Death of a Lady

Death of a Lady was a mission carried out by the Tryfan-class USS Horizon, NCC-825002, between stardates 16.0411 and 16.1206.

Mission orders

To: Commander James T. Burke, CO, USS Horizon
From: Admiral S'Telk, Fleet XO, Cocoon Fleet
SD: 16.0411

Commander,

I am ordering the Horizon to make a 'show the flag' visit to the Telmarc system. Located in the Saishan Sector between the Narojab and Jawiq sectors, Telmarc III is the hub of a vast commercial and trading empire. They service practically every warp-capable civilization in the Cocoon.

Unlike many other societies they are not a particularly aggressive species, unless a profit is involved, and prefer to work in the background. While not as focused on profit as the Ferengi, they decided long ago that business was a better long-term path than conquest. With a technology roughly at Federation level, they could have prospered on the conquest path—at least in the short term. As it is, Telmarc has a finger in every 'pie' in the Cocoon. This was true long before Starfleet discovered the Portal and has not changed in the interim. It was blind luck that we found the Portal before any Cocoon civilization did so.

In the past nine years I think the Federation has administered the Portal fairly and to the benefit of all species on both sides of the Portal. For the past year or two Telmarc has been pressing for more open access to Federation markets. And they have their allies among the Cocoon worlds.

The Federation Senate and Starfleet have tried to be accommodating, while protecting the Cocoon from exploitation by other races—notably the Romulan and Klingon Empire. Livable planets are at a premium and they appear to be unusually abundant in the Cocoon. Starfleet feels, and I agree, that uncontrolled access to the Portal would threaten the indigenous civilizations here. So it is a delicate balancing act.

At any rate, Telmarc pressure has increased in recent months. There are Intel reports of representatives of the Telmarc Board of Directors, as their governing council is called, lobbying other civilizations in the Cocoon to join together in insisting on free trade and access through the Portal.

Starfleet feels that the time is right for a more active presence in the Saishan Sector. Starships have been rotating in-and-out of the sector for the past half-year. Now it is the Horizon's turn. Intel has picked up recent rumors of a more aggressive faction among Telmarc and her allies. So this may turn out to be more than a routine visit.

Good luck,
Admiral S'Telk
Cocoon Fleet acting Executive Officer

Senior Staff

CO: Commander James Burke
FO: Lieutenant JG Abi Seldon
OPS/2O: Lieutenant JG D'Art Storm
aCEO: Lieutenant JG N'Borga Vandenberg
CSO: Lieutenant JG Nathan Cady
CNS: Ensign Alex McRae
SOCO: Lieutenant Arkanis

Mission summary

compiled from situation reports by Ruud Visser

Captain James Burke receives new orders. The Horizon is to visit Telmarc III in the Saishan sector, the centre of activity of a vast commercial and trading empire. The Telmarc are generally friendly towards the Federation, but they are unhappy with the Federation's control of the Cocoon Portal. The Horizon will be another in a line of Starfleet vessels that recently visited Telmarc in an effort to maintain good relations. Burke calls a meeting with his senior staff to discuss the orders.

In addition to "showing the flag," the crew are to work behind the scenes to find out where recent violent actions are coming from. Burke tells Lt. Arkanis, the leader of the Special Operations team, that he will not be coming into action right away, but that he and his team should be prepared to move when needed. Chief of operations and second officer Lt<jg> D'Art Storm presents the latest intelligence reports. Two of the five Corporate Houses constituting the Telmarc Trade Combine, the House of Water and the House of Sky, officially opposed joint operations with the Federation. As these two Houses control some large private military forces, they could become a serious threat to Starfleet.

After the meeting, Burke calls Arkanis to his office for a private talk. It seems Jeb Stuart, an SFIntel operative posing as a smuggler, has been kidnapped on Telmarc III. Burke asks Arkanis to keep an eye out for him.

Meanwhile on Deserte in the Najorab sector, several thousand students demonstrate against Starfleet's control of the Cocoon Portal. At the same time, the warehouse of the Telmarc Trade Corporation is looted. On the Juun homeworld, security forces investigate the recent destruction of the trader SS Leviathan. The ship exploded upon engaging her warp engines.

Lt. Xathras Jah, a Trill temporal dynamics specialist, arrives to replace Ensign Lonu.

The Horizon arrives in the Telmarc system and is allowed to proceed to Telmarc III. The crew receives a distress call from the Federation Ambassador's deputy, saying a mob is attacking the embassy. Attempts to beam the Ambassador and his personnel to the Horizon fail because of some kind of particle field. The crew can only watch as the embassy falls to the rioting mob. Local police forces do not appear to do anything.

Representatives of the Houses of Water, Sky and Shadows meet and discuss how to proceed against the Federation. The Shadow Lord does not trust the other two.

The Horizon calls the Telmarc Chairman, but he is in no hurry to answer. Finally, Grand Madam Tilara of the House of Mothers responds on the Chairman's behalf. She approaches the Horizon and apologizes for what happened at the embassy, but she does not seem sincere. Lt<jg> Storm, who majored in hostage negotiation at the Academy, offers his help to captain Burke. As Storm and security chief Lt<jg> Nathan Cady go to the transporter room to welcome the Grand Madam, her aide, Madam Blomst, and two minor aides, Burke quickly checks with Fleet Command. He has permission to do what is necessary to retrieve the Ambassador, as long as he stays within the mission orders. Meeting with the Grand Madam and her aide, Burke learns all 34 embassy personnel have presumably been taken hostage. One of the hostage takers, a man calling himself Number One, threatens to kill a hostage if police forces move closer.

Elsewhere, Edmundus Wednesday and Gilbert Gerundimor, two scientists from another reality, mean to transplant the Horizon to another time. They stole the timeship Gaia and renamed it Tempus. In the 29th century, Commodore Littlemore and Captain Clarkson of the Federation Timefleet discuss the sudden appearance of the Enterprise NX-01 in history. However, there is nothing they can do about the changes it is bringing. Littlemore informs Clarkson about the Gaia having been found. Clarkson is to apprehend those who stole her, and to return the ship to the 29th century.

Grand Madam Tilara agrees to an observer/liaison, and Burke appoints Storm to that task. He will try to get as many of the hostages released as possible. Arkanis and his SpecOps team will be the backup plan. Storm and Tilara go to the ship's newly installed Operation Annex to discuss the situation.

The Horizon receives a call from the hostage takers, demanding the retreat of the House of Fire's police forces. Burke gets the Grand Madam to fulfil the demand. Cady moves back to the position of executive officer of the SpecOps team. He, Arkanis and the rest of the team work out a way to free the hostages, whom they have just located. Storm has mixed feelings about his lover's return to SpecOps, but he accepts the move and Cady's explanation.

Lt. Ingel Rademach is assigned to the Horizon as the new chief medical officer. He was captured by the Cardassians while on a mission for SFIntel, and only rescues from prison four months ago.

The Luna Fox, a vessel belonging to Operation StarSong, leaves Telmarc III and sets course for Deep Space 101. They inform the Horizon of the location of a hostage called Nancy Yin. In the meantime, Jeb Stuart meets with a couple of fellow smugglers in a bar in Malcenia, one of the darker suburbs of the Telmarc capital city. Afterwards, he returns to the SS Loophole, a very powerful ship masquerading as an old and weak one. One of his crew tells him the terrorists started to separate the hostages. Sixteen embassy personnel escaped through a tunnel to the Vulcan embassy, but the Vulcan ambassador is staying silent so far. Two Deserte warships are standing by.

Burke does not want to send a rescue mission yet. Instead, he tells Cady to send two intelligence teams down. One will check out the embassy, the other Yin's location. Meanwhile, two assault teams will prepare in case a rescue does have to be mounted.

Nancy Yin, 1st Lt. Rhea Shae and 2nd Lt. Lisa Addleberry, who are held hostage on Telmarc III, manage to send out notice of their location. The Horizon picks up their call. Dr. Rademach reports for duty and joins the senior staff to discuss the rescue plans. He and Storm will beam to the surface disguised as and equipped like the locals. SCPO Valarn Taya, the ship's Alpha-One Task Force leader, will go with them. Upon arrival on the planet, they enter the basement of their target building. Rademach scouts ahead and finds about fifteen hostage-takers, none older than 25 years. They do not want to kill them, but they do not want to risk any of them warning the other hostage takers either. Rademach and Valarn create a diversion, pretending to be a couple that accidentally entered the building looking for a private spot, and neutralize all fifteen without alarming others. Two of the hostage-takers are killed. As Valarn and Storm move on towards the hostages, Rademach tends to the injuries they have caused.

Part of the SpecOps team beams down to a point outside the embassy. They neutralize one of the guards and Ensign H'llstam, the shapeshifter, takes his place. When she gives her signal, Arkanis, Cady and Lt. Hanara beam onto the defensive shield surrounding the embassy. Hanara disables the shield and they float down towards the embassy's roof. The hostages are held in the lower basement.

Foulau, a believer in the old prophecies that name everyone from outside the Cocoon"Telmarc's Veil"devil's spawn, meets with the Federation ambassador and tortures him for information on how the Cocoon Portal is operated. He learns nothing, though. A fellow conspirator is looking for the same information amongst the hostages, but he has no success either. As Foulau is about to leave the embassy, the SpecOps team enters and kills him. They beam the heavily injured ambassador to the ship. There is a sudden blast, and Cady is gone. He has been transported three years into the past by his nemesis Chug, but no one on the Horizon knows this yet.

The Vulcan ambassador calls the Horizon. He will send the Federation embassy's personnel that escaped to his embassy to their ship in orbit on a routine shuttle flight, which the Telmarc should not notice. Elsewhere, Mr. B, Maggy, Nimaiacta and Xyx get rid of their pursuers, getting themselves a vessel to get into the Cocoon undetected.

In the Horizon's sickbay, the medical staff prepares for the arrival of the wounded embassy personnel. Dr. T'Salek goes into labour, but being a Vulcan, it will take several days yet for the baby to be born. Nevertheless, Dr. Nin Vestra sends her to her quarters. The Federation ambassador's injuries are successfully repaired.

The SpecOps team rescues the remaining hostages and has them beamed to the Horizon. The terrorists guarding them are either killed or captured. As all Horizon teams return to the ship, six Telmarc War Frigates are launched from the surface. The Vulcan shuttle in shuttle bay one explodes, breaching the Horizon's hull and causing internal damage. Sixteen personnel are killed, eleven injured. Captain Burke and Storm believe it was a Telmarc bomb that caused the explosion.

The Telmarc Board of Directors meets. Almost everyone present has a hidden agenda. When the meeting is over, the Chairman and Madam Tilara discuss plans to dispose of the other Lords. At the same time, those other Lords are together as the Government building is destroyed, killing the Chairman and Tilara. A minute later, the Federation embassy is destroyed, too. The remaining members of the Board intend to go on together.

Ensign Vymora Einicrox, a Human/Andorian recently graduated from the Academy, arrives by D-warp to become the new chief of security. Seeing the Horizon's situation, she has her pilot place their shuttle between the Horizon and the six Telmarc vessels. She hails the Telmarc, telling them to stand down. Telmarc Fleet Captain Anis Thetic, aboard the Profit's Grace, has no intention to obey that command, and he continues with their attack. Einicrox is beamed over to the Horizon just before the Telmarc reach her. Burke calls the lead vessel, asking them to cease their approach. Thetic ignores him and opens fire. His orders are to capture the Horizon with its computer intact, so they can get information about the Cocoon Portal. Burke orders evasive actions and return fire. Einicrox targets the Profit's Grace and inflicts considerable damage, disabling it for the moment. She switches to the other attackers, but in the meantime the Horizon is taking several hits as well. Jeb Stuart, on the SS Loophole, notices the Horizon's problem and he moves in to help.

As four more Telmarc ships approach, the Horizon jumps to warp. Seven enemy vessels follow. A call for assistance is sent out to every Starfleet vessel within range. The USS Elizabeth Blackwell, Dakota, Yeager, Sojourner Truth and several other nearby vessels respond. Burke also informs the Fleet XO of their situation. Chief engineer Lt<jg> N'Borga Vandenberg reports that they can only sustain full warp for thirty minutes. Einicrox comes up with a plan that might get them to escape their pursuers. She means to fake their destruction by blowing up a shuttle in a large explosion, and do a warp jump towards the Dakota. Lt<jg> Seldon, the first officer, is sceptical about the plan. However, as Burke reminds her, it is the best they have at the moment. Einicrox and Seldon go to engineering to see if they can do it. N'Borga thinks the plan is feasible, though he estimates the chances of success are less than fifty percent. Nevertheless, Burke tells them to carry on with the preparations.

Taking advantage of the momentary quiet, Storm heads to the SpecOps centre to inform about Cady. He is devastated to hear Cady did not return to the ship, but Arkanis, the leader of the SpecOps team, promises they will find him.

Dr. Rademach comes to Burke, objecting to an addition to Einicrox' plan, which would have them use the corpses from the shuttle explosion to convince the Telmarc the Horizon really exploded. Burke agrees to his alternative to use inert bio matter. Rademach also suggests to put some super-dense matter on the shuttle, to create more debris. Burke informs Einicrox of the changes to her plan, and she agrees to them.

The new Telmarc Board of Directors wants the Telmarc people to believe the Federation destroyed both the embassy and the Government House. The attack on the Horizon is sold to the people as an act of defence, and an effort to capture the "murderers."

The Fleet XO sends out a message to all Federation vessels in the Cocoon, ordering them to yellow alert in light of the situation in the Telmarc system.

Admiral Carnus, Director of the House of Sky and Commander-in-Chief of the Telmarc Fleet, leads a briefing on the current situation. Strike Force Alpha, a codename for the Takeover class warship Retribution, commanded by the "Commandant", is joining the pursuit of the Horizon. There is a secret shipyard in the hollowed-out sixth planet of the Telmarc system. There, sixty Profit class ships and another Takeover class ship are standing by to launch a major assault against the Federation.

The bio matter is brought aboard the shuttle. Rademach and Einicrox sort out the last details regarding the super-dense matter. Seldon is still not too happy with the plan, but she knows it is the best chance they have. Dr. Ulinian of the SpecOps team also has his reservations, but Arkanis orders him to assist N'Borga anyway.

Burke takes a moment to refresh himself in his quarters, where his wife also happens to be. He assures her he will only go through with Einicrox' plan if he has no alternative. On the bridge, Seldon tries to let go of some of her tension, but to no avail. Now that the warp drive begins losing power, the Telmarc ships start closing in on the Horizon. Storm suggests they detach the saucer; without that mass, they could sustain a higher warp speed. In addition, they could blow up the saucer's own core to destroy some of their pursuers.

The Starfleet vessels will meet on the border of the Seeffoc and Negdren sectors, at a location dubbed Point Zeta. There they will hold off the attackers, then rally at Outpost 721. The USS Sitting Bull is another Starfleet vessel headed there. Six more ships enter pursuit of the Horizon, bringing the total number of Telmarc vessels to thirteen. Help also gets underway from outside the Cocoon. Admiral Tergin, former CO of the Horizon, leads two squadrons of his Emerald Fleet.

Storm feels betrayed by Cady's disappearance during the rescue mission in the embassy. Arkanis tries to console him, but he has little success. Meanwhile, Ensigns DeSantos and Griffin take a break from the stress in engineering. Lt. Bordaq, former CEO, jumps in to help with repairs.

An alternate version of Lt<jg> Storm is held captive on the Retribution, whose Commandant is an alternate version of Cady, who was brought to Telmarc three years ago from the current timeline by his nemesis Chug. It is in fact Chug who is the real power on the Retribution. He and Commandant Cady are now lovers. Using information from the future, he has Cady move ahead to where the Horizon will exit its warp jump.

The seven pursuing Telmarc vessels come within weapons range of the Horizon. Einicrox' plan is carried out and the warp jump is successful, but a lot of systems are damaged. Almost immediately the Retribution attacks, dislodging and destroying the Horizon's weapon pod. Commandant Cady hails them, shocking everyoneespecially Stormon the Horizon when he says he has switched sides. He tells Burke to surrender. Einicrox suggests they lay in a collision course, betting Cady will not let them kill themselves. Arkanis adds that he can bring the SpecOps team onto the Retribution as they pass it, to kill Chug and capture Cady, or even kill him, too. Chug and Cady are already aware of the Horizon's plan to bring the SpecOps team aboard.

The Dakota arrives and two of the five vessels escorting the Retribution engage it. The Yeager arrives on a stealth vector, but even with the element of surprise on their side, they can inflict only little damage against the Retribution. Cady wonders why Chug did not inform him of the Yeager's arrival.

Chug beams to the Horizon and kidnaps Storm, bringing him two days back in time and informing his past self how to do that two days from now. He returns to the present just as the Horizon begins its move. The Retribution's pilot is late in moving aside, and the two vessels collide. Arkanis and his team board the Retribution, but Chug and Cady think they are ready for them.

The Yeager and the Elizabeth Blackwell disable the CSS Mongrel, one of the Retribution's five escort vessels. The Sojourner Truth joins the battle, but with the Horizon's seven original pursuers also arriving, the odds only get worse. The Yeager and the Blackwell disable the CSS Defender, but that is in part due to its captain, Dee Functus, turning somewhat insane after the death of his FO. The Yeager beams six of its crew aboard, hoping they can tell something useful. Functus is one of them. Due to a power fluctuation, the prisoners escape almost immediately. Acting FO Lt<jg> Holtz and security chief Lt<jg> Readdy go after them. Functus and his men get trapped in a Jeffries tube and threaten to kill the two hostages they took, but Readdy determines they are already dead.

Captain Elisabeth Davies, first officer of the top-secret USS Integrity, contacts Jeb Stuart to discuss the situation. Stuart will keep his ship, the SS Loophole, cloaked while deploying some mines right in front of the Telmarc vessels. The crew of the Integrity would also like to come to the Horizon's aide, but they have other orders.

Ensign Kate Burke, the captain's wife, is doing repairs in one of the Jeffries tubes when the Horizon and the Retribution collide. She gets knocked out and falls down a shaft. Captain Burke keeps the Horizon close to the Retribution, so the other Telmarc vessels cannot target them without risking hitting the Retribution. Rademach and his staff are working overtime in sickbay. Ensign Burke is brought in with severe injuries.

The SpecOps team starts for the Retribution's bridge, with Arkanis leading the way. Security teams try to stop them, but to no avail. Arkanis is enraged and hardly even notices all the kills he makes. Sargeant Luntas sacrifices herself to save her team mates from a pair of grenades.

Commandant Cady has the bridge cleared, because he knows the SpecOps team will kill everyone but himself and Storm. Arkanis enters and attacks Chug, but a second Chug appears and saves the first one. A fierce fight erupts, with multiple versions of Chug moving back and forth through time, saving each other and Cady. It is too much for Arkanis, and Cady finally kills him. However, Storm, with the Shi'va inside him, breaks free from his containment field and kills one of the Chugs, resetting time. Arkanis enters the bridge and attacks Chug, killing him in one strike and messing up his and Cady's plan. Now Cady will no longer be able to destroy the Horizon, thus resetting time to before the death of California Douglas, the only person he ever truly loved. Enraged, Cady fires at Arkanis, but Storm sacrifices his own life to save the SpecOps CO. H'llstam is the only one to remember what happened the first time.

The Horizon's sensors pick up the temporal activity aboard the Retribution, and Einicrox takes a back-up team over. When she arrives on the bridge, she shoots Cady. Arkanis and Hanara revive him. Cady abandons the Telmarc and returns to the Federation side of the conflict. Commander Perflus witnesses events from the battle bridge, and realizes the Commandant is lost. She activates a recently installed module, opening the main bridge to space. The Horizon immediately beams everyone away, sending the away team to sickbay and their opponents to the brig.

The USS Athene arrives and its fighter shuttles, the Raptors, are deployed. Dr. Severn is concerned the battle might be a diversion, keeping Starfleet's attention away from other places, like SB Omega. The Athene takes out one of the smaller Telmarc ships, before moving in to help the Horizon. Together with the Raptors, they manage to get some hits on the Retribution. The Yeager disables another of the Telmarc escort vessels.

On the Horizon, Bordaq suggests sending out a couple of shuttles to reinforce the Horizon's own shields. Dr. Rademach has the majority of the Horizon's injured transported to the Blackwell, clearing sickbay for new cases. The SpecOps team is beamed in. Arkanis demands that Rademach treat Cady right away, but the doctor will not treat the enemy before seeing to the Horizon's own crew. The people brought back from the Retribution respond by denying medical care, and Arkanis sends one of the nurses off to treat Cady since he does not have anything left to do in sickbay.

The Retribution shoots the Horizon's left warp nacelle off and it hits one of the Telmarc vessels, destroying it instantly. Burke has everyone moved to the saucer section and prepares to separate from the stardrive. Meanwhile, Mr. B and his crew enter the Cocoon in a cloaked Breen ship, heading towards the Horizon. On Bordaq's homeworld, Bordaq's father is killed. One of his brothers, Datkib, decides not to inform Bordaq yet.

The Retribution has taken too much damage to be effective anymore against the Athene, so Cmdr. Perflus moves on to their second objective. They leave for Outpost 721, where thirty Profit class ships are already headed. Captain Darknight, Cmdr. KinLeo and the rest of the crew on OP721, also known as Cocoon 1, prepare for battle. Located in the innermost of three asteroid belts, the outpost has some natural protection, and weapons platforms located in the outer belts make for extra defense.

Functus and his men set off an antimatter explosion in the Yeager's engineering section, killing themselves and inflicting serious damage. Still, the Yeager manages to take out one of the Profit class ships. The Athene runs into some Telmarc mines while chasing the CSS Manticore, which is still engaging the Yeager. As the Yeager moves towards the Athene, Lt<jg> Holtz prepares a team of Yeager and Athene personnel to hijack the Manticore. Five men from the Yeager and thirteen from the Athene beam into an empty cargo bay undetected. They split into three groups to take over the bridge, main engineering and the armory. They succeed, though not without a fight, and not without several team members dying in the progress.

The Telmarc's thirty Profit class ships arrive at the outer asteroid belt around OP721, but the Scepter and Tempest squadrons of the Emerald Fleet are close behind. The fight begins. Emerald's Stronghold squadron will arrive later. The Fortress squadron, containing the newly built and skeleton-staffed USS Threin, will also arrive later.

The Horizon separates. Einicrox programs the empty stardrive sector on an attack course, destroying the CSS Expense and crippling the CSS Balance Sheet. Seven other Profit ships are destroyed by cloaked mines from the SS Loophole. Jeb Stuart, the Loophole's CO, plans to salvage the remains of the Horizon's stardrive and take them to OP721.

On the Athene, flight control officer Ensign Pellew locates the Retribution's mines and is ready to use them against the remaining Telmarc ships. Lt<jg> 'n Galeda, the chief of operations, wonders if they can reprogram the mines to specifically target the Telmarc.

Cady is mentally broken. He feels immense remorse for what he did the past three years in Chug's service. When nurse Navarro comes to evacuate him to the saucer, a crowd of angry crew members nearly lynches him. Bordaq saves him. Cady tells him the Profit class' shields are vulnerable to quantum radiation. Arkanis, Einicrox, four security officers and three SpecOps members use this to get aboard the CSS Auditor. Hanara disables the security systems and clears a way to the bridge, where all Telmarc are killed. She then vents the rest of the crew into space, and Einicrox expresses her contempt over that action. Calling Burke, Arkanis suggests everyone vacate the Horizon and go to OP721 on the Auditor. Einicrox counters that they should take both ships. She starts work on trying to figure out how to control the Auditor. Burke orders Seldon to apprehend the entire SpecOps team, which is confined to quarters until further notice.

Summoned to Burke's ready room, Arkanis defends his actions by saying he did not want to risk the Auditor's crew becoming a threat to his and Einicrox's team. Burke thinks Hanara acted on her own when she spaced the Auditor's crew. He keeps her confined to quarters and releases the rest of the team. Burke sends Seldon and some sixty others to the Auditor, where Seldon will assume command with Einicrox in second. The Yeager and the Athene also donate some crew.

Einicrox wonders if they can exploit the vulnerability of the Profit class' shields some more. En route to OP721, Lt<jg> 'n Galeda and Ensign Davidovitch, who was part of the original team to board the Auditor, modify seven of the Horizon's quantum torpedoes so they can emit a sustained quantum radiation beam.

The Yeager and the Manticore destroy the CSS Omnii Morti and disable the CSS Blight. Holtz beams the remainder of the Manticore's crew to the Blight, so the Federation has an additional ship with which to go to OP721.

On the Horizon, Burke takes a moment for himself and contacts the USS Elizabeth Blackwell, where his wife is undergoing surgery. One of the medics assures him there is a good chance she will live. Relieved, Burke returns to action. He visits Hanara and asks her to tell her side of what happened on the Auditor. Her answers do not help him make up his mind either way. When he is gone, Hanara calls Arkanis and they discuss the matter. Arkanis intends to take full responsibility for what happened, as Hanara was working under his orders.

Meanwhile in sickbay, Dr. Rademach still sees Cady as a traitor. He loses control and Burke happens in just in time to defuse the situation. He confronts Cady about his acts of treason against the Federation and those who loved him, prompting Cady to lose control. This time it is Arkanis who arrives just in time. Cady breaks into tears as Arkanis carries him into a secluded spot.

The USS Sojourner Truth destroys two more Telmarc ships, but at the cost of losing her CO, Cmdr. Gage Wolfgang. LtCmdr. Shar, FO, takes over command. On the CSS Manticore, the teams from the Yeager and the Athene secure the armoury. Lt<jg> Readdy from the Yeager is injured and loses consciousness.

Cady is truly sorry for all the pain and death he caused. Arkanis tells him he was manipulated by Chug, so he was not really responsible for what he did. Arkanis promises to help Cady in any way he can.

Burke pays a final visit to the Auditor. Seldon, who will command the vessel, tells him they are ready to go. Burke promotes Einicrox to Lieutenant JG and Seldon to full Lieutenant. The promotion fills Einicrox with new hope and determination.

With the arrival of the Emerald Fleet, OP721 begins evacuating non-essential personnel to one of their medical frigates. Emerald engages the Telmarc, who just broke through the outpost's outer defences. Ensign Empa Izoda launches the Emergency Medical Response Vessel from the USS Threin to evacuate the wounded from the defence platforms.

As the Horizon arrives at OP721, Cady escapes from sickbay and beams himself to the nearby CSS Capital Market. Burke calls Arkanis to retrieve him. The Auditor will cut the Capital Market off from the rest of the Telmarc Fleet to facilitate Arkanis' job. The Capital Market and the other Telmarc ships do not take kindly to this plan. Lt<jg> 'n Galeda, the android chief of operations from the Athene, is injured while conducting repairs. He is pierced to the deck by a piece of debris, but quickly beamed to the safety of the mess hall.

Despite Dr. Ulinian's objections, the SpecOps team beams over to the Capital Market. Two Profit class vessels come to its aid. The Capital Market comes to a full stop with the Auditor holding position right above it, under fire from the two other ships. The Capital Market releases a number of repair drones towards the Auditor. Einicrox destroys all but one, which she takes to 'n Galeda for study. He determines the drone carries a virus that would have allowed the Capital Market to operate the Auditor by remote control. Einicrox intends to use it to her own advantage.

The Horizon notices the Capital Market's shields are down. They try to beam Cady out, but he is already beaming himself to the CSS Prosecutor. However, this does allow the Horizon's transporter chief to "tag" him, and he sends the SpecOps team right after him. The Horizon disables the Capital Market. A couple of bombs explode on the Auditor, but no critical systems are damaged. Ensign Hollander, assistant CSO of the Athene, believes the drones and the bombs are a diversion. Indeed, a sensor sweep reveals a boarding party. The intruders are beamed over to the nearest Telmarc vessel.

Cady beams from ship to ship, assuming command everywhere and tricking the Telmarc into engaging each other. He stays a step ahead of the SpecOps team. When he beams to the CSS Retribution, he sends a secret message to Admiral Tergin. The Retribution engages the Horizon, but Cady quickly stops the attack. He is now convinced he made a grave mistake believing Chug and he is intent on saving the Horizon. The SpecOps team beams aboard. On the Auditor, 'n Galeda reprograms their own repair drones and ten of them are beamed directly onto the Retribution's hull. The Horizon, Athene and Yeager deploy the special quantum beacons. Meanwhile, the bulk of the Telmarc Fleet is consistently advancing towards OP721. Many of the defence stations are already destroyed.

The Telmarc government is sending out false news reports to the people, claiming the Horizon has already been destroyed.

Lt<jg> Readdy is beamed from the Manticore back to the Yeager because of her injuries.

The USS Audre Lorde and three other ships from the Emerald Fleet engage the CSS Retribution, allowing the Horizon to seek a safer location. The Telmarc break through OP721's tertiary defences. The USS Threin and the rest of her cluster arrive on the scene and move in to provide help. Meanwhile, the SpecOps team arrives on the Retribution's secondary bridge, only to find Cady beaming away again.

The Horizon, Yeager and Athene launch the quantum beacon torpedoes and they successfully disable the shields of all Profit class vessels in range. Unfortunately, there is an unexpected interaction between the quantum radiation and the warp cores of the Federation vessels, and most Federation vessels are pulled into random directions by subspace vortices. The Yeager is sent on a collision course with OP721.

Cady beams to the Audre Lorde and surrenders himself to the care of Admiral Tergin. The SpecOps team follows behind with the Telmarc Cmdr. Perflus in captivity. Meanwhile, the Horizon evacuates the crew from the critically damaged Auditor. The Retribution self-destructs nearby, knocking the Horizon's helm controls offline and sending it, too, on a collision course with OP721.

On the Audre Lorde, Admiral Tergin orders Arkanis to take Cady to sickbay. When the doctors release him, he is to be placed in the brig. The Audre Lorde and the Ruby Nova move in to pull the Yeager away from OP721 with their tractor beams. Although a scraping collision cannot be avoided, the Yeager is saved from total destruction. A lot of Telmarc ships are destroyed due to their disabled shields, but the Federation cannot save the outpost. The crews of the Horizon and OP721 begin to evacuate and several ships take on the survivors. Burke works hard to get as many people into the escape pods as possible, before he is beamed out to the USS Threin. All who were aboard the Horizon are evacuated just in time, including the injured and even the dead. The Horizon collides head on with the outpost and is completely destroyed. The entire SpecOps team grieves as one for the loss of their home.

The Yeager beams the away teams on the Manticore back. Dr. Xixx treats Readdy's injuries. When the Yeager collides with OP721, a new wave of injured is brought in, the captain being one of them. Readdy wakes up and is concerned for the fate of the ship and crew. They retreat from the field of battle.

After a quick tour of all the Horizon's survivors, Burke goes to the Threin's bridge to meet the CO, Lt. Nova'Song. Ensign Epona O'Leary, freshly graduated from the Academy, arrives by D-Warp and hears of the Horizon's destruction. Nova'Song tells her to come to the Threin instead. O'Leary was just assigned as the Horizon's new FCO.

The Telmarc fleet is at last repelled, but the losses on the Federation side are high. OP721 is heavily damaged and inoperable. The war has gained the Telmarc support and OP721 now lies in Telmarc-controlled space. The surviving Federation ships head off towards SB Omega and DS101.

Dr. Ulinian and Dr. Saben of the SpecOps team are treated in the Threin's sickbay. Afterwards, several Horizon crew members go for a much needed and well deserved drink in the lounge. Empa Izoda and Jamie Parr from the Threin join them. Einicrox is alone in her quarters, slowly coming to terms with the events from the last couple of hours.

Admiral Tergin informs Cmdr. Burke the Threin is reassigned to the Cocoon Fleet and will be renamed Horizon. He promotes Burke to the rank of Captain and places him in command of the new Horizon. Lt. Nova'Song, currently the Threin's CO, will become his second officer. She feels honoured to serve in that position, although she will miss her friends and colleagues from Emerald Fleet. Burke, Cady and the SpecOps beam to the Threin. O'Leary reports to Nova'Song.

The Threin arrives at SB Omega and, bearing a new name, carries on all the way to Earth. There, Cady receives a court-martial. He gives a complete account of all that he did and several of his current and former colleagues are called to testify. Arkanis and Einicrox discover some evidence to support his story, but it is only when an aged Chug appears and says Cady is innocent, that Cady is freed of all charges. Chug is killed after his testimony, freeing Cady of his nemesis for good.

Afterwards, the entire Horizon crew celebrates the happy end. Einicrox is with her recently formed team of security specialists, for which she hopes to get the Captain's approval in the next few days. O'Leary is still trying to get to know everyone, and she does not yet feel as if she is part of the "family".

SB Sapphire, Emerald Fleet's mobile HQ, is assembled at the border of the Negdren and the Juun sectors as a temporary reinforcement for Starfleet in the Cocoon. Admiral Tandro Landi, the Cocoon Fleet's new acting XO, meets with Admiral Tergin. Tandro will act as liaison between both fleets.

Drs. Saben and Ulinian, who had been temporarily reassigned, return to the Horizon and reunite with the SpecOps team. Ulinian apologizes to Cady for believing he was a traitor. Later that day, the team trains on the holodeck, but Cady's mind is not with it. He is only just starting to come to terms with all that happened the past three years, and especially the past weeks. Many of the crew are still angry with him, even though he was freed of all charges in the trial.

O'Leary is keeping busy on her first couple of days on the Horizon. Although she is not even empathic herself, she senses something when she is around Lt. Nova'Song. She also picks up on Cady's nightmares and tells him so one night. They spend the rest of the night together, talking.

The next day, Nova'Song meets with Captain Burke and Lt. Seldon. She is assigned as chief of operations in addition to her being second officer. Later, a staff meeting is called and Burke informs his staff they will be doing a shakedown cruise with the new ship soon. He promotes Arkanis and Seldon to Lieutenant-Commander. Arkanis and Lt<jg> Einicrox are both awarded the Silver Nebula Award and the Distinguished Service Medal. Seldon also receives the Distinguished Service Medal. Einicrox and Seldon dedicate their awards to those who died in the battle. Sgt. Luntas and Lt<jg> Storm, who died during the battle, are awarded the Star of Hope. Cady accepts the medal for Storm and Arkanis does so for Luntas.

Promotions

Commander James Burke: promoted to Captain
Lieutenant Arkanis: promoted to Lieutenant-Commander
Lieutenant JG Abi Seldon: promoted to Lieutenant and Lieutenant-Commander
Ensign Vymora Einicrox: promoted to Lieutenant JG

Awards received

Outstanding Mission Award

Silver Nebula Awards: Lieutenant-Commander Arkanis and Lieutenant JG Vymora Einicrox
Distinguished Service Medals: Lieutenant-Commander Abi Seldon, Lieutenant-Commander Arkanis and Lieutenant JG Vymora Einicrox
Stars of Hope: Sergeant Luntas and Lieutenant JG D'Artaigne Storm

Meritorious Service Citation: Ruud Visser
Terraformer Awards: Adam West, Geoffrey Winder, Kyle Faber, Nick del Pozo and Susanne Dubrov
Viper Badge: Susanne Dubrov

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