158: Confrontation

By Zander Blakeslee and Zanh Liis
Immediately following Shark Bait

-=Bridge of the USS Serendipity=-

"Red Alert!" Zanh declared, and the klaxons began to wail. "Put Vox through first, leave Spec Ops on ignore."

Tenney did as told, and the grainy image of Jonas Vox appeared on screen as the Special Ops ship continued trying to disrupt all communications to and from the Serendipity.

"Jonas?" Zanh snarled, "Spec Ops is demanding I give them my ship!"

[I'm sorry, Liis. This was not the intended outcome of my plan.]

"Plan?" Zanh's voice rose angrily in volume and pitch. "You had a plan?"

"I'm losing him Captain," Tenney interjected as Vox vanished from video and all they could make out was a muffled audio message.

[I didn't think they would take the bait so viciously-]

Then the connection was lost entirely.

* Well this is getting interesting. * Zander thought to himself.

Zander kept a keen eye on the developing tactical situation. Four federation starships were currently in relatively close proximity to each other and only two of them were not hostile to each other, the Sera and the Alchemy. As for the other two, Zander was not sure of their intentions.

He continuously scanned both the Special Ops and the Temporal Investigations ships for any hostile intent. He knew that the Admiral from special ops had announced his intent to take command of the Sera and therefore Zander tagged him as the most immediate threat. For now.

He turned his attention to the Alchemy. It was obvious that they needed to talk to Commander Blane, ASAP. It was also obvious that the Special Ops ship was jamming their communications. Well, the standard ones anyway.

He pulled up the configuration files for the Sera and the Alchemy’s sensor Gateway.

He had an idea.

=^= Onboard the Alchemy =^=

“We lost them, Commander.” Grace reported to TC.

TC, now standing up from the center chair walked closer to the helm station.

“Do what you can to get them back.”

He turned back to the command chair and hit the comm. “Bridge to Engineering. Looks like we might be in for a fight. I’ll need whatever you can muster to the shields and weapons.”

[I don’t know what we can give you sir. You can rule out phasers, that is not going to happen. The photon launchers are operational now and as for shields, maybe 80% at best.] Avery reported.

TC sat down in the chair. “How about propulsion?”

There was a pause. [Warp and transwarp are offline. You’ll have impulse.]

TC thought for a moment. “What about the auto-destruct system?” His question drew stares from the bridge staff.

[It is online and ready.]

TC nodded. “Keep working on the warp drive and hold on tight down there it could get bumpy, bridge out.”

Silence settled on the bridge after TC closed the channel. He sat in the chair staring at the three ships floating on the view screen in front of him.

“Umm, Commander? Our sensor link with the Sera is back online.” Reported Talbot. “Well, kind of.”

TC stood up again and made his way to the tactical station. “What do you mean ‘kind of’?”

=^= Back on the Sera =^=

Zander finished establishing the sensor gateway with the Alchemy. . . well kind of.

He had quickly redesigned the data carrier wave to no longer transmit encrypted sensor data, but to carry encrypted audio waves instead. It was a quick coding job and he was not sure if it would work, but it was worth a shot.

“Excuse me Captain. I think I might have a solution to our communications dilemma.”

"Please, give me good news, Lieutenant." The Captain's eyes pleaded with him even more than her rasping words did.

"We may be able to conceal a quick audio transmission to the Alchemy, but I wouldn't try to make it too long of a chat," Zander advised.

Zanh approached. "I'll take what I can get. I want you to transmit them orders that they are not to let either ship out there, not the Executor or the. . .did anyone get a clear reading on what Spec Ops is flying?"

"I believe we are looking at the USS Gauntlet, Captain," Salvek replied. "Nebula class."

No one on the bridge had to comment on the irony in the name; it was appreciated instantly by all present.

"She's Nebula Class like Sera is Intrepid," Dabin Reece warned, looking at what he was able to determine from scans of the Gauntlet. "She's got teeth."

"Zander, tell Blane that no one is to touch the Alchemy besides us, and if anyone tries," Zanh Liis quickly glanced at Salvek, and then away from the Science station as she saw the panic threatening to overtake Reece's features.

She felt sick at the thought of the order she was about to give.

"If anyone tries, he has to destroy the ship. They can try to launch their one shuttle and any available escape pods to try to evacuate and we can hope that either of the other ships will beam them aboard before the radiation becomes lethal," Zanh sighed.

"But if he doesn't have systems control over auto-destruct, he may have to fly Alchemy right into the star." Zanh slumped down into her chair after giving the order, fists clenched tightly against the armrests.

Zander nodded his understanding and with a sad glance at Reece relayed the orders, verbatim, to the Alchemy.

=^= On the Alchemy =^=

“Well that’s crafty to say the least.” TC commented as the audio message ended.
He glanced at the forward screen and frowned.

His mind working over the possibilities and probabilities of what might happen in the next few moments. His eyes fell upon February seated at the helm and his heart sank with the thought of the worst possible scenario.

“What is the Sera’s status?” He asked Talbot.

“She is mostly undamaged. Fully functional, she’s ready to fight.”

TC nodded. “Are her shields up?”

Talbot nodded his head. “Yes.”

“Can you respond to them?”

Talbot nodded again. “I think so.”

TC rubbed his chin. “OK, Send this.”

=^= Back on the Sera =^=

“Captain, I am getting a reply from the Alchemy.” Zander called out.

“Let's hear it.”

Zander put the reply over the comm. It was full of static but the voice was clearly Blane’s.

[Open the barn door, the horses are coming home.]

"You heard the man," Zanh exclaimed, her hands finally letting go of the armrests for the first time since Zander had sent her order.

She jumped up out of her chair and moved toward Reece, giving him a reassuring squeeze on the shoulder. "Get ready to drop our shields, Alchemy's coming home. If they want her let them come and get her. Arm us to the teeth, Mr. Blakeslee. Tenney, answer that hail from the Gauntlet."

"On screen Captain."

The frustrated Admiral in the black Ops uniform snarled at Zanh. [I don't know how you did this, but I suppose you're to blame for bringing Vox here.]

"I'm as surprised to see him as you are, Admiral Spangler and honestly? I don't trust the man. It would seem that more is going on here than anyone aboard this ship realized,"

Zanh put on her best acting performance and Salvek stood beside her, silently observing her skills.

"But we can all discuss this diplomatically. First though, we have wounded people aboard the Alchemy, and since you're taking both ships anyway why not let us bring her home and tend to our people? You can board us, and I'll hand the Sera over to you as soon as I see that order."


"No?" Zanh exaggerated her surprise. "Why not?"

[There is sensitive information aboard Alchemy and we need to take immediate possession of the ship, and debrief the crew.]

Zanh sighed. "All right. We'll drop the shields and you can beam over your command team. Zanh out."

As soon as the connection was closed, she raced across the bridge, tapping her badge. "Zanh to security, prepare for the possibility we're about to be boarded. Zander, tell Blane we're ready."

"Captain," Blakeslee spoke again. "It seems that the Executor has figured out what the Alchemy is going to try to do. They're moving away from us and toward the Gauntlet."

"Now he's trying to protect the Alchemy?" Zanh groaned. "Unbelievable."

"He wouldn't engage them really. . ." Reece looked at Zanh hopefully, knowing she knew Vox better than anyone present. "Would he?"

"He just might."

=^= And so. . .back to the Alchemy =^=

“They say that they are ready.”

TC had returned to the center seat in anticipation of the Sera’s reply. “OK. Shields up, arm the forward torpedo launchers. Bru, plot me a course to the Sera’s docking bay, full impulse.”

“Course plotted.” Was her reply.

“Sir, we are being hailed”

TC sighed. ‘Yea, was expecting that. On screen.”

The image of Admiral Spangler appeared. “Commander Blane, very good. You are to hand over…”

TC held up his hand. “Let me save you the rant Admiral. I have no intention of handing over the Alchemy, or any of its data to you.”

The Admiral frowned as his face turned red. “I am giving you a direct order Commander. I…”

“My orders are specific Admiral.” TC cut him off again. “I am to protect The Alchemy Project from all threats. Foreign and Domestic. My current orders trump yours. Thanks for calling we’ll have to chat again some time. I’ll bring the crumpets.”

He signaled to cut the transmission.

“Bru, put us in the garage.”

February struggled to focus as she sat at the helm. She was sweating profusely, and shaking. "Aye, Sir."

She set up a course to sling shot them around the Gauntlet and the Executor, as close to a straight run for the Sera as she could make. "Hang on, I might have to improvise on the way."

-=Aboard the Sera=-

"Captain, the Executor and the Gauntlet have both powered up weapons and raised shields," declared Blakeslee.

"Good," Zanh replied, grinding her teeth once again. "If their shields are up, they can't board us. Reece, get me a picture,"

Reece reconfigured external sensors and the image of the Alchemy came into view.

"C'mon, Bru, come on," Zanh muttered.

The Executor and the Gauntlet moved closer to each other, head on.

"Captain, Beta-626 is getting ready to experience another energy spike," Reece shouted suddenly. If either of those ships fire, we could all be fried."

"Get Spangler back!" Zanh insisted.

"They're ignoring us," Tenney replied.

"Damn it, Spangler, we're all going to die here if you don't back down! Stand down your weapons!" Zanh pleaded.

There was no response, and as the Gauntlet fired the first round of fire at the Executor, the Alchemy slipped back into her bay.

"Security to deck ten, secure the Alchemy! Shields up. Ellison, MOVE!" Zanh shoved the young ensign out of the way and jumped into the chair at the helm and plotted a course away from the other two ships.

She engaged it just as a huge flare erupted from the surface of the star, and knocked the Gauntlet and the Executor from their previous positions.

"Captain, the Executor has taken heavy damage," Blakeslee advised. "They're not going to make it."

Lt. Zander Blakeslee
Chief Tactical Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012


-=/\=- Zanh Liis
Commanding Officer
USS Serendipity NCC-2012