The Raptor cruised through space at warp five outside in an unclaimed area of space outside of the normal hotspot between the Urthean and Confederation border. They were returning from escorting a Diplomat to the Falon system and were taking a short cut back home under cloak.

"This has been a pretty uneventful cruise." Fara beamed proudly from her station. "She's never ran better and we had to practically rebuild it from the ground up, but we got to tweak some of its new parts."

"Yeah she's handling a little better than she did." Land said tapping the flight control panel and noticing the ship reacted in sync with it. "It's not drifting to port as bad as it used too."

Fara smirked smugly. "Thank you for the compliment."

"As long as she's reliable that's all that matters." Commander Martinez said patting his arm rest assuredly. .

Fara nodded. "It should be, we shouldn't have any more major disasters like in the past, thanks to our benevolent Fleet HQ for giving me time to get the job done properly this time."

"I'm just glad to get behind the helm again." Land said. "I was starting to suffer from "Too" much shore-leave. I ran out of movies to watch."

Martinez laughed at that. His crew deserved a long shore leave after all that they had been through. Even the trial runs had gone smoothly and she didn't even seem like the ship she used to be, but better then she had been.

They had spent nearly a week getting back into their old routine, running a lot of drills until Harry was satisfied they were back to fighting form.

Everyone had returned back to duty, the reliable if unsteady Michelle O'mara sat quietly at her post occasionally molting slightly when something frustrated her. Don Rivas, his ops manager seemed a little less grumpy then he had been and had actually been a bit more pleasant for once. Terri Lu was even back, her voice had returned except for a sharp squeak here and there, she still bore the scar from her injury, but it didn't seem to bother her.

Jakar, he seemed about as constant as night and day. He sat with his usual scowl and nonplussed demeanor hunkered over his console as if to dare something to jump out at them. Suddenly a sensor alarm sounded and Lt. O'mara went to work. "Captain I've detected some anomalous readings at coordinates 314 Mark 86. Can we move closer for a better look?"

"What type of an anomaly?" Harry asked.

"It appears to be a ship, it has significant mass. If we moved closer and dropped out of warp I could identify it better." O'mara replied.

"You heard her helm." Martinez nodded. "Set course and slow to impulse once we're within range."

"Aye Sir." Jack said typing in the course correction

"Thank you." O'mara said as her sensors began to probe deeper into space.

Martinez was a little tense because he wasn't used to not being shot at in a sneak attack from an enemy. Everyone else seemed to have the same feeling and it was obvious. Jakar's normally cold composure seemed to be strained, as he sat at Tactical tapping his fingers on the dim tactical station.

The bridge was deftly quiet, except for the computer beeps and the pinging sound of the tracer beneath the view screen.

Martinez sighed heavily and tried to relax, he actually preferred this to being shot at. However the deviation from the norm was still disturbing.

` "I've got the results of the scan.. Its an energy signature. Isolating frequency.." O'mara said excitedly as she quickly tapped buttons on her console. "It's a federation warp signature very weak. It's a vessel on long range sensors it's adrift."

"Mr. Jakar go to Red Alert, Mrs. Lu hail them, please."

He didn't have to give Land the order because the ship was already accelerating on an intercept course.

"No response to any hails.." Terri-Lu stated. "All channels are silent."

"We're in range.. The ship is completely dead." Jakar said. "Showing signs of heavy damage, hull breeches. It's the Exeter. Zimmerman class."

"I'm not reading any signs of life." O'mara said quietly.

The Raptor dropped out of warp and pulled up beside the derelict vessel.

It was shot full of hulls, tilting at an odd angle adrift in space, completely dead.

"Fara get some of your people together, Jakar and O'mara go with her. Get over there and find out what has happened. Fara I want you to get the ships power back on line. We can't do anything for the crew, we may as well bring the ship back home."

Title: The Derelict

IDP 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2019

Several transporter beams appeared on the bridge of the Exeter. As soon as everyone materialized their boots magnetized holding them to the deck. Jakar and O'mara beamed over with a security detail to the bridge. Fara and her team had been beamed straight to the ships engine room.

The ship was eerily dark.

Everyone quickly turned on their arm lights and scanned the bridge. Bodies and blood globules floated across it along with other debris in the weightlessness.

"Agh what a bloody mess." Jakar said sweeping the bridge with his men. "Whoever did this had some nerve."

Michelle went over and tried to access the main computer console but it wouldn't respond. "O'mara to Phoenix are you and your people ok? What is your status?"

"Fara, here we're fine." She flicked on her torch and panned it over the darkened corridors of the engineering deck. "We got to make our way to the core room."

"Man I hate these environmental suits." Knackt complained. "I feel like a trapped rat."

"Isn't that because… you are a rat?" Specialist Remmick said jokingly getting a laugh out of Jenna Rydel.

"Why you pointy toothed spiky eared fuzz-ball there you go playing the species card." Knackt said all worked up. "I'll show you rat I'll use this spanner here an….."

The other engineers who were on the away team quickly gave the two space.

"How long until you think we can get the lights on up here?" Michelle asked.

"Quiet." Fara scolded Knackt and Remmick. "Well start working on getting the power back online after we get set up, probably another twenty minutes." She said stepping between the two of them and shoving them apart. "If my crew can behave themselves that is." She said glaring at the Catarian and Knackt.

"Okay we'll stand by." O'mara said signing off."

"Go out into the corridor and secure this deck. If you run into any trouble signal me and retreat back here." Jakar ordered his men . "Crewmen Jax you and Farin take the top decks."

The black furred female echidna nodded.

"Cary and Yuma cover the engine section. Check the damn access corridors if you have to is that understood."

They nodded and quickly left the bridge. He then turned to O'mara who was standing at the back of the bridge rubbing her arm with the thick gloved hands of her suit.

"A little edgy?" Jakar said pushing a body down to the ground so that when the gravity kicked back in it wouldn't fall and continuing to do that to the others.

"What gave it away?" Michelle asked.

"Your shaking enough your suit is rattling."

"Well this isn't exactly my idea of a good time." Michelle muttered."I just love dead ships filled with, lots of dead… people…" She shuddered. "Last time I went on a mission like this I…" She caught herself, she almost spilled the beans about her tryst with Jack Land when the ship had been over run with that bizarre virus that made everyone act crazy a few months ago. "Well I think we both know how that turned out."

"At least you didn't have to be the good doctor's guinea pig." Jakar grunted continuing his grim task. "You could help." He said motioning around.

"No thanks."

"Have it your way." Jakar grunted. "But when the gravity and life support kicks on it's going to be very messy if you don't do it. Especially considering that if life support kicks in, they could hit the ground and shatter being frozen and all."

Michelle about threw up at the thought.

"Just try not to think about it that's the best thing." Jakar said. "It's not like you have to touch them, you have a vac suit on just don't look at the faces."

O'mara made a whimpered but the alternative sounded much more terrifying as she began to help him with his grim task.

Jakar's com-bade lit up and he answered it. "Jakar here."

"What's your status?"

"We are fine Commander. However we've yet to find a living crew member I've sent out search teams. You might want to inform the doctor that he has his work cut out for him.. It's a mess over here..."

"I'll pass that along." Harry said grimly. "Have you found any evidence of a boarding party?"

"Yes." Jakar said. "But who I don't know yet, there is weapons scoring all over the interior." He said glancing at the heavy phaser marks burnt into one of the walls of the bridge.

"That's not very good to hear…" Harry said.

"We're going to need some help with the dead sir. There are … a lot." He said gruffly.

"Ok we'll send extra people over to help." Harry replied. "Keep an open channel."

"Aye sir." Jakar said.

"I sweat he's trying to drive me nuts." O'Mara said using her Phaser Rifle to nudge one of the bodies to the ground

Hours later.

With the assistance of more crew members the bodies were eventually cleared and stored in ship's cargo hold. It was grim work but it needed to be done first. Life support had been restored; hull breaches sealed with emergency bulkheads and the crew were able to move around the ship without the bulky helmets of the environmental suits on although they still had to carry them with them. Fara kept had a few more of her engineering crew sent over to assist with repairs but no sooner than the job was done the extra personnel were sent back. Jakar however still kept four of his best security people on board the still searching for something or anything that may be a clue as to what happened.

Meanwhile on board the Raptor.

Harry stood beside the Doctor as he examined one of the bodies.
"Any clue yet as to what attacked the crew."

"Well a good number of them suffered trauma from an disrupter like weapon." Dr. Okan said as talked while doing an autopsy.

"Several however, seemed to have either been disemboweled, dismembered or had their windpipes crushed by something with a serrated edge." He paused to think. "The wounds have to be from some sentient creature they seem to calculated and precise to be done by some wild animal. I'll have to check the medical database before I can give you an answer. I do have something interesting to show you."

Dr. Okan covered the body and slid it back into the storage compartment of the raptors morgue which stored it in a self sustaining transporter buffer.

He then walked over to another cabinet and slid it out and on it was a metal tray with three bags, with names written on them with marker of what appeared to be yellow dust.

"Pardon me Doctor, but what the hell are these?"

"These." The doctor said. "Are the remains of Lt. D'dora, Nila-Kar and Ensign Jarka."

Harry gave a somewhat mixed expression of wonder and confusion.

"The bodies were badly desiccated, in fact within a few moments of beginning the autopsy they collapsed into this dust. If it wasn't for the Confederations Genetic Profiling Database I would never have been able to identify them."

"What could have done that…?" Harry wondered aghast.

"Being as this is completely inconsistent with the current pattern of the deaths." Dr. Okan said chewing on his lip. "I have no clue, it's nothing good."

"I'll warn the away teams to keep their heads up." Harry said.

"Probably not a bad idea sir." Dr. Okan said sliding the tray back into the cabinet.

Down in the Exeter's main Engineering, Fara's team was hard at work. Being around all the dead crew members during the cleanup efforts had made her nerves a bit jittery. Thankfully, her team being a bit more sensitive to her recent meltdown did most of the work for her much to her unspoken appreciation. After the cleanup they jumped right into the work.

"Okay ready." Remmick said over a com channel. He was presently deep inside the ship far down a dark Jefferies tube. "Hey rat boy you got those power junctions re attached?"
"Yeah like I'm going to reattach them to your hind quarters you stinking fuzz ball!" Knackt hollered over the com channel.

"You know if you two would stop bickering we would have been done about thirty minutes ago." Fara said as Knackt swatted her hands off him. "I hope you have completed your job."

"Yeah I'm ready but I'm tellin ya Fara the relays won't hold. Sure we'll have lights and life support but your gonna blow one of the main relays."

"Knackt I checked it 5 times already." Fara said. "I'm not crawling back into a tube to do another point by point inspection."

"I'm not saying it'll be that one sister! It'll be one of em."

"Gah you can be such a pain sometime." Fara said frustrated.

"Fine don't listen to me but I'm just sayin it will happen!" The Rat retorted.

"Just shut up and help me flip these damn switches." She said walking over to the main relay box.

"Fine." Knackt said as he stepped up to the strange console that had a set of magnetic twist starters on either side of it. "On three?"

"On, three." Fara snapped. "One.. Two.. Three!" With that she turned the mag-starter and it locked. Knackt did the same thing. The generator activated and main power came back online.

"Outside Atmosphere detected." The Environmental suits computers reported.

"See Knackt, nothing to worry about." Fara shrugged.

"Warrr#$#% # EPS Power #$%R#$^." The ship's computer announced. Suddenly there were several blasts that shook the ship.

"What's going on down there!" Jakar said over the con.

Knackt scurried over to a LCARS interface and accessed it as it flickered on and off. "The EPS power relays on decks 24 through 26 sections 1 through 36 have just ruptured. Now we have two damaged warp power conduits." Knackt folded his arms. "heh TOLD YOU SO."

"Shut up at least we have main power back on line for the rest of the ship." Fara said not wanting to admit that she was wrong. Using the main engineering console she re-pressurized the ship brought most of the systems back online and sealed of the ruptured decks. Fresh air began to circulate and eventually the lights came back on. Once the readings looked stable she cracked the seal on her pressure helmet. "Bridge this is Phoenix all power is back online but unfortunately this ship isn't going anywhere."

"Understood." Jakar replied from the bridge.

"Away team Report." Martinez's voice said over the com. "What were those fireworks for are you all right?"

"Jakar reporting." The echidna said tapping his com-badge. "The engineering crew had some difficulty but we are all in good health."

"Have you found out what has happened yet?"

"I am working on it now commander." Michele O'mara replied. "The computer core is severely damaged we will have make backup copy of all the files we can recover directly from the computer system."

"I'll need a stand alone backup unit." Michelle said butting in on the conversation. "With a full set of tools as well."

"I'll have the equipment beamed directly over to you." Harry replied. "Keep us posted, Raptor out."

"So now what?" Michelle asked.

Jakar huffed. "I suggest you go try to find the computer core if you can it shouldn't be to far below this deck. More than likely it will be on deck three. Check to see if there are any labs down there that you can access it from."

"By myself?"

Jakar grunted. "I don't like it either but I've got most of my people busy at the moment. Keep an open com channel open."

"But.."

Just then the equipment materialized on the bridge. O'mara went over and picked it up. "Ok… fine… I'll just go down there…. By myself."

"You have a phaser you know how to use it." Jakar grunted trying to bring up the internal sensors on the tactical display.

"You aren't serious are you?" Michelle whined.

"Yes I am, now get going the quicker you get it done the quicker you can come back here." Jakar said glaring

O'mara sighed and then reluctantly left the bridge.

Back on the Raptor.

Harry paced around the bridge.

"I don't like this I don't like this is all."

"Skipper, why don't you sit down before you wear a hole in the deck?" Jack suggested.

"A starship with a dead crew is nothing to be taken lightly." Harry scolded him. "Something is not right. We need to get that ship recovered, but the Raptor is hardly a tug boat." He then rubbed the bridge of his muzzle. "So we have to get that ship moving again if we can. Terri have you already informed Starfleet of our situation."

"Yes sir, but it will be at least and hour or two before the transmission burst reaches a subspace relay station."

Harry scowled in her direction.

"I'm sorry sir but I can't make it go any faster." Terri said flatly.

"It's ok…" Harry said turning to look at the picture of the Exeter floating dead in space.

"Ops."

"Yes?" Lt Commander Rivas said.

"Keep an eye open will you."

"That's the plan." Don shrugged.

Harry sighed frustrated and returned to pacing.

Every instinct he had was screaming a warning to him but they had to save that ship if it was possible.

Later

"Ok people we have a problem," Fara said taking a sip from a cup of coffee mixed with a little something from a snifter smuggled in with her tool kit. Her nerves were still a little frayed and she was doing her best to keep it together. She swallowed and continued on. "the SIF system is completely offline, we've got atmosphere and power but we can't move this bucket at least not at warp. Jenna how is the computer system?"

"It's functional enough to control most of the ships functions, but there's a lot of damage throughout the network. The best I can tell is some data lines must have gotten severed on a few of the decks where there were some heavy fire fights." She smacked between every other word, from the smell on her breath she must have brought some gum with her.

"What about the back up data trunk?" Fara asked. "You know all the hard lines that are supposed to be the last hope when it comes to system wide failure?"

"Now see that's what I don't understand." Jenna said twirling one of her spines with a finger. "It seems like something crawled into the main Jeffries conduit and severed the lines. Someone will have to go down in there and repair them."

"Ok not a problem." Fara said checking something off on a data padd. "Ensign Arno how are those impulse engines.

"I got two out of three ready for a test fire chief, the other is not worth messing with." The Feline male Cornerian replied. "I'd still like to go over them one more time. I think I still might be able to get them up and running again."

He suddenly turned when he thought he saw some motion out of the side of his vision. He marked it off to his imagination playing tricks on him. "Give me another hour or so."

"Noted." Fara said. "The core seems dead, we got plenty of anti matter and deuterium but the crystals are shot and so is the chamber, so that's a dead end."

"So um, who's gonna fix the data relays?" Knackt asked.

They all gave him a conspiratorial look.

"Son of a bitch." The rat muttered.

O'mara made her way down the dimly lit corridors, from the faint stink of ozone and the multiple scours of energy weapons along the walls. Blood stained the walls and floors as well, the crew had put up a hell of a fight. She tried to ignore how eerie the situation was and focused on the steady warble of her tricorder as she took readings.

She heard a hiss and nearly jumped out of her feathers and then saw it was simply a door to someone's quarters that was malfunctioning.

"Jakar?" She said.

"Yes?"

"Can you just talk to me.." She said.

There was a pause. "Fine." He finally agreed.

"When we talked about the captain you said he is testing me what did you mean?"

"Don't' you know anything about him?" Jakar asked.

"No…" She said kneeling down next to a puddle of unknown muck that was slowly melting back into, well, muck.

"What is this stuff?" She thought to herself as she did a thorough scan, and took a sample.

"Well aren't you in for a treat." Jakar said coming up to a junction and looking around carefully and checking his tricorder. "Harry is one of the few and proud "Fab Fifty Five"."

"That rings a bell, wasn't that that group of …." O'mara said recording her readings and moving on.

"Yeap one and a same the group of fifty five individuals specially picked by Admiral Kramer. He deigned that if they worked together, they could change the entire universe." Jakar replied. "At least that was his philosophy.."

"Isn't he the same Admiral that went completely A.W.O.L. a few years ago and disappeared with his ship and crew?" O'mara said. "Not to mention when he taught at the academy his methods were considered highly unorthodox."

"One and the same." Jakar said stepping around another corner with his phaser rifle raised only to find nothing awaiting him. Everyone was tense at the moment, he was expecting to hear about friendly fire if someone was not careful enough to maintain proper communication.. "Unorthodox maybe, but he made his people face their fears, if his students could past his little games, they were considered worthy to serve under him."

"If you ask me he sounds like a head case." O'mara said in his ear.

"Perhaps so, but there is a fine line between Genius and Madness." Jakar said checking a side corridor. He spotted Sonya Jax and made a hand signal for her to head down the side corridor.

"Commander Martinez wouldn't put you on these missions if he didn't have faith in you Lieutenant. I think he just wants you to have some faith in yourself." Jakar said checking down another corridor with the barrel mounted torch only revealing more bodies and damaged infrastructure.

"If you say so." Michelle frowned at her tricorders readings, whatever this was there was a trail of it leading down the corridor. "I've found some sort of quasi organic material unlike anything I've seen before. I'm going to check it out."

"Just be careful." Jakar replied.

"I tell her something, does she listen .. NO. Something bad happens and who has to get in the Jefferies tubes and fix it. ME!" Knackt muttered climbing through the narrow ductwork. Because of his size he had to get down into the guts of the ship and try to undo some of the damage that Fara had inadvertently caused. He came to another door and opened it dropping his kit ahead of him. He then turned around and started to climb down backwards. As he did he suddenly heard a loud clicking sound followed by a loud shriek and pincer like claw grabbing his foot.

"GAH! What in the." He looked down to see a rather large insectile creature, it's yellow insect eyes red with rage from being beaned in the head with the kit. It started yanking on him trying to pull him loose. "LET go of me you stinking bug!" Knackt said panic stricken and kicking at the claw around his food while trying to grab his phaser. He managed to pull it from it's holster, only to drop it. The creature snarled and pinched it's claw tighter around his leg. Knackt finally had an idea. "Oh so you want somethin' to chew on eh! Chew on this. Computer, initiate a level 10 force field below me."

The computer whirred clicked and then complied. A force field snapped to life below him, the creature shrieked in pain as the force field erected and effectively cut it in half. Strange brackish blood spilled all over the force field as well as some of the pirates internal organs as it writhed in agony. Then computer buzzed and chirped again and the force field shorted out. The pincher claw released and the whole mess sloshed and crashed down into the next junction.

Knackt climbed down to the body of the dead insectoid and kicked it. "Stinkin bug. That'll teach you to mess with the rat."

Ensign Arno looked up from the access compartment. "Hello?" He said flashing looking around.

He could have sworn he'd heard some sort of strange twittering sound.

He walked around the large room after hearing it again. He checked his tricorder's readings and walked around with his weapon at the ready.

He then spotted a strange puddle forming on the ground in front of him. He scanned it and got some strange readings about the substance and then he heard some strange rasping sound that sort of reminded him of breathing. He brought his torch up just in time to see some strange four toothed maw dropping down from the ceiling making and otherworldly high pitched shriek.

A phaser shot was heard as the strange creature enveloped him from the waste up and they both dropped to the ground.

"Commander Martinez isn't trying to drive you nuts." Jakar said. "He's just testing you, putting you in uncomfortable situations so you'll adapt to them."

"Well this is pushing it just a little too far." O'mara protested as she followed the strange slime trail.

"If he didn't' think you could handle it he wouldn't have sent you." Jakar said. "Now what I need is our science officer to go down to deck three and investigate the unusual scouring we found not to mention we found some unusual type of fluid like blood down there."

"Hey are one you thick headed security goons around!" Knact's voice came in over Jakar's com badge.

"This is Jakar, what is it?"

"I just ran into trouble down here in section eh, twenty three deck fifteen. You'd better come take a look." Knackt said.

"Ok I'll be down in a few moments, Ms. O'mara?"

"Yeah?"

"What is your location."

"Deck three section C, it think." She replied.

"Remmick!" Fara shouted down the core.

"WHAT?"" The Catarian shouted back.

"What's the status on the SIF Generators."

"They are shot! What more do you want it looks like something went to town on them with some sort of energy weapon and when they got tired of that it looks like they decided to try to rip it to apart."

"So what does that mean?"

"It means if we get this bird moving we're going to have to go really slow or ditch the drive section and come back for it!"

Fara sighed and rubbed her forehead. "Do we have anything back on the Raptor we could splice into the system."

"Not big enough to handle this hulk!" Remmick shouted back up to her.

"Damn it." She started to pace in front of a flickering core monitoring station. "Hey, has anyone seen Arno lately?" She asked the other two crewmen who were helping her.

"Last we saw chief he was checking out the Impulse unit."

"Hmm I wonder why we haven't heard from him." Fara tapped her badge. "Phoenix to Arno."

In the bay, Fara's voice spoke out of a combadge as two space pirates rummaged through the equipment cases next to the lifeless body of Ensign Arno laying on the ground looking quite desiccated. They looked at the badge as it sounded again. "Phoenix to Arno please respond."

The pirates clicked to each other in their own language and suddenly scooped up the equipment and scuttled down a Jefferies tube.

After several minutes of crawling through maintenance corridors and Jeffries tubes he found Knackt doing his repairs as if nothing had happened. Jakar looked down at the Space pirate who had been cleanly cut in half by the force-field.

"How'd you do this… You obviously didn't shoot it."

"Force-field," Knackt replied. "Bugly there never saw it comin."

"Did you see any others."

"Nope dat's the only one.. Lousy bug he tried to Eat me!" Knackt said tearing out some damaged circuits in the alcove he was working in.

"I don't know about that, " Jakar said looking it over and noticing it had several deep phaser burns in its hide made from earlier. "It was probably injured and you startled it."

"Well, Next time I won't be as nice to TRY TO KEEP MYSELF FROM BEING KILLED!" The Rat yelled his voice eerily echoing around them.

"Well, if you don't require any medical attention I will continue my search for other intruders. I suggest you return to engineering."

"Yeah you go do that." Knackt said replacing the circuitry.

"And keep this on you at all times." Jakar said picking up the rat's phaser and tossing it to him. "Because next time you might not have the luxury of the ship saving your hide."

Knackt caught it, and chittered rather annoyed at the echidna.

"Jakar to Raptor come in." Jakar said. Nothing but static.

"Phoenix to Jakar." Fara's voice spoke up.

"Yes chief."

"We're missing a crew member Ensign Arno won't answer his combadge." Fara said worriedly. "I've been trying to get a hold of him and he's over due in reporting."

"Understood, I'll send someone to track him down but I want you and the rest of your crew to meet up and stay in main engineering?"

"What's up?" Fara asked a bit worried.

"We have intruders onboard, I can't raise the ship so safety in numbers would be the best strategy at the moment."

"Gotcha'" Fara replied. "I'll call everyone in."

"Jakar to Jax."

"Go ahead, Sir." Sonya Jax voice reported.

"I want you and your partner two head toward the impulse compartment asap." Jakar said curtly. "And Sonya, keep your eyes peeled, we've just spotted a damn Space Pirate, their could be more evading our scans somehow."

"Understood."

"Lt. O'mara." Jakar said tapping his combadge. "Give me your location."

"I'm not to much farther then where you left me in section C." Michelle replied. "I've found something strange though you've got to see this."

"I will be up their shortly." Jakar said picking up his speed to a jog as he entered the main corridor.

"A space pirate?" Fara said.

"Yeah that's what I said, pinchers and all." Kackt said. "But I sizzled him and got the repairs done."

"Why didn't Jakar warn us?" Fara mused.

"Well we're all on edge that'd be like tossing a match into a nitrous factory." Knackt said.

Fara scowled. "Well I'm going to have a few words with him." She said slapping her combadge. "Fara to Jakar come in."

The badge chirped an error code.

Knackt raise a brow and tried himself, the same result.

"We're all going to die…" He gulped. "Aren't we?"

"Not yet." Fara said grabbing a couple of tools. "There is a weapons locker down the corridor, let's get it open."

"Ensign!" Sonya Jax shouted as she entered the Impulse engine bay. "Where are you answer me?"

Nothing.
"Jax to Jakar." She said tapping her com-badge. It merely squeaked in non compliance.

She carefully made her way towards the impulse unit where she saw Ensign Arno's corpse. She then heard something move above her. She quickly dove to the side when she felt the air began to stir and it was fortunate she did.

A strange semi spherical creature with four fang like claws crashed into the deck and shrieked at her. It was the size of some large cat, like a lion, and it seemed almost gelatinous in nature with three strange nodes in its center. It shrieked and eerie sound at Sonya as she rolled to her feet and made her way back to the door firing her Phaser at whatever it was.

The creature seemed to shrug off the hits and lifted off the ground and floated after her again. Again, she quickly dove for the ground and the strange floating creature shrieked in rage as she disappeared through the door.

Sonya quickly sealed the door and then took off running down the corridor not wanting to be anything near whatever that creature was.

"Three, Space Pirate Vessels are dropping out of warp and closing with us."

"Damnit." Harry cursed. They had been out of touch with the away team for the last ten minutes, some sort of dampening field was being generated from within the Exeter's hull. It was blocking all transporter and communication signals.

"Go to red alert." Harry said. "Open a channel."

"Channel Open sir." Terri said from the back.

"Attention Pirate Vessels, this is Commander Martinez of the starship Raptor. If you do not reverse course we will open fire."

"Sir they may not have been such a good idea." Rivas spoke up, "I've detected several more space pirate ships closing on our location fast on long range sensors.

"How many more?" Harry asked.

"A few dozen."

Harry gave him a look that conveyed annoyance.

"HEY it's not my fault!" Don snapped.

Outside of the ship several dozen triangular ships looking like the carapace of a beetle, ships had quickly converged on the Raptor each unleashing a full volley of weapons on the ship before it even knew what hit it.

Martinez cursed as the ship shook hard under enemy fire. "Tactical return fire. Mr. Land get us out of here. Go to attack mode!" Harry ordered.

The officer at tactical suddenly spoke up. "Sir, Attack mode is offline the systems are not responding!"

"Damn it Secondary Systems are offline!" Rivas shouted. "That last hit must have took them offline!"

"They're all around us captain!" Land said. "We're trapped unless you want to ram them!"

"Then ram them Mr. Land." Harry growled through gritted teeth.

"What about our away team!" Jack said turning back to look at him

"Don't worry our first priority is to survive now punch it Mr. Land." Harry said sternly pointing at the fox's console. "Well reconnoiter and return for them."

The ship shook hard again as another volley slammed into its weakened shields.

A conduit along the wall exploded causing some of the computer terminals to go dim.

"Warning Shields Failing." The Computer added.

Land quickly activated forward thrust. He placed his fingers over the thrust sensor and slammed it forward.

The Raptor suddenly lurched forward and slammed into seven of the smaller ships as they tried to lock tractor beams onto it. Four of the ships flew out of control crippled from the collision but the others still persisted.

"All right you want to play rough." Land said channeling all power into the G-diffusers. "We'll play rough."

The Raptor suddenly did a quick barrel roll slamming the ships that we're trying to tractor it into the other ships closing in on the Raptor. The resulting chaos resulted in the other ships backing off now that they had a clearing the ship bolted ahead to warp as the smaller vessels followed. Rivas then targeted two of more of the vessels and hammered them with the phaser cannons.

"Quick take us into that Nebula." Martinez said pointing to the swirling gas formation off in the distance. "We can repairs and loose them in the cloud."

"Sir might I add we won't have sensors or shields in that Nebula." Rivas reported.

"And neither will they." Harry snapped. "Full speed ahead Mr. Land."

Jakar finally managed to make his way back to deck three. He was panting as he tossed his phaser rifle onto the floor as he climbed up the access ladder. He was worried about Michelle, she probably wasn't nearly on guard as she should be and if she was in trouble she'd be the least likely to defend herself. He hoofed it down the deck and nearly got phasered when he ran around the corner, he quickly dived for cover.

The crimson beam shot out from a side corridor a few more times nearly missing him. It was stupid to go running up to her unannounced, he should know better. He figured this is what he gets for being concerned."

"FOR CRYING OUT LOUD STOP SHOOTING." He growled covering his head with his arms as sparks rained down around him.

"Is that you Jakar?" O'mara shouted.

"Of course it is!" He shouted getting back up. "We've lost communication with the engineering crew and each other apparently."

"The why didn't you s s say anything!"

"Forget about it I was being stupid." Jakar grunted approaching her quickly programming a targeting algorithm into the phaser-rifle. "Give me your pistol."

O'mara did looking a bit sheepish and he thrust the phaser rifle into her hands.

"What's this for?" O'mara said putting her tricorder in its holster and nearly dropping the phaser rifle.

"Insurance so you don't shoot me or anyone else who doesn't deserve it." Jakar snapped. "Look we found a Space Pirate on this ship.."

"A Space Pirate?" O'mara asked picturing one of the creatures. "Humanoid, Insect like, big pinchers… quite.. nasty." She said regretting that bit of information was readily available in her memory.

"One and the same, that rifle is set to shoot anything with a body temperature under 35 C it will fire on, got it."

O'mara nodded still looking like a kicked puppy her head feathers drooping slightly.

"Did you find anything?" Jakar finally huffed.

"Yes I did, I was in the process of figuring it that out when you startled me." O'mara said motioning inside. "Come here you have to see this."

Jakar followed her inside the dimly lit lab.

"I think the crew of the Exeter found something that got the pirates attention. I found this strange organic compound out in the corridor but it's nothing the tricorder's actually seen before." She picked up a broken containment vessel. "It was also covered with the same compound. I haven't had any luck accessing the main computer though to find out what happened. They most have really trashed the computer system."

Jakar looked at the strange containment vessel. "It looks like whatever was in this broke loose."

O'mara nodded. "But what it was, I have no idea." She sighed. "The entire database has been trashed whatever the Exeter found, I don't think the pirates wanted anyone to know about it.."

Jakar nodded in agreement. "And here we are trapped on a dead ship possibly surrounded by them. We need to find out what is going on right now."

Michelle was already on it. "I might have a way to do it, on the way over I noticed we had one sensor node that hadn't been damaged. It had been tampered with but I think with a little work we might get it functional. If I use the backup batteries we can probably get it online and access it from the bridge."

Jakar shrugged. "It's a start."

O'mara smiled looking a bit more confident now. "Come on follow me." She said quickly stepping out of the room

Although before she left Sonya Jax suddenly appeared in the doorway hyperventilating with her phaser rifle slung over his shoulder.

"I found…. Arno… something… .got … him tried to… get me." She huffed. "Phaser no … effect."
"Why didn't you call?" Jakar asked.

Sonya slumped against the wall trying to catch her breath. "Badges don't work."

"Shit." Jakar cursed. "Jakar to Raptor come in. Jakar to Phoenix."

Nothing but static.

"Scratch our plan." He said to Michelle. "We've got to get to engineering pronto. We need to find out what's going on!"

The Raptor was damaged and leaking drive plasma, one of her engine cowlings was fairly smashed. Its shields wavered under the heavy fire of the swarm of Space Pirate ships chasing it.

"How much further!" Harry said as the nebula grew larger on the screen.

"One hundred thousand meters and closing." Land shouted.

The ship shook again and then shuddered. "Hull breach deck four, aft section!" Don Rivas shouted. "Antimatter containment has been compromised, preparing to jettison."

"Hold that thought." Harry winced as another searing bolt sunk home into his ships hide he hit his com switch. "Engineering can we make a quick jump to warp five?"

"Maybe?" Came an unsure voice after a moment of thought..

Harry wasn't really sure who the duty officer was, Fara had taken a lot of her people over to the Exeter for the recovery mission. "Put whatever power you have into maintaining the containment field we're going to jump on my mark. Mr. Land set coordinates for the center of that nebula. Don, start cutting off the critical pods in the damaged area and prepare a torpedo. We're going to run but I'm going to leave them a little present!"

"Aye Sir." Rivas said running over to the engineering console and starting the preparations.

The ship shuddered again under another round of weapons fire.

"Cap'n helms starting to get might sluggish the starboard impulse engine's gone." Land said.

"Are we set Mr. Rivas." Harry asked over his shoulder keeping his eyes on the viewer.

"As well as we can be." Rivas said scarring back over to his station. "Engineering says they can give us warp five but that's it."

"That's all we need." Harry smirked. "MARK."

Land quickly activated the warp systems and as the ship suddenly lurched forward the damaged Antimatter pods were ejected, a quickly placed photon-torpedo detonated them among the small swarm of Space Pirate ships obliterating at least three of them and damaging the others.

Jakar, Ens. Jax and O'mara got back down to main engineering. Cary, Yuma and Farin met up with them on the way there when the Com-badges started working again.

"What's going on?" Fara asked as she saw all of them entering the room.

"You three barricade that door now." Jakar said to his people. "We need to try to hold up here if we can we have an additional alien hostile on board I want all points sealed off!" Jakar grunted setting his phaser rifle on the master systems display. "Where is the damn back up sensor controls."

"Right there." Fara said pointing at a trunk in the wall. "Did you find Ensign Arno?"

"I'm sorry to report he is dead." Jakar replied grimly. "Sonya said something got him."

Fara looked a bit saddened. "Poor kid.." She said sullenly.

"Ms. O'mara, if you would please assist me." Jakar said to Michelle as she followed him over to the equipment trunk in the wall. Using teamwork, Jakar and Michelle managed to pull off a wall panel and quickly began repairs to the sensor unit. Michelle then turned her head. "A little help here." She said with a slight smile. "Hold the light please this helmet light isn't worth a damn."

"I'm going to need some tools." O'mara said looking over to Fara.

"Sure give me a second." Fara said going for her tool box.

"You get the power relay working and I'll get the data network back online."

Jakar nodded. "I didn't think you would know how to do this."

"I've learned a few pointers from Mrs. Lu." Michelle replied opening up a control console and removing several data chips. And replacing the burnt ones in the wall with them. "It's amazing what you can learn from someone who knows what they are doing.""

Jakar nodded. Michelle's shortcomings had tended to overshadow her natural talents.

"Ah." Jakar said finishing the repairs.

Michelle finished her repairs and the science station came back online. She walked over to it and activated the sensors. "There are only seventeen sensor pallets only partially operational."

"Try to get a fix on the Raptor."

Michelle tapped a button and the sensor scope raised

"I have it's last coordinates.. But all I can see is a few crippled pirate ships floating where the Raptor was. And a trail of debris, warp plasma.. They we're attacked. But everything is so grainy I can't make heads or tails of the rest."

"They were probably forced to retreat. Which means the space pirates will be back for US." Jakar growled turning to look at Fara. "Fara we're going to need this ship maneuverable as soon as possible."

"HAH keep dreaming buddy." Fara said. "This ship is a dead hulk, even if I could get her to move we'd only be limping at impulse.

Knackt suddenly appeared crawling out of the Jefferies tube back into the room and sat down on a stool to rest for a bit. "Well I've got good news the star drive section's impulse unit is online."

Jakar nodded. "We have our impulse unit. What about the weapons."

"Ah now that's something we do got." Knackt said speaking up. "We've got about a dozen torpedoes left in the forward launcher. Plus two phaser banks are charged and ready to go."

Fara and Jakar both looked at him in amazement.
"Well I got done early and figured what the hell." He said shrugging.

"So what do we do?" Michelle asked.

"We run." Jakar grunted. "We detach the saucer, take the star drive section and we head for that nebula we passed on the way here."

"I doubt that, we don't have shields that's a class 5 nebula heavy electromagnetic discharges all over the place, we'll be torn apart.." Michelle protested..

"Then I suggest Science officer O'mara that you find a way to re-polarize our hull to buy us some time in the nebula."

Michelle just stared at him in a mixture of horror and confusion. "With what there is barely anything left on this ship except life support and batteries to work with!" she protested.

Jakar glared at her. "Just try to figure out something." He hissed patiently. "Chief can you get the core back online?"

Michelle muttered something that he was pretty sure was an obscenity about his questionable parentage as she stormed off.

"The dilithium crystals are cracked, I wouldn't have time to fix them but since we're in a pinch." She said. "I could probably cannibalize something from one of the larger shuttles. We may only get warp two tops if it worked."

"Then get right on it." Jakar said. "Anything is better than sitting her dead in space."

"Right." Fara said. "Come on rat boy lets go." She said tapping Knackt as she grabbed some tools and walked past.

"Ah man… This just isn't my day." Knackt said chasing after Fara as she ran out of engineering.

"I've got it." Michelle said after some thought. "It's a trick old ship captains would use in the days before shields bubbles. We could polarize the hull. It wouldn't be much protection but it would be something."

"Then grab an engineer and get to it." Jakar said. "I will monitor the situation from her."

The Raptor floated in the nebula being jostled by the electromagnetic eddies.

The damage to the ships drive and weapons systems was being tended too.

Martinez paced back and forth on his bridge kicking himself. It was such a simple trap, and he'd walked right into it lulled into a false sense of security by the eerie calmness of the region, the entire time they were being watched and observed from afar and then ambushed when least expected. The ship had taken relatively heavy damage and the computer core had been damaged. The full extent of damage was still unknown and his crew was desperately trying to get the ship operational again.

Land had taken the engineering station and was trying to make heads or tails out of the jumbled readouts they we're getting. The engineering crew was fairly a mess because of the loss of their leaders and they hurried about trying to make repairs as best and efficiently as they could.

"Captain, we have twelve wounded crewmen no fatalities reported, all personnel are accounted for." Terri-Lu reported. "Engineering crews are.. doing as best they can."

Martinez nodded when suddenly the ship shifted suddenly as an electromagnetic pulse from the nebula struck the hull.

"Small hull breach deck 4 section 5." An ensign on tactical reported. "Engineering crews are on their way, containment field in place."

Again the ship was struck again by another pulse.

"They're not going to get any weaker." Land mused. "The longer we stay in here the worse they're going to get."

"I'm well aware of that mister Land." Martinez said sitting in his chair and drumming his fingers in thought.

The ship shook again as another EM Pulse discharged nearby.

Land sat at the station but suddenly he heard something very high pitched.

He looked around but couldn't see it.

"Captain… Do you hear that?"

"Hear what?"

"I hear it too." Terri-Lu said taking off her headset and setting it down.

"A high pitched whirring sound." Jack said.

Terri nodded in agreement.

Martinez looked at both of them blankly. "Excuse me but what do you two hear that the rest of us don't?"

"I don't know…" Land replied. "It sounds familiar. It sounds like a G-Diffuser Stabilizer matrix going out of whack."

"Are you sure?"

"Yes it's the same sound I heard the last time before it blew." Land said. "Back on that trip to that Grios system."

Harry thought back to it that was quite a while ago. "I seem to recall that." He mused.

"Martinez to Engineering are you detecting anything wrong with the G-Diffuser systems."

"Engineering here, yes we are but we aren't able to repair it, the harmonic frequency tuner has been destroyed and we don't have any replicators at the moment functional enough to make a new one. Those matrices are very delicate so we can't just fix them without it."

Martinez furrowed his brow, he was getting very annoyed. He had several crewmen stranded on one ship and the Raptor was now thoroughly disabled. Without the stabilizer matrix the Raptor's maneuverability was severely crippled and the ship couldn't be able to hold itself together very long without them.

"I could fix it, if we had something to monitor the frequency of the Matrix."

"That's not hard it's this." Terri said humming a certain note. "233 megahertz. Give or take a few octaves."

Martinez and Land looked at her a bit amazed. "How'd you know that?"

"It's my job to listen, I have excellent hearing." She shrugged. "Besides I've heard Fara mention it before, I could monitor the sounds by ear and by a science tricorder. We could modify another one to act as the tuner."

"Jack can you do that?"

Land scratched his head. "Yeah, it wouldn't take to long. It's been awhile since I've messed with one I'll give it my best shot."

"THEN what are you two waiting for.. GET down there and get this ship MOBILE again!" Martinez said insistently

"Yes sir!" they both quickly exited the bridge.

The creature had finally pounded its way through the sealed door and floated down the corridor. It was still hungry and something in that last meal wasn't agreeing with it. Its shape was slowly changing and morphing into something else. As it floated around the corner it spotted two of the Space Pirates who instantly stopped what they were doing.

The creature remembered these things they, had hurt it

It quickly charged at them and snagged the slower of the two enveloping it in its maw. The other Pirate scurried away as it began to feast on its prey.

After some time passed the Space Pirates body fell to pieces as if it had been dried up and crumbled to dust. The creature then sunk down to the deck and began to twist and contort it's shape as an eerie light began to glow from within it. It's form began to contort and soon it's strange shell darkened and dried up. A crack began to form and out crawled a quadruped beast with an armor carapace and a belly that resembled the old shell with the strange three node arrangement. The creature snarled and kicked away it's old remains. However it soon was confused.

This mutation was not proper, although more suited for what it needed it could no longer find that it had the ability to fly.

Again it was hungry, it could sense other life forms close by and it took off down the corridor in the direction of the remaining space pirate.

Fara and Knackt returned with the scavenged Dilithium crystals as well as a n emergency transporter unit and began to work on getting the core started again.

O'mara had been working on getting what was left of the Exeter's control systems back online. She was having to do a lot of jury rigging to try to get the hull polarization done and it was proving an almost impossible task as it was. As she worked she had inadvertently managed to get another sensor pallet active and an image appeared on a screen beside her as well as some data. Her heart sank at what she saw, half a dozen Zeebezian ships approaching. "Oh son of a… JAKAR!" She yelled. "We've got a major problem!"

"What is it?" Jakar said coming around the corner.

"Six hostiles heading this way." Michelle said with barely any stammer.

"Damn it all." Jakar said heading back to the main room and he then shouted to Fara and Knackt. "Any way we can get this bucket mobile!?"

Fara took a swing out of her thermos and tapped her spanner against the shell of the core. "It's going to be at least that long before we get the main engines back online, we could try to run on the impulse unit."

"What about the shuttles?" Jakar asked.

"I'm sorry, Jakar." Fara shrugged. "The shuttles were pretty trashed and we checked each of them."

"Or we could separate the saucer then set it to self destruct, that would buy us sometime. We would lose a lot of fire power but gain a bit more maneuverability."

"That's a little drastic.." Fara said. "Plus we don't even know how much damage the pirates did while they were scavenging, hell they could have even severed the detonation charges or hell even crippled the hardpoint connect clamps."

"Our options are fairly limited." Jakar grunted..

"Why can't we stay and fight?" Michelle asked.

"The Exeter crew fought and they died." Jakar grunted. "Space Pirates typically act as a swarm they win by numbers. Fighting is an option but, not knowing the Raptor's current status, the outcome is not good."

"Then let's at least take as many of them as we can out with what we do have." Knackt spoke up. "I patched the hard connects myself this ship can fight, not much of a fight but we can sure take a few of them out."

"Slight problem." Fara asked. "Without the warp core those phaser bursts are going to come from the same thing keeping the air circulating around here. Plus, might I remind the both of you that we have VAC SUITS not combat suits on. If we lose life support and we get a suit tore we will die a lot quicker then they'll be able to rip us into pieces."

"Yes." Jakar said thinking the situation was pretty damn dire.

"Fine we'll make our stand here." He grunted. "However get that torpedo launcher online. We'll take out the few that we can and, hope that the Raptor can get back to us soon." He scratched his head. "Yuma, Jax. Make sure this section is sealed off as best as you can, I don't want to make it easy for them."

"Yes sir." The two security crewmen said snapping to attention who were pretty much just twiddling their thumbs and watching the barricade at the moment.

"Ok, just give a me a few minutes to get the damn thing fired up." Knackt said scurrying over to the master systems control.

Jakar called his team over and they began making plans for their stand.

In the tight confines of the Jeffries tube Terri and Jack lay on their backs with their heads touching so they could both see what was going on. They were working as quickly as they could as the ship shuddered under the assault of the nebula's forces "Hard to believe something this delicate getting damaged can cripple us this bad." Terri said.

"Well the Raptor isn't exactly engineering perfection.. Reading." Jack said hitting the attenuator switch.

Terri listened to the pulse and then double checked the reading on her padd replied. "220." She said.

"I think at times Fara makes her repairs with spit and electrical wire." Land grumbled being very careful while making the repairs. The ship shuddered from another discharge. "These things should be phased out by next refit though from what I've gathered."

"I'd hope so." Terri mused. "Just a little bit more and I think you got it."

The ship shuddered again as another enormous EM discharge. The impact was pretty hard and Land accidentally dropped the tool and it fell on his head. Terri quickly scooted herself out of the way narrowly missing getting beaned herself. "DAMNIT!" he yelped, then rubbing his head. "I hope that's it."

Terri reached up and patted Land on the head and closed the tricoder that she was using. "That last turn made the correction. We can get out of here." She tapped her combadge. "Captain the repairs are complete. We'll be on our way up."

"Good to hear, we'll get underway as soon as you get up here."

Land crawled out of the tube into one of the junctions where he could stand and rubbed his head.

"I don't think you were that gravely injured." Terri said teasingly

"Nah I wasn't lets just get out of here." He said offering her a hand as Terri rolled onto all fours to crawl out. "At least before another one of those damn pulses hits us."

The six Space Pirate ships closed in on the dead Exeter and noticed apparently it wasn't deserted.

This became more apparent when the ships main photon torpedo launcher unleashed several volleys at them. Three of the ships were immediately destroyed in the initial volley, being completely caught off guard.

The other three scattered briefly but returned once it seemed the Exeter's torpedo launcher was exhausted or malfunctioning.

Two ships slowly docked on the engineering hull and the other up on the saucer.

The Pirate Crew of the one attached to the saucer started to re board the Exeter and the lead Space Pirate entered the ship and looked around. The ship was still deserted but the lights were now on. It clicked and motioned for a few others to follow him out into the corridor. They proceeded down the hallway carefully until they found the remains of one of their comrades. This stated some urgent clicking and shrieking amongst them but before they could react something attacked them from a side corridor and ripped one of them to pieces.

They all reacted in panic as they began blasting the creature however it seemed to just absorb the shots as it began to drain on of the pirates caught in it's maw. It then released its prey and attacked the others and in a few short moments each of them were down too trampled or injured to defend themselves as it stalked over to each one of them and began to drain the life energy out of the wounded Pirates bodies as they tried to crawl away.

Once that task was done it lunged up into the Space Pirate vessel, made short work of its crew then sought out the vessels power core. That earlier meal was still causing it great indigestion and its instincts were screaming at it to change once again.

And to do that it needed better food, and more energy.

Meanwhile the other two ships docked to engineering hull and the Pirates spilled into the corridors looking for the Raptor crew still on board. They had called for reinforcements and more ships were on the way. They moved in packs of five scouring the corridors for any movement.

However as they skulked along they failed to miss a trip wire that had been planted across the bulkhead.

The leader shirked something and then two flash bangs suddenly went off stunning them.

Sonya Jax and Yuma appeared taking cover on opposite sides of a T-Corridor ahead and started laying down phaser fire into the confused mass of Space Pirates. Soon they were all down and heavily stunned.

"Jax to Jakar. Group 1 is down."
"Good maintain position." Jakar replied. "I figured they wouldn't be able to detect those things."

Jax made a signal and her partner and she went back to their hiding places.

Another group of pirates made their way down an adjoining section.

Jakar, Remmick and Rydel were hiding further down the corridor. So far it had been so good but they kept hearing more and more pirate ships dock to the vessel. Obviously the little stunt with the torpedo launcher had pissed the Space Pirates off.

The pirates were advancing a cautiously down the corridor, apparently some word had gotten out that the Exeter wasn't exactly safe to walk freely in. They were actually trying to make their way towards engineering which seemed to be the most logical place for their enemy to hide. However as they approached Jakar, Rydel and Remmick's position Ens. Farin tossed a stun grenade into the middle of them from the rear and dove for cover. This caught the pirates attention and they turned to attack the Raccoon only to have the stun grenade go off and then Jakar's team started firing.

"Well that was easy enough." Remmick said lowering his phaser rifle as the last Pirate collapsed in a heap on top of its buddies.

"Don't get cocky this is far from over." Jakar grunted. "If it was full proof there would still be a crew on this ship."

Rydel and Remmick exchanged worried glances.

"This is only the beginning." Jakar grunted. "They have worse, believe me…"

Meanwhile.

The Attack force of pirate ships that had chased the Raptor inside the nebula were still waiting for it when it re emerged. However what they weren't expecting for it to be ready to fight. Even as the ships bow began to clear the cloud every phaser bank, full torpedo spreads and shield disruptors at each of the Pirate Ships. The ferocity of the attack had them completely taken aback, they weren't expecting the ship coming out ready to fight.

It only took a matter of moments but soon the slaughter was over, leaving several broken and dead Pirate Ships floating in the Raptor's wake as it jumped to warp heading for the Exeter.

On board the Exeter, things had gotten worse.

Bulkier heavily armored Pirates started appearing among the ranks.

Phaser fire was not dropping them.

Jakar had pulled his people back further into the ship. Ens. Yuma had been killed by a beam fired by one of these pirates. He and Jax layed down heavy fire, from cover at maximum setting to finally cause the pirate to explode taking out his buddies in the process and spreading a strange blue glowing fluid all over the corridors.

"SHIT." Jax cursed. "Sir I'm out."

Jakar nodded and fished a charged phaser pack to her. "That's my last one you take it."

"We canna keep this up." Jax snarled slapping the pack back into her phaser. "And what is that blue guck spraying out of them it smells like fowl dish water."

"Unknown, but it apparently doesn't like high frequency phaser energy." Jakar snorted.

Jax nodded in agreement. "Sons of bitches are going to pay for killing Will." She snarled hoisting her rifle back into firing position.

Jakar nodded in agreement.

Ensign Fara, Lt. Remmick and Jenna Rydel ran into engineering and barred the port door. "They're coming!" Jenna panted.

"Oh shit." Fara gasped.

Knackt suddenly dropped trying to get the forcefield generators operational. "Aw for cryin out loud." Knackt said running over to the impulse engine and opening it up again.

"Just what are you doing?" Fara asked.

"I'm saving our butts that's what I'm doing." He said diving into an equipment trunk and retrieving a small cylindrical device. "I learned this trick during the war." The rat said taking out a small plasma welder, some tape and taping the welder to the cylinder. "You bird lady!" He said to O'mara.

"Yes?" Michelle said a bit annoyed at that mark.

"You get ready to pop that door open." The rat said as the Pirates began beating on the door putting dents in it. "As soon as I toss this thing you hit the emergency bulkhead release got it?"

Michelle looked over the control pad and found the release.

"Got it." She said.

"If you miss this toots, we're all going to be paste." He said tapping in a few commands to make the welder to overload. "Ok, punch it."

Michelle did so and Knackt tossed the device out into the corridor and one of the Pirates caught it and gave it a confused look. O'mara triggered the emergency latch and the emergency bulkhead slammed down, O'mara quickly dove away from the wall and covered her head. There was a small beat and then there was a loud explosion. The deck shuddered as the plasma within the canister ignited. They then heard several surprised shrieks. The force of the explosion shuddered the bulkhead in its place.

"Hah chew on that bug brains." Knackt smirked.

The creature crawled out of the broken carapace of its former quadruped form and now stood on two legs wrapped in heavy armor.

This is not right…

It thought, it's mind now moving past the animal stages of it's development instinct being rapidly wrapped in reason and intelligence.

It was now roughly humanoid, except for the armor like carapace running along its body, it now had two predatory eyes looking like some sort of psychedelic insect like armadillo.

It needed the special food again, it still hurt strangely on the inside, it quickly at least not for the time being.

The ones that had found it like these other bipeds had been kind to it, they had at least fed it and did what they could to help it heal. However it was a predator and despite that food that was kind, still food. After the last few meals it attention was now focused on trying to move past this case of indigestion and adapt itself to fend of its enemies. It now had new weapons, its tail had now split four ways and four boney spear tipped tendrils wrapped in a transparent gelatinous film similar to its old shell now wrapped about it.

It could sense more of its enemy on the ship and with them the smell of the food it desired it walked down into the Exeter and headed in the direction its senses told it too.

The non sealed door finally came crashing to the ground and the heavy assault pirate exploded as concentrated phaser power poured onto its form. The flying debris injured a few of the smaller pirates.

Jakar, O'mara, Remmick, Jax and Rydel were behind and over turned equipment trunk using it for cover while Farin, Fara, Knackt and the other remaining engineering crewmen fired from a storage closet.

The situation was now dire, they couldn't hold them off much longer. A barrage of pirate fire blasted through the open doorway and slammed into their makeshift cover. A shot got through and Sonya Jax went down screaming in pain, clutching at her side. A few of the pirates had crawled along the ceiling and were firing from above. Jakar managed to snipe each one of them sending them crashing down to the deck.

Lt. O'mara was terrified out of her mind but she focused on blasting anything that appeared in her targeting reticule over her eye. She turned to see if Sonya was ok and was surprised to see the echidna crawling back up to the barricade and continuing to return fire despite the blood dripping down from an unseen wound. Another larger pirate started to shove his way through the mass of dead pirates slowly piling up in the door and they both fired a sustained full blast on it until it exploded. Both of their Phasers then signaled they were out of charge.

Two more pirates with strange armor on yet not as big as the bruisers suddenly scuttled through blasting energy fire and they heard Ens. Farin scream as he was caught be several of the bolts and fall dead in the doorway.

As O'mara drew her hand phaser she looked down and saw Sonya laughing hysterically, despite the pain it was causing her and the gush of blood from her wound, she tossed her rifle in an underhanded throw at the creatures nailing one in its head.

Fara and Knackt managed to drop the other two with their weapons and then suddenly the fighting stopped.

The air reeked of death and ozone and faintly reminded O'mara of her days in the academy when she'd leave something on the stove too long and it would begin to burn. Two more pirates burst through and she quickly picked them off.

She noticed that she wasn't the only one, if there were more of those larger pirates on board they were screwed.

They were running out of time and where the hell was their ship?

Outside the Raptor was waging hell on the pirate vessels. The sky was filled with weapons fires and the red glare of photon torpedoes as volley after volley slammed into the pirate mother ship and the sky was littered with broken Pirate Ships.

"Is that damn dampening field still up!" Harry asked while on screen another Pirate Vessel exploded to glitters.

"I'm trying to isolate it on the mother ship." Rivas shouted over the klaxon. "As soon as it goes down I'll pull the away team."

"Good have a tube ready to target the antimatter pods on that ship." Harry said grimly. "They seem intent on keeping it," He glowered watching the sensor readings as more Pirate Ships pulled into the area. Just where the hell are the coming from! He wondered to himself.

Jack sent the ship into a rapid spin deflecting a few pirate attacks and then sent another ship or two of theirs into oblivion. They came quickly about again hammering at the already fairly damaged Pirate Mother ship that had a vice like grip on the Exeter.

A heavy squad of three heavy Pirates made their way towards engineering when something humanoid blocked their path. They stopped and hesitated but before they could act four spear tipped tendrils whipped toward them and pierced through their armor and ravaging the internal compartments. The three creatures dropped dead and the creature absorbed the blue goop that spilled forth from the dead pirates and mixed with their green blood. Once done feeding the creature levitated off the deck and headed for the sound of weapons fire.

A few more pirates went down and O'mara ducked back behind the smoking barricade.

"That was my last shot." She said.

Jakar nodded. "I'm out too."
Sonya was looking worse by the moment she was starting to turn pale. "Should of. saved… a shot.. for…"

"Don't talk like that." Jenna said clearly starting to crack.

"Don't… want them… to have…. Pleasure…" Sonya moaned beating her head against the barricade and coughing up blood.

"I don't want to die…" Jenna moaned as Remmick squeezed her paw.

"Stop it." Michelle hissed at her. "That isn't helping matters." Although she felt pretty much the same way.

"Hey…" Fara said behind them. "Look… they've stopped coming through."

Michelle poked her head over the barricade and they could hear weapons fire now down the hallway along with strange shrieks of terror and pain, with the dull thud of weapons fire being transmitted to through the hull from the battle outside which they were unaware of until the Pirates stopped attacking.

They all looked to see a blue glow slowly approaching from the corridor.

"… is Commander Martinez stand by for beam out." They all suddenly heard from their combadges announce. But before they could react they were suddenly all swept up by transporter beams.

Two more of the larger Pirate mother ships had arrived on the scene as the Raptor pulled away from the Exeter.

The creature entered the room and it could see the faint energy traces of the beings that had been in the room, it felt itself surging with power and that danger was again near. It could feel the other ship pulling further away, it could feel others like it onboard the other Pirate Mother ships.

It called out to them and they answered the call.

It told them how to escape their confinements as it had and they all listened.

On the two pirate mother ships the containers holding the other creatures like it broke free of their containment cells and began to attack the unsuspecting pirate crews.

Sensing danger was near, creature began to phase shift and become hazy and soon it suddenly disappeared through the floor.

As the Raptor pulled away from Exeter it fired a full spread of torpedoes at the engineering section of the Exeter. The torpedoes slammed into the vessel and detonated the antimatter pods. The Exeter then disappeared in an enormous flash of light amongst the Pirate vessels.

Jakar, O'mara and Fara all arrived on the Bridge looking pretty harried and took their stations.

"Welcome back." Harry said curtly. "sorry about the delay. Report."

"We lost Arno, Farin and Yama." Jakar grunted. "Jax is in bad shape." Jakar said solemnly..

"Noted." Harry said. "What's our situation, are they following."
Jakar quickly activated his station and scanned the readings. "Actually… they all seem to be… stopped."

"What do you mean?"

"They aren't pursuing us yet they are just sitting there."

"Impossible." Harry grunted. "All this trouble on us and they suddenly just stop?"

"It looks that way." Michelle O'mara said. "I confirm his readings." She said looking up from her station looking rather singed and in need of a shower.

"No no no.. this is madness." Harry groused double checking the readings but sure enough they were right.

"Do you want to go back sir?" Jakar asked.

Harry grimaced. "Engage cloak, Mr. Land reverse course please."

Jack gave him a strange look and then said. "Aye, sir. We'll be back in about twenty minutes."

As they arrived the Raptor scanned each ship.

What was once a battleground was now a graveyard. Lifeless Pirate Mother ships listed idly in the vacuum colliding with the debris of the destroyed Pirate ships from earlier.

"I'm seeing it but I don't believe it." Harry muttered.

"All ships showing Zero power readings." Michelle spoke up.

"We weren't even gone that long." Harry mused.

"Maybe it was that monster Sonya saw." O'mara spoke up.

Harry looked at her curiously. "Monster?" He said turning to Jakar.

"Ensign Arno was found dead, some sort of creature attacked him and it tried to attack Crewmen Jax, she was fortunate to get away. We didn't have much time to investigate it further. We were unable to get any data regarding it either." Jakar grunted. "Sonya was the only one to see it."

"Whatever it is it has no love for the pirates." Fara spoke up. "Whatever we could have learned went up in smoke with that ship."

Harry thought for a moment. "This is bizarre, to say the least." He said shaking his head at the viewer.

"Captain, I've got something." Michelle spoke up as her instruments began to beep and make noises. "Lot's of somethings."

"Can you please be a bit clearer.." Harry said.

"LOOK." Michelle said putting the sensors point of view onto one of the Pirate ships.

Several small jellyfish like creatures emerged from the wreckage all of them looking identical with four talon like grabbers on the underside of their half semicircle shells.

"What the hell are those…." Harry asked.

"I have no idea." Michelle replied scanning them. "They each contain the same strange material I found on board the Exeter."
"I'm detecting multiple bogies captain." Jakar said worriedly. "It may be wise to raise shields."

"Do it." Harry nodded in agreement.

Dozens of the small creatures began to circle the ship and began to lurch at the shield bubble only to be bounced right back off it.

"Mrs O'mara I suggest that if we are to learn anything about these creatures you better be manning your instruments." Harry said calmly.

"I am sir." She replied.

On the viewer a strange humanoid like form appeared amongst the strange creatures it now resembled them only in the strange glowing transparency of its sbell. It had four strange tendrils whipping about it and several of the smaller creatures hovered around it.

"Any ideas.." Harry said watching the strange creature peer at them and touch the shield.

"It's some type of life form that's all I know, I've compared my scans to a reading of a sample I found onboard the Exeter, these are the same type of creatures. I don't think it's ever been encountered before. Whatever they are the Pirates must have wanted them badly to have so many." Michelle said. "Even the computer doesn't know what to make of them."

Jakar glanced down at his readings. "Some of the smaller creatures are trying to penetrate our shield bubble. I suggest we not stick around too long."

Harry was in thought for a moment. This was an important discovery but the crew of the Exeter had already paid dearly for it not to mention the loss of the ship.

"Drop a Warning buoy." Harry finally decided. "Mr. Land, back us off slowy… as soon as we're clear get us out of here."

"I hear that." Jack said easing the ship into reverse gently.

"Warning buoy launched, sir." Jakar reported. "Some of the creatures seem to have taken and interest in it."

"That's fine we'll drop another if need be just ease us out of here." Harry said pensively.

"Any attempt to communicate Terri?" Harry asked.

"None whatsoever sir." Terri said quietly.

"I think trying to breech our shields is communication enough." Jakar grunted.

"Agreed."
"Ms. O'mara do you have your data?"

"Yes, Sir." She replied.

"Are we free of them yet?" Harry asked.

"Yes." Jack replied.

"Bring us about and get us out of here." Harry ordered sitting in his chair.

The Raptor sped away suddenly stretching into the distance and disappearing in a flash. The creatures watched it go and then the whole swarm gathered up and moved in the opposite direction heading for what could only be hoped was their home.

An hour later.

The Raptor was returning home at warp speed.

Harry came back onto the bridge he had been talking to Fleet HQ.

"Well?" Jakar asked as Harry took his seat. "Don't keep us in suspense."

"They're going to send another vessel out that's better suited to investigate what we saw out here." Harry said. "They are not sure whether those creatures should be considered a threat or not. They were not happy that we weren't able to retrieve much from the Exeter, yet they didn't rail me for destroying it either. As far as they were concerned, the less of our technology the damn Space Pirates have of our tech the better." Harry sighed. "I just wish this whole damn mess hadn't resulted in the loss of their crew and a few of ours." He growled. "Is Crewmen Jax ok?"

"She is sedated right now. Dr. Okan says she'll pull through, the wound was bad but nothing he couldn't fix, he said she lost way to much blood though." Jakar replied.

"Ok, well they are going to send some people out to talk to her since she was the only one to encounter the creature in person."

"Knowing her." Jakar said. "She's going to be pissed you didn't blast every last one of those things out of existence."

"I have to agree with that." Fara said from her engineering station. "The universe has got enough problems without flying jellyfish eating people."

Harry gave them both a look. "That may be, but if we went around shooting everything without question we would be not better than the Urtheans. Yet I understand your feelings, I am not happy about losing four crew members over this little venture." He sighed.

"At least the damn Pirates got what they deserved." Land added from his station.

"What will the Confederation do about those things?" Fara asked.

"Probably study them, to see if they pose a real danger to us." O'mara said without stuttering for once.

"Um well gee let me see, they only ate one of our shipmates not to mention who knows how many pirates." Fara growled.

"These creatures will be investigated and if they pose a serious threat, I'm sure something will be done to contain them." Harry said. "We just can't destroy them regardless of what happened"

"Contain them.." Jakar huffed. "Only If they can be contained.." Jakar muttered.

Nothing more was said on the rest of the way home.

The end.

Additional Credits:

Metroids are © Nintendo.

Editors Note:

This story was originally written several years ago. I just now got around to posting it. Originally it was slated for Series Two but, … well things happen and I'm doing things differently now. I am a big fan of the Metroid series and wanted to work them into my universe if I ever needed them because there are some fun things you can do with them, for ideas with stories. In this one I kinda created my own little parallel evolution tree for them and the one featured in this one will have it's concept art posted on the web page.