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Stardate 83167.01

Vega Colony Orbit

"Nope, things have been pretty quiet here. Probably just as well; we've been on the Klingon front for months now. Being further away, deeper in our own territory, is giving us a nice chance to take a breath and collect ourselves. And get our repairs done."

"I understand that.
Oakland's been here for a few weeks now, finally finished our resupply. We should be heading to Vulcan for a quick pick-up of a new officer or two and then we'll be right back on the line."

"Damn, Lok. Goodluck to you. When are you heading out? We should get together for a game of chess, for old time's sake."

"Ha, that would be fun. I'll bring the drinks if you bring the...what the - "

"What is it?"

"I don't...know. Are you seeing this, out by the moon?"

"We're on the opposite side of the planet. What's going on?"

"Some...large energy...disturbance."

"Graj, you're starting the break up. What's going on?"

"Gods! Get hel...rge ships comin...be shaped! Bridge, red...all weapons!"

"Graj? Graj?! Bridge, lay in a course for the
Oakland, max impulse!"


Chapter 7

"Is he really going to try?"

Nizeri took a bite out of her sandwich, chewing while she tried to maintain her innocent smile. She nodded a few times.

Jessica rolled her eyes. "I hope not...I don't think my ribs are healed enough for me to be nauseous."

The other women at the table laughed, their red uniforms identifying them as junior security officers. Jess was friends with the one, Kaitlyn. She had only just met the other officer, and wondered if she had just recently transferred aboard.

That was, until she had been distracted by Nizeri.

"If Seymour asks me to dinner again, I'm going to break another rib. I swear!"

The others laughed even more around the table. Jessica scooped up her food and took a large bite - she wasn't even sure anymore what she had ordered.

The other woman, Evelyn, swallowed her drink. "I don't think I was on board five minutes before he asked if I needed help finding my way around the ship."

Kaitlyn snorted. "Let me guess, you wound up at the bunks in two minutes?"

"Well, five."

The officers laughed. Nizeri coughed, quickly taking a drink and nodding behind Jessica. Evelyn also straightened in her seat, taking a quick bite of food to wipe her smile away. Jessica closed her eyes, waiting for the inevitable...

She felt a hand come down on her shoulder in what would otherwise have been a friendly greeting. Instantly pain flared in her still-healing chest, and she crumpled a bit, letting out a shout.

"Oh, crap! I'm sorry, I forgot!" Seymour put a hand under Jessica's other arm to help keep her in her chair.

The blue woman shrugged him away with a grunt, turning her head to glare at him. "What is it, Seymour?"

"I, uh...I was just wondering if..."

Jessica shook her head, interrupting him. "No, ok, no. I'm not interested. I'm sure there are plenty of other women who are interested in you and the engines, but I'm not. Before you hurt me anymore, please, just leave."

The other officer looked stunned, like he had just been slapped, and Jessica had to admit the thought had crossed her mind. He nodded, mumbling a little as he turned and walked away, back out the doors of the mess hall. Jessica turned back to her friends to see similar shocked expressions on their faces. "What? There's a reason they call me 'Stormy.'" She stabbed her food with her fork and took another bite as the girls started laughing.


"Captain, we are receiving a message from Starfleet Command, marked urgent." The first officer turned toward the lone command chair, where Mal'kon was seated. "Shall I put it through to your office?"

Mal'kon nodded, standing up. "You have the bridge." He turned and exited the bridge into his ready room.

Elaina watched him leave, curious. Once the door was closed, she tapped the Vulcan standing near her own station. "What was it about?"

"I cannot tell you, Commander."

"Come on. There had to have been a subject or some priority to it."

"It was high priority, but there was no subject line beyond 'Fleet Alert.' Whatever it is, I am sure the captain will inform us shortly."

Elaina crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. "You're no fun."

"Fun has nothing to do with it, Mister Seurer." The Vulcan first officer raised an eyebrow. "And on the subject of fun, I have been meaning to discuss your next emergency procedures exercise."

Elaina smiled. "You mean the warp core containment breach exercise? It should be a good test."

"Is ejecting the core really necessary?"

The engineer shrugged. "Not really. The alternative is allowing it to go critical and the ship with it." She grinned.

The Vulcan drew in a sharp breath; Elaina could practically feel the annoyance radiate from the stoic man. "I do not believe it wise to go through with this exercise."

"But it is logical."

"I am not arguing the logic behind the necessity of being well-prepared for the worst of emergencies. The wisdom in executing to this level, however, leaves much to be desired."

Damn. Elaina frowned, sighing. She was sure she could have gotten him to break then. "Well, I supposed we could just simulate it. But that wouldn't be very realistic."

"There is always the holodeck, Commander."

"But the engineers would know it's an exercise. And that they'd be safe if they messed up."

"And if they 'mess up' during your exercise?"

"Fear is an incredible motivator to do your job correctly."

The Vulcan blinked, and Elaina mentally jumped for joy - she had surprised the man. It had shown for only a brief second, but it was enough for her. "Fear would only lead to more chaos. Your engineers would perform equally as well, if not better, in a controlled environment."

Elaina opened her mouth to reply, hoping to catch him off guard again when the door to the captain's ready room opened. Mal'kon marched out quickly, his face grim. He sat down in his chair before beginning to bark orders around the bridge.

"Wirstowx, lay in a course for Starbase 17, maximum warp. Yellow alert. I want diagnostics run on all weapons, shields, and sensors, and then I want those systems charged and ready for combat."

Elaina stood; she knew the order for diagnostics was for her. "Understood. What's going on?"

Mal'kon shook his head. "I don't know much more than you do. One of our colonies is under attack, Vega colony. We're meeting a fleet to reinforce the planet."

"Do we know who we are facing?"

Elaina frowned; she would have asked the question too, even though she knew the answer. She knew the Vulcan commander knew the answer, too, but it had to be said.

"We don't know. But whoever it is, they've come in full force." Mal'kon turned to his first officer. "Send a message to the Khitomer, let them know we're on our way. She's leading the reinforcements." Mal'kon shifted uncomfortably in his seat before he pressed a control on the arm of his chair. "Crew, this is the Captain."


"Crew, this is the Captain."

Jessica and her friends looked up as the voice cut into the normally loud mess hall, silencing all the conversations in the room.

"We're en route to Starbase 17 to meet the Khitomer and a small armada of ships to reinforce one of our interior colonies."

"A colony is under attack?" Kaitlyn looked around. "How'd they get behind our lines?"

"We don't know who we're going to face there. I want everyone ready for the worst. Contact has been lost with Vega Colony, and the ships in orbit there."

Jessica gasped. "No..."

"All hands: Battle stations."

"What is it, St. Peter?"

Jessica shook her head. It wasn't possible. She had just spoken with Bridget only an hour or so ago - how could contact be lost now? How was there a battle happening now? It had to be a dream. It wasn't possible.

"Jess, hey..."

She startled as Nizeri came into view in front of her. She looked around; when had she fallen on the ground?

"St. Peter, what's wrong?" Evelyn was next to her, a gentle hand on her shoulder. "You're worrying us."

"Vega Colony. The Merveille was there."

Nizeri covered her mouth; she knew Jessica's friends were on that ship. As they helped her to her feet, the sick feeling came back to Jessica, the same feeling she had had when she had spoken to Bridget only an hour ago. As they left the mess hall with the rest of the crew, she prayed they wouldn't be too late.

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