Operations Command Centre, Starbase 49
Commodore Georgetown with his usual beaming smile entered the Operations centre. With coffee mug in hand, he walked the perimeter of the extensive command centre of Starbase 49. He did so without comment or word but he did offer those subordinates who caught his eye an encouraging nod or an approving look.
Georgetown knew that his style of command was to say the least not very commanding. He knew his officers followed his orders but they ran the Starbase with such efficiency and energy that at times he felt he was superfluous and defunct. He knew too his
Everyone on Ops looked up at the request for attention from the ensign. It was not normal practice for anyone to call on the commodore. Lt. Commander Huryes almost rolled his eyes. The ensign was a twitchy little bird forever nervous and worried about working so near to the Federation frontier. She feared that an invading horde would some day come screaming over the border. Perhaps after the Borg incursion and the devastation wrought at Wolf that was not so implausible as it had once been thought.
Georgetown equally surprised at the call out looked first to Lt. Commander Huryes as if seeking counsel as to what she should do next. "Em ... go ahead ensign. What is it?"
"It's the Kestrel sir." Nervously the ensign bit her lip. She knew this particular ship had caused any number of headaches for the commodore but something seemed out of kilter with the reports she was getting.
Clearly exasperated with dealing with the fractious captain of the Kestrel Georgetown groaned, "What is it now?"
"They're reporting a red alert Commodore."
Lt. Commander Huryes stepped forwards with a genial and sympathetic smile and with a reassuring tone informed both the ensign and the commodore, "Ah ... Captain McGregor likes to keep his crew on his toes so he has pulled unexpected drills like this before. Normal practice usually means captains do not tend to do so whilst at berth but well Captain McGregor is how do we say? - unconventional."
Georgetown agreed with a quiet, "To say the least! That's certainly one word for it."
"Try hailing them anyway. I'd like to try and see if that is one habit we can offload McGregor off."
"Sir shields are raised and all hails are going unanswered. I'm not sure this is a drill ..."
"No doubt that is the intention McGregor is trying to portray for his crew. No doubt too he wants to cause mayhem for us too." Georgetown saw the concerned look on the ensign's face and relenting decided, "Fine, fine, it might be a waste of time Huryes but it gives us fodder to haul McGregor up. Get a security team down to the docking gate and see what the hell that man is up to. Ok?"
Not pleased at having to waste time on McGregor, Huryes gritted her teeth but acquiesced. "Yes sir."
"What is it now Ensign? Control yourself."
"The Kestrel! It's just started a self-destruct procedure!"
"What? That's preposterous." The Operations centre was suddenly bathed in a red sheen as the alarm screamed.
Huryes hurried over to the ensign's console and saw the ship had indeed activated its self-destruct. Georgetown flapped and puffed, "Surely it's part of McGregor's drill."
Shaking her head, Huryes read out the sensor readings indicating the warp core was beginning to dangerously overload. "Commodore, the Kestrel really is going to self-destruct."
"My God! It's berthed to the main station!"
Huryes then called out, "Start evacuation procedures. Clear the base! All hands: Evacuate. All ships: Emergency depart!"
"Huryes surely not."
The Lt. Commander rounded on the commodore's failure to grasp the gravity of the situation. "Sir when the Kestrel explodes it could take out have the base at least. Any vessels caught up in the blast will be similarly destroyed and their warp cores could explode too! A whole chain reaction of explosions and destruction! Trust me sir, there's every need."
Bedlam descended upon the base and the outlying bases, dry berths, docked and milling vessels Starfleet and other. Personnel scrambled to safety whether escape pods or shuttles. Vessels able to began emergency flights to escape the immediate vicinity.
On the Kestrel herself, bedlam broke out as repelling boarders became a countdown to certain destruction for the crew.
* * *
USS Kestrel, Main Bridge
Noah grimaced and flinched as T'Hos rounded on McGregor, his disruptor gesturing crazily. "It's a bluff!"
Terrol again interrupted. T'Hos whipped his head around to hear Terrol's report and Noah listened in with rapt attention and increasing fear. "Erm ... actually we detect a build-up of energy within the power couplings."
"Damn you McGregor. Stop it!"
Shrugging with a cheery smile, McGregor seated serenely in his command chair replied, "I can't. Bad enough hacking the systems to follow my self-destruct orders never mind getting the computer to recognise a change of opinion. Can't have a flighty CO willing to self-destruct the ship! That would be madness."
"Self destruct in ... one minute, thirty seconds."
"Make it stop now McGregor!"
Noah wanted to implore McGregor to do the same.
"Or what, you will kill me?" He burst into gales of laughter and slapped his thigh. "Sounds like a win-","Self destruct in ... one minute, twenty seconds." "-win situation to me."
Cutler marvelled at McGregor's composure and the fact the captain didn't even miss a beat as the ship's computer counted down towards its inevitable destruction. The fact he burst out into another fit of laughing only gave Cutler and T'Hos further consternation.
"Shut it McGregor."
"Tut tut T'Hos. You are fast denigrating into a snarling snapping little," he paused to think of an appropriate insulting term, which he failed to do, "a snapping little yelping annoying thing. You get the picture."
"This isn't time for your jokes McGregor. I mean to kill you!"
"Yes with a horrible pathogenic virus or other. Correct? Well you can imagine I'd sooner go out another way. Preferably one of my own choice. Hence..." He held out a hand proffering an answer.
An answer the computer duly provided on cue: "Self destruct in ... one minute, ten seconds."
T'Hos pulled a limp Harris up and threatened her with his disruptor. "Fine then Captain. I recognise some of my own merchandise." He caressed the unconscious yeoman's face with the nozzle of his disruptor. "Stop the self-destruct or she dies then."
"Again she dies either way."
"Curse you McGregor!" T'Hos discarded Harris tossing her to the deck. "Terrol contact the ship and arrange for us to be transported. Make sure the shields go back up to stop anyone escaping. I'll leave you to your own devices McGregor." T'Hos turned to the different computer consoles and opened fire on the different systems. Sparks, flames and smoke spewed from the tactical station, then the transporter pad, communications, science and helm as the disruptor blasted into each station. Noah cowered as the sparks cascaded from the console above him.
The bridge filled with the haze of smoke. "Just in case you thought to try and stop your little countdown this will have paid heed to your plan. Seems your plan has backfired." He then picked up Harris again. "But it would be a shame to see a profit wasted. Bye McGregor. What is your earth term? Ah yes. See you in hell McGregor."
"Keep us a seat. Tooddles." McGregor wagged his fingers like a baby goodbye. It only served to anger T'Hos more and he let it show cursing aloud. T'Hos then disappeared in his transporter beam along with Harris and his cronies.
McGregor jumped out of the command seat and ignoring Noah and the countdown, he ran towards to the bridge entrance. He grabbed a concealed phaser to fire on the door controls. The doors opened and McGregor bolted through kicking the remnants of the firing party guarding the bridge in the back and down the stairs.
Scrambling to his feet as McGregor fled the bridge and the computer counted down, "Self destruct in ... forty seconds," Noah took to chase after his captain. As he charged through the two sets of sliding doors towards the docking port, he saw the last of T'Hos' henchmen tumble down the curving stairs to the deck two and the encroaching stomping feet of Commander Cartwright leading Dexter and his security team.
Dexter lunged forward to grasp the felled henchman. A transporter effect started to encapsulate the henchman and the security chief too. Molly gasped for a second but then the effect dissipated having failed to grab a hold. Caleb cursed then kicked the assailant before driving up the stairs to the bridge deck.
Oblivious to Dexter's near snatching, McGregor had passed through the two sliding doors into the small airlock with no care for Cartwright's successful gunfight. Sealing the airlock behind him as he deftly punched in commands at the docking port's control room the Captain proceeded through to the docked travel pad and jumped into the seat of it as the door clamped shut.
Noah hammered on the sealed airlock doors completely shocked at the Captain turning and running. He thought many things of McGregor but he believed the captain was too stubborn to abandon his ship or cowardly run away. And selfishly too, Noah despaired of losing this chance at escape.
The travel pod blasted off tearing away from the doomed Kestrel trailing parts of the docking mechanism as McGregor overrode the safeties in his desperate haste. Noah hollered at the escaping pod disappeared and the computer continued counting down.
Cartwright came up to Noah and barrelled him with a look demanding answers and she hauled him away from the docking port onto the ruined bridge. "Captain McGregor has just fled!"
In a moment of shock, Caleb lapsed in his cool demeanour. "He didn't take us with him?"
"Why did he initiate the self-destruct and how are we supposed to stop it."
"He initiated the self-destruct to stop T'Hos from killing everyone with a virus he implanted into the environmental systems. He said there's no way to stop the self-destruct procedure! We're all going to die and the Captain just ..." he looked back through the open bridge doors to the docking port to illustrate the finish of his sentence.
The klaxons and sirens then kicked up into a final cacophony of noise and volume. "Self destruct in ... Ten"
Molly shook her head vehemently, "There has to be a way to stop it. McGregor wouldn't."
" ... Nine ... "
Caleb Dexter just locked a look at Molly that was part resigned and part contempt for McGregor's choices.
"Eight ... Seven ... Six ... Five ..."
Noah almost sobbed and implored of the heavens, "Please no!"
" Four ... Three ... Two ... One ... Self-destruct."
* * *