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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)

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 Post subject: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 01:29pm

Joined: 2012-02-19 01:10pm
Posts: 83
Pools of Shadow, Pools of Light

Two gazes locked upon one another, two men in the midst of a tempestuous verbal exchange; One, a so-called omnipotent and all-powerful being, the other, a French born starship captain. Both refused to back down even one measure from the other. They stood on the main recreation deck of the latter's vessel which traversed the vast distances between the stars.

The 'omnipotent' one appeared totally human, tall with thick lips, large expressive brown eyes, and an unruly shock of brown hair clinging above a wide forehead. He wore a red and black one piece uniform identical to his hosts'. After a pause, he continued his tirade.

"Oh you may not trust me, but you do need me. You're not prepared for what awaits you," the being known as 'Q' warned, a knowing edge crept into his voice.

The older man, balding, yet regal in aspect and carriage glanced out of the ten-forward arc of bay windows. His name: Jean-Luc Picard; one of the most famous, and most capable starship captains in the United Federation of Planets. Outside his ship, a glittering starfield decorated the cold vacuum of space. The solitary vessel was the storied and venerable Enterprise, flagship of the Federation.

Two more uniformed officers charged into the bar, intent on rescuing their captain from whatever force had brought him there unawares. The first officer, dark haired, bearded William Riker glanced at Q and at captain Picard, then motioned for the barrel chested Klingon security chief, Mr. Worf, to stand down.

"Ah, the redoubtable Commander Riker," Q said jauntily, his eyes slid over to Worf as the Klingon moved to flank him instinctively, "and Micro brain! Growl for me- let me know you still care."

The Klingon officer tensed in anger, but did not give Q the satisfaction.

Picard glanced back over his shoulder at Q then turned, his arms crossed defiantly, "Q!"

Q smiled smugly, "You think you are prepared? Let me tell you Picard. It's not safe out here! It's wondrous, with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross." Q knitted his brows and glowered darkly, "but it's not for the timid."

"I don't know that we're prepared," Picard declared in his elegant British baritone, "but I do know that we are ready to confront it."

"Really?" Q cocked his head incredulously.

"Absolutely," Picard took a step forward, "that's why we're out here."

"Oh the arrogance," Q regarded Picard with contempt then turned to a dark-skinned woman who stood in the shadows, melding with the dim lighting of ten-forward, her bar. She wore a dark blue sequined dress and a strange circular cap shaped like a flat-topped mushroom. "They don't have a clue what's 'out here.'"
Guinan replied with a winsome smile, her sensuous lips pulled back from perfect white teeth, "they will learn, adapt. That's their great advantage," she said in rich musical tones that flooded the bar like a gentle wave lapping at the shore of a distant and tranquil sea.

Q gritted his teeth and glared back at her, "they are moving faster than expected, farther than they should."

"By whose calculation?" Picard interjected.

"You judge yourselves against the pitiful adversaries you have so far encountered. The Klingons, the Romulans, they are nothing compared to what's waiting," he paused again.

Picard blanched at Q's insinuation, while Guinan looked on impassively. Riker contained himself, but the muscles in his jaw and shoulders clenched tight. His eyes blazing, Worf uttered a throaty growl.

"Picard," Q began, ignoring the rest, "you are about to move into regions of space containing wonders more incredible than you can possibly imagine, and terrors to freeze your soul. I offer myself as a guide only to be rejected
out of hand."

Riker spoke for the first time, "I guess we'll just have to get along the best we can without you," he spat.

"What justifies this smugness?" Q asked. He rolled his eyes and tossed his head sarcastically.

Picard moved next to his first officer, "we're not smug, nor arrogant. We are resolute and we are willing. But more than that we are determined," the Captains voice rose defiantly during his pronouncement. He stabbed at the air with his index finger to punctuate each point, "your help is not required."

There was a short ghastly silence. Q narrowed his eyes at Picard.

"Well, let's just see how ready you are."

"Q!" Guinan cried out, "don't do this!"

Q waved his hand as one would to shoo away a bothersome insect. An odd rushing noise accompanied the gesture. A wave of energy struck the Enterprise which streaked off into space like a leaf caught in a hurricane.

The Starfleet officers stared open mouthed at the blur of stars streaking past the ten forward bay windows. This speed was obviously far beyond the capabilities of their ship.

The saucer shaped, gull winged craft spun wildly. Its crew and passengers struggled in vain to control it for a few terrible minutes. With the superstructure groaning around them and the computer controls hopelessly locked, the utter futility of their actions began to panic even the crew of the mighty Enterprise.
Suddenly, the ship came out of the spin on its own and stopped. The stars reduced from bright streaks in the heavens to familiar glowing orbs.

Picard tapped an exaggerated triangular shaped badge in his right chest, "bridge, this is the captain, all stop."

"Answering all stop," came the reply, a youth's voice.

"Status," Picard barked.
Another voice came over the intercom, smooth, clipped, and precise. "According to long range scans we are not in the milky way galaxy. No nearby systems are recognizable."

"Can you estimate our location?" Rikers' eyes rolled upwards unconsciously as he answered the intercom.

"Negative commander, I will need to go to stellar cartography and initiate a mapping program." The second voice cut off curtly.

"Thank you Mr. Data, wait until Captain Picard or I return to the bridge."

"Affirmative commander." Data signed off.

Riker turned to Q, "why?"

"'Why?' Why, to give you a taste of the wider universe. This is a test of," Q paused then grinned crookedly, "of your bonds of 'fellowship,' because even your precious Federation is insignificant compared to some things in the universe."

He turned to Picard leaving Riker blinking in confusion; "Con permiso Capitan. The hall has been rented, the orchestra engaged. It's time to see if you can dance." With a flash, Q disappeared.

A beat.

"Mr. Worf?"

"Yes captain."

"Head to the bridge, I need you at tactical. Begin scanning the area."

"Aye sir," The gruff Klingon exchanged nods with Commander Riker then headed for the turbolift at a trot.
Picard turned to Guinan. She stood near one of the windows gazing silently. A binary star system loomed nearby, crowned a large dull brown planet and several of her moons.

"Guinan, do you have any idea where we are?"

The bartender closed her eyes and took a deep breath. She seemed to retreat inside herself yet still aware at the same time.

"I don't know," she mumbled.

Picard moved closer, "You don't know what? Guinan, please you must tell me."

"Don't know if I should tell you."

Riker's eyes widened, "she's in a trance."

She smiled, eyes still closed, "yes and no Will. I imagine for you it's like visiting Earth and taking a breath of her air after a long, long time away from home."

The captain took her arm gently, "Have your people been in this galaxy before?"

"Only in legend," she exhaled slowly and opened her eyes.

"If you can tell me anything..." Picard's eyes bore into hers.

Forgive me! Guinan sighed softly, "all I can say right now is that if Q did what I think he did, then our arrival will be a great disturbance no matter what you decide to do."

"But where is here?" Picard grated in a harsh whisper.

"Not only where captain, but when."

Picard gaped at her for a moment then at the desert world below. He tapped his comm badge, "Mr. Data, status report."

"Sir it seems that the system closest to us is a binary star system, supporting one class M planet orbited by two moons. There are six other uninhabitable planets." Data's clipped diction ended suddenly.

"Any signs of life Data?" Riker asked.

"Affirmative commander, the class M world shows human and multiple alien life signs along with advanced technology. There are currently two small and one large craft of unknown design in orbit. I am detecting one major spaceport, a half a dozen cities and numerous smaller settlements. The exact population is difficult to gauge, but sensors detect a multitude of species numbering into the millions of individual life forms. Predominant life form readings are human."

"My God," Picard breathed. "Humans? Here? In a completely different galaxy?"

"I think this qualifies as a first contact situation Captain," Riker nodded toward the turbo lift.

"Of course number one, let's go." Picard turned to Guinan once again, "if you can think of anything else, don't hesitate to call me."

"I'll do that Jean-Luc," Guinan smiled. They trotted away, and she whispered softly to herself, "may the force be with you."

Picard and Riker entered the bridge moments later and took up their respective positions. Captain Picard's chair sat nestled in the center of a crescent of crew stations running around the rear of the bridge, including tactical and science. To his right was the first officer's chair and his left the ship's counselor, Deanna Troi; a striking brunette and half Betazoid empath. To his front left sat Lt. Commander Data, Starfleet's only android officer, and on his front right was dark haired, soft featured teenager, acting ensign Wesley Crusher at the helm.

"Mr. Worf what can you tell us about those craft?"
The huge, dark-skinned Klingon straightened visibly at the tactical station above and behind Captain Picard. He bent to his task immediately tapping the touch screens on his console. The bony crown of his forehead merged with his tightly knitted brows as he worked, which only enhanced his fearsome visage.

"Without an active scan I have limited information Captain, but they have very high energy readings. They appear to use Ion drives for sub-warp maneuvers and emit an easily traceable exhaust," Worfs bass voice rumbled.

"What about their sensors, can they detect us?" Riker cocked his head to the side and glared suspiciously at the planet.

"I do not believe so commander, not at this range. We are receiving low power sensor emissions from them, but at this distance we most likely appear as background noise," Worf pronounced with confidence.

"Mr. Data, do they appear to have developed warp drive at least?" Captain Picard leaned back in his seat.

"Doubtful sir, their power signatures, while strangely high for their size is more consistent with a fusion reaction than a matter/anti-matter warp core. None of the vessels are equipped with nacelles capable of generating a subspace field." Data turned around in his seat and faced the command crew. His golden skin stood out stark against his slicked black hair and his black and gold uniform.

Picard exhaled softly and even the stolid, bearded Riker traded reassuring glances with his former love, Counselor Troi.

It seems this new galaxy isn't as frightening as Q made it out to be. "Ensign Crusher, take us into a standard
orbit, one half impulse. Data, begin to analyze their communications, I want to be sure we can talk to them once we get there."

"Aye captain," both Wesley and Data spoke at once. They glanced at one another then Wesley stifled a laugh, while Data simply looked confused.

Commander Riker and Captain Picard grinned at the bridge crew's antics, and the tense atmosphere evaporated.

"Captain, I suggest that we send a probe into the system to determine these aliens' reactions. We do not know if they will perceive our presence as a threat," Worf said. He gripped the rail in front of his station and leaned over emphatically.

"Counselor?" Riker nodded in Deanna's direction, "your thoughts?"

Deanna paused, crossed one leg over the other, placed her hands on her knee, and leaned forward, exposing her cleavage thoughtfully, "we can assume that with humans and so many other species coexisting on one planet and with such high technology that they would not find our arrival shocking on a cultural level. It suggests an open, intelligent, and peaceful society."

"Still, the Enterprise itself may provoke unforeseen reactions. We know nothing of their political organization; we are alone here," Worf argued.

Commander Riker craned his neck back and raised an eyebrow in mock surprise at his tactical officer and head of security, "I never thought I'd see the day you came out in opposition to 'gun boat' diplomacy Mr. Worf." The Commander's little joke elicited some polite laughter from around the bridge.

Worf ground his teeth, "A cunning warrior will always-"

The rest of Worf's retort was lost when a hammer headed, bulky looking vessel at least the size of the Enterprise rushed almost straight at them at an incredible velocity. Before anyone could react, it braked just as suddenly; the ship continued to lumber toward the Enterprise over the horizon of the desert planet at sub-light speed.

"Where the hell did they come from?" Riker barked, "Why didn't they set off the long range sensors or the proximity alarm?"

The red and white spaceship sped closer, growing in the foreground of the Enterprise main view screen.

Data opened his mouth to reply, but just as quickly as before, a huge wedge-shaped vessel arrived in the same manner as the smaller ship. This gigantic craft sported an upright conning tower flanked by twin globes jutting out of the aft dorsal section, and a huge hangar bay located on the underbelly. It arrived and opened fire on the smaller vessel, spitting green bolts of energy from all over the forward arc of its superstructure.

"Yellow alert, shields up!" Riker bellowed.

Captain Picard levered himself out of his chair in a fugue of awe, his eyes riveted to the screen.

The proximity alarm blared for a moment before a rapid series of finger taps from Commander Data on his control board silenced it. "These vessels did NOT arrive from Subspace. The relative speed overwhelmed the ability of the proximity alarm to react."

Ensign Wesley Crusher spoke up: “The second approaching vessel is more than sixteen hundred meters long, and twelve times our mass. Their energy output is more than ten times that of our warp core reactor. Life signs, approximately-fourty-six thousand? All human…" The youth’s voice trailed off into the stunned silence on the Federation flagship’s bridge.

"Tactical analysis Mr. Worf," Picard's voice was a harsh whisper.

The alien behemoth came on inexorably, blasting away at the smaller vessel and shrugging off the few red bolts sent in return. The red blasts exploded in violent bursts of energy just short of the battewagon's hull, but the green bolts slammed into the smaller ship. Each shot hammered through the shields faster than they could recharge and left ugly scorch marks on the hull.

"Sixty independently operating energy weapon emplacements firing a high energy plasma bolt, sixty other energy weapons of an unknown type, ten tractor beam emitters arranged around their main hangar, primary and independent bridge shields, their hull is made of an unknown alloy, but scans indicate it is several times stronger than our duranium hull." Worf glanced up from his readouts with a look of shock on his face, "power output of their main energy weapons-estimated at 10 isotons per shot, I could be mistaken they are emitting massive ECM jamming."

The gargantuan vessel came on steadily to fill the main viewer; its prey was only a small sliver in the foreground.

"She's a monster," Picard whispered.

"Ten?" Commander Riker looked alarmed, "Our shields won't last long under that kind of bombardment."
Commander Riker thumbed mentally through his catalog of uneven engagements in Federation history, the experience of Captain Robau of the USS Kelvin was the only one that seemed to fit. A deep, queasy, empty feeling gathered in his gut.

"Let us all hope it does not come to that number one, Mr. Data open hailing frequencies-"
Worf's touch screen lit up accompanied by an electronic chime, "Captain, we are being hailed," he glanced up at Captain Picard and added, "by the leading vessel, audio only."

Picard nodded curtly.

"Unknown vessel, this is Captain Antilles of the Tantive IV. We are a consular ship carrying representatives of the Republic on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan. We request your help. We are under attack by the Imperial sta-"
A rapid fusillade of green bolts struck the Tantive IV amidships erupting in a massive fireball, and the static filled transmission cut off.

"Captain, the Tantive IV's shields have collapsed. They are losing power." Data tapped out a few commands as he spoke.

Captain Picard stood up and strode into the center of the bridge dramatically, "Captain Antilles, this is Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise-"

Data glanced up at his commanding officer, "transmission jammed Captain."
Picard stepped between Data and Wesley; the veins in his shiny bald head were already bulging in anger. Who are these 'Imperials'? Wantonly assaulting a diplomatic vessel one tenth their size, Mon Dieu! I can only imagine Captain Antilles' desperation.

"Helm, bring us to heading one-two-five-mark four, nose to nose with the 'Imperial' vessel, open a hailing frequency."

"Captain we may be interfering in a situation we know nothing about-"

"I know Number One, but we have no time to discuss this now, you'll have to trust me," he turned back to Wesley, "Ensign, do it."

Wesley glanced into his Captain's eyes then bent back to his task, "Aye sir."

There is no fear in his voice. My God was I ever that young? For an instant Picard went back to that terrible battle all those years ago aboard the Stargazer, her bridge shattered, her Captain slain.

A short high pitched tone, "Channel open Captain," Data said.

"Imperial vessel, this is Captain Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise. We ask that you cease your attack upon the Tantive IV, and open a dialog with them. We offer to serve as intermediaries, in the interest of preserving innocent life. We mean you no harm. Does this sound like a reasonable course of action to you?"
An awful silence descended and everyone watched the massive battlewagon loom larger and larger on the main view screen, waiting, hoping for a reply.

Last edited by cmdrjones on 2012-02-19 10:22pm, edited 2 times in total.
 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 02:07pm

Joined: 2012-02-19 01:10pm
Posts: 83
Let me know if this format is difficult to read as it is being cut and pasted from a word document. I have decided to bring this fic back from 2004 with some re-editing. It was inspired by this site originally, and uses the films and TV episodes from both Universes as it's Canon. I am not an engineer or a physicist so please be aware that I am generalizing the firepower calcs into the needs of the story and any inaccuracies are due only to my lack of math education and the needs of the Dramatic arc.

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 03:53pm
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That is all

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 04:03pm

Joined: 2012-02-19 01:10pm
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CARRIAGE RETURNS? What does that mean?

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 04:04pm

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Oh... paragraph breaks?

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 05:52pm
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 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 09:00pm

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not much of a computer guy... obviously

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-19 10:13pm

Joined: 2012-02-19 01:10pm
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Chapter 2
"Lt. Hija, have you heard of this ridiculous man of or the 'Federation'?" Captain Praji of the Imperial Stardestroyer Devastator glanced down at his subordinate standing on one of the recessed crew stations or 'pits' set in an arc around the 'runway,' a nickname for the platform senior officers used to keep an eye on the functioning of their bridge. They both wore the standard grey uniform of the Imperial navy with peaked caps and spit polished black boots. Black clad, scuttle helmed chiefs and a few droids rounded out the bridge crew.

The Deck officer shook his head, "'fraid not sir, but from the look of that pretty little ship it's probably a pleasure yacht. Look at the sleek bow and all the windows! My guess is: Somebody with more money than sense from the corporate sector; that is, unless he's referring to the Trade Federation."

"Is that supposed to funny Lieutenant? Because if it is-I'm not laughing." Captain Praji enjoyed the young officer's chagrin, and then snorted, "Anyway, that's no damned Nemoidian, if anything his accent sounds like an inner core man, from the academy."

Hija nodded thoughtfully. “They aren’t speaking basic though sir and our protocol droids cannot identify their language.” Hija spoke again, anticipating his commander’s next question. “Their computer is able to translate their language in near real time!”

“An interesting trick--” Captain Praji moved closer to the window and stared hard at the little vessel, his hands clasped behind his back. The ship reminded him of a sleek, deft seabird as it glided right up in front of his Stardestroyer with unnatural grace and precision for a ship that size. "It's strange though, she's not using Ion drives, so how does she maneuver so gracefully, and I don't see any turbolaser batteries, do you?"

Lt. Hija chuckled, "They must be out of their minds to interfere with a Stardestroyer. Shall I inform Lord Vader?"

Captain Praji's face jerked. "No!" he blurted, and then regained his composure. "No, of course not, Lord Vader is boarding this ship personally in search of rebel spies. Tractor the Rebel ship into the main hangar; launch two flights of TIE's to warn the Enterprise off. Tell the flight commander to escort them out of the system, if they resist, destroy them." With that, he left to confer with the Stormtrooper commander waiting at the back of the bridge.

"Yes Captain," Lt. Hija bent over the communications station. "Starship Enterprise, this is the Imperial Stardestroyer 'Devastator,' remove your vessel from this system immediately or we will open fire," Lt. Hija switched off the channel and let out a heavy exhale. He turned back to the task of tractoring the Rebel ship without even waiting for a reply.

On the Enterprise bridge Captain Picard arched an eyebrow in surprise then turned to his command crew, "Counselor Troi?"

The voluptuous woman paused for a beat before speaking; she leaned forward, hands on knees, and then spoke carefully, "I sense an incredible amount of self assurance on that vessel, coupled with a sense of power that is justified by itself. They are a rigid military hierarchy, but behind the arrogance is a cloud of fear and dread. The officer we spoke to regards us as a potentially annoying interruption; like a fly buzzing in his face."

Commander Riker sat up straight, "arrogant people. A Galaxy Class starship is a fly to them?"

Captain Picard grunted thoughtfully, "A ship that size may indeed regard us as only an aggravation," he raised a palm to his first officer who opened his mouth to protest, "but first impressions can be deceiving Number One. Do you have any--"

"Captain the Imperial vessel is launching multiple small craft;" Data interrupted suddenly, "they are on an intercept course."

"Onscreen," Picard said, "magnify."

Two dozen tiny gunmetal gray dots emerged from the Devastator's belly and swarmed towards the Enterprise. They jumped out upon magnification, a simple spherical cockpit, two forward weapons emplacements, twin ion engines, and a pair of vertical panels attached to the hull by short wing struts.

"The Devastator will have the Tantive IV drawn into its hangar bay in approximately 2.23 minutes," Data glanced up from his panel.

Captain Picard gritted his teeth, spun about, sat down in his command chair and yanked the front of his tunic down to straighten it.

"Open a channel to the Tantive IV Mr. Data; use our main deflector to burn through their jamming if you must. Ensign, prepare to close with them and extend our shields around their vessel."

"Aye Captain," Wesley said. The comm system chimed "channel open," Data replied.

"Captain Antilles, this is Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation starship Enterprise-"

"Enterprise!" Came the frantic voice of a young woman, "This is Ambassador Leia Organa, please help us. We cannot fall into Imperial hands, the fate of the Republic is at stake and-"

The transmission broke up and, as if on cue, escape pods from the blockade runner began to spew forth and fall toward the planet below. Immediately, green turbolasers spat from the Devastator, vaporizing them one by one. Deanna cried out at the sight and hid her face in her hands.

"They are without honor!" Worf shouted.

"Picard to transporter room! Chief O'Brien, lock on to the escape pods and beam those people aboard now! Data feed him telemetry."

The android officer simply nodded in response.

"Aye sir, I'm on it," the transporter chief replied in a lilting Irish accent. It was a race between O'Brien's skill with the transporter and the aim of the imperial gunners. Sometimes he was successful and sometimes he was not.

"Ambassador Organa, prepare to be transported to safety, we will bring your crew over to our vessel," Picard called.

"What? How–"

Captain Picard grinned, "Oh, Don't worry about that-" he paused to search his diplomatic experience for the correct phrase, "-Your Highness. This should only take a few minutes," He turned to Data, "how long will it take to bring the whole crew here?"

Data's fingers flew madly, "I estimate four minutes Captain."

"Not good enough use the cargo transporters, shuttle transporters, anything! Make it so!" Picard barked.

"We're taking an awful risk sitting right in front of their guns." Riker stood right at his Captain's elbow now.

"I know Number One, but we have got to give them more time!"

 Post subject: Re: An older fan fic rewritten - Chapter 1 PostPosted: 2012-02-20 12:30pm

Joined: 2012-02-19 01:10pm
Posts: 83
Chapter 3
Guinan stood motionless in Ten Forward watching the escape pods from the Tantive IV make their desperate plunge towards the surface of Tatooine.

"Are you having fun Q?" She glanced around the room. "I know you can hear me. Tell me, what are you up to this time?"

A beat. Q did not appear.
Guinan sighed. How could he do this? This will change everything, whether I choose to act or not.

"All right Q, you can test the humans all you want, but now you've started messing with my people. I bet you think you can manipulate me into trying to alter the course of events, and thus bring about all that I try to prevent. It's the oldest trick in the book Q, and I won't fall for it. But I will not stand by let these people die here either.

Guinan strode to the window and glanced upwards at the massive silhouette of the Stardestroyer above them. She could feel him, his foul presence reaching out to the Enterprise like a giant hand grasping her hull.

Guinan closed her eyes and began to walk quickly, and unnoticed towards the turbolift.

“Main Engineering please.” The doors slid closed behind her.

One of the Imperial officers swallowed heavily at what he saw on his screen.

"Excuse me, sir?" He leaned around his station and called out to the Captain.

"Yes, what is it ensign?" Captain Praji waved the Stormtrooper commander away and stalked to the sensor station.

"The, uh, Enterprise has projected some sort of energy field around the Rebel ship. It has cut off our scans and prevented us from using our docking clamps."

"What?" Praji straightened, his face purpling with rage, "call the flight commander, all TIE's engage! Double power to the tractor beams, now!"

The Enterprise shook suddenly, and then lurched forward. The bridge lights flickered briefly then came on again.

"What was that?" Riker asked. He clamped a hand on the back of Ensign Crusher's chair to remain upright.

"Commander, the Imperial ship has doubled the power of their tractor beams. We are being pulled in as well," Data stated. "Inertial dampers holding," he added.

"Their fighters are attacking!" Worf cried, “I am engaging point defenses-set to rapid fire!”

“Belay that Mr. Worf! We may yet find a peaceful solution to this crisis!” Picard cut off his tactical officer.
The vertical winged fighters came in groups of three, strafing the saucer section with rapid bursts of green energy.

“Shields down to 76%!” Wesley cried. We lost a quarter of our forward shields from one hit!

"Devastator, this is Delta leader. I confirm, we have a 'go'. Delta group form on me, we have clearance to attack."

"Delta leader, this is Devastator, affirmative. Weapons free, good hunting."

"Gamma group, move around their aft quarter and hit those dorsal projections, I'm going in!" The Delta flight commander cried with undisguised glee. I love this part!

Delta leader dove in on the Enterprise from above and loosed a barrage of turbo laser fire all along the saucer section.

"What the–? All craft pull up! It's a trap! Ahhh!"

Delta leader and his companions cried out in shock when their fire splattered across the dorsal shields of the Enterprise nearly a hundred meters from the hull itself, exactly where they had planned to pull out of his attack run. Three TIE fighters slammed into the bubble shields of the Federation flagship and bloomed in bright orange spheres of flaming gases and debris.

"By the Emperor!" Gamma leader cried, "All craft form on me to continue the attack. Devastator, we've lost Delta six, three, and two."

"Shields holding sir," Worf called.

"A suicide run?" Riker collapsed back in his seat in disbelief.

Data cocked his head like a bird inspecting a strange new object, "Commander, I believe the Imperial pilots did not expect to encounter our shields in their present position, and thus they did not intend to ram us at all. I can only surmise that their own vessels shielding acts as a sort of second skin or-"

"Later Mr. Data, options?" Picard glanced around the bridge. The Enterprise shook again as the enemy fighters savaged her port quarter on another pass.

"Captain," Worf looked up with an excited grin spreading across his face, "these fighters are not shielded."

"Are they not? Very good Mr. Worf, transport all the pilots into the brig, open a channel to the Devastator, then tractor
a few of them into the main shuttle bay for study."

"Aye sir," Worf said, his toothy smile widened even further. He stood straight and tall and seemed about to burst with Klingon pride. It is an honor to fight alongside such a cunning warrior.

"Gamma six, we have them in our tractor beam now, you only need to keep them from escaping. We are scrambling TIE bomber support as we speak," Lt. Hija said hunched over the communications station on the Devastator's bridge.

"No problem sir, no return fire, no weaponry at all yet. Let's just hope they don't have any other dirty tri-" Gamma leader stopped transmitting in mid-sentence.

“Gamma leader? Gamma leader, this is Devastator, come in!” The communications tech glanced at Lt. Hija helplessly.

"What was that, what’s happened?" Lt. Hija asked.

"Life signs from Gamma leader have ceased!" The Operator cried.

"What, how?" Captain Praji fought to keep his stride under control and walk down the runway towards the sensor station, "report Lieutenant!" he barked, eyes flashing.

"Look!" Someone shouted. Heads craned around just in time to see the TIE's go out of control one by one. The pilots began to call out to their missing wingmates in a panic just before their life signs ended and their own ships lost control. Most spun off into space, although a pair crashed into one another, exploding in a fiery burst, while another clipped the strange oval shield and spun away missing a wing and arcing with blue white electricity discharges.

"Sir, they are towing some of our TIE's into their main hangar!"

Captain Praji's face seemed to harden even further, "bastards! All forward guns fire! I want that ship annihilated!"

"Channel open Captain," Worf announced proudly.

"Devastator, this is Captain Jean-Luc Pic--"

The Enterprise shook violently under the heavy guns of the Stardestroyer at point blank range.

"Forward shields buckling, Dorsal shields also collapsing!" Worf hung onto the rail in front of his crew station as the deck shuddered under his feet.

"Ensign, take us underneath their belly; get us right behind the Tantive IV!" Riker shouted.

"Excellent idea commander, there is an 85.6 chance that they will not damage a ship that they are trying to capture. Given the relatively low power output of their sensor arrays and their general lack of sophistication in that area, we should be able to block their sensor scans long enough to rescue the Republic crew," Data stated the obvious, again.

Blast after blast rained down and damage reports began to come in from around the ship.

"Hull breaches in decks 34 and 37; emergency force fields holding!" Data shouted to be heard over the din.

"Mr. Worf, lock phasers and photon torpedoes, target those weapon emplacements," Picard bellowed.

Bright red phaser beams erupted from the 'saucer section' and struck one of the turbolaser batteries in rapid succession. The turret armor flashed for a split second as the phased particle beam cut through the shielding like it wasn't there and struck the hull. The armor plating glowed angrily and began to dissolve, but the phaser alone did little more than leave an ugly scorch mark on the Devastator's hull.

"The Devastators shields have collapsed in that section only, minimal damage," Worf growled.

"Worf, fire a spread of photon torpedoes through that hole!" Riker fed targeting data from his terminal.

"Aye commander. Torpedoes firing."

A succession of angry red orbs spat from the Enterprise as she dove below the Devastators plane of maneuver, green turbolasers slicing through space all around her. The torpedoes impacted in a tight cluster on the starboard side on the Devastator's leading edge, exploding in a flash.

Worf uttered a foul Klingon curse and slammed his fist against the railing, "Direct hit captain, one enemy weapon destroyed, minor structural damage."

"That was enough fire power to shred a Romulan war bird!" Riker cried. The full spread only penetrated three meters of their hull plating! If we hadn't hit the turret, we wouldn't have done more than scratch their paint job. Commander Riker gaped at the damage estimate readout on the arm of his command chair.

"Shields at thirty-one percent, they will not sustain another volley," Data said calmly.

"We must hold position until transport is complete! Engineering!"

"Laforge here," The superlative chief engineer never sounded flustered no matter the situation.

"Geordi, we need auxiliary power to shields, give us all you have. Take it from life support if you have to!"

"Aye, Captain, we'll do our best!"

"We need everything and we need it now!" Chief Engineer Laforge shouted. He pored over his readout panels, his frustration mounted every second. Laforge turned and scanned the gigantic blue-white glowing cylinder that formed the better part of the Enterprise' matter/anti-matter reactor. He could do this because, despite being born blind, Laforge had been fitted at a young age with a multi optic 'visor' that allowed him to see outside the visible spectrum, detect energy fields, radiation and to examine objects at a microscopic level by sight alone. For all of his gifts though, the Enterprise chief engineer was deprived of normal sight, and could not appreciate subtle differences in color and light. He could not enjoy the slow fading light of an evening sunset, or catch a gleam in the eye of a beautiful woman. "Gomez, how's it coming?"

"I'm on it chief," Ensign Sonya Gomez, pulled open an engineering access panel and began rooting through isolinear chips with a tricorder, "I'm pulling the primary power systems governor chip."

"Good work Gomez," Geordi smiled and turned back to his crew station. That would give him complete control over power allocation, overriding most of the safety protocols. He would not be able to change the power settings enough to shut off life support or endanger the anti-matter containment field, but things would get a little cool and dark pretty quickly.

He tapped his comm badge, "Laforge to bridge!"

"Picard here," came the clipped reply.

"This is all we have Captain, I hope it's enough," Geordi smiled grimly.

"As do I Geordi, excellent work, Picard out."

Ensign Gomez slid out from under the main engineering station and scrambled back upright with a grunt.

"Pretty exciting first mission huh?" She asked, he voice wavering.

The Enterprise bucked and pitched under the rain of turbolaser bolts. The lights flickered and dimmed down to nothing but blood red emergency illumination.

Geordi put a reassuring hand on her shoulder, "Steady as she goes Ensign, have faith in Captain Picard. We've been in far worse scrapes than this, and he always got us out in one piece. He didn't even get mad when you spilled coffee on him this morning!”

Sonya let out a strained laugh, and Geordi embraced her around the shoulders with one arm and gave her a friendly shake, "My guess is that these 'Imperial' clowns won't even know what hit them!"

“Aye Chief!” Gomez cried and slid down the ladder to the floor of the Main Engineering deck to aid Ensign Barclay.

Guinan glided steadily through the hallways of the Federation flagship, her fists clenching and unclenching. How dare you, how DARE you Q! Crewmen dashed this way and that, heading to their battle stations or closing emergency bulkheads. She arrived n Main Engineering, and passed Ensigns Gomez and Lefler as they furiously attempted to reroute power to avoid total shield collapse. Guinan had always avoided the engineering deck, staying in Ten Forward, as far from temptation as possible.

“Guinan! What are you--” Lefler began. Guinan touched the Ensign on her shoulder and the woman’s eyes glassed over.
You need to concentrate, don’t worry about shield harmonics.

“Yes,” Lefler said dully. Guinan walked up to the thrumming warp core and placed her hands on the main access port for the dilithium crystal matrix.

Ensign Barclay stood with his back to them, going over the EPS conduit schematic with a tricorder, trying to predict where the powerful blasts of the enemy fighter craft might cause power surges.

“I’ve never seen anything like it! These are tiny craft but they hit like a Klingon Battleship, can you believe it Gomez? Gomez?”

Ensign Barclay turned and saw Gomez, Lefler and several other Engineering crewmen staring at Guinan as she stood touching the main warp core. The blue white rings of light that visually simulated the energy output of the Main reactor began to thrum faster, faster, faster.

“How strange!” Barclay thought, and then Ensign Barclay wasn’t thinking anything at all.

Geordi Laforge, the blind chief engineer for the enterprise tried to contact Ensign Gomez once by shouting from the upper gantry of engineering, then again using his communicator. When she didn’t respond, he cursed under his breath then dashed to the railing and looked down, mouth open, ready to verbally tear into his usually responsive team. What he saw froze him in place.

Holy Mary mother of God!

The unexpected resistance by another Rebel ship set the bridge of the Devastator abuzz with renewed excitement. The prospect of adding yet another silhouette to their already well decorated bow tantalized the command crew. The hubbub died out for a moment when turbolaser battery number twenty nine exploded in a ball of superheated gas with the loss of all hands.
Captain Praji watched the Enterprise slide below his vessel, firing those bizarre red beams and spitting those miniature projectiles. They should have barely scratched his shielding, but somehow they cut right through, allowing even those inferior weapons to damage his ship.

"Lieutenant, what happened?" Praji demanded.

"I am not sure sir. Those stranger energy beams and 'torpedoes' were ridiculously underpowered, but somehow, now the beams are cutting through our ray shielding like it wasn't there!"

It seems I have an opponent far more dangerous that I originally thought. No matter, I'll show this 'Jhonnluke Pikard' what happens to those who defy the Emperor's finest!

"The rebels have brought some sort of secret weapon with them," Praji announced to the bridge crew, "I say, let them play their petty tricks; they will avail them nothing against the Devastator!"

The Captain saw several head bob up and down in agreement, and Lt. Hija smiled with renewed confidence.
"Don't worry sir, we shall make them pay!"

A general cheer rose up from the pits amid whoops and applause.

Captain Praji turned to watch the strange luxury liner take on the firepower of the Devastator with mixed amusement and awe. The Enterprise bobbed and wove under the Stardestroyer, trying desperately to avoid the rain of death coming down on them. They were so close to the hull that only those turbolasers on the forward ventral arc had decent firing solutions, and even those had to be careful not to hit the Tantive IV, which the Enterprise pilot was deftly using as a shield. It was as if the pilot had been trained to hide behind an object, peek out and fire an aimed shot, then duck back just as his opponent loosed a fusillade of return fire. Not a very original strategy...

"Lieutenant, it's been nearly a minute. How is their energy shield holding up?" The Imperial Captain sighed.

"Not well sir, our scans show it at less than half its original strength and decreasing. We will have them shortly."

"Excellent. I wonder what they did to disable our TIE's like that. It was rather odd."

Lt. Hija smirked to himself. He knew by his Captain's pronunciation that he felt it was anything but 'odd.'

"Yes, we did detect a minor fluctuation in their shielding and a strange power signature from our TIE's at the same time. Perhaps their shield is also a weapon. It may emit some sort of radiation fatal to pilots in unshielded craft."

Captain Praji grunted, "now that, Lieutenant, is not something I would not put past the rebels. Too bad they will be so much space debris in a moment." Praji clenched his fists and stared with a grim smile as turbolaser bolts rained on the diminutive Enterprise.

“Sir? Uhh… I’m now getting a strange reading from their main reactor; it seems to be going through an increased geometric tripling in power levels.”

Before Captain Praji could respond, another officer approached and actually touched the Imperial Captain on the shoulder. Praji spun about.

The approaching Ensign braced before his superior, "Sir, Lord Vader wants to know why we have not used the locking clamps on the Rebel vessel."

Praji's mouth fell open, and a hand unconsciously drew towards his throat, "Lieutenant, get me Lord Vader on the holo-communicator."

His subordinate paused warily, "Sir, Lord Vader sends that he is coming to the bridge personally."

Captain Praji had never heard, before that moment, a quieter bridge crew during an engagement.

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