Sarah smiled and asked sarcastically, “Now who’s the ranking officer here?”

Suddenly, the Meridian shuddered. Sarah immediately checked her sensor panel to see that the Meridian had some how strayed from course by a small fraction, but it was enough to cause a slight ripple in the atmosphere.

“Did they detect us,” Sarah immediately asked.

After a moment, Perkins replied, “Doesn’t look like it.”

Sarah sighed. “Let’s hope that doesn’t happen again,” she said under her breath. She was having to keep a tight handle on the controls. One microfraction mistake like the last, and it might very well be her last.

She wished it was Chris at the controls right now. She never had been a great pilot…at least, not compared to Chris. Chris could literally out fly a shuttle with an Intrepid class starship. She barely contained a laugh as she thought, he’d likely take the shuttle out, then out fly its debris.

They finally entered the troposphere, clearing the high clouds. Below them was a sprawling city…a city that was deserted. Who ever had lived here was obviously a technologically advanced species, by the looks of the buildings, but all signs of that technology was gone…stripped by the Vorkalai. Here and there, a few Vorkalai could be seen…seen hunting any one who was left on the surface.

She contained a scowl, but just barely. They’re worse than Klingons she thought. Then she scolded herself for being prejudice at the Klingons. After all, they did have two Klingon officers aboard…a rarity on board any Federation starship, despite the peace with the Klingons.

They approached the recently erected command building the Vorkalai had built on the planet. It was a large sprawling complex that easily covered twenty kilometers. And it was swarming with the Vorkalai and their stolen technology.

Comparing them to the Borg was easy. The only difference is that the Vorkalai don’t assimilate the species they took, merely put them in resource mines to work…to do the dirty work for the dirty creatures…

She scanned the complex to find they matched the Dragon’s scans from orbit. She set course, high above the complex, towards the main building, which was a tower that was fifty-six floors tall, twenty of which were underground.

The building had high security, but the security lessened the higher up, until about the twentieth floor, where it became greater as the levels neared the offices of the top brass.

Sarah smiled. And that’s their weakness.

A room on the tenth floor had regular twelve hour visits, of which only lasted about three minutes at maximum. That room, which wasn’t shielded very well, had access to the entire data base…at least, it seemed like it. Sarah hoped the sensor readings weren’t faulty.

She brought the cloaked Meridian up along side the building at its twentieth level, set the ship into a silent hover, and stood. She turned around and headed towards the transporter in the back.

“Perkins, Ada, your with me,” she stated. As she passed the engineering console, she said, “Kalia, stay here and monitor us.” She stopped and looked at Kalia. “The moment your lock on us varies, beam us out!”

Kalia nodded and replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

She grabbed three pulse rifles, handed one each to Ada and Perkins, and stood on the transporter, Ada and Perkins joining her.

“Energize,” she said, nodding her head instinctively.

As the beam engaged, the urge to close her eyes was strong. The light was very bright, but was short. Transport time was cut to three to four seconds these days, but was rarely four seconds. It was quicker than ever, and she liked it that way.

They found themselves in a brightly lit room. As they had expected, the room was empty. According to Sarah’s chronometer, the room was used only an hour and a half ago, giving them plenty of time.

They moved to the computer console. Sarah sat down in one chair, Perkins next to her. They brought the computer online. Perkins immediately attached what she had nicknamed a data thief. It could crack almost any Vorkalai coding, or Federation, for that matter, and then would download the data it stole into a data bank. This particular one was attached to a case that contained a tightly packed memory data bank. It could hold a lot of information…

She tapped her comm badge. “Caft to Meridian, report,” she ordered.

After a moment, Kalia’s voice came back with, “Every thing’s fine. Transporter lock is stable, and it looks like no one’s noticed your beam in.”

“Good, continue to monitor, Caft out.” She tapped her badge to deactivate it.

Sarah stood and went to the door, particle rifle in hand, and stood at the side of the entrance, ready to shoot any one who came in on a whim. Ada joined her on the other side.

“Report,” Chris ordered as he walked down the ramp from the aft of the bridge to the front.

After a moment, R’Sharn replied, “The team's on the surface and appear to be downloading from the data base.”

“Any unusual activity,” Chris asked.

R’Sharn shook her head, her antenna shaking with it. “None…” An alarm sounded. “Wait!”

Chris snapped to attention as he approached the ops station. This can’t be good he thought.

“Several ships are launching from the orbital station,” she stated.

Chris looked at the sensor readings, but only out of habit, and let R’Sharn finish her report. “Course?” he asked.

R’Sharn pressed in a few commands, then received the information. “Hintaru space,” she stated.

Chris sighed as he moved to the command chair. The away team nor the Dragon had been detected, and the defense perimeter could easily take them out.

“They’ve cloaked,” she stated as Chris sat in his command chair.

“Maintain high polar orbit,” Chris ordered. The Dragon was in a tight orbit around the polar axis of the planet, but was still high above the planet and it’s sensor grid.

“Download complete,” Perkins said in an agitated tone. She immediately disconnected the data thief, then moved to the transporter coordinates.

Ada and Sarah moved to her side, but Sarah kept an eye on the door. She had an odd feeling that something was about to go wrong…

“Caft to Meridian, three to beam up,” Sarah ordered.

Suddenly, the entrance opened, and a Vorkalai who was busy looking at a data padd walked in. He didn’t notice the away team.

He did, how ever, look up in time to finally notice the away team. Sarah fired a fatal blow to the Vorkalai’s chest, then ordered in a loud voice, “Energize!”

The three seconds passed, and she threw down the rifle, heading right for the controls. Alarms could some how be heard through the hull of the runabout. Then Sarah realized it was actually an alarm being sent through subspace communications.

“Let’s get out of here,” Sarah said, sitting at the controls.

“They’ve been detected!” R’Sharn said in an alarmed voice.

Chris stood from the command chair in alarm. They’d only been down there for five hours!

“Open the shuttle bay doors,” Chris ordered. “As soon as they near the ship, give them entry telemetry.”

“Aye, sir,” R’Sharn said.

“I hope they got what they needed…”

“They’ve activated a shield over the base!” Ada stated in alarm.

Sarah reacted immediately, pulling away from their course and heading back towards the heart of the base.

“Where’s the generator,” she asked.

After a minute, Perkins replied, “On the bottom floor of that HQ building.”

“Can we fire quantum torpedoes while cloaked,” she asked.

She could hear Kalia fiercely moving over the controls. Finally, she said, “If I reroute all possible power to the cloaking device and weapons array, we might.”

“Might?!?” was Sarah’s reply.

“That’s the best I can give you!”

Sarah sighed. “Do it!”

Immediately, the lights dimmed. She targeted the base of the above ground portion of the building, then released a volley of three miniature quantum torpedoes. All struck home and caused the building to collapse in on itself.

“That should be enough,” Sarah stated.

“It was,” Perkins stated.

“Then let’s move!”

She punched the engines to full and headed for the planet’s magnetic north. She hoped that the Vorkalai didn’t launch fighters and that the cloaking device was still fully operational.

Thankfully, the Runabout was fast due to the plasma engines that had been installed, and it didn’t take long to get into orbit and near the Dragon. Once above the sensor net, she opened a narrow-beam channel.

“Caft to Dragon,” she said, adrenaline pumping to its fullest. She hoped it didn’t leave them there to avoid detection, but then thought Chris would never do that.

“Dragon here, prepare for docking procedure,” Chris’s wonderful voice replied.

“Ready when you are, sir,” she replied with joy. “Any one following us?”

“Negative, your cloak is still active,” he replied then audibly sighing with relief. “We were lucky.”

She smiled, despite the fact that he couldn’t see her, and said, “No, I’m just that good.”

“Don’t be so full of yourself,” Chris lectured jokingly. “Sending telemetry now.”

She checked her navigation and confirmed the telemetry was being fed to the Runabout. She plotted the course into the navigation computer and let auto pilot take over. She relaxed in the chair, wanting only to sleep now. She was exhausted due to the Adrenaline rush she just had during the battle.

She looked forward also to a holodeck sim that the senior staff and some of the crew were going to join together in tonight. Chris was keeping it a surprise, but supposedly, he had designed it with the help of Perkins.

Suddenly, as they entered the cloak field of the Dragon, it appeared, big as ever. Sarah deactivated the Meridian’s cloaking device, allowing a tractor beam to fully guide the Runabout.

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended