Sorry for posting this chapter unchecked/edited. Will correct that soon, but i didn't want continuity to suffer too much.
Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10,11 and 12 linked below:
The August had just been flashed with a bright light somehow, in the midst of investigating an intelligent probe which seemed to have latched on and gathered any and all data pertaining to Captain Greener.
The ship had gone to red alert, shields were up (however ineffective), and the main computer memory core was now down at this time, mostly intentionally.
Caymen looked to Stark and tapped his badge.
=^= Lieutenant Johnson, you're on deck. Captain Dylan, please send a marine or two up here as well. =^=
=/\="Dylan to all marine personnel, Scenario gamma, gear up and get to your Emergency Stations. Lt. McClintock, Grab a case of Phaser rifles meet me on deck 6, then take alpha squad to Main Engineering."=/\= Dylan ordered.
=/\="Aye Captain, I'll see you on Deck 6. Alpha Squad, on me!"=/\=
Londance was staring at the probe curiously, as if trying to read it. "Figured I would check - it certainly isn't alive. I haven't the faintest idea what was with that flash though." he tapped his console, "I'm down Caymen, so I'll assume that the shutdown was complete. Can anyone with a working console confirm this?" he asked.
"Ops is down," Ian said, shaking his head.
"Helm controls are not responding," notified Senna as she watched her console's display fade in and out.
Londance thought for a moment, "Well let's try to think positively people. Until we have confirmation of a memory core shut down, I suggest we work on getting these consoles back up." he looked towards Caymen.
Jolan popped open his tactical console and ran a diagnostic, when that failed he removed a powercell from his tricorder and inserted it into an auxiliary input, the local access kicked on, as well as the isolated bridge sensor suite feed to tactical
"until we sort out power priorities I'm useless at my station, i've managed to access the local console memory, its reading the last logged action was a computer shut down, each consoles local memory should also show the same if it was successful." Jolan reported as he stood back up using what little power to try to access the shields
"wait a second yes, sir shields are still up as are sensors we just can't access them nor can they process anything, i'd recommend we bridge a shuttle into the sensor feed or use the shuttles sensors alone to verify the area is secure, seeing as we can't fight i'd also recommend we launch the fighters, if they are still operational, this probe may have friends coming, also sir, if we can get a log dump of the probes access maybe we can glean something from it find out what it is or what it wants, i would not advise we directly interact with it however until we can verify if we can properly shield whatever memory core we try to tie it into"
Caymen nodded. "Let's see if we can stabilize the August before we send more fodder."
Kurtis snapped close the lower panel on the engineering console and ran a quick diagnostic. With everything checking out okay, he started the process of re-loading the ship's operating system from protected memory.
"Okay Cap'n, we should be back up and running in a few minutes. We're still only operating on partial power but we'll at least have sensors and helm control." He reported.
=/\="Engineering to Bridge, What ever did this took all power generators offline, impulse engines are offline and the Warp Core is Cold, ETA to Main power being back up is 1 hour Minimum, and I'm going to need Lyden to Help out down here, Captain."=/\= reported Quinn.
Kurtis swiveled in his chair, "Cap'n, the rebooting of the ship's operating system is fairly automatic at this point; with your leave I'll head down to engineering to give the Chief a hand."
"Of course. Keep Grant and Trask up to date, please."
Kurtis nodded to the Captain and stepped onto the turbolift to head to engineering.
Greener turned back to see if Johnson had made it to the bridge but before he could ask a question of the scientist or his empaths, alerts went off.
"What is that?"
On the screen in front of them appeared several ships of a completely odd yet familiar form and shape. Caymen recognized them, but couldn't place them. "Someone get a scan on those things."
johnson had arrived unnoticed a little earlier and gone straight to his station when the alerts went off. Johnson turned his chair to look through at the view screen then immediately turned and began to rapidly input commands into his console. The system takes a few moment to execute the commands and perform a scan, Johnson look over the results with a frown then rechecked them.
"Captain based on these readings those are Undine ships however something is different about them. Based on these readings and our database I would say they are from around the 2370s to 2380s more analysis should allow us to narrow it down pretty close to the actual age."
"Maintain Red Alert." Greener looked back to Trask.
"Contact Lieutenant Madwan and have them deploy three fighters in escort mode. Stat!"
Jolan nodded and open a direct comline to the marines deck "Bridge to fighters. scramble scramble scramble, this is not a drill! I need three fighters in a standard escort pattern Asap, the rest on hot standby. Get it done Lieutenant Madwan! I also want an open comline, Trask out"
As the com. silenced following Jolan's cutting the signal on his end it only took a second for Zoteke to swing into action.
=^=Madwan to Shepherds, scramble! This ain't no test boys and girls! Wing one, scramble. Wing two, hot seat. Let's impress people! Madwan out=^= Zoteke shouted into his comm-badge, while he made his way into the locker room, and halfway into his flight gear by the time he closed the comm-channel.
As he ran into the hangar bay he noticed the Sparrow and two Peregrines already set to launch. Knowing the other 3 Peregrines would be lifted up from the lower hangers after the first wing had launched he was satisfied with the Engineering crews performance in getting the fighters ready for scrambles like this.
Scanning the hangerbay quickly he found Jeanette at the doorway out of the hangerbay and their eyes locked for only a fraction of a second. However short their contact was, everything they needed to say was told in it.
Zoteke had jumped into the Sparrow's cockpit and punched in the close and lock button for his canopy when the other pilots came running into the bay at full tilt. With a smile he noticed the latest addition to their Shepherd family was leading them.
"Nice of you to join us!" Shouted Zoteke at Jason as the young hotshot jumped up the steps up to his cockpit rather then climb it the 'normal' way.
"you can count on it move yourselves people lets go lets go!" snapped Jason as he closed and locked his canopy donning his helmet, while simultaneously starting his preflight check, noticing his flight computer had already run its diagnostics, realizeing this he had already started to spin up his engines and shield gennys
"Just stay close, and keep formation until i tell you otherwise. You'll be fine!" Zoteke answered his pilots in what he hoped was a reassuring way. Then he punched up the comm system to open a channel to the bridge's tactical station.
"Madwan to bridge, Shepherds 10 seconds from scramble. Ready to receive EWAC sensory input." he told whoever manned the station now and simultaneously fired up all engines and weapon systems. A short beep and the message "Completed" flashing told him from the tactical station the sensor data was flowing and the force field in the hangar bay had been set to allow them through.
He looked over both his shoulders seeing both the Peregrines start to lift off their landing struts, ready to hit their throttles. Smiling he glanced over the systems one more time before punching his Sparrow to full throttle.
"Shepherds Wing One away, Shepherds Wing two on hot seat confirmed. Channel open. Shepherds ready and Awaiting orders." Zoteke reported to the Augusts tactical station.
Jolan responded feeding the sensor data of the contacts off the bow "we dont know what there capable of or even what they are, we got mabye twenty minutes combat time before we start having power problems, were on ships battaries auxiliary and main power is down, truth be told i don't even know if we have maneuvering thrusters" Jolan finished.
As he saw the callsigns of the fighters that had launched he said to nobody in particular "give em hell son...and be safe"
A trio of fighters spewed out of the USS August's hull like quantum torpedoes into the blackness of space. Their engines, brightly lit with power, standing out in stark contrast to the darkness. They went into three separate sections on afterburner before arcing simultaneously and slowing down to lastly slide into the position they'd all agreed on would be optimal.
In seconds the three fighters had formed up in the classic triangle formation. =^=Nice scramble time! Shepherd 2 you've got goalkeeper. Verspaget you're covering my ass.=^= Zoteke commed.
"roger lead,nothings getting by me" Jason responded
Pleased with the distance between the fighters and the tightness of their formation a smile grew all over Zotekes' face. Being covered with a helmet hid the enormous smile on his face well however and Zoteke sent out the go signal, immediately followed by some flicks of his control stick.
"Shepard two ready" as Jason powered and double checked his weapons systems and shields starting tactical scans in the same motion
=^=Lets earn our pay then shall we?=^=
Then, as one, they did a quarter barrel roll, and their pilots slammed back on their control sticks as hard as their fighters would allow. In a graceful arc the trio 'leveled', completed the turn to complete a threesixty degrees taking up position above and behind the USS August.
During these maneuvers Zoteke ran the computer system through a number of tactical sensor sweeps, his sensors feeding of the incoming data from the much stronger ones on the August. He noticed the ships near their position and got goose bumps as recognition sent shivers down his spine. He hadn't seen ships looking like that in decades, but would never forget.
Unlike the last time he'd come across this ship-type though, these were almost inert, their moment barely noticeable at this distance.
=^= Shepherd one to Alpha wing. This is it! This is what we do it all for....Keep your hands on the controls, and your senses sharp. We're now officially on escort duty. Nothing touches the August, is that clear!=^= Zoteke said, on the Shepherds channel.
"OOORAH!" Came both Jason's and Zotekes wingmans reply.
Then Zoteke punched in some codes to establish an open and continuous channel to the August.
=^= Shepherd one to August. Shepherd's Alpha wing scrambled and in position escort Bravo. Sensors, propulsion and weapons systems checked o.k.=^= he reported.
The Undine vessels were, to most alpha quadrant cultures and tastes, an ominous and instinctively feared sight. Their hulls were covered with deadly and nasty looking spikes, their lines asymmetrical and their color dark and drab. Their looks, so had Zoteke experienced, matched their performances and he was confident that keeping the big but slow ships from damaging the August wouldn't take all that much of the Shepherds firepower as long as the fighters kept moving quickly.
That confidence disappeared when the tactical console had finished analyzing the new sensor feed. It almost looked like there were many different antimatter cores inside the hull of one of the Undine looking vessels. Then, with a tremble in his vo
=^=confirm weapons free for intercept?=^=
"Negative not at this time,we're trying explore more options" Came Jolan now with a phaser carbine (his custom one) slung across his chest as well as his type two duty phaser on his hip.
=^= Acknowledged. Holding defensive position and stance. =^= Zoteke replied.
Then he opened the comm to the squadron.
=^= Keep your shields up, your weapons hot and your mind sharp =^= he began, but was abruptly interrupted by a flurry of movement from the Undine vessels.
Simultaneously the comm came back alive with thee words.
=^=Weapons free. INTERCEPT!=^=
Zoteke opened a channel to all of the Shepherds.
=^=Alpha wing, Intercept Gamma three, BREAK=^=.
The fighter's backsides lit up like little stars as their engines pushed them forward into action.
=^=Beta Wing Scramble. replace us at sweet-spot alpha=^= he ordered so the second wing would take up position at which three fighters would be best able to get to and neutralize any threat heading towards the August.
When Arendje had overheard Zoteke explain it to Jeanette earlier and promptly called it the sweet-spot the name kind of stuck in Zotekes head. Jason saw the movement, and he shifted his weight in his seat a bit as he tensed. This was the real thing he had waited for, and in a flash he put his fighter into a barrel roll, reforming on his wing, shifting his shields fully forwards
The incoming aliens fired their weapons first. With relative ease the three fighters weaved in and out of their spot in the wing's triangular positions. The most the bright and sharp stabs from their beams could score was some glancing touches leaving a smear on the fighter's hull.
It was Versget's one.
=^=Okay, just like we practiced. Three... two... one.... BREAK!=^= commed Zoteke, as the trio of fighter slammed on the break thrusters, fired a volley of smart missiles nosed up and kicked back into forward motion, blasting their engines, angling their fighters away from the point of impact and the alien's weapon fire.
The impact of the missiles blinded Zoteken eyes a little before the canopy darkened to protect his eyes. Whatever that was, it was big and it exploded! at the end of their maneuver Zoteke's sensors told him one of the biggest of the three, violently seized existing and the shockwave was coming.
=^=Brace for impa....=^= he started to warn but was rudely interrupted by the most violent jostling he'd ever experienced in his life as the shockwave from a matter/antimatter power core losing containment pummeled not on only his but everyone else's ship.
Jason rolled pulling a 180 riding the shockwave. His hull stresses screamed at him, as the shockwave passed he spun again lashing out with his pulse phasers at inbound torpedoes, fiercely guarding the August as if he were a wasp protecting his nest, he fired off a salvo of missiles premature detonating them in the next volley of torpedoes, the blast splashing across the Undines shielding
"yo boss, it's getting kinda hot over here!" Jason reported as he dove through a salvo of beam fire shots grazing off his shielding he was now defensive,but he had a plan "i need some cover"
He pulled a second 180 and headed right for the two remaining ships right between the middle of them weapon blasts fired from all sides, he kept dodging when he realized the ships were in hitting each other Jason spun again over the top of the second ship and fired off one a salvo of his micro torpedoes, the warheads ripped into the weakened shields of the Undine vessels who up till just now were still hitting each other without realizing it.
After the break Zoteke and Verspaget angled themselves into another arc then Jason did, as per their training. Taking them to the opposite side of the two massive Undine vessels of Jason, showing them something Jason must not have been able to.
A squad of fighters had emerged from the one facing the Peregrine and the Sparrow. Surprised by their speed and sudden emergence it took all the skills Zoteke and Verspaget had to avoid the streams of deadly energy and ship to ship missiles hurled at them by the formation of 6 little versions of the large ships.
Their training and mere piloting instincts as well as the awesome performance of the two fighters and their pilots served them well though. Instead of the intuitive splitting up and going in different directions when faced with the numbers of bogeys Zoteke and his wingwoman were they kept formation. They loosened it by 10 meters to give them room to maneuver but still they kept together.
With their movements synched the fighters pulled straight up, flicked their nose thrusters while cutting main engines which turned the fighter end over end and facing in the opposite direction they were going. As if on queue the pulse phaser cannons on the Sparrow and the Peregrine opened up spewing angry phased energy into the oncoming pursuers slamming into the shields with ferocity. Then the two Federation fighers launched a torpedo into the cluster of, now very confused and panicky enemies, detonating in the center of their formation.
The closest Undine fighter, left shieldless by the phaser bolts, went up in a smaller version of the matter antimatter annihilation that'd caused the shockwave when the bigger ship went up. This mighty explosion added its strength to the one of the torpedoes making it more powerful than the protection of three more undine fighters could take. They failed to explode but their engines dark and canopies shattered the fighters, if not their pilots, were dead in space.
This left two of the original six fighters still in the game and they were recovering from their confusion quickly. They'd regrouped and formed on each others wing. Together they arced in a wide angle around the expanding debris field their comrades formed and had their computers working on targeting the two Federation fighters.
It was only then he noticed the fact that one fighter in their wing was late in forming back up. A knot tied in Zoteke's stomach as he feared for a second the young Corporal had gotten himself killed. His systems told him where Jason was soon enough though and he ordered Verspaget to deal with the two remaining fighters.
=^=Verspaget, Trask is separated and heading into the shits. Keep these two off my back, or kill them, whatever, i'm going to help the kid!=^=
he yelled into the comm.
At this point Jason must've realized he might have been in over his head and commed things were getting hot. It was also the point where everything Zoteke thought he knew about odds went out the window. Before he had a chance to answer, tell the kid to pull out, up and away from the big ships as fast as he could the kid seemed to dive right into the center of the 2 ship formation and streak through in between them. Gasping he couldn't utter a single word, sure he'd be explaining another Trask why he lost his son on his first mission under a new Squadron commander.
As Jason disappeared between the two massive ships he knew all he could do was get there as quickly as possible and put his Sparrow between Jason's Peregrine and whatever shots came at him when he got there. Kicking up every spare bit of power into the propulsion system, nearly pushing the fighter up to relativistic speed he went straight for the two ships when he heard the voice of the young Corporal over the comm asking for some cover.
=^=Trask, this is Madwan, i'm on the other side of target Beta. Pull up and out from in between them! One of those disruptor bank's hits will blast you into atoms! What are....=^=
from the back and top part of the ship explosions began to fan out across the hull of the big ship as the small Peregrine shot up like a bat out of hell.... Undamaged.
Zoteke couldn't believe it. By everything he'd ever been taught, and everything his experience told him the Peregrine fighter shouldn't be able to do what he just see it do. 14 disruptor banks had opened up with everything they had and none of them had hit him. Only one hit would've been enough. Just one hit and the Peregrine wouldn't even have left chunks bigger than your hand. But none had hit, the kid had blown through and somehow damaged one of the ships significantly.
Anger quickly replaced the awe at the kid's unbelievable luck. He was about to open a channel to his ship when the comm sounded with Verspaget's tense voice.
=^=Verspaget to Madwan. I'm starting to run out of tricks here. I'm heading your way with two hot bogeys on my six!=^=
=^=Acknowledged, but head for the August instead. We're getting to far away from her playing with these fighters. That's just what they're trying to get up to do. We'll get to you to take care of those bandids on your six when we meet up!=^= he ordered.
Then, on a channel only he and Corporal Trask could hear.
=^=Jason, form on my wing, Verspaget needs help. But so help me god if you break off on your own, like you just did, one more time, i won't care if you take out a Borg armada on your own, i'll make sure you'll never see the inside of a cockpit again!=^=
"Understood sir, I will point out however, its hard to hit something the size of my fighter when I'm five meters off said targets hull, i was cut off, i saw an opening in there shields, i pounced,they shot each other trying to target me,sir" Jason reported as he formed up feeling the need to justify his maneuver. Thats when jason saw the august come alive her phasers firing erratically but refining themselves, and she started to maneuver rather gracefully given her size, when he heard over the comlink,his fathers voice
=^=Tactical to fighters,we're maneuvering and have shields regenerating, phasers, as you can see are online but targeting is drunk. I can't hit em all but i can hit some of the torpedos, just be careful if your off starboard or the bow,or anywhere not the port side, i cant guarantee i wont hit you, we're working to correct it as soon as we can" Jolan reported awaiting the open comlines response.
=^=Roger, we were on our way already. Just try to miss us most of the time please=^= Zoteke confirmed the order, immediately regretting the attempt at hum
It was hard sometimes remembering he was an officer these days, setting the example. Jason had heard the order and keyed up his comline seeing zoteks fighter in a furball
=^= Understood August,we're maneuvering accordingly.=^=
Suddenly behind all the Undine fighters and ships, well beyond the battle, a great "mothership" appeared out of no where from Undine fluidic space. It did nothing, and the rest of the Undine did nothing other than those already fighting.
=^= Tactical to shepards, assume a full defensive stance and await orders, this comes from the captain. Godspeed shepards"=^=
Jason allmost stoped dead after he opened a comlink to zoteke "Uh boss,weave got a problem,a big powerful problem, thats one helluva huge Undine ship.
To be continued in Part 14