NOTE: Star Trek is Viacom's, Star Traks is Alan Decker's, Next Frontier is mine. Whoop-de-doo.

Author: Cory Parker
Copyright: 2002

Star Traks: Next Frontier

“Book 3: Thin Ice”

By Cory Parker



CHAPTER ONE:

“Captain’s Log, supplemental. Upon further inspection of the unknown virus that has contaminated the planet of D’Narin II, Dr. Clinton has discovered that it will kill those infected in less than six hours. Up here, the Haymaker herself is headed on a direct course towards the D’Narin star, and systems are still continuing to fail. As for the crew, our experimental engineering hologram is currently incapacitated, Ensign Bannon is recovering from his recent mental breakdown, and my `diplomatic’ meeting with Princess Cimorene was…not very productive, to say the least.”


“Five minutes until we are toast. Literally,” reported Lt. Benn with a frown.

“Halloway to Abbott. Progress report.”

“Hold on, Captain. I’m just about finished with…there it goes! Replicators are now back online!” he announced joyously.

“Oh, wonderful. We get a last meal,” remarked Lt. Comm. Halvox as she drummed her fingers on her now-dark station.

“That’s very nice, Lt.,” continued Halloway, “but we kinda need helm control back up in four minutes or we are all dead.”

“I’ll get right on it, Abbott out.”

“I’ll get back down to Sickbay and help with the antigen.” Clinton disappeared into the turbolift just as Lt. Comm. Gabriel approached Halloway.

“Captain, I have a few ideas on how to disperse the cure once we get back to the D’Narin homeworld.”

“If we get back,” added Halvox.

“Let’s discuss it after we get out of our current predicament, shall we?” Gabriel nodded and returned to his station. “Time left, Miss Benn?”

“Two more minutes.” The viewscreen, which had been totally dark a few moments ago, shouted back to life as the D’Narin sun filled the screen. Everyone on the bridge squinted at the filtered sunlight, which apparently wasn’t filtered enough.

“Abbott to bridge, I got viewscreens up!”

“That’s nice, but like I said before, get our engines running. NOW!”

“Hold on a second, Captain, I was just about to get to that.”

“We have helm control!” shouted Benn as she quickly instructed the ship to turn around. “The pull of the star is too much!”

“Re-route all emergency power to helm, now!” yelled Comm. LaCroix.

“Impulse engines are at 137% strength. It’s still not…wait, we’re pulling away!”

“Once we are clear, stabilize systems, and return to the planet. Commander LaCroix, I want you to lead an away team down there, armed with the first batch of the cure and administer as many as you can by hand.” She nodded and promptly left the bridge. “Gabriel, now I want to hear your suggestion.” Halloway rose and headed over to the tactical station where the gargantuan officer stood; his crimson wings wrapped over the back of his uniform like a cloak.

“Well, Captain, if we modify a number of photon torpedoes and detonated them in the troposphere, the prevailing winds should carry the medication to the majority of the public. According to sensor readings and Dr. Clinton’s analysis of the virus, I predict over 80% of the infected population will be cured in the time it would take us to fix about 20% of them.” Hallow smiled and patted Gabriel on the shoulder.

“Excellent thinking, Commander. Begin the necessary preparations.” Gabriel nodded and headed for the main torpedo room. “I’m going down to Main Engineering, Lt. Benn has the bridge.”

“Excuse me, Captain, but I AM the third-in-command on board this vessel,” stated Halvox. Halloway stopped and scratched the back of his head in thought.

“Very well, Halvox. You’re coming with me.”

“WHAT?”

“I need you to help `motivate’ the rest of the Engineering crew.” She raised an eyebrow in confusion, but then joined her captain in the turbolift. “Main Engineering.” Halvox stood in silence until the lift had begun to move.

“Sir, with all due respect…”

“Miss Halvox, last time you were in charge of the bridge `en loco parentis’, one of my senior staff suffered a nervous breakdown. Until you get over this medical condition, I will not allow the possibility, however remote, of it happening again. I’m sorry, Kerry.”

“Understood.” The doors swished open and the two officers walked out and soon entered Main Engineering.

“Lt. Abbott, update me on the situation,” ordered Halloway as he observed the bustle of activity surrounding him. The assistant engineer gulped and approached the captain.

“Captain, the ship is going to hell in a hand basket.”

“I know that, but I want more details than that.”

“Well, in about two and a half days, all ship’s systems will be off-line. Our replicated parts can’t keep up with the cascade of failures, and our only alternative is to find a starbase.”

“Need I remind you, we are not anywhere near a starbase, Federation or otherwise.”

“Yes, I know that. But if we don’t get some outside help soon, quite frankly, sir, we’re screwed.” Halloway rubbed the bridge of his nose as he contemplated his choices.

“All right. Lt. Halvox?”

“Yes, Captain?”

“Prepare a general SOS directed towards any Federation ships. Make sure that it details our situation, position, and how much longer we have left.”

“Yes, sir.” The Ops woman turned and headed for a nearby control panel to begin her duties.

“Lt. Abbott, continue with the repairs, and try to stretch a little more time out of those affected systems. Dismissed.” The engineer nodded and ran back towards the rest of his staff, relaying new directions and orders. Halloway turned and hurried back to the bridge, his thoughts tuned to his ship. `Come on, baby, don’t leave me now…’


CHAPTER TWO:

Commander Rachel LaCroix was disgusted with what she saw. The commander, Dr. Clinton, and two science officers that had been drafted as nurses were standing in the center of the capital city, Mynota. People staggered around, pausing every once in a while to vomit. Puddles of the green goo were strewn as far as the away team could see. While the doctor and the science officers kept their cool, LaCroix felt like she was going to join the D’Narians and help create a few puddles of her own. “May I have everyone’s attention for a moment!” declared LaCroix. Most of the people were able to stop their heaving long enough to listen. “We are from the Federation starship Haymaker! We have a cure for this disease.” Murmurs began to ripple through the crowd. “Quiet, please! We have learned that this virus is fatal, so I must ask all of you to form a line, so we can administer the cure as quickly as possible!” The crowd continued its discussion for a moment, then suddenly stampeded towards the away team. “Oh, s**t…” she muttered. The herd of D’Narians made the execution of delivering the antigen a bit of a problem, but after the initial rush, the hoards formed their own lines. LaCroix was even beginning to enjoy meeting all the new people, until one of her patients couldn’t hold it in and sprayed vomit over her uniform. Her jaw dropped in shock, then her face turned to a look of utter horror and contempt. Clinton was busy with the other patients, but he could have swore that, out of the corner of his eye, he saw Commander LaCroix chasing after one of the D’Narians, tossing tools from her med kit at the unlucky person. He shook his head, and chalked it up to his imagination.


High above the tiny world of D’Narin, Lt. Bud Abbott was starting his fourth straight shift in a row. His puffy eyes were barely budged open as he flung another cup of coffee down his throat. His hair sprang wildly from his head, and a five o’clock shadow had taken up residence on the lieutenant’s normally clean-shaven face. Ever since Monty had suffered program failure, he had been chasing problems all over the ship. Taking a seat at a warp core diagnostic table, Abbott nearly dozed off twice. Sleep finally got the better of him as his head hit the control panel with a `thud’. He was awoken a few moments later by the alarms wailing away. “What the hell is going on now?” he grumbled as he slowly stood.

“Warp core ejection in twenty seconds.”

“How is that possible?”

“Breech in progress.” Steam hissed out from all sides of the core as the engineering staff. Abbott produced his tricorder and scanned the core. It was fine, leading to the conclusion that the computer was confused, or at the very least, extremely stupid. “Ten…nine…eight…”

“Computer, stop ejection cycle, authorization Abbott Phi 3 1 2!” he screamed.

“Unable to comply, authorization code is not accepted.” All of a sudden, Lt. Comm Kerry Halvox appeared beside the lieutenant.

“Have difficulties, I see,” she muttered as she tried typing in her access code.

“Yeah, she’s a cruel bitch when she wants to be.” The chief of operations lifted her head up and glared at Abbott. “Not you, the computer.” She raised an eyebrow and glanced at the core as the countdown finished. Abbott closed his eyes and winced. Nothing happened. Abbott opened an eye as the steam began to stop. “It’s still here,” he remarked with disbelief.

“The computer doesn’t think so. According to this…” Kerry stopped talking as the screen flickered off. She stared at it for a moment, then lifted her leg up and slammed it down on top of the panel. It flashed back on.

“Well, there’s an approach I never thought of before. Maybe if you went around releasing that pent-up anger on all the ship’s systems, we’ll be doing great!” The Lt. Commander’s hand lashed out and grabbed the engineer by the neck. Abbott’s feet started to kick as he dangled two feet above the deck. “S…sorry…” he stammered through his purple face. She dropped him, and walked away, leaving the lieutenant rubbing his neck on the floor. “I guess that `bitch’ comment goes towards her, too…”

“Having troubles?” Abbott turned his head and grabbed the outstretched hand of Captain Halloway. The lieutenant brushed himself off and tried to make himself look presentable.

“You could say that.”

“I need an update.”

“And I need a drink.” Abbott headed out the door with Halloway in tow.

“It looks like you went twelve rounds with a mugato, Lieutenant.”

“Nope, just one with Commander Halvox.” Halloway nodded slightly in reply. They entered the mess hall, and the exhausted Lt. Abbott barely made it to a table before he collapsed. Halloway ordered two coffees, black, and sat one in front of the snoozing engineer. Bobby lightly slapped Bud back to consciousness.

“Lieutenant, wake up.” Abbott raised his head slightly and looked at his captain, barely cracking an eyelid.

“What do you want?” he grumbled as he grabbed the coffee and downed half of it. It didn’t help.

“How’s Monty?”

“He’s stuck in the computer, protected in unaffected memory.” Bud closed his eyes again and started snoring. Bobby slapped him slightly harder. “Go away…need sleepy…”

“Bud, I need you to tell me what I need to do to get this ship back in one piece.” Halloway’s comment fell on snoring ears. “Bud? BUD!”

“Whaa…?” Lt. Abbott readjusted his head and tried to get what little rest he could. Captain Halloway raised his hand up in the air, and with one swift stroke, slapped the snot out of the engineer. His head shot up from the table, his eyes wide.

“What options do I…” Before he could answer, Abbott’s head hit the table with such a loud `crack’, the captain thought he might had broken his jaw. Bud only grumbled something and began to snore rather loudly. Halloway threw up his hands in defeat and headed back to the bridge.


CHAPTER THREE:

“Thank you so much for…BLEUCH!” Governor LaGran dove her head into the brown paper bag that she had with her as one of the science officers administered the hypospray. LaCroix stepped back and covered her mouth as some of the vile liquid splashed back up, hitting the governor in the face. She coughed, and reached for the towel that she had on her desk with her left hand. Unfortunately, she had been holding the bag with her left hand. LaCroix nearly screamed as the contents of the bag flooded out towards her. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry about the mess, Commander.” Rachel didn’t hear her. She was standing on one of the chairs, trembling in fear and covering her mouth in an effort not to throw up herself. “Commander, are you alright?”

“I’ll…I’ll be fine, thank you,” she stammered as she leapt clear of the vomit and onto safe territory. “As you were saying, Governor?”

“Ah, yes. On behalf of the population of D’Narin II, I thank you and your crew for saving our people. Without you, we would have most surely perished. It’s not often that.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s really nice, but we have to get going.” Rachel motioned to the rest of the away team to leave.

“If there is anything that we can do for you, just let me know!” hollered LaGran as the commander and company headed away from her office.

“You can’t help. Not unless you can fix a starship!” she hollered back.

“We can do that!” LaCroix stopped dead in her tracks, causing Dr. Clinton to walk right into her. She pushed him aside as she hurried back to the governor.

“What did you say?”

“We can fix your ship. Or at least, we know of someplace that you can.”

“Oh, do tell!” The commander was all smiles now, as she sauntered back into her office. She pretended to ignore the puddle of puke that surrounded much of the desk as she took a seat on the couch that took up most of the back wall.

“We have a colony about 4 light years away that has ship-repair facilities. I would be happy to give you the coordinates and a certified letter asking them to help you in anyway possible.” Rachel smiled and stood. She walked back to the door, pausing long enough to say goodbye.

“Farewell, Governor.” The D’Narian suddenly grabbed Rachel’s hand, and shook it vigorously. The commander looked down to see tiny streams of green ooze from between their fingers.

“Oops, sorry.” LaCroix felt the urge to throw up again, and dashed out of the office and into some nearby shrubs. While she was busy vomiting, Dr. Clinton contacted the ship.

“Haymaker here. What’s new down there?”

“Captain, we have distributed the cure around the capital city. You may execute the photon torpedo barrage at any time.”

“Glad to hear it. Doctor…what is that sound in the background?” Rachel looked up from her heaving long enough to glare at Scott.

“It’s Comm…” Rachel tried to glare harder, but her heaves came back with a vengeance and she resumed her vomiting. “It’s you know who.”

“Oh, her.”

“Anyway, Gov. LaGran informed us of a starship repair facility four light-years away.” The aforementioned governor stepped out of her office and handed Clinton a light brown envelope with a smile, before returning to her office. “I have the coordinates in my hand.”

“Excellent! We’ll beam you up shortly. Halloway out.” Rachel wobbled out of the shrubs and rubbed her forehead as she made her way back to the away team.

“You didn’t tell him, did you?” she demanded.

“I.I didn’t say anything about you, Commander.”

“GOOD!” The four Starfleet officers then dematerialized, leaving the citizens of D’Narin II in good health and a giant mess to clean up.


Ensign Blake Bannon sat at his station, monitoring a rather interesting solar flare when the almost empty bridge exploded into action as the rest of the senior staff piled out of the turbolift. “Hi, guys,” he greeted passively.

“Lt. Benn, get those coordinates into the computer and get us to that facility!” ordered Halloway as he and LaCroix took their seats. The Trill nodded and punched in the destination.

“Give the word, captain.”

“Consider it given.” The Haymaker’s warp nacelles moved into ready position; the warp field generator began to warp and bend space.

“We haven’t gone anywhere,” commented LaCroix.

“Abbott here, Captain. The warp core’s broke again, I’ll need an hour or so to fix it.” Halloway cursed under his breath and ran his hand through his hair.

“Fine, we’ll call for a tow then. Kerry, have you reached any Starfleet ships?”

“I’m afraid not, Captain. Long-range communications failed a few minutes ago, and it isn’t on the top of the list of things needed to be fixed.”

“Great. Get me Governor LaGran on subspace.” The young woman appeared on the screen, looking a lot better since the last time Halloway had seen her.

“Yes, Captain?”

“Governor, our engines have failed and I need a tow to your colony.”

“I’ll send all available ships to take you there.”

“Thank you very much.”

“It’s the least that I can do, Captain Halloway, for saving my people from an untimely-and disgusting- death. LaGran out.”

“Sir,” reported Bannon, “Sensors show that two small vessels are approaching from the other side of the planet.”

“It must be the first of the available ships,” reasoned LaCroix.

“We are being hailed.”

“On screen, Kerry.”

“Halo, we are here to take you to the colony, ya?” spit out the old grizzled man standing before them.

“What is it with these people and accents? First the French guy, now this Scandinavian idiot,” mused Halvox.

“I’d rather not think about it,” responded Gabriel quietly.

“Is this the entire fleet?” asked Halloway, his smile rapidly disappearing.

“Ya, we take you to colony now?” Halloway sighed and rubbed his forehead.

“Yes, by all means.”

“It take a day or two, ya?”

“What do you mean, a day or two? We don’t have that long!” yelled LaCroix, as she stood and advanced towards the screen.

“We are sorry, but we have slow ships. One to two days, we have fun on way there, ya?” Halloway grabbed LaCroix and pushed her back.

“Yes, quite alright. Haymaker out.”

“What was THAT all about?” demanded LaCroix as her captain walked back to his chair.

“Commander, with all due respect, I want to get to this colony as soon as possible, but yelling at alien captains won’t make the process go any faster,” he sighed as he rubbed his head again. Bobby was getting more and more headaches as a result of this crew. He would have to find some way to deal with it, before his brain exploded. And if that happened, Rachel would get command of the ship, and Kerry would be make XO…the thought of that caused Bobby’s migraine to pound harder.


CHAPTER FOUR:

“Sir, we have them!” Fallow smiled smugly as he approached the young lieutenant who had reported the news.

“Where are they?”

“The USS Haymaker is currently in low warp, heading for a D’Narian colony. Two small D’Narian cargo vessels are escorting them. Correction, the cargo ships are towing the Haymaker.”

“What!?! Are you sure?” questioned Mennol, as he peered over Fallow’s shoulder at the scanner screen. The lieutenant swallowed nervously and continued.

“Quite sure, sir. They should arrive at the colony in 27 hours.”

“How fast can we get the fleet to them?” asked Fallow.

“In just under a day at maximum speed.” The admiral grin became wider as he retook his seat in the command chair.

“Contact the fleet. Inform them that we are about to get the princess back, and tell them to prepare for battle.” Mennol nodded and briskly walked away, leaving Fallow to smile in grim amusement. “Time is catching up with you, Captain…”


=USS Haymaker=


Halloway sat on the couch in his ready room, staring out at the stars as they slowly streaked by. Life support to the deck where his quarters were located had gone out, forcing Bobby to move to his ready room. He had been reviewing a schematic of the main plasma manifolds when his door chimed. “Yes?”

“Status report from Abbott,” said Rachel as she sauntered into the room. She tossed the PADD over to Bobby as she looked at the mess her captain had made.

“Thank you, Commander.” She took a seat behind his desk as he scanned over the report. “Hmm.So the lieutenant says that we now have 23 hours until complete loss of ship’s functions?”

“Keep reading.” Bobby flipped to the next page.

“Life support has gone out on three more decks??? Where are all the crew members going?”

“We’ve set up cots in the mess hall, sickbay, and the holodeck.”

“Jeez…this can’t get any worse.”

“Next page.” Bobby stared at Rachel in desperation, then flipped to the next page. His eyes became wide as saucers.

“You’re sharing my ready room with ME??? Who put this in here???”

“Random computer selection,” replied Rachel quietly as she thumbed through a book Bobby had lying on the floor.

“Random my ass.” he mused as he read the rest of the room assignments. He tossed the PADD down in a huff after he had finished it. “Thank God it’s not permanent.”

“Oh, I dunno. We could learn to enjoy each other’s company.”

“Rachel, there’s no way! Besides, I thought that you and Lt. Abbott were…” A quick glare from Bobby’s first officer shut him up tighter than a clam. “Never mind.” He cleared his throat and stood to stretch. “So, how much longer until we reach the D’Narian colony?”

“In about 8 hours, provided our `friends’ out there don’t suffer a break down.” Bobby rolled his eyes and headed towards the door.

“Coming, Commander?”

“Nah, I’m off-duty in about 15 minutes. I figured that I would just hang out here.” Now it was Bobby’s turn to glare. Rachel sighed and followed him out to the bridge. The entire bridge crew seemed tired and grumpy, as he and his first officer sat down.

“Status report,” he ordered, causing the bridge to move slowly into action.

“Course is steady,” reported Jenna with a stifled yawn that would make a cat green with envy. “Eight hours until we reach the colony.”

“Sounds good, Lt. Benn. Halvox, what have you got for me?”

“Well, Captain, main sensors are down and so all I can tell is that we are still being towed in relatively the same direction. I won’t be able to tell you if any hostiles get within range until they fire at us.”

“Hopefully, Commander, that won’t be a problem.” Kerry snorted and went back to her duties.

“No security issues, Captain, but the crew is getting pretty restless, with having to share rooms with one another,” stated Gabriel as he scratched a wing.

“Understood, Gabriel. Ensign…?” inquired Halloway as he turned to look at Bannon. He was fast asleep at his post again, softly snoring while the computer ran diagnostics. “Never mind. If anything changes, be sure to tell me.” A resounding `aye’ surfaced from the senior staff, causing Bobby to ponder what to do next. “Say, does anybody here like charades?” The Borg couldn’t have uttered a more collective groan than the one that escaped from the crew’s lips.


=Fallow’s ship=


“ETA?” inquired Fallow softly.

“Fourteen more minutes and we have them, Admiral.” Mennol stood beside the commander’s chair, looking as bored as he always did.

“Something on your mind, Mennol?”

“No, sir.”

“Mennol,” prompted Fallow. “Don’t lie to me now.” The Betazoid sighed and turned to face him.

“Fallow, I just think that all this is a bit overkill, that’s all. If you would leave the Federation, alone, they will in turn, do the same.”

“Need I remind you that they are harboring the princess?” reminded Fallow.

“No, but I just think that if you wait until the princess is off the ship then we can get to her a lot easier, that’s all.”

“Uh huh, that’s nice, whatever. We are going with my plan, and it will work. Now, go do something. You’re starting to bug me,” Fallow ordered, waving him away with his hand. Mennol rolled his eyes and briskly walked to one of the rear stations, where he sat and crossed his arms in disdain.

`Creepy old bastard.’ he thought to himself as he ran scans of the fleet’s status.


CHAPTER FIVE:

“It’s a long way to Tipperary, it’s a long way to go.” sang Halloway to himself as he read through a paper entitled Putting the Fun’ Back Into Motivation: A Better Crew in 10 Weeks’. He had left the bridge rather quickly after the status check, and he sat at his desk while Commander LaCroix was sprawled out on the couch, snoring softly. The young captain simply shook his head and continued reading the PADD. He hoped to God that this assignment to Sector 66-F wasn’t permanent. It wasn’t the fact that he didn’t like the crew, he did (kinda). It wasn’t the fact that his ship was falling apart (which it was). It wasn’t even the fact that he deserved to be treated like any other captain, like Picard or Sisko (which he wasn’t). Dammit, he would almost go for a good day in Rydell or Baxter’s shoes (although Baxter’s shoes were a bit of a stretch). “Life is never fair.”

“It hardly is, Captain.” Bobby looked up to see Princess Cimorene standing at the door, a security guard behind her.

“Thank you, Ensign,” he said, dismissing the crewmember. “What can I do for you, Princess?” Cimorene smiled and sauntered over to Halloway, a mischievous grin on her face.

“I was just wondering, Captain.”

“Cimorene, its Bobby.”

“Bobby,” she started again, “I just came up here to tell you that.” Alarm klaxons cut off the rest of her sentence. Bobby jumped out of his chair, and both he and the princess headed towards the door. Bobby paused momentarily to shake Rachel to wakefulness again.

“Status report!” he ordered, taking his seat. Cimorene looked uneasy as she sat down beside him. “Commander LaCroix will have your head if you sit there,” he mentioned calmly, never taking his eyes off of the viewscreen. The princess frowned and switched to the other side of him. No sooner than she had moved, LaCroix walked out of the ready room, looking as goddess-like as ever.

“We have detected a fleet of Jyinion ships on an intercept course. They will be in weapons range in 30 seconds,” reported Halvox sternly.

“Hail them, Gabriel.”

“No response, sir,” responded the security chief after a moment.

“Captain, we’re dropping out of warp!” yelled Lt. Benn.

“WHAT?”

“The two D’Narin ships have let us loose and are leaving!”

“Damn! Shields up, arm all weapons!”

“Captain, shields are only at 75% efficiency, and we only have forward phasers, that’s it,” stated Halvox. Halloway groaned and rubbed his forehead.

“Halloway to Abbott.”

“What the hell is…oh, sorry. What do you want, Captain?” The poor engineer sounded like he was going to crack at any moment.

“Not to rush you or anything, Lieutenant, but we could use a burst of warp power here in about.oh, now.”

“I’ll get right on it, Abbott out.” Without warning, the Haymaker shook violently.

“Shields down to 41 percent!” yelled Halvox over the hiss of gas escaping from a ruptured wall panel.

“Return fire!” The fleet encircled the Intrepid-class starship, battering it to and fro like a game of volleyball. A few streaks of light darted from the Haymaker, barely scorching the shields of the other vessels.

“Direct hit on two vessels, no damage!” reported Gabriel as he took over operations at his station while Kerry made repairs to hers. The bridge shook again, this time sending Jenna to the ground. She quickly regained her seat.

“Initiating evasive maneuvers!” she yelled as her fingers danced across the conn. The ship ducked in and around the fleet of Jyinion ships, while they shot at their wounded prey.

“Shields have failed,” grunted Kerry as she finally got Ops back up and running. “Captain, the lead ship is hailing us.” Bobby stood and smoothed out his uniform.

“It’s about damn time. On screen, Lieutenant.” The man on the screen was grinning like a Cheshire cat. “I’m Captain Halloway of the USS Haymaker. I demand that you cease all attacks on my vessel at once!” The man leaned closer to the screen and smiled wider.

“Ah, Captain Halloway, we meet at last. You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this.”

“And who the hell are you?” inquired LaCroix as she fixed her hair.

“I am High Admiral Fallow, leader of the New Jyinion Assembly. And this,” he said, motioning to the tall man on his right, “is my second-in-command, Mennol.” Mennol nodded but said nothing.

“What do you want, Fallow?” His eyes scanned the bridge, even though he had seen what he wanted to see.

“I want the girl, Halloway. Give me the girl, and you’ll be allowed to go free. Refuse, and…” Fallow drove the threat home by squeezing his left fist, the leather on his gloves squeaking softly together.

“The `girl’ is our guest, and I will not give her to anyone, until I determine that it is safe.”

“So stick that where the sun don’t shine, Fallow!” Heads turned to look at Cimorene, who only smiled mischievously. “And blow it out your…”

“What is your decision, Halloway?” demanded Fallow impatiently, completely interrupting the princess. Bobby looked around at his bridge. Pieces of metal were hanging from the brand new ceiling. More than half of the control panels were smashed; gas flooded from a ruptured ODN relay. His crew was tired, annoyed, hurt. Bobby turned back to Fallow, his jaw set.

“She’s yours.” The entire bridge crew was shocked. Benn started to object, but a glare from her captain shut her up. “Give us five minutes to take her to our transporter room, and we’ll beam her over to you.”

“You have three minutes, Halloway. No more.” Fallow’s face disappeared, replaced by his armada.

“What the HELL do you think you’re doing???” screamed Cimorene. Halloway ignored her and turned to his senior staff.

“Gabriel, go to cargo bay one and prepare two photon torpedoes for beam-out. Lt. Benn, prepare to put us into warp for the colony when I give the signal. Halloway to Abbott,” he said, tapping his comm badge.

“Yes, Captain!?!” Shouts and explosions could be heard in the background.

“I need warp 6 in two minutes or we are all dead.”

“I’ll get on it, Abbott out.” Halloway turned and retook his seat. Cimorene was at her wit’s end. Furious, she stomped up in front of Halloway, her hands on her hips.

“What was that all about??? Need I remind you that you’re the one who decided not to take me back to my planet, and now you’re about to give me back to…”

“Princess,” interrupted Halloway, “I don’t have time for this. You’re not going anywhere, they are. Now, sit down,” he said as he pushed her aside.

“Good for you, Captain,” remarked LaCroix as she leaned over to Halloway.

“Oh, bite me.” She grinned and resumed her normal posture.


=Fallow’s ship=


“He’s lying,” stated Mennol. Fallow stared at the Betazoid in disbelief.

“Are you sure?”

“Positive. Instead of beaming the princess over, they’re going to beam over two live photon torpedoes. He was thinking it, clear as day.”

“I don’t believe it.”

“Listen, I’m the one who’s telepathic! What are you going to do, ask him if what I said is true?” Fallow’s eyes lit up. Mennol noticed and placed his head in his hand. “Forget I said that.”

“No, it’s brilliant! Lieutenant, hail the Haymaker! Halloway!” demanded Fallow.

“Yes, Admiral?”

“Are you planning on beaming over two live warheads instead of the princess?”

“No, of course not.”

“Oh, good. Thanks, that’s all I wanted to know, Fallow out.” He grinned and turned back to his second in command. “See, I told you so.”

“Fallow, he lied to you again!”

“Fine, fine, whatever. Prepare for transport.” Mennol growled in frustration and sulked away.


=USS Haymaker=


Lt. Comm. Gabriel had just finished loading the last torpedo onto the cargo bay’s transporter. He stepped up to the controls and prepared for transport. “Gabriel to bridge, Jack and Jill are ready to go.”

“Good. They’re expecting the transport now.”

“Understood, Captain.” His red claws tapped the scanners, focused the beams, and then glided across the activation switch. The two torpedoes glimmered away, leaving nothing behind. He then turned the transporter’s timer on, and jumped onto the pad, just in time to be beamed back up to the bridge. He shimmered into existence standing at his station. “Jack and Jill have gone up the hill, Captain.”

“Good.” All heads turned to watch Fallow’s ship.

“Sir, the transport is being rerouted!” reported Halvox with a frown.

“What!?!”

“Fallow’s ship is directing the beam towards one of the smaller vessels.”

“Damn. Jenna, get us out of here!”

“The warp drive is not back online.” In the corner of the screen, a ship exploded.

“Take us towards that explosion. NOW!” The Haymaker suddenly zoomed towards where the Jyinion ship had been. The rest of the fleet, realizing what had happened, started to follow, guns blazing. The bridge shook as blast after blast rocked the crippled vessel.

“Hull breaches on decks 5 and 6!” yelled Gabriel. “Reports of casualties coming in from all decks.”

“We have warp!” reported Benn as she plotted their course. The nacelles of the Haymaker folded upward, and the ship streaked into warp, bursting through the fireball that was left of the enemy ship. The bridge crew breathed a collective sigh of relief. Halloway smiled slightly and glanced around the room, surveying the damage. Benn and Gabriel’s stations looked no worse for the wear, Halvox’s was a mess, LaCroix was fixing her eyeliner, and Bannon was.asleep. “Ensign Bannon!” said the captain rather loudly. “Bannon! BANNON!” Halloway rolled his eyes and sighed. As he turned to look back at the screen, he could hear Blake as he woke from his slumber.

“Hey guys.” As he looked around, he noticed the state of the bridge and its crew. “What happened to the bridge? Did I miss something?”


CHAPTER SIX:

“DAMN IT ALL TO HELL!!!” howled Fallow as he watched the USS Haymaker zoom away into warp. “Get the fleet ready to pursue!” He stormed back to his chair, where he plopped down with a huff. “And don’t say I told you so,” he warned, shaking a finger at Mennol. The Betazoid only arched his eyebrow and laughed silently to himself.

“Admiral, eight of our ships report ready, but the other five wish to go back to their patrol sectors,” reported the lieutenant manning communications.

“Tell them to follow me, or else I will blow them out of space! Is that CLEAR???” The officer gulped and relayed the message.

“They said that they aren’t afraid of you.”

“Tell them that we don’t have time for this bickering!” The officer nodded and began to relay the message. “They cut me off, sir.”

“Sir,” interrupted the man at tactical, “the five ships are heading away from here at warp two.” Fallow gritted his teeth.

“Lt. Dennen,” he said as he pointed to the communications officer, “tell them that if they do not return AT ONCE, I will destroy them, their ships, their crews, their families, their homes, their.”

“Oh, for God’s sake…!” Mennol stormed forward and pushed Dennen out of the way. “This is frickin’ ridiculous! Mennol to the fleet that’s leaving! Go ahead and go, don’t worry about us. Mennol out.”

“What the HELL are you doing!?!” demanded Fallow as he stood and pulled Mennol around to face him.

“Oh, shut up, Fallow. You were going to sit here and bicker at them for hours while the Haymaker got away. I was doing you a favor!” Fallow began to spit out a retort, but he loosened his grip on Mennol as he mulled over what his second-in- command had just done. “My, this is a first. You’re actually thinking about what you’re going to do. Wonderful,” remarked Mennol.

“Shut up, I’m thinking,” retorted Fallow.

“Exactly.” The Jyinion turned and walked back to his chair, where he sat down and continued to think.

“Lt. Dennen, contact the rest of our ships. Tell them to follow me to the D’Narin colony that the Haymaker is heading for. Inform them that the moment we drop out of warp, we attack the colony.” Dennen nodded and relayed the message. “Ensign L’Tak, full speed to the colony.” The navigator tapped in the coordinates and engaged the warship’s engines, sending them after the Haymaker.


=USS Haymker=


“Captain, we’ve got a problem.” Halloway sighed and turned to look at Halvox.

“What is it, Commander?”

“Well, I took the liberty of using the deflector dish to boost main sensors after we warped away, and I’ve detected Fallow’s fleet on an intercept course.”

“Great. ETA?”

“Seven minutes.”

“And when do we get to the colony?”

“A little over ten minutes.” Halloway rubbed his forehead and stood.

“Are they in visual range, Kerry?” In response, the viewscreen shifted to a rear view. “Maximum magnification.” The screen was suddenly filled with red. “Okay, maybe not so maximum. Let me see the fleet.” The red was then replaced with eight Jyinion warships.

“Is it my imagination, or are there not as many ships there than attacked us?” asked LaCroix as she stood beside her captain.

“Did we do that much damage to their fleet?”

“Most likely the other ships refused to come, instead of being disabled or destroyed, Captain,” reported Bannon from his station. Halloway smiled and turned to face the young science officer.

“Nice to see you awake, Ensign.”

“I got some coffee,” he explained with a bashful grin. Halloway gave him an acknowledging nod and smile, then turned back to the task at hand.

“Princess Cimorene, what do you make of this Fallow?”

“He’s the one who kidnapped me. That ship on which you rescued me was off of his old command ship. He fancies himself just the right man to rebuild the Jyinion Assembly, in his own image, of course.”

“Oh, of course,” added LaCroix.

“He’s very dangerous, Captain, but not very bright.”

“We figured that one out,” remarked Halvox softly from her station.

“Who is his second-in command, Mennol? He doesn’t look Jyinion.”

“He’s the brains behind Fallow’s brawn. Once, when I was still Fallow’s prisoner, I heard the guards talking about Mennol having some sort of special' ability, something like mind reading or telekinesis. I really don't know; I was pouting at the time." Halloway uttered a silent ahh’ and paused to think. The entrance of Lt. Abbott via the turbolift quickly interrupted the silence.

“Who the hell shifted power from the deflector dish to the sensors?” he demanded. The poor lieutenant was quite frightening, as his hair was disheveled and his eyes were bright red from lack of sleep.

“I did. So what?” yelled Halvox. Abbott turned and marched up to the chief of operations.

“Don’t you know that when a ship is in warp, it needs the deflector in order to deflect small particles of matter that at warp speeds would hit the ship with a force of a weapon barrage???” Just as he finished explaining that tidbit of information, the ship bucked wildly, throwing Abbott to the floor. “See, I told you so.”

“Actually, that was a weapon barrage. Fallow’s fleet just caught up with us,” reported Halvox. “And we’re still two minutes from the colony.” The ship shook again as Abbott rose to his feet.

“I’ll be in Hell if you need me,” he said as he entered the turbolift and headed back to Main Engineering.

“Gabriel, fire all weapons. Kerry, the moment we drop out of warp, contact that colony and tell them that we’re coming in.” Both officers nodded.

“Direct hit on the lead vessel, no damage,” reported Gabriel with a sigh. The bridge rocked as the fleet hit them with a volley of torpedoes. “Shields are down to 14%.”

“Captain, we’re here! Dropping out of warp,” exclaimed Lt. Benn cheerfully.

“I have Governor Snell on subspace,” reported Halvox. A middle-aged man appeared on the screen.

“Can I help you, Captain.?”

“Halloway, of the Federation starship Haymaker. We request your assistance. We have just come from D’Narin II, where we cured a plague.”

“Ah, yes. I had heard about that. What can we do for you?”

“Well, for starters, we have a fleet of Jyinion warships on our tail, so any support craft that you have would be appreciated.” The Haymaker was attacked again. Halloway grabbed hold of the armrest on his chair to avoid falling.

“Unfortunately, our fighters would not be of much help. But we do have a disruptor cannon.”

“Only one?” inquired LaCroix with a look of worry on her face.

“It’s big.”

“But only one?”

“It’s very big.”

“Fine, that’ll be great. We’ll be landing here in a minute, so if you could just warp up that disruptor of yours, that would be great. Halloway out. Lt. Benn, begin landing procedure. All hands, this is the captain. We will be landing the ship, blue alert. Prepare for some bumps. That is all.” The red light of the alarms was replaced by icy blue as the Haymaker began its rapid descent into the planet.

“Entering the exosphere,” reported Jenna as the ship began to shudder.

“Sensors show that the colony is powering up their `disruptor’,” scoffed Halvox.

“Put it on screen.” The bridge crew watched as a bright green beam of energy flew from the surface and sailed after one of the attacking vessels. It connected with one of the smaller ships, breaking through its shields and destroying it in a matter of seconds. All jaws were dropped. “I guess one was all they needed.”

“Captain, the rest of Fallow’s fleet is breaking off and retreating!” reported Halvox with a grin. A collective sigh of relief echoed through the bridge.

“Captain, we have passed through the upper atmosphere and are on an approach run for the colony. Their traffic controller has opened up the main refit pad for our use.”

“Lt. Benn, that’s the best news that I have heard since we entered this sector. Take us down.” She nodded at the captain and piloted the Haymaker effortlessly to the landing pad, where the Haymaker touched down with little trouble.

“We are down, Captain,” reported Halvox as the shuddering ceased.

“Down, but not out for the count.”

“Captain?” asked LaCroix with a quizzical lift of the brow. Halloway stood, his jaw set tight, staring at the viewscreen.

“I intend to fix my ship, visit the Jyinion homeworld, and if I meet with Fallow again, I’m going to kick his ass from here to the Delta Quadrant.”


TO BE CONCLUDED…



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