written by Travis Cannon

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe was sitting on his couch in his ready room, attempting to read a book that Dr. Chase Braga had suggested. But Kelsoe was finding it difficult to read. He was only three pages in, and he was not sure he could ready the entire book. He found the content dual and for a lack of a better term, boring. He flipped through the pages, and then looked at the cover. The Passage from Dawn by Melvin Braga. Kelsoe found it odd that the second Braga son had went into literature, considering the fact that the book was really not that good. However, Kelsoe had agreed to read it, and Braga would probably want to talk about it sometime. Just the same, Kelsoe was longing for some sort of emergency to drag him away from the book.

Kelsoe looked down at the book and read the next line. He said, “Be careful what you wish for.” Indeed, Kelsoe thought.

And just then the communication system beeped on.

“Captain to the bridge,” came Burt’s voice.

“Thank God!” Kelsoe said, quickly closing the book. He placed it down on the couch and stood up, straightened his uniform and headed for the door. He stepped onto the bridge.

“What do you got?”

Burt was standing. He turned, and looked up at Kelsoe.

“Hard to tell, right now, sir,” Burt said. “It would seem that we are getting a distress call.”

“Where from?” Kelsoe inquired.

“According to our sensors,” Craig said, from his station, “the distress transmission originated from somewhere close to the great rift.”

Kelsoe stepped up to Craig’s station.

“Can you identify the frequency?” Kelsoe inquired.

“One minute, sir,” Craig said. “Ah, yes! It’s a Federation signal.”

“Federation?” Kelsoe said.

“Yes,” Craig said.

Kelsoe turned to Ensign Tracy Carson.

“Can you open a channel?” Kelsoe asked.

Tracy turned to her station, and pressed several buttons.

“Negative, sir,” Tracy said. “There doesn’t seem to be anything there.”

“Sensors?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I have to concur with Tracy’s results, Captain,” Craig said. “I’m not picking up anything in that general location.”

“Sir,” Tracy asked. “If I may?”

“Sure, go ahead Tracy,” Kelsoe said.

“I think we should be more concerned with when,” Tracy said.

“Explain?” Kelsoe inquired, crossing his arms around his chest.

“Well,” Tracy explained. “According to the data that I’m receiving this Federation frequency has not been used since the Dominion Wars.”

Kelsoe’s eyes - as while as everyone there, except Braxis - opened wide.

“Are you able to tell what ship held that frequency?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I’ll try,” Tracy said, turning back to her station. On the small monitor next to her station, the frequency wave appeared. In bounced around there for a while and then the computer beeped and a named popped up. “The U.S.S. Vulture, sir.”

“The Vulture?” Tuff said.

They all turned and looked at Commander Tuff.

“Sir,” Tuff said. “The U.S.S. Vulture went missing during the Dominion Wars. She was commanded by Captain Victor Mandrake.”

“Mandrake, you say?” Kelsoe said, rubbing his chin. “He had radical tactics, if I’m not mistaken.”

“Yes,” Tuff said. “I served with him for a while, during the war, before I was reassigned to the Clark. He used... um... extreme methods to kill the enemy, sir. For him the war would never end.”

“I remember Mandrake,” Kelsoe said. “I believed I met him once at HQ. Not a very friendly man.”

“He was a man of a different era, sir,” Tuff said.

Kelsoe stepped down to the center of the bridge.

“If there is a Federation ship out there,” Kelsoe said. “I want to make sure that we find her before the Kai Imperium, or the So’ja. I want that ship found!”

Within half a hour Craig and Tracy had found the location of the Vulture. Kelsoe sat in his chair, as he watched the stars stream by, while the Pioneer was in warp. Kelsoe only wished that they were not too late. From earlier sensor readings, Tuff was predicting that the defiant class ship was under attack by a Kai scout ship, which thankfully is equivalent to a standard Starfleet shuttle craft.

“Nearing the coordinates, sir,” Ensign Eric Zimmer said.

“Go to red alert,” Burt said. “Ready weapons.”

The bridge light lowered and the tactical alert lights turned on, bathing the bridge crew in red. Kelsoe lean forward.

“On screen, Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said.

“Aye, sir,” Zimmer said.

The screen flashed and Kelsoe say the badly beaten up defiant class ship. A small yellowish pointy ship was maneuvering around the Vulture firing random charges. Kelsoe stood up.

“Tracy, hail the Kai scout ship,” Kelsoe said.

“Channel opened,” Tracy said, after a flick of a bottom.”

“This is the Federation starship Pioneer to the Kai Imperium scout vessel,” Kelsoe said. “Stand down!”

Kelsoe waited for a response.

“They’re not responding, sir,” Tracy said.

Kelsoe rolled his eyes in frustration. He turned around and looked up at Tuff.

“So them we mean business,” Kelsoe ordered.

“Aye, sir,” Tuff said. “Firing phasers.”

Phaser beams shot out and hit the weapon systems of the small scout vessel.

“Direct hit,” Tuff said. “Weapons systems disabled.”

“Nice, shooting,” Burt said, with a grin.

“They’re retreating back into the rift, sir,” Zimmer said.

Kelsoe looked back towards the screen and watched as the craft disappeared in the thick dust cloud that was the great rift. The Vulture has stopped and was now hovering below the dish section of the Pioneer.

“Sir,” Tracy said. “The Vulture is hailing us.”

Kelsoe gave a small smile as he said, “Open a channel.”

The main view screen filled with black and white static, which soon subsided and Kelsoe met the face of Captain Victor Mandrake. It was long, harden face. His chin, cheeks and neck were covered in dark wholly hair. His eyes were hard and unreadable, but for a moment, Kelsoe thought he saw a gleamer of happiness. He had greasy dark brown hair that extend down to his shoulder. His uniform was ripped and had spots of blood and dirt on it. But other than that he was a live and well.

“Captain Mandrake, I presume,” Kelsoe said.

“You presume correctly,” Mandrake said. “If you don’t mind me skipping the formalities, I was wonder if my crew and myself could beam aboard, and... um... uses your restrooms. I would very much light to shave and take a shower. And some food wouldn’t hurt.”

“That would be fine,” Kelsoe said. “And, if it’s not to much trouble, I’d like all of you to visit sickbay.”

“I hate doctors, but I see your point, Captain...?” Mandrake said.

“Captain Benjamin Kelsoe,” Kelsoe said.

“Well, Captain Kelsoe,” Mandrake said. “Well be standing by. Mandrake out.”

And with that Mandrake terminated the transmission. Kelsoe turned and looked at Burt.

“Chatty, isn’t he?” Burt said sarcastically.

Captain Kelsoe sat in the mess hall, waiting for Captain Victor Mandrake to join him. Along side Kelsoe sat Commander Connor Burt. This was going to be an awkward meeting. Captain Mandrake and his crew had been missing for five years, and most of the people they knew and loved had moved on. And some had passed away. It fell to Captain Kelsoe to tell Mandrake about his own loss.

The doors hissed opened and Captain Mandrake stepped into the mass hall. Mandrake looked entirely different. He was clean shaven, with a small mustache left, and his hair had been cut short, but it was still greasy, and slicked back. He was wearing a fresh uniform which they had provided. Altogether he looked much much better.

Kelsoe and Commander Burt stood up so that Mandrake could see them. Mandrake walked among the enlisted crewmen until he arrived at their table. He sat down.

“Thank you, Captain,” Mandrake said. “You have been quite generous.”

“It is nothing,” Kelsoe said. “After all, we are all Starfleet here.”

“That is true,” Mandrake smiled. He hadn’t smiled in a long time, and it showed.

Burt replicated something for Mandrake to eat. Mandrake thanked him and began eating.

“What happened?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Well, I can tell you one thing,” Mandrake said. “It wasn’t those bastard Vorta and their Jem’Hadar.”

“Then who was it?” Kelsoe asked.

“I don’t know much about them,” Mandrake said. “Except that they called themselves the Tealuians.”

“The Tealuians?” Kelsoe said.

“Damn,” Burt said, looking at Kelsoe, and then back at Mandrake. “This just seems to be the year of the sticks.”

“It sounds like you’ve met these Tealuians before?” Mandrake said.

“Yes, we have,” Kelsoe explained. “They kidnapped Commander Burt, Lieutenant Craig and Ensign Tracy, for their ‘zoo’. Then we found them sneaky around aboard our ship conducting experiments on the crew. Tell me, do you remember the name of the Tealuian who spoke with you?”

“Yes,” Mandrake said. “I could never forget it, not after what he did to us. It was Xojo.”

“Xojo!?” Burt exclaimed. “Why that sick son of a...”

“We know him,” Kelsoe cut Burt off. “He’s the one that is interested in us. Well, humans to be more precise.”

“So you have the location of their home world in your computer?” Mandrake inquired.

“Uh, yeah,” Burt nodded, looking at Kelsoe questioningly.

“Look, Captain Mandrake,” Kelsoe said. “I need to tell you something. After we found you, I had my communication officer contact Starfleet. I have some bad new for you.”

“What?” Mandrake said, his eyes become wider.

“Its about your wife,” Kelsoe said. “She’s dead.”

Mandrake lowered his head, to cover his eyes. The pain was hard to bear, Kelsoe could see that. He moved his hand over to Mandrake’s shoulder.

“I know how you feel,” Kelsoe said.

“How could you possible know how I feel!?” Mandrake inquired.

“Because I lost my wife, too,” Kelsoe said.

Mandrake looked up, his eyes watery. “You, too?” Mandrake said.

“Yes,” Kelsoe nodded. “It’s almost been six years, and sometimes I still find that is hard.”

“We’ll never get over it,” Mandrake said. “Everyone says that you’ll get over it, but you won’t. It’s a lie, like almost everything that you are told when you are young. Time is not kind... five years! Five god damn years without any support or help! And all because of those rotten no good Tealuians.”

“Calm down,” Kelsoe said, trying to stay calm himself. He had the same feelings about the Tealuians, but he was not willing to start war over those feelings. “Look, have you seen Dr. Braga yet?”

Mandrake chuckled. “No, not yet,” he said. “As I said before, I hate sickbays, but I’ll go.”

Mandrake got up, his hands shaking. Burt stood up.

“Would you like it if I showed you the way?” Burt inquired.

“No, no,” Mandrake said, waving his hand. “That’s okay. I can find my own way.”

Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome stood in the center of engineering, with Lieutenant Harrison Gregg standing next to her. She was looking down at a data pad with a list of supplies.

  “All right,” Joanna said, turning to Gregg. “The Captain’s ordered us to assist in repairing the Vulture. We’re going to need all this.”

Joanna handed the data pad to Gregg. Gregg took it and gave the list a cursory glance.

“I think we can manage all this, Lt. Commander,” Gregg said. “I’ll get started. “Winowski, Janns!”

Both Winowski and Janns appeared and Gregg began to give them orders. Joanna turned to see Kavoc approaching with a crew member of the Vulture.

“Lt. Commander, “Kavoc said, gesturing towards the person standing next to him. “This is the Vulture’s Chief of Engineering, Lieutenant...”

“Yes, I know,” Joanna interrupted, smiling. “Carmen Gomez.”

The black haired Lieutenant smiled. Joanna and Carmen hugged. Kavoc raised his right eyebrow.

“You two know each other?” Kavoc inquired.

“Yes?” Joanna said. “Carmen and I were good friends back at the Academy.”

“Indeed,” Kavoc said. “Should I assist Lieutenant Gregg is prepare our supplies.”

Joanna looked at Kavoc and nodded, “Sure, Ensign.”

“Very well, Lt. Commander,” Kavoc nodded, and stepped over to join Gregg.

Carmen Gomez stepped back and looked at Joanna. She smiled. “Lieutenant Commander, huh?”

“Yes,” Joanna said. “I’m sure if you guys hadn’t been lost, you would be Lieutenant Commander, now too.”

“I don’t know about that,” Gomez said. “You were always the smarter one.”

“I didn’t know that you were the Chief Engineer aboard the Vulture,” Joanna said.

“I wasn’t,” Gomez said. “I wasn’t even supposed to be aboard. I was still a cadet back then. But when we got lost, Captain Mandrake promoted me to ensign and assigned me to engineering, where I eventually became Chief of Engineering.”

“How’d that happen?” Joanna inquired.

“Let’s just say that not everyone survived,” Gomez said. “It’s been a hard five years, but I’ll glade its over with and we can return to Earth.”

Gomez turned and looked at the warp core.

“Wow!” Gomez said. “Boy, we’ve sure missed out on some technological breakthroughs.”

“Yeah, I guess you have,” Joanna said, coming along side Gomez and crossing her arms over her chest. “The fleet is working on building a new quantum slip stream drive.”

“How does that work?” Gomez inquired.

“Well, let’s just say, that with a slip stream drive, we can almost go as fast as the Borg,” Joanna said.

“Wow, that is fast,” Gomez said. “I’m probably going to have to go back and study all the new ship upgrades before returning to duty.”

“Not all the ship upgrades are that sufficient,” Joanna said. “Most are rather minor.” Joanna looked over at Kavoc and Gregg. “Should we help them?”

“Sure,” Gomez said.

Joanna and Carmen Gomez walked over to take charge.

Carmen Gomez entered the dark hallways of the Vulture, followed by Lt. Commander Joanna Withrome and the repair team, consisting of Ensign Kavoc, Crewman Elizabeth Janns, Crewman Kyle Winowski, and Crewman - second class - Jake Phillips. As Gomez lead the way down the hallway, Kavoc took scans of the ship, remarking on certain areas which needed repairing. As Kavoc reported each structural damage, one of the repair team would stop, and kneel down to open the repair kit and begin repairs. Soon Kavoc was the last one remaining, so at the next repair site, Kavoc placed his repair kit down and began repairs, while Joanna continued to follow Gomez to engineering.

Engineering was cool and dark. The only lights came from the fragmented consoles and the bluish glow of the warp core. Gomez stepped over some broken coils and walls, as she entered. Joanna followed, steadily.

“What happened in here?” Joanna inquired.

“It’s gotten worst with wear,” Gomez said, talking about the ship. “But not like her captain.”

Gomez pushed some debris off of one console and leaned over it. She began to punch in commands. Behind her Joanna watched, with narrow eyes.

“What do you mean?” Joanna asked, questioningly.


“About the captain?” Joanna said, narrowing her eyes a little more.

Gomez stopped punching in commands on the console and signed. Without turning to look back at Joanna, she answered:

“Captain Mandrake didn’t take to kindly to the Tealuians,” Gomez responded. “In fact, being stuck out here without any word from Starfleet has short of made him unbalanced - but that’s to be expected.”

“Uh huh,” Joanna replied, being to unpack her repair kit.

Gomez stopped what she was doing and turned around.

“He’s not a Janeway,” Gomez said. “He’s not an explorer. Ugh! He’s just from a different era.”

Joanna stepped over to a broken conduit and held up a device to it. It hummed as it began its work. She looked over her shoulder at Gomez.

“He’s a warrior?” Joanna responded.

“Yes,” Gomez said. She slouched against the edge of the console. “He just say the Tealuians as another Dominion. Said, ‘they are more evil than the Borg.’ Personally, I think he just needs someone to call an enemy. He can’t survive in peace time.”

“Well, we’re not really in peace time, right now,” Joanna said. “Not necessarily.” She set down the device in her hands and picked up another, and began using it. “We’ve got the So’ja, the Tealuians, and not to mention our dealings with the Kai Imperium.”

“The doctor informed me that Admiral Hayes is not larger the Starfleet Commander, is this true?” Gomez inquired.

“Yes,” Joanna nodded, pausing from her work. “He died during the first field test of the new Cosmos Class ships - those are the ones being equipped with quantum slip stream drives.”

“Oh,” Gomez said. “We’ve missed out on so much. Who’s the new Starfleet Command?”

“Admiral Anton,” Joanna said, resuming her work. “Captain Kelsoe really likes him. The captain was part of the team that selected Anton.”

“I wonder if Captain Mandrake would have been one of the captains that Starfleet brought in?” Gomez pondered.

Joanna shrugged. “What do you think?” Joanna inquired.

Gomez turned around and looked down at the console. “I don’t think so.” Gomez continued to work at the console.

“You have some mild skin burns, and there is some evidence of a concussion,” Braga said, holding up the medical tricorder to Mandrake’s head. “Other than that, you appear to be fine.”

Braga set down the tricorder and picked up a hypospray. “I’m going to give you a dose of neural stimulants to help repair whatever damage the concussion might have caused. “Your skin had already repaired most of you tissue damage.”

Mandrake nodded. “Get it over with, Doc.”

Braga picked up the hypospray and programed it. He place the head on the side of Mandrake’s neck and injected the neural stimulants. With a hiss, it was down. Braga pulled the hypospray away and set it down. Mandrake arched his neck and rubbed the area that the hypospray had touched. As he was doing so, the doors opened and Commander Spencer Sterling stepped in. Braga excused Mandrake and stepped over to another table, where another Vulture crewman was.

Sterling stepped over to Mandrake.

“Report, Spencer,” Mandrake said, continuing to rub his neck.

“The majority of our crew is aboard the Pioneer, sir,” Sterling reported. “Repairs on the Vulture are underway. There are about twenty Pioneer crewmen aboard the Vulture. Sir, Kelsoe’s assigned security guards by the entrances of all crucial room, including transporters.”

“Kelsoe does not trust us,” Mandrake said. He lowered his voice. “Do you know how lucky we’ve been about finding this ship.”

“Captain?” Sterling inquired.

“Kelsoe has good reason not to trust us,” Mandrake said, still with his voice lowered. “We can take this ship, and we must. Now we can have those bastards pay for what they have done to us.”

“But, sir,” Sterling protested. “We’ve been found by another Federation ship. And Earth is not that far away.”

“The Tealuians are the enemy,” Mandrake said. “We are at war.”

“But, sir, what about Starfleet regulations?” Sterling inquired. “We have received no word from Starfleet Command on the current relations between the Tealuians and the Federation.”

“To hell with regulations, Spencer,” Mandrake hissed. “If we are going to do this, I’m going to need my crew.”

Sterling coughed, he felt a little uncomfortable talking about this in sickbay with Pioneer crewmen present. His eyes glanced from right to left. He lowered his voice and whispered, “I believe I can speak for the entire crew. We’re with you, sir.”

Mandrake smiled and patted Sterling on the shoulder. “Good.”

Captain Victor Mandrake stood in by the window in the quarters that Captain Kelsoe had assigned for him. He had the computer play some music: Beethoven, Moonlight. His favor piece of classical music. In his opinion the most emotional piece ever written. He stared out at the stars and thought of the many battles he had been in. The one soon to come would be a first - versus fellow Starfleet officers. Among the chords of Beethoven’s Moonlight, a chirping sound began. It was the door.

“Come,” Mandrake said.

The door hissed opened and Commander Sterling and Lieutenant Carmen Gomez stepped in. Mandrake turned and smiled at her.

“Good of you to come, Carmen,” Mandrake said. “Computer, end music.”

The music stopped. They was engulfed in silence. Mandrake looked across the room at his Chief of Engineering. He placed his hands behind his back and began pacing the room, in a linear pattern.

“Do you know why I have asked you here, Lieutenant?” Mandrake inquired.

Gomez shifted her weight from foot to foot. She looked down at the floor and then back up at Mandrake.

“Yes, sir,” Gomez said.

“Good,” Mandrake said, stopping right in front of her. “Now, I’m going to need you’re complete cooperation on this. I’m going to be able to know that my Chief of Engineering’s going to do her job.”

“You have it, sir,” Gomez said.

“And what about your friend, Miss Withrome?” Mandrake inquired.

Gomez shifted her weight. She glanced over and saw that Sterling was judging her with his eyes, scrutinizing her every move. She looked back up at Mandrake.

“My loyalty is to my ship,” Gomez said. “And Captain.”

“Right,” Mandrake nodded. “You have learned from the examples, unlike some others.” He paused. “Await further instructions from Commander Sterling.” He raised his hand and waved it in the air. “You may go now.”

Gomez turned on her heals and left the room. When the doors had hissed closed, Mandrake turned to Sterling.

“Well, Spencer?” Mandrake inquired. “Do you think she will chock?”

Spencer shook his head, and narrowed his head. “Hard to say, sir,” he said. “But I did notice some reluctance about betraying her friend.”

“Yes,” Mandrake nodded. “I noticed that to. But you think she will remain loyal?”

“Yes,” Sterling nodded. “She hates the Tealuians as much as anyone on our ship.”

“That’s right,” Mandrake said. “Starfleet be damned.”

“Yes, sir!” Sterling said.

Eyes glaring with hatred, Mandrake raised his hand and clenched it in a fist and said, “It’s time for revenge!”

Captain Benjamin Kelsoe sat on the bridge. He turned and looked up at Lieutenant Craig.

“Status?” Kelsoe inquired.

Craig looked down at his station.

“All repairs on the Vulture have been completed,” Craig said. “The repair teams are transporting back as we speak.”

“Good work,” Kelsoe said, he turned to Burt. “I think that’s a record.”

Burt nodded. Kelsoe smiled and tapped his commbadge.

“Captain Mandrake, this is Captain Kelsoe,” Kelsoe said.

No response.

“Captain Mandrake?” Kelsoe said. “Respond.”

Kelsoe lowered his eyebrows.

“Tracy?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Captain Mandrake’s commbadge signal cannot be found,” Tracy reported.

Burt turned and looked at the view screen, which showed the Vulture.

“Could he be aboard the Vulture?” Burt inquired.

“Negative,” Tuff said, from his station.

Kelsoe stood up.

“This is peculiar,” Kelsoe said, rubbing the back of his head. “Rob, check in with your security teams.”

“Aye, Captain,” Tuff said.

Braxis stepped down into the center of the bridge.

“Captain,” Braxis said. “I believe something has happened.”

“To Mandrake?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Not exactly, Captain,” Braxis responded. “I believe that Captain Mandrake is unstable. According to Dr. Braga’s scans, Mandrake had received a concussion during their voyage. From my analysis of that scan, it appears that the concussion has made him unbalanced.”

“Sir!” Tuff cried.

Both Kelsoe and Braxis turned to looked at Tuff.

“Team Echo isn’t responding,” Tuff said.

“Where is team echo located?” Kelsoe inquired.

“The armory, sir,” Tuff said.

Burt stood, too, and tapped his commbadge.

“Quartermaster Bees,” Burt said. “Respond.”

No response followed. Burt turned to Kelsoe.

“We’ve got problems,” Burt said.

Kelsoe quickly jogged up to the security station.

“Quickly, Rob,” Kelsoe said. “Lock out the bridge.”

“I’m already doing that,” Tuff said.

“Mr. Zimmer, get the emergency phasers from the conference room,” Kelsoe said.

“Right away, sir,” Zimmer said, running for the conference room.

“Getting reports of weapons fire on decks five through eight,” Tuff said. “I’m sending additional security teams to deck four. We might not be able to take back deck five, but we can hold them off.”

“Good thinking,” Kelsoe said.

“Sir,” Craig said from his station. “Someone is trying to reroute helm and computer control to Engineering.”

“Braxis, quickly lock out the main computer!” Kelsoe ordered.

Braxis dashed over to his station and quickly fingered the control panel. On the monitor white text appeared: a kind of binary code. Within minutes half of the binary code turned red.

“I’ve isolated the main computer,” Braxis said. “It is highly unlikely that they will be able to break the password.”

“Good job,” Kelsoe said.

Suddenly the turbo-lift door opened and ten Vulture crewmen ran in with Captain Mandrake behind them. All of them had compression rifles. Kelsoe noticed that Zimmer almost stepped back into the room, but quickly ducked back into the conference room. The Vulture crewmen quickly overwhelmed them, since they had nothing to defend themselves with.

Mandrake stepped forward holding his compression rifle in attack mode. He stepped over to Kelsoe.

“Order your science officer to give us command of the main computer,” Mandrake snarled.

“I cannot do that, Victor,” Kelsoe said.

“Fine,” Mandrake said. “Have it your way.”

Mandrake turned to one of his crewmen and nodded. The crewmen lifted aimed the compression rifle at the navigation officer and figured. With a red flare and horrifying cry the navigation officer was vaporized. Kelsoe stumbled backwards.

“My God,” Kelsoe chocked. “You’ve killed a Starfleet officer. What have you done? What have you done?”

“I did it, Captain,” Mandrake said, “by not complying to my orders. Don’t worry, I will repeat it. Order your science officer to give us command of the main computer.”

Kelsoe nodded.

“Braxis,” he said.

“But Captain?” Braxis protested.

“Do it, Braxis!” Kelsoe commanded.

Braxis nodded, and lowered his hands to the control panel. Within seconds the red text turned white. Mandrake exhaled, with an undertone of happiness.

“Ah... good,” Mandrake said, relaxing and lowering his compression rifle. “You can win them all, Kelsoe.”

He gave Kelsoe a nasty smirk and then turned to another one of his crewmen.

“Ensign, I want the entire senior staff in the brig,” Mandrake said. “Place the rest of the crew in one of the cargo bays. And make sure that there is not way to escape.”

“Yes, sir,” the crewman said. “Come on!”

The bridge crew was forced out. Mandrake gave one last smile and wave to Kelsoe, before taking the captain’s chair. Before the turbo-lift doors closed, Kelsoe heard Mandrake give an order.

“Set a course for Tealu,” Mandrake barked. “Maximum warp.”

The senior staff stood in brig on deck five. The force field hummed and shimmered blue. Kelsoe, Burt, Braxis and Tuff stood in the corner of the room talking. Occasionally they would look over their shoulders at the guard.

“Where’s Zimmer?” Burt inquired.

“He was still in the conference room when Mandrake took over the bridge,” Kelsoe said.

“Let us hope that he evaded capture,” Braxis said, with a slight optimistic tone. “However it is highly unlikely that we will be able to contact him.”

“We have to get out of here somehow,” Kelsoe said.

“Yeah,” Burt nodded. “Is there anyway to bypass the force field?”

“Not that I am aware of,” Tuff said. “The brig is designed to be inescapable.”

“Didn’t Starfleet Engineering’s every think of a situation where the prisoners were the senior staff?” Burt inquired.

“Obversely not,” Braxis responded.

“We’ll we’ve got to think of something,” Kelsoe said.

“I concur,” Braxis said. “By my calculations, we shall arrive at Tealu in less than twenty minutes.”

“That’s not giving us much time,” Kelsoe said.

“I wonder what Zimmer’s up to right now?” Burt pondered.

Ensign Eric Zimmer sat in the conference room floor. He had heard Mandrake and his crewmen take over the bridge. Zimmer sat back. He dropped the phasers on the floor, but kept one for himself. As quietly as possible, he tiptoed over to a square hatch on the side of the wall. He pressed the console next to it, and with a hiss the hatch unlock. Zimmer reached up and opened the hatched. He then crawled into the Jefferies tubes.

Zimmer crawled on all fours, until he reached a junction that had a hatch on the floor that went vertically down the ship. Zimmer stepped down from the Jefferies tube and stepped over to the hatch. He heard a hum, spun around and fired his phaser. A Vulture crewman with a compression rifle collapsed onto the floor. The hatch behind him closed. Zimmer exhaled slowly.

“That was close,” he said to himself.

He turned towards the hatch on the floor, pressed the console, and it buzzed. The hatch opened revealing another junction. Zimmer climbed down the ladder, and continued to make his way down the Jefferies tubes.

Kelsoe stood, leaning against the wall, in the brig. The Vulture crewman was the only guard. Occasionally another would come in for a status report. Braxis had placed himself closer to the entrance of the brig so that he could listen in on the crewmen’s conversation. Presently, Braxis was walking back to Kelsoe, to give him a  report. Commander Robert Tuff stood next to Kelsoe.

“What are they saying?” Kelsoe asked.

“We’ll be arriving at Tealu in less than five minutes,” Braxis said. “If we are to strike back, it must be now.”

“Fine,” Kelsoe nodded. “Any ideas.”

“None, sir,” Tuff shook his head. “There is nothing we can do to get out of this cell. I’ve thought of everything.”

“Wait!” Kelsoe said, in a hushed voiced. “Will the computer still except my commands?”

Braxis lowered his eyebrows.

“It is possible, sir, if Mandrake’s people haven’t disabled your command codes,” Braxis said.

Kelsoe turned to Tuff.

“Would the computer lower the force field?” Kelsoe inquired.

“I’ll have to agree with Commander Braxis,” Tuff said. “Your command codes would have to still be active.”

Burt stepped over.

“Any ideas yet?” he inquired.

“We’ve got one,” Kelsoe said. “It’ll give us the advantage of surprise. We’ll have to quickly overwhelm the guard and seal the brig door. We can then probably run main control through that station.” Kelsoe pointed to the station, that the guard stood behind.

“I know where the emergency phasers are in this room,” Tuff said. “We’ll be able to be armed.”

“Good,” Kelsoe said. “Now we’ve got one shot at this, let’s make it count.”

Burt and Tuff went over to the others and told them the plan. Burt looked back at Kelsoe and gave him a wink. Kelsoe stepped up to the force field. He touched it. The force field buzzed and became brighter for a second. It had felt like a thousand little knives stabbing his fingers. The guard had looked up when Kelsoe did this. Kelsoe raised his hand, and waved the guard over. The guard nervously looked around and stepped slowly around the station. He raised his compression rifle as he came over. Soon he was just a couple inches away from the force field.

“What is it, Captain Kelsoe?” the guard inquired.

“Computer, this Captain Kelsoe,” Kelsoe said. “Deactivate force field.”

With a quick buzz noise the force field was deactivated. With no warning Kelsoe launched himself at the guard. Within minutes, Kelsoe had over powered the guard. Tuff quickly made his way over to the control station, and locked down the brig.

“The door’s sealed,” Tuff reported.

“Good!” Kelsoe said, standing up, pulling the guard up with him.

Craig and Braga grabbed the guard and threw him into the cell. Tuff activated the force field from the control station.

“Joanna,” Kelsoe said turning to her. “Do you think you can open a coded channel to Zimmer from that station?”

Joanna shook her head.

“I don’t know,” Joanna said. “But I’ll try.”

Tuff stepped back and let Joanna work. Tuff stepped over to the compression rifle on the floor and picked it up. As Joanna worked on the console, Tuff went to the emergency phasers and began handing them out. Kelsoe stepped along side Joanna, and watched her work.

Zimmer was crawling through a horizontal Jefferies tube when his commbadge chirped. He froze immediately and looked around to make sure that there was now Vulture crewmen in sight. He tapped his commbadge.

“Zimmer,” he said.

“Mr. Zimmer,” Kelsoe said. “It’s Captain Kelsoe.”

“Ah,” Zimmer said, relaxing. “It’s good to hear your voice, sir.”

“Same here,” Kelsoe said. “Look, we’ve managed to escape the brig, and we’ve got the door sealed, but we’re going to need some compression rifles to get out of here.”

Zimmer took a look around.

“I’m a deck above the armory,” Zimmer said. “I can probably take down whatever guards they’ve got posted there. The Vulture crew all seems to be tired and worn out.”

“I’ve noticed,” Kelsoe said. “Be careful, Mr. Zimmer.”

“Don’t worry, sir,” Zimmer said. “I will be.”

Captain Victor Mandrake sat in the captain’s chair of the U.S.S. Pioneer. He shifted his weight in the chair. He looked over at Commander Sterling, who was operating Operations.

“Soon, I shall have my revenge,” Mandrake said.

“Don’t you mean we, we shall have our revenge?” Sterling inquired.

“Yes!” Mandrake snapped. “Of course.”

A beep came from Sterling’s console.

“What is it?” Mandrake inquired.

“Captain Kelsoe and his senior staff have escape from the brig,” Sterling said. “They’ve sealed the door.”

“Send a team to assist,” Mandrake said. “Send the team guarding the armory, no one can get to that right now.”

“Aye, sir,” Sterling said, tapping his commbadge and sending the team.

“Approaching Tealu,” the pilot.

“Drop out of warp,” Mandrake said. “And hail them.”

The Pioneer dropped out of warp, and on the view screen the planet of Tealu could be seen. Mandrake leaned forward.

“Their home world,” he snarled. “Soon, it well be in ruins. Open a channel.”

“Aye, sir,” a crewman said. “Their responding.”

The view screen blinked to show the long next and head of the Tealuian Prime Minister.

“Captain Kel...,” Prime Minister Xalen stopped in the middle of his sentence. “Who are you? Where is Captain Kelsoe?”

“Captain Kelsoe is detained,” Mandrake said. “And you should know who I am, you Tealuian scum. Your people adopted my ship and crew here. I know Xojo was acting under your orders. Your whole people are scum.”

“Now what a minute!” Xalen said. “My people are not scum! And Xojo is not one to be trusted. He has broken our laws and has been banished from Tealu.”

“Sorry, Prime Minister,” Mandrake said, “but nothing you can do or say will not change the fact that my ship, my entire life was ruined by your people.” Mandrake turned to a crewman. “End transmission.”

The transmission was terminated, the view screen went back to the image of Tealu. Mandrake turned to Sterling.

“Spencer,” Mandrake said slowly. “Target their capital city, and fire!”

“Uh, sir?” Sterling said.

“What?!” Mandrake snapped.

“I’m not reading any surface cities,” Sterling said.

Mandrake stood up.

“What?!” Mandrake said. “That’s impossible.”

“See for yourself,” Sterling said, stepping aside.

Mandrake stepped up to the Ops station, and looked down at the readings. He looked back up at the image of the planet.

“Unbelievable,” Mandrake said.

“Sir!” the pilot cried. “Picking up two Tealuians battle cruisers.”

“All right,” Mandrake said, stepping down into the center of the bridge. “Let’s so this Tealuians that they don’t mess with Starfleet. Fire photon torpedoes, full spread!”

There was a knock from the wall.

“What’s that?” Braga inquired.

Tuff turned around and pointed at a hatch. “It must be Ensign Zimmer.”

Tuff stepped over and unlocked the hatched. Zimmer slide out of the Jefferies tube onto the floor with a compression rifle for each of them. Now Tuff had two, which he liked. Burt helped Zimmer up.

“Did you encounter any resistance, Mr. Zimmer?” Kelsoe inquired, as he cocked his compression rifle.

“No, sir,” Zimmer said. “Just when I was about to sneak attack, the team guarding the armory was called away.”

“They were probably told that there was an uprising,” Burt said with a smile and a wink.

“All right,” Kelsoe said. “We’re closer to engineering. We should be able to reroute main control from there.”

“Connor, Braxis, Chase, Norm, and Tracy,” Kelsoe said. “I want you five to go and free the rest of the crew. Get them armed, and let’s take back the ship. The rest of you will come to engineering with me.”

The all nodded.

“Doc, Craig, Carson, and Brax with me then,” Burt said.

Kelsoe turned to Burt.

“Connor, make sure you don’t kill any of Mandrake’s people,” Kelsoe said. “We are not going to sink to his level.”

“Yes, Captain,” Burt said. “Will do.”

“All right,” Kelsoe said. “Let’s do it.”

The team from the armory was just rounding the corner to the brig, when they heard phaser blasts. They quickly quicken their pace. Captain Kelsoe and his senior staff had made it through their defenses. The team raised there compression rifles as Kelsoe and a group of his senior staff came in their direction. However their vision was blurry, and with each shot they missed.

Tuff was the first to fire. With his two compression rifles, one in each hand, he took down two of the armory team. Zimmer and Joanna took out the third. And Captain Kelsoe took out the last one. Kelsoe stepped forward and leaned down to check their pulse.

“Still alive,” Kelsoe said. “Let’s move on.”

Two Vulture crewmen stood in the turbo-lift. It was humming and buzzing as it took its course through the Pioneer. The doors opened and the crewmen were confronted by Dr. Braga, who was armed with a hypospray. Braga was swift and soon both crewmen were unconscious. Burt, Craig and Tracy came in. Burt looked down and then back at up at Braga.

“Hey,” Burt said. “Nice job, Doc.”

“A doctors weapon, a hypospray,” Braga said with a smile, as the turbo-lift doors closed.

Lieutenant Carmen Gomez was looking over a console in front of the warp core, when she heard a crewman gasp. She turned and saw the doors opening. She raised her phaser, but then lowered in when she saw Joanna stepped into the room. Joanna was followed by Captain Kelsoe, Commander Tuff and Ensign Zimmer. They quickly overwhelmed the Vulture crew stationed in engineering.

Joanna stepped over to Gomez, with her compression rifle raised.

“Why, Carmen? Why?” Joanna inquired.

“I was following orders,” Gomez said. “Those Tealuians needed to pay for what they did to us. Captain Mandrake said so.”

“I thought you told me that Captain Mandrake was unstable?” Joanna said.

“Joanna,” Kelsoe said. “We need you to reroute control here.”

“I’ll take this one into custody,” Tuff said, moving forward.

Joanna stood her ground, she held out her arm to halt Tuff.

“No, wait,” Joanna said. Joanna had noticed something in her old friend’s expression.

She lowered her compression rifle.

“Tell me, Carmen,” Joanna said. “Tell me what happened? What really happened?”

Kelsoe watched in wide eyes.

“When we became lost from Starfleet,” Gomez said. “Captain Mandrake began using extreme methods. Most of our crew didn’t agree with what he was doing to get us home. So we tried to mutiny, but Commander Sterling wouldn’t join us. In fact he turned on us, told Mandrake, who then ordered the execution of our leaders. He told us that they would be an example to us.”

“An example!” Kelsoe said.

“Step aside, Lt. Commander,” Tuff said. “I need to take her into custody.”

“No, Rob,” Kelsoe said. “Didn’t you hear. Mandrake’s been holding death over these people.” Kelsoe turned to Gomez. “You want to help us?”

“Yes,” Gomez nodded. “I don’t want to murder those innocent Tealuians.”

“All right,” Kelsoe said. “Help Joanna with get main control down here.”

“Aye, sir,” Gomez said, with a smile. It had been a long time since she could really smile, and it showed, but still she worked with a new fever of freedom.

Joanna and Gomez punched the console rapidly.

“Sir,” Joanna said. “We’ve got main control.”

“Reading two Tealuian vessels,” Gomez said.

“Hail the lead ship,” Kelsoe said.

Gomez pressed a button. On a small monitor in one of the engineering stations, a Tealuian face appeared. It was Prime Minister Xalen.

“Captain Kelsoe!” Xalen said in a joyous voice.

“Prime Minister,” Kelsoe said. “Look, I’m sorry about this, but Captain Mandrake does not speak for Starfleet or the Federation.”

“I understand, but we need to stop him, or he will kill me people,” Xalen said.

“If we lower Pioneer’s shields,” Kelsoe said. “Can you transport Mandrake off, and hold him in your custody until we can take him back.”

“Sure,” Xalen said. “We can do that.”

“Good,” Kelsoe said. “Stand-bye.”

Kelsoe turned around and looked over at Joanna.

“Joanna...,” Kelsoe said.

“Already working on it,” Joanna said.

“All right,” Kelsoe nodded. “Tuff, Zimmer, come with me.”

Mandrake stood in the center of the bridge, looking at the view screen, which showed the Tealuian battle cruisers.

“Why aren’t they firing?” Sterling said.

“I don’t know,” Mandrake said. “But what I’m wondering is, why aren’t we firing?!”

Sterling looked down at the console in front of him.

“Sir, command control has been transferred to engineering,” Sterling said.

“What!” Mandrake said. “She turned on us, I beat you! I knew it!”

“Our shields are being lowered,” the pilot said.

“Oh!” Mandrake said, gesturing with his arms in the air. “Now that’s just grea....”

Before Mandrake could finish his sentence, he was transported off the bridge of the Pioneer. The turbo-lift’s doors opened and Captain Kelsoe, along with his bridge crew stormed onto the bridge. Commander Sterling tried to resist, but Commander Tuff and his two compression rifle were no match for his phaser. Tuff, Craig, Tracy, Braxis, and Zimmer took their stations. Ensign Jeri Manon and Ensign Rick Soto, along with a security team, escorted the Vulture crew off the bridge.

Kelsoe sat in his seat, and looked over to Burt’s seat. He looked over at Braxis?”

“Where’s Connor?” Kelsoe inquired.

“Commander Burt got a little carried away, Captain,” Braxis said. “Dr. Braga is treating him in sickbay.”

Kelsoe nodded.

“Okay,” Kelsoe said. “When we’ve received word that all Vulture crewmen have been put in the brig, we’ll contact Prime Minister Xalen.”

Captain Victor Mandrake was transported back to the Pioneer, were Tuff official arrested and changed him with several violation of Starfleet regulations. After which Mandrake said, “I spit on your uniform! Starfleet is nothing! When a ship is lost, they abandon it!” Tuff did not take kindly to this, and placed Mandrake in a small brig cell, alone.

Currently Lieutenant Commander Joanna Withrome sat in the mess hall, eating what was supposed to be an early lunch, but had turned into a midnight snack. The doors to the mess hall opened and Carmen Gomez entered. She walked over to where Joanna was siting and sat down across from her.

“Hi,” Gomez said.

Joanna nodded in response.

“Look,” Gomez said, leaning forward. “I was scared. Captain Mandrake’s the only captain I have served under.”

Joanna didn’t respond. Gomez leaned back and sighed.

“I know,” Gomez said. “I’m probably going to be court marshaled.”

“No,” Joanna spoke up. “I’ve spoken with Captain Kelsoe and he’s agreed to leave you out of the mutiny charges. In fact all of your crew, except for those who are loyal to Mandrake, are being freed. Captain Mandrake and Commander Sterling are going to have to answer to the Federation Council. You won’t.”

Gomez smiled. It was another failed attempt, but at least it was a smile. A genuine smile.