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The Standoff

Posted on Thu Dec 20th, 2018 @ 1:07pm by Captain James McCullen & Lieutenant Commander Lisa McCullen & Commander Temerant Bast & Lieutenant K'Var & Lieutenant Oliver Ross & Lieutenant Amelia (Mia) Makarova & Lieutenant Araan Ragez & Lieutenant T'sa & Lieutenant JG Merlar R'heil & Lieutenant JG Simon Hunter & Lieutenant JG Emilie D'Astous & Chief Petty Officer Benjamin Schwarber

Mission: Recovery
Location: Various
Timeline: MD3, 2010 Hrs

"Captain's log, supplementary. Power throughout the ship is continuing to fail, without supplies and engineers to replace all the missing and damaged power relays and plasma conduits, there is little we can do about it. As yet, there has been no response received from the communications probe that we sent out more than eight hours ago and we don't expect to get one, all we can do is wait for aid to come - or not. The discovery that the Orions had planned to sell the Sentinel to the Romulans complicates matters, their captain claims the Romulans are on their way, but we have no way to corroborate this. All of the above leaves us in a difficult position. Do we stay in the nebula and wait for help, risking an ambush by Orions or a confrontation with the Romulans which we cannot hope to win, or do we try to head out into open space in the Triangle Region and contact Starfleet, where every pirate, raider and scavenger can see us clearly? I have decided it's safer to wait for aid."

Bast looked up from his station, and wiped sweat from his brow. With power distribution unstable, he felt as though the ventilation system was underperforming, and the temperature seemed to be a bit warmer than usual. It might just be his perception of course, and the stress of the past ten days wearing him out. Still, he had gotten some work done, and he was pleased.

"I've created an uplink to the Runabout's long-range sensors," he reported. "The Sentinel's sensors are still off-line, and the Runabout's are nowhere near as sensitive, but at least now we're not quite as blind."

"Excellent, good idea." The Captain replied, glancing at Bast.

Bast fiddled with his console before turning to the Science Officer. "Is there any way you can try and boost the gain?" he asked.

Ragez drummed the fingers of his right hand on the console, just now realizing that he had been tapping a Fibonacci sequence. He had been reviewing in his mind for the last hour the very issue that the XO presented; unfortunately, the Orion has only come up with a partial solution, and it was untested so could possibly be a complete failure. But none of his ideas would work without an industrial replicator. “Not without more parts, Sir. I’m afraid you’ve got the best we can get right now.”

"Captain, there's a disturbance in the nebula." Ross spoke over an alarm from his console. "Long range sensors are detecting a large vessel. Configuration...Romulan."

At the command of the Captain, Ross placed the visual sensors toward the arriving vessel. The nebula parted like smoke as the massive ship pushed through. The menacing emerald hull contrasted against the blue-white cloudiness, coupled with the lightning strikes behind it sent shivers down Ross's spine. This was not a ship to be messed with.

McCullen stabbed the comm control to the side of the helm controls with a finger, "all Senior staff, report to Auxiliary control!" The order was somewhat strange, given that he was calling literally everyone aboard to the bridge. "On screen, open hailing frequencies."

Bast exchanged looks with McCullen. They knew the Tal'Shiar would try to get their hands on Starfleet technology, but buying a ship from the Orions and attacking one with a Starfleet crew on board were two different things. With the current state of the Romulan Empire following the destruction of their homeworld, would they risk all-out war with the Federation by attacking a Starfleet crew? Knowing the Romulans, anything was possible.

Mer'lar heard the captain and headed to Auxiliary control to help her security chief.

Ross tapped the control and the screen zoomed in further on the incoming vessel. He pressed the "Common Hail" key on his board. A second later a return ping sounded. "No response to our hails Captain. I am attempting to resend."

The screen came on, it was fuzzy but Jim could make out what looked like a Lanora II class vessel, not much more than a scout with a crew complement of about sixteen, but in the Sentinel's current condition, more than enough of a threat.

"Tactical, shields?" McCullen enquired, knowing that the probability that they could raise shields was minimal but asking anyway, just in case someone had pulled off a minor miracle. Sitting at the conn, he prepared to move the ship, it was a risk in its current condition, but it was possible that there would be no other choice. "Lieutenant R'heil, distribute phasers to everyone who doesn't have one if you please."

Lieutenant K'Var attempted to raise shields, but unsuccessfully "negative sir" she said looking up from her console.

Mer'lar stood, and nodded,"Aye sir phasers to everyone." M er'lar said as she headed back to security to grab them.

"Dammit..." McCullen's cool was definitely rattled, in their current position they were practically helpless, all he could do was bluff. "I need suggestions, people. Mr. Ross, open a channel, I don't care if they don't respond, they can listen."

"Channel open, Sir." Ross said after pressing another key.

All McCullen could do was bluff, he was counting on the Romulan's sensors not being any better than his own in the nebula, with luck they wouldn't be able to tell from an external scan how many people were aboard or what condition the Sentinel was in. He waited for Ross' signal and then stood to speak, striding forward a pace like a Shakespearean actor.

=/\= "Romulan vessel, this is Captain James McCullen of the Federation vessel USS Sentinel, please be aware that there is heavy pirate activity in the region, this vessel has recently been recovered from such pirates and is now in the hands of Starfleet, courtesy of a dozen marines and two dozen Starfleet officers. Do you require an escort?"

Bast raised an eyebrow at the Captain's bluff, and breathed a prayer to the gods that the Romulans would think twice about attacking them.

There was a long silence, and then the viewscreen flickered over to the image of a Romulan, not in the standard military attire of a member of the Navy, but it what appeared to be civilian attire. "I am Commander Jamok Tr'jalan of the Free Romulan Movement. You will surrender the vessel you have stolen from it's rightful Orion owners and become prisoners of war, or you will die. You have five minutes to decide."

The screen flickered off before James could respond and he was left sitting tight-lipped and frowning at the screen. Of all the people to show up in the nebula, the FRM was the last he had expected. Terrorists, or freedom fighters, depending on who you asked, they had sprung up in and around the Raeyan Transit Corridor shortly after it was ceded to the Federation. In a lot of ways, they were similar to the what the Maquis had been in the Cardassian DMZ before the Dominion War. He could not see a way to win a fight, and it seemed to avoid one was going to be extremely difficult without surrendering. "Suggestions?" He called to the assembled crew in the room.

"We can use the runabout to create a diversion," suggested Bast. "It would give us time to reroute power to the phaser array."

A single phaser array wasn't going to turn the tide, but if the Romulans believed the Sentinel had teeth they might think again before continuing. It was better than any other idea he could come up with. "Mr. Bast, you pilot the runabout by remote. Don't move it until we're ready to engage or the Romulan moves. Mr. Ross, get power to the phaser arrays, as fast as you can. One will do but more would be better. Miss. K'Var, Mr. Ragez, figure out if that thing has any weak spots."

K'Var gave a quick "Aye" and went to work scanning for any weaknesses, it would take several seconds, maybe longer to scan.

Bast established a connection to the Runabout's navigational systems, but kept them powered down to avoid detection by the Romulans. There was no way such a tiny escort craft could withstand an assault from a Lanora-class Romulan ship. If necessary, he would set the small ship on a collision course with the enemy.

Ross's fingers blasted across his console doing everything he could to ensure the Captain's ordered. He finally pressed the execute button. All power just moved and flowed like a stream toward the targeted system. "Captain one or two low yield volleys are all I can muster. But we've got phasers."

"Better than nothing, well done Mr. Ross." McCullen replied, surprised at the speed Ross had managed to get the phasers online. He slid out from behind the helm controls, "Mr. Ragez, stand by to give them a warning shot. Open hailing frequencies, let's take this bull by the horns." The confidence in his voice hid the trepidation he was feeling.

"You've got comms Sir," Ross declared with a matching confidence.

Bast's hands hovered over the controls to the Runabout's navigation systems. He was ready to have the little ship run circles around the Romulan scout. He looked at the Caitian tactical officer.

"Take control of the runabout's weapons systems," he instructed. "Stand by to fire."

K'Var tapped a few commands into the console and the runabouts weapons came online "weapons ready."

"Commander Tr'jalan," McCullen said sharply, pushing a hint of a snarl into his tone. He was standing in front of the view screen with hands fisted on hips. "If you want the Sentinel more than you want your lives, you're welcome to come and try to take her." He glanced over at Ross and gave the universal signal across the neck to cut the signal, then slid into the helm chair again. On the viewscreen, the Romulan ship began to move.

=== Runabout Nantes ===

A million things in Lt. Makarova's head were spinning around as she climbed into the Runabout, the polar opposite of the bombed out dirty and smell cave of the Sentinel. Coming here gave her some peace of mind, however those million things like diagnostics and reports and inventory was really taking it out of her. She had never been put into this kind of harsh environment so it really tested her resolve. But as the Lt Commander had mentioned to her before, she looked like she needed some rest. Settling down onto her bunk after rinsing her face was possibly the most peaceful thing she had done in days.

She layed her head down onto the bunk and drifted off to a heavy sleep, unfortunetely she had not let anyone know where she was, usually she liked to keep it that way, instead of being monitored and scrutinized constantly.

=== USS Hanoi ===

The USS Hanoi had been traveling at maximum warp for almost seven hours, pushing her engines to the limit but she had finally reached the edge of Meja's Nebula, the gassy cloud where the USS Sentinel was stranded. On the bridge, Lieutenant Commander Lisa McCullen's fingers tapped nervously on the edge of her chair. They had picked up the comms buoy a few hours ago and gotten the location of the Sentinel from the data it contained, onboard ship they had a dozen engineers lead by Lieutenant Hughes, a specialist sent from Providence to get the Sentinel up and running, two 3,000 cubic meter tanks containing deuterium and antimatter, a dozen torpedo casings, two tons of duranium alloy, four shield generators, a state-of-the-art biobed, and an industrial replicator, to say the Wallace Class vessel was stuffed full was an understatement in the extreme.

"Lieutenant D'Astous, slow to half impulse and take us into the nebula, set course for the coordinates of the Sentinel. Mr. Hunter, all hands to stations, yellow alert if you please."

"Aye, Yellow alert," replied Simon as he tapped in a few commands on his console, as the klaxon started to flash upon the side of the bridge, he knew that the kids down in the small Engine room knew their jobs, he wondered how far the Sentinel was inside this cloud of gas. and how badly they were damaged.

"Yes, Ma'am," said D'Astous. "There might be some turbulence as we navigate through the nebula. I recommend we increase power to the inertial dampeners to compensate."

"Do it," Lisa confirmed, "reduce speed if you need to. Keep your eyes peeled for the Sentinel, we won't have much in the way of sensors inside the nebula."

"According to the probe's telemetry, they should be about one billion kilometers away," replied D'Astous. "At one-half impulse we should reach the Sentinel's position in approximately forty-five minutes."

Too slow, Lisa's gut warned her, too risky, her training told her. She was at odds with the desire to get to the Sentinel as fast as she could and the risk to the ship of going faster. "Opinions," she voiced to the bridge crew, wanting a second opinion, "can we go any faster?"

"If I increase to two-thirds Impulse we'd save ten minutes," replied D'Astous. "But given the density of the nebula, that might cause additional drag, and require twice as much power, not to mention the strain on the structural integrity field,"she added, glancing at Hunter for confirmation.

"I think we could manage it for at least 30 Minutes at a time," replied Simon making the calculations in his head as he knew the strain on the engines would be great, he finished," But yes it can be done."

"Mr. Hughes?" Lisa turned to the chief engineer, "yes or no?"

"If you want to get there able to put up a fight," The half-klingon mumbled, without looking up from his console "20 minutes at a time, max" he corrected bluntly.

"We're not gonna be such a big help if we're dealing with new issues on our end" He added, finally looking up from his console.

"With any luck, there won't be any need to fight," Lisa replied, weighing the odds as she spoke. "But the chief is right, we don't want to damage ourselves rushing to get there. Make it ten minutes at a time, just to be on the safe side, and if the ship shows any sign of damage, we'll slow immediately. Make it happen."

"Increasing to two-thirds impulse," acknowledged D'Astous.

There wouldn't be any need to fight, Lisa had an inkling that a fight was coming, there was a tension in the air, an undetectable static buzz that was making the small hairs at the back of her neck stand up. Faster! Faster! Her gut was begging her to listen, all the while her professional mind and training were steadfastly ignoring it. The words 'full impulse' were on the tip of her tongue, tickling her lips and fighting to get out.

"Red alert," she eventually spoke, needing to give some credence to the feeling in her gut, "all hands to battle stations."

D'Astous felt her spine straighten and a surge of adrenaline run through her veins. She hadn't been in combat situations very often, but she felt ready, serene and focused.


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