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Firebird here we come!

Posted on Sun Aug 6th, 2017 @ 2:50pm by Lieutenant JG Jackson Smith & Ensign Soto Gantt & Ensign Luka Stern
Edited on on Sun Aug 6th, 2017 @ 3:10pm

Mission: Echoes of the Dominion
Location: Cargo Bay Y-0505/Firebird Airlock 3
Timeline: 30 March, 2394 - 1130 Hours

[ON]
Jackson, Luka, and Gantt dashed through the corridors to Cargo Bay Y-0505. As they ran Jackson tossed each of them a bracelet from Zulg's box. "Put these on and activate them. When on the Firebird do not take them off." Jackson noticed Luka's concerned look. Jackson snapped the device around her wrist and turned it on, then did his own. "Don't worry about my deal with Zulg. I will take responsibility for everything, Starfleet is ready to give me the boot anyway." They arrived at the cargo bay door.

"What? What do you mean?" Luka asked as Gantt entered Zulg's code into the panel and got an angry-sounding beep in reply.

Jackson looked on as Gantt tried the door code again. "I met with JAG yesterday. Due to falsifying my entrance papers, they are recommending I be discharged." He rocked from his left foot to his right in anticipation of the door opening. "Gantt?"

"What? No! They can't!" Luka said. "Everything you've done... the lives you've saved..." She glanced at Gantt, a blush rising up her neck. "That's a totally stupid reason to lose a good officer!"

Shaking off Jackson with a quick shake of his head, Gantt punched in the code again. The sensor beside the door, nearly grimed over with age, dirt and oil, remained dark. He squinted at it but his thoughts wheeled wildly. Firebird taken. Zulg owed. Jackson ejected. Those thoughts sucked away his breath. "Fix on the problem that has to be solved," he muttered. Alpha three, seven, profit, maxima. Entering the code, Gantt swiftly struck the padd with his palm. The sensor glowed with faint white light.

The cargo bay door finally opened up. Looking in they saw what they assumed was a shuttle craft, whether it could fly was definitely another question. Jackson frowned as he knew that Zulg had definitely took him in this deal, but they were desperate. He moved quickly to board the shuttle craft. "Soto, can you check and make sure this thing is going to fly while I get things up and running. Stern, contact the captain and see if he and Lieutenant Ina can make sure we have a straight shot to the Firebird."

"Fly it? I'm not sure it's safe to board it," called Gantt to Jackson. But the shuttle door dropped shakily to the floor and Jackson boarded, Luka following him up, speaking rapidly under her breath in a language he didn't know. Gantt watched them climb. Were they flying into another trap like Quinor VII? An empty, cold sensation stabbed through his chest as Luka disappeared inside. It wasn't the same sensation of fear he felt about Jackson, or Yumi. It was more vital. Time to figure that out later. Time to see if the guts were better than the skin. Maybe it was a trap. He could at least make sure Jackson got them there alive.

=^=Stern to Command, we are aboard a Ferengi shuttlecraft, preparing to launch from Carbo Bay Y-0505. What are the anticipated obstacles, over.=^= Luka looked around the inside. The obvious obstacle was that the shuttle was about a hundred years old. The leather seat cover cracked under her grip.

=^=Llwyedd here. Did you say Ferengi shuttle... never mind I don't have time to understand the means of ensigns. Let me ask the tactical officer here.=^= The link stayed open and the murmuring of a handful of voices could be heard, including Lieutenant Ina. The captain's voice came back after a moment.

=^=Agreed. No more punching holes in the walls, so open that cargo bay door.=^= It was clear he was talking to someone else.

=^=Luka, the cargo bay door will be opening in a moment. All traffic has been rerouted out of the path to the Firebird. The ship has left dock and is heading to the outer marking perimeter. I have no doubt that Fantome is going to punch it as soon as he gets to safe range.=^=

Luka looked around at the decrepit ship and then at Jackson and Gantt's worried faces. They'd all heard. =^=Acknowledged. If she can be caught, sir, we will catch her.=^= She bit her lip and looked at the other two hopefully. If she can be caught... then her mind flew suddenly to the halls of the Firebird. What about Yumi? And L'Nel? And JJ? Myles? If Fantome was the reason for all the secrecy about Kreeketh, what had he done to them? Were they safe? Dying? She gritted her teeth, the image of Anthony Johnson, heels drumming the earth, in her mind. No. No no no. Fantome had been the one who had saved Nici and Olaf and her. If he was stealing the Firebird he must have a reason? He wouldn't hurt anyone, would he?

You can't trust yourself, Stern. She clutched her fist and her nails bit into her palm. If it had been up to her, she'd have let those Cardassian refugees aboard, and they would have stolen the ship. And she knew for a fact there would have been deaths. She was too trusting.

Jackson had skipped several steps of pre-flight. They had to get moving as fast possible. The Firebird's crew needed them. As the engines of the shuttle started to come on board, he turned to his friends, "This shuttle may not hold together, but the Firebird needs us. Are you in?" Jackson knew he didn't need to ask, but he couldn't make this call for them.

Luka glanced wide-eyed around the old shuttle. Then she was suddenly in the past. A dark shuttle, power gone, air all but used up. Lying on the floor next to Hadar's cooling body, holding him for warmth, gasping...gasping... No! Keep it together, Stern. The bite of her nails in her palm brought her back to herself. You're right outside Empok Nor. Even if there's an atmosphere breach, there are dozens of ships that can come to the rescue. Sit.

"I'm in." Luka sat at the communications station, shaking hands fumbling for the buckles of the ancient and frayed harness. Don't worry, Stern. If the thing explodes, at least it will be a quick death. She smirked and shook her head. Thanks, me. Real helpful. "Let's go."

"Same." said Gantt, sliding into a chair. He began wrestling the harness with one hand and checking the power systems with the other. Colored threads representing power subsystems began to flow across the console. Most of them were at subnormal levels. He silently voiced several choice Spanish words. He wouldn't have picked this shuttle to make it out of the bay and here they were. "Take us up."

Jackson nodded. He turned forward. The captain said the Firebird was heading to the outer marker. He closed his eyes picturing the path the Firebird would take and visualized the intercept course. This would be tight. "I am going to go full impulse right away, if the ship stays together we should catch the Firebird before it goes to warp. He glanced at his two friends, then forward. "Let's do this!" He pushed the button and held on tight.... Nothing happened. "GANTT!"

Most of the snaking power lines on the console turned orange or red. Gantt nearly pounced on the console. "Balancing the torque buffers using the impulse response filters." He pointed at a metal outline cut into the back of the shuttle. "Luka, can you open that grate?"

"On it!" Luka gave up fumbling with her harness, the buckle was broken anyway and wouldn't clip. She leapt up, read the Ferengi instructions above the grate how to open it, flipped the toggles, and yanked hard. With a violent screech, it came off.

"Switch me places." He threw off the tangled mess of the harness. "Yell when the capacitance monitor reads one hundred percent." He dove for the small hatch, sliding with a bang into the narrow recess and grabbing two handles that looked like small remote controls. "Switching to manual alignment of the driver coils."

Luka scrambled past for Gantt's vacated seat, scanning the Ferengi on the console for some of the words Gantt mentioned. Capacitance--what was that in Ferengi? "I see it! Eighty percent and holding steady. Wait! Climbing..." The panel let out a loud, rude beep. "Got it, one hundred granobs... er percent!"

Please let this work. Que sean misericordiosos los Profetas. Gantt almost smiled at the thought of praying to Bajoran gods in Spanish. "Buckle in tight! Hit it, Jackson!"

Without hesitation Jackson pressed the button and the shuttle accelerated out of the bay. Immediately, he flipped the ship to port and rocketed along the curve of the station. The inertial dampers red-lined and screamed an imminent death. Staying within feet of the station, Jackson prevented the Firebird's sensors from picking them up. He pushed it faster and the shuttle rocked and protested. A few more seconds and they would be at the right spot to burst into open space and head straight for the Firebird. This would be when they were the most vulnerable. Jackson glanced to the right and he could see the Firebird approaching the outer marker. He had to do it now, "Be ready, the Firebird might spot us." Jackson broke away from the station and started to head straight for the ship at full impulse.

[Firebird Bridge]

=^=Jacques, I am detecting a shuttle on course for the Firebird. Do you wish me to destroy it?=^=

Jacques had been daydreaming, wondering what it would be like to see his wife and child after so long. After their route had been approved, he'd been happy to let Margaret handle things. "What? No! Don't destroy anything," he said. "Open a channel to the shuttle."

=^=Channel Open, Jacques=^=

[Ferengi Shuttle Latinum Lady]

=^=Attention shuttlecraft. You must deviate from your current path or I will be forced to fire on you.=^=

"Fantome, that is not an option. I am not letting you take off without me." Jackson responded. One direct hit and they were toast. Jackson's hands hovered over the control board. Could he be fast enough to dodge a phaser shot?

Jacques sighed. He'd been unable to locate Jackson when he made his move. =^=Jackson, turn around. I don't want to kill you. Your part in this is over=^=

"As long as someone is pulling my strings, my part is not over. I am coming aboard whether you like it or not." Jackson replied determinedly.

[Firebird Bridge]

"Margaret, how long until we can go to warp?" Jacques asked.

=^=Forty-three seconds, Jacques=^=

"Margaret, fire phasers pattern theta three four." Jacques knew that the academy used the same attack pattern for all cadets who were pilots. It helped them learn avoidance strategy. He hoped Jackson hadn't been sick that day. He just needed to slow them down a little.

[Ferengi Shuttle Latinum Lady]

For the first time ever, the Firebird's eleven type 9 phasers erupted. Their shimmering orange rays lanced out of their firing arrays and blazed across the blackness of space.

Jackson saw the phaser banks light up and he instantly recognized the spread, his instincts took over and he sent the shuttle tumbling in defense maneuvers avoiding the shots. But they were severely off course, now.

"Fantome, what are you doing?" Luka yelled. "You almost hit us. If you're in trouble, dang it, let us help! You don't have to do this."

Jackson cut off the communications link. "He is stalling, the ship is going to go to warp soon. We need to get to the ship now." Jackson adjusted their path. He aimed for the access hatch on the port side. Could they make it in time? "We need more speed!" Jackson yelled.

"Jackson, I'm releasing power from the capacitance cells straight into the driver coils. If this succeeds the impulse yield is going to spike for a short burst that, um, might not seriously damage this ship." After a short pause, he added, "Initiating impulse burst, now."

Luka just barely kept her seat as the shuttle, already heading out and away into the black of space toward the dwindling profile of the Firebird, leapt forward with unprecedented power. The inertial damper alarm squealed and then cut off suddenly as power flickered and shorted, sparks arcing across the panels. Under her feet and legs, vibrating up through the cracked leather chair, the shuttle's engines roared, like an aged elephant spurred forward to make a final, suicidal gallop into the spears of the enemy. Luka's teeth clacked together as the ship rattled violently, and she looked over her shoulder. Gantt's fists gripped the handles on the manual coil aligner, his teeth gritted, entire body shaking as though the only thing holding the ship together was his flesh and prayers. Luka felt like that was probably true. She glanced at Jackson, who wore a similar expression, his steely, deadly gaze on the controls and ahead, focused on the now suddenly quite large Firebird. Oh God oh God oh God they were going to hit it!

Jackson fought with the controls as the shuttle closed on the Firebird within seconds. They were going too fast to stop in time.

"Jaaaaaaacksooonnnnn!" Luka screamed. The shuttle echoed her with a metallic screech that sounded like half the hull peeling off. Was that a Ferengi swearword the now re-active computer system was blasting in protest? She looked at the flickering panel. Everything was red, haywire, flashing warnings... the engines were at three hundred percent and climbing.

At the last second, Jackson angled slightly away from the access hatch. Then he forced the ship to turn. The port side nacelle cells slammed into the Firebird, crushing them. Their angle and momentum rolled them across the ship. The outer hull of the shuttle crumpling under the force until finally the rear of the shuttle slammed directly onto the access hatch. With a quick tap, Jackson activated the mag clamps and sealed the shuttle against it.

After the cacophonous storm of metal tearing, the hiss of decompressing air as the hatch sealed sounded like the last exhale of a dying beast. Maybe it was. Gantt climbed shakily out of the floor compartment feeling every one of the bumps and scrapes that being tossed around without a harness had given him. "That was...a bit rough." His eyes focused on Luka. "Are you okay?"

Wide-eyed, Luka stared at Gantt and Jackson, as if amazed they were all still alive. Perhaps she was. It was hard to tell because her finger was between her lips, a spray of blood across her green jacket and smeared on her chin. She pulled her hand out of her mouth and held it up--looking at the torn fingernail as if it belonged to someone else. "I'm okay." Her voice trembled.

"Gantt get that hatch open, we only have seconds to get into the ship before it goes to warp!" Jackson cried.

"Hatch!" Gantt hurried to the small door. Not long ago he had been squatting on the other side showing "Ensign" Mox around the Firebird's skeleton. What was happening inside? He imagined a terrified little girl trapped with the rest of his friends. Were they sick? Dying? Captured? He hardly knew what he was doing until the hatch opened moments later. If a fight was waiting, Gantt knew who they needed. "Jackson, get in there!"

The hatch fell inward, as though the Ferengi ship had given up all pretense of working and expired, and the three Ensigns tumbled inside.

[OFF]

Ensign Jackson Smith
Chief Flight Control Officer
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Ensign Gantt Soto
Structural/Environmental Specialist
USS Firebird NCC-88298



Ensign Luka Stern
Alien Archaeologist/Anthropologist
USS Firebird NCC-88298


 

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Comments (2)

By Ensign Luka Stern on Thu Aug 10th, 2017 @ 10:52pm

Don't worry, everyone! Combined we have like 75 years of experience. We're like... hivemind Harlan.

By Lieutenant Yumi Han on Sun Aug 13th, 2017 @ 12:50am

This was very exciting! Lots of fast, propulsive action to the scene. Gantt's duel with the decrepit shuttle added nice dashes of humor, and I loved all the personal reactions for how everything was affecting the characters internally, too. Great chase scene. :D