They kept coming.
It was a dreadful sight to behold, as dozens of Elorg warships emerged from the swirling flexure that led to their subspace domain. As he watched the events unfold on the view screen, Commander Matthew Harrison could feel his stomach knotting up into something that probably looked like a pretzel.
Many times in the past, Harrison had led the Starlight into battle, and he had emerged successful on each occasion. But in each of those instances, the Starlight had been the superior fighter. But now, practically staring death in the face, the Starlight did not stand a chance against the Elorg fleet, and to his chagrin, Harrison was suddenly devoid of brilliant strategies to defeat their nemesis…
Suddenly the view screen exploded with an amazing burst of white light. Harrison’s eyes wandered back to the screen to see the dreadful flexure coursing with tendrils of white energy as it belched out a generous stream of hazy violet plasma—and unless Harrison was mistaken, a considerable amount of debris. “What has happened?” he asked, slowly turning to Lieutenant Johnson at ops.
Even so, it was Bator that responded. “It would appear our experiment with the keryon beam was more successful than we realized,” he said. “The rift is partially collapsed near its center.”
“I’m detecting the remains of five Elorg vessels in the debris,” Johnson added.
The news was certainly better than Harrison had anticipated. “Can vessels still penetrate the rift?”
“Yeah,” said Johnson, his fingers dancing over the computer controls. “But they can’t risk sending more than one at a time, otherwise it will collapse completely.”
Harrison let out a sigh of relief as he saw fortune smile upon him. “How many vessels were able to emerge into the expanse, Mr. Johnson?”
“Twenty-six,” he replied. “Not even half.”
Harrison nodded. Fortune may have been smiling, but it was certainly not a wide grin. “With those vessels combined with the fleet the Elorg had previously massed, it is a certainty that they have more than enough firepower to obliterate our own meager stronghold,” he said softly. “What actions are they taking now?”
“At the moment—nothing,” said Bator. “All thirty-six ships are holding position.”
Harrison gently pounded his fists on the arms of the command chair. “It is also a certainty that they shall not stay inactive for long—especially not for two weeks.”
Johnson briefly looked down at the chronometer on his station. “Two weeks, two days, one hour, forty-seven minutes until our fleet arrives,” he called out nervously.
Harrison sighed wearily. “Two weeks, two days too late,” he moaned, knowing that the Elorg would have to be awfully stupid to stay put while their enemy was at a severe disadvantage. While he didn’t know when it would happen, he knew sometime within the next few weeks, things were going to turn very, very ugly.
But not yet. “Stand down from red alert,” Harrison ordered. “Maintain yellow alert status,” he added a moment later. While it wasn’t as ominous or threatening as the dreaded red alert, yellow alert meant extra duty shifts, more battle drills, and that a threat was on the horizon. And there certainly was…
As the red alert lights flickered to yellow hues, Harrison delved back into his memory to recall what was happening before the crisis arose. At first it eluded him, but after a few moments, Harrison recalled the other matter at hand. “Talyere,” he whispered. “What about that message, Lieutenant Bator?”
“The message was heavily degraded,” said the Phobian as he pulled the file from the computer’s database. “I suspect the dekyon surge produced by the Elorg to be the cause—that or the fact that they were jamming numerous comm channels. Either way, it is unlikely we will be receiving another message.”
Harrison expelled a brief sigh and folded his arms; it seemed to the Commander that whenever they were graced with a stroke of good luck, something always happened to taint it. Even so, he was not about to give up hope. “From where did the message originate?”
Again, Bator checked the computer. “The Inkhezi,” he said firmly. “I can’t localize it any further than that.”
The news did not surprise Harrison. The Inkhezi was Xi'Yor’s flagship, and if anyone wanted to keep Talyere under closer guard, it was Xi'Yor. “That shall make things most interesting,” he decided, just moments before hearing the tactical station erupt into a series of bleeps.
Bator quickly muted them. “We are being hailed,” he announced. “It is Doctor Hartman.”
Hartman? The Commander’s curiosity immediately went up several notches, for he had anticipated that if anyone contacted the ship, it would have been Captain Christopher. “On screen,” he briskly ordered.
When she popped onto the screen, the look on Sarah Hartman’s face only deepened, for she, too looked utterly concerned. Never in the years they had spent together had Harrison seen the Doctor with such a look on her face. “What is it?” he beckoned.
Hartman closed her eyes and expelled a deep sigh. “The Dark Star has been destroyed,” she said somberly. “The Captain and Commander Keller were on board. We don’t know if they’re alive or dead, but they crashed in the mountains from a rather extreme altitude.”
Just when he was starting to think this day would end without a major incident, Harrison felt as if someone had just thrown a brick at his head. The Captain’s brief trip may have turned into his last one…
Erin Keller froze as she watched the stream of virulent teal polaron torpedoes throw Alan Christopher to the ground. She stood in utter terror for several moments and simply stared at her beloved Alan sprawled out motionlessly on the ground, propped up by a few jagged rocks. Was he dead?
Erin didn’t even want to consider it. Instinctively, she snapped out of her trance and rushed to Alan’s side, grabbing the tricorder from her belt and hastily prying the device open to scan him for injuries. The tricorder did not provide much in the way of information—perhaps because it was not a medical tricorder—perhaps because there was not much information to report. Alan was alive, and that was about it…
With a morbid feeling slowly rushing over her, Erin slowly turned her attention to Drayan. “It doesn’t look good,” she said softly.
Drayan pulled in a nervous lungful of air, and then approached them, the look on her face an odd mixture of concern and determination. “He will live,” she said evenly.
If her tricorder couldn’t determine that, Erin was relatively certain that Drayan’s visual analysis was not any more accurate. Even so, it was that optimistic thinking that Erin often embraced, and this was no time to abandon it. “He’s a strong little boy,” she said softly. “Of course he will live.”
And then, without any warning, Drayan extended her arm and placed it on Alan’s chest. At first, Erin wasn’t certain what was going on—a Ka’Tulan ritual perhaps? The notion was quickly dismissed, however.
Within moments, Drayan’s hand started to dissolve into Alan’s chest amidst a faint blue aura. Tiny ripples of energy pulsed across his chest like magic, gradually encompassing Alan’s entire body. And then, just as abruptly as she had started the procedure, Drayan removed her hand from Alan’s chest.
The tricorder in Erin’s hand suddenly shrieked with the arrival of a massive influx of new data. “He’s in a state of flux,” Erin read from the display. She assumed that Drayan had used the strange psionic powers she had attained a few months ago from a modified Omega molecule they stole from the Gorn, and if that was the case, Drayan’s powers had progressed far beyond what Erin had been originally led to believe… Of course, now was not the time for speculation.
Alan was their primary concern, and to Erin’s relief, as Drayan stepped away from her brother, he slowly opened his bright turquoise eyes and expelled a long, painful moan. “Am I ever glad those torpedoes were phased out of alignment,” he rasped.
“Otherwise, you’d be a spot on the wall,” said Erin, making a valiant attempt to keep her calm. “How do you feel?”
Alan took a moment to assess his situation before replying, “Aside from a headache and the stalagmite embedded in my spine, quite well.”
“I’ve got what you could laughingly call a med kit in my bag,” said Drayan. She quickly scurried over to her supplies on the floor near the weapon and pulled out a sleek, black kit.
“Do you have any pain medication?” asked Erin.
“Like hydrocortaline,” Alan suggested.
“Like, no,” said Drayan as she tossed the kit to Erin.
Erin grabbed the kit in mid air and quickly opened it up, scanning over the few medicines in Drayan’s kit. “Alazine, peridaxon, hyronalin, asinolayathine—”
“Asinolayathine will do just fine,” Alan snapped.
Quickly, Erin jammed the medication into the butt of the hypospray and administered it at the base of Alan’s neck. After emitting a short hissing sound, she pulled the hypospray away and set it back into the med kit. “Better?”
“Much,” said Christopher. “Care to help me up?”
Erin extended her arm and helped pull Alan to his feet. His first few steps were a bit wobbly, but he quickly regained his equilibrium. As Alan walked past her, Erin couldn’t help but notice the strange blue glow on his back. Though it disappeared after only a moment, Erin was certain something was not right.
Quickly, she peered over at the rock where Alan had landed. It briefly glowed with the faintest teal light before vanishing completely…