It was a quiet evening for Commander
Kira Markos. And these days, quiet evenings did not come frequently to the new
commanding officer of the USS Ronin. Upon his return to Deep Space 11 following
his encounter with the Borg, Kira had learned that Captain Evans' deeds had
not gone unnoticed. Due to a couple of incidents that transpired that fateful
day, Evans had been sent back to Earth in order to undergo a thorough psychiatric
evaluation from Starfleet Medical. Until the results of this examination were
complete, Kira was to take command of the Ronin.
Kira was currently working with Lieutenant McQueen and Ensign Gregholt in Engineering trying to patch up the damages caused by their latest encounter with the Borg. The battle was intense, and if Kira hadn't decided to use the Gemini Device to duplicate the Ronin and the senior staff they probably wouldn't have survived the ordeal. As it was, the Ronin's systems were completely fried; at the moment she wasn't even space worthy. Kira had decided to order Nige and most of the remaining senior staff to take a transport ship from Deep Space 11 to retrieve the remainder of the Ronin's crew from the L-class planet that they had marooned them on prior to the start of the battle.
"Try it now Commander." Said McQueen from one of the Jeffries tubes near the warp core.
"Come on, baby, be nice to daddy. Just start for me, OK?" mumbled Kira under his breath as he punched a few buttons on the warp core intermix chamber control panel. Fortunately, whatever McQueen had modified in the control circuits worked, and the once dead warp core now began to shimmer with a bright blue and white mix of light as the warp plasma mixed with the antimatter in the chamber in a brilliant, but familiar pattern of light.
"I think she likes you, Sir." Said Ensign Gregholt from behind Kira's shoulder.
Kira hadn't realized that Gregholt was behind him while he was at the controls. He flushed a bit and then promptly responded, "It's an old habit of mine to talk to a piece of machinery as though it was a woman; and with both machinery and women I've learned that it doesn't hurt to beg."
"I understand completely, Sir." Replied Gregholt with a smile as he turned to concentrate on achieving the optimal matter/antimatter mixture in the chamber. "I have this shuttle craft back home that I have to do the same thing with."
McQueen then emerged from the Jeffries tube and grabbed a rag that was lying on another console near to Kira and Gregholt. "Well, Sir, we've finally managed to get this up and running, now all that's left is to repair the shields and the structural integrity grid."
"How long until we are back at full capacity?" asked Kira of McQueen.
"It's going to take awhile, especially with only two engineers working on the systems."
"Nige should be back soon with the remainder of your engineering staff, and that should speed things up considerably." Replied Kira as he motioned to McQueen to hand him the rag so that he could wipe his hands. "We need to get up and running as soon as possible in order to find our duplicates. At this point, who knows what they're up to, or what they're doing."
"We'll do our best, Sir." Replied Gregholt from his console.
"Yes, Sir, and thank you for the extra hand. I'm sure that Ensign Gregholt and I can get everything back to normal soon enough."
"Good," replied Kira, "Tell me when we can get underway. If you need any further assistance, I'll be on the bridge trying to get the systems working up there."
With that Kira left Engineering and made his way toward the bridge. As he walked through the ship's corridors, he couldn't help noticing how empty it was on the ship. This realization was further noticed when he arrived on the bridge. Normally there were at least ten officers milling around the small area, but now, it was completely deserted as the remainder of the crew were scattered in remote sections of the ship trying to repair the battle damage.
As he walked through the main doors, his eyes immediately were drawn to the command chair in the middle of the room. For some reason as his eyes fixed on the Captain's chair his mind wandered back to the first time that he stepped on this bridge, with Evans sitting in that very place. He was brought back to reality as the sound from the doors closing behind him broke his daydream.
*I never wanted to assume command like this.* thought Kira as he moved toward the center of the room. As he walked up behind the chair he slowly turned it toward him, and paused for another brief moment before finally sitting in the all-important captain's seat. *If it took me this long to finally sit in the chair, how long is it going to take to use the Captain's ready room?* With that thought Kira laughed at himself and began to work on bringing the bridge's systems back on-line.
As the hours passed by Kira slowly was able to bring the bridge back to a functional state. Fortunately, he was joined by some of the repair crews from the station who had finished their work across the ship. The bridge was finally beginning to feel like it was getting back to its functional state. It was at that moment that the Ronin's communications channel was activated. Kira hadn't realized that it had been repaired.
[Sorry to interrupt your repairs, Commander, but you have a message from Lieutenant Commander Tyran awaiting you.] Said the young communication's officer over the system.
"Patch it through to the Captain's ready room, if you please."
[Very well, Sir.]
Kira walked into the small room and sat in one of the chairs in front of Evans' desk. He turned the small screen on the desk around so that he could retrieve the message and typed in his authorization codes on the keypad. In a brief second the Starfleet insignia was replaced with a picture of Nige on the shuttlecraft turned transport ship.
"Tyran, good to see you again. How goes the transport?" asked Kira.
[Not good Kira. We had a run in with our doubles. We have the crew though. Other than being a bit cold, they were fine. There is one thing that troubles me, though.]
[Their ship is fully functional, they seem to have gotten the better of our encounter at the black hole.] Said a slightly worried Nige. [Remember, there is that little black hole around the area. It could throw off your readings when you encounter them. They were heading in your direction before we lost them]
I'm currently pushing the transport ship's engines to near maximum in order to get back to the station as soon as possible. My double is extrememly dangerous and you will need me at the tactical console if you want a chance]
"We've almost finished the repairs to the Ronin and we might be able to meet you before you get back here." Said Kira.
[That would be great. We don't have much in the weapons or shields department on this ship. There is one thing that you should know. Kira is intent on exerting revenge upon you for deserting their ship. Watch yourselves] Replied Nige.
"I know, we're hurrying; we'll try to rendezvous with you as soon as possible. Kira out and Tyran, we'll be careful"
Nearly eight hours later the Ronin was finally up and running. Fortunately the station commander had provided a larger repair team to finish working on the ship, which McQueen was able to direct in repairing the key systems. Nearly seventy-five percent of the ships systems were repaired and all of the critical systems were in place. All that remained to be fixed were the niceties such as the holodeck, sonic showers and the like. In the interest of getting underway as soon as possible Kira decided to finish the repairs while en-route in order to provide some protection to the remainder of the Ronin's crew aboard the shuttle transport ship.
As he was sitting in the Captain's chair, watching the display on his panel, he was startled by McQueen's voice over the ship's communication system.
[Sir, we're finally up and running. Whenever you're ready I can give you nearly full power and warp capability.]
"Understood, thank you Lieutenant." Said Kira as he closed the communication channel to Engineering.
"Sir," said Fenris from the tactical station before him, "Weapons systems are back on line, and shields are at one hundred percent."
Kira opened the ship-wide communications channel, and waited until the attention whistle had sounded its tones to speak into the systems. All around the ship the repair crews and skeleton crew paused in their work to listen to Kira's words. "Good work people. I know that it's been a rough few days, but you've done a great job in repairing the damage done to our little ship. Right now we need to head out and retrieve the remainder our crew. I don't need to remind you all about what happened to Torasu2; and, unfortunately I believe that an encounter with our doubles will be inevitable. Let's keep on our toes. Kira out."
As Kira closed the channel he turned to face the helmsman (Lieutenant McMillan being but another crew member not present due to hre injuries sustained in the last battle) and said "Plot a rendezvous course with the transport ship and keep a close watch on the long range sensors. Let's bring our crew home."
As the hours passed by, Kira remained awake and alert on the bridge. On the edge of his consciousness he sensed that something was going to happen. He couldn't put his finger on the feeling, but he could sense something out of the ordinary. After a couple of minutes he gave in to his suspicions and moved to face Fenris.
"Fenris, how long has it been since we've been in communication with the shuttle transport?"
Fenris punched a few buttons and accessed the communications log then responded, "Approximately three hours ago, Sir."
"Can we pick them up on long range sensors?" asked Kira.
"Affirmative, Sir." Replied Fenris.
"Hail them." Ordered Kira.
Fenris punched a few more buttons and tried to reach the crew aboard the transport ship. "It's strange, Sir, I can't seem to send out a message to them." Said Fenris. "Our long range communications are being jammed."
"Jammed by what?" asked Kira.
Just as the words had left Kira's lips, the ship was violently rocked.
"What on earth was that?!? Fenris, enable the viewscreen." Said Kira.
They were greeted by an image of the Ronin's double firing a photon torpedo toward them.
"Red Alert!" shouted Kira, mentally trying to drain the power from the swiftly approaching torpedo hurtling toward the Ronin. For some reason it wasn't working though, Kira felt a resistance to the energy drain; like something was trying to enhance the yield on the torpedo.
"Commander, there's something strange about that torpedo," said Fenris from his tactical station.
"I know," Kira replied, "I think my double is trying to enhance its destructive force."
"Brace for impact!" shouted Fenris.
The Ronin shook violently as the enhanced torpedo struck the shield matrix. Kira and the rest of the crew had a hard time keeping in their seats.
"Shields are down to seventy-four percent!" said Fenris.
"We can't handle much more of this; my double may be able to enhance the torpedoes, but I can enhance the shields ." said Kira as he concentrated on providing power to the Ronin's fading shield matrix.
"Shield strength is rising to one-hundred twenty percent." Said Fenris.
"Hail them." Ordered Kira as he continued to provide power to the matrix.
"On screen," replied Fenris.
The faces of the duplicates greeted them on their counterpart ship. It didn' t look pretty. Although each of the duplicates resembled their counterparts in physical form, it was apparent that something was wrong with them. It was like looking at the worst possible version of a person, in their worst possible frame of mind.
[So, Commander, I see that you've enhanced your shields.] Said Kira's double.
"And I see that you've enhanced the torpedoes. Why are you firing on us?"
[You left us adrift in space. It took us a long time to make the repairs on our own to our ship. We thought that was rather rude of you to not come after us.] Replied Kira's double with a strange look in his eye.
"You know as well as I do that we were as damaged as you, we would have not been able to help you any more than we could help ourselves." Said Kira.
[No, I won't believe that. You could have helped.] Yelled Kira's double into the screen.
"Just calm down, we have some more of the crew on-board, perhaps we can be of some help now."
[It's too late. you know as well as I do that you wouldn't have helped us. you were worried about what we would do. weren't you? Now, you will see what we've been able to do with the past couple of days.] Said the double as the channel abruptly closed.
Fenris was the first to speak, "I think that the psychosis is starting to set in."
"We don't have much time," said Kira in a worried tone, "he's beginning to lose his grip on reality, and that's not good. It requires a lot of concentration to keep my abilities in check, and I can bet that his concentration is lapsing."
"Which means what, Sir?" asked McMillan's replacement.
"That I'm not sure what to expect, Ensign, but it won't be good." Replied Kira. "Fenris, how are our shields holding up against their volleys?"
"Holding at two hundred percent above normal, Sir. How long can you keep this up?"
"Awhile, but it's mentally draining." Said Kira as he rubbed his head.
"Sir, they're breaking off their attack and going into warp." Said the Ensign at the helm.
"Plot an intercept course and engage." Ordered Kira.
"Sir, what about the remainder of the crew on the transport shuttle?" said Fenris.
"Drop off a probe and program it to repeat our orders on a secure channel. Hopefully, Tyran will be able to decode it once we're out of the jamming field's range." Said Kira as he sat back in the Captain's chair.
"Commander, they're heading toward Deep Space 11." Said Fenris.
"This can't be good. We have to stop them before they get to the station, with the second Kira increasing the yield on the torpedoes they won't stand a chance unless we're there to back them up." Said Kira
"Then we'll have to destroy them before they get there." said Sular.
"Sir, they seem to be jumping into a modified form of transwarp; we won't be able to keep up with that velocity." Said Ensign Holmes from her station.
Kira concentrated for a moment and reached out with his senses. He felt a familiar field forming around the second Ronin. "It's the second Kira; he's trying to open a subspace jump. He's definitely not thinking rationally, that kind of jump always drains my system when I try to do it. Can we follow them in?"
"Yes, the wake is still open." Said Fenris.
"Pursuit course." Ordered Kira.
"We may have the upper hand in this conflict, the other Kira will be drained from the ordeal, he won't be able to enhance the torpedoes or the shields of the second Ronin after forming the jump." Said Kira.
"I think we'll be able to take care of that," said Fenris, "but what about the station, can they be reached?"
"Your guess is as good as mine, this aspect of space travel hasn't been studied before." Said Kira.
"We're approaching the wake, Sir, brace for impact." Said Holmes.
Moments later the ship blasted through the transwarp jump following closely behind the second Ronin. The ship ferociously rocked as they were transported across hundreds of light years in a brief second. When they emerged from the jump, they were greeted to the sight of the second Ronin blasting away at Deep Space 11.
"Fenris," said Kira, "target their weapons systems."
"Already got it, Sir." Replied Fenris from his console.
"Fire at will."
Moments later the Ronin blasted away at her sister ship bouncing her away from her flight course and sending her spiraling away from the station.
"Direct hit, Sir." Said Fenris.
"They're regaining attitude control," said Holmes, "I think they're coming after us, Sir."
"Keep hitting them with all we've got." Said Kira.
"Sir, their shields are holding, and they're coming directly at us." Said Holmes.
"They're on a collision course." Replied Fenris. "And I'm not detecting any life signs aboard the ship."
"Where did they go??" asked Kira in a worried tone.
"A small craft launched from the second Ronin after exiting the subspace jump, the Ronin seems programmed to destroy us by running into our ship." Said Fenris.
"Can we out run it?" asked Kira.
"Negative, unlike our systems, they've been able to get their warp systems and shield grid to full capacity." Said Fenris. "Sir, their shields are at one-hundred percent, and ours are down to seventy-five."
"Which means we can't destroy it either." Said Holmes.
"Options, people?" said Kira, "just how long can we out-run that ship?"
"It's keeping me busy trying to out maneuver their program," said Holmes as she strained at the helm controls, "I don't know how much longer I can out run it."
"If we abandon the ship, we may be able to escape using the transporter systems and shuttle pods." Said Fenris.
"Is that really necessary?!?" said Kira.
Just then the Ronin was rocked and thrown off her normal course.
"Sorry, it got pretty close there, it just grazed our shields." Said Holmes.
"I believe that abandoning the ship is the only viable option, unless you can drain the ship's power." Said Fenris.
"Not the whole warp core and subsystems." Said Kira as he paused to think. He knew he would have to make the tough decisions while in command, and this one wasn't going to be an easy one to accept.
"Ensign, keep up the evasive maneuvers, and give us some time to get everyone off board in either the shuttlecraft or the escape pods. Fenris, try to take out the other ships' weapons systems. I don't want their program to be able to take out any of the escaping pods. Ensign Holmes, you and I will stay behind to control the ship. Once the rest of the crew is off the Ronin, Sular will have to transport us off the ship using the shuttlecraft's emergency transporters." Said Kira. "Let's move it people, we don't have much time."
Moments later nearly all of the crew was ready to evacuate the Ronin. Fenris had managed to take out the targeting system of the second Ronin but wasn't able to fully disable the weapons system.
"Sir, I still can't destroy their weapons systems." Said Fenris as he tried in vain to blast through the second Ronin's shields.
"We don't have time, Fenris. Get out of here. You and McQueen are supposed to be in the same life-pod." Said Kira.
"I've only got the targeting systems off-line, they still can fire on us." Said Fenris.
"That will have to be enough. Get out of here, that's an order Fenris." Said Kira as he pushed him aside.
Holmes was still flying at the controls trying in vain to out run the slightly faster, more maneuverable second Ronin while dodging her now random phaser and torpedo fire.
"Commander, I can't hold it off much longer."
"I realize that, Ensign." Said Kira as he activated the ship-wide communication system. "Kira to all crew, abandon ship. Try to get away from both Ronin's as quickly as possible. Kira out."
As soon as the order was given, both the escape pods and shuttlecraft were launched from the original Ronin. In response, the second Ronin began to try to lock on to the escape pods while pursuing the original Ronin, but without the automatic targeting systems, the shots she fired flew wide of their targets. Fortunately, none of them seemed to hit any of the escaping pods or shuttlecraft.
"They're away." Said Kira. "It's time for us to go too, Holmes."
"You don't have to tell me twice, Sir." She said as she remained at the controls.
"Kira to Sular."
[Sular here, Sir.]
"It's time to go."
[Acknowledged, Sir. Initiating transporters.]
As the shimmering light enveloped Kira and Holmes the two officers thought they were out of danger, but the transporter cycle didn't complete, and both Holmes and Kira were still on the bridge of the Ronin.
[Sir, we can't establish a lock through the shields.] Said Sular.
"Can you get one of us out?" said Kira.
"Beam Ensign Holmes out; I'll fend for myself." Said Kira.
"That's suicide, Sir!!!" said Holmes as she continued to concentrate on the helm controls that were beginning to react more and more sluggishly.
"That's an order, Lieutenant. Sular, beam her out now!" shouted Kira.
As the matter stream transported Holmes off the Ronin's bridge, the ship stopped responding. Kira had one brief moment to concentrate before he watched the two ships collide in space on the view screen before him, obliterating each of them in a brilliant explosion.
As Ensign Holmes materialized on board the shuttlecraft, she was able to see the explosion of the two ships.
"I'm too late." She said as she sat down on a nearby bench.
"Ensign, I'm picking up something in the debris field." Said Sular.
"What?" she asked.
"It looks like the Commander managed to form a shield around himself. He's survived the explosion, but his shield won't hold long.
"Get him out of there!!!" said Holmes.
A flash of light enveloped Kira as he lay adrift in space. Thankfully he materialized aboard one of the shuttlecraft of the late USS Ronin.
"Thank you Mr. Sular." Choked out Kira as he gasped for the air that his lungs badly needed. After he caught his breath he managed to choke out a few more words, "Were there any casualties?"
"Affirmative, Sir. There are eight crewmen dead, including Mr. McQueen and Mr. Fenris. Their escape pod was hit by one of the duplicate Ronin's rogue torpedoes. It was a fluke. Other than that, the rest of the crew is safe." Sular replied in his unemotional Vulcan manner
Kiras heart sank even more knowing he had lost good officers now as well as his ship "Any sign of where our doppelgangers went?" said Kira as he slowly regained his voice.
"No, Sir. I was unable to track their course after the firefight." Said Sular.
"Try to contact Deep Space 11, tell them that we need help collecting the survivors." Said Kira.
*Well, I did get to sit in the Captain's chair for a little while.* thought Kira.