by Travis Anderson
Sito evaded a disruptor bolt. “Where are they getting the power for weapons and shields?”
Riker had informed her of the power drop off that occurred every time the isokinetic cannon fired. “They’re routing power from their impulse engines to feed their weapons systems.”
“Doesn’t that eliminate their impulse drive from active service?” Sito rolled away from a trailing staccato of particle beam fire.
“Yes, they’re pretty much limited to RCS thrusters while their EPS conduits are rerouted,” Riker explained.
Sito wore a wry grin. “You could simply say ‘they can’t maneuver right now.’ Okay?”
The ship suddenly bucked and Riker sardonically replied, “Maybe you should spend less time chastising me and more time evading disruptor fire.”
Sito suddenly threw the Razorcat into a violent set of rolls, jerks, and loops. The inertial damper couldn’t keep up and neither could Riker. “I take it back!”
“Wimp,” Sito deadpanned. Riker always had to marvel at the breadth of the interstellar slang she’d acquired while on Earth, and it always revolved around someone named “Nick Locarno.” The former leader of Nova Squadron still weighed heavily in Sito’s memory. But instead of it being a positive one, it was a reminder of what kind of ethos not to fall prey to.
The Breen ship suddenly fired into the distance. Riker checked his readouts. “They’re firing on theIndomitable.”
“Really? And here I thought the Enterprise was inbound,” Sito quipped.
“Smart ass,” Riker replied.
“I bet you say that to all the girls,” Sito grinned.
She flew the Razorcat in on a tight approach on the Q-ship’s port side. Pulse phasers flared to life as she released two microtorpedoes. They detonated against the Breen ship’s shields as the courier banked away. It took several more seconds before the Breen disruptors began to fire again.
“You just reduced thirty percent off of their shield rating,” Riker reported.
“Watch me fly,” Sito advised.
She came up over the privateer ship in a spiraling loop. Breaking out of the loop, she reengaged the target from the port side again. She randomly threw in jukes to the right and left and up and down before bearing down on her last target site at the last second. She repeated her previous strike.
“Photon signatures!” Riker called out.
The Razorcat dove along the Breen ship’s z-axis. Two photon torpedoes flew past where they had just been. Sito smirked.
“That should be the last of the torpedoes from the port side,” Sito predicted.
“How can you say that?” Riker wanted to know.
“This is a Breen Lemba-class freighter. They converted a cargo hold into being a photon launcher. This class of freighter is known for its small holds — which, by the way, are supposedly ideal for turning into detention cells. They’re the most popular model amongst the Breen privateers.”
“I still don’t get something,” Riker admitted as Sito flew them away to start another attack run. “The isokinetic cannon is eating up all the power from their warp core. The impulse reactor is fueling their defensive systems. Where are they getting the power for life support?”
“They aren’t!” Sito suddenly realized. “They’re running without life support. That’s why they’re in a hurry to finish us off and start boarding the Bajoran convoy ships.”
“So if we keep pounding at them, they’ll eventually run out of air and freeze,” Riker surmised.
“You must be a tactical officer,” Sito dryly remarked.
“Stow it,” Riker warned as he contacted the Indomitable.
Alea gave Ro Riker’s report. Ro ordered Tulley to “pour it on” as soon as they reached optimal weapons range. Alea now acted as Ro’s eyes on the primary sensors. Ro had the nav sensors and Tulley was tied into the targeting sensors. Since Alea had little else to do, she had every other system reading at her Ops station.
“Energy buildup from the Breen ship,” Alea calmly warned.
Ro barrel rolled hard to starboard. The isokinetic weapon’s discharge flew by where the Indie had just been. Now the crew knew they had at least thirty seconds before the cannon could fire again. That was a veritable lifetime in a battle such as this.
“We’re in weapons range,” Tulley announced. “Trim us out so I can get a shot.”
Ro obliged him and he released two full sized photon torpedoes. Ro suddenly ordered, “Aric, hand over phaser control to me.”
Tulley happily did so and the two wing-mounted Type VIII phaser cannons were Ro’s to command. Ro began taking potshots at the Breen freighter. Alea interrupted the concentration of both bridge officers.
“The Razorcat is attacking the Breen ship’s port side. They’re taking fire from standard disruptors,” Alea informed them.
“Which means that the isokinetic cannon isn’t built as a strip emitter and that the Breen’s power is solely dedicated to their weaponry,” Ro theorized aloud. “Scan the ambient temperature of the freighter’s interior.”
“It’s zero Celsius and dropping,” Alea announced.
“Alea, warn Sito against attacking the ship’s dorsal plane,” Ro instructed. “We’re going to make a run along that aspect.”
“She acknowledges and stands advised,” Alea said crisply.
Finding themselves in a combat role, the newly-minted Militia officer and her Maquis weapons officer found it easy to sit back and forget about Alea’s admissions. Her veracity could be double-checked later. Right now, Alea was in her zone and her zone could save their lives.
Ro considered it and it had always been obvious that Alea had combat experience. She was not only a well-trained intelligence gatherer and analyst, but she was an above par tactician and something of a strategist. In the Maquis, Korepanova had always been the premier strategist while Ro was the leading tactician. Ro had appreciated Alea’s input because it stretched her planning into the long term repercussions of their intended actions.
Ro saw the flare from the Q-ship’s RCS thruster firing. Alea was on it. “Target is initiating an aspect change.”
“They’re trying to target us,” Tulley ventured.
“No, they’re angling away from us,” Alea corrected him.
“They’re targeting the Bajoran freighters!” Ro realized. “Sonuvabitch! They just destroyed one!”
“Those ships are all crippled,” Tulley assessed. “That weapon can slice an unshielded freighter in half. If they hit the right spot, the inner pressure seals won’t be able to properly deploy.”
“Lieutenant, Sito wishes to speak to you,” Alea informed her commander.
“Patch her in,” Ro ordered. “Sito, you want to talk?”
“Lt. Ro, we’ll keep the Breen occupied so that they will concentrate their firepower on us. That will free you into disabling their warp core and their impulse reactor,” Sito spoke.
Ro hesitated. “We won’t be able to assist you. You’ll be on your own.”
“Understood. I don’t think we have much choice,” Sito replied.
“We’ll try to hurry,” Ro assured her.
“That would be appreciated,” Sito confessed.
“This is nuts, Jaxa,” Riker complained.
“Trust me,” Sito said smugly. “When have I ever led you wrong?”
“You said that with the Nausicaan raiders at Golana,” Riker ruefully reminded her. “I ended up with six broken ribs and a punctured lung.”
“But you lived, didn’t you?” Sito argued. “Look, this is simple. These civilians don’t stand a chance. The Breen want us, not them. They’re simply baiting us so we get in range of fire, so I’m simply obliging them.”
“You’re talking like a Starfleet officer, Jaxa,” Riker pointed out as she positioned them away from the freighters but close enough for the Breen to easily swing into position to fire at them.
“You were a Starfleet officer too, Tom,” Sito shot back at him. “All I’m saying is we’re supposed to guard these people. That could mean with our very lives. And if it does, we’ll walk with the Prophets.”
“I’d rather not spend my eternity, if there is one, with stodgy old wormhole aliens,” Riker countered.
“But I hear they’re nice wormhole aliens. They’ve certainly been with my people,” Sito postulated.
“The Cardassian Occupation notwithstanding,” Riker quipped.
“Look, we’re doing this,” Sito said firmly.
“That’s a very cold comfort, Jaxa,” Riker protested. “This isn’t a potential sacrifice. It’s a guaranteed suicide.”
“It is what it is,” Sito said grimly.
The Breen powered up their isokinetic cannon again. Riker grew alarmed. “They’re not targeting us. They’re targeting the freighter ID’d as the Prophet’s Glory.”
“Damn it.” Sito threw the courier into action.
“Too many prophets hanging around today,” Riker grumbled. “Wait a minute, what are you doing?”
“We’ll never be able to stop them from firing,” Sito spoke with an eerie calm, “but we can interpose ourselves between the Breen and their target.”
“You said this weapon can slice a starship in half,” Riker recalled. “We’re not even a starship.”
“An unshielded starship, sure. We’ll have shields though,” Sito countered.
“Oh, the hell with it,” Riker said in resignation. “Hurry up and put us in harm’s way.”
The Breen targeting sensors locked onto the Razorcat and the cannon fired. Having found a way to insure their victim would simply evade the shot, the Breen watched with satisfaction as the Razorcat survived the blast but was dead in space. They waited for the isokinetic cannon to recharge in order to blast the courier into atoms.
“Holy hell!” Tulley blurted. “The Breen just killed Riker and Sito!”
“Negative,” Alea interjected. “My scans indicate there are still two life signs aboard the Razorcat. However, two of their four warp cores are offline and the ship seems to have suffered overloads in every system. I doubt they’ll ever get their shields up again.”
“But the stinking Breen will still target them again just to be sure,” Tulley grated.
“Hold on.” Ro changed the Indie’s vector as they came in for a strafing run. “We’re giving them something new to shoot at.”
“Sounds like something Captain Sulu would say,” Alea quipped.
“Which Captain Sulu?” Tulley asked. “Hikaru or Demora?”
Both Sulus had charted out major portions of what would later prove to be the Cardassian and Tzenkethi borders. They’d proven themselves to be heroes to the colonists living there time and time again. Hikaru Sulu had even been part of the first contact team that met the Bajoran colonists in the Valo system for the first time.
Ro curved the Indomitable around the Q-ship as the Indie passed over it. She bade Tulley to avoid using photons even as she hammered at the ship’s shields with the raider’s phasers. Heading out towards the stricken Bajoran freighters and defender, Ro committed herself to an Immelmann loop and rolled the ship so its dorsal plane was situated along the Q-ship’s.
“Hammer the bastards,” Ro ordered.
Tulley was all too happy to comply.
Sito awoke to the sound of wracking coughs. Then she realized she was the one coughing. And so was Riker. Thick smoke hung in the Razorcat’s cockpit.
“Gimme a second and I’ll get this cleared up,” Riker managed to rasp between coughs. He engaged the filtration system and the smoke dissipated.
“I take it you’re alive,” Sito wryly said to Riker.
“No, I’m not,” Riker grumbled. “I’m officially dead.”
“The Indie is engaging the Breen,” Sito could make out on her distorted sensor board. “We need to get operational and help out.”
“Jaxa, life support is barely operational.” Riker was running a damage assessment program. “We have two warp cores offline. The impulse reactor scrammed, our primary systems are fused and in some cases we’re running on the auxiliaries of the auxiliaries. I don’t know how long it’ll take to get us mobile again.”
“Just don’t sit there! Find out!” Sito demanded.
“God save me from Bajorans,” Riker muttered as he slipped back into the access way.
Sito could hear Riker making makeshift repairs and she saw her sensor board clear up. The Breen had fired off the isokinetic cannon at the Indomitable but Ro had neatly evaded the shot. Sito’s body was practically ready to burst from the need to do something.
“Haul ass, Tom.” she called back to Riker. “I’m not going to die because some Breen slaver thought I was target practice. We need to get moving before something bad happens.”
“Bad versus what?” Riker asked in a serious tone.
“Bad as being taken alive by the Breen and spending the rest of our miserable lives on a Prophets forsaken mining colony. Think Letau on steroids,” Sito conjured the image.
The auxiliary systems suddenly came to life and Riker reentered the cockpit. “Am I good or what?”
“And oh so humble too,” Sito dryly remarked.
“On my better days,” Riker said as he returned to his seat. “We don’t have warp drive and the impulse engines are still down, but you do have RCS thrusters.”
“It’ll have to do,” Sito decided.
“Isn’t this a lot like being a lame turkey at a shooting match?” Riker wondered.
“Are turkeys the ones that gobble?” Sito suddenly asked.
“Yes,” Riker sighed as he slipped back into the access way. “Let me know when we’re about to die.”
“Would I lead you to certain death?” Sito teased.
“Yes, I thought that was your whole damn point a few minutes ago,” Riker retorted. “You went gallivanting off to send us straight to the Bajoran version of hell.”
“That would be internment in the Fire Caves,” Sito said primly. “There we would be tortured for all eternity by the pah-wraiths.”
Riker began cursing and Sito couldn’t tell if it was directed at her or the ship. Her impulse control board flared to life and she yelled back, “You did it!”
She engaged the impulse engines as Riker came back to the cockpit and Sito happily said, “This is going to work.”
“What is?” Riker asked dubiously.
“I’m not going to tell you,” Sito replied, “You won’t like it.”
Riker scowled and decided he didn’t like it already.
“Ro, we’re running out of torpedoes,” Tulley suddenly announced.
“What’s our remaining inventory?” Ro asked.
“Two,” Tulley proclaimed.
“And you’re just now telling me about this?” Ro was somewhere between incredulous and livid.
“We have two forward launchers with six round magazines. Add to that our two round aft launcher and we’ve got eight torpedoes to start with. At this point, we’ve used up everything but two forward rounds,” Tulley rattled off.
“I know that, Aric,” Ro snapped, “but why are the Breen still fighting after that much munitions expenditure?”
“Actually, they’ve lost shielding to every compartment but their bridge module,” Alea reported, “and their EPS network is wildly fluctuating. Every time they fire the isokinetic cannon it overloads the EPS conduits.”
“The cannon is charging,” Tulley warned.
“Aim right at it,” Ro ordered.
“Alea, tell him when to fire,” Ro instructed.
Alea automatically understood that Ro meant to overload the cannon by hitting it with the torpedoes when it was firing and the shields protecting it were weekend. She watched the buildup and then calmly said, “Now, Aric.”
Tulley fired as the Indomitable veered off center from the Breen ship. Explosions burst throughout the freighter as systems overloaded in a cascade effect. One last disruptor bolt fired from the Q-ship has its impulse reactor failed and it was left to fend for itself on its battery system.
“She’s dead in the water,” Alea pronounced and then blurted, “Ro, climb up the y-axis. The Razorcat is coming in fast.”
Ro did as Alea instructed and the Peregrine-class courier flew by underneath the Maquis raider. Sito volleyed all four of her remaining microtorpedoes in sequence into the Breen freighter’s bridge module. Detonations destroyed the bridge as the Razorcat passed over the vessel’s dorsal plane.
Sito strafed the stricken freighter, further gutting it. Aboard the Indomitable, Tully had to chuckle, “I knew there was a reason why I was starting to like that kid.”
“Ro, the surviving Breen are signaling their surrender,” Alea informed Ro, “but I advise we move off instead.”
“Why?” Ro inquired.
“My people have had dealings with the Breen over the last few centuries.” Alea added weight to her statement. “When they’ve been hostile, the Breen rarely are captured alive. They tend to scuttle their ships rather than be taken prisoner.”
“Inform Sito to keep her distance,” Ro ordered Alea. “Tell them to conduct system patrols until relief arrives. Aric, gather up relief teams to assist the convoy crews.”
“We don’t have a sickbay,” Tulley reminded her.
“But we have lots of experience with combat injuries,” Ro reminded him. “The order stands.”
Tulley exited the bridge just as the Breen destroyed their own ship. Ro looked over at Alea. “Good call. Now let’s have a little chat.”
Alea was suddenly filled with dread.
Two Ju’day-class Maquis raiders relieved the Indie and the Razorcat. All of the freighters had to be towed out of the system and back to Bajor by warp tugs. The Razorcat was another casualty that had to be towed as well. Sito and Riker joined Ro’s crew aboard the Indomitable while she ran escort for the freighters.
The Bajoran Militia had sent disassembled Bajoran interceptors that would be permanently stationed on Free Haven. This bolstered the Militia military and constabulary units on the planet. Ro figured one could do worse than a year’s tour on Free Haven. Golana and Dreon VII were also getting interceptors and their crews.
Once on Bajor, Ro reported on the existence of the Mishrya to her Militia superiors. In turn, they had her personally brief First Minister Shakaar before he met with Alea herself. Ro spoke with Sveta Korepanova while Shakaar conducted his interview with Alea. If Alea were to stay with the Maquis, she was off of Ro’s crew.
Korepanova thought it just as well that Alea was assigned to Militia expedition craft that took a Bajoran delegation to her home world. The odds were good that Ro would never have contact with Alea again and that’s how Ro wanted it.
But one good thing had come out of this all for Ro. She’d been promoted past captain and now held the rank of major. Sito had been coaxed into formally joining the Militia and now served alongside the Maquis as Ro’s deputy liaison officer.
Ro knew her new rank came with a price. She’d be serving on Bajor alongside Korepanova. Sito would be the field officer. Ro tried to convince Sito to take her place aboard the Indomitable.
Sito merely wore a sly smile. “The Razorcat has put out for me, so with all due respect, Major, I’ll perform my duties from aboard her. I know Tom will be glad of the reprieve.”
“Tom is taking command of the Indomitable,” Ro warned Sito. The younger woman’s face almost fell. “I thought you might want to consider that when making your decision.”
Sito rallied, “Thank you, sir. I will.”
Ro rolled her eyes as Sito walked away. So she was a sir now? Stranger things had happened in Ro’s life, so she figured she’d just roll with this one as well.
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