EPISDE 5.41 - “Fall of the Apollo”
story by Travis Cannon
written by Travis Cannon and Malcolm Percy
Commander Connor Burt gripped the edge of the command chair in the center of the bridge of the U.S.S. Imperial. He listened as Commander Tuff issued the command for a distress call and waited as Lieutenant Craig carried out the order. He watched, helplessly, as the Imperial drifted into the depths of the Trajan Nebula, just as the Regal had done after she had been attacked.
Tuff turned and looked to Burt for his orders. Burt remained silent, just as he had done before.
“Sir?!” Tuff’s call pulled Burt back into focus.
Burt cocked his head slightly and his eyes seemed to be glazed over.
“Yes, Commander?” Burt asked, as calmly as he could, but he could not prevent his voice from shaking.
“Your orders, Commander.”
Burt shook his head, and signaled for Tuff to take command. Tuff took command in the blink of an eye. Burt drifted back and removed himself from the bridge. The shock of what had just happened was too great for him to handle. The others watched as he left the bridge, and then gave their complete attention to Commander Tuff.
“All right!” Tuff growled. “I want damage reports as soon as possible from all departments. We need to repair the sensor and communication arrays. Ensign Carson, I believe Lt. Commander Withrome could use your help down in engineering with the communication system.” Tracy nodded and left immediately. “You better go as well, Braxis.”
Braxis had already expected this and was on his way before the orders left Tuff’s lips. Tuff swung down in the command chair.
“Ensign Zimmer,” he called forth. “Try and stabilize the ship’s path as best you can. We need to remain on the outer rims of the nebula if our distress call is to reach Starfleet.”
Zimmer did as he was told without a word, the Imperial’s uncontrollably drift slowed, and the ship began to turn back towards regular space. Tuff leaned back in the command chair and took a deep breath.
The Palace Guards stood side by side in a tight row along the walls, all dressed up in the magnificent shinny knight armor of the royal and noble past of the So’jan people. From behind a crimson red curtain at the end of the corridor, a so’jan dressed in an imperial yellow robe stepped out. On top of his scaly head he wore what could be called a crown. He stopped and held opened the curtain, allow for a so’jan female, with long black braided hair, to slip through the small opening. He smiled at her, and held out his hand, palm up. She placed her hand in his and they stepped forward down the long line of soldiers.
At the end of the corridor awaited a so’jan dressed in a traditional pale orange tunic with a red sash around his chest. He wore a matching headdress that bellowed and had a pointy top. He bowed as the so’jan male and female approached him.
“Chancellor Ar’kon,” hissed the awaiting attendant.
Ar’kon grinned happily to himself, and looked over at his wife, Sr’gi. Sr’gi merely glared down at the prostrating official.
“Rise Hasz’fos, First Legate of the Senate and So’jan people,” Ar’kon hissed, touching the right shoulder of Hasz’fos with his leathery hand.
Hasz’fos rose, and smirked, as only a so’ja could. He bowed his head as he spoke.
“Great news from Admiral Da’note, my lord,” Hasz’fos spoke. “We have captured the Federation commander Benjamin Kelsoe.”
“Excellent,” hissed Ar’kon. “The Federation will indeed be missing him.” He paused and kissed his wife’s hand. “You may attend to the children if you wish, Sr’gi. Hasz’fos and I have business to discuss.”
Sr’gi bowed her head obediently and picked up the front of her stola to make it easier for her to exit quickly. Ar’kon returned his attention to the First Legate.
“Let us continue, Hasz’fos,” Ar’kon hissed, gesturing forward.
Hasz’fos bowed his head in respect. Ar’kon and the so’jan official began walking forward towards the balcony at the end of the corridor.
“Maj Saz’ga reports that the legions are assembling, and we shall be ready for a full out war in a matter of days,” Hasz’fos said.
“What of the human?” Ar’kon questioned.
“Admiral Da’note thought it appropriate to follow the instructions of Mister Calok, the mercenary,” Hasz’fos explained. “The tissue-skin is being transported to Commander L’Mar’s secret facilities are we speak.”
“Good... good,” hissed the Chancellor.
The two so’jans approached the balcony. Chancellor Ar’kon stepped out and raised his hand as a cheer erupted from the vast square below. The Ka’al sun shone down on the city of Ka’fa, the Capital of the So’jan People. Occupying the vast square was a massive army, beginning to assemble.
“Ah, wonderful!” murmured Ar’kon. “The Legions of the So’jan People are ready for war!” Ar’kon stepped to the end of the balcony and raised both his hands into the air resulting in a thunderous cry from the assembled legions.
They had remained immobile for the better part of five hours before the U.S.S. Independence appeared on their long-range sensors. Burt had retired to his quarters to try and recover from the shock of Captain Kelsoe’s abduction and left Commander Robert Tuff in charge of the bridge.
Tuff now sat in the command chair talking with Captain Barbara Hessman of the Independence via ship-to-ship communications. Tuff inclined his head.
“Correct, Captain Hessman,” Tuff said. “The Imperial is shot to hell. My engineer informs me that the warp core has overloaded and cannot be reinitialized.”
Hessman nodded. “Ship dead, Captain gone, warp core practically inoperable,” she said. She crossed her arms over her chest. “I think we’re going to have to tow you back to DS-5.”
“With thanks, Captain,” Tuff said, with a smile. It was a fake smile, and Hessman did not see it as anything but politeness; after all Tuff and the crew had been through a terrible ordeal.
“We’ll bring the Independence into position and then lock our tractor beams onto the Imperial,” Hessman said. “Stand by.”
Tuff nodded, and the communication link was severed. Tuff leaned forward and put his head in his hands. Braxis walked up from behind Tuff.
“Commander Tuff?” Braxis said in a soft voice.
Tuff took a deep breath and then looked up. “Yes, Braxis?”
“Lt. Commander Withrome reports that the warp core is not stable enough for travel, sir.”
Tuff nodded, and inhaled deeply. “Mr. Craig, contact the Independence and inform Captain Hessman of our situation.”
Tuff stood and stretched. “Well, what do you think, Braxis?”
“The ship? Will we have to abandon her?” Tuff inquired.
“From all the available data,” Braxis said, sounding very logical - as usual. “I would have to concur with that statement, yes.”
Tuff inclined his head in agreement. “We’ll have to inform Commander Burt.”
“I think Commander Burt would prefer to be left alone,” Braxis said, oddly aware of his human colleague’s emotional state.
Tuff nodded. “That may be, but he is in command. I am not.”
The turbolift doors opened and Commander Connor Burt emerged.
“Report!” he said in a calmed and controlled voice. Tuff smiled, He’s back.
“Commander,” Tuff acknowledged the question. “The Independence has arrived in response to our distress call. I’ve informed Captain Hessman of the situation. And currently,” Tuff paused for a beat, “Ship engineer reports that the warp core is too unstable for travel.”
Burt made his way to the command center of the bridge, and nodded as he received the information Tuff was reporting to him.
“Has Hessman been informed about this latest development?” he asked.
“Just now, sir,” Tuff said, and more softly added, “It’s good to have you back... sir.”
Burt acknowledged, and gave Tuff a pat on the back. “It’s good to be back, Robert.”
Burt turned towards Lieutenant Craig.
“Mr. Craig, what does the Independence say?”
“Captain Hessman suggests that the crew transport over to the Independence for the ride back to DS-5,” Craig reported.
Burt nodded. “Robert, Braxis,” Burt said turning to the two most senior bridge members. “Will you see to the transport?”
“Of course, sir,” Tuff said. Braxis merely nodded.
Burt nodded as well and then took a seat in the command chair.
After boarding the U.S.S. Independence, Captain Hessman received word from Starfleet Command to destroy both the Imperial and the Regal. Burt stood on the bridge and watched as he saw both ships explode on the view screen. He understood Admiral Anton’s reasons for wanting both ships to be destroyed, but he could not help but feel somewhat attached to the Imperial even though she had only been their ship for a couple of days. He longed to be back on the Pioneer.
The trip to Deep Space Five was not that long, but it was excruciating for Connor Burt, knowing that somewhere out there Captain Benjamin Kelsoe was being held as a hostage and probably being tortured by the So’ja animals. As soon as they arrived at DS-5, Burt requested a transfer to another ship. Admiral Truman received the request and inquired Burt’s reasons. Burt told him, and Admiral Truman said that he would think about it, but at the time being he needed Burt to stay aboard the Pioneer as its executive officer to assist the ship’s new commanding officer. At which Burt interrupted the Admiral:
“What?!” Burt exclaimed. “Benjamin Kelsoe is the captain of the Pioneer, Admiral!”
“You mean was the captain,” Truman corrected him. He leaned forward, and rested his elbows on his desk. “I’m sorry, but we are at war, Commander. And we need every ship to have a commander. Captain Kelsoe’s loss is tough to handle, but we have to have an experienced command aboard the Pioneer.” He paused and hesitated. “Not to say that you are not experienced enough to command the Pioneer, but frankly, right now we have to look at the big picture.”
Burt sat silently for a moment before he spoke.
“I understand, sir... but surely...” he began.
Truman raised his hand for silence.
“I’m sorry, Commander Burt,” Truman said. “I understand how your feel, but we have other priorities.”
“Very well,” Burt said after a long pause. “So who’s the new C.O.?”
“Timothy Franco,” Truman said. “He was hand picked by Admiral Anton, himself. Do you know him?”
Burt nodded. “Tough man, Franco,” Burt said. “He’s a hard-ass.”
“That may be, Commander,” Truman said. “And to be frank, I don’t like your tone.” He paused and leaned back. “Get a hold of yourself, Commander, or you’ll soon find yourself sitting this round out... is that what you want?”
“No,” Burt said, looking off into space. “No, sir.”
“Very good,” Truman said, standing. “I want you to report to Dr. Coddle in the MC for a thorough examination.”
Truman glared down at Burt. “Commander, your behavior as of late is unbecoming for an officer. I want to find out if there is anything wrong with you, physically or mentally.” He paused. “Is that understood, Commander!”
He opened his eyes and saw nothing but darkness. There was a distant humming that had the distinct sound of an engine. Captain Benjamin Kelsoe knew he must be aboard one of the So’ja warships that had appeared out of nowhere and had begun attacking the Imperial. He wondered what had become of the Imperial and her crew. He hoped that she and her crew survived.
Suddenly he felt sick, by what he did not know. He rolled over onto his side and coughed. He reached up and touched his chin and felt a warm sticky liquid that he knew must be blood. He heaved himself up onto his legs and felt around on all sides, trying to determine his surroundings.
He felt a metallic surface not far from him. He turned, following the wall, until he found the corner, and again until he found the other corner. His fingers ran across the cold metal until suddenly he felt a zap and collapsed backwards onto the floor.
Admiral Toshio Kawamura stood up behind his desk when Commander Robert Tuff walked in. From behind him came Ensign Tolorev, the Pioneer’s Intelligence Officer. Kawamura’s visitor, who he had been talking to before Tuff and Tolorev walked in, looked over his shoulder. Tuff recognized Lieutenant Albert Buerk. Buerk stood and nodded his head in greetings to Tuff, who did likewise.
“Admiral, I’ve come on behalf of the crew of the Pioneer to ask why are we not pursuing the captors of Captain Kelsoe?” Tuff demanded.
“Commander,”Kawamura said looking Tuff up and down. “Surely you understand Starfleet’s position on the matter.”
“To be frank, sir, I do not,” Tuff grumbled.
“As it should be,” Kawamura said inclining his head and giving Tuff his most authoritarian expression.
Tuff stood there for a moment and then gestured to Tolorev, who then stepped forward and handed a data pad to the Admiral. Kawamura took in and glanced down at it.
“These are orders from Starfleet Intelligence, Admiral,” Tuff said. “It authorizes me, Ensign Tolorev, to search for the whereabouts of Captain Kelsoe.”
“Yes it does,” agreed Kawamura. He handed it back. “I see no problem with the order, but it does not refer to me or any member of the Pioneer.”
“But sir!” objected Tuff.
Kawamura raised his hand for silence and got it.
“But I will concede that it does allow for Ensign Tolorev here to use members of the DS-5 crew in the search for our lost captain,” Kawamura said. “But we’d have to be careful. The incident at the Trajan Nebula will soon be spreading across all of the Oralian Sector. Now,” Kawamura sat down behind his desk and gestured for the men to set down. “What can you tell me about the Oralian Sector and what most likely will result from this conflict?”
Tuff sighed deeply. “It doesn’t look good, Admiral,” Tuff said. He looked around at the others. “I now that some have called me a military expert when it comes to the Oralian Sector, and in ways - thanks in large part to my assignment on the Pioneer, I concede that that might be the case. However,” he paused for a beat. “I cannot stress the importance of keeping the Romulans at bay, not to mention the Breen.”
Admiral Kawamura nodded. “Romulans have official declared themselves neutral in this conflict.” He paused for a moment. “Strange how such a war minded people shrink away from certain fights. We almost had to beg to get them to join us in on the Dominion War.”
“What of the Klingons?” Buerk asked. “Surely they will help us?”
“I’m afraid not,” Kawamura said gravely. “I received word earlier from Admiral Anton that Chancellor Martok has his hands full with the High Council. The Kinglon Empire hasn’t been the same since the Dominion War. Anton’s sending the Titan out there... see if we can’t help him out.”
“Good pick,” Tuff said. “Captain Riker participated in a kind of foreign exchange program in the early stages of our new alliance.”
“Yes,” Kawamura agreed. “And Captain Riker has his hands full with that mess. But the Kinglon Empire is no our concern, we need to deal with this impending fight.” He picked up a PADD and tossed it over to Tuff. “I’ve sent the Apollo out on a reconnaissance mission. I gave Captain Mathis express orders not to engage the enemy, unless absolutely necessary.”
“Well,” Tuff said flicking the PADD onto Kawamura’s desk. “I don’t think Mathis will be able to avoid a fight.” He stared straight into Kawamura’s eyes. “The So’ja are ready to fight, and they are in this fight to win. They are a xenophobic people, that’s why it was so easy for Ar’kon to seize power away from the so-called So’ja Republic.”
“Commander?” Kawamura asked, narrowing his eyes.
“The so’jan was right about that, sir,” Tuff said standing up. “We set up a puppet government there, and that’s why they’re pissed as hell at us.”
“That may be, Commander,” Kawamura said, straightening his back. “But it is not our position to question our leaders. We are soldiers, we follow orders... we don’t question them!” He paused. “I know I might seem layback and allow my subordinates to debate orders with me, but this is a time of war, Commander! We don’t have the luxury of second-guessing. Now drop it, it’s the past and we can change it.”
“Sir...,” Tuff hesitated. “Yes, sir.” He sat back down.
“Ensign, what are the political ramification of this conflict,” Kawamura said. “Give it to me straight.”
“Politically, sir,” Tolorev explained, not blinking, “it’s a mess. We have a dozen different governments out here, all of whose loyalty is questionable. Honestly, we have no idea which way some of them will go.”
“Who do we have on our side of the fence?” the Admiral asked.
“The Kobalians, definitely them, sir,” Tuff said.
“And the Tulopians,” Tolorev added. “The Tealuians are a different matter. Sure we have political ties with their government, but they can’t be trusted. There is too much history between us. Them abducting members of our crews...”
“And conducting illegal experiments on said crews!” Tuff interjected. “Sir, the Tealuians interest is in the Tealuians. They care not for the Oralian Sector.”
“What about the OPU?” Kawamura inquired.
“The Oralian Peace Union?” Tuff almost laughed. “It will fracture, it can’t stand the stress of this war breaking out just as it is forming.”
“I’d have to concur with Commander Tuff on this one, sir.”
Kawamura nodded. “Very well. I’ll inform Starfleet Command... in the meantime, I suggest you begin that search for Captain Kelsoe.”
Tuff, Tolorev, and Buerk all stood up and saluted Admiral Kawamura before leaving his office.
Dr. Chase Braga stepped into the dimly lit medical center of DS-5. Near the entrance sat a doctor in a white lab coat over his Starfleet uniform. Braga made his way over to the doctor. The man was sitting at the medical command station, almost as if it was his desk. He held a data pad in his hand and was scrolling through the text. He looked up and saw Braga approaching, and stood.
Braga extended his hand.
“Dr. Coddle?” he inquired.
“Ernie Coddle, yes,” the man said in a rough voice, shaking Braga’s hand. “I’d guess your here to check up on Commander Burt, right?”
“Yes, doctor,” Braga said.
“Let’s go into my office,” Coddle gestured towards a doorway that led into a glass-walled office.
“What’s the word, Coddle?”
“Can I be frank with you, Dr. Braga?” Coddle inquired.
Braga took a deep breath and nodded.
“Very well,” Coddle wheezed. “Look, no disrespect to your Commander, but I don’t think he’s capable of duty.”
“Are you saying that he’s unfit for duty?” Braga asked, narrowing his eyes.
“Yes,” Coddle said, trying to sound sympathy. “Physically he can handle it, but mental, boy... he’s not right up there.”
Braga eyes Coddle for a moment.
“Your a bit strange for a Starfleet medical officer,” Braga said.
Coddle chuckled. “That’s cause I ain’t no Starfleet officer,” Coddle grinned. “I’m a civilian doctor. I was given a field commission of lieutenant during the Dominion War and no bureaucrat has seen fit to remove me of that distinction. Don’t matter much. I know more than most do. Seen combat duty.” Coddle raised his chin to reveal a scar on his neck. “Damn Jem’Hadar did this. I almost lost my voice. Now it sounds like two stone rubbing together.” Coddle chuckled to himself. “I do all right though.”
“Who gave you the field commission?” Braga inquired.
“That would be your father, boy,” Coddle said. “Sorry... he brought me here when he took command of the station, and I haven’t left since.”
Braga looked at him.
“Sorry, but I don’t think so,” Braga said.
Coddle looked back stunned. “You can check the station records if you want.”
“I don’t remember seeing you here during the Oralian Peace Union Conference,” Braga said. “We could have used you then.”
“Ah, yes, that’s right,” Coddle said, looking off into the distance. “The bomb and everything.” He paused for a beat and look back at Braga. “Yeah, I was on shore leave.”
Braga nodded. “All right.”
“Well, anyway, got off topic there, boy,” Coddle said. “Back to your Commander... Yeah, I’m recommending that he be benched for a while.”
“Really?” Braga said staring through the glass walls in the direction of the resting Burt. He returned his attention to Coddle. “You do know we’re at war, don’t you. We need him. He’s one of the foremost experts on So’jan tactics.”
“That may be,” Coddle conceded, “but he can handle the stress of the job right now. Believe me, boy, I’ve seen plenty of combat and I know what I’m talking about in this department.”
Braga stammered for a moment.
“Does your recommendation hold much clout with Truman?” Braga inquired.
“Maybe, maybe not,” Coddle said. “I really haven’t met with the Admiral much,” Coddle said. “Seems like a smart guy. I think he’ll keep my recommendation in mind when he’s making the decision.”
Braga inclined his head. “That’s all I wanted to hear.”
Black walls. Dark floors. A shadow emerged through the buzzing field that covered the doorway. The cowering figure on the floor of the cell cringed up. The force field vanished and the shadow stepped into the cell and knelled beside the figure on the floor. The shadow placed its hand on the figure’s shoulder.
“There, there.... Kelsoe,” cooed the shadow. “Tyson Calok’s here.”
Admiral Truman strode into the Rec Room where the crew of the Pioneer had assembled as ordered. Truman inclined his head and spoke in a grave voice.
“I know what all of you are think,” he spoke. “Captain Kelsoe cannot be replaced in your hearts or your minds. However, we must replace him on the bridge of the Pioneer. And for that, Starfleet and you must turn to Captain Timothy Franco.”
A tall well groomed man stepped into the Rec Room. His red hair was parted to the right side, and his emerald eyes commanded respect. He leaned negligibly to one side and inclined his head slightly.
“I know you all love your Captain, and grieve him,” he said in a surprisingly smooth and relaxing voice. “I know I can never replace him... all I ask is that you give me a chance to prove myself worthy of command.” He paused and shifted to the other side. Still with his head inclined a bit, he continued. “To those of you who don’t know me, I’ve served as comamnder of the U.S.S. Milano for the past three years, and I run what I like to think is a tight ship. We are a war, so we don’t have time to truly get to know one another, but I feel confident that we can work together and get the job done.” He gave a slight smile after he said this. “Dismissed.”
Kelsoe slowly opened his eyes. The last thing he remembered was the voice of Tyson Calok telling him of his presence, then nothing. He blinked and found himself blinded by a bright like that was directed straight at him. He tried to move but found himself restrained. His arms and legs were tied to some sort of table.
A mechanical hum told him that someone had entered the room.
“Feeling better, Kelsoe?” inquired Tyson Calok, his voice was instantly recognizable.
Kelsoe opened his mouth to speak, but found that no words came out. Calok chuckled softly.
“Sorry, we had to sedate you for the transfer,” Calok chuckled. He paused and Kelsoe could feel him no standing over him. “Your Federation won’t be coming after you. They have no idea where you are, and probably think that you are dead.” Calok paused. “Don’t worry, your voice will return soon, then you may spat you insult and profuse your love for Starfleet to me.” Calok bent over Kelsoe and smirk. “That’s what you want to do, isn’t it?” Calok’s eyes scanned Kelsoe’s. “Yes... it is. I can read your eyes, Kelsoe. You believe what they told you. Never leave a man behind, all that shit. Well, let me tell you something Captain... it isn’t true. They lied.” He paused and watched Kelsoe’s reaction. “Oh yes,” he cooed. “I know… it’s terrible. They let you believe something that is false... and yet, here you are.”
Calok back away and Kelsoe heard him pull some sort of lever. The table Kelsoe was strapped to suddenly vibrated all over and rotated until it was perpendicular with the floor and Kelsoe was now upright. He looked around the room. It was dark and morose, very So’jan. From the dull metallic wall and the soft humming in the background Kelsoe figured he was on some sort of craft or had been transferred to a station of some sort.
Calok walked out from behind him and grinned mischievously. He tapped the corner of his skull with to fingers, just above his temple.
“I know everything you know, Captain Kelsoe,” Calok said.
Kelsoe furrowed his brow in confusion. Suddenly the door opened with a low hum and in stepped a familiar adversary, Commander L’Mar. Kelsoe’s eyes widen in shock and anger.
“Yes, Captain,” Calok said grinning broadly, “Commander L’Mar has discovered a way to clone your memories and store them into a computer.”
L’Mar smirked. “It was only a matter of time,” he acknowledged with a nod.
Calok nodded. “Now the So’jan know all your precious Federation secrets... like ship clearance codes!” Calok smiled, with the look of happiness on his face... an expression Kelsoe had never seen on Calok’s face ever before, and it frightened him.
The bridge of the U.S.S. Pioneer fell silent has Captain Timothy Franco stepped out of the turbolift. He looked around at the sullen faces of the bridge crew, and could not blame them for their glum. He stepped down into the center of the bridge, and stood close to the command chair. He looked over at the executive officer’s chair where Commander Connor Burt stood. He inclined his head.
“I know how you feel, Commander,” he said softly. “I wouldn’t want to be replace either, but I’m glad Admiral Truman decided to let you stay aboard. I can use all the help I can get, and from your record and Captain Kelsoe’s reports, I believe I couldn’t have ask for a better first officer.”
Burt nodded slowly. “Thank you, sir.”
Franco’s eyes scanned Burt one more time, before his shifted his weight to his other side and turned to the communications station.
“Ensign Carson,” he said in his calm voice, “could you open up the ship-wide intercom.”
“Aye,” Tracy said. “Your on, sir.”
Franco acknowledged with a slight head nod.
“Crew of the Pioneer,” he began. “This is your new commanding officer, Captain Timothy Franco, speaking. We have been order by Starfleet Command to preceded to Kobal, where we will rendezvous with the Lovell and transport the Kobalian leadership council back to DS5 for eventually transport to Earth.” He paused. “I know this is not the mission that many of you were hoping for, but it is nonetheless important the war effort and the protection of our allies in the Oralian sector. I know that all of you will do your best... that’s all that I ask. Franco out.”
Franco leaned over to Burt
“Is it Ensign Zimmer?” he inquired softly, gesturing with his eyes towards the helm. Burt nodded in replay.
Franco nodded his thanks and stepped back to the command chair. He sat down and looked forward, his eyes sharp and commanding.
“Mr. Zimmer,” Franco said in a very commanding voice. “Take us out.”
The Nebula class starship Apollo drifted slowly in space, it’s large dish blocking out a nearby sun. Not far off a So’ja scout vessel hovered, momentarily hidden by a rogue comet that had been dislodged from an asteroid belt, hiding itself in its wake.
Inside the So’jan scout vessel the pilot grinned, baring his sharp razor teeth, yellow with decay. He pressed a communication panel. And hissed something in So’jan.
Captain Greg Mathis of the U.S.S. Apollo sat in his chair with a grave expression. Twenty-four hours ago he had been informed of the incident at the Trajan Nebula the subsequent declaration of war. Mathis had stood in his ready room, and received orders directly from Admiral Harold Anton, the Starfleet Commander and Chief. His ship had been assigned to monitor the Great Rift Barrier to watch for any signs of Kai ships. The Kai were a powerful people, whom the Federation was eager to open up a diplomatic relationship.
Now the Apollo was hover outside the So’ja Neutral Zone, no longer monitoring for a peaceful contact, but keeping a watch for hostile enemy action. Mathis, hoping to keep his option open, kept his ship in scanning distance of the Rift, just in case a Kai vessel emerged. Who knows, Mathis had hoped, maybe they’ll help. But he doubted it. His X.O. paced the space between him and the CONN. His blue Andorian skin was sticky with sweat.
“Stop pacing,” Mathis said. “You’re going to drive me insane.”
“This doesn’t feel right, Captain,” the first officer said. “Something is not right.”
“Yeah,” Mathis said. “We’re at war... And were a diplomatic vessel.”
“Not that, sir,” the Andorian first officer said. “It’s almost like were being watched... I don’t know… I can’t describe it.”
Mathis looked up, and rubbed his temples. He had learned over the years to trust his first officer’s gut feelings. He stood up and stepped up beside the Andorian officer. His conversation with Admiral Anton came back into his mind at that moment: “No matter what, Greg... Stand your ground.” Mathis laid a hand on his first officer’s shoulder.
“We stand our ground, Trantulus,” he said.
Not far off the So’jan scout vessel retreated from his hiding position and skidded through a small asteroids belt. After reaching the other side it emerged in front of a massive So’jan hybrid warship armada. It zoomed towards the closes ship and docked.
The proximity alarm went off. Trantulus cocked his head towards Operations.
“Report!” the Andorian called.
The lieutenant stammered, shock by what he was seeing.
“Sir... it’s unbelievable... it’s impossible,” stammered the lieutenant.
“On screen,” Mathis ordered.
He turned his head back towards the view screen flickered to an image that made his jaw dropped.
A massive armada of So’jan warships was cruising towards them. Mathis heard Trantulus order the Red Alert. Mathis was dumbstruck. He had never seen such a massive fleet in his entire career.
“We stand our ground, Commander,” Mathis told Trantulus. “No matter what...” he trailed off.
As soon as the first of the approaching ships reached weapons range it slowed. Mathis was too stunned give an order. Suddenly the ship’s three equaly spaced fins around its center glowed bright green and converged in the center of the ship’s nose.
“Shield!” Trantulus cried behind him.
A green beam pulsed forward and struck the Apollo right behind the bridge, bypassing the shields. A rumbling pulsated throughout the ship, and a sicken roar engulfed the bridge. Outside the Apollo began to explode all over. Flames and oxygen disappeared into the vacuum of space. The Apollo tumbled out of control and drifted. With a silent boom the dish broke in half and the core explored evaporating the ship and sending debris scattering outward.
The gigantic hybrid warships sailed on as if nothing had stood in their way.