Title: 06 Puzzle

IDP 2009

Fara ran through the corridors of the Raptor.

She had no idea where she was going or what was going on she just had to get somewhere. The tracer lights showed that they were on alert but there was only eerie silence All of a sudden she realized the corridor was continuous She stopped and suddenly she heard voices all around her.

Strange yet familiar voices.

"Chief what do you want us to do?"

Fara shook her head she was in Engineering, they were under attack. She looked down at the control console and replied. "We've got to get that shield generator checked out Jarris you take Aki and Roberts to the Starboard shield room, something has got that generator acting up."

"Right we got it."

The echidna nodded and motioned to the other two engineers and they quickly left the main room and disappeared around the corner through the starboard double doors. Fara stopped why did all this seem like it had happened before, and then she heard the sound that every engineer dreaded to hear, and she noticed she wasn't the only one.

She quickly slammed the emergency lockdown procedure that sealed the room "PLASMA LEAK EVERYONE DOWN!" It was a pointless order, they'd either be dead or they wouldn't when the damn thing blew.

The sound was deafening.

She opened her eyes and suddenly sensed a large amount of pain. Yet she wasn't in engineering anymore. An eerie reddish light, the smell of sulfur, and a hard metal grating..

She looked down where she felt the pain and saw blood spraying from a hole in her stomach. She felt an terrifying stillness in her chest and an agonizing pain in her back and from then she spiraled downward and downward….

Fara woke up screaming in bed, soaked with sweat and breathing rapidly. Her hands went to her stomach as she was sweating and hyperventilating.

She suddenly felt scaled strong hands grasp her by her shoulders and a body's head press against her. "Fara, what is wrong?" Nikolai asked.

Fara was still breathing heavily and somewhat crying.

"Shhh shh." Nikolai tried to soothe her rocking her gently. "It was just a dream."

"It was horrible." Fara sobbed. "It was about the accident and then something else… I felt… like I was dying…Oh my god I sent those people to die…."

"Shhhh it's ok." He said wrapping his tail around her as well.

Fara finally calmed down though she was still shaking badly.

"What's wrong with me…" She sniffed as he enveloped her in his arms.

"Nothing, you are just having a bad dream." Nikolai said. "You've been through so much it's just now catching up with you. It happens."

"Let me up…" She said and Nikolai let her go. She got out of bed and threw a robe on.

"What's wrong?" Nikolai asked.

"I… I … don't know I don't ….. feel right…" she said rubbing her head. "Just… I'll…. I'll get back to bed lover… just I need to … I dunno." She said.

Nikolai yawned and flicked his tail looking at her curiously. "Do whatever you need to do, I will be here."

Fara nodded and walked over and kissed him on his snout and ran a hand over his strange kangaroo like ear flaps. She then went out into the living area of her quarters.

They were now immaculate, now that she had a guest over a lot these days. She didn't have to trip over a pile of tools or tangle of dirty uniforms anymore.

She went to the replicator and made her self some warm milk and then she plopped in her favorite chair and sat deep in thought.

She didn't know why but she hurt where she saw herself hurt in her dream. It was a strange phantom pain that seemed to be slowly ebbing away as she became more awake.

It had been over two weeks since the accident that killed 15 crew members had occurred, slowly but surely the Raptor's damage was being repaired but apparently her own hadn't been yet. She felt like it had merely scabbed over.

She had dealt with the loss of her people as best she could. She felt responsible but numb to what had happened. At first she had been furious and angry but eventually it dulled to nothing, she buried her head in her work. She was quite frankly happy doing that and life was going just fine until she met Nikolai.

And for once, even though they were agreeing to take it slow, she was starting too feel something again. She wasn't planning on feeling pain as well.

She took a slow drink of milk and then smiled slightly when she heard the faint buzz that was Nikolai's snoring indicating he had went back to sleep.

She made a mental checklist of what had happened today, what had triggered this.

Then she remembered. They had been working in the main engine room using and anti gravity lift. Nikolai was running it and Fara was in the main room as the equipment was being lifted. At first she heard two pops, which was the anti gravity unit shorting out followed by a loud bang as the whole thing crashed onto the deck.

She hadn't seen it happen being, out of harm's way, but the crash startled her to the point that she had to calm down for a little bit afterwards because she started hyperventilating for some reason.

But why, that made no sense whatsoever.

She growled and took a slow long drink and then lay back in her chair trying to still the feel of fear still permeating her whole body.

"Come on girl, get it together." She said curling her legs up underneath her on the chair. She'd never had anything like that happen before and she was just utterly shaken.

I sent those people to die….

She scowled and felt suddenly very hollow and empty.

15 crew members had been killed because of an oversight, it wasn't entirely her fault but she'd been running from dealing with this for a few weeks now.

Hell, she thought. This ongoing two week romp with Nikolai had been a nice way to not think about it. .

She had known each of them, maybe not in detail but they had been faces she had worked with over the first few years. She knew their names, but they were just people she worked with, unlike her small circle of people who formed the core of her team like Rydel, Remmick, Knackt and a scant few others. The rest were just people who she worked with every day, occasionally had to get vocal with but other then that she never really knew them.

She took a drink of the warm milk, Harry was right, when they rushed her through the officer program, just so she could be able to have complete say over her ship, they didn't prepare her for this. It was business between the Lylat and the Confederation when she had joined. She passed the bridge test, but it wasn't exactly with flying colors. As bad as that experience was she was sure something had been fudged to let her through.

Harry always said that if anyone needed to talk no matter when it was he would answer. Fara debated it to herself, Harry was the damn commanding officer, he'd dealt with death like this before.

"Computer Page Harry Martinez." She said.

"Unable To Comply, Commander Harry Martinez is no longer on the Star base."

"Then where is he?" She asked rather annoyed.

"Commander Martinez has been temporarily transferred to the Starship Aether."

Fara noticed that the computer was missing a prefix to his title. "Ok… did he get promoted?"

"Affirmative." The computer replied. "He is serving as Captain Jenna De'Sol's first officer."
Ok, that was a bit disappointing. What the hell was he doing running off and getting promoted. "Can you send a message to him?"

"Affirmative." The computer replied.

"Harry, this is Fara… I… I really need to talk about what happened. I… Just… get back to me whenever you can, ok. Please." She said. "Transmit."

"Message sent." The Computer replied. "Message has been transferred to a mailbox he will receive it as soon as he checks his messages."

"Fine, whatever, go away." Fara said drinking her milk. Just what the hell has he ran off to do? She wondered.

On the second trip from Starbase 200 the Urtheans got the drop on them.

Urthean Hunter Class ships were a lot tougher when you were using conventional weapons. Five Hunters and a whole slew of Scutta's had attacked and two of the convoy ships had been badly damaged and one of the Equipment Freighters had been tractored away by the Urtheans. On the second trip from Starbase 200 the Urthean's got the drop n them.

The Aether had been articulately targeted this time. The lead attack group of the ships had come straight for it. It being the fastest ship which to catch the Urthean vessels for intercept, had one of it's nacelles damaged and it's speed reduced by a third, just enough for the Urthean ships to get away with their prize.

The Aether had taken quite a beating. Her repair crews had done a good job but there had been a hull breach on the upper saucer as well and one of the main phaser banks was damaged beyond repair. They were quite fortunate the one of the Keldryian's large repair ships was permanently stationed at Renna 5 for just such actions.

The crew had been slightly demoralized; there was not one of them that hadn't heard what the Urthean's did to their prisoners. He had noticed that this crew was a lot softer then his was. They were dealing with what happened in their own way but it definitely showed.

He had managed to get Donnika on re-adjusting the phasers to get more punch out of them. Since he had first gotten onto her two weeks ago she had been doing her job a lot better almost to the point of madness on how meticulous she was.

That was on downside of space exploration he said exchanging a nod to a group of crewmen who walked past him. It tended to make a crew soft and…

He stopped his thinking.

What the hell, now he was thinking like an old ship of the line commander. He growled in frustration as he turned down another corridor headed towards engineering. The Aether was his ticket out of the mess and all he could do was want to berate them for being weak and soft.

He spotted Donnika at the central display. "Lieutenant. Report."

"I've maniked to get zee extra fifty percent power from zee engines." Donnika said handing him a pad. "Simulations check bout vut I don't know weef out trial test."
Harry nodded and looked over the results. "This is good, I'll take this to the captain."

Donnika nodded. "eef you will excuse." She said as one of the other engineers beckoned her.

"Of course." Harry said still reading the report dismissing her.

He checked the time. It was pretty late in the morning but they had been working non stop since later in the day to get the Aether back up an operational as fast as possible. Just then a message appeared on the pad.

He checked and saw it was from Fara. "Chief." He called out to Donnika.

"Yes sir?"

"May I use your office?" He said holding up the bad.

"Yah yah sure!" Donnika replied.

Harry went over to the small chief engineer's office and activated the message.

"Message from Lt. (JG) Phoenix. No heading." The computer announced.

Harry checked the time index and wondered what Fara was doing calling him at this god awful hour.

"Harry, this is Fara…" Her voice sounded small and scared after a small pause. "I… I really need to talk about what happened." Her voice was unsure and uneven. Harry was instantly concerned this wasn't the normal Fara he was used to dealing with. "I… Just…" she took a deep breath that sounded as if she was forcing herself to do this. " get back to me whenever you can, ok. Please."

Harry was actually a bit worried and he quickly opened a com channel.

After a few moments he saw Fara at her desk, from her attire she had obviously just gotten out of bed. He wondered if she was aware that her robe was a little bit to open at the top.

"Hey.. you called back.." She said quietly.

"What's wrong?" He asked.

Fara drew a breath and adjusted her robe. "This is going to sound stupid but….. I had a nightmare…. About the accident."

"That's not unusual." Harry said.

"This one… was bad." Fara said. "I never had anything like this happen before. Is it, normal?"

"Fara I'm not a psychologist but yes… you can have nightmares when something like that happens." He said yawning. "I will admit I haven't been getting too much sleep myself as of late."

"Ah…" Fara said leaning back away from the monitor. "So… what are you doing so far from home?"

"Same ole same ole." Harry replied. "How's my ship coming along?"

"Slowly but surely." Fara replied. "It's a lot of work but we're going to get it right this time." Fara said quietly. "How those bars feel?" she said.

"The promotion?" Harry asked. "Good so far. How'd you find out?"

"It wasn't hard." Fara said flatly she looked a bit worried again. "What brought this on you being off on another ship? Are you looking to get another command?"

"I was presented with and opportunity and I took it." Harry said trying not to show his hand. "I'm basically filling a slot and they want my experience in dealing with the Urthean's out here."

"Ah…" Fara said. "So is this temporary or a binding thing."

"Either or." Harry replied. "I have been offered a permanent posting on the Aether."

Fara raised a brow. "But it wouldn't be your ship…"

Harry winced; there was a grain of truth to that. "Yes it wouldn't be my command."

"I thought I had problems…." Fara said. "I call you scared out of my mind and find out you are trying to sneak out of here on us."

"It's not that way." Harry said even though she had him dead to rights. "If your wanting out so bad maybe I shouldn't have called if you think so little of your crewmates and your ship." She growled sounding disappointed.

"Fara…" Harry said. "I'll be back towards the end of the month, it's only temporary."

Fara glared and then let it pass. "You always talk about being open with your shipmates well here I am what should I do?"

"Look Fara, as a friend and your Captain, I advise you to go see the stations counselor. If you are really having bad nightmares about this, they might not go away after one visit, it'll take several visits. With things like this you either just deal with them and not let such things bother or they just drive you bonkers."

"Have you ever felt like you've sent people to their deaths?" Fara asked.

Harry thought about it. "It happens where you have to give an order that results in that happening, it just comes with the job." Harry said flatly. "So yes."

"How do you do it?" Fara asked.

"It's not something you can just do." Harry said. "When we lose people I feel it but I'm trained to be detached from it. Yes, that doesn't make it better, but to do my job you have to develop a detachment. It's not something you can just do, it's just something you learn to do in time." Harry shrugged. "I don't know how else to describe it."

"Ok, I'll go to the damn head shrink." Fara said. "but if I ever need to just talk."

"Then we'll talk about it, I'll try to give you the time if I can." Harry said smiling.

"I'd … I'd like that." Fara said. "Just don't tell anybody."

"I won't, promise." Harry said.

"Thanks…" Fara said. "Well thanks for getting back to me."

"My pleasure, Chief."

"Just come back in one piece and good luck." Fara said sincerely.

"Will do, get some sleep Fara."

Fara nodded and leaned forward to close the channel.

Harry sighed and then answered the channel as another hail came in.

Jayna's image appeared it was her face only. "Are you alone?" She asked.

"Yeah."

"It's 04:00 in the morning Harry. Are you done with your rounds?"

"Yeah for now."

"Then unless you're planning on fixing the ship yourself why don't you come by and turn in." She said coyly. "Besides we need to get back on regular schedule for the next escort. I'm having a little trouble getting tired myself." She adjusted the viewpoint to zoom out and then back in. "I could use some help with that."

Harry flushed a little. "I'll be by shortly."

She winked at him and closed the channel.


The next morning.

"Well well well look who finally showed up to class for once." Terri said as Fara set her gym bag down. Terri's usual gang of friends that made up their class were in the locker room as well getting dressed.

"I've been busy." Fara said.

Michelle giggled at that. "That's one way of putting it. I've seen you and your friend around the station."

Fara slipped a sweat band around her head and glared. "I don't go spying on any of you." Fara wanted to get some sparring out of the way. Anything, to get her troubled mind away from that horrible dream last night.

"Yes but you can share information." Terri said tying her hair back. "We can conclude he must be a nice guy since he isn't walking with a limp or like he's missing some vital parts."

"That and you two have been pretty inseparable the last week, only a blind person could miss that." Jenna Rydel said sitting beside Terri tying her spines back."

"Well there is one other factor we haven't discussed." Terri said as Fara shook her head at her friends trying to pry her for information.

"Oh yeah.." Jenna said.

"What are you two going on about?" Fara sighed.

"Well the sex must be fantastic because except for looking a little tired you look the most relaxed I have ever seen you in a long time." Terri said with a big grin.

Fara flushed and rolled her eyes. "Ok.." She admitted. "It is pretty damn fantastic." She started laughing as she said it the others joined in with her.

But as she did, she still felt strange and empty on the inside. She did her best to hide it.

Afterwards, Fara felt a little better and she had to decline going to brunch with the others.

"What's so important?" Terri asked.

"I have an appointment I have to attend to." Fara said flatly. "Don't worry about it I'll meet up with you guys later."

They parted ways and Fara made her way to the counselor's office. Being that the station housed several thousand people not to mention the crews of various starships passing through there were plenty of counselors available if they were needed. Fara had placed a call earlier in the morning and made an appointment.

She walked inside and checked in.

Taking a seat she took a deep breath. She would rather not do this but Harry, did have a point she probably would be better off with someone who knew what they were doing. She put her gym bag on the seat beside her and waited.

She sincerely hoped he was right.


The Akira was making its way back to Starbase 200 for the next convoy with the rest of it's escort ships. Unknown to the Urtheans, two Keldryian battle cruisers were under cloak and flying parallel to their course. The large base like repair ship stayed behind

"What's wrong." Jayna De'sol asked as she toweled off as her and Harry got ready to get back on duty. "You've had this mope about you since last night? Anything I should know about?"

"It's nothing, just one of my crew called me last night, she was just acting really strange." He said adjusting the beads in his spine. "I'm worried about her."

"It's quite a thing when you crew comes to your for guidance, never happened before?" Jayna said slipping on her uniform.

"No, they're usually a bunch of hot heads who don't want to take orders and trying to get them to even act like officers is almost impossible." Harry said frustrated. "Half the time I don't even think they listen to me."

"Well obviously this person thinks something of you if she called." Jayna said brushing her hair. "People don't ask ones advice if they don't respect them. Oh by the way I contacted Starfleet and they will be adding two more ships to our convoy. Apparently they didn't expect the Urtheans to be as interested as they are."

"They always do, they tend to take the Urthean threat lightly until they make off with one of their freighters then they get off their ass and respond properly."

"Oh they will, the ships will be Keldryian battle cruisers." Jayna said checking herself in the mirror.

"Where was all this help all those weeks ago when I needed it?" Harry sighed.

"Ours is not to reason why." Jayna said mindfully.

"Yeah but sometimes it's really, really, stupid." Harry grumbled.

"Mr. Martinez you will get no argument from me." She said kissing him on the cheek and gave his shoulder a comforting squeeze. "See you on the bridge."

He watched her go and finished getting ready for duty before he headed for the bridge.

As he walked his thoughts drifted to Fara, it was so unusual for someone like her to reach out to him like that. However considering what happened with the accident, he wasn't surprised that the vixen might begin to crack a little. He hoped she took his advice, he didn't know what else to tell her and if she was smart she would do it.


"Phoenix, Fara?" Counselor Moddoro said stepping into the waiting room. She was a middle aged Korallon bear.

She looked up from her data padd and saw there was no one in the waiting room.

"Kara, wasn't there someone out here?" She said to the receptionist.

"Yeah she was here just a minute ago and I went to get coffee and she was gone."

The consoler pursed her lips and made a quick note on her padd with her stylus.

Fara stormed away down the corridor. Tears were in her eyes but she tried to hide it by making her face a scowl. She wiped her eyes and growled in frustration. She didn't know what she was doing but she didn't care at the same time.

All she knew was as she sat there the more scared she got and she couldn't take it anymore. She had to do something, something alone. She sprinted towards the nearest turbo-lift. "Raptor." She said as the lift doors closed behind.

She clenched her fists tightly feeling the lift start to move quickly down the station towards the docking bay and she'd actually drawn blood from her palms. She sprinted down the gangway, opened the main door slipped inside and made her way through the dim corridors to the ships only holo-deck on deck two. She stepped inside and quickly tossed her sweats off and down to her undergarments. "Computer lock the door and block all com channels. Launch Combative Program Phoenix Alpha three." She snapped wiping at here eyes and trying to build at this new rage she felt at herself. "Difficulty setting 4."

"Warning Difficulty setting four could result in physical harm to."

"CRAM it you overgrown calculator!" She said kicking her boots off and feeling the cool floor of the holo-deck on her padded feet.

The computer compiled and the holo-deck generated a holographic opponent and Fara, skipping the usual formalities, stepped up to the matt and charged at it with everything she had.

Later.

"Yeah yeah I'm coming." Terri said as the chime button is it. "I told you Michelle I didn't have your preening brush." She said as the door opened and she looked up and saw Nikolai at the door looking a bit concerned.

"Well, hello." She said subconsciously flipping the hair out of her face in a very flirty gesture.

"Excuse me. I am sorry to bother you but I wish to know where Fara is. She has been gone for quite some time."

"Did you check the ship?" Terri said flatly.

"She was not there from what I could tell." Nikolai said. "I just came from there did you notice anything wrong with her this morning?"

"Well, she seemed ok but her eyes always give her away." Terri said. "She looked like something was bothering her but she was trying to hide it. Did you two have a fight?" She said curiously.

"Nothing of the sort." Nikolai said his tail twitching agitatedly. "She had a rough night though, she had a bad dream it was clearly bothering her this morning. "This happened after I asked her about what happened to your ship. She said there was accident some people were killed."

"Yes." Terri said. "It was pretty bad. Although, I am not surprised she was putting up a front by saying it didn't bother her. It bothered everyone, I got this nice little beauty mark from that." She said pointing to the scar on her neck.

Nikolai growled slightly. "I am genuinely concerned where she may be."

"Well she does have one place she goes when she's feeling down." Terri said. "but it's very private, she'd probably kill me if I told you."

"In the little time I have spent with her, I can tell you she is not herself. She has never just up and left without telling me what is going on." The Altairian said.

Terri nodded. "She was a bit off this morning, she thinks she can hide it but I can tell when she's doing it."

"Should I worry?" Nikolai asked.

"No.. but if she doesn't turn up soon within the next few hours then we'll both be worried."


Three solid blows to the sternum and a sweep dropped the holographic opponent.

Fara was panting still fuming with rage but not feeling the least bit better. She was hurting in a few places where the hologram had scored some good hits. A bruise was forming over her eye and her side hurt.

"Again computer, this time try a bit harder."

"Simulation is only programmed to react to predefined parameters."

Fara growled in frustration. "Open up the adaptive subroutine for combat procedures and use the Raptor's battle computer to give me a bit more of a damn challenge."

"Access…"

"Phoenix Omega 13." Fara spat.

"Granted. Subroutines loading."

The hologram's garb changed color and it then went to an attack stance.

"Ok now show me what you really got you stupid ship." She growled lunging at the hologram again.


Captain Stiles sat in his office going through the paperwork that was generally involved with running a large space station. However he preferred it to the general harassment by hostile forces on a almost weekly bases. As he skimmed through one of the pads he spotted a report about a fight that had happened in Hanger 37. His eye darted across it and he laughed when he saw Fara Phoenix was involved. Suddenly his door chime went off and he looked up and saw Karen Moddoro, one of the stations counselors standing their waving at him.

He motioned her inside and set his paperwork down and waved the raccoon inside.

"Karen what brings you by here?" Stiles said warmly. "You hardly ever pay us a visit."

"I am usually fairly busy." She said calmly. "I need to have a talk with you."

"Sure, I could use a break." Stiles said setting his work aside. "What can I do for you?"

Karen took a seat and straightened her uniform. "It's about the Raptor's project leader."

"Fara? Yeah what about her." Stiles said glancing down at the report he just set aside.

"Fara scheduled a session today. Something about having trouble with nightmares and other problems." Karen levelly. "From what I can tell she did show up but she left before I could get to her."

"Perhaps she got called away?" Stiles shrugged.

"I don't believe so, So I looked into it." Karen said. "Her behavior seems to have changed, I spoke with her assistant and he told me that for the last week or two she's only been present a few times to just check in on progress with the Raptor. She said if she does anything she mainly either handles minor tasks with an engineer from another ship, currently on leave, and then goes home. There is also an incident where she assaulted someone last week that, despite what I've heard of her temper, is unusual even for her."

"Yeah I just read about that too." Stiles said. "I'm a little behind the times. So what are you wanting to do about this?"

"I'm suggesting that since she did try to seek out help their may be a problem. The accident with the ship a few weeks ago did shake up the crew pretty badly. In fact it has kept me and my staff fairly busy. I think over all most of them are dealing with it, however I fear Fara may not be, seeing as how it was an oversight on her part that cost those people their lives." Karen sighed and folded her paws in her lab. "Sometimes people are intimidated in coming to speak to a psychologist, but if they need the help they need to get it."

Stiles nodded. "Do you think that this could result in problems later if she doesn't?"

"Perhaps, but if she has suffered some significant trauma from this incident it would not be for the benefit of the crew if its left uninvestigated." Karen replied.

"I'll have her relieved until she does it, I'm not to concerned about the absences if anyone deserves a break she does, as long as the ship gets repaired. However, if you are concerned I can make it mandatory she pays you a visit."

"Mandatory would be a strong way of putting it." Karen responded. "I would say suggest it."

"I can do that." Stiles said. "I'll have her temporarily suspended, and when she comes up here to raise hell I'll give it to her straight."

"That seems a bit abrupt." The counselor said a bit disapprovingly.

"Madame, believe me you don't know Fara."


She had the hologram pinned, it struggled as grasped at her legs which she had locked tightly around its neck. One eye was swollen completely shut, an arm hung loosely, dislocated off her shoulder. She was coughing up a little blood from what she was sure was a broken rib on the same side. The hologram had put up a good fight but she had finally got the upper hand on it, at the cost of a lot of pain.

"I got you, you stupid ship. " She snarled grabbing its head under the chin with her good arm. "All you ever fucking do is take and take and take from me.." She growled. "And I know that you are a machine and you don't care but I hope somewhere in all the fucking bio neural circuitry that you call a network that this gets through to you." She hissed breathing heavily.

The hologram grappled desperately at the death grip she had on its head and she felt it clawing at her legs and her free arm.

"I am not… going to let you… beat me." She screamed. On top of this she the hologram had smacked her around pretty good and each blow only fed into her anger . Killing her ship mates wasn't enough, in a way the ship had now hurt her even physically too, even though it was her choice these injuries happened.. She tightened the grip with her thighs and made a quick jerk and twisting motion in a move would have killed a living person. The hologram responded appropriately with a satisfying crack and stopped thrashing about.

It was only a collection of force-fields and controlled light, its simulated death wasn't going to bother her any. Direly she hoped that may give the computer something to mull over for awhile.

The empty hollowness she was feeling was gone, for the moment buried under a body screaming in protest with pain.

She got to her feet and collapsed again. Her vision got spotty and she moaned in agony.

This was not one her better ideas, she thought as she laying on the matted floor her breathing becoming more and more shallow.

Ok make this a really, really stupid idea.

She thought as she started blacking out.


"Ready for round two number one?" Captain De'sol asked as the last of the freighters signaled they were ready.

"A lot better than I was now with our "hidden" help." Harry said. "I got all of our phasers and shields adjusted. This time we should be able to intercept and let the Aether show those Urtheans what she's made of."

"I do hope you shared your information with the other escort ships."

"Of course." Harry said. "Although personally I wish I had the Raptor right about now."

Jayna smiled and took her seat. "Mr. Caz Hail the other ships and tell them we are ready to depart."

"Aye Sir."

"Quite frankly I am looking forward to taking this ship into the fray, having to hold position was starting to piss me off." She said quite matter of frankly.

This elicited a chuckle among the various bridge crew, Harry caught himself laughing as well.

"Believe me this time, they'll be the ones getting surprised." Harry smirked.

Hours Later.

"Incoming enemy, three Hunter class ships coming in hot." Serin reported.

"Go to Red Alert." Captain De'sol said.

"Signal the Fearless and Prowler to form up with us we're going to intercept." Harry said to the com officer.

"Helm plot an intercept course, Engineering we're going to need full power to our forward shields."

"Have you what you need!" Donnika said over the com speaker.

"Very good, prime the phaser batteries and let's show this Urtheans what this ship can do." Jayna said slyly.

The Aether, Fearless and Prowler broke formation and their places were taken by the cloaked Keldryian vessels. As they closed with the Urthean's Weapons fire was exchanged. Volleys of torpedoes were exchanged and the Aether charged straight for the lead Urthean ship. It did a high speed rotation unleashing each phaser bank at the Urthean ship. The shots slammed into the Urthean shields repeatedly weakening the shields followed by a volley of torpedoes which slammed into it, disrupting them just enough to allow a few through. As they passed three hyphens of explosions erupted along the Urthean's ships hull as they passed and it dropped out of warp.

The Aether cut its own engines, dropped out of warp and swung back around for the crippling shot hammering away at the Urthean ships aft shields. The Urthean vessel quickly spun around it's turrets blasting repulsor beams at the Aether. The ship dove sharply and accelerated firing it's top mounted phaser cannons into the weakened section of shields. It then dove down and fired two torpedoes from the aft launcher which then slammed into the weakened section again overloading it The shield finally fizzled and a volley from the aft phaser strip burned into the hull and the Urthean's lights dimmed and the ship began to list.

There was a whoop of victory on the bridge as the Aether blasted back into warp space.

"One down." Jayna said confidently keeping her eyes focused on the viewer as it closed on the other two Urthean ships still engaged with the Prowler and the Fearless. Another Urthean ship was dispatched as round after round of torpedo slammed into its aft shields fired in rapid succession from the Aether's torpedo launcher. The third ship then found itself engaged by three vessels being outnumbered it quickly retreated.

"Captain the Convoy has signaled that the main attack force is closing on them."

"Heh predictable as ever." Harry said. "Time to intercept."

"A few minutes, we'll arrive there before they do." Serin replied.

"Do you think the ship with that group will be him."

"Oh yes indeed." Harry grinned. "I'm sure the Keldryians we'll soften them up if your estimates are wrong."

After a few moments they arrived just ahead of the second Urthean attack force, and started to attack the lead wave of Scutta's as the escort ships provided support fire.

One managed to breach the parameter and dove for one of the convoys. However before it could open fire twin beams fired from an unseen source.

The Scutta caught completely off guard was severely damaged and fell out of warp space. The other few that got through also met similar fates. Again three more Hunter classes followed up and began to attack the convoy again.

"Which one is he?" Jayna asked.

Harry called for magnification on the screen and saw the familiar ship markings of Xox's attack cruiser Executer. Its hull pockmarked from many a counter attack from the Raptor. "It's that one."

"Then we should say hello." Jayna said typing in some coordinates. "On my mark all available ships fire on my target." She said checking the range as they closed. "Mark."

At that each ship available fired a single sustained volley at Xox's command ship. The vessel bucked as it's shields were hammered by several different phaser hits.

"Tactical target the main shield generators. All ships on my mark prepare to file again. Tell the Keldryian Vessels to dispose of the other two hunters we'll deal with the leader." She studied her readouts. "Fire!"

Again the ships fired all at one point Hammering into Xox's shields. The two Keldryian battleships de-cloaked and opened fire on the other two Hunter Class Vessels. The other two ships suffered crippling blows and disappeared falling back into normal space.

Xox's ship took a hellacious beating and soon followed them.

The Aether, Fearless and Prowler quickly followed after it cutting their engines and took up positions parallel to it firing away at the larger Urthean ships drive sections..

"They've lost warp power." Serin said as the Ather unleashed another volley of torpedoes which slammed into Xox's ships hull. The other two ships were still hammering way scoring multiple phaser hits to the stopped ship. "They've just lost their weapons platform." She said as an explosion ripped up the side of the Xox's ship and took out one of the repulsor cannons.

"Captain they're hailing us." Mr. Caz reported.

"Well of course," Harry said. "They always want to talk when you beat the tar out of them."

"Good then we'll have a little talk then." Jayna said standing up. "Ms. Serin keep a phaser bank trained on them."

"Aye sir."

Jayna made a hand motion and the channel opened. "Urthean Raider you will cease your attacks at once or we will be forced to destroy you."

Xox's face came into view from the screen. "You wouldn't dare destroy us that is not you insipid varmints way."

"Perhaps." Jayna said. "But not destroying enemy ships even in defense is merely a guideline." She said making another motion for Serin. A phaser beam leaped from the Aether, pierced the upper part of the main hull of Xox's ship and caused a massive decompression. Charred debris and atmospheric gasses vented out from the hull.

"I seem to recall one of your ships making off with one of our freighters and I'm not feeling too merciful at the moment."

Xox shook on the screen and he glared his eyes glowing yellow. "You are very brash for a rodent, I haven't met a female of your kind that has some … bravado."

"Your compliments fall on deaf ears." Jayna growled nodding to Serin.

Another phaser hit struck below the second one and this time a chunk of hull was blown into space revealing the deck-work beneath the ships hull. "Now Commandant who I don't care, I think payback for you knocking us around earlier is a bit overdue. Plus, I think making a first impression is very important so…" Another nod.

Three rapid sustained phaser shots slammed into one of the support struts of the Urthean ships port drive section and it began to crumple.

Sparks flew up from behind some overloaded console on screen and random screaming in Urthean could be heard as he narrowed his gaze trying to be unmoved from the pounding his ship was taking. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Captain Jayna De'sol of the starship Aether. We have been assigned to keep scum like you from interfering with the shipping routes to Renna 5. We are not the first, there will be others and we're here to give you a little message." She paused as Xox began to growl as he seemed to be staring at something behind her on the viewer. "If you think you are going to continue stirring up trouble in this sector un challenged you are direly wrong. Your raids will no longer be tolerated and we will beat you, break you every time you get near us. Is that understood."

"I understand that you have an unfair advantage, over me." Xox glared at her then back to what he saw behind her. Obviously he had ignored practically everything she had said as he made some adjustments to his viewer. "Isn't that right you insipid vermin or are you comfortable letting this mouthy bitch fight your battles for you. Yess.."

Harry stepped towards the screen. "I don't need anyone to fight my battles for me."

"Ah there he is, and look nice new command bars too." Xox said mockingly. "Do you not wish to continue our little game, I don't appreciate you bringing new players into it, by the way how is that ship of yours?"

"That is not your concern." Harry growled.

"Oh isn't it now." Xox said in a mix of quasi mirth and menace. "If it wasn't for me you wouldn't be where you are now. I seem to recall you being quite helpless, yesss." Xox's eyes glowed dark red.

Harry looked a little flustered.

"Don't fool yourself vermin, it was by my design that you were let go."

"This asshole sure likes to talk doesn't he.." Jayna muttered under her breath.

"Mind your woman, Vermin." Xox snarled.

"Enough.." Jayna snapped. "You will leave now or I will keep removing chunks from your ship till there isn't enough to float home." She growled sternly.

"As you wish, we will leave; the day it seems, is yours." Xox rumbled. "I'll see you the next time with that ship of yours and we shall cross swords once again rodent." He said to Harry.

"Piss off blow hard." Harry growled.

"I will see you again as well Madame Rodent." Xox scoffed. The channel closed abruptly.

"Whew, that be some bad blood between you two." Jayna said as Xox's crippled ship began to limp off.

"You have no idea, and you just got right smack in the middle of it." Harry sighed.

"Maybe, but he'll be remembering this thrashing for awhile. He's more interested in me anyway." Harry smirked. "Being a bully he'll probably stay as far from you as possible and let his underlings handle this route."

"That's just fine by me, I'll thrash them just as viciously." She smiled a wicked little smile and headed for the command chair. "Helm set course to rejoin us with the convoy, best possible speed."


Fara's eyes opened and then squinted as bright light flooded into her vision. She groaned a bit and a face came into view.

"Hey doc, Nikolai she's up!" She heard Terri's voice. As her vision came back into focus she saw Nikolai, and Doctor Okan come into view.

"Where… what…"

"You are in sickbay." Dr. Okan said scanning her. "After one rather good patching up. Don't bother getting up your still going to be feeling the effects of the anesthesia."

Fara could only draw a blank. "Why?"

"We found you on the holo-deck on the Raptor." Nikolai said thinking about his next words. "We are not sure what you were doing but you were badly injured."

"Yeah hon, you were a mess." Terri said. "We got worried about you and came looking for you."

"Thanks…" Fara muttered feeling the stiffness of her patched ribs and the slow haggard breathing of a pair of nanite repair lungs.

"Yes and that is just the cusp of your problems I'm afraid." Dr. Okan said. "You have been recently suspended from duty and with your engagement in dangerous activities on a holo-deck, I'm afraid I'm going to have to have you checked out for an evaluation."

Fara groaned and lay back on the pillow.

"You should have thought about that before I got the call to patch a pair of broken ribs, reset your arm and a fairly long list of less serious injuries." Doctor Okan said. "Plus I hate to say it but you are going to have to remain under observation."

"I am her.. friend. I can watch over her make sure she goes." Nikolai suggested. "I can keep an eye on her."

"Me too, Doc." Terri added.

"That would be best, but you both need to understand that this isn't my call this came down from Captain Stiles. And after reading the report on Ms. Phoenix, I am in agreement with them."

"Can I just go home…" Fara groaned.

"Not for another few hours, I suggest if you choose to remain conscious, you make yourself comfortable." Dr. Okan said. "I will check back with you periodically till then. Now if you excuse me I have other patients to attend to."

"How much did you two see..?" Fara asked.

"Enough." Nikolai replied. "I do not understand what is wrong you seemed fine this morning."

"I've seen you get a little flakey before, but this takes the cake Fara." Terri-Lu replied. "Something bothering you?"

"Only…." Fara groaned. "Everything."

"So mangling a hologram didn't help." Nikolai added.

"Not now that I can feel anything besides pain, no." Fara sighed. "I'm sure you think I'm a big freak."

"No." Nikolai said shaking his head. "I find this all very fascinating; however I am somewhat concerned as to what you were thinking."

"Don't worry about it." Fara sighed.

"Fara, why didn't you say anything?" Terri asked.

"It's not your problem it's mine." Fara sighed.

"Actually miss Phoenix it is a bit more than just that." A voice said from the doorway, they all three looked and saw Karen Moddoro entering the stations sickbay. "If you two wouldn't mind I'd like to talk to Ms. Phoenix in private."

"It's ok." Fara sighed. "You two go I need to talk with her."

"When they release you I'll come get you and take you home." Nikolai offered.

"I would like that." She smiled touching his arm gently. "Don't worry I'll be fine."

"Come on." Terri said walking over to the Altarian and tugging at his arm. "well go get a coffee or something while we're waiting."

"Watch her.." Fara said with a half hearted scowl which resulted in Terri giving her a raspberry as she left.

"I assume you are ready to talk now." Karen said with a patient tone folding her arms in front of her.

Fara took a deep breath and clenched her fists and nodded. "Where do you want me to start?"

Karen took sat on the empty bed beside her and got comfortable. "Wherever you want to start is just fine Fara."

Continued Next story.