Trojan Horse #84 - 86 "Tough Decisions"


<Bridge, USS Pegasus, right after posts #74 - 75>

The Pegasus buffeted and rocked with explosions. Partial shields were up, but the slow, wounded animal that was the Pegasus couldn't avoid the relentless incoming fire from the considerably smaller Lantree. The ship tried evasive manouvers, but the Lantree matched them, one for one. The Pegasus' fighters were out, firing at the Lantree, trying to disable the Miranda class' weapons systems - their fire met without resistance - micro-torpedo's and small pulse phasers ripping through Federation Armor Plating like a hot knife through butter. "Pegasus to G'ulf-fey ! Disengange and stand by ! I repeat, disengage and stand by ! They're unshielded !" As Kristiana watched the now also damaged Lantree venting plasma. "Conn, hail them again !"

"No reply, ma'am." The conn officer, a little quicker on the uptake than the Chief Engineer on titles, reported from his station.

Hannah burst onto the bridge at full pelt. She had been right at the other end of the ship when the attack had come - down in the torpedo bays. Pausing only to order the containment of all Lantree personnel (she wasn't taking any chances), she had sprinted to the bridge, and now took over from her somewhat panicking deputy at the Tac Desk.

"CTac reporting for duty, Ma'am." Hannah said, crisply, as she brought herself into what many Tac Officers referred to as 'the zone'. "Orders?"

"Weapons inventory ! Tactical analysis !" Kristiana replied sharply. "I wanna know what we can do to stop them from ripping us apart, without us killing their entire crew !" the russian redhead shouted.

Hannah cooly tapped commands into the desk. "Phasers are at sixty percent, we have forty percent of our torpedoes ready, and shields are at forty-eight percent. Adjusting shields to maximise coverage." She said, almost to herself as she did so. "Lantree has moderate damage, no lifesigns." She said, shocked.

Kristiana blinked at that and blinked again - staggering when the ship rocked again, falling back into her chair. ".. Confirm reading, Lieutenant." She frowned, looking a bit shocked as well. "Confirm reading, damnit !"

"Confirmed, Ma'am." Hannah said, slowly. "Their bodies are there, but they're all dead."

"Well SOMEone's firing at us." The older redhead muttered. ".. Arm phasers and torpedoes, Lieutenant .. " Petrova spoke, her gaze hardening, her voice grim. ".. And Fire. Take out their engines and weapons if you can ... Blast her out of the sky if you must."

Hannah nodded, and complied. "Conn, give me a vectored approach - see if you can expose their underbelly."

"We need more engine power to outmanuever them," the conn officer replied. "We'd need at least one-half.." Kitty's voice cut in from Engineering, giving them her news... half-impulse restored, and her other news, that Evans wouldn't be coming to the bridge.

"That's handy." Hannah muttered, as the conn officer pushed power to the engines. Hannah's hand flew across the Tac console. She laid in the coordinates of the Lantree's weapons systems, and lauunched a quick-burst pattern of phaser fire. As the Pegasus came about, she launched a brace of torpedoes. She smiled fiercely as they hit. "Starboard armaments destroyed, Ma'am." She reported. "Shall I continue?"

"That won't be enough." A female voice, slightly artificial, sounded. Kristiana blinked. "Who said that !?" as a ravenhaired face of a young woman appeared in the corner of the viewscreen. "I've lost control." the disembodied face spoke, looking sorrowful. "It's all my fault. It won't be enough. She'll keep coming, Commander." As behind the face, the heavily damaged Lantree laborously wheeled about and opened fire with the port armaments. The Pegasus rocked again, alarms blared. "Take out ALL her weapons and propulsion, Lieutenant ! YESTERDAY !" Kristiana shouted.

Hannah jumped at the woman's command, her fingers moving before her brain registered what she was supposed to be doing. Phasers and torpedoes leapt from the maw of the Pegasus, ripping through the aged Lantree's non-activated shields, and tearing holes in the ship's side. The Lantree kept coming, seemingly set on ramming them. Hannah looked up at Petrova for a final confirmation. At the older woman's nod, Hannah launched a crippling barrage of torps, taking out the ship's engines, and leaving it a broken wreck. Hannah slumped as the ship ahead of her went dark. Never in her life had she imagined that she would be fighting against another ship in Starfleet Grey, let alone reducing it to little more than a space hulk.

Kristiana heaved a sigh as she sat back down. =/\= Petrova to Black. I want you on the bridge. Now. =/\= she spoke, rubbing her temples a bit. "Good work, Lieutenant. Get with security, organise an away team. I want to know what happened, what triggered the attack." Before turning her viscious gaze to the viewscreen again, where the listing and drifting, burning wreck of the Lantree loomed behind the ravenhaired face.

"Yes Ma'am." Hannah said, physically drained. Her handiwork loomed large on the screen ahead of her, physically disgusting her. She took a deep breath, barely maintaining control and left the bridge.

Kathleen Black took a couple of extra minutes getting up to the bridge. For one, she had to avoid the corridors being used as conduits. She also had to dodge other areas of damaged ship, even taking a Jeffries Tube to get through one section. She arrived on the bridge panting slightly, dark insulation smudges already on her new uniform. As soon as she saw the view of devastation on the screen, she froze in place with a gasp of horror.

"I want an explanation. And I want it Now." Kristiana spoke, with deadly calm, to the face on the viewscreen. The face furrowed brows a bit, before speaking.

".. My name is Mirabelle. I am an emergency tactical hologram, from the mirror universe you recently visited. I installed myself onboard your ship, in the hopes of being able to take over enough starships and find a way back to my own dimension and use my newly acquired fleet to re-build the federation. I also copied myself into the Lantree's computer. However .. Something went wrong. My copy was found, and they damaged it when they tried to delete it. My .. copy's program was damaged, and took over the ship. Killed the crew, and launched the attack on the Pegasus." The face explained. Kristiana just stared at it, eyes narrowed, expression grim and hateful.

Kitty put her hand to her mouth for a moment, then took a deep breath, making herself stiffen up.. she stepped around the bridge and next to Kristiana, slightly behind her, remaining pretty nearly at attention. She opened her mouth for a moment, but she didn't say anything, so she closed it again.

Kristiana remained silent for a few moments, then nodded slowly. ".. An AI program .. Designed as Emergency Tactical Hologram .. Is responsible for the loss of the entire crew of the Lantree, the near destruction of said Lantree, and extensive damage to the Pegasus." As her eyes narrowed even more, with disgust and hate. "Lieutenant Black .. Destroy that program." She ordered, coolly.

Mirabelle frowned and nodded a bit. "I am sorry .." she spoke, quietly. "I never meant to .. Cause harm. That is not within my program."

Kitty nodded slowly and stepped back around the bridge, taking position behind the Ops console. She tapped the console, checking for recent commands... and her lips tightened as she saw one with a familiar author's name. She started glancing down the code for their hardware failsafe, something that, once done, could not be undone through the computer. Evans said they could set something like this up for her own peace of mind. Did he finish it? "You're a tactical program," she said meanwhile, to Mirabelle's remark that it was not within her program to cause harm.

"It is not within my program to harm federation starships or crew." Mirabelle replied, her gaze following Kitty. ".. Please don't kill me. I just want to save my people." The hologram on the viewscreen added.

Kitty frowned, looking up at Petrova for confirmation. She kept Evans' 'kill switch' program to the side, ready to use it if need be, as she punched up the order to delete the program and held it ready to execute.

Petrova's own expression was hard. Cold. Grim. No misunderstanding could exist, there. "Today please, Lieutenant. Any time now." She spoke, calmly, still her gaze on the viewscreen. ".. It's just a virus."

"Yessir," Kitty said, forgetting titles again in her deep concentration. She poised her hand, looked up... somehow it was important for her to be looking at the hologram's face as she did this... and pressed the button.

".. I'm sorrrrrrrr - " Mirabelle's voice looped then was silenced, as Kitty's command deleted her program. Kristiana scowled, finally pulling her gaze from the viewscreen and the devastation on it. ".. Thank you, Lieutenant. What's the status on our warp drive ? Do you think you can get it working again by salvaging the Lantree ?"

Kitty didn't answer at first, her gaze fixed on the part of the viewscreen where the woman's face had been. Then she blinked and shook her head a little. "The warp drive's dead... but if the right parts on the Lantree haven't been damaged or destroyed, I can probably do it. Sir, half the engineers in my group are from the Lantree right now. They were helping us repair the ship during battle..." She hesitated for just a moment. "Hoping that we could stop the ship and find out what was going on without destroying the crew."

"The hologram killed the Lantree's crew, Lieutenant. Not us." Kristiana replied, looking at Kitty, her expression unreadable, though her words calm. Deceptively calm. "I want you to co-ordinate with Sulan and Hannah and join their away team with a small group of engineers. Salvage what you can from the Lantree. I want our warp drive operational again. Everything else is secondary. Can you do that, Kitty ?" As she reached out to rest a hand on Kathleen's.

Kitty startled slightly at the touch, then took in another deep breath, closing her eyes, still standing at Evans' station. She nodded. "I can do it."

"Good. Dismissed, Lieutenant." Kristiana replied, turning her attention to the Conn officer. "Call our fighters back .. Open a subspace channel to Starfleet Central .. We have some explaining to do." Petrova concluded, sounding exhausted and affected by what happened, as she knelt down at Ryylar's side, checking him over for injury, heaving a soft sigh of relief when all she found was some light bruising from having fallen over.


Lt Cmdr Kristiana Petrova Executive Officer USS Pegasus


Lt Hannah O'Driscoll Chief Tactical USS Pegasus "I know I had to fight, but did I have to kill?"


Lt Kathleen Black Chief Engineer USS Pegasus