The alarm blared, pummeling him with waves of panicked sound.
Captain Alan Richter practically leaped out of bed, almost smacking into the nearby bulkhead in the process. “Lights!” He stumbled over to pile a pile of hastily ‘folded’ laundry—he was never one to be meticulous with personal belongings—and managed to dig up a pair of trousers. He slipped them on over the standard issue Starfleet boxer-briefs in the odd bright blue, a tradition that had survived for the better part of two hundred and fifty hears. Inserting the pants over the wrong leg, he lost his balance, hopped a few times in a vain effort to stabilize himself, and fell to the decking.
The relatively young captain rifled through more clothes, the alarm blaring the entire time. “Computer, page the bridge.”
“Cochrane’s ghost, Paddy, what the hell is going on!?”
His friend chuckled despite whatever grave situation had prompted the alert. “Sorry, Al, I know you’ve been missing your beauty sleep,” he continued, as Alan pulled down a tunic over his head and grabbed his coat. He grabbed a belt, cinched it, and inserted a tricorder and Type-II phaser in the appropriate slots. “Our little friend just came back on sensors, and I think he caught a whiff of our particle trail.”
“Bloody hell,” Richter replied, to both the unresponsive coat zipper and their beleaguering foe. He slapped on a comm. badge and switched over the communication, leaving his quarters behind. His hair was a tousled mess, but he had never been one for vanity.
He was on the bridge less than two minutes later. “Report!” The Cavalier’s bridge was a closed, intimate affair, with three smaller adjoining rooms; two closet like spaces that were the lavatory and his ready room (thankfully not interchangeable in purpose), with a cozy briefing room off to the left. The bridge itself was highly reminiscent of the Defiant, with separate Ops and Conn consoles, the Captain, Guest, and XO’s seats in the center, and the rest encircling them.
“Paddy?” he asked, taking his seat in the command chair.
His fiery haired friend gave him his typical amused look. “That nice Breen lad’s brought his rust bucket back to the party…with a friend.”
“Fantastic,” Richter replied sarcastically.
“They’re nothing,” the Andorian at Tactical muttered derisively under his breath.
“Science, can you get me a firm position?”
“I’m picking up the signatures from their warp cores, but I can only localize it to within a few kilometers…I’d say ETA of about eight minutes, but that’s the best I can do, and that’s give or take…”
“That last firefight took a lot out of us,” the young woman sighed. “Engines are good, but the structural integrity’s still a little finicky. We’re still trying to recharge the backup power grids, but main power’s close to optimal.”
“Tactical?” Richter called by rubbing his eyes. The deceptively cute Bajoran female offered a quite, terse reply. “Minimal quantum torpedoes, thirty photons remaining, phaser banks fully charged. Shields at seventy percent.”
Eight hours and they still weren’t at full capacity. His crew had done their best, and that was really all he could ask.
“All hands are at battle stations,” O’Reilly confirmed after consulting his console.
“Load quantum torpedoes to forward launchers.”
“We wait.” Richter stifled a yawn and did his best to prepare mind and body.
Richter angrily jammed the antique timepiece into his pocket, then brushed his sweaty hands on the sides of his uniform. The space outside the Cavalier was a twisting, amorphous purple cloud, with minimal visibility.
He took an allegedly calming breath and let it out slowly. He hated waiting.
“I got them! Just entering firing range!”
“Negative, kolmming interference!”
“I still can’t approximate them,” Science noted. “Lost one,” he added.
“Lost one?” O’Reilly questioned, arching an orange eyebrow.
“Disappeared off sensors. The other one’s coming straight forward, ETA thirty seconds.”
Something wasn’t right.
“Hard to port!” Richter commanded.
“HARD TO BLOODY PORT!”
The helmsman didn’t argue, and sent the ship into a sharp dive. Disruptor beams from the lost warship slashed through the space the Cavalier had just occupied, casting sickly green highlights over the dreamy clouds.
Mollna, the Bajoran Tactical officer, managed to snap a quick shot off from the dorsal phaser array, but it narrowly missed.
“Where’s the first one?”
“Matching course to intercept us.”
“Lift up the nose, pop off…hmm…two torpedoes, and kicked it up and to starboard.”
“I copy, sir.”
The Cavalier swung up, launched a series of glacially-colored Quantum torpedoes, and tore through the nebula, whipping the surreal particles about with its powerful wake.
The torpedoes hit home, jarring their original foe with a chain of icy fire. A huge chunk of the asymmetrical hull snapped off, and the ship gently tumbled.
Richter had allowed himself a small smile when the Cavalier was jarred suddenly. “Bastard! Mollna?”
The Bajoran gritted her teeth and shot a trio of photon torpedoes, all of whom missed. “Blast.”
Sparks cascaded down from the ceiling in a white-hot waterfall. Paddy winced and brushed some out of his hair.
“Hit on the engine coolant…overheating.”
“Full impulse, set course for the first ship. Charge fore phaser banks.”
“You do know,” Paddy began as a green bolt narrowly missed the Cavalier, “that we have one behind us, kicking us in the ass, right?”
“Quite aware of that,” Richter replied, as the Cavalier glided through beautiful, clear space before being submerged once again in the purple murk. He smiled devilishly. “Right where we left it. Fire!”
The Breen ship dodged and disappeared in the murk. Richter was speechless.
“It was crippled!”
“Must have more redundant systems than we thought.” They were nearly thrown out of their chairs as a torpedo rocked the failing aft shields. “Alan?”
The captain was about to open his mouth when the first ship, trailing thin wisps of flames and gas, hit them broadside.
“We can’t win this one!”
“The hell we can’t…hard to starboard, pitch one oh five degrees.”
“Alan, what are you doing…”
Richter ignored his first officer. The wounded Cavalier headed upwards, her two enemies in hot pursuit. “Sharp dive, barrel roll starboard, sharp turn to port.” He grimaced inwardly. The way things were, that maneuver would hammer structural integrity…but hopefully, the enemy would take quite the beating too…
The Cavalier plunged downwards, then, before the Breen could even begin to follow that maneuver, did a fairly tight barrel-roll, which, with its anchor-like shape, looked decidedly awkward, despite its smooth execution. Next, it curved sharply around, even as the Breen were struggling to match the last maneuver. Mollna slashed out with the dorsal phasers in the middle of the turn, dealing a series of quick, glancing blows to the healthier Breen vessel.
As the other oriented on a pursuit course, the Cavalier arched up, catching it with a series of deadly phaser blasts. The vessel tumbled forward, out of control. The Cavalier finished the loop right behind her prey, and finished the vessel off with a pair of photon torpedoes.
By this time, their final foe was in position. The Cavalier managed to avoid most of her pursuer’s relentless fire, but some shots inevitably hit home. Warning bells chimed repeatedly, becoming increasingly insistent.
“Shields won’t take much more!”
“All stop! Fire RCS thrusters!”
The Cavalier managed to slow to a halt in commendable time, whipping myriad gases about in a violet storm. The Breen ship pounded them several times, but flew past.
“Fire quantums!” Richter yelled as the fires raged.
They smashed into the aft of the Breen vessel even as it tried to dodge, kicking it up on a devastating blast of blue fire. It tumbled lifelessly for several long moments, before slowly regaining power…and lethality.
Both ships, gravely wounded, turned about to face each other.
“Oh, great,” Paddy said sarcastically.
The Cavalier surged to full power, overburdened engines blazing in the last effort. The Breen ship did the same, one of her weakened asymmetrical components shearing off like an unwanted limb.
“On my mark, all power to starboard thrusters. Reload quantum torpedoes.”
“We’re all out.”
“Photons, maximum yield. Ready phasers-“
“We lost the EPS conduits for them. Our fore armament is limited to photons.” Mollna sighed.
Glowing numbers at the bottom of the screen, an indication of range, scrolled at a manic pace, as the gap was closed. Their chaotically-shaped foe grew and grew like a demented metallic dragon.
A loud tone sounded.
Mollna looked at her captain expectantly. “Firing range.”
“Hold it,” Richter said sharply.
The two edged ever closer. Any second now, they would smash into each other and dissolve in a torrent of flame, yet both captains waited for the perfect firing opportunity.
Richter clenched his fist. “NOW!”
A series of small explosions rocked the Cavalier as it slewed to the side, thrusters exploding. Six photon torpedoes slammed into the Breen vessel, tearing it apart in a series of golden fireballs. Debris peppered the Starfleet vessel, along with a single, powerful disruptor beam, which cleaved the exposed ventral hull.
Gas exploded out of ruptured sections, superheated and in some cases burning. The lights flickered, dimmed, and died.
The Cavalier fell.