[USS Vanguard] RPG: Fantastic Voyage

Commodore Dominic Santos
Carillon
After all recent posts

Dominic Cesar Santos dozed uneasily, using a trick he learned from his
days at the Academy. Santos preferred to complete his assignments at
the last minute. His work was usually very good, and his instructors
would never have known that the cadet often started his assignments the
night before, worked feverishly all night and submitted his work at
deadline.

During those manic work deadlines, Santos learned to sleep whenever he
found the time--ten minutes here, half an hour there. He also learned
he had one hell of an "internal clock." He could close his eyes, remind
himself to wake at half past seven, and upon waking, would find that,
sure enough, the chronometer read "0730."

Santos learned another useful skill from that period: he learned to
sleep lightly and come to full wakefulness at the slightest
disturbance.

He employed that skill now.

Santos slept, his back against what remained of Molly McGee's Down Home
Cafe. His bow lay across his lap. He would not have been surprised to
know that his hand rested on the pistol against his right hip.

Santos' eyes opened.

The first thing he heard was the sound of crickets; their plaintive
chirp-chirping sounded so loud in the stillness surrounding him. Santos
noticed a few streaks of purple in the sky and realized it was just
before dawn. It was his favorite time of day. The world seemed to be
holding its breath in anticipation of another day.

A voice from his right: "Commodore, wake up." It was Kieran. He seemed
fully alert. Santos hadn't heard him approach.

"I'm already up," Santos said. He got to his feet, slinging the bow
over his shoulder. He placed his hat farther back on the crown of his
head and resisted the urge to yawn.

"Sound of hooves in the distance," Darkwater said.

"How many?" Santos asked.

"Can't tell."

"How long before they're here?"

"Quarter of an hour, at most."

Santos looked around. "Get everyone in position."

[Meanwhile, at the Gershom Farm.]

Sam McCaw crawled out from under the Lone Star, his face sooty.

"Try her again," the Chief Engineer told Gershom. "And this time, wait
until I'm completely out from under the Lone Star."

Gershom stuck his head out and peered down, making an "And...?"
gesture.

The warp engine hummed, shimmered...then died.

"Son of a bitch!" Gershom cried. He climbed down the ladder.

He grabbed the instrument out of Sam's hands and drew back. If he
connected, he would have shattered part of the Lone Star.

"Whoa, whoa!" Sam cautioned, grabbing the tool on the upswing. "That's
not going to do you any good! Er, trust me on this!"

Gershom cocked an eyebrow at him. "Maybe not, but I'll feel better."

"Well, we can make that your *last* resort, then," McCaw said.

Gershom put his hands on his hips and stared at Sam. Finally, he
laughed. Gershom clapped his hand on Sam's shoulder and said, "Sam, I
like you..."

"Like me more when we get this bird in the air," McCaw replied. "Let's
get back to work."

[Back in Saddlebrush]

"Everyone in position?" Santos asked.

Mandrake looked back at Santos and nodded.

"Yes or no? I can't see you nod or shake your head in this light."

"Yes," Mandrake said, turning back to look at the town. "You need to
get your eyes checked, Nick. Just don't shoot me in the back with one
of your arrows."

"A hell of a time to discover you are nearsighted," Darkwater said.

"There's nothing wrong with my eyes," Santos said.

"Hey, the first step on the road to recovery is admitting you have a
problem," Mandrake said.

"Did Xristha tell you that, Cynan?" Des asked. She gave him a cheeky
grin.

"Something like that," he replied.

"I can hear everything you're saying, you know," Droin said.

The group of five stayed on their bellies as they laid on the roof.

"What's our status?" Santos asked.

"The townspeople who aren't fighting are in the basement of the town
hall building. All others are in position. Team East signaled they're
ready."

Darkwater peered up from his binoculars. "I see them. They're finally
in sight." He paused. "I count a dozen Breen, 20 or more native
raiders."

"Zena's team has been instructed to concentrate on the Breen first,"
Santos remarked.

"They're about two minutes from Zena's position," Darkwater reported.

Santos reached for the one Breen phaser rifle not in Team East's
possession and handed it to Mandrake.

"You have the best eye for this sort of thing," he told Mandrake. "Stay
in position up here."

Mandrake nodded. The rest scrambled off the roof.

Droin and Darkwater took position in front of Molly McGee's Cafe, using
the posts for cover.

Des and Santos crossed the street and took cover, crouching low behind
a water trough.

Des cocked the hammer of her pistol and looked back at Santos. She
grinned. He returned a nod.

[At Gershom Farm]

McCaw strapped himself into the co-pilot's chair. Once settled in,
there was barely enough room to move his arms.

"Didn't build this thing for comfort, did you, Gershom?" McCaw asked
archly.

"Shut up," Gershom replied. "I haven't decided whether I'm bringing you
back to Carillon or not."

"I would, if I were you," McCaw replied. "You couldn't find your way
back to the system on your own if you tied a string around the Lone
Star and the other end to your silo."

Gershom grunted but said nothing.

The two men proceeded with the pre-flight check. When they completed
that, they nodded at one another.

"Oh, wait, there's one more thing," McCaw said.

"What's that?" Gershom asked.

McCaw wiggled around until he produced a tricorder from the pocket of
his dungarees.

"It's an old tradition. No first warp flight *ever* goes into orbit
without some music."

"Huh?" Gershom frowned.

"It's superstition where I'm from. Legend has it the inventor of warp
drive played music on take-off. No warp ship ever leaves without a
song. And the choice has to apply to the situation at hand."

"Whatever, just get on with it," Gershom said.

McCaw wedged the tricorder into the space between two panels.

"Music playback," McCaw ordered. "Personal library, artist: Coolio.
Selection: 'Fantastic Voyage.'"

McCaw reclined and nodded his head as a surprisingly heavy bass beat
emanated from the tricorder.

Gershom frowned and shouted above the din, "What is that horrible
noise?!"

McCaw turned to Gershom and grinned. "Don't worry about it. Just hit
that switch and let's get this show on the road."

[Saddlebrush]

The battle was going well.

When the Breen passed into Saddlebrush, Quetan and her team took half
the Breen cleanly.

The raiders panicked, confused and surprised by the attack.

The townspeople took about half of them in a hail of bullets.

The remaining Breen signaled their team to regroup. Quetan and the
townspeople took 1/4 of them as they regrouped. The dozen or so who
were still alive seemed to gather their wits about them and spread out,
taking cover.

Santos stood up and surveyed the situation.

"Advance on them!" Santos shouted, signaling to the townspeople on the
Western end of town and to the Vanguard's crew.

Rifle in one hand and pistol in the other, Santos led the charge toward
the Eastern end of town.

"Flush them from cover and finish the battle!" Santos ordered.

Santos and the Western Team threw themselves into the battle. They
advanced using available cover and proceeded, structure by structure,
to locate and eliminate the raiders.

Mandrake led half a dozen townfolk, Shar, Nostrova and Kavan as they
entered each building, located the raiders and demanded their
surrender.

As Mandrake marched the four or five raiders (and single Breen) to the
center of town, Santos looked at Josiah and smiled.

Then, two things happened:

One, a thunderous roar could be heard from the direction of Gershom's
Farm as the Lone Star left the ground. They all watched as the vessel
reached the upper atmosphere. Suddenly, they saw a blink in the sky, as
the vessel went to warp.

Santos grinned and shut his eyes.

He opened them as the second event happened.

Phaser shots and rifle shots whistled over and around them as another
team of raiders rode into town. They came from the Western end of town
and bore down on the group.

It was a trap. The Breen had divided their forces in two and held the
reserves. And the second team had approached them when their guard was
down, from the direction Santos hadn't expected.

"Take cover!" Santos shouted. "TAKE COVER!"

[To be concluded]
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