Meng regained consciousness in time to see Freya shaking the council man's hand and shook his head to clear the cobwebs that had taken root. What was that man's name again? The bitch had mentioned it...Trip...Trap? Trane! Trane something or other. Meng groaned as the ship heaved under the assault. Whoever had been keeping him upright lost his grip and Meng fell backwards into the bulkhead with a curse that drew Freya's attention finally.
"Meng!" she extracted herself from the council members and ran to his side. Though she seemed pleased to see him awake, she jumped instantly into doctor mode and began assessing his injuries with a critical eye. "How are you feeling? What happened to you?"
"I should ask you the same thing," Meng said, propping himself up into a sitting position and looking beyond her to the council and the captain – who was on his way out of the room already. "What's going on? Last thing I remember was being shoved into that chamber and..." he trailed off, recalling the initial sensation of electricity passing through his body.
"Come on, we should get you to the medical bay...I'll explain on the way..." she waved one of the Sons over, probably the one who'd dropped him a moment ago, and then reached out an arm to help him up. Before he could take it, the ship lurched again and she went flying – directly into his lap.
"Oof," Meng's breath was knocked from him but all in all it wasn't an entirely unpleasant moment. Especially when she giggled in the midst of apologizing. "No, no, I'm fine," he said with a small smile on his lips. "Better than I have been in..." he trailed off, trying to assess how much time had passed. "What time is it?"
With the help of Freya and Henrick, Meng got to his feet where he was pleased to find he could stand and walk on his own now. Henrick was rambling on and on about Freya's grand plan to take the ship and recalling everything at such a rate that Meng could barely process one step before he'd moved on. Tuning him out, Meng turned his attention to Freya instead, seeing her in a new light. Or perhaps with the new appreciation of someone who'd been rescued looks at his rescuer.
"The ship is ours and the Doc was totally brilliant! You should have seen the look on Lady Ice's face when she fried!" At that point, Freya's smile faded and she looked away from them, internalizing the deaths from the rebellion – even Lady Ice's.
Meng tried to come up with the right words but there was nothing he could say now to take that pain out of her eyes. The doors of the medical ward loomed in front of them then, relieving him of the burden for the moment. "Ya know – I feel pretty good all things considered, I imagine my services would be put to better use somewhere else..."
"In..." Freya gently shoved him toward the ward. The doors, sensing their approach, slid open and admitted them into the chaotic bay. Ash, Commander Bonwick and Dex occupied the main beds and a nurse was filing through a crowd of people treating phaser burns mostly. "...oh..."
Doctor Hapsberg spotted her standing in the doorway and beckoned her over to Dex's side urgently. Freya glanced briefly at Meng and Henrick before responding to the summons. "Don't let him leave until he's been seen at least!" she ordered Henrick. She had little hope it would be an order that was followed. The next time she looked toward the lobby of the ward, Meng and Henrick were gone.
"Report!" Captain Hunt said as he strode onto the bridge. Despite having spoken to him already over the comms, Katou was still surprised to see him return. "How did they get past the fighters?"
"They didn't...not exactly. Lieutenant Ice led two of the squad to the other side of the ship leaving us exposed," Katou explained, moving from the center seat.
"Were his movements contrary to standard patrol formation?" Hunt asked, lowering his voice.
"Yes sir. Besides, that side is pointed toward the moon – it is unlikely anyone would attack from that side," Katou explained. "And he's not responding to hails from us or the other fighters sir."
Hunt nodded slowly, assessing the situation. No shields, no weapons, only a couple fighters and a rogue pilot – things could certainly be better. "Can you disconnect the link Commander?"
Katou nodded, though the look on her face betrayed her anxiety before she spoke. "I'm not sure what will happen to him though..."
"Will he live?" Katou nodded grimly, what sort of life he might have would have to wait for another time. "Then do it and get him back here."
"Yes sir," Katou said, returning to her station as Meng Asada entered the bridge. Out of reflex, she started to rise again in alarm.
"Mr. Asada – can I help you?" Captain Hunt asked. Katou looked between them quickly and surmised she must have missed something. As much as she wanted to ask for details, another volley from the aliens reminded her that now was neither the time nor the place.
"Actually I hope I can be the one to help you," Meng said. Hunt looked him over dubiously. He'd been forced to watch Radke beat Meng repeatedly and then the electricity...Hunt shuddered slightly. Still, Meng was standing on his own and seemed strong.
Hunt nodded toward the empty station that was usually manned by security, "Hunt to Engineering – what can you all give me for shields or weapons?"
"We're doing the best we can cap'n, these systems are still pretty mucked up," came Liam's voice.
"Well unmuck them!" Hunt snapped.
With surprising ability, Meng's fingers flew across the console. "The aliens are targeting our weapons and engine core Captain, though whoever is firing isn't a particularly good shot," he said just as another shot rocked them.
"Oh they seem to be hitting the mark well enough," Captain Hunt replied sarcastically. "Unity to fighter squadron alpha, all fighters converge on the alien ship!" To his relief, the two fighters that had been following Julian's orders broke off from his fighter to engage in the battle – though it would take them a few minutes to join the others.
"Bridge to engineering, Liam, can you reconfigure the forward array to emit an energy pulse?" Meng asked.
"Um, I guess so. We have control over it at any rate..."
"What do you have in mind?" Hunt asked, coming over to stand alongside Meng.
"If we attune the energy pulse to the alien ship's shield frequency, we might be able to disrupt their shields long enough to get one very well place shot off," Meng explained as he manipulated the console's controls.
"All well and good Meng but we don't have weapons control..." Liam pointed out.
"But we could," Katou chimed in, "we've made headway on the virus before...if we can focus only on the weapons and gain control – one for a few minutes – we could make the shot."
Hunt looked between the two of them and then nodded, "do it. Jamison, take the helm and get ready to break orbit. If this doesn't work we're gonna need some evasive action I imagine."
"This is insane," Jordan said as she scrambled from one console to the next. The return of the rebel engineers had been a blessing and a curse. Being fully staffed once more was a good thing but they were all out of the loop on the virus and the damage to the ship's systems over the last few months.
"Isn't it usually?" Liam said with a chuckle. "I doubt engineering has changed that much. Organized chaos is our motto right?"
Jordan's laugh was strained and Liam wondered if she was thinking about Dex. The blow he'd received from the security force had proven to be worse than any of them had expected. "The thing with this thing is how smart it is..."
"It isn't smart...it's well program but not smart," Liam said.
"No Liam...IT is smart. Think of it as an artificial intelligence that is inside our computer core manipulating it. Every time we get something working, it shuts it back down and half the neighboring systems just to spite us. It's smart, it's adaptive and it's fast. We'll be luck to have weapons up for a few minutes..." The other engineers nodded along, they ought to know given how long they'd been working against it.
"What if we set up a dynamic firewall around that system then?" Liam suggested. He could tell by the confusion on their faces they were unfamiliar with the term. "Like a shield – meant to protect it from attack. But instead of a static one, imagine it with a modulating frequency. It might buy the bridge a few more minutes at least..."
Jordan glanced back at the others who nodded slowly, "it could work..." Another shot sent a couple of them to the deck while the others grabbed hold of whatever was closest. "But we better move fast..."
"Rob – you work on reinforcing the internal force fields around the core and critical systems. If they do get past the armor, I'd like something there to protect us a little longer!" Jordan was hovering over Liam's shoulder watching as he created the firewall. "If this works maybe we can use it to get out computer back..."
"I have another idea for that but it's going to take a lot more time than we have now," Liam said.
"It's good to have you all back on the team!"
Katou strode into the medical bay and recoiled when the smell of burnt flesh assaulted her nose. "What is..." she started to ask after the source but her eyes settled on the inhabitant of one of the beds.
Both doctors were working over Commander Bonwick, carefully tending to the seared flesh that now adorned her upper body. "Can we help you Commander Katou?" Doctor Hapsberg asked, glancing up for the briefest of moments.
Katou steadied herself and then nodded, stepping closer to the pair and their patient. "Lieutenant Ice's implant has been sending and receiving information from the aliens – we think they essentially have control of his mind and body. We need to sever the link..."
Freya's hands stalled as she looked up at Katou. "He...? What?" She looked back at Hapsberg for confirmation but she was just as confused, having not been privy to any of Katou's concerns.
"We have to sever the link – though I'm not sure what it will do to him. As I understand it, the device essentially integrated into his brain correct?" Freya nodded in response, while trying to return her primary focus to treating Bonwick. "In order to sever the link, I need to send an EM pulse through his fighter. From the simulations I've run, it's likely this will send a feed back energy pulse into his brain which may temporarily stop brain function."
"Or kill him!" Freya snapped, she dropped her instruments on the tray and grabbed the data padd out of Katou's hands. As quickly as she'd crossed the bay to take it from her, she was done reading it and looked up flabbergasted. "If this doesn't kill him, it will likely turn him into a vegetable."
"That's why I'm here...Doctor." Katou choked the last word out, a concession to Captain Hunt. "The link has to be severed and it has to be done now. The faster you are able to treat him, the better his prognosis – am I correct?"
Hapsberg had come up beside Freya and was reading the data padd – much slower. "You are correct," she said finally. "If you can transport him directly from his shuttle to the medical ward, there is a chance he can recover from any brain damage." She glanced over at Freya expecting confirmation.
Freya looked between the two of them and then nodded reluctantly. "Yeah..." There was no other way that she could think of in the next five minutes and that was all the time they had it would seem.
"Engineering ready Captain," Jordan Dexter's voice echoed over the bridge. "Time will be short but you should have the opportunity."
"Very good, stand by," Hunt said as Katou returned to the bridge with Freya along side. "Doctor?"
"Doctor Hapsberg will be standing by in the medical bay, we thought it best to have someone watching from here," Freya said. It was a partial truth, while it would be marginally helpful to have someone watching his vitals – Freya had pretty much insisted on being involved in the whole procedure. Thankfully Katou, of all people, had come up with an excuse.
Though she'd seen Meng on entering the bridge, Freya kept her focus on the console. "We're ready to sever the link Captain," Katou said.
"Okay – this is how it will go. Commander Katou will terminate Julian's link at the same time we send the energy pulse to distract the aliens and their shields. Transport Lieutenant Ice directly to the surgical bay. No reason to tip our hand and give the aliens a reason to alter their tactics before we can get our shot. As soon as we confirm their shields are down, take the shot Mr. Jamison – understood?"
A chorus of "Yes sirs" replied from around the ship as Medical and Engineering were both on the comm.
"Fighter squadron, begin returning to the ship."
"Energizing the forward array..."
"Initializing the EM pulse in the fighter cockpit."
"The firewall is holding, weapons are coming online...ready!"
"Julian's heart has stopped, transporting to the medical bay!"
"Alien shields are down Captain!"
"Make it good Jamison!"
The viewscreen erupted in color as the disrupted shot cut through the center of the alien ship, penetrating their own meager armor. The engine core exploded and they watched in mixed aww and horror as the explosions spread outward and soon engulfed the entire ship. As quickly as it began, it ended, leaving behind a field of debris where the vessel that had been stalking them for the last four months had once sat.
"The alien vessel has been destroyed," Jamison said, breaking the stunned silence.
Before anyone could say anything else, a steady beep began to echo around the bridge. "We're being hailed Captain," Meng said, raising his eyebrows. "It's another ship..."
"On screen," Hunt said, mentally crossing his fingers.
A jovial looking man, with beautiful azure colored skin, filled the screen. His eyes were a sea of pitch black much like Ash's. Everyone on the bridge looked at him in shock. This man was Quuvarii. "Well well! It seems we have an unexpected ally! I thank you, friends, for your help with the Koval vessel! You saved me a fair bit of trouble there...." He trailed off and seemed to actually see them all for the first time, "why....you're human! Astonishing!"