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“Helm, hard over!”

Keyla’s hands flew over the console, touching the controls in just the right way to make the big ship respond. In most ways related to piloting the Discovery was an improvement over the Shenzhou’s low-slung, thruster-attitude-controlled design (Keyla’s mental nickname for the ship in was der Ochsenfrosch--“the Bullfrog” in the Fatherland's tongue), but when it came to agility, the bullfrog bested Discovery’s gliding bat. As a result the ship shuddered with the impact of a handful of disruptor hits as she came around in an arc and opened her belly up to the swarm of ships that had emerged from a nearby asteroid when they opened fire on the listening post.

“Mr Rhys…” Lorca snapped.

“Locking on enemy vessels…they…damn!”

Through the main window, a half-dozen prawn-shaped little craft skittered into view, then split off in impossible formations. Keyla felt a stab of fear. Maneuvers like that should have overloaded the internal dampeners and liquefied the crew. How much more advanced were the Romulans…

“They’re just drones, Mr. Rhys,” Lorca said sharply. “Unmanned. Fight them like you would a computer simulation, don’t try and anticipate their course based on a standard starship.”

“Yes, sir, but their speed makes it difficult to lock--“

Rhys’s panicked update was cut short by another set of low rumbles as the viewscreen flared with disruptor fire.

“Minimum damage, captain,” Airiam reported. “Ememy vessel’s weapons output is approximately one-third our phaser power.”

“They could shoot at us all day and not penetrate our shields,” Saru noted, earning a look from Lorca. “Not that we’d want them to, of course.”

“Comms, increase the ECM. I don’t want these things getting word out to a real starship. Mr. Rhys…”

“Yes sir, um, I have an idea,” he said hurriedly, and though she couldn’t see him, Keyla could imagine the glitter of perspiration across his brow.

“Well, don’t keep it to yourself.”

“Lieutenant Airium, can you access the specs for the drones used during the Romulan War?”

“Yes. Stand by…”

“Transfer them to my console, please.”

“’Please,’” Lorca said archly, “So polite.”

“Transferred,” Airiam purred. Detmer wasn’t sure the new voice was quite the direction to go.

“Alright,” Rhys said, as if working up to diving off a cliff. “Main computer is searching for the energy out profiles and…weapons locked and firing sir!”

Discovery’s ventral phaser banks stuttered fire and a cascade of wreckage tumbled upward at the edge of the viewscreen.

“All targets destroyed,” Rhys reported breathlessly.

Lorca turned to him. “Excellent tactics, Mr. Rhys.” 

Keyla prayed Rhys would just take the compliment and not get all emotional on the bridge. To her great relief he gave a quick, “Thank you, sir,” and left it at that. She knew that she’d hear about it later.



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