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Near Misses and Loud Hisses

Posted on Mon Nov 14th, 2016 @ 5:19am by Captain Avin Singh & Chief Petty Officer Ginifred Klem & Commander Jesse Temple & Lieutenant Nal Rehu MD

Mission: 863
Location: Beta Quadrant
Timeline: June - 1st - 0200 Hours

The SS Star of India was well on her way after picking up her load of cargo from the Federation supply station and proceeding to the planet of Cestus III where the supplies were to be transported down. Other than a minor scare about an explosive device being planted in some containers of grain which turned out to a less serious case of some Tribble mischief, and abrupt immediate departure of Second Officer, Chief Engineer Ibrim Dakar, the Star's journey was a rather uneventful one. At least that was what they had thought until a minor slip up by a Gorn navigator brought the Gorn vessel just within the Star of India's sensor range. Commander Temple had command of the starship at the time.

It was a calm Bridge at 0200. Most of the crew were asleep like the Captain. His First Mate, Commander Temple had Bridge watch this night. Doctor Nal Rehu had been asked to put in some time on the Bridge monitoring sensors at his newly designated Science station that had once been the Communications station. There were some ion storms in the area, but they were not projected to be much of an issue. Still, Avin had felt safer asking him to be on the Bridge. Chief Klem was holding down Operations whilst having rerouted some other controls such as weapons and engineering functions to the Ops station, freeing up more personnel to rest. Lucian Jax being the most experienced navigator and pilot was sitting at the helmsmen's seat.

Jesse was enjoying the Captain's Chair once more, but he wasn't about to relax into it. Even on a quiet night such as this, he was still the meticulous officer with plenty of checklists and reporting to be done.

"How are our power relays, Officer Klem?" Temple asked, preparing to note her response on the offical log. "I want to try testing our rerouting systems, what do you think?"

She nodded at the man. "Oh they will work or my butt is tomorrow morning's bacon" she said standing by.

Temple couldn't help but laugh, "Hopefully that won't be necessary."

"Mr Jax," The Marine turned his attention to the Helmsman, "As long as we avoid those ion storms, any ideas on how we could take the Old Girl for a spin?"

"My name is Lucian, not "Mr. Jax"," the Trill said in response, not looking back at the man.

Temple fought very hard to squash the desire to smack the Helmsman across the back of the head but those shiny pips on his collar held him back. Instead he placed a smile on his face. A terse smile.

"It's an old habit, Lucian. I will keep in mind for future that you don't prefer to be spoken to with respect." The Marine replied, trying to keep the sarcasm at bay, "But rest assured, I will be called Mr. Temple, or Commander while on duty. Now, the question still stands. How's about we test the old girl out here? Run through some evasive manoeuvres?"

Lucian scoffed under his breath for a moment. This dude was a trip, demanding to be called Mr Temple or Commander? What did he think this was, a Starfleet vessel? "Aye, sir. Evasive maneuvers underway," he announced, remembering exactly how Starfleet Officers talked from a previous host. If this guy wanted pomp and circumstance, he could certainly lay it on thick.

Temple kept a keen eye on the forward screen as the ship made a rumbling banking right turn. She certainly wasn't as smooth or agile as the modern day ships, making an awkward, dragging manoeuver. This was not a vessel class made for nimble handling.

"Will be hard to get us out of sticky situations," Temple noted aloud to the crew. "How are you finding her?"

Nal Rehu sat at the makeshift science station that was on the bridge. He certainly didn't mind working the night shift, in fact, he enjoyed it. It was quiet, for one, but more than that, if he was in the medical bay he was on his own. It allowed him to just be with his own thoughts, it allowed him to think of his past mistakes, and it allowed him to think about his future. It was just a good way to isolate who he was. This was where his Romulan physiology was a good thing, it allowed him to go for hours and hours without sleep. He of course would always end up in his bunk, but it was still nice to have the late evening and early morning hours to reflect.

He sat there and continued his scans, and then Nal noticed something. A blip, but then it was gone. He blinked, unsure if he actually saw it or not. But, he wouldn't have dreamt it up, so it had to be there. The blip came to life again, this time for far longer. Yes. It was definitely there. Then it was gone again. Frustrated now, his long fingers tapped against his workstation, he tapped in some commands to change the sensor resolution, and to extend the scanning parameters. The blip came into scanning range again, and Nal's fingers danced over the workstation to identify what he was seeing. Whatever was out there was just eluding them, it obviously didn't know they were going in and out of the India's sensor range.

And then it came up again. Nal was prepared and was able to snag the readings he needed. "Aha gotcha ya little Imirrhlhhse," Nal mumbled under his breath. He heard Temple say something, but before anyone could answer the commander, Nal spoke, "I have something on sensors that might be of interest." He turned in his chair to face the XO. "The sensors just picked up a Gorn vessel."

A chill went through the Marine as his mind started to worry. Why were the Gorn there? Is it just one or the first in a fleet? Was the Gorn vessel waiting for a tasty Federation morsel like them? In any other ship, in any other time, he would feel confident of their ability to obliterate the reptiles out of the galaxy but being on the Star of India meant they could be in very big danger. A single merchant vessel couldn't match a Gorn fighter.

"Cease evasive maneuvers, Lucian, and raise shields." Jesse ordered, before looking to the Doctor. "Just the one Mr Rehu? Have they detected us?"

Nal nodded. "It is just the one vessel, and it is hard to tell if they have detected us. I would surmise that since their course is erratic, and they keep going in and out of our sensor range, it's possible they know we are here and are trying to elude us. Though, they are not doing such a great job doing so."

Chief Klem turned her chair slightly around. "Sir, Grax is reportedly in Sickbay. I recommend we call Lieutenant Raza to the Bridge in case we need someone at tactical" said the Tellarite Supply Chief. She quickly began transferring tactical control back to the tactical station.

"Aye, we may need more hands on deck here." Jesse replied, trying to smile and not convey his growing dread.

Leaning over her console the Chief opened a shipwide comm channel "Lieutenant Raza to the Bridge, please. I repeat Lizard Lips to the Bridge" she added with a bit of her somewhat questionable humor.

"Lizard lips my arse." Raza grumbled to himself as he headed for the bridge.

Chief Klem then looked back at Commander Temple once more. "Shall I inform the Captain?" she asked.

"Send an alert to his quarters," Jesse nodded, "Let's not panic until we know what we're dealing with. Anything further from the Gorn?"

"I see you havent destroyed the ship yet, Gorn breath, what do you need?" Raza asked coming onto the bridge.

Nal had now turned fully back in his seat to face his workstation. His gray eyes stayed glued to the monitor as his fingers moved over the work station control panel. "The Gorn ship hasn't made any aggressive moves just yet, nor have they raised their weapons. In fact, they still seem to be confused as to where the edge of our sensor range is." He watched as the blip that was the Gorn vessel disappear for several seconds then reappear.

Chief Klem sent out a private message to the Captain to apprise him of the situation. The Tellarite had to concur with the Doctor's assessment. "I agree with the Doctor. It seems like the Gorn vessel has been trying to shadow us, but is misjudging the capabilities of our sensors. They might be a bit behind on their intelligence of Federation technology or have misjudged us due to being an old Oberth class starship" reported Klem.

Jesse raised an eyebrow, his smile turning to something a little more mischievous. "Hiding from us, you say? I always did like playing hide and seek. Lucian, we'll need your deft skills again. Let's match the craft's speed and course but let 'em remain just on the edge of our sensors. I want to know what they're doing way out here, and why they're so evasive."

Lucian turned to look at the man for a moment, and then looked back at his screen. "Sure, got it," he said, not trying to hide his annoyance.

Nal had a feeling why the Gorn were being evasive. They were either hiding something, or figuring out a way to stop the India from going forward. It was a tactic the Romulans had become accustomed to, and if he was currently on a Romulan vessel, the Gorn vessel would have been destroyed already. Nal looked at his monitor, as the ship moved, the sensor data changed. "The Gorn vessel is now continually in our range," he called out with the new information. "I think they know it too, they have done a course change," he looked at his readings, his upswept eyebrows came together in a scowl. "The course change is erratic, but they are definitely heading toward us. However, they still haven't raised shields nor have they powered up their weapons."

Jesse shrugged, "Well they know we're here, no point beating around the bush. Lucian, make a direct path towards their location too. Hide and seek just changed to a game of chicken."

A grin spread across the Trill's face. He wasn't a big fan of being sly, much preferring a brash, in-your-face approach. And this was definitely it. Without a word, he entered the commands into the Computer's interface.

The Star of India swept a path across the intervening space and closed in on their Gorn shadow, the two vessels now flying nearly parallel next to each other. Unphased by the Star's confronting manoeuver, the enemy fighter cut in front of the Oberth ship and started crossing back and forth just ahead of her bow.

Jesse looked around at the Bridge crew, as bemused as he was confused, "What are they doing?"

"rhadam ih'feanna!" Nal mumbled sharply under his breath. "I've seen this tactic before," he said, "it's their way of trying to intimidate us. The Gorn consider it an aggressive move, to show who is the alpha ship. However, normally over the pass over, they lay down weapons fire that is low grade." He shook his head as his fingers did their dance over the lighted workstation panel. "It's peculiar indeed, without the weapons fire I'm going go out on a limb here and assume they are trying to mess with our heads."

Chief Klem snorted. Her Romulan was piss poor, but she could read expressions well enough to know the Doctor was not entirely pleased with the situation. "Sir, I would recommend we show them that we mean business" she said calmly. "We could fire a few warning shots across their bow, make them alter course away from us. If that doesn't work...we may have to get more aggressive and try to disable their engines" she added.

The Marine's heart jumped for joy at the thought of firing onto the skiddish little reptiles, sending them back to their cold blooded mammas with their tails on fire, but that persistant voice he called 'Protocol' spoke up first.

"Suppose we have to hail 'em first, give them a warning," Jesse sighed."Open a channel to the Gorn vessel."

"Channel open, Sir" said the Chief.

"This is Commander Temple of the Federation Merchant Marines," Jesse stood and spoke in his deepest boom, "You will desist from your aggressive manoeuvres or we will take action. Cease transmission."

Jesse looked to Officer Klem, "Any response?"

"SssSSS SSssS" was the initial response from the Gorn vessel. It was not something the universal translator would translate, but the tone of the hissing did not sound all that warm or welcoming.

Ginny shook her head and snorted. "A whole lot of this and that hissing, but I'm starting to get something else..." she said just before more came through.

"Sssstay away from Cessssstussss III" came a cold hissing reply. Then silence.

The Tellarite confirmed. "That was it, Sir. They terminated the channel after that and have not made any further attempt to respond. I've tried hailing them again" she reported.

"Alright, fire a warning shot twenty metres off their starboard side," Jesse commanded, taking a seat back in the big chair. "On my mark.... Fire!"

A warning shot was fire.

Chief Klem pounded her hooves against the deck, stomping and slamming her knuckle down on the console in front of her. "They have not taken too kindly to that, Commander. It looks like they have picked up speed and are heading directly for us!" she shouted.

"Enough warning," Temple growled. "Lucian, break off our pursuit, round on the Gorn vessel. Officer Klem, when we're in position, fire phasers on their main engine. Let's give 'em a kick up the backside."

"Do you honestly think we're in any position to take on a Gorn vessel?" Lucian asked, turning to the Starfleet Commander. "We're just a small cargo ship."

"They're about to be a Gorn vessel that's dead in the water," Temple replied, "Fire!"

Klem snorted. "Those damn lizards" she said shaking her head. "No offense, Raza" she added, looking over her shoulder.

As the Star of India's phaser tore through space, the Gorn vessel critically didn't expect the merchant ship to act so defensively, leaving their stern engine vulnerable to attack. Officer Klem's accuracy could not be faulted as the phaser hit right on target; there was a brief flash of fire and the Gorn were left drifting.

"Get us out of here, Mr Lucian," Jesse requested, giving a relieved smile, "Before they have a chance to return fire. Head back on course to the Federation station. Good work everyone, well handled."

Chief Klem assisted Lucian from the Ops station, sending him corrected coordinates. "Course plotted" she said simply before giving a nod to Lucian. The starship was soon back underway.

 

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