PH/D01 - Bridge
While she waited for the scans results, Black stole a glance at the feline newcomer. How things had changed. Only a few hours ago, he'd have been part of her department. Doubling the team in one go.

She shook the thought quickly. She was no longer the head of science. If she'd ever been it at all. The helm was her domain again.

A gentle ping, and a blinking indicator informed her that the interlock manifold had been unrestricted, and she began increasing the speed of the ship incrementaly, a bit at a time.

The scale gently began to creep fractions above nine point six. They'd be on the Cardassians in seconds at this rate, provided that the pylons bearing the nacelles could hold and not buckle. With a small smile, she increased the SIF in the key locations to compensate.

At these speeds, information was key. And entering a hot zone without that information was suicide.

The Cardassian had declared they were under attack. Sensors weren't apparently seeing anything. Black had half a mind that given their original mission to Parhelia was to avert a potential false flag operation, how were they to know that this was also maybe a similar operation?

The Cardassian enters Federation space carrying Federation citizens, and the Philadelphia was to be the unwitting means of destroying them, causing a diplomatic incident that would make the Tomed incident look like a picnic.

Leaning back she said; “Can someone please got me eyes on what we're heading into before we get there and find we brought the wrong dish to this pot luck?”

== Anyone? Beuller? ==
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As the Philadelphia began to shudder T'Lari remained standing next to the borrowed station. The sensor data began to flow in and the Tactical officer reviewed it with a practiced eye.

"Lieutenant, Captain," she said, having to raise her voice somewhat over the sound of the ship's engines going past their limits, "34 life signs are registering aboard the Cardassian vessel. Half are from Federation member species, but the cargo bays of the ship are shielded and can not be scanned at this point. I'll attempt to find out further information."

The half-Vulcan wondered if that would be enough legal proof for the Captain to act directly, or whether the away team would still need to beam over. If they did it would likely get very dangerous very quickly.

T'Lari took a seat and quickly loaded the Tactical display onto her new console so Shadowhunt could continue to use her station without playing, as the humans called it, 'musical chairs.' She pulled up a tactical assessment on the enemy ship and prepared to attack if... when the word was given.

== GM Input: Were the scans able to determine anything about weapons, shields, etc? T'Lari will light them up again if necessary to get as much information as possible. ==
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==Joint CO and GM post, made with GM-01 permission.==

With the Philadelphia now increasing velocity even without Black's input n the controls, they were well within the firing envelope of both ships' weapons. That nobody had fired yet was testament to how far both Captains were willing to maintain the fiction that this was a routine customs inspection and wasn't going to turn very nasty, very quickly. However time was running out, and with the warnings flashing on the various consoles, Jenny had no idea how long her little ship would endure the beating she was taking before she turned into a light-year long streamer of fire, debris, and crew bits.

It was now or never.

"Mister Shadowhunt, deploy the graviton pulse."

The pulse fired on command, and both ships dropped out of warp immediately. The crash translation from faster-than-light to sublight speeds was a little rougher on the Philadelphia than usual, as her inertial dampeners struggled to compensate for velocities they had not been calibrated to sustain.

"Open a hailing frequency. Cardassian Freighter, this is Captain Braggins of the Starship Philadelphia. You are in violation of established velocity limits set down by the Hekaran Treaty of 2370. Heave to and prepare for boarding."

Though it was a simple request, grounded mostly in commonly-accepted interstellar law, Jenny knew that a freighter capable of such velocities would have no compunction to follow Jenny's orders. If the ship's weapons had been upgraded to the same extent as their engines, the little Scout was in for a tough time.  It only took a few moments for Jenny to receive her answer, as the freighter suddenly pitched upwards relatively to the Philadelphia, and let rip with a trio of purple-hued energy beams. Passing effortlessly through the shields, two struck the superstructure around the Bridge, carving deep furrows in the hull but fortunately not breaching the inner bulkheads. The third struck the port nacelle head-on; the ramscoop cover deformed and warped under the heat, and minor secondary explosions rippled down the nacelle.

What the fuck? Where did they get Polaron weapons?

"Black, evasive manoeuvres! T'Lari, return fire; focus on their fire control scanners, put out their eyes. Shadowhunt, Ichika; if either of you have any ideas for getting their shields down without turning this into a slugging match I'm all ears!"
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Ktan could smell it. He could smell the tension on the bridge as various officers worked in tandem to come up wit their final plan to deal with the Cardassian ship. They all wanted to rescue the Federation citizens on board. They all wanted to solve the mystery of how this seemingly normal freighter had managed the kidnapping. They all wanted to resolve the situation peacefully and avert war. They all wanted to do what was right - but none of them quite knew what that right course was.

It had taken Ktan a long time living in Federation territory to learn how to discern the mood of its citizens. The differing biologies and cultures all results in different body language, different expressions, and different scents given off when dealing with strong emotions. But Ktan was a quick study, and he knew this feeling. They were reaching a tipping point.

"Mister Shadowhunt," the captain finally answered him, watching as the Cardassian ship came into range. "Deploy the graviton pulse."

Without hesitation, Ktan initiated the pre-programmed sequence. At high warp, this was not the safest maneuver, and immediately both ships slammed back to impulse speeds, the Philadelphia's hull shaking and groaning at the sudden change. Ktan gripped his console and swung out his tail behind him to keep his balance.

As soon as the inertial dampeners caught up with them, the captain righted herself and began hailing the Cardassian ship. It was a forceful, though restrained, order to stop, disarm, and prepare for a legal inspection. Ktan would have commended the captain for her discretion, if he'd had the time.

Instead, the Cardassian ship started firing on them, and not at all with the low-powered phasers usually equipped on their freighters.

Bright, purple energy beams lashed out from the freighter, striking the Philadelphia through her shields and hitting the top of ship near the bridge. The Philadelphia held, by the grace of the gods, but the Cardassians' intent were clear. They intended to kill the command crew.

The captain's orders came on quick.

"Black, evasive manoeuvres! T'Lari, return fire; focus on their fire control scanners, put out their eyes. Shadowhunt, Ichika; if either of you have any ideas for getting their shields down without turning this into a slugging match I'm all ears!"

"Aye sir!" Ktan shouted, in unison with not a few other officers.

First day on the job, and someone's already trying to murder me.

Ktan rapidly flicked through the known schematics for a Groumall class freighter, looking for vulnerabilities. The most obvious would have been their limited armament, but that idea was obviously out the window. Based on the color and effectiveness of the energy weapons, Ktan could only guess they were using phased polaron beams. Ktan's father and brother had described the awesome and unique power of these weapons in detail after their return from the Dominion War. These Cardassians must have kept a few around after the Jem Hadar went back through the wormhole. Convenient.

It was here, though, that Ktan struck on a potential vulnerability. The Groumall's had notable power problems, requiring certain systems to shut down to get the maximum power out of their meager phaser banks. That weakness went throughout the power system. They couldn't generate much power, and their circuits and relays couldn't handle too much pumped through all at once. If this ship was somehow firing off phased polaron beams, then they must have hacked in an alternative power system. Something none standard. Something unique. Something that may be vulnerable, given that the ship wasn't at all designed to handle it.

"Captain!" Shadowhunt reported. "I'm scanning the enemy ship for signs of a non-standard power system. If we can detect how they are powering those polaron beams, we may be able to devise a way to disable it!"

== Special thanks to Memory Alpha on this one. GM Input: What you got for me on the Cardassian's power supply? ==
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Black didn't need telling twice, as she was already inputting the commands to evade a potential fourth volley of weapons fire from the Cardassian in the milliseconds between the impact of the first polaron beam and Braggins' order.

Diving the Philadelphia down and banking slightly away to port to protect the damaged nacelle, she moved the ship further away, as from what she knew of polaron weapons they became less effective at range.

Some Starfleet vessels had been upgraded during the Dominion wars to be fitted with adaptive shielding that would withstand such weapons, but they had been mostly frontline vessels, not ships like this. At least someone had had the sense to put ablative armour around key structures though, such as the bridge she thought with a sigh of relief.

However without the more intense scans she'd hoped they'd have acquired before they ended up in this mess, there was no way to know what other surprises this Cardassian had hidden away for them.

So she manoeuvred the ship into what she hoped was the effective blind spot to the 'purple penetrator', a rather uncouth nickname that polaron beams had gained for their ability to ignore shields in the early days.

Constantly jinking port and starboard, she moved the ship into the rear quarter of the Cardassian hoping that they were just outside of the roughly known firing arc of such weapons while keeping their own main phaser banks in optimal position to execute a text book coup de grâce.


== And all together now... Pew! - Pew! - Pew! ==
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Braggins' badge chirped:

[Jensen to Braggins. We're having a short delay due to personnel change. Won't be but a moment]
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Polaron weapons? I should not be surprised.

The ship shook as the weapons carved gouges in the hull all too close to the Bridge. Another shot struck the port nacelle. Even as the captain gave orders the crew was already reacting. "Black, evasive manoeuvres! T'Lari, return fire; focus on their fire control scanners, put out their eyes. Shadowhunt, Ichika; if either of you have any ideas for getting their shields down without turning this into a slugging match I'm all ears!"

The young officer acknowledged the order. Black put the ship into a dive and turned to protect the damaged nacelle. T'Lari was experienced enough not to be surprised by the move and maintained her position, her fingers flying over the controls to target the enemy ship's fire control scanners. Rather than fire a single shot from one phaser array the Tactical officer used multiple short bursts from several arrays on the upper and lower saucer in an attempt to 'hole' their shields and do damage to that system. It was an old trick she'd been taught on the USS Nile, sacrificing overall damage to instead destroy a single target, and it had the added benefit of being much less likely to accidentally cripple or destroy the foe. There were Federation prisoners on that ship and they had to be saved, not accidentally killed by a gung-ho Tactical officer eager to prove herself.

It's likely that is an Obsidian Order ship. If it has upgraded engines and weapons then it is logical to assume that it has other upgraded systems as well. We should expect incoming torpedoes.

T'Lari was half-Vulcan and half-Romulan, and had never felt at home among her mother's people. She'd always had difficulty controlling her emotions, but even as the ship banked and she repeated her firing sequence she felt utterly calm, at peace, emotionless. Briefly she wondered if this is what the rest of her people felt all the time, the goal she'd worked for but never seemed able to reach. How odd that it should take place in battle when she should be fighting fear, anger, or other intense emotions.

She keyed in a quick command to bring the secondary phaser banks up. The Philadelphia had eleven banks in all, eight on the saucer, plenty to spare for another task. They'd been caught by surprise once, and the young half-Vulcan was determined that it wouldn't happen again. She keyed in a quick targeting solution for any torpedoes launched by the enemy vessel. It would be tricky; destroying a Cardassian torpedo too close to the enemy ship might damage it as much (or worse) than if the Philly itself had launched. And that wasn't even accounting for the difficulty of actually hitting the small, fast-moving targets.

A challenge, if nothing else.

== Tags ==
== GM Input: What is the result of T'Lari's shooting at fire control sensors? She will also attempt to destroy any incoming torpedoes, but not too close to the enemy vessel. ==
== Oh, and for me it's DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA! ==
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==Shadowhunt==

The Cardassian ship's energy signature had spiked when it opened fire. The emissions coming from the core were closer to that expected from a Keldon-class Cruiser than a freighter.

==T'Lari==

T'Lari's phaser fire splashed across the Cardassian ship's shields, which appeared to have been upgraded along with its weapons and engines. Though they did not penetrate sufficiently to cause major damage, it would at least distract the other ship's sensors with flashes of appearing-and-disappearing shield flares.

Fortunately the freighter had not fired any torpedoes at them; whether it was capable of doing so was currently unclear, but a direct hit from a Phased Polaron Torpedo would ruin the Philadelphia's day.
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Black watched as the perfectly placed phaser shots fired by T'Lari flashed ineffectively over the Cardassians shields.

Damn it!

The most sensible action from their point of view was to keep the Philadelphia as mobile as possible. Making it impossible for the Cardassian to acquire a target lock while still giving their own weapons the opportunity to do what they could to hinder any returning fire.

Until the port nacelle was repaired, all they had were impulse bursts and manoeuvring thrusters to flaunt about with.

Let's Dance, Gul Dee Locks. She thought to herself as she input the commands into the helm. Dodging left and right. Up and down, and rolling the ship gracefully as they flitted around the near stationary freighter.

A couple of the turns were a little tight, she had to concede as the inertial dampeners laboured a little, but this tango was just beginning.


== Tag any and all, and my dance card is waiting... ==
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As expected.

The phaser fire wasn't exactly bouncing off and it was doing some damage, but the upgraded shields on the Cardassian "freighter" were reducing their effectiveness significantly. The shots just weren't damaging the system to any appreciable effect... and they were running out of time. Lieutenant Black was performing intricate maneuvers to keep the ship from being hit and there was at least some hope that T'Lari's shots were overwhelming the targeting sensors in a minor way, but it was just a minor way. Sooner or later the enemy vessel would score a lucky hit. They simply needed more punch.

"Captain, permission to route shield power through the phasers? It isn't doing us any good right now."

There was a risk, of course. The emitters could be damaged, but that could be fixed and the Philly had quite a few emitters. There wasn't yet a cure for death. In the meantime the Tactical officer kept up her series of attacks, all targeting the same spot. And she kept her eyes open, ready for torpedo shots she suspected were likely.

== Tag Jenny ==
== GM Input: T'Lari will continue the same attack, hoping to at least temporarily blind the ship's firing if she can't actually destroy its sensors ==
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Jenny flinched and let out a curse as the Philadelphia shuddered under the freighter's impossible barrage; Polaron weapons weren't standard to any Alpha Quadrant species, but Intelligence reports had long stated that they were being studied by most of the major powers following the Dominion War. Whether these were a new type of Cardassian version of the deadly armament, or had just been scavenged from one of the many battle sites, Jenny did not know; what she did know, was that they were in trouble. Despite her design lineage as a pathfinder design for the Defiant-class, the Philadelphia was no warship; she could put up a fight against most combatants her size or slightly larger, but ideally only until she could retreat or until help arrived.

But help was not coming, nor was she going to abandon Federation citizens to further Cardassian hospitality.

"Captain, permission to route shield power through the phasers? It isn't doing us any good right now."

"Do it!"

Jenny replied on instinct, despite the gnawing at her conscience that this kind of situation was exactly what Jensen had been angry about in the first place. There were still forty-odd people aboard the Philadelphia, all of whom stood to lose their lives if the Cardassians got the upper hand; and they were fighting for the lives of about half that. The numbers didn't match, and it didn't take a genetically-engineered intellect to know that part of this situation had more to do with pride than it did anything else. The morality of their actions would be forever debated, and she wondered if one day this would find its way into a new and improved Kobayashi Maru scenario.

Assuming they don't just drum me out of the service and redact the entire thing.

"Theresa, Evasive Pattern Delta; put some distance between us and that ship. Then bring us around, Attack Pattern Delta-Three. T'Lari, Quantum Torpedoes, full spread; we need to bring those shields down."

As her Tactical team went about their orders, Jenny opened a comm channel to the Transporter Room.

"Bridge to Jensen; the Cardassians are putting up more of a fight than we thought. Be prepared to go the moment shields come down, and be warned we might not be able to bring you back; your job is to get any of our people and escape by any means possible."

That done, Jenny switched channels.

"Bridge to Engineering; Altairi, I need all discretionary power you can give to the Engines and Weapons. I want your best damage control parties on-hand, this is going to be rough."

Orders sent, all Jenny could really do was sit back and trust in her peoples' ability to do their job competently and without fear; if they could do that, the ship had an even chance. If they failed, the Philadelphia's only legacy would be a slowly expanding debris cloud in some unnamed system in the ass-end of Federation space, and the true story of what happened here would never, ever be known.
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[Copy, ma'am.]
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"Theresa, Evasive Pattern Delta; put some distance between us and that ship. Then bring us around, Attack Pattern Delta-Three. T'Lari, Quantum Torpedoes, full spread; we need to bring those shields down."

“Aye-aye.” Replied Black banking the ship about hard, and setting a heading away from their prey still slewing from side to side to avoid target lock before coming about to head back in again.

If this had been an atmospheric dogfight. From the observers point of view, the Philadelphia would have looked to have launched vertically away from the freighter for some distance, then come to what appeared as a slow stall and final stop. Hanging briefly in space, before it gently fell backwards rotating on its own axis gracefully facing downwards and hammering back in the direction it had come from at maximum impulse speed.

Coming in hot at only a small percentage of the speed of light, and discharging their torpedoes would give the ordinance significantly more penetrating power than a conventional launch Black knew. But would it be enough against the apparently enhanced shields?

She quickly gave T'Lari a sideways glance, and hoped at the very least, it would give the Cardies a well deserved headache they wouldn't forget for a while.
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== WAAAAGH! DAKKA DAKKA DAKKA! ==

"Quantum torpedoes, full spread, aye," T'Lari replied, confirming the order. Lieutenant Black turned the Philadelphia upwards relative to the enemy, rotated, and nosedived towards the Cardassian "freighter." Delta followed by Delta Three. Braggins knew how to use maneuvers and clearly had a tactician's mind. Many Captains knew the commands but didn't have the correct mindset about how and when to use them. Space combat was a chess game where one had to think moves ahead. Black was giving the torpedoes extra 'punch,' something confirmed by the look she gave T'Lari. She nodded in return. They would soon find out if it was enough.

The Vulcan keyed in the order for Quantum Torpedoes, full spread, targeting the torpedoes to hit at equidistant points on the enemy ship's shields. A 'confirm' button appeared on the system console and she pressed it with her thumb, again impressed by the speed at which the system responded. The confirmation was required because the use of Quantums meant the ship's weapons were 'off the chain,' as the humans put it. It was an act easily capable of destroying ships that were less shielded than the Cardassians were, and when it came to space combat Star Fleet didn't accept 'oops' as an excuse.

The shots leapt from the twin fore-mounted launchers as the Philadelphia dove. T'Lari was already moving on to her next task, though she still kept track of the torpedoes. She rerouted power from the useless shields, noting the red lines on the phaser display, and keyed in the override command.

And she held. It would require timing. As soon as the torpedoes impacted she would stab out with the overcharged phasers in an attempt to fully blind the enemy's targeting scanners. It was a difficult shot at the speed they were traveling. T'Lari took a breath and held it, finger poised. She could only hope that they hadn't just sacrificed the Federation prisoners aboard the Cardassian ship.

== Tags ==
== GM Input: Results of the torpedo shots and the phaser strikes? And is there any damage to the phasers from the overcharge? ==
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Peter's reply was straight to the point:

[Copy. Sounds like LZ is hot. Prepping standard defensive formation for transfer], he said, then held a brief pause, and then added in a solemn but serious tone: [Updated ROE?]
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Ktan growled.

He had hoped, perhaps how all young officers hoped, that his seemingly ingenious analysis would provide a quick and easy solution to all their problems. He had, after all, quickly realized a potential weakness - one that was eminently exploitable. All he needed were the facts to back it up.

But the facts, to Ktan's chagrin, were stubbornly failing to provide a quick solution.

The Cardassian's ship's energy signature had indeed spiked when they first opened fire on the Philadelphia. Spiked so high, in fact, the their power core resembled something more akin to a Keldon-class Cruiser than a freighter. At the same time, though, Ktan didn't detect any obvious instability. Nothing so nakedly exploitable as what he'd been hoping for.

It's possible only the outer hull is constructed to look like a simple freighter. If so, then that energy spike is a feature of their design, not a bug. Just a means of masking their true firepower. But if my initial idea is correct, and the ship itself is full of the guts of a Groumall-class ship, then that power spike could be the vulnerability we need.

But if I've judged wrong, then targeting their power supply could drag out the battle, rather than bring it to a quick end.

Ktan was not a naturally indecisive officer. But here was a conundrum he couldn't solve. On a Kzinti ship, he would be expected to complete his analysis and gather more data before presenting the idea to his captain. But this was Starfleet.

And in Starfleet, the crew worked together.

"Captain," Ktan reported. "Sensors show a large energy spike in the Cardassians' energy core when firing the phased polaron cannons - much higher than a ship that size would normally be able to handle. If the internal systems on that ship are also those the Groumall-class, then we may be able to destabilize and knock out their power by targeting it. But I'm no engineer. I can't tell you if my guess is better than 50/50. If you or your tactical officers have better insights, now would be the time to use them."

== Tag All ==
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T'Lari's increased barrage pierced a hole in the freighter's shields, and Shadowhunt's display revealed another energy spike as the freighter's power grid struggled to keep up with its overcharged power plant. Secondary explosions, like little flares, rippled down the freighter's spine as power conduits ruptured and relays exploded, and the shield bubble collapsed at the same time the light in her engines died.

The engagement did not go all the Philadelphia's way, however. The damaged nacelle was hit with a second blast as the small ship closed on its target, this time completely destroying the ramscoop and some of the support equipment. As the Philadelphia moved past its target, ready for another run, a trio of blasts in quick succession tore into her: one grazed her starboard flank on Deck Seven, exposing the Astrometrics Lab and Lateral Conference Room to space; the second struck the Cargo Bay doors, passed through the bay itself, and expended its energy in the battery compartment; the third grazed the Impulse Engine, damaging the reactor room behind it, and sending the unit into emergency shutdown.

Power surges blew through damaged and overstressed conduits; the Mission Ops and Science I consoles exploded, throwing Ensign Ichika from her chair onto the deck where she lay unmoving with smoke rising from her uniform. 

With her sole engine offline, the Philadelphia was left to drift as a fraction of the speed of light, with only her docking thrusters to control her movement. The Cardassian ship was in much the same situation; two ships, damaged and adrift.

It was now going to be a race to see who got their ship fixed first.
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He was too late.

The bridge crew had no time to respond to Ktan's report about the Cardassian ship's power core, before the battle came to a cataclysmic conclusion. Ktan held onto his console with a death grip as the Philadelphia was rocked by another series of blasts from the phased polaron beams, multiple consoles on the bridge exploding in a sea of sparks as power conduits failed. Damage reports lit up from all over, multiple areas of the ship being exposed to the vacuum of space.

Meanwhile, the Cardassian ship's power system had indeed overload, leaving it crippled just as badly as the Philadelphia was from the latest barrage.

The chaos thus ended just as quickly as it began, leaving both Federation and Cardassian ships drifting helplessly. All went still.

It was only in that stillness that Ktan noticed his fellow science officer laying motionless on the floor.

"Bridge to Sickbay!" Ktan shouted, tapping his commbadge as he knelt beside Ichika. "Medical emergency. Ensign Ichika is down!"

Gods, if I had only been faster. . .

Humbling hardly covered it. Ktan had doubted himself, doubted his own analysis. And this was the result. If the Philadelphia had been able to exploit the weakness sooner, then maybe only the Cardassians would be dead in the water, rather than leaving the two crews in a race to make repairs.

Please, don't make this my legacy here.
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Alarm klaxons sounded as simultaneously, the Philadelphia and the Cardassian discharged their weapons at each other.

Maz watched on the screen as every one of T'Lari's shots found their mark, causing a chain reaction of explosions along the spine of their faltering target. But the returning fire was equally devastating for small ship.

Stations toward the rear of the bridge erupted in sparks as power relays struggled to cope with overloads. The whole deck shook in response to the impact of the polaron charge which circumvented the shields with ease. And briefly her console glitched as the impulse drive took a massive dump and shut down.

They were still heading straight for the freighter. Their own momentum driving them directly into a full on collision.

Without even thinking she activated the dorsal attitude thrusters to full power, thankfully deflecting their heading at the last second, just skimming under the freighters hull, but the outgassing of the hull breach on deck seven and the hydrogen tanks of the shattered ramscoop were countering her attempts to maintain a steady deceleration. Thankfully with a mixture of both skill and blind luck she managed to eventually bring the ship to a halt.

The hull stress indicators from the SIF readouts told her how close they'd just come to ripping off the entire port pylon too with the g-forces they'd just endured, and she took a moment to take a breath. It took a few seconds more before she realised she was shaking, and felt sick to her stomach.

Then she heard the feline tones of their newest recruit calling for medical assistance from behind her, and the blue shape on the deck.

Half of her wanted to rush over and help, but the other half knew she couldn't, and if she did it would be worse.

“Status of the Cardassian.” Said a voice. It took Black a moment to realise it was her own as she addressed T'Lari at the weapons station. Black's own fingers already moving on their own to re-engage the manoeuvring thrusters in an attempt to keep them mobile in case of further retaliation.
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T'Lari's barrage was partially successful... it took the 'freighter's' shields down, blew power relays, and cut power to the engines. Unfortunately her attempt to blind the ship failed and the enemy ship stabbed out with its Polaron weapons again, this time doing significant damage to the Philadelphia. The small vessel rocked as the purple beams tore opened several hull breaches, and worst of all its impulse engines took a hit and went into shutdown mode.

On the Bridge multiple consoles exploded. T'Lari restrained her impulse to assist the wounded Ensign Ichika even as Ktan called to Sickbay for assistance; her place was at the weapons console. The Philly was still in weapons range, though drifting dangerously towards the Cardassians even as Black fought to avoid the collision using only thrusters. With the reactor offline and the batteries damaged the ship were unable to return fire with phasers. Torpedo launchers were questionable, and they were rapidly drifting out of position for a shot. Even if she could have shot torpedoes would likely destroy the enemy ship, killing the Star Fleet hostages aboard it. For now they were helpless.

“Status of the Cardassians," Black called out, an odd timbre in her voice. Fortunately sensors seemed to be working... for the moment. The Science I console near the Vulcan hissed and spit sparks, the blown conduit behind it still live, and T'Lari had to raise her voice to be heard above it.

"Shields and engines are down, spinal power conduits are blown and its power grid is offline! It is drifting as well!"

For all the chaos, T'Lari was feeling remarkably calm. She had been in minor skirmishes before, but this was a whole new level. Her emotions felt in check with no sign of the stress she often felt keeping them under control.

Curious.

The console flared again, a smoky fire breaking out on the underside. The young Tactical officer grabbed a fire extinguisher and sprayed it with foam, trying to put the fire out as quickly as she could.

== Tag Theresa ==
== GM Input: Does the fire go out? And are the torpedo launchers functional? ==
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Around Jenny, her ship was dying. It wasn't melodrama that made her think that; they'd all felt the impacts as the Cardassians' purloined weapons tore through her hull plating, and Jenny's own enhanced senses had felt the steady thrum of the Impulse Reactor die away as it went into automatic shutdown. She could still feel the slight vibrations of the Warp Core through the deck, so the ship wasn't totally dead, but she was in trouble. Reports began coming in straight away, and Jenny was silently proud of her Tactical team - nobody else had wanted them, they were both one more black mark away from being cashiered or imprisoned, but they were professionals and ranked among the few people Jenny trusted to pilot her around the cosmos.

"Bridge to Transporter Room; Peter, the Cardassian ship is disabled but so are we. Get there, get our people, and get back as soon as you can. Anything you can do to slow down their repair efforts would be appreciated. Good luck."

The lack of casualty reports coming from other areas of the ship was a good sign; it meant that despite her nacelle and reactor damage, none of the occupied areas had been hit. Unfortunately that also complicated repair efforts; the battery compartment would likely be filling with toxic fumes, and the Impulse Reactor could very well be spewing deadly radiation into the maintenance spaces if it had been breached.

"Theresa, if need be, how confident are you on getting us to warp on one nacelle?"

It was a loaded question; Jenny knew it was doable, but the Philadelphia had been designed to run with two nacelles. She could sustain low warp on one if required, but generating a stable warp field with only one functioning nacelle would require creativity, daring, and more than a touch of blind faith. Jenny had done it in simulation aboard the Artemis more than once as they prepared for their Delta Quadrant expedition, but that was only a simulation, on a ship far more advanced and with far more redundancies than her little Scout.

"Shadowhunt; keep an eye on that freighter, and for incoming ships. T'Lari, anything even so much as looks at us funny, blow them out of space."

Jenny knew that the tasks she was assigning were little more than make-work, but keeping her people busy was important; though they weren't drifting into deep space, or a black hole, they were still dead in the water and quite possibly permanently disabled. Keeping their minds active and focused on their tasks would at least keep them from catastrophising until the reports came back from Engineering and the Damage Control teams.

Hopefully.

With nothing else to occupy her mind, Jenny began catastrophising for them as she ran the numbers on how far they were from the nearest outpost, their power consumption rate, and their stocks of emergency supplies.
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== Gah, gotta remember to switch characters before I post. Will repost on T'Lari ==
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== GM Input: Is there emergency power available to pop off a phaser shot if the Cardie ship fires a torpedo? T'Lari will steal power from a non-mission critical system if necessary. ==
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"Shields and engines are down, spinal power conduits are blown and its power grid is offline! It is drifting as well!" Replied T'Lari.

Talk about keeping up with the Jones's. Thought Black as she considered the symmetry of their situation.

"Theresa,” Said Braggins getting her attention. “if need be, how confident are you on getting us to warp on one nacelle?"

That was something of a unexpected question. On a good day, it was certainly possible. Early ships such as the old Saladin and Hermes or even the more recent Freedom class only had one nacelle, but they were specifically designed to run on one.

After a moments thought, she replied. “If we reconfigure the field bubble, we'd probably only be able to make small hops. And as long as Hydish's people can ensure it won't fall off on the way," She glanced again at the readings showing he stress warnings on the ships framework. "The environmentalists won't be too pleased with the subspace rip we'll likely make in the process, but yeah, I think we can do it.” She hoped she sounded confident in her assessment.

Or we'll all die. Smeared across several thousand miles of empty space.
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Peter's reply was short and to the point:

[Copy, bridge. Audentes Fortuna iuvat.]
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<<Previous Post: Sickbay<<

[Stay Calm Midshipman. Medical team is on the way.]

A minute or so later, the Jeffries Tube opened and two felines came out of the shaft, one holding a medical kit. R'Kaar and Jasoor looked for Ensign Ichika, and then approached her. R'Kaar had his tricorder in hand, and knelt down to scan Ichika for injuries, and to see if she was even alive. Jasoor was pulling out tools from the medical kit that would be necessary for any initial medical treatment that would need to be done on the spot.

"Jasoor, make sure that the cortical stimulator is ready in case we need it. I'm not feeling any movement from her, so best be prepared if something shocked her beyond her body's capacity to withstand." He pulled off the scanner from the medical tricorder and ran it over Ichika's body, doing a full scan to determine what was wrong.

==GM Input: What is the medical status of Ensign Ichika, as well as what injuries has she sustained?==
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==T'Lari==

The fire sputtered and went out. Weapons were still currently online and at full capacity; the Warp Core was still functioning so the Phasers could still be fired at their normal effectiveness so long as the enemy remained in range. The Torpedo Launchers on the other hand, would be limited in their utility; though Torpedoes could be fired "off-bore", their internal guidance systems could only do so much, and the more tracking they had to do of their target, the quicker their propulsion units would burn out.

==Ragarri==

Ichika was unconscious; given her injuries, that was a good thing.

The console had caused severe plasma burns to her face and upper abdomen. Shrapnel wounds peppered her face and neck, one shard had pierced her left eye and another had nicked her Carotid Artery. The impact against the deck plating as her chair had been flung backwards had cracked her skull, causing an Intracranial Hemorrhage.

There was nothing that could be done for her on the Bridge; she was going to need immediate, intensive, and time-consuming surgery to repair the damage done, and even then it might not be enough.
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By the grace of the gods, the response from sickbay was swift.

[Stay calm, midshipman. Medical team is on the way.]

Ktan nodded, calmed his nerves, and tried to do what he could while waiting for medical to arrive - but there wasn't much. Ichika was unconscious, burned, and bleeding. Ktan could feel the blood soaking into his fur as he tried to use what little first aid training he had to put pressure on the most serious of wounds.

"Come on, Ensign," he whispered, as the captain began barking orders around the bridge. "I didn't come here to replace you. I'm just an unwanted guest, remember? This is still your post."

"Shadowhunt!" Ktan suddenly heard the captain calling his name. "Keep an eye on that freighter, and for incoming ships."

Ktan was about to object when the medical officers suddenly appeared from the turbolift and took over the care of Ichika. Ktan barely had time to notice that they were both also of felinoid races before he drifted, as if in a trance, back to his console.

"Scanning, sir," he said, before sparing a glance back to Ichika as the medical team worked on her. They were both Caitian, by the look of the ears. Curious that a Federation ship should house so many felinoids, though Ktan was admittedly there by mistake. It was a small detail to notice in the midst of tragedy.

As he moved his hands down to begin his scans, he left little prints of blood on his console. Ichika's blood. In any other context, he would excuse himself. But the battle, while paused, was far from over. Whichever ship was repaired or reinforced first would win the day.

Gods be with us all.

== GM Input: Ktan is running continuous scans for both signs of repair on the Cardassian ship and for other ships that may be approaching. Requesting 1) an initial status report and 2) any changes to that status when you feel is appropriate. Thank you! ==
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"T'Lari, anything even so much as looks at us funny, blow them out of space," the Captain ordered.

"Aye, Captain," she replied grimly. She didn't understand the human need to dramatically emphasize such matters. A Vulcan would have simply said "destroy them."

The 'freighter' had managed to get a distress call off before the battle, so reinforcements were likely. T'Lari dropped the fire extinguisher and checked her systems. Weapons were fully online and she maintained a lock on the Cardassian vessel, mindful that not only were Starfleet prisoners aboard there was now a Philadelphia team there as well. With the enemy's power grid down the Philly was in better shape despite its lack of impulse and warp. If necessary the little ship could destroy the Cardassians as soon as their people were clear.

She ended her rerouting of shield power, at least theoretically restoring the shields (for what they were worth). If the 'freighter' restored their weapons first they would be useless, but if reinforcements arrived she didn't want the Philadelphia to be vulnerable to their weapons as well. If the Cardassian vessels all had Polaron weapons then it was likely they would soon be destroyed regardless, but if not then they needed every bit of time they could get.

With that she waited for Shadowhunt's report and to see if any enemy vessels approached.

== Tag Shadowhunt ==
== GM Input: Are shields functional after the hits the ship took, and if so to what degree? ==
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==T'Lari==

Shield generators were still online, and would be able to bring the shields back to 100% within 45 seconds as they went through their reset cycle.

==Shadowhunt==

For a moment, there was nothing on sensors; the Cardassian ship was still disabled, and they were alone in the area. Then a blip appeared, travelling down a vector that if traced back would lead to the Maxia system. That blip became two, then five. All were broadcasting Starfleet transponder IDs.

The ships approaching were as follows:
USS Kumari, NCC-86610 - Inquiry Class.
USS Spector, NCC-63898 - Akira Class.
USS Stalwart, NCC-75635 - Defiant Class.
USS Redoubtable, NCC-75634 - Defiant Class.
USS Trafalgar, NCC-52427 - Steamrunner Class.
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With the awayteam successfully deployed, and T'Lari equally as successful in getting their shields back up online, that left only weapons and propulsion to go.

It was obvious that the Cardassians were also working on the same things. But their systems were also blatantly better it seemed. If they got their shields up first, now if the Philadelphia even had weapons, they'd be pretty much useless.

Likewise the Philadelphia had shields, but if Cardiassians got their polaron weapon back up first, they were very much screwed.

Black was busy keeping the ship steady now with only the manoeuvring thrusters for any form of propulsion, but she had an inkling of an idea in the back of her head, she didn't actually know where from.

The quantum slipstream drive had flashed in the back of her head. As a propulsion system for getting places fast, it wasn't her favourite, making her feel queasy each time, but it was a hell of a lot better than that god-awful jumpgate tech that Starfleet had tried.

The Philadelphia had been fitted with it some months ago, but it had since been removed during their stint on the Aquila because of rationing requirements.

It wasn't actually the drive she wanted. It was the operating system. The hardware may have been removed, but if the software was still installed, partitioned away in the computer, this idea might work she wondered.

Running the idea fully through her own head it was hypothetically possible, but if the software wasn't there it would be for nought.

The shields operate at what? 450 Megawatts? She knew the stats, but she wasn't an engineer. During the war, they worked out polaron beams could be blocked, but it was something like five or six times that wattage? I hate maths.

We can channel warp energy to the shields to give us those levels of output, but by the time we do it, we're dead. So we need a way to pre-empt it. The quantum slipstream uses some kind of tachyon or tetryon, or neutrino bullshit to look into the future to stop us flying through a planet. Can we use same stuff to make the computer predict a polaron pulse and divert power before we all die?

There was only one way to find out. Turning back to ask the Captain, Black said.

“I know we don't have a slipstream drive any more, but do you know if we still have the operating system installed? If we do, and we can tie in the navigation portion into the shield array do you think we could create some kind of pre-emptive shield power booster to enhance the shields?”

She thought she's better ask and didn't want to just tell someone to do it wasting time if it wasn't possible.

If you don't ask, you don't know.


== Tag el Capitain ==
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The seconds ticked by as the shield grid reset itself and the power relays reset. The Philadelphia should (theoretically) be able to withstand any attack that didn't used phased polaron beams. For a time. Without impulse the little ship could easily be outmaneuvered and cut to pieces by more conventional weapons if enemy ships approached.

Lieutenant Black had a question for the Captain. “I know we don't have a slipstream drive any more, but do you know if we still have the operating system installed? If we do, and we can tie in the navigation portion into the shield array do you think we could create some kind of pre-emptive shield power booster to enhance the shields?”

Interesting. The Philadelphia once had Slipstream?

The Vulcan thought about it. The level of power required to stop such beams considerable and tough for the emitters to handle long-term, one of the reasons such shields weren't standard after the end of the Dominion War. That was saying nothing of the warp core. But perhaps it was possible. T'Lari knew nothing about the requirements of Slipstream, but if the OS could be used then it might give them a chance against any shots from the enemy ship. She nodded at Black. It was an excellent idea, assuming the OS was still there and could be used as she hoped. T'Lari had another idea if that wouldn't work. Or maybe both ideas could be combined.

"Captain, Lieutenant, their ship is drifting, as is ours, and that means the shield section being targeted is predictable. If the shield emitters are focused primarily on that angle of attack it might protect us, though at the cost of weakening the rest of the grid. Perhaps we can enhance only one part of our grid, the one being targeted and 'make do with less' as it were. If so I believe I can keep the shields focused on the correct angle and maintain it using warp power."

== Tags Theresa and Jenny ==
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R'Kaar looked at the grim report from his tricorder. Midshipman Ichika wasn't looking too good, and even if they got her into surgery in time, there was a good chance she would be spending months in recovery. He tapped his commbadge and said,

"CMO to Transporter Room. If the power is there, I need an emergency site to site for Midshipman Ichika to the Sickbay surgical biobed immediately. If possible, nab me for the transport to Sickbay as well."

He then tapped the badge after that went through again and said, "Ragarri to Sickbay. Code Blue for Midshipman Ichika. Potential Code White. Medical transport underway, prepare surgical unit and alert Lieutenant Seta. Medical readings transmitted to sickbay PADDs. We're pulling out the stops for the Midshipman, as there's no telling how badly things could go if we have more casualties."

As he looked up at K'Tan, he saw the thermal outlines of blood on their paws with his optical implants. Jasoor was administering a hypospray to Ichika to slow her heart rate while R'Kaar was calibrating an vascular regenerator to seal the carotid artery until they could effect more permanent repairs. "Thank you Midshipman. You likely saved a life today." R'Kaar said to K'Tan. He then began to concentrate as he mended the nick in Ichika's artery.

==GM Input: Is the emergency transport successful, and does Ichika stop bleeding out of her carotid?==
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==Temporarily, yes. Also, yes it's successful.==
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“Their ship is drifting, as is ours, and that means the shield section being targeted is predictable.” Said T'Lari in response to Blacks idea.

It was a damn simple idea. And given their current situation, it was a lot simpler that Black's own. Which would probably be a better solution in a faster paced scenario than they were now.

Turning back to the Vulcan woman, she gave an appreciated nod at the idea, but it was still down to the Captain to confirm or deny the information she'd asked, and then to say yes or no to which if either of the ideas hand merit.
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Jenny continued to ruminate on their predicament as her remaining Bridge crew went about their duties to keep what was left of the Philadelphia safe. With one hand she began to work out the equations necessary to get the Philadelphia to warp on one nacelle while also keeping an eye on the crew who, she believed, were probably wondering just what she had dragged them into. Defending the ship until repairs could be made was now the priority, and both T'Lari and Black had some interesting ideas. T'Lari's made more sense, while Black's was sufficiently out-there that it would fit right at home in a science fiction story.

"It won't work. The software was erased even from the backups prior to this mission, to prevent the data falling into Cardassian hands if the ship was captured. Even then, the system wasn't designed for what you're suggesting; we'd be more likely to blow out the emitters just by trying."

Of course, T'Lari's plan had its drawbacks too. By focusing shield power in one direction, they risked leaving themselves vulnerable to fire coming from other angles. Though they hadn't detected any other ships out there, it wasn't beyond the realms of possibility that there were Cardassian reinforcements on the way that would surround and destroy the Philadelphia while she was still adrift. The datalink to the Science console also told her that they weren't going to be alone for long, and she doubted the incoming ships were the cavalry coming to the rescue.

The retrieval effort had just become a race against time before the Task Force arrived and clapped her and Jensen in irons.

"T'Lari, focus the shields; we're going to need them if they force our hand and have to scuttle them."

With a deep breath, Jenny turned back to Shadowhunt.

"How long until our friends arrive?"
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Ktan carried on his duty. It was the only thing he could do.

For a time, nothing appeared on sensors. Other members of the bridge crew began offering suggestions on how to best defend the ship - the kind of out-of-the-box thinking Starfleet was famous for. Things Ktan should be participating in. But for now, all he could do was focus on his sensor readings and try to ignore the slowly drying blood matting his fur.

My father and brother were the warriors, he thought. Why must scientists be dragged into war?

He knew the answer of course. It had been drilled into him repeatedly, first at the military academy on Kzin, and then in San Francisco.

Space was an amazing frontier, true, but also deadlier than anyone could imagine. Even if you stripped away all the rival governments and bids for power and territory, danger still lurked everywhere. Combat of some form was inevitable. If you wanted to be on the front line of discovery, on the leading edge of science, getting blood on your hands was just part of the job. It was either that, or join some civilian organization that followed in Starfleet's wake, looking into places that had been discovered first and deemed 'safe.'

Ktan focused his breathing, and forced himself to picture Ichika's face.

I will remember her. And I will honor her by protecting her crew.

Resolve strengthening, Ktan lurched out of his lethargy, and before long noticed a series of blips on the sensors - Starfleet ships headed their way.

"Captain," he reported. "I've got five Starfleet ships on sensors, all headed this way from the Maxia system. Looks like the Kumari, Spector, Stalwart, Redoubtable, and Trafalgar."

"How long until our friends arrive?" the captain responded.

"Checking," Ktan reported, finally shaking off his sense of panic and moving forward with new resolve.

== GM Input: How long until the Starfleet ships get here?" ==
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"T'Lari, focus the shields," Braggins ordered. "We're going to need them if they force our hand and have to scuttle them."

"Aye, Captain. Setting the shield grid now." The tactical officer's fingers flew across the console, inputting the settings into the shield control panel. An angry red warning appeared instantly, its border flashing to get her attention as if it could be anywhere else.

[Warning. This procedure is not recommended. Damage to shield emitters may result. Cancel Y/N?]

T'Lari felt a surge of irritation as she tapped the 'N' and then hit the 'enable' button. She hadn't asked the computer if it was recommended; she knew it wasn't, but they needed it now, before the Cardassians recovered their weapons and sent a Polaron shot straight through the Philadelphia's bridge or the warp core. She mentally recited a Vulcan meditational chant, one that rarely worked for her.

My thoughts are a storm. I shall not stand against them but let them flow past leaving only calm in their passing.

Did it help? She wasn't sure, but it didn't hurt. The shield grid responded, sending power through the grid into the upper forward section. The Vulcan tapped in a series of commands, putting the shield section between the battered hull of the Philly and the Cardassian 'freighter.' It was a delicate balancing act and, at best, a temporary fix... assuming it worked at all. If the Cardassians repaired their power grid they would find out soon enough. The away team didn't have much time to retrieve their people.

"Captain," Shadowhunt reported. "I've got five Starfleet ships on sensors, all headed this way from the Maxia system. Looks like the Kumari, Spector, Stalwart, Redoubtable, and Trafalgar."

That is simultaneously good and bad news.

== Tags ==
== GM Input: Any damage to the shield grid? And is there any sign of the Cardassian ship repairing itself? ==
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"It won't work.” Said the Captain after a moments thought, to Black. “The software was erased even from the backups prior to this mission, to prevent the data falling into Cardassian hands if the ship was captured. Even then, the system wasn't designed for what you're suggesting; we'd be more likely to blow out the emitters just by trying."

Black shrugged. It had been a long shot. But it was something to think about maybe on the back burner for the future she considered.

The decision was made to try T'Lari's plan. It was a good plan.

Then their newest crewman spoke up from the rear when he was asked about their incoming contacts.

As he listed the five names, Black tried to recall what she could about each of them off the top of her head. It wasn't like she really had time to stop what she was doing and just review each of them in turn.

Kumari was one of the latest Inquiry class she recalled form an FNN feed she'd seen a while back, and she was sure that Specter and Stalwart were Defiants. What the other two were, she just couldn't recall.

Damn it, I really need to keep up with things... Hang about, isn't one a Saberunner? We;ll just have to wait and see when they get here...

As T'Lari's shield enhancement began being configured, Black repositioned the ship as best she could to ensure they had a minimised profile too.
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==Shadowhunt==

The ships had increased speed. They would arrive within minutes.

==T'Lari==

There was no damage to the shield grid. The Cardassian ship seemed to have begun effecting repairs, but the damage to their power grid was extensive. The repairs would not be complete before the Starfleet ships arrived.
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Even as Ktan continued to monitor the incoming Starfleet ships, he noticed their speed increasing. They would be there in a matter of minutes.

Thank the Gods. . .

The last few hours had been an ordeal, but it appeared the crisis was finally coming to a conclusion. Starting with a freak accident that dumped him in a powerless transporter room, then taking hours to conduct sufficient repairs just to get a message out to the crew of the Philadelphia had been grueling in itself. But then jumping from that mind-numbing marathon into a catastrophic battle, it was enough to give anyone whiplash. Ktan hadn't been prepared for any of it, least of all seeing a new colleague bleeding all over the floor of the bridge.

With those ships on the way, though, Ktan was finally able to calm himself enough to think objectively. Ichika would have been injured regardless of his actions, and while his analysis of the Cardassian ship hadn't been a speedy as he could have hoped for, the pace of the battle was such that the outcome would likely have been the same. The Cardassian's power system did blow out, just as Ktan had predicted. And now five more Federation vessels would be here shortly.

They were okay. He was okay. And he prayed that Ichika would be okay as well, along with the away team currently trying to rescue the hostages.

That was the concern now. Saving as many lives as possible.

His soul refocused, Ktan reported the good news.

"Captain, the Starfleet ships will be here in a few minutes. If the Cardassians see them coming, we may be able to leverage it into a formal surrender. Better for them to cut a deal with us now before backup arrives and the terms are less in their favor."

He didn't know if it was prudent for him to make such a suggestion, but he wasn't about to hold his tongue a second time. It was time to bring those citizens home, and hopefully minimize the loss of life in the meantime.

== Tag Captain ==
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"Captain, the Starfleet ships will be here in a few minutes. If the Cardassians see them coming, we may be able to leverage it into a formal surrender. Better for them to cut a deal with us now before backup arrives and the terms are less in their favor."

"We'll see... Keep an eye on them, and keep on the lookout for Cardassian reinforcements."

Jenny couldn't blame Shadowhunt for his enthusiasm for the new arrivals, but an entire task group wasn't coming to save the Philadelphia from a Cardassian freighter. Q-Ship or not, the Entara shouldn't warrant more than a passing patrol craft intervening on their behalf. No, these ships were here because they'd heard the Entara's distress call and picked up the Philadelphia's transponder signal.

They were here for her. They'd take Jensen, too, for failing to apprehend her. Plus every member of the crew who'd been involved with her plan to disobey orders and his attempted mutiny. If things didn't start looking up, almost a dozen careers were about to come to a sudden screeching halt. The lucky ones would be knocked down the seniority list, maybe demoted outright. The unlucky ones would be fortunate to face dishonorable discharge, though she was sure there would likely be prison terms issued to those Command deemed most culpable.

"Theresa, hail the incoming ships. Tell them to stand off, we're involved in a rescue operation and the situation is critical."

She doubted it would make any difference; if they were coming for her they wouldn't stand down because she told them to. She was a renegade and starship thief, no matter what seniority or justification she had. All she could hope for was that they could salvage the situation before they arrived, and maybe something of their careers in the process.

"Braggins to Jensen, we've detected incoming ships. It's the Task Group out of the Maxia System. Get our people and get out, ASAP."
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"Theresa, hail the incoming ships. Tell them to stand off, we're involved in a rescue operation and the situation is critical."

“Aye.” She replied as she opened a wideband hailing frequency and readied her best telephone voice.

“This is Philadelphia to the incoming Starfleet vessels.” She began keeping her tone firm and authoritative. “Please cease your approach. We are currently enacting rescue operations. The situation here is critical at this time. Again, please cease your approach, and hold you current positions until further notice.”

== Tag GM - Did they buy it? ==
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No sooner had Ktan reported what he believed to be good news, than the captain responded with something he. . . did not expect.

"We'll see... Keep an eye on them, and keep on the lookout for Cardassian reinforcements."

"A-Aye," Ktan responded, continuing his scans and feeling somewhat confused at the captain's discomfort that rescue was on the way. Shouldn't she be pleased that there were five ships coming to assist them? Shouldn't this development seal their victory and ensure the hostages' safe return?

But then the captain gave a new set of orders.

"Theresa," she said, "hail the incoming ships. Tell them to stand off, we're involved in a rescue operation and the situation is critical." 

Then, tapping her commbadge, she added, "Braggins to Jensen, we've detected incoming ships. It's the Task Group out of the Maxia System. Get our people and get out, ASAP."

Just what the hell is going on here?

Ktan wanted to argue, to question. He wanted to know why in the hell they would be trying to avoid contact with other Starfleet ships. Did this have anything to do with why he was ripped out of the star base and practically kidnapped? Had he been taken intentionally? What had he gotten himself into?

Ktan listened as Black followed the captain's orders, hailing the other ships and ordering them to stand down. As he did, a sense of dread rose in his chest, and he began - as nonchalantly as he could - to search the ship's logs for some information on what had happened before and after his abduction. He wanted answers, but he didn't think he'd get the ones he wanted without a bit of subterfuge.

== GM Input: What exactly is Ktan about to find out about what's happened on the Philadelphia from the ship's available logs? ==
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==Black==

It didn't seem to work. Instead of slowing down and standing off as ordered, the incoming ships sped up. The return communication was, in fact, ordering the Philadelphia to stand down.

==Shadowhunt==

While normally ship's logs were not available to people who were not members of the ship's permanent crew, especially when the person in question was so junior as a Midshipmen, a lot seemed to have happened in a short space of time that had not been adequately redacted by the duty officer.

The logs spoke of the following events:

1 - The Philadelphia had been deployed as part of a Task Force to retake the Parhelia system from Cardassian hands.
2 - The mission had abruptly been cancelled after the point of no return, after a team had been sent to recover or scuttle the USS Callisto.
3 - Braggins had rejected those orders and tried to go ahead with the mission anyway.
4 - Jensen had led a successful mutiny thanks to the backing of the Security department.
5 - Having stopped at Outpost Gamma-7 to request further instructions, Braggins stole the civilian-registered SS Yeager to continue her mission.
6 - The Philadelphia was ordered to pursue and apprehend Braggins, but instead found itself under Braggins' control again.
7 - Intelligence sources located Starfleet POWs aboard a Cardassian freighter departing the Parhelia system.
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Black had barely sent the message when the reply came back from Captain Bowan of the Kumari. The response was clear and to the point. The Philadelphia had just been ordered to stand down, and to show that they meant business, the mini armada of five looked to have accelerated.

Turning back to face Braggins, she said; “Ma'am. Captain Kumari sends his regards, and suggests that we stand down, and await for his arrival." She left a short pause before she asked with a wry smile. "Do you have any response you'd care for me to relay back to him?”

== Tag to the Captain. ==
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One word came back as Peter's voice came through the link:

[Copy!]
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Typical of Star Fleet; they will make no effort to rescue hostages and will actively sabotage missions that are meant to keep a dangerous technology out of enemy hands, but defy them and you will be facing a task force.

Humans would call it cynicism, but to the young Vulcan it was simply logic. She'd been dealing with inter-service politics ever since she was serving on the USS Nile, when she'd become the personal target of an admiral after she'd injured his son. This was no different, really.

Nonetheless, T'Lari was prepared to surrender herself... after the mission was complete and they'd rescued as many prisoners as they could. Roughly twenty survivors. Out of 350. Historically wars had been started over less. She'd known the price that would have to be paid for helping Captain Braggins, and to her it was a small one. The needs of the many, as Spock had once famously said.

In the meantime she had a job to do. She carefully balanced the shields to keep the Philadelphia from any more damage, just in case the Cardassian ship managed to get its shield-penetrating weaponry back online.
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“Ma'am. Captain Kumari sends his regards, and suggests that we stand down, and await for his arrival. Do you have any response you'd care for me to relay back to him?”

Jenny allowed herself a small snort and smirk of amusement; she rather doubted that Bowan had "suggested" anything. More than likely he was frothing at the mouth, cursing out Jenny for her impudence and his Chief Engineer for not being able to make his ship go any faster. Time was, however, running out and she knew that in less than an hour she'd likely be in the Kumari's Brig. Jensen and his team were going to need to act fast, and her Transporter people were going to need to be on their best form if this wasn't going to turn into a bigger incident than it already was.

"I don't think there's any way we can make the good Captain angrier, though you know ordinarily I'd love to try. Best recheck our position, though; the last thing we need is to have drifted beyond Federation territory and add piracy to our rap sheet."

Drumming her fingers on her armrest as she watched the chronometer count upwards and the range to the other ships counting down. They were in no shape to make a fight of it, and even if there were, Jenny would be damned if she fired upon another Starfleet vessel unless she was fired upon first. 

"T'Lari, co-ordinate with the Security Office and take us to General Quarters Three; secure the ship and ensure Transport Inhibitors are deployed in crucial areas. I'll not have a damned political appointee screw this up now."

With no spare personnel on the Bridge to distribute them, Jenny took it upon herself to rise from her seat and start distributing hand Phasers to the crew, checking they were set to Heavy Stun prior to passing them to their recipient. Shadowhunt, the new addition who wasn't quite a member or her crew but also wasn't entirely an interloper, was last. She held the weapon and holster clip in her left hand, ready to go for her own weapon with her right if the Mirak turned violent about the orders she was giving; hopefully he'd see reason regardless of his own allegiances.

"My crew and I are willing to die on this hill, but you don't have to; you can walk away now, and I'll testify that at worst you were an unwilling participant. But if you choose to stay, your fate is tied to ours and I expect you to do your best to defend this ship and her crew against any and all aggression. What'll it be?"
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"I don't think there's any way we can make the good Captain angrier, though you know ordinarily I'd love to try.” Replied the Captain with a tone that said she was sorely tempted, but knew she'd best not. “Best recheck our position, though; the last thing we need is to have drifted beyond Federation territory and add piracy to our rap sheet."

“On it.” Said Black, turning her attention back to the job in hand.

The problem was they had been close to the border, and with both ships adrift, all Black was capable of doing with the manoeuvring thrusters she had left was keep their position relative to the Cardassian. The combined minimal momentum of two ships drifting slowly in interstellar space was, you didn't really stay still.

“Computer, please confirm out exact position in relation to the Federation – Cardassian Union boarder.”

== GM input – Are we still in Federation space, or do we get to spend the rest of our lives summer with the Cardassians? ==
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Ktan held his tongue.

The logs made it clear. Captain Braggins and her crew were wanted criminals. The Starfleet ships from Maxia weren't coming to their rescue, but coming to relieve the captain of her command. Likely send her to prison, along with her senior officers and gods know who else. Anyone who claimed to be "just following orders" weren't about to let off the hook. Starfleet had left that kind of thinking behind centuries ago, even if Ktan's people had not. Though if this were a Kzinti ship, the fleet from Maxia would be coming to blow them out the sky, not force a surrender. Ktan supposed he could at least be thankful for that.

The question still remained, though. . . now that Ktan knew the truth, whose orders would he be following? Captain Braggins? Or Starfleet?

As Captain Braggins coordinated with the rest of her bridge crew, their intended response seemed obvious - they were going to fight it out. A fact underlined by the fact that Braggins began handing out phasers to everyone in the room, coming to Ktan last of all.

"My crew and I are willing to die on this hill," she said, "but you don't have to; you can walk away now, and I'll testify that at worst you were an unwilling participant. But if you choose to stay, your fate is tied to ours and I expect you to do your best to defend this ship and her crew against any and all aggression. What'll it be?"

Ktan hesitated for a moment, eyeing the phaser.

Now this, he thought, is definitely not what I signed on for.

"I will not take up arms against Starfleet, no matter how righteous you feel your mission to be, captain," Ktan said. "I don't know whether you are wrong or right in defying orders to come here. That is for your own conscience to decide. But this path you are on will endanger the lives of this crew, the crews of the Maxian fleet, and the hostages you're about to bring on board. I will not take part in it, and I don't believe you should either. A willingness to defy orders may be admirable, to save lives, but one must also be willing to suffer the consequences of that defiance - otherwise you are merely acting on your own whims. You can set these phasers to stun, have the Philadelphia fire only to disable, and make whatever other moves you intend to justify a fight. But you should know, as well as I, that as soon as someone picks up a weapon, matters of life and death go into the hands of fate. You may confine me to whatever quarters you assign, or throw me in the brig if you so choose, but I will not take up arms."

The midshipman stood a head taller than the captain, but even with his impassioned speech, he could feel the power imbalance between the two. Captain Braggins held his fate in her hands, as she did every other person in this twisted scenario. 

But Ktan had no doubt that if she went through with this, if she fired on those Starfleet ships or forced them to fire on her, someone was going to get hurt. . .

== If there's a plank, Ktan's willing to walk it. Have at it, Captain! ==
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"T'Lari, co-ordinate with the Security Office and take us to General Quarters Three; secure the ship and ensure Transport Inhibitors are deployed in crucial areas. I'll not have a damned political appointee screw this up now."

T'Lari understood political appointees better that most, especially for an officer of her age, but couldn't help but feel this situation was getting even more out of hand with every passing moment. The only thing that was important was the safety of the hostages and the ship at this point. The Philadelphia was crippled, a sitting duck despite its functional weapons and shields. Even if the small ship had been in perfect working order it wouldn't have been a match for even one of the ships that were pursuing them.

As the Captain handed her a phaser she took it, checking the settings with a practiced eye before attaching it to her uniform. She had a decision to make, and she made it.

"Captain, I will do as you order, but I apologize... I will not fire upon Star Fleet officers. Should the Cardassians board then I will fight to the end. Once I've coordinated with Security and let them know your orders to set up the inhibitors I intend to man my station until the time comes for my arrest, which I will not resist. If you do not find this acceptable please relieve me of duty." 

T'Lari hadn't known Jennifer Braggins for long, but she recognized a fighter. It fit the human's reputation, but at this point the battle was lost. And the young half-Vulcan understood the urge. Despite her calm exterior there was a part of her that desperately wanted to fight back. She overruled it. She'd known this was coming the moment Braggins had contacted her regarding the theft of the Yeager. Her career (or the tattered remnants of it) was over, but the cause was logical. And right now rescuing the remaining hostages aboard the Cardassian freighter was worth it. What were 20 lives measured against a job? The most logical response was not to attempt to repel boarders with a phaser fight in the corridors, but to stall for time. T'lari's refusal to shoot any Star Fleet personnel didn't mean she had to make things easy for a boarding party.

"May I suggest activating corridor force fields? With transport inhibitors in place in key locations that would slow the progress of any teams sent to take the ship."

The Security teams from those ships would be able to take them down, but only at a significant cost in time... time the away team could use to get the hostages out.

She waited for the Captain's response.

== Tag Braggins ==
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The less than positive reception to Jenny's plan to defend her command from those who would try to interfere did more than just disappoint her, it more-or-less broke her. The crew she had fought tooth and nail to keep together despite the machinations of Starfleet Command's ever-hungry personnel requirements; the crew she had risked her career for more than once to keep them safe from Klingons, Tholians, Crystalline Entities, and Romulan-controlled Drone ships; were abandoning her. While she appreciated the sentiments of the dissenters, it still hurt to know that when the moment came, they didn't have her back. 

In retrospect, she should have known this would happen; people were only willing to go so far, morals or not, and when Jensen had firmly re-inserted the metaphysical rod into his backside, Jenny knew she should have seen it as the beginning of the end. For Jenny, Starfleet was a broken and dysfunctional family that sometimes needed someone to go off-piste every now and again to shock them back into functionality. For most of her crew, it was what it claimed to be on the recruitment posters - a perfect institution where only an idiot or lunatic would even think about going against orders.

Right or wrong seem to matter less and less out here these days; it's all about covering one's own backside...

Orders from Starfleet Intelligence or not, war hero or not, the writing was on the wall. Bowan would arrive with his fancy flagship and the rest of the task force that should have been assaulting the Parhelia System to recover the Benamite supply, Jenny would be clapped in irons (figuratively if not literally), and the Philadelphia would be towed back to the nearest outpost in disgrace. There was no point denying it, no point fighting it; all that there was left was to accept it, and try not to look too defeated doing it.

"Raise the forcefields, just in case. Then hail Captain Bowan, let him know he is welcome to come aboard once the rescue mission is complete."

Moving back to the command chair, Jenny tossed her still-holstered sidearm into Jensen's chair, after all, she wasn't going to need it after all. 

At least the Kumari has a full-sized Sickbay; any survivors will get much better treatment there...
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While waiting for the computer to confirm their location, the Captain had begun handing out hand weapons to those on the bridge.

The fact that Black still had the one she had been given while she was on the Yeager earlier was the reason she hadn't needed one this time around. She'd waved off the Captain and revealed the weapon was still in her pocket. Though she hadn't said either way her own opinions. If anyone shot at her, she was damn well going to try to shoot back.

T'Lari accepted one, but made it clear that she would only use it to defend herself if they were boarded by Cardassian forces, not Federation. Also, Shadowhunt from the rear refused to even accept the weapon.

After that, the tone in the Captains next words as she returned to the centre seat spoke volumes. "Raise the forcefields, just in case. Then hail Captain Bowan, let him know he is welcome to come aboard once the rescue mission is complete."

She couldn't exactly put her finger on it, but it was like the energy in the room had suddenly run out. All throughout the mission, it had just, been there. Black turned back to confirm the last order, but as she did, she stopped. The woman sitting in the Captains seat suddenly looked very deflated. Not the powerhouse that had been there moments before.

There wasn't much that could be done or said. All she could do was nod her understanding to the Captain along with a tight lipped smile that silently said she was there, no matter their differences in rank, age and status.

A line from a poem flashed into her head, which seemed apt. “And last, I send a smile, that it might serve you well. And you may hold it in a time when smiles are scarce.”

“Contacting the Kumari.” She said simply.
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The tension on the bridge, which had been building from the moment Ktan had stepped aboard, finally snapped. He was not the only one to object the captain's plan of fighting against Starfleet, though Ktan's objection had undoubtedly been the most direct. Whether that was a matter of circumstance - he didn't have the full context of everything the crew had been through - or a matter of Ktan's own principles, he had no way of knowing. How would he have acted if he had been aboard from the start? If Captain Braggins was HIS captain, someone he had been ordered to serve under, to learn from, to be molded by. . . rather than just a random passersby, then maybe he would have joined them. 

Even so, Ktan knew for certain that he would NOT have raised a phaser against another Starfleet officer, let alone man a bridge station during ship-to-ship combat. With the Kzinti blessedly not being alone in this position, all the bravado drained from Captain Braggins and she slumped back into her command chair, issuing a milder and much more reasonable course of action. She did not seem happy about it.

If you did indeed save lives today, Ktan thought. Then they will be more lenient. This is the right choice.

He breathed a sigh of relief, his first test as an officer accomplished. It wasn't the test he thought it would be, nor was it a test he ever wanted to face again. But he had passed it, of that he was certain.

Looking down at the blood on his hands, Ktan excused himself to the head to wash up, then returned to his post and continued to monitor sensors. While he did so, he began typing up a log report - his FIRST log report as a Starfleet officer - along with formal documentation of everything he could remember about the day's events. Whatever he wrote was likely to be used as evidence for or against the crew's actions, and Ktan wanted to be on record on exactly what he - as an outsider - had experienced. He prayed to the gods that justice would be done, for ALL involved, and that included Braggins and her crew. 

He did not, even now, know what that justice looked like. That was for greater legal and ethical minds than him to determine. He could only continue to serve in alignment with his own morals, which perhaps is what all of them had been doing all along.
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As the two ships sat slowly drifting towards the accepted border of Federation Space (though the Cardassians and the Breen disputed this), Shadowhunt's sensors suddenly lit up. An energy surge was building up in the Entara's reactor space; it would reach critical mass in minutes.
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A quiet fell over the bridge as the mission wound now, everyone waiting now only for word that the hostages were ready for transport. Ktan wasn't quite sure what to do with himself. Part of him - a strong part of him - wanted to walk off the bridge. He wanted to find a quiet corner somewhere and wait to be collected and given commands by a more worthy commanding officer. But that would mean leaving this post unmanned and potentially risking more lives. Ichika was bleeding in sickbay right now. Ktan would not dishonor her. When Starfleet came for Braggins and her senior staff, when they came questioning the actions of the Philadelphia's officers, then Ktan would have his moment to vent his frustration. For now, he would walk the narrow path he had chosen.

As if validating his decision, Ktan's console suddenly lit up with an alert - the Cardassian ship's reactor was about to go critical. They needed to get everyone out, now.

"Captain Braggins," Ktan said, his voice coming out with more growl than he intended. "Sensors are reading an energy surge in the Cardassian ship's reactor. I'd say we're minutes away from losing her entirely. If you want those hostages - and your crew - off that ship, now is the time."

Ktan knew his tone was. . . imprudent. But cordiality was not something he felt he could manage right now. There had been too many lies today to warrant anything other than begrudgement. So that is what the captain got. If she didn't like it, well, he doubted her report of his conduct was going to get much attention.

== Angry kitty is angry. Tag, Captain! ==
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Seconds ticked by. They felt like minutes as they waited for either the away team to signal they were ready for extraction, or the taskforce arriving.

Then Shadowhunt spoke up from the back.  "Captain Braggins," He said growling in the process. "Sensors are reading an energy surge in the Cardassian ship's reactor. I'd say we're minutes away from losing her entirely. If you want those hostages - and your crew - off that ship, now is the time.”

“Confirmed.” Said Black as she double checked her own console.

Given that they were currently relying on thrusters exclusively to keep position in relation to the Cardassian, and impulse was still offline. Their only option provided everything went perfectly from this moment onwards was to use their one remaining warp nacelle to try to jump away from the inevitable detonation that was coming.

“Bridge to engineering. Prepare to transfer warp power to the Starboard nacelle. We'll send you the field harmonic configuration for a single engine jump as soon as we make it up.” She said before closing the channel.

Then turning back to the Capitan, she said. “Have you tried this before, or shall we just wing it as usual?”


== Tag-a-licious ==
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T'Lari felt sympathy for the Captain and didn't even try to suppress the emotion. The human wanted to keep fighting, but when the rest of the crew refused then that was that. Against any enemy the Vulcan would have fought with all her considerable strength... but firing on Star Fleet personnel just doing their jobs when the Philly crew were legitimately criminals was too far, a line she couldn't cross.

"Raise the forcefields, just in case, The Captain ordered. Then hail Captain Bowan, let him know he is welcome to come aboard once the rescue mission is complete."

She nodded. "Yes, Captain." She pulled up shipwide on her control panel so she could communicate with the largely empty ship. "Attention all crew. General Quarters Three. Forcefields are being raised in all corridors. Prepare for possible boarding by Star Fleet Security." She closed the link, then contacted Security. "Security, coordinate with the Bridge and set up transport inhibitors in key locations. You can override the forcefields with your codes." After all, fields that inhibited the movement of their own people would be a terrible idea.

With that done there was the other matter; the actual surrender. Not just yet, of course. Not until the prisoners were safe. Lt. Black was handling contacting the Kumari, so T'Lari made herself useful by going to the Bridge locker and taking out the standard set of transport inhibitors. Generally considered to be a last resort, they were there to prevent an enemy from assaulting a ship bridge during a fight if shields were down. She set up the short poles and activated them. They were short range and wouldn't prevent any teams from beaming nearby onto decks below the Bridge, but between them and the forcefields they would buy a few precious minutes if needed.

There was a loud beeping and Shadowhunt reacted instantly. T'Lari found herself liking the Kzinti Midshipman. He was efficient and evidently good at his job, even if his tone was disrespectful.

"Captain Braggins, sensors are reading an energy surge in the Cardassian ship's reactor. I'd say we're minutes away from losing her entirely. If you want those hostages - and your crew - off that ship, now is the time."

That last part wasn't necessary, to her mind, but it didn't matter. Braggins would be aware of that, of course. The Cardassian ship was set to blow. None of the damage the Philadelphia had inflicted upon the enemy ship would have caused a core breach; the Cardassians were doing this to themselves. Petty. It confirmed in her mind that the mysterious 'freighter' was Obsidian Order. Cardassians weren't suicidal in their commitment to duty, unlike the Romulans she was all too familiar with. They wanted to keep to keep the ship out of Federation hands.

== Tags ==
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While she hadn't expected the Cardassian ship to suddenly decide it was time to explode mysteriously all by itself, she wasn't terribly surprised either; such a ship's mere presence in Federation territory was an act of war on the part of the Cardassian government, and even if they disavowed the crew and their mission, the political embarrassment of their failure would cause long-term harm to the Central Command and Cardassian military. Unsurprising or not, it did however present a new series of issues.

No way Bowan buys the self-destruct story even with our sensor logs. The Cardassians will say we destroyed her intentionally, he'll confirm it for his moment in the sun, and we all go to prison for piracy and murder.

With not a whole lot of time with which to conclude their mission successfully, not to mention not dying and maybe covering their own backsides, Jenny's defeated posture immediately gave way back to the energy she had displayed since the Philadelphia's launching on this not-so-successful of missions.

"T'Lari, I need your reflexes on this one; the moment the Away Team signals they're ready, bring them aboard."

Turning to the Kzinti, Jenny quelled her brief amusement at his high-and-mightiness; the Patriarchy had no moral conscience beyond what benefitted them as a species, and yet he was lecturing her on right and wrong. As an outcast, maybe he possessed what they lacked, but the time to debate her choices had both passed and not yet occurred, and for now he was still an officer (a very junior officer) under her command.

"Shadowhunt, try and tap into the Entara's computer system. Download any data regarding their mission; their specific orders, who issued them, and their most recent crew logs. Quickly."

Jenny had only half-heard Theresa as she communicated to Engineering that they were preparing to jump on one engine. While running away from an exploding ship was still considered the universal sign of guilt, at this range an antimatter explosion would tear the Philadelphia apart, shields or no shields. If the Kumari and her consorts weren't going to arrive in time, and the energy build up made their intervention unlikely, they were going to have to save themselves.

Again.

“Have you tried this before, or shall we just wing it as usual?”

Jenny grinned as she worked on the console next to her command chair; she'd been going over the calculations in her head since she'd been told the Philadelphia was down to one nacelle. It wasn't going to be easy, but it was doable, and the ship's narrow profile made it a lot simpler than if she were to try on a larger ship like the Aquila.

"There's a first time for everything, just give me a moment..."

The computer would be able to create a stable warp field on one functioning nacelle, but it would require taking several more safety protocols offline and there simply was not time.  Fingers tapping away at the display at a rate that would have shamed even a Vulcan, Jenny's eyes furrowed in concentration as she manually calibrated the systems required to generate a stable warp field. It wasn't often Jenny had a chance to use her superior intellect quite so openly, she had in fact tried to avoid it since her genetic alterations had been revealed, but people were going to die if she didn't.

Besides, if she was going to prison anyway, why keep hiding it?

"When I say go, jump to Warp One for exactly five seconds, any direction except towards Cardassia."

With a command, Jenny entered the command into the system, simultaneously synching with the Helm and Engineering stations. The coding wasn't particularly elegant, but Jenny had been pressed for time and there wasn't going to be a chance to troubleshoot it. Besides, all they needed to do was outpace an antimatter shockwave, if the entire system crashed afterwards then at least they'd be in one piece to receive a tow back home.

"Don't judge the coding; it's the best I could do on the fly."
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Peter's voice came through:

[Jensen to Philadelphia. Reporting mission accomplished. Ens. Elliott is setting up transport enhancers as we speak. All but one hostage successfully recovered, with one hostage having been murdered.]

A very brief pause followed

[No team injuries. Recommend beaming the hostages directly to sickbay if it can be achieved. Be advised: We have one prisoner, critically wounded, so I'd recommend beaming both Cardassians present at our location to Sickbay as well. Crewman Brele can head back to Security from there after having been cleared by Doctor Ragarri. And, let the record show that I intend to recommend Mr. Beinn be considered for the Gold Star for bravery above and beyond the call of duty, for reasons that'll be in my official report.], he added in a solmen tone, before finishing:

[Now, if you could please get us off this ship before it blows us into a trillion tiny pieces, we would be much obliged]

== Taggity! Big Grin ==
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"T'Lari, I need your reflexes on this one; the moment the Away Team signals they're ready, bring them aboard."

"Yes Captain," the Tactical officer (though likely not for much longer) responded. With the ship so short-handed the usual wait times for transporter cycles were stretched, and they just didn't have the time. The Away team needed to be pulled out now. That meant operating all transporter systems simultaneously.

She looked over for a moment as the Captain began entering a warp field calculation, manually calibrating the damaged systems.

Fascinating.

No human she had ever met would have been able to do so. T'Lari herself wouldn't have been able to match the feat. There was something very unusual about Braggins, and it was more than her penchant for rule breaking or her smoking of cigarettes. She dismissed the thought; she had better things to do right now than wonder how a human could do such a thing. Star Fleet was full of unusual people. perhaps it was some sort of genetic or cybernetic modification.

Braggins gave an order to Black, followed by "Don't judge the coding; it's the best I could do on the fly."

"If the coding works then no one will judge it, Captain. And if it doesn't work then no one will judge it either... for obvious reasons," the Vulcan said, completely deadpan.

At that moment Jensen's voice came over the comms.

[Jensen to Philadelphia. Reporting mission accomplished. Ens. Elliott is setting up transport enhancers as we speak. All but one hostage successfully recovered, with one hostage having been murdered.]

T'Lari found her jaw tightening at the news that one hostage was dead. It was so unnecessary, so pointlessly cruel. A brief flash of anger went through her mind and she let it go, unwilling to suppress it.

[No team injuries. Recommend beaming the hostages directly to sickbay if it can be achieved. Be advised: We have one prisoner, critically wounded, so I'd recommend beaming both Cardassians present at our location to Sickbay as well. Crewman Brele can head back to Security from there after having been cleared by Doctor Ragarri. And, let the record show that I intend to recommend Mr. Beinn be considered for the Gold Star for bravery above and beyond the call of duty, for reasons that'll be in my official report.]

T'Lari was rather fond of Beinn. He'd been one of the few stuck on the miserable Yeager for those months, part of a skeleton crew that wasn't going anywhere and had no prospects. She'd learned much from him.

[Now, if you could please get us off this ship before it blows us into a trillion tiny pieces, we would be much obliged.]

"Philadelphia to Away Team. Acknowledged. Beginning transport," T'Lari responded.

With a few quick taps of the digital keys the young Vulcan brought up Transporter access. It was just so easy on this ship compared to the antiquated Yeager. A few more taps established a lock as the powerful sensors on the little ship picked out the individuals and tagged them for beamout, creating a status display for her to read without needing a command. Even as she finished the lock calculations she activated comms.

"Bridge to Sickbay. Prepare to receive the Callisto hostages and one injured Cardassian prisoner, critical condition."

With that she began the beaming process. T'Lari was no transport technician but she knew more than just the basics, and her time on the Yeager had forced her to wear many hats. She had to admit it had toughened her. It was too bad there would be few opportunities for her in prison.

== Tags ==
== GM Input: Any problems with the transport? ==
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==Assuming Shadowhunt does as he's asked, so we can move along to the end.==

The data transfer was barely complete when the transporters kicked in, all three of them, to extract the rescue team and the prisoners. It would require decryption using specialised equipment, but they now had a complete copy of the Entara's navigation and crew logs.

The Entara, however, was now mere moments from a critical reactor breach.
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"When I say go, jump to Warp One for exactly five seconds, any direction except towards Cardassia."

“And I was so looking forward to the sand peas...” Black replied as she confirmed the installation of the code and gave it a glance over as she configured the helm.

"Don't judge the coding; it's the best I could do on the fly.”

;Don't judge the coding? She thought. Black'd been doing this job for years now, too long probably. And just a quick look at the work Braggins had done, told her that the slip of a girl half her age sat behind her, made her look like a first year cadet if what she'd written up in the last few minutes was her 'on the fly' work.

"If the coding works then no one will judge it, Captain.” Interjected T'Lari. “And if it doesn't work then no one will judge it either... for obvious reasons,"

“Well, we're going to probably be adding the 'Braggins Manoeuvrer' to our standard repertoire after this.” Black replied without looking up. “At least we get to playtest the first edition here.”

The the message they were all waiting for came through. [Jensen to Philadelphia. Reporting mission accomplished... Now, if you could please get us off this ship before it blows us into a trillion tiny pieces, we would be much obliged]

While T'Lari concentrated on the transport. Black just waited for Braggins to give the word. Then if they survived, they could all look forward to booking their much needed and deserved jail time.
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"Transport complete," T'Lari updated the crew on the Bridge. "All hostages and Away Team members are aboard, along with their prisoner."

== Tags ==
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Peter's voice came through clearly:

[Jensen to bridge. Everyone's on board.]
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As the situation unfolded, Jenny found that she both appreciated and was slightly amused by the talkative nature of some of her officers. Jensen's uncharacteristically-wordy report about the status of the mission, in particular, would have been enough to make her laugh had they not been facing an imminent and major setback to their careers; she assumed he just wanted to get the recommendation on record in case they all died, or to keep Kal-Geal out of the line of fire for his heroism when the JAG people inevitably started their inquisition.

He's a Klingon national on an exchange assignment and was with me on the Yeager; he's deserted his post to be here, no bravery commendation will wash that away.

“Well, we're going to probably be adding the 'Braggins Manoeuvrer' to our standard repertoire after this. At least we get to playtest the first edition here.”

Jenny snorted.

"Pretty sure my dad made that one up when he was younger. I'll have to ask him one day."

Jenny could see from her tie-in to the sensors that the Entara's reactor was going critical. Secondary explosions were already rippling forward down the ship's superstructure from her engine mountings as power conduits overloaded with explosive consequences. It was now only a matter of seconds, and they were still within the blast radius; even if the shields held, the shockwave would overload what was left of the Philadelphia's power grid and they'd be left to drift cold and alone until they were rescued. 

But if the shields failed...

T'Lari and Jensen both reported the completion of their transport at the same time; apparently they had guests. That was all she needed. Even if they didn't have the data, they had the proof of what the Cardassians were doing, now they just needed to get the hell out of dodge.

"Punch it, get us out of here!"
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"Punch it, get us out of here!"

Warp one for five seconds. Such an innocuous request. Everything worked perfectly. And by everything? They didn't die.

Though it felt to Black as they accelerated from zero to the speed of light, like her eyeballs, teeth, stomach and toenails were each in four different quadrants from each other. A feeling that she felt whenever she travelled by slipstream or jumpgate technology. Only this time much, much worse probably because of the improvised nature of their travel.

Five seconds with a warp bubble with one engine on a ship designed for two. Felt like five years as she gripped onto the helm for grim death. And then it all stopped.

Where the Cardassian freighter had been on the main viewscreen. Now there was just stars.

And then her stomach caught up. She stood and quick as she could, and made a bolt for the door nearest the head across the corridor. She almost made it.
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For a moment, it looked as though it wasn't going to work. Then the deck vibrated a little bit, the engines made a funny whining noise, and the Philadelphia leapt to warp the moment the Entara's core breached. The shockwave grazed the shields as the ship accelerated away, but they held.

In the moment it took most people to breathe, the Philadelphia jumped 375,000km from where it had been, coming to a (mostly) dead stop well out of range of the exploding freighter. They were safe from immediate harm, but with the Maxia Task Force now seconds from arriving, they would still need to face the consequences of their actions.

==That's it from me, folks! I leave you in GM-Braggins' capable and slightly-sadistic hands for the wrap-up!==
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[Copy that, preparing to adjust power.] came the voice of the young Ensign in Engineering.
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The remainder of the "mission" was a tense affair. The crew of the Philadelphia was able to evacuate the hostages, the rescue team, and at least one Cardassian before the freighter exploded. Braggins also ordered Ktan to access the Cardassian's computer and pull as much data from their logs as possible. This he did with gritted teeth. The affront he felt at being deceived still boiled under the surface, though he managed to keep things mildly professional through the remainder of the ordeal.

It wasn't long before the ships from Maxia arrived, took the Braggins into custody, and towed the ship to Deep Space Nine.

Ktan's original assignment was long gone, and he lingered on the bridge of the Philadelphia long after the majority of the other officers had departed. There was, after all, little to do while being towed. But unlike the others, Ktan didn't have a quarters to return to, friends and comrades to catch up with, or any personal affects to distract him from the drama of the whole misadventure.

He had only his thoughts, and these were dark and troubling.

Was this the Starfleet he had been enamored with after moving into Federation Space? Fighting and backstabbing? Liars and mutineers? Why had the gods chosen, through what could legitimately be called divine intervention, to place him with this crew?

These thoughts stuck with Ktan the whole way back to DS9, and for a long time after, as he awaited what his fate would be in the fleet thereafter.
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Peter knew what was coming before it came, and he had made sure to be prepared for it, having dumped his sidearm back into the weapons locker on the bridge.
He didn't know what would happen next, but at least he could hold his head high.

And hey, the Nyberite Alliance is always hiring.

When he and Braggins were placed under quarters arrest, he just nodded calmly, and, knowing there was a very real risk he would not see the Captain again, knew that he had one final thing to do.

"Captain Braggins", he called out, just before they headed to their temporary cells

Hopefully not to be exchanged for longer-term ones, the voice in the  back of his mind whispered, but he paid it no heed right now. That might come later, but for now, he had one final duty.

He clicked his heels, snapped to attention, and saluted her, meaning to honor her one last time.

"It's been an honor to serve as your Chief of Security...and as your First Officer", he said, maintaining the salute for just long enough to make the point, but not long enough to make it comical.
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As Starfleet Security beamed aboard the situation was tense. T'Lari shut the force fields down. The fight was over. She was relieved of her weapon, offering no resistance. It was time to face the music, as the humans said.

For the moment the Vulcan was confined to quarters... not that she had any on this ship. She found herself in someone else's room, an officer left behind in the hasty departure of the ship. Rather than 'make herself at home' the Tactical officer merely sat at the room's desk and meditated, trying to keep her focus. During the battle she'd felt calm and completely rational, something she'd struggled with all her life. Now? The emotions were back, churning just behind her conscious thought as if trying to escape. Anger, frustration, irritation, fear, they all competed for attention and she attempted to put them back in their places, to keep the ordered mind she was supposed to have as a Vulcan.

It was several hours before the door chimed. A Security officer, not one from the Philly, was waiting. "Please come with me" was all the stocky Andorian said.

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