Chapter 3USS Beowulf
At maximum warp, two days from the outpost.
With the streaking starfield behind him, Captain Barns sat at the head of the briefing room table. The room was darker then normal, the ship was at yellow alert and its shields were raised. He folded his arms on the table and began to speak.
“24 hours ago, we lost contact with the outpost on J’Tuguisa 5. We have been unable to raise them since. Our scans of the outpost have detected what appears to be weapons fire. We have reason to believe that their communications array has been either heavily damaged or destroyed. At this distance we are unable to scan for lifesigns. It would appear that our mission has changed. Before we were simply delivering supplies to the outpost, now we are on a mission of search and rescue.”
Sitting to the captain’s right, William King, his chief of security and tactical officer, a man in his mid 30’s raised his concerns.
“Captain, do we have any idea of what could have caused this damage. What if there is a ship orbiting the colony as we speak?” he asked.
“If they have been attacked, they may very well have casualties, my staff is prepared to handle a large number of medical emergencies but knowing how many to expect would be of assistance.” Adelaide LeRosse, the ships medical officer, a young Klingon serving aboard as part of a medical exchange asked.
“I’m afraid we don’t know the answer to either. However, if I remember correctly, the Klingon bird of prey K’vak and Vor’cha class K’vol are within half a light year on patrol. Doctor, I want you to contact them to request that they meet us at the outpost. We don’t know what or we may facing and we should use all of the help we can get.” Barns responded.
“Yes captain.” LeRosse acknowledged
“Commander, I want you to maintain continuous scans of the planet and the area around the planet. Report any findings, no matter how insignificant.” Barns ordered.
“Yes sir” Tagomi replied.
“Very well then, dismissed” Barns ordered. Everyone except for him stood up and made their way out of the room. Alone in the room, Barns got up and walked over to the window and stared out at the advancing starfield, contemplating the inevitable confrontation.
High above the planet’s surface, the massive cruiser hovered over the surface like a vulture circling its dinner. Its captain sat in his chair, relieving it his victory.
“Report!” he ordered. His science officer scanned the surface of the planet and found that the news was good.
“We are showing complete conversion of the outposts population. They won’t be informing anyone of our intent anymore. But we do have the problem of their shuttlecraft. Even in their current state, it may be possible for them to use the shuttles to escape and get help” the science officer reported. The Captain folded his hands in front of his face and frowned.
“We cannot allow that to happen. Tactical, I want you to target the shuttles and destroy them. However I do not want any causalities. If there are shuttles whose proximity is too close to lifeforms, then transport them to several thousands kilometers of our port bow and destroy them that way.” He ordered.
“Yes sir!” The tactical officer responded with a hint of happiness in his voice.
Seconds later, the cruiser weapons began to glow brightly as they powered up and prepared to fire.
Sean walked with David towards a river; the heat had left them thirsty. To an outside observer, there was no sign that they had ever been human. David was much smaller and younger looking them Sean. Sitting on Sean’s back was Sandra. The beautiful gray raccoon was having trouble coming to terms with what had happened. She was relieved that Sean had kept his promise to stay with her, but she was also terrified for her future. In this form it might have been possible for her to pilot the shuttle to get help, but she had no real way of communicating with anyone. To make matters worse, her emerging instincts were creating problems of their own. A small part of her felt the desire to give into the instincts and accept this body as her own. But the rest of her refused to give up. As long as they stayed together, there was hope.
Sean was waging a war against his own emerging animal nature. There was no way he could pilot the shuttle in this form. He was beginning to feel hungry and it terrified him that his instincts would drive him to see Sandra as prey. No matter what his instincts were saying, he knew that he had to fight them, she was his friend and he couldn’t allow himself to harm her. If her allowed himself to give into this body, it would win out and any hope of salvation would be lost.
David seemed affected the most; she seemed more playful by the minute. As if getting turned into an animal wasn’t bad enough, he had not only been turned into a juvenile animal but a female as well. Her apparent ease in letting go made Sean nervous. He was unsure how he was going to take care of this baby by himself. In an attempt to help the baby fox regain her composure, Sean licked her gently. She sat down and looked at him and blinked her eyes and quietly yipped at him. It shocked him; he could understand what she was trying to say. The ‘words’ she spoke were very different from human words, yet somehow he was able to understand her. He lay down and yipped back at her, and she discovered the same thing.
Sandra unfortunately could not understand the foxes and she looked at them with a look of bewilderment. It seemed logical to her that as a raccoon she would not be able to understand a foxes call. Yet there was something in her that understood their body language. They both wagged their bushy red tails happily. It was then that she thought of something. If they could go back to where they discarded their uniforms, she could retrieve a PADD she had taken with her as well as her combage. The universal translators within the combadges could prove useful. If they could translate from human English into an alien language then with some adjustments they could translate the calls of an animal. Even if they were only able to communicate with grammar no better then a toddlers it would be better then nothing. Samantha looked at her raccoon paws. Her finger like digits would be able to operate a PADD without too much difficulty, but how to communicate this to David and Sean? Since the former young human was lying down, it would be easy for her to climb off of him, so she did so and walked in front of him.
The young adult vulpine looked at her in confusion. He could not understand what her warbles and churrs meant. But he really didn’t need to; her body language spoke volumes. She jumped up and down on her hind legs and pointed back in the direction of the shuttle and their discarded clothes. He could tell that she wanted to go back there, perhaps to retrieve something, but what? He looked in the direction and stood up. With his right forepaw, he pointed in the direction. The raccoon nodded her furry little head. He turned his head to David and yipped to him to tell him what Sandra wanted to do and the young kit nodded her head in understanding. Sean motioned for Sandra to climb back onto his back and she did so.
Now in search of a possible way to communicate, the three began to make their way back to the area where the shuttle had landed. Shortly after they began their trek, they all say something flash down from the sky, which was followed by a large explosion. They feared the worse but couldn’t give up. Sandra held on tight and the two foxes quickened their pace to a run.
As his changes had taken hold and completed, the Admiral had found it impossible to walk on two legs. He had been fortunate enough to make it down the flights of stairs leading towards the exit. As he had made his outside, the transformation had made its way into the final changes. His legs and arms had lost mass at an incredible rate and had become very short and stubby. His body had reshaped into a streamlined form and he had sprouted a long furry streamlined tail. With his webbed feet, walking on land had been difficult. The sun felt incredibly warm with his thick pelt, which was clearly designed to insulate him against cold.
It had been almost a full day since his change had completed and he had been walking ever since in search of water to cool down in. His stomach was growling and he needed to find food and quickly. He had lost even more age as his transformation had completed. Without a mirror to examine himself or a tricorder to scan himself, it was impossible to tell his exact age. However, given his size relative to adult members of his new species, he guessed he was the equivalent of a young adult. In his entire career, he had expected that he would encounter strange new worlds, some possibly stranger then anything his imagination was capable of dreaming up. But never had he fathomed that his travels and eventual posting on this world would lead to being turned into a river otter.
His newly acquired strong sense of smell had been correct. Although his walking speed on land wasn’t particularly impressive, he had managed to cover a reasonable distance. He had remembered a medium-sized lake that was close to the outpost. Some of its crewmen had swum in it a few times and had reported it was cold but very clean and refreshing. After his metamorphosis had completed itself, he able to smell the lake even from the outpost. His eyesight was pretty poor in this form, even on land, but he could make out the lake. Salvation was almost upon him. His playful instincts came into play again and he began to run as fast as new body would permit towards it. A few minutes later, he reached the shore of the lake and ran into it until he reached a depth of water that allowed him to swim. With a contented sigh he swam towards the center of the lake and dove under the cold water. A part of him mourned the loss of his humanity and wanted to return to the outpost in hopes of being rescued. But his recently acquired friskiness wanted him to simply enjoy the water and accept his new form and all it had to offer.
Sean, David and Samantha finally reached the tree they had sat under earlier. In the distance, they could smell the scent of burning. They walked a bit further and saw that their shuttle had been utterly destroyed! All that remained of craft was a smoking pile of debris!
Dejected, they walked back towards the tree. They were pleased when they discovered that whatever they had found had not destroyed their clothes or combadges nor had it destroyed the PADD Sandra had wanted to retrieve. With a gleeful chitter, Sandra climbed off of Sean’s back and walked over to the PADD. It was a bit difficult to read its display with her new eyes, but she managed to get it to connect to her combage to begin the process of translating the two foxes’ yips.
With a smile on her face, she held her combage up to Sean’s snout and warbled at him to make some sounds. While he couldn’t understand what exactly she was saying, he could understand her intent and began to yip into the small piece of equipment.
After several minutes, the PADD reported that it was creating a translation algorithm and that they would be able to speak to each other in about 5 minutes. Sandra knew that this wasn’t a permanent solution, the PADD and combage would eventually run out of energy. But, she was hopeful that rescue would arrive before that became a significant concern.
The three sat down to await the completion of the algorithm and suddenly heard a sound in the tree above them. They looked up to see another animal climbing down the tree to greet them. It was a male lemur. He climbed down to Sandra’s location and smiled at her while standing on his hind legs. He offered his right hand to Sandra. In response, she put down the PADD and combage and held her right hand out. They grasped each other’s hands and they shook hands very much like the human greeting. The lemur seemed genuinely happy to see new animals on the planet. He especially seemed happy to see Sandra. After a short examining of her, he made a whistling like sound as if to summon someone. The group heard another rustling in the trees to their left. Sandra’s eyes lit up with joy when she saw another raccoon walking through the branches of tree to climb down the tree and walk towards her.
Her first instinct was to sniff the raccoon and touch the soft fur on his back. Her instincts told her that this raccoon was a female like herself. It gave her some additional comfort knowing that she had another member of her new species to keep her company. As she petted the other coon, her PADD made a sound that signified that it had finished constructing the translation algorithm. It would be able to translate fox to raccoon and vise versa. She would have to calibrate it to translate lemur as well, but for the moment, how it was would suffice. The lemur and other raccoon seemed to have established some sort of communication anyway.
She walked over to the PADD and picked it up and chittered towards Sean and David. She still wasn’t sure how she could understand how to speak raccoon. All she could assume was that whatever had done this to her had given her this ability somehow.
As Samantha spoke, David and Sean were elated when they heard her communication translated into fox sounds. The universal translator was a miraculous device and it appeared that it had once again, proven it worth.
“Can you guys understand me?” she asked of them.
“Yes, this is great.” Sean responded.
“So who are you?” David asked of the other raccoon.
“My name is Patricia and I would like to welcome you all to our group” Patricia responded.
The Beowulf dropped out of warp as she approached the J’Tuguisa system. With two Klingon ships flanking her, she made her way towards the fifth planet.
On the bridge, the red-alert klaxons sounded as the ships tactical systems activated.
“Commander Tagomi, scan the forth planet for any lifesigns or ships” Barns ordered. The young Vulcan scanned the planet and surrounding areas, hoping to find any clues that would assist in determining what had happened to the outpost.
“Sensors are picking up odd lifeform readings on the planets surface. I am not detecting any humanoid lifesigns however. There is evidence of weapons fire on the planets surface and I am picking up a ship in orbit of the planet.” He reported.
“On screen, maximum magnification!” Barns ordered.
The viewscreen changed to show a massive ship in orbit of the planet. Its hull was a deep purple color; it was a long ship with two large wing-like structures on each side. Weapon turrets and banks could be seen all over the ship’s surface.
“Captain, that ship is huge. It’s nearly 2000 meters long and 1000 wide. It appears to be equipped with a transwarp drive, massive weaponry and hull armor. Scans of their weapons match the signature of the weapons fire I detected on the surface of the planet.” Tagomi reported.
“How long until we are in weapons range?” Barns inquired.
“2 minutes, 15 seconds sir.” King reported.
“Hail them” Barns requested. King opened a channel to the ship and a few seconds later the image of the cruiser’s command center with its captain at the center appeared on the screen.
“I am Captain Timothy Barns of the federation starship Beowulf, what have you done to our outpost and its crew?” Barns angrily asked. The captain on the cruiser glared angrily at him.
“This planet belongs to us now. Your people are not welcome in this system. You have two options; either turn yours ships around, leave this system and never speak of it again or surrender to us.” The alien captain exhorted. The aliens arrogance angered Tim, who was he to tell them what they could and could not do in a system that the federation had claim to? He was not about to abandon the colony. It was clear that the alien’s demands were not acceptable.
“Do you seriously expect me to adhere to either option?” Barns angrily stated.
“No Captain, I do not. But we will defend ourselves if you force us to. For your own good I seriously suggest you leave while you still can.” The alien captain said as he cut the connection.
It seemed they had little choice but to fight. Barns contacted both Klingon ships to inform them of their status. The Klingons were eager to fight. Barns had hoped it wouldn’t come to this, but he was not about to abandon the outpost.
“If that’s the way they want to play it then so be it. Assume attack formation; prepare to fire as soon as we are within weapons range. Target their weapons systems!” Barns ordered.
“Aye sir, weapons range in 30 seconds!” King responded.
The Captain of the cruiser watch in anger as the three ships approached them.
“What is the status of our hull armor and weapons?” he inquired. His tactical officer queried the computer and relayed its report.
“Hull armor is at 100%. All weapons systems armed and ready to fire on your command.” He reported. The image of the Beowulf, K’vol and K’vak on the view screen was getting bigger by the second as the three ships approached and all three ships opened fire. The K’vol and K’vak each fired a pair of torpedoes and their disrupters while the Beowulf fired her phasers and torpedoes. The Cruiser’s Bridge shook slightly as the weapons fire impacted against their armor. All three ships flew over the viewpoint of the view screen and over the ship. The bridge rocked again, slightly heavier this time. The tactical officer’s console beeped several as it sent reports to him.
“Damage report” the Captain request.
“Minor damage to starboard hull armor, torpedo and disrupter emitters 3-6.” The officer reported.
“Take evasive action, prepare to return fire, target the Klingon ships” the captain orders.
The Beowulf came around for another pass with the K’vol to her right and K’vak to her left. All three ships did a full loop to turn around and barrel rolled to align them with the cruiser. This time, the Beowulf targeted the cruiser engines while the K’vol and K’vak concentrated on their weapons systems. The Beowulf veered down somewhat and flew towards the massive cruiser until it was close as it could get to still be able to fire and strike the cruiser’s weapons while avoiding a collision. With the K’vol and K’vak flying over the cruiser’s and pounding it with their weapons, the Beowulf fired a spread of 12 torpedoes right at the cruiser’s engines before making a sharp turn directly up (relative to the cruiser).
On the Cruiser’s Bridge, the hit to its engines rocked the ship heavily and there were several small explosions of sparks from various stations.
“Moderate damage to the transwarp drive, dorsal launchers 3,4 and 6 are offline. Casualties reported on levels 3, 15, 39 and 48.” The tactical officer reported as the K’vol and K’vak came into view of their viewscreen and each fired two torpedoes from their aft launchers, rocking the ship slightly.
“I’ve had enough of this! Returned fire!” the captain yelled.
The Beowulf spun around high above the cruiser and made its back to them towards their dorsal section. They could only watch as the cruiser’s forward weapons powered up and in a brilliant flash of energy, two blue beams emitted from separate emitters on the nose of the ship.
The first beam struck the K’vol directly on her port nacelle, creating a massive explosion of plasma as the nacelle shattered and exploded as the ship to spun out of control. The K’vak was struck on her right wing, resulting in the wing disintegrating in a massive fireball.
Before anyone could counterattack, the cruiser fired two balls of blue energy at the K’vol, the first struck her aft compartment. Her shields absorbed most of the impact at the cost of nearly failing. The second struck the same section, smashing through her shields and into her impulse engines, destroying them in a terrible explosion that send waves of plasma searing across her hull which destroyed her rear torpedo prod. The ship used its thrusters to come about and face the cruiser as the K’vak came about and took up a position above the K’vol. With the weapons it had left, the K’vol everything it had left at the cruiser.
The cruiser maneuvered around and fired two more shots of the blue energy balls at the K’vol. The first struck her forward section, destroying her forward weapons and bridge in a fiery explosion. The second smashed into the massive breach the destruction of the forward section and bridge left, causing what was left of the ship to light up in a dreadful fireball as the K’vol fled upwards. The K’vol barley escape the shock wave from the explosion and suffered minor damage.
The Beowulf swooped down on the cruiser and fired another volley of torpedoes at the dorsal section of the cruiser causing several small explosions around the impact point. Two of the cruiser’s dorsal weapons retaliated and fired blue beams at the federation ship. One struck her ventral section half way up the saucer section, causing a large hull breach that encompassed several sections. The other hit her port nacelle, splitting the end of it and triggering an enormous stream of blue hot plasma to gush out from it.
On the Beowulf’s bridge a large explosion and fire enveloped the rear consoles, hurling two crewmen over the railing and captain and first officers chairs onto the floor in front of them. As if that wasn’t enough, a conduit above the explosion ruptured, spewing smoke onto the back of the bridge. The damage from the hit to their nacelle was causing the ship to shudder constantly.
“Report!” Barns screamed.
“The K’vol has been destroyed, no survivors. The K’vak has sustained extreme damage. Our Port nacelle has sustained serious damage. Hull breach on deck 8. Casualty reports coming in, 17 reported injured” before continuing he signed. “8 dead” Tagomi reported.
“Bring us about and prepare to fire again. Our shields obviously have little effect on their weapons! Are the armor generators online?” Barns inquired. Tagomi queried the computer.
“Yes sir!” Tagomi reported.
“Then deploy armor and prepare come about and return fire!” Barns yelled. Tagomi complied and the armor generators activated, surrounding the Beowulf in a protective coating of armor. Despite the massive damage she has sustained, the K’vak maneuvered around the cruiser's weapons and managed to join the Beowulf.
“Captain, were being hailed by the K’vak” Tagomi reported.
“On screen” Barns responded. The display on the viewscreen changed from a starfield to the bridge of the K’vak. The damage to the ship was evident. Her bridge was in shambles, conduits and wires hung from the ceiling, a fire raged and in the background at least two bodies could be seen. The K’vak’s Captain walked to the center of the display to address Barns.
“Captain, we regret the loss of the K’vol.” Barns solemnly said.
“They died with honor, there is nothing to regret.” The captain of the K’vak responded.
“Captain your ship is badly damaged, we recommend you withdraw from the battle, we will do what we can to stop that cruiser.” Barns said.
“Retreat is not an option captain, if are we are fated to die at the hands of this foe then so be it. We will do what we can to disable their engines” The Captain of the K’vak said.
“Very well Captain, we are preparing to come about, we can only hope that this hull armor will prove effective” Barns reported. The Captain of the K’vak delayed for a second before nodding and cutting the channel with a classic Klingon battle cry, it is a good day to die.
Both ships came about and set course directly for the cruiser. The K’vak was faster and reached the cruiser’s weapons range several seconds before the Beowulf. She maneuvered around the cruiser, valiantly evading weapons shot after weapons shot. She managed to get off several shots at the cruiser’s engines, which proved effective. The glow of the left side of the cruiser engines began to fluctuate until it went dark. The Beowulf entered weapons range of the cruiser and fired her own torpedoes, striking the cruiser at several locations, which set off several explosions along its hull. Unfortunately, the cruiser concentrated her fire on trying to hit the K’vak and despite it’s high maneuverability, the Bird of Prey was struck twice as she maneuvered around the cruiser’s engines to attempt to hit them again. The first shot split her hull and the second destroyed the ship in a massive. What was left of the ship spun out of control and smashed into the cruiser’s left engine, resulting in a very large explosion, which rippled across the cruiser’s hull, causing her to momentarily careen out of control.
On the bridge of the Beowulf, they watched the scene in horror and sadness over the loss of the K’vak. Angered over the loss of the Klingon ships and the death of eight of his crewmen, Barns decided to take advantage of the cruiser’s momentary loss of control.
“Mr. King, let them have it with everything we’ve got!” he screamed. The security officer keyed in the commands and the armor surrounding the forward torpedo casings retraced, allowing several volleys of torpedoes to be fired, all of which struck the cruiser and did considerable damage. The armor re-deployed over the torpedo casings as the last torpedo fired and the Beowulf flew over the cruiser and past it, ready to come about and hit them again. As they came about, the cruiser regained control and turned to face them.
Before they could react, it fired several beams of the blue energy and four balls. The beams struck the armor and were absorbed by it. The balls were very powerful, and despite the power of the armor, it was unable to absorb all of the impact. The first ball struck the front of the ship, the second it’s main deflector.
The energy that struck the front of the ship smashed through the armor and into the messhall exploding in a horrific fireball that destroyed the room in a horrific shower of debris. The energy that struck the defector dish smashed through the armor and into the device, ensuing in a colossal explosion which destroyed the device and send a shower of debris into the rest of the ship.
The bridge was rocked horribly and control was momentarily lost. A large explosion at the side of the bridge caused most of the bridge crew to be thrown from their seats. The ceiling of the bridge had ruptured in several places and several wires hung down.
Before they could regain control, the cruiser fired 2 more balls of blue energy, this time striking the ship in the engineering section and the middle of the port side of it’s saucer, ripping a holes right though the armor and through the hull. The middle of the port side of it’s saucer disintegrated as the energy ball smashed though it, sending horrific explosions into the surrounding sections and leaving large gaping hole in the section.
The armor around the engineering section held little better and the section was critically damaged. Power fluctuated all around the ship as she grinned to a halt in front of the cruiser. The cruiser ceased its attack and locked a tractor beam onto the Beowulf in an attempt to capture her.
The bridge was in shambles; debris littered every square meter of it, fires burned at the left side from the conference room, 3 beams were down and power was failing.
“Main power is offline, engines are offline, weapons are offline. We have heavy damage on all decks. Heavily causality reports are coming in. fifty-three reported wounded, twenty-eight seriously. Seventeen reported dead. The cruiser has locked a tractor beam onto us and I’m picking up evidence of transporters powering up.” Tagomi reported. The situation seemed grim and Barns realized he had no choice. He had to give the order he had hopped he’d never have to give. With a frightful expression on his face, he picked himself up. He had a cut on his forehead that was bleeding and his left arm hurt like hell. He spoke two words he had hoped he’d never have to speak. But the situation seemed hopeless and the lives of his crew were more important then a ship.
“Abandon ship.” The computer acknowledged and sounded the loud piercing abandon ship klaxon. As the crew on the bridge made their way to the emergency hallway of the bridge to get to escape pods, Barns took one last look at the wrecked bridge and then at the cruiser on the viewscreen and gave one more desperate order.
“Computer, set the autodestruct system. Authorization Barns delta 54 Omega, set to 5 minutes, no audio warning.” The computer confirmed the autodestruct and announced that there would be no additional warnings. With a deep breath Barns made his way to the hallway on the bridge leading to the escape pods.
With the planet in brilliant view behind the two ships, escape pods began launching from the horribly burned and battered hull of the Beowulf. They immediately set course for the planet in hopes of landing on the surface and hiding from the crew of the cruiser to call for help. As the last of the escape pods cleared the area around the two ships and made their way towards the planet, the darkened bridge of the Beowulf was temporality lit up by the green beam of the cruiser’s transporters.
A team of eight security officers began surveying the bridge as soon as they had finished transporting. The loud abandon ship klaxon still sounded.
“Someone shut that damned thing off. This ship is ours now!” the leader of the team on the bridge proudly boasted. As his team went to work, he pulled his communicator from his belt and activated it.
“Bridge team to Engineering team, report” he said.
“Engineering is secured.” The voice is his fellow team leader reported.
“Sir!” one of his men suddenly called out. He ran over to the officer to address the problem.
“The display!” the officer reported as the leader approached his position. The leader looked at the display, it showed an image of an intrepid class ship overlaid with a timer that was counting down, it has reached 3 seconds left. The leader could only stare blankly across the bridge, as he knew what was coming. Sure enough, 3 seconds later when the timer reached 0, a massive explosion rocked across the ship, eventually causing the entire ship to crumble before erupting in a massive fireball, it’s close proximity to the cruiser severely damaged it. Only the cruiser’s hull armor managed to prevent it to being outright destroyed.
Explosions rocked the bridge as the cruiser was shaken like a rag doll from the massive detonation. The intense shaking settled down and the command crew regained control of the ship. The Captain frowned in annoyance at a loss for words.
“Sir, were picking up their escape pods as landing on the surface of the planet.” His science officer reported.
“Then we need to make sure they don’t send for help. Are the generators online?” he quietly asked.
“Their offline but we have can them online in 10 minutes. The rest of the repairs will take some time however.” The officer reported.
“Once we take care of those people on the surface, we’ll have all the time we need. Proceed.” The captain ordered.