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At The Finish Line

Posted on 03 Feb 2017 @ 11:10pm by Captain Harvey Geisler & Commander Thiago Teixeira & Lieutenant Commander Terry Walsh & Lieutenant Commander Jayla Kij & Lieutenant Commander Arjin Djinx & Lieutenant Camila Di Pasquale & Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Lieutenant Avery Stuart Ph.D. & Lieutenant Jarith Roshe & Lieutenant JG Samantha Lopez & Lieutenant Gemma Alexander & Lieutenant JG Dean Winchester & Lieutenant JG Michael Griffin

Mission: Endgame
Location: Hadyn Nebula
Timeline: MD14 || 1000 hours

Captain's Log, Stardate 65619.2. What was meant to be a quiet and fast return to the Hadyn Nebula was thrown out the window just a few hours ago. The Cochrane's sensors, slightly more advanced than our own, detected D'rimo's ship on an intercept course. It is disconcerting to think that the Confederation could have followed us all this time but chose not to.

For the last two hours, both ships have maintained red alert. We've arrived at the nebula, but we can expect D'rimo to catch up to us before we enter the rift.


Harvey stood directly behind the helm, watching the viewscreen closely. The ship was traveling as fast as the impulse engines and the weakened structural integrity field would allow. Based upon visual scanning, they would arrive at the nebula in five minutes.

D'rimo would intercept in four.

Going through would be no feat at all. Closing the rift and keeping D'rimo from arriving in their universe would be critical.

"Remember everyone," Harvey told his bridge crew, and over the open communications channel to the Cochrane. "The runabout will have to be defended until we get into position. The Black Hawk will provide cover fire. Teixeira, you're going through first."

"We've got point," Thiago answered from the Cochrane's Bridge. "Understood."

Harvey nodded at the Commander's response. "Bridge to Flight Deck. Tigris, you ready?"

===[USS TIGRIS]===

"Tigris is ready, Captain," Kelly's voice came a moment later as she finished her pre-flight check. She looked over at Griffin and hoped that when the time came, the Black Hawk would be ready to do their part. All it takes is one big boom and my molecules will be all over this reality she mused before she put her focus back on the controls.

By all accounts the plan was a crazy one but it might just work, Michael thought to himself as he looked through the various system one more time to make sure they would perform as planned when the time came. Starfleet had definitely designed these things not to go easy, so rigging one to do just that had been a bit more of a challenge as he had expected. "All is looking good here" He said to Kelly.

Kelly gave a nervous laugh. "My career goal is going to be all out of whack after this mission alone," she said. "I can just see an Admiral looking at my file. So, Miss Khan, you want to be a test pilot? I see that you've blown up two ships on your first assignment. Tell me how this qualifies you?"

"Yeah, no kidding. I've always wanted to do starship design but I don't think they will consider 'removing all safeties from a thing that makes a large boom' counting as positive experience"


"As you heard we're going through the rift first," Teixeira said to his command crew. The seat beside him was empty, as Bast was back on the Black Hawk under Kij's care, but, otherwise, everyone was in place. "Helm, keep us ahead of the Hawk but I want to stay in weapon range as best we can. When things get nasty, we're going to lend a hand. They can't all the fun."

"All ahead and on course," Marley responded as she set a course and maintained an even distance from the Black Hawk.

===[TAC OPS]===

Cooper watched the tactical readouts as she hoped they could get through this without anymore loss of life on their part. =/\="Cooper to Lt. Corwin, ready and standing by."=/\=


Winchester and Rex had been on patrol near the computer core, searching the surrounding area for any intruders or anything out of place. So far they had found nothing, except for the fact that the ship shuddered occasionally. Ignoring this, they continued to patrol and protect the Computer Core.


With the ship at Red Alert, all personnel had been restricted to the Flight Deck and all fighters were brought to hot standby. When the orders came through that they were five minutes out, Terry ordered pilots to climb in, power up, and prepare for combat take-offs. He sat in his own fighter and cycled through various screens, performing quick diagnostics.

Aurilia climbed into her Peregrine and began the pre-flight check list and hoped that whatever the outcome of the next few minutes was, that all of the squadron would be back about the ship before it passed through the rift. She wasn't looking forward to navigating a rift in the little fighter, but she would do what she had to do to ensure the safety of the crew.

"I wonder if I can install a shower in here..." Sito aka Galahad quipped as he headed back to his fighter, joking about how much flight time they'd been getting recently.

Archer called back before sealing her own, "And the thanks of the unit would be with you..." She grinned as he made a rude face then laughed unable to keep it. She sealed herself in and once again went through the combat imminent flight check as ground crew rushed about. She drove them a bit crazy with her hovering over her craft when they had to work on it but she did appreciate all they did. It took a lot to keep a pilot in the air and it was that bond that would help them through this. Archer glanced at a picture of her family wedged into a small gap between consoles, below it was another photo of her squadmates at her 'welcome aboard' party. Some of the smiling faces were gone now, "Flying the space lanes on eternal patrol" as some called it. The look on her face was full of complex emotion as she returned her attention to her consoles after a brief glance.

Sam had been stood next to her fighter, doing some last minute checks on the outside of her fighter. She had also overheard Sito's comment. "Galahad, if you really want a shower, i'll get one of the deck crew to bring a washer down from maintenance...they seem to do a good enough job on the fighters, would probably do you good!" She said, smiling.

Sito gave a bark of laughter and shot back, even as he prepped his craft, "You lot just want to see me in my civvies and are jealous of my ability to smell like flowers on demand..." He said outrageously, other pilots laughed at the crazy boast and a little tension eased.


Camila stood by Captain Geisler and listened as reports came in from the various departments and nodded. "We're ready as we can be, Sir."

Joey stood at the Tactical console hoping like hell this one didn't explode in her face like the last time, and though the wounds were healed, the memory was going to take longer to go away. Still... it was no secret life in space was dangerous. She moved her fingers over the console without engaging, then looked toward the Captain. "Ready to provide cover fire on your mark, Captain," she said.

Still, she didn't like that D'rimo followed them, or that he was mere minutes away from intercepting them. If he managed to get through the rift, and back to their universe... no... that wasn't going to happen. She had to be positive even though the logical part of her mind was screaming red alert. Besides... her trigger finger was itching, and if doing more damage to the Confederation ship was in order, then that's what she would do.

Arjin was keeping an eye on the scans of the rift as well as the closing ship. He had hoped to have more time to run tests before they would have to close the rift. But with the confederation ship following them they had no choice as to act quickly. He could only hope that the explosion would close the rift before the ship got trough.

Eric Burke ran a quick systems check at the Operations console. Considering everything they'd been through, they were as ready as they were going to be.

"All systems go," he reported.

"Let's get this party started," Harvey remarked, clasping his hands behind his back. "Signal the squadron and the fighters to launch. Beta and Charlie flights are to escort the Tigris. Alpha will stay with us."

=^=Launch the Knights, Commander Walsh,=^= Camila ordered over the com. =^=Alpha stays with Actual and Beta and Charlie are with Tigris. Keep them safe and prepare for a storm. D'Rimo is going to beat us to the finish line and I'm willing to bet he won't accept have a nice day as an answer.=^=

=^=Understood, Lieutenant.=^= Terry said into the comm in his helmet. =^=Walsh to Knights, we have our orders. Alpha Flight is to stay on Actual, Beta and Charlie Flights are to stay with the Tigris. It'll be a rough one, so are we.=^=

=^=Commander Walsh to Flight Ops, how are we looking?=^=

=^=Flight Ops here, Commander. You have a greenlight. And as always, happy hunting.=^=

Terry nodded and disengaged the maglocks in the deck plating under his fighter's parking spot. He felt her lift off the deck as he manipulated the controls and pointed her towards the bay. =^=Combat take-offs, everyone. D'Rimo will beat us there and we need to be ready. Oh, and remember from the last time, we won't have shields in this nebula. So fly true, stay close to your wingperson, and check your six. Rocco out.=^= Terry gunned his Valkyrie to three quarter impulse and zipped out of the fighter bay.

=^=Acknowledged, Rocco,=^= Aurilia said as she launched her Peregrine and hoped that her skill at piloting was better than the shots that the Karemma ship was considering the fact that they had no shields inside the nebula. She waited for her wingperson as she established a flight pattern and looked around for any sign of the massive enemy ship.

=/\="Archer online and at your side like a clingy ex Boss..." She said going through her own final procedures then zipping out. Her mind calm and focused on the battle ahead as she was true to her word and locked to a little behind and to Rocco's left.

=/\="Galahad acknowledges, time to fill the dance card." Still jovial but his eyes skimmed readouts with experience and purpose as he took his post with Lopez.

Ap'eth, the half Klingon woman, pulled her fighter out of the bay and approached the runabout. Bravo flight had followed her and taken up position to the runabout's port and aft. She hoped that Lopez would direct Charlie to the starboard and aft. Between both Flights, the Tigris would have plenty of cover. "Bravo Lead to Tigris, we have you covered."

Lopez disconnected the mag locks from her fighter, before flying out of the bay. "Striker, Charlie Flight, form up on Tigris's starboard and aft, lets make sure all angles are covered, and watch your backs. Lets all get home in one piece!" She ordered, taking up a position at the front of her flights formation. "Striker to Tigris, we have your starboard side covered." She said, seeing sito pulling in behind her.

=/\="In position My Goddess of the Skies, weapons online, systems operational." Sito replied, his voice laid back though his eyes were intent on his consoles and the surrounding space.

===[USS TIGRIS]===

"Here goes nothing," Kelly said as she launched the Tigris and looked over at Griffin. "Have you ever gotten the feeling that some days were just meant to end badly?" she asked jokingly since it was their job to set initiate a warp core breach in the runabout in the hopes that it would close the rift.

"I'd rather we talked about puppies or something, instead of things going bad when we're blowing up a warpcore" Michael responded, only partially joking.

Kelly kept the Tigris positioned between the fighters as she held formation and kept a visual on the Cochrane and Black Hawk. "A horse walks into a bar," she said. "The bartender looks at him and goes why the long face?"

Michael laughed "Much better. What does a Romulan frog use for camouflage?" He said as he checked a few more systems. "A croaking device"

Kelly groaned. "That was horrible. If this thing wasn't going to be blowing up in a few, I'd blow it now so that joke could never escape."

Michael shrugged. "I'm sure the Captain would like it"


Jayla looked over the initial reports coming from the bridge. Great. Just great. One of those imbecile Confederation goons had decided to track them down. If they so much as slipped one single toe into her Sick Bay, she was going to crush their skulls in with her bare hands.

Whoa! she thought, shaking her head. Calm down, Jayla. She took a couple of seconds to take a deep breath and go through a quick calming exercise she'd learned from the counselor. With that, she turned from the console and went to check on her patients with the other doctors and nurses.

Out of the corner of her eye, Avery noticed Jayla stop what she was doing and take a few deep breaths. She smiled wanly to herself. She would need to ask Jayla later if it had been helpful, but her willingness to use their previously discussed coping strategies was a start.

T'Lura checked the tricorder holstered at her belt, and made sure it was secure. She stood almost at attention at the nurses' station, ready to intervene at a moment's notice. She knew that her human colleagues would have sighed at having to go through another emergency situation, but such a reaction on her part would have been illogical, and pointless. Sighing in exasperation did nothing to help solve their problems.


The clock kept ticking. Every second felt like an hour as time faithfully ticked away. Harvey ordered the viewscreen switched to aft view so that they knew the exact moment when D'rimo's ship arrived. Already, he could see that hull growing in the distance. It wouldn't be long before they were in firing range.

"Miss Corwin," Harvey said, his eyes affixed on the viewscreen, "I know targeting will be hell, but our first target needs to be their weapon systems. Let's have the squadron go at them as well. We can take out the engines easier once they can't bite back."

Manual targeting... this is going to be a piece of cake, Joey thought to herself. It wasn't really, but it didn't hurt to be optimistic, and she'd be damned if D'rimo was going to get in their way of going home. With her eyes glued to the readouts, she began to manually configure the targeting for the phasers since the sensors were offline. She could see the ship on the screen, but it didn't mean that they were in weapons range, so she decided that a few range finding shots were in order.

"Tell the Squadron to remain at our side until we can see the whites in their eyes," Harvey told Camila. "Cochrane, Black Hawk. Slight change of plan, hold at the mouth of the rift until the runabout is right on top of you before pushing through. Might need you help with the cover fire."

=^=Actual to Rocco. You are clear to engage the moment they are in range of our phasers=^= Camila said over the comm to the squadron leader. =^=Remember, they're only half as effective in the nebula.=^=

=^=Copy that, Actual. Rocco to Alpha Flight, we engage the second that that enemy is in range of the Black Hawk's phasers. Basically, as soon as they fire, you do, too. But keep in mind, our phasers are only half as effective in this nebula. Oh, and we might not have any shields, but neither will they. Target enemy weapons. Copy, Alpha Flight?=^=

=^=Copy, Rocco=^= Aurilia said.

=/\=Copy, Rocco, where one hits we all hit. =/\= Archer said, mentally cursing the nebula's effects on her precious craft.


"Copy that, Captain," the Brazilian Commander confirmed. "Marley, plan accordingly. Mister Owens, let's give the Hawk a hand. Tigris, we've got you."

"Got it, Commander," Marley said as she adjusted the Cochrane' course to match up with the little runabout that was being escorted by the fighters.

===[USS TIGRIS]===

=^=Acknowledged, Cochrane=^= Kelly responded a moment later as she worked to put distance between herself and the ship that the Black Hawk and Black Knights were fighting. She looked over at Griffin. "How's things on your end, Lieutenant?" she asked.

"As good as blowing up a runabout is ever going to be, we're going to be ready here" Michael replied.

"Time to get it started," Kelly said as she maneuvered towards the rift close behind the Cochrane and opened a channel.

Michael sighed, he knew why it had to be done but in some ways he still felt sad about blowing up a perfectly fine vessel. As he entered a few more commands in the panel, and overrode the securities in place just to avoid this kind of thing he turned back to Kelly. "It's timed to reach critical mass at the designated time and place"

"Time to rock and roll!" Kelly said as she opened a channel to the Cochrane. "Tigris to Cochrane. The package is ready to deploy."


"Miss Corwin," Harvey then said, "As soon as D'rimo's in range... let him have it."

With the Confederation ship finally within weapons range, Joey moved her fingers over the console in front of her with sheer determination in her eyes. Having to target the enemy ship's weapons manually with the fighters flying hot terrified her, but she had a job to do, and after taking a deep breath, she started firing phasers. First, the two dorsal arrays followed by the two ventral arrays a second later, the beams blasting through the vacuum of space at the other vessel.

Harvey watched the viewscreen as each one of the phaser blasts missed their marks. He could not fault the operator for the inaccuracy. After all, the nebula's properties were causing more interference than anyone would have liked. Polaron beams lanced out at the Black Hawk, each blast also missing their targets. "Hold the torpedoes," he ordered, not wanting to waste them on frivolous shots. "Maintain phaser fire. Don't let up until we're on the other side. Burke, Djinx... see if there's something you can do with those sensors!"

Joey shouted a choice four letter word, forgetting the fact that she was on the bridge and in the presence of the Captain, but frustration surged through her. Still, she wasn't going to give up. Her fingers moved over the console as she manually targeted the ship once more, then fired an onslaught of phaser fire. This time she wasn't letting up until the job was done.


Terry sped off and engaged the Confederation ship. He knew that Archer would be right on his six and following up. He brought up the ship on a screen and found the nearest weapons relay location. He jinked to the left and looped around the large, un-shielded ship and fired all phasers. Terry saw small explosions as the phaser blasts landed on the hull. He came out from behind the ship and circled back around.

=^=Rocco to Archer, how do you think they liked that?"

Archer swung past, matching her fire to his. She stayed on course almost a little to long in her efforts to hit them as much as possible but pulled up and away in the nick of time. She replied, =/\="What's not to like we delivered some high level ordnance right to their door step, I think we should get a tip..."

Terry laughed into his comm. "You bet, Archer! You bet! Hey, I think I here them requesting another delivery. What say we oblige?"

"It would be the height of rudeness to ignore such a heartfelt request..." She said in her Earth British accent with a gleeful grin in her voice, as she brought her craft to bear in its position supporting Rocco.

Terry laughed again as he veered in and out of the phaser and polaron fire. Unleashing all of his forward phasers on another weapons point, he said, "Knock, knock. We have a delivery."

Aurilia saw Rocco peel off on an attack run to the Karemma ship and plotted an intercept course. She watched the phasers from the Black Hawk and vectored in a course that wouldn't put her in the way of the fire and launched four torpedoes from her launchers as she closed the distance to the enemy ship before she pulled hard to port as they exploded against the hull.


Arjin's fingers flew over his console whilst internally cursing the nebula. "I am trying to compensate Captain. But we will never get more than point eight seven efficiency from them. And doing so will require power transfer from other systems."

"Mister Burke," Harvey asked, "give those sensors whatever we can spare. Surely there's something." He then turned back to the screen to monitor the phaser fire. The Confederation ship was still heading for them. Another few seconds and they'd be in torpedo range. Hopefully, they'd be able to fire accurately enough.

"Aye, Sir!" replied Burke. He accessed the power grid, and diverted power from every non-essential system he could find, and redirected it toward the sensor array. He also tried to narrow the bandwidth, and added refractory data from the nebular gasses, in what he hoped would be a successful attempt to boost sensor efficiency.

He looked at Djinx. "Try it now, Commander," he said.

After a nodd to the Lieutenant, he started to do the math in his head. Making sure he could maximise the results. Before adjusting the targetting sensors.

"Compensating now. Scanners at eighty percent efficiency."

He adjusted some parameters that went outside their limits. "Scanners at eighty one percent. Eighty two. Recalibrating forward sensor array. Eighty three percent."

He just hoped he could give the Hawk some talons in due time. " Eighty four. Adjusting broadwith. Eigthy five percent."
Sweat ran down Arjin's back as he fought with the computer and danced with the nebula. " Eighty six percent. Aligning sensors again. Eighty seven percent. Thats all I can give you captain."

=^=Tigris to Black Hawk. The project is underway.=^= Ensign Khan's voice came over the comm a moment later.

The captain raised an eyebrow, wondering where that ingenuity had been just a week ago. He couldn't even begin to fathom the trouble they would have all avoided. "Miss Corwin, use it to your advantage. Cochrane, you're first! Get through that rift. Charlie flight is to follow. Bravo Flight stays with the Tigris until we get there."

Joey didn't need to be told twice, and now that sensors were back online, she planned to unleash a fury like D'rimo had never seen before. With her fingers flying over the console in front of her, she locked onto the Confederation vessel's weapons and let the phaser fire fly. This time she wasn't letting up until the damage was done, and their weapons were officially offline.

Harvey watched the viewscreen as a few of D'rimo's weapon turrets exploded, but that only caused the others to work faster. As the vessel closed the distance, more and more of the polaron blasts met the ship's hull. Alarms and sparks sounded from every station. "Hold together," he mumbled to the ship. "Damage report!" he called out. "Helm, start moving towards the rift!"


"Go!" Teixeira ordered in response to Geisler. "Tactical, continue suppressive fire. Fordyce, keep doing the best you can with the sensors. Be ready to take readings as we pass through the rift."

Marley set a course for the rift and braced herself for the black out that she suspected was coming for a second time.

Fordyce brought as many sensors as functioned online and put them into active scanning mode. She wanted to get whatever records she could of this anomaly. After all the hell she'd been through on the wrong side of the damned thing. If she could learn anything that might prevent anyone else from ever suffering like that.....


Terry watched as the tiny fighter emblems on his monitor that represented Charlie Flight disappeared along with the Cochrane. He pulled his Valkyrie out of the loop and maneuvered to get a visual on the rift. The veteran fighter pilot hoped that they had made it safely without the black out like last time. That would not be very good at all for the little Valkyries or their pilots.


Reports of injured were coming in from all over the ship and more injured were making their way to Sick Bay. Jayla was trying to keep in constant contact with the teams around the ship all while treating patients. It wasn't easy, but it was preferable to being bored and thinking about everything that had gone wrong and what could still go wrong.

"Dr. Tanner, take two nurses down to engineering," Jayla ordered, seeing the reports coming in. "T'Lura!" she called as the doors parted and three crewmen came in, nursing various wounds. "With me."

T'Lura grabbed a medkit, slung it over her shoulder, and followed Doctor Kij.


"Rear view, this station!" Harvey shouted, pointing at the nearby station configured for Mission Ops. He didn't have to wait long for it to appear, and it was just in time for him to see that the Cochrane begun its journey through the rift. The ship shuddered again, sending showers of sparks from a nearby station. "Time to go!" he called out. "All fighters through the rift, now! Tactical, switch to photons from the torpedo launcher. Save the quantums, and shoot to cover only. Don't waste torpedoes!"

Burke braced himself against his console as the ship was shaken again. It was getting to be almost a routine shake, he thought, since it had happened so often in the past ten days. He tapped his board, and brought up a damage report.

"Minor damage to secondary hull," he reported. "Power loss on Decks Twelve and Thirteen, Starboard-aft sections. Structural integrity down to seventy-four percent."

Making the switch to photon torpedoes, Joey began the ship's cover assault, overlapping fields of phaser fire. She wasn't necessarily shooting to hit, but more to distract while their people moved through the rift. Home was within reach now, and she planned to do her part to get them there. It was more than time to get out of this godforsaken universe.

Harvey watched as the rift grew in the viewscreen. A shout from the helm informed him that they'd enter the rift in a few short moments. "Cease fire!" he called out, not wanting to cause further disruption. "Mister Djinx, you better get some scans of this thing as we go through. Mister Burke, beam the crew of the Tigris aboard."

"Yes, Sir!" replied Burke. He locked on to the Tigris crew's life signs, and energized the transporter, bringing the crew to the relative safety of the Black Hawk.

Kelly breathed a sigh of relief when she felt the transporter lock onto her and saw the shimmer and felt the tingling sensation wash over, but her relief was greater when she saw she was back on the Black Hawk and in one piece. She quickly stepped off the transporter pad and moved for the doorway.

When Bravo Flight had received the word that the crew of the Tigris was safe, Ap'eth lead them back to form up with Alpha Flight. The two flights continued with their phaser fire and distractions, but the main goal was to get through that rift. The last thing any of them wanted to be stuck in this place. Both Flights moved in to a tight formation around the fore and dorsal of the Black Hawk. Terry was thankful for a group of pilots that could do what they were doing, fly tight, fire phasers, and dodge their own ship's phasers. He had to plan something for this group when they got back. They deserved it.

Aurilia brought her Peregrine around in a graceful arc as she fired one last barrage and formed up with Ap'eth and the others as they headed for the rift. Here goes everything, she thought as it began to fill her screen.


"Steady!" Teixeira growled. The Cochrane was being bounced around as it traversed the rift.

To say it had been a pleasant trip was to compare it to drinking a glass of water. Really simple if you were the one drinking the glass of water, but a nightmare if you were the water, Marley thought as she navigated the rift and was relieved when she came out in the nebula. "Sir?" she asked and looked back at the Commander, confusion written on her face when she saw it and wondered if they were still in the other universe.

Within moments, the shaking eased. He touched a control on the small panel next to him to alter the viewscreen to show a rear view. Though the nebula greatly interfered with sensors, the intermittent picture showed the open rift to the Cochrane's aft.

"Can we verify our position somehow?" Thiago asked. "Comm traffic, maybe?"

Ian's slender fingers crossed the console at his disposal. He smiled and then turned to Teixeira to report. "Com traffic indicates several Starfleet channels as well as eight ships in this sector. We're home, Sir. We're home." His blue eyes sparkled with excitement. Then, he had a sudden thought.

"Let's hope the Black Hawk shares our luck."


The Black Hawk emerged from the rift with the rest of the fighters. Harvey's eyes darted to the timer displayed on the viewscreen. It had counted down more than he would have liked, a warning that this runabout was soon about to explode. "All fighters, combat landings," he ordered. Both the Cochrane and the Black Hawk could take the shockwave from the runabout's core breach, but he didn't want to lose another fighter.

Aurilia breathed a a sigh of relief when she came out the other side of the rift and saw the Black Hawk emerge. When the order for a combat landing was received, she banked the Peregrine around in a tight arc and headed for the ship while the nebula blinded her sensors. Landing with just naked eye visibility could be tricky, but she remembered her training and guided the fighter in and headed for the spot furthest away from the landing bay entrance before she set it down with a bump! that rattled her teeth.

Galahad, watching his wing leaders back came in behind his partner, making sure to breath slow as he fought to make the proper landing.

Archer acknowledged and swung around behind Rocco. Combat landings could be nerve racking things and she flinched when she hit, only partly because of the heavy landing. She'd swear she could hear a screech as she hit the deck in her fighter and felt it as though it her her own body. "Oh sorry baby..." she muttered a little pained, going through the shut down sequence.

Harvey, however, was not prepared at all for the alarm that just sounded at the Operations station.

"We're clear of the event horizon!" announced Burke. "Sir! The Confederate ship is following us!"

The viewscreen shifted back to the rift where part of the Confederation ship was starting to peek through. "Dammit," Captain Geisler hissed. The last thing he'd wanted was to contaminate the universe they just left. But, to have something from the other side come through...

Thankfully, the runabout had other ideas. The containment field collapsed a few seconds early, igniting the ship's entire matter and antimatter reaction system. The Mutara class nebula, nortorious for interfering with sensors, had blinded D'rimo to the runabout's presence, which happened to be next to one of the warp nacelles when it exploded. The surprise was enough to not just overwhelm D'rimo's ship, but to create a much larger explosion.

Harvey did not need sensors to confirm the rift was starting to collapse as he could see it start to engulf D'rimo's ship. Other alarms sounded, blaring throughout the bridge.

Stating the obvious, but still his task to do so, Arjin responded: "The rift is closing. The explosion seems to have been successful. At the current rate the rift will be gone in six minutes."

"Helm!" Harvey cried out, grabbing the armrests of his chair as the ship began to shudder from the gravitational pull. "Warp speed! Now!"

Though the ship jumped to warp, her position didn't change. The gravitational pull was too strong, sucking in every bit of the nebula it could stomach. Only when the rift decided it had had enough, it closed completely, leaving behind not a single trace of the Confederation ship, and a quarter of the nebula.

"All stop!" Harvey ordered. "Status report! Teixeira? Alpha One?"

"Scanning," said Burke. After a few seconds, a smile appeared on his face. "Picking up subspace traffic on Federation frequencies. Long-range sensors are picking up Starbase Unity, and six... no, make that eight... Starfleet ships in the sector."

"Glad you made it, Captain," Thiago replied, his voice coming over the bridge speakers.

"Thank you, Thiago," Harvey said over the comm.

We made it, Joey thought once they made it through the rift. Her hands gripped the console in front of her so tight that her once tanned skin was a ghostly shade of white. In fact, her fingers were beginning to cramp. Finally letting go, she flexed them a few times with a frown. They were going to finally end things once and for all. While that was definitely a positive in her eyes, it also meant that there was no rest for the weary.

The entire crew was exhausted, and now they were being tossed into a battle that was bound to go down in history as one of epic proportions. There wasn't much time to plan, and once she stepped off of the bridge, she'd go back to taking orders instead of giving them, but that's what she was best at. The Security officer would do her part to see to it that this all came to an end.

Was there a light at the end of the tunnel? Joey knew there was. Would it all be worth it? Absolutely. One thing she looked forward to... they wouldn't be doing it alone.

Captain Geisler heaved a sigh of relief. Home. They were home.

"Incoming ships," reported Burke. "Starfleet signatures.... Though not all of them."

Before Harvey had a chance to react to the report, the viewscreen was suddenly filled with flashes of light, and the sudden arrival of a small fleet of starships. Six of them were Starfleet, as Lieutenant Burke had reported. Their escort, however, was comprised of no less than twenty Jem'Hadar fighters and battleships.

"Incoming hail, Captain," Camila said from her station, feeling as if she had missed out on a lot and vowed never to go into Command unless she had the Big Seat.

Harvey was certainly curious as to what the hell was going on. There was no way such a group could have been waiting for them to arrive. No, something else was underway here. "Loop in the Cochrane and put it on screen," Harvey demanded.

Camila activated the viewer and linked it to the Cochrane, surprised by the turn of events upon seeing Starfleet ships with Jem'Hadar. Things must have changed greatly since they had been away.

The screen flashed to a split screen of the Brazilian Commander of the Cochrane and a familiar face, one Harvey was quite grateful to see. "Captain Geisler," greeted Commodore Zachary O'Connell with a sly smile. "Where the hell have you been?"

Captain Geisler smirked and shook his head. "It's a... well, a long story, Commodore."

"That so?" The Commodore asked. "Well, you'll have plenty of time to tell me all about it on the way there."

Harvey cocked an eyebrow as he glanced around his bridge. "There... sir?"

"Deep Space 11," Zachary confirmed. "It's time to end this fight with the Consortium once and for all."


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