written by Travis Cannon

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe sat in Star Fleet Commander Admiral John Hayes’ office at Star Fleet Headquarters. Kelsoe was going to be given a command of a starship, and Admiral Hayes was going to give him the command. The doors opened and Hayes walked in civilian clothing.

“One moment, Ben,” Hayes said raising a hand.

Hayes took up his jacket and pulled his uniform top down over his head. Kelsoe turned away and looked over at the Federation Seal behind the Star Fleet Commander’s desk. Hayes walked around the desk and sat down in his chair.

“You’ve been waiting nine years for this, huh, Ben,” Hayes said.

“Yes,” Kelsoe admitted.

Hayes picked up a message pad and tossed it over to Kelsoe, who caught it easily.

“You’ve got your command,” Hayes said. “You’re mission objectives are on that pad.”

Kelsoe smiled.

“Having Jean-Luc Picard’s recommendations helped you get this command,” Hayes said.

“What’s my ship?”

“You’ve got the U.S.S. Pioneer,” Admiral Hayes said.

Pioneer?” Kelsoe said. “That’s a Nova-Class ship, right?”

“Correct,” Admiral Hayes said. “Your mission is outlined on the pad.”

Hayes stood up.

“Your crew will be waiting for you at Space Dock,” Hayes said.

Kelsoe rose.

“Thank you John,” Kelsoe said, “I needed a command.”

“Well you’ve been ready for it a long time before now,” Hayes said, and extended his hand. “Good luck, Ben.”

“Thanks,” Kelsoe said while shaking Admiral Hayes hand.

Ben Kelsoe stood behind the pilot in the shuttle craft as he was being taken to the U.S.S. Pioneer. Standing next to him was Commander Connor Burt, a strong armed Texan. Burt had been in Kelsoe’s class at Star Fleet Academy. Burt had dirty blond hair, with blue eyes, and a strong back. Kelsoe had light brown hair and green eyes, Kelsoe was from Montana.

“How you feel, Captain?” Burt inquired.

“Good,” Kelsoe replied.

“You heard we got a Vulcan on board,” Burt said.

“I know,” Kelsoe said. “His name is Braxis.”

Burt smiled and said, “Yeah, but did you know that his role model is Captain Spock.”

“That’s not a bad role model, Commander,” Kelsoe said.

“At least Captain Spock showed some emotion,” Burt said. “Huh. Braxis is full green blooded.”

“Now, now, now,” Kelsoe said waving a finger. “Let’s not get haughty before we’ve even seen the ship.”

“The Pioneer is a good sturdy ship, sir,” Burt said.

Kelsoe quieted Burt.

“Here we come,” Kelsoe said.

Through the shuttle craft’s window they saw the Enterprise. They flew over the dish of the huge ship and saw a small one, dock beside Enterprise. There it was, the Pioneer, with gray metallic surface that shinned in the lights of Earth Dock One. The Nova-Class ships are just a little bit smaller than the Intrepid-Class ships. The Enterprise is the biggest of them all, a Sovereign-Class. Nova-Class ships were designed for fight maneuvering and military operations. But now that the Dominion Wars were over Star Fleet had a new idea for these ships, especially the Pioneer. Kelsoe smiled and looked over at Burt.

“That’s our ship,” Kelsoe said.

“It’s small, but fast,” Burt said.

The intercom beep come.

“This is Pioneer landing bay control,” a female voice said. “Please send docking code

The pilot pushed a red button on the control panel.

“Sending docking code,” the pilot said.

The pilot type a few things on the control panel and sent the code. The female voice came back in a few seconds.

“Cleared. Welcome Captain Kelsoe.”

Kelsoe smiled.

“This is my ship,” he said softly.

Burt nudged him. Kelsoe looked over at Burt.

“What was that for?” Kelsoe asked.

“Don’t get a ego on me, sir,” Burt said chuckling.

The pilot steered the shuttle craft into the Pioneer’s landing bay. The shuttle craft landed smoothly in the landing back. Burt turned around and pressed a button on the rear of he shuttle. The shuttle craft’s back door slide open. Burt stepped out first, and Kelsoe followed. Kelsoe looked over his shoulder as they walked towards the exit and saw the Enterprise through the opened landing bay doors. Kelsoe stopped and looked at it. It was so big. Burt turned around and tapped Kelsoe on the shoulder.

“Come on, Captain,” Burt said. “The crew’s waiting for you.”

“Sorry,” Kelsoe said. “I just never really new the Enterprise was that big.”

Burt lead Kelsoe to the landing bay’s exit. They walked through the door.

“Captain on deck,” Norman Craig said as he got out of the Captain’s chair, and walked over to his position at tactical. Kelsoe had been on the bridge of Voyager and was pleased to find that his bridge was similar. The helmsman turned around in his chair.

“Captain,” he nodded.

Kelsoe slide into his chair. He could just picture Captain Janeway doing the same, except better than him. Burt sat down in his chair. Kelsoe looked over and saw Braxis at his station. Braxis looked up and nodded. Braxis stood up and walked over.

“Captain Kelsoe,” Braxis said in a monotone voice. “I heard that your recommendations, how would you humans put it, ah yes, were quite amazing.”

Kelsoe smiled.

“Well, I’m not James Kirk,” Kelsoe said.

“That is true,” Braxis said and walked back to his station.

Burt learned over.

“What I tell you.”

Kelsoe smiled.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said, “How have you made your transition to active duty.”

Ensign Eric Zimmer spun around from the helm.

“It took some time for it to sink in sir,” Zimmer said. “Thank you again for suggesting me.”

“No problem, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Your the second best pilot, next to me.”

“All stations report ready for launch, Captain,” Braxis said. “Awaiting your command.”

Kelsoe learned forward placing his elbow on his shoulder.

“Take us out, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Full thrusters”

“Aye, sir,” Zimmer said spinning around and turning on the thrusters.

Kelsoe looked up at the view screen and watched as the ship moved pass Enterprise and towards the docking bay door. After a minute or two they cleared the doors and were in open space.

“You may go to impulse now, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said.

“Captain,” Tracy Carson said. “Receiving a transmission from Enterprise.”

Kelsoe stood up and straightened his uniform.

“On screen,” Kelsoe said.

The screen switched from stars to Captain Picard on the bridge of the Enterprise. Picard smiled.

“You have done it, Ben,” Picard said. “From all of us on the Enterprise we wish you the best of luck, Captain Benjamin Kelsoe.”

“Thank you, Captain Picard,” Kelsoe said nodding. “You have been a great inspiration.”

“What about me!” William Riker said raising his hand.

“You, too, Will,” Kelsoe said. “And sorry I was unable to attend your wedding.”

“You were busy,” Riker said. “I understand.”

“Well, Ben,” Picard said. “Time for you to get on your way. Have a safe journey. Picard out.”

The screen went back to the stars.

“You’re orders, Captain,” Zimmer inquired.

“Just a moment, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said.

Kelsoe sat down and pressed a button.

“Bridge to Engineering,” Kelsoe said.

“Engineering here,” a female voice said.

“Is the core ready for warp, Lt. Commander Withrome?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Yes, Captain,” Joanna Withrome said.

“Very well,” Kelsoe said. “Kelsoe out.”

Kelsoe leaned back in his chair. Burt leaned over.

“Comfortable, huh?” Burt said.

Kelsoe nodded. He rested his arms on the arms of the chair.

“Set course for the Venka Nebula,” Kelsoe said. “Maximum Warp.”

“Aye, Captain,” Zimmer said.

Kelsoe watched as the stars started to move pass quicker and soon they became streaks of white light. Kelsoe turned towards Burt.

“I want the senior staff members meeting at 0600 hours,” Kelsoe said, “Till then I’ll be in my ready room going over the mission brief.”

Kelsoe stood up.

“You have the com, Commander Burt,” Kelsoe said and walked up to his ready room. The door slide open and Kelsoe walked into his ready room. He stood at the entrance to his ready room and took a deep breath. He was now responsible for three hundred lives.

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe sat at the head of the conference table, the streaking stars behind him. Commander Burt sat to his right, Braxis on his left. The other people at the table were as follows: Dr. Walter McRoye, Chief of Medicine, Lt. Norman Craig, Tactical Officer, Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome, Chief of Engineering, Ensign Eric Zimmer, and Ensign Tracy Carson, Communications Officer. Kelsoe smiled at all of them.

“Hello,” he said. “I’m Captain Benjamin Kelsoe. I look forward to getting to know each one of you better over the course of our mission. Let’s just start with routine reports. Braxis?”

“The Venka Nebula system in So’ja space are very dangerous,” Braxis said. “Any attempt to go to warp in the nebulas the ship will be destroyed.”

“Thank you, Mr. Braxis,” Kelsoe said and turned towards Dr. Walter McRoye. McRoye was a man in his early forties, and his brown hair was already graying on the sides. However his dark green eyes still looked young.

“Sickbay is all ready, Ben,” McRoye said. “I just need some time to arrange the check-up schedule for the crew, sir.”

“I’ll help you out on that, Doc,” Kelsoe said. “You can put me at the top of the list.”

“Very smart of you, Ben,” McRoye said crossing his arms.

“Lt. Craig?” Kelsoe said.

“All weapons are functioning perfectly,” Craig said. “If the So’ja try and attack us, we’ll be ready, sir.”

“Warp core is doing fine, sir,” Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome said. “I must concur with Commander Braxis on the Venka Nebula. We must stay at impulse power while in the nebula.”

Kelsoe liked how she did not wait for him to ask her to speak. Kelsoe nodded.

“Now, let me tell you our mission,” Kelsoe said. “During a routine scan of the Venka Nebula a shuttle craft was attacked by the So’ja. The shuttle was unable to return to its ship, the Clark. The Clark is unable to defend itself against a So’ja attack, so we’ve been sent in to retrieve the shuttle craft. Doctor, we’ll need sickbay to be ready to have some customers.”

“As good as said,” McRoye said.

“The So’ja are dangerous, Captain,” Zimmer said. “Why is Star Fleet sending us?”

“Star Fleet needs their best ship on this,” Burt said.

“Commander,” Braxis said. “With all do respect, we are not Star Fleet’s best ship. We are a retired class that has been transformed to a exploring ship.”

“To boldly go,” Kelsoe nodded. “As Captain Kirk said. But this will be a small detour on the beginning of our mission of the exploration of So’ja space.”

“The So’ja are not part of the federation,” Joanna said.

“Their government is working on a treaty between them,” Kelsoe said. “What we have here is a rogue group of So’ja who don’t want peace between the So’ja and the Federation. We are getting our people out of there before it is too late.”

“Captain,” Burt said. “Withrome’s got a point. How can we trust the So’ja fully.”

“Look,” Kelsoe said. “The So’ja are the most powerful force in the Gamma Sector. Star Fleet sees that they are a potential threat. Just like the Borg, Cardassians and the Dominion. The biggest difference between all of them is that the So’ja government wants peace. It is only a small group of So’ja who wish to prevent peace. We are the last line. We must not fail.”

“Ensign Carson, I want you to do some research on the So’ja for me,” he said. “As soon as you finished give it to me.”

Kelsoe looked across the table.

“You may all return to your stations,” Kelsoe said.

Kelsoe sat in his ready room watching the stars streak by. He leaned back in his chair and looked over at a picture of his wife. She was aboard the Enterprise when the Borg began their invasion of Earth. Captain Picard had given him the news personally. Kelsoe closed his eyes and thought of her. He opened his eyes and wiped the tears away. She was gone and nothing could bring her back. He picked up a data pad that Ensign Carson had given him a few moments ago. He scanned through the data of the So’ja history. A humanoid people who have evolved into three distinct groups, the politicians, the scientist and the soldiers. Kelsoe was impressed with Tracy’s research. The intercom beeped.

“Captain,” it was Burt voice.

Kelsoe tapped his communicator.

“Yes, Connor?” Kelsoe said.

“We entering So’ja space,” Burt said. “Well be at the Venka Nebula in a couple of minutes.”

“Go to Red Alert,” Kelsoe said. “I’ll be there shortly.”

Kelsoe got up out of his seat and set the data pad down. He looked at the picture of his wife.

“I’m sorry Ann,” Kelsoe said. “I couldn’t give it up.”

Kelsoe kissed his two fingers and pressed them against the picture. He then walked towards the door of his ready room. Kelsoe emerged on the red lighted bridge and walked down towards Zimmer.

“Take us out of warp, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said.

“Aye, sir,” Zimmer said and slowed door the ship.

“Take us to impulse power,” Kelsoe said. “I want to see what we are dealing with.”

“Aye, sir.”

Clark’s hailing us,” Tracy said.

Kelsoe turned towards Tracy, “On screen,” he said.

“This is the U.S.S. Pioneer, Captain Benjamin Kelsoe in command,” Kelsoe said. “Star Fleet has sent us to help out.”

On the screen a blurry eyed man stood.

“I’m Commander Tuff,” the man said. Behind him the bridge was in a mess. “The So’ja have attack us and we are losing life support. Captain Anthony is dead. Thank God you’ve come.”

“What is the status of the So’ja?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Reading two So’ja ships off the port side, Captain,” Braxis said. “However they are quite far off.”

“They’re not going to give up,” Commander Tuff said.

“We’ll beam you over,” Kelsoe said. “We’ve got a medical team waiting here.”

“Thank you, Captain Kelsoe,” Commander Tuff said.

Kelsoe turned towards Braxis. “Make it so.”

“Yes, Captain,” Braxis said.

Kelsoe pressed his communicator. “Doc,” Kelsoe said.

“For God’s shake, Ben what’s going on up there!” McRoye yelled.

“Prepare for some patients,” Kelsoe said.

“I’ll be ready as I ever will be,” McRoye said.

Braxis pressed a few buttons and then turned back from his console.

“All of the Clark’s remaining crew have been transported to sickbay,” Braxis said.

“How many?” Kelsoe said.

“Twenty-six, sir,” Braxis said.

“My God,” Burt said. “The Clark had a crew of two hundred.”

Kelsoe turned around to face Lt. Craig.

“Craig,” Kelsoe said. “Scan for the So’ja ships’ positions.”

Craig scanned.

“So’ja ships bearing two mark five,” Craig said.

“On screen,” Kelsoe ordered. He turned and looked towards the view screen.

Stars appeared. In the distance he could see two u-shaped ships.

“Magnify,” Kelsoe commanded.

The image increase. Now he could clearly see the orange color So’ja ships.

“Alright, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said sliding down into his chair. “Let’s see how well you fly under pressure. Attack pattern alpha.”

“Aye, sir.”

Zimmer spun around in his chair and pressed some buttons. The Pioneer moved closer to the So’ja ships.

“Captain,” Tracy said. “The lead So’ja ship is hailing us.”

“On screen,” Kelsoe said has he stood up.

The screen showed the So’ja commander. The first thing Kelsoe noticed was the two yellow reptilian eyes staring at him. They seemed to glow in the dim light on the So’ja bridge. The face look humanoid. The facial skin was abnormally wrinkly (from a human point of view). The So’ja had short white hair. The majority of the So’ja’s body is covered in scales, except from the palms of their hands, which are the wrinkly skin mentioned before. Their finger nails are a mixture of yellowish green and are approximately one inch in length.

“This is Captain Benjamin Kelsoe of the U.S.S. Pioneer,” Kelsoe said. “Stand down. You are violating the Venka Treaty.”

“The Federation has no right to come into our space and claim it has their own,” the So’ja said.

“Our governments are working at a peace treaty,” Kelsoe protested.

“The So’ja race has a right to live as it wills!” the So’ja growled. “If you do not exit So’ja space, we will fire.”

“Then just allow us to retrieve our shuttle craft,” Kelsoe said.

“Out of the question,” the So’ja said. “They are interstellar prisoners of the So’ja for violating the right of a species to live.”

“They were only collecting samples of the Venka Nebula,” Kelsoe explained.

“Samples that would be used to drain it’s power generation!?” the So’ja said. “The Venka Nebula is property of the So’ja people and in accordance with your interstellar law we have placed them under arrest. If you continue to pursue this, I’ll see you in ralt’u!”

The screen went back to the stars. Kelsoe looked over at Braxis. One of Braxis’ eyebrow rose.

“An interesting species,” Braxis said. “Very emotional.”

“Yeah,” Craig said. “Looks like anger is high up on their emotional curve.”

“Raise shields, Craig,” Kelsoe said.

“Aye, Captain,” Craig said. “Shield raised.”

“McRoye to the bridge,” came McRoye’s voice.

Kelsoe pressed a button beside his chair.

“Yes, doctor?” Kelsoe said.

“Commander Tuff is well enough to join you on the bridge,” McRoye said.

“Send him up,” Kelsoe said.

Kelsoe looked back up at the viewer.

“There’s the Clark,” Zimmer said.

“The So’ja ships weapons are raised!” Craig said.

Braxis was viewing Craig’s scans.

“They appear to be targeting the Clark, Captain,” Braxis said.

“They’re firing,” Craig said. “Two quantum torpedoes.”

Two orange balls of light came from one So’ja ship and rammed into the Clark. With it’s shields down, the torpedoes crushed the Clark. They watched as the ship burst into a ball of fire.

“Shock wave!” Craig shouted.

“Brace for impact,” Burt said.

“Sound for collusion!” order Kelsoe.

The shock wave ripped across space. The Pioneer rocked hard. Kelsoe gripped the arms on his chair to sat seated.

“Shields?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Shields held, Captain,” Craig said.

Kelsoe turned towards Burt.

“Any bright ideas, Connor?” Kelsoe inquired softly.

Enterprise versus Reliant,” Burt said. “Kirk versus Khan.”

Kelsoe smiled, “Perfect.”

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Take us into the nebula.”

“But...,” Zimmer objected.

“Do it!” Kelsoe ordered.

“Aye, sir,” Zimmer said.

Kelsoe got up and walked over to the tactical station.

“Lt. Craig, I’m going to need you to keep a lock on the lead So’ja ship,” Kelsoe said. “One thing about So’ja that is good to remember is take out their leader, the others scatter.”

“Yes, Captain,” Craig said.

The turbolift doors opened and Commander Tuff walked onto the bridge.

“Captain Kelsoe,” Commander Tuff said. “I’ll be pleased to assist you.”

“Take the station next to Braxis,” Kelsoe said.

Tuff stepped over to the station next to Braxis and sat down.

“Entering the Venka Nebula,” Zimmer said.

Burt stood up just as they entered the nebula. Immediately the view screen started to get static on it. The Pioneer reduced speed to full thrusters. Impulse power was too dangerous in the Venka Nebula.

“Hold course,” Kelsoe said.

“Captain?!” came the distressed voice of Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome.

“Yes,” Kelsoe said.

“Have we just entered the nebula?” Withrome inquired.

“Yes,” Kelsoe said. “How’s the warp core holding up?”

“The warp cores going crazy, sir,” Withrome said. “We can only last fifteen minutes in the nebula and then well lose impulse power.”

“More reason to get the So’ja trapped in it,” Kelsoe said.

The Pioneer drifted through the nebula, literally blind. The only thing on the view screen was static. Kelsoe stood up.

“Craig, I want continual scans,” Kelsoe said. “I want to make sure that the So’ja don’t jump us.”

“Aye, sir,” Craig said.

Beeps came from Craig’s station has he scanned.

“Captain,” Tracy said, “I’m picking up faint signal, audio only.”

“On speakers,” Kelsoe said.

Tracy pressed a button and static field the bridge. Kelsoe turned towards Tracy and said, “Can you clear it up?”

“I’ll try, sir,” Tracy said.

Tracy sat at her station pressing button, finally some words were heard.

“...CLARK...read us...is the...craft...requirin...sitan...,” it faded into static.

Kelsoe turned to Tuff.

“Is that your shuttle craft?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Let me look at the signal wave,” Tuff said. He turned in his chair towards the control console and pushed a button. The wave pattern appeared on a small monitor. “Yeah, its ours.”

“Braxis,” Kelsoe said, “Can you pin point their location.”

“I will try,” Braxis said turning to his station.

Kelsoe walked back down to the center of the bridge. He noticed that Zimmer was getting nervous.

“Steady, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said calmly.

Zimmer slowly calmed down. Kelsoe turned around to Craig.

“Anything?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Nothing, yet, sir,” Craig said looking down at his console. “Wait!... I’ve got two So’ja attack class vessel pursuing us! Their weapons are powering up!”

“Shields!” Kelsoe shouted.

“Shields up,” Craig said. “They’ve fired their weapons.” A pause while Craig scanned. “Their shooting blind, sir. The two torpedoes missed.”

Kelsoe sighed. Kelsoe then turned towards Braxis.

“Found the shuttle yet?” Kelsoe inquired to Braxis.

“Yes, Captain,” Braxis said. “Fifty yards in front of us.”

“Can you beam them out?” Burt inquired.

“Negative,” Braxis said. “Nebula energy surges make it impossible to beam from this distance. We must get closer to use transporters.”

“Do it,” Kelsoe ordered.

Zimmer steered the Pioneer to the coordinates Braxis had specified.

“Ten more yards,” Braxis said.

“So’ja are in out pursuit,” Craig said.

Burt jumped out of his chair and walked up next Kelsoe.

“They must be using their scanners, too,” Burt said.

Kelsoe nodded. He turned around.

“Seven more yards,” Braxis said.

“Craig,” Kelsoe said. “Can you target their scanners?”

“I’ll try, sir,” Craig said and worked it out on his console.

“Five yards,” reported Braxis.

“I’ve got the best lock I can, Captain,” Craig said.

“Fire aft phasers,” Kelsoe said.

Craig pressed down on his control console.

Two rays of red light bolted from the after phasers on the Pioneer and struck the So’ja ship.


Two more rays shot out aimed at the second So’ja ship, hitting the ship, too.

Craig looked up from his console.

“Perfect shot, sir,” Craig said. “So’ja functioning without scanners.”

“Now those bastards are truly blind,” Burt said.

“You may stop here, Mr. Zimmer,” Braxis said.

“Can you get a lock on them, Braxis?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I believe so, Captain,” Braxis said punching his console. “I have a lock on two life forms.”

“Energize directly to sickbay,” Kelsoe said.

“Energizing,” Braxis said.

Braxis press in console.

“Successful,” Braxis said.

“What about the shuttle!?” Tuff asked.

“We cannot risk anymore energy surges from the nebula,” Braxis said. “Captain, I suggest we move clear of the nebula.”

“Make it so,” Kelsoe said with a wave of his hand.

“Aye, Captain,” Zimmer said.

The Pioneer veered right to exit the nebula.

“Will reach the nebula’s edge in five minutes, Captain,” Zimmer reported.

“Is that enough time, Braxis?” Kelsoe inquired.

“The shields should hold up, Captain,” Braxis said.

“Good,” Kelsoe sat down in his chair.

Burt sat down, too. He looked at Kelsoe.

“Close call,” Burt said. “Hell of a way to start the new life of the Pioneer.”

“Am sure she’s seen her share of combat during the Dominion War,” Kelsoe said.

“Captain!” Craig shouted. “So’ja have regained scanning capability.”

“How?!” Burt inquired.

Craig looked confused. Tuff stood.

“The So’ja live here, Captain Kelsoe,” Tuff said. “Their ships must be better equip for traveling through nebulas.”

Kelsoe nodded.

“What are they doing?” Kelsoe inquired.

“They’ve locked onto the shuttle craft,” Craig said. “Two torpedoes away.”

“The shuttle craft?” Kelsoe asked.

“Its gone, sir,” Craig reported.

Tuff slammed his fist against the console.

“Eight months of work, gone,” Tuff said.

“So’ja ships are coming about,” Craig said. “Their pursuing us.”

“Can do they see static as well?” Burt inquired.

“Not at the speed their going,” Craig said.

“How much further to the edge of the nebula, Braxis?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Thirty yards, Captain,” Braxis said.

“So’ja powering up weapons!” Craig said.

“Shield?” Kelsoe turned to Braxis.

“Holding,” Braxis said.

“Two torpedoes are away,” Craig said.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “You’ve got to avoid those torpedoes.”

“I’ll do my best, sir,” Zimmer said.

“Craig,” Kelsoe said. “Fire aft quantum torpedoes. Don’t destroy the So’ja ships, just cripple them.”

“Aye, Captain,” Craig said.

“Quantum torpedoes away.”

“The Pioneer has fired two quantum torpedoes, sir,” a So’ja commander said.

The So’ja Captain looked at the view screen. He saw the torpedo shrivel around in the nebula cloud.

“Their blind in here,” the So’ja Captain said. “Cripple them. Aim for their warp engines.”

“Targeted, sir,” the So’ja commander said.

The So’ja Captain lifted his arm and tightened it into a fist.


“Quantum torpedoes not good,” Craig said. Craig scanned further. “Christ!”

“What!?” Burt said.

“Two torpedoes heading straight for us.”

“What happen to the other two?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I don’t know,” Craig said.

“Clearing nebula,” Braxis said.

The static on the view screen faded away, and they could now see space.

“Sensors working again,” Braxis said.

“Increase to full impulse power, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Evasive maneuvers!”

“Aye, Captain,” Zimmer said.

The Pioneer increased to full impulse with a few quick movements on the console. Zimmer veered the Pioneer away from the nebula.

“Sensors picking up the two other torpedoes, Captain Kelsoe,” Tuff said. “Scanning.” A pause while Tuff scanned. “Oh God. Their right beneath us!”

“Brace for collision!” Kelsoe said, falling into his chair.

“Hit the collision sirens!” Burt ordered.

The sirens started to screech and the lights on the bridge switched to red. Kelsoe gripped the arms of his chair. The two torpedoes swerved up towards the base of the Pioneer’s dish.

“Shields will prevent the torpedoes from hitting the ship,” Braxis said, “however the ship will buckle in the shockwave of the explosion.”

The torpedoes hit the shields and exploded. The Pioneer’s nose was pushed up and spun wildly back towards the nebula. Burt went flying through the air and hit his head against the wall. Zimmer held tightly onto the helm console. Craig and Tracy managed to remain at their stations. Craig scanning.

“Two more torpedoes!” Craig cried.

“Shields have gone down!” Tuff shouted.

“Brace for impact!” Kelsoe shouted.

The two torpedoes hit below the second deck, and the Pioneer went spinning the away from the nebula. Kelsoe was thrown from his seat and landed on the floor, near Braxis. Braxis was on the floor, too. Tuff grabbed Kelsoe’s arm and helped him up. Kelsoe made sure Braxis was alright and then turned towards the helm.

“Stabilize us, Mr. Zimmer!” Kelsoe ordered.

Zimmer pulled himself up off the floor and punched the console.

“Slowing to thruster power,” Zimmer said.

Using the thrusters Zimmer was able to stabilize the Pioneer. After seating himself, Kelsoe pressed the communication button next to the arm of his chair.

“Engineering?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Yes, Captain,” said Joanna.

“How are you all down there?” Kelsoe asked.

“We’re okay,” Joanna said.

“So’ja clearing the nebula!” Craig shouted. “Their firing torpedoes!”

“Can we go to warp?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Yes,” Joanna said.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “Maximum Warp. Now!”

“Aye, Captain,” Zimmer said.

Zimmer pressed the warp button on the console and the Pioneer peered softly and boomed into warp speed. The star streaked by. Kelsoe looked around the bridge and saw Burt laying unconscious on the floor. He got up out of his chair and dashed over to Burt. He pulled Burt up and looked at him. On the top of his head was blood. Kelsoe pressed in communicator.

“Bridge to Dr. McRoye,” Kelsoe said. “Get up here quickly!”

“The So’ja government has apologized for the incident,” Admiral Hayes said over the communication screen in Kelsoe’s ready room. “The So’ja ships that attacked you did not represent the So’ja government.”

“I gathered that much,” Kelsoe said, seating in his chair looking up at the screen. “We’ll reach Deep Space Five in two hours to drop off the crew of the Clark.”

“Ben,” Admiral Hayes said. “I must say that I am quite impressed with the way you’ve handle this.”

“Thank you, John,” Kelsoe said.

“Anything else, Captain?” Admiral Hayes inquired.

“Well I was impressed with Commander Tuff’s performance during the entire conflict, I was wondering if you could transfer him to the crew of the U.S.S. Pioneer as Security Officer.”

“Consider it down,” Admiral Hayes said. “Hayes out.”

The Federation symbol popped up on the screen. The door chimes sounded and Kelsoe looked up towards the door.

“Come in,” he said.

The door opened and Commander Tuff walked in.

“Captain,” Tuff said. “I was wondering if you’ll be requiring my assistance any longer?”

“I’ve talked with Admiral Hayes and he has agreed to assign you as Chief Security Officer of the Pioneer,” Kelsoe said.

Tuff smiled.

“Thank you, sir.”

The Pioneer was docked at Deep Space Five and Kelsoe had given the crew shore leave. Kelsoe stepped into the sickbay. Dr. McRoye greeted him.

“Captain,” McRoye said.

“How’s Connor?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Commander Burt’s fine, Captain,” McRoye said.

“My I speak with him?” Kelsoe asked.

“Yes,” McRoye said.

Kelsoe walked over to Burt’s bed. He stood beside Burt’s side. Burt opened his eyes and looked up at Kelsoe.

“Did we do it?” Burt inquired.

“Yes, we did it buddy,” Kelsoe responded. “We got away.”

Burt smiled.

“So’ja picked the wrong ship to miss with,” Burt said softly.

“That they did, Connor,” Kelsoe said. “That they did.”