Osprey #1: Running the Gauntlet by Miranda Fave


Tracking an Orion slaver in ‘The Gauntlet’, a treacherous region of space, the Border Patrol Cutter Osprey must mount a daring rescue and interdiction mission before it is hit by a deadly storm front. There’s a reason it’s called running the Gauntlet.

Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Friendship
Warnings: Violence
Challenges: None
Series: The Watchtower Universe
Chapters: 15 Completed: Yes Word count: 35034 Read: 19200 Published: 12 Jul 2014 Updated: 26 Jul 2014
Little Dragon by Miranda Fave

On the Orion Raider, Gareth Hayes looked back to check his six where he saw two of his team standing guard over the breach area. The ship’s lights were down and nominal emergency lights were all that provided illumination other than a few sparking overloaded EPS systems along the corridor lengths.

Gareth took in the sensation of the raider. The EMP rat-trap had done its work and shut down all electronic systems on board. Burning smoke filled air some battling with the oppressive dank smell Gareth imagined always pervaded its interior. This really wasn’t a Starfleet vessel.

At his side, the security officer with a specialised tricorder gave an all clear. They had breathable albeit dank air and gravity was patchy throughout the raider as best they could tell. Hayes was sufficiently happy with the report, with a sharp nod of his head and clear short hand signals, he directed the remainder of the team ahead.

They raced up the corridor, relying on speed over stealth but mindful of their approach and lines of fire. Coming to the prisoner pens the team halted briefly to consult their tactical readouts. “Just ahead sir.”

“Ok. Ready to breach.” Hayes turned and met the face of Ryuu and tried to repress his unease at giving the youth the lead. Ryuu was busy shaking his thin wiry limbs, looking for all the work as though he were stretching and warming up before a jog. Ryuu craned and turned his neck, jogged on the spot and shook his arms and feet out, before patting down his specialised thin mirco mesh armour suit that was certainly not Starfleet standard and closer to something Gareth would wear to go scuba diving.

Gareth’s apprehension must have shown as at his side the medic assured him, “It’s ok Commander. He really does know what he’s doing.”

The lithe thin form of Ryuu gave the readings on the tac-mat grave scrutiny before looking up and over and giving a predatory smile. He handed the tac-mat over dotting figures detected with one finger causing them to be highlighted in green. A few others he selected with another finger causing them to be marked in orange. “I’ll take green for starters. You can have the orange ones, Commander. Time for the real party.” Ryuu snapped his CPR weapon to his side and took out his carbine pistol and petted it affectionately.

Hayes imagined him playing out his assault in his mind’s eye before the go to storm the holding area. Ryuu looked up through his mop of unruly lank hair that fell over his eyes and gave a feral grim smile to Hayes with a silent nod. The Commander took a deep breath. The plan rested on the young man taking point and Hayes had to trust that this was the best choice. “Go Takeshi.”

Ryuu gave the commander a cocky grin by way of response and lifted his chin and waggled his eyebrows under the dark strands of hair. “It’ll be a breeze.”

With that Ryuu stepped forward, with a soft whistling tune on his lips and relish in his expression. Gareth Hayes took to rally after only to be held back by Syuk the medic. “Trust him. And watch him work, it’s something else. There’s a reason we call him the ‘Little Dragon’ Sir.”

Hayes brushed off the hand and darted into the area. Ryuu had already leapt into the fray with a look of wild abandon but the corpsman was fully aware of his every action and movement.

As Hayes followed Ryuu’s path, he saw two felled guards at the immediate doorway, with Ryuu at point storming into the two-level area firing pinpoint accurate shots to three of the guards. The corpsman seemed to have a style akin to some mesh of martial arts and parkour as he scrambled through the split levels and obstacles and attacked various targets.

Ryuu was using his speed and agility to get the surprise on the Orions, knocking them on their asses or taking out their weapons. He was fast and accurate, but did not have the strength to keep an opponent down. However, that clearly was not his priority. He expected the rest of the team to come in and mop up. And Hayes quickly noted that a fair number of the targets were felled by some sort of electronic shock as he spotted small blue lit disc attached to their twitching fallen bodies where Ryuu had slapped them or tossed the discs. Ryuu was point and causing maximum impact and as stealthily as he could before the interdiction team allowed all hell to break loose.

Hayes gladly obliged and opened the salvos to break loose the controlled carnage. As he raced forwards he took in the raiders who were already at the hatches of the cells ready to open and flush the slaves out while the others stood ready to fight off any incursion. He prioritised those at the jettison controls with his carbine as Ryuu raced deeper into the fight.

Whilst Hayes felled some of those at the controls, noting they were the targets selected in orange by the corpsman, Ryuu fired at an exposed spitting circuit board causing a cascade of sparks and smoke using them as cover to dart forward lightning fast and in an instant clamber to the second level balcony before he had even been noticed.  

Ryuu’s movements were swift and within seconds he switched weapon and had fired his CPR weapon to fell three of the guards before sweeping a foot out to trip a fourth who came up behind him from the upper rear access. Ryuu planted a foot to the slaver’s face knocking the Orion unconscious.

The remainder of the team was hot on Ryuu’s heels, storming into the holding area of the prisoners, firing quick successive bursts of fire from the specially designed carbine phaser rifles employed by the Border Patrol Service and so ideally suited to tasks such as boarding by force a hostile ship. They also had a nice heft to their grip butt meaning they cracked good and hard, just as Hayes made it do so now as he levelled another raider to the floor, blood spouting from the Orion’s crumpled nose.

Hayes tossed a stun grenade into the lower rear access corridor where other reinforcements were pounding up from. Gareth turned his back as it detonated and focused his attention on the burly Orion at his foot, manacling him in restraints as his comrades in the access corridor fell to the ground.

A roar from the doors to the port side announced further back up and a motley mixture of Orions and a few Nausicaans wildly threw themselves into the fight, slashing weapons and firing energy bolts about the room. Hayes fired off a number of shots before having to thrust his carbine butt into the face of a charging Nausicaan. The two of them toppled over.

From the catwalk above them, Ryuu was already spinning through the air to land atop one of the burlier thugs. He slapped a ‘zap bug’ to the thug’s chest and jumped off him as the zap bug charged and zapped the target with a knock out charge. He left that target to attack a thin rake of a Red Orion who met Ryuu’s attack with a broad sweep of a nasty curving scimitar sword.

Ryuu ducked and rolled, coming up onto his haunches as he pulled from a holster on his lower leg a black cylindrical looking device, moulded to fit his grip. With a click the short stick activated. “Lucky you, I brought my own sword.” The sword extended out from the hilt in a series of crunching scraping metal segments. As it reached its full length, Ryuu gave a furtive feral smirk. His eyes met the Red Orion’s as they squared up one to one another, then they raced at one another, swords swinging.

The Red cut through the air horizontally in a scything motion of deadly intent, whereas Ryuu made a downward slash. Their blades met with a clash. The blades jarred both opponents but rather than continue the parry Ryuu stepped on his blade to pin the Red Orion’s before sending a nasty elbow into the pirate’s face.

Ryuu followed the elbow up with a quick high kick to the chest causing the Red to stagger backwards for a second but the Red was quickly ready to attack again, shaking his vision clear only to see Ryuu with a toothy smile aiming his CPR at him. “Sweet dreams.” A bolt of blue and the Red Orion crumpled to the ground. Hefting the large CPR handheld over his shoulder, Ryuu swaggered up to The Red before testing his unconscious state with a sharp toe poke.

Around him the fight was over and Ryuu turned to pick up his sword. With a motion of his thumb, Ryuu activated the retraction of the segmented blade back into the small stowable hilt, which he deftly sheathed to the side of his leg. Then meeting his new commander, Ryuu smiled, shrugged and laughed. “What you expected me to play fair?”

Gareth found himself smiling despite himself and shook his head. There was a brief pause as the remainder of the team scoped out the area, awaiting any surprises, booby traps or reinforcements. “Secure.” Gareth called out to the team. The team in turn called out their secure status and then it was done.

“Ok. Free the prisoners. Get them back to the ship.” Hayes noted with satisfaction how swift and precise the team were at following his orders. He marvelled too at just how precise, lethal and efficient the boarding party had been. It was a testament to the training regimes of the ship’s chief petty officer and captain, and perhaps even he begrudgingly admitted to the ethos and training of the Border Patrol Service. Despite his pleasure in their performance, it rankled with Hayes somewhat that he had not been charged with taking the bridge and how nominal his role in the boarding party had been.

The cell doors popped open with a series of small concussive blasts from the set charges and the heavy metal doors swung open to reveal the bedraggled and pathetic state of the slaves within. Faraday had told Gareth to be prepared for the sights he might see in the slave pens even only a week out of spacedock but even still the rank smell and foul conditions therein shocked and disgusted. His concerns with not being the one with the honour and task to take the bridge simply evaporated at the sight.

“Let’s get these people out of here.” The team started herding the slaves that were mobile out of their cells and back towards the staging area of the breach. He slapped his communicator to update the bridge. “Falcon Leader; slaves freed, are taking them to staging area. Prepare for immediate transportation,” his voice trailed off as several of the deadened slaves lurched past with sunken pleading eyes as they looked back towards those that could not move.

Gareth Hayes looked upon the prone bodies that littered a number of the cells and feared that some were in fact dead. He amended his last message, “and have medical assistance at the ready.” He turned to Syuk, the Argosian medic on the team but he had no need to say anything as she was already administrating her tender care to those that needed it.

Hayes looked back to the staging area where the rescued slaves now stood. Rather than have them climb down into the Stallion, they stood upon the transporter enhancer plates the team deployed. The discs were essentially like the transporter pads in a transporter room, acting as transporter enhancers for the ship to punch through difficult regions of space and heavily armoured hulls. As they stood on the enhancer spots, the slaves were transported to safety. The team shepherded the slaves along to the staging area and also kept an alert eye out for trouble. But if things were going to plan, Faraday intended to get the surprise on the Orions.

Still Gareth found himself turning in the direction of the corridor that led to the choke area Mercy was going to target. At his side, Gareth found the young Ryuu also pointing his weapon in the same direction and giving the XO the same feral grin as before anticipating the worst case scenario.

Little dragon indeed.


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