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Save the women, there will always be more men!

Posted on Thu Jul 13th, 2023 @ 9:42pm by Lieutenant Xavier Leiko & Ensign Kateyo Fenn & Ensign Vivienne Conrad & Ensign Charlotte (Charlie) Washington

Mission: Wrath of the People
Location: Heeni Range Asteroid Belt
Timeline: MD08
2496 words - 5 OF Standard Post Measure

Xavier rubbed his eyes hoping to wash the tiredness away, however, his only reward was blurry vision and floating black spots just beyond his usual gaze. They had been in the shuttle for just over two hours and though he usually didn't mind the confined space and being away from the ship, today was a different story. His body felt tense and restricted and his mind felt foggy. It probably had something to do with the medication he was taking for his returning telepathy but knowing the reason didn't make the symptoms any easier to deal with. He just wanted this mission to be over.

"Take us to seven-four-six mark two-two-eight," he said from the co-pilot seat. As he felt the shuttle shift in course, direction, and speed he prepped another dose of tachyon radiation. He imagined the navigation sensors on the Athena lighting up like the glow-in-the-dark stickers that had formed the basis of this plan and he smiled. He turned to face the officers in the back. "Charlie, keep an eye on the deflector power output and Teyo, make sure you're watching the tactical sensors, I don't want any surprises."

"On it!" Charlie replied in her typically chipper voice. "The deflector power output is all good as of now. Those updates we did are working like a charm," she smiled.

Shifting in her seat, Conrad's expression was locked in a permanent rigor mortis of hyper-fixated incredulity. She'd initially been surprised when outside predictions had proven correct and Leiko had assigned her to canary duty but the disorientation of being trusted with such a risky task had very swiftly been swept aside by the reality of being thrust into such a risky task. For once, the acerbic ensign was silent, afraid that if she took her eyes off the readouts for the split-second it would take to grimace at her crewmates, she'd end up perpetuating the circumstances that were causing her to age considerably with every crawl-forward they managed.

Turning back to face the front of the small ship, Xavier could feel the aura of anxiety surrounding Ensign Conrad, it was powerful and consuming. He wanted to push it away, he needed a clear head during this mission, but the sensation brought him a feeling akin to pleasure. "You're doing fine, Ensign," he said encouragingly.

"What about me Xav?" Teyo said from the station directly behind the pilot's seat. "Am I doing fine too?"

"Get us back to the ship in one piece Ensign Fenn and we'll see," Xavier replied curtly.

Charlie chuckled inwardly at Teyo's remark. It may have been sarcastic, but any conversation was better than pure awkward silence. "I think you're doing great, Fenn. It's a wonder you aren't already a Commander already with those amazing scanning skills," she smirked.

"Finally!" Teyo exclaimed. "Someone recognises my potential. Commander Kateyo Fenn, first officer of the USS Athena, it has a certain ring to it don't you think?"

"I'm sure Commander Zora is quaking in her boots right now," Xavier said, not looking up from the new navigational inputs. "Now focus up people, I'm sure you don't want to lose the entire crew on your first mission as XO."

Vivienne had tuned out most of the banter for once, aware of it without affording it enough attention to actually follow along. Avoiding turbulence entirely had proven impossible and every shudder, every jolt, every tiny collision with the debris that scattered the asteroid field, left her one step closer to telling the whole lot of them to shut up. A particularly violent lurch did its best to remind them they were all one decent distraction away from joining the flotsam and jetsam in their path.

"The deflectors still look all good on my end. Minus some turbulence, this is turning out to be a relatively boring ride," Charlie smiled. "Which is a good thing, I suppose."

There was a muttering from the helm that was mostly unintelligible and may only have carried as far as the person beside her. The general gist seemed to be a general opinion of the Ensign's definition of the word 'boring'.

"Wait a minute," Charlie looked at the console and then over to Teyo and Xavier. "Are you seeing this? It looks like some sort of support craft, bearing 330, mark 15. It almost blends in with the rest of the clutter out there."

"I got it too," Teyo said, turning his full attention to the tactical sensors. "They're trying to mask their energy signature with the asteroids' electromagnetism, but I guess they didn't compensate for all the tachyon radiation too."

"Conrad bring us about to the ship's position," Xavier ordered. "I'm getting nothing from their transponder, I'm going to try hailing..." Xavier trailed off as every light on his console lit up like one of the seedier nightclubs on Risa. "They're firing, shields to full, evasive manoeuvres."

It might have surprised most on board to know that the Risian dialect expanded into provision for expletives and, to add to the mystique, the next words out of Conrad's mouth were constrained enough to bypass attempts at translating. The shuttle lurched as the sudden change in orders forced a sharp banking turn to the left, testing the inertial dampeners when followed by an immediate nosedive to narrowly avoid the barrage of phaser shots that glanced off the upper shielding. "I need an exit heading!" Though the weapon fire was the major threat, navigating in the asteroid field made it impossible to just dart off in any direction and hope for the best. To buy time, the pilot pulled them up from the dive to make a direct beeline towards the firing vessel.

Charlie's fingers ran across the console, no longer watching the deflector output and instead trying to help out Conrad. She too had piloted shuttles and did not envy the pilot's seat at this moment. "Try heading one eight zero, mark twenty-five." It was a small exit gap, but from what she could see, looked like their best chance.

"Conrad, why the hell are you flying towards the ship that's firing at us?" Xavier asked, his eyes growing larger by the second.

"Two reasons," the ensign responded, thoroughly undaunted as she punched in the coordinates Charlie had given her. "Firstly, the rest of our ship is in the other direction, they might like some warning before we drag a threat back on them. Secondly," she declared as the ship veered suddenly and she plunged them on a downwards trajectory again in her efforts to course-correct, "we're a tiny target in the middle of extreme interference. The closer we get to their own energy signature, the less likely they are to lock on. Come on, Lieutenant," Vivienne flashed Xavier and unexpected smirk, "You can't have forgotten the training sims already."

"Well, no," Xavier replied, his face flushing a little bit. He had been too caught up in the emotions of the shuttle crew during the attack, he hadn't remembered a basic of ship combat and manoeuvring strategies from his academy 101 class. Get your head in the game Xav! "I'm taking the stabilising gyros offline," he said as his fingers danced over the buttons. "It's gonna be a bumpier ride but it should give you some room to breathe. Charlie, send a warning to the Athena modules, let them know what's happening."

"The pirates are firing again," Teyo said before Charlie could reply. "Full spread of torpedos, contact in 5...4...3...2..."

Just as Charlie went to send the transmission, the shuttle lurched and her grip tightened on the console in front of her to keep from flying across the room. "Direct hit," she reported as she regained her composure and checked the shuttle's status. "We're losing power, shields and communications are down."

"DAMNIT!" Xavier yelled as the sudden impact made him hit his head on the console in front of him. He should have been more prepared but he was watching the power readouts up until the last second and he paid the price with a throbbing headache and what he assumed was going to be one hell of a bruise. "Conrad, how are the engines looking? Charlie, transfer auxiliary power to the manoeuvring thrusters, the last thing we want is to be dead in the water. I'm going to try to get main power back online" he added as he half walked, half stumbled towards the rear of the shuttle.

"Engines are struggling but we're still going forward," Conrad barked back, her gaze shunting back and forth between the viewscreen and her console as she tried to determine what it was she was experiencing. Eventually, running on a gut feeling alone, the pilot lifted her hands off the controls entirely and held them up so that everyone in the cabin could see. "This would be a really bad time for someone to have rerouted helm control," she warned, though it was a half-hearted attempt at explaining the situation. "We're not creating this propulsion," she added, glancing finally at Xavier. "And I don't think the autopilot is malfunctioning. Something's dragging us."

"Engines full reverse," Xavier barked after spinning around to see the enemy ship's tractor glow. "Tey, try polarising the hull..."

"No can do Lieutenant," Teyo cut in before Xavier had a chance to finish his sentence. "I've been trying but we barely have enough power for life support and environmental controls."

Xavier opened the maintenance hatch in the floor of the rear compartment and eyeballed the power matrix that lay within. Teyo was right, the EPS grid was fried. The pirates knew exactly what they were doing, they had used the electromagnetism of the asteroid field against them, increasing their phaser power; ingenious really. "Charlie, prepare a distress beacon. Our only chance now is if one of the modules finds us."

"Done," Charlie prepared the beacon with what little power was left and deployed it. "Now what? We can't just sit here and wait for them to take us right? There has to be something we can do."

"Unless you've got me a few extra engines," Conrad responded, gritting her teeth as the backward momentum did nothing to halt their progress, "I don't think we've got a choice."

"Let's arm ourselves at least," Xavier said as he moved over to the weapon's locker and keyed in his identification code. "We might have to fight our way out of this one."

"Strange," Teyo added, as though speaking out loud to himself. "I'm not picking up any life signs on the ship."

"Not that strange," Xavier replied as he handed out phasers to the group. "The amount of radiation we're swimming in, it's a surprise any of us managed to get any kind of targeting lock at all."

"Right," Teyo replied as he took his phaser and checked the power settings. "But if we're not detecting life signs maybe they're not either. Which means they have no idea how many of us are aboard. Two of us can hide in the storage areas."

The idea washed over Xavier like a wave, it was crude and maybe wouldn't work but it was something. At the very least they may be able to keep at least two people alive, even if the other two didn't make it. He looked at the console and saw they had around two minutes before the shuttle would be inside the pirate's craft. "Conrad, Washington, go. Stay out of sight for as long as you can, when it's safe, try to contact the Athena."

Her first mistake, Conrad decided, was abandoning the pilot seat at the first talk of arming themselves. Her second was taking her eyes of Fenn as she checked over the phaser Leiko had handed her. There was just enough time to register the sudden change in directive and glance up, mouth open in protest, before a large hand pressed against her face managed the dual task of pushing her back towards a storage closet and rendering her effectively mute.

Her back squashed against the cold metal and a single arm bent became the last line of defense as she was released long enough to snap, "I'm not a case of Aldean spice wine, this is...!", before the door was slammed shut and she was plunged into the pervasive darkness of her own outrage.

"Wait, what? No way! I said we needed a plan not a random idea to get us all killed. Do you have any idea, how bad I am at hide and seek?" Charlie exclaimed. "We should ambush them."

"I'll hide," Teyo said, emerging from where he had just hidden Conrad. "If it doesn't work, plan B is we ambush them."

Xavier thought for a second longer than he really had time for. Tey didn't really have the subtle tactics for stealth missions but the truth was if he were part of the welcoming wagon he'd probably get them both shot. Coming from a matriarchal society it had been Xavier's instinct to save the woman first. Not because he thought of them as incapable, but rather because he had a desire to save them, no matter the cost. Save the women, there will always be more men.

"KoKo, you need to decide," Teyo said, his eyes on the readout screen. He had purposely used Xavier's least favoured nickname, he knew it would cut through and bring the Betazoid back to reality.

"Go!" Xavier ordered. He nodded at Charlie, as Teyo darted to the storage compartment and locked himself within. "Get to the pilot seat," he ordered as he moved back to the co-pilot seat. "I'm rerouting all available power to emergency life support, hopefully that will give them the time they need."

Charlie nodded and put in a few commands herself, standard procedure before your vessel was captured. Only seconds later, their pirate 'friends' entered the bridge. "I'm guessing this isn't a rescue mission?"

A large grisly man pointed his weapon at the two of them. "Get your hands off those consoles. No funny business! You Starfleet officers are always nuttin' but trouble."

"Do what they say, Ensign," Xavier said as he threw his hands in the air to show that he was unarmed and spun in his chair to face the two pirates. He knew he had to keep their attention on the pair of them and to do that he had to summon his inner Teyo. "I am Lieutenant Xavier Leiko from the starship Athena. You are in violation of federation law and I demand that you stand down, release our ship, and follow us back to Vespae Station in order to stand trial." His voice was steady and his jaw was set, he meant every word of his bluff. The last thing he remembered seeing was the snarl of crooked teeth and the butt of a gun coming towards his head before everything went black.


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