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Castling

Posted on Aug 31, 2017 @ 9:44pm by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Aug 31, 2017 @ 9:46pm

Mission: The Romulan Way

= Castling =

(cont’d from “Pawns All Around”)

LOCATION: USS PHOENIX
SCENE: Bridge
STARDATE: [2.17] 0830.1615


After Eve had taken the Romulan senators to the conference room, Jake turned his attention to Kassandra Thytos, who was staring icily at him from one side of the bridge. Jake sighed, then nodded toward her, indicating for her to approach. She did, coming to a rest next to him to stare out at the main viewscreen, which still showed the same image of the station, the planet below it, and a handful of the dozen Valdore-class Warbirds that now surrounded the PHOENIX. For a moment, they only stood there.

“So,” Kass said finally, her voice pitched low enough that no one else would hear it. “We have a plan?”

“I’m open to suggestions,” Jake muttered.

“They took the captain,” Kass said. “We can’t just sit here.”

“The captain volunteered,” Jake pointed out.

“That’s ain’t the point and you know it.”

“I disagree,” Jake said, turning to face her. “Whatever’s going on here, it’s between Nevar and Radaik. The Romulans barely seem interested in us.”

“For now,” said Kass. “What happens when they decide they ain’t gonna let the most advanced ship in the Federation fleet fly out of here after all?”

“They’ve had the chance to do that since we dropped out of warp.”

“The Praetor was aboard when we dropped outta warp.”

“So what, they want to study this ship so badly they’re going to blow it up?”

“They’ve probably got some real smart folks who can piece a lot of stuff together from the debris field,” Kass said, her voice rising now. “I’m telling you, sir, we need to do something. Hit them while their pants are still down.”

“I’m not going to authorize an action that might cost the lives of everyone on this ship, not to mention trigger a war.” Jake’s voice was rising to match Kass now. Others aboard the bridge were glancing guiltily in their direction now; Jake saw Proctor looking quickly down at her sec/tac console when he glanced at her over Kass’s shoulder.

“I ain’t sayin’ we gotta shoot first,” Kass said. “But right now, we got time an’ we ain’t usin’ it. That’s a mistake.”

Jake looked at Kass for a moment, realizing she was correct. So far, Jake had only been able to see this as a military confrontation - or at least, the threat of one - and from that point of view, the odds were not in the PHOENIX’s favor. Any wrong move might trigger a shooting match, and while Jake was confident the PHOENIX would put up a good fight, he still didn’t think it was a fight that they could win.

But that didn’t mean they had to sit here and do nothing.

“Lt. Byte,” Jake said, walking towards the Ops station. The android officer looked up from his console, his cornflower blue eyes settling unblinkingly on Jake.

“{{Yes, Commander?}}”

“Can you get any readings on Kane, Von, Yu, or Radaik from inside the station?”

Byte consulted his console, then looked back up at Jake. “{{Negative, sir. The excess gravitons surrounding the station are interfering with our sensors. It is unlikely we would be able to beam the officers back aboard the PHOENIX through the station’s defenses, in any case.}}”

Jake socked a fist into his open palm. “Damn.”

“So we can’t get them back, not without the Romulans’ cooperation,” Vukovic said.

“If the captain went aboard voluntarily, he aint’ gonna want us wastin’ time tryin’ pull him out again,” Kass said.

“{{Sir,}}” said Byte. Jake looked back to the android. “{{Though I am unable to penetrate the gravitic field surrounding the station, it appears the excess gravitons are having a measurable effect on subspace throughout the system. I am detecting a significant gravitic distortion, approximately 5000 kilometers aft of our position.}}”

“Put the readings on the main viewer.”

The viewscreen image shifted, showing a readout of the surrounding space, depicted as a three-dimensional sphere comprised of dozens of small lines. Imperfections existed at various points across the spheres surface, shaped like tiny bowls, along with one huge concave imperfection.

“{{Those smaller blips are the PHOENIX, the station, and the Romulan warbirds,}}” Byte explained, and as he did, green flags appeared over the blips representing the Romulan ships, as well as a blue flag over the PHOENIX. “{{This larger distortion is the planet, Azri Drakara II.}}”

Looking at the screen, Jake spotted the anomalous reading immediately. Most of the warbirds were deployed close to the PHOENIX’s position, loosely surrounding it to cut off easy avenues of escape. There was one blip far behind the PHOENIX’s position, one that so far had not been covered with either a green or blue flag.

“What the hell is that?” Kass asked, stepping up beside Jake.

“The most likely possibility is that it’s another Romulan ship,” Vukovic suggested.

“Still cloaked?” Kass asked. “One ship ain’t much of an ace in the hole, not after they’ve pointed a whole dozen at us.”

Jake frowned at the unidentified blip. “It’s the Shai’Dan.”

Vukovic looked at him. “How can you be certain?”

Jake shrugged. “They’ve been following us since we entered Romulan space. No reason to think they’d quit now.”

“So what are they waitin’ for?” Kass asked.

“They must be waiting to see how this situation plays out,” Vukovic said.

Behind them, the doors to the conference room opened and Eve Dalziel stepped back aboard the bridge. She approached Jake and Kass, and looked at the graviton readout displayed on the viewscreen.

“What did I miss?” she asked.

“We have party crashers,” Jake said. “The Shai’Dan.”

“And we got no idea whose side they’re on,” Kass added.

“If they’re still cloaked, they don’t want anyone to know they’re here,” Vukovic said. “That includes Nevar’s warhawks.”

“Which means they’re most likely loyal to the Praetor,” Eve said. “This could work out in our favor.”

“Only if’n they think the Praetor is still aboard,” Kass said. “Otherwise, I ain’t bettin’ they care what happens to us.”

“Either way, the situation has changed,” Jake said. “I like our chances of standing up to that fleet a lot more if we have a Valdore-warbird of our own to back us up.”

“So now you wanna poke ‘em in the eye?” Kass asked. “What if the Shai’Dan just sits there and watches us get taken apart?”

“We don’t have to shoot first,” Jake said, throwing a slight smirk in Kass’s direction. “Mr. Byte, am I correct in assuming Azri Drakara II’s gravity well is large enough to conceal the PHOENIX?”

Byte consulted his console once more. “{{We would need to maintain a precise orbital altitude to remain invisible to Romulan sensors. Any deviation risks exposure to their sensors, or a crash-landing on the planet’s surface.}}”

Jake turned to look at Tomas. “Lt. Vukovic?”

“I can do it,” Vukovic nodded.

“Commander, I’m not sure I understand,” Eve said, sounding concerned.

“I’ve got a thing about staring down the barrels of loaded guns, counselor” Jake said, taking a seat in the captain’s chair. “I think it might be a phobia. Maybe we’ll talk about it sometime.”

“If we take off, the Romulans are gonna shoot at us,” Kass said, settling down in the ExO’s seat next to Jake. “Even if we get away, once the shootin’ starts, that’s like to be their go-to response until this is over.”

“We have to assume the Shai’Dan has been monitoring this situation,” Jake said. “If the Shai’Dan thinks we’ve disengaged, pursuit means abandoning the Praetor to Nevar, and I’m willing to bet Commander Jaron isn’t the kind of Romulan who does things like that. I figure he either tips his hand and helps defuse the situation, or the shooting starts.”

“And if it’s the second one?”

“Then at least the PHOENIX isn’t right in the middle of it,” Jake said. “We have a much better chance of surviving this fight without all their weapons already trained right on us.”

“It’s a big risk,” Kass said.

“Yeah well, like you said: we have to do something.”

Kass nodded. “I’m with you, Commander.”

Jake looked to Tomas. “Lt. Vukovic, let’s go for a drive.”

Vukovic nodded. “Aye sir.”

Jake felt the hum of the ship’s engines, powering up, through the bulkhead and seat beneath him. It would take a few seconds before Vukovic could execute his maneuver, but Jake was hoping the Romulan’s would be too confused by the PHOENIX’s sudden retreat to be ready with any countermeasures. Still, almost as soon as the engines started cycling up, Lt. Proctor received an incoming hail.

“Commander,” Proctor reported. “The lead Romulan vessel is hailing us.”

Jake nodded. “On screen.”

The viewscreen filled with the image of a Romulan Commander, red-faced, the expressions of anger and confusion fighting for space across his weathered features.

{{I am Commander Jansa of the IRV Harax! You are ordered to stand down your engines at once! Any attempt to escape from this system-}}

“Apologies, Commander Jansa,” Jake said. “We’ve had our fill of Romulan hospitality.”

{{Your captain is still aboard the station!}} Jansa exclaimed. {{My fleet of warbirds will pulverize your ship-}}

Jake glanced at Proctor and signalled for her to cut the transmission. Jansa abruptly disappeared, replaced with the view of the station and the Romulan fleet. Jake noticed that the warbirds were moving now too, as if to cut-off the PHOENIX’s escape vector. But they were too late; Jake felt the engines surge to life.

=[/\]=

SCENE: Space - USS PHOENIX

The blue nacelles suddenly flared to life as the ship’s engines powered up. All at once the PHOENIX began to turn, angling it’s trajectory until it was pointed towards the surface of Azri Drakara II. Then, almost as if some invisible thread had been snipped, the PHOENIX seemed to suddenly plummet downwards, towards the planet, and safety. Behind it, streaks of green fire criss-crossed empty space as the Romulans moved to intercept. They were coming fast, but not fast enough; between being taken by surprise and the superb piloting of Tomas Vukovic, the PHOENIX surged ahead of their fire, rounding the curve of Azri Drakara II. Once they were out of visual range of their Romulan pursuers, the PHOENIX began to descend, flashes of white-hot fire burning up around its shield as it dipped into the atmosphere, disappearing from Romulan sensor nets as it went.

=[/\]=

NRPG: The PHOENIX is out of the line of fire for now, but what will the Romulans do? Has Jake unwittingly forced their hand? And will the Shai’Dan make itself known? What will Kane and the others discover aboard the station?

Shawn Putnam

A.k.a.

Jake Crichton

Executive Officer

USS PHOENIX

 

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