Stolen Toys by FalseBill

McGregor and his crew have to deal with the Orion Syndicate's latest scheme.

Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: Ensemble Cast - USS Kestrel
Genre: Humor
Warnings: None
Challenges: None
Series: Kestrel
Chapters: 1 Completed: Yes Word count: 6409 Read: 1354 Published: 31 Aug 2013 Updated: 31 Aug 2013
Story Notes:

Was written for the August 2013 Monthly challenge "Steal all the Toys".

A big thank you to SLWalker for Beta Reading all this and managing to sort out the grammar and also helped out with some very helpful suggestions. So be sure to read her excellent story "Glass Half Screw This" that details some events on the USS Kestrel before this story.

Also a big thank you to Miranda Fave for creating the USS Kestrel and it crew and letting me play with them.

1. Chapter 1 by FalseBill

Chapter 1 by FalseBill
CHSU Class Dockport Shuttle

"I do have all the best toys," thought Captain McGregor.

He pressed buttons on the console and the Kestrel's outdated CHSU shuttle banked to starboard. Then McGregor tapped more buttons, seemingly at random, while saying with utter glee, "Beep, beepity beep, ding!"

The strange looking shuttle did a nosedive.

"Yew-haw! Look at me, Molly," said McGregor.

"Captain, Commander Cartwright is not on board, nor do I believe we have an open com link to the Kestrel. Thus, asking her to look at you, when she can not hear you does seem illogical, even for you," said Lieutenant Commander T'Vel.

"Vel, don't be a spoilsport," answered McGregor. Besides, Molly was certain to be watching from the bridge.

T'Vel stepped forward; the EVA suit she currently wore made each movement jerky and noisy.

"I'm not being a spoilsport, I am just stating--" started T'Vel.

"A logical fact?" mocked McGregor.

"Indeed, Captain," replied T'Vel.

McGregor hit a couple of button, and the CHSU did a sudden J-turn. A few cries from the rear compartment indicated that some of the crewmen who were still suiting up were surprised. T'Vel braced herself and just gave McGregor a questionable look.

"Before you say it, these maneuvers are necessary to check the CHSU is still in good working order before we attempt to dock with the remains of the Kingfisher," said McGregor.

T'Vel just raised one eyebrow in classic Vulcan fashion, as she sat down in the co-pilot seat.

"Don't give me the eyebrow, Vel, I'm conducting a series of maneuvering tests, to ensure all the shuttle systems remain in top order. I mean this one -- which I called the bucking bronco -- is designed to test the maneuvering thrusters," said McGregor.

T'Vel, despite it been an emotional response, took pity on the crew people putting on their EVA suits in the rear compartment and called back to them, "Bronco!"

A series of rude exclamations, zips and clicks from the rear compartment told the story as the crew tried to strap themselves in before McGregor began the bucking bronco maneuver.

The CHSU began spinning from side to side and dipping up and down, in quick succession.

"I need to fly this more often, I forgot how much fun flying the CHSU can be," said McGregor.

"Captain, perhaps we should attempt to dock with the USS Kingfisher hulk now? And see if we can find any survivors?" asked T'Vel.

"Oh you're no fun anymore, Vel. Everybody, here we go, time to laugh or cry, people, and I don't do cry!" said McGregor.

The shuttle turned to port and began to slow down and dip once more. Slowly the forward screen began to fill with the image of a broken Miranda-class starship, the USS Kingfisher.

The Kingfisher's roll bar had been blown clean off, along with her starboard warp nacelle, whilst the port warp nacelle was just a burnt out husk. The topside of the saucer was pitted with multiple torpedo impact craters and heavy disrupter beam hits. The underside of the saucer was only hinted at by the peeled back metal and large amount of debris that floated nearby.

"Any life signs?" asked McGregor.

The jokes were gone now; the more the captain stared at the broken Miranda-class, the firmer his jaw became. He knew that Captain Jose was a hawsehole like him, and so this was a worrying sign that they was something out there that could take down the Kestrel and her crew. He had made the jokes on the way over to keep his team's minds off this image, but now they had to face the truth and find the answers fast.

T'Vel ran her fingers over the console. She took a moment to read and report backed, "Sensors are still unable to give a clear image, due to the local interference, Captain."

"Guess we have to do this the old fashion way," said McGregor, before adding, "SPO Mila Chomsky, you're on point,"

"Da, Captain," came the reply from Ukrainian.

T'Vel raised her eyebrow again.

The Kestrel's sister ship was in a death spin; the local sub-space interference meant the Kestrel transporter couldn't achieve a target lock to materialize, but the USS Kingfisher's main hangar bay and sixth deck docking door were all damaged beyond use. However, Captain McGregor's good knowledge of the Miranda-class meant he remembered an old small auxiliary maintenance door at the bottom of the Impulse engines, as another way onboard.

Sadly, the obsolete nature of that door, and the fact that it was not meant for deep space docking, meant the only Kestrel shuttle capable of achieving a safe lock was the old CHSU Class Dockport shuttle.

Captain McGregor maneuvered the CHSU Shuttle to the auxiliary maintenance door then he rotated the shuttle to match the hulk spin.

"Let's get that door open, my young Kestrels," ordered McGregor.

T'Vel insisting the drones been sent in before SPO Chomsky led the team in.

Those ten minutes of watching drone footage laced with static, didn't leave a happy image for McGregor or his shuttle team, as the Kingfisher was far too similar to the Kestrel for comfort.

"Captain, Alpha drone has linked with Kingfisher's black-box. I'm attempting to retrieve something of value now," said T'Vel.

They seem to be a pause as T'Vel fingers run across the console interface. Even through the EVA suit, McGregor knew her well enough to see the little signs of frustration.

"Anything?" asked McGregor.

"Only the bridge screen logs seem intact. I'm pulling up the last minute of active recording now," answered T'Vel

The away team gathered round the small monitor to watch the playback. Their jaws dropped as one, and SPO Chomsky summed it up when she said, "Ni!"

"Sadly, Mila, the Orion Syndicate somehow have managed to purchase a second hand Ambassador-Class and make it a pirate vessel," said McGregor.

Then he leaned back in his chair and stroked his beard, as he tried to work out his next move.

USS Kestrel NCC 31967
Main Hangar, Deck Five

Eddie Gardner was working under a salvaged WASP shuttle, and with one final push he finally got the replacement impulse coolant relay in; with a couple of flicks of his wrists he screwed the unit back into the correct place.

"Try it now, Becky," Eddie called.

"Trying it now, here we go again," Becca Swift called back from the shuttle cabin.

With a loud beep and bop, the power core reactivate and the WASP shuttle roared back to life.

"That seems to have fixed it, Chief," said Becca

Eddie closed the inspection hatch and pulled himself from under the shuttle. As he sat up, he produced a cloth from his pocket and wiped his hands clean on it. Then he stood up and walked to the shuttle door.

"Is it still holding up, Becky?" Eddie asked.

Yes, I've finishing running the self-diagnostic, it all seems to be ready for service again," she replied

Then Petty Officer Becca Swift appeared in the WASP shuttle door, Eddie noted that she wore the black ops suit. 

"I'll be the judge of that. So, you going to pilot one of the WASP on this near suicide run then?" asked Eddie

"No, I'm going to pilot one of the shuttles run on the most audacious SARAH ever conceived of, and get me a healthy deal of revenge on the Orion Syndicate for the late crew of the USS Kingfisher, but mostly for me," she replied

"Well, I reckon both of you are ready for the Captain's plan, at any rate," he replied.

Becky handed him the PADD for authorisation, which he took. He pressed his thumb against the scanner and then used the provided stylise to sign off that the shuttle was ready for operations again. Then he hand the PADD back to Becca.

With a polite nod, Becca walked past Eddie to join the small group of crew in black ops suits, standing by the captain.

Eddie could only shake his head, and then he walked over to the other WASP shuttle salvaged from the USS Kingfisher that Lieutenant Berkley was working on. Berkley was also in a black ops suit.

"How it going, Lieutenant?" he asked.

"Just need to reline this sensor stealth plate relay and she'll be good to go, Chief," replied Berkley

"I'll finish it up; you go catch the Captain's mission brief. Can't have you getting yourself killed because you don't know the plan, as it would take me ages to train up any replacement to my high standards," said Eddie

"Okay. Thanks, Chief," said Berkley. 

Then he stood up put his tools back in his kit bag and walked over to join the group around the Captain. 

Eddie quickly knelt down and did a once over of Berkley's work to date. He deemed it satisfactory for the job and began to finish the re-alignment of the sensor stealth plate relay.

As Berkley join the group, Captain McGregor looked up from the PADD he was reading and said, "Lieutenant, does that mean we repaired both of the late USS Kingfisher WASPs enough that I now have seven working WASP shuttles for the plan?"

"Six, Captain. Gardner is just closing off the seventh, she'll be space ready in under five minutes," replied Berkley.

Captain McGregor suddenly adopted a cowboy stance and in his best cowboy voice said, "Excellent! Well, my magnificent seven Kestrels, get ready to saddle up; we got some vermin to teach that this isn't how we do things in my sector."
Despite themselves, a quick laugh passed between the team at the Captain's antics.

McGregor paused to ride the laughter before he said, "Right. T'Vel will hand each of you a PADD with my sealed but O' so magnificent orders on them. You will board your assigned WASP, and then launch immediately. You'll then follow the warp trail from the Orion Ambassador into the distant night. While you trace that vermin, I shall take the Kestrel to follow up on a Starfleet intelligence lead that José was working on before they shot him down."

The Kestrel's Vulcan science officer T'Vel, the only other person bar McGregor and Gardner on the hangar deck not in the black ops suit, handed Lt. Berkley a PADD. "Lieutenant Berkley, this PADD contains the mission plan, which you are to memorize then delete; it also contains the Ambassador class specifications with all known weaknesses highlighted. It contains a self destruct system, which you should use if necessary to prevent the Orion Syndicate from obtaining the PADD."

"Thank you, Lieutenant Commander," said Berkley.

T'Vel bowed her head slightly in that typical Vulcan way of acknowledgement, then she walk over to the Kzinti Chief Of the Boat, Rah Eyrrs Norr and gave him a PADD as well. As T'Vel dished out a PADD to each of the seven, McGregor spoke again,

"You'll read your sealed orders once you're off the Kestrel, then using your own skill and judgment you will execute the orders to the best of your abilities. You'll run silent, and only Rah, Molly or myself using the code word in your orders can change them. Do you all understand?"

"Yes, Captain, but do our sealed order contain our end and withdrawal conditions?" asked Becca.

"For those that exist, then yes. Any other questions?" asked McGregor

Silence fell over the group. Then Eddie piped up, "Captain, number seven WASP is ready."

"Thank you, Eddie. Cubans on me later," McGregor replied.

"I'll hold you to that. Now I best get back to my engines," said Eddie.

Then he walked out of the hangar deck. Didn't want to see the departure of the seven, for he feared the odds of seeing them again was slim.

The group watched him go, all knowing Eddie well enough to understand his quick departure.

"Well, I know this all seems strange, but our job is to hold the line. To do that today, I need you to be your best. But if you carry this one off, I can guarantee you that you'll be able to get free drinks off this story for the rest of your careers. Heck, I'm already casting next year summer blockbuster holo-movie of this tale," said McGregor.

Another very nervous laugh escaped from the seven-crew members.

"Okay saddle up. I'll see you all at the opening premiere. If you'll excuse me, I've got a space Viking funeral for José and the USS Kingfisher to arrange. Now, go walk the walk," said McGregor.

With a nod, the seven crew members lead by COB Rah and comprising of Petty Officer Becca Swift, Ensign Sebastian Templar, Lieutenant Berkley, Petty Officer Nujinxen; Petty Officer Merkel Rostock and Senior Petty Officer Gunny, all made the short walk to the waiting shuttles and their dates with destiny.


USS Kestrel
Main Bridge Deck one

From the centre seat, McGregor watched as the photon torpedo donate and reduce the USS Kingfisher to plasma, and as the seven WASP shuttles made their jump to warp speed.

"Oh, hell," said McGregor with clear annoyance. 

"Captain, what's wrong?" asked Stanley. 

"The biggest fire in the sector and me without any marshmallows to toast. Please Mummy Molls, can you make sure that marshmallows go on the next requisition list?" asked McGregor.

"Captain, might I remind you that fire is all that's left of three hundred fellow Border Dogs?" asked Caleb Dexter, from behind the Tactical console.

"Yes, and I do celebrations not wakes for their sacrifices, Tac."

Caleb gave him a surprised face and he wondered again what went on in his captain mind.

McGregor ignored him and turned to the blue helmsman and said, "Stanley, please plot a course and execute at warp two point five towards the Pisces Alpha Colony."

"Of course, Captain. Course plotted and executed," replied Stanley.

The Kestrel turned slowly away from the vaporized corpse of her sister vessel, and then with a flash made the jump to warp. 

"Stanley, Please confirm our ETA at the Pisces Alpha Colony?" asked McGregor.

"At current speed we should reach the colony around eleven o'clock ships time and around the seven morning hour local time, which means I should have a new scarf ready for you by the time we reach it," replied Stanley.

"Excellent, a new scarf and we'll be in time for a second breakfast. Molly, might I have a word with you in private?" asked McGregor.

"Of course, Captain," replied Molly. 

"Then to the Den! T'Vel, you have the bridge and if Tac gives you any kind of grief, you have my permission to stuff him in a torpedo and fire him all the way back to Starbase 49," said McGregor.

"What?" asked Dexter.

"Consider that my friendly warning, Tac. My patient is low today; so don't push your luck. Tatty-bye, everybody!"

With that, McGregor stood up from his chair and walked to the turbolift, where he held the door for Commander Cartwright to join him. As Molly entered the turbolift, McGregor made a deep bow and said, "Your carriage awaits, my lady!"
Molly just rolled her eyes at him as she walked into the turbolift.

As the turbolift doors closed, McGregor said to the lift, "Down boy! Deck three, senior officers lounge."

"What did you want to discuss, McGregor?" asked Molly.

"Eddie sabotaging my personal replicator, with assistance from a certain XO," said McGregor. 

Molly decided to play innocent. "Captain, what are you accusing Eddie and said XO of?" asked Molly.

"Getting me drunk on Romulan ale, and then tricking me into giving them the authorization code, so you could take away my ability to create glass objects."

"This is a serious allegation. Do you have any proof?" asked Molly.

"Why, yes," said McGregor. And with that, from some secret pocket with a flourish he produced a strange black box, with a transparent front with a while box inside. "I bet you don't recognize one of these, do you, Molly?" he asked, with a wicked grin.

"No, I don't, and what sort of proof is this?" asked Molly. 

"It's an ancient analogue audio recording device, one that modern surveillance scramblers don't scramble. Shall we have a listen?"

"Well, if you're sure it won't break it," said Molly, with a sinking feeling.

McGregor pressed a button on the top and the turbo-lift was filling with Molly and Eddie voice discussion the price in Romulan ale for the deal. 

"That wouldn't stand up in any modern Federation court," said Molly.

"It stands up in the Court of McGregor," he said.

The Turbolift doors open and disposed them on deck three, the pair walked in silence side by side to the senior office lounge, where the doors opened silently and McGregor invited Molly to enter first.

Once they were inside McGregor said, "Lock and secure the doors," and rattled off his override codes. 

With a heavy thud, the doors locked and a shimming light showed an internal force field had appeared over the door. 

"Now, Molly, why?" asked McGregor.

"Because you won't throw another glass at me or near me, or anyone else ever again or I will have you up on assault charges. This seemed the rudding-easy way to teach you a lesson."

"Have I ever actually injured anybody with a thrown glass?" asked McGregor.

"Yes! Your last tantrum lead to glass shards cutting me, that was the last straw," snapped back Molly.

"I see," said McGregor.

"No, I don't think you do. If you did you wouldn't throw glass at walls," said Molly

McGregor turned away from Molly and walked over to the kestrel statue on the bar.

"Then, I must apologized for that injury to your person," said McGregor.

McGregor then began to stroke the kestrel gunmetal bust. Then he put his hands on a similar bust of a Kingfisher bird, taken from the USS Kingfisher bar by the salvage team on McGregor orders. Indeed, Yeoman Harris had spent much of her shift today trying to restore the shine to it.

"That's a start, but you are going to stop doing it," said Molly.

"If you say so, Molls," replied McGregor.

"Don't be so flippant about this, it's not a laughing matter," stated Molly.

Molly glared at McGregor and then with ice fury, she began to advance up the stairs towards him.

He turned around to face her, clasped his chest and dropped to his knees and said, "You've got me, it's all going dark! Why, Molls? Why?" McGregor flopped onto his back and played dead. Molly stood over him and just stared down silently at him. McGregor open one eye and looked up at her.

"Get up, Captain," said Molly, without any warmth.

"Mercy, Molly, that stare is crueler than any thrown glass," said McGregor.

"No, it's more effective, thus supporting my case: Don't throw glasses at anyone," said Molly, as she crossed her arms in front of her chest.

"Molly, I've got to let my passions”" started McGregor.

"Not that way, you don't!" injected Molly.


"No buts," said Molly.

"No buts? Oh, you're no fun anymore," said McGregor.

Molly pressed her mouth into a firm line. "No, right now I'm no fun and if you ever throw another glass, I'll bring you up on charges."

Now McGregor stood up and stared back at Molly. Then he marched round the bar and flung open the cupboards looking for something.

"You won't found any glasses," said Molly.

Then McGregor dropped behind the bar and after a couple of mild thuds all but screamed in frustration.

"Yes, all the real alcohol and synthehol glass bottles have gone as well," said Molly.

McGregor emerged from behind the bar, his face was now like thunder, and slammed his hands on the polished top.

"You need to get that temper under control. What you need is--"

"No, no, no!"

"--is a counselor," stated Molly.

"Not unless I can trade a counselor for some proper glasses?" asked McGregor, hopefully.

"No, to deal with--" said Molly.

"NO!" McGregor face was now twisted into pure rage and he slammed his fist into the bar with every keyword, "No more analysis, no more psychobabble, no more having my jokes dissected instead of laughed at! No counselor!"

The last thump of his hand on the bar caused the Kestrel bust to shift on the bar, no more than a few millimeters, but it was enough to activate its internal force field. The flash of light as it activated froze McGregor to the spot, mid bar thump.

"Kes! I'm sorry, Daddy didn't mean it," said McGregor.

Molly saw her opportunity and so she drove her point home, "Just how many more of those you claim to care about will you hurt, because of that temper? You might not mean to hurt anyone, but with your pitched glasses against the walls, your intimidation tactics, or even your secret schemes, you'll become the very abuser you use to fight against. Either it stops now, or--"

As the shield faded away, McGregor pulled himself closer to the bust and held it tight to him.

"--one of the best men in the entire services for standing up for the forgotten, the ignored and the overlooked of abused Federation citizens, will become the type of abuser he used to fight against. Or worse," said Molly.

"Worse, Molls?" he asked, hugging the bust tighter.

"Worse. How long before you hurt some innocent person, not in the line of duty, but in a temper and it loses you the Kestrel? Let me be as clear as rubber glass: If you don't learn to control your passions, you won't control the Kestrel for much longer. So face the hard and painful truth, you do need professional help from a counselor."

McGregor gently stroked the kestrel bust. There was a long moment. The silence thickened, threatening to choked a hard earned friendship, when finally McGregor broke it and he said quietly, in a tone somewhere between defiant and defensive, "For the Kestrel. I'll leave Eddie's overrides alone for now."

Suddenly, the red alert siren started to wail. Over the intercom came T'Vel voice saying, "Captain and Commander Cartwright to the bridge. This is not a drill."

"Release room lock; Captain's Override Code Beta-Theta," said McGregor.

The door made a small hiss as the force field dropped and the door unlocked. 

"Come on, Captain, we need your special-ness on the bridge," said Molly, pulling them back to familiar ground.

With a sudden bounce in his step, McGregor bounced away from the bar, and said,

"Come on, I've got an enemy to embarrass and confuse and I need you there to witness it. So you can tell Rear-Admiral Faraday about it in a matter-of-fact way later."

"Lead on, Captain," replied Molly, holding the rest of the conversation in abeyance until some other time. If there was another time.

USS Kestrel NCC “ 31967
Main Bridge, Deck One

As McGregor and Molly stepped out from the Turbolift, T'Vel announced, "Captain, we have confirmation the approaching vessel is indeed the same Orion Syndicate Ambassador class, that attacked the USS Kingfisher."

"Let us hope they only have one," said Molly.

"Show time!" said McGregor.

Then he sat down in his chair. 

"Neutralize Warp. Commander Cartwright, please signal Command that we have encountered the pirate vessel," said McGregor.

"Yes, Captain," said Molly, turning to her console and begin sending the message.

"Hostile vessel is now within visual range," stated T'Vel.
"Stanley, warp six, bearing one-one-zero degrees. Let them think we're trying to make a run for it towards that nebula," said McGregor.

"Course laid in and executed, but this delay does mean your scarf will now be late," said Stanley.

"What? Those dastardly pirates, something else to make them pay for!" said McGregor, with mock seriousness.

"Captain, the Orion vessel is now approaching at warp nine point one," said Tac.

"Stanley, change course to bearing zero-seven-three and push the engines to the maximum red line," said McGregor.

"New course executed, Captain, but I'll only be able to maintain this speed for six minutes before we hit the Nova Carter Asteroid belt, and need to drop back down to impulse speed," reported Stanley.

"Captain, the Ambassador has increased to its maximum safe warp speed.

They will catch us before we reach the Nova carter belt," reported T'Vel.

"Stanley, push our engines to the maximum and beyond," ordered McGregor.

The Kestrel began to shake and rattle as the engines were pushed to the limit.

"Captain, the matter/antimatter mix is overheating and is now leaving the safety zone," reported Ensign Cutler.

"Engineering to Bridge," came Eddie's voice. 

"What's wrong, Eddie, can't find your cigar cutter?" asked McGregor.

"Captain, you've only got another two minutes at this speed before we save the Orions a job and blow ourselves up."

"Captain, we have passed the mid point on the orange zone on the warp engine temperature gauge," said Cutler.

A secondary alarm beeped, Molly killed it and reported, "Captain, the warp engines have begun to emit radiation, which is increasing as the temperature increases."

"Rats," said McGregor. "Time for Plan B. Fake a warp engine blow out! Stanley, drop us out of warp and fake a lack of control, in the general direction parallel to the asteroid belt. Mister Cutler, vent warp plasma in a big cloud behind us and liaise with engineering to take the warp drive off line and to be prepared to divert all the warp core power to the phaser banks on my command."

"Captain, Engineering has confirmed warp drive is now off-line. All energy is set to be diverted to phaser banks on your command," said Cutler.

"Bridge to deflection control. Ensign Duffy, I need you to set up for plan ‘B'; how quickly can you do it?" asked McGregor.

"Deflector control to bridge, Plan ‘B' will take a couple of minutes," said Ensign Duffy.

A tense minute passed.

"Bridge to deflection control. Ensign Duffy are you ready?" asked McGregor.

"Yes, Captain, we're ready. Just give the word," replied Ensign Duffy.

"Tac, give me a visual of the Orion vessel, bridge screen."
"Yes, Captain," replied Caleb.

The screen changed as requested, showing the Ambassador class painted in the Orion pirate livery bearing down on them.

"You would think that the Orions could pick one color for their ship livery. I mean, that psychedelic livery gives me a headache. Still, just another crime to make them pay for," said McGregor.

"Captain, the Orion vessel has hit our expended plasma field. Sensors indicate that their warp engine has stalled and they won't be capable of warp speed for some time," said T'Vel.

"Captain, the enemy vessel is hailing us," said Molly. 

"Well, let's look them in the eye, and perhaps my good looks and excellent charisma will get them to surrender without casualties," said McGregor.

The view screen changed again and now it showed a large male Orion sitting in the centre seat, which seem to be a size too small for him. The bridge was filled with an eccentric mix of species, but the majority were Orion. The large Orion had several women dressed in skimpy clothes in chains by his feet.

"Federation vessel Kestrel, I am Commander Vaxbrede. You'll surrender now and accept a life in slavery to the Syndicate or die. The choice is yours," said the large Orion.

"No, thanks," replied McGregor. 

"That wasn't a free choice, human. I've your vessel easily out-matched. Do you want me to reminder you what I did to your USS Kingfisher?" asked Vaxbrede.

"Well! When you put it like that, I must ask you to surrender your ship and crew, to face charges for murdering a Starfleet crew," said McGregor, steepling his fingers and smiling a curving smile above them. 

"You are clearly a madman like your reputation suggests. Time to die with your crew. Feel free to surrender at any time," said Vaxbrede.

"Sorry, Vex-babe, but I only talk shop with a fellow ship's captain, which I believe is that lovely Orion lady in the blue dress there, the infamous Captain Cidolmas, if I'm not mistaken?" asked McGregor.

"You are mistaken, I command here," said Vaxbrede.

McGregor laughed. T'Vel turned to face the Captain, and with the advantage of her back hiding her hand, gave McGregor the pre-agreed signal.

"I must concur, Captain. The Orion female is ninety-six point three percent certain to be the infamous Orion pirate queen Cidolmas," said T'Vel.

"You will die for that insult," said Vexbrede.

"Be quiet, Vax!" said Cidolmas.

Then the Orion pirate queen shook off her fake chains, and with a sweep of her hand, dismissed the large Orion. Then, with a majestic flare, she sat down in the captain's chair and she fixed McGregor with an icy stare. 

"Captain Gregory McGregor, of the famous border cutter Kestrel. Are you going to show some sense, and surrender to me, or do you wish to join that fool Jose and his Kingfisher in a space Viking funeral?" asked Cidolmas.

"Madam, in that low-cut dress you make it seem a tempting offer, but I've seen what your crooked Syndicate does to its slaves, and I'd rather stand by my late friend Captain Jose, who was unlucky and not a fool, than to serve you. After all, I look at souls, and yours is plain ugly," said McGregor.

"Then die, foolish human!" snapped Cidolmas.

With that, the call was terminated and the view screen went back to the original view. 

"Captain, the Orions are charging weapons and raising shields," announced Caleb. 

"Now, Cutler, transfer full power to phasers banks. Stanley zee plus 50,000 now. Tac, you've got one shot at this, so make it count, fire at your discretion. T'Vel, activate the enemy target disrupting devices," said McGregor

"All hands brace for impact," announced Molly, via the ship intercom.

"Oh, and someone to tell Mila to pray to her God that this actually works," said McGregor, into the open intercom. 

The Orions might have technically had a better ship, but they couldn't fully staff it with a Starfleet standard crew and they were still unfamiliar with its systems or the tactics to get the best use out of it. Thus, they were mentally preparing for a repeat of the battle with the Kingfisher, which had been a fairly straight slugfest, with the Kingfisher unable to escape them.

But McGregor knew his ship and he knew how to make everything work for him against a big bully. Indeed he had guessed and T'Vel's secret hand signal had confirmed to him that the Orions had done some very poor repairs from that early fight.

So since the Orions didn't know how to compensate their torpedo guidance against jamming, that meant their torpedoes flew well under the Kestrel, while the sudden move straight up had caught the disruptor bank crews off their guard and those shots went wide as well. 

Then from up high, the Kestrel's overcharged phasers burned a red that was almost white and while the Ambassador's shields might have been able to cope if the Orion ops manager had known how to divert power from rear shields... fortunately for the Kestrel's crew, they didn't, and so with shields at even split, Tac got his aim right. The powerful blast smashed through the forward shield array and lanced down through the decks, hit the emergency saucer separation explosion packs, causing them to ignite and blow the saucer off the engineering hull, and then blow open the top deck of the secondary engineering hull. The massive feedback caused the ship's entire shield generator grid to implode.

"Enemy vessel has lost main power to their saucer weapons and shields won't be back in a rush," announced Caleb. 

"Good shooting, Tac, I knew there was a reason I kept you," said McGregor.

"Captain, forward phaser banks are burnt out," said Cutler.

"Captain, the Orions might have lost warp power to their disruptors, but I think they've learned how to use the torpedoes countermeasures. Singularity torpedoes incoming," announced T'Vel

"Stanley, evasive maneuvers, narrow our profile," ordered McGregor. 

"Trying, Captain," replied Stanley.

Everybody was thrown as the inertial dampeners struggled to keep the crew in one piece, and as Stanley try to shake the torpedoes off, but with only impulse it did seem a lost cause. Then a WASP shuttle swooped in and donated the torpedoes with its phasers.

"Nice shooting, that person," said Caleb.

"What a spoilsport! I was looking forward to filling in that insurance claim." McGregor smirked.

"Captain, the saucer section is targeting the WASP shuttle with its disruptor banks," said Caleb.

"Then sent them a torpedo as a love bite," answered McGregor.

"With pleasure."

Without the power of the engineering hull and the shield knocked out by the over charged phaser shot, the torpedo blasted through and ruptured the saucer disruptor rooms. Indeed, it seemed to set off a load of secondary explosions.

"Pretty," said McGregor. He enjoyed watching as the front half of the Orions' separate saucer section lit up.

"Captain, the saucer section has lost all offensive capacity, and sensors seem to suggest--" started T'Vel. 

Unfortunately, she didn't get to finish the sentence; the ship was rocked as a torpedo from the Ambassador engineering section hit the Kestrel full on. Only Cutler's lighting quick transfer of extra power to those facing shields allowed the Kestrel's shields just to hold back the worst of the blast, but a lot of consoles sparked flames and smoke.

"Captain, we lost torpedo control," said Caleb.

"Look down the back of sofa for it then," said McGregor.

"Stanley, line up that Ambassador engineering section torpedo rooms for Duffy."

"Trying, Captain, helm is not responding correctly,"

"Captain, I'm detecting the charge for another torpedo launch. We have thirty seconds to get our last shot in or get out of the way," said T'Vel.

"Where are those WASPs?" asked Tac.

"Sensor indicate the WASP teams have successfully boarded the engineering section and are approximately forty seconds from taking Main Engineering from the Orions," replied T'Vel.

"Captain, detecting mass energy charge in our deflection control, ready for anti-borg cannon shot," said Cutler.

"Plan B took long enough," said McGregor. "Stanley, make sure we facing the right way to get this last shot on target, as I hate to shoot at nothing."

"Why waste a lifetime of experience of it?" said Molly.

"Fifteen seconds to next torpedo launch," said T'Vel.

"Stanley, I hate to nag, but we're not on target yet," said McGregor.

"Captain, Deflection Control reports we have now passed safe critical mass charge. We've got to fire now, or risk blowing ourselves up," reported Cutler.

"Tell them to think pure thoughts and keep it in for a bit longer," said McGregor.

"Enemy torpedo is away, counter measures aren't working," reported T'Vel.

"We've got to risk it, tell Duffy to fire, Stanley do your best," ordered McGregor.

"Yes sir," came the reply.

McGregor watched as the deflector disc sent a beam of yellow light straight ahead of the Kestrel. Slowly the Ambassador class engineering hull came into the beam, the canon shot shattering the starboard warp nacelle and then clipping the starboard torpedo tube. Then the beam faded out.

"Look like we've spent all our shot," said McGregor,

Everyone was thrown to the port side by an explosion.

"Captain, faulty enemy torpedo exploded prematurely," said Caleb.

"I bet that the first time you appreciated a premature explosion, hey, Molly?" asked McGregor.

Molly gave him a rude hand gesture in response. 

"Oh, it has happened once before then?" said McGregor.

"Captain, from sensors it seems that Rah's team has met more fierce resistance and are still securing Main Engineering, Starboard torpedo rooms on the enemy vessel are out, but the port one is charging for another shot," said T'Vel.

"Guess I'm going to get to fill out that insurance form after all," said McGregor.

"Captain, I'm getting a signal from Berkley; the virus has worked, the ship's remote security code has been successful reset," said Molly.

"Tac," started McGregor.

"On it, Captain," replied Caleb.

"Captain, look!" said Cutler.

They watch on the view screen as the Ambassador vessel's lights suddenly went out. Then, on the view screen, four flashes of light announced the arrival of four Federation vessels from warp.

"It's the cavalry! Were we going to be saved by the Fleet? Oh, wait, we're on top of this one," said McGregor.

They watched as the lead Akira vessel put a quantum torpedo into the Ambassador class port torpedo room, and thus ended any remaining threat.

"Captain, sensors indicate boarding teams from all vessels are now beaming over to assist Rah with securing the enemy vessel," said T'Vel.

"Captain, Captain C'ress of the USS Compass Rose reports we are now within the protection of their shield bubble. Also, we have confirmation both parts of the Orion vessel are now under Starfleet control," reported Molly

"Oh, I feel all safe, thank them please, Molly."

"Captain, an Orion Alpha flyer shuttle has just depart from the Ambassador's hangar deck," reported T'Vel

Then to everyone's surprise as they watched on the screen, as the Miranda class USS Falcon swooped in to try and get a tractor lock on it, the Alpha flyer went to transwarp, 

"Never mind, T'Vel, someone cut their losses."

"Captain, we got a message from the flyer before it warped out," said Molly.

"Oh mail. Is it Orion spam?" asked McGregor.

"No, Captain, it's from Captain Cidolmas. She says she'll pay you back by any means for that, you can expect to hear from her again," said Molly.

"Well, what a nice lady. She's going to keep in touch, unlike T'Hos, who just turns up uninvited and tries to release unwanted viruses," said McGregor.

"I'll add her our enemy Christmas card list then?" asked Molly with sarcasm. 

"Good forward planning, on the ball as always Molly!" said McGregor, with a smirk. Then he added, "So, there just leaves us two questions: what's on Pisces Alpha Colony that the Orions are trying to keep from us? And when is Eddie going to stop complaining about this round of damage?"

"Answering the impossible, even Starfleet cannot do yet," said T'Vel.

"I expect six impossible things before breakfast, everyday," said McGregor, with a wink at T'Vel.

T'Vel only response was a raised eyebrow and, "I shall re-read the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy books when I get time, Captain."

"Good girl. Stand down from red alert, let's see about fixing this bird," said McGregor.
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