<FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 9: "Castle"

  • From: Jason Ziredac <ziredac@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: fwgalaxy@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 14 Mar 2007 12:25:41 -0700 (PDT)

  by the crew
  The screams could be heard through the walls and floors, all throughout the 
ship. Panic was bubbling over the sides of the pot, and steam was rising. Soon, 
as the water level got lower, it would become smoke. Then nothing. Hayes 
McQuarrie stood in his ready room, throwing on his uniform shirt. Ito N?Ges was 
still on the couch, lacing up his shoes. 
  ?You ready for this, Ito??
  ?Ready, Captain.?
  ?Sorry, reflexes. Hayes.?
  The two burst out of the ready room to find the bridge still completely 
unoccupied. With the state of things as they were and as they were before, the 
crew of the ship was not completely honed in on their training to report to 
battle stations in such an occurrence. Ito flew to the helm and tapped in, 
gaining full control of the ship. Hayes took Tac.
  ?Okay,? he said. ?Shields are up. Weapons are charging. Ito, I want you going 
in evasive until I get more people up here to help you out. Once I give the 
order from my Wraith, go into attack runs alpha, phi, delta-one and 
delta-three, rotating. When you see them picking up the pattern, go to gamma, 
delta-two, omicron, lambda. After that, if they?re still not gone, it?s 
  ?Sir, you?re going out in a Wraith??
  ?Have to.?
  ?Why, sir??
  ?Because this is my mess. I?m not a thistle in the broom, then I?m a crumb on 
the floor. All right, Ito, pull it ahead. Let?s show this Coyote-class that it 
can?t take down a Concorde just because it?s not all sleek and maneuverable.? 
He got a thought. ?You know, there were those old myths with the coyote??
  ?Right, the one in Native American mythology where Coyote challenges the 
Arroyo Seco to a race. He beats it but collapses from fatigue, and the river 
laughs at him. Right??
  ?I was thinking about that old myth of the coyote trying to catch a 
devilishly fast-running bird. Because in that one, the coyote loses. Every 
time.? Hayes straightened himself as the great ship beneath him began to lumber 
about the space, turning to face its opponent. ?On screen.? The Coyote-class 
was slick, all right, painted an almost tribal hue of purple and black, and its 
phasers blazing. ?Okay, time to get on the horn.?
  Hayes ran back up to tactical and linked up to the entire ship. ?Attention 
crew, this is Hayes McQuarrie. I know some of you are pretty mad at me right 
now, but if we?re going to survive, we?re going to have to fight. I need bridge 
crew up here on the double, including replacement Tac officer, and someone to 
be in charge. I?m going out with a Wraith squadron, because the Talisman is a 
Coyote-class ship, small, agile, and deadly. We?re going to need more than our 
weapons and defenses with the Patronus alone to defend ourselves. All 
registered pilots meet me in Hangar Deck one for immediate deployment. All 
preparation crews get moving.
  ?Beforehand, I just want to say that right now, I?m not thinking about what 
happened at Metriaga. I?m not thinking about the Admiral, the Lexington, or 
what I plan to do afterwards. There?s no conspiracy, no secrecy, no 
righteousness in my head right now. All that is in my head is protection. 
Regardless of the circumstance, we are under attack, and it should be evident 
that it?s for keeps this time. And I will not let anybody on this ship die. If 
a soul should be taken, it should be ripped from my hands with the greatest 
fight known to man. I?m going out there. Alone if you?re all still not with me. 
Be strong, be fast, and cooperate. Now?s not the time to go all 
headless-chicken on me. Survival right now is dependent on cooperation, and a 
time to sort everything else out can come later.
  ?Just don?t roll over. Don?t let them take you. Hayes McQuarrie out.?
  Almost immediately, the light above the turbolift lit up with indication of 
incoming crew. Ito turned around from helm and said, ?Damn, Hayes. If I had my 
Wraith training, I?d say ?Fuck helm? in a second after that speech.?
  ?I just think it?d be awful silly for the entire crew to just go belly-up and 
say, ?Okay, for the sake of the law, kill me please!? Now I have absolutely no 
doubts as to what will happen next.?
  ?Good, sir.?
  The turbolift opened, and the bridge crew spewed out. Hayes greeted them all 
with hurried ?hellos? and ?good lucks? while moving to get into their arriving 
lift. Before he entered, the last person to exit stopped him with a beaming 
into his eyes. It was Narin, Commander Luviox, and she looked at him with not 
so much anger (oh, it was still there) as before.
  ?Hi, Narin.?
  ?You needed somebody in charge.?
  ?Glad to see you.?
  ?I?m not giving into you yet. The votes were highly against you. But as you 
said, I?m not rolling over. After this, you?ll be dealt with accordingly.?
  ?I wouldn?t expect anything less, but very quickly?? Hayes grabbed Narin?s 
shoulders and forced her back into the turbolift. She gave out a little cry, 
and the doors closed behind them; the lift didn?t move. ?I want to let you know 
that I?m sorry.?
  This stunned her, and her jaw lost all tightness. 
  ?I?m sorry for doing this to you, Narin.? He held her there, waiting for her 
to correct him, demand of him that she be called by her rank. She didn?t. Good. 
?I never wanted anybody to be hurt, then, or now. Least of all, you. If I don?t 
come back from the Wraith mission, my wish is for our last words spoken to one 
another not to be of anger, or of what you plan to do with me diplomatically. 
What I want our last words to each other to be of, is the love between us. 
Yours might have dwindled lately, but mine is very strong for you.?
  Narin walled something back, and then it gushed forth. Tears filled her eyes 
and she said, ?Hayes?God damn it!? and thrust her face into his, lips colliding 
in probably the most passionate thing that ever had happened between the two of 
them. While they kissed, Hayes reached around and opened the lift door, 
twirling her suddenly out of the box. She looked back at him as he looked 
intensely back at her, the doors sliding shut, erasing him from view.
  She turned and saw the crew awaiting her orders (some knowingly and some 
not), wide-eyed and panting panic. ?Divert all auxiliary power to weapons and 
shields. I want the primary attack coming from the Wraith squadron, reserving 
our phaser energy and photon torpedoes. As I?m sure is not going against any 
plan of McQuarrie?s, we want to scare the Talisman away, not destroy it. 
Tactical aim for weak points in the ship, but no primary targets.?
  ?Understood, sir.?
  ?Mr. N?Ges, flight pattern??
  ?McQuarrie already gave me flight patterns, sir.?
  ?Very well. Everyone else be tight on your duties. Sci, keep close watch on 
those Wraiths. If they?re in trouble, I want the Coldstream taking their heat.? 
And Narin Luviox tried to seat herself, to calm herself, but her body wouldn?t 
allow it. She stood and faced the screen, watching all of the statistics in her 
periphery match up to that which she was trained to expect in command training. 
As McQuarrie had, she felt all other circumstances flake away, leaving only the 
bare pit of survival in all importance.
  Hangar Deck 1 would have been under the whips of several disciplinary 
officers had it not been a time of emergency. People were tripping all over 
themselves, some Wraiths were unprepared, and pilots were pissing themselves in 
terror of their first real flights. But the job was getting done. Twenty-seven 
Wraiths were available for active duty, out of the thirty first commissioned to 
the Coldstream when Admiral Ramirez was trying to show off the size of his 
manhood to the rest of the Admiralty. 
  Twenty-seven out of thirty. Good odds.
  Fifty pilots showed up to take flight. Better odds.
  The pilots took their given marine ranks, most of whom were Sergeants, with 
little to do to move up in rank. Lieutenant Colonel Savith, marine coordinator 
and otherwise superior officer, saluted McQuarrie, and then barked to his 
pilots, ?Captain on deck!?
  They all, without hesitation, clicked their thudding heels together, and 
saluted him. He spotted Trilo Trekar in the ranks, and smiled, saluting back. 
?Pilots!? Hayes called. ?For most of you this is your first real run in the 
Wraith fighter. Because of that, we will have to use basic flight maneuvers. 
Nothing advance. If we reach beyond our arm?s length, we?ll be without limbs. 
So we?ll be splitting into two squadrons.? Hayes sliced the air slowly down the 
middle of the twenty-seven pilots chosen for flight, and then waved it to his 
left. ?This half will follow me,? and then waved it the other way, ?and this 
half follow Lieutenant Colonel Savith. Follow our lead, follow our orders, and 
we?ll have better chances of living.?
  ?And remember,? Savith added. ?You go into battle, as if you are already 
dead. The wraith was believed to be a ghost that feeds upon the living?s fear. 
You will do this, as the dead, and with complete coordination, we will scare 
the living hell out of the Talisman so it retreats.?
  ?Because that is the plan,? Hayes picked up. ?We are not out to destroy the 
Talisman. But to force it to retreat. And from there, we?ll hide deeper in this 
new quadrant so they won?t find us again. Any questions??
  From the lines of pilots, Hayes saw the bright white around Trilo Trekar?s 
deep brown eyes light up, as if a tiny scurrilous beam from the devil?s 
magnifying glass was suddenly shooting him in the bridge of the nose. 
  ?Very well. Good luck to you all. Let?s move it.?
  The Wraiths were manned, and as they passed from the synthetic atmosphere of 
the mothership and into the vacuum of space, they passed from the world of 
living into the world of the dead, where they would claim their pride.
  ?Did you hear that, Admiral? Dat mean wady sounds wike she means to kiw us 
widdout even wistening to a singo witto word we say! What do you think that 
means, oh wise superior officer?? Markstrom was lying on his back on his bed, 
listening for any form of response from Ramirez?s cell. His hands were helping 
his pillow keep his head up, and his shoes were off.
  ?You know, Admiral, I don?t think I would mind at all if we died in here 
together. Ship completely blows up and here we are cooped up in these little 
cells. Because at least we have each other! Think of all the great 
conversations we had! But seriously, folks, I don?t think I?d mind at all, 
because we died sitting in stasis for what we believed in. Is that too bad of a 
death? I don?t think so. I believed that my friends and cohorts were being 
insolent and ignorant and blinding themselves from the truth, and you believed 
that killing people was what you had to do to get your way! Honorable, isn?t 
  Still, no response. A thought came to Markstrom, and as severe as it would 
seem to others, it didn?t come as severe at all. ?Man, I sure hope you haven?t 
bled to death down there. Or, like, hemorrhaged and drowned in your own blood 
on the inside. That would be pretty raw. Not the kind of death I?d picture for 
a patriot such as you. No, I think a valiant war charge or an execution would 
be fit for you, Ramirez. More realistically, perhaps complete incineration at 
the hands of your own fools. Irony!
  ?That?s what a man like you needs, such a magnanimous figurehead such as 
yourself. You stand for a lot of ideals, and you?ve done big things in your 
life. There?s no place for a quiet, insignificant little death?like choking on 
your own diseased lungs?that could suit you. You need a poetic death! Important 
people like you simply can?t die without one! Look at all the other people in 
history who?ve died like that. Let?s see?Rasputin thought he saw the Virgin 
Mary and heavily influenced the royal family, and he was poisoned, shot, 
beaten, and drowned before he could die. 
  ?Uh?Adolf Hitler committed suicide when he was surrounded by Soviets in a 
wonderful gesture of you?ll-never-take-me-alive.
  ?Judas Iscariot, same thing, only out of repentance for doing that thing to 
Jesus that he did.
  ?George W. Bush was castrated and left to dry when the American society broke 
  ?I mean, just look at all those important people dying these incredible 
deaths! So how fucking disappointing would it be if you drowned in your own 
blood from lack of medical attention after being beaten off the controls that 
would have wiped out a civilization? There?s too much time in between getting 
stopped, getting stomped, and getting shuffled off. It?s got to be succinct in 
order to be poetic!?
  ?Will you shut the hell up?? Ramirez cried back.
  ?Oh good. You?re still kickin?. Poetic death may still come to you.?
  In two buzzing lines the Wraith squadron spat out of the ship?s side, one led 
by Lieutenant Colonel Savith, and one by Captain McQuarrie. Trilo was on 
McQuarrie?s team, and the sweat streaked his face. He did not want to be out in 
this fighter, engaging a ship commissioned to Starfleet; he did not want to be 
defacing his honor like this. Each squadron formed up in a V, and flanked the 
Talisman, slicing through space quietly and darkly. 
  An order came over the channel: ?All Wraiths charge weapons.?
  Trilo eyed the control panel and pursed his lips angrily; the fight between 
he and his resolutions was making his body ache, and giving him a sick, hot 
sensation in his abdomen. Finally he darted his hand out and did as the order 
proclaimed. He stretched and cracked his neck. His elbows were feverishly stiff 
and locked, and he had to consciously and arduously unlock them. As his fingers 
stopped tingling, the battle begun.
  On his screen he watched as multiple smaller targets appeared out of the 
  Over the channel: ?The Talisman has launched Wraiths. Repeat, the Talisman 
has launched Wraiths.?
  Again, over the channel, another voice: ?Engage fighters with intent to kill 
only when your life or the life of a friendly is at stake. Repeat??
  Pelting and peppering over the Coldstream Wraith squadron was a hail of 
warning shots. Trilo counted the ?enemy? fighters and saw they were only barely 
outnumbered; the Talisman had all thirty of their commissioned fighters. When 
the Coldstream squadron didn?t change their course, the Talisman squadron 
wrapped themselves around them, flanking on all sides, firing what seemed to be 
more warning shots.
  Over the channel: ?Bastards don?t seem to really want to hit us.?
  Over the channel: ?They will soon. They?re trying to scare us back.?
  Over the channel: ?How can a ship that small have fighters??
  Over the channel: ?That ship is designed to do this: take down bigger, more 
powerful ships.?
  Trilo kept silent.
  Over the channel: ?McQuarrie team, be ready to break right over the top of 
the Talisman. Repeat, be ready to break right over the top of the Talisman. 
Fire along the way to get the shields. Savith team, on the same mark, go 
underneath and do the same. Once on the other side, pull the fighters away from 
the Talisman and prepare for Patronus fire. Patronus tactical, do you read??
  Over the channel, from the Coldstream: ?Read loud and clear, Captain. Once 
all Coldstream?sorry, Patronus Wraiths are away, Patronus will fire on the 
  Over the channel: ?Cease fire when their shields are down. I?ll attempt to 
talk them down after that. Wraith squadrons, are you ready??
  Over the channel, twenty-six said, ?Ready.?
  And the twenty-seventh said, ?Mark.?
  Trilo felt relieved that they were only trying to take away shields and not 
damage the ?enemy? ship for the moment. So he did what he was told, breaking 
right and firing a steady stream of weaponfire over the top shell. Enemy 
fighter fire came from behind, whizzing past the fourteen raiders on the 
McQuarrie team. When they reached the other side of the Talisman, they kept 
flying straight out, and the enemy fighters followed. 
  Over the channel: ?Wraith 12, I?m hit! Shields down to twenty percent!?
  Over the channel: ?Hold out, Wraith 12.?
  Over the channel: ?Savith team, turn and cover fire. Get these buzzards off 
our tail.?
  Over the channel: ?McQuarrie team, do the same.?
  Both squadrons flipped over and fired past the noses of the enemy Wraiths, 
and they broke away, scattering above. Trilo watched as a brilliant red beam 
stretched out from the Coldstream and licked the Talisman maliciously. The 
Talisman returned fire, but the Coldstream took evasive, wowing the fighters as 
the big transport ship outmaneuvered the little attack ship. 
  Over the channel: ?Nice work, Patronus tactical. Be ready for a repeat 
move?Patronus, incoming!?
  The two halves of the Talisman Wraiths suddenly began to ignore them as they 
convened and began to pelt the Coldstream?s shields from behind. Underneath, 
the Talisman slinked to the side and began to charge weapons. It seemed their 
shields were still intact, and they would have to wait until the Coldstream 
lost its heat before making sure of it again. 
  Over the channel, from the Coldstream: ?Wraith squadrons, where are you guys? 
We?re taking heavy fire here! Shields going down quick!? 
  McQuarrie and Savith began racing toward their ship, but before they were 
even close enough, the Talisman fighters broke away, and a bright explosion 
enveloped the Coldstream, the terrible iridescence of photon blasts. Trilo 
watched in horror as his shipped rocked to the side, and miniature fires popped 
out of the side. Their shields were down, all of them.
  Over the channel, from the Coldstream: ?Wraith squadrons, our shields are 
down. Repeat, our shields are down!? 
  The Talisman moved in, priming up phasers, and from behind, McQuarrie and 
Savith were suckerpunched in their bewilderment. A friendly Wraith to Trilo?s 
side ignited and was sent in all directions, debris bringing his shields down 
by a small amount. Nasty phaser fire pulled that percentage down to fifty-five, 
then to twenty-eight. McQuarrie was screaming over the channel, and some 
Wraiths were abandoning formation to seek a safe refuge.
  Up ahead, the Talisman sliced the Coldstream open with its phasers?
  ?and that?s when Trilo Trekar too broke away.
  Hull breaches all along the portside, containment mechanisms working to 
excess, Sickbay filling up like clogged sink in a monsoon. Disaster. Everyone 
on the bridge had been thrown to the left, crashing into the wall and 
scrambling desperately back to their positions. No one was terribly hurt; it 
looked like Ito N?Ges got something badly bumped in his leg, but he limped to 
his seat and continued his flight patterns. Narin, though, broke her wrist, and 
held it firmly with her good right hand against her thigh as she winced back to 
the command chair.
  She finally sat.
  ?Status report!? she called out.
  ?Breaches in the hull have been sealed,? someone answered. ?Injuries all over 
the ship. Casualties have been reported.?
  ?Christ,? Narin muttered. ?How many casualties??
  ?Exact count not entered yet, but its estimated at around fifty.?
  ?There?s never been a death on this ship,? Narin mused, again to herself. 
?Now the only blood spilled is by our own people.?
  ?Sir?? She wasn?t sure who said it, but she quickly scanned all the eyes that 
were now on her.
  ?Continue the flight patterns,? she ordered. ?Can we get those shields back 
  ?Diverting all unused power supplies? Looks like I can get us back to ten 
  Narin nodded. ?Do it. That?s just enough to deflect one more shot before 
having to take more hull damage. N?Ges, status on the Talisman.?
  ?They?re not moving, and their weapons are only half-charged.?
  ?They?re waiting.? Narin, still holding her broken wrist, walked up to the 
screen and came face-to-face with the image of the Talisman. What was it trying 
to do? Why was it ordered to destroy them? It was illegal, and any deaf, dumb, 
and blind civilian could have recognized that. This was no diplomatic attack, 
nothing deemed right by Starfleet Command; this was an assassination, okayed by 
people in power in dark, twisted means.
  All of it for Hayes. 
  Well. Hayes was on his own. Now it was Narin who was in charge of protecting 
this ship and its people. ?Move in for another attack. Two photon torpedoes on 
starboard and port, steady phaser fire up the middle. Squeeze them.?
  ?Weapons charging,? said tactical.
  ?Talisman is coming about,? said N?Ges.
  The torpedoes sang out into space and flanked the Talisman, and the phaser 
snapped across its nose. Before the torpedoes reached their destination, the 
fighter channel broke in across the bridge, a panicked and passionate cry from 
Captain McQuarrie. ?Trilo! Trilo! No, Trilo! Pull away! Pull away!?
  Narin saw, just before the torpedoes detonated, a single Wraith fighter, 
weapons blazing. A single rogue roadrunner, tired of the Coyote?s constant 
pursuits. The flash of fire, and the Wraith was seen no more.
  All of the Talisman Wraiths ceased fire and returned to the mothership. Their 
shields were down as well, the squelching of little fires by the vacuum 
flashing like little Christmas lights. A broadcast from the Talisman bridge 
came to the Coldstream/Patronus, and her fighters. 
  Captain Owyn Lebaron stood amidst a broken, burning bridge, a black smudge 
across her forehead. People in the background were coughing and limping away, 
carrying each other to the turbolifts. ?Crew of the defiant ship Patronus, we 
hereby surrender and request to withdraw without pursuit.?
  Cheers across the channel, and all ships and hearts. 
  McQuarrie answered from his fighter, ?Request granted, Captain Lebaron. Now 
get the hell outta here before we change our minds!? He said it joyously, 
pointing at his screen, like a cowboy driving away the villainous corporate 
dogs trying to turn a peaceful little mining town into a conglomerate. 
  ?A warning to you, however.? Lebaron leaned her head down and gazed at an 
upward stare, sinisterly. ?If you plan to venture into the unknown quadrants, 
you are admonished by the Starfleet admiralty to stay there if you know what?s 
good for you. Return to the Federation, and you will be eliminated. There will 
be not another mistake of meeting you one-on-one. Next time you challenge a 
fight with us, there will be an entire convoy of starships to rip you all 
apart. Remember that, and follow the warning, and you?ll live in your 
seclusion, in exile and banishment. Attempt to make no contact with any other 
Federation vessels. Attempt to make no return. Attempt to make no alliances 
with enemy armies. Whatever you see wrong with this government so much you 
would turn on it, leave it and live in your new galaxy. Lebaron out.?
  Her Wraiths docked, and the Talisman turned and warped away.
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  • » <FWG> <Patronus> Issue 2, Article 9: "Castle"