A simple picture sitting on Samantha’s nightstand, brought her a sense of comfort, as well as a feeling of shame. It was a photo of her dad, in his Starfleet Admiral’s uniform. She loved him, but sometimes it seemed like he tried too hard to protect her.
She was on a large space station in orbit around Earth, sitting on her bed in full dress uniform, her hair tied up in a ponytail – not quite regulation, but close enough. She was waiting for ‘the call’ – any minute now, a board of Starfleet Admirals would finish discussing the preliminaries of her general court martial. They had already interviewed all witnesses the day before.
Samantha remembered the moment she stepped through the airlock on Starbase Six, her ship safely docked in it’s port. Her dad was there waiting for her, wearing a frown on his face. Sadness filled his eyes.
“You shouldn’t have come home. You should have waited”, he said, “Until I had things straightened out back home.”
“No.” Samantha shook her head slowly, defying her father’s wishes. She knew he was trying to protect her – but she was through being protected. She was a Captain now, a title which carried the responsibility of every one of her decisions. She would stand by them, and defend them herself. “I have to handle this myself, dad.”
He almost hugged her at that moment, before realizing that it was just the kind of thing that would upset her more. His daughter had grown up, and was fighting for her own independence. It was his responsibility as a father to let her fight for herself, no matter how afraid he was of her being hurt. Instead, he straightened his uniform, and extended a hand with a quick smile. “Good luck, Captain.”
Samantha remembered shaking her father’s hand and smiling in return, just as two Starfleet Security officers showed up to escort her, along with a single suitcase, to the quarters where she had spent the last two days sitting quietly and thinking. She had plenty of time to think, since she had been confined to those quarters since the moment she had arrived.
She sighed before walking over to the comm station on the wall next to the door. Samantha knew she could leave the comm station on auto-answer to avoid having to walk over to the panel, but she always thought of that as kind of a violation of her privacy. “Yes?”
“I’m Colonel Reece. I’ve been assigned to escort you to your hearing.”
“Yes…uh…sure.” Sam straightened out her uniform and tapped the door open button. The door slid open – for the first time in a full day, it wasn’t locked.
“Follow me, Captain Ross.”
Samantha followed Colonel Reece quickly as he led her toward the center of the station – that’s where the larger, more decorative conference rooms were, and where the hearings were being held. As she walked, she could feel eyes on her – the legend of what she had done spread through Starfleet like wildfire. They all knew her, some casting glances of contempt upon her as she passed. But she was focused on the task at hand – she couldn’t allow other people’s feelings to affect her performance during the hearing.
“This way, Captain Ross.” Colonel Reece opened the door to the conference room quickly, exposing Samantha to the harsh, bright fluorescent lighting of the room’s Titanium-steel decor. She cringed as she entered the room as the glare of it’s polished walls and table blinded her momentarily. Colonel Reece pulled out a painful-looking steel chair from under one side of the table, inviting Samantha to sit down. On the opposite side of the table were five serious-looking Admirals.
“Captain Ross, please sit.” The centermost grey-haired Admiral indicated toward the chair as he shuffled papers on the table in front of him. The tag on his uniform read ‘Adm S. Cassius’. “You are here today to face charges of…unauthorized use of classified Starfleet property, and replacing your crew with non-Starfleet personnel without authorization.”
“I…I believe I was justified–”
“Captain, we have regulations for a reason. We want our crews to be well-trained, prepared for any disaster.” Admiral Cassius leaned forward, as if to provide confidentiality, though it was plainly obvious that everyone in the room would hear him. “But more important is that we must maintain a Starfleet trained crew. One made up of people like us. Do you understand?”
“I’m not certain I do.” Samantha folded her arms and frowned. “You’re implying that Starfleet crews have to be human, aren’t you? Are you aware of how racist that sounds?”
“Watch your tongue, Captain!” Admiral Cassius stood suddenly, anger twisting his face. “This is a court martial, and I am your superior officer. You will address me with respect, obey me, and keep your petty opinions to yourself. Otherwise, you will rot in a Starfleet mining colony several light years from your home for the rest of your life.”
“I’m sorry, Admiral.” Samantha flashed a disarming smile and leaned forward a little. “Tell me…what are my chances here? Am I in serious trouble?”
Admiral Cassius sighed. “I’m afraid the law is clear here, Captain Ross. Like it or not, the law’s the law, and I’m sworn to uphold it. You’re looking at two to seven, unless you give up your position and face a dishonorable discharge. That is, if you can’t come up with some kind of extenuating circumstances.”
“I understand…I guess.” Sam bowed her head and sighed deeply, pausing for several seconds to think. She realized that she was trapped in a kangaroo court, and she had to escape. “Excuse me…do you mind if I use the restroom before we start?”
“I suppose so.” Admiral Cassius leaned back and tossed a folder full of papers aside. “Just make it quick. Colonel Reece, please keep an eye on her.”
Samantha walked out into the hallway quickly with Colonel Reece close behind. She headed straight for the women’s restroom, anticipating that Reece would wait outside – he did. Only as soon as she entered the restroom, she realized that the ventilation shaft was way too small for her to squeeze through, and the ceiling was solid rather then suspended.
She paced the room for a minute or so, trying to think of what she could do to slip past Colonel Reece. Then it came to her – she had the element of surprise! All she had to do was lure him into the restroom somehow.
It only took her a second to complete that idea – she took a deep breath, and screamed as loud as her lungs and voice would allow. Just as she predicted, Colonel Reece came running in, looking confused as he found her standing right in front of him with a smile on her face.
“What’s the meaning of–”
Colonel Reece didn’t even finish his sentence before Samantha slammed his head against a mirror above the sink, shattering it, and then shoved him head first into one of the restroom’s cubicles. She grabbed his phaser and slammed the door behind him to slow him down before quickly placing the phaser on her belt and racing out of the restroom. She kept running until she was somewhere on the station where there were no people whatsoever – the only problem was, she had no idea where that was.
“Reece? Where are you?” Admiral Cassius paced around the hallway outside the restrooms for several minutes before Colonel Reece managed to shake off his dizziness and confusion, and head out of the women’s restroom.
“Uh…right here sir. But Captain Ross has–”
“Escaped. You don’t have to tell me that, she’s been sighted all over the station.” Admiral Cassius rubbed his chin gently and squinted a moment, lost in thought, before turning to his security chief, who had just arrived. “I want security combing this station from end to end. Colonel, come with me, I have something important to tell you.”
“Yes, sir.” Colonel Reece nodded and followed Admiral Cassius back into the conference room – they were the only two people in the room, everyone else had left. As soon as he entered the room, the Admiral motioned for him to close the door. He complied quickly. “Combing the station, sir? I assume you mean to tell me why we’re treating Captain Ross like some kind of threat.”
Admiral Cassius frowned. “She is a threat, Colonel Reece. She appointed a Cardassian Gul as her security officer. Cardassian, for God’s sake! Imagine the kind of information she has access to…and yet she hasn’t shared any of it.”
“What if she doesn’t have any information?”
“She has information, all right.” Admiral Cassius let out a sigh as he sat down in one of the plush leather chairs in the conference room. “I’d be willing to bet on it. For some reason, she won’t tell us.”
Colonel Reece folded his arms and frowned. “Unfortunately, we just gave her good reason to fear telling us.”
“Wrong.” Admiral Cassius leaned forward. “Her next mission plan included a visit to Deep Space Nine, to deliver the C-711. I think she was also planning to…meet someone there. She’s deliberately keeping secrets.”
“Oh?” Colonel Reece raised an eyebrow. “You think she’s some kind of a traitor?”
“I’m sure of it.” Admiral Cassius removed a datapad from his pocket and slid it across the table. “So much so, that I am ordering you to locate her and keep a close eye on her. You will contact only me, giving me updates once every twelve hours.”
“Yes, sir.” Colonel Reece took the datapad and saluted quickly before leaving the conference room. As soon as he left and closed the door, Admiral Cassius leaned back and pressed an small button in the center of the table.
“It won’t be long now. We’ll find her…and when we do, Admiral Ross will be finished.”
Samantha instinctively ducked behind a shipping container in what she thought was an empty cargo bay. Her hand was tightly wrapped around her phaser, as her heart sped up to the point where she could hear her heartbeat in her ears. As her mind began to slip slowly out of panic mode, she realized that she recognized the voice.
“Susan?” Sam poked her head over the top of the shipping container she hid behind – it was Susan Troy, all right. She recognized those pale green Romulan eyes anywhere. Only Sam was a little shocked that she had dyed her hair. “Blonde, Susan?”
Susan smiled and nodded. “I decided to experiment a little. I saw you run by the Watering Hole, so I followed you in here. What’s going on? Weren’t you on trial?”
“I’m so glad you’re here, Susan. Thinks have gone horribly wrong.” Sam stood up straight, and approached Susan carefully, eyeing the door the whole way. She lowered her voice, worried that someone outside might hear and come in. “It was more of a crucifixion then a trial. Someone has it in for me.”
“That sounds so…paranoid–” Susan laughed nervously, but suddenly turned serious as she noticed the fear in Samantha’s eyes. She lowered her voice as well, as she began to fear for her friend. “Sam…What’s going on?”
“I…I don’t really know.” Sam sighed loudly, her still lingering sense of panic causing her breath to waver. “I have to get off this station.”
“You know–” Susan smiled mischievously as a memory came back to her – on the way to the Watering Hole, she passed the dock. “–Galaxis is still here. And it’s not well guarded at the moment.”
Samantha shook her head. “Doesn’t matter. My picture’s all over the station, and the dock’s the most crowded area. Even the transporters are there. I can’t get near the ship without being caught.”
“Oh, I think you can.” Susan grabbed Sam’s wrist and suddenly pulled her toward the door. “It’s time for a real artist to go to work.”
“Turn this room upside down. I want anything we can use as evidence.”
Admiral Cassius clasped his hands behind his back and began pacing around the quarters Samantha Ross occupied only hours earlier as Security officers began tearing the entire place apart, even looking under the couch cushions and mattress.
She had left behind all of her luggage, clothing, and belongings, literally fleeing with just the clothing on her back. But the Admiral knew that would not be enough to cause her hardship. She had friends who would help her. That was the primary point of the detailed search of the station he had ordered – to find those friends and keep her away from them. The search of her quarters was to determine where she might head, or who she might contact.
He happened to walk past her nightstand in mid-thought, and found a picture in a frame, lying face down. Personal photos in quarters were against regulation, so it caught his attention immediately. He picked up the photo and looked at it quickly.
“How is Captain Ross related to Admiral Ross?”
“He’s her father, sir.” One of the Security officers spoke up immediately. “He sponsored her entry into the academy.”
“Hmm.” Admiral Cassius stared at the picture for a moment, rubbing his chin, before dropping it back on the table. “Send a security team to guard Admiral Ross, wherever he is. Let’s make sure his daughter can’t contact him.”
Admiral Cassius stood in Samantha’s former quarters for a few minutes, alone, as the room emptied of security personnel. He shook his head, wondering how a such a sweet young woman could become mixed up in something like this.
“Damned shame.” He shook his head slowly as he turned off the lights and closed the door behind him. “Truly, a damned shame.”
“Purple?” Samantha leaned forward to examine her hair more closely in Susan’s bathroom mirror. Susan stood behind her, smiling.
“I know. Isn’t it cool?” Susan brushed some of Samantha’s hair aside with her hand. “I’ve always wanted to dye my hair with funky colors.”
Susan nodded. “It’s one of a few colors that are against Starfleet regs. No one will recognize you, or even suspect.”
“Really?” Samantha smiled and turned to face Susan, following her as she headed out of the bathroom and into her quarters. “Then I should have no problem sneaking off of the station.”
Sam paused as she spotted Terel sitting in a deep chair in Susan’s quarters. He was smoking a cigar, something which was strictly forbidden aboard Starfleet vessels. “Terel…what are you doing?”
“If we’re going to break a few rules, Captain Ross…why not break a few more?” Terel sat up and turned to face Sam, his eyes widening as he got a good view of her. “Nice hair, Captain. I never thought you had it in you.”
Sam shook her head. “I’m in trouble now, Susan. Terel likes it.”
“May I suggest, Captain–”
“Don’t call me that, Terel”, Samantha interrupted, “Call me Samantha. If you walk around calling me ‘Captain’, it defeats the whole purpose of sneaking.”
“Point taken, Samantha.” Terel sat up, placing his cigar on the edge of a nearby glass table. “But I was going to suggest we formulate a plan. Purple hair or not, if we simply walk up to the dock as a group they’re bound to recognize us.”
Susan took advantage of Terel’s distraction, quickly throwing his cigar in the bathroom sink as he spoke. She ignored his exaggerated gasp. “Samantha’s the only one who has to sneak aboard, Terel. We aren’t restricted…yet.”
“Exactly.” Terel paused to point at Samantha. “Yet. Which is why we have to act quickly.”
Samantha sighed and sat down on the edge of the glass table. She didn’t like the idea of following Terel’s plan, especially because she outsmarted him so easily the last time he had one. “Okay…what do you suggest?”
“So why am I wearing this stupid baseball cap again?”
“Because it makes it harder to see your eyes”, Terel answered quickly, “And it makes you look–”
“Don’t say it!” Susan waved a finger at Terel, in mock anger, glaring at him as she spoke to Samantha. “He’s right, it does make your eyes harder to see.”
Samantha nodded silently, as if to dismiss the bickering between the two. She was nervous enough already – they were planning to sneak past armed Starfleet security officers. Samantha wasn’t defenseless, though the small phaser she carried on her belt beneath her untucked shirt would make things that much worse if she were caught.
The three shuffled along the deck above the docking station, looking down periodically to see a dozen security personnel just hanging around the gate. They knew she would be heading toward there.
Samantha turned to look at Terel and Susan, worry apparent in her eyes. “How are we going to get past them?”
“A distraction.” Susan pointed through the large reinforced glass window in front of them, toward a large passenger transport pulling up to the docking station slowly. “And here comes one now. There’ll be two or three dozen people crowding the docking station in a few minutes…and they all have to be scanned.”
The steel deck Samantha stood on jarred slightly as the massive transport ship gently bumped into its magnetic docking clamps, assuring an airtight connection. The ring of light around one airlock changed from red to green, seconds before the door slid open.
Just as Susan predicted, dozens of people began to stream into the docking area, packed in like sardines as they slowly began to line up at the narrow scanning checkpoints. It would take several minutes for the crowd to subside.
“Let’s go, quickly.” Susan tugged on Samantha’s shirt, and headed quickly down the stairway toward the docking station. She looked around as she went, noticing that Terel was missing.
Samantha was only seconds from the transport pad which would send her to Galaxis when all hell broke loose. She happened to glance at one of the Starfleet security officers for just a second – and just as she did, he somehow just knew she was looking at him. Their eyes met for only an instant, and the officer’s eyes widened with recognition.
“You! Stop!” The officer drew his phaser quickly and started shoving his way through the crowd, toward Samantha.
“Oh, nuts.” Susan hit a few buttons on the transporter system quickly, and practically dragged Samantha toward the transport pads. “Five second delay, we transport…the system locks. Go!”
“Five seconds?” Samantha’s eyes widened as the security officer stood in the doorway of the transport area, pointing a phaser at her. Samantha drew her phaser, taking advantage of the fact that the officer didn’t yet have a clear shot yet. “Too long–”
Phaser blasts and sparks began to fly across the transporter pad just as it began it’s telltale whine, charging to transport Samantha and Susan to Galaxis. Samantha fired toward the doorway in rapid succession, with the intention of preventing any of the security officers from accurately aiming at her.
An instant later, Samantha and Susan appeared in the transporter room aboard Galaxis. Sam immediately raced over to the control panel and typed in her unlock command quickly. “Computer…raise shields.”
“In space dock?” Susan looked a little confused.
Sam nodded. “Otherwise, they’ll be able to transport aboard and take back the ship.”
“We can’t sir. She’s raised the shields.”
Admiral Cassius slammed his hand down on a console in the station’s command center. He had been called there as soon as a security alert was declared – and even before he had arrived, he knew why. “Keep the bay doors shut. Let’s get a few fighters scrambled, at least three–”
Colonel Reece cleared his throat loudly to interrupt. “We only have two available.”
“Fine, both of them.” Admiral Cassius stood next to the glass outside wall of the command center, looking down at the eerie glow coming from Galaxis in the dock below. She had her shields up, all right. “Launch the Excalibur with a full crew. She’s faster then Galaxis, Captain Ross won’t be able to outrun her…and since Captain Ross lacks a crew, she won’t be able to react as fast.”
With a quick salute, Colonel Reece raced down to the barracks to round up the crew of Excalibur.
Admiral Cassius tapped the glass inches from his face and smiled. “You’re just like your father, Captain Ross…He never made it, and neither will you.”
“It’s about time you two arrived.”
Samantha glared at Terel momentarily even as her fingers frantically typed commands at the engineering panel on the bridge of Galaxis. She tore the baseball cap from her head, throwing it to the floor in frustration – it was getting in the way. She glanced over at Susan, working quickly at several stations. “Terel, how about if you help instead of amusing yourself?”
“Everything’s online.” Susan turned to face Samantha as she headed over to her station at helm. She froze for a second as she looked at the viewscreen, turning her look of horror toward Samantha. “But the doors are still closed.”
“Just ram the doors.” Terel paused to look at Susan and Samantha as they both gave him angry looks. “You did say you wanted me to help…didn’t you? If you try to ram the doors, they’ll open them. They don’t want an explosion in space dock.”
Susan and Samantha looked at each other for a few seconds, before Samantha finally commented. “You know…that actually makes sense, Terel.”
Terel nodded and smiled. “I’m Cardassian. We’re known for devious tactics.”
Without a sound, Galaxis’ impulse engines slowly began to supply mobility. Thanks to Susan’s trained hand at the controls, the ship accelerated slowly, smoothly…rather then violently lurching into action. Samantha happened to look through the thick transparent aluminum skylight on the bridge – its inner liquid crystal layer charged to allow total translucency – to see the Excalibur nearby. It’s external lights were turning on in groups.
“We have company, guys.” Samantha looked at Susan just as she turned around and nodded. Terel headed straight for the weapons systems console.
The ship surged forward, toward the still-closed spacedock doors. Samantha started to feel a little nervous, they were dangerously close. She paced across the bridge twice before sitting down in the Captain’s chair, holding on tight to the armrests. She knew that they would either hit the doors…or be forced to take them out.
“Yes, Captain?” Terel turned to face Samantha from his weapons console.
Samantha let out a deep sigh to try and calm herself. In her Starfleet career so far, she had only broken small rules. Little things, like her hair length, or insubordinate behavior. But now…she had stolen a ship, and was about to attack a Federation spacedock.
She closed her eyes before executing her next order. “Fire.”
Galaxis shook from the explosion of two photon torpedoes slamming into the reinforced titanium allow spacedock doors. They were designed to repel attacks, but not from within spacedock – or at such close range. The huge doors simply blew apart from the impact.
As Galaxis sailed through the now-open doors, Samantha could hear debris hitting the ship, every hit sounding across the metallic hull, but causing little damage. Low-power shields weren’t designed to stop such small objects, as they could cause little damage to the ship.
“Galaxis is in pursuit.” Susan spoke without looking up from her console. She suddenly took a hard right turn, barely dodging a phaser blast.
Sam gripped the armrests on her chair tighter, as she felt the sudden g-forces. “Cloak the ship. They can’t hit us if they can’t see us.”
“I’m on it.” Susan began tapping her console quickly. “It’ll only buy time, though. They’ll detect our heat signature…and when we go to warp, we’ll have to drop the cloak and they’ll follow.”
Another hard turn, this time to the left, and a curse from Susan told Samantha that it took Excalibur only seconds to track them by heat signature. This time, the turn was too late – the bridge heaved violently as a photon torpedo impacted the underside of the ship.
“Sixty percent. We only had them partially powered.” Susan began tapping her panel furiously. “Boosting now…but that’ll cut our impulse power.”
“Terel–” Samantha paused, fidgeting with one of the small buttons on the armrest of her Captain’s chair. She didn’t want to fire on Excalibur – to do so would mean hurting innocent people. Once she did that, she would be seen as a rogue officer, and would have to work hard to prove she’s not. The finger she was using to poke at the small button stopped tapping as an idea came to her. She smiled at Terel briefly as he stared at her, waiting for her command.
“Susan, prepare us for maximum warp, and keep your finger over the button. Shut down impulse drive and shields.”
“Wh…What?” Susan typed the commands quickly, looking over her shoulder as she did to see what Susan was up to.
“Terel…signal our surrender, and keep a channel open.” Susan rose to her feet and straightened out her clothing, facing the screen to prepare herself to talk to the Captain of Excalibur with confidence.
Terel tapped his console a few times, smiling at Samantha the entire time. “I understand, Samantha. It’s the old hit and run, isn’t it?”
Samantha nodded, smiling briefly at Terel before turning her attention back to the viewscreen. Her face dropped momentarily, her confidence shaken for a moment as she realized who it was – Captain Jean-Luc Picard, of Enterprise.
“Captain Ross, I hear you’ve been causing a bit of trouble in this sector.” Captain Picard spoke with a smile, a disarming softness in his voice. Samantha couldn’t tell if he was dead serious, or if he just wanted to talk, to understand what she was doing.
With a nervous laugh, Samantha returned to her chair and sat down. “Captain Picard…I always hoped we’d meet one day. Just…under better circumstances.”
“I’ve spoken to the Captain of Excalibur”, Captain Picard continued in a soft voice as he returned to his chair as well, “We’ve come to an agreement. You will surrender command to me, and Galaxis will accompany Enterprise to Deep Space Nine.”
Samantha blinked twice quickly, her mouth hanging open briefly with surprise as Captain Picard’s words settled into her brain. Picard was taking her to Deep Space Nine? Did he know what was going on? She shook her head quickly to clear her thoughts. “Uh…sure. I can agree to that.”
“Very well, then. Oh, and Captain Ross?”
“I’ll be expecting you and your crew at dinner aboard Enterprise.” Picard smiled and signaled to someone behind him with his left hand. “Picard out.”
As soon as the viewscreen switched back to a dark view of space, Samantha turned to see Terel grinning with amusement. “What?”
“You’re quite a popular dinner companion, Captain.”
The door pad outside Captain Picard’s office chirped softly as Samantha tapped the ‘page’ button. She took a deep breath and waited for him to acknowledge her verbally before entering. She was breaking custom by arriving on Enterprise nearly an hour before dinner – and even more so by meeting with it’s Captain privately, without being announced first. Samantha hoped he wouldn’t mind – and something told her that he was eager to speak to her.
Samantha entered the doorway as soon as that single word was spoken by Picard. She headed straight to his desk, where he sat pondering something on a small computer screen. “Captain Picard…I’m sorry for intruding, but–”
“Please, have a seat.” Captain Picard turned the computer screen away from him, leaning his elbow on the table to stare at Samantha as she sat down. “Interesting choice of hair color.”
“Oh, that.” Samantha laughed nervously. “It was Susan Troy’s idea. Part of our escape plan.”
Picard nodded and laughed. “I had the pleasure of talking to your father recently. Seems he’s in a bit of trouble on Deep Space Nine. He thinks someone has it in for him…and I think he’s right.”
“So…what happens next?”
Captain Picard leaned back in his chair, staring across his desk at Samantha for several seconds before finally saying something. “What do you think happens next?”
“I just want to be safe again.” Samantha sighed deeply, yet held a steady gaze across Picard’s desk. “And I want my dad to be safe.”
She leaned forward, her face becoming more determined as she stared even more intently at Picard. “I want Galaxis to be mine again.”
“A woman after my own heart.” Picard smiled and laughed, before leaning forward as well. “I will have uniforms issued for you and your crew. Once we arrive at Deep Space Nine, we’ll discuss your…situation with Captain Sisko.”
“Will he be willing to help me? And what if Starfleet already contacted him?”
Picard smiled again, seeming amused by Sam’s question. “Captain Sisko was chosen for his position because he thinks for himself…an asset on a station located so far from Earth–”
“–So he won’t believe I’m an enemy until he hears my side first…right?”
A nod from Picard prompted a smile from Samantha. He stood quickly and reached across the desk to shake her hand. “I’ll look forward to seeing you and your crew at dinner.”
“Admiral, we have Enterprise and Galaxis in range.”
Dusting himself off as he rose from the Captain’s chair aboard Excalibur, Admiral Cassius stared at the viewscreen for a few seconds. “Lock photon torpedoes on to Galaxis. We’ll disable it first–”
Colonel Reece leaned over the console behind Admiral Cassius. “What if Enterprise fights us?”
Admiral Cassius laughed. “They won’t. Picard is an expert in diplomacy…and while he’s busy negotiating, we’ll already have captured Captain Ross. The law’s on our side, Colonel.”
“Maybe so, sir…but that might not matter in a moment.”
Turning to face the screen, Admiral Cassius’ face became paralyzed by fear. Coming right toward his ship was Galaxis, being led by four photon torpedoes…and he hadn’t even raised the shields. “Oh, my God.”
The bridge of Excalibur lurched and jarred violently, fire and sparks erupting from nearly every panel as Admiral Cassius found himself thrown against the panel behind the Captain’s chair. He bellowed in pain as he heard his arm snap loudly upon impact. “Damage…report!”
Colonel Reece returned to his feet quickly, trying his best to see the engineering panel through the smoke which was quickly filling the bridge.
“Warp engines, offline. Weapons offline. Life support offline. And…oh, hell.”
“What is it, Colonel?” Admiral Cassius returned to his feet painfully, settling into his chair with a wince. “She’s sheared us nearly in half, sir. Right at the neck. The saucer half is on backup power and life support. And sir…the Enterprise is requesting our surrender.”
The Admiral narrowed his eyes and frowned. “Damn that Picard. I outrank him…I do not surrender to him. Open a frequency to–”
As the words began to leave his mouth, the bridge of Excalibur went dark. Numbing cold immediately began pooling across the floor as one by one, each of the electronic panels joined the darkness.
“Uh, sir…we just lost backup power.”
“They’re disabled, Captain.”
Samantha didn’t answer as she stood in front of the viewscreen in her new Captain’s uniform courtesy of Captain Picard. She watched a broken Excalibur floating along in space. It made her sad to see such a sight – she knew just how much pride a Starfleet Captain had in her ship. It was like having a helpless child in your care, dependent on you for everything. And just like a child, it responded better to soft coaxing then to tyranny.
“Oh, sorry.” Samantha put on a smile and returned to her chair. “Let’s evacuate them, we don’t want them to freeze to death.
“I’ll bring us to transporter range.” Susan nodded and adjusted a few controls, moving Galaxis closer to the broken Excalibur. As soon as they entered transporter range, however, Susan’s face dropped. “Oh, no–”
“What is it, Susan?”
Almost in answer to Samantha’s question, a orange strip lit up along the ceiling of the bridge and began flashing. A loud, brief, alarm went off, followed by the computer announcing: ‘Intruder Alert’.
“They beamed over right after we lowered our shields.” Susan stood quickly as her panel went dark, followed by panels all over the bridge. “They’re in engineering. They’re re-routing controls. We can’t even call Enterprise for help.”
“Damn.” Samantha raced over to a small closet in the corner of the bridge, typing in a code quickly. As soon as the door opened, she tossed Terel and Susan some kind of silver reflective suits. “Put these on. They’re reflective fabric, it’ll protect us from phaser fire.”
By the time Samantha removed three phaser rifles from the closet, both Terel and Susan were already wearing the reflective clothing. Sam smiled, as she tossed them each a rifle. “Get behind something, and stay down. If they want us, they’ll have to come in through the door. As long as they can’t see us, we have the advantage…they’ll all be stunned unconscious before they know what hit them.”
The wait seemed agonizing as Samantha kneeled behind her Captain’s chair, phaser rifle aimed unsteadily at the door. She had been trained well for moments like these – yet her hands still shook, and her heart still was beating loudly.
She heard a loud creak as the door opened a sliver. She steadied herself, aiming the phaser rifle more carefully at the newly opened gap between the door and frame. Another loud creak, this time as the door was forcibly opened to its full width. Samantha almost pulled the trigger…but she was glad she hadn’t.
Standing in the doorway was Commander Data, from Enterprise. He was surveying the room, as if he knew someone was there. He paused as he caught Samantha’s slight movements as she hid low behind her chair.
“Captain Ross”, he said plainly, “Your ship is now secure.”
“Thank God.” Samantha rose slowly, followed by Terel and Susan, as they both removed their protective clothing. She glanced at the door again as she watched Picard’s first officer, Will Riker, enter the bridge.
“This ship’s much smaller then Enterprise.” He smiled and gave Samantha a quick salute. “Captain…we’re here to help. Any orders?”.
Samantha smiled. She knew she was far outclassed by crew members from the legendary Enterprise…but still, it felt good to be in command of her own ship again.
“Next stop…Deep Space Nine!”
TO BE CONTINUED IN PART 3