Author's note: Now that the holidays and mad sales rushes are over, I am catching up with the writing. (o: Thank you for hanging patiently on. Of course that also means a lot of my 'spare' time is devoted to my non fan fiction writing.)

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THE NAIL

Chapter Eleven

Ordinarily finding a missing luxury liner wouldn't have triggered a yellow alert. There were occasionally embarrassing incidents. Other times there were tragic events. Missing for three days Atlantis' fate fell under tragic attack. A small nondescript looking craft of unknown origin had rammed itself into the bridge of the luxury space liner. A outwardly blown section of engineering raised a lot of questions.

Designed to seal off compartments in the event of a hull breech, the state of the art Atlantis carried a crew of 885 and one thousand three hundred and twenty-two passengers. Among the passengers were several noted people, including several athletes, a country western singer and the sixteen year old winner of the Wicked Ellie's Nail Polish jiggle.

Dr. Leonard McCoy grabbed his emergency field medical kit. "Christine, did you pack extra status tags?" He opened the kit checking each item. Life signs were sporadic. From the gaping hole on one side of the Atlantis Leonard knew that the casualty rate would be high. Damned space, he muttered under his breath. "Death wrapped up in darkness," he swore under his breath. It was pretty much given that at least seven members of the command crew were dead. Unless they had been in the middle of a shift change. Then the command casualty would be double. As for the engineering crew, Leonard sucked in a deep breath. It would be ugly. Any survivors would need him ASAP.

Christine Chapel had gotten used to Dr. McCoy' bellowing. The petite blond smiled. The handsome older doctor was grumpy but fair. He yelled and slung out southern homey quotes to the amusement of most of the nurses on staff. But, Dr. McCoy had everyone's back. "Extra status tags and extra hypos of antibiotics as per requested."

"Extra gloves," Leonard found each item, "dermal regenerator, trauma kit, good," he said. He closed his medkit. He let out a breath as he slung the strap over his shoulder.

Dr. Elizabeth Stone hurried brought a second emergency medical kit. "I can't let you go alone." She said. She adjusted her glasses. She might be new but damned, she was a doctor. Nervously she wiped sweaty hands on the pant legs of her uniform.

"Elizabeth," Leonard smiled. "This actually falls under my job title as Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise. I'm the one who gets to go over and access the injuries. You and Dr. Benga will hold down the fort," he nodded towards the biobeds. "We'll be bringing back injured." He didn't say aloud that they'd also be bringing back bodies. She knew of course and nodded.

Leaving Dr. Stone behind to prepare Sickbay, Dr. McCoy hurried to the transporter room. His daughter Joanna sprinted after him, "Daddy." Her only application of pink and white stripped hair dye had turned out to be a temporary coloring. She'd dyed her hair back to a shade shocking pink.

"Baby girl, daddy's got to go to work," he put his arm around his daughter as they entered the turbo lift.

"It's dangerous going over to a wrecked ship." Joanna had been on the observation deck when the Enterprise had encountered the Atlantis drifting silently in open space. The sight of the drifting Atlantis had given her a creepy feeling. "Can't you read life signs from the Enterprise?" The turbo lift took them too quickly to the level where the rest of the team under Commander Spock waited. Commander Scott could beam over everyone they find."

"Joanna, we can't read the life signs clearly. There's too much interference. We're going to have to beam over to one section of the ship and make our way to where the life signs are." Leonard nodded to Commander Spock. A group of eight red shirted security team members under security chief Hendorff were carrying both phase hand guns and phase rifles. With systems down or sporadic security chief Hendorff had ordered all his team to carry night vision goggles and carry back up flashlights.

Leonard sucked in a breath trying to remain calm for his daughter. "Some parts of the ship still have life support. There's possibly injured crew and passengers." He kissed the top of her head. He didn't want to think of how many were dead.

"I'll be beaming them over to the auxiliary life support control room," Scott said. He gave Joanna a smile. "You'll have breathable oxygen, Commander Spock." He added. It was dangerously close to the damaged section of engineering. Spock was well aware of that fact. He nodded understanding from the look that Scotty had given him not to say so in front of Joanna McCoy.

Sighing Joanna stepped back. As her father stepped towards the transporter pad she noticed the equipment that the security team carried. Joanna reached into a side pocket of her cargo shorts. "Daddy, do you have a camera and a flashlight?"

Commander Spock looked slightly inpatient. "Doctor, it is imperative that we go quickly over to the Atlantis to assess the extend of any injuries to crew and passengers." The faces of the security team were grim. They'd have to deal with whatever hostile forces had driven their ship into the Atlantis.

Joanna pulled out her Princess Annabel communicator. "It has a flashlight feature and you can send back images to Captain Kirk." She snapped the band around her father's left arm. She adjusted it quickly to fit his arm. She then stepped back. The security team under Hendorff were transported first. "The third button will automatically dial the Enterprise." Joanna said.

Rather than cause anymore delays Leonard smiled. "Thank you, Joanna." A familiar tingling swept over him as the team was transported to the silent Atlantis. He barely had time to brace himself.

"We do have flashlights," Lopez muttered. His words were lost in the transporter. Engineers had to be prepared for anything including crawling through dark spaced to do repairs. Hendorff smiled.

As a security officer he carried a phaser, a phase rifle, night vision goggles, and a flashlight like his team. He'd noted that Commander Spock would be the only one on the team not going over with a flashlight. Commander Spock would be expecting the lights to be on. Or-A. He's fix whatever was necessary to get the lights on. B. He'd expect Lopez to get the lights on. Spock's mind would be primarily focused on rescue and getting systems operational to assist in that rescue. Details like flashlights fell to Hendorff. He squared his shoulders.

The team materialized into semi darkness. The security team grouped near the door. Hendorff ran a tricorder.

"Computer," Commander Spock said. "Lights one hundred percent." They remained in semi darkness. Lopez and Hendorff pulled out their star fleet issue flashlights. The security team pulled out their flashlights illuminating the small auxiliary control room.

Dr. McCoy reached over to the Princess Annabel communicator. The first button he pushed blared out Derek Lee Tanner's 'If you love her.' Leonard hastily hit the button again silencing his daughter's favorite singer. "Sorry, Commander." There were a few nervous chuckles from the security team.

Spock raised an eyebrow which was practically a sigh. Hendorff chuckled. Lopez was already opening a panel on the wall. Leonard tried again. This time a light beam wider than the star fleet issue flashlights added to the flashlights allowing them to see more of the auxiliary control room.

None of the control panels are damaged. Commander Spock noticed a poster of a nearly naked young woman with dark hair striking a provocative pose. Unconsciously his lips press together. Humans had a tendency to objectify women. He could almost feel Nyota's objections to such a poster.

"Civilians are allowed to have pinups." Leonard patted the bare leg of the black bikini clad poster young woman.

The lights come on thanks to Lopez. "We're not going to have full lights on in all the undamaged sections of the Atlantis." Lopez says.

"Commander Spock," Captain Kirk's voice came over the communicators.

"Captain Kirk," Spock answered. "We have arrived in the Atlantis auxiliary control room. Lopez had repaired the lights in the control room. Mr. Hendorff and his team will lead us out through the corridors to find and assist any survivors."

McCoy's mouth twitched. Jim might like to see the poster. He looked down at the communicator on his arm. It's a good thing that I learned to read upside down he told himself. He located the button with the icon of a camera. Leonard hit the auto dial. He is quickly rewarded by an amused Jim saying. "Bones, are you calling me?"

Spock turns holding his tricorder in time to hear Captain Kirk's loud whistle. "Now that's what I call a space ready pinup." Spock's eyebrow went up.

"We can open the door," Lopez says. "There is breathable oxygen and forty percent lighting in this remaining section of engineering. No radiation leaks." Hendorff griped his phase rifle. Adrenaline shoot through his muscular body. "Stay behind me, Commander."

"Bones," Captain Kirk said sharply. "Keep this on. I want to see what's going on."

Spock mouth formed the tiniest of frowns. "You'll see what we see, Jim." Leonard says. He feels an unexpected shiver go down his back. "I've got a bad feeling about this. Back home we'd say that someone just walked over my grave."

"We shall endeavor to be cautious," Spock said. He nodded to Lopez. The door to the corridor slid open.

State of the art engines hummed and vibrated. An acid stench flavored the recycled air. Cautiously the team moved forward. "Interference from the engines are preventing the scanners from picking up life signs." Spock spoke in a quiet voice.

"Don't make that sound like my babies are doing something wrong," a deep gravelly voice quipped dryly. The Enterprise crew turned.

A tall muscular man with graying dark hair grinned at them. Behind him more men and women dressed in the grey and silver coveralls of the Atlantis engineering crew came out from hiding. "Is Scotty still running engineering on the Enterprise?"

"Commander Scott is in charge of Enterprise's engineering section." Spock said. "We need to know what happened, how many of there are you surviving, and the nature of the invaders.

"Not one for pleasantry are you?" The man grinned. A dark bruise marred his face. A few around him chuckled. "I'm Chief Engineer Frank Wells. At approximate 1600 hours the first ship came out of nowhere and hit our bridge. Captain Katherine Moore and the First Officer Daniel James along with the rest of the first shift command crew were killed on impact. Second ship hit engineering just as the automatic doors were sealing off sections of the ship. They were either lucky or they knew where to hit in engineering."

"How so," Spock asked.

"They hit exactly where the main automatic door was closing. The main engineering control room was wide open to them. They were coming out in space suits to take over the main engineering room. First Assistant Chief Russel Guerrero saw what they were doing." Faces got grim around him.

"Damned bastard," Wells took a breath. "He calmly took out that that cigar cylinder that he always carried in his pocket. Here I was yelling orders. Guerrero took out his cigar. He stood there calmly and lit that damned thing. Guerrero took a drag and cold cocked me." Disbelief registered on Wells' face. He lightly touched the dark bruise on his right left check. "He had everyone left alive evacuate to auxiliary engineering." Wells looked around him. "He knew the Atlantis' design as well as I do. He dropped the shielding from the suicide station before those bastards knew what was happening. Guerrero blew out the engines sending those damned bastards to hell."

Everyone looked to the heavy metal shielding that separated them from the gaping hole where the main engines had been.

Dr. McCoy looked up from treating a man with second degree burns on his shoulder and arm. "We need to get these people out of here."

"Affirmative," Spock said.

"I'm going to need three voluntaries to help me keep the ladies lit until everyone is off the Atlantis," Wells raised his voice. There was no shortage of volunteers.

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It had taken three days for the engineering staff to maneuver what humans they could from the second promenade deck and the three levels of passenger decks above them to the life pods. "We've managed to launch eighteen pods each carrying twenty-five people." Wells told Spock. He used a star map in the auxiliary control room to show Spock where he's sent the pods.

"One of the Stewards a Josh Chang is taking the pods to the Athena asteroid cluster here." He pointed on the map. "We were planning to send out more pods within the hour. I had to deactivate a number of pods on the first promenade deck to keep those creatures from escaping."

"If the alien ships came from this region," Spock said. "You may have sent them into danger."

"Commander, they were wearing spacesuits from Porto Military Station." Wells informed Spock and McCoy. They heard Jim swear over McCoy's pink communicator.

Meanwhile

Kluge leaned forward as he listened to a faint desperate message that had been sent out by the Porto Military Station four days before. Static then a terse message from a desperate human. "The mutations have gained control of the lab." Static. "They've killed the men and tried to bred to Dr. Debra Brice." Static. "Dr. Linda Geer and her assistants blew the bio plant lab rather than be taken alive." Static. "God help everyone," static, "some of the mutants have escaped in two ships." Static. "We're going to blow the station." Static. Silence.

"That is the end of the message." the communications officer looked up at Kluge. "Has anyone else but us heard this message," Kluge demanded of the Klingon officer.

"No sir." He quickly replied. "It was too weak of have gotten much further." He looked at his board. "I have a coded outgoing message from the Enterprise."

"Put it on," Kluge snarled. The Klingon communications officer almost smiled. The Enterprise hadn't updated their code yet, the fools. Translation would be easy.

And then-

Jim turned to Nyota. "Are you sure that the Klingons will be able to translate the message?"

Nyota had to stop herself from rolling her eyes. "Yes, Captain. This is the code that we 'allow' them to have."

Drawing in a breath Jim nodded. "We don't know how many ships left Porto. I want them warned." He walked back to his chair.

"Captain," Sulu turned in his chair. "I have a damaged message pod drifting twelve hundred kilometers from the Atlantis."

"It's sending out a military signature of Porto Military Station," Nyota added. She touched her ear piece. "They've blown the station."

Grimly Jim nodded. His eyes went to the main screen. They all watched as Dr. McCoy, Spock and Hendorff worked their way up to the next level.

"Captain," Scotty called from the transporter room. "I've got all the engineering people and a bunch of very happy civilians on board."

"More are coming, Scotty." Jim released a breath.

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TBC...