U.S.S. Repulse NCC-1652
Tren’ey System, Sector Sierra-14
The bridge was in chaos. Klaxons droned, electrical fires filled the air with bitter smoke, stressed metal groaned. Injured officers and crewmen moaned in pain; the dead lay still, only moving when the ship rocked. Lieutenant Commander Tobias Deacon had hauled himself back to his feet, only to see two such bodies staring back at him. Shock and loss welded him to the deck plating, and for the briefest of moments all he could do was stare back at them.
“Sir?!” A firm hand gripped his left shoulder and spun him away from the grisly scene that dominated the centre of the bridge. He came face to face with Seyra, the ship’s Security Chief and his friend for the last three years. The tall, stunning Andorian’s face was set firm with determination. “Toby!” she snapped.
He gave the briefest of nods. “Take weapons,” he ordered, then coughed. The smoke was getting thicker. “Report!” he barked, as Seyra slipped into his usual place next to Helmsman Rooks and he moved up to the upper level that encircled the command chair and helm-navigation stations. Most of the consoles were either dark or flickering, the few that had been on fire having been tackled by the emergency technicians on the bridge; only a couple were still fully operational.
“We’ve taken heavy damage across the ship,” reported the young lieutenant from the engineering console, her voice shaky. “Power’s failing on decks three through seven. Hull breach on deck six! It’s sealed.”
“Warp drive has taken damage, but we could still manage it. Impulse stable,” Rooks called as he manoeuvred the ship across the battlefield they had found themselves on.
As Deacon went from console to console around the bridge, he had to step over the dead and injured. He tried not to focus on those who had lost their lives, especially on the pile of debris that now sat where the Captain had been minutes before.
“Shields down to forty-four percent,” Seyra added, never taking her eyes from the controls, or stopping the onslaught on the Repulse’s weapons.
“Casualty reports coming in from all over the ship sir,” Ensign T’Vona stated from communications as green blood poured from a deep gash below her right eye. “However, sickbay isn’t responding to comm.”
“Dispatch security teams to get the injured to sickbay,” he ordered, gripping the back of the ensign’s chair as the bridge shook violently again. “What about the Kzinti?” he called to Lieutenant Silrok, the Saurian science officer.
The reptilian officer was peering into the sensor hood. “One of the ships attacking us has taken heavy damage and is adrift in space. The other is coming about for another run.” He looked up from his station. “The other four ships will be in orbit of the Ardallan colony in thirty-two seconds. Every ship has powered up heavy orbital disruptors. The colony has no shielding; they won’t survive the bombardment.”
“Damn,” Deacon muttered under his breath. This had all started when they had picked up a garbled, panicked transmission from the colony ten minutes earlier. The Ardallans weren’t exactly friendly towards the Federation and even less nice about Starfleet, but sector Sierra-14 was a somewhat remote region, and the Ardallan Armada would never reach the colony in time to stop the slaughter. Captain Baxter had ordered the Repulse to respond. Deacon glanced at the support pylon and panelling that had crushed the Captain and Commander Greln. When they’d arrived in the Tren’ey system, they had discovered the Kzinti battle group and moved in fast. Two ships had broken off to engage the Repulse, whilst the others maintained their course. The odds were against the Bristol-Class ship, but with no defence battery, the colony was a sitting duck. Despite the animosity that existed between the Ardallan and the Federation, there was no way that they could back down from such a callous, unprovoked attack. That choice had killed Captain Baxter, First Officer Greln and who knew how many others aboard.
He focused on the job at hand; there would be time to grieve later. Deacon just had to make sure that the survivors were all still alive to do so. “Where is the second ship?” he asked, stepping around the gruesome twisted metal statue that stood in the middle of the bridge, and stood behind Seyra and Rooks. “Bearing three-twelve-mark-zero-zero-nine,” Seyra replied, using the cuff of her red uniform to wipe sweat and blood from her eyes.
“So they’re behind us?” Deacon thought aloud.
“Yes sir,” Rooks replied.
Deacon looked down at the younger man, whose dark skin glistened with sweat. “All stop. Set a course for the colony. Ready full power to impulse engines.” He looked at Seyra. “Aft torpedoes. Maximum yield, full spread. If we can give them a bloody nose and get far enough ahead, they won’t catch us before we can reach the colony.”
“But they’ll still be behind us, not to mention the four ships in front of us!” stated Seyra, looking at him in bewilderment, her antennae curled in close to her skull.
“One thing at a time Seyra.” He paused, let out a slow breath, then looked at Silrok. “Position of destroyer.”
“Closing fast. Weapons range in eight seconds.”
“Torpedoes…” Deacon began counting down in his head. He could see Seyra’s blue finger poised above the fire control, and Rooks ready to hit the impulse power stud. When he hit five he hissed, “…fire!”
Given the speed with which the Kzinti were hurtling through space towards them the three seconds would mean little, except that the Repulse’s photon torpedoes would meet their target as they entered their effective range. They would deliver the annihilation of matter and antimatter before the Kzinti could launch their own assault.
“Now Rooks!” Under the helmsman’s expert control, the Repulse leapt forward, her impulse drive propelling her towards the defenceless colony.
“Sir,” Silrok spoke up from his console, his customary soft hiss elongating the ‘s’. “Kzinti ship has taken damage to their power systems. Warp drive off-line and impulse down to ten percent. Weapons and shields both inoperable and I’m showing numerous fluctuations to their life-sustaining systems.”
Deacon nodded at his science officer’s report. He beamed down at Seyra. “Good shooting, Lieutenant.”
“I try,” she retorted with a sly smile.
“ETA at the colony?” Deacon asked.
“Four minutes two seconds, present speed,” replied Rooks.
An alarm chirped on Silrok’s console. He looked at a monitor and then back at the Second Officer. “The battle group has opened fire on the colony.” The bridge fell quiet.
* * * * *
On deck six, sickbay was a mess. Moaning and groaning filled the air, as did the smell of blood, burned skin and acrid smoke. The injured either stumbled in on their own or were carried in by colleagues or security guards. One thing was very evident: there were more gold and red uniforms moving through the wards than blue.
The hull had been breached on the deck, the decompression alarms and emergency bulkheads had told them that. But the weapons discharge had also overloaded several power conduits, which provided sickbay with the energy needed to power the biobeds and all the other essential equipment. The overloaded conduits had ruptured throughout deck six, including right through the entire medical section. Due to the combat situation, all of the medical staff had been called into duty. Twelve out of the twenty-one doctors, nurses and medtechs assigned to the Repulse had been killed, and another two had been severely injured. The only staff still able to work included two medics, three nurses, a junior surgeon and Lieutenant Aeden.
Aeden was only a month away from completing her internship, after which she would be a fully qualified doctor, but after seven years as a nurse on three different starships, she had been through her share of battles. With the exception of Head Nurse Patel, she was the most experienced officer left in sickbay and she had taken charge.
With only a skeleton crew left, and injured nearly continuously coming through the door, Aeden had to assign duties in order to best deal with the influx of wounded. She assigned Patel to oversee triage as the injured came in, dividing the injured into minor, serious and fatal. Lieutenant JG Phillips, the junior surgeon left, worked with one of the nurses, going between the surgical bays and treating many of the serious cases, getting them stabilised before moving on to the next patient and so on. The two medtechs acted as orderlies, using stretchers and anti-grav trolleys to get the patients to and from the surgical suites or the morgue, as well as prepping equipment and fetching supplies. The last nurse was assigned to deal with the minor casualties, to get them patched up quickly and back on duty if possible. Aeden kept herself in the main ward and saw to the critical patients that didn’t need immediate surgery.
None of the companels were working, so they had no way of knowing where the injured were or how many would be coming in. Luckily Patel, a career nurse with close to twenty-five years of service under her belt, was a force to be reckoned with, and as security guards came in carrying injured she had them spread the word about the situation in sickbay, and that all injured had to be brought in.
Aeden had only ever had one time as bad in her career, two years out of the Academy aboard the starship Wellington. They had responded to a distress call from a colony ship that had hit a mine left over from the Romulan Wars. The casualties had numbered well into the hundreds. The Wellington had been the first ship to respond, and had remained alone for over twenty hours before reinforcements arrived. After the incident she’d been promoted to junior lieutenant and less than six months later she’d been headhunted by the U.S.S. Ranger where she became the Chief Nurse.
As the numbers of injured continued to mount, she had to concentrate to keep her mental shielding up. With all the injured and terrified people around her it would have been easy to become overwhelmed by the situation. Like many Deltans she had trained to hone her telepathic abilities to help mask pain, but she was by no means near strong enough to take on all of the injured officers and crew that surrounded her.
The doors parted once again and a new contingent of engineers stumbled through. All five of them were suffering from plasma burns, the most serious being carried in by two of his colleagues, whilst another was leaning on the fifth engineer, limping badly. The man carried in was screaming in agony. Aeden grabbed her bio-scanner, a hypospray, and dashed over to the newly arrived casualties.
* * * * *
The bridge crew sat or stood in silence. On the viewscreen, the four remaining Kzinti battlecruisers launched volley after volley of fierce energy onto the undefended colony below.
“Time?” Deacon asked for what felt like the thousandth time.
“Twenty seconds,” Silrok reported from the science console.
“Seyra, load forward launchers and energise all phaser banks.” He looked over to McMillan, the slim young red-headed engineer on bridge duty. “Divert everything you can spare to shields.” Both women promptly replied. He stood behind Seyra and Rooks, gripping the backs of their chairs, facing away from Captain Baxter and Commander Greln’s tomb.
He found himself counting down. Readying himself for the battle ahead, praying to every benevolent deity he could think of to see them through.
“Ten seconds,” the Saurian science officer said again.
“Ready,” he instructed the two officers in front of him.
“Five. Four. Three. Two. One!”
“Fire torpedoes!” On the viewscreen he watched the volley of eight bright balls of energy streak out towards the hostile ships. Two torpedoes for each battlecruiser, and every one found its mark. “Hard to port. Evasive manoeuvres, pattern bravo.”
“Two ships breaking orbit and heading our way,” stated Silrok, the tension and anxiety clear in his voice.
“Rooks, bring us round for another pass. Dorsal phasers, fire at will.”
The Bristol-class ship was sleeker and more agile that the cumbersome battlecruisers and swung around effortlessly, darting past the two ships that were coming toward them, taking stray hits as they went, but nothing the shields couldn’t withstand. They headed for the last two ships in orbit. Deacon was determined to get their full attention and keep them from causing any more damage to the colony.
As the Repulse passed by the two orbiting ships, Seyra pounded them with their powerful twin-mounted phaser banks; the ship slowed long enough to strike at both ships several times before pulling out of orbit. It was a hit-and-run tactic his first CO had taught him, a good way to take on multiple ships and deliver the maximum amount of damage possible whilst minimising hits sustained.
Seyra glanced back at him from her tactical display. “Toby, you wanted them angry. Well they’re angry.”
“Two battlecruisers closing to port and two moving in from behind,” Silrok reported. “All weapons hot and targeting us.”
“Bearing one-oh-seven-mark-one-eighty, full impulse. Aft torpedoes and phasers, fire.” The Repulse pitched steeply down its z-axis as the four ships converged on her, accelerating fast and throwing everything she had at them in her wake. The four ships fired in unison. Despite Rooks’ skill and best efforts, even he couldn’t avoid the torrent of powerful cobalt-blue disruptor blasts. The ship shuddered and lurched under each impact.
“Break to starboard. Weapons continue firing.”
“We’ve scored a direct hit,” Seyra called out triumphantly. “One ship is losing power to engines.”
An alarm sounded from the science console. Deacon glanced at the lieutenant, who was engrossed in the sensor hood. “Picking up eight other ships on an approach vector, closing fast.”
“Negative,” Silrok replied, relief ebbing into his tone. “Ardallan cruisers. ETA: two minutes.” He quickly checked another read out. “The Kzinti are breaking off sir. New heading: two-nine-seven-mark-three-three-zero. They are powering warp drive.”
“Seyra, disable those ships!” he ordered.
“Aye sir,” the Andorian security chief replied. She fired another volley of torpedoes at the fleeing ships, followed by barrage of phaser fire. Every attack hit its target, but the Kzinti had been expecting the tactic and increased power to their aft shields. Despite all of her valiant efforts, Seyra only managed to cripple one of the final three ships before the others went to warp.
The bridge fell quiet after the battle. But after a few moments, T’Vona broke the silence, “Incoming hail from the lead Ardallan ship sir.”
“Put them through,” he ordered. A moment later, the yellow face of the Ardallan Captain appeared, his three eyes staring right at Deacon, his face set hard and his demeanour menacing. “This is Lieutenant Commander Deacon of the Federation starship Repulse. Thank you for the assistance.”
“What was the trajectory of the cowards,” the Ardallan demanded.
Deacon glanced over to Silrok and nodded. “We are transmitting their heading and all of the sensor data we amassed on both ships.”
The alien captain looked off to his left and after a moment he looked back. “We have received your data. You will now withdraw from our space. There will be no further warnings.” With that the screen reverted to the image of space and the battlecruiser they had disabled.
Taking a deep breath and sighing heavily he glanced at T’Vona. “Cancel red alert. Get me full damage and casualty reports ASAP.” To Seyra and Rooks, he instructed, “Set a course back to Federation space. Full impulse until we clear the system, then best possible warp factor. We’re going to need some major repair work to get her back on her feet.”
* * * * *
Story Notes: "Underworld" was the first full-length piece of Trek fanfic I ever started and, more importantly, finished.