“Mirra, assemble the assault team. I am coming along.”
Mirra nodded and left for the turbolift. Everyone else just went on with their work.
No one bothered telling Fludicus Starfleet Code Section 12, Paragraph 4. Fludicus chose to ignore it in following a long line of captains who prefered going on away missions. After all, he felt that his place was where his hands can get dirty, not on some clean seat on a starship.
“Damage control teams are returning to their posts.” Thron replied, “Most of the damage is contained, repairs will be underway shortly.”
“I trust that you would attend to the issues as you have before,” Fludicus headed for the Ready Room, “Assume command. Mirra and I are going a-hunting.”
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 9)
A Type 7 Shuttlecraft, the DUKW (pronounced ‘duck’) left the shuttlebay of the Starlight Pony. Aboard the vessel was pilot and a team of eight, led by Fludicus and Mirra.
This was no ordinary assault team: these were a special kind of team for a special purpose. The War against the Klingons had made these teams a necessary within various sections within Starfleet. Fludicus was one such advocate of these teams that not only faced but prevail over the Klingons.
The assault team assembled was a snapshot of the Federation. Human, Klingon, Andorian, Vulcan, Bajoran, Bolian... These different species reflected the diverse backgrounds the Federation had encountered across its four centuries since its founding..
Their choices of uniforms and weapons were just as diverse.Far from the 24th century uniform appearance, the group aboard the shuttlecraft was dressed more like a ragtag group of rebels not unlike the Marquis decades before. The Klingon ensign wore some decorations on her 2409 uniform, while the Andorian (clearly the eldest) had a simple black uniform like those of the IMperial Andorian Guard of the 22nd century.The male Bajoran had his Bajoran Militia uniform on, while others had variations of the Starfleet Uniform to their personal tastes.
Unlike the Maquis who had to make - do with what they had to come across, the assault team had a wide range of weapons to choose from. Andorian plasma rifles, Bajoran phasers, Klingon Bat'leths, Vulcan Lipras... The choice was so weird and yet so logical.
As the Assault team bantered between one another while they prepared their weapons, Fludicus and Mirra were taking one half of a pair of pistols that Fludicus had kept for times like these. He won these pistols from a Dabo game, with the lore of that they came from the mirror universe. It was a secondary concern to the fact that Thron was the person that got them working again. Regardless, Mirra and Fludicus took a standard-issue phaser rifle each - just in case.
As Mirra and Fludicus looked at their assembled team preparing for the task ahead, they saw them banter amongst one another.
“Pointy ears,” the Andorian asked, “What’s your plan with the pinkskin once we get back to the ship?”
“My plan Lieutenant Ri’vob,” the Vulcan replied calmly, “ is to continue my courtship with ensign Cinderella.” the Vulcan exchanged brief looks with his human counterpart before continuing, “I suppose you are planning to return to Andoria once this assignment is done?”
“I am slated to be on shore leave and then rotated to the reserve in the next month,” Lieutenant Ri’vob replied, “Starfleet needs me to train the newbies as it stands.”
At the same time, the Bajoran, Klingon and Bolian were gossiping on the Bajoran’s heritage.
“I did not realise that you were part Carassidan,” the Klingon ensign said, “No wonder you look so pale...”
“The Bajoran’s pale complexion was not the only betrayal to his lineage. He had the some Cardassian ridges on his forehead and neck but his nose bridge was clearly Bajoran.
“My grandfather is Cardassian,” acknowledged the Bajoran ensign, “He was a war orphan, raised in the orphanages. He eventually married my grandmother, who was a pure Bajoran.”
“It must be hard for your family to face the fact that you all have Cardassian heritage,” the Bolian remarked, “The Occupation I read was brutal.”
“It was a brutal occupation,” the Bajoran ensign said, “But my grandmother found him a charming man and he soon was accepted into my grandmother's family. He now runs a respectable incense business in the southern regions,” he smirked, “Not bad for an orphan as they would put it.”
Before the conversations would continue, Fludicus called for some silence. His second officer just called via comlink.
“Fludicus, we have tried to hail the True Way vessel repeatedly. No response.”
“Have they made any hostile moves yet?” Fludicus asked, “I do not want to be caught in some crossfire...”
“Nothing so far,” Thron replied, “However, Cardassians have a history of blowing up their ships instead of surrendering.”
“That is one more thing we don’t want to face,” Fludicus said, “Keep me posted. Leave the rest to me.”
Having ended the comlink to Thron, he looked at his assault team.
“This is the first time we would be fighting together,” Fludicus spoke, “but each of you have proven yourselves to have earned your place today. It does not matter if you earned it through the Academy,” Fludicus looked at the Human and Vulcan, “or the battlefield,” he turned to the Bajoran and the Klingon, “or as a way of life,” his eyes fell on Lieutenant Ri,vob, “or for being the heart of the team,” Fludicus smiled at the Bolian, “all of you have a place in this team and this assignment.”
Fludicus then got to the heart of the matter, “We have previous instances of Cardassians blowing themselves up instead of taking up offers to surrender,” he explained, with all his subordinates nodding grimmly, “Those Cardassians aboard this vessel we are boarding, being the True Way, would know we are looking for answers. Our job is to prevent their self-destruct from activating and then taking control of their ship.”
“Do we know anything about their self -destruct systems?” Ensign Cinderella asked.
“Cardassian self-destruct systems usually involve the their warp core,” Mirra explained, “Its is therefore imperative that we seize their engineering section and make sure that we can override any self destruct programmes they may have in the first place.”
“Once we secure engineering, We would storm the bridge and complete the operation,” Fludicus added.
“How many Cardassians are aboard the vessel?” asked the Bajoran.
“Our last scans put their numbers at eight to twelve,” Fludicus replied, “We suspect though that there could be more, so expect to be outnumbered.”
“Outnumbered?” the Klingon ensign asked, arming her disruptor, “I like those odds, It would be a chance to test our skill.”
“Such tests, while providing an authentic assessment of our combative skills, would be unnecessary in the face of the urgent nature of our mission,” the Vulcan ensign replied, “Rushing into combat would result in needless injuries and deaths.”
“The Cardassians would not share in your logic the moment we burst into their ship So’lur,” Lieutenant Ri’vab remarked, “I suggest you start with Ensign Cinderella and Ensign Tessi at the back for support while Ensign Nilia and myself would assist at the front.”
“We must not deny the fact that we are about to walk into a ticking time bomb,” the Bolian officer finally spoke, “If we do not reach Engineering in time, we could go down with them.”
“Lieutenant Kyzia is correct,” Mirra agreed, “the moment that warp core breaches, its game over. No resets.”
Everyone looked at one another, knowing that Mirra was correct about this. There would be no second chance for this mission.
"Ladies and Gentlemen,” the pilot at the conn called, “We are reaching our destination. Please get ready for the Big Entry...”
“Acknowledged Mr Greg,” Fludicus replied, as the shuttlecraft banked sharply to the right.
The DUKW was modified in mind with attacking ships like the Hideki-class. Aside from enhanced armour (which may not be enough to deflect the concerns that Fludicus has), the shuttlecraft dorsal section was modified with docking clamps to attach to any ship.
The DUKW slowed down and began to attach to the Hidiki vessel. Aboard the DUKW, Fludicus signaled his crew into action. First to act was Ensign Nilia and Lieutenant Ri’vab, the latter giving the ensign spatial charge. The Klingon ensign rushed up the ladder and attached the charge to the hull of the Hideki-class. She then jumped down back into the DUKW, with the Andorian Lieutenant Ri’vab setting off the charge. The explosion made a hole in the Hideki-class hull, one large enough to let one person though.
Fludicus rushed up the ladder, his pistol in hand. He half-expected to take fire from the opposing vessel’s crew. He was surprised as he popped his head into the Hideki-class vessel only to find no one to confront him.
He then fully entered the vessel, assuming a crouch guard stance, using his natural Ferengi hearing to sense any hostiles as Ensign So’lur and Lieutenant Ri’vab came aboard the Hideki vessel
“Too quiet sir?” the Andorian asked Fludicus.
“Something not right,” Fludicus replied, “They should have intercepted us by now.”
“We should proceed to engineering at once,” Lieutenant Ri’vab advised.
“I would advise against rushing in,” countered Ensign So’lur, as more of the assault team came aboard, “my tricorder is detecting subspace distortions all along the passageway. Five ahead of us,” the Vulcan pointed towards Fludicus, “and two behind us,” he then indicated the opposite direction.
“A trap?” Fludicus asked.
“A possibility,” So’lur replied, “These distortions are consistent with the size of an anti-personnel mine.”
“Houdinis,” Lieutenant Ri’vab deducted, “Dominion subspace mines. My father lost an arm disarming one of those during a mine-clearing operation.”
“I heard of those,” Fludicus said, “I thought those were removed from the Alpha Quadrant following the Dominion War, as stated under the Treaty of Bajor.”
“They were likely forgotten by the Dominion, a good possibility considering how chaotic the war was,” Lieutenant Ri’vab suggested, “ More likely it was acquired from the black market. Regardless, we got ourselves a problem: it would take a while to disarm all those mines.”
“Time that we do not have,” Fludicus added.
“I have a suggestion,” Ensign Nilia said as she prepared a spatial charge, “Why not we make our own path to Engineering?”
Lieutenant Ri’vab shook his head smiling, “You might want to cover your ears Commander.”
The four Cardassians assigned to engineering were told to maintain silence throughout the battle. They had been told that their place was secured by subspace mines placed all along the passageway, and thus should not worry about security. An explosion, somewhat distant, caught their attention for a moment, before they simply went to their work. They ignored the second and third explosion, not realising that the blasts seemed to be louder and louder with every instance.
The fourth explosion seemed to get their attention again, this time coming more obvious and sooner than the previous explosions. The engineers began to take notice. They were not prepared for the subsequent explosion, which ripped through a bulkhead into engineering.
The Cardassian engineers were trying to make sense of what was happening when half a dozen energy beams came out the breach. Most missed, giving the Cardassians time to duck and prepare.
With their disruptors in hand, they were ready to reply to the second wave of energy beams coming out. As soon as the volley passed, the Cardassians stood up to reply the attack in turn.
As they fired, the third enemy volley came out of the breach. This time, they took some hits. One Cardassian was struck down while the others kept up the counter assault. whatever hits they were making though, is seemed not to have any effect.
The next enemy volley proved to be overwhelming as the the energy beams struck home. One by one, the Cardassians fell where they stood...
Fludicus, Ensign Nilia and Lieutenant Ri’vab emerged from the breach and entered engineering, expecting to face further resistance. Behind them was the rest of the team, with Lieutenant Commander Mirra leading. As Fludicus, Nilia and Ri’vab checked their ‘kills’, the others proceeded to secure the room and assumed the engineering stations. Ensigns Cinderella and So’lur proceed to secure the doors, while Lieutenant Kyzia and Ensign Tessi rushed to the engineering consoles.
Mirra came to Fludicus’ side, “Did we get all of them?”
Fludicus surveyed the engineering before he replied, “Seems like it. They seemed not to be expecting us. So far so good...”
Lieutenant Kyzia interacted with the console nearby the warp core, her fingers constantly tapping to input orders. Meanwhile,Tessi seemed to finish with his work on another console.
“Sir, I have managed to translate the Cardassian interface to Federation Basic,” Tessi reported, “It seems that the crew here were not ordered to initiate the self-destruct.”
“If they wanted to, they could have done it earlier,” Kyzia said, “It would not matter now: I have disabled bridge controls to the warp core and the engines.”
“Good work,” complimented Fludicus, “Stabilise the core.”
As Kyzia proceeded with the new order, So’lur approached Mirra and Fludicus, “Sir, We have unlocked the doors and trying to access door controls to other parts of the ship.”
“Noted,” Fludicus said, “Has anyone found a way to the bridge without setting off the Houdinis?”
Lieutenant Ri’vab shook his head, “Those things have independent systems, We got to go to each one and disarm them.”
“Can’t we send some pulse pulse or frequency to disable the Houdinis?”
“Not with time we have,” replied Ri’vab, “We can set up our scanners to detect and suppress them though...”
“Do it,” Fludicus ordered, “Get some tricorders ready - fast.”
The crew on the bridge of the Hideki-class vessel were still reeling from the battle that had crippled their vessel. Each member was still attending to the consoles and circuits that have suffered battle damage when the doors to the bridge were blown open. Out of instinct to survive, the Cardassians ducked under their stations. Three Starfleet officers burst in, led by Fludicus with his pistol in hand.
“No one moves,” Fludicus called out, “Or someone gets shot.”
The Cardassians were so surprised that one was foolish enough to simply stood up to see what the conormdrum was. Fludicus simply fired, causing the poor victim to fall where he stood.
“That was a stun mind you,” Fludicus warned, “the next one would not be.”
The other Cardassians, seeing the reality of the situation, simply continued to duck behind their stations. Ensign Nila began to approach the shot Cardassian, while Lieutenant Ri’vab began to scan the bridge to see how many were present.
“Who’s in charge here?” Fludicus continued to say aloud as he approach the command station, “Show yourself!”
An elder Cardassian peeked from behind one of the unchecked stations. A quick observation would show that the individual had several scars and burns on his face.
It was a brief moment, but Fludicus was quick enough to catch the familiar shape of his forehead and his pulled-back hair to sense what significant would that individual have.
It was that moment - that split second that could have let the elder Cardassian to strike first. However, either because he had no weapon, or was too shocked to ready one, he kept peaking out from his station instead to get glimpses of Fludicus.
Not having any mood or chances to bother for pleasantries, Fludicus pointed his gun at the spying Cardassian’s position, “If you do not come out, I will personally shoot your hiding spot and kill you where you hide. Don’t you think I got no means to carry it out.”
Silence rang through the bridge, with uncertainty from both sides. Then, as though he realised how hopeless resistance was, the elder Cardassian finally peeked out with Fludicus noticing, “No tricks. Come out with your hands up.”
The elder Cardassian finally stood up and raised both his hands into the air. He was dressed in an old uniform that Lieutenant Ri’vab remarked came from the Dominion War.
As the other officers were escorted off the bridge, Fludicus moved towards his captive, “Identify yourself.”
The Cardassian hesitated, but when Fludicus gestured with his pistol he meant business, the Cardassian finally spoke, “Gul Evek, formerly of the Fourth Order.”
“Gul Evek...” Fludicus’ eyes opened with surprise, “you are quite a familiar name...”
“I suppose so, considering my - service to Cardassia,” Gul Evek spoke carefully but also with the smoothness that is associated with his species, “To who here do I owe the pleasure of knowing?”
“Fludico Meso Sudundus. USS Starlight Pony,” Fludicus replied, “ I gather you find yourself in an - ironic situation.”
“If you mean to say that I am about to be captured or taken prisoner, I fail to see the significance,” Gul Evek replied.
“Don’t play that card your spoonhead,” Fludicus said with some sass, “I know your record from the back of my hand.”
“Try me...” There was a little wariness within his otherwise steady voice.
“You have quite a reputation here,” Fludicus replied, “Kidnapping Federation citizens and Starfleet officers in this part of space...”
“Me - a kidnapper?” Gul Evek denied the allegations, “Those - kidnappings - are actually arrests made on orders from Cardassia.”
“In violation of Federation sovereignty,” Fludiocus countred, “You also attacked Federation outposts without provocation and even supported the unprovoked attacks on those same colonists by Cardassian civilians.”
“Cardassians attacking Federation citizens? Your accusations seem to have no bounds or reason.”
“Not the way I see it,” Fludicus countered, “Besides, those are the least of your troubles.”
Fludicus then exerted his authority over the aged Cardassian, “I hereby arrest you for your suspected involvement with the True Way. Mind that I am doing it in sovereign Federation territory.”
“On what authority you have to arrest me?”
“I am under orders from Starfleet Intelligence to deal with the likes of you,” Fludicus replied, “You would be interested to know that one particular individual may have interest in your... detention.”
“And who would that be?” asked Evek.
Evek’s eyes opened with surprise when Fludicus replied it was Admiral Chakotay.