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Bag Limit, Pt 1

Posted on Thu Feb 28th, 2013 @ 10:55pm by Lieutenant Commander David Burkeson

Mission: Part of the Team
Location: Bridge, USS Steadfast

ON

"Here he comes, Sir!" Pat called, "Easing out to sniff around. Warbook makes it an Orion manufactured Ganzu Class light freighter."

"Which means there could be almost anything under the hood." Burkeson said, studying his panel. Ganzus were known for being highly customizable and were one of the most popular light smuggling craft out there as a result. Plus it didn't hurt that the Orions would build them with a variety of options considered illegal in other parts of space. As long as the customers took possession of them in Orion territory, the Orions were not legally accountable for what the owners did later, a legal loophole through which thousands of starships had been flown over the centuries.

"Scanner!" Burkeson said, can he see us?"

=^= Highly doubtful, Boss. An' I think we'll know pretty darn quick if he does! =^=

"Point taken." Burkeson replied, then switched comms, "Chief Fraser?"

=^= Commander? =^=

"Chief, put the crew into red alert positions and bring the relevant systems up to that status quietly. I don't want to take a chance at tipping our hand with the kind of signal barrage that a standard alert mode would send out, but I want to be ready."

=^= Aye, Sir. On it. Fraser out.=^=

"Looks like he's thinking real hard about that probe, Sir." Vrook said from the Science station, "He just scanned it pretty thoroughly and is now sweeping the surrounding area. No sign of detecting us...we wouldn't even be able to see him yet without the passive feed from the probe."

"Good." Burkeson said.

Nearly an hour passed as they quietly watched the ship. Then, finally...

"Target vessel is opening a cargo bay door, Commander." Vrook said, "Power surges in several tractor emitters." The tension level on the bridge jumped dramatically.

"Steady..." Burkeson said, somewhat unsteadily himself, "Let's let him get a good bite before we try and set the hook. Fraser. we ready."

=^= Ready Commander. =^=

On the viewer, which was showing the feed from the probe, the ship rotated in space and then the screen danced with scintillating light.

"Tractor beam locked onto the probe!" Vrook said, "They're pulling it in!"

"Steady..." Burkeson said, his intense gaze snapping back ad forth between the viewer and his own panel. Then, as the probe disappeared into the hatch, he cried,"Tally ho! Sound red alert. Vrook, hail on on all frequencies. Pat, let's go get 'em!"

As a chorus of "Aye, Sir"s sounded around him, the viewscreen shifted to Steadfast's own bow view. The ship, almost as small and nimble as they were, pivoted sharply in space and took off at high impulse, too deep in the debris field to risk a jump to warp just yet.

"Hailing frequencies open, Commander."

Burkeson stood and addressed the air.

"This is the Federation starship USS Steadfast. You are in violation of Federation law and interstellar treaties. Heave to, power down and prepare to be boarded or we will stop you by force!"

"They're accelerating, Sir!" Pat said

"Stay on them!" Burkeson replied, resuming his seat, "Engineering, give us all you can spare for the impulse engines. Our lives will be a lot less complicated if we can get them before they go to warp."

Jar'Ho heard the call. "HISlaH, you have maximum power to the impulse engines." The lights on the ship switched to emergency lighting as he routed all the available power to the impulse engines.

"Sir, I'm getting some odd readings from that ship." Vrook said, studying the Science panel intensely and punching controls, "It's a sharp energy curve of a sort I'm unfamiliar with. "

"Put it on my screen!" Burkeson said. Then, examining the image, his eyes widened in recognition.

"That's a C'hakalian warp drive powering up!"

"Oh crap..." Pat said from the Conn.

"What?" Vrook cried in frustration.

"Get on the Tactical station, Vrook!" Burkeson snapped, "We need to cripple that ship's warp capability fast. I'll pull Science over here!"

"The C'hakalians are a race Starfleet encountered on the far side of the Federation, near the Raeya sector." Burkeson said, "Fought a couple bushfire wars with them. They've got some of the most efficient warp drives in known space and, on average, outperform Starfleet vessels by between ten and twenty percent. That's not a C'halkilian design but if it's got black market tech from them in it's drives, it might be able to outrun us at warp!"

"Lock established." Vrock replied, "Firing!"

The twin beams of the forward Type IX phasers lanced out on the screen, bracketed by the more powerful bursts of the four pulse cannon. The aft shields of the fleeing ship lit up as powerful energies danced across it.

"Looks like he's only running his aft shields, clever bastard!" Burkeson said, "He knows he can keep us back here long enough to go to warp and make a run for it."

"He'll be clear and warp-capable in a little over two minutes, Commander!" Pat called out, "He's faster than us at impulse. Look like he's linked his shield capacitors into the impulse drive and is feeding spillover into the drives for extra speed!"

"Vrook...cease fire!" Burkeson said, "Release Tactical to me and get back on Science. Pull up a wireframe of that ship and identify the most active energy sources as quickly as you can. I'll be echoing you here...move!"

"Of course...back to Science!" Vrook groused as he ran back.

"Pat, prepare for a microjump...a quarter second at maximum emergency speed along current heading on my mark, then drop back to warp nine. Notify Engineering for me please, I'm a little busy here."

"Aye Commander!"

Sweat beading on his brow, Burkeson's fingers flew over his controls. He hadn't had to do something like this on his own for quite a while, but nobody on the bridge was better qualified and time was tight. 'Damned idiots and their ferry crew!' he thought, working furiously.

"Thirty seconds Commander!" Pat called out, "Twenty! Ten...I can't catch him before...!"

Burkeson stabbed down a finger and counted silently. One...two...three...

"Microjump as instructed...execute!"

"Executing!"

The universe seemed to bend slightly out of shape as Burkeson felt the pressure building in his head and outside his body. The effect was momentary, but debilitating as the artificial gravity, acceleration compensators and SI fields strained to deal with the stresses of taking the ship's warp drive to maximum power in a fraction of a second. Defiants, like fighters, were built to take more stress than most starships, but drive upgrades had upset the already delicate balance of these cranky little ships over the last decade or so. The precautions he'd had Engineering take would mitigate the maintenance consequences somewhat, but both they and Ops would likely be throwing darts at his picture for a week or two. Especially Rattei, who's tiny frame took this kind of thing much harder than larger beings.

Outside, the four quantum torpedoes caught the warp field as it flickered briefly into being right across their tracks and leapt after the fleeing vessel. The technology of their sustained engines allowed them to accelerate to 115% of the launching ship's velocity which, in the case of Steadfast was around warp 9.7. They easily outdistanced the ship even as it accelerated to high warp itself and, following their programming, turned one-hundred-eighty degrees and flashing back in to their designated targets.

When his vision cleared, Burkeson looked at the readouts on his displays. He liked what he saw. If he had simply wanted to destroy the ship, one torpedo would have been more than enough under these circumstances. Disabling it had been tricky. He'd solved that problem with a trick he'd learned from his former CO. Reducing his torpedo yields to 10%, he had set the weapons for proximity detonation based on intensity of nearby energy sources. The system, derived from a nearly century old tactic for attacking cloaked ships, had brought the torpedoes adjacent to the ship's warp nacelles and then detonated them without impact, counting on the pressure waves and fragmentation to cripple the ship's warp capability.

"Got 'em, Sir!" Pat called out, "He's dropped out of warp. I assume you want to go back and grab him?" The ship was already slowing and turning. Pat knew his boss quite well.

"You know it, Pat!" Burkeson said, then keyed his comms, "All hands, prepare for a boarding action!"

"Looks like we've got another one coming across from the Romulan side, Commander!" Pat interjected, "Couldn't see him from where we were."

"On screen!" Burkeson snapped, "Show relative positions."

A display appeared on the main viewer, showing the border, their system and the ships. One ship designator, the newcomer, began to visibly accelerate away.

"He's spotted us, Sir!" Pat said.

"Yeah, I guess this one'll have to wait." Burkeson said, "He's not going anywhere. Pat, lay in an intercept course."

"Got a problem here, Sir." Vrook said, "This other ship's in trouble. Reading internal explosions, hull breaches, loss of atmosphere. No signs of damage control procedures."

"Damn!" Burkeson expostulated. It would have been a hard choice, if there was a choice. But he was a Starfleet officer and that made the choice for him.

"Best speed to that ship, Pat!" he said, "Attention all personnel! Secure from boarding action, prepare for SAR!"

OFF

 

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