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Eclipse: Day of Recknoning (Xul Mission)

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Owain Taggart

The stage was set, the red alert was drawn, and the Horizon was speeding towards Staging Point Alpha in Sar'goth space to meet the rest of the fleet. This was a point of retreat in allied territory; a friendly place for Starfleet to fall back on in drastic measures.

And these were drastic measures. And not any drastic measures, but… WAR.

The ship was not in the best shape it could have been, but Hop had assured him that progress was being made. There would not be a stopover at the station as it was being evacuated; nobody could complain.

“Send a message to Rear Admiral Maddigan. Let him know that we're on our way.”, he ordered. “I'll be in my Ready Room. Follow me, Commander.”

Langford nodded and started following and looked back before he entered the Ready Room. “Ensign Jones, you have the bridge.”

-= Ready Room =-

“So, what do we have here?”, asked Langford as they both sat down. They both looked ready for business, but didn't know what to expect, especially Langford.

Owain switched on the viewer and played the Caloris distress transmission. Langford was stunned. “She's lost isn't she? It doesn't sound good.”

“More than likely. I don't have the details, but we'll find them out when we get to Sar'goth space.”, Owain explained, got up and paced around while he continued to speak.

“Starfleet has issued a General Order Priority One, Commander. These things don't happen often, but they are serious business. Essentially detailed, it means we are at war. We've got to be ready for anything, and I mean anything, Commander. You've been in battles, but I doubt you've been in a war.”

“No, I can't say I have, Captain.”, replied Langford who was starting to look uneasy.

“Fortunately, wars don't happen often. The Klingon/Starfleet war, Wolf 351, and the Dominion War are some of the biggest ones that highlight our history. Unfortunately, they've also had many tragedies.”

“The Romulan War.”, Langford added, and Owain nodded.

“Right you are. Actually the first ever large scale war with the then new Starfleet that ever happened; our first major war with a species that made us realize that we weren't the only ones out there. And it was only the beginning.”

“So, where does this put us?”, asked Langford.

“We'll probably be asked for support. Whatever happens, we need to be there. We'll finally be able to test this little ship of ours.” He looked at the ship model of the first Horizon which was sitting on his desk and sighed. “I won't say this will be easy, because it sure as hell won't. But whatever happens, Commander, we'll make sure history knows our name.”

Rynen Dale

Rynen had been on her way to the escape pods when the command came from Captain Taggart. =/\= Taggart to Rynen, cancel the evacuation. We won't be needing it any longer."

“Understood. Returning to the bridge. Dale out.” she responded. Turning back the way she had come, she patted the bulkhead, a slight smile on her face. This wouldn’t be their last mission on this ship after all.

As she emerged from the turbolift onto the bridge, everyone had a much more relaxed look on their face. She looked for Owain, hoping that she would be able to see him that night. This mission had been stressful for both of them- it would be nice just to unwind and not need to worry about anything, at least for a while. She couldn’t see him anywhere, and was about to ask Draka where the Captain was when the doors to the Ready Room slid open. Owain emerged, a grim look on his face. "We are at War. Proceed to Staging Point Alpha at maximum available warp, Mr Jones. We are to Rendezvous with the rest of Task Force Victor."

Gerhardt Rahner

Gerhardt was continuing his scans on the anti-matter pods, trying to discover the nature of the contaminent. Cmdr. Sym's quick thinking had saved the ship and allowed for warp again, but it was just a temporary fix and the tension in engineering showed.

"Ach, nien, sir. I was hoping you had something. I considered a report I heard about a Starfleet ship using the transporters as a matter re-arranger to repair molecules even as complex as DNA, but I cannot imagine any way to do that without breaching the anti-matter containment."

"No, you're right. That would be too *dangerous, if possible at all," Sym said as another idea formed. "But maybe the answer isn't changing the contaminent. If we can find a way to use this new frequency to power the warp core, then we could at least remove the immediate risk and achieve warp."

"But, sir, that would require a complete system recycle! We would be without power for at least two minutes. And that's assuming we can reconfigure the core to this new frequency."

"We have to try, unless someone has a better option. The good news is, if it doesn't work, we won't have long to feel embarrassed." When his eyes had swept the room and found nothing volunteered, he hit his comm badge.*

=/\= "Sir, I think I found a way!", announced Hop excitedly through the comm channel when there were 2 minutes left, "I need to recycle the computer though. Power will be off momentarily."*

He tapped the comm off and said, "I want emergency teams at every conduit we can cover. If things start getting hot, remember your training. Don't screw this up!"

He turned to the MSD and initialized the computer recycle. When he'd given the vocal authorization, power went out in the whole ship. Working by emergency lights, Sym quickly overrode the starting sequence and reprogrammed the core to utilize the new anti-matter frequency. When he was done, the computer began to restart and power was returned to the ship's main systems.**

When the power came back on again, Owain's voice came over the comm expectantly, =/\="Well?",*he asked Hop.

=/\="It worked. Everything is stable now. However, we still have the volatile substance mixed in with the anti-matter. We'll need to dispose it as soon as possible."

=/\="Understood", he told the engineer. "So, we're home free then?"

=/\="For the time being," said Hop, and grinned at the crew.**

Now the warp drive was working well enough for the Horizon to make warp 6.3 to Staging Point Alpha, but the strange, volatile anti-matter was slowly wrecking havoc on the system. The EPS conduits were wearing down 36% faster and the engineering crew could barely keep up with the repairs. Sym had given Gerhardt the task of studying the anti-matter so they could discover some way to deal with it. So far, Gerhardt could only see three possible ways to fix the problem: revert the anti-matter to the original specified frequency; find a way to safely dispose of it: or learn to cope with it. Unfortunately, none of these could hapoen until they knew more about the contaminent. So Gerhardt continued combing all the fine details he could find, hoping for the discovery that would let him know what to do. As they said back home, Der Teufel steckt im Detail: The Devil is in the details.

Sym Fra Hop

Sym was confident that Rahner would find a solution to the conundrum that was affecting the Horizon. Normally he would be more up to the task, however he had to get the ship ready for war.
War, Sym hated that word and all that came with it. There was some kind of perverse pleasure deep down in the depths of his soul at the sound of that word. Humans had been fighting wars for most of their recorded history and it was in their genetic makeup.
Suppressing that feeling was becoming an almost everyday occurrence for Sym. According to the ships counsellor, these feelings were more that normal. Something left over from the dark, ancient and often brutal history of humanity's past.
Sym was running himself and the whole of the engineering ragged with the almost constant repairs. A nearly new ship should not be hurting like this, she shouldn't need these kind of repairs for another fifty-thousand light-years.
As he thought about the havoc the new anti-matter was causing to his engines he had a rogue thought about the ships photon torpedoes. Photon torpedoes where essentially mini anti-matter bombs with a guidance system. What if he could find a way to replace the anti-matter in the torpedoes with the contaminated soup that was flowing through the Horizons engines. That would increase the explosive yield of the torpedoes by nearly 25 per-cent.

=^= Hop to Rahner, if you could keep some of that contaminated anti-matter, we could use it in the Photon Torpedoes. Wait until the Captain gives me authorisation first though, he may not like the idea. =^=

=^= Understood sir.=^= Rahner replied

=^= Have you found any way to remove the contamination yet?=^= Sym asked

=^= Nien sir, if I knew how the Romulans got the contaniment in there in the first place, I might be able to reverse it.=^= Rahner said

=^= Unfortunately, our friendly Romulan in the brig is not volunteering any information,=^= Sym said

=^= Understood sir, I'll keep working on it. Rahner Out.=^=

Sam Jones

Sam sat at the helms station trying to coax what little he could get out of the engines, which actually surprised him, what he could get out of them since the warp core had a volatile mix in it.

"Ensign Jones, you have the bridge."

The words echoed inside Sam's head, "Ensign…Bridge", Sam shook his head he knew that being promoted and being made Chief Helmsman would bring a lot more duties, but taking the bridge for awhile, he hadn't expected that.

Sam stood, and walked to the big chair in the middle, the command chair. He sat down and ran his hands along the sides of it, feeling the leather, and the surge of power that came with the seat.

"With great power comes great responsibility," the saying was ancient but it rang in Sam's head like a shrill whistle.

Sam looked down at the information that came to him on the panels of the chair, it gave him a good look into what state the ship was in. He then knew how hard the engineers must have been working to try to get the ship ready for war.

War…He had never been in a war where he was on a single side, he had been in small battles in the Dominion War, where he had no choice or a Federation ship had been in trouble. This was an unknown, they were speeding towards a designated area to meet up with the rest of their task force, but the details hadn't been specific, they were at WAR with an unknown enemy.

A thousand different species shot through Sam's head, a lot of which he never hoped to have to deal with again, Romulan's and Klingons, where two of Sam least favorite, but there were others, some like their own security officer Draka, which his hair could change colors and he could shoot stuff out of his palms…so who knows what they would be up against.

This exact reason, was why Starfleet ran so me drills all the time, especially in times of war, to be ready for the unknown, and Sam would be ready, whether he was flying, shooting, or surviving, he would be ready.

Owain Taggart

The Horizon had been making its way to Staging Point Alpha for many days now. The trip had been long, and only made longer by the limited warp speed available. He was confident that Hop was doing his best to try to get them back to full capacity by the time they arrived.

Owain had used this time to brief everyone on what he knew without getting into details that they weren't privvy to, but the effect was the same. They knew they were at war, and they knew the dangers going in. The danger was imminent, and very much unlike Parisses Squares. It was very much possible that death would occur, and they knew it. And in certain cases, chance of death invigorated and set the adrenaline to an ultimate high. This would probably be a high they'd never forget, or even come out of.

Foreboding and alertness was a mood that was shared when the briefing finally ended. They knew what was at stake, and Owain had a constant feed on his chair that alerted him to any updates. On it, he could see the toll of ships lost. He had to keep his mind sharp, realizing that the Horizon could be added to the toll; it was like the whole quandrant was watching.

When they finally arrived at their destination, he checked in and received new orders. They would be patrolling the wormhole entry into the Gamma Quadrant. The Upper Echelon knew it as a strategic point, and suspected that more of their enemy could and most possibly would come through. It was only a matter of time now. And when that other shoe would drop…

Owain was looking at his crew now. Everyone was on high alert, looking for signs of anything new. He was proud of his crew; of everything it had achieved over the years he had been in command of it. This was their day; their day of reckoning. It was all or nothing.

He looked at the viewscreen which was showing the wormhole. It was all coming down to this. The Erizmus Taggart in his mind, his Symbiont, reassured him that this part of history was inevitable. That without the victors, there wouldn't be anyone to record their story, and so let this day in history be recorded and let it be known that Owain Taggart and the crew of the Horizon fought with bravery and courage in the line of duty. They'd find a way to be the victors.

Draka Ren Colok

Draka looked foreward to the viewscreen from his post at one of the bridge's secondary terminals. He requested the terminal to re-review the ship's complement of personal weaponry… considering the state the Federation found itself in.. it was a wise precaution.

"War…", Draka muttered to himself, letting the word roll around within his mouth a bit, not noticing the look the officer at the tactical station gave him at the sound, too many things going on in his head. It's been days since the Captain made the proclimation that he was informed the Federation is at war.

The moment his shift was over that day he made his way to medbay… speaking to the doctor in their office. Scan were done.. compared to initial medical scans from when he joined Starfleet…. the doctor's prognosis hit him like a sledgehammer. When the Romulans tool the ship and he was seperated from the briedge crew the Romulan guard struck him… his head careening off the table in the conference room. The doctor determined the cause of Draka's difficulties on the Romulan ship and explained them… a structure within his brain that allowed his body to regular absorbed energy and sent the impulses down to his hands to direct the energy through his palms via specialized organ structures located there was irrepairably damaged by the impact. Other then that the blow to his head wasn't terribly damaging. Draka took the news in stride, showing nothing to the doctor… upon being given a clean bill of health and orders to return to medbay in the morning to change the bandages for the wound suffered on the Romulan ship, Draka excused himself and returned to his quarters.

Shaking his head to clear his thoughts he looked to the wormhole displayed through the viewscreen, glancing to his inventory of the ship's phaser rifles and hand phasers. He pushed aside his own self doubts… self doubts that have caused him to withdraw more into himself in off-duty situations… becoming more isolated then he tended to be even before the visit to medbay. He gritted his teeth and put his hands to either side of the keypads of the terminal, looking towards the Captain. "Captain, do we have any idea what to expect from our foes?"

Patrick Heinz (John Smith)

Fear, what governed every living thing on an instinctual level, made them survive another day, made them prosper. Fear had the habit of crawling behind your neck and nibbling right there until it got bored. Some brush that feeling aside, some heed it as a warning; everyone had different ways of coping with fear. Some found that sharing made the coping easier.

The ensign on the bio bed had been babbling since he had entered the sick bay. Well calling it a sick bay always felt somehow wrong. Compared to the onboard hospital that the Galaxy and the Sovereign sported the sick bay on the Defiant class Horizon was nothing more than a glorified trauma station; but the universal rule of “make do with what you have at hand” of medicine was at work, with a side dish of “hope that he shuts up soon”. After all the only thing he had was a dislocated shoulder and talking that much wasn’t really that much necessary to pop it back into place, patch it up and send him off to get some rest process.

“This is going to hurt a little” Ginny said grabbing the mans arm. She waited a brief moment and made the whole sick bay echo with the gut wrenching sound of bones scraping together and finally finding their place, halfway thru that was drowned down by what could be considered a girlish scream from the ensign. “Now make sure not to use it for the next couple of days and come for a check up three days later” Ginny added trying not to look the man in the eye with fear of laughing

“Doc, can’t you give me something for the pain?” the ensign asked rubbing his teary eyes

“Sure” Ginny replied “Smith” she called out. The man in question had arrived at the last minute on the ship before the whole Romulan mess had started and with the latest developments and the fleet stealing off their nurse to assign her elsewhere was the only aide they had left. Smith, being at the bottom of the food chain in the sick bay was the whipping boy of the tiny medical staff. “Oi! Smith!”

“Yes?” the man called Smith appeared from the storage room

“Could you fetch me a hypo and a mild painkiller for the ensign’s shoulder?” Ginny replied to the blank stare of the man. She watched as he walked to get one when the ensign cut in.

“Sure is strange huh?”

“What is?” Ginny replied turning back to the bio bed

“Well, y’know… the war. I mean who would have expected an attack like that” the ensign explained with an uneasy smile as an attachment

“I heard someone say that the sky harbor was destroyed…” the ensign started but couldn’t really summon up the will to continue with the rumors.

Ginny’s eyes flared at the man, rumor mill was at it again. “Does no one has anything better to do than talk about these stuff?” she taught to herself. “Rumors doesn’t really matter now do they?” Ginny blurted out.

Smith had come over thru their discussion and was standing right beside her with the hypo and the canister for the painkiller in his hands; but he had the blank face which became his new tradition. “Smith” Ginny called with no reply “Oi!” she yelled “Chief Smith!” she tried again than came a cracking noise and suddenly both the canister and the blank stare on the mans face was gone. The glass had shattered and the only part that was still in one piece was the cap which was sticking out from his fist; yet strangely there was no reaction.

Ginny gasped and went into action “Are you okay?” she asked.

The man calmly replied with “Yeah, sorry kinda drifted off there”. Ginny watched as he slowly opened his palm and started picking off the glass pieces sticking out from his palm. The ensign on the other hand was trembling; most people weren’t accustomed to seeing blood gushing out of wounds and dripping down to the floor.

“I-I think I’m okay actually… I-I better go” and the ensign stormed out of the sick bay.

Ginny looked at Smith’s face. The man had no indication of pain, no reaction, no nothing. He was just calmly and analytically removing pieces of glass from his hands. “Sit down, I’ll clean it and stitch it up” she said and went off to grab some bandages and the stitching kit, for a wound like this it was better to use the old fashion than the high tech gear.

Ginny was glad that Lieutenant Torv was off in the staff meeting as she would had thrown a tantrum that could dislodge the warp reactor for something like this. After a few minutes Ginny had finished with Smith’s hand “You okay? Does it feel alright or the stitches are a little tight?” she asked to check

“Yeah, they feel fine” the man replied “better clean that up before Doctor Torv gets here” he added looking at the blood stain on the floor. With the ensign gone, Torv off in the staff meeting and Kilea off-duty they were the only ones left so Ginny went after him to help.

“Hey John, are you okay? You are spacing out more and more lately” cleaning was boring a job as it is, cleaning blood was more boring

“I think what with there being a war the stress is getting to me” the man started “Sorry, I’m not usually like this”

“It’s okay” Ginny sent a warming smile towards the man “After we clean up take the rest of the day off, go get some rest”

And the conversation died there. All that time Ginny wondered what was going thru Smith’s mind. Someone stressed over, on edge with anxiety wouldn’t break a canister in their grasp when they space out; they would usually forget that it was even there and drop it; he sure was strange and yet she felt that it kind of didn’t look off or odd for him.

When the cleaning was done she watched as he left. He had a strange expression the whole time they were cleaning, like he had lost something, or forgot; she couldn’t exactly tell but when he was leaving she was sure what she had seen, despair. “Why would he feel that way I wonder” she taught as another patient came in right after Smith left.

Gerhardt Rahner

Gerhardt sat in the mess hall, staring blankly over an empty pilsner glass. In his worrying hands was a rag and a plasma-valve he had been cleaning before his shift was over but hadn't put down when he left engineering. He had already replaced it and this one needed some extra work, plus he needed something for his hands to do. Ship-wide rumor and official reports had mixed together by now and the whole crew was on edge as the Horizon sat on guard at the wormhole. Stories about the Caloris's fate had started out unbelievable, and that from the official reports, and grown to mythic proportions. And to top it all off, the engineering crew still hadn't been discovered a way to handle the anti-matter contaminant from the last mission! They couldn't even get a handle on what the hell it was.

Gerhardt had never been in a war, but he had been involved in some battles on various ships throughout the galaxy. The last time he'd seen action, he was working as the lead, and practically only, engineer on a security ship for a mining operation in the Altarus asteroid belt. A small raider fleet had attacked the transports and his ship went to the rescue. Unfortunately, the mining company had not been as concerned about security as they were about thrift. Shields down to 12%, starboard nacelle fried, and maneuvering thrusters losing power, Gerhardt had found himself alone when a display panel exploded on his assistant. Was it the adrenaline or just the sheer need to survive that had allowed him to push that rust bucket beyond all possible limitations?

"Cadet?" The barman pulled Gerhardt from the recesses of his memory. "If you keep polishing that thing, and I'll end up having you clean the bits of it off the table," he quipped with a smile. "How about another drink to go with that load of past?"

"Zhat would be wunderbar," Gerhardt replied, not even bothering to compensate for his accent.

The barman didn't miss a beat, but poured the next beer and sat down at the otherwise empty table. "So, have you ever been in combat?" When Gerhardt gave him a shocked look, the barman chuckled, "Don't worry, I'm not Betazoid or anything. Everyone's thinking about it. It's all anyone can think about. I figure an older guy like you who just came out of the Academy must have seen something in his time."

"Ja," Gerhardt said. "I have seen some skirmishes, but nothing like war. And certainly nothing like what we're due to face."

This lowered the mood significantly. Neither man would look at the other; both stared at a point well past nowhere. The barman was the first to speak:

"You're in engineering, right? Do we really have a chance at this? Can this ship even make a dent in those bastards?"

Gerhardt smiled reassuringly, "This ship is brand new, ja? Top of the line, as they say. But I would not tell you to put all of your faith in her."

"Oh. So, what happens when we encounter the enemy?"

"That's when what you should have faith in will jump into action. Or rather, who you should have faith in. It will be the crew that wins the battles, not the ship, and this crew can do it if anyone can. It will stretch us beyond anything we have ever encountered, but we can handle this. We just have to be unpredicta…" Rahner faded off into an epiphany.

"You alright?"

"Das sein nach! Mein Gott! Einfach!" Gerhardt jumped out of his seat, grabbed the valve, and downed the beer before running for the door, leaving a stunned barman sitting alone.

Main Engineering

Gerhardt huddled over the anti-matter pod punching madly at his tricorder. Shortly after he had gone off-duty, he had run back into engineering with a tricorder and headed straight for the anti-matter pods, muttering to himself in mixed English and German. An hour later, he was still going strong when Sym approached. The commander watched Rahner work feverishly, unwilling to hinder his work. On a nearby display, Rahner had a working algorithm that was actively shifting as the cadet worked. Sym's eyes leapt between Gerhardt and his algorithm, putting the pieces together as the cadet worked. Suddenly, everything clicked for Sym and he understood what Rahner was looking for.

"Cadet," he barked out, hiding a relieved smile. "We have shift rotations for a reason."

Gerhardt jumped at the intrusion. "Ah, yes, commander, but you see," he pointed at the algorithm, words flying out of him so fast he was barely understandable, "I think I may have a piece of the puzzle! We have been unsuccessfully trying to pin down what the Romulans did because it cannot be pinned down. The anti-matter is in a constant state of flux! I do not know how they set such a reaction off, but they produced an anti-matter which would continually shift between two extremes of a very particular, very small range of frequencies."

"At ease, Rahner, at ease," Sym said calmly. "So at the moment we don't know how they did it, but do we know enough to fix it?"

"Well, yes, sir, I know that was the original objective, but now that we understand it, I believe when can successfully utilize it. If I can just work out this algorithm to accurately predict the fluxuations, this anti-matter could prove exponentially more powerful than our original specifications. We could improve everything: propulsion, weapons, shields! If we can work this out, we could even consider the possibility of a safe, effective subspace phase technology."

"Let's not get ahead of ourselves, Rahner," Sym replied. "We can start by finishing this job and talk about improving systems with the captain later. And by "we" I mean the engineering crew. You look exhausted, cadet, and I order you to go get some rest. Let someone else do some of the work."

Gerhardt sighed, "Aye, Commander. But I do not think I will be able to rest while my brain is wrapped around this problem."

"Try, Rahner. I don't want anyone burning out so soon in a time of crisis like this."

At that, the cadet turned and walked toward the turbolift, only once looking back at the crew.

Sym Fra Hop

After sending Rahner to his quarters Sym decided to consult with Ensigns Garfield and Barnett. The Cadet's hypothesis was a stroke of genius, if they could do what he suggested, they might have a fighting change in the upcoming conflict. However, they first had to restore the Horizon back to factory specs.

"This is quite remarkable," Tormass Garfield said as the three officers consulted over the Engineering's MSD.

"Let's just concentrate on returning the ship to within the guidelines. When we have some time, I'll get Mr Rahner to explain his theory to the Captain. I need his authorisation to make the modifications, but you are right. This is indeed remarkable. I'm certainly glad Rahner is on this ship." Sym said, "If only we knew how the Romulans did it. We can work that out at a later time, first things first. Lets get the anti-matter back to specs."

"Mr Rahner found out that the magnetic frequency is switching between two very distinct frequencies. I believe that we can adjust the frequencies using the containment system." Lois Barnett suggested.

"I agree, we'll have to do it stages. A little bit at a time."

For the next three hours, Sym and the other engineering officers continuously made slight adjustments to the magnetic containment system. Eventually they were successful, the anti-matter was back to normal. Sym finally breathed a sigh of relief.

"Mr Rahner has most certainly pulled our balls out of the fire," Sym said

Ensign Barnett winced at Sym use of vernacular, as she always did, "Colourfully put sir."

Sym's only reply was a grin while Garfield only chuckled.

"Go get some rest, I'll run some diagnostics and then let the Captain know every-things almost back to normal." Sym said.

After Barnett and Garfield engineering, Sym ran the necessary diagnostics, and then logged them in the engineering log. Once he had done that, he contacted the Captain.

=^= Engineering to the Bridge =^=

=^= Go ahead Commander =^= The Captain asked

=^= The anti-matter is back to normal, and I have engineers working on the rest of the ship. You should have full power in about an hour. =^=

=^= Good work Commander. You are indeed a miracle worker =^=

=^= I wish I could take the credit but it was Cadet Rahner's idea. =^=

=^= Could you pass on my thanks to the Cadet for me. That was some good work =^=

=^= Will do sir, Engineering out. =^=

Owain Taggart

Routine. It was all routine now as they commenced their patrol of the area. Though one could say that nothing about war was routine. War was all about variables. And. against these new enemies, they had more variables than they could count. It was all about the unexpected now. And the waiting. 'War; War never changes', he thought to himself.

"Captain, do we have any idea what to expect from our foes?" , Draka spoke.

He looked over at Draka as he heard the question. He honestly didn't know what to say. Starfleet had been caught so off-guard by this, and in return was the devastation and the losses. He just looked blankly at Draka while shaking his head at his question, and did his best to muster up an answer, while trying to be discreet about it as to not alarm the crew. “No we don't, Mr Colok. Unfortunately we don't know much of anything. We don't know much about our enemies. They do seem to know a whole lot more about us than we do about them. They've been relentless in their destruction. I know that doesn't help much. But it's why we're on high alert. If we're to see anything come out the wormhole, we're to relay it to the other ships. It's the unexpected that we have to expect. It's the only way we'll be prepared..”, he told Draka while putting a hand on his shoulder, “Be prepared. That's all I ask. Be prepared for anything and keep your chin up in all this. It may not be easy, but we'll make it through this, or my name isn't Owain Taggart.”

As they travelled their patrol route, it wasn't long before they encountered signs that their enemy had previously been there. It had marked a battle which was largely stacked in favour of their enemy leaving no chance for the Starfleet vessels. These were among the ships recently lost; the first ships lost when their enemy fleet had come through the wormhole. Owain had a pang of regret and remorse; a wish that he had been there to make a difference, or to do or die trying.

He wasn't the only one to notice the odd way the ships had been torn apart. It didn't look as if they had been shredded; it looked like whatever hit the ships stripped the the hulls like a hot knife through butter. In other words, the enemy's weapons melted the hull, making them weaker, leaving it up to a projectile weapon to finish the job. It was something new to Starfleet. Something they couldn't have protected themselves against.

“Sir”. The voice shook him out of his thoughts. He continued looking at the viewscreen; at the horror before him, not looking at where the voice was coming from. He hadn't noticed who spoke, but took in the information. “I believe this was caused by Krieger Waves. I've read a lot about them. Technically, it's possible they exist, but we haven't encountered them – until now, possibly. It's only a hypothesis, but if this wreckage was caused by Krieger Waves, then Starfleet better have a trick up its sleeve. Our enemies are relentless, sir.”

They couldn't have said it better themselves. Of course, he agreed. Their enemies were relentless. They had something in mind and they were determined to get it. Once again, Owain and Commander Langford were in the ready room, going over things.

“It's no wonder we had to fall back to Staging Point Alpha”, remarked Langford. “I don't like the looks of this anymore than you do. Taking Jericho-Samaria? These people want something, and they want it bad. No idea what they plan to do with it, but there's got to be a reason why they're taking it by force. Could they possibly be running away from an enemy looking for a safe place?”

Owain shook his head, “They can't be running away. No, their destruction serves a purpose. A vile purpose, sure, but a purpose nonetheless. It just means that we're no longer the strongest in the area. After a decade of feeling secure after the Dominion War, we have someone new trying to teach us who's boss. But, don't you worry, Commander. We'll fight back.”
His commbadge beeped and he tapped it to respond to it. It was Hop delivering the good news. There was some ray of hope afterall. He would soon have to personally congratulate Cadet Rahner. He smiled while looking at Langford. "Well, back to the routine, Commander. Hopefully won't be long before we get some action."

Sam Jones

Sam watched the viewsceen as the wreckage past buy, he was careful to avoid the pieces of metal and corpses…Corpses, that was the worst, it was no way for anyone to die, and it was sad to see so many good officers floating around. Sam wondered how many the Captain knew, how man he knew?

“Sir,I believe this was caused by Krieger Waves."

Krieger Waves what what the hell were those, he had never heard of them, but looking at the damage he hoped that they were dodge able. Sam knew he was a good pilot, but so were all of those good men on the other ships. He only hoped that Sym would be able to come up with some kind of extra shielding that would work against Krieger Waves.

Sam was exausted he had worked two strait shifts not wanting to miss any action, he had even considered taking a third, but he didn't want to incur the wrath of CMO Torv.

His replacement came as soon as he stood, and he headed for the turbolift.

Mess Hall

Sam went to the replicator and ordered steak(medium rare), mashed potatoes, and green beans, his favorite meal, it wasn't as good as the real thing though. He pulled his small flask out of his pocket and filled a small glass of bourbon, and gulped it down, real Jim Beam couldn't be beat.


Sam went to his quarters, and tried to sleep, but it was a nothing but rolling around, he couldn't sleep, this was WAR, he needed to be on the bridge. Atlast sleep over took him, but it was nothing but nightmares.

Rynen Dale

After the briefing, Rynen had gone down to sickbay to get the neural inhibitor taken off. Although it had stopped the migraines, she still wasn’t used to not having her telepathic abilities. It might mean the head aches would come back, but it was a risk she was willing to take. As she was about to enter the bay, the door swished open and a chief she didn’t recognize came out. He almost ran into her, a glazed look on his face.

“Hey, watch it!” she stated, her temper aggravated due to her frustrations with the neural inhibitor. He merely stepped around her and kept walking, barely glancing in her direction. A confused look on her face, Rynen entered the bay and saw Ginny standing there. “What’s wrong with that guy? He just about ran into me and didn’t even say anything.” the betazoid stated.

Ginny shook her head. “I have no idea.. He’s quiet strange. Always seems like his mind is elsewhere. Anyways, how can I help you, Lieutenant?”

Rynen pointed to the small device attached to her skull behind her ear. “I was hoping to get this thing removed. I know I might start having headaches again, but I just can’t stand it anymore. I can’t focus…” she said. Ginny nodded, pushing back Rynen’s hair to see more clearly.

“Shouldn’t be a problem…” Ginny murmured. After pressing a few buttons, the device was off. A rush of emotions and thoughts flooded Rynen’s brain. She gasped slightly and closed her eyes, taken aback by the force of it. Opening her eyes slowly, she turned and looked at Ginny.

“There is something terribly wrong here…”

Owain Taggart

It had all been quiet these past few hours. An intense kind of quiet, where everybody was at full alert, some paranoid at even the slightest noise and deviation from routine. Though, if it was too quiet, there came the assumption that something was wrong, that something wasn't right. That was the double-edged sword, and it was even sharper during a time of war.

Everyone looked to the Captain when the hiss and crackle of an open line presented itself. “Sir, incoming transmission. It's from the … the aliens; our enemy. Should I route it to your ready room?”

Owain shook his head, “No, it's alright. Put it on the main viewscreen.

<()> "Inhabitants of Ekur Baraqu, I am Resi Gibil-Xul, the Commander of the Xul Fleet that has decimated the Federation Fleet and seeks to enter your fortress. The Xul did not seek your deaths. The Xul only want the Federation to relinquish their control on Megiddo. I have instructed Khouri-Elva and her Federation officers to surrender. But instead of joining the Xul Empire to become citizens and prosperous members of the Qataya, they wish to sacrifice lives, your lives, so that they can prolong their chances of rescue."

//The transmission cut to a carefully crafted message that had been gleaned from Shin'Ar. It showed the desperation of Jordan Levi in the final moments of her capitulation.

=/\= "They killed over a hundred people before I gave over command. They are now demanding you to surrender.” Jordan paused. “Toryn don’t do it. We’re all willing to die."=/\=

"If it is death you seek then we will aid your journey," Gibil-Xul stated as the transmission turned to that of two people, an alien man and a human woman being executed by his Etlu. The woman's screams resonated through the corridors of Shin'Ar. The alien's green blood spatter arced wide before drenching the armor of the Etlu. "For every minute the shield remains active we will execute two of your brethren and you will be able to watch their passage. The blood price will also be exacted from those who hide behind their shielding, not the Federation officers but the others, for every minute we wait the Xul will wipe one hundred of you from existence as we walk down your streets. Male, Female or one will be spared." <()>//

It was similar to the report he had read with Langford earlier, but this was the whole transmission, and it hit everyone hard. He felt sick to his stomach. He tapped his commbadge. “Taggart to Hop, Commander, I'd like to hear about any progress you have about offloading the contagion to torpedo casings. I believe we'll be needing it quite soon. “

The wait was almost over. The sensors were firing off alerts that something had come through the wormhole.

Draka Ren Colok

Draka stood at a secondary console on the bridge, finalizing security officer rotations to keep everyone fresh for the coming time. The Xul message played, and Draka blanched, staring at the screen. "Those… monsters… Honorless mongrels…", he stammered to himself… before anyone hearing might be able to respond alerts sounded off that something was emerging through the wormhole. Acting quickly he shunted the security roster aside and brought up a copy of the sensor readings from tactical, grasping the edge of the console in case of any evasive maneuvers or weapons impacts on the Horizon. "Captain, I'll keep an eye on the sensor readings from tactical to see if there's anything I can contribute to aid us against them if this is them.", he said to his captain, who is still watching the viewscreen.

Sym Fra Hop

=^= Taggart to Hop, Commander, I'd like to hear about any progress you have about offloading the contagion to torpedo casings. I believe we'll be needing it quite soon. =^=

Sym was already on his way to the bridge with Cadet Rahner when the Captain's call came through, at least he had some good news. The entire engineering department had listened at the threats the Zul where making, and it made Sym sick to the stomach. What kind of species would execute innocents. Sym was well aware that he should'nt assign Human values and morals to an unknown alien race.
For the past few hours, Sym had been rearming the Horizon's photon torpedo, with the assistance of Cadet Rahner, with the contamination the Romulan's had introduced to the Horizon's anti-matter pods. Cadet Rahner had discovered how the Romulans had altered the anti-matter into a strange form of anti-matter that would release a unique type of radiation when detonated.
This made the anti-matter much more volatile, and if they could add that contagion to the weapons grade anti-matter in the photon torpedo, hopefully that should give the Horizon a fighting change.

=^= We're about 45 percent complete, sir. I estimate another hour or so until we are complete. =^=

=^= Is there any way you can speed it up, we need those torpedoes. =^=

=^= I'll get to it. Hop out. =^=

"Look's like trouble is on it's way." Sym said to Rahner.

Sam Jones

Sam had slept little, and had decided to go back to his post on the bridge, he took some uppers to alert his senses.

As he listened to the message of the Xul, he was disturbed by how far they would take things but that only made his resolve even more, it was time to kill these bastards, he was no longer hoping for a peaceful resolution, but for one that would end with the anihilation of the entire force that was headed their way.

Sam started plotting the directions and formations that he would fly, to best give the tatical officer the best shots. He read and reread the sensor data that was sent to him, he wanted to be ready. Now was not the time for mistakes.

War…people died in Wars, the victors got to make the history, right or wrong, and Sam sure as hell didn't want the Xul to be telling the history of Megiddo.

Sam whispered to those close enough to here an old Latin saying, "Mors ultima linea rerum est." (Death is everything's final limit)

Owain Taggart

The first ships through the wormhole, the sensors indicated, were a Xul Capital ship, and two escorts. Targets, finally, Owain thought. Whatever their plan was, it would soon be put to an end.

“Sir, sensors are picking up a capital ship and two escorts and they seem to be heading towards our area”, Draka said as he looked up from his station, “I'd probably engage -”

His voice was cut off by another incoming transmission from the Xul on an open channel received by all Captains. The voice was menacing, cold and calculating. He began to feel deep resentment towards the Xul. They had no right to intrude into the territory that the Federation owned.

<()> 'To the Ship Masters of the Starfleet ships in Megiddo Sector. Surrender, or watch as your daku crumble. Surrender and you will become part of the Xul Fleet and hold honored positions among us.' <()>

Owain shook his head, filled with silent rage and hatred for the Xul. He had no intention to bend to the will of their enemy. He had no desire to become part of them and their destructive ways.

“Eat lead, you pansy ass bastards!” He exclaimed, perhaps a bit louder than he would of wished, since they all started looking at him, then winced at the realization.

“Sir, incoming transmission from Rear Admiral Maddigan. We have orders to take on the escorts and weaken them..”, reported Draka.

Owain nodded. “Send him an acknowledgement.”, he said then looked at Sam, “Let's teach these Xul a lesson, shall we, Flyboy? Proceed to intercept the escorts.”

Current Targets: 2x Escorts

Draka Ren Colok

"Yes sir, orders are received and confirmed. Horizon out.", Draka said over the connection to the Integrity. He held onto the console with his left hand, right hand moving over his console, calling over his shoulder to the officer at tactical,"Can you tighten up sense scans on the two escorts… I wanna know as much about them as we can."

Draka looked back to his console, seeing the information scrolling up his screen… the tightened scans performed, giving him readouts of the Xul ships' shields, charging energy weapons and so forth. The distance readout between the Horizon and thw two Xul escorts continued diminishing, before the Horizon began to take evasive action as the Xul ships opened fire with their pulsed energy weapons system at maximum range. Draka immediately tapped some keys as the ship bobbed, twisted and weaved, bringing the energy weapons' readouts up, opening a second work window to run quick computations… things were just starting to heat up…

Gerhardt Rahner

"Looks like trouble is on it's way."

The turbolift doors opened to the bridge in red alert.*

“Eat lead, you pansy ass bastards!” He exclaimed, perhaps a bit louder than he would of wished, since they all started looking at him, then winced at the realization.*

“Sir, incoming transmission from Rear Admiral Maddigan. We have orders to take on the escorts and weaken them..”, reported Draka.

Owain nodded. “Send him an acknowledgement.”, he said then looked at Sam, “Let's teach these Xul a lesson, shall we, Flyboy? Proceed to intercept the escorts.”

Sym turned to Rahner. "Rahner, get back to engineering. Get those upgraded torpedoes online, now!"

"Aye, commander." Rahner turned an about-face and re-entered the turbolift. "Engineering."

He pulled out the padd he had started carrying around with his work on it and continued working with the algorithm. By the time the turbolift doors opened at engineering, he had come down to two conclusions: either the contaminated anti-matter had to bypass the enemy shields in some way other than with a standard torpedo, which in the time he had was impossible, or this whole project was impossible.

Nien, no impossibilities. There has to be a way. Sieh außer dem Problem. Look past the problem. he thought.*

"Sieh außer…" he muttered quietly as his gaze fell on the anti-matter pods. "Wundervar," and he set to work.*

Back on the bridge, Sym was monitoring engineering at an available station when the call came over his comm badge. =/\= Rahner to Hop. Commander, I think I have discovered an answer to the problem! You see we cannot make the torpedos…=/\=

Sym cut him off, =/\= Cadet, we're a little busy here. I'll read about the specs in your report. Just tell me that you've got something that will work and that it will be ready to implement in less than five minutes.=/\=

=/\= Er, yes, commander. I am, well, rather certain this will work. And it is a fast upgrade to the current torpedo casings. I already have the replicators making the necessary components. But sir, I must point out that this is a shot in the dark. Before we can use the upgrades with any effect, the enemy shields must be reduced by=/\= The sound of padd keys being hit rapidly could be heard. =/\= 23% at least. And even then, this is not an accurate shot. The torpedo's course will only matter up to the edge of the enemy shield. After that, the anti-matter will be drifting to the target proper.=/\=

Sym thought this over quickly. =/\= Drifting? You better have one hell of a good report written when this is over. How many casings are upgraded?=/\=

=/\= We are 45% complete with the upgrades, sir. If it's ok, sir, I'd like to leave some of the torpedos without the upgrade, in case we need them. =/\=

Back in engineering, Rahner tapped his comm badge. "And I truly hope I get the chance to write that report, sir." He grabbed his padd and started double checking the casings already complete.*

Rynen Dale

Rynen would have to deal with the recent.. problem… she had discovered later. Right now, she knew her place was on the bridge. The turbolift doors slid open, and she quickly took in the scene in front of her. Although they were just about to engage a practically unknown enemy, the crew seemed surprisingly calm, going about their jobs with astounding efficiency, working like a well-oiled machine. The calm before the storm, I suppose… Rynen thought, using an old Earth expression. Noting that Draka seemed to have the security console well at hand, she went a relieved the officer at tactical.

"Can you tighten up sense scans on the two escorts… I wanna know as much about them as we can." Draka called over his shoulder, not really bothering to look at her.

“Whatever you say, boss.” she joked, trying to ease some of the tension she could hear in his voice. Although she wasn’t able to sense his emotions, the strain of the impending attack was clearly having an effect on the young man.

Draka looked quickly back at Rynen, shock on his face. She smiled and gave him the thumbs up. “You’re doing a great job. I’ll get those scans to you right away.” she stated, focusing down on her console. Her fingers flew over the smooth glass surface, rescanning the two escort ships, devoting almost all subspace scanners to the task.

“Draka, I’m sending the information your way.” she stated, then taking time to look over it more herself. The escort ships were dwarfed by the Xul capital ship they were accompanying, but they were still almost twice the size of the Defiant-class Horizon. She brought up the scans of the weapons systems. They had the usual phased energy weapons similar to the Federation phase cannons, but she also noticed two other large-scale weapons that she had never seen anything like before. She took a quick look over the shields, not seeing anything special. But who knew what surprises could await them…?

Owain Taggart

The Horizon was on an intercept course with the escorts. Time was ticking, and the whole crew knew it, as it had been on alert since the time he gave the order to intercept. Owain had to silently admit to himself that he felt trepidation that this was finally happening, and another part of him felt relief.

While listening to chatter among the bridge crew with their preparations for the upcoming battle, he worried about them, but couldn't help but grin. He knew they would do well in this situation.

They were quickly closing in on their target, and Owain viewed it on the viewscreen; intimidating was an understatement. The escorts were 300 meters in length, while the Horizon was only 170 meters, which would prove to be quite the matchup. They were fast and agile, and built as a war machine, much like the Defiant class had been during the Dominion War. They possessed tri-cobalt warheads and phased energy weapons, and weapons he wasn't familiar with, but he guessed they were the rumoured Krieger waves. It was enough to make him sink out of his skin and head for out of dodge. But Starfleet officers weren't made out of those that that hightailed confrontations.

“Incoming!” was shouted, which shook Owain from his thoughts. Horror struck his mind as he realized one of the escorts must have been closer than he thought.They must have also been heading to intercept.

“Evasive Maneuvers, Flyboy!”

Sam Jones

Eat lead, you pansy ass bastards, that was deffinately one for the books, he would have to remember that next time he was in a tense situation with huge cannons pointed at him.

Sam did as ordered, he headed at top speed towards the Xul ships, keeping in formation with the other federation ship, and formulating plans that would give the tactical officer a best chance of hitting the Xul ships, if only he knew there weak spots so that he could give them even better chances, unfortunately every ship that had engaged the Xul so far was now space debris…

Someone shouted "Incoming" followed, by a "Evasive Manuevers, Flyboy," both were unneeded he knew it was on its way shortly after it was fired, he barely missed it though because of its speed, it was like nothing he had ever seen.

"Captain, we can't dodge too many more of those, and do we have any ideas on there weak spots, so I can get us to them?"

If they didn't find away to take these ships out they would be joining the space debris, and starting the next great adventure….death.

Sym Fra Hop

So far, the Horizon was evading all the potshots the Zul task force could muster. Even though they were at extreme range, the Zul weaponry had come very close to hitting the ship. Sym grabbed hold of his console as Flyboy completed an evasive maneuver before the Horizon's internal dampeners had a chance to compensate.

"Captain, we can't dodge too many more of those, and do we have any ideas on there weak spots, so I can get us to them?" He heard Flyboy report to the captain.

"Understood." The captain replied, "Return fire."

Sym watched on his console and the power levels aboard the Horizons surged slightly as power cycled to the weapons.

"Glancing hit, negligible damage to their shields." Lieutenant Dale said.

Sym fingers flew over his console, directing damage control teams to where he thought they might be needed when the Zul managed to actually hit the ship. Sym stole a glance to the tactical display and saw that the Zul ships where not even trying to evade the weapons fire.

"Arrogance, pure arrogance" Sym said to himself.

"Sorry?" Dale must of heard him.

"It's these damnable Zul. Just like the bloody Romulans, convinced of their own superiority. They're not even trying to avoid the fire." Sym replied, as he concentrated on keeping the ship functioning.

"We'll have to debase them of that notion. Are the new torpedoes ready?" The captain asked.

Sym checked the status updates on the engineering console, "They're 50 percent complete, however…However there is a slight problem."

When the Captain did'nt reply, Sym carried on. "The torpedoes casings cannot make it throught the Zul shields. The antimatter whould drift to its target." Sym said, explaining Cadet Rahners theory. "The Horizons speed and distance from the target would also be a factor. To make sure of contact, we would have to be within 600 meters and travalling at full impulse for it torpeodoes to have any effect."

The captain must of seen the look on Sym's face, "There's somthing else?"

"Yes sir, according to Cadet Rahners calculations we need to reduce the enemys shield down by a quarter at least. And even then automatic targeting would'nt work, we'd have to fire manually." Sym reported

The captain opened his mouth to say somthing when a tremendous impact shook the ship. "Dirct hit, shields down 40 percent."

After picking himself up off the floor, Sym directed damage control to repair the shields. Judged from the readings he got, it was an easy fix. They just need time, a commoditity they did not have.

"Damage Control are en-route. The starboard shield generators only overlaoded. They're getting replaced as we speak."

Owain Taggart

The Horizon had been deftly avoiding the shots from the Xul cruiser. As deftly as possible, considering the circumstances, that is. And they were returning shots as accurately and as often as possible. But frustration was quickly becoming a factor in this battle, as they soon came to realize that their hits upon the cruiser's hull weren't having much of an effect, and it was like trying to hit the broadside of a barn. The opposite was true for the Xul, who seemed to have targeting abilities beyond any Starfleet vessel. They were truly alien. Starfleet hadn't been this outmatched since the Dominion War.

The whole crew were doing their best, but they were simply outmatched. He knew another of these ships was lurking nearby, and he hoped they wouldn't encounter it. They were having enough of a struggle with one as it was.

The ship continued to shake as it took hits. “"Direct hit, shields down 40 percent.", it was announced. Owain clenched his jaw and frowned his brow. “Torpedoes! Where are our torpedoes? Target their weapons!”, he growled out.

“Sir, there's an energy spike!”, Rynen announced while she looked up from her console, “I … I think… They're powering up their Krieger Waves, I'm sure.”

“Continue with the evasives, Flyboy. See if you can't change it up a little though. I think they might be on to our pattern.”, he ordered Sam, then looked at Sym, “We're going to need a miracle. What do you have in store today? Should I put my hand in the cookie jar and see what comes up?”

Gerhardt Rahner

Sym fingers flew over his console, directing damage control teams to where he thought they might be needed when the Zul managed to actually hit the ship.

Rahner had to set aside the torpedo upgrades for now. Flyboy was doing all he could, but the engineering crew needed to be ready for the inevitable. Although he'd never admit it to his face, Rahner knew that not even Flyboy was good enough to evade everything the Xul could throw at them. He joined up with his damage control team in main engineering as they readied themselves with the necessary tools for emergency patchwork.

All hands grabbed onto the closest anchor they could find as the Horizon shook from a direct hit. The command came through from the bridge: Starboard shield generators overloaded. Rahner ran with the rest of his team to tackle what should be a simple fix, everyone praying that Flyboy would be able to dodge enemy fire long enough for them to fix it.

“Sir, there's an energy spike!”, Rynen announced while she looked up from her console, “I … I think… They're powering up their Krieger Waves, I'm sure.”

“Continue with the evasives, Flyboy. See if you can't change it up a little though. I think they might be on to our pattern.”, he ordered Sam, then looked at Sym, “We're going to need a miracle. What do you have in store today? Should I put my hand in the cookie jar and see what comes up?”

The MSD lit up for a moment as the energy spike registered in main engineering. Everyone had turned their focus on the MSD when the spike registered, and no one could tear their eyes off of it for a few seconds after it, everyone waiting to see if it would happen again. Almost simultaneously, all the engineers started muttering to each other, speculating on what could have caused the spike while turning back to their work. Whatever had caused that spike, they still had other problems to work out before they could move on to something new.

Draka Ren Colok

Draka's fingers fly over the keypads of his console, stance widened to aid in keeping his balance, studying scans of the Xul ship's shields… nodding to himself he speaks towards the Captain.

"Sir! Our trouble is concentrating our firepower enough to do significant damage to their shields, and then hull… What I propose is we veer off as if we are going to run, then rapidly swerve towards them and accelerate, shunting power from the warp engines into the pulse phaser cannon recharge cells to accelerate our rate of fire… We then lock onto a section of their shields and fire the cannons at the targeted area as fast as we can, using the dorsal phaser array to add to the damage inflicted… We fire one spread of quantum torpedos to help disrupt the shields, but do so from a bit of distance. Once we'd damage and disrupted the shields in the target area we open fire with full torpedo spreads, and if need be do a rapid one eighty to fire a spread from our aft torpedos… if Flyboy can keep us out of the path of their weapons as we do this I'm sure we can batter through their shields and inflict telling damage to their vessel… that's what this class of ship was designed for…"

Draka speaks, still looking at his console screen, though he steals a look towards the Captain after speaking… hoping his suggestion is both accepted… and works…

Patrick Heinz (John Smith)

The field of battle; ever since the ancient times for every species in the galaxy the field of battle was the center of epic tales, tales of glory, and tales of heroes. The tales usually left out the horrors of it aside and focused how men were made there. The dead and dying were just numbers; but reality is always different from the fiction. The field of battle is a place where a patch of land is a concentration of dead and dying; and on a ship the medical bay is where all those dead and dying gets concentrated on to. On Horizon things were a little bit different tough.

“Stop screaming like a little kid Gorret” Ginny yelled out in frustration “You just broke some finger nails and your arm got singed, look at Bokar, he isn’t even making a sound”

“That’s because you gave him enough painkillers to put him to sleep” Gorret replied back with teary eyes

“Well, his girlish cries were getting on my nerves” Ginny snapped back

“Besides unlike you humans, my species have nerve clusters in our ‘finger nails’ you know” Gorret objected

“Yes I know. I read up on your species and special medical procedures when I became a doctor here” Ginny took a few steps back to see her new masterpiece “The best doctors of your species tells that if I don’t file down your finger nails, bones or whatever the hell you call them they will not grow back. I can give you a painkiller if you want and send you off back to fiddling with EPS conduits; but your species is resistant and it will wear off in three or so minutes. So tell me, do I file them down or you wish to go out there working with open nerve ends?”

“Well, when you put it that way” Gorret gulped down something really big, nasty and heavy; than the sick bay surrendered to the whining mechanical sound of Ginny’s tool and the screams of Gorret.

Lieutenant Torv on the other hand wasn’t having an easy day. “Is he going to make it?” Ginny asked without lifting her head from her work.

“He’ll pull thru; but sadly his career is over” Torv replied tying a sad sigh filled with lament.

“What do you mean his career is over?” Gorret bud in “He saved my and Bokar’s life, that man deserves a medal”

“Yeah he’ll get one” Torv sat herself down on a bio bed “But unlike you, humans can’t grow back bones the way you can, or organs the way Bokar can. They’ll give him a desk job and honestly; that is going to wound him far worse than the conduit that blew on you three”

The sick bay surrendered itself to silence for a few moments before Ginny get back to what she was doing. Torv on the other hand had other ideas on her mind “Smith!” she yelled out. The man was standing over Mitchell with a tilted head staring at him like a little kid observing a squashed bug that it found on the road to home “Chief!” she added

John Smith lifted his head and turned towards her calmly “Yes ma’am?”

“I’ve been monitoring some chatter and from the looks of things the grease monkeys downstairs are trying to get a PhD in genetics and budding into my business. Go and grab the field kit plus a few trauma kits and go down to engineering…” She walked towards Smith and landed a nice loud slap on his shoulders “…or the transporter room. I want you on whatever foolish endeavor they are undertaking and I want you to make sure that those goldilocks don’t screw up getting that DNA sample of theirs. And chief, I’d prefer it in a vial and not to scrape it off from someone’s uniform”

“Yes ma’am” Smith replied and went off to grab the kits.

“Is he okay?” Torv asked to Ginny who was still busy selectively hearing the screams, cusses and other nasty things coming out of Gorret’s mouth.

“I don’t know ma’am” Ginny replied “He is going off to wherever he goes a whole lot lately; but he is kind of more focused; I think”

“I sure hope you’re right Ginny; because there is only one way to get that DNA sample and that is on one of those ships out there. I hope he doesn’t screw up” Torv patted Ginny on the back and walked off to check up on Mitchell.

Sam Jones

“Continue with the evasives, Flyboy. See if you can't change it up a little though. I think they might be on to our pattern.”, he ordered Sam, then looked at Sym, “We're going to need a miracle. What do you have in store today? Should I put my hand in the cookie jar and see what comes up?”

"Sir, best be careful when doing that, my parents like to put rat traps in the cookie jar, you end up looking in there first after a couple broken fingers…"

Sam had flown just about every pattern that the Academy had taught him and a few that were considered to dangerous to be trained to cadets, it was nearly impossible to dodge all the shots fired from the Xul.

"Sir! Our trouble is concentrating our firepower enough to do significant damage to their shields, and then hull… What I propose is we veer off as if we are going to run, then rapidly swerve towards them and accelerate, shunting power from the warp engines into the pulse phaser cannon recharge cells to accelerate our rate of fire… We then lock onto a section of their shields and fire the cannons at the targeted area as fast as we can, using the dorsal phaser array to add to the damage inflicted… We fire one spread of quantum torpedos to help disrupt the shields, but do so from a bit of distance. Once we'd damage and disrupted the shields in the target area we open fire with full torpedo spreads, and if need be do a rapid one eighty to fire a spread from our aft torpedos… if Flyboy can keep us out of the path of their weapons as we do this I'm sure we can batter through their shields and inflict telling damage to their vessel… that's what this class of ship was designed for…"

"Sir, I may not be scientist or engineer, but I do believe that when they fire that wave it would be best to be further away then closer….and we need a different idea about how to get through the shields than "full spread torpedoes" if several federations ships got blown apart by these waves, I definitely recommend keeping a good distant away from those kieger waves other wise we'll be talking with Wesley Crusher in another plane of existence."

Without any immediate argument, Sam started to put distance between them and the Xul.

Sam waited a couple of minutes, his hands were on overdrive trying to keep the ship from being hit, finally it came to him what this battle reminded him of.
"This feels like a remake of the battle of Thermopylae:
Our arrows will blot out the sun.
Then we will fight in the shade." Sam mumbled to himself, they were indeed out gunned almost as much as those Spartans. But he trusted the men around him, they would fare better than those men had.

Gerhardt Rahner

Gerhardt held a shield generator fast while cadet Ba'dat, one of his damage control teammates, finished the connections. It wasn't going as quick as they'd like due to the constant overclocking on the inertial dampeners as Flyboy kept up the extreme evasive manuevers. They finally finished the task and looked around for the next task. The team leader had stepped away to check the MSD.

For the moment, Gerhardt and the cadet at his side had a moment to rest. She was a Bajoran who had been on the Horizon before Rahner enlisted and a promotion to ensign was guaranteed for her soon, especially for the help she had been to Gerhardt while they were working on the torpedo upgrades. Ba'dat tried to make some small talk with the focused Rahner. "So why don't you sound like most of the other humans?"

Rahner snapped out of a deep train of thought, "Oh, I am from a region of Earth that includes what used to be the nation of Germany. It is a region which has maintained most of its traditions, including a rather inclusivity that can be difficult to break away from."

"How did you manage to get away?"

"Well, for me it wasn't terribly difficult…" He was cut off by their team leader coming back from the MSD.

"What are you two thinking, standing around when we have work to do? Rahner, can your torpedo upgrades really do what you say they can or were you talking out your ass?"

Rahner gave a confused look to Ba'dat and back to the leader. "Sir, I don't know that I've ever thought to try that, but I'm almost certain those upgrades will work."

"Uh, sir?" Ba'dat interrupted. "I have some questions about the validity of the Cadet's research, namely regarding the assumptions about the enemy's shield technology."

"Assumptions?" Rahner asked, looking more confused. Suddenly, his face lit up with realization and embarassment. "Mein Gott! How could I be so stupid! Of course, why wouldn't they have…"

The team leader interrupted again, "Rahner, we don't have time for any pontification and speculation; we need action. Assuming the Xul shields are the same, how certain are you that those torpedos will work?"

"If we have the enemy shields sufficiently weakened and they work at least remotely similar, then they should work. But, sir, Ba'dat is right. We can't know what these torpedos will do unless we know more about the enemy shields."

"You're about to get the ultimate field test, Cadet. You and Ba'dat get those upgrades working. We need something, now."

The cadets left off the formalities and ran to the station where they had been working on the upgrades. They had some of the casings nearly done and the replicator had continued creating the modular components, so they went to work on the torpedos that were almost done. They had already been working together on this project and could work in tandem with barely any verbal communication. Routing the module into the navigation computer was an easy job, so they had taken to routing a torpedo each. The actual attachment of the module was nearly as simple a task, but the transporter unit required a much steadier touch, so they had to work together to calibrate it.

They had hit a good stride and completed seven of the upgrades when the order came down that they would be trying one of the upgraded torpedos. "Time to shine, Rahner," Ba'dat said. "I'll prep them, you track it once it's fired. It's got to work, right?"

Rahner looked her in the eyes, but couldn't think of the right words to say. He turned to the station and pulled up a tracking program for the torpedo. The ship shook as the inertial dampeners reacted to Flyboy's flying; a display showed they were lined up for the shot. One upgrade fired; ten seconds later, another released. Rahner followed both torpedos as they flew through space. A moment passed and the first torpedo struck the enemy shields. A massive explosion tore through space as the shield-striking initial matter/antimatter reaction occured, the second reaction on the ship's hull… failed!!

Rahner's fingers flew over the controls. He only had moments to find the problem and remotely recalibrate the second torpedo. The records showed that the initial reaction occured on target, the transporter activated on time, but something kept the transported charge from clearing the shield. Where there should have been a second, delayed reaction on the hull, there was just a larger reaction on the shield's perimeter. Unfortunately, Rahner could not have hoped for a better timing than that: it just didn't work. The Xul had them beat, Rahner's work had failed, and there wasn't a damn thing he could do about it.

"Gott retten uns," Rahner muttered, a look of utter horror sweeping his face. He tapped his comm badge, ready to tell the bridge that they had to retreat. As soon as he tapped it, though, he heard,

=/\=Captain, the first torpedo failed to make its target. But it has done considerable damage to the enemy's shields. If our sensors are reading correctly, they're now down to (pause) 43%!=/\=

=/\=What about the second torp…=/\= the captain's voice was cut short as the second torpedo struck the enemy shields. Rahner could barely look at the display. He was certain he'd failed and couldn't rally the hope that the second one may have a better chance. When he did look, it was just in time to see something he could only pray was real: the second reaction as the coasting antimatter contacted the enemy hull!

Rahner and Ba'dat let out uncontrollable shouts of joy. It worked! How it worked and how well it had worked were questions that only registered in the most analytical portions of their minds. They had faced insurmontable odds and…

=/\=Rahner? Why is this comm link open?=/\=

=/\=Commander Hop! It worked! I cannot believe it! It worked!=/\=

=/\=Calm down, Cadet. That's an order! We're all just as happy as you, but the day isn't won yet. Flyboy is bringing us around. Can you have more ready soon?=/\=

=/\=Of course, Commander. We will let you know when they are done.=/\= He closed the link and looked to Ba'dat with a look of boyish happiness.

"Let's get to work."

Sym Fra Hop

Sym sent a replacement damage control team to cover for Rahner while he and his teammates finished the modifications to the torpedoes. Sym stole a glance at the viewscreen and saw one of the Zul escorts, flame and debris surrounding it, before the view shifted as Flyboy made evasive maneuvers.

"One down, there are a few more left," Sym said to no-one in particular.

"We need those torpedoes, Commander." The captain said, his features obscured by the dim light of the red alert.

"Understood," Sym replied,

=^= Hop to Rahner, what's the ETA of those torpedoes, Cadet. =^= Sym asked.

=^= Nearly there sir. We're just about to load the torpedoes. =^= The cadet replied. =^= It will take about 1.5 minutes. =^=

=^= That first torpedo, keep a couple back with the same changes. They're perfect for reducing the Zul's shields down. I have a feeling that we'll be needing them. Hop Out. =^=

"You get that sir?" Sym asked the captain

"I got that. Flyboy, line us up for a run on the other escort." The captain said, "Transfer power to the forward shields. Stand by on torpedoes and pulse phase cannons. Fire on my order." The captain ordered.

Sym feverishly worked at his console, making sure there was enough power for the shields and weapons. "Power transferred, shields reinforced." Sym reported.

The atmosphere on the bridge was tense for the next few minutes as they waited for the adjusted torpedoes, Sym busied himself by tracking Rahners progress. The cadets team was just finishing up, performing the necessary diagnostics.

=^= Rahner to Hop, the upgrades are installed. Torpedoes are ready…=^=

=^= Thanks Gerhardt, good work, Hop out. =^=

"Torpedoes are ready, Captain. Ready to fire." Lieutenant Dale reported to the captain.

"Good work. Standby to fire. Pulse phasers on my command, five second firing pattern, full power. That keep them busy until we get a clear shot with the torpedoes."

Owain Taggart

It had seemed that they were all out of options. The Xul escort was bearing down on the Horizon, as if staring them right in the eyes, and the Krieger wave was powering up. The crew was sweating it, just a bit, but not because of the staredown, but because the bridge was warm. Consoles had exploded, creating small fires on the bridge and beads of sweat were pouring down Owain's forehead.

With some initiative, Sam was taking the Horizon further from the escort, which had been a good decision, as moments later, the Krieger wave was launched; a bright flash of light blinded the crew as they made to shield themselves. As they recovered, everyone wondered if perhaps they were still alive. By some miracle, Flyboy's flying had made them completely miss, and the Krieger wave hit the other escort.

Owain kept his composure as they were far from being done with this particular battle, but he could feel a little swell of hope from within the crew. They continued flying, evading the shots fired from the Xul vessel, narrowly missing it everytime. But they couldn't keep that up…

But thankfully, it wasn't before long that the torpedoes were ready for testing. Owain watched as one was fired, then another seconds apart. Owain followed them, his brow furrowed with concentration, much like one following a soccer ball headed towards a goal, and then an anti-climax of disappointment when he had learned it had failed; much like when one fails to kick the ball into a goal. Unfortunately, that was part of the test, but they now knew where to improve.

Their second test was much improved. In fact, they were overjoyed as the second test had effectively disabled the escort. It was now a sitting duck. Owain grinned from ear to ear, and he was already making plans for his next course of action. He looked up at Langford, and glanced at Hop. “We'll soon have a new ensign if your engineer keeps that up.”, he told Hop, then addressed the bridge in general.” “Alright, we need that DNA. I want an away team formed as soon as possible. We'll use our chance to beam down to the Xul escort. Dead or Alive, I want that DNA. I'm not saying this will be easy, but we've got to do it. Be aware that there will likely be Xul on that ship who will want our heads, so use caution. I want everyone to be armed with the best weapons and extra protection. Waste no time. If we have to kill in order to get that DNA, then do it. We can't vanquish them without learning about them.”

But the second escort was now coming towards them, presumably to avenge themselves from being hit by the Krieger wave. They had taken one down. Could they take on another before their shields were completely depleted? “Uh, sir? The second escort is bearing on us. Intercept in one minute.”, announced Rynen..

Damn!, Owain thought. The away team would have to wait until later. “Let the party pooper poop on its own parade.”, he said to no one in general and let out a sigh. “Flyboy, line us up for a run on the other escort.", he ordered, "Transfer power to the forward shields. Stand by on torpedoes and pulse phase cannons. Fire on my order.", he ordered again. He nodded at the acklowdgements and gritted his teeth. He was glad to have the torpedoes ready again. Hopefully this would go as well as it had the first time considering the experience they were now gathering with these torpedoes. “Standby to fire. Pulse phasers on my command, five second firing pattern, full power. That keep them busy until we get a clear shot with the torpedoes."

And they peppered the escort with phaser fire. As before, they launched a first torpedo, and then a second, the first one breaking the defenses for the second to make contact with the hull. The phaser fire hitting that was like pepper in the eyes of a victim. The escort was preparing its Krieger wave, but they were well out of distance this time, and the torpedoes had essentially destroyed it before they were fully powered up. The Horizon was avenging the death and destruction of the many Starfleet ships that had already been destroyed, and the escort must have felt the resistance. Now, with limited systems and a slowly losing battle and no support of its friends, the escort was turning away from the Horizon, as if making to leave.

“Sir, I'm reading an energy spike”, Rynen reported. “I believe it's limping away from the battle.”

Owain nodded, “Let's not let the dogs of war slip away. Hit them where it hurts!” The escort was readying its equivalent of warp. They wouldn't have long now, only seconds Without shields, its draw for power meant it was at its weakest. Using the same trick with the torpedoes, one was launched at the ship's rear end, then another. That was enough to cause total annihilation before the ship was able to get away to leap towards its mother.

Cheers erupted on the bridge. They were well earned. Owain was smiling. “Congratulations, gang. You all did very well. Champagne for everyone. I think what we've learned today is that perseverance pays off. Now, about that away team…”

Owain Taggart, Patrick Heinz (John Smith)

“Morality is the herd-instinct in the individual.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Right and wrong; good and evil; moral and immoral. They were relative terms with deep meaning. What would be the right response to a killer, or to an invader. Was it okay to kill them in return, to what they had done to them in full? Where was the line in the sand that shouldn't be crossed here. Was it okay to just let hatred, and vengeance take its due course? Was it even right to stop it all from happening? Ever since its foundation Federation had stood on the pinnacles of morality and what was the right thing to do; but now everything was blurred with blood and death and fear and anger. As the humming turbo-lift came to a stop he decided that he had made the right choice; it wasn't his call to make; tough it was his call to grab the reality by its tail and slap the man in charge with it before the fan had made contact with the fecal matter. The ship shook under his feet. He had left all the gear Lieutenant Torv told him to grab at the transporter room and had hurried here. The Chief Petty Officer of the medical staff gulped and approached the center of the universe for all the souls on board this ship.

"Captain, could I have a word with you in private sir? It's important" The irony of what he was about to say to the man wasn't lost to him.

Owain had been busy pouring over the critical details of their encounter and about those who would be forming the away team to go over to the disabled Xul vessel, an important mission in the course of unfolding events, when he heard footsteps and then a voice asking his attention.Importance. Importance was in the mind of the beholder. Nothing had been more important at the moment than the war that had been waged by these aliens that call themselves the Xul. They themselves have made themselves important, if only for the threat they presented the Federation, so who was he to judge what was important? However, there were different kinds of importance that he couldn't forget. The importance of the crew and its morale, and he couldn't just pretend it didn't exist in the face of the Xul. No, to this officer, something obviously mattered to him, so he looked up from the details, at the blue shirted medical officer. "Certainly", he replied, then looked to Langford, "You have the bridge, Commander.", he told his first officer and then turned back to the medical officer. "My Ready Room, Mr… I'm sorry, your name?"

"Smith, John Smith" the man replied without a moments hesitation.

Owain stood up from his chair and made to move to the ready room, with the officer following close behind, and when they were both inside, he didn't bother sitting down at his desk, and instead smile at the man, "Now then, what's important to you?"

"It's about the contagion sir" the man started out taking a few steps to the side "I know the whole crew is supposed to and accustomed to following your orders; but in my humble opinion they all seem quite eager to follow on this one"

Owain nodded, "I do have a very loyal crew, Mr Smith. Am I to understand you have a reluctance?"

"No sir. I got no qualms about killing people in interesting new ways; the question is, why aren't you reluctant?" he shot out into the open.

"Well, you would be wrong to assume that I'm not, Mr Smith. Believe me, this is the last thing I want to do. But look around you. The Xul are breathing down our necks and we're facing a threat the likes of which we haven't seen since the Dominion War. We're facing aliens that are more advanced technologically than we are. I certainly don't want to use it. But the fact is, the Federation is desperate to find a way to combat them; to get rid of them and stop them from knocking on our doors. We don't know much about these aliens, but we do know one thing. They want us destroyed. Destruction. Think of that. We could be gone at the blink of an eye. And it's a pretty scary thing, don't you think? That's why we're so desperate. What we need is optimism giving us hope, because it's practical and eliminates what is scary. Hope. Hope giving us the option of living. The contagion is our hope. Without it, we probably won't stand a chance. I hope you agree."

"Hell I'm not qualified to disagree on that point; but can you really justify it with that? They are going to destroy us so we wipe them out first? Maybe you gazed too long into the abyss captain. This is what Federation stood up on since its creation. Don't misunderstand me, I'm not objecting to the notion of killing the bastards; all I'm saying is there is a line in the sand that we do not cross. Is it really worth saving heaven by introducing the viper to it?"

"And if we don't stand by for ourselves, then we have nothing left to show for it. Desperate situations require desperate measures. And I'm willing to do what it takes to keep us alive. I might be the man that helps destroy, but I might also be remembered for helping humanity live through another war. We've already had a number of ships and crew destroyed by the Xul. How many dead does it take before we do something? Well, I'm here to say that I would do anything to protect what's at stake. And if building a weapon of this magnitude is what it takes, then that's what will be done. We don't win wars by standing idly by."

The man sighed "A man once said something, a man pretty much in your position. Kenneth Bainbridge turned to his colleague and said 'Now we are all sons of bitches'; that was after they succesfully tested out Earths first atomic bomb. That bomb ended the war in the end, at the cost of more than 340,000 lives. Desperate times calls for desperate measures. Victory at whatever the cost. I have heard it all before captain. I've been there, done that, got the t-shirt and paid the price. We don't win wars standing idly by; but we don't win wars by sacrificing our integrity. YOU don't win wars that way. You are the captain, you are the beacon of hope, hell you are god on this vessel. And the moment you loose yourself to desperation, to hatred we are all lost; the Federation has lost and the monsters, the Xul will have won"

Owain nodded and took a deep breath, and then studied the officer. "I'm well aware of the implications, and I've had very similar thoughts as you have right now. I wish we didn't have to do what we have to do. But when you're in a position such as me, such as all ship Captains in this war, then you would understand the pressure that we're under just to survive. When it comes to losing many ships and good men due to a threat we've had no power and no defences over, when they are far more powerful than we are, then it's time to think of how else one can beat the opposition. Remember, we didn't seek out this threat. Rather, they've been encroaching on Federation territories. Territories that we're supposed to protect. However, if we can't even protect ourselves, then we've already lost. Integrity went out the window when they destroyed our many ships on the front lines."

Owain circled slowly around the man as he continued speaking, this time taking a different approach, a grin forming as he did so, realizing that he had found the medical personnel he was looking for to go on the away team. "How was your time at the Academy? Who was your professor?"

The man shifted his weight around as he started speaking "I didn't go to the academy sir. Dropped out of Med school, and enlisted than and there; served with the Marines mostly but I was in the Starfleet ever since"

"Dropped out of med school??", Owain asked with a frown, suddenly filled with a concern. "What the hell are you doing on my ship practicing medicine then?"

"Orders captain. Brass tells me to jump, I jump. Brass tells me to patch up marines, I patch up marines. Brass tells me to take a vacation on a defiant, I take a vacation. And I am a field medic, so I mostly practice carrying boxes and cleaning up the sick bay" the man replied with a straight face.

"Well, you're under my command now, and I hope you'll follow my orders. Speaking of which, I have a task for you, that is if you're willing to do it.", Owain told the man while looking him straight in the eyes.

"Thank you captain. And before I reply, please do know that I did not come here to countermand your orders, or make you change them. I've seen many a bad officer, do screwed up things because they thought it was the right thing to do. I just didn't want you to regret what path you had chosen, sir." the man straightened himself up "And yes sir, I will do anything in my power to help"

"Well, research has been underway for awhile now on our weapon. It has come to my attention that we will be needing DNA from our enemy; DNA from the Xul. I want you to work with the Engineering team on this."

"The way I see it sir, there are a lot of Xul to get DNA samples from out there. Do you want your sample in capsule, corpse or interogatable form?"

"You'll be joining the away team aboard the disabled Xul vessel and find what you can. It's preferable if it's in hypo form, however dead will also do. I want you to find what you can that we can use and then bring it back so that we can do some research on it."

"As you wish sir. And if there is time or opportunity we can always do some sabotage while waiting for the hypo to fill up" the man was smiling by now.

"We might, but you'll have to check on the Engineering team for that. It depends on the time you have while on the other ship."

"Yes, sir. I will do that. In fact, Lieutenant Torv had the same idea as you sir, me helping out the engineering team. She kinda got offended I think when they started their science project without asking for her help"

"That will be all, unless you have something else to say."

"No. Thank you captain"

"Then you're dismissed.", Owain told the man, "Good luck with your research. I look forward to the results."

The man nodded in reply and than walked out of the ready room. His steps were sure and heavy, as if the whole sum of hopes, dreams and the future of the crew were tied to them.

Kate Finnegan

The med lab, as Finnegan came to know it, did not escape the tumult of the Xul attack. All there were concerned with the safety of their part of the project. The contagion project. She, and the rest of the medical staff were temporarily blind as to what was occurring on the Bridge.

When she learned Captain Taggart had secured their position and disabled one of the Xul’s three ships, she was sure they’d pin a metal on his chest. Petty Officer Smith and a few of the other staff were embroiled in a heated discussion; culminating in Smith leaving for the Bridge.

Finnegan continued to clean up the broken glass and replace items back to their shelves. She knew there were only two possible alternatives for the Xul ship. To tow her or to take her. Why the contagion project, then? It was an answer she believed she knew all too well.

The desperate action taken only in war. Or, more politely stated, avoiding another one. Like many, she had little knowledge of the Xul. The only sure thing about the species was their unrelenting hostility; their superior technology and their aggression.

The attack on the Federation was unprecedented for a species with no claim, no desire for peace and playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. Finnegan knew exactly who the mouse was.

An away team was being assembled to board the Xul ship. If the project was to work, they needed Xul DNA. Finnegan pushed the ethical question to the back of her mind. Agreed, the Xul had to be stopped.

To secure a living member of the species was another question she explored. If she only had the chance to study … find a weakness. A best case scenario to be sure, but one she was not confident would present itself.

Sam Jones

The viewscreen showed Xul ship blowing up.

"Suck on that you bastards." he said to himself, and relaxed.

The exaustion of the battle had now set in, he was more tired than he cared to admit, finally after the Captain had taken his leave with Mr. Smith, Sam let his replacement take his seat.

As far as he knew he wouldn't be needed for the next missions, pilots rarely got that kind of action, he was going to go curl up on his bed and sleep till the next shift or he was needed.

"Keep me posted," he said to the young cadet that had taken over the pilot controls.

Sam walked to the turbo lift.

On the way to his new quarters he thought about all the paper work he needed to do, and the setting of the schedules, "If I knew I'd have all this work I would of second thought the taking of Chief Helmsman," he said to himself in a low voice that seemed to echo off the walls of his quarters.

It was amazing how spartan this new Horzion seemed to be to the old one, if this had been any other ship these quarters would be 10 times the size, but he liked these just the same, he was used to small quarters from his bootleg running days as the Captain of one of his parents ships, that seemed like ages ago. It was something he rarely thought about these days, as it seemed the action in Star Fleet was never stopping.

He took out a bottle of his Jim beam, he still had a good stock of real Alcohol, none of the replicated stuff most people drank, he would of drank some of the Romulan Ale but he didn't want the head ache, that was one thing Jim Beam never gave him.

Finally, after several large cups of Jim Beam he drifted off to sleep, dreaming of places back in Texas without the worry of Xul and being blown up.

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