Part of Challenger: All For One & One For All

TWENTY ONE

I.G.S. Avenkerev, departing Sol System
Start of the month of T’lakht, YS 8764, Tuesday, October 8th, 2155
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Journeying on an Andorian warship was not how T’Plau had expected her journey to commence to return home. That said she never would have predicted that she would achieve command of a state-of-the-art ship as rapidly as she had. The attack on Merak had forced her hand, she could no longer debate the logic behind her promotion or to understand why. She knew she now had a duty to return home, assume command of the Jarok as ordered and defend the borders of the Confederacy from any more invaders. Journeying on the Avenkerev was only a means to justify her end results. Fortunately for her and her husband, her relationship with Commander Anthi was on good terms due to her interactions with her and her crew from Challenger’s previous mission. 

“And here are your quarters.” Anthi had stated as they approached twin doors which soon opened after Anthi had tapped the open button on the wall console.  The Andorian officer had agreed to take both T’Plau and Muroc on some of their journey home. The Avenkerev was recalled to Andoria to join a new task force that would be assigned to protect Weytahn and other outlying Andorian colonies. They would rendezvous with the T’Shear who would meet them near to the Deneva system (one of Earth’s outlying colonies). 

Showing her guests in, Anthi activated the light switch to reveal she had provided them with her VIP quarters. 

“Aren’t these quarters normally reserved for high ranking officials and visitors?” Muroc questioned as she placed one of the holdalls he had in his hands down on the floor.

Agreeing with her husband’s assumption, T’Plau spoke up. “In fact I believe these are the quarters that you gave to Captain Burton for a short amount of time while you assisted us with repairs to Challenger after our last engagement with the Carreons.”

“They are,” Anthi said smiling and her antennas twitched to show her joyful response, “do not worry I have had my people check it over to ensure there are no odours that may offend you. However both of you are high-ranking Vulcan officials and the first I have had to host since assuming command. I also know from the time we spent together Commander T’Plau, however brief it was, you do enjoy your space to meditate. I assumed your husband may have a similar trait.”

T’Plau bowed in gratitude. “I very much appreciate your hospitality Commander Anthi.”

“Indeed.” Muroc added. 

“Then please join me for dinner this evening.” Anthi requested as she placed her hands behind the bottom of her spine, grasped tightly. “I would love to be able to say that I had two Vulcan commanding officers join me for dinner, a first for our kind in a long time I would say.”

“We would be honoured to join you.” T’Plau agreed. 

Anthi smiled further at their acceptance. “Then I’ll see you both this evening, if you need anything please do not hesitate to contact the bridge.”

“Thank you Commander Anthi, you have been most gracious in your hospitality and agreeing to ferry us on our way.” Muroc said in gratitude. 

Bowing to them now, Anthi left her guests to get on with their own business and departed their company. Once the door was closed behind them neither Vulcan spoke as they began to unpack some of the gear and into the storage space left for them. Once they had finished, T’Plau had decided that she would write to Captain Burton, explaining her decision. Pulling Vulcan designed computer tablet out of one of her bags, she switched it on and began writing her message. 

 

For the attention of: Captain Lloyd Burton, Commanding Officer, Challenger NX-03

From: Commander T’Plau, Commanding Officer, D.F.C. Jarok

Captain Burton, further to our interrupted conversation we had yesterday, I am now writing to you with my decision regarding my career. Since the attack on the Merak colony, I have decided to assume my new post as Commander of the Jarok at once. Therefore I will not be returning to Challenger as its chief armoury officer and your third officer. Please convey to the rest of the crew my regret in not being able to remain on board any further. I have confidence in your command abilities that you will be able to choose my successor promptly to avoid any detrimental effect to the operations of the ship. I would highly advise you to consider Ensign Cortez’s candidacy for the position. She is a talented officer and would serve you well in this position. 

Live long and prosper Captain Burton and to the crew of Challenger.

T’Plau

 

Staring at the message for some time, she wondered just how Captain Burton would react to it. She speculated that he would be highly disappointed with her decision, especially as he had expressed to her that she could resign from the Vulcan Defence Directorate and join Starfleet instead. Knowing that one other Vulcan had done it before, did make her consider the decision. That said, she had not been around humans long enough compared to Commander T’Pol of Enterprise to consider that decision as a viable choice. Certain that Captain Burton would support her application, she found the choice to be illogical of her to take. It made no sense to her. Nevertheless, the decision to proceed with accepting her promotion had been spurred on during her heated meeting with Ambassador Soron. Not knowing what was going to happen to the defence of Vulcan had forced her to conclude that she needed to leave her current posting and take up her new one. That way she knew she could make more of a difference to Vulcan from the command deck of a Vulcan combat cruiser compared to the bridge of an Earth ship. Was it a sense of loyalty, patriotism or devotion to her homeworld? She did not know, but something inside her felt like she had to be in a position to ensure that the high number of Vulcan casualties during this war would never be repeated again. Her conviction to ensure that the Romulan Star Empire was stopped was strong for her. 

“Would you like some tea?” Muroc offered after he had finished unpacking his belongings. 

Nodding towards him, T’Plau accepted her husband’s suggestion. Not knowing what type of tea she would be given intrigued her. Had the Andorians truly provided for their Vulcan guests or had they decided to force them to drink only what they had on offer. 

“I am surprised to find that Commander Anthi has green tea.” Muroc remarked as he stood by the small kettle and tea-set that was on one of the sideboards. 

Knowing the answer to that observation, T’Plau quickly spoke up. “Captain Burton gave Commander Anthi several boxes of it after she had stated she enjoyed the taste.”

“A diplomatic gesture?” Muroc pondered aloud as he boiled the kettle. 

“A gesture of friendship, I believe is how he phrased it.” T’Plau countered. 

Muroc made the tea in silence and brought it over to his wife. He sat down next to her on the large grey settee that sat under the arching bay windows. Outside the view of the ship being at high warp showed a hundred stars whizzing past them – all stretched so thin. “I am still surprised at what you said yesterday.” He commented. “The Ambassador was not being accommodating with the situation at hand. I was not expecting it to force your hand into making a decision that I thought would require more contemplation on your part. What changed my wife?”

T’Plau took a sip of her tea, placed it down on the glass coffee table before them and looked to her husband. “His inaction is not doing anything. I believe that if this war is to be ended sooner, it requires more action and involvement of our people.”

Nodding in agreement, Muroc continued to press on his wife. “You may be right T’Plau, however if we have learnt anything about the Romulans since the attack on Merak and every other engagement, it is quite simply this. They are ruthless and resourceful to ensure they achieve their end goals. I believe the human phrase of whatever it takes is suitable.”

“Indeed.” T’Plau said, “And I firmly believe we must do whatever it takes to ensure they are not victorious anymore.”

Muroc took a sip from his tea as he deliberated further on T’Plau’s words. 

“All hands this is the command deck, report to Code Blue stations,” spoke the voice of Commander Anthi. 

The mention of code blue, which was the Andorians’ highest alert status, meant the Avenkerev was heading into a dangerous situation. Placing both of their mugs down, husband and wife soon left their quarters and headed to the bridge of the ship to see what assistance they could provide. 


If anything that T’Plau could appreciate about Andorian design compared to Human design, was that their bridge (or command deck as they called it) layouts were more spacious and more efficient. Very similar to their Vulcan counterparts. Commander Anthi was sat in the middle of her command deck, raised high in her chair. One leg was crossed on top of the other while her hands were resting on top of her chair’s arms. Barely moving at all, with ease and grace she gave out commands and listened to what her bridge crew were telling her. They worked extremely effectively. 

“Commander Anthi,” spoke Muroc as they approached the Andorian commanding officer from behind. “Is there anything either T’Plau or I could do to assist?”

Anthi spun her chair round to race them. “That offer is generous, but right now we have the situation under control.”

“What is happening?” T’Plau asked. 

Anthi turned her chair back around to face the main viewer. “We have received a general distress call from an Earth cargo convoy. They report they’re under attack.”

Stepping forward, T’Plau was interested to know more. “Which convoy?”

“Convoy Vega Eighteen-Alpha, the lead ship is the E-C-S Polaris.” Answered Lieutenant Thom, the Avenkerev’s first officer and communications officer. The tall Andorian was using an earpiece, slightly longer than the one that Ensign Hennessey used on Challenger, to decipher the distress call. “I’m just able to get most of their call.” He added as he tried to work on it from his station behind Anthi’s chair.

Looking over her shoulder to him, Anthi gave out her orders to place the call on the bridge’s speakers. 

This is Captain Teresa Johansson, of the Earth Cargo Ship Polaris. Our convoy from Ve…attacked by Romulans…damaged sustained…fifty-one de…” The message suddenly cut off. 

The sound of the woman’s cry for help was eerie, erratic and alarming to hear.  T’Plau recalled that her former shipmate, Commander Levesque, had a relative that commanded a cargo ship and she was certain her memory of that conversation included the name Captain Johansson and the ship was called Polaris

“Helm, increase our speed to maximum warp.” Anthi ordered as soon as the speakers went dead. 

“Ma’am they’re already at maximum warp.” Replied the helmsman that T’Plau was unfamiliar with. 

“Faster damn it.” Anthi said, “I won’t let the Romulans shed any more blood from our side. As Captain Burton once said, it’s time they got a piece of their own medicine.”

“Taste.” T’Plau said correcting the Andorian commander, without realising how inappropriate that was for her to do on the command deck of the Avenkerev. “I apologies commander, but I believe the saying is a taste of their own medicine. It is a human phrase when seeking revenge.”

“I thought I said it wrong.” Anthi said with a smile of gratitude and winked at T’Plau. She tapped the intercom to open a channel to her engineering deck. “Lieutenant Dreu, I need more power to the warp drive.”

“I’m opening up the plasma injectors to another twenty-five percent commander. Anymore and we will risk breaching the core.” The chief engineer replied.

“Thank you Dreu.” Anthi replied and closed the channel. “Vice-Lieutenant Shev, increase our speed.”

“Yes commander!” The pilot responded.

T’Plau felt the Avenkerev’s warp speed increase as the deck plate began to rumble slightly from the higher speeds applied. “Are there any other ships nearby?” She then asked aloud. 

It was Thom who answered her. “I am picking up Coalition warp signatures. A combined Starfleet-Vulcan task group is coming into range but will arrive almost thirty-two-point-six seconds after we drop out of warp.”

“Can we identify which ships they are?” Anthi questioned her executive officer.

He shook his head and said no. Muroc offered to see if he could recognise the Vulcan ships from their warp signatures. However the ship was making its final leg of their dash towards the convoy. 

“Dropping out of warp.” Shev called from the helm. 

“Get me a weapon’s lock on any Romulan ship and open fire.” Anthi ordered her tactical officer. The young woman just nodded in response while Anthi carried out giving out commands. “Shev, attack pattern Therin-One. I want a full spread of torpedoes heading towards the Romulan ship.”

“Ships.” Shev called out. “Commander, I am picking up three Romulan Birds of Prey!”

“On main visualiser.” Anthi ordered.

There before them were three Romulan ships pounding the Polaris and her fellow cargo ships with their plasma cannons. The small ships all appeared disabled and heavily broken. T’Plau felt like she recognised one of the Earth ships but couldn’t be quite sure. Her thoughts were interrupted by the shouting produced by the Andorian commanding officer. 

“Fire!” Anthi commanded at the top of her voice. The Avenkerev went in firing all of its weapon ports. 

Twisting and turning, evading and skirting, the Avenkerev was laying down fire to the Romulan trio as it engaged them. The Andorian Kumari-class battlecruiser took a number of hits from the aggressors, but every weapon it had was blasting out against them. Each time scoring a direct hit on the green Romulan ships. On the command deck of the Andorian ship, Commander Anthi continued to give out orders as her crew worked diligently to face off their opponents. Even with the odds stacked against them, their resilience to get the job done was unwavering. 

The ship was hit hard by multiple hits from the Romulan ships which resulted in the ship spinning on its axis to starboard and a number of explosions erupting across the Avenkerev’s command deck. T’Plau automatically knelt down to shelter herself from the flying debris and the moment she looked up she saw the command deck in flames. Commander Anthi was pulling herself off from the deck plating and was shouting out for a report, barely anyone was answering her. T’Plau looked around and saw the reason why. A number of her crew were laying on the floor too, most of them appearing lifeless. Her helm officer was trapped dead under a fallen beam. Noticing her husband moving across the hellish scene, she noticed he tried to get a pulse from Vice Lieutenant Shev but was unfortunate and just shook his head towards Anthi who bowed her head and antennas at the loss of her pilot. Muroc dashed towards the helm controls. 

“We’ve still got thrusters and impulse engines, but warp drive is down.” He announced after reviewing the control interface. 

Anthi, who appeared slightly dazed, was now pulling her first officer off from the floor too. Lieutenant Thom was almost a mirror for his commanding officer in the state he appeared. A massive cut added to his disheveled look. The wound was allowing his cobalt coloured blood to pour down the side of his cheek. “Evasive maneuvers if you please Captain Muroc.” Anthi requested as she held on to Thom. 

Almost instantly T’Plau felt that the ship’s inertial dampeners were not working fully as her husband turned the ship. He had been a pilot previously before becoming a command officer. She recalled he was quite skilled in that past position too. Blinking several more times, she pulled herself up from the floor and noticed that Anthi’s tactical officer was also dead on the floor. Taking the tactical station she soon pulled up the status of the Andorians’ defensive and weapons systems. Their shields were down to forty-seven percent, two of their particle cannons were offline. 

“Commander T’Plau, where do we stand with weapons?” Anthi shouted across the room as the ship continued to shudder from repeated attacks from the Romulans. 

T’Plau found herself being able to quickly access the Andorian controls, she noted how similar they were to Vulcan technology, and was able to tell the captain their status. Anthi had her continue to fire at the Romulans as best as they could. 

“Commander Anthi, we have a new problem.” Announced Thom from the science station. His own station had been destroyed and their science officer had been dragged off to the infirmary. “I am detecting a number of our systems going offline.”

“Explain more Thom.” Anthi demanded as she sat back down in her own chair. 

Shaking his head, the executive officer appeared to be unsure what to make of his readings. “None of them are damaged, they’re just going offline and then back online and then off. The pattern continues to repeat. We’ve just lost gravity on deck four.”

Realisation suddenly dawned on T’Plau on what was happening and why the Romulans hadn’t completely destroyed them yet. “Commander Anthi, we must disconnect your subspace radio from the rest of the Avenkerev’s computer systems. We are being hacked by the Romulans!”

Anthi, knowing what other allied ships had encountered with the Romulan’s new approach in using the telepresence system to capture alien vessels. Challenger had determined that this new strategy, one that Captain Burton’s crew had named the telecapture system, was how the Romulans were trying to destabilise the local galactic scene between space faring species. “Quickly Lieutenant Thom, disable our communication grid at once!” She ordered.

Thom worked hard to carry out his commander’s orders. “It’s not responding to the conventional way of shutting down.” He answered with frustration. 

“Then destroy it!” Muroc suggested.

Thom pleaded for ideas. “How?”

Knowing what her husband was suggesting, T’Plau answered for him. “Overload it with a power surge lieutenant.” 

Thom looked to Anthi who just nodded in agreement. Thom worked quickly and did exactly what he was told to do and a second later more sparks flew across the bridge from the excess power sent through. “Done! We no longer have any comms.” He announced. “The rest of our computer systems that are left are no longer malfunctioning.”

“The Romulans are still pressing with their other attack.” T’Plau added. 

“Then let’s show the Romulans what we are made of. Bring us about and target the lead ship. Fire everything we have against them!” Anthi ordered. 

As the Avenkerev spun a full one-hundred-eighty degree while turning a full three-hundred-sixty degree, T’Plau made the ship’s weapons (that were still working) open fire against the middle Romulan ship. While it made its attack a number of ships soon dropped out of warp, all of them Coalition ships that joined in the fight. The lead Romulan ship was soon obliterated.

“I would say open a channel to the lead ship, but we can’t!” Anthi remarked as the news of their allies arriving was a welcoming sight. 

“I am detecting the T’Shear with several other Vulcan ships, alongside them are a few Earths ship led by the Discovery.” Stated Muroc. 

It did not take long for the coalition ships to destroy another Romulan vessel, however they were not quick enough to get the third and last one. It attempted to evade their fire as it dashed around the ships while its port nacelle spewed out dried plasma from being damaged. 

“I want that ship destroyed now!” Anthi screamed with irritation.  

 “I agree totally Commander Anthi.” T’Plau added as she tried her hardest to get a weapon’s lock on the remaining ship. All of a sudden she noticed that the readings had told her it had sent all of its power into its sub-light engines. “The Romulan ship has increased its power to its impulse engines. I am struggling to lock on to it.” She said. 

“I recognise what it’s doing.” Muroc said as he pushed the Avenkerev’s engines further. “I believe it will attempt to collide with the Polaris.”

“Stop it!” Anthi said. 

The entire coalition force was opening fire on the Romulan ship but as it took multiple hits and was damaged, it blew apart as it smacked into the side of the Polaris. T’Plau watched in dismay as the Romulan ship was destroyed by its suicidal antics as it rammed the Earth civilian ship. Within seconds of it happening the Polaris appeared to shudder before it blew up itself. The exploding ship wreckage flew across in all directions, a number hitting allied ships, while a large chunk of it went into the side of the other cargo vessel that was there. Sensing the damage, Muroc piloted the Avenkerev out of harm’s way, just in time as the second cargo vessel (the one that T’Plau recognised) went up into flames. 

“Oh my,” Anthi said after the tragedy appeared to end. On the main viewer, the scene that just transpired was coming to a close. “Any survivors?” The Andorian skipper asked.

Thom just shook his head. “I’m not detecting any.”

“How many souls were on those ships?” Anthi queried. 

“On those classes of freighters, there would be at least eighty-six crewmembers combined.” T’Plau answered. “However that does not count for the children and other passengers who would normally be on board. I believe we would be looking at figures being in the three-digit form.”

Anthi just shook her head in sadness, once again her antennas lowered themselves to reflect her mood. Still looking at the screen, she gave out her orders. “Thom, work with Dreu to get me a full damage report.” She looked at both Vulcan officers. “I cannot thank you both enough for helping us today.”

“It was the logical choice to make.” Muroc offered.

“Even if the outcome was a tragic one.” T’Plau added.

“Indeed.” Anthi said, still in a solemn mood. “We need to make sure those we lost today are revenged.”

“Agreed.” Muroc said bluntly as he turned to look at the main viewer.

T’Plau copied her husband and said in a lower tone as she gazed at the aftermath of the battle on the main viewer, “agreed.”