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The Price of Freedom, Part Two
The Trouble with Ferengi...

Operations <Deck 8> [Gibraltar Station]

This room is the heart of Starbase 247, from which all systems can be controlled. The room is circular, with a ring of consoles centered on a lowered "pit." This area is dominated by a circular table which typically employs versatile and highly realistic holograms to create a cylindrical viewscreen. The entire area of space outside the station can be seen at once, or it can focus on a particular sector. There is also capability to project single images for communications or complex reports.

Several consoles are arranged in a ring 3 meters from the central viewing area, with three breaks for stairs leading to the pit. One arc is given over to a command console which faces the viewer as well as the door to the corridor. To the right of this station (if one is facing the viewer) is an arc which is shared by the Tactical and Sensor consoles; to the left is an arc shared by Navigational Control and Communications. All of these stations are arranged so that one may easily see the central viewer and are outfitted with tan chairs. Within the pit are four consoles set up against two of the cherrywood arcs so that one sitting at them must turn to see the central viewer. Engineering and Operations face Tactical and Sensors, while Environmental Control and Mission Operations face Nav Control and Communications. The space below the command station is clear. Each arc sits atop a lighted pedestal, as does each shared console in the pit.

The outer walls are broken by three doors, each spaced in line with a set of stairs. Besides the door to the corridor there is one to the ready room and one to the head. Behind the command station is a standard viewscreen which can project whatever image the commander so wishes. The master systems displays for the command section and various modules are behind the tactical/sensor arc, while the MSD for the spacedock is behind the last. The floor is carpeted in gray trimmed with light tan. Lighting is provided by panels placed along the join between walls and ceiling./p>

Gwen Hawkins
Drake Bellows
Ed Danley

Operations is fairly busy at this time of day, especially with requests for this, that, or the other. The Captain is currently dealing with one such request. The image on the central projector is that of an Antarean in official-looking robes, glaring. "My people demand answers, Captain! We wish to know why this outrage was brought upon our citizens!" The Captain is currently standing behind the command console, leaning on it just a bit, facing the viewer.

Solvek stands at the sensor console, keeping an eye on the space around the station and glancing up at the viewer occasionally.

T'Lyt arrives, heading over to relieve the junior officer currently manning ops. Along the way, she looks over at and just barely nods at Solvek. "Ensign, you are releived," she says to the young man at the station. Sitting down as he leaves, T'Lyt logs herself in so that the console's settings and displays shift to her usual pre-sets.

Danley steps into Ops carrying a tray full of empty cups, a pitcher of coffee, a pitcher of hot water, and various tea bags.

Bellows walks into Operations with his smudged uniform, showing that he has been working. He has not been in Operations much, so he stares at one piece of equipment for a few moments then moves on to next, studying everying that is going on. He sees the Captain dealing with an official on the screen, so he steps off to the side and walks to the engineering console.

Tremar comes through the door from Central Corridor <Deck 8>.
Tremar has arrived.

Brooks comes through the door from Central Corridor <Deck 8>.
Brooks has arrived.

Hawkins sighs softly. Her glances flickers over to Danley and this pulls a smile from the Captain, which is moderated into a more serious expression as she straightens, putting her hands behind her back. She faces the Antarean official who's on the central projector screen and says, "I apologize for the delay, Mr. President, but I assure you we are doing everything we can. If that list of anyone who might have had a reason to bomb your embassy arrived, our investigation would go much more quickly."

Arching an eyebrow as she hears the captain's words, T'Lyt pulls up the communications records to see if, indeed, the list mentioned by Hawkins has arrived. After a moment, she looks over to the captain and, if she catches the station commander's eye, simply shakes her head before turning back to her station.

Bellows walks down the steps towards the engineering console, seeing someone is already there (but he already thought that would've happened) he turns around and walks back up, heading towards the entrance.

Danley sets the tray down and idly leans against a console as he tries to stay out of the way. Leaning back against the console he places his hands on either side as he glances around the room.

Tremar looks up at Bellows. "What are you doing, Ensign?" she asks, looking around. "Why are there so many people here? Is something going on?"

Bellows hears Tremar as he walks by and stops to talk to her, "I'm not sure, ma'am. I just walked in here to see what else needs to be repaired, but the Captain is talking to some high offical about a bombing on one of their embassies. That's all I know so far." He nods his head, satisfied with his response.

Danley pushes away from the console and moves over to the tray. Picking up a cup he pours some coffee into it and moves towards the Captain with the cup.

The Antarean President looks... sheepish. "Of course, Captain. My apologies, I had thought we had sent the list." He turns to something off-screen. "It is coming through now. As for the investigation, you will of course keep us informed as to its progress?"

T'Lyt "butts in," saying, "Captain, we are receiving a distress call over standard Starfleet subspace from the Freedom's Star. Pirates are reported, and with their current systems malfunctions, assistance for which we've already sent engineering teams, they are unable to properly defend themselves."

Hawkins nods to T'Lyt. "I'm sorry, Mr. President, but we have to take this. I'll have our diplomatic staff get in touch with you. 247 out." Shutting down the conversation without letting the flustered man say anything--and looking relieved to do so--she turns to T'Lyt. "On screen."

T'Lyt reaches out to her console to cut off the current communication and bring the distress call on-screen.

Brooks seems to have walked into the middle of a busy day in Operations. She slides down toward the science console, frowning a bit at what's on the central projector thingy.

On the screen is the image of a Starfleet officer, an Engineering Lieutenant by the look of him. "...repeat, 247, we're trying to outrun them but our engines can't take it much longer. A Ferengi D'Kora, coming right up on us..."

Danley holds out the cup of coffee to the Captain while quietly looking around Ops.

Bellows turns his head to the screen and frowns, not liking what he is seeing.

Hawkins takes the coffee absently, frowning. "We'll send out a ship immediately, Freedom's Star. How long can you hold out?"

Solvek stands, "T'Lyt, Bellows, and Brooks come with me." He heads out of Operations.

Bellows follows Solvek.

T'Lyt taps at her console, to summon a junior officer to relieve her at her station, then rises to follow the XO. "We may need to help fend off a pirate landing party, sir," she says to Solvek. "Shall I contact the station's marine detatchment for their fast-response squad?"

Danley moves back to the tray and pours another cup.

The engineer on the screen says, "Not much longer, sir, they're... damn! We have transporter lock!" The forms of several Ferengi can be seen beaming in and it's clear a scuffle is taking place.

Solvek nods to T'Lyt. "That would be the most logical course of action, Lieutenant. Do so." He turns to leave, not wasting any more time.

Brooks stands from her console and goes to follow the senior officers.

T'Lyt follows along, even as she taps at her comm-badge, hailing the commander of the station's marine detatchment to request immediate activation of the stand-by fast response squad.

A Ferengi is grinning at the viewer now. "Ahh, good, a hyoomon Captain! We demand one hundred thousand bars of gold-pressed latinum for the return of your ship!"

Hawkins looks over to Solvek. "Best speed, Commander. I will... ahh... negotiate for the fee you'll give when you arrive." In other words, she's gonna stall them. Duh.

Solvek nods once and heads out.

(The scene changes to the outside of the station, where we see a Sabre-class starship launching from the shuttlebay.)

Bridge <Deck 1> [USS Andalucia]

The bridge of the U.S.S. Andalucia hearkens back to the cruisers of the late 23rd century in its layout, a time that may be considered by some to be Starfleet's "glory days". It is certainly quite different than the typical Sabre bridge, retaining its connection to the class' style only through the color scheme.

The bridge is circular, sporting several control stations that ring the walls and a central lowered command area, which is bordered on either side by cherrywood rails. The rails are open in the back to accomodate the captain's chair, a comfortable-looking affair in tan pseudoleather, which sits level with the rest of the bridge. Directly in front of the captain's chair and a step down are the Operations and CONN consoles. Each of these rests atop a lighted, L-shaped pedestal and has a tan chair for the operator. Two steps allow for easy access to this central area, along with two more to either side of the front rail.

At the very back of the bridge is a large Master Systems Display that shows the layout of the Sabre-class starship. The tactical console sits in front of it with a single chair. To either side of the MSD are the turbolift doors, one on each wall. Forward of those doors on either side, also along each wall, are the science and engineering stations, to starboard and port respectively. Another door, fore of the science station, leads to the Captain's Ready Room, beside which is mounted the ship's commissioning plaque. A door opposite that, fore of the engineering station, leads to the Main Briefing Room.

Two more stations curve along the wall from these doors: Environmental Control to starboard and Mission Operations to port. At the very front of the bridge, separated from the central area by a sweep of gray carpet, sits the viewscreen, so large that it takes up the entire forward wall of the bridge. Lighting is provided by panels placed along the floor near most of the consoles and overhead. In the center of the ceiling is a space covered only by transparent aluminum, allowing a view of the twinkling stars.

Thomas Church
Drake Bellows
Winifred Brooks

(The ship launches and we get to see the nifty CGI. Nifty! She flies swiftly, Solvek surely having given the order to go as fast as possible, and before long, the ship is nearing the Freedom Star's last coordinates...)

Bellows looks over his console, tapping ocasionally to make sure everything is going smoothly. In the back of his mind he wow's to how fast they got to the Freedom's Star.

Brooks sits at the science console, and turns a bit to look down to the central pit, pushing her glasses back up her nose. "We have the Freedom's Star on sensors, sir." Pause. "Umm... only the Freedom's Star... no sign of Ferengi."

As the Andalucia nears the Freedom Star's location, T'Lyt speaks up from tactical to say, "I recommend Yellow Alert, sir."

Solvek stands up, "On screen. Helm, take us to impulse." He turns to T'Lyt. "I agree. Yellow Alert."

Church nods, "Aye sir." He taps a few buttons on the console and the ship smoothly slips out of warp.

Bellows taps at his console and taps away, bringing up a close up of the Freedom's Star.

The lights shift to a yellowish hue. On the screen is a Federation freighter, just... drifting there.

"Scan for life signs, Lieutenant Brooks." Solvek commands. "Also, check long range sensors for the D'Kora."

Brooks nods, turning to her console and tapping. She waits for the scan and then blinks. "That doesn't make no sense. I have 10 lifesigns, sir, all Ferengi. I... don't understand. Why would the Ferengi kill the prisoners? They'd get more ransom out of 'em alive."

Solvek almost scowls, "Hail them."

Brooks seems to be doing something else on her console, but reconfigures it quickly. "Hailing the Freedom's Star, sir." Pause. "Should I put them on screen?"

Solvek nods, "Do so." He steps forward a bit so that the Ferengi can get a good look at him.

Brooks taps her console and then reconfigures it again, doing... something. And frowning.

T'Lyt looks over at Brooks. "What is it, Lieutenant?" she asks, in a quiet voice.

A Ferengi with terrible teeth comes on. "Greetings! I am Furek, and I see this time I am speaking to a male hyoomon. Excellent. Your feemale would not conclude business dealings. Perhaps you will be more forthcoming, hmm?"

Brooks seems to be focused on her console, mumbling under her breath as she taps away.

T'Lyt arches an eyebrow, looking at the screen then to Solvek. Then, she looks back over to Brooks. "Lieutenant?" she again asks, quietly.

Solvek's eyes slightly narrow. "This is the Federation Starship Andalucia. I order you to release your prisoners and withdraw from this sector." He pauses and adds, "Or I will be forced to engage you in combat."

Brooks blinks and looks up, glasses almost hanging off the end of her nose. "Hmm? Oh. Just getting those power-usage reports you wanted, Lieutenant." Her voice is as soft as T'Lyt's, not wanting to interrupt the other conversation.

"Now Captain... it is Captain, isn't it? Of course, such a distinguished Starfleet hyoomon must be a Captain... I am sure we can come to some arrangement. As I'm sure your sensors can see, we have no prisoners here, and it is simply us on this lonely little freighter. You could of course fire upon us, but then you would never find your crew." The Ferengi's grin has turned... mean.

T'Lyt arches an eyebrow. "I did not ask you for power-usage reports," she replies, quietly, turning back to her console.

"I was not reffering to the frieghter, when speaking of combat. I was reffering to your D'Kora that we have a lock on. I must also correct you, I am not a human." Solvek's voice seems to rise slightly in tone and volume.

"Of course you did, Lieutenant," Brooks replies quietly. She taps something into a PADD and stands, going over to T'Lyt's console to show her the PADD. "See, here they are, right here."

T'Lyt arches an eyebrow and looks down at the PADD in Brooks' hand.

The Ferengi scoffs. "You couldn't possibly have a lock on my ship, Captain, as she's an hour away by now. Of course, I could send the command to simply kill your peo--" He blinks and looks at something offscreen.

Brooks leaves the PADD with T'Lyt and goes to sit back down.

Bellows taps a few keys, making the image of the Ferengi clearer, along with everything else on the screen.

T'Lyt nods. "Yes, I had ... forgotten those. Thank you, Lieutenant," she says, tapping at her console. "Captain, I should remind you that threats of attack indicate a need for an elevated alert status. I recommend Red Alert," she says.

"I will tell you one last time, release your hostages and remove yourself from this sector or I will be forced to disable your ship and take you into custody." Solvek turns and nods to T'Lyt. "Make it so."

The Ferengi seems to be panicking. "Prepare the plasma energy burst!! Hurry!!" The comms abruptly cut off.

T'Lyt says, "Red Alert, aye sir," and hits the appropriate controls on her panel. "Shields up, phasers to full readiness, torpedoes loading."

"Commander Church, evasive maneuvers. Engineering, full power to weapons." Solvek pauses. "Tactical, fire targeted weapons systems."

T'Lyt's fingers fly over her console... and an 'inset' appears in the upper right-hand corner of the main screen. It shows the tactical situation -- the Andalucia, the Freedom's Star, and the D'Kora. The latter of the three is behind the Andaluca and is labeled "cloaked -- weapons locked on target." "Firing weapons, aye," she says, tapping at the console to fire phaser banks and the aft torpedoes at the D'Kora.

The aft torpedo tube and the two aft phaser banks fire as the D'Kora decloaks. It's a close thing. Clearly, the Ferengi have to decloak to be able to fire their weapon, but if they don't manage to get shields up in time...

They don't. There's quite an explosion before the Ferengi get shields up.

Church's fingers fly across his console and the ship swings port, narrowly dodging the blast from the Ferengi plasma cannon.

The ship does swing... Sabres are fairly small, and for a moment the deck is turned 90 degrees. Inertial dampening fields keep the movement felt down to a minimum--no one'll fall out of their chair unless they're not used to starship manuevers but it's noticeable, especially on the viewscreen.

Brooks turns from her console. "Commander Solvek, the D'Kora is hailing us..."

"Targeting Ferengi weapons systems, sir. Port phaser banks recharging. Fore and starboard phaser banks ... have confirmed target lock," T'Lyt says. She holds fire until the order is again given, of course.

Solvek shifts with the deck and waits for a moment before ordering, "On screen."

Bellows taps on his console, staying well balanced in his chair despite the ship's manuevering.

Another Ferengi appears, grinning. "Ahh, Commander. That was a nice trick, detecting our cloak. I am Smeet. And before you demand our surrender, I'd like you to see something." He steps to one side, revealing a pair of Starfleet officers and a civilian woman being held at phaser point. The officers stand straight and look at the viewscreen, and while the woman trembles a bit, she too looks like she's hiding her fear well.

Smeet says from his spot to one side, "Of course these are not all the prisoners. If you wish your hyoomons back, you will let us leave this area unharmed. We will of course take the Freedom's Star and her cargo as payment."

"Let me confer with my crew as to the status of the situation." Solvek turns, "Mute viewscreen."

Bellows looks closely at the viewscreen from his console. then mutes the screen as ordered. "Sir... I think one of the officers in the back is mouthing something..." he states. He taps away at his console, making a window of the same broadcast that he has been recording and zooming in on the talking officer. He watches for a few moments than closes it out, turning toward the Commander. "Sir, I believe the officer was mouthing the numbers, 2... 4... 7... a dot, 5... and a 4... over and over again," he states.

Once the conversation is muted, T'Lyt says, "Though they have lost some weapons capability, the D'Kora still outguns us and outclasses us in a ship-to-ship engagement, particularly at warp speeds. At sublight velocities, however, we clearly have the edge in acceleration and maneuverability. Our best point of attack would be their aft quarter; even with the damage to their for weapons arrays, that is still their most lightly-armed section. Also, I believe that their actions constitute an act of war. The marines remain on standby... and aft torpedoes are now reloaded." Vulcan she may be, but she's clearly served on a warship before -- she's gone into the hated but needed "figure out our best odds of victory" mode.

Solvek thinks for a moment. "Match transporters and weapons to frequency 247.54. Mr. Bellows, transport all non-Ferengi lifesigns to Sickbay. T'Lyt, on my order I want you to fire on their engines, then perhaps we can negotiate."

Bellows nods his head, "Aye Sir!" and goes to work.

"Matching frequencies, aye, sir," T'Lyt says. "Phasers are ready. Transporters ready." The inset display on the main viewscreen now reads "frequency: 247.54" next to the D'Kora's shield status. She then taps another key and says, "Marines, standby. Medical, prepare to receive direct transport of patients with unknown levels of injury."

Bellows taps away on his console. "Transport lock on the hostages confirmed, targetting the sickbay. All contacts are tagged, energizing now," he announces.

Solvek turns back to the viewscreen. "Unmute viewscreen." He pauses, "It is not the policy of the United Federation of Planets to negotiate with pirates. Stand down and I will be lenient. Refuse and I will be forced to fire upon you once more."

Bellows announces, "Transport successfully completed."

At first the Ferengi sneers at Solvek, then blinks as the officers behind him disappear. "Don't think this helps you, Commander. My ship still overpowers yours."

T'Lyt holds a finger over her console, ready to fire precision strikes of the Andalucia's phasers -- waiting for the order to fire.

"We shall see." Solvek waits for an instant. "Fire."

When the order to fire is given, T'Lyt taps at her console. Phaser beams lance out, striking at the D'Kora, specifically at the other ship's engines with multiple shots. The very last phaser shot... doesn't hit the engines. It targets the D'Kora's bridge... it's a lower-powered shot, though -- not intended to destroy the bridge, even if it goes right through the shields. It's just intended to "rattle their cage."

The phasers go right through the D'Kora's shields, making a spectacular detonation at their engines. The beam that hits the bridge makes a large enough detonation that it might seem to destroy it, but the Ferengi Smeet comes back on the comms after a moment. The bridge is obviously heavily damaged, with a bulkhead or two hanging down and wires sparking.

Smeet coughs. "I... I am sure we can work out a profitable surrender, Commander... perhaps your Starfleet could help tow us to your starbase, where we will be happy to supply ransom and perhaps discuss setting up further business dealings?" Trust a Ferengi to try and turn a profit in the face of danger.

Brooks whoops as the Ferengi ship is hit, then blushes and turns back to her console. "Their engines are disabled, Commander, and I don't think they'll be going anywhere anytime soon."

"I believe that the actions of the Ferengi commander constitute an act of war, Commander," T'Lyt says. "Phaser banks at fifty-percent charge. The D'Kora's weapons systems are being targeted." The tactical inset changes to show damage to the D'Kora as well as the status and locks of the Andalucia's weapons. "Shall we begin... other transports?"

Smeet looks aghast. "War? This is not war, you stupid feemale, it is business! Commander, tell your feemales to stop speaking of things they do not udnerstand."

Solvek's expression is unreadable. "I am sorry, Daimon Smeet. Our ship is too small to tow you. If you would return with us to Starbase 247 you can discuss what actions need to be taken with my Captain." Pause. "My female Captain. I am sure we can provide... adequate accomidations."

Smeet frowns. "But... what about my ship?" He's almost whining.

Solvek says, "We will of course send out a tow barge. For the Freedom's Star as well as your ship."

Smeet seems to think this over. "I will agree if I can be escorted by that feeemale." He points to Brooks. "I am sure my men would prefer the other, but I am not fond of Vulcan feemales, and that one has lovely long fingers. Besides, I am sure you will be quite... busy with the Vulcan."

T'Lyt's left eyebrow arches up... and stays up for a few moments. Her finger is held, poised, over the firing toggle.

Bellows blinks a few times at his console, trying to fully understand what the Ferengi was talking about.

Brooks shakes a fist at the screen. "I wouldn't touch your ears with a ten-foot pole, you... you... destitute son of a pauper."

Smeet merely smiles. "Oh, and feisty too. Fesity feemales are always good. Do we have a deal, Commander?"

"Phasers are now fully charged, Captain", T'Lyt says, in a flat, even voice. Her eyebrow relaxes back down.

Bellows quirks a brow, looking towards the Commander, awaiting a response.

Solvek turns to T'Lyt, "Lieutenant, target their weapons and prepare to fire on my mark."

Smeet starts to wail. "No, no... I'm sorry, Commander, clearly they're both yours, I won't impinge on your property again. We'll come along quietly, please don't fire on my ship, I didn't mean to insult you."

"Aye, brother. Ready," T'Lyt says. Her hands don't move -- she's already got their weapons targeted and is ready to fire -- her total lack of movement to prepare to follow Solvek's orders is perfectly clear about this. And did she add a little stress to the second word she spoke...?

"Very well." Solvek turns. "Mr. Bellows transport them to the brig." He looks to T'Lyt, "Stand down Lieutenant."

Bellows nods his head, "Aye Commander," and begins to tap away at his console.

"She is your sister? I knew Vulcans were strange, but I never imagined..." Smeet's commentary is cut short as he's enveloped in a transporter beam.

T'Lyt pulls her finger away from where it was poised over the firing control. "Lieutenant, inform Security that they have incoming prisoners to the brig," she says to Brooks. "Shall we send the marines to retake the Freedom's Star, sir?" she then asks of Solvek.

"Stand down from Red Alert," commands Solvek, taking a seat in the Captain's chair. "No need Lieutenant, Ensign Bellows appears to have already removed the Ferengi from the Freedom's Star. We shall send the engineers and the freighter's crew back to their ship and tow them back to the starbase." He turns to Brooks. "Lieutenant, contact Starbase 247 and have them send ships to tow the D'Kora and take over towing the Freedom's Star."

T'Lyt's hands move over her console. "Standing down from Red Alert. Aye, sir," she says.

Brooks nods and turns to her console, trying to tone down her... furious look. Yep. Furious.

Solvek turns to Church. "Commander Church... take us back to Starbase 247."

Church nods. "Aye sir." He does that thing he does...

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