(This is a repost of part of a story series - if you have access to the ZEF forums, its partner story can be found under TASK FORCE DEVIL RAY)
They Never Stood a Chance...
(reposting of 'Flock Together', part 2 of a story set)
(Originally posted on the ZEF forums)
The long, thin stylus danced over Thue’s delicate fingers. The Romulan’s hand, raised above her head, twitched at the wrist as she whirled the piece of metal around in her grip. It was a peculiar habit unique to when she considered problems. Now it was a private eccentricity, but there had been a time when it had earned her no friends.
Her eyes weren’t on the stylus she spun above her head but aimed at the console set into the desk. The thrill of the hunt had died for Thue along with any leads to Breen vessels in the area. Aensai’s cannons had remained unused for days now and – coordinating with Nhyren – her T'Varo had begun and systematic search of the region. As the cannons had cooled, so did her excitement. This message, though…
She gripped the stylus and used it to tap her display, patching a comm through to the head chair on the bridge.
“Centurion, once Nhyren's designated course and speed has been matched, please remand your control to Centurion S’mena and join me in my office.”
Llaiir’s young voice piped dully through the speaker, “Understood.”
Thue set her stylus down and stood, stretching from the tips of her boots up. As she rounded her desk, Llaiir entered. The redhead came to attention in front of Thue.
"Llaiir, well done so far." The look she received was one of pleased sternness. "Subcommander Vorras' transmission indicated that they've found suitable targets. I’m set to meet him aboard Nhyren to discuss the plan of engagement further.”
“I see.” Llaiir, as always, spoke quietly. The young woman inclined her head.
She turned away from the Centurion and gathered her PADD and stylus, sliding them into one of the pouches at her hip. “Lais is in command of the ship while I’m on Nhyren as per usual, but I’m giving her the leeway to remain overseeing our efforts in the lab if she so desires. That means that until she comes checking in, you’re running the bridge.”
The young Romulan almost had a hint of a smirk on her face as Thue passed her and breezed out the doorway.
“Take care of her.” As she walked through the bridge on her way to the turbolift, she called out, “Bring us into a tight formation with Nhyren, signal we’re ready for transport on my mark.”
“Hnaev. Nice call!”
In Vorras’ office, the two Romulan Subcommanders were reviewing the man’s proposal for ambush on a Breen convoy they had spotted on scanners. Vorras stood, in his loose but attentive posture, behind the desk on which a holographic projection of the proposed ambush point was repeating the projected course of the Breen ships. His green eyes were set on Thue in calm amusement at the nature of her statement.
There was a beat of silence before the scientist raiser her gaze. The smile that slid across her face was a familiar and sheepish one, and one the Subcommander had seen often. It was an embarrassed admission of her awkwardness, a look often reserved for his company.
“Yes, well,” the man replied, “It’s a fortunately strategic position.”
Thue’s reply was slightly too quick. “It is!”
She lowered her eyes to the plane of soft-light photonic asteroids before her. The blue field shimmered and sparkled against the glass surface of the desk he had projected it across. Rested on her knees, Thue’s sharp chin was pressed against the cool surface, her chestnut hair spilled carelessly into the projected light field where it had escaped her. Vorras’ proposed course for Aensai and Nhyren wove around the nearby asteroids and met the projected convoy course at a relatively narrow gap in the field. She studied the plans intently. A small smirk pulled at the corner of a jade lip. “It’s really very smart.”
Vorras simply offered a hint of a smile at the remark. Thue raised her left hand forward and wiggled her index finger in the air beside the Aensai’s projected ambush point.
“I don’t suppose they’ll see this coming?” she asked, “It’s a sly trick, Nei’rrh, but it’s also a simple sort of strategy. Won’t they be expecting it?”
The motion he made with his hand was a wave of indifference. “Sometimes simple is best, Thue.”
“Oh, no! I know.” Thue pushed off of her knees and rocked back on the heels of her boots as she spryly rose to her feet.
“Arrival time is projected as of now at one point…” he looked down at his chronometer “...six two hours. That should give all of us more than enough time to prepare.”
She nodded. “Oh, it most definitely will! Actually, since it’s been so quiet recently I’ve started a team working on another possible use of Project - well, we haven’t given it an official designation yet.” The Subcommander tittered on excitedly. “I thought that since the patrol was so uneventful and therefore the ship has been stable and there’s no concern about inertial dampeners not being able to keep things steady, we could get some extra progress made before we return to the …”
Thue’s voice faltered as she realized just how much she had begun to ramble. A deep emerald flush overtook her cheeks as the woman raised her brows. Light brown eyes went wide. Vorras just smiled, patient and quiet.
“ … to the … to the task at hand!” She concluded with a definitive nod. “Yes. My people have their orders. Aensai will be ready for combat.
“If you’ll excuse me, Vorras.” The embarrassment was not only in her voice but flush across her face as she turned for the door. “There are things to do.”
“Of course there are.” There was a silent laughter in his voice. Not mocking, but amused. “Good hunting, Neirrh.”
She turned to regard him with a firm nod. Her bright eyes glinted with poorly concealed excitement.
“Good hunting, Subcommander.”
The surface of the silent rock rippled. Space bubbled and faded as the form of the T’varo burst out of the stillness, dagger-edged wings blazing with a brilliant burst of jade propulsion. It cut through the blackness of the space around it with a frightening suddenness, at dangerously high speeds as it sped forward.
The Breen supply ship was well within weapons range.
In the dead of space, flames of green plasma erupted from the small ship’s forward cannons, the superheated weapons fire slamming in and past the shields of the transport. The hull buckled and split along the line of the Aensai’s firing arc. The reflective hull of the T’varo blossomed into a brilliant orange at the Breen ship cascaded into violent and brief explosions, the vessel destroyed.
An explosion from the opposite side of the shipping line met Thue’s victory. Nhyren’s dark form met Aensai’s as the T'varos twisted past one another and whorled in evasive maneuvers at the outbreak of blue beams from the surrounding ships. They danced, both separately and yet in a sort of harmony, around and through the supply ships with deadly aim.
The mirrored form of Aensai swooped once over the crippled form of another vessel. A second pass finished the job. The ship collapsed in billowing explosions as the frantic pace continued. There were neon green flashes from Nhyren’s wing as plasma torpedoes deployed and set alight in a brilliant impact. Vorras’ target ship continued backward with the momentum and rolled into her target, the joint effort removing both vessels from the scenario.
On the bridge of the Aensai, Thue sat hunched forward with her hands clasped under her nose. She was not as passionate about commanding a ship in combat as she would have been about anything else stored in the labs of the T’Varo’s belly. She took her job seriously, though. Her commands were given to her crew with the firm, direct nature expected of a Romulan officer to her officers, no matter how unlike Thue such actions were.
There were certain words reserved only for special cases. She had never told a romantic partner that she loved them. However, she loved her experiments and her work. She also loved her ship.
“Shields are at sixty-one percent, subcommander, and holding.” Llaiir related. “Plasma torpedoes are reloaded.”
Thue allowed herself to relax and pressed her back into the chair. “Shields down, cloak up. Send a message to Nhyren’s helm that we’re falling back for repairs, reposition to the given coordinates.” Stylus in hand, Thue tapped in the coordinates and sent them to the helmsman who did as told, without question. The crew around her knew as well as she did what was about to happen.
The course had to be shifted, but that’s how it always went. It wouldn’t be exciting otherwise. The ship dogging Nhyren was met with a nasty surprise and Aensai dove from cloaked cover, barely missing her sister ship with emerald cannon fire. It did miss the T’varo, though, both ships working expertly together to avoid disaster. Her nose turned upward, then over and down into a deep dive behind Nhyren. The Breen escort stood no chance, breaking up into debris as Aensai passed beneath.
The ship banked deep and pushed at full impulse, attention turned to the remaining cruiser.
They had Nhyren in a tractor beam!
Panic flitted across Thue’s features for only a fraction of a second. Vorras was the only person Thue knew and trusted in this complement as deeply as she knew and trusted herself. Whenever they worked with one another, she had to stifle the instinct to react irrationally. This was easy to fix.
“Locate the emitters, let’s get her free.” She intoned with a vaguely nervous quality.
An officer spoke up, “Located, Sir.”
Thue looked at Llaiir where she stood, monitoring the weapons console. Llaiir gave the order to fire and monitored the activity. “Helm,” Thue continued as they barreled toward the cruiser, “once they get clear, I want us as far away from this vessel as possible.”
The screen was filled with plasma fire against dark metal as the Aensai pulled in tight to the enemy ship. Nhyren pulled free of the beam's pull, but Aensai didn't stick around to ensure its safety. Thue's orders carried the ship screaming past Nhyren and well out of distance of the massive explosion that signified their victory.