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Turn The Tide of Battle

Posted on Sat Nov 30th, 2019 @ 12:15pm by Captain Enalia Telvan & Petty Officer 2nd Class Ila Dedjoy & Kodria Mizu & Riov (Captain) Dalia Rendal & erei'Riov (Commander) Cho'ren Vara & Baroness 3rd Class Sarika & Lieutenant Commander Thex sh'Zoarhi & Ensign Varnok Jahal & Ensign Fiona O'Dell & Ensign Briaar Gavarus & Petty Officer 3rd Class S'Rina Wil'I'Ams & Petty Officer 3rd Class V'Nus Wil'I'Ams & erei'Riov (Commander) Arrenhe t'Suil & Jaeih Dox-t'Aan
Edited on on Sat Nov 30th, 2019 @ 2:43pm

Mission: Neutral Zone Neutrality
Location: Aldeberan Nebula
Timeline: 2396

-=USS Hera Bridge=-

Enalia had been checking her own tactical readouts almost religiously since crossing the neutral zone, and while they had not been challenged by a single Rihannsu vessel, the tight beam tachyon spread of the cloaked ship following them was still showing up every so often, indicating they were still being followed. The seemingly random course corrections by their guide was also a bit confusing, but Enalia had faith that Ensign O'Dell and her relief officer could keep up with them.

They were almost twelve hours into Romulan space, after all. They would be at the nebula in less than another twenty minutes and they could get this little game of cat and mouse over with.

-=RRW Iurret Bridge=-

As the Iurret followed the Hera deeper into Romulan space, Rendal's mood grew ever darker. If the secretive Starfleet ship was following a guide vessel, they couldn't see it, but from the various course corrections of the larger vessel, they could only assume that the large ship was indeed doing so, and doing their best to throw off imagined or expected pursuit. On top of that, the random changes left quite the large range of systems possible for where the colony actually was actually located.

One thing that worried the royal Riov, however, was that they were drawing close to the Aldeberan nebula - their cloak would no longer be effective if they were forced to follow the Federation vessel inside. Fortunately, the Tal'Shiar had a trick up its sleeve hiding inside that self-same nebula.

-=Sistus Bridge=-

Commander Cho'ren glanced down at an old worn picture for a moment, glancing at each of the five faces in it long and hard before tucking it back into her jacket pocket. She'd been ripped from that life long ago so now she was doing the best she could to live with what the universe had thrown at her. Now it called upon her to apparently team up with some pirate queen that worked for Starfleet that she knew little about, with a massive and powerful ship to defend the colony she strove to protect. The new family she had found after all these years. Well, she'd be damned if either this pirate woman or these Tal'Shiar binks were going to take anything from her without a fight.

Standing from the center chair on the bridge of the cobbled-together T'Varo warbird, Vara threw out one hand dramatically to inspire her small crew. "It's time! We head into the nebula at this point! Come about, mark zero eight seven mark zero zero four! Engage!" As the calls went out and the small ship performed one more course correction, the brooding woman sat back down and eyed the tactical readouts, wondering if they would survive the battle they were about to enter.

-=USS Hera Bridge=-

"Captain, the Sistus has made a severe course correction straight into the nebula!" called out the officer at ops.

"Red alert! All hands to battle stations! Helm, stay on them!" Enalia punched in several more orders other than the ones she called out, readying the ship for battle as they'd be entering the nebula a bit sooner than they expected.

Sitting calmly at the Intel station of the bridge, situated just to the left the Captain's chair, the Hera's independent Intelligence Operative, Jaeih Dox, leaned over, "Captain, I recommend reducing speed. The Sistus's engines create a MUCH smaller warp field, but the Hera's can cause undue turbulence in the nebula."

The older Rihannsu woman was both an expert on Romulan Cloaking Devices, and as a former smuggler who worked in this very region of space, she had used the Aldebaran Nebula as both a hiding space and a way to evade Romulan patrols many times. "And, if I may..."

She gestured with her head towards the helm where the pint-sized Mariposian pilot, Ensign Fiona O'Dell sat at the ready. Jaeih had come to genuinely like the often hotheaded and outspoken young woman, and the Captain knew as much and nodded her approval.

"Miss O'Dell... be prepared for what will feel like crosswinds. The Nebula gasses will have a shearing effect that will act very much like you're flying in an atmosphere." Jaeih gave her advice with a bit of a calming, almost motherly tone, which was almost unsettling for the notoriously stern woman.

“Wahhhhl, that’s the best news I’ve heard all day, mum. I did me flyin growin’ oop in an atmo aircraft, so this’ll be a day at the park fuir me. T’won’t be s’good for our friends I expect, aye?” The diminutive daredevil slowed the great vessel as requested, indicating to their pursuer that they were afraid of too much speed in the buffeting waves of the nebula. “Nooow, she’s g’win ta shake an’ shudder a bit, but dinna ye be worried, Cap’n. Tis joost me playin’ along and makin’ ‘em think we’re a great landed space whale, founderin’ like a gormagander after a heavy meal, y’ken?”

"Sounds just like the battle over the rings of Santor seven," Enalia added with that famous grin of hers. "Prepare the tachyon buoys so we can start casting our nets. I feel like we might catch a big one tonight."

It only took ops a moment to ready the buoys and report back. "Tachyon detection grid ready to be deployed, captain."

Rather than giving the order herself, the Trill woman turned to Jaeih and nodded, indicating that the order was hers to give as she was the specialist.

Nodding lightly back, Jaeih's fingers flew over her console as she sent files directly to the young officer at Opps. As she did, she spoke in a firm but confident tone even though she had to admit… at least to herself… unexpected nerves at giving orders on the bridge of a Starship. "Adjusting our spread pattern for this egress point. There's point three two percent higher particle density here, but this will account for that and give us maximum area coverage with no loss of signal strength."

"There. Deployment pattern delta five on my mark…" Jaeih said, drawing out her breath for a moment before continuing. "Mark!"

A few moments before the Sistus entered the nebula and was forcibly decloaked, the Hera launched a series of buoys, the tachyon detection grid activating within seconds. What it revealed was a surprise to everyone on the bridge as not only was it able to identify the Leosa class warbird following them close enough to visibly see them - a mere one thousand kilometers off their starboard side...

But they had flown into a rather large cloaked minefield as well.

It was mere luck that they were spread out far enough that the Hera hadn't hit one of them already. In fact, their reduction in speed had definitely saved them as interference from the nebula scattered readings inside of it, but the minefield readings continued on deeper inside. Operations finally had a report, and it was hopeful, if a bit grim in what it might mean. "Captain, now that we know they're there, scans show that these mines are of a type that have been in use for over a hundred years by the Empire. Very basic cloak, medium payload, very aggressive targeting systems. I recommend we avoid them if possible."

Looking at the displays on her own console and calling up the details of the scans, Jaieh frowned noticeably at the intel station. "This nebula was NOT mined the last time I was here."

"Someone please tell me that our guide is not on Rendal's side and that this is just coincidence..." Enalia muttered as her heart sank at the tactical readout that was building on the viewscreen.

The keen ears of the Romulan intel operative scowled at the Captain's dark thought, replying coldly. "T'Liun and the Ghost's crew vouched for this Cho'ren Vara, as did Intel Command. And I've found no evidence connecting her with Rendal in ANY way. In fact, her psych profile shows a deep hatred of the Tal'Shiar and pirates in general. She's worked with t'Liun and Baroness Nei'rrh before,  however, her relations with the Artan's was... strained during your mother's reign. She may be testing your resolve to this purpose, Captain. Making sure you're not her."

Enalia looked over with a slightly knowing expression at the telling tone of Jaeih's last comment as the older Rihannsu intel operative smirked slightly and met the Captain's eyes, "Not that I've done any digging on her or anything."

"Of course not," Enalia replied, settling into her seat a bit more comfortably. "Since these mines are so old, we should be able to avoid them easily enough, right? Can we find their IFF codes? See how far out they go?"

"IFF codes..." Jaeih's eyes narrowed as her mind raced. "Yes, En... Captain!"

"Well, not technically. But I know these mines from when I was an Erei'Riov. They are programmed to avoid Rihannsu ships and only target enemies and unknowns. They are keyed to the ship's command codes..." As Jaeih spoke, she began typing furiously at the Intel station computer in front of her. "Just like THIS one I've just sent to Ops. It's an old code, but not as old as those mines. Load that into the Hera's transponder and the mines will think we're a Rihannsu ship."

"Eh, question from the wee ignoramus... they still go off if they hit somethin', aye?" O'Dell asked from the helm.

"Indeed, Ensign O'Dell. They can still be triggered by impact." Jaeih said, then she smirked a bit as she leaned in slightly towards the tiny test pilot she was quite fond of. "But I may have procured three bottles of quite old Jameson from our little shore leave excursion that says you can manage quite well."

"Nae me point, mum," O'Dell replied. "M'thinkin' that should we need it, a wee bit of broad beam tractor beam might make for quite the turbulence in our wake in a pinch if t'were t'drag a mess'a them mines behind us. As fuir flyin' betwixt 'em, aye, Ah think I might be able ta manage. Strewth, at this speed, who couldn't?"

The Trill captain grinned at Jaeih for a moment. "I knew I liked her." She then composed herself and thought about their next move as the Klingon at the tactical station grunted behind her. "I know we likely can't get a proper lock on our tail yet... But let's fire at them anyway, just to let them know we're here. Full power phaser strike across her bow, if you please. Then start gathering up some of those mines to make it look like they're chasing us."

At the tactical console, Petty Officer 2nd Class S'Rina smiled, a predatory, unpleasant expression, as she complied with the order, adjusting the tractor beam controls and blanketing the nearby area with the rear emitters even as she fired the shot across the bow of the pursuing vessel, close enough that it looked like a genuine miss rather than a warning shot. "Shots fired and emitters engaged, Captain. The pursuing vessel is adopting a pursuit course... very slowly."

-=RRW Iurret Bridge=-

The mood on the bridge of the Leosa class warbird was darkened as first the ship they were pursuing launched tachyon buoys, then fired directly across the nose of the cloaked ship.

"Adjust course for pursuit! Get us into their blind spot!" Rendal demanded adamantly as she leapt from her command seat to hover over the operations officer. "You assured me that their tachyon grids wouldn't be able to detect our new cloaking system! What went wrong?"

The officer she was hovering over was working his console furiously, trying to figure it out, but couldn't find anything wrong. "I'm sorry, Riov. Everything is functioning as it's supposed to. They must have upgraded sensors or something."

For a moment, it looked like the Royal Riov was going to kill the man for his insolence, but eventually calmed down and returned to her seat, though still fuming. "No matter. They're inside the minefield now. Already some of them are trailing them so they can't even slow down. We've all but won already."

-=USS Hera Bridge=-

Meanwhile, with the Hera fast approaching the edge of the first currents of the nebula and the Iurret and a couple dozen mines close behind, the tension on the bridge was almost palpable.

Enalia tapped the intercom controls on her chair's console to make an announcement. "All hands, we are now entering the Aldeberan nebula. Prepare for shearing forces, sudden maneuvers, and impacts." Releasing the intercom, she braced herself as they flew directly into the first of the waves, the ship shuddering slightly from the impact. "Steady as she goes, Fiona..."

Not far behind them, the Iurret hit the same wave and was forcibly decloaked, their shields and weapons powering up and the Hera finally getting a good, clear scan of who they were up against, even if for just a moment before the nebula's interference started taking over.

"The pursuing vessel is powering up weapons, Captain. I have... correction, the nebula has broken our target lock, but I have a visual. Charge phasers and load torpedoes?" the tactical officer called out.

While at the helm, the musically-minded Mariposian was quietly singing to herself as she bobbed and wove the large starship, leaning her into incoming waves and letting them buffet the vessel a bit to lend an appearance of haplessness, even as she wove and bobbed between the mines to ensure that the tractor beams continued to collect them in the wake of the mighty starship. "Alas, my love, ye do me wrong, To cast me off discourteously..."

"Indeed, all weapons at the ready. Let's use photons for now though and save the quantums for when we're a bit more sure of targeting." Captain Telvan confirmed they were still at red alert and made a note in her logs that they had entered the nebula and prepared to engage the Iurret. "As soon as they fire..."

Before she could finish that statement, bright green disruptor fire lanced out across open space towards the Hera. Most of the shots missed, but a few bolts glanced off of the shields, causing a slight increase in the vibration of the ship for just a moment.

The Trill woman chuckled softly for a moment, pointing one finger into the air as if to mark the moment. "And there we go. Miss Wil'I'Ams, if you would be so kind as to let them know that we received their message loud and clear?"

"Aye, Captain, with pleasure," the Klingon warrior growled, silently thanking Kah'less that she had bested her sister in arm wrestling for this shift on the bridge. Multiple phaser banks streamed energy out from the rear of the Nebula class starship, a few of the beams striking the shields of the vessel. With her finger hovering over the tactical controls, the security officer asked for clarification. "Sustained fire or bursts on command, Captain?"

"Whichever seems more effective," Enalia replied, preferring to leave that choice up to the more experienced tactical officer.

A grim chuckle was the response as the phaser banks began a sustained barrage behind the, the golden beams even striking and exploding a few mines in their wake as the pursuing vessel suddenly found itself assaulted by intense though only mildly accurate fire, while being riddled by shockwaves from the exploding mines.

As the vessel behind them began evasive maneuvers, they were still being annoyed by the fairly accurate Klingon woman at the tactical station as was evidenced by their increasing attempts at evasion.

It was only a minute of this harried exchange of fire before the Sistus came back from deeper within the nebula, dragging a good thirty mines behind it. Without even slowing, whomever was at the helm aimed right for the Iurett, dodged most of their disruptor fire, ducked under the much larger ship at the last moment, and left the Rihannsu vessel to deal with flying through the rather large clump of now armed mines.

While the Sistus didn't get away clean, Rendal's vessel had it much worse, triggering a chain reaction in the minefield that resulted in the entire clump and several other nearby mines exploding, further buffeting the large science ship.

The officer ops called in the reports as they came in. "The Sistus reports that shields are at fifty percent and their warp drive is offline. Torpedoes offline, but they still have their plasma lances. The Iurret's shields are at around twenty percent. I'm not reading any internal systems damage at this range due to the nebula's interference."

"Then I think it's time to turn up the heat as well." Enalia leaned forward in her chair and considered her next tactic. "Fiona, how's your square dancing?"

"S'nae me best dance step mum, boot I kin do-si-do wi'the best of 'em. Ye plan teh swing our partner round the ootside?" the picayune pilot asked over her shoulder, her eyes never leaving her displays even as she made jokes and interpreted orders.

The Trill woman grinned as the ideas came together in her head. "Reinforce forward shields. Ready forward tractors, target the Iurret for a point-blank slingshot. As soon as we're close enough for target lock, unload phasers and photons but try to avoid critical systems. At the same time, those mines we're dragging, I want the rest of them to meet our dance partner." After a second, Enalia realized she needed to give some sort of command to enact the plan so she motioned towards the viewscreen. "Let's do it!"

"Aye mum, a Virginia Reel it is, swinging her aboot now!" At the helm, O'Dell was flying somewhat blind without sensor data, but feeling out the waves, she spun the Hera about and brought her in an arc about the pursuing vessel, offering Tactical all the opportunity they needed to harangue the enemy vessel with the requested phaser and torpedo barrage. While the torpedoes went wide, exploding behind the Iurret, a few of the multiple phaser beams connected with the shields, reducing them to nothing. Meanwhile, the mines that had been dragging in the wake of the Hera began slinging their way into the Romulan vessel.

Just as the tractor reached out for the Romulan vessel, something completely unexpected happened. Rendal had ordered a modified Picard maneuver, jumping her ship away two thousand kilometers and leaving a shadow of her ship's singularity core behind for a few seconds. Rather than locking onto the dark green hull of the enemy vessel, the Hera's tractor beam was now locked onto a micro black hole that was slowly sucking them and a bunch of mines in.

Alarms across the bridge went off as the grav plating struggled to keep up with the sudden shift, the tiny singularity ravenously tugging at the nebula class starship. At the helm, the sudden shift in the inertial dampeners had slammed O’Dell’s head into the controls, leaving her seeing stars swim in her vision as the mighty starship groaned, and she spun the vessel about on her axis to direct all impulse power away from the singularity that threatened to swallow them all. Gritting her teeth, the petite pilot blinked the tears of pain from her eyes as her head rang and she pushed the engines, her feet working the inertial dampeners to use every trick she knew to keep them clear of the sudden hazard she hadn’t foreseen. Even as mines tumbled past them, impacting the hull in various locations, O’Dell struggled to remain in the pilot’s seat and maintain control of the vessel.

“Nae… today, Satan…” the tiny test pilot whispered, determined not to fail, but fearing her reckless showboating had doomed them all.

The officer at ops called out readings as an EPS conduit exploded behind him. "Singularity collapsing in three... two... one..." As quickly as it had appeared, it was now gone, as if it had never been there. The only sign being that the Iurret was now powering back up and coming around for a pass on the now startled crew of the USS Hera.

"Let's hope she can't do that again. Load quantum torpedoes and set them for proximity detonation." Enalia glanced at her own readouts and wasn't too keen on the list of injuries scrolling across her screen from that little stunt.

“Loading now,” came the growl from tactical as the Klingon warrior obeyed the command, awaiting the command to fire.

As the Hera came around to engage Renal's warship, a warning light suddenly blinked to life on Jaeih Dox's Intel console. With a cricked eyebrow and a concerned expression, the elder Rihannsu woman got up, hands gripping the console as she called over to Enalia through the chaos. "Captain... we have a new problem."

-=RRW Iurret Bridge=-

Several tense minutes elapsed as the ships circled each other in the mists of the nebula, and the Iurret was coming around for another pass, even without shields. As they did, a signal they were waiting for finally came in. From the station to her side, SubCommander t’Suil looked over to her commander’s chair and called over. "Riov! The beacon! Sensors detect that it has been ejected and will clear their shields in... seven seconds."

A sly grin spread across Rendal's face that would have made a Grinch hatching a plan proud. "Then let's buy seven seconds. Hail them! I wish to look upon the face of such a worthy foe!"

-=USS Hera Bridge=-

As Enalia was preparing to give the order to fire, the operations officer's comms panel suddenly lit up like a Christmas tree in Whoville and the young officer at ops called back. "Captain, they're hailing us. They wish... to look upon the face of such a worthy foe."

Enalia literally had to do a slow turn to look at her ops officer, who just shrugged helplessly. "Canned dialog... Who knew..." she muttered as she sat back in her chair. "On screen," she ordered, nodding assent.

As the view of the nebula and ship before them changed to that of the Royal Riov, Dalia Rendal and the bridge of her ship, Enalia gave a formal nod. As she did, the Romulan commander spoke, "Captain Enalia Telvan. A pleasure to see you again. I do not see your infuriating first officer or my apprentice with you. I am amazed that you and your crew have fought so valiantly without them. I commend you and yours on the skill and bravery that I have witnessed this day, Captain. Would that it be said that all Starfleet officers were made of the same mettle."

"You would be surprised, Riov Rendal. When pushed, all Starfleet officers respond in kind," replied Captain Telvan. Then she noticed a flurry of motion at one of the back consoles on the Romulan bridge as they beamed a Federation beacon aboard right next to them. Surprised at the sudden action, she was on her feet and demanding answers immediately. "What is that? Where did you get it?"

"Indeed, Captain, I obtained it from your crew. Thank you for such a lovely time. Helm, escape vector if you please." As Rendal turned away, the viewscreen returned to the external view only to show the Iurret turning away.

"Open fire, full phaser barrage!" the Trill captain ordered, and even as the lancing golden beams cut through the nebula, the Romulan vessel went to warp, headed deeper into the nebula where they couldn't possibly be tracked.

Exasperated, the Trill woman flopped back into her chair and thumbed her comm controls. But just as she was about to speak, her own comm chirped as a message came in to confirm her own fears.

=^="V'Nus to bridge- we have apprehended Ensign Varnok in what appears to be an act of sabotage, in addition to assault on Starfleet personnel."=^=

Sabotage. Betrayal. Whatever Enalia had told Jaeih to go and investigate was a seed that had now borne bitter fruit. After a moment of consideration, Captain Telvan tapped her comm panel again. "Telvan to Yeoman Dedjoy. Rendal... she beamed a beacon full of data that was ejected from the pod aboard and escaped. Can you tell me what was in it?"

There was a brief "Aye Captain, I can," from the Android Yeoman followed by a few tense minutes of silence. On the bridge of the Hera, you could almost hear a pin drop if anyone actually had one. Enalia's mind worked through the possibilities as the reply finally came through. Ila's voice was hoarse as if she had just been yelling as the answer echoed across the bridge.

=^="Captain, she has it. Rendal got what she failed to get from Lieutenant Commander Dox. He copied... 74% of the POD's files... on protomatter technology."=^=


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