In Viea Periculae
by David Highlander, David Stidham
edited by Charles David Sands III
Captain Gorman stood outside the entry way into the "War Room" at Starfleet headquarters. The room was positioned roughly sixty feet bellow the center of Starfleet Headquarters. Not many people knew of its existance. If Starfleet had something to say about it, that is exactly how it would remain. He and Commander Lapel stared at the door in a somewhat reluctant manner. They had only been in this room twice in their entire career and dreaded ever coming back. Gorman figured Lapel was probably thinking the same thing he was. Taking a deep breath he stepped forward causing the door to open. Before he and Lapel could enter a familiar voice came from down the hall. "Captain Gorman?"
Gorman turned to see who was calling his name. He smiled when he realized it was Captain MacDermott along with his First Officer Thomas Kern from the Missouri. Gorman approached him and they exchanged hand shakes. "Well I'll be." Gorman said. "You just pop in and out whenever you feel like it eh? Think you own the place or something?" They both laughed.
"Hardly" He answered. Looking at the door way he said, "What the hell is this place? It took me over an hour just to get through security."
Lapel spoke up before Gorman could answer. "I know how you feel Captain. Believe me not too many people want to know this place exists. That I assure you. Here, every secret has a secret."
MacDermott arched his eye brow. With that gesture all four of them entered the room. Gorman looked around amazed that the room hadn't changed a bit. Why it surprised him he didn't know. It was still oval shape. The entire ceiling and the floor had one huge 'United Federation of Planets' symbol painted on it. In the center of the room there was a table with a speaking podium. MacDermott and Kern glanced around at the craftsmanship of the room. They hadn't seen anything like it before. "Someone went through allot of trouble to design this place." MacDermott thought himself.
Already in the room was Admiral Logan who was standing at the podium. His broad shoulders wore the Admirals uniform well. He had lost his hair many years ago but made up for it with his graying beard. There were also two other officers Gorman didn't recognize. Judging by their solid black uniforms Gorman assumed they were another Special Ops team. The man that sat to the right of Admiral was much smaller than Gorman but he obviously had the ability to kick ass with the best of them. Noticing the Captain pips on the mans collar Gorman knew this couldn't be good. The second man was less than pleasing to the eye. His long hair was accented by his beard and mustache. Gorman was a little shock that the man had gotten away with it for so long but figured discretion was the best alternative in the matter. All four of them came in and took their seats.
"Gentlemen." The Admiral started. "First of all let me introduce to you Captain David Sands and his first officer Matthew Schneider of the USS Apocalypse." Neither Sands nor Schneider made any attempt at saying hello. "I'll remind you that this briefing is classified." The Admiral looked across the table to MacDermott and Kern. "Captain MacDermott. I'm sure you know how this works by now, but in case you don't I'll remind you. After these proceedings you are to inform no one bellow your second in command. The rest of your crew is on a need to know basis and will remain as such. I understand that a Star Ship is run a little differently than a special ops boat crew but this of the utmost urgency.
Gorman cracked a smile. He knew MacDermott didn't like to be patronized. "With all do respect Admiral." MacDermott said. "How can I run my ship if I can't inform my crew."
"Where you're going Captain. You're crew will figure it out on their own."
"And just where might that be sir?"
The Admiral paused. "You're going to pick a fight with the Romulans."
The attention of everyone in the room was focused on the Admiral. Even Captain Sands shifted a little in his seat which caught Gormans attention. MacDermott really didn't have any words that he could speak of. Kern simple sat there and slowly closed his jaw. Admiral Logan pushed a button on the podium and a large monitor came down from the ceiling directly behind them.
"Roughly two weeks ago we received a signal from a classified Starbase along the neutral zone. The signal simple stated that two unknown vessels had just decloaked and were scanning the station. It was the last transmission the station ever sent. Several days latter the USS Columbia picked up a long range class IX probe that appeared to have been sent from the station. The probe had the following data on it." He hit another button and the lights went dim. The screen flipped on showing a small but very real picture of two vessels none of them had seen before. Gorman figured that if the ship had a skeleton it would be that of a Klingon Bird of Prey. The two ships and the station exchanged phaser blasts and then the screen went blank again. The Admirals voice could be heard. "Judging by the color of the ship and the markings here and here," He pointed to add emphasis as the screen zoomed in on two different sections of the ships. "We were able to determine that this is a Romulan vessel." The Admiral stopped a moment to regain his composure. "And there is something else. We have identified these markings as those belonging to the Tal Shiar. Starfleet has heard several mentions of a secret project code named 'The Talon Project' and it appears the rumors were true." No one in the room moved. They were frozen either by fear or by shock. Either way they all knew this mission would end in blood shed which came at no real surprise. Otherwise what was the point in being in the this particular room. The idea had just become very real. "For further information I am turning this briefing over to Lieutenant Mirek of the USS Shadow Horseman.
This caught Gormans ear. He didn't even know Mirek was in the city let alone part of this briefing. Mirek entered the room from a door way behind the podium. The door was so evenly camouflaged that no one in the room knew it was there. He approached the podium as the Admiral stepped down. He didn't even take a breath before he started to speak. "We believe this ship to be a counter measure to the Defiant class ship. As you can tell by the outward warp pylons the ship resembles that of a Klingon Bird of Prey. The long extended nose allows for better maneuverability. The problem is gentlemen, judging by the design we believe that this ship has the fire power to outclass and out-fly the Defiant itself.
"My God." Lapel said. "How would you characterize this ship? Do you consider it to be a first strike weapon or simple a defensive measure."
Mirek thought about it for a moment. "There is a possibility of both; however, it is even more likely the Romulans just developed the ship in response to Dominion activity. Much like we did with the Defiant."
"So why exactly are we here?" Captain Sands asked. Gorman was a little surprised to hear him speak.
Mirek shifted a little. He was obviously uncomfortable with what he was about to say. "On board the probe was an outline of all the information the Romulans downloaded from the station. We believe they may have gained the plans to our interphase cloaking device which was developed for all Prevaricate class ships."
MacDermott still wasn't quit following. "I don't understand what you mean by 'our' cloaking device."
"That is why this mission is so important. The cloaking technology was developed without the aid of the Romulans."
Kern jumped to his feet. "You mean to tell me the Romulans don't even know we have the damn thing. Are you trying to start a war?"
"You're out of line." Admiral Logan shouted from the corner. "If you can't control your executive officer Captain MacDermott, both of you will be dismissed understood?" MacDermott nodded even though he agreed with Kern. MacDermott reached up and pulled Kern down into his chair. "People." The Admiral continued. "The Romulan empire is falling apart. Our operatives have suggested that the economic structure of the so called great Romulan empire will collapse spreading a very real danger through out our quadrant. The last thing we need is the Tal Shiar getting their hands on the Federations most desolate secrets. It would just be one more reason for the Tal Shiar to gain a foot hold over the Romulan government. I assure you that is the last thing the Alpha Quadrant or the federation needs right now. Your orders come from the President himself." The Admiral sat back a moment giving himself some time to cool down. Mirek took the time to intervene.
"Your mission perameters have been spelled out on the PADDs before you. The Shadow Horseman team is to infiltrate the ship and do what ever is necessary to gain back the information before the encryption code can be broken. The Apocalypse team led by Captain Sands here, is there for the sole purpose of gathering any information on this Romulan vessel as possible. The Missouri," He waited a moment until he got the attention of MacDermott. "The Missouri is there for one reason only. To flush out the Romulan vessel."
Gorman asked the question before MacDermott had a chance. "Why the Missouri?"
"I figured you'd asked that. The Missouri is a newly commissioned Katana class ship. This ship is very new to the Romulans. Any member of the Tal Shiar will stop at nothing to gathering information on her. And perhaps they may even want to test their ship against a real Federation vessel this time."
"I KNEW IT!" Kern shouted. "We're just a pawn."
"That's right Captain. But givin the situation I don't see how you have a choice. Besides our Prevaricate class ships need a ride and as I remember you're the best man for the job."
"I assume that is suppose to be a complement." MacDermott said. MacDermott thought a moment about the situation. The sad thing was he had no other choice and in fact he was the best man for the job. He had a feeling Gorman had recommended him. Gorman must have read his mind because he could no longer look MacDermott in the eyes.
"When do we leave?" Sands asked.
"You're to dock with the Missouri at oh-four hundred hours." The Admiral answered. "From there you'll set a direct course to the location of the classified Starbase which is given to you there. It will take some time to reach the Neutral Zone so I suggest you prepare yourselves. This meeting is adjourned."
Everyone at the table stood as the Admiral left the room. When the doors had closed everyone let out a breath of air. "You're right Commander Lapel." MacDermott stated. "I wish I didn't know this place existed."
Several hours and several drinks later Gorman and MacDermott had made their way back to MacDermott's quarters. Both the Apocalypse and the Shadow Horseman had successfully docked under cloak to the saucer section of the Missouri without arousing any suspicion among the crew. Although no one had seen the ships it didn't take the crew long to figure out that something was in the air when they saw Gorman and MacDermott touring the Missouri together. It was difficult for the crew of the Missouri to forget Gorman and what had happened in the past. No one really blamed Gorman, "It was probably just my own insecurities." Gorman thought.
"Another round." MacDermott had asked as he poured them both another drink without giving Gorman a chance to answer. "Where did you get such great scotch?"
"I have a private stash that goes way back." Gorman said as he smiled. Gorman leaned back on the couch and stared out the window. "It's funny." He said. "No matter how much I look at the same stars over and over again I still find it calms me down."
MacDermott didn't reply. He really didn't need to. The tension in the air was thick and it had everything to do with this mission. MacDermott wanted to ask what was going through his mind but thought better of it.
"So." MacDermott said as he spread his arms apart. "What do you think of her?" He was of course referring to the ship.
Gorman smiled again. "She's a bute. Certainly a tribute to her Captain no less."
"I'll drink to that." MacDermott said as he downed his drink.
Gorman leaned forward thoughts rolling through his head. "Did you read the entire report?"
MacDermott grunted. "Yeah. Not exactly too thrilling is it? It seems every time we get together one of us ends up in Space Dock. You're bad luck mister."
Gorman laughed. "And I should say the same about you. And to think, I didn't think I was going to like you."
They laughed together. "Well." Gorman said. "I guess it is about that time. I better get to my ship."
MacDermott tried to hand the bottle back to Gorman. Gorman made a gesture for him to keep it. MacDermott didn't argue. Wasn't like him to pass up a good bottle of scotch. He extended his hand and Gorman took it. "Good luck to you Captain."
"And to you." With that Gorman left the room. As he stepped out the door he nearly ran face first into Lieutenant Ito. Gorman smiled. "Good to see you again Lieutenant." He looked back and gave MacDermott and small smile. MacDermott returned it and looked away as so not to laugh.
While in route to the Neutral Zone Gorman had taken it upon himself to get to know the team commanded by Captain David Sands. There was something about Sands that was eating away at Gorman but he just couldn't put his finger on it. It was probably nothing.
What better way to get to know his comrades than to challenge them to a test in the Holodeck, Gorman figured. After all, he needed to test the new equipment before going into combat with it. Their steps echoed through the corridor as Gorman and his team made their way to the Holodeck dressed in full camouflage and prepared for battle. The uniforms were a dark green mixed in with lighter colors to allow for better cloak and dagger. Their faces were painted black and gray. Several crew members of the Missouri jumped to the side terrified by the site. This of course made Gorman smile. It was a few minutes passed the hour when they reached the opening to the Holodeck. If all had gone according to plan, Sands and his crew would be hiding in the thick jungle that waited inside. Gorman clicked on the new device the came directly in front of his mouth. It was just a small addition to the O.R.C.R that he already wore around his eye socket. There was also another extension of the device that circled into his ear. "Test, test, one two three." Gorman said. All of his team gave him a 'thumbs' up that in fact they could hear his voice coming over the receiver. "Cool!" Gorman thought.
"Ok well lets get to it then. Arm weapons and lets go inside." He pulled the lever and the doors flung open. They only opened less than an two inches when a disruptor blast found itself into Tarbis' chest. Tarbis yelled as the force pushed him backwards and into the wall. He was a little disgusted but pretended to be unconscious as to add to the illusion. Somewhere inside the room a voice called out. "That's one down. Four to go." Followed by laughter. Gorman was not amused. The team threw themselves up against the wall so as to not make the same mistake twice. Gorman and Lapel jumped inside the room and dropped down to one knee. They sprayed their new disruptor type rapid fire weapons into the woods. Leaves and branches flew in all directions as the blasts found their marks. It allowed for cover fire so that and Allenby and Mirek could make their way inside.
Gorman and Lapel rolled off in opposite directions. There was no need to cloak as this was just an exercise to test the new equipment. Gorman looked over at Lapel, and Mirek. They were difficult to see due to the fact that they were so evenly camouflaged. Gorman pointed for them both to move out at a slow walk. Gorman and Allenby had joined together and walked through the woods at a slow crouched pace. They stepped carefully trying not to attract attention. It was difficult to walk in such a position but it was something Gorman had grown accustomed to. Allendy clicked in on Gormans communicator. "Captain." She whispered. She pointed into a thick underbrush about three meters away. There were two men that attempted to hide themselves as best they could. It would have been a perfect disguise except that there was a small portion on one of their faces that the black paint had been wipped away. It stuck out like a soar thumb. Gorman and Allenby raised their weapons and fired. The two men yelled as the disruptor blasts slammed into them. They pretended to be dead as the team moved on. "That leaves three." Gorman whispered so that all members of his team could hear him.
Gorman soon noticed that Mirek and Lapel were no where in site. He whispered into his communicator. "Commander Lapel come in." There was no reply. "Mr. Mirek. Answer me damnit." Once again no reply came. "Allenby, lets move out. Head towards the clearing over there." They moved slowly watching their every step.
Trying to locate anything through the brush was like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. Gorman wasn't sure who chose the program but it sure was invigorating. Gorman stopped causing Allenby to do the same. He cocked his to the side a little believing that he heard a noise. He listened carefully to be sure. His assurances were justified when he saw the small gleam of a piece a medal that could only be coming from a mans shoe. Without hesitation he pointed his rifle straight up and fired. A few seconds later a very large man fell to the ground in front of him. "That leaves two." Gorman said with a smile.
It wasn't long before Allenby and Gorman came across the unconscious bodies of Lapel and Mirek. Judging by the position they were in both them never saw it coming.
The two surviving members of the Shadow Horseman crew continued to make their way through the jungle. The only sounds were those of the holographic animals. Allenby turned toward the sound of the jungle being packed down under a boot. The computer specialist looked just in time to see the disruptor bolt hit her in the chest. Gorman managed to judge where the shot was fired from. He returned fire and smiled as he saw Sands' first officer go down in the distance.
In Gorman's ear-piece he heard Sands' voice. Sands had hacked into his comm frequency. The voice said. "Well Gorman, it's just you and me now. I thought your team was the best there is." Sands taunted.
"Well Sands, why don't we settle this the old fashioned way?" Gorman offered. "The clearing, as soon as you can get there."
"I'll see you in a minute, Captain." Sands responded.
Hearing the challenge over the comm channel aroused the dead Special Ops soldiers. They all made their way to the clearing minus that of Lapel and Mirek who still laid unconscious.
Gorman reached the clearing first. He removed the O.R.C.R, the lcars pad from his left arm, and his camouflage top. He was an imposing figure standing there in the middle of the jungle in camouflage pants and an olive color tank top. Sands entered the clearing a minute later. Although he was smaller than Gorman, he was also an imposing sight. The two special ops captains circled each other cautiously.
Their teams remained just outside the clearing. Sands waited for Gorman to make the first move. The bigger Gorman picked Sands up and flipped him over his back. Sands landed hard, but he was back up in an instant. Gorman had moved so fast Sands wasn't prepared. Sands hit Gorman with an upper cut that put the man down on his back. A cheer for Sands came from his team when they saw the blood from Gormans mouth went flying through the air. It was quickly silenced when Gorman brought his foot up. This time Sands stumbled back. He landed in the stream that ran through the clearing. He got up a little slower this time but his agility took over. He and Gorman stood there trading blows. One shot after another was blocked and then countered. They went back and forth. Neither one wanted to give up and they both were earning the others respect. It was frustrating Gorman. He had never found it so hard to bring someone down. Sands probably felt the same way but it was difficult to read his expressions. Once in a while they would each land a blow or a kick but both of them remained on their feet.
They were now smiling. Something that would seem unusual in this sort of situation but to them, they were having the time of their lives. Gorman wiped the blood from his lip on the back of his hand and glanced at it. Sands used that moment to his advantage. He spun around, kicking Gorman in the side of the head. In the outskirts of the clearing the two teams were jockeying for the best view of the proceedings. One thing led to another. Soon everyone was involved in their own private little war. Gorman landed two perfect combinations to Sands' face but the man didn't budge. The Captain of the Apocalypse was bleeding steadily from the nose and mouth.
The odds were a little uneven due to the fact that Lapel and Mirek were still unconscious. Schneider broke away from the fight and went to the aid of his captain. The both of them were getting the best of Gorman. Tarbis was taking on the Klingon from the Apocalypse crew and loving every minute of it. Allenby was holding her own against the Vulcan officer.
* * *
An ensign passing outside the holodeck while on his way to lunch, could hear the commotion inside. He looked inside and saw the brawl going on inside. He noticed that the main two fighters had Captain pips and their color and figured this needed to go higher than just a security team. He called the bridge. "Captain to holodeck Two, immediately."
* * *
A few moments later MacDermott and Lieutenant Ito approached the holodeck. "Report Ensign."
"Sir, I was passing by when I heard shouting and fighting coming from the holodeck. I looked inside and saw a brawl. I didn't know what to do so I called you down here."
"Thank you, Ensign. Carry on." MacDermott said. He looked at Ito. "You ready?"
She smiled. "Ready as I'll ever be." They walked through the doors and made their way to the clearing where all the noise was coming from. They stood there for a moment trying to figure out who was who. MacDermott saw Schneider the first officer of the Apocalypse holding Gorman while Sands hit him. Ito moved off to help Tarbis.
Sands drew his arm back to hit Gorman again. Before he could land the punch MacDermott grabbed his arm and held it strong. Sands looked back into MacDermott's eyes. "Stay out of this Starfleet. You'll only end up getting hurt."
"Try me." MacDermott said, twisting the arm back causing Sands to lose his footing and land on his back.
Gorman felt the opening he needed. First he brought his left elbow back into Schneider's ribs, then the right elbow. The Apocalypse officer was doubled over. Gorman spun around and brought his knee up into his face. The first officer of the Apocalypse lay on his back unconscious.
Ito was standing back to back with Tarbis as the two officers from the Apocalypse advanced on them. "Lieutenant Ito, it's very nice to see you again." The Romulan said as he was punched in the face.
"You too, Commander Tarbis." She said. Ito then stepped into a punch and followed it with a low sweeping kick that put her opponent on the ground.
MacDermott looked over at Gorman who was sitting on the ground playing with a stick. "Are you comfortable?" MacDermott asked.
"I thought I'd let you take over for a while." That of course told MacDermott that Sands was on his feet again. MacDermott turned just in time to take a punch from Sands and deflected the next one. As Sands moved past MacDermott, MacDermott elbowed him in the kidney. Sands fell at Gorman's feet. Sands looked up panting into Gorman's face. "Damn, hurts like a son of a bitch doesn't it?" He laughed.
Sands was infuriated. He jumped up and yelled, "COME ON, STARFLEET!"
Duncan was prepared for Sands attack but didn't expect it to come with such force. Sands fist landed to MacDermotts jaw but before MacDermott could retaliate the jungle was gone, replaced with the black and yellow grid of the holodeck. Everyone stopped and looked around wondering what happened. What happened was T'Gerran and a security team had entered the holodeck.
T'Gerran growled slightly as he took in the scene. Two of his security officers were helping Mirek and Lapel to their feet. One the Apocalypse crew was helping Commander Schneider to his feet. "Captain MacDermott, are you alright?"
"Everything is under control, Commander." MacDerrmott said breathing heavily. He was bent over with his hands on his knees.
"Should I take the crew of the Apocalypse to the brig?" The Klingon asked, sorry he didn't get the chance to get a few licks in.
Duncan looked to Gorman, then to Sands. Both of the Special Ops Captains nodded no. "That won't be necessary. I think it was just a case of some nervous energy needing to be vented. Make sure anyone who needs medical attention gets taken care of." Duncan stood up straight. Extending his hand, Gorman took it and stood up.
"Nervous energy, I like that." Gorman chuckled. As Gorman passed Sands he said in a low voice. "Don't fuck with him, Sands. He's not like regular starfleet. We should do this again some time."
"Yeah it was fun wasn't it." Sands replied as he shook Gormans hand.
All of them left the holodeck.
The rest of the flight went without incident but seemed to last for days. The Missouri made its way to the Neutral Zone as the Shadow Horseman and the Apocalypse followed behind under cloak. The Missouri was running a high tachyon trace through the sector hoping to attract some attention. It was the hope that Missouri would flush out the bugs leaving Gorman and Sands to do the stomping. Gorman had nothing but full confidence in Sands now. They earned each others respect and even discovered afterwards that they had plenty in common.
Outside the front window of the Shadow Horseman a debris field floated about a small planet. A debris field from a Starbase whose existence was never confirmed, a small irony at best. Gorman said a small and silent prayer for the people he knew never made it off.
"The Missouri is changing course." Mirek said breaking the silence.
"Which way is she turning?" Lapel asked leaving Gorman to his thoughts.
"Heading Zero-Two-Three, mark zero-zero-six."
"Is she jumping to warp."
"Aye sir warp five point four exactly."
Gorman stood to his feet. "We're in business."
Warp five-point-four was a predetermined warp signature that Gorman and MacDermott had agreed upon to alert the Apocalypse and the Horseman to the where abouts of any cloaked Romulan vessels. All they had to do now was move off in the opposite direction that the Missouri was moving to find their targets.
"Very well." Gorman said. "Take us to port and scan for a large build up of Tachyon particles."
"Aye sir." Both Allenby and Mirek said.
"Already have it Captain." Allenby said with a smile on her face.
The holographic screen morphed into view revealing a planet not to far from their position. Nothing around the planet was in view. But Gorman knew Allenby rarely made mistakes.
"Pull up the holographic display." Gorman ordered.
In the center of the bridge the three foot tube rose from the floor.
"Computer. Isolate the second planet in the system and bring it up on display."
The Planet morphed itself into view about a foot above the device.
Lapel moved over behind Gorman. "Hard to tell with thebuild up of ions in this sector what these readings are."
"Computer show me any unnatural readings emanating from the orbit from the Planet.
Several globs of red and purple spotted itself around the planet. Gorman noticed one spot in particular. "Computer, show me only those places that a build up of tachyon particles is gathered together." Most of the dots disappeared except for a long stream that seemed to circle the Planet itself. "Can you isolate the origin of these particles that are orbiting the Planet that seem to be gathered together in a range of lets say, one hundred and fifty cubic kilometers."
"Affirmative." The computer spoke back.
"Do it." After a few passive scans the computer slowly deleted spot after tiny spot until only one conjuncture remained. "Computer, taking into account the gravitational pull of the Planet, and it's magnetic resonance can you outline the tachyon particles and give me a representation of what is causing the build up."
"Affirmative." Before Gorman could order it the Computer went to work. Slowly the computer drew a contour green line from the center of the particles. It took shape of the Romulan vessel that they watched destroy the station.
"There you are you Son of a bitch." Gorman went back to his chair and sat down. "Mr. Mirek, take us in."
It wasn't long before the Horseman managed to dock with the Romulan vessel. Gorman could only hope that Sands had used his ingenuity to find the ship the same as Gorman had. There was no time to sit and wonder about that as Gorman, Lapel, Tarbis, and Mirek waited in the center of the Horseman for Allenby's orders.
The H.I.P.D. had already burned its way into the hull of the Romulan vessel. The hole was replaced by a hologram of the hull itself so to fool anyone that walked under it. "Your good to go." Allenby said over the intercom in Gormans ear. "I've downloaded specs of the entire Romulan ship into your tricorders. Gorman smiled slightly. He was always impressed by Allenbys talents.
"Send in the probe. Gorman ordeed.
Mirek dropped a small object towards the holographic hull. As it passed through the hologram it cloaked itself so as to not surprise any passerbyers. It scanned the hall way directly beneath the Horseman and sent images back to Gormans tricorder. The hall way was clear.
He looked at Mirek and Lapel and pointed into the hole. They knew what the gesture meant and without hesitation they leaped into the hologram disappearing from Gormans eyes. As always Gorman and Tarbis waited a few seconds and followed behind.
When Gorman landed on his feet he immediately had his riffle cocked on his shoulder ready to fire. Lapel and Mirek were on either side of Gorman down on one knee pointing their riffles down the corridor in opposite directions. Gorman moved over to Lapel and tapped him on the shoulder. "Lets move." He whispered allowing the team to pick him up through their communicators. "At least the new equipment is working as planned." Mirek said trying to break a laugh to ease the tensions. "Cut the chatter." Gorman ordered as they made their way down the corridor with Tarbis and Lapel bringing up the rear.
There was no way anyone but a Romulan could feel at home on this ship. The stale air, the dark green colors, the harsh environment, "Defiantly Romulan design." Gorman realized. Tarbis couldn't help but run his fingers along the wall. He had never seen his Romulan home and wondered what it mean to be a full blooded Roluman. This was perhaps the closest he had ever been to it but Gorman would never ask him such a thing.
The followed the map that Allenby laid out for them. Judging by their position they were close to their objective. Gorman knew that somewhere on this ship Sands and his team were infiltrating the bridge. The primary computers on the bridge would be the best source for any information on this ship and its crew. He hoped Sands was doing all right but somehow cleared his mind of any thoughts.
"Ok, Security facilities should be a few meters ahead. Hang a right up here." The one thing everyone on the team noticed was how there were no Romulans in the hallways or corridors. "No doubt tending to their duty." Gorman figured. It he wasn't hear to kill them he may have been impressed. No sooner had they reach security when doors opened. A large Romulan male stepped out in a furry followed by a small security force. "OH HELL!" Gorman whispered. The four of them jumped to the side as the security ran at full stride down the hallway. "What do you suppose that was all about?" Mirek asked.
"I don't know." Lapel answered. "But I sure don't want to find out." Before the doors could close they made their way inside. Lapel placed a small device on the floor stopping the door from closing completely.
The layout of the security room was pretty much a standard layout for any vessel of any species. There was a desk at the center of the room with several computer displays. Behind it were the hallways to the brig no less. Lapel and Mirek stood watch facing the door as Gorman and Tarbis moved behind the desk. Gorman pulled out his tricorder and did his best to break through the security codes on the console.
"Tarbis, can you read this." Gorman asked considering Tarbis was a Romulan himself.
Tarbis glanced at the display. "The ship is called the I.S.S. Minerva. A Talon class ship. Judging by the armament of the ship, I really wouldn't like to be on the other side of the battle."
"Wonderful." Gorman said sarcastically. "There I got it." Gorman emphasized as the tricorder broke through the security codes. "Searching for any Starfleet encrypted codes located in the database.........Come on!" His impatience was showing. That security force was still fresh in his mind. "FOUND IT! Downloading now."
"Captain. I hear footsteps." Came the cry of Lieutenant Mirek. At roughly the same time Allenby clicked in on the receiver. "Captain. I'm picking up movement heading your way. Looks like a task force."
"Just one more second."
"Oh shit!" Mirek said as he and Lapel stood with the riffles positioned on their shoulders. The footsteps rumbled like thunder as they broke into a run. "I think we've got company."
Sands' voice came over the intercom into all of their ears. "Gorman, get the hell out. I think we've been discovered."
Before anyone could say what they were thinking the red alert klaxons wailed through the ship.
Gorman looked up into the air. "Get back to the ship. On the double." There was no hesitation as Lapel and Mirek bolted out the door followed by Gorman and Tarbis. They exited the room only seconds before the security team arrived.
They had made it back the Horseman in prime condition but their victory had to be cut short. Gorman knew that the Romulans would track them down in an instant if they tried to warp away. He also knew that Sands understood the same. So the Apocalypse and Horseman just floated away from the cloaked Romulan vessel in hopes that the some how they would be able to contact the Missouri. Gorman watched the holographic viewer do its best to come up with a representation of the cloaked vessel. Also on the display were a few numbers that showed hoe far away they were from the ISS Minerva.
"Just back us away slowly. Don't use any power. They'll be on us in a second."
That second came sooner than expected when another Talon class ship came from the polar region of the Planet and decloaked. The magnificent ship waved itself into view and looked like an angry Raven ready to strike down on its prey. There was a silence that spread through the bridge. "Do you think they're onto us?" Mirek asked.
"Can't be." Lapel answered. "Unless Sands and his team were detected."
"Just remain calm everyone. The ship isn't doing anything yet."
A few hundred kilometers away from their position the Missouri had picked up the ship decloaking. Obviously the Romulans knew the Missouri was there but figured the chance was worth the risk. MacDermott wasted no time in changing course to intercept the ships.
"Why the hell would they decloak like this? They know the Missouri is just right around the corner." Tarbis asked.
"That's a good question. It just doesn't add up. Unless..."
Lapel jumped to his feet. "UNLESS IT'S A TRAP!" he shouted.
The warning came too late. The Missouri dropped out of warp and immediately fired on the Talon class ship. The quantum torpedoes struck the ship and dissolved in its shields. Without hesitation the ship swung around and unleashed it's weapons on the Missouri. The Minerva also decloaked and joined into the fight.
"DAMN!" Mirek shouted. "They knew we were here all along."
"They couldn't have." Gorman interrupted. "Otherwise what was the point of us being here."
"I don't know." Lapel said. "But something about this just doesn't sit well with me."
The Missouri returned fired but seemed to miss with ever shot. Phasers were dodged. Torpedoes could not lock on in time. The two Talon class ships skipped across the Missouri dropping its weapons onto her.
"It's no use sir." Allenby shouted. "The Missouri is just too big. It's like a whale trying to swat a fly."
"Allenby. Do you think that if we decloak we can destroy the ships before they have a chance to warp away."
"I can't guarantee that sir. And even if we do decloak. The Romulans could get a message off informing the Tal Shiar that we exist and there is nothing we can do about it."
"What about jamming the signals?" Mirek asked.
"Not with the cloak activated. And even after we decloak it would take a few seconds for all primary systems to come back on line."
"And by then." Gorman added. "A signal could easily be sent."
"Well we have to do something soon." Lapel shouted. "The Missouri is getting her ass kicked."
"Sir, looks like the Apocalypse has made up her mind."
Gorman glanced at the screen and saw the Apocalypse decloak and release a full volley of torpedoes. The talon class ship that it struck flipped to the side a little and was knocked of course. It certainly bought the Missouri a little time to regroup but it was still just a matter of seconds before the ship came around for another pass.
"Son of a bitch! Get us in there." Gorman ordered.
And just like that the Horseman joined the fight. Her sleek black figure can into view and was replaced by bright blue lights launching from the torpedo bays.
"MY GOD!" lapel said in a reluctant voice. "I've got a War bird here."
At that moment the Gorman knew they were into deep. The War bird decloaked and blew the hell out of the horseman. ODN conduits ruptured. Sparks shout through the bridge. And everyone was knocked off their feet.
Mirek pulled himself to his chair as the ship began to shutter. "Sir, they're concentrating all their fire on the Missouri engines. "I think they mean to keep her sir."
Gorman pulled himself to his knees and looked at the screen. The ships exchanged torpedo after torpedo, phaser after phaser, and the all kept fighting. The Apocalypse caught Gormans eye when he noticed the starting to cloak.
"I don't believe it." Gorman thought. "The son of a bitch is bugging out."
The War Bird came around for another pass and fired on the warp nacelles of the Missouri. The shields were holding but there was no way they take another shot. The Horseman was in no shape to get in and fight. "Mr. Mirek. Prepare ramming speed."
"Aye sir." Mirek said back.
Just as Mirek set in the course Gorman saw something unbelievable. Sands wasn't 'bugging out' he was going in. The next time the Apocalypse decloaked it was inside the War Birds shields.
"OH HELL YEAH!" Gorman shouted as a cheer went through his bridge.
The Apocalypse fired on the War Bird and with no shields to protect her the warp nacelles exploded sending the War bird end over end. The Apocalypse made a break for it but she was just too close. The War Bird collided with her and the ship exploded. The Missouri came up from underneath and finished what the Apocalypse had started.
"Bring us about. Try and target the other vessels." Gorman ordered.
Allenby shook her head. "It's no use sir. They're already gone."
Failure was not something Gorman could handle easily. "We made a grave error today." He said as he sat down in the chair. "Did anyone make it out of the Apocalypse."
"Yes sir. It looks like the Missouri is tractoring in the bridge plate of the Apocalypse. Looks like everyone ejected.
Gorman leaned over and put his face in his hands. "At least you have some good news to tell me.
Gorman sat effortlessly watching the stars whip by when the doors opened and MacDermott stepped into the briefing room on board the Missouri. Sands was also sitting in the room; however, no conversation had been exchanged between the two. They were both lost in their own thoughts which was sensed by MacDermott. He stopped a moment and looked at the two. Gorman had his back turned to him unable to take his sights off the stars, "What was he really looking at?" MacDermott wondered.
MacDermott swung a chair around and took his seat. "I have to submit my report to Starfleet at oh-nine hundred. I'd like for it to be as precise as possible." It was all MacDermott could think of to say. He felt the same as Sands and Gorman but he couldn't let himself show it. At least not for the stability of his crew. His crew could never see him beaten under any circumstances.
Sands was the first to look up from his thoughts. "We were downloading the information from the bridge of the Romulan vessel when the Captain sensed our presence. I don't know how he did it, perhaps we triggered some sort of fail safe we didn't notice but he called for security. We did what we could and got the hell out of there. About that time I we were informed that the security force was heading back towards the security room. That's when I notified Gorman in case he wasn't aware of it."
"Gorman?" MacDermott said trying to gain his attention. Gorman never looked away from the window when we answered. "You could put in your report Duncan that the Romulans already knew we were coming. The whole thing reeked of a set up. I don't know how or why but they planned this. They knew we would come for the information they simple sat and waited."
"I see." Was all MacDermott could say. Trying to change the subject he added, "Sands, I want to thank you personally for saving our asses out there. Not to many people earn my respect so when I give it take it for what it is worth."
"You can thank Gorman for that sir. I don't care for the Starfleet type but Gorman convinced me you weren't the typical captain. You proved that to me out there. It would have been easier for you to run but you stayed to make sure we got out alive. The thing is we are expendable and expect to be left behind. Anyone willing to put his life on the line for me has all the respect I can give him."
MacDermott smiled. "You'll be happy to know that your team sustained minor injuries. The Apocalypse was torn to pieces but with any luck she will be salvageable. We have most of her in the docking bay."
Sands was about to interject but MacDermott picked up on it. "Don't worry Sands, It's under lock and key. No one will see her or know about her without my say so."
Sands nodded. Even in that condition he protecting the secrets of a Prevaricate class ship was all he cared about. Ha waited a few moments and realizing nothing else was going to be said he excused himself. Sands obviously picked up on the growing tension between MacDermott and Gorman. "Well good day to you both then."
After Sands had exited the room MacDermott turned to Gorman. "Well my friend, you sure seemed troubled."
Gorman grunted a sarcastic laugh and finally stood. He still did not turn away from the window. "I failed out there today. Those ships got away with all the information they needed to blow this project wide open."
"I know. Some how I doubt that the Romulan government will ever see the data."
"No they won't." Gorman agreed. "However the Tal Shiar is another matter. They will not rest until they retaliate on this matter."
"I agree. I know it is hard for you to accept defeat but..." Gorman interrupted him.
"It isn't defeat that bothers me Duncan. It's the fact that I,... that we know more lives are going to be lost over this all because we couldn't do our job."
That thought hadn't crossed MacDermotts mind. "Shitty isn't it?" he thought that would make Gorman laugh but it didn't. He felt it better to excuse himself. "Well, I have duties to attend to." He headed for the door. "One more thing Shawn, no one knows what the future has in store for us on this matter or for any other. Who knows what is going to happen."
"You and I both know. No need to claim ignorance."
"Perhaps." MacDermott said. "Just trying to be a friend."
Gorman heard the doors open as MacDermott headed out. "DUNCAN!" He shouted. MacDermott looked back as Gorman continued in the only manner that he could think of to say 'thank you' to his friend. "Catch you on the flip side."
MacDermott smiled trying not to let his worries show.
On any given day the stars would calm his soul. Ease his mind to the point that he could slowly hear his heart beating. He shut his eyes but found no comfort from within. The stars brought him no peace. He knew that they would be full of death and those deaths would lie on his shoulders and his shoulders alone. He would always feel that burdon and would go with him through his days. He closed his eyes and for the first time he felt beaten.
Special Thanks To:
David Stidham of the USS Missouri
Trevor Coleman of the Talon Project
David Sands- Author of the USS Apocalypse
My appreciation and Thanks!
There are always two sides to every story - this is what happens when both sides are brought together from opposite sides of the most devastating battle in Federation history.
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