It was time for action. It was time to run the gauntlet, in more ways than one.
As Mercy came onto the bridge, she took stock of the situation. As per usual, heading into an op the viewscreen was a tactical overlay, with inset windows displaying data streams from the ship’s extensive sensor suite. “Are we ready T’Renna?”
The cool Vulcan stood behind her station looking imperious. T’Renna lifted her jaw haughtily. “We are. It is the optimum time to intercept.”
“Right then.” Mercy stalked towards her command chair and snapped her fingers at the Bzzit Khaht at helm. “Cree, run us in. Make it sharp and fast. Close the gap.”
Cree croaked back at the captain. “Acknowledged.”
Mercy spat out orders to the bridge crew. “Weaps ready. Shields up. Bring us to red alert.” Her crisp orders were met within seconds. “Communications; relay our status and mission details to Watchtower. Mission is a go. Deploy a buoy marker with current status, for what it is worth.”
Cree advised the captain of what she could see herself on the tactical readout, “Approaching vector two-niner-one-seven-six. Distance closing.”
T’Renna looked up and declared, “Target is responding.”
“Match and take, helm. Comm. patch me through.” Mercy clicked her fingers at comm. for an open link. “This is Captain Mercy Faraday-Thatcher, of the Border Patrol cutter Osprey. You are hereby ordered to stand to and prepare to be boarded.”
“I didn’t expect so.” She depressed her comm. link again and again found her commanding voice. “I repeat. This is Captain Mercy Faraday-Thatcher, of the Federation Border Patrol cutter USS Osprey. You are hereby ordered to stand down and surrender your vessel for inspection.”
Faraday sat regally in the command chair of her Gryffon class deep space border patrol cutter awaiting a response from the Orion raider. Before her on the viewscreen, the ugly green of the Orion raider’s hull decorated by hull art and perforated with a bewildering array of gun turrets and grappling hooks, boldly and suddenly started firing back at the pursuing cutter. The bridge shook from the sudden barrage but the shields held firm and so too remained Mercy Faraday’s resolve.
From tactical, Khien Roueché wryly retorted, “I think we got our answer, Skipper.”
Mercy cocked her head, squaring herself up for the fight she had expected all along. “That’s the legalities out of the way. Let’s see about changing their mind. Cree, increase speed, close that gap now. Roueché, pinpoint target their weapons – low yield phaser fire.”
The closing space between them became an increasing hive of incoming fire lances from the gun turrets as the Orion sought to evade capture. The Gryffon border cutter’s helm scythed through the densest gunfire, its shields pummelled by the heavy hitting phaser strikes but not relenting, and it remained steadfast on its course.
The border cutter pressed on, quickly closing in on its prey, meaning it was now more prone to the relentless barrage of phaser fire but also meant it was no longer under the threat of the Orion’s torpedoes at such close proximity. It was a poor trade off, but it was the trade off the ship’s skipper had gambled for as she sought to ensnare the raider. She could not risk trading too many shots with the raider so had to play a dangerous hunting game.
But it was the hunting game she and her crew were trained for and excelled in. Mercy was a border cutter skipper and this - the chase, the hunt, the fight, the capture - was like oxygen to her a border dog.
Mercy leaned back in her chair, trying to present the impassive air of an experienced border dog captain. But her hands gripped the arm rests of her command chair feverishly, as she both dreaded and thrilled at the hunt. She remained stony silent as tension filled the thrumming and shaking bridge as the phaser barrage kept up. Mercy trusted her people to do their jobs and so did not press for information as she awaited the chase to play out. With eyes keenly focused on the readouts and the image of the Orion raider, Faraday judged the proper moment for the next phase of the hunt.
“Stallion One, Two and Three, standby to launch. Helm, adjust course, keep right on top of her, hang about that Orion like a bad smell.”
Cree croaked in response, “Smelling badly Captain, aye.”
Mercy swivelled in her chair and gave a stony look to the officer at tactical. “Rat traps?”
At tactical, Leann Mbeke’s second in command, Khien Roueché gave the captain a curt affirmative nod. “Mark 22’s ready, Skipper.”
Said skipper gave a delicious smile and clenched her hand in a fist. “Bring it to the barbeque baby. Roueché, fire on my mark.” Mercy turned back to face the viewscreen with the overlaid specs of the ship’s position, speed and distance from the target vessel. She crunched the numbers as hawkish she kept track of the Orion and calculated the optimum moment to fire the Rat-trap - too close and they risked effecting their own systems and too great a range only allowed the target to evade or counter the rat-trap. “Mark!”
The rat-trap torpedo fired immediately and struck home. The Orion Raider that only a moment ago was giving them a merry chase through the nebula now seemingly stalled and stopped dead in the water. Yet there was no time to rest their laurels on a clean hit. The Orions onboard would be readying either for a boarding party or worse yet, if they were transporting slaves as suspected would be cutting their throats.
“Boarding parties are a go!” Mercy declared. She turned towards Ops and tactical, “I want transporters the instant we can.”
Both Khien and T’Renna nodded curtly to their captain but kept their focus on the work at hand.
The cool calm voice of the ship’s Cob, Mitch Duncannon, interrupted the bridge. “Stallion One, designation Vulture, making hard contact. Contact. Cutting through.”
Mercy snapped her fingers at science as a habit rather than an expression of impatience. She was a cut to the chase kind of gal. “T’Renna, get them sensor eyes on their position.”
T’Renna was level and cool as befitted her Vulcan nature. “Enhancing. Receiving telemetry from tactical drones three and four.”
“Status of Stallion Two?” Mercy tried to keep the apprehension out of her voice. This was the XO’s first mission op and Orions were a notorious enemy capable of many twisted acts of violence and evil. No two boarding parties ever ran the same way, and no matter how tightly drilled her Stallion teams were, Mercy always feared the unexpected during a mission op and the new XO was a new and as yet unproven element within her plans.
The comm. crackled with the voice of one of the ship’s newest crewmember, the ship’s new XO Gareth Hayes. “This is Falcon leader; we have made breach in shuttle bay.”
Sparks now spoke over the comm.. “This is Kestrel two. Mbeke has secured the area. This place is in a mess. No immediate dangers but will keep you updated.”
Mitch’s voice called out again with an update. “Vulture leader; secured breach area. Are meeting resistance and are meeting that resistance. Suppressing.” Over the call, the sound of phaser shots and shouting could be heard, but Mitch’s team was steady and in control.
Still, Mercy flashed her eyes to the scrolling data to the left of the viewscreen relaying the drone information from Stallion One to appraise the situation from the facts she saw there. Mitch Duncannon had a habit of making less of a fire fight than was the case. But then she knew no one better and more assured in a fire fight.
“Stallion Two, update?”
“Falcon Leader. Securing a path to cell blocks. Transporter enhancers deployed.”
“About time.” In a trademark motion, Mercy knocked her fists down on the armrests of her command chair and perched herself on the edge of the seat.
T’Renna informed, “A secure transporter signal has been achieved.”
“Team Raptor, gear up for transportation.” Mercy declared, as she stood and clipped her armour vest on and belted in her side arm. “You have the conn. T’Renna”
The Vulcan impassively stepped down from her station and made her way to the vacant command chair as Mercy stormed off the bridge with Khien to the transporter room.
* * *