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The Ravager Blockade

Posted on Fri Nov 12th, 2021 @ 7:09am by Captain Nycolas Temple & Lieutenant Commander Mindo & Lieutenant Farizah Alani & Lieutenant James Smith & Ensign Aenardha Sh'vastarth & Admiral Gordon Francis & Lieutenant JG Aeryn Jameson & Petty Officer 2nd Class Zo & Crewman Ian Milkovich

Mission: The Gauntlet
Location: Pandora

ON:

The distance from the battlefield to the Rentara Nebula had only been a matter of hours at full warp - but that time had been filled with tension and pain. They could never fully relax knowing the Alrakis Pact had been hunting them down and had come incredibly close during the battle with the Resistance; the crew could only hope that the Resistance was able to keep the Pact at bay for long enough for the Pandora to make it to the nebula. Sensors had been running at full capacity, looking for even the slightest sign that they may have been followed. The situation had gotten worse when Commander Nash collapsed and had to be hospitalized, leaving the ship without their faithful Executive Officer, and giving a further impetus to get home quickly.

Nyx returned to the Bridge after checking in with Nash and his family, determined to make that last leg to home as soon as possible. The turbo lift doors opened and Nyx strode onto the Bridge with purpose.

Sitting in the chair usually occupied by Commander Nash was Pandora's Chief Engineer, Mindo. Mindo had only a few hours ago been temporarily promoted to the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and executive officer. It was a sad duty for Mindo, as he and Commander Nash had become close friends over his time on Pandora. Mindo stood as Captain Temple entered the bridge. "Captain on the bridge," he announced.

"Thank you, Lieutenant Commander," Nyx said with a firm tone. He liked how it sounded as he addressed the Acting XO.

Behind Mindo, standing next to the tactical officer, was Admiral Francis, who nodded to Nyx as he entered. Francis had been there during the battle and had been one of the officers to help the injured Commander Nash to sickbay. The Admiral had returned to his spot on the bridge as observer. He was more than impressed with the crew's work during the battle, and attributed that to Captain Temple's excellent leadership. Temple had the crew's full trust as well as the aging Admiral's.

"Location status?" The Captain asked as he resumed his seat.

"We are ten minutes from the opening of the nebula." Ensign Milkovich replied tersely.

"Engineering, have you made the necessary adjustments for our plan?" Nyx tapped his chair to speak with the new Acting Chief Engineer.

In Engineering, Zo had been promoted to temporary Chief Engineer at Mindo's request. Zo's voice over the comm was calm and confident. "Yes sir," he replied. "We are ready to commence freezing the outer hull at your command."

"Good work team, as usual." Nyx responded, "Keep it up and we may have to keep Mr. Mindo on the Bridge for a while longer."

"Personally I hope it doesn't come to that," Zo replied. "Though I can't imagine a better substitute for Commander Nash."

Mindo smiled. "Flattery will get you nowhere, Chief."

"Chief Zo... I like the sound of that," Zo replied.

Nyx lifted his shoulders, "We're blessed with many great crew members here on the Pandora." He regarded the whole Bridge, feeling a quick speech forming on his lips, "And as Chief Zo said, we are embarking on this final leg with Lieutenant Commander Mindo standing in for Commander Nash. As many know, Commander Nash suffered a significant injury during the battle with the Alrakis Pact and has been medically induced. He will receive the best of care from our Medical team until we can make it back to Carnwennan Station and we wish him a speedy recovery."

"Lieutenant Commander Mindo has stepped into the role of Executive Officer of the Pandora for the duration," Nyx continued, "I am grateful for his support and willingness to help lead the Pandora, as he has always done as a senior member of this crew. I wish the promotion came from better circumstances, but I am no less honored to have him at my side during this time. Thank you, Mindo."

Mindo nodded. "All I have to say at this point is that I am not replacing Commander Nash. Owen has been a remarkable Executive Officer and I could never fill his shoes, both figuratively and literally. That said, I will do my best and I know this crew will continue to do their best. We didn't make it this far on luck. We did it with skill and desire. Now, let's go home."

The lift doors opened again and this time it was Krysia that walked onto the bridge. She’d been to see Owen as soon as she’d found out what had happened. Having made the tough decision to leave the twins with some of the other parents in one of the ship’s shelter areas she’d made her way up, now she walked across to her seat looking at Nyx as she did so. “Reporting for duty Captain, do you need me anywhere?”

Nyx turned and looked at the Counsellor. He tried to hide a smile, but it was there on his lips still. "We could certainly use your assistance. If you're sure, Lieutenant?"

“Yes Sir” Krysia nodded. “The twins are safe with other parents, and you can use all the help you can get with Owen being in Sickbay.”

"Truer words." Nyx remarked with a shrug.

Ensign Sh'vastarth had exited the turbolift on the heels of Krysia. As Aenardha made her way to the Intelligence station of the Bridge, she did not know who to regard first, Captain Temple as he was the captain of the ship or Admiral Francis as he was the highest rank. Hoping no disrespect would be taken, she regarded Captain Temple first with a nod, no words he was was clearly in dialogue with Krysia, and then the "Admiral," she said as she passed the man. Aenardha made her way to her station and logged in.

Nyx belatedly noticed the other new arrival on the Bridge and made a point of acknowledging the Intelligence Officer now. He indicated to the young officer with a warm gesture, knowing the rest of the Bridge would pay attention, too. He spoke loudly, "Ensign, we have you to thank for this next maneuver and for getting us home sooner. I dare say, we may be embarking on something our grandchildren will learn about in the Academy one day."

Aenardha stood from her seat. “Thank you Captain.” She made it a point to use telepathic vision look back at herself from the eyes of all, on the bridge, who were looking at her. Everyone save for the captain of course. She was still getting absolutely nothing from him. She knew his general location from hearing him speak and from the public vision about the Bridge to ensure she was looking him, almost, in the eye. “And please, let’s not name this maneuver after me.”

"Hey, we don't write the history texts." Nyx remarked, before clapping his hands together. "Alright, let's get going. Let's go to Red Alert for now." The Bridge lights dipped and the red hue shone out of the bulkheads and consoles. "Mr. Milkovich, lay in a course for the opening of the Nebula. Warp four, slowing to point-eight-zero upon entry."

Milkovich was sitting in helm, hands poised over the console. He paused.

Nyx leaned forward, knowing the rest of the Bridge were unaware of the issues between them. "Ensign? Lay in the course."

Ian turned and looked back to the Captain, emotion in his eyes. "Sir?"

"Do it." Nyx ordered.

Reluctantly, Ian turned back and pressed his console buttons. The Pandora began to slowly move towards the Nebula in front of them.

Krysia took her seat keeping her senses alert. To say emotions on the ship were elevated was an understatement.

With all eyes on the viewscreen, on top of the elevated emotions that Aenardha, too, was picking up, no one was looking at their own consoles. There was no public vision blanketing the Bridge for Aenardha to utilize. She placed her hands on the terminal of the Intelligence station and realized something. “Computer,” she said, “submit a work request for a braille-improved Intelligence terminal on the Bridge. Authorization: Sh’vastarth Lima Seven Theta Omega Five.” She activated her PADD and synched it to the terminal on the Bridge.

Mindo sat dwarfed in the XO chair next to the Captain, anxious for the next part to happen. He knew Engineering and Ops had done a sufficient job organizing the freezing of the outer hull. In just a few moments, the whole ship was going to get very, very cold.

Just then, a crewman entered the bridge holding a large duffel bag and walked over to Mindo. "Here you are, sir. Exactly as you ordered."

"Thank you, crewman," Mindo replied, opening the duffel bag big enough for at least three Mindos. "I hope you don't mind, Captain, but I took the liberty of arranging heavy uniforms for us during this time. I asked Ignatius to come up with the design." He handed Nyx a well-insulated uniform. "What do you think, sir?"

Aenardha sensed a communal thought of warmth. Also hearing the conversation, she used telepathic vision to peruse the winter weather uniform gear LT Mindo had called for. She found herself wishing she could take something off or if there was a summer weather uniform. Enjoying the sight, she returned to her work.

Krysia grinned as she looked at the supply of warm clothing Mindo was showing Nyx. “Commander you are amazing!”

Nyx stood back and allowed the others to get theirs first. It was hard to imagine how cold the ship was going to be in a matter of minutes, but clearly Mindo had thought ahead. "A fantastic idea, Lieutenant Commander. Thank you for organising this."

Mindo grinned. "You're welcome, sir. I have my staff distributing them all over the ship as we speak."

Krysia was grateful for hers as she wrapped it around her shoulders, she would wait to put it on property until it was needed.

=== Intelligence Office ===

James sat at his desk and continued to read over some of the Intelligence reports that had across his desk, he has asked Aenardha to be on the bridge and he decided to stay in his office and keep an eye on the sensors from his location as well. Looking past his office the rest of his staff were busy at their various stations looking over the information that was coming through the various areas of space that they were scanning. Hitting a few quick commands he linked his computer with the intel station on the bridge and looked over the reading that were being monitored from their. Hitting his com badge he said =/\=Lt Smith to Captain Nyx =/\= James sat back and waited for the captain to answer as he continued to monitor the area the Pandora was in.

Nyx was just pulling on his jacket and he fumbled to find his comm badge underneath. Finally he was able to press it, =/\= Go ahead. =/\=

James looked down at the information that was crossing his screens and looked at the readout that were being monitored by the rest of his staff. He didn’t like what he was seeing, he quickly responded to captain. =/\=Captain we need to be careful as we travel along the border of the nebula, I’ve been monitoring long range scanners and the Alrakis Pact is sending ships to locations around the nebula, we need to be on full alert because once we exit we could be in for another attack and they may expect us to be at our weakest once we exit the nebula. “ =/\=

James saw an ensign deliver one of his thermal jackets to him and dismissed it as he continue to monitor the surroundings once inside the nebula they would be blind and he hated that.

=== Bridge ===

Hearing this on the bridge, Mindo remarked, "I agree with Lieutenant Smith. We should stay at condition yellow while inside the nebula then raise to red immediately upon exit. We'll be traveling through the nebula for a number of days, so I recommend random battle drills during that time. Nothing strenuous, but enough to keep people on their toes and ready for anything."

"I agree," Nyx nodded, "We can't relax for even a - "

"Hazard Alert!" Came the computer's warning tone. "Adjust course to avoid collision."

Nyx whizzed around to look at the con. "Report?"

"Multiple ships detected at the entrance of the nebula, sir!" Ensign Milkovich reported. "Their signatures were being blocked by interference from the Nebula itself."

"All stop!" Nyx ordered as he re-took his chair. "They're hiding in plain sight."

Krysia looked towards the viewscreen. “Not something else...haven’t we gone through enough already?”

"The feeling is mutual, Counselor," Mindo said. "But we can't expect everything to be that easy." He turned to the Captain. "What now, Captain? We barely have phasers, we can't afford any damage to the shields, and I think we've called in just about every favor we had."

Krysia looked towards Mindo. “I might have an idea, I’m not sure it’s one you’ll like though.” She looked between Mindo and Nyx. “An illusion, one implanted into the minds of the people on those ships. I’ve done it once during my training on Drax but to do it here would take the combined energies of every telepath on this ship.”

"We don't know who they are yet. They could be Resistance helping us find the way." Nyx replied, before facing front again, "Raise shields and hail them."

"Aye, sir," Ensign Milkovich nodded, tapping at his console. After a moment, he got a response from the computer. "They're replying.... And, we've got a signature."

"Who are they?" Nyx asked urgently.

Ian turned back to the look at the Captain, a noticeable fear in his eyes. "The Ravagers."

Mindo furrowed his brow. "Sir, why would the Ravagers want to reply to our hail? Why don't they just shoot us and be done with it?"

"Because they know we are alone." Nyx remarked, his face grim. "And they've been waiting."

James looked up as he noticed the Ravagers appear across his screen and a chill went through his body. They were the reason that he lost his first family. Those memories still haunted him. James tried to calm himself down but the surge of emotions was so great he knew that his wife would feel his anguish and the sudden emotions test he was feeling. He started hitting buttons as he worked at identifying the Ravagers that were now blocking thier entrance into the nebula.

Krysia did indeed feel her husband’s sudden rush of emotions, his anger, fear, the sheer anguish. She looked towards the viewscreen slowly putting two and two together. All she could do for now was send him love and comforting thoughts, they could talk when all this was over.

"Captain Temple of the USS Pandora!" Came a snarling, croaking voice. On the Pandora's view screen before them was a dirty-faced, rough-looking Ravager commander. He sat in the dim light of a ramshackle bridge, something cobbled together with parts of other ships they had conquered and torn apart for their own use. The commander sat in a large, twisted metal chair, which loomed over him as a statement of his position. His head was covered with a large black helmet, his body covered in a black metal body armour, hands in black gloves.

Temple regarded the man with a curled lip. "Correct."

"I am the Warlord Dekker, Survivor of the Storm, commander of the Deadly Blades." Dekker announced himself, which was followed by a raucous cheer from his own crew.

Nyx raised an eyebrow, "Forgive me, I'm going to have to write that all down." He snarked, as he made a slight turn towards Mindo and Alani. He slightly tapped his right eye, an indication that he wanted a full scan of the ship.

Mindo nodded to Alani and pointed to the console on his chair's armrest.

"You do not remember me Captain, but I was on the Carnage when you and your crew infiltrated us." The Ravager Warlord said, his tone boastful and joyous. He was enjoying this conversation.

"I thought you captured all their crew?" Ensign Ian asked quietly.

"A scout ship escaped." Nyx recalled softly.

== "Heroes of the Day" from Into the Wild ==

Nyx stood on the bridge of the Carnage, where the Ravager crew were being detained after their ship was overrun by the Pandora. An injured Balek lay on the floor as Starfleet officers continued to sweep the ship for his remaining crew. Suddenly there was a noticeable shaking of the Carnage and a warning message rang out across the Bridge. Nyx looked over their archaic consoles and after struggling for a moment to figure out how to work it, found out the cause of their newest problem.

"The Ravager Scout just launched out of the shuttle bay. Looks like they shot through the bay doors." He answered gravely. "Some of the bandits have escaped!"

=== Present ===

"We thought the scout had been scuttled in the dark matter." Nyx said, looking at the face before them on the view screen. "I guess we were wrong."

"We almost were, Captain." Dekker replied with disdain. He lifted his black metal helmet off, and revealed that he was horribly burnt across the entire top of his head. From his forehead and over, his skin looked like half-melted red plastic. Ravager medical treatment had kept him alive but hadn't been sophisticated enough to heal his wounds. He proudly displayed them as a symbol of his experience. "Only six of us made it off the Carnage. Only one survived the Dark Matter storm back to the Killing Fields. My body is covered in burns; they are a symbol of the Federation's innate cruelty against us and a beacon of my strength!"

The Ravagers cheered once more.

Krysia couldn’t help but feel pity for the state Dekker was in, but she knew Ravagers were dangerous, to Dekker his wounds were something to be shown off proudly. All she could do for now was sit back and let events unfold.

Mindo's brow furrowed as he looked at the data Alani had sent to his console monitor. He spoke to Nyx quietly, sure that he wouldn't be heard on the other end over the cheering Ravagers. "Captain, their shields are up, but their weapons are offline."

Aenardha reached out with her abilities and was met with confusing information. She was unfamiliar with these Ravagers, did not yet have grasp of their mental patterns nor did she have enough intel to understand their practices and behaviors. She picked up a sense of a need for revenge but also a sense of happiness from this Dekker. He seemed to enjoy his injuries and almost regarded Captain Temple as a friend. Definitely a worthy adversary. Seeing that the Pandora was not at 100%, Aenardha was unsure if Dekker was going to attack or if he would rather let the Pandora go hoping to cross paths with it again one day. Or perhaps Dekker himself was unsure. Aenardha shook her head at the unpredictable nature of the man and could only conclude that the next few moments would be decided through dialogue.

She spoke up as Mindo finished speaking. She had but a few seconds before the Ravager’s cheer would subside. “Captain, I am getting confusing thoughts from him. He does not seem to know what he wants to do.”

"They're wasting time." Nyx replied quietly, "Probably waiting for back up."

James looked at the readings that were coming across his screen, and noticed some strange energy readings come from the Ravager ships. His in-depth scans were not registering what it was. Looking around he decided to make his way to the bridge. A few minutes later he emerged on the bridge to look at the view screen. Quickly turning to he captain he said, “Captain my staff and I have registered some u familiar energy signals coming from the ships in front of us and from the way they are not showing fear I am thinking they have some new weapon technology that they got their hands on. They may be hoping to catch us off guard.” James looked toward his wife briefly before looking back toward the view screen.

Mindo nodded, examining the readings himself. "That is possible. Based on the Lieutenant's readings, it could be a new modification to their phasers, or emissions from their engines, or just about anything else. The Ravagers have always used whatever technology they can throw together."

Nyx titled his head slightly, "Check for Breen technology. We know they have been working closely with the Ravagers."

James walked over to a empty bridge station and tied in the in scans that his staff was running. James looked through the reading as they started to come through and nodded, “I am seeing the Breen weapon enhancements, but it looks like those were modified as well. My concern is we do not know the strength of those modifications and if every ship is equipped with these enhancements it could pose an issue to the Pandora. Decker is being a little cocky he believes that he can beat us.” James looked around then remembered he still didn’t have he warm weather gear on yet, and send a quick message to his staff to bring him his jacket.

"So it's revenge you're after?" Nyx called out to the Ravager Warlord, "For destroying the Carnage?"

"Captain, we are not Klingons." Dekker scoffed, "We don't hold petty grudges for the sake of honour. What your ship did was devious and brutal. A fake infiltration team getting caught to distract for the real infiltrators, who then slaughtered our Engineering crew and disabled the ship? Ha! I wish we had thought of it."

"Praise from a Ravager." Nyx remarked with disdain.

"And then... this." Dekker leaned over and used his palm to activate the console nearby. The screen flicked to show a still image of Balek the Butcher, lying dead in his own quarters. "A video of his death was circulated throughout the Ravager network. To see this great warrior cut down by... humans?" He shook his head, "No, not just any humans. The Pandora."

"Balek was a brutal war criminal." Nyx shot back, unblinking in the face of his own actions. "You are a fool for following in his footsteps."

"The opposite, in fact. I learnt from you, Pandora." Dekker continued, "A week ago, we followed an Irokari ship patrolling this area. We captured the crew and tortured them until they revealed what they were doing here. Imagine my joy when they finally broke and revealed they were scouting an escape path for your ship. The Pandora! I was so excited, I could barely eat." He leaned over to the side of his throne and picked up another helmet. This one was made from the bloodied, feathered skull of an Irokari female. He placed it upon his own head proudly. He grinned, "For a while."

Krysia was paying very, very close attention to the ravager Captain, her empathic senses were looking for any sign of something to give them hope. Not that there was anything.

Aenardha was doing the same. Her head still hurting, a little, from before and she did not yet wish to extend herself too far. She did not attempt to read Dekker but she was gathering that this meeting was more of a show of strength than an attack. Her hand was dancing across her PADD as she made notes of the Ravagers, especially this Dekker fellow.

Nyx was sick to his stomach and it showed on his face, "You're barbaric. We would never desecrate life like you do."

"No, but you win at any cost, Captain." Dekker shot back. "And thanks to your helpful guidance, there's an Irokari ship filled with my crew flying within the Resistance fleet right now; waiting to be welcomed inside Paradise's shield barriers." He used his palm on his console again and brought up a ship's signal on a radar, a small red dot indicating the wolf in sheep's clothing. "It will be a glorious prize for the Ravagers!" The crew cheered even louder and longer than before.

Krysia looked towards Nyx. “It’s the truth Captain, every word of it.” She looked towards James, then back at Nyx.

"The Ravagers do not lie like you Federation types." Dekker retorted.

Nyx tried not to roll his eyes. "Thank you for telling us your plan to infiltrate Paradise, Dekker. You know we can out-run your ships and will be back to Paradise before your plan can comes to fruition. But, by all means, continue sitting here gloating while we do that."

At this, Dekker gave a loud and boisterous laugh. "Captain, the Irokari ship is not the infiltrator. They are the distraction. You returning to Paradise will help us infiltrate Paradise."

Nyx gazed into the view screen, "You can't take my ship." He made a motion to silence the call and Dekker just sat there in silence, shaking his head. He turned back to the others, "I need options."

Mindo had been examining the new technology on his console during all of this. An idea was already forming in his head. "Captain, I think I have a way to deal with this blockade. Their new technology could make for an impressive weapon against us, but it's causing a significant amount of baragon emissions from their engines. Baragon fuel is susceptible to certain kinds of radiant energy, specifically gojiric radiation. I believe by using the deflector dish we could send out an amplified gojiric particle burst that might be strong enough to disable the entire blockade's engines. They'd literally be floating around bouncing off each other. We could just waltz right through them into the nebula... or," he added, "go back and try to save Paradise station."

=/\= Captain," Zo said over the comm, "I haven't had the luxury of time to examine this new technology yet. I'm afraid modifying the deflector dish would take some time..."

"Perhaps, but is there gojiric radiation in the nebula?" Nyx asked, looked behind the Ravagers on screen to the nebula. "I suspect they know they cannot follow us through there. Their plan is to stop us here."

"I'm on it," Mindo said, standing and rushing to the Engineering console.

Nyx nodded, "Let's make it work." He caught a glimpse of Dekker in his throne, who silently watched the Pandora crew discuss their options. There was a smile on the Ravager's face. Nyx sighed, "And quickly."

Mindo looked back to the Captain. "Sir, I've examined their engines and I think I can give you that gojiric pulse. I'm sending my data for the deflector dish to engineering."

"Get it ready, just in case." Nyx replied.

Aenardha again heard the incomprehensible humming of that strange little girl. Telepathic vision and the general situational awareness of the Bridge clued her in that the little girl skipped right by her. Yet no one else on the Bridge could see or hear her. Skipping toward the next station over, the little girl darted off to the side, into the control panel of the next station and was gone. The strange tune she was humming also waned to silence.

“Captain,” Aenardha spoke up, “building upon Lt Kaleri-Smith’s idea, if I can find a mind to attach to, say someone in Engineering, aboard the lead ship, we can attempt a teleport to that ship. The Ravagers will of course jam the transport but I believe I could make someone in Engineering think they see or hear something making them investigate further. They will think we still teleported through somehow. I might even be able to project an image of myself before someone. Dekker knows we do not leave a member of our crew behind and will believe he has a someone attempting to sabotage his ship, a possible hostage. If the Pandora makes a run for it, through whatever opening we can find in their blockade, Dekker will think you are leaving someone behind and might see how far you go before turning back for a rescue. Until the image of me disappears that is.”

Mindo turned from his console. "Ensign, I admire your initiative, but how do you plan on distracting the rest of the Ravagers? We're facing an entire armada. If Dekker suspects even one of us is on his ship he will give the order to destroy the Pandora."

"Sir," Aenardha began, hoping she was not overstepping her bounds, "if Dekker wants this ship, destroying it will not help him at all." Aenardha breathed another syllable but silenced herself. She had more to say but realized a decision had been made.

Nyx took that in and stared back at the Ravager Warlord on screen. "You're right. He just wants to use us." Nyx agreed. He asked for Milkovich to unmute the call, stepping forward once more. "Dekker, you've laid in wait for us for days to have this moment. You've waited months for this reunion. Why?"

Dekker smirked, "You bested us, Pandora. I do not seek revenge, but merely the opportunity to prove that we can best you. Nothing would give me more joy than using your ship to destroy Paradise."

Nyx paused. "Joy?" He asked purposely.

Mindo's ears perked up at the word, and he turned to look at Nyx, wondering if he was getting the same idea.

"Yes." Dekker grinned. "I have dreamed of this moment for so long."

The Captain gave a slight turn towards Mindo - a fleeting glance as Dekker confirmed his motivation. He knew the Lieutenant Commander would pick up on his intentions.

Mindo quietly tapped his communicator. "Mindo to Zo. I need you to listen very carefully." Mindo made for the turbolift. "I want you to meet me in your quarters. I think the Captain would like the Ravagers to hear some of your music."

=/\= I'm sure it'd be a dream come true for them, sir," Zo replied. "I'll meet you there."

"Very well." Nyx spoke, lightening his tone. "We are at a stalemate. I know my ship could overpower yours, Dekker, but I cannot afford the battle right now. Nor can I waste time while Paradise is under threat, and we have an urgency to get home. So I'd like to make you a deal. You let my ship go, and take me instead."

Those words were alarming to Aenardha and she wanted to speak up, but she also saw the underhanded exchange through Mindo's eyes and awareness. He had a card to play and was preparing his hand. Aenardha wished she could have read his mind to know what he was thinking. Alas, she had to wait for his move, wait just like everyone else.

“Captain...” Krysia looked at Nyx but stopped herself saying more knowing that arguing with him wasn’t going to get her anywhere. She just had to have faith there was a plan behind his suggestion.

Dekker baulked. "What? Why would I do that?!"

"Because I can get you into Paradise. You don't need the Pandora, you've already proved you can corner us. Well done. Now, do what Balek the Butcher could not do and be pragmatic in this moment" Nyx shrugged, "Balek chose to fight instead of taking his advantage. And he lost the Carnage, his crew, and his life. Don't end up like him. Take me as your hostage back to Paradise and I will get you inside their defences. You let the Pandora go home and our ships don't end up as floating debris in space."

"I will not fall for your Federation tricks again." Dekker hissed. "You think we'll allow you to infiltrate our ship once more?"

"Allow a single site to site transport to a location of your choosing." Nyx shrugged, "One transport signature allowed. You see more than one, I'm sure you'll be there with phasers ready."

"I can do that. But what's to stop me from taking you hostage and destroying your ship anyway?" Dekker asked menacingly.

"Because this ship doesn't need me to wipe you out of the universe. This crew has been to hell and back in the Expanse and we have triumphed every time. They are better than you. And they are just as capable of destroying you without me here." Nyx replied coldly. "But make no mistake. If I am harmed, if you even so much as power up a single weapon - you will be torn to pieces by gojiric radiation." He raised his eyebrows, "I know you know what I'm talking about."

This caused the Ravager to grimace. He turned up his lip and contemplated the offer. "Very well. I will gather a welcoming party for you in our cargo bay. Do not keep me waiting."

The screen went black and there was a collective sigh around the room.

"Lieutenant Alani, you'll have the Bridge until I or Commander Mindo return." Nyx started giving out orders, immediately. "Kaleri and Sh'vastarth, keep a watchful mind of those Ravagers. Smith, keep scanning the ships and the area for any surprises. Let us know if you detect anything. Engineering, be ready to deploy the deflector shield pulse if required. Milkovich, plot a course into the nebula and have impulse engines on standby.."

Nyx paused, looking around the room, "If you see an opportunity to leave. Take it. Get back home. That's an order."

Krysia bit her tongue, she wanted to say to hell with that order but she knew better. “Captain, this is one time I wish I could sense you. Good luck Sir.”

“And Captain,” Aenardha spoke up as Nyx was about to take his first step. She was already picking up a communal feeling shared by many far off. “There is a level of dissent among his crew regarding his decision to take only you as hostage. If there is a power struggle for leadership over there, that could give us an advantage.”

"Thank you." Nyx nodded, "I think we're about to ruin a few of their dreams today."

With this, Nyx left the Bridge and entered the Turbolift. As the doors closed, he received a message from Mindo.

=/\= Mindo to Temple, Zo and I are headed to Transporter Room 2."

Nyx tapped back, =/\= Very good. I'll meet you there. =/\=

=== Transporter Room 2 ===

Nyx entered and saw Zo was already in position on the transporter pads, though he was wearing some kind of red cloak over his attire. Nyx approached hurriedly, but couldn't help but ask. "Is this to mask the device?"

Zo flipped back the cape to reveal a long-sleeve blue shirt with a red and yellow emblem on the chest. On the emblem, instead of the familiar "S" symbol, Nyx noticed the Starfleet emblem instead.

Zo had a grin on his face. "You know how I like to make an entrance, Captain," he said. "I stand for truth, justice, and the Pandora way."

"I approved of this, sir," Mindo said. "I didn't think you'd mind."

"Might as well give em a show," Nyx agreed with a shrug.

Mindo handed a comm badge to Zo. "This badge is programmed to the blockade's subspace frequency. If you tap it, it will broadcast to the entire blockade. I've blocked the signal from the Pandora, so it won't affect us."

"Right," Zo said with a nod.

"Just remember. Don't hesitate, don't speak. As soon as you're over there, activate the device and don't stop until you know it has worked." Nyx replied, "We can't maintain comms in case it effects us too, but we will keep a transport lock. Any trouble, just signal with your comms badge by tapping it twice. We'll get you out of there right away." He stood on the pad next to Zo, "And I will take your place."

Zo nodded. "I won't let that happen, sir."

"Good, then we'll need to figure out what we're going to do with the Ravagers back on Paradise." Nyx remarked.

Zo grew wide-eyed and for a second he looked at Mindo and back at the Captain. "Sir, I don't think..."

Mindo cut him off and grasped Temple's elbow, and looked up at the Captain. "Forget it, Captain. It's Kobayashi Maru."

Nyx dropped his head, knowing what the XO meant. "You're right. It's impossible to do both." Nyx admitted. Then there was something - a thought, an idea. He clapped his hands together, "Oh! Mindo, you're a genius! Come on, Mr. Zo. It's time for your performance."

Nyx just smiled, "Maybe just this once, the impossible can happen." He stood back as Zo stood ready on the pad. "Good luck, Mr. Zo. Energise!"

=== Ravager Ship ===

Dekker stood in his small cargo bay, a group of ten Ravagers around him, all with weapons aimed solely at a cleared spot at the floor. The Ravagers were hungry for blood, a look of pure menace on their faces as they awaited their guest. It was clear this was not to be a peaceful negotiation.

"Remember, as soon as he arrives, we take him hostage." Dekker explained, "And we use him to get access to his ship."

"What about your deal?" One Ravager dared to ask.

"I'm not making no deals with the Federation." Dekker sneered, "We get his ship and we'll strap his body to hull as we crash it in Paradise." The Ravagers cheered. Blue lights appeared in the transport location and the Ravagers steeled their gaze once more. "Get ready!" Dekker cried.

A figure soon materialised before them, and the joy on Dekker's face vanished. "Who?!"

Zo was sorely tempted to say something awesome. Something he'd seen in the superhero holo novels. But the Captain was right, there needed to be no hesitation. Zo slammed a G-chord on the harmoniser.

A bright flash came before Dekker's eyes and he was blinded. He felt a strong, warm glow wash over his body and for a moment, he completely forgot where he was. He closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment for as long as he could.

When he opened his eyes, he saw his crew were all on the floor. Dekker shook his head and raised his weapon to the unknown Starfleet Officer. "A flash grenade?! A dirty Federation trick!"

Dekker unloaded his weapon onto the officer, dropping him on the ground with a flurry of phaser pulses. Dekker stepped over his crew and approached the Pandora officer, who convulsed and shook on the floor where he fell. The Ravager bent over and placed his hands around the officer's head. "Didn't work." He sneered, before snapping the officer's neck. The convulsions stopped.

The Ravager Warlord ripped the communicator badge off the dead officer's body and tapped it, suddenly finding himself transported onboard the Bridge of the Pandora. He recognised the Starfleet Captain Temple immediately, and a smirk came over Dekker's face as he saw the fear in the eyes of his enemy. Dekker started firing at the crew of the Bridge, causing chaos and destruction as his weapon mowed down the Starfleet crew one by one. Dekker laughed manically as he took out every member of the Bridge. They screamed, they tried to run, but they were killed nonetheless. Consoles exploded, alarms were sounding, and Dekker just bellowed with joy.

As the last body fell, Dekker nodded in satisfaction. In the smoke of the battle, he could see the Captain was on the floor, injured and anguished, reaching out to Dekker for mercy. Dekker lauded over the Captain with a smile before raising his foot and holding it over the Captain's neck. He slowly started to press down on his throat....

~~~

Zo watched as the Ravager ship's crew was drowned into a stupor. The Ravagers were all on the floor, consumed by the pure bliss that had overcome them. He laughed as the Captain materialized next to him. "Faster than a speeding bullet, Captain!" he exclaimed.

Nyx saw the Ravagers on the floor, each of them smiling and writhing in joy. Even Dekker seemed to have a particularly wide smile on his face as he lived out his deepest fantasy. Nyx frowned, "So that's the effect of the Sonic Harmoniser? Wow. It's strong. I almost feel sorry for them having to wake up from this."

Zo grinned. "From what people tell me, waking up isn't so bad," he said. "But, I wouldn't know."

"You did good, Mr. Zo." Nyx smiled, as he reached over and doubled tapped the Engineer's badge. "Time to get back to the Pandora."

"Yes sir!" Zo said enthusiastically.

As soon as Chief Zo had dematerialised again, Nyx pulled his phaser from its holster and approached Dekker on the ground. With a huff, he lifted the unconscious Ravager off the floor and started dragging him out of the door.

Luckily the ship was not that big and it didn't take long for Nyx and his passenger to reach the Bridge. The rest of the crew were out in La-La Land too, the Sonic Harmoniser having been broadcast onto the ship's frequency by the communicator badge altered by Commander Mindo. Nyx dragged Dekker over to his throne and leaned him against it. He started to work on the console nearby, having seen Dekker use it during their negotiations. When the system required a hand print verification, Nyx held up Dekker's hand and pressed into onto the screen, the Ravager computer recognising its commander. It was out-dated technology, typical of a Ravager ship, but useful to the Pandora in this moment. Immediately, he was given access to the wider Ravager communications network.

"Kobayashi Maru." Nyx smiled, as he sent out the distress signal to the Ravager fleet, including the Irokari vessel within the Resistance. The impossible scenario from the Academy was triggered by a damaged ship in enemy territory sending out a distress signal. He hoped it would be enough to cause the rest of the Ravagers to come to the rescue. He ensured the message noted that the Pandora had discovered the infiltration plan and would be coming back to Paradise, prompting the Irokari ship to hopefully retreat. Of course Nyx could have set the ship to auto destruct or to fly into the nebula, knowing it would scuttle the inferior craft and kill the crew. But in this short time they had left, this was the Pandora's only chance to prevent the Ravagers from infiltrating Paradise, and possibly even removing them from the battle against the Resistance.

As soon as he was done, Nyx sighed in satisfaction. The dozing, smiling Dekker laughed in his stupor, unaware of how he had just been used to undermine his own plan. Nyx just shook his head, tapping his comms badge. =/\= Nyx to Pandora, the operation is done. =/\= He paused as he saw the Irokari skull Dekker was using as a helmet. He took the skull in his hands, deciding to confiscate the grotesque trophy. "Another prize you've lost today." Nyx commented, before tapping his badge once more. =/\= One to beam back. Energise. =/\=

OFF

 

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