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Star Trek: Horizon - The Hunt for Valdore by Ruben Hilbers

Chapter One

The mess hall of the Adelphi was crowed. Thirteen captains were gathered there for a briefing. Eleven Starfleet officers, plus Dax and Na. The Terran officers were wearing the 2371 model-Starfleet uniform. It had taken some time to replicate and distribute the new clothes, but now the job was done. The Resistance now also had a symbol. A starscape with Earth in the middle. They used the same model commbadge as the Starfleet crews. Dax spoke up.

"Okay, let's get started. We have out together twelve ships from the part found at the Epsilon VII yard. Seven Y-class, four J-class and one NV-class ship."

Bill Young interrupted.

"NV-class?"

"It is from the same time period as the NX-class. The very first Starship Intrepid was of this class."

"But this isn't the Intrepid?"

"No, the Faraday, one of her class-mates. Here is the plan. In two weeks, we'll bring the station's weapons on-line."

"Wow." Rogue said. "You finished those already? The work at DS9 took a year."

"The people at DS9 didn't have five starships and a colony to help speed things up. With the new weapons, the station won't need that much guard. The Examiner and Normandy will be transferred to the attack force. They will team up with the Starstalker. All the ships from Epsilon VII are being refitted. Two Borg Resistance cells had arrived, pushing their amount up to seven-hundred and twenty five. With that much help, we can do the job in one month."

"Okay," Dovz said. "That is not possible. You cannot refit a Y-class ship in one month, especially since we no longer have a drydock facility."

"One month to refit the weapons, shields and engines. The crew will do the rest while the ship is in service. And we don't need a drydock, we have the station."

"Which cannot service more then six ship at a time."

"That's why we're going to do it in two groups. Group one will be made out of the four J-class ships, one Y-class ship and the Faraday. And group two will be the remaining six Y-class ships. Here is what we're going to do. The Faraday will team up with the Inventive, and the five freighters will team up with the Defiant. And once the second group is done, they will be added to the guard of the station. Allowing the transfer of the two Akira-class ships."

"What about in the meantime?" Young asked.

"In the meantime, the attack force will stay the way it is."

"And the Horizon-A ?" Rogue asked.

"We haven't got any ships to team her up with yet, but for the first month she'll be covered by the other ships in the attack fleet."

"I see, I'll be flying solo."

"Yes, I'm afraid so. You're first mission as a quartet is something we have to deal with sooner or later. The Reman trilithium-weapon project. We can't hit their base on the second moon, because of a new strategic move they've made."

"What kind of move?'

"People, they've put a settlement on top of their research facility. We would have to kill seventy-thousand innocent civilians to take out that base."

"Damm." Annabel Briggs said.

"But we caught a break." Dax continued. "Their research is going poorly, they are still four months worth away from launching. And we have a way to put them back further."

Captain Henry Manson spoke up.

"The Valdore-class ship we saw, if we can blow that ship to pieces."

"No launch platform." Rogue added. "Assuming they don't have another one."

"It's worth a shot." Dax said. "Building a ship that size takes five years."

All the captains nodded in agreement.

"Let the hunt begin." Rogue said.

So it did.

Wallace walked down the promenade. He reached the site that used to be Quark's bar. After Nog's death, the bar belonged to station management again. Dozens of engineers were working here. They were putting in ceilings between the levels. The station's cargo bays were over packed, so the two upper levels were being converted in storage space. And the lower level was turned into a classroom for the Terran Space Academy. But that wasn't why Wallace was here. Hugh and Thomas Rogue were working on installing the teacher's desk. Thomas had recently added the 'Rogue' to his name. He was the captain's brother after all.

"Thomas, Hugh, do you two have minute?"

"Sure." Thomas said.

"What's the matter?" Hugh added.

"Well, there have been some changes in the chain of command for the new Horizon."

"Yeah, I heard " Thomas said. "Ogawa made commander and first officer. But I still don't understand this thing about you, O'Rill and MacWright being Lieutenant-commander. How can you outrank her if your ranks are the same?"

"Okay, I'll explain. O'Rill outranks everybody below her, because she is a lieutenant commander. But she doesn't work on the bridge. MacWright does work on the bridge, so he outranks her."

"So bridge officer outrank non-bridge officers."

"Exactly."

"But you and MacWright both work on the bridge, so why do you outrank him?"

"Because I'm the second officer and he is a department head."

Hugh interrupted.

"Why does this ship need a special second officer and the previous Horizon not?"

"Because it's bigger, every ship above six-hundred crewmen has to have a second officer."

"And the Horizon has a crew of six-hundred-and eight."

Wallace nodded. Collins and Archer showed up.

"I see you two got promoted as well."

"Yes." Collins said. "I'm a full lieutenant now. And Peter got promoted to Lieutenant Junior Grade."

"Have you asked them?" Archer said.

"Not yet, I was about to."

"Asked us what?" Hugh said.

Wallace took out two PADDs.

"All this shovelling of officers has left us two hands short. Ensign Takaro has left to take charge of the security department of the Normandy. We need somebody to take care of the Tactical station. I think you would be the idea man for the job, Thomas."

He gave Thomas one of the PADDs.

"You'd have the rank of ensign, but you would be in charge of the entire department. Ensign Verne would be you second-in-command."

"And you want me to become the new CMO?" Hugh asked.

"That's right. You'd get the same deal as Thomas, but you'd have the medical department."

"Who would be my second-in-command?"

"Doctor Von, he had no interest in the job of CMO. And you're better suited."

Hugh thought about it for a moment.

"All right, I'm in."

"Thomas?" Archer asked.

"We'll have to come up with something to tell the difference between me and Thomas MacWright. Because I'm going."

"Are you two sure?"

"I am." Hugh said.

"Same here."

"Then we'd better get going. We have a ship to catch."

They headed out.

The shuttle was heading for the Horizon at one-quarter impulse. It was orbiting the colony. She was dark and powered down. The two Rogues, Alyssa Ogawa and Wallace were in the shuttle.

"Casey said she was about to bring the ship on-line." Ogawa said.

"We'll see." Gary said.

Then the Horizon came to life. The lights began to come on and a bleu glow grew in the warp nacelles. Gary slowly swung the shuttle around. Then the main deflector kicked in. They looked at the ship in pure amazement. The hull lights snapped on. Now the name and number were clearly visible.

"USS Horizon, NCC-74302-A." Thomas whispered. "Look at that, what a beauty."

Gary steered the shuttle over the saucer section. Then they took a small dive down her neck.

"I heard she came pull warp nine point eight for fourteen hours.' Wallace said.

"She can." Ogawa said. "Cruising is the normal warp six."

Gary brought the shuttle into the shuttlebay.

"Let's have a look at her bridge." Gary said.

"Good idea." Wallace said.

The nearest turbolift took them up.

 

Chapter Two

Gary was the first to step onto the bridge. There was nobody on it. He sat in the command chair and looked around. The room was dressed in the colours of the Sovereign-class. Conn and Ops were the same as on the previous Horizon. Between him and the viewscreen. Tactical was also the same. It was mounted in a wooden rail. The rail and console had been salvaged from the wreck of the Enterprise-D and upgraded. But the aft stations were different. They had been taken from an Intrepid-class starship. The middle section was the engineering station and the two side sections were assigned to science. In emergencies, the engineering functions could be re-routed to the left side station. While all of the science tasks were re-routed to the right side station. This would allow the Master Systems Display to serve as viewscreen. There were two identical chairs in the command area. The right chair was slightly more forward then the left, and was the command chair. Rogue looked around the room a second time.

"Where is the Jem'Hadar transporter? And the doors to my ready room and the conference lounge?"

"They're not here." Ogawa said. "The Jem'Hadar circuits have been integrated into the transporter in transporter room one. We can now beam seven people straight through shields. And the conference lounge and your ready room are on deck two."

She pointed to two hatches.

"Those hatches belong to Jefferies tubes. The one left of Tactical goes to the conference lounge and the one to the right goes to the ready room."

"Thanks for the speech. Let's get this boat underway."

Rogue punched a button on his chair.

"All senior officers to the bridge. Ogawa, Freddie, Wallace, take your station."

"I'd love to." Wallace said. "Bur I don't have one."

"Science two is still open." Thomas said.

"I'll take it, and who's Freddie?'

"I am, it's a nickname. I apparently look like my uncle Frederick. Gary always called me that."

"You do look like him." Rogue said.

"It is a good way to tell the difference between you and MacWright." Ogawa said.

"Okay." Thomas said. " Freddie it is."

The officers came in and took their stations. Hugh stood at the rail, next to Freddie.

"Hi, Hugh."

"Actually, it's Eric Powell again. I changed it."

Gary looked up at the viewer.

"Is everybody ready?" He said.

The bridge crew nodded.

"Conny, you know what to do."

"Aye, captain."

Collins' fingers flew over her board. The ship broke orbit in a graceful turn. She drove into deep space at one-quarter impulse.

"O'Rill what is the status of the special systems?"

"The Hyper-Impulse engines are fine. The Jem'Hadar transporter and the cloaking device are ready."

"We never did get around to properly testing those afterburners last time. Conny, cloak the ship. Then bring us up to full Hyper-Impulse and put the afterburners on stand-by."

"Aye, captain."

"Maybe we should put sickbay on stand-by to." Freddie muttered.

"I heard that." O'Rill and Gary said.

"Conny, hit it."

The afterburners kicked in. MacWright read the speed out loud.

"Point ninety-six, ninety-seven, ninety-eight, ninety-nine..."

The stars began to streak.

"Warp one... one point one and holding."

"Wait." O'Rill said. "I'm still tuning it. Now it's optimal."

"Warp one point two-five, not bad."

The afterburners kept the ship above the warp threshold for fifteen minutes. Then they had to be shut down. Rogue was pleased.

"I call that a successful launch. If you're not on Alpha-shift, you're dismissed."

Ogawa pressed a button on her chair.

"Alpha-shift crew to the bridge."

Most of the officers left.

Captain's log, stardate 55600.1.

I have assumed command and the ship has launched. She sailed like a charm. Between you and me, I miss my old Horizon. She had her charms. But she's gone, and we'll have to do with this one. I think this new ship is being to grow on me already. This Horizon is a jewel as well and intend to take good care of her. I want this baby to last longer then the previous one. We have set course for the N-42 system at warp six, along with the Defiant. Alyssa and Mac (Wright) agreed that the Valdore might have left something behind here. And I think it's worth a shot. But on another note, it's weird to have Freddie around. I had grown used to being the only Aquan around. Well, I guess I'll get used to it. And it's great to have him here. The yellow alert klaxons are sounding, I've gotta go.

Dovz entered the bridge.

"Why are we at yellow alert?"

"You'd better take a look at the viewscreen." Powell said.

Dovz looked at the screen. It showed Jem'Hadar attack ships as far as the eye could see.

"There must be hundreds of them." She said.

"More like thousands." A'Zuro said.

"There are close to a thousand in our sensor range alone."

"Where are they going?" Dovz asked.

"Towards the Glintara sector."

"Gorn space, back home that region is in the Romulan Empire." Powell said.

"But here there is no Romulan Empire." A'Zuro said.

"Punch up the map for the area around Romulan space." Dovz said.

The map appeared on viewer.

"Okay, we have the Tarod sector. That's where Romulan space is, along with Bassic Prime." A'Zuro said.

"And the rest of the sector?" Powell asked.

"Unclaimed."

"Good." Dovz said. "Let's have a look at the neighbours."

"The Gorn rule the Glintara sector. Then we have sector Z-6, the Bolarus sector and the Devron sector. Which together form the Thallonian Federation."

"What about the space between the Gorn and the Thallonians?"

"Well, above the Gorn and the Thallonians lies the Kazon Collective. They control about seven sectors."

"That still leaves a gap." Powell said.

"Exactly the sector below Glintara and next to the Devron sector is called the Iota Centauri Sector. The Gorn and Thallonians have a few outposts on the edges, but the bulk of the sector is unclaimed."

"Which is how the Alliance can still reach Romulan space."

Dovz returned her attention to the screen.

"But we're still not closer to knowing why these ships are here. And why they are heading for Gorn space."

"And they're not cloaked." O'Dell added.

Dovz nodded.

"Let's find some answers."

Rogue bolted out of the Jefferies tube.

"What's the problem?"

"Four thousand Jem'Hadar attack ships heading for Gorn space." Freddie said.

"What!?"

Rogue saw the massive amounts of ships.

"Can you track where they came from?"

"No, al this subspace distortion is to much for the sensors."

"Why aren't these ships cloaked?"

"The power has been re-routed to life support. I'm picking up fifty life-forms per ship, all Gorn."

"Gorn on Dominion ships? We're missing part of the picture here."

Suddenly a ship decloaked next to the Horizon.

"It's a cargo ship. We are being hailed."

"How can it hail us? We're cloaked."

"The signal isn't aimed at us, but it does appear meant for us."

"Decloak the ship."

The ship wrinkled into existence.

"They say they have an ambassador aboard. He wants to come aboard."

"Tell them it's okay." Rogue said.

"Aye, captain."

There was the hum of a transporter beam as someone formed next to the Ops station. Weyoun smiled at Captain Rogue.

"I am Ambassador Weyoun of the Dominion."

"Captain Gary Rogue, and this is United Starship Horizon."

"Excellent, I am her on behave of the Dominion Council. They want to know if you are interested about joining us."

"Join the Dominion?"

"Yes, captain."

"I think we'd better talk about this in my ready room."

"Lead the way."

So Rogue did.

Wallace watched the two suns on the main viewer. The Starstalker had continued on course for the Bassic Prime system. Inventive, however, had detected an anomaly in the Ramses System. Wallace had ordered a changed of course. He sat in command chair as the ship dropped out of warp. Yasmine Samuels was at the Conn as usual on the night shift.

"Jazz, what do we have?"

"We're approaching the former site of the Salvation yards at a full impulse."

"Yellow alert. Decloak the ship, I want to use all scanners."

The Inventive came into being, and four seconds later so did the Valdore.

"Red, now!" Wallace snapped.

Samuels swung the ship to port as the phasers fired. Most of the shots missed, but two hit. Then the Valdore dissolved under the blanket of cloak again.

"Tachyon pulses!"

"No effect."

Cadet Richard Jones was a tactical.

"Jones, analyse what we have. I want your report a.s.a.p. Stand down Red Alert."

Wallace watched the stars again.

 

Chapter Three

Rogue sat at one side of his desk, with Weyoun and Ogawa at the other. The ready room held the desk, a replicator and a luxurious chair. It had two doors and a window, the window was left of the desk. The first door led to the corridor and the second to the tube to the bridge.

"So." Rogue said. "Tell me about the Dominion."

"The Dominion was secretly founded to fight the Terran Empire in 2218. However, when Spock changed the Empire we realized that the Terrans weren't so bad after all. So we helped as many Terrans escape as we could."

"How many did you safe?"

"About seventy thousand."

"But why do you want us to become a member?'

"The Dominion is more like your Federation than anybody else in this universe. It is governed by a council representing the members. The Thallonian Federation , Gorn Confederation, Kazon collective and Romulan Union are a member. But the Tarod sector is our weak spot."

"That still doesn't explain why you are moving four thousand ships around."

"We are reinforcing our defences in Gorn and Thallonian space. A thousand of the ships will stay behind in the Glintara sector. The remaining ships will continue to Thallonian space. A thousand ships per sector."

Rogue spoke up.

"What about the Kazon?"

"The Kazon are abandoning four of seven sector they control. They are moving colonists and materials. That is why all the ships you saw were carrying passengers. The Gorn helped them with the construction of the ships they needed for the relocation operation."

"Okay, we know what it gets you if we join. Additional forces.

But what will get it us?"

"Protection. The Dominion will build a grid of orbital defence platforms in both the Romulan systems. And we'll assign twenty-five Jem'Hadar attack ships to each system."

Ogawa looked at Rogue and said, "That would solve the problems of escorting the D'deridex-class ships and protecting the station. The network would help protect Starbase one. And with the Jem'Hadar ships taking care of the Warbirds, the Romulans could re-assign all the warp ships to patrolling the Reman system…."

"Freeing the starships there to join the attack force."

"Also." Weyoun said. "The number of Terrans in the Dominion has grown to ninety-eight-thousands. If they were to join the twenty-four thousand at the current Resistance colony."

"The Resistance personnel problems would be fixed." Rogue said.

"Conclusion, the Dominion is the ally the Resistance has been looking for all along. Mister Weyoun, you have a new member."

Weyoun just smiled.

"But now we must discuss a more serious matter." He said. "The ship you are chasing."

Rogue could feel a dark cloud growing in the back on his mind.

"What about it?"

"I am afraid we a partially responsible of its existence. The Remans-Bassic were a member of the Dominion. We kicked them out after the trilithium project was exposed."

"Then why are the Romulans still in?" Ogawa asked.

"The Romulans worked without permission of their government. But the Remans were working for the government."

"What does this have to do with the Valdore-class we're after?" Rogue asked.

"Most of the knowledge needed for its construction was gained by studying the Inventive. But the Dominion was the one responsible for filling in the gaps."

The cloud in his mind has turned into a hurricane.

Rogue glared at Weyoun in fury.

"And how do you intend to fix this major screw-up?"

"We have already sent operatives into the base of Bassic Prime's second moon. They will take care of the trilithium research."

Weyoun took out a PADD from the inner pocket of his robe.

"This will help you deal with the warbird. Her prefix codes."

"They won't do us much good if they've changed them."

"It also holds all the specs and blueprints we have of her."

Then Weyoun got up and pressed a commbadge.

"Weyoun here, I'm done. Beam me back."

The Vorta shimmered out of existence.

"Don't you just hate when they do that?" Rogue said.

Then he gave the PADD to Ogawa.

"Give that to Casey and tell her to get to work.

Ogawa frowned. The Horizon had thirty decks, and deck twenty-nine wasn‘t one of the more visited. All the space there was taken by cargo bays, and a single maintenance area with a crew of two per shift. That maintenance area kept an eye on the anti-matter containment pods on deck thirty. It was a forgotten part of the ship, like the nacelle-control rooms. Or the rooms on decks with the main deuterium storage tank.

"What would you want to do there?"

"That's for me to know, and for you to find out."

Then he was gone.

Wallace looked at the screen and smiled. He was standing at the science console. Jones had made a modification to the Tachyon pulses. Instead of sending out one big burst that scanned all frequencies, they had sent out a wave of small pulses. One for each frequency. Sure, it required twice the amount of power, but it worked. The Valdore was clearly in their sights. Dovz had joined them on the bridge.

"Do we have the prefixes the Horizon transmitted?" She asked.

Jones simply nodded.

"Transceiver ready and weapons on stand-by."

"Where is Starstalker?"

"To far away." Samuels said. "This thing is preparing to warp."

"Do it."

Jones slammed the right button.

Captain Was'Q didn't see it coming. He was sitting in his chair when the weapons officer shouted.

"We are losing our cloak!"

Was'Q saw four torpedoes being fired at his ship.

"Change the prefixes!" He snapped.

The officer executed the order, but it was to late. Three torpedoes were blocked by the officer‘s action, but number four scored a direct hit.

"Cloak us!"

"I can't, we don't have enough power."

"Helm, set course for the R-16 nebula."

The helmsman fought with his controls.

"Course ready, captain. But I can't give you anything better then warp three."

"Good enough."

The Reman ship leaped away.

Dovz saw the Reman turn and run.

"After him, warp six."

Samuels nodded.

"Course ready."

"Hit it."

The Inventive dove into subspace.

Rogue felt like he was walking through a tomb. People rarely came here in the day-time, but it was really deserted during the night shift. The only sounds he could hear was his own breathing and footsteps. He reached the maintenance room. The door slid open and he stepped inside. What he found was not simulating. Two sleeping humans. He took a deep breath and roared.

"Crewman Hanson, crewman Norris, wake up! Now, that's an order!"

Hanson jumped up and screamed.

"The ship is sinking! Run for your life!"

Then he was out the door. Norris went after him. He caught his crewmate halfway the corridor and grabbed him by both arms. This brought the man to a stop.

"Let me go!" Hanson screamed. "I'm to young to die."

Norris slapped him in the face.

"Jack, snap out of it."

Hanson came to his senses.

"Angus, what are we doing in the corridor?"

"You had a nightmare, it's over."

The two men composed themselves. Rogue had watched the scene.

"Are you two done?" He asked.

"Yes, captain. What brings you here?" Norris asked.

They returned to the maintenance room.

"Well, for starters. Why were you two sleeping?"

"Because there's nothing to do." Hanson said.

"The computer can handle everything. We're only here in case of an emergency."

Rogue looked at the two of them. Both crewmen were twenty-two years old, fresh out of the Academy. This was their first assignment. They would have to do.

"I need a modified anti-matter pod." Rogue said.

"What kind of modification do you want?" Norris asked.

"Yield and speed. I want a standard-size pod with as much anti-matter in it as possible. And you should be able to attach impulse sustainers from a class-one probe."

"You want a super-torpedo against the Valdore-class ship."

"Can you do it?"

"Sure, piece of cake. But where will get the payload?"

"We'll collect what you need with the Bussard collectors. It want it as soon as possible. And I want two of them."

The crewmen nodded.

"Aye, captain. Two super-torpedoes a.s.a.p."

Rogue left them to get to work. He had to make some preparations of his own

Archer watched the field of debris ahead. What little remained of the N-42 system lay before them. The viewscreen showed a collection of rocks that had once formed a planet. They were orbiting a dead star.

"Nothing here, sir. With our without the modified Tachyon pulses."

Wallace sat back in the first officer's chair.

"Damm."

He was about to give an order, when Ensign Verne spoke up.

"Sir, the Inventive has found him. They're on a course for the R-16 nebula."

"Conn." Wallace said. "Plot a course, maximum warp!"

The Horizon turned and went to warp. But when she was gone, a small ship decloaked. It was roughly the size of a Danube-class runabout. he vessel was shaped like an arrow, with the cockpit being the tip. In that cockpit , two aliens were discussing what they had just seen.

"Are you sure your reading are correct?" The commander asked.

"Yes." The co-pilot said. "Two of our kind and one cybernetic. And the rest all not in the database."

"Curses, we must report this to Command."

Then the craft opened a vortex of some kind. It went through, vanishing into the unknown.

Stopping this thing was going to be much harder then she thought. The Inventive dove to avoid another volley. Although their engines and cloak were damaged, the Remans weapons were fine. And they were using them to keep the Starfleet ship away. The good news was that Starstalker was now here. Then the Valdore-class ship dropped out of warp all of a sudden. Both starships followed.

"Oh, great." Jones said. " They've made it into the nebula. And it's a Mutara-class.'

Dovz looked at A'Zuro, who was at science as usual.

"This is the biggest bowl of soup in have every seen. It's messing up the Tachyon pulses and all other scans."

"Shields?"

"No good in there, and the same goes for cloaks."

"Is it stable?"

"Enough to fly in, but if you start shooting in there..."

"...You'll ignite the entire thing."

Andrew Powell spoke up from his first officer's seat.

"It gets worse, I checked the star charts and there are six inhabited systems in there. All Alliance colonies, so there are probably plenty of enemy warships in that soup."

"Is there any good news?"

"Defiant and Horizon are here." Jones said.

Dovz sat in her command chair.

"Take us in."

The four starships carefully entered the cloud. But outside, something was happening as well. Another vortex opened. But this time, ten vessels came out. They were the same shape as the one at N-42, but twenty times bigger. This fleet just sat and waited.

 

Chapter Four

Opar had gotten his controls back on-line. He had been assigned as helmsman two days ago and already he was in trouble. The nebula was thick and difficult to navigate. He turned to face Was'Q.

"I have managed to bypass some of the damaged systems. Our maximum speed is now warp five point two."

"Excellent."

Opar turned his chair back just in time. The Defiant became visible in the soup, and she was heading straight for them. He turned the ship to the right. The two ships missed by only one meter. Opar breathed heavily.

"That was too close for comfort."

Was'Q snapped at his engineer.

"Where is my cloak!?"

"Almost ready, sir."

Three Vor'cha-class ships appeared. Opar managed to steer them through. Was'Q turned to his engineer.

"We just nearly rammed Alliance ships!"

"Done, sir."

"Opar, get us out of here."

"Aye, captain."

The ship cleared the nebula. But so did the Horizon.

Verne knew what to do. He targeted the closest warp nacelle and fired every phaser the ship had. Freddie Rogue came storming onto the bridge two seconds later. He walked to the Tactical station and looked at the readings.

"Good shot, James. Punch the other one."

James Verne already had weapons looked.

"Firing."

The other Rogue and Ogawa came in. They had to grab the rail as Xerry tried to keep the ship in one piece.

"Damm." Verne spat.

"What's wrong?'' Ogawa asked.

"This thing has secondary shields. His shields just went from ninety percent to one-hundred and seventy."

Gary punched open a com-link.

"Norris, what is the status of the super-torpedoes?"

"Done, we asked the guys on deck twenty-eight for help. All we need now is the load."

"It's on the way, Rogue out. Computer activate program Rogue Pi-7."

"Program active." The computer said. "Program complete."

"Norris to captain."

"Rogue here."

"We're on our way to transporter room one."

"Good, call we when you're there."

"Right, Norris out."

In the meanwhile, Verne fired again.

The Inventive cleared the nebula.

"What the hell are those?" Powell asked.

He pointed to the fleet of arrow shaped ships.

"A'Zuro?"

"I can't tell, they're blocking our sensors."

A vortex appeared behind the ships. It was purple and seemed to have fluxing edges.

"Still nothing." A'Zuro said.

The ships vanished one by one. When the last was gone, the vortex collapsed.

"Sensors are back."

Dovz looked at Samuels.

"We don't have time to figure it out now. Set course for the Valdore-class ship."

Samuels nodded.

"We're going at full impulse."

The ship ran as fast as it could.

Ogawa looked at Rogue.

"You knew that thing had a secondary shield grid." She said.

"The info on the PADD stated it. Photographic memory, it's a plus of being Aquan."

"Norris to bridge, the torpedoes are ready."

"Do it."

"Aye, doing it now."

Was'Q watched the view screen. The Terran ship was fighting them for all what it was worth. Suddenly two object formed just in front of his ship. They exploded only a millisecond later. He was thrown out of his chair as the ship went into a nose dive. Opar caught him.

"Report!" Was'Q said.

"The shields are down to twenty percent and falling."

"Weapons and engines?"

"Weapons are down. The warp drive was shot to pieces."

"Impulse?"

"Good to go."

"Then take us back into the nebula."

"Aye, captain."

The Reman ship turned

"Tractor beam!" Ogawa snapped. "Take out his impulse drive!"

Verne and Freddie fought to get a lock, and got one.

"Locking phasers!" Verne said.

"Fire."

Two orange-yellow beams hit the Reman ship.

"No good, he pumped all his shield power aft." Freddie said.

"Xerry, reverse all engines!" Rogue ordered.

Xerry's fingers blurred over her station.

"Full reverse, Aye."

The Horizon dragged the Reman back.

"We're losing him." Ogawa said.

MacWright came in. The chief science officer had been helping with the super-torpedoes, but was now done with that task. Meanwhile, the other three starships has also shown up and joined the pulling.

"It's working, we're holding him."

Then the Reman fired a torpedo. It exploded near the Horizon. Sparks rained from the tactical console.

"That torpedo emitted anti-gravitons." Freddie said. "The tractor beam is burned out."

"Shoot his engines again."

"He's beyond range."

The Reman went in.

Wallace looked at Powell.

"Is he going to do what I think he is?"

"I'm afraid so."

They watched the nebula as the ship drew away at full impulse.

"I've re-routed everything we have to shields." A'Zuro said.

Then the Valdore exploded, its core breached on purpose. The nebula erupted into white-hot fury.

"Damm." Dovz muttered.

Then the shockwave hit.

Fire raged across the sector. It consumed everything in its path. Ships, stations, colonies. Nothing didn't suffer under the onslaught. It was if existence itself was ablaze. The entire disaster took less then a minute.

Gary watched the wasteland before him.

"Thomas, Freddie, how bad is it?"

Freddie spoke first.

"Every ship and station in the nebula is gone. I can't say a thing about the colonies."

Now it was MacWright's turn.

"Two of them seem alright, must have had good shields. But the rest is gone."

Gary launched the worst curses at the Reman commander. Then he said, "Numero Uno, you have the bridge."

But there was a edge in his voice like a razor. Then he was gone.

 

Epilogue

Captain's log, Stardate 55604.9.

The damage to the ship is fixed, thanks to Casey and her folks. But I'm afraid the damage to morale is going to take lots of work. The thought of what the Remans did still makes me sick, but there's nothing I can do about it. We'll just have to learn to live with it. I just got word that the Dominion spies took out the trilithium research base. But I'm not convinced that this is the end of the song. They already managed to sing two extra verses after we cut the Romulans out. And the Remans do really hate the Alliance. They're a planet full of Captain Ahabs. Admiral Janeway has showed up yesterday. I have no idea what she wants, but I'm guessing it wont make any of use happy campers.

Janeway wasn't there yet, so MacWright had opened a bottle of Romulan Ale. All of the officers were there in the conference lounge.

"What do you think she's going to say?" Archer asked.

"Pass me the bottle." Janeway said.

The admiral came in and sat down. MacWright gave her a glass of ale.

"Thank you, Tom. I'll get straight to the point. The Horizon is being reassigned, the mission is over."

"Why?'" Rogue asked.

"Because your mission was to ensure the survival of the Terran Resistance. By making them a member of the Dominion, you have."

"What about the Terran Space Academy?"

"One of the class-Y freighters will serve as training ship now. The new crew of the Inventive will be from Starfleet Academy. With exception of the officers."

"What did Command say about the nebula incident?" Powell asked.

"You did all you could, don't blame yourself. I know, it doesn't help to say that."

"It sure as hell doesn't." Archer muttered.

Janeway let the comment slide.

"What is our new mission?" Ogawa asked.

"Eight of the starships will join the hunt on the Orion weapons dealers. The last year we've only had two starships hunting them full-time. Admiral Paris and I believe it's time to turn up the heat big time. We're increasing the amount of ships to hunting full-time to twenty-five. The Horizon, Inventive and Valdemar are going on a mission of exploration."

Janeway took a breath and said.

"You're going to follow in the footsteps of Voyager."

A couple of yaws dropped.

"The Delta Quadrant?" Archer said.

"Yes, to be more precisely the Ocampan sector."

"Why us?" Rogue asked.

"Because you're all perfectly suited. Voyager really got only a glimpse of the Delta Quadrant. Now it's time for a good look."

"Umm." MacWright said. "You had problems getting out of the Delta Quadrant. How do you expect us to get in without getting stranded.?"

"Three weeks after Voyager returned, the USS Andy Dufresne and the USS Randall Stevens were doing a survey of the Igo Theta system."

"Wait." Powell said. " I know those two ships, both Miranda-class. The Dufresne is NCC-37927 and the Stevens is NCC-30265. Dufresne is commanded by Captain Samuel Norton and the Stevens by Captain Brooks Hatlen. Did I get that right?"

"Yes, you did. They detected the Barzan wormhole."

"I thought that jumped around." MacWright said.

"It did, until two weeks ago. It took us four months to pin down the end here and several months after that to take of the other end."

"But you did it, and we have a stable link to the Delta Quadrant."

"The wormhole exit is only three point nine light-years away from Ocampa. We've begun construction of a Starbase on the other side."

"What about politics, treaties and stuff ?" Rogue asked.

"The Cardassians, Gorn and Tholians have shown no interest in the affair. And the Klingons and Romulans have free passage."

Rogue whistled.

"Romulans in the Delta Quadrant, that doesn't sound good."

"So far all they've sent through is science vessels."

"So far." Archer said.

"That's why we're building the Starbase. To keep a lid on things. We'll also be building a Starbase at our end of the wormhole. That was it. I can find my way back to the transporter room."

Janeway exited.

"The Delta Quadrant." Collins said. "We're going to the Delta Quadrant."

"Time for a toast." Ogawa said.

She thought for a second then said, "To new adventures."

"New adventures." The crew echoed.

The glasses were raised.

 

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