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Fighting For Freedom

Posted on Mon Jul 20, 2020 @ 12:46am by Commodore Michael Aravan & Ensign Jonathan Baker & 2nd Lieutenant Gage Aravan & Danielle Mercursi-Mallory & Captain Madelina Weisz & Lieutenant Commander Arrda & Lieutenant Commander Kelani Tetanal & Lieutenant Commander Alex Rho & Lieutenant Martha Cusack & Lieutenant Kyra Silvan Daughter of House Kilrah & Master Chief Petty Officer Thomas Barnes & Lieutenant Xylia Lischka & Lieutenant JG Daniella Blake & Ensign Michael Donovan & Ensign Zahara & Petty Officer 3rd Class Alexandra "Lexi" Barrows & Spencer Aravan & Piper Aravan & Ashley Baker

Mission: The Nanjing
Location: Shipwide
Timeline: MD 3 || 0300 Hours

Michael had send out encrypted messages to a great many crew that the CMO had cleared as being normal and hoped for the best. In the time since he and the CMO had left Medical, he had taken every circuitous route he could find leading her and others through the ship.

His ultimate goal was the Victorious and he hoped his hunch he was playing on was correct. If it wasn't, odds were good that he'd be court martialed and sent to a rehabilitation colony for allowing a top of the line starship to be taken by the enemy. However, he couldn't afford to be taken by whatever was affecting his crew.

He had tried to argue with some personnel, including his brother, about taking their loved ones that were registered as clear, but none of them were having it. There was also an argument about fighting to take the ship back, but his logic of them not knowing who had been taken by whatever was on the ship and the personnel not wanting to fire upon fellow crew members.

The Commodore had gotten his family and his brother's out and then more people and personnel had joined them, and he looked at the small gathering. "I know this is going to be difficult," he told them as he headed for the dock where the Victorious was docked. "But we have to do this. Protect the children and don't let anyone, and I mean anyone not here right now, get their hands on you."

"Everywhere with phasers, set them on maximum stun and don't forget that our uniforms make us partially invulnerable to those settings unless it's sustained fire or you hit skin. We have three decks to go and by now, our element of surprise is probably gone, so prepare for a fight."

Kelani frowned and her face set in grim lines. ~I knew it!~ She thought, ~I knew something was off but did not know what!~

Aloud she said, “Nothing will happen to the young ones—I promise you. “ She looked to Michael, saying, “I will give you as much advance warning as I can, but especially Chief Barnes and Captain Weisz are difficult for me to sense now.”

Xylia checked her phaser and set it to maximum stun as she made sure the civilians and children were safe inside a perimeter of uniformed personnel. She couldn't believe something like this was currently happening. "Commodore, the tricorders the doctor programmed with the enhanced neurological activity... couldn't we run an internal sensor sweep to pinpoint specific locations where they might be clustered? At the very least, it would tell us where we need to avoid." And keep the scared children that much safer.

Arrda and Danielle had joined the group as they passed through the section of the ship that housed their quarters. He had insisted that she wear a set of semi-armored clothing that he'd had made for her before he had been assigned here. This was all going straight to the Abyss in a hurry, and he wanted to be sure she was as protected as he could make her. Oh, she had been Security, so he knew she could handle herself, but this was a very different situation.

Setting his own phaser to maximum stun, he holstered it and stroked his Marai weapon absently as he addressed Michael. "That is a valid point. But being partially machine now, they might notice an active scan." He paused thoughtfully. "Also, to get this far, they had to have infiltrated the computers, at least to some degree. My Security systems are harder to crack, but we don't know what other systems are infiltrated. If we access the computer, we may give our location away to them in our attempt to find theirs."

Ensign Donovan made sure his phaser was set to the highest stun setting. "And that's the last thing we want to do. But, with the maximum stun setting and them being part machine...kinda begs the question, will they be like the Borg were and adapt? Or do we even know that yet?" Sometimes things like that didn't quite make it down to his level of need-to-know.

"We don't know but we do know that they appear to be normal," Michael said. "They look like themselves until it's too late, according to the Doctor." He looked around. "Who seems to be missing. Shit. Everyone, keep your eyes moving in all directions. Stay together. Commander Arrda, set up force fields to activate before and after each junction we pass. Anything to slow them down."

Arrda nodded, removing his PADD from his jacket and entering a set of codes. He then activated the forcefields throughout the corridors of the ship. This way, it would be harder for the ones they were avoiding to determine where they were by where he was protecting. Also, they would have to get past more forcefields wherever they were. He then set up a signal that he could give to lower each set as his group neared it and reactivate the shield after they had passed through. A signal only he knew. As they moved through the ship, he would also be periodically changing his 'passcode' (the signal) so that the 'enemy' would be forced to figure it out again and again, assuming they managed to crack it once.

"Forcefields are up on all corridors," he told the Commodore. "That will slow them down, hopefully even more. Also, I will need to give a coded signal to each set as we approach them to lower and raise them," he told his superior, hoping that the Commodore approved. "That signal will be changed periodically to minimize the risk of it being cracked."

With the Triumphant now at a significant risk of falling to the enemy Martha had encrypted the vessel's tactical systems so that the Nanjing could not use them until Martha inputted the necessary codes to unlock them again. She'd armed herself with her trusty phaser rifle along with a belt of photon grenades.

"I have encrypted all of the tactical systems with a rotating multi layer level of encryption - I've also set up motion activated transporter devices so if they try to launch torpedoes manually from the torpedo bays they'll be beamed straight out" Martha said.

Michael listened to both of his Security and Tactical Chiefs and nodded. "What happens if either of you get taken out?" he asked. "Give me the codes and we'll rotate as we go." He gave a glance at his heavily pregnant wife and children, then the other mothers and their children. "And we have to move fast."

Martha had thought about that as she was finalising the encryption. After removing it from her pocket Martha handed Michael one of two medical tricorders which had been modified to only reveal the code after receiving a fingerprint confirmation from either herself or Michael.

Martha replied. "Way ahead of you. It's programmed so it'll only reveal the code with either my fingerprint or yours. I have another one just in case"

With all of this going on Kyra got an idea...."What if we could use the personal transporter arm bands to mask everyone's biosigns. It would shield our bio signs giving us a better chance of getting to the Victorious safely. It's been done before with the Borg. It Could work here again", she piped up.

"That only works if we have access to Intel, which we don't at the moment," Michael said. "We need to get to deck thirty to the upper docking cradle of the Aquarius near Engineering."

Kelani checked her phaser, setting it to the highest possible stun setting. She moved close to Spencer, telling Michael, “I cannot sense anything from Chief Barnes or Captain Weisz, Commodore. I can sense great unease in other parts of the ship....”

She leaned closer to Spencer, saying very softly, “If you become fatigued, lean on me.”

Spencer offered Kelani a grateful smile. She was already exhausted, but needed to keep pushing herself forward. "Thank you, Commander," she said. "I might just have to take you up in that."

Arrda had waited for the others to finish with the commodore before he moved to Michael and handed him the backup PADD he always carried. "This one has the same encryptions as mine. I have linked it to mine so that, when I change the codes on mine, they will change on yours." He wasn't completely sanguine about that as any form of communication like this could conceivably be hacked, but the only other choice was telepathy, and he wasn't sure that Michael would like that. "The risk of being hacked is minimal as these two are off the grid and directly linked. However, the only more secure means of giving you each new code would be telepathy." He paused for a second. "I didn't store the whole set of codes in any location. That way, even if the PADDs were hacked, they would only get the current code, but not the update." And hopefully, we would notice the hack before we entered the new code. he thought privately.

"Very smart," Michael said as he accepted the PADD and started to head forward again. "I'm going to try to herd them towards the battle bridge. I took all the commands from the main bridge so if they do a separation, the civilians on board can have a chance as well. I feel horrible for not evacuating the ship, but there's something I can't do at the moment."

“That was for Tellus,” he said, still gasping for air before being restrained by the other personnel at the airlock.

Lexi had been using the Jeffries Tubes to get through the ship. She had no idea who were changed and who she could trust, and so she had avoided most of the crew by using the tubes. As she came out into a corridor, a group of people rounded the corner, and she froze. Were they friend or foe? It was sad that she had to think that way of her own crew, but that's what it had come down to. As she watched them, she realized that they were acting as normal as anyone could at times like this. After all, she wasn't exactly normal at the moment, skulking around Jeffries Tubes.

As the Engineer fell in with them, Arrda studied her for a moment. He could sense her, and he remembered Lieutenant Tetanal saying that the Upgraded were difficult at best to sense. Nodding to himself, he whispered to her, "Set your phaser on maximum stun."

Lexi nodded, doing so. "Where are you all headed?" she asked equally quietly.

"Victorious," Arrda answered in a whisper only loud enough for her to hear when he leaned right down to her ear. She nodded, and they continued moving.

Michael had been ready to admonish the young Ensign that just hit the Lieutenant, but then Commander Weisz's voice came over the ship intercom. He knew it would cause panic and felt sure that she would carry through with her threat. He double tapped his combadge and issued an order he thought he'd never have to make.

=^=All hands abandon ship. Repeat, all hands abandon ship,=^= the Commodore gave the order. =^=Make your way to Selluna II and form up at the capital city. Aravan out.=^=

"Move out," Michael ordered. "If you see anyone that needs help, help them if you can. If you see someone acting oddly, don't hesitate to heavy stun them. If they keep coming, take it up a notch until they fall." He headed down the corridor to the docking cradle where the Victorious was.

All across the ship, civilians and personnel secured their stations and headed in an orderly manner towards the escape pods. The Commodore had not issued a red alert, so they thought it was a drill, was the assumed group thought.

* * *

Tom was nearly to the point of pure ecstasy. The conversion of the ship's personnel had performed well over the last day. It was hard to think that just a day ago that it was only Autumn, Maddy, and himself. Now, almost two hundred of the ship's compliment had joined the Nanjing, and many were still on their conversion beds. Tom, meanwhile, had undergone additional upgrades himself, adding the shield generator and transporter module that Maddy had obtained from Intelligence. These upgrades had also been afforded to select members of the Upgraded, including the Senior Staff members they'd converted as well as select others. His original body had sacrificed much. While most of his digestive system had been converted to processing materials for the Nanjing, his organic components had been rerouted and reassembled around the metallic components that were now nested inside his abdomen.

"The time has come," he told an assembled group. He looked specifically at the five Marines they'd obtained, upgraded into a full warrior caste complete with weapons and cannons. "There are enough of us now to claim Engineering. No one is to die, for they must be afforded the opportunity to experience our ways."

"And if they try to damage us?" asked one of the soldiers.

Tom frowned. "The loss of life today will be inevitable, but we must aspire to maintain minimal attrition."

The soldier nodded, his glowing red eyes unwavering. "Then it shall be done."

Smiling now, Tom looked to Maddy, Alex, and Zekori. "Shall we begin?" he asked them.

Maddy returned Tom's smile. Things were working well in their favor presently, and soon, they would have the ship. "Yes," she agreed. "I need to make my way back to the bridge. That is a crucial location if we mean to keep our present hold on the ship." She removed the phaser from her hip and checked the power cell before returning it. "As long as the less fortunate," And she was referring to those that lacked the upgrades. "They'll learn soon enough."

"Indeed," answered Alex, "they will. And yes, let's begin. The shield generator and personal transporter will work well for us. But the Intelligence Chief had access to something else that might prove useful if integrated into his body. A device called a voice print implant. It easily copies and reproduces someone's voice, but they must be within five meters for it to record and hear five minutes of conversation. It has been integrated with my voice box. Also with our cortical nodes, microprocessors, and ability to remote access computers, I have remote command of all of Intelligence's miniature surveillance drones. They act as tricorders and have audio-visual capability. Unfortunately, short range scans can detect them." Alex paused for a second, eyes rapidly darting back and forth. "They are standing by for deployment," he said, as two of them came around the corner and hovered over his shoulders.

"We must be cautious still," Tom reminded the group. "The Nanjing remain outnumbered. Following what happened with the Chief Medical Officer, it's possible that the crew is already on alert. Once we take engineering, we can anesthetize the entire ship. The crew will make easy targets for conversion after that."

Gaalen stood next to the impressively upgraded Marines ready and waiting to depart on his assignment. The Andorian had been upgraded with a retractable forearm-mounted melee weapon - a plasma blade - on his right arm and a stun fist on his left hand. To go with his upgrades a standard hand held phaser had also been provided to the Andorian to disable enemies from range - after all - his sword and stun fist would only be of use at close quarters.

Through his mental uplink, he instructed the Nanjing to follow him to engineering, both those who had been upgraded and the nanites that had injected themselves into the bulkheads and the computer structure.

Tom led the group down the hall, and just before entering Engineering, he instructed the Nanjing to begin. Instantly, the floor plating under the Starfleet crewmembers liquified, grabbing hold of their boots. Heartbeats later, the floor solidified, trapping the crewmembers in their positions. All control surfaces went dark, and forcefields shot up around the tri-core and other engines.

Panic set in, especially as the doors to Engineering opened and a glowing-eyed Chief Engineer entered with an army behind him. A few of the engineers managed to free themselves and rush for a weapons locker, hoping to defend Engineering.

Alex had sent the other devices away in order to stay incognito, at least until the time required. He watched as some of them ran in a futile attempt to defend themselves. The Nanjing Alex used his Ullian abilities to throw images and 'memories' of a calmer nature into their mind. This is a drill instituted by Starfleet Intelligence. What you see are holographic projections from Intel devices used to train operatives for field work. Remain calm as you proceed according to protocol. He knew they wouldn't listen to him...especially with the floor liquefying as it did. But maybe it would provide enough hesitation and the necessary seconds the Nanjing needed to take control of the situation.

"Your hocus pocus doesn't work on me!" One Engineer, a Ferengi said proudly before he realized he just outed himself from his spot where he had been trying to be inconspicuous. Then he realized that he was the new center of attention. "Oh, profits!" he yelped and dived for cover. "Computer, sound alert! Intruders!"

Tom frowned. Ferengi. Such an inferior, greedy, self-centered species. "Eliminate that one!" he ordered the Nanjing. He approached the table where two of his engineers stood, immobilized by the floor. Tom swiftly placed both of his hands on their necks to begin their conversion process. "Alex. Zekori. Silence the alarms."

Alex stepped over to silence the alarms and encrypt them with Starfleet Intelligence algorithms. He may have gotten to them too late, but the noise needed to be shut off. He then moved to silence the other alarm. The Ferengi. Alex watched as the liquid floor wrapped around the Ferengi's arms and legs where he'd landed. After he'd inserted the tubules, Alex said, "Both alarms have been silenced."

* * *

Maddy approached the bridge, but the doors didn't open for her. Her brows furrowed in frustration as she took a quick look around. "Computer, open bridge doors," she ordered, giving her authorization code.

The familiar chirp of the computer followed her command. "Access denied."

Access denied? There was only one person on the ship that had that authority. The Captain brought her hand to her combadge and tapped it until a shipwide channel was opened. "Oh, Michael. I'm sure you think you're clever, don't you?" She asked. "I am going to ask you this one time to restore my bridge access, and should you require motivation, I can provide that. Every five minutes it takes you to comply, a civilian will die." And while she spoke to the Commodore, she put out a mental message to her fellow Nanjing. "Whoever finds the Commodore and brings him to me alive will receive a special gift."

=^=All hands abandon ship. Repeat, all hands abandon ship,=^= the Commodore gave the order. =^=Make your way to Selluna II and form up at the capital city. Aravan out.=^=

* * *

Tom looked up from converting personnel. Though his gaze went straight to the ceiling, his eyes shone red and he began to look "past" the bulkheads as aided by the Nanjing that had distributed themselves throughout the ship. He slightly directed the nanites throughout the ship to start locking down the escape pods. Once the personnel boarded, they'd be trapped and waiting for their turn with conversion.

However, he could sense that the Nanjing had been locked out of several systems. They could bypass, but not in time.

"Alex. Marines." Tom turned to look at the upgraded personnel. "We must intercept the Commodore. Prepare for transport."

"Understood," said Alex. "We'll intercept him. Standing by."

* * *

Seven columns of light appeared in front of the Commodore and his entourage. They dissipated almost as quickly as they appeared, leaving behind Tom, Alex, and the five weaponized Marines. What none of the seven expected was that one of Arrda's forcefields were quickly erected, trapping the Nanjing.

The Marines quickly went to work, directing their weapons at the forcefield generators. "It is futile, Commodore," Tom warned. "Join us and experience the next step in evolution."

Michael looked over his shoulder at a person who seemed a little indistinct. "Ensign Zahara, could you please...distract..these personnel while we take an alternate route?"

"Go," the Thasian said as she stepped to the front of the group. Zahara focused her attention on the seven people in front of her, specifically, their weapons and combadges, then with the use of psychokinesis, she began to crush them.

Since his conversion really began, Tom hadn't felt much pain. That had all suddenly changed in the last few seconds as he felt various portions of his body squeeze. The Nanjing in his body screamed out as well, declaring several of his systems were being compromised. There was only one thing to do at this point...

Columns of inridescent light surrounded the Nanjing and soon they were in a different section of the ship, back in the Engineering lab for repairs.

"Autumn," Tom choked. "Assistance, please."

Autumn came out of a room and looked almost entirely cybernet from the last time he had seen her. Her skin had a shine to it now and her eyes and the rest of her seemed to have been Upgraded as well.

"What is the problem?" she asked.

There was so much pain for Alex and the Nanjing. Pain everywhere. Whatever that creature was, she could be useful if they'd reached her first. That is, if she could have been converted. Alex slumped over a console in the lab and tried to regain some form of composure, but it was difficult.

Tom did not speak to Autumn. He instead uploaded his memories of the experience to the eight-limbed woman. "We must find a defense for Zahara. But the Commodore is escaping with much of the crew. We are locked out of the computer."

"I'll send a swarm after him," Autumn said. "And work on getting the lockouts removed. Are you in any pain?"

"Very little," Tom confessed. Aside from Autumn, he was the only one with prolonged exposure to the Nanjing, and that yielded him several benefits, including minimized pain receptors. "Multiple systems are damaged, bone coverings cracked. It will take several minutes to repair, but I think one of my fusion reactors is damaged."

"Get on the bed and I will replace it," the multilimbed woman ordered.

Tom quickly complied. The sooner this was ended, the sooner he could get back to leading the Nanjing. "Same for the rest of you," he instructed the others whom had been affected by Zahara.

Once he was on the bed, two of Autumn's tentacle arms reached for the needed supplies while another sliced open the area where the micro fusion area was with a laser scalpel while the fourth tentacle removed it. She retrieved a new reactor from the first tentacle and inserted it, then the second tentacle sealed it with a new layer of Nanjing to knit the flesh and activate the new reactor. "You're done. Next!"

Tom vacated the bed by disintegrating into a transporter beam.

As Tom vanished in a haze blue light, Alex took his place on the bed. "Cracked, crushed, damaged...it's all there."

With a look at the readouts for Rho, Autumn got to work repairing him as well.

* * *

As they advanced down the corridor, Kyra stopped in front of an access panel, pulling it on, it led into a small crawl way that would eventually lead them to the exit near the upper docking bay where the Victorious was waiting. "Captain, in here. It will be a climb but it put us where we want to be. It is pretty well shielded so it should give us time to get out," Kyra said.

As the transporter effect released the changed crewmen, Kelani stepped in front of Spencer, her phaser ready, her face grim. ~I may be a scientist~ she thought, ~But I will defend the Commodore’s wife!~

She reached out with her abilities and sensed only a faint semblance of their former selves.

Arrda saw Kelani move between their group and the oncomfing altered officers. Instincts trained over centuries made him move quickly. He moved forward, grabbing the science officer and pushing her behind himself and a pair of security officers who were part of this group. He would apologize to her later; but for now, the situation called for speed, not gentility. Keeping himself and his pair of security officers between the Changed and the rest of his group, they moved as quickly as was possible, following the commodore and the others.

Kelani jumped when her arm was grabbed, but when she saw Arrda and relaxed somewhat. As she kept pace with them , she told Arrda very softly, “Thank you—I do not want any harm to come to the Commodore’s wife.”

"Let's move," Michael said as he began to urge people the way the Engineer had gone. He moved up to Spencer and took his son in his arms and Ava's hand. "Come on, honey. It isn't far."

Spencer didn't need to be told twice, but she cast a glance at her daughter. The little girl was going to struggle to keep up, and her mother couldn't allow that. "Don't worry about me," she said, scooping Ava up as she began to move the way the ship's Engineer went. "I may have my own gravitational pull presently, but I can, and will, move when I need to."

Arrda saw Spencer pick up her child and slow down and frowned. Motioning to one of his security officers to take point on the group and the other to take rear guard, Arrda holstered his phaser and moved to the commodore's wife. "I can move faster with her," he informed as an offer to carry the girl. "My man has the rear guard." He wanted her to know that Ava would be safe in his care.

Spencer didn't want to give her daughter up, but she knew she needed to. Being pregnant with a single baby was pretty rough on its own, but twins made things twice as difficult. Reluctantly, she passed her daughter over to the big man. "Anything happens to her..." She said, letting the threat trail off. Some things just didn't need to be spoken, and this was one of them.

Had he been reading her thoughts, Arrda would have agreed with that last. This was one thing she did not need to clarify for him. In her place, he would be the same. He had eight children, and he was very protective of every one of them. He nodded, pulling Ava in close to his chest and giving Spencer a look that said that he understood completely. "I will protect her with my life," he stated simply but with the truth of that simple statement shining in his eyes.

Martha ran with the group as fast as she could - keeping an intense watch at the rear to make sure that they weren't ambushed by any of the Nanjing. Martha had never experienced anything like this in her life - but now she was and after knowing that the highly capable Lucia was on her way to the Victorious with Elsie the Chief Tactical Officer felt much more at ease - knowing that they would soon be reunited.

* * *

Maddy was growing increasingly frustrated as the seconds ticked by. She was clearly going to have to get her hands dirty, not that she truly minded. The redhead stepped out onto the deck where the battle bridge was located and began to make her way toward it. Just outside the doors, she paused. "Computer, locate Commodore Aravan," she ordered, waiting for a response before deciding what her next move was going to be.

"Commodore Aravan is on Deck twenty-nine," The computer intoned.

The Captain smirked. She knew where Michael was heading, and there were a couple of ways she could handle her current situation. Option one would be to lock all senior officers out of the computer aside from those on her side of the fence and erect forcefields around his current location, however, there was a major downside to that. Michael, could, and definitely would, reverse whatever she did and lock her out. No, she needed her access, and short of being locked out of the main bridge, she still had access.

Option two... she could contact Admiral Breckenridge and convince him that Michael and the others were under Borg control, and she needed him to turn control of the ship over to her. That might work, but it would take time. Time she didn't have.

No, her option was to confront this head on, and that had the redhead moving once again.

======

Once they came out of the hatch in upper Engineering where the Victorious was, Michael saw personnel and civilians practically swarming it. "Everyone, back up!" He ordered as he drew his phaser and set it on a wide beam stun. "I don't want to hurt anyone and we're all in this together."

A wide range of protests followed, followed by several personnel on the other side drawing their own phasers. "You aren't leaving us here!"

"No one is being left behind," Michael said. "However, the Victorious can only hold one hundred and twenty people."

More protests rang out and a spanner came flying through the air but hit something and bounced off. Now the crowd surged forward.

Michael brought his phaser up and did what he thought he'd never do. He fired it on his own people, sweeping the beam across the front row of desperate people. "Get in the Victorious!" He ordered.

Arrda debated with himself, but only for a second. He did not want to abandon his commanding officer, but he had sworn to protect Ava. Also, he had two men to help the commodore. He quickly ordered them to take up a rear guard action in the sense that they would be the last to board after even Commodore Aravan. They acknowledged, and he made sure the others in their party entered the Victorious before he did, using his body as a shield, putting himself between any oncoming threat and the child in his arms.

The two security men took up positions to either side of Commodore Aravan, ensuring his safety as well as was possible until he could get to the Victorious himself. Only then would they enter behind him... unless he gave them direct orders to the contrary. He did outrank their chief, after all.

Martha continued to bring up the rear despite the Commodore now being assigned extra protection. She knew that her wife and daughter were already on board the Victorious but she had no intentions of getting onto the auxiliary craft until the Commodore and everyone else was safely on board - and if that meant she was the last one on then so be it.

The crowd stopped when the Commodore phasered some of them, but then a phaser blast came back his way, barely missing him. "Get the bastard!" Someone yelled as the crowd surged forward again.

"Fire at will," Michael said grimly as he began to sweep the crowd again.

Hearing shouting and more phaser fire, Arrda handed Ava back to her mother since they were all now on the Victorious. "Stay put; you're safe in here," he instructed even as he turned and headed back out to where the Commodore, Cusack and the two security officers were stunning a crowd of people hellbent on getting on the ship. He joined their fire with his own wide-beam phaser fire, hoping to drive the crowd back and prevent any more losses or injuries.

He hated this, firing on his own. It reminded him of the Earth Mission, or rather how it had ended. He had been forced to fire on his own then too, and it had stuck in his craw then too. "People, please, just make your way to escape pods. The Victorious isn't large enough for everyone." He was trying to inject some calm reason into the situation, but it didn't seem as if anyone heard him. Or if they did, they were pointedly ignoring him. He sighed heavily and laid down another swath of stunning phaser fire.

Before boarding the Victorious, Spencer quickly got her son from Michael. If he was going to be involved in some kind of altercation, she didn't want the toddler to be any part of it. Why was this happening? She didn't know, but things were definitely going downhill rather quickly. She made sure Piper was close by with her nephew.

Martha continued stunning anyone who wouldn't comply with the instruction to calm down and stop hindering the evacuation process - occasionally having to duck out of the way of fire being returned from the baying crowd. This wasn't ideal by any means - but it was a necessary evil in a bid to control the situation as quickly as possible before it was too late.

"How about you all just calm down and stop wasting time so we can get you onto the ship?" Martha said.

Xylia, who spent many years of her career in Security, moved up next to Michael and aimed her phaser directly in front of her. "Commodore, I'm going to have to ask you to board the Victorious now, sir," she said. It wasn't an order, given he outranked her, but she did speak in a tone that didn't leave much room for argument. "We need you to be completely in tact for what's to come, whatever that is, and if you're charged by an extremely angry mob, that's definitely not going to be possible."

Michael reluctantly fell back, but he wasn't happy with what was going on. He waited until the last minute and then entered.

Kelani moved to stand next to Arrda, her weapon ready. Using her abilities, she reached out to the many frightened minds, trying to reassure them and make them see reason. She had never tried this on such a large scale, but at this point in time their fear was as dangerous in its own way as the enemy they sought to defeat.

~Calm yourselves,~ , she sent to them. ~The enemy is not us.~

Some of the other personnel looked confused but a few who was immune to telepathy continued to charge and tried to get on the Victorious while the others held them off.

"Everyone in!" Michael bellowed.

Kyra wasted no time, after she swept the crowd with her own phaser that was on stun, she bounded into the air lock of the Victorious taking a quick headcount. Everyone was accounted for as she charged into the Victorious finally. "Let's go!" she yelled.

An order was an order, and truth be told, Arrda was relieved that he no longer had to fire on his own. Motioning to his two security men, the three retreated slowly into the ship, laying down covering fire while the last of the group boarded.

Among the mass brawl Martha saw out of the corner of her eye that one of her colleagues from her department had been fatally shot with a phaser by someone in the crowd - and her daughter was next to her mother's lifeless body and clearly very upset. Not willing to leave her colleague's daughter behind Martha - wanting to do right by her fallen crewmate - took advantage of the covering fire and quickly brought her colleague's daughter to the safety of the Victorious. After finding her wife and daughter Martha was touched to find Lucia had also brought Martha's two pet canaries along in their small carry cage.

Spencer, with her son on her hip and her daughter's hand in hers, made her way to the bridge. She was hot, tired and feeling incredibly hormonal. Those three things, combined with what was happening around them, was making her feel incredibly hostile. The former Executive Officer dared someone, even her husband, to tell her that neither she, nor her children, needed to be on the brige right now. They would regret it soon enough.

Once all were aboard, Arrda found his wife and hugged her close for several long moments, simply glad that she was here and safe. Then he pulled back and kissed her. "I need to go to the bridge now, but I love you." Another quick kiss, and he headed for the bridge of the Victorious. Reaching it, he took the Security Station. Checking it over, he called out, "Commodore, Security is green across the board. Ready for launch here."

* * *

Tom materialized in Engineering and joined Athyle at the center pool table. She didn't have to wait for him to ask for a situation report, informing him through the mental link that the Victorious was powering up and that the Nanjing had no luck getting through the computer lockout.

The former Chief Engineer frowned. Without computer control, they could not beam the Commodore to Engineering and force him to undergo conversion and then remove the lockout. It was now time to take the path of least resistance. "Bypass the computer," he simply instructed. "We can remove all command functions manually and place primary systems into isolated overrides. We'll build new shunts and protocols will give us access to all of the ship's systems to regain full control. The upgraded and Autumn's drones can help us manage them."

"What about the Victorious?" the former Andorian asked.

"Let them escape," Tom told her. "They won't get far. By the time we regain control, we can intercept them, or make it so no one tells their side of the story."

* * *

Maddy approached the docking bay for the Aquarius class Victorious and smirked when she heard all of the commotion coming from inside. Mass hysteria was taking place, and Michael was completely powerless to do anything about it. He was abandoning his ship, as well as those he swore to protect. This was just getting better and better.

The redhead stepped out into a shadow where those are her wouldn't be able to see her... yet, and watched the scene before her. "Oh, Michael," she murmured as another smile played at her lips. "You can run, but you can't hide. Not when there's a lesson for you to learn."

 

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