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Latest revision as of 15:22, July 2, 2020

Real world article

This chapter can be read on the wiki, but the version here may not be 100% up-to-date. For the most recent version of the chapter, read it on FanFiction!

"The Price of Liberty" is the first chapter of the first volume of Star Trek: Federation Legacy, written in December 2013 and published on 2 January 2014. It is authored by CaptFredricks.

Summary
The USS Leviathan responds to a distress call from the SS Break Even, but is attacked en route by a Klingon vessel hellbent on gaining an advantage in the war with the Federation.

Teaser Edit

A Starfleet vessel is under attack, near destruction, and the crew is doing their best to keep the ship in one piece. The captain orders Ensign Jason Fredricks to return fire on their foe, a Klingon Vor'cha battle cruiser. The operations officer informs the captain that structural integrity is failing, and the captain realizes the end is near. A volley of torpedoes fired by the Klingons strikes the Starfleet vessel, causing Jason's console to explode in his face. He suddenly wakes up in his apartment in San Francisco, realizing he was having a nightmare. He calms himself and returns to sleep.

Act I: Graduation Day Edit

On stardate 82513.9, the Class of 2408 graduation ceremony is being held at Starfleet Academy. An admiral approaches the podium and begins thanking everyone for coming and the staff for hosting the event. Jason and his friend, Lucas Wells, are among those graduating. The admiral invites Jason up to give the valedictory. At first, Jason is a bit nervous, but he gains his composure after a few moments. Among those he thanks in the speech are Fleet Admiral Jorel Quinn and his parents. He concludes the speech, saying, "I've wanted to go out and explore the stars since I was just a kid, and now my dream is finally coming true. Thank you for helping me achieve my goal to become a Starfleet officer." He steps down from the podium, receiving a large round of applause from the crowd. The admiral begins naming the graduates and having them stand behind her. Once they are all on the stage, they turn to face the audience, taking a collective bow.

Jason reports to Lieutenant Ferra, the personnel officer at Starfleet Academy. Ferra tells him that Captain Masc Taggart wishes to speak with him in his office. Jason enters, and Taggart tells Jason that he wants him to be his tactical officer aboard the USS Leviathan. Jason is a bit surprised, but he accepts the position. Taggart then tells Jason to report to the shuttlebay and meet up with the other personnel.

Jason enters the shuttlebay and orders a drink at the bar in the lounge there. Another cadet named Daniel Harvey begins agitating him, comparing him to a child. Dylyp Azeli attempts to diffuse the situation, but is pushed away by Harvey. Jason begins to walk away when Harvey insults his father as a last resort to rile him up. It works, and Jason nearly strikes him, though he is stopped by a senior officer. Jason then boards the Zeus, a shuttle inbound for the Leviathan. On the shuttle, he meets some other recent graduates, Hannah Freeman, Ernie Hauser, Jhael Onika and Vance L'eher. They all gaze in awe at the sight of the Leviathan.

Act II: Klingons Edit

Eight months have passed since graduation. Jason enters the mess hall and finds that his old friend, Lucas, has just been assigned to the Leviathan from the USS ShiKahr. They begin to discuss where their next assignment may be but are interrupted by a ship-wide announcement by Captain Taggart that they have just received a distress call from the SS Break Even.

The duo proceeds down a corridor when the first officer, Henry Fuller, asks where they are going. Jason tells him that they are headed for the bridge, and the three of them enter a turbolift. Jason introduces Lucas and Fuller to each other, and they exchange greetings.

When they reach the bridge, Taggart is waiting for them. Fuller tells him that Lucas is the new science officer, and Taggart directs Lucas to his station. Taggart then introduces Fuller to the rest of the bridge crew, with Ensign Pierce at conn and Ensign Koja at ops. Taggart then asks Fuller to fill in at communications due to the communications officer being on leave.

Pierce informs the captain that they are approaching the location of the Break Even, and Taggart gives the order to drop out of warp. Taggart asks Jason to scan for hostile vessels in the system. He soon discovers that a Klingon ship is decloaking and charging up their weapons. The ship takes heavy damage, and both Pierce and Koja are killed. The chief engineer reports over the comm that Klingon boarding parties have invaded engineering, and Taggart orders Commander McMary to assist down there. Lucas and Fuller move their comrades' bodies out of the way as Taggart determines their course of action.

McMary and her team meet Jhael and the other engineering staff outside engineering. They fight their way past several Klingons and eventually manage to retake engineering. Unfortunately, a straggler remains and manages to stab McMary. After a brief struggle, his disruptor fires and it kills both of them. Jhael reports their success as well as McMary's death to the captain. The surviving security officers – Vance, Briggs, and another officer – head to other parts of the ship to drive away the remaining Klingons.

While Taggart, Fuller, Jason, and Lucas attempt to coordinate repairs, two Klingons emerge from the turbolift. Fuller is severely wounded by one of the Klingons, and Taggart is taken hostage aboard the Klingons' ship. Jason calls upon Dr. Travis Murray, but he finds out from the nurse, Julia Cromwell, that he is dead. Fuller, near death, informs Jason that he must complete the mission and promotes him to lieutenant. Jason then makes a ship-wide announcement that he is taking command.

Act III: Needs of the Many Edit

Julia soon arrives on the bridge, accompanied by Ernie Hauser, Hannah Freeman, and Charlie Morgan. Ernie takes the conn station, Hannah takes communications, and Charlie the ops station. Fuller dies shortly after from a pierced lung and internal bleeding.

Jason then orders Hannah to send a distress call to the nearest Starfleet vessel, with a second encrypted signal piggybacking the first. The Klingons hail them and their captain, Kadek, informs them that he has relayed their distress signal to Starfleet using an "old Earth method." He then offers them a deal: if Jason will give him information regarding the Federation's fleet movements along the Klingon border, as well as the ships' design specifications, he will release Captain Taggart to them. He allows them to speak to Taggart for a moment, and Taggart convinces Jason not to mount a rescue. He tells Jason to get the Leviathan to safety and leave him behind. After exchanging farewells, Jason has Hannah terminate the channel between the ships.

He orders Charlie to fire upon the Klingons, but Charlie informs him that weapons are still offline. He then prepares to ram the Klingon ship with the Leviathan. Suddenly, the USS Renown warps into the system, and hails the Leviathan. Captain Vo'Lok informs Jason that they will handle the Klingons.

The IKS Chot and USS Renown exchange blows until the Renown finally lands a major hit to the Chot's engine. The Klingons retreat, and the Renown is unsuccessful in rescuing Taggart. Just then, the Renown receives another distress call, this one from the USS Khitomer. Vo'Lok contacts Jason and tells him of their failure to retrieve Taggart, to which Jason insists on tracking the Klingons. Vo'Lok also tells him of the distress call, and their duty to assist the Khitomer. Vo'Lok then sends several work crews over to the Leviathan to assist them in repairs. The two ships then embark for the location of the Khitomer.

Characters Edit

Starships Edit

  1. Zeus (Act I)
  2. USS Leviathan
  3. IKS Chot (Act II)
  4. USS Renown (Act III)

Referenced only Edit

  1. USS Khitomer (Act I)
  2. USS ShiKahr (Act II)
  3. SS Break Even

Locations Edit

  1. San Francisco, Earth (Teaser)
  2. Starfleet Academy (Act I)
  3. Earth Spacedock

Referenced only Edit

  1. Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards (Act I)
  2. Imaga system (Act II)

Other references Edit

Continuity Edit

Background and trivia Edit

Author: CaptFredricks
Published: 2 January 2014

Red alert sirens were blaring on the bridge of a Starfleet vessel that was under attack. Several conduits in the walls and ceiling lay ruptured, spewing various fumes around the room. The ship's captain sat in his chair, frantically trying to hold his ship together.

"Ensign Fredricks, fire photons!" he yelled to the tactical officer.

"Aye, sir," Jason Fredricks, the young Human tactical officer, responded, clenching his console.

The ship sustained a torpedo hit, and the ensuing explosion killed two officers.

"Sir, our shields are failing, and structural integrity is at 32%!" the ops officer shouted in dismay.

The captain stared gravely at his opponent through the viewscreen. "This is it then," he whispered solemnly.

The enemy vessel, a Klingon Vor'cha battle cruiser, fired another volley of torpedoes at them.

Jason's console exploded in his face, severely burning him and causing him to fall to the floor in excruciating pain. He suddenly woke up in his bed and looked around his room, realizing that he was having a nightmare. Everything seemed as it should be; there was nothing out of place. He gazed out his apartment window at the well-lit city of downtown San Francisco.

He breathed deeply. "Calm down, buddy; you're getting too anxious. It's just graduation. Everything's gonna be okay," he reassured himself as he went back to sleep.

Stardate 82513.9 (May 2408) – Starfleet Academy grounds

Two groups of cadets were lined up on either side of a large stage overlooking San Francisco harbor. These cadets were the best and brightest of their classes – ready to face the unknown that awaited them in space. Many in the audience were friends and relations of the alumni. Several admirals were seated behind the stage's podium in between the cadets.

One of the admirals stood and walked to the microphone to speak, reading from a set of notes. "Thank you all for coming to the Starfleet Academy Class of 2408 graduation ceremony! First, I'd like to thank our amazing Academy staff for organizing this event..."

Jason sat in the front row at the event with his fellow alumni. Seated next to him was another Human cadet: his best friend, Lucas Wells.

"Well, this is it, Jas. You brought your speech, right?" Lucas asked.

"Of course I did," Jason replied smugly, looking over at him.

"Okay. It'd better be good, because I'm not clapping if it sucks."

Jason rolled his eyes. "Want my advice, Lucas? Lose the lip before it gets you into trouble."

Lucas scoffed. "My lips have served me quite well in the past, and I intend to go on using them, thank you."

One of the admirals walked over to them. "Jason, are you ready? You're up," he told him.

"Yeah..." he replied, nervousness in his voice.

"What's wrong?" the admiral asked.

"Nothing. I'm just not used to speaking in front of crowds like this."

The admiral chuckled. "You'll do fine."

"Knock 'em dead, bud," Lucas said encouragingly, patting his shoulder. "Figuratively, of course."

Jason walked up to the female admiral who was still standing at the microphone.

She turned to him. "And now, I would like to present one of our top graduates, Jason Fredricks, who will deliver the valedictory."

The crowd applauded as he pulled out his speech notes, hand-written on a creased and crumpled piece of paper.

He cleared his throat. "Thanks everyone. W-we... took a vote for who would get to do this speech, and... well, here I am."

Several chuckles came from the audience.

Jason smiled weakly. "I-I'd like to thank all of the admirals and Academy staff for putting up with me through four long, hard years. God knows I didn't make it easy for them."

This elicited laughs from several of the admirals on the stage.

"I hope I can give something back to all of you with my service in Starfleet. I'd especially like to thank Admiral Quinn – who sadly couldn't be here today – for encouraging me in the rough times..."

"This guy's a real bugger," a Human male cadet, named Daniel Harvey, yawned.

"Shh, I'm trying to listen," a female Andorian cadet, named Tala Jones, scolded.

"Nobody cares what he has to say," Lenerea Mendel, another female cadet, added. "He's a complete jackass."

Daniel raised an eyebrow. "This guy's on your shit list, eh? Want me to rough 'im up a bit for ya?"

Lenerea didn't respond.

"...I also want to thank my parents for standing by me," Jason paused, reading ahead in his speech. After a moment, he put the paper down and began speaking more confidently. "I've wanted to go out and explore the stars since I was just a kid, and now my dream is finally coming true. Thank you for helping me achieve my goal to become a Starfleet officer."

He took a step back from the podium as the crowd began to applaud. Several of the admirals seemed somewhat impressed by his speech.

"Thank you very much, Mr. Fredricks," the female admiral said, smiling at him as he walked off the platform.

Jason returned to his seat next to Lucas. "So, how bad was it?" he asked.

"Eh, I've heard better," Lucas replied.

Jason shook his head. "There's no pleasing you, is there?"

"...I've also heard worse," he added. "Like that one dissertation by Ambassador Sugihara back around stardate 80800 something..."

The female admiral continued speaking. "It is my pleasure to announce the names of the graduating Class of 2408!" She turned to the cadets. "When I call your name, please come and stand by the podium." She turned back to the audience and began reading from a list of names. "Leo Anderson, Dylyp Azeli..."

The two of them stepped up to the podium.

"Now there's a Vulcan if ever I saw one," Lucas commented.

"Dylyp?" Jason asked. "He may be a bit more stolid than most Andorians, but as far as I know he's not—"

"No shit. The guy's just got a reputation for being a know-it-all and all-around annoying logical freak."

Jason smacked him on the back of the head. "Quit being such an asshole."

"...Elisa Flores, Jason Fredricks..."

"See you on the other side," Lucas said, rubbing the back of his head.

"...Hannah Freeman, Daniel Harvey, Ernie Hauser..."

Hannah and Ernie, both Humans, stood and walked toward the podium. Daniel tailed them whilst silently taunting some of the other cadets.

Ernie frowned. "I've never liked these big social events."

Hannah smiled at him. "Don't worry, Ernie. It's not like you're having to give an oral report in front of all these people."

Ernie glanced at Daniel. "An oral report would beat having to walk up on stage with this idiot."

"...Tala Jones..."

Daniel put his arm around Ernie. "I volunteer to give an oral report on all the reasons why you're a dumbarse," Daniel scoffed.

Ernie shrugged him off and continued walking.

"...Vance L'eher, Lenerea Mendel..."

Jason groaned at the mention of Lenerea's name.

"Hey, it's okay… that happened a long time ago," Elisa Flores, a female Human cadet, said, noting his disgust.

"I know. And after today, I won't have to see her again," he replied.

"...Norrg'k, Jhael Onika..."

Lucas sighed. "It always takes forever to get to the W's..."

"Be glad you're not a Z like me," Zarva, a female Bolian cadet, replied.

"...Jeff Philips..."

Jason scowled harshly at Jeff, another Human cadet, who kept his head lowered to avoid Jason's gaze.

"...Serov, T'Vrell, Raltha Trebor..."

"Oh, that's me," Raltha, an energetic Caitian cadet, said, jumping up from his seat.

The two Vulcan cadets calmly followed him to the platform.

"...Lucas Wells, Sofia Wenner..."

"About time!" Lucas said.

Sofia, a female Human cadet, rolled her eyes. "Just walk, dummy."

"...and Zarva."

All of the cadets faced the audience and took a bow. The crowd applauded.

...

Jason reported to the assignment office at Starfleet Academy and walked up to Lieutenant Ferra, a Caitian personnel officer.

"Name?" Ferra asked.

"Jason Fredricks," he replied.

"Ah, yes, Mr. Fredricks; Captain Taggart wanted to talk to you. He's in the office behind me."

"Okay," Jason said, taking a deep breath.

"Good luck," Ferra smiled, his nose twitching.

Jason entered the office where Captain Masc Taggart, a Denobulan, was waiting for him. Taggart was sitting at his desk, reading over some duty rosters.

He noticed Jason walk in. "Oh, just the man I wanted to see!"

Taggart stood and extended a hand toward Jason, who shook his hand, returning the greeting.

"Reporting for duty, captain," Jason replied, standing at attention.

Taggart chuckled. "At ease, ensign. You're not on duty yet."

"Yes, sir," he said, relaxing his shoulders.

"I've heard of your skills in weapon tactics. You're the kind of officer that I need on the bridge of the Leviathan."

"The... Leviathan, sir?"

"Yes. Is that a problem?"

"No, sir. I've heard a lot about her, sir. A fine ship from what I'm told."

"Indeed; she's served me well for six long years. Now... about that position, what do you think?"

"What position would it be, captain?"

"My tactical officer – that is – if you're up to the challenge. Admiral Quinn certainly speaks highly of you."

"I am, sir."

Taggart nodded in approval. "Good. I'll see you on board later today. You should report to the shuttlebay and meet up with the other personnel."

"Aye, captain. Thank you," Jason smiled gratefully.

"No, thank you, ensign. Dismissed."

...

Jason entered the building housing the shuttlebay and stepped into a turbolift. He exited the turbolift into a small lounge on the upper level moments later and walked over to the bar where some other cadets were chatting.

Daniel turned around to look him over. "Look what we have here; Mr. Churchill himself! So, what ship you get put on, newbie?" the rather buff human asked in a strong Irish accent.

"The Leviathan," Jason replied, trying to get the bartender's attention.

"I'd say you got the garbage scow of the fleet. I'm going to the Khitomer myself," the red-headed cadet grinned. "Name's Daniel Harvey, by the way, but people call me Buck."

"Why do they call you that?" Norrg'k, a Tellarite cadet, asked.

"Because, if you try anything stupid, I'll break your face. Got it, cadet?"

Jason frowned. "You know, the more you talk, the more I want to punch you in the face."

"Ooh, you're a feisty little one, aren't you? Fredricks, is it?" Daniel scoffed. "You must be awfully proud, getting to speak like a five-year-old in front of a raving audience."

Dylyp took notice of their conflict. "I do not believe it would be wise for the two of you to continue. A physical brawl would certainly be grounds for your ejection from—"

"Shut up, Andorian. This is not your concern," Daniel snapped.

"Dylyp's right, Buck. Besides, you're not worth losing a career over," Jason responded. With that, he took his drink and began to walk away.

"Get back here and fight me, you little coward!"

By then, they had attracted the attention of many of the other cadets. Instead of responding, Jason sipped his drink calmly, continuing to walk.

"Hey Fredricks, was your dad as yellow as you?" Daniel jeered. "The great Thomas Fredricks, too afraid to go out on the front lines, so he enlisted at Utopia Planitia. What a pussy."

"Leave my father out of this," Jason growled, clenching his fist.

"There's nothing cowardly about enlisting at Utopia Planitia," Sofia added. "My mother works there."

Daniel paid no mind to her. "Looks like I hit a sore spot. What you gonna do, cry like the little baby I know you are?"

Jason raised his fist, about to strike, but one of the higher-ranking officers stepped in.

"Enough, both of you! Get to your designated shuttles and prepare to leave!" he shouted, standing between them.

"This ain't over, Fredricks," Daniel said, shoving another cadet out of his way.

Jason set his cup on the bar as several cadets stared at him. "What are you all looking at?" he asked.

They slowly went back to what they were doing before the incident started. Jason walked up to the deck officer, who raised an eyebrow at him.

"All cadets leaving for the Leviathan stand here; all leaving for the Khitomer, stand over there," the officer told them.

The cadets lined up and stood at attention.

The deck officer walked beside them, reading off a list of names. "Ernie Hauser?"

"Here," Ernie responded.

"Hannah Freeman?"

"Here."

"Jhael Onika?"

"Here."

"Jason Fredricks?"

"Yeah," Jason nodded, still angry.

"And... Vance L'eher?"

"Yes, sir."

"The five of you will be embarking on the Zeus, behind me."

They walked over to the Type 8 shuttlecraft and boarded it.

"Buckle up, everyone. Zeus is about to ascend to the heavens," the pilot told them.

Hannah chuckled as she took her seat. The others sat as well.

The pilot soon took off and navigated toward Earth Spacedock, in orbit of Earth.

After several moments of silence, Hannah looked over at Jason. "Hi, I'm Hannah," she introduced herself.

"Jason Fredricks," he replied.

"I enjoyed your speech."

"Thanks." He shook his head. "It really wasn't that great."

"Man, what happened back at the bar? I thought for sure you guys were gonna throw down," Vance said.

"I don't take shit from people," Jason replied. "I managed to survive four years at the Academy without trading blows with that asshole, and I don't care to meet him again."

"But how did 'that asshole' know your dad's name?" Hannah asked.

"My father has a bit of a reputation at Starfleet Academy. It wouldn't be hard for some punk like Buck to learn a few things about him."

"Everyone, look at this!" Jhael blurted out, pointing outside the viewport of the shuttle.

They all gazed out the window to see the Leviathan docked inside Earth Spacedock. The shuttle began closing in on the Leviathan.

"The USS Leviathan, Miranda-class cruiser, registry number: NCC-93151, 12 decks, crew complement of 400, maximum speed: Warp Factor 5.2," the Saurian continued, as if reading from a starship manual.

"Actually, I heard she got a speed boost in this latest refit. She can hit Warp 7 now," Ernie added.

"She's a lovely ship," Hannah managed, gazing at the Leviathan with awe.

"I dunno, it seems kinda small..." Vance commented. "I was hoping for a Galaxy-class."

"She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts," the shuttle pilot answered.

Vance shrugged. "She'll do, I guess."

"Shuttlecraft Zeus, you are clear for docking," the dockmaster said over the comm.

"Acknowledged," the pilot replied. He turned to the cadets. "Alright kids, here we go."

He docked the shuttle with the Leviathan.

Stardate 83164.0 (28 January 2409); eight months later...

The mess hall door opened, and Jason walked in.

The bartender took notice of him. "Can I get you something, Jason?"

"Yeah, I'll take a Saurian brandy."

The bartender hesitated. "You're off duty, I hope?"

Jason chuckled. "Of course. I know the captain's policy on drinking during duty shifts."

"Alright then. Comin' right up."

Just then, Lucas Wells walked up to him. "Jason?" he asked.

"Lucas... when did you get assigned to the Leviathan?" Jason asked, surprised.

"A couple of days ago, actually. I just finished my tour aboard the ShiKahr and came aboard when the Leviathan was docked at ESD. Anyway, how are ya?" Lucas asked him.

"Pretty well. I've been keeping busy."

"Here you go. One Saurian brandy," the bartender interrupted, handing Jason his drink.

"Thanks," Jason replied.

"You there in the blue. You're Mr. Wells, I take it?" the bartender asked.

"Um... yeah..." Lucas replied. "How did you—"

"Name's Crusoe. If you ever need anything, don't hesitate to ask," he said before tending to the needs of another patron.

"Okay..."

Jason chuckled. "He's an El-Aurian."

"Well, that explains a lot," Lucas replied.

"So... how was life on the ShiKahr?"

"Unbelievably boring. As much as I enjoy science, those people somehow found a way to smother all the fun out of it."

Jason laughed. "You haven't changed a bit, Lucas."

"Nope, I'm the same old, same old. Say, do you know where our next assignment is?"

"Imaga, I hear," Jason said, taking a gulp of his drink.

"Imaga? There's nothing of interest in that system," Lucas replied, raising an eyebrow. "I know, because it's one of the systems we mapped out on the ShiKahr."

Jason shrugged. "I don't—"

The captain's voice came over the intercom. "Attention all hands, this is Captain Taggart. We've just received a distress call from the SS Break Even. We are moving in to assist them. All hands to alert status!"

...

Jason and Lucas walked down a corridor as other officers ran by them.

"Hey, you two! Where you headed?" a voice called them from ahead.

"I'm heading for the bridge, sir," Jason answered the officer.

"You as well?" the officer asked, indicating Lucas.

Lucas nodded silently.

"Alright, come with me."

They came to the end of the corridor and entered a turbolift.

"Bridge," the officer told the computer.

The turbolift made a whirring sound as it began to move.

"So, this means you're the senior science officer now?" Jason asked Lucas.

"Pretty awesome, eh? It'll be just like old times, Jas."

"Old times? Oh..." Jason chuckled. "You mean the times we acted out 'Starfleet missions' when we were kids?"

"I do," Lucas replied.

The officer with them chuckled. "Childhood friends, I take it?"

"Yes, sir. Oh, Lucas, this is Commander Fuller, the new first officer. Sir, this is my friend, Lucas Wells," Jason introduced the two.

Fuller briefly viewed something on a PADD he was holding. "Impressive credentials, Mr. Wells. It'll be good to have you on the team."

"Thank you, sir," Lucas replied.

"I'm not fully familiar with the captain's bridge protocol yet, but when we're off duty, call me Henry."

"Understood," Jason and Lucas said in unison.

The turbolift doors opened, and the three of them walked onto the bridge.

Captain Taggart turned to greet them. "Number one, there you are," he said, addressing Fuller.

"Number one?" Fuller questioned.

"Oh, just something I picked up from my former commanding officer," Taggart chuckled.

Fuller nodded. "May I present Ensign Lucas Wells, the new science officer. He graduated with several honors in chemistry and the physical sciences."

"Welcome aboard, Mr. Wells. Please take your station." Taggart motioned Lucas to the science station.

"Sir! We're nearing the position of the SS Break Even," Marvolo Piers, the conn officer, reported.

"Alright," Taggart acknowledged Piers. "Scan the system for any hostile vessels."

"Aye captain," Jason replied.

"Take us out of warp," Taggart ordered.

"Dropping to impulse," Piers responded.

"No hostiles on sensors, captain... wait..." Jason began.

"What is it, Fredricks?" Fuller inquired.

"I'm detecting a Klingon battle cruiser decloaking. They're charging weapons!"

Taggart jumped up from his seat. "Raise shields!"

"Too late! Brace for impact!" Koja Nara, the ops officer, yelled.

The Leviathan quaked violently as the Klingons' torpedoes ripped into its hull. Koja's console exploded in her face, knocking her violently backward.

Lucas ran over to her and checked her pulse. "She's dead, captain," he said gloomily.

Taggart sighed. "Understood." He turned back to the viewscreen. "Evasive maneuvers; prepare to return fire!"

"Sir, another volley of torpedoes!" Jason shouted.

The Leviathan shook like a sailing ship in the middle of a maelstrom. A bulkhead fell from the ceiling, crushing Piers.

"I can't raise the shields, and weapons systems are offline." Jason's console started beeping. "Klingon boarding parties are beaming in all over the ship, captain!"

"Security teams, find and take down the intruders!" Fuller said over the comm. He turned to Taggart. "What in the blazes are Klingons doing this far into our space?"

Taggart shook his head. "I don't know."

"Bridge, this is engineering. We need assistance down here!" Mars Lionel, the chief engineer, shouted frantically over the comm. "The Klingons are... ahh!"

The message faded to static.

"Fredricks, take a team to engineering," Taggart ordered.

"Aye, captain," Jason complied, heading for the turbolift. He tapped his combadge. "This is Fredricks to any security personnel on Deck 7. Meet me at the entrance to engineering."

Lucas followed Jason into the turbolift. "I'm coming with you."

"Damn it, Lucas..." Jason muttered under his breath. "Engineering," he added, addressing the computer.

...

As soon as the turbolift arrived at its destination, Jason and Lucas exited into the corridor outside engineering, where Vance, Jhael, and two security officers were waiting for them.

"Sir, the chief engineer is dead. We managed to subdue a few of the Klingons, but we can't retake engineering without more people," Vance told Jason.

"This is all we've got. We'll have to make do," Jason responded.

Jhael sighed. "The probability of our success is not—"

"You're welcome to wait outside if you're afraid, Jhael," Jason said, powering up his phaser.

"No, sir. I'll join you."

Jason nodded. He counted down silently from three with his fingers.

The six of them charged into engineering with Jason on point, taking the Klingons by surprise. One of the Klingons pulled out a bat'leth and raced at Jason, who ducked and rolled to avoid the Klingon's swing. At the same time, Vance and one of the security officers engaged some Klingons at the other end of the room. One of them knocked the security officer down on his back and headbutted him.

"Ugh," he groaned. "I didn't sign up for this!"

Jason, barely avoiding being impaled, lunged at the Klingon's knees, knocking him backward. The Klingon stumbled to his feet and returned the gesture with a palm to Jason's face. Lucas, who had just shaken one of the other Klingons, noticed the struggle and pointed his phaser at the Klingon Jason was fighting, careful not to hit Jason. He fired a quick burst with his phaser, taking out the Klingon.

"Thanks," Jason said, breathing a sigh of relief. "He was starting to piss me off."

One of the Klingons punched Jhael in the face twice, but Jason intervened, knocking the Klingon away from him. The group pressed on, backing the remaining Klingons into the corner. A few of them managed to transport back onto their ship.

"Ha! Cowards," Vance laughed, wiping some blood from his lip. "And they call themselves warriors."

"Something's not right," Lucas mused. "Klingons never give up that easily."

"You're correct; they may have changed their strategy, but I don't believe this is over," Jhael added.

Jason tapped his combadge. "Captain, we've secured engineering."

"Good. Please return to the bridge. I'll need you at tactical if the Klingons try anything," Taggart responded.

"You guys have everything under control here?" Jason asked Vance and Jhael.

"Don't worry about a thing, sir. This engine room is well looked-after," Jhael replied, brushing himself off.

"Good. Come on, Lucas."

The duo left engineering and entered a turbolift to return to the bridge. No sooner than they stepped out of the turbolift, a group of Klingons transported onto the bridge.

"How long until we can get shields back up?" Taggart asked the stand-in tactical officer, not noticing the Klingons.

"Captain, look out!" Fuller yelled, seeing them.

He pulled out his phaser, but a Klingon stabbed him with a d'k tahg blade before he could use it. Jason and Lucas were quick to react, shooting two of the Klingons. The lead Klingon grabbed Taggart and beamed onto his ship with Taggart in tow.

"Captain!" Jason yelled, knowing he was too late to save him.

"Ugh," Fuller groaned, blood spurting from the wound on his chest.

"We've got to get a doctor up here, now!" Lucas said, kneeling down beside Fuller and putting pressure on his wound.

Jason tapped his combadge. "Ensign Fredricks to Dr. Murray, come in please. Dr. Murray?"

"This is Ensign Julia Cromwell; I'm afraid that Dr. Murray is dead."

Jason shook his head. "Could anything else go wrong today? First the captain, now the first officer and CMO..."

"I am a nurse, sir. I will be right up," she continued. "How many officers are left on the bridge?"

"It's just me, Ensign Wells, and... Commander Fuller," he replied, voice faltering.

She paused. "Understood."

The channel closed.

"Fredricks..." Fuller said in almost a whisper, his head propped up on Lucas' leg.

"Sir?" Jason asked.

Fuller beckoned him closer with his index finger. "I need you to take command of the Leviathan. I can't..."

"Sir, you're gonna be alright. Ensign Cromwell will get you fixed up."

Fuller shook his head. "No, Fredricks. You have to salvage this mission. It's... what the captain would want. It-it's up to... you..." he trailed off, struggling to take in air.

Lucas looked at Jason worriedly. "Jason, it looks like that blade may have pierced his lung. I don't think he's gonna make it."

Jason slumped down into the captain's chair. He opened the ship's comm channel. "This is Ensign Jason Fredricks to all personnel. Captain Taggart has been captured by the Klingons, and Commander Fuller has been critically wounded. I am hereby taking command of the Leviathan as of stardate 83164.0."

Julia entered the bridge accompanied by three officers.

"I brought some people to help out up here, sir," she told Jason. "Where is the commander?"

"Over here," Jason replied solemnly.

Fuller gasped loudly. "Doctor..."

Julia knelt next to him and opened her medkit. "Everything's going to be fine, sir. I promise."

Lucas watched her with anticipation.

After looking Fuller over, she gazed up at him and shook her head. "There's too much blood in his lungs already. I can't do anything for him."

Fuller chuckled as he coughed up blood. "My first assignment... is gonna be my deathbed. Who'd have thought?"

Lucas sighed. "We're all gonna die, aren't we? Maybe I should've stayed on the ShiKahr..."

Fuller shook his head. "No... I have confidence in this crew. You'll find a way out of this mess..." He groaned. "Doc, is there any way you can make this... easier for me?"

"The only thing I can think of is to give you a sedative..." she replied.

"I'd rather go out that way than choke to death on my own blood. Do it..."

Jason hung his head. "You're sure you can't help him at all, Cromwell?"

"Sickbay is in shambles. At this point, I feel like I'm doing him a favor to end the pain."

Jason knelt beside him. "I promise I will rescue the captain and make those bastards pay for what they've done today, sir."

"Fredricks... don't... let vengeance... overcome you..." He coughed up more blood. "Doc, if you please..."

"I'm sorry, sir. I wish there was more I could do." She readied a hypospray and injected him with the sedative. "It's over. He's at peace now."

Jason sighed and returned to his chair.

Ernie walked up to him and stood at attention. "Ensign Ernie Hauser reporting for duty, sir."

"What's your specialty?" Jason asked.

"I'm an astrometrics scientist, but I don't think you'll have much use for that up here. I'm also a pilot."

"Alright, take the conn then, Mr. Hauser."

Hannah stood in front of Jason next. "Ensign Hannah Freeman. I can handle communications, sir."

He nodded.

"Crewman First Class Charlie Morgan, sir," the third officer introduced himself. "I can take the ops station if you need me too."

"Alright." Jason put his head in his hands. "Is the Break Even still out there?" he inquired.

"Sir?" Charlie asked.

"The ship we were here to assist... is it still out there?"

"I'm not detecting any nearby vessels, sir."

"What? That's impossible; it was right there before the Klingons attacked. The distress call seemed authentic enough..."

"Sir, did you actually see the ship? If not, it's possible that the distress call was sent by the Klingons," Hannah suggested.

"No, we didn't see it," Jason replied, punching his armrest.

"So... it was all a ruse to lure a Federation ship here to attack and pillage," Lucas mused.

"It would appear that way," Jason snarled.

"Jason, I'm detecting some residual antiprotons in the area – it may be coming from a cloaked vessel," Lucas added.

"Can we go to impulse?"

"Not yet, sir," Ernie replied. "Engines and shields are both offline."

Jason sighed. "Send a distress call to any Starfleet vessel in the area."

"But sir, if the Klingons are out there, they'll surely intercept it," Hannah pointed out.

"I know. Send the message, but hide a second one on an encrypted frequency."

"Alright..." She did as Jason said.

"A piggyback?" Lucas inquired thoughtfully.

"Hopefully they won't decrypt the second signal," Jason replied.

"What if it doesn't work?"

"Then we're all dead."

A Klingon Negh'Var warship decloaked in front of the Leviathan.

"My god, it's massive!" Ernie gulped.

"Sir, they are hailing us," Hannah reported.

"On screen," Jason said, hands folded.

A stout Klingon appeared on the viewscreen. "I am Captain Kadek of the IKS Chot. You will be pleased to hear that we have picked up your distress signal and relayed it to your friends at Starfleet. We sent the message via an old Earth method, so it should reach them in three to four... years," Kadek grinned through crooked teeth.

"Where's Captain Taggart?" Jason demanded, standing to his feet.

"Your captain is safe, for now."

"What do you want?"

Kadek chuckled. "What makes you think I want something?"

"Come on, Kadek, you wouldn't have gone through this kind of trouble if you didn't aim to get something in return."

"You're very smart for such a young officer. Yes, I do want something, ensign. I want your most recent information on the Federation's fleet deployments along the border, and the technical readouts of your vessels. If you give these to me, I will allow your captain to live. If not..."

He gestured to one of his officers, who dragged Taggart into view, throwing him down at Kadek's feet.

Kadek pulled out his d'k tahg and held it at Taggart's throat. "It is your choice, ensign."

"Fredricks, how is the Leviathan?" Taggart asked.

"She's holding together, sir."

"Commander Fuller, is he...?"

Jason shook his head, and Taggart understood.

"Then it's up to you to get the Leviathan out of here," Taggart said, holding his hand to his head where it was bleeding.

"We won't leave you, sir!" Jason assured him.

"I'm not worth it. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Get the ship and crew to safety... number one."

Kadek looked up at Jason. "Well, Fredricks? What is your decision?"

"Farewell, captain," Jason replied, saluting Taggart.

"Goodbye, ensign. Good luck!" Taggart nodded at Jason.

"Fredricks!" Kadek shouted angrily. "I will kill—"

Jason signaled Hannah to end the communication.

"We're not going to just leave him there, are we?" Lucas asked.

"Are their shields up?" Jason inquired.

"No, but..." Charlie started.

"Ready phasers."

"Sir, phaser banks are offline."

"Torpedoes?"

Charlie sighed. "Same."

"Then get this damn ship moving. We'll ram them."

"Jason, are you crazy?" Lucas protested.

"Hauser, is there a problem?"

"No, sir. Diverting auxiliary power to the thrusters," Ernie replied hesitantly.

Just then, another Starfleet vessel warped into the system.

Hannah smiled, relieved to see a friendly vessel. "The USS Renown is hailing us, sir."

"On screen," Jason replied.

"This is Captain Vo'Lok of the USS Renown. We were investigating the disappearance of a cargo freighter in the area when we received your distress call. How may we be of service?" Vo'Lok asked.

"Ensign Jason Fredricks speaking. You got here just in the nick of time, sir. Our weapons are disabled, and Captain Taggart is being held on that Klingon ship."

"I see. Leave the Klingons to us, ensign."

The channel closed.

...

The Chot opened fire on the Renown. Both ships exchanged fire for several minutes, until the Renown scored a lucky hit to the Chot's weapons array. The Klingons ceased firing and began backing away.

"Get a lock on Captain Taggart and transport him to sickbay," Vo'Lok told his ops officer.

"Aye, sir." The ops officer attempted to get a lock on Taggart. "Captain... I'm having trouble establishing a transporter lock."

"Captain, the Klingons are going to warp!" the tactical officer yelled.

"Lay in a pursuit course," Vo'Lok ordered.

"Captain, I'm receiving a distress call from another Starfleet vessel. It's the USS Khitomer," the communications officer reported. "Their engines are down and their life support is failing."

Vo'Lok sighed. "Open a channel to the Leviathan."

"Open, sir."

Jason looked up hopefully at Vo'Lok. "Did you get him?"

"Unfortunately, we were unable to retrieve Captain Taggart—"

"Then we've got to go after them!" Jason interrupted.

"No, ensign, we cannot. Your ship is still in no condition to fight, and we have just received an urgent distress call from the USS Khitomer."

"We can't abandon Captain Taggart."

"I am sure that your captain was prudent enough to inform you of the needs of the many being greater than the needs of the few?" Vo'Lok asked, lips pursed.

Jason sighed. "Yes."

"Then you understand why we must let him go. Are you in need of any extra personnel before we depart?"

"We need a tactical officer... at least."

Vo'Lok nodded. "We will send a group of officers over to assist you, as well as some repair teams."

"Then we'll join you in assisting the Khitomer," Jason volunteered. "It's what Captain Taggart would want."

"Very well, I suppose that would be acceptable. Can you go to impulse?"

"Hauser?" Jason asked of Ernie.

"Yes, sir. Engineering reports engines are back online."

Vo'Lok nodded in approval. "Good. We will depart as soon as you are ready, ensign. I'm... sorry about Captain Taggart; he was a good man. Renown out."

"Damn, this sucks..." Lucas said. "I'm sorry, Jason. I know the captain meant a lot to you."

Jason frowned. "We can't think about that now... we have to help the Khitomer."

"Sir, we have confirmation from the transporter room. Repair crews are aboard," Charlie reported.

"Understood. Helm, match course and speed with the Renown." Jason waved his hand in a forward motion. "Engage."

To be continued...

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