Location: Endeavour Cheron System
Year 2160.340 1200 hours
3 hours before
Amanda looked up at Captain Hernandez on the gantry. All the crew had been asked to gather; the Cargo Bay was packed. Amanda noticed Malcolm in front of her and some of the original Engine Room crew from Enterprise. Around her, all her MACOs.
“Thank you for coming together, Endeavour. Some of you will be aware the Romulan Fleet is three hours away. They are coming and they are coming in force. What I am about to tell you remains within these four walls, tens of thousands of lives depend on that.” They were all listening carefully now, the Captain was not one for hyperbole.
“Three months ago, the Romulan High Command gained access to vital intelligence. That means access codes to our systems, calibration settings of our defences and weaponry and tactical operational strategies. It effectively makes us defenceless and them invulnerable. They are bearing down on us, believing they can annihilate us and in so doing win the war.
“What they do not know is we identified these vulnerabilities some time ago. The entire Fleet has overhauled all of its operating systems. All craft are now armed with pulsed phases cannons and photonic torpedoes. All had upgrades to the modulation settings of their weapons and shields 24 hours ago. We are ready for them. But we now have to lull them into thinking otherwise.
“Our opening Gambit is to draw them out and then destroy their entire fleet. In order to draw them out, they must believe we are vulnerable. Only once they are certain of success will their fleet de-cloak. We have to sacrifice one in order to save all and I have volunteered Endeavour as the bait.
“We need only a skeleton crew to remain on board, so I am looking for volunteers from each section. For those remaining behind, meet with Lieutenant Reed in the briefing room in ten minutes. For those leaving, collect your personal effects and be ready to transport in fifteen minutes. There is no shame in this. We do not need a full crew compliment: we can do this with twenty and you will be most welcome and have plenty to do elsewhere.
“On a personal note, I want you to know it has been an honour to lead you, these past two years. You are the best of Star Fleet… That is why I volunteered Endeavour.” She hesitated full of emotion, “I am so proud of you all… That is all. Carry on.”
Hernandez climbed down the Gantry, setting off for the Bridge to manage the disembarkation. She was almost at the door when a voice spoke up from behind, “Ma’am would you mind if we had a word?” The voice was in the centre of the crowd and she turned and moved toward it. Her crew made way for her. She reached the middle and was faced with a young man, no more than nineteen years old, surrounded by her entire crew.
The young man stood erect, hands behind his back, very serious. “Permission to speak freely, Captain?” Hernandez was instinctive. “Go ahead, Private.” “We think the Romulans might smell a rat if we all start moving out, so we kind of think we should all stay.” Hernandez looked at the Private.”You do, do you, Private?”
She circled round. She was looking for Malcolm, the longest serving Star Fleet officer on board. She made eye contact. His expression said it all; head nodding tightly up and down, pursing of the lips, saying ‘Good with me.” Indeed, many of those she was looking at were communicating that same message, nodding agreement. She smiled, communicating a simple thought, ‘Thank you’.
She stopped and, turning, looked down deep in thought and paused, her hand on her chin. Finally, she came back up, looked at them and said. “Permission Granted. Quartermaster, would you mind opening up treble rations all round? Keep steady, Gentlemen and Ladies.” As she walked out there was a huge roar from everyone.
Location : Endeavour
The Captain was peering at the screen, looking for distortions, certain the Romulan ship was there. She was not disappointed, the ploy had worked. A single ship de-cloaked. A menacing presence, shaped like a Bird of Prey, its upturned wings filling the screen.
The Parley was routed all over the ship and when Major Cole, sat on the battery gantry, heard his voice she gave a start. She had heard it before. But where?
Hernandez had to stay as cool as a cucumber for the Parley: no sign that she would most likely not survive the next five minutes. The theatrics over, she spoke to Jonathan one on one. “You really owe me this time. Give them hell.”
The disrupter fire was deadly accurate, spraying the saucer with blasts cutting through decks and incinerating the crew. They were the lucky ones; others were thrown in the air and smashed against bulkheads, severely injured, damaging and losing limbs but not consciousness. The Engine Room took primary and secondary hits from power feedback loops. They were burnt by distended coils, broken by flying debris and asphyxiated by gasses released from broken valves. The Bridge took a direct hit from a Scout. Debris flew everywhere and the Captain was thrown up in the air and came down by her chair, lifeless.
Starboard Battery Placement
Amanda was very calm. She kicked ass with the Phase Cannon and took out several Scouts ships not because she had modulated the frequencies, but through her deadly accurate fire, where mere inertia caused havoc. The next Scout came in and hit the phase cannon full on. Amanda was blown out of the Gantry, her body smashed against the wall. She slid down to the floor, unconscious.
Did she come round or was she dreaming? She was back on Romulus; the lights had come up or was that the lights flickering in the Endeavour? She heard a voice.“I believe you were searching for two of your colleagues. I am sorry to disappoint you, poor substitutes no doubt, but,” and said with irony, ” at least we share their DNA.” She remembered the cruel bastard who raped her mind and then it dawned on her he didn’t say they were dead, he damn well would have done. Her back was broken, she couldn’t move her arms. She moved her head inside her helmet and gave a vocal instruction Enterprise 404-172. She was there, she could hear all she needed to tell her.
Location: Enterprise Bridge
The mood was sombre. They knew they were witnessing the death of 83 of their colleagues. Friends. People they had graduated with, people they had shared their lives with. But they had no time to think about the ship that was disappearing off into the distance, its port nacelle trailing smoke, its infrastructure sorely compromised, because in front of them the entire Romulan Fleet materialised, filling the view.
Archer looked at Hoshi, they didn’t need to speak. Hoshi inserted the chip. It was only five centimetres by three, but it was going to change history and confine thousands of Romulans to death. She inserted the chip in her control panel, placed her hand on the Recognition Sensor and seconds later Star Fleet, Tellerite, Andorian and Vulcan ships performed a massive tactical movement and began firing.
Tellerites, with their smaller nimble craft, moved beneath the Romulan fleet and fired up through their underbellies. Andorian Battle Cruisers took them head on and Vulcan craft passed on to the starboard side, firing mercilessly. Then a manoeuvre: the Tellerites withdrew and the Romulan’s deadliest enemy, Star Fleet, came in from above firing endless salvos of Photonic Torpedoes with deadly accuracy before peeling off.
Archer was relieved there was no friendly fire. He watched as the pride of the Romulan State Empire, the battle fleet of Warbirds, burst into flame, broke apart and withered on the vine.
Only one craft escaped the slaughter, dashing back through space to Romulus carrying the architect of the greatest failure in their history. The master politician, already preparing a plan that would lead to centuries of stand-off between the Romulans and the victors. He would need all his machiavellian wits about him to survive, arguing that this failure could only be due to the betrayal of others.
Hoshi too watched, but suddenly was aware of an in-ear voice. Communication was meant to be dark during this period for fear of creating confusion. It was Amanda.”Hoshi, Hoshi is that you?” Hoshi picked up a much larger hearing device and pressed the earpiece hard against the side of her head. “This is Hoshi.” She was obviously in great distress. “Hoshi, I am sorry, so sorry.” She could hear the Amanda Cole of four years ago speaking to her. “Hoshi,” “Yes?” “Something’s happened: I can remember. They’re alive. I am glad, I am so glad I helped him on his journey. Hoshi?” Hoshi was crying. It was surreal. On the screen the end of a war of savage uncompromising brutality was playing out, whilst in her earpiece forgiveness, kindness and joy in sacrifice. Hoshi went to reply but the connection was lost: she was gone.
Jonathan’s great friend was on the Endeavour. “Give me a visual of the Endeavour.” The screen was full of the drifting craft, electrical storms breaking out all over the broken compromised saucer, fire belching from the port nacelle, scout ships chipping away even now firing at the saucer at will, the Mobile Phase Cannons silent, broken twisted metal. Finally, she began to ignite and break up.
Hoshi stood, passed the Science Officer who she dared to say anything, knowing if she did she would probably break more than her arm and went over to the Captain sat in his chair. She put her hand over his. “I am so sorry about Erika, Captain,” paused, “Amanda came through, her memory came back… She thinks they’re still alive, sir.” He stood up and pressed Hoshi to him. His mind went back to the climax of the battle to save Earth from the Xindi. This time they were observers, rather than the centre of the crisis. “Thank God. Thank God for everything.”