Chapter 9

As Worf and Armis left the bridge, the replacement officer at Tactical said: "Commander, I have five objects incoming. Based on the information that Jedi Rau gave us earlier, it looks like one boarding craft of some kind and four escort fighters." Riker said: "As soon as they're in range, fire at will. Regis started this fight, but by god we'll finish it. As soon as you know where that boarding shuttle will try and get in at, relay it to Mr. Worf." The officer's acknowledgement of his orders was drowned out by the sounds of small impact explosions against the shields.

Riker steadied himself in the command seat as he felt the energy discharge of the phaser banks. The officer at Tactical said: "They'reso small their evading our phaser fire and that boarding shuttle is heavily shielded, I can't knock it down." Riker said: "Steady there crewman. Lead your targets and prepare two photon torpedoes for a double tap."

A moment later, the Officer said: "Got one! Torpedoes ready to fire on your mark sir. I have a lock on the boarding vehicle." Riker said coldly: "Fire." The torpedoes launched and hit their target square on. The shuttle exploded brightly. Just then, the computer sounded: "Warning; hull breach detected. Hull breach detected." Riker exclaimed: "What!" The officer at Tactical said: "That first one must have been a decoy sir. They snuck another one in while we were focused on the first, relaying contact point to Mr. Worf now."

Elsewhere on the ship, Worf and his teams were listening to Armis. He said: "The boarders will be Imperial Stormtroopers. There will be little chance of reasoning with them unless we can clearly demonstrate we have the advantage. Don't expect any mercy. Stormtroopers are the shock force of the Empire. They attack and overwhelm their enemies with numbers and total dedication to their leader, in this case Warlord Regis."

He continued with: "I may sound like a bloodthirsty savage but trust me when I say if you have a shot, take it. I don't know how their armor will stack up to your weapons, so I suggest you go to full power and stay there." Worf said: "Stay in pairs at all times to help cover each other." Before Worf could speak again, the hull breach alarm sounded. Worf said: "Move out!"

Deck seven, outer ring was a fairly unremarkable corridor; save that it was a "T" junction. Usually used by crew people to get from one sensor relay to the next but otherwise, unremarkable. No one was there to see the wide circular cut in the bulkhead start. In seconds the circle fell inward as stormtroopers poured in firing their blasters to sew confusion.

Seconds after the last fire team entered, the rest of the assault force broke into teams and started spreading through the Enterprise. As the security force arrived, phasers blazed, blaster rifles returned fire and the smell of ozone was thick as a pitched battle erupted, leaving the four stormtroopers dead or dying and three security officers of the initial six person reactionary force in the same condition.

Armis led four security officers down a right hand corridor and Worf a left. Projecting probable targets, the security forces were in the process of setting up checkpoints both ahead of and behind the invaders in the hopes of stopping them before they could reach a critical system.

As Armis led the team Worf had given him, he heard blaster and phaser fire up ahead. He said: "Stay behind me. I'll draw their fire." As they rounded the bend in the corridor, the two stormtroopers assigned rear guard saw them. Armis lit his white blade and blocked shots left and right. Two phaser beams apiece converged on the center of each stormtroopers' armor causing them to fall back.

The full power phaser beam, ordinarily capable of disintegration of an unprotected target had ablated on the armor and simply punched holes through where each beam had hit. Slowly, the team led by Armis continued up the corridor until they came on the remainder of that particular boarding party.

The Starfleet security team at the hastily set up checkpoint had dealt with them with only minor wounds to themselves. From down the corridor that connected, two more stormtroopers came running. With no other option available at that moment, Armis threw his lightsaber and controlling it with the Force, cleaved the armored men in two.

Two of the security officers turned away from the carnage and vomited while some others just turned away as Armis recalled his blade and caught it. Traces of fear and respect could be seen on some of the faces. Detailing the two who had gotten sick to stay behind as a rear guard, Armis led the rest down the corridor as the Force told him where to go.

Worf's team had been equally successful in stopping the boarders they encountered, but had suffered a few more casualties. Before too long, Worf and Armis met in the middle as they tracked the last of the attackers. This group was the largest of the boarding party and had holed up near a turbolift that had locked down the moment the hull breach alarm had sounded.

Worf looked to Armis and said: "According to Commander Riker on the bridge, we have them trapped at the turbolift. The corridor they're in is also a "T" junction and unless they can unscramble the encryption, they aren't going anywhere." Armis nodded and said: "It's your call Worf. They have to know they're trapped by now. Maybe they will surrender. Some stormtroopers are a little smarter than others."

Worf nodded as he tapped his commbadge and said: "Worf to Commander Riker." A moment later: "Riker here, go ahead Lieutenant." Worf said: "Sir, they may surrender now if you give them the option over the ship-wide intercom."

The moment the channel closed, the ship-wide activated and said: "This is Commander William T. Riker, acting captain of this vessel. This message is to the imperial boarding party attempting access to turbolift one. Your two remaining escort fighters are retreating and we have your position completely surrounded on all sides and a Jedi Knight just ahead of you. If you lay down your weapons and surrender, I can promise you will not be harmed in any way, if you lay down your weapons that is. I will give you one minute from the end of this transmission to decide. That is all."

The channel closed and everything was silent. Thirty-nine seconds into the grace period, there was the sound of one blaster going off and then a voice from down the passage called out: "We will surrender only to the Jedi. We know his word is his bond. If he says that we won't be harmed, we'll believe him, otherwise, we have enough proton grenades between us to punch a hole in this ship so large, you'll all explosively decompress before you can scream."

Worf looked at Armis and said: "It looks like it's your call now my friend. What will you do?" Armis deactivated his lightsaber, clipped it to his belt and said: "Easy answer actually Worf." Turning to the hallway, Armis said: "This is Armis Rau, Jedi Knight. I accept the terms of your surrender and I am coming out now to receive you and your troops."

Walking out into the hall, Armis kept his hands at his sides and looked at the stormtroopers huddled in a defensive square. Off to the side, he could see the black-clad legs of the officer in charge of the boarding party lying off to the side. A single hole was in the man's back, still smoking. 'The recipient of the single blaster shot' Armis thought to himself.

He said: "Keep your word now trooper or my allies and I will be forced to destroy you." The stormtrooper Sergeant stood up from the middle of the formation and threw his weapon down at Armis's feet. The rest of the troops followed suit. Slowly, the security forces came around their respective corners and proceeded to separate the stormtroopers and confiscate their weapons before taking them to the brig.

Three hours later, the Enterprise stood out 2000 kilometers from the spatial anomaly. Further analysis confirmed this was the rift that Armis had come through and that it was indeed closing. Picard, recently released from Sickbay stood with Riker, Worf and Troi on the shuttlebay deck as Armis's X-wing was being refueled with replicated fuel.

Armis said: "Thank you again for all your help. Again, I apologize for the casualties that you have suffered and the damages done to your ship. I hope whatever technology you can gain from the captured boarding shuttle, the stormtroopers or the scans of my ship can be a kind of repayment for all your trouble and all your losses."

Picard said: "It was a pleasure getting to meet you Armis. Maybe someday, if this rift should open again, we can meet in more peaceful surroundings." Shaking Armis's hand, Picard said: "Godspeed to you my friend." Riker was next and said: "You're a good ally to have around Armis. Good luck to you."

Troi was next as she gave Armis a peck on the cheek and said: "If we should meet again, I would like to take you up on your offer of training. It sounds very interesting. Farewell to you and Creak both." Worf was last as he said: "Never have I seen as honorable a warrior as you Jedi Rau. Truly, it was an honor fighting by your side. Qapla'!"

Armis said: "May the Force be with you all."

Putting his helmet on, Armis climbed aboard his ship and closed the canopy. Moments later, his repulsorlifts engaged, he flew through the atmospheric barrier that separated the shuttlebay from the void and engaged his engines.

Back on the bridge, Picard in center seat again, watched Armis's ship orient on the rift. Suddenly, its engines flared and the ship was gone like a light beam through a window. Moments later, the Star Destroyer appeared and jumped again after Armis.

One hour after both ships left, the rift closed and all sensor readings on it ceased. Picard turned to Riker and said: "Well number one, this will make quite the interesting log entry and report to Starfleet Command, don't you think? Or would you prefer to make the report yourself on your ship?"

Riker immediately blushed and said: "Sorry Captain. I was kind of caught up in the moment." Picard smiled in return and said: "No harm no foul number one. I was once a First Officer too you know. In time, you will have your own ship. Of that, I have no doubt. Helm, set course for the nearest starbase with dry-dock facilities, we have a crew in need of rest and a ship to repair."

Pointing to nothing in particular, Picard said: "Engage."