The six bridge cadets sat upright in their chairs facing each other across the large circular bridge. They each had a large touch screen monitor. The monitors were exact replicas of the ones used in the Academy’s simulator. The operation of every station started with the input of a security ID. Because the Voyager’s stations were not coded Tex was able to override that feature allowing the cadets access to their assigned stations. Once the ship was in clear space Tex would work on proper security access codes.
Once in the system, the cadets could pull up their dedicated station’s controls. Each window could then be arranged to the cadet’s own liking. Data displays could be resized and positioned on the touch screen monitors or, with a quick finger movement, tossed up on the HSDD (Holosphere Data Display) or ‘Sphere’ for short. A window could be resized and repositioned on the Sphere. With another slide of a finger, the data read out could be rotated to face anyone on the bridge sitting in the command circle.
The Holographic Sphere is generated by several projectors circling the lowest tier of the bridge. When on, the HSDD fills the entire circular center of the three level bridge with a bight transparent globe. Command officers can choose from several display options. For instance, an outside few of the ship and its surroundings, easily enlarged or reduced. Another options is the inner ship view supplied by the hundreds of security and monitoring cameras. The Sphere can also show multiple layers of data. The bridge officers decide what to display in front of their own stations. The officer on duty in the Captain’s Chair decides what is shown in the center of the sphere for all to see.
“Computer, Activate the Sphere,” Cadet Captain Carick said as he sat in the captain’s chair and looked over his armrest controls. The projectors came on instantly, filling the the open space between all three circular tiers of the bridge with a bright 3D holographical Sphere. Numbers and diagrams scrolled in front of each station as the Sphere received instructions from the cadets. Carick tapped his left monitor. The Center of the Sphere displayed a bird’s eye view of the Voyager sitting in the McAuliffe Station’s Space Dock. Using his forefinger and thumb, Carick widened the image. The Voyager became smaller as more and more of the station appeared in vivid high definition in the Sphere. With a left swipe of his index finger Carick changed the angle to the back of the ship looking forward to the space dock doors. Smoke poured into the docking bay from numerous sections of the station. Repair skips flew in multiple directions. A large explosion registered near the outer space doors. A part of the station’s bulkhead ruptured. Through it Carick saw the black of space.
“Steering Thrusters Mr. Hall. Take us out.” Carick said to third year Cadet Adam Hall.
“Yes Sir,” Hall replied. Hall looked intently on the touch screen before him. It was set to display a 3D view of Space Dock. To the left of the screen were the thruster controls. With a tap of his finger the corresponding thruster fired.
“Easy Hall, this is real.” Carick reminded him.
“I understand.” Hall reassured him.
Hall tapped the forward thruster. Nothing happened. He tapped it again. Nothing happened. He tapped the diagnostics button. A moment later a data screen appeared on the Sphere in front of him.
“What’s wrong?” Carick asked.
“The thrusters are in station keeping. They won’t respond to my controls.” Hall was frustrated.
“Let me see.” Carick tapped his right monitor and moved a copy of the display to his section of the Sphere. He quickly examined it then tapped the monitor again.
“Tex,” he called out.
“Go,” Tex responded.
“We don’t have thrusters. They’re in station keeping.”
“I got it!” a younger voice called out in the background.
“You got that Razz?” Tex called back.
“Yep,” Second year Cadet Rasband replied. “There was a problem with the
fuel distribution. It’s sorted out. I forgot to take the thrusters off station keeping. Sorry.”
“Try it again Carick,” Tex said, then closed the line.
“OK Hall. Do your thing.” Carick moved the data display off the sphere and concentrated again on the image of the ship in space dock. Hall tapped the forward thruster. The ship moved forward.
“We’re actually doing this.” Hirschi said to fill the silence as everyone watched the ship inch closer and closer to the doors.
“Murdock, have a course for the Magellan Station ready. Aland, ready with emergency impulse speed when I give the order. We will clear the dock doors, go to emergency impulse, get clear of the station, position ourselves facing open and clear space then jump to warp 6. Everyone on the same page?” Carick decided to give all the orders at once. It would save a precious minute or two.
“Yes Sir,” the cadets responded at once.
“Harkin. Fire on everything in range. Do what you can to protect the station and this ship. Oh and raise the shields when we are clear of the door. Hirschi, pull up the science station. The more information you get on the aliens and their weapons the better. We don’t.....”
“Open up.” Hall interrupted Carick. The Space Dock Doors were closed. The large lights on either side of the doors showed red.
“Roberts.” Carick shouted out.
“I’m calling the station now.” Cadet Chelsey Roberts replied. A moment later the door lights changed from red to green. The doors started to part. Brilliant explosions illuminated the blackness of open space. Debris floated in all direction. The plasma trails of incoming and outgoing missiles crated a spider’s web of orange around the station.
“OK Troops, Battlestations and don't forget to Buckle up.” Carick shouted after pushing his 'All Decks' comm link. Everyone in the ship strapped themselves into their chairs. Some quickly crossed themselves before returning their hands to their controls. Others, having nothing to do but monitor readouts, clutched their desks or chairs. All understood the danger that waited.
“We’re out!” Hall shouted. The front of the Voyager emerged from the station into a volley of missiles and phaser bursts. The station was true to its word. It was concentrating weapon fire to give the Voyager time to escape. Carick widened the Sphere display to see more of the surrounding area. The Voyager appeared as a small toy ship in the center of the projection emerging from a much larger toy station. Orange missle trails and brilliant yellow steaks of phaser power shot from one end of the projection to the other. Carick examined the scene carefully, looking for a clear area to make jump to warp. The Bridge alarm rang before he could settle on a direction.
“Incoming!” Harken shouted. She was on her feet pointing to the Sphere. Carick saw what she was pointing at. Three of the several missiles in the projection were circled in red. The Voyager was their target.
“Take ‘em out!” Carick ordered.
“Yes sir, “ Harken responded taking her seat. A moment later the sound of phasers came from the outside the bridge's wall. Yellow lines shot out from the small Voyager in the Sphere. Two missiles were hit. One got through. Harken fired the phasers. The missile was too close.
An explosion rocked the ship. The Bridge lights and HoloSphere flickered, blinked out then returned.
“Carick,” Tex’s voice was loud and urgent. ”The missiles are two staged. The first stage carries a powerful warhead. It’s designed to create a small disruption in the shields. The second explosion carries the EMB burst designed to break through the opening and short circuit our electronics. It nearly did but the shield regenerated quickly enough to prevent it. We can’t take many of those. Got it!”
“Got it,” Carick responded. “Harken, fire on everything whether its coming at us or not. Just keep firing.”
“Murdock, course set for Magellan?” Carick asked.
“Finishing it now. Ready in 20 seconds if I’m reading this right. You realize safety protocols won’t let us jump if anything is in our way. You’ve got to get us into clear space.” Murdock reminded him.
Carick reexamined the Sphere looking for a clear area. “Hall, look to your 2:00 o’clock. There's an opening . Aland emergency impulse. Push it.”
The Voyager turned in the Moon's general direction. The impulse engines pushed the ship foward.
Another alarm rang out followed by an explosion. The Voyager rolled starboard. A massive power outage blacked out six of the ship’s decks. The impulse engines went off line. The ship moved on inertia only.
“Tex, Report!” Carick shouted over the alarms.
“That one nearly took us out. We’ve still got warp drive if you can get us clear. We’ve got wounded. Anyone to spare? I need more hands.” Tex was out of breath. Carick looked around the bridge.
“Hirschi, engineering. Move.”
“Yes sir.” Third year Cadet Zac Hirschi jumped up from the science station and ran toward the turbolift.
The lights continued to flicker. The Sphere maintained stability providing real time views of their desperate situation.
“Are we clear?” Carick shouted to Murdock.
“No!” Murdock responded.
"Damn It!" Carick was losing his patience. His ship was in grave danger and his cadet's lives were on the line.
Hall read the situation and knew what his captain was thinking. “I know Captain. I’m turning the ship. There's another clear area. Give me a minute.”
The Sphere showed the Voyager making a slow turn, its weapons firing. Several of the ship’s torpedoes found targets. The ones that didn’t acquired new targets automatically. Harken used phaser bursts for anything that got through the torpedo shield created around the ship.
“Bridge, this is Payne.”
“Go.” Carick responded.
“I’ve got seven cadets in sick bay. Two with burns. Three with broken bones and the rest with cuts and internal injuries.”
“I can’t stop the bleeding!” Carick heard Cadet Spencer Merryweather’s voice in the background. He sounded panicked.
“Mary, take care of it. Apply pressure. I've got my hands full.” Payne shouted back.
“I am applying pressure. Meredith is suggesting a Dermal Fusion but I can’t pick one up. It's taking both hands to stop this gushing artery. I think I'm going to be sick.” Mary knew he was about to loose his supper. He hated the sight of blood. The only thing keeping him from passing out was the adrenaline pumping through his veins.
“Sick bay out.” Payne closed the channel.
“Incoming!” Harken shouted. The explosion took the ship off its intended course. The lights went out. Emergency lights came on.
“Tex!” Carick called out. Static replied. “Tex!” he said again. And again, static.
“Communications are down.” Roberts advised.
Carick looked at his cadets. They were each his responsibility. He felt he was letting them down. That's when he noticed blood gushing from Aland's forehead. The injury ignited a rage deep within the Cadet Captain.
"We will not lose this ship!" he shouted. "Roberts, take care of Aland."
Roberts unbuckled her harness and ran to the wall unit displaying a Red Cross. She opened the hatch and pulled out a small suitcase. A moment later she was treating Aland’s cut.
“Hall?” Carick asked.
“We still have thrusters. Our inertia is good. We’re at 3/4ths impulse.”
“I still have torpedoes. Phasers are down and I’m firing.” she replied, nearly out of breath.
Carick looked at the Sphere. His warp jump opening was filling rapidly with small alien fighters heading in his direction. Their escape window was closing.
Static came from the speakers, then a voice.
“Carick?” It was Tex’s.
“We’re here.” Carick was relieved. Without Tex they didn’t have a chance.
“Warp power gone. We’re dead in the water. Hirschi is working on them but he doesn’t know enough. We’ve got another problem. Look at our onboard life signs. We’ve got intruders. I’m guessing three, maybe four. They transported over when the port shield collapsed. Don’t know where they are. Take precautions. I’m working on the engines. Tex out.”
Carick was out of options. “Get your phasers.” he ordered. The cadets reached under their chairs and released their hand phasers. “Meredith.” Carick called on the ship’s tutoring program. “Display Intruder Protocol?” A series of steps appeared on the Sphere. Carick swung the screen around the Sphere until the display faced Murdock. “Ben, follow the steps. Find the intruders.”
Carick looked at the Sphere. There were no more incoming missiles. They didn't want to destroy the ship anymore. They wanted his ship for something else. Fighters would be his next challenge and the odds were stacked against him.
Another alarm rang. It wasn't the one signaling an incoming weapon. This was the proximity alert.
The Sphere showed a wormhole forming off to their port side. It was large. Something big was coming.
“Meredith?” he requested.
“Working,” came the calm teacher's voice.
“Wormhole query. How long will a wormhole remain open after a ship emerges?”
“I can’t answer that without know how much power was used to create the wormhole.”
“And if we are moving through a wormhole and it closes. What then?”
“You emerge into normal space wherever you are when the worm collapses around you?”
“I know where you're going with this?” Hall grasped Carick's thinking. He realized this new plan would involve careful steering. We had to push the Voyager through the newly formed wormhole without colliding with the alien ship emerging and before the wormhole collasped.
“It's up to you Adam. Time to earn your first medal. Be a hero.”
“Yes sir.” Hall made the necessary adjustments. He pulled the opening wormhole into the Voyager's 12 o'clock.
Seconds passed. The wormhole grew bigger and bigger. Suddenly a large alien ship emerged. The Voyager’s collision alarms rang. The ship’s automatic systems attempted to steer away from the oncoming alien ship. Hall anticipated that reaction and overruled the safety protocols. The Voyager continued forward in this galactic game of chicken.
A moment later the alien ship’s thrusters lit up its port side. The ship veered starboard, narrowly missing the Voyager’s port nacelle. Missiles were launched. The Voyager entered the wormhole’s event horizon then disappeared down a long tunnel with an unknown ending.
Once again, thanks for reading. This is the continuing story of a mission I'd like to eventually tell in the Voyager. Once again I beg your pardon for errors. I'm more concerned for getting the story down then making sure all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed. So much to write and so little time...........
Oh, and thanks to all that are sending comments. Don't think I have this story all thought out to the end. I'm writing this one week at a time. As for next week. Right now I haven't a clue what will happen to our brave cadets. Stay tuned.