANSE, AVENGE THE DEATH OF MIGHTY QARAQ!!!"
"Hot dog!" yelled Admiral Francis. "I was beginning to wonder when she'd show up!"
"FREE THE EXPANSE!" Came a chorus cry from the Resistance fighters. The Tzenkethi line was quickly overwhelmed with the Delavi Resistance, forced to retreat off their defence of the Breen.
"The Tzenkethi has retreated back." Milkovich reported, "The Resistance is pushing forwards again. This Ertha? She's turning the tide."
Nyx turned to Admiral Francis, "You knew Qaraq more closely than I. Can Ertha lead the Resistance battle plan?"
Francis gave Nyx a nod. "I believe she can!"
== Expanse ==
From her ship, Katya saw the Tzenkethi retreating from their line of attack and a smile crept across her lips. If her Malka or Mauricio had objections, she wasn't going to hear it. In fact she had heard very little from them while she turned her attention to the Breen leader. Taking him out would disrupt the Alrakis Pact's defences; it was clear he had been put on the front line to lead their efforts as their most effective ship. With his support destroyed or disabled and the Tzenkethi back-up forced away, she could feel his vulnerability now. Thot Syn had killed Qaraq; it was only right that she killed him in return.
"Sisters of Anh!" Came the cry from the Fire Queen. "Attack their leader!"
The rest of the Fire Birds broke off from their respective positions and headed towards Katya's position. They opened up their own canons, sending five more streams of burning Ultra Plinian energy towards the Breen.
From inside his ship, Thot Syn saw his back up retreating and his shields dissipating. He had indeed underestimated the Resistance on this day. As the plasma burnt through his hull and breached into the Bridge, a fiery inferno cascading into his ship, he made no attempt to flee. The Thot sat in his chair as his Bridge was scorched, the canon fire blasting him where he sat, burning him alive in mere moments.
In the chaos of the battle, everyone stopped to see the Fire Birds burning a hole through the Breen leader's ship, sending another round of cheers through the Resistance.
== Pandora ==
Back on the Pandora bridge, Mindo looked up from his station. "Captain, engines are ready for warp at your command."
"I agree, it is time to go." Nyx replied with a nod. He asked for an open line to the Delavi leader's ship. "Ertha, this is Captain Temple of the USS Pandora. Thank you for your intervention. Can you hold the line while we continue with our plans?"
"Get out of here, Pandora," came Ertha's response. "We can take it from here. If you ever make it back here, drinks are on me."
"Thank you. Please look after yourselves. You can't take on the whole Alrakis Pact alone. If you find an opportunity to save your people and get home safely, just take it." Nyx replied. He didn't really know Ertha or whether she wanted his advice, but he was concerned about how the Resistance would fare once the Pandora left.
"Shut up and take your own opportunity while you have it, Pandora," came Ertha's reply.
Nyx turned to Helm, "Let's do as she says. Ensign Milkovich, plot a course for the Rentara Nebula."
"Aye, sir." Ian nodded immediately, glad to be leaving this area now.
The Pandora's warp engines began to power up as she turned towards the right direction. If the Alrakis Pact had noticed, there was little they could do to prevent her now. The Delavi Resistance forces had quickly countered their attack and the loss of their leader in Thot Syn had caused confusion within their ranks. Now the Resistance were regaining the upper hand on the battle field and their main reason for fighting this battle - the Pandora - was about to slip through their fingers while they were powerless to stop it.
Nyx took in a breath, "Alright, Ensign - "
"FIRE QUEEN TO PANDORA!" Came a sudden cry over the comms channel. A female voice full of panic.
"Who is this?" Nyx asked turning back to the viewscreen.
"This is Malka, Katya's mother. We need your help!" Malka cried out. "We have a human on board, she is Katya's companion. He is dying!"
On the Fire Queen, Mauricio was collapsed on the floor. The intense heat that had been building within the Bridge as Katya used her primary weapon, fuelled by her own intense hatred for the Breen, finally got too much for him. The dry heat had been rapidly raising his body temperature to unsafe levels and the lack of oxygen caused him to fall from his seat. The Fire Queen was meant for the Anh'Iran with their thick fire-proof skin; not for humans like Mauricio. Katya had not noticed while she was intently focused on destroying Thot Syn. Malka was trying to tend to him but her lack of knowledge in human anatomy meant she was just guessing. Finally she was able to reach out to the Pandora for help.
"Mauricio?" Nyx frowned, as he turned to his officers, "Beam him to sick bay."
After a few seconds, Mindo reported, "Mauricio safely in sickbay, Captain."
"Thank you. Hopefully he's okay." Nyx smiled appreciatively to the Chief Engineer. He spoke again to the Fire Queen. "Mauricio is safely on board. How is Katya?"
"I don't know." Came the faint, worried reply from Malka. She was staring at Katya in the command podium, her daughter's face still filled with rage. "I will try to talk her down."
"Good luck to you." Nyx said, not sure what else they could do, "We owe her so much for getting us this passage home. Let her know we'll send a message when we're back at Carnwennan Station."
"Okay. Take care of Mauricio, Katya would hate to lose another friend." Malka replied. "Fire Queen out."
Letting out a breath, Nyx looked to Ensign Milkovich. "Alright, now full warp to the Nebula."
Without waiting another moment more, the Pandora disappeared in a flash of two blue lines. The Pact did not follow; they were too engaged with the Resistance now.