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‘The Devil is in the Details'

 

Bridge of Orion cargo raider, The Sprite's Spittle

"I shall be in my cabin Borvoo." The Bloian licked his lips greedily as he wiggled in his chair outfitted to accommodate his larger frame. Thaddeus Norwi's sheer bodily mass dominated the bridge, as did the air of violence and thuggish nature that surrounded the Bolian. The petty criminal was a thug and a gangster who had deplored the sterile environment of the Federation and the hypocrisy that laced Bolian society with its classes. It seemed one of the many contradictory shams that peppered the Federation. Growing up on a Bolian colony at the frontier of Federation space, he had learned many ugly truths about life. And about the nature of the Federation and its guardians in Starfleet. So much so that without much thought he had turned to a life of crime, working his way up to becoming a starship captain. He had his own mini empire to control. A ship to command. Riches to spend and luxuries to indulge in.

Smugly he smiled to himself. "Hmm ... perhaps I might sample something from our cargo."

Borvoo turned to look at the man seriously. His antennae worried atop of his Reptilian head. He was a runt of a Reptilian cast out by his colony family for being a weak specimen. The Xindi had had no other recourse in life but try a life at profiteering. Whilst it was not a glamorous lifestyle, it afforded him protection, shelter and a means to survive. Years he had scurried at the hand of the criminal known simply as Thaddeus. He had continued in the petty criminal's employ because he knew how to source specialised items and saw potential pitfalls in business deals.

His reptilian voice was strangled as he cried, "I do not think our ‘customer' would appreciate that captain." He bobbed his head deferentially even as he pressed the argument. "Their instructions implicitly stated that the cargo was to be untouched and unspoiled."

Thaddeus patted his rotund belly thoughtfully. The smile fading from his greasy face as the warning was made clear. "I do not appreciate being bullied by them ... especially not by him. This is my ship and if it is stowed upon my vessel then it is my property until I hand it over to a paying customer. At present, that cargo is but ballast, not to mention extra mouths to feed."

A worried Borvoo implored, "But think of the risks offending him would be!" He wrangled his bony hands.

"Think of the risks I am taking carrying them!" Thaddeus railed as he stormed out of his seat breathlessly. He sighed heavily getting his breath back. His face was flushed with the sudden exertion and the anger he felt at the situation. "If border patrol were to pick me up ... it would be the end, of everything! They have pressured me into this! I am not a slave trader. I deplore it as a business. Too many risks and too many overheads."

"Yes, but we have no other option."

Thaddeus moved as if to strike the gangly Xindi Reptilian. "I know that you idiot. Otherwise, I would never have agreed. Let us hope your dampening field will mask our ... guests lest we are ever scanned."

From the helm another of his many Bolian subordinates called out sudenly. "Thaddeus, our long range sensors have detected a Federation transponder signal. It is a Starfleet signal."

Quickly, Borvoo alighted to the navigation station and checked the sensors himself. Thaddeus walked slowly over towards his chair. Nervously Thaddeus glided his hand over the polished armrests as he awaited the report from Borvoo. "It is a Starfleet vessel."

"That is fine. There is no need to worry. We are only on the periphery of their sensor range. We can quickly duck out of their sensor range and disappear." The Bolian, Twer, at the navigation station said. Even as he did, Thaddeus was shaking his head.

"No. No sudden moves." Thaddeus eased himself into his seat. "Make a careful and gentle course correction. Nothing to make them suspicious. We may make it yet."

Subtly the ship changed direction. Thaddeus allowed himself a brief smile but his stomach grumbled with nerves. They had not been expecting any Starfleet activity in the region. The Bad Axe buoy tender was their only concern and they had been able to bypass it with a pre-ordained flight plan. There was a chance it was a Starfleet vessel responding to a political situation or other and ferrying diplomats or some like scenario. Yes, that would be what it was. The ship itself had not reacted to their presence.

"The ship has changed course."

"Show me!" Thaddeus checked his screen. The Starfleet vessel barely registered on their sensors but it had in fact deviated in its course. Only slightly but enough to bring the Spittle back into their sensor range and allow curiosity to get the better of the crew. "Make another course change. Again, make it slight. Ever so slight."

A moment passed before Twer announced, "The vessel has made a wide course trajectory. It is allowing us to again show on their sensors."

"Hells!" There was a chance the ship was being piloted by a deft pilot who preferred to energy conserve and make warp corrections at a minute scale. "Make another correction further away from them but make it look like a natural change. Have they increased speed?"

The Xindi Reptilian squeaked, "Not yet Thaddeus. However, when we got more into their sensor range we detected ... we detected a double transponder signal." The bridge went quiet. It meant only one thing. It was a border patrol vessel.

"Check that the dampening field is working! Communications scramble the comm. system so it appears we have a communication problem if they do pursue us. We can use it as an excuse." Thaddeus seized on some cause for hope. "Could it be the Bad Axe making a return? Perhaps they have to make a sudden repair to a malfunctioning buoy."

The reptilian shook his head. "No. The profile does not match. The profile registers as a Federation Miranda class."

"Miranda class?"

"Ship has made another correction. Deities. They are hunting us down like dogs!"

Thaddeus belted Twer with a powerful swing of his arm. The puny Bolian fell to the floor. "Silence. Borvoo. Make the necessary course corrections. It does not mean anything!" But he could not stop the panic sleeping into his voice. A border patrol vessel that was a Miranda class and was showing an uncanny predatory skill could be any number of border patrol ships but the fear was that it was but one ship, one man in particular.

"Thaddeus. Sensors confirm. It's ... it's the Kestrel!"

Thaddeus slumped into his chair. "McGregor."

* * *

 

Hanger Deck

C.P.O. Mila Chomsky rolled the silicone-like mat out with a snap to reveal an interactive touch screen computer. The affectionately called statmat gave a portable, flexible, easily carried and stowed sensor display to be used in hostile situations. It enlarged tricorder readings, accessed ship sensors to provide a real time MSD, display a map or ship schematics, or any number of tactical displays.

All heads within the huddle of the team comprising Stallion One looked down at it intently. Her tone was serious and brokered the attention of all those assembled. "One last time, here's the plan. Phase one is the chase." She crouched to tap the scrolling display and immediately it switched to give a real time situation report on the current position of the Kestrel and that of ‘The Sprite's Spittle' Orion cargo ship they were targeting. The distance between the two was considerable still with Thaddeus' ship on the periphery of ship sensors.

"This is the part of the plan McGregor is keeping tight lipped about. We do not know how he intends to run it this time. But for the sake of our first-timers let's go through the basics." Sebastian Templar bristled at this somewhat. He for one had a career that had stalled and gone wrong. He was no mere ensign fresh from the Academy. Even Leoni Jex could not be discounted because of her Trill symbiont life experiences. Chomsky caught the slight straightening of his back. Her eyes looked up, hooded and dark. She gave a dismissive smirk to the ensign. "You might have some experience, that I will credit you both, however, this is a Border Dog operation. More than that, this is one run by McGregor. When we have a target, we hunt them down. Hunt them down like dogs. Border Dogs."

She tapped the display mat and it threw up a possible scenario. "Possibility one for the run in will be a straight-forward chase them down and then double smack the target with the Mark 22 rat trap torpedoes. As you will both be aware, the rat trap generates a powerful EMP to disable the target's shields, engines and defences. It is a standard tactic for the Border Patrol and McGregor does like to make judicious use of it. In the event of using of this tactic, be aware that there can be residual effects from the Mark 22s that will impair communications and sensor readings. In such a case, ensign," Mila looked deeply at Jex as she said that, "use and trust your eyeballs on approach. Inside when we take control be aware there will be blown out computer and power points, there'll be smoke, no lights, no power, so those of us without the ability to see in the dark will have to go in with night-vision but expect the rat traps to play havoc with them." Templar nodded at that point, unconsciously patting his night vision goggles clipped to his black hard suit.

"Option two is a little more combative. It depends on how much Thaddeus tries to resist. In such a case, we bring out the big guns. Photon torpedoes and phasers hits. McGregor hates to squander his torpedoes so it'll be a phaser barrage. We may launch as soon as engines are down. In which case expect to get between the broadsides ensign. I'd hate to have to file a friendly fire report, especially if I'm the one in the tin can. The Star Stallions are tough but let's not chance our arm."

She tapped the statmat again and it showed a simulation of a Star Stallion smacking hard to make contact with the cargo freighter. "It will also mean we make a hard contact, docking at speed and harshly. It'll be a bumpy landing seemingly without much finesse but we'll be depending on you ensign to not smear us against the hull of the Sprite's Spittle."

Jex interjected with an attempt at levity. "No pressure then."

A chorus from both Mila and T'Vel smacked down her attempt at levity. "No." The awkwardness for Jex did not quite match the awkward moment between T'Vel and Chomsky, as it seemed both were almost startled to have expressed a similar view.

"Obviously in the case of weapons bombardment, expect damage to the ship internally and be ready to secure ship systems. Expect too for the possibility that the Stallion will be targeted in weapons fire. Expect to take evasive measures, everyone else expect a bumpy ride but strap in and say your prayers."

Submino harped aloud to demonstrate a casual indifference to the proceedings. "I don't see McGregor going for that option. He likes to save his torpedoes and he wouldn't want Thaddeus to get a big head thinking he had to be gunned down by the Kestrel."

"Be that as it may Petty Officer," her use of rank used as a whip crack to get him back in line, the Bolian shrugged but kept tight-lipped, corrected, "it is still an option available to the Skipper. However, he is as like to use an old favourite and catch and snatch." She explained to the ensigns as the statmat provided an illustrative demonstration, "In a catch and snatch scenario, we chase the target down, and then when in range use the Kestrel's tractor arrays, or the grapplers, to snare the ship and bring it to a stop."

A low rumble reverberated through the group. "There is one more possibility." All eyes turned to Rah. He towered over the Stallion One team standing back from their huddle. His dark amber eyes narrowed into predatory slits as he took each member of the boarding party under intense scrutiny. "None of the above."

* * *

 

Bridge, USS Kestrel

"Ok Cutler, remember in the chase down you might have need to toggle between shields and weapons. Bear in mind too that McGregor likes to catch and snatch." Molly Cartwright explained how the specially modified tractor beams aboard border cutters were an invaluable asset to any border cutter's business and how the Kestrel's nuanced tractor arrays were a particular source of pride for the captain.

Cartwright stepped down from the Ops station entrusting Noah Cutler to do his business. She had to show faith in his abilities for him to begin to believe in himself. Molly took in McGregor's keen look at the viewscreen. One small corner of it showed the visual display of the path in front of them but the rest of the display was dominated by a tactical readout showing the space-time coordinates of the Kestrel and The Sprite's Spittle. Thaddeus' ship was no garbage scow but not nearly as spritely as its moniker implied. Nevertheless, the old coot was a wily frontier trader who regularly flaunted many of the by-laws. Therefore, he knew many tricks of the trade and he knew too McGregor's reputation for chasing down pirates. He had been on the receiving end of a Kestrel hunt all too often and had had cargo confiscated or destroyed numerous times, been fined and even imprisoned on occasion. He was a small time dealer but McGregor had a hard-on to get the pirate this time for some reason.

The display that dominated the bridge relayed the two ships' speed and direction, and Molly noticed how McGregor appeared to be holding back and not chasing the target down at full speed. Instead, he approached and crept up on Thaddeus at abrupt angles, which only allowed the trader to deviate his course ever so slightly. His approach piqued Molly's interest. "Playing cat and mouse Captain?"

He looked over to his right to where Molly stood. He grinned mischievously. "Hee hee. The devil is in the details Molly. In the details." He then turned to Stanley and focusing on the tactical readout called out a new set of coordinates. Once again, it was a subtle movement that a few minutes later caused Thaddeus to change direction again. Molly turned her attention to the read out to try to decipher what it was he was up to. She stepped closer to the viewscreen her eyes squinting to take in the smaller text on the screen. "You ought to get your eyes checked Molly." McGregor remarked from behind in his command chair before giving a new heading again to Stanley.

She gave him a wicked look before leaning on the railing of the pit to peer closer at the data displayed. She saw that in addition to the real time sensor readings pertinent data uploaded from the buoy tender Bad Axe was also displayed. The Commander tried to recall what had been said in the briefing about the buoy tender. Dexter had started to give a report on it before McGregor had cut him short.

"Other than sending an info dump of hardcore verification data from the comm. buoys not much else. Other than they detected a subspace boundary in sector ..."

"Yadda, yadda, yadda ..."

McGregor had shut down any commentary about the tender's sensor readings. The kind of minutiae McGregor usually revelled in. It was the kind of attention to detail that had allowed him to nail down precisely the whereabouts of Thaddeus. Yet in private, he admitted to pouring over the information from the tender and buoys.

"I sat up all night doing my math Molly. I read the traffic reports, the constabulary logs, comm. chatter as well as reviewing the navigational buoy logs..."

When she had challenged him about chasing down Thaddeus he had retorted, "I will and I shall. Just not yet. I don't want to spook Thaddeus. I want to keep him on this general heading. All part of my grand plan."

Molly turned to give McGregor an appraising look. He smiled in return, as she comprehended his plan. "You wily fox McGregor." Palms up he offered a humble gesture from his command chair. Then contradicted the gesture when he smiled that irritating smug smile he so often gave.

"Stanley, push it to Warp 7. I want you to bear right down on Thaddeus. Be ready for further instructions."

With his plan now known to her, Molly raced back to Ops to stand by Cutler. If McGregor timed this wrong, his plan would backfire and leave them stranded and vulnerable.

Onscreen the data showed the Kestrel now cutting the distance with The Sprite's Spittle drastically. In response, the ship increased its speed to flee the cutter but it was useless now. The Miranda class bore down on the cargo hauler in good time. Weapons were primed. The Stallions warned to be ready to launch. The crew readied to brace themselves. The target now loomed in the corner displaying the visual onscreen.

From his throne of command, McGregor harked back to Noah in a jovial manner. "This Cutler is the moment when you might want to cry out like the kestrel in its hunting call. Kee, kee, kee! Hee hee." Turning a little more serious he instructed, "Hail them. Tell Thaddeus to stand down and prepare to be boarded. Oh! Add the small print about our procedures, protocols and the authority of the Border Patrol Service. Oh and tell him, I'm just looking for an excuse to open fire on him."

"No response. It appears they are having a communication problem." McGregor gave that a scornful look. But Noah who did not notice it added of his own accord, "However they are sending out a false reading and the communications centre detected a number of calls on the pirate comm. networks from the ship."

McGregor gave an appreciative bow of his head to this information. To Molly at Noah's side he noted, "The kid sees the big picture and the little details. Good."

It took a moment for the remark to register with Noah who looked up from his console, surprised, blushing suddenly and a little overawed at the attention. But before Noah fully assimilated the compliment McGregor asked for a status update from the bridge stations.

The Kestrel was now within close weapons and tractor range. The Sprite's Spittle looked as though it wanted to stab phasers back at them. "Weapons are ready."

"Shields prepared for incoming fire. Tractor beams ready at your command." Noah added to the status update.

"Good boy Cutler. Good." McGregor gave a further appreciative smile at the ensign's eager but capable form. "Mind you, Thaddeus knows better than to open fire on a border cutter. Especially mine! He knows better, though just not enough to not resist in any way. But no one claimed he was smart." McGregor activated a ship wide comm. from the armrest and called, "All hands brace yourselves."

Noah looked up at the viewscreen and the bridge to gain a sense of what was about to happen. Would the captain ask for a barrage of phaser fire, the tractor beams for a catch and snatch move? No. Instead, he barked out at Stanley, "Stan! All stop! Engineering, warp field offline; Ops reroute power to the SIF. Now."

The Kestrel strained to an abrupt stop just when it was atop The Sprite's Spittle. The bridge crew held on to their stations as the ship's SIF lagged a moment behind the sudden manoeuvres of the helm. In truth, its power was diverted to keeping the ship together and not turning the crew to mush. The apparent lag a fall out from priority of providing a comfortable ride to a safe one. The Sprite's Spittle itself now sped on to escape only to come to a much more violent and sudden stop.

"Ship is at an all stop."

"The Sprite's Spittle is also at a fullstop. It appears the vessel has become grounded on a subspace sandbar."

"Launch the Stallions." He allowed himself a small chuckle as he turned to look back at Molly who was patting Noah on the back. The ensign had promptly helped to ensure the flow of power to the SIF emergency override. The ship's computer automatically kicked in to ensure the safety of the crew. However, Noah's deft and swift power management assisted the power flow, allowing for no dangerous power surges or outages as well as providing a smoother transition form high warp to a complete stop. Also upon registering the subspace boundary, he had started taking steps to protect the ship's control systems. "Like I said, the devil is in the details. Hee, hee."

* * *

Stallion One

"The flying isn't the hard part. It's the landing!" The words from Deodzi to her worried boyfriend of the time Hakron, came unbidden to Leoni's mind. The words could not have been more untimely or perhaps actually most fitting in the instance they formed.

"Hang tough." She called from the cockpit, as the hull of the Sprite's Spittle loomed large in her window. Her fingers alighted across the controls as she spirited the Stallion towards the target. After launching at speed, she powered the impulse engines down as they reached the perimeter of the subspace sandbar. Whilst they could theoretically move impulse engines within the subspace boundary siding on error to accomplish the mission goal she used the Stallion's impetus to traverse the distance to the Sprites' Spittle using the propulsion to steer and propel the vessel to her designated landing spot. With a hollow rumble and a screech of scraping metal, the Stallion ground to a halt atop an airlock hatch. The crew were jostled by the landing but it was nothing out of the ordinary for the seasoned border dogs. They jumped to their feet as Jex called, "Systems cleared, contact made and good seal."

At the now open airlock, Jude Buchannan tapped at a bulkier version of a tricorder. "Hatch power systems are powered down. I'm unable to hack and override." As he finished his sentence to both T'Vel and Chomsky, he stowed his hackjack tricorder to his leg side and stepped clear.

Chomsky snapped her fingers pointing them in the direction of the hatch. "Submino, light it up."

"Delighted to." His laser welder flared with a small roar as he punctuated his declaration and stepped up to the dull green hatch of the cargo hauler.

* * *

Adjunct corridor, The Sprite's Spittle

An angry crackle of fire inched its way around the perimeter of the door clamps. The fiery centre met its molten origin and the cascade of sparks winked out. All was still and quiet within the darkened corridor. Warning amber lights flashed continuously and trials of smoke stirred in the air. Then a loud dull popping sound and the smouldering cookie cutter outline in the bulkhead was forcibly propelled with a clanging crash. Smoke and light bloomed into the darkened corridor but just as suddenly obscured by the racing figures jumping lithely through the hole, weapons trained and points taken to secure the area.

Three tactical drones zoomed ahead of them, twirring with their mechanical humming bird sound as they raced forwards and pirouetted in the air scanning for any possible dangers before returning to check on the boarding team. The middle drone stopped its flight right in front of an unflinching imperious figure who stood centre in the team, with her carbine raised and tricorder in hand. "Kestrel, this is Stallion One, Leader One. Breach secured." Lt. Commander T'Vel paused before she commanded simply, "Proceed."

T'Vel's eyes met only those of the Kestrel's Kzinti chief of the boat at point. Rah Eyrrs acknowledged her order with the slightest of nods and a twitch of his whiskers. His amber eyes flashed golden in the strobing lights before he turned and loped down the corridor. Fanning out behind him the rest of the team followed on his heels with their weapons sweeping the length and breadth of the corridor with Ensign Sebastian Templar taking the rear.

* * *

Aboard the Star Stallion, Ensign Leoni Jex allowed herself a small sigh of relief. Her piloting mission had been a straightforward race over to the Sprite's Spittle. However, she did not allow her guard to slip; her job was not yet over. She pivoted in her pilot chair to the station at her side to better access the comm. channels and sensor readings she now had cause to monitor during the boarding party. Leoni looked to Keren seated at the bank of consoles with various visual displays of the boarding team as they started progressing through the corridors towards the bridge of the Sprite's Spittle. The Andorian's antennae curled forwards in concentration as he remotely controlled the drones that flew with the team. One display remained static other than to pan the corridor outside the breached airlock.

"Perimeter drone locked in place." He informed the Trill. She flashed a smile at his playing it by the book to a senior officer. Leoni focused on the sensor readings she was reading from the Kestrel as it kept a tightly trained eye on the boarding party and the persons onboard. Lt. Denora's team on the ship fed the information directly to the Star Stallion and the team's tricorders and statmat.

"Halt!" Keren declared. Onscreen Jex could see the team react immediately to the direction. It was a sign of implicit trust and of the constant and hard training that they did so without question. "Drone 2 is detecting a plasma leak in the corridor ahead."

Jex noticed the austere figure of the Vulcan science officer exchange a glance between Rah and CPO Chomsky before she commanded over the open link, "Find us the next shortest route to the bridge ensign."

"Wait! Perhaps there isn't a need. Keren, rotate the drone and zoom in on that section there." She directed the Andorian by pointing to the screens in front of him. "There! That valve needs to be shut off and the plasma redirected by opening the adjacent conduit."

Jex's fingers danced over her console as she pulled up the image and highlighted the sections she referred to before sending the image to the statmat.

* * *

Looking over the statmat Submino and the Denobulan Timmian were studying, CPO Mil Chomsky asked, "What about the plasma already within the corridor?"

"Spark it and it will flashover."

"Do it." Rah's rumble directed Timmian to step forward and follow the ensign's directions. Within thirty seconds, he did as bid and stepped back.

Rah gave a nod to Subimno. The Bolian reached behind his back and withdrew a flashbang. Smiling he tossed the flashbang down the affected corridor. "Fire in the hole!"

A whoosh of blooming energy burst through the corridor. The boarding team hunkered down as the energy consumed itself in its orgy of fire. The wind whistled over their heads buffeting them with a brief gale of air before stillness returned and the corridor loomed black with burnt soot coating it.

The drones approached it warily before Keren gave the all clear over the comm. and as he did, Rah proceeded onwards with the team in tow.

Sebastian Templar knew the delay had only been seconds but those were vital seconds in a boarding party. The team raced towards the bridge expecting possible resistance at every turn and entrance. The cargo hauler's corridors angled inwards near to the ceiling of the corridor, which were nowhere near as wide as those on a Starfleet vessel were. It only furthered the sense of claustrophobia the darkened, tight confines of the ship offered. He now truly appreciated the shortened length of the carbine's barrel as well as appreciating the greater heft and bulk of it. It lent a certain security to have something heavy and durable in his hands going into a possibly dangerous situation.

He stormed down the corridor keeping close to Timmian as they formed the rear guard. His heart raced, in part fear of what might happen and in the exhilarating rush of charging into a hostile scenario, gunned up and ready to put up a fight and put down any resistance. His night vision cupped eyes darted forwards and backwards, left and right as they followed the point of the carbine. The corridor's length flashed past as they careened towards the bridge centre. A blur of piping conduits and the cacophony of thundering feet on the deck plates accompanied his rush onwards.

Ahead there was a tense pause from the group as Leoni Jex called from the Stallion. "We have three contacts waiting at the corridor junction up ahead."

Silently, Chomsky turned and gave several crisp hand gestures to the team, directing them to what they should do. The whiskers of Rah Eyrrs twitched as he flared his nostrils. "There are four." His keen hearing and acute sense of smell deciphered from the odour, breathing and whispered plans to ambush the boarding party their number and location.

He stepped forwards. The Kzinti's height filled the corridor. He seemed as if he were primed to launch himself at prey as he bared his fangs. His eyes gleamed and he rolled his shoulders. Chomsky gave a wary look towards T'Vel who pointedly did not look at the non-com. Instead, she looked directly at the Kzinti and inclined her head.

Mila whispered at the Vulcan's side, "Are you sure this is a good idea?"

"I do."

Rah strode forward nimbly making no sound, then as he approached the junction he raced suddenly faster. He barrelled into the open space. He leapt to the ceiling. His claws hooked into the grated ceiling plating. A phaser shot hit the decking where he would have been. But even as the shot hit the ground he lithely swung himself around. His boots crashed into the body of one of the would-be attackers. His claw reached out, grabbed the opposite ambusher, and with no effort tossed them at a third. The two of them crashed into a heap. Before they crashed to the floor, Rah was on the fourth.

The Nausicaan's shot went wide as Rah's powerful arm barged into their body smashing them into the bulkhead. A phaser rifle clattered to the floor. The Nausicaan grinned with its gaping mouth as though it preferred to tackle the Kzinti with bare hands. But Rah offered no pause. Instead, in a whirl Rah twisted the Nausicaan round to slam again into the bulkhead. The Nausicaan kicked back but snarling in defiance Rah tore at the legs with his talons and up ended the Nausicaan. Then he grabbed the Nausicaan by his locks and hauling him to his feet and flinging him against the opposite bulkhead. With a swipe of his claw he scored the Nausicaan's chest and then fisted his open palm into the brute's ugly face. The Nausicaan crumpled to the floor.

The first attacker rose stupidly fumbling with his weapon but in a flash Rah's claw clasped the human's throat. The man's feet kicked futilely in midair as Rah picked him up off the floor hoisting him so his head hit the grated ceiling and then slamming him down onto the deck.

T'Vel turned away from Chomsky. "Rah is a most efficient weapon." Striding forwards to the fallen attackers, she pointed her carbine and blasted each with a stun blast. "Proceed."

The team started again to race towards the bridge. A door opened and a hulking Bolian stepped out with a dark intent on his face. He raised a steel bar and swung it wildly at the passing figure of Timmian. The Denobulan's head was already turning as he registered the movement, his arm coming up protectively by instinct. Templar launched himself forwards, snatching his weapon in reverse jutting the butt of the carbine into the face of the Bolian hard. The carbine smashed into the attacker's face and the Bolian stumbled backwards into the room whence he came.

Timmian drolled at the prostrate figure, "That's no way to say hello." He then flashed a Denobulan wide and grateful smile to Sebastian before he started racing on again.

Sebastian looked down the corridor at the running figure of the Vulcan. He turned to look at the fallen Bolian, shrugged and then depressed his stun setting. "If it's good enough for a Vulcan." He had learnt something about the Vulcan and the Border Dog methods by her cold stunning of the attackers. With a last look at the Bolian, Sebastian followed swiftly behind the others.

The remainder of the team stood now outside the doublewide doors to the bridge. Power was now beginning to restore to the ship systems. Hunched at the bridge door controls, Jude Buchanan studied his hack-jack tricorder ready to initiate the override. Chomsky and T'Vel stood with the statmat as it displayed a scan of the interior of the bridge as they assigned targets to the team. Within ten dots blinked, some rushing about as others stood at their stations trying to retrieve control of their ship.

T'Vel looked back at the later arrival of Templar and Timmian. Sebastian nodded to confirm that everything was ok. Under her scrutiny, he felt ten inches tall under the Vulcan's stare. Turning her attention to Chomsky, who was rolling away the statmat away, T'Vel asserted her authority over the non-com, "Ready?"

"Ready."

All eyes of the team, save the amber set, trained themselves on the Vulcan science officer. She stood still and serene. Rah stood in the shadows bristling with a fierce energy, eager and impatient to force his way onto the bridge but awaited the Vulcan's order. She raised an eyebrow. "Proceed."

A beep and Buchanan opened the doors. Dashiel dropped to one knee and rolled two stun grenades into the room. There was a piercing light from the flash bangs and a high-pitched noise filled the bridge. A second's moment to allow the stuns to abate and then Rah was first through. He bounded through in a burst and raced to the other end of the bridge, his target the ship's tactical station. Timmian and Templar were next through sweeping the bridge with their weapons and sidestepping to allow the others to bypass them as they secured the door. The two of them fired stun level bolts at the ceiling to bring the room to attention and control. Even as they did, Rah had felled the security officer. Just as quickly, T'Vel was suddenly at the side of the hulking figure of Thaddeus. He sat disorientated and slobbering in his central chair. The second officer's carbine casually pointed at his head with her outstretched arm.

"Captain McGregor asked you to surrender the ship."

He stammered, "I ... I ... I ... I s ... s ... sur ... ssurrender!"

"You are mistaken." T'Vel coolly intoned standing over him. "It is no longer your decision to surrender your vessel. We," she cocked her head to the side as she raised her eyebrow, "have captured it."

* * *

 



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