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Necessary Interdiction

Posted on Wed Apr 17th, 2019 @ 2:47pm by Petty Officer 1st Class Finnegan Siosifa & Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder & Ensign Josiah Hawkins & Chief Petty Officer Juliana Nuñez & Staff Warrant Officer Bryan Itajime & Petty Officer 3rd Class T'Laj & Crewman Rehlin Grayse & Crewman Morin Zilbb & Crewman Bume Prozig & Crewman Apprentice Goovugtog

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Glurone Vessel
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 1830

“So the most important thing is going to be for us to do this quickly, and efficiently,” Jon said to the two security NCOs he’d tapped to bring with him. “Additionally, we don’t have great internal scans of the ship, and I haven’t been on an extraction mission since The Dominion War, so you’re likely going to have to protect my ass. I promise I won’t take offense if you have to grab me by the shirt and pull me somewhere.

He handed out PADDs to them, and continued, “I’m going to preface this by saying that you should absolutely do whatever you feel is right in the situation, despite what might happen over there. This is a chance to learn about two new species and their cultures, and it’s an opportunity that shouldn’t be squandered. Now, that said, if I see one of these Glurone bastards, I’m likely to stun first and ask questions later.”

Strapping a rifle to his back, and picking up his equipment bag, he looked at them, and asked, “Questions, before we beam over?”

Chief Petty Officer Juliana Nuñez was doing a final check on her rifle when the chief engineer handed her a PADD. She looked it over and saw the basics. Ship layout. Physical descriptions and available imagery of their extraction targets and their enemies. "I understand the Glurone ship is damaged, sir?" she asked. "Is there much damage to the areas we're beaming into? Any risk of depressurization?"

"There's significant damage to the ship, and we haven't been able to ascertain whether or not it's localized to what's visible. The area we're beaming to seems to be pretty well within the interior of the ship, so I don't think we're going to have to deal with any depressurization issues," Jon responded. "That said, I'd like to not tarry long, if you catch my meaning."

Juliana smiled widely. “Yes, sir!” she said with a smile and a glow in her eye. Missions such as these were why she joined Starfleet. Her rifle was charged and ready, and so was she. “Ready when you are, Commander.”

The doors slid open and a large dark-skinned man entered. One of his giant hands was wrapped around a phaser rifle; the other was holding the last few bites of a sandwich. "You're Commander Batchelder?" Finn asked.

“I am,” Jon responded. “And I’ll be leading the away mission, such as it is.”

"Sorry about this," he said lifting the sandwich. "I was trying to get a quick dinner in when I got the call." He stuffed the last bit of food into his mouth and masticated quickly.

"There you go, Commander," Finn said after swallowing it down. "Petty Officer Finnegan Siosifa," he stated. "Here for away duty." It was then that he noticed Chief Nuñez. He gave her a quick nod as he slung the rifle over his shoulder. His hand disappeared into a pocket briefly, emerging with a red elasticized band. Reaching behind his head, he gathered up his shoulder length wavy mane. With skill that belied his years of experience, he wrapped the band around the handful of hair, securing it in a ponytail.

“Alright well,” Jon began, handing a PADD to the man, “take a look at the mission spec, and let me know what you think. Nuñez is excited for it. I’m...ugh. I’m incredulous that they are sending the Chief Engineer on this mission, but let’s just keep that between us for now.”

Juliana held up her PADD. “If this is correct, then this mission needs the best. It’s why they’re sending you. And it’s why they’re sending Finn and me with you.” She nodded to Petty Officer Siosifa, with whom she worked for years. She gently slapped her friend and colleague with the PADD. “Did you bring me a sandwich?”

The Samoan looked at Nuñez incredulously. "What do you think, Chief? You're a big girl; get your own food." He looked at Batchelder. "Chief Engineer, eh? Yeah, tough luck on this mission, I guess," he said with a smirk. "I'm sure Nuñez will keep you safe. Or die trying."

Juliana laughed at her crewmate’s joke and returned to inspecting her gear.

The doors opened once more, this time depositing a short engineer sporting loose-kept hair, a hefty tool kit over one shoulder and an equipment duffel over the other. His gaze was not on his destination at all, rather, he was focused on his tricorder upon which he was frantically entering configuration codes for the gear he was sporting. He bumped into a large, unmovable object that lacked the unforgiveness of a bulkhead, causing the ensign to backpedal just a bit. He looked up at the Samoan and his eyes grew almost as large as his body. "Oh! I'm... I'm sorry. It's just... a few minutes ago, I was getting tossed about in a Jefferies Tube trying to affect repairs and then I got notified about this mission and I had to pick up all of this stuff. I'm so sorry!"

"No sweat, Ensign," Siosifa said to the newest arrival, a giant smile on his face. "I was in the middle of a sandwich when I got the call."

The doors opened again and six more people from security entered, all with phaser rifles. "Hey guys," Siosifa greeted them, recognizing all of them. Security was a small department on this ship, so it wasn't unusual to know everyone. "You still owe me thirty credits, Bryan. But we'll talk about that later," he said, realizing that Batchelder might not appreciate such chatter. This was Finn's first time meeting the Chief Engineer, so he didn't know much about him. He hadn't socialized with many engineers since the Commander had joined the ship, so he didn't even have second-hand information.

"Who are you, Ensign?" the Samoan asked of the man who had bumping into him. "If you were in a Jefferies tube working on repairs, I think it's safe to assume you're an engineer."

"Yessir," stammered the Ensign. "Ensign Josiah Hawkins." He shifted the equipment duffel he carried. "I've brought pattern enhancers and a few other things we might need. Or so the Chief asked me to gather." He flashed an embarrassed smile at Commander Batchelder.

Finn offered the Ensign a giant smile. "Welcome to the team!" He looked at the Chief Engineer. "Are we waiting for anyone else, Commander?"

"Doesn't look like it," Jon deadpanned at the group. He didn't mind a little side chatter, and the fact that the security detail all seemed to know each other did do a little to put his mind at ease about being sent on the mission. "I would like this to take no more than fifteen minutes. I will allow it to take no more than twenty. We go in, we set up the enhancers, we tag the prisoners, we beam out in unison. Easy in, easy out. Sidearms and rifles set to stun, please. At least for now."

Having said that, he checked his own phaser, and satisfied with its setting, he nodded. Looking back up at the group, he canted his head, heaved a sigh, and ordered, "Beam us over."

As the effervescent white swirl of the transporter died down, Jon pulled out a tricorder and began scanning.

"Ugh, shit," he sighed. Unslinging his phaser rifle from his shoulder, and replacing his tricorder, he continued, "As I suspected, the metallic makeup of the hull is masking the biosignatures. So, new plan. Room clearing tactics. Ensign Hawkins, you take up the rear with Petty Siosifa. Nuñez, you're on point with me. Let's go."

The Samoan looked at the Chief Engineer. "It's never easy, is it?" he said as he raised his rifle to his shoulder. "Let's do this." He turned his head towards Hawkins. "I've got you, Ensign. Stay close."

"Close?" Josiah muttered, patting down his uniform looking for the phaser he swore he added to his seemingly overwhelming pile of equipment. It wasn't in his holster, nor could he find the holster. He started to panic now, wondering what he would do in a firefight. He opened the duffel to find the phaser, holstered, sitting on top of the pattern enhancers. Josiah heaved a sigh of relief as he placed the holster on his belt and pulled out the phaser, making sure it was set on stun.

Juliana readied her rifle and turned on the built-in flashlight, aiming it around the corridor ahead of them. It looked clear, for now, but the report suggested the Glurone had personal cloaking technology. They might not be visible until it was too late.

“Commander,” she said, “I have an idea. Have you ever been involved in any counter-Changeling operations? Or trained for them?”

"Once," Jon replied. "Back in the war." He looked down the corridor, squinting his eyes a bit, and continued, "I don't remember a whole lot of it, to be real honest with you, but I think I get what you're driving at. Let's give it a whirl, and see what happens. Worst case scenario, we all die horribly."

“Everyone with a rifle,” Juliana called back to the team, loud enough that they could hear, but not so loud as to draw unwarranted attention, “set the aperture to a wide dispersion field. When we enter a room or reach an intersection in the corridors, we do a Phaser sweep. It should make visible any cloaked opponents, and will either stun them or cause great physical discomfort, like Finn feels when I knock him down during training.” She grinned at the team. “T’Laj, Prozig, and anyone without a rifle, keep yours on regular stun, and take out anyone made visible who’s still standing.”

"Knock me down..." Siosifa said, exaggerating his faux shock. "Listen here, Chief; don't go making these kids think you can get the drop on me." He smiled widely as he adjusted the settings on his rifle. "You're going to have Zilbb thinking he can take me down."

The Bolian frowned at that. "Don't bring me into this, Finn. You and Nuñez should keep your relationship issues to yourselves."

"You hear that, c? Our 'relationship issues!' I didn't even know we were seeing each other." Finn winked at Hawkins, the timid engineer he was still standing near.

"Well, Finn, you always were a bit slow on the uptake!" Juliana replied with a big grin on her face. "Junction ahead. Phaser sweeps. I'll take forward, Itajime, go left, Zilbb, right. Everyone else, be ready to take shots at anyone we reveal." She led them down a few more steps before saying "Now!" A wide beam was emitted from her rifle, which filled most of the corridor. The human to her left and the Bolian fired as well, and all three slowly and methodically sweeping the beams around the corridors.

Jon looked down the corridor as the phaser sweeps faded. He sighed in relief as no shimmering masses came into view. Either there were no Glurone in this corridor, or their personal cloaks were impervious to standard issue Federation phasers. He hoped for the former.

"Clear," he announced. Beginning to advance down the corridor, he announced, "two rooms on the right, one on the left. I doubt we'll be that lucky, so...quick sweeps to verify our friends aren't in there, and move on...Hawkins, see if you can rig this tricorder to detect any type of non-standard biosign, despite the interference. I don't expect a miracle, just a fresh set of eyes."

He tossed his tricorder at the young engineer, and turned his gaze to Siosifa. "You take the left side. Nuñez and I will take the right. The rest of you, up to the end of the corridor and take point."

"L-L-Left, aye," Hawkins stuttered, looking down to check the charge on his phaser before holstering it in order to work on the tricorder. The unit definitely seemed to be malfunctioning in some way, largely due to the metallurgical compounds utilized in the vessel's construction. Adjusting the sensor units to maximum didn't appear to help; if anything, it made it worse.

Suddenly, an idea struck him. He knelt down suddenly and removed his own tricorder. These palm units were not as modular as the older flip types, but that didn't stop him from ripping off the sensor bridge from the top of his own. He inserted the new bridge into an available slot of Batchelder's tricorder and ran a quick integration algorithm. "I think I've got something," he said, fine tuning the instrument as he rose back to his feet. "Yes. I've got a ten meter range in every direction. Three lifesigns up ahead and around the corner. I think they are Glurone. I'm not reading any weapons though. We might have found a few repair workers."

"Goov," Siosifa called out, getting the Saurian's attention, "come here."

The slight, purple-tinged reptilian trotted over, leaving the rest of the security detail to continue on their way. She looked up at the large Samoan. "Yes, Petty Officer?"

"We're going to get the jump on these guys. I want to stun all three of them before they can sound an alarm," Finn explained. "Problem is, we don't know what will actually work on these guys. They seemed pretty sturdy when they boarded us. Let's say heavy stun. To be sure, ya know."

Crewman Apprentice Goovugtog nodded and adjusted her rifle. "Ready, sir."

"No need for such formality, Goov. Finn is fine," he replied with a grin. "Let's go. Stand aside, Hawkins."

A juxtaposition in size, the giant Samoan and tiny Saurian charged forward, rounded the corner, and fired on the Glurone. Goovugtog managed to take out two of them before Finn could get a second shot off. "Nice going, Goov!" Siosifa said, looking at the Glurone laying, unmoving, on the deck.

And then an alarm sounded.

"Shit," Finn said. "That's never good."

"Damn it, Finn," Juliana said as she approached him and Goov. "I blame you for this!" She stepped close to one of the stunned Glurone repair workers, rifle still out, and looked back at Commander Batchelder. "Sir, maybe they have commbadges, or some other equipment we can use to our advantage?"

"I'd rather not rifle through their belongings, let's just do the job and get the hell out of here," Jon replied.

"This isn't my fault!" Siosifa exclaimed, pulling out his tricorder. He scanned for more Glurone lifesigns, but didn't have much luck.

"Hawkins, you getting anything?"

"I can't tell!" a frustrated and fearful Josiah stammered. "I'm not picking up any lifeforms, nor did I see any communications traffic, EM bursts, or other sort of signal inconsistent with our equipment."

Having heard the alarm, Staff Warrant Officer Itajime had led his team back to meet up with the rest of the crew. "What happened?"

Finn pointed at the trio of stunned Glurone. "Doing that set off an alarm."

Then, a voice sounded from above. "Another ship is arriving to defend the slick-skins. Prepare!"

"So, maybe the alert wasn't triggered by us," Finn offered, looking at Batchelder.

"If we're lucky, whatever other ship that is will give us the distraction we need to rescue our 'friends.' Let's get a move on," Jon ordered. "The longer we're over here the closer this comes to piracy versus a rescue."

"Yes, please," the ensign muttered, clearly the most inexperienced in the group. Surely even the crewmen were losing faith in this officer who did everything he could to bury his face in his tricorder.

"What's the plan, Commander?" Itajime asked. He hadn't met Batchelder before and so far, this mission wasn't exactly showcasing the engineer's abilities.

Jon shot a look at the man, and leveled his rifle again as he began moving down the corridor. “The plan is we continue moving through the corridors until we either find the Qlo’ka or someone in what passes for the command structure on this ship. And at this point I don’t particularly give a shit which happens first. Hawkins, keep an eye on that tricorder for lifesigns.”

The grizzled engineer stopped at a display panel, and started quickly trying to access information. It was disjointed, at best. It seemed the Glurone weren’t as big on details as the Federation was. But there was a passing reference to “slick-skins.” He decided to run with it.

“Alright, looks like we’re at least on the right deck, so: new plan. You see Glurone, you shoot them and we worry about a court martial at some later date. Hawkins, keep an eye on the tricorder. See if you can limit the scan to Qlo’ka lifesigns. Double-time, let’s move.”

Josiah stopped for a moment to make adjustments on the tricorder, hoping he could boost its range especially since they'd be moving faster. By the time he had filtered out most Federation-affiliated lifeforms, he looked up to find that he was now taking up the rear. "Wait for me!" he called out, rushing forward trying to slip back into the group. "Three more lifesigns ahead. I think they're armed."

"I'll take care of this," Siosifa announced. "Hang back, Nuñez."

Before the Samoan could push his way past the rest of the team, Itajime spoke up. "Hold up, Finn."

"I can handle this, Bryan."

"I didn't say that you can't. But I'm the ranking security officer," the Japanese Warrant Officer explained. "Nuñez, take Grayse and Zilbb ahead. Clear our path."

"Yes, sir," Juliana replied, giving a playful smirk to Finn on her way forward. She turned to her two squadmates. "Now that we can see them, return your apertures to normal. Three targets; I've got middle, Rehlin goes left, Morin goes right."

The three security officers adjusted the settings on their rifles and slowly stepped forward and indeed saw three Glurone soldiers, armed to the teeth. It was unclear whether they knew the Starfleet team was where they found them or whether they were hunting blindly. Juliana didn't have time to ask, as three phaser rifles took out the three Glurone, though one managed to get off a shot first, hitting Juliana's rifle and burning her left hand. She dropped the rifle and cursed in Spanish. Her right hand free, she drew her Type 2 sidearm and gritted her teeth through the pain. "Bryan, please tell me you thought to bring someone trained as a medic!"

Itajime looked at the Chief Engineer. "Medical?" he asked.

Batchelder shot a glance at the Vulcan woman and gave a barely perceptible nod of the head, glad he'd taken an extra few moments in the turbolift to go over his personnel dossier.

Without saying anything, T'Laj moved towards her injured peer. She withdrew a hypospray from a pocket, keyed in a dose, and injected it into Nuñez's neck. "The pain will subside."

"What the hell?" Finn said. "Didn't know you were a doc."

T'Laj looked back at the large Samoan. "Prior to my time on the Altai, I was on the security staff of the Federation hospital on Dralin Seven. I observed and learned much."

Her face relaxing as the worst of the pain subsided, Juliana looked to the Vulcan. "You're a life saver, T'Laj. I owe you a dinner when we're back aboard."

With a clawed hand, Goov easily tore a segment from the wrist of her uniform jacket and passed it to Juliana, allowing her to wrap her burned palm and fingers in something. It wasn't much, but it helped keep the wound free of dirt from the environment until she could get to sickbay. She nodded to the Saurian, a quick gesture of thanks.

Satisfied the matter was in hand, Jon accessed the nearby panel, looking for any references to 'slick-skins' again. For the first time on this away mission, he was struck with a bit of good luck.

"The Qlo'ka are in the next corridor, fourth room down on the left hand side," he announced. "Hawkins, get the pattern enhancers ready, but bring up the rear. There's likely to be some resistance. Goovugtog, Prozig, covering fire. T'Laj, hang back with Hawkins. Everyone else, let's do this and get the hell out of here." Having given his instructions, he crouched and peered around the corner of the corridor. As he'd suspected, there were two Glurone guarding the door.

"I'm sure they're going to sound the alarm as soon as we appear," Jon noted. "Let's try do get this done as quickly as possible. Go."

Juliana nodded, sidearm in hand, damaged rifle slung over her shoulder. Damaged or not, she wasn’t leaving Starfleet technology behind. “Want to be point man this time, Finn?” she asked. “I’d be okay taking cover behind you.”

"I can protect you," Siosifa answered with a broad smile. "Anything for you, Jules. All you had to do was ask." He lifted his rifle and began moving forward. Goov and Prozig moved with him, taking up positions behind cover when possible, to allow them to provide suppression fire should the need arise.

It arose.

Finn snapped off a pair of shots, both of which struck the same guard. The remaining Glurone returned fire and began advancing on the team's position. The Saurian and Trill crewmen lit up the corridor with phaser fire.

Somehow, the Glurone managed to avoid being hit. It continued to fire towards the team, but stopped suddenly, it's weapon having failed. A pair of doors behind the Glurone opened and another five Glurone emerged.

"This is fucked!" Finn announced. "Fall back!"

The Samoan withdrew to around the corner with the rest of the team. Goovutog and Prozig stood their ground and continued firing on the advancing aliens from behind cover.

"Fall back, Crewmen!" Itajime shouted, echoing Siosifa's instruction.

Prozig looked at Goov and gave the Saurian a nod, indicating that she would remain in her position to give the younger woman some cover as she retreated. The Saurian scampered back down the corridor. Just as she was about to round the corner, Prozig groaned in pain. Turning back, Goovugtog saw a Glurone standing over the Trill woman's body. It had a long metal shaft in hand, one end of which was buried in Prozig's torso.

Having looked around the corner right then, Finn saw the whole thing. He felt his rage grow and he lost focus. He didn't know what he was doing, instinct took over.

"What're you doing?" Itajime asked as Siosifa started moving. "Stand down Finn!" When the massive Samoan didn't respond, he raised his rifle to his shoulder and relocated to a more tactically advantageous position, one from which he could keep an eye on the Siosifa and give him some cover fire. "Nuñez!" he called, wanting her to follow suit.

Finn, not in control of his actions, lunged forward and grabbed the Glurone who had impaled Prozig. The other Glurone in the corridor were of no importance to him, just the bastard that had murdered the Trill woman. His two large hands grasped the Glurone's spear and the two began to struggle for control of the weapon.

With the intensity of a man half his age, Jon rushed around the corner, bellowing, “GOD FUCKING DAMMIT I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS SHIT. WEAPONS FREE! SHOOT TO KILL! IF WE ARE GOING DOWN EVERY LAST BASTARD ON THIS SHIP IS GOING WITH US!”

With unexpectedly marked precision, he fired three bursts out at the Glurone attackers, square between the eyes. “Give up your prisoners or I swear to all the Saints I will execute every fucking last one of you!”

Part of Juliana's brain heard Bryan's call, but now was not the time to fall back. Bryan was playing it safe, but safety was long out the door. Thankfully, the ranking officer overrode him and ordered them weapons free. She increased the power on her hand phaser and knelt to the ground, taking shots where she could at the Glurone. She couldn't get a clear shot at the one grappling with Finn, but she felled two that were trying to flank him.

They were taking a beating, but the Glurone were doing worse.

Unaware of the actions of the rest of the team, Finn succeeded in wrestling the spear away from the Glurone who'd impaled Prozig, with the help of a well placed headbutt. "DON'T! HURT! MY! FRIENDS! YOU! ASSHOLE!" he shouted as he pummeled the large alien with the shaft of the metal pike, each word punctuated by a new blow. The Glurone, to it's credit, withstood the assault and continued to fight back. In fact, it landed a thunderous fist squarely in Siosifa's chest, knocking the wind out of the furious Samoan. Finn hit the deck, dropping to a knee and losing his grip on the spear. He struggled for breath and wondered if the Glurone had broken one of his ribs and punctured a lung. "It's not that easy," he said, struggling to get the words out between clinched teeth. The Glurone swooped in, likely to finish Siosifa off. He rolled out of the way of the first swing, and managed to lash out with a foot, connecting with the attacker's leg. The Glurone groaned, but barely slowed its assault.

Jon took aim at the Glurone attacking Siosifa, leading it a bit with his phaser rifle, and fired off four successive bursts, bringing the hulking beast down to the deck, burns evident across its hide. Darting his eyes through the corridor, he bellowed, "You assholes would be smart to stand down, or I promise I'm headed to your command deck and murdering everyone you report to!"

He fired off three more bursts, taking down the last 2 Glurone. He was certain that more would be on their way. "Zilbb, Grayse, T'Laj, sweep the room and take down any Glurone you see. If the Qlo'ka are in there, chirp your commbadge. Everyone else, take point. Do. Not. Let these fuckers get past you, under ANY circumstances!"

“Yes, sir!” Juliana answered, getting back to her feet. She quickly checked her phaser and found it low on power. Though she had no desire to do this, she walked over to the corpse of Bume Prozig and retrieved her rifle and sidearm. “I’m sorry,” she quietly said to her deceased subordinate.

She then walked to Finn and reached a hand down to him. “Get up, Siosifa. Lying down on the job is beneath you.”

"Thanks, Jules," he said, grabbing the offered hand. Getting up hurt; he was more convinced that he had internal damage that would necessitate a visit to Sickbay when they got back to the Altai. "You're going to make sure everyone knows the engineer needed to save my ass, aren't you?"

“You know me so well, Finn.”

Once the security team had gotten a handle on the situation, Itajime approached the door to the room where the Qlo'ka were being held. The door was locked, so he fired on the mechanism and pried it open. "Commander," he called out. "Found them."

Jon whirled his head around, and called out, "Hawkins, that's you. Get in there, tag 'em, set up the enhancers, and let's get the hell out of here!" He turned his head to Prozig's corpse lying on the deck, and exhaled sharply. "Tag her too, we're not leaving anyone behind."

"Right," Josiah said, holstering his phaser and bursting into the room. He didn't pay attention to anyone or anything else as he knelt down and dropped both duffels on the ground, figuring that the sooner he accomplished this task, the sooner they could all get out of here, and the sooner he'd avoid being volunteered for away missions that involved phasers. Hawkins unzipped the first bag and started to pull out the pattern enhancers. It took only a few moments to extend the tripod legs, set it on the ground and twist the top to activate the first device. He then opened up the other duffel, pulled out the isolinear tagging device, and grabbed two of the other pattern enhancers.

"Excuse me!" he called out to the Qlo'ka cloistered in the room, all of whom he was certain were wondering who these people in black, gray, and yellow were doing here. As he passed by each of them, he started to use the tagger, using its delivery system to stick a tag onto each person as he passed by. "Don't peel those off!" he called out. "That's your ticket out of here! No tag, no ticket!"

Hastily, Josiah set up the other two pattern enhancers, all the while thanking the brilliant soul in research and development for creating a design that took only seconds to deploy in the field. "Enhancers are online!" he called out just before looking at the dozens of Qlo'ka in the room. "But I'm going to need some help with the tags!"

Juliana looked in the duffel and picked up a pair of isolinear taggers. She passed one to Crewman Grayse, who started tagging Qlo’ka. Before joining her, Juliana went back to Prozig and crouched to tagged her body. She lost colleagues and friends in the past. In many ways, Bume Prozig was just one more. But it was never easy. “We won’t leave you behind, Bume.” She stood back up and returned to help Hawkins and Grayse.

Itajime stayed in the corridor, ready to defend against another Glurone attack. "Goov, help Hawkins out," he ordered.

The young Saurian woman nodded and sprinted into the room, picked up a tagging device and got to work.

The bulkhead door immediately facing the group hissed open. What Jon presumed was a large Glurone man bound through the door, and seeing his dead comrades on the deck, let out a guttural cry of rage.

”Intruders! What have you done?! Do you not realize...”

Before the man could utter another word, Jon leveled his phaser rifle, and fired two blasts square at his midsection, sending him sprawling into the deck.

“No monologuing!” Jon shouted. “Let’s pick up the pace, I don’t want to see who they send in next!”

"There's so many of them!" Josiah called out, trying to forcibly tag a Qlo'ka who was scampering away from it. "No, no! It's all right. This is your ticket to freedom!"

Finn tried, unsuccessfully, to pitch in and help with the Qlo'ka. The pain from whatever internal injury he'd sustained in his wrestle with the Glurone kept him from even standing upright.

At the end of the corridor, a door opened.

"Look alive!" Itajime called out.

Two figures emerged, one Glurone and one Qlo'ka.

Not wasting any time, Itajime quickly fired on the new Glurone, dropping it instantly.

"Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder!" the Qlo'ka called out. "You came for us. Thank you."

Against all probability, Jon recognized the Qlo’ka as one of the leaders of the group that had come over to join them for dinner. Whatever was going on here, he was damn sure he no longer wanted any part of it. Turning to the being, he shouted, “I need you to tell your people to sit still and be tagged. The Altai is waiting for us to beam back and one of my crew has already been killed by these sons of bitches. Five minutes, then we are beaming out. You have five minutes to help get the rest of your people tagged for transport. GO!

Tapping his command he, he said, “Batchelder to Altai: lock on to the tags and start transporting. We’re a person down and I am sick of this shit. Get us the hell out of here!”

Turning back he ordered, “Hawkins! Transport beacons, NOW!”

Juliana approached who she assumed was the Qlo'ka leader, who had been speaking with the Chief Engineer. Tagging device in her uninjured hand, she approached some younger Qlo'ka and started tagging them, as the leader spoke to them. Once that group was done, she gave the tagging device to the Qlo'ka leader, taking one additional tag out first. She walked to a hunched-over Finn and put the tag on his arm. "Feel better, man. Next time I kick your ass sparring, I don't want it to be because you're holding your insides in."

"Kick my ass?" he responded incredulously. "No chance of that happening." A laugh started but the pain made the Samoan fight it back.

Ensign Hawkins, who was still chasing and tagging Qlo'ka, turned to look exasperated at the Chief Engineer. Almost panicking, he turned back to face the several dozen Qlo'ka who hadn't been tagged, and then across the room at his duffel. Josiah closed his eyes and heaved a massive sigh. Opening his eyes, he turned and sprinted back for the duffel to retrieve the activation beacons. He fumbled in the bag for a few moments before pulling one out. "Let's get out of here," he mumbled just before pressing the activation trigger.

 

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