Last Voyage of the Avenger

Chapter Two:

The Avenger had just left warp travel from her huge trip into unknown space. On maximum visual magnification, the high energy plasma nebula glowed brightly in a vast variety of different colors. The Avenger was slowly approaching the interesting anomaly but would be stopping before it entered it. Finally busy, the scientist that had been brought onboard at Earth were happily chatting with each other. They were examining the steady stream of new sensor data that they were getting on the unusual plasma nebula. To the scientists, this whole trip was worth it.

To the Executive Officer, this trip was worth it as well. She considered the crew of the Avenger to now be the most dangerous team in all of the Federation. The first three week of the trip out here was pure hell on everyone including the captain who worked as hard as she expected her crew to. The crew had finally meshed and a strong fellowship had replaced complacency. At present, Captain Ross was catching up on some of her sleep and her second in command was sitting in bridge command chair. Lieutenant Commander Paula Masterson had brown hair and brown eyes in common with her captain but was tall, slim, and curvaceous. While she wore her hair pinned up while she was on duty, her rich and wavy hair would fall to the small of her back when she unpinned it. Although she would not admit it except to herself, she liked the old mini-skirt style uniforms that had been worn before she had joined because it would allow her to show off her long and shapely legs. She had realized that her captain considered herself to be an ugly duckling and hope to convince her of her own beauty eventually. The executive officer herself had collected non military clothes from all over her travels and thought that some styles, if cut down for the captains stature, would be quite attractive. Even if she was to have her own cut down, it would not hurt because Paula's cabinets were almost stuffed full as is. She felt she owed the captain anyway because after the initial briefing after the Avenger left Sol system, Captain Ross never mentioned previous performance and treated her executive officer with full respect. Even though the captain had laid no blame for the pour initial performances of the crew, Commander Masterson blamed herself for allowing herself and the rest of the crew to fall into a pattern of Laziness from the old captain. Captain Eason had been a nice person but had been simply looking forward to retirement. Now, the executive officer was hoping that the Avenger could complete it's mission quickly so that they could compete in the next annual War Games. Many captains would be very upset when they were beaten by an old frigate with a brand new captain and a crew that was barely considered proficient. Even Captain Sulu and Captain Kirk might find themselves on the losing side and they had been holding the number one and number two positions for the last few years.

Two days later, almost all the data that could be collected externally had been collected and internal data was what the scientists wanted now. The Avenger had moved slightly closer and now was just outside the effects of the high energy nebula. A large number of sensor probes had already been fired at the plasma clouds to get information but all had quickly stopped communicating. The scientists had told Captain Ross that the probes were not very well protected and had quickly been destroyed by the plasma but as long as the Avenger went in with full shields, the ship could enter the Nebula without any chance of being damaged. She had her own science officer, Lieutenant junior grade Josephine Phelps, look as well at the data the probes had gotten and the science officer had agreed with the transient scientists. All of this meant that she had no reason to say no. She had the ship prepared to go within the Nebula in a few minutes and already had the ships shields raised as well as having the ship on yellow alert. A course of entry had already been worked out which should give her the maximum amount of safety margin. The Avenger would proceed using just maneuvering thrusters and would only engage impulse engines when it was proven safe. Captain Ross could no help being nervous anyway and was standing beside her chance and wringing her hands to avoid showing her nervous anticipation. She knew the longer that she waited, the more tension she would have. Overcoming her own tension she requested to her helmsman "Dennis, if could please, please proceed on the planned course into the nebula." She was pleased that she had been able to keep any nervousness from her voice. Strange anomalies scared her more than battle.

The helmsman answered her with the expected "Yes, Sir" and activated the program that would control the ships entry into the nebula. Lieutenant Dennis Hanley had his hands on the manual controls in case something went wrong but there seemed to be no problems. The maneuvering thrusters activating providing just a few Gravities of thrust and shut down after less than five minutes. The ship drifted towards the outer layer of the nebula on pure inertia. As the bow of the frigate entered into the Nebula, the bow of the ship acted much like a sail and was forced upwards by a crosscurrent caused by millions of particles went from the bottom to the top of the nebula. The helmsman made some corrections so the thrusters would compensate for the particle hitting the ships. The particles fluoresced as the struck the Avengers shields but the hammering inflicted no real damage to the shields.

The Tactical Officer reported the status of the shields in response to an unasked question "Captain, our shields are holding near 100 percent and there seems to be no problems with the ship staying in the nebula for an extended period of time."

The captain did a quick look at her own repeaters to verify the status of the shields and seeing it for herself, addressed the science officer with "Science Officer, you may tell our guests that they may begin their testing of the inside of the nebula" realizing that the science officer wanted to join the scientists at probing the secrets of the nebula..

Almost a week later, the scientists were virtually finished with all the testing they could do. They were not satisfied with the results but there were few tests left to do. The captain could soon order the Avenger out of the plasma nebula. The final tests were interrupted by an unknown anomaly that started far below the subatomic level. A massive amount of energy fed the anomaly and it became a wormhole about four centimeters across. It would have collapsed in less than a second but it interacted with and was further fed the subspace fields of the Avenger and expanded a few million fold. Less than a second later, all power failed and the entire frigate was plunged into total darkness. After about 10 seconds, the ship emergency lights came on and the ship was lit by dim red lights.

Bypassing the communications officer, Gwen Ross opened a channel to main engineering and with a voice that the rest of the bridge could tell was agitated said "Chief Engineer, Damage Control Officer, I need status reports and I need them now!"

Lieutenant Commander Charles Dunstan, the Chief Engineer, was first in finding his voice "Sir, as far as I can determine, all the main safeties have blown but anti-matter storage is holding steady. I should be able to get the emergency fusion backups online within a few minutes and I should be able to get main power online within fifteen minutes provided that there was no system damage. I need to run a few tests to determine if there is a problem. One place I need to specifically check is the anti-matter feed lines."

The time it had taken for the chief engineer to report his situation had given the Damage Control Officer time to collect her thoughts. Lieutenant junior grade Sabrina Lee was a bit old for her rank but was quite competent. She was of Asian descent and had an ageless quality. She began her report as soon as her chief engineer was finish with his report, "Captain, I have received no reports of damage but I am checking deck by deck and should be able to give a full report within less than five minutes." By her tone, it sounded like she expected her captain to jump on her for not getting full data.

Captain Ross, now that she had a few moment to calm down, she realized that it would take a few minutes for full reports to be completed. The captain replied in a now calm sounding voice with "Understood" and she paused for a moment but continued with "But I need you to expedite in any way possible." She knew that by yelling, she would just take longer for the crew to complete her orders. She did order her executive officer to put the ship on yellow alert .

The captains restraint was rewarded just four minutes later with the fusion reactors coming online and emergency power being put online. When power came back, she had the helmsman bring the ship to a complete stop. As sensors came back online, both the science officer and the tactical officer reported that the sensor reading were different than they had been just a few minutes earlier and neither could offer any explanation. Gwendoline looked at her own restored sensors and the systems data did not make sense to her either when compared to the previous readings. Thankfully, she got a report from the damage control officer a moment later and there was no damage being reported other than some light shock damage and none of the crew had any serious injuries. The Chief Engineer reported soon after that with some bad news. It would take about thirty minutes before main power could be restored due to some minor damage to the anti-matter reactor feed systems.

Gwendoline Ross made a snap decision and ordered her Navigator "John, I want you to plot a least time course out of this nebula and pass it to the helmsman as soon as you have it plotted." She switched he attention to her helmsman and continued with "Dennis, I want you to follow the course but keep the ship down to ten percent of the speed of light." She switched to her tactical officer and her science officer, "Mike and Josephine, I want you to keep a vigilant sensor watch and warn me if you see anything unusual. Josephine, could you please tell the scientists to make any last minute tests that they have planned because I d not plan to go back into this nebula until and unless we can find out what happened"

Five hours later, the science officer and tactical officers could finally detect the edge of the plasma nebula. The gasses in the nebula prevented getting exact fixes and the entire structure of the clouds of super heated particles were different than previously observed. The Avenger had been on yellow alert for the entire trip out of the nebula and were getting tired. Commander Ross shared her crews exhaustion but knew that within about half an hour, the ship would finally be out of the nebula. The ships main power system had been more stubborn than expected. Instead of require a half an hour, the repair had taken almost a full hour due to some hidden damage. Now the ship was as close to 100% as could be attained and the Avenger was fully operational. The Captain had her science officer and the scientist 'guests' working on a solution to what had occurred but they had no theories beyond that it was the effects of some type of subspace anomaly. This answer could mean one of a few million events and told the captain nothing.

Time seemed to travel very slowly as the Avenger got closer to the end of the nebula. While the captain seemed to be relaxing in her command chair, she was in reality keeping a very careful watch on the data coming from the science and tactical sensors. While she considered it slightly undercutting her junior officers rolls, she found it very hard not to do so because she had been a tactical officer herself. In just a few minutes, the frigate would be out of the nebula and hopefully safe as well. Just then, she noticed five unusual subspace bubbles that by their patterns normally mean starship drives in operation. They were close to the nebula and they were in fairly close proximity. She also knew that her tactical officer was probably scanning only forward and would not notice the other starships that were off to the side. She brought it to his attention with a calm "Lieutenant Anson, there are some subspace bubbles that probably represent starship drives. They are at position 34.53 degrees by 13.11 degrees. Leave forward scanning to the science officer and see if you can identify the targets." she waited for him to acknowledge the order.

The Tactical Officer frowned for a moment at his scanners but he quickly noted the five targets that had been pointed out by his captain. He replied quickly with a "Yes, Sir" and began refining his targets. They were obviously ships but the targets were at a long range and material of the nebula still reduced the effective sensor range.

The war against the Dominion was not going well and the Federation had already suffered heavy losses. On the USS Atago, NCC 2074, a refitted Excelsior class starship pulled from out of mothball, this was the case as well. Many of the control panels on the bridge had shorted out and many systems were down. Over half of the Atago's weapons had been destroyed and the ship also had severe although repairable structural damage. The shields had previously failed and the ship was taking hit after hit from the enemy. Crew casualties were coming into the bridge at alarming rates and many other crew members were caught in compartments with airless spaces surrounding them. The captain seems badly distracted and only mumbled when his executive officer reported that main power had failed and that if it was not stabilized within a few minutes, the warp core could have to be ejected. The executive officer reflect that the Captain was on the ragged edge of breaking down but that it would not matter in the end because the ship would likely be destroyed within the next ten minutes. The Atago's Captain had previously been in charge of an Oberth class Science Vessel and was not really a combatant officer although executive officer thought of him as a good man. The ship had been ambushed by four Cardassian Galor class cruisers and while they had managed to kill one of the cruisers, they had done no more than light damage to any of the others. With present damage, the Federation vessel could not escape into the badlands in the hopes of hiding either and so was a target waiting to be killed.

A few minutes had allowed the tactical officer on the Avenger to refine his data and he reported "Captain, I now have no drive reading for target three and assume it has been disabled. Target four seems to be a modified Excelsior drive pattern but seems to be fluctuating, probably due to heavy damage. The other three ship drives I cannot identify, although they have similarities to both Romulan and Klingon subspace fields. The ships are large and seemed to be about the size of the Excelsior themselves. From sensor data, it also appears that the three unidentified targets are engage the Excelsior."

Captain Ross blurted out before she could catch herself, "What the hell is an Excelsior class doing way out here" thinking that her ship was the only one had been sent out. She caught herself and continued with "Dennis, I need you to bring our own drive systems to minimal power to reduce the chance of being detected. I also want you to go on an intercept course but start zig zag maneuvers now and begin spinning when we come within torpedo range." Gwen did not wait for her helmsman to acknowledge and continued by addressing her communication officer, "Susan, I need you to send a tight beam message to the Excelsior informing them that we will be coming to their assistance." With her mind going in very fast mode she addressed her weapons and tactical officers without using their first names, "Weapons and Tactical, we need to put in to practice what I have been training you for. I want you watch for missiles coming in and I need you to be ready to shoot with the hull phasers any torpedoes that come into range. As soon as we are within range, I want you to open fire with both the forward and rear torpedo tubes. I want you to concentrate on only one target until it is destroyed. If we can destroy one before entering into phaser weapon range, it will be two ships against two ships."

The communication panel was no longer manned but it still beeped when a communication signal hit the Atago. The situation had become worse and the executive officer expected it to be a message ordering him to surrender. If it was, he need to think about the crews' lives. He sent the signal to one his remaining displays and looked at the file data. He noted it was in an out of date Starfleet signal scramble and encryption and the file date itself was wrong by almost a hundred years. The file listed the sources as U.S.S. Avenger, NCC 1860. Luckily, the Atago's computers had both the scramble and encryption and were able to translate the file. Attached was a visual file which he played immediately. A young women appeared on the display and said "This is Lieutenant junior grade Susan Novak, comm officer on the USS Avenger. To unknown Excelsior class Battleship, we can see you are in trouble and are engaged in combat with them. The Avenger is on its way to render assistance as soon as we are within range. Respond if you can. End of message."

Most of the Atago's sensors were out and there was no way of telling where the message had come from. The executive officer tried to bring it to his commanding officer but the captain was not responding to anything outside of himself. The executive officer knew that any slim chance for his ships and crews survival rested on his shoulders and activated his in ship communications "This is the executive officer, the captain has been injured and as such I am taking command of the ship." With that he sent his crews to stabilize the warp core.

He did not know why but something about the message kept nagging at him. The communication on the other ship called the ship and Excelsior class battleship but they had been reclassified as cruisers. Even more, the position of communication officer was now done by the other bridge positions, especially the helm officer. He called up the message file while dealing with his other duties and set the computer to find matches. The computer quickly beeped. It found a ship USS Avenger NCC-1860. He did a quick through the file and noted that ship’s communication officer had been a Lt jg Susan Novak. The ship had been the first ship ever sent to explore the Badlands and had been lost near the time listed on the message he had received. The Avenger had been a predecessor of the Miranda class. This could all be some sort of strange Dominion trick but he though that it was not. This ship had been thought lost but he suspected it had suddenly jumped in time like had ocurred with other vessels before. Unfortunately, he thought it would die here because a Miranda was no match for one let alone three Cardassian Galor class cruisers.

"Torpedo Range" the Avengers tactical officer practically yelled. In the time the old frigate had taken to get to this range, it had accelerated considerably. Due to the ship both writhing like a snake and spinning, the ships acceleration had dropped to almost zero. The Avenger was a very hard target to hit and both sets of launchers could be fired forward.

While she was speaking slightly louder than normal, the captains tone sounded calm and even and she spoke the order "Go to continuous fire". A few seconds later, photon torpedoes were fired from the forward tubes and they were followed a few seconds later by torpedoes from the rear tubes.

It was not until then that the Cardassians noticed that they were under attack from an unexpected direction. The Sensor Officer of the flagship detected the volley coming in ad reported to his captain "Captain, I have detected a large volley of photon torpedoes coming from the edge of the Badlands. I do not detect any ship launching them."

The Cardassian Captain was a already angry at the fact that the Excelsior, in spite of being ambushed, had managed to destroy one of his ships. He snarl at his sensor officer "You Incompetent Idiot, were did this mystery torpedoes come from"

The sensor officer answered nervously, "Sir, I am not...." Just then, he got some sort of ship reading and amended his response "Sir, I am picking up some sort of ship just exiting the Badlands. I cannot tell what class but it appears to be fairly small. It could not be one of their larger cruisers. The subspace field around the ship also seems to shifting in unusual patterns. I cannot get any better than that but it is just inside of our torpedo range."

The Cardassian captain just listen for a few moments and thought about what it could be. The only small ship that he knew of that could fire that large a volley of missiles was a Defiant class escort. Begin as close as he was to Terrok Nor, it had to be the Defiant herself. While the subspace field could show a ship as large as a Miranda, those old ships could not fire this many torpedoes. If he could destroy it with Federation Commander Sisco, he would get awarded for his actions. If he could capture it, he might even get elevated to the rank of Gull. The problem is that the large number of torpedoes would destroy whatever ship they hit. He ordered one of the other cruisers to move forward to act as decoy for the missiles while his ship would drop back and actually use the Excelsior as partial cover. The Federation cruiser had not fired in several minutes and the warp core was fluctuating.

The Atago had not been fired at for a few minutes and in engineering, the ship’s chief engineer had finally gotten the Warp Core stabilized and if the ship had just a few more minutes he might be able to make real progress. Bringing the deflectors shields back on line was next on his priorities. He had just finished telling the executive officer his status but he did not think that the commanding officer had been injured.

The executive officer of the Atago had finished listening to the report but he was more concerned with all the torpedoes that had been fired outwards from the Cardassian vessels. While he could not detect the Avenger on his damaged sensors, he imagined that they were firing on the Avenger. On his remaining sensors, he noticed than one of the Cardassian ships was trying to use his ship as cover. The first officer imagined that the ship was the flagship and if they had known that he had a few functional weapon systems on the Atago, they would not have tried anything stupid like this. The executive officer would only have a few seconds to react. He ordered his tactical officer "Open fire on the bridge of that nearby ship with all remaining weapons." A few seconds later, all of the badly mauled Atago's phasers and photon torpedoes were fired. The Cardassian flagship captain did not know what was happening until it was to late and all of his dreams dies with him. Huge shards of armor exploded into the bridge of the Cardassian vessel.

The crew of the other Cardassian cruisers were paralyzed for a few important moments by the loss of their flagship. Just as they were recovering, the first volley of photon torpedoes struck the Cardassian vessel and the ships shields were knocked flat. A few moments later, the second volley stuck the same ship and inflicted severe damage. Yet another volley struck home and the Galor blew up in a massive explosion from a warp core breach. The captain of the remaining Cardassian Galor decided that he was in trouble and changed his vector to 180 degrees away from the attacking vessel and attempted to make a run for it.

The Avenger had not been missed completely. A large number of torpedoes had been launched at her. Most of the missiles lost their targeting because the Avenger did not give a constant target silhouette from the ships weaving and flipping around on its center. Without being ordered, the Avenger's weapon officer locked the phaser banks on incoming missiles and fire wiping out a large percentage of the missiles that had been homing in on his ship. The warheads on theses missiles were Dominion provided and were far more powerful than those carried by Cardassian vessels before joining the Dominion and far more powerful than those carried on the Avenger. Several warheads hit the ships shields but the shields held like champions with only minor damage to the ship and the forward shields were reduced by 80% of what they were before the torpedoes struck. The Captain ordered her helmsman to stop the flat spin of the ship and to bring the Avenger into full pursuit of the remaining enemy vessel.

The captain on the remain Galor vessel caught himself thinking that the situation was not going well. A parting shot from the crippled Excelsior class cruiser had damaged one of his warp nacelles enough that he could not bring his ship into warp and escape. While he was running at full speed, the chasing vessel could out accelerate his vessel. He had been firing torpedoes out of his rear launcher but the ship seemed to be somehow stopping the torpedoes before they reached the pursuing vessel. The good news was that it was a Miranda class and not a Defiant class but it also seemed the missile launchers had been heavily upgraded to fire such large volleys. The volleys had now returned to normal and the captain assumed the ship must be running out of photon torpedoes. He could open up with the rear firing heavy spiral disruptor when the ship came within range but the odds of hitting with the weapon were low. Also, his ships rear shields had taken quite a beating from the Miranda's torpedoes and would quickly collapse if it came to close in beam weapon combat. He decided to take the situation logically. He could turn to fight. He badly out-massed the Miranda and maybe he could get a partial victory from the horrible defeat his fleet had suffered. His forward beam weaponry was better than the Miranda assuming a low number of hits from the ships Mega-Phasers and he could then go back and destroy the Excelsior. The damn Mega-Phasers could inflict massive damage if they hit but few weapon's crews were very good at hitting with the weapon system. He ordered his crews to make the ship turn so that it would be facing the Miranda just as the Federation vessel got within phaser range. Just as he was making the order, another torpedo struck his rear shields and this time it got through. Damage was fairly light but he lost his rear mega-phaser mount. Luckily, the side shields took the next several hits and his ship remained intact. It seemed that he was committed to engage the Federation forces if he was to survive.

While the two ships closed, the crew of the Atago had not been idle. The fight between the Avenger and the Cardassians had allowed the repair crews of the Excelsior class vessel to work in the safer environment of not constantly being fired at. The engineers had finally been able to stabilize the ships anti-matter bottle for the warp core and they were now working on restoring the ship’s shields. The Executive Officer though that if he could come up in support of the Avenger, he could get the remaining Galor to make a run for it. The Atago would require several hours to restore warp power so there was a danger that the Cardassians could bring reinforcement but it seemed to be the best chance. Since the Avenger was also within his damaged communication system's range, he should also be able to open up a communication channel with the old vessel. He looked up the old communication protocols so that he could talk with the Avenger.

"This is Commander Jackson, executive officer of the U.S.S. Atago, I need to speak to your commanding officer" was received by Lt jg Novak, Communication Officer of the Avenger.

As far as she knew, there was no Excelsior class vessel known as the Atago which made no sense. Still, it was her job to relay messages to the captain and this is the first message that she had gotten from the vessel. She "Captain, I have a message from the Excelsior class vessel. All communication protocols appear correct but I have no vessel named the Atago in ship registries. I checked my lists of vessels and there is no vessel presently in service by that name."

Captain Ross responded far quicker than the communication officer expected "Lieutenant Novak, did you check vessels under construction? It is possible that we got some bad dating on vessel completion."

Susan Novak had already checked that but rechecked and even check a list of planned but not laid down vessels. The Atago was name planned for a vessel that should be laid down in about ten years and she decided that she should tell her captain this "Sir, the Atago is a name planed for an Excelsior class to be started in about ten years but I have no records other than that.

Gwendoline Ross thought about this for a few moments. What made the most sense to her was that the name might have been given to an earlier vessel but even that did not seem very likely. Well, none of this internal debate would get the problem solved so she asked the communication officer to put the Atago's executive officer on the main screen/ She would have a few minutes before having to engage the remaining enemy vessel in combat.

Captain Ross was proud that none of her crew reacted to the scene that they saw on the visual display. The inside of the bridge looked like it was set up in the same pattern as a standard Excelsior class battleship but display screens had exploded, electrical conduits were hanging from the overhead. Several bodies could be seen on the bridge as well as a figure in the captains chair that was rolled into a ball. It was partially due to the destruction distracting them and partially due to the poor remaining lighting on the Atago's bridge, but neither the captain or any other member the crew of the Avenger noticed that the uniforms on the crew members on the Atago were different.

"This is Commander Jackson, there is much I need to explain but I doubt we have the time, Captain. I believe that it would be best to retreat from the engagement and allow the Cardassian vessel to retreat. I do not believe you understand the capabilities of a Cardassian Galor class vessel" In the calm he saw on the Avenger, the Atago's Second in Command noticed that the bridge crew were wearing hazardous duty suit and was confused by that but before he could comment on it, Gwendolyn Ross answered.

Commander Ross shook her head thinking about the attitude of retreating when engaging would be the better solution. As she watched, the Cardassian vessel turned around and headed towards the Avenger in an intercept course. "He is coming back to attack because I think that ships weaponry is damaged. If I make a straight up attack, I can use the Mega Phasers to cripple his forward shields. As I pass, I can do a 360 degree spin and open up of the rear of his vessel. If you bring the Atago to occupy him in front, he will need to choose who he will engage and we should be able to quickly destroy the vessel." The Atago's second in command looked a little confused but made no comment so the Avengers Captain continued after a few moments pause "I assume that the Captain is injured so you are in command, Commander Jackson?" Commander Jackson gave an almost imperceptible nod and she continued "How long until you can restore warp drive?"

There he answered promptly because it was something that he had been working with the engineers since the battle had started "Captain, I have been checking with the engineers and they say about eighteen hours. Along with serious damage to the Warp Drive, the ship has lost a large number of Engineers and I do not have many crew members from other departments than can be spared" The executive officer nervously clasped his hands together nervously. He knew how bad normal hit rates with the Mega-Phasers are at long range and was concerned that Commander Ross could not deliver what she promised. Then again, she had already done some incredible feats with her old cruiser.

Captain Ross did not react for a few moments but after pausing answered calmly "Commander, perhaps I can spare a few engineers after the engagement is finished. I would like you to follow us at best speed possible and assist in the engagement. We have run out of time and we will be in phaser range soon" hoping that the Commander would agree with her. If not, the Avenger would end up engaging this 'Cardassian' vessel by itself. She left the communication channel open but began giving directions to her bridge crew.

Commander Jackson realized that this captain was different than any that he had met before and that she would never fall apart in a battle "Captain, we will follow you at best speed possible" he turned to the helm control and activated the battered impulse and set the Atago to follow the Avenger.

Gwendolyn Ross stood calmly beside her command chair watching the displays as the Avenger went through the last few light seconds before firing its mega-phasers. The Avengers forward shields were back up to eighty percent from the missile engagement and everything looked ready. The frigate’s helmsman had already began side to side maneuvers as the tactical officer began attempting to confuse the Cardassian sensors. The Captain nodded to her weapons officer to indicate that he could begin firing as soon as the ship was within range.

As soon as the Avenger was within range, Lieutenant McMilligan began firing the mega-phasers. One of the specific training areas that weapons department had been to increase the amount of hits with the mega-phasers and as a result, far more hits were scored on the Galor than the Cardassian captain though was possible. Both Mega-Phasers struck the Cardassian vessel. While these hits did not do much more than scorch the hull, the forward shield was knocked flat. Soon, both the Galor's and the Avenger's main weaponry came within range and both ships fired every weapon that they could in an all out attempt to kill each other. The Avenger's forward shields were intact when the battle started and had her forward shields knocked down and lost two of her phaser banks as well as having a hole blown in the side of the bridge. The ship’s main communication systems went with the bridge but lucky the whole bridge crew was in the hostile environment suits and no one was killed. The Cardassian Galor class cruiser was not so lucky. Every forward weapon system was demolished by the Avenger's six phaser banks but that did nor matter. A close range strike with a mega-phaser clawed deep within the Galor's hull and created a cascade failure within the Warp Core and what was a starship suddenly became an expanding cloud of Gas.

Captain Ross breathed a sigh of relief along with almost everybody on the bridge crew. The hole in the bridge was glaringly obvious and Commander Masterson came just a few inches from being hit by the disruptor beam. She considered herself extremely lucky. The bridge displays confirmed that the Avenger had no more than moderate damage but the damage to some of the phasers banks would likely require shipyard or at least a repair ship. The communication systems were also badly messed up and would require more repairs than could be completed with on-board supplies. The short range communications were functional and Commander Ross spoke to the Atago's second in command "Until repairs are complete, I think we will try and hide in the plasma nebula"

A few hours later, a slightly confused Commander Gwendolyn Ross found herself walking on the bridge of the Excelsior class Cruiser 'U.S.S. Atago'. She had managed to get repairs started on both her vessel and the much larger Atago. She had transferred a large number of engineers to the Excelsior class and the time for repair had been revised from eighteen to ten hours to get the Warp Drives online. By then, half of the Avenger's damaged phasers would be restored and the hull beside the bridge was already patched and atmosphere was restored. Until all needed repairs were complete, the vessels would be sitting in the Badlands hiding as best they could The captain of the Atago was laying in medical and had been sedated. The whole crew knew by now that he would never command a ship again.

Captain Ross had discovered that her ship had been thrown into the far future and that the Federation was fighting a star empire known as the Dominion. The Dominion were winning against the Federation and it seemed that the Federation had another enemy know as the Borg. It sounded like there had been many changes within the Federation as well. She had no problem with the change of uniforms, the Federation had already changed its uniforms several times from her original time frame. She got the impression that the crew of the Atago considered themselves to be explorers that were stuck in a military role. While she did not know the full story, she knew that the Atago was named after a Japanese cruiser from World War II and yet the crew seemed to have distaste for military matters. When she mentioned about making payroll arrangement for her crew, she got the comment "Money is outmoded" from Commander Shawn Jackson, the executive officer, now acting captain, of the Atago. The society that she was learning about seemed more socialist than anything else. Many of the terms that the commander used seemed to be straight from Karl Marx, a person from the early part of the twentieth century that she had read about when she was a student in the academy. All industry was now controlled by the government and are supposed to be owned by the people. This seemed to cause a stagnation in general technological discoveries and based on most of the new equipment added to the Atago, little advancement seems to have been made. This would seem to be cause by no competition in product development. Since going to war with the Dominion and the Borg, Technical Development had been boosted but not half as much as would have been if there were several competing companies. It also seemed that all long range communication was run by the Federation and was maintained by Starfleet. As well, most starships had ships councilors assigned to them. These people sounds like political officers from the histories she had read of the Soviet Union before its collapse. Gwendolyn thought she had established a strong espre-de-corp with her crew and did not want to subject her crew to the changes and was trying to figure out how she could do this. She rubbed her eyes as the other Commander continued he speak about how wonderful the Federation had become. Commander Jackson seemed to be a good person but he had been brainwashed by the Starfleet Schools. Well, it was time for her to get back to her own vessel.

[ Star Trek is copyright Paramount Pictures ]

This story is covered under the free use clause of the Copyright Laws. While the story is designed to entertain, it is also written to educate as well criticize certain aspects of Star Trek.

By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2003, Kitsune. All rights reserved.