…continued from part one
-= USS Serendipity=-
“What is the status of the transporters?” The normally mild mannered Salvek had to scream into his comm badge, just for Halliday to hear him over the fire suppression systems.
[Still offline! I strongly suggest we focus our efforts on the shields! I can’t hold them together much longer!]
“Negative. Continue working on the transporters. The Away Team depends on it. Mr. Blakeslee, concentrate all fire on their weapons systems. We need to slow their attack.”
Zander nodded as he let loose another volley of torpedoes that struck the opposing ship along its broadside. He quickly followed with three strikes from the phasers in the same section of the Romulan ship.
The last shot penetrated the shields and struck home, cutting and burning a savage tear along the length of the Romulan ship. A flash was seen as the contents of her damaged section were sucked into space from the hull breach.
“Yeah!” Zander yelled. “Direct hit on their engineering section! Their warp core is offline so is impulse!” His exhilaration was cut short as a torpedo slammed into the Sera shaking her violently. Alarm lights flashed on his panel.
“Starboard dorsal shield is down!” He tapped furiously at the panel. “Trying to compensate.”
A second torpedo slammed into the lower side of the Sera’s saucer and Zander’s panel exploded into a shower of sparks and shrapnel. The force of the explosion flung him backwards into the bulkhead like a rag doll. He fell to the deck burned, broken, and unmoving.
“Romulan away team! We are willing to surrender the Hugreti weapon, if you will guarantee our safety,” TC knew there was no weapon in the box, but there was no reason the Romulans needed to know that.
“Agreed!” Came the hasty reply.
“No negotiations?” Hok said, sounding surprised. “They must be in a hurry.”
“Well we are about to find out.” TC stood up, and flung the box end over end away from the trench, then ducked back down. There was silence for a few moments, and then the hum of the transporters.
TC poked his eyes slowly above the ground and looked through the haze. “I’ll be damned, they left.”
Reece should have been glad the Romulans were gone but their hasty departure only served to concern him. “Something is very wrong about this.”
Salvek rushed up to tactical, and pressed his fingers to Zander’s neck. He was alive, but barely.
“Medical team to the bridge.”
The Vulcan stood and turned to the tactical display. The badly damaged Romulan ship appeared to be adrift. They were no longer firing, which was fortunate, because Salvek could not find any active weapons to fire back at them if they did. Instead he concentrated on trying to repair dorsal shields.
“We’re being scanned. I think the Romulans are about to activate their transporters.” Ensign Nye reported from the Science station.
Suddenly Salvek felt like a man alone. The entire command crew save himself was either on the planet below, on Bajor, injured, pregnant or on their Honeymoon. He did remember that there was another resource that he could rely on, however.
“Paxton Briggs, please report to the bridge.”
Salvek heard rustling behind him, and turned to see Dalton McKay, who had slipped unnoticed onto the bridge and was already working feverishly on Zander Blakeslee.
“Is he all right Doctor?”
“No.” McKay said honestly. “Third degree burns and several broken bones. I’m going to stabilize him, then transfer him to Sickbay. He’ll survive.”
Dwan Tubman, the new security officer Salvek had met during the contest to install the fireworks launchers in Ireland, arrived and took the tactical station from Salvek. Paxton Briggs was right behind him.
“Orders Commander?” Briggs asked, knowing he was not here for a social call.
“Assist Ensign Tubman in any way you can to try and get weapons and shields back on line.”
“I’ve got the communications back on line!” Ensign Tenney reported.
[Blane to Serendipity, please respond!] TC’s exasperated voice crackled over the speakers.
“We hear you Commander, please report.”
[Lair Kellyn is severely injured, request immediate transport to Sickbay. The Romulans have the Hugreti box.]
Salvek stiffened at the mention of Kellyn’s name. He looked at Briggs, who just shook his head, indicating that transporters were still off line.
“We can’t beam you up, transporters are damaged.”
“Commander, Romulan transports have been activated!” Nye shouted over the conversation.
“Intruder alert, all security personnel…” Salvek’s order was cut off by Nye in mid sentence.
“They aren’t boarding the ship, they are beaming something off. They also have their warp core back on line.” Nye paused, as he waited to see what they were going to do next. “They’ve gone to warp. Heading for Romulan space. They’ve activated their cloak but I can still track them.”
“Let them go, we’ll send a shuttle to retrieve the away team. Any idea what they took?”
“Not what, who. I can’t tell exactly, sensors are malfunctioning.” Nye shook his head as he tried to decipher the readings.
“Abduction?” Salvek raised an eyebrow.
[Hey, Salvek! This is Reece! Look dude you gotta get the Doctor down here now, Kellyn is in bad shape.]
“We are assembling a shuttle team, stand by. Computer, are there any persons unaccounted for besides those on the planet?”
^Lair Arie is not on board the Serendipity.^
Salvek staggered back, and slumped into the Command chair. His Vulcan patience had officially been pushed to the limits, and he was barely in control of his emotions.
“Commander,” Nye spoke up, “I can only track the Romulan for another two or three minutes till they move out of sensor range. If we wait for a shuttle launch, we’ll lose them.”
[No way dude, you gotta launch that shuttle or Kellyn will die!] Reece shouted over the open comm.
“If you launch that shuttle you may never see your child again.” Nye did not mean to be harsh, he merely wanted Salvek to understand how grave the situation was. Briggs watched the entire display with one eye on tactical and the other on Salvek.
[You can’t just leave her down here!]
“You can’t just let the Romulans take her!”
[You have to do something!]
“We’re running out of time!”
Salvek bolted out of the Command chair, and approached Dalton McKay.
“Is Mr. Blakeslee stable? Can we transfer him to Ensign T’Dara’s care?” Salvek asked.
“Well yes, but I’d still like to…”
“I am sorry, Doctor.” Salvek grabbed McKay’s mobile emitter and shut his program down. He then handed the emitter and the triage kit he was using on Blakeslee to Ensign Tubman.
“Take these to weapons control on deck seven, and place it inside a probe casing. You have thirty seconds.” Salvek ordered, his eyes held Tubman’s in a steely gaze, indicating just how serious he was that this task be performed without flaw.
“Yes sir.” Tubman said in his deep bellowing voice. With that, he bolted into the turbolift.
“Helm, lay in an intercept course and engage as soon as the probe is away,” Salvek ordered, returning to the Command chair. “Commander Blane, we are launching a probe that contains the Doctor’s mobile emitter and a medkit. We are programming it to land at your coordinates, then we are going after the Romulans. We will be back for you as soon as we can.”
The next fifteen seconds took an eternity from Salvek’s point of view, as he waited for Tubman’s signal.
[Commander, this is Ensign Tubman. You may fire your probe now.]
Salvek signaled to Briggs, who launched the probe.
“Maximum warp, engage.” Salvek ordered next, and they were away. “Can we catch them?”
“They are only at Warp six. We are doing a bit better. Two hours to intercept.” Briggs reported.
Briggs shifted uncomfortably as he took note of the ship status. The damage was severe but the drive systems were in better shape then their foes, but the shields and the weapons were in trouble. They would not win a gunfight in their current condition. Briggs shook his head.
*This is a bad tactical decision.*
He glanced over at Salvek. He could tell the man was stressed, despite being a Vulcan. Paxton had worked with Vulcans in the past and knew that something else weighed on this particular man. Something other than the burden of command.
Briggs walked over to stand next to Salvek who sat in the captain’s chair staring straight ahead as if trying to will the Sera to a faster speed.
“Commander, may I speak with you a moment?” Briggs asked.
Salvek turned to face him. “Yes Mr. Briggs what can I do for you?”
Briggs looked around the bridge to make sure no one was paying any unnecessary attention to them. Satisfied that everyone was consumed with repairing the Sera’s bridge and preparing to intercept the Romulan ship, he lowered his voice and nodded to the ready room.
“May I speak with you in private?”
Salvek had too much work to do to prepare for Arie's rescue to be bothered with a private conversation at the moment. He could only surmise, based on knowing nothing of the man, that Briggs wished for some explanation as to what was going on that prompted this battle.
Salvek led the way into the ready room, and replaced a few of Zanh Liis's decorations that had tipped over or fallen to the floor altogether during the battle. Nothing, he noted, was damaged.
Salvek would already be turning over a damaged ship to the Captain; he did not need to tell her that her ready room was in shambles as well.
"The injured woman on the planet, and the person that was kidnapped." Briggs began.
Salvek completed his thought, and confirmed the worst to Paxton, "My wife, and my daughter."
Paxton had guessed one of the two was important to Salvek somehow. He had not bet on both not only being important, but being immediate family.
"Commander, I believe it is unwise for us to pursue the Romulans. We are in no condition for another firefight. Especially if they bring in reinforcements."
"There will be no reinforcements," Salvek said calmly.
"How can you know that?"
"Because the Captain of that vessel works alone. There is one and only one person that would ever make a point of taking my daughter," Salvek kept his eyes on Briggs as he spoke, and Paxton stared right back.
Briggs was beginning to think Salvek sounded delusional. His wife was severely injured, and his daughter taken from the ship. He seemed far too confident that the Romulans would not bring in another ship, which, if it happened, would spell doom for the Serendipity.
Vulcan or not, no one under the strain that Salvek was experiencing at the moment could effectively command a starship.
"Commander, your Captain is gone, and your second officer is stranded on the planet behind us. You are in the midst of a deep personal turmoil surrounding the status of your family. Given the circumstances, I feel I am left with no choice but to relieve you of duty and take command of this ship."
Salvek gripped his hand into a fist instinctively, then immediately released it.
"That will not be necessary. You are dismissed, Commander."
"Oh, I believe it is. I'd be happy to call the ranking medical officer or ship's Counselor for their opinion, but I believe you a wise enough man to know what they will say. I cannot in good conscience allow you to lead this ship to disaster because of your personal feelings for you family."
Paxton leaned over the Captain's desk to whisper to Salvek. "But for the record if it were me, I'd do the same thing."
Salvek was tempted to call T'Dara to the bridge, but knowing she was Vulcan, he knew she would rule in Briggs favor, as she should. He only had one word of caution for Briggs.
"The crew will not follow you." Salvek said coldly.
"That's a chance I'm willing to take," Paxton replied. "Now, you are welcome to stay on the bridge and assist all you wish with repairs. But the Command decisions stay with me."
Salvek felt his Vulcan passion burning, but held his tongue. He left the ready room with Briggs in tow.
February Grace waved from the science station, where she had come to fill in while Ensign Nye went below to assist with repairs to the sensor nets.
"Lieutenant Grace, you are confined to bed are you not?"
"Doctor did say I need to get up and about a few times a day. I'm merely following his advice."
"This is not the arboretum," Salvek said dryly.
"You are short several science officers. My last host was a science officer.”
Salvek thought about the risk to her child, and her own life, as well as that of the Grace symbiont if she disobeyed the ‘off-duty’ order.
Knowing him as well as she did, February lowered her voice, and addressed his unspoken concerns.
“Sir, the situation is grave. And if the ship comes apart, then that won’t be very good for the baby either, will it?”
Salvek, for the first time she’d ever seen, averted his eyes and sighed.
“I need to help my crew, Commander. I need to help you."
"So be it," Salvek said.
"Orders, sir?" February asked.
Salvek did not reply. He merely walked to the engineering station and began running diagnostics on the ship's systems. If Briggs wanted to take command, he would be the one to inform the crew.
"I have assumed command of this vessel. You will be taking orders from me now, Lieutenant."
February's jaw dropped, as everyone on the bridge froze, and looked at Salvek.
"Commander Briggs has, rightfully, relieved me of Command. Each of you will follow his orders," Salvek did not look at anyone as he spoke; he merely kept his eyes on the display before him.
Commander TC Blane
USS Serendipity NCC 2012
USS SerendipityNCC 2012