Obsidian Command

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Refractions: Taking a Lickin'

Posted on 30 Mar 2024 @ 7:16pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Captain Corvus DeHavilland & Lieutenant Commander Christophe Leblanc & Lieutenant Ethan Gunnarsen

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Pathfinder, On Patrol
Timeline: MD25 immediately following "Refractions: Deal or No Deal"
2673 words - 5.3 OF Standard Post Measure

With the initial salvo, Ethan set the Pathfinder on a winding course through the ice field, pressing the vessel to the extent of its flexibility. Behind him, he could hear Ensign Rieblin calling out details as she coordinated between the mad dash and Saaba’s efforts to take as many open shots at their pursuers as possible. He winced as one curve proved tighter than anticipated, causing the ship to shudder about them, but there was no time to settle and focus on the experience as he swept into the next curve.

“Commander,” Chief Edgerton offered from his station, “We’re being hailed by the Texas.”

“Put him through.” Calliope said, while being thrown to port and watching as the ice seemed to come impossibly close, nearly filling the viewer. A small chunk of ice flitted over the shield bubble and lit it up for a second as it deflected off.

Over the main viewer image of the ice rings and the oncoming rocks they were dodging through, the picture-in-picture viewer came to life with a zoomed in image of a man perched on the edge of his command chair, leaning onto one thigh, glaring at the screen. He was an older man, at least compared to the relatively young crew manning the Pathfinder, though he thought himself in his prime despite the gray hair on his head or the relative white of his beard.

“Hey Stanton, tell me you’re on the way.” Calliope said.

“We read you loud and clear, we’re coming fast as we can,” Captain Rayce Stanton offered from the bridge of the Defiant-class USS Texas. “What kind of voodoo you stirrin’ up this time, Commander?”

“Aaah. You know. Pirates and brigands, thieves and murderers.” The Pathfinder bridge crew all leaned to starboard now. “The usual.”

“And here I thought you were a science bucket,” he smirked in reply.

“Was hoping you got my last note before we went out of contact on system entry. I couldn’t let the trail get cold, as it were.” The Pathfinder and the Texas had split ways on the search for Virgil from her last known coordinates before Pathfinder ducked into the icy proto system. “I would have updated you a lot sooner, but there was all this signal refraction to overcome. We had the situation in hand until a new Syndicate unit decided to throw down while I had a team deployed to the Virgil. Have you heard of a captured Defiant class going by the name ‘Revenant’?”

“Can’t say as I have,” he replied with a shake of his head, turning to look to his tactical officer, already running the details for later review.

“Run by a real piece of work.” There was a hit on the aft shields and alarms went off. Saaba declared a four percent drop. Calliope smiled. “I think she wants me dead.”

“Well. That’s what we’re here to stop,” he grinned. It was something of a specialty for Rayce and the crew of the Texas stirring up trouble and providing protection for the little guy. He knew Commander Zahn was capable, but their little Defiant packed one helluva punch and, under his command, was more than a match for most. At least, so far.

“I should be able to help with that, Commander,” Edgerton chimed in. “Using the probe relay’s, I’ve been able to configure false sensor readings. It should be more than enough to confuse their targeting sensors. But, with this algorithm subroutine, the Texas can see through it,” he said, transmitting the code through the hailing frequency to the other vessel. “It should give us an edge, ma’am,” Edgerton confirmed.

“See? We’re sciencing. And we’re pulling out all the tricks to hold out until you can make it,” Calliope told Stanton.

“Mr. Rhys, increase warp factor,” Stanton called out on his side, speaking to his CoNN officer. He turned back to Calliope, “Should be there in the next… six minutes,” he said, checking the terminal on his command chair’s armrest. “Try to keep it together until then?”

“Thanks, Captain. See you when you get here.” Calliope assigned the Texas’ ETA countdown on the corner of the forward viewer. She saw another incoming comm from the Revenant. “I’ve got another call on the line. Zahn out.”

Calliope switched her comm to respond, audio only. She had plenty to focus on in front of them without Revana trying to fill her viewer. “Hey, Nezar!” The Pathfinder’s shields took another small clip of phaser fire. They still had a fair distance, although it was closing gradually.

“Mother will be fascinated to hear that you’re a fighter, Calli.” Came Revana’s voice over the comm line. The Revenant was stalking them through the asteroid field, and she knew they would have caught them already if her lead pilot was aboard, but she had to settle with the young man sitting at the conn in front of her. “We’ve always been a family of fighters underneath it all.”

“Yeah, I hear a lot of Syndicate work is family business. Your dad is involved, your mom too, huh?”

“Mother doesn’t dirty her hands with Syndicate work. She busies herself with other, more delicate and timeless things.” Revana said as she watched the Pathfinder on her viewer, getting steadily closer, but still not close enough. “We share a few hobbies. One of them is mapping our family tree. That was a nice little bonus to tracking down my mark today, really. It’s a shame we never got to play together, you and I. I could have taught you my killer instinct…and you could have taught me a thing or do about suppressing my…natural Orion charm. We might call it a trade between cousins.”

Cousins? That made Calliope pause while she was working up text orders for Noah and the Fire Team on her console. If there was one thing that got under her skin it was people assuming she had ties to the Syndicate on nothing but a first glance. There wasn’t a chance in her mind. “Now you’re just reaching to mess with me. I’ve got as much in common with you as an iguana insofar as we’re all green.”

“That would be convenient, wouldn’t it?” Revana asked. “You’re Starfleet, and you’d like to feel Starfleet too. All you need to do in order to prove I’m a liar is find out what your dear old daddy does for a living. Or perhaps inquire about my mother’s maiden name, if you can find it.”

A flash of pulse phaser fire interrupted their banter as it arched across the cold field of asteroids and crashed hard against the Pathfinder’s shields. Even though there were few impacts, they had done their job, and the pool of smoke in the science vessel’s engine room made the proof plain to all. Lieutenant Danica Vega coughed as she stepped around a pair of engineers working at a console together, and tapped her direct line to the bridge on.

“Vega to Bridge, that last did some serious damage to our aft shield generators,” she said, her voice signaling her youth, but still full of an almost calm courage. “We’re switching to backups. Just please try to stay away from that crazy witch, if possible.”

Calliope finished her text message for the away team and fired it off, leaving the note on her console to be sure she didn’t miss the confirmation when it came in. Then she stood to her feet, letting her center of balance adjust as Gunnarsen continued his crazy dodging and diving.

“Gunnarsen!” Calliope barked. “Find us a narrow gap. Let’s thread her through.”

“But Ma’am– they’ll have nothing but our ass in sights!” Saaba protested. They were supposed to be trying to dodge the Revenant’s fire.

“I know. Like a fish in a barrel. Clear everyone we can from aft compartments.” On the Korix mission Pathfinder had lost her quartermaster down in the lower aft of the ship. If Calliope’s plan worked, she expected Obsidian Command’s Dockyards to have to repair it again, but she didn’t plan on losing anyone. “It’ll be too tempting for Ms. Nezar to ignore us flashing our backside. Load and ready aft torpedoes. We have to make her head spin and regain our lead.”

“Got it, Commander.” Ethan scanned the images before them even as he kept moving, drawing their tail further into the ice field until he found what he was looking for. The systems warned that the passage narrowed to dangerously shy of the Pathfinder’s capacity, but the trajectory was right. Angling on the next bank, he took the vessel in, narrowly skirting a broken ridge and praying he didn’t misjudge the next turn too badly. The less damage he could wreak before they reached the end the better.

On the Bridge of the Revenant, all was quiet as the members of the Nazar cell worked their consoles and plied their various expertise to catch and destroy the Pathfinder. Besides her, the entire senior staff were men. Many assumed she’d done this because she wanted to exert some special control over them, but in reality, it was coincidental. In many ways, she preferred working with women.

On the viewscreen, the Pathfinder made a sharp turned and headed for a tight space between two asteroids.

“I’m gunning it after them.” Came the harsh voice of the Bolian man at the helm. “They’re trying to lose us through that narrow gap.”

“Auxiliary power to maneuvering thrusters, Tully.” Revana said, turning to her First Mate in an instant, and then in the next looking to the tactical console. “Asher, she’s about to show her backside. Be ready to give it a good smack.”

The Chief Gunner, a ruggedly handsome human man, grinned and moved his fingers swiftly over the controls.

“Revana, I didn’t know your cousin likes a good spanking.”

“We all do, Darling. We’re wild about good discipline.” she responded.

As they wound through the quickly narrowing route, the icy faces of the asteroids darkened, the many facets reflecting the lights of the ships inside in multitude. There was nowhere to go, left or right, up or down. Only through.

Calliope watched until the Revenant had committed to the tunnel as well. Every display on the Pathfinder was lighting up red with hits to aft shielding, the grid compensation from Ops not able to keep up with the energy bleed through the damaged rear shield projectors. Things began to pop and shake through the ship.

“Now, Ms. Saaba! Now!” Calliope shouted over the noise of buzzers and automatic safety valves clamping through the plasma grid behind the bulkheads.

Saaba stabbed the first release of torpedoes before Calliope had finished giving the order, then ran the reload cycle, the seconds dragging out entirely too long, but giving her enough time to glace up at the confirmation of the first ones landing, the second salvo did likewise and she was waiting for a third reload as Gunnersen cleared the tightest portion of the narrows, angling the ship’s nose upward which had the effect of pressing them into the deck while pitching everyone forward as the inertial dampeners sluggishly compensated for the redirection. Saaba smacked her head into her console and tried to clear the stars from her vision. She looked through the fog of the plasma coolant and the fog in her vision to find the pulsating double image of the torpedo loading update, and as it flashed from yellow to green, she let off a third pair of quantum warheads in the Pathfinder’s wake.

Gripping one of the rails, Calliope appreciated the tactical rear view image of the blossoming torpedo explosions cracking against the Revenant’s forward shields, in quick succession. The Pirate ship took three waves of torpedoes head on with no where else to turn, running into them faster than the road hazards could be called out on sensors. Calliope took the computer’s news, calling it out as she realized her Tactical officer was dazed. Saaba probably hadn’t realized it yet but her cobalt blue blood was running down her face.

“Their forward shields are down.” Calliope spun a holographic console around and popped off a couple lances on aft phasers. They both hit hull plates on the Defiant, one of them striking a maneuvering thruster and sending their pursuers off at a tangent. But by the time she got off a third, they had redirected shields forward again.

Meanwhile in the forward view the Pathfinder was clearing the chute and Gunnarsen already had a new course queued up to jack rabbit through. Calliope was doing mental math, hoping they’d bought three more minutes.

Even though they’d regained some distance, every time the Revenant could spot their tail lights weaving through the asteroids, a well timed phaser shot would rock the ship. Calliope caught herself, holding one of the rails. There was a plasma valve shunt somewhere in the ceiling that hissed as it closed an overloaded circuit, but not before fogging the bridge. A bank of stations at the rear of the bridge sparked and powered down. Calliope heard Lieutenant Vega calling up to report they’d lost rear shields and had multiple hull breaches. The officer at ops declared there was damage to segments of the power grid, failures on decks five, six and eight. Meanwhile Lt Vega also continued to report from engineering, emergency containment force fields in place, sealing the breaches. There was damage to a rear port thruster and rear phaser array. Rear shield generators were out. Shuttle bay doors were compromised, the bay was decompressed... the list continued.

Calliope grimaced. Gunnarsen would have to factor for the sluggish port thruster, but that couldn’t be helped. “Understood, Engineering. Keep our engines together. Just… a minute, twenty seconds. You’ve got this.”

Saaba watched as one of the asteroids Gunnarsen was trying to navigate seemed to hurtle uncomfortably near; after running non stop and coordinating with conn and ops, she had been starting to feel the operation of the ship more like an extension of herself, and without over thinking it, as a kind of reflex, she used a short tractor beam burst to latch onto a large asteroid ahead and to starboard, generating the drag needed to clear the hazard to port. There was a whine through out the ship as the pull back on the beam’s purchase couldn’t lift the object so much as yank the ship itself. Port shields registered damage as they glanced the ice…

Still standing, Calliope continued to surf the inertia of the deck as the clock for Stanton’s ETA ran down to zero and the track of ice cubes ahead of them was thinning out. With no positive sign of the Texas on scopes yet, they were going to have to fight it out from here.

Calliope dropped into the chair, gripping the armrests and preparing herself for the worst. They could no longer risk running and taking aft damage.

“Bring us about! Ready forward phasers!”

Calliope looked around at her bridge crew, under showers of sparks illuminating the haze. She grew uncertain what the next few minutes would prove for them all, but there was no more running. It was time to square up for a fight.

"Weapons free," she said through gritted teeth. "Let's make 'em regret this."


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