670: Child's Play: One

by TC Blane and Commander Salvek
After Target Acquired

-=Aboard the Romulan vessel=-

“What is our next move, Commander?” Tolleth inquired.

Taris had so many targets looming before he she did not know what to do with herself. She wondered if this was what it felt like to take part in the Tval’diral; the celebration where a Romulan on the verge of adulthood pledges their allegiance to the state, while surrounded by their friends and family. Taris would not know, as her father had forbidden her from taking part in such frivolous activities, and backhanded her across the face for even suggesting she should.

Taris took her pledge in private, with no gifts, and no friends present. Only her father, whose concern was the she make the pledge, for nothing else truly mattered. The gifts and celebrations only detracted from the importance of the ritual. She had hated him at the time for it, but his heavy hand had strengthened her resolve. When she rose to power, she understood why he treated her as he did as a child. People like Taris and her father lived lives of glory, as the weak and frivolous perished in their wake.

“Do we have enough soldiers to mount an attack on the ship and the away team?” Taris inquired.

“I can dispatch a dozen men to the surface. That will mean every hand up here will need to man a post, but we will manage.”

“Assemble the strike team. What is the Federation away team doing now?”

Tolleth shifted the main viewer to a few of the planet below. The sensors narrowed in on the away team, close enough for Taris to see one Dabin Reece slowly pulling back the lid of the Hugreti device.

“Move us to within one hundred meters of the Serendipity. Drop the cloak, and beam down the away team. Weapons officer, as soon as the away team is clear, raise shields and attack the Serendipity’s weapons array. It is time to make our move.”

-=Planet side=-

“What do we have Reece?” TC asked, anxious to get the show on the road.

Dabin took in a breath of stale, musty air: air that had been trapped in the box for thousands of years. Rada and Hok leaned in for a closer look, but TC kept his gaze fixed on the surroundings. There were no lights inside, no mechanisms of any kind. Just something that looked like…

“A doll?”

“A what?” TC asked, demanding an explanation.

“A doll,” Rada confirmed. “Starfleet flew into a panic and sent us on an urgent mission to retrieve some sort of dollhouse.”

“Well, it will make a great piece for a museum.” TC said. He was about to call for a beam up for the artifact when his gaze caught the lights of a transporter nearby. “Everybody down!"

Blane, with one sweep of his arms, knocked Kellyn, Reece, Hok and Dengar flat to the ground just as the first blasts from the Romulans sailed over their heads. It did not take him long to realize they were outnumbered more than two to one, and there was no place to hide.

TC cursed as he returned a blind series of shots at their assailants, then with a deft flick of his finger set his phaser to it maximum setting.

He pointed it at the ground and depressed the fire button while moving his arm in a short arc. The beam flared from the weapon, striking the ground with an electric crack and sizzle. Dirt, dust and chunks of rocks flew everywhere as the phaser excavated a three foot deep and six foot long trench into the dusty soil. Dust lingered in the air, providing temporary visual coverage.

‘In the trench!” TC barked as he grabbed Reece by the back of his collar and unceremoniously lobbed the Trill into the newly constructed ditch while simultaneously kicking the Hugreti box in after him. Reece landed a split second before the box only to have it strike his head with a dull metallic ‘ting’.

“Ouch!” He called from the bottom of the shallow ditch.

Hok and Dengar scrambled on their hands and knees, diving head first into the trench. TC wrapped his arm around Kellyn’s waist as she struggled to get to her feet. Hoisting her up, he dove headlong into the trench carrying Kellyn with him. They landed on their backs in the bottom of the ditch, dust rising around them causing them to choke and cough.

“Dengar tell the Sera we are under attack!!” TC ordered as he rolled over and fired several blind shots in the general direction on the Romulans.

-=USS Serendipity=-

“Commander, a Romulan ship just decloaked directly to our aft!” Blakeslee announced.

Salvek bolted out of the Command chair. “Red alert. Beam up the Away Team and raise shields.”
Salvek barely completed his order before the ship shook violently.

“Too late!” Blakeslee shouted over the sound of klaxons and short circuiting panels. “Their first shot took out the aft weapons array and all the transporters are offline! I managed to get the shields up.”

“Try to get a message to them. Tell them we are under attack and they should use the shuttle to seek safe harbor. For now, we have no choice but to fight. Helm, bring us about. Salvek to Halliday, I need transporters back as soon as possible.”

[Working on it!] Came the frazzled voice of Jamie Halliday.

Zander shut down power the aft phaser array and redirected to the dorsal array as another blast hit the shields.

“Shield holding at eighty five percent!” He reported. “Forward dorsal array ready to return fire, torpedoes loaded in forward tubes!” His hand hovered over the fire button.

“Fire at will!” Salvek ordered. He was content to allow Blakeslee to handle the firefight while he attempted to devise a plan for retrieving the away team.

-=Planet side=-

“We’re stuck here.” Rada reported unenthusiastically. “Apparently the ship is under attack as well, and the transporters are offline.

Rada could only imagine Halliday running around Engineering like a mad man, muttering under his breath and swearing that if Rada survived the attack on the planet, Jamie would kill him for having left him with this mess.

Blane continued to fire into the ground, kicking up a tremendous cloud all around the position. He pulled his phaser back and ducked down, noticing the Romulans had stopped firing.

“Maybe they went home!” Reece suggested hopefully.

“No, they are literally waiting for the dust to settle,” TC said. “We can’t stay here long. We’re going to have to make a run for the shuttle.”

“Uh. I’m in pain.”

“I know, you kicked the hell out of that box,” Reece said to Kellyn. He turned to see her gripping her side, with a blood stained hand. “Oh, oh no, Kellyn you sprung a leak.

Reece pulled her hand away to see the gash one of the disruptor blasts had cut in her side, just below the ribs. Kellyn’s eyes were already beginning the flutter as she threatened to lose consciousness. Dabin tore off the sleeve of his uniform, wadded it up, and pressed it against her to stop the bleeding.

“Damn, we can’t make a run for the shuttle with her like this. Anything you can do Reece?” TC asked.

Dabin chuckled. “Ha, ha ha. Ha ha ha. Right now my sleeve is the only thing preventing her from bleeding out. She needs doctors and she needs them five minutes ago. I need to check her and make sure this thing didn’t hit anything important. You and you.” Reece pointed at Hok and Dengar. “Take off your sleeves and hold the wound closed to stop the bleeding.”

Rada and Hok needed only to consider one fact, which made it easy for them to help her. They knew she would do it for them, without batting an eyelash. Each took their place, as Reece tried to check her pulse.

“Kellyn, babe, I need you to take a deep breath for me. Pretend you are getting the first whiff of a plate of Szechuan chicken.”

Kellyn smiled in her dazed state, and inhaled deeply. Her smile quickly degenerated into an expression of pain, as she released the breath and clutched her side again.

“Did that hurt?” Dabin asked.

She nodded.

“Damn, I think it nicked her lung. She needs medical attention immediately.” Reece said.

“How bad?” Hok asked, his concern for Kellyn making him oblivious to the fact his hand was now covered in her blood.

“Not bad, if she’s in Sickbay. The damage is easy enough to repair. She would be up and around in no time, but she’s not in a Sickbay. If we control the bleeding she’s got maybe an hour. If I can get to the medkit in the shuttle she’s got probably a good day or two once I seal the wound and get her some medicine.”

The ground beneath them shook, as an explosion from nearby light up the dust cloud around them.

“What the hell was that?” Rada asked, as the sound ceased. There was a clank of metal near the edge of the trench. TC cautiously stuck his head up and grabbed the piece of shrapnel. He dropped back down and held it out for Rada to read.

USS Fortune

“Looks like the Romulans took the shuttle option off the table.” Rada said.

“Federation criminals!” A booming voice suddenly filled the area around them. “We have destroyed your shuttle, and your mother ship.”

“Like hell you did,” TC mumbled. He did not buy for a second that the Sera had been destroyed.

“We demand you surrender the Hugreti device you illegally obtained to wage war against the Romulan Empire.”

Dabin rolled his eyes, “Geez, paranoid much? If they want the toys they can have them if they’ll let us go.”

TC shook his head and grinned sadly. “Go where?” He thumbed in the general direction of the Romulans. “They blew up our ‘mother ship’ remember.”

“We don’t have a lot of options but I know surrender will not be one of them.” TC added.

“Maybe Commander Reece is right. Maybe we should just give them what they want. They don’t know there is no weapon in the box,” Hok shrugged, unsure if TC would agree with him or ignore him.

“I think your right,” Blane said. “Give me the box.”

Hok handed him the dollhouse, and TC snapped the lid shut as best he could, but not before slipping one of the dolls into his own belt.

-=Romulan Vessel=-

“I’ve ordered our troops to negotiate for the device, lest it be destroyed in the fire fight.” Tolleth reported.

“Wise. I don’t care about the away team, just get me that device then beam our people up. I have an idea.”

Taris gripped her armrest as the ship shook. Her vessel was larger and more powerful, but grossly understaffed, and the Serendipity was giving as good as it got.

“Now would be a good time to share your plan. Shields are at fifty-six percent. Theirs are at thirty-six percent.” Tolleth urged her on, knowing that the battle was by no means won.

“Salvek is never going to complete his research for me, and as much as I’d love to simply kill him and Zanh Liis both, death will cause them no suffering. But, there is a way I can correct my errors from the past, bring agony to Salvek and Zanh, and tap into their transwarp research.”

“Do tell, Commander.” Tolleth steadied himself, as a volley of torpedoes effectively destroyed their aft sensor array. As much as her treacherous monologueing excited him in engineering, during a battle for his life he very much wished she would just get to the point.

“I should have raised Salvek as a child myself, and let him work for me. But I have a second chance. There is a child on that ship, who is destined to follow in her father’s footsteps, as Salvek followed in his parents’. Once their shields are down, scan the ship for child with Bajoran and Vulcan life signs. Transport her aboard, and then get us out of this system.”

Taris grinned even as panels burst into flame around her, and crewmembers dropped to the deck, killed or maimed. “Lair Arie will fulfill her destiny at my side, and at my bidding.”

Commander TC Blane
Second Officer
USS Serendipity


Commander Salvek
First Officer
USS Serendipity

NRPG: When Mr. Hok first proposed this mission idea to me, it was his idea from the start that the Hugreti box contained what is revealed in this post: a type of toy. He was kind enough to allow me to elaborate on that by making it a dollhouse which will be touched upon in future posts, and the crew had no idea until this post went out what was in it. I'd like to thank him for the great idea and for giving us such leeway with the posts and I'd like to thank Commanders Blane and Salvek for the fabulous 'reveal'. I think this story has a very Original Series feel to it.

Our official first anniversary here at ST: Alchemy is the day after tomorrow.

We're just getting warmed up.

I love my crew. Thanks for an unforgettable year. ~ZL