Chapter 12: Uncommon Valor
Ensign Cook brandished her phaser with abandon as Commander VanEseltine stood there in surprise. Never imagining he would be at the business end of a Federation hand phaser, he looked deeply into her to see if there was some hope that she wouldn't use it.
He tried to put his best commanding tone into his voice. "Now, Ensign. Put down that weapon immediately or you will be arrested and thrown in the brig. That's an order."
Ensign Cook cocked her head and threw back her long red hair and chuckled a little. "You, sir, are in no position to dictate anything, let alone terms of my future. Now step away from my dresser and get over by the closet."
VanEseltine moved away from the dresser and toward the closet gingerly and cautiously, hoping he wouldn't have to try and dodge a phaser blast in the process. Cook walked farther into the room and leaned against the wall, her slim but proportioned body easily molding against the bulkhead. A short smile crossed her lips as she lowered the phaser. "You really don't get it, do you, human?"
A look of surprise came across VanEseltine's face. Why did she say "human" like that, he thought to himself. He straightened his posture. "Well, what exactly don't I get, Ensign? You are standing there, threatening a superior officer with a phaser, and I don't get it? What kind of fool do you take me for?"
Her smile got wider, her eyes got brighter, her delicate finger gently stroked the phaser like it was a silk blouse, as she pointed it back at VanEseltine. "I don't take you for a fool, Commander. You just don't know the whole picture that is about to unfold. We are just tiny fish in a very large ocean. What we do now will not matter; what you do or I do won't matter that much if everything goes as planned, for it is too little too late."
So far, Cook had not said much that could help VanEseltine figure out what she was talking about or why she was committing treason. He decided the only card he could play was to try and psychoanalyze her. "Well, Ensign, since you hold that weapon, I'm a very good listener. Please elaborate on that for me, since you have me thoroughly confused."
Cook moved off the wall, made her way to her bed, and sat on it never taking her aim off VanEseltine. She leaned her back against the wall and began speaking again. "Well Commander, you see, space is a violent place and we all have our roles in it. Mine is a minor one, as is yours--as you will see if you live, which is highly unlikely. You are probably wondering why I'm going to kill you and that is logical, you see, for my mission is already complete. In moments, crack Romulan troops will board your ship. We will take this new technology of yours and use it to better our defenses and our way of life."
VanEseltine could put it together now. She was a Romulan spy who somehow infiltrated the Federation and made it aboard the Gryphon. Now, he thought, how am I going to get out of this and expose her to the crew? Just then the hatch to her quarters opened and two Starfleet security personnel entered. This surprised Cook, who had taken a relaxed state on her bed. One of the security personnel saw what was going on and fired his phaser at Cook who rolled off her bed and onto the floor evading the shot. She came out of her roll and fired a blast that struck the security guard and vaporized him. VanEseltine seized the moment and jumped on Cook. With the other security crew member assisting, they managed to wrestle away her phaser and subdue her.
VanEseltine was a bit winded after the scuffle but he stood, straightened his uniform and looked down at Cook. "Well, Ensign Cook, or whoever you are, you have a lot of explaining to do."
Commander Johnson looked at the view screen as two of the Romulan attack vessels moved away and left only one take over the lifeless Gryphon. Chief Urban finished handing out weapons to the remaining crew and locked out the turbo lift hatch. Access to the bridge from the outside corridors was now closed; the only way someone could get in was to beam in.
Commander Johnson looked over at Lt. Commander Higdon. "Commander, can you energize a defense field around the bridge to prevent anyone from beaming in?"
Higdon was furiously working to override and clean up the virus that was in the Gryphon's computer core. Without looking up from what she was doing she said, "I'll try but I can't guarantee anything." There was hesitancy in her voice.
"Too late!" yelled Urban as figures started beaming onto the bridge.
One by one, Romulan figures started to appear and a small firefight erupted. The bridge was not that big to begin with, and with loads of sensitive equipment around it wouldn't be pretty. Urban scored the first kill, shooting two of the first Romulans to materialize and sending them to the deck. Others kept coming in. Lieutenant Anderson stood in front of Lt. Commander Higdon and guarded her from any Romulans that tried to get to her. Higdon was the essential key to get out of this mess.
A Romulan aggressor fired his disruptor at Commander Johnson, who dove forward in time to miss the bolt intended for her. She came up firing and hit the Romulan who was targeting her. It was very cramped quarters and the Romulans were getting too numerous; hand-to-hand combat was initiated.
Commander Jasienski sent a hard side kick crashing down upon the knee of an oncoming Romulan, sending him crumpling to the floor with his hands grasping his knee. She then fired her phaser at the downed Romulan and knocked him out cold with the stun beam. Another Romulan attacked her trying to hit her with the butt of his weapon. Jasienski parried the blow with a cross block, then sent a swift forward thrust kick into her attacker's abdomen doubling him over. She then fired her phaser again sending him to unconsciousness.
Commander Jasienski's partner was in trouble. Lieutenant Kennard had just dispatched a Romulan with a hard chop to the throat when another one grabbed her and hit her in the stomach with the butt of her rifle. She doubled over from the force of the blow and buckled to one knee. The Romulan moved in for the kill and pointed her rifle at Kennard, who had enough left in her to send an uppercut to the stomach of the Romulan, knocking her off balance. Kennard then executed a leg sweep, knocking the Romulan down. This gave Kennard a chance to grab the dropped rifle and fire it, disposing of her attacker.
While the battle waged fiercely on the bridge, other boarding parties had made it to other decks of the ship. In Engineering, Chief Marchant fought off a small party before help arrived from some Marines who stood guard on the vital engine room to repel any more attackers.
Sgt. Guidarini, armed with his automatic compression phaser rifle, led a team of four marines down a corridor. Donned in beta combat dress, they swept the halls for Romulan attackers. Guidarini stopped the team short of a junction in the hall and motioned for one of his marines to take point. The private moved up and peered around the corner, spying a small party of Romulans moving their way. He ducked back and reported to Guidarini who nodded his acknowledgment and motioned for the team to back away a bit. He then opened a hatch and they slipped half their bodies out of the hatch, enough for their weapons to be able to fire. They waited for the Romulans to come their way.
The Romulan team rounded the corner and met a full barrage of automatic phaser bolts. The red streams of intense phased energy cut the small team to ribbons, the bolts smashing into their bodies and knocking the foremost Romulans back into their comrades. The Marines got up and laid down another burst of intense fire, disposing of the last remaining Romulans that made the mistake of coming down that corridor.
Guidarini patted his marines on the shoulder and motioned for them to move out. More Romulans needed to be dealt with. The small squad was double-timing it down the corridor when Sgt. Guidarini's comm badge beeped. Guidarini motioned for his team to stop and they took up defensive positions covering all avenues of attack. Guidarini then tapped his comm badge. "This is Sgt. Guidarini."
A female voice came over the badge. It was Petty Officer Post. She sounded hysterical, but managed to get out her message. "We are being overrun on the bridge. Need immediate assistance. Enemy forces overwhelming . . ."
Guidarini stood and motioned for his team to follow. He double-timed it to a nearby turbo lift, yelling into his comm badge, "Cavalry is on the way!"
Things were looking grim on the bridge. The Romulans managed to overwhelm the bridge crew who fought valiantly to keep the bridge from the greater Romulan forces. Four bridge crew were killed and several were wounded, but the remaining officers were left aliveBuseful as prisoners that might give them important information to the Romulans.
The main Romulan officer watched the Federation officers stand in defiance to him. He would break them if it meant killing each and every one of them. He was used to this. After serving thirteen years in the Romulan fleet, he had undertaken many boarding battles and had made it this far. His assault group outnumbered the bridge crew by two to one. He did admire the fire and determination that the humans displayed, fighting with reckless abandon like this was their last day . . . which it might be. He chuckled to himself then addressed the crew of the Gryphon.
"I am Major Demar. I am now in command of this vessel. Under Romulan authority, you will cease and desist your attacks on my other boarding parties as they arrive on this ship. Who is the Captain of this vessel?"
Demar looked around but no one spoke up. He examined the pips of the uniforms of the crew and he noticed he had a Starfleet Commander among them. He motioned for one of his soldiers to grab Commander Johnson and move her from the group. He smiled, walked over, and stood directly in front of her. He was tall, around six feet, two inches, and was of a medium build.
"Well, Commander, I want you to open a channel ship wide and tell your troops to desist and give up their fight and surrender to our troops." Demar ran his fingers under Johnson's chin.
He tried to be intimidating, but Commander Johnson was unimpressed. Johnson looked at him with a strong glare. "Go kiss a Denebian slime devil!"
Demar's face lit up in anger. She was being disrespectful and he did not approve of it. He slapped Johnson across her face; a trickle of blood rand down from the corner of her mouth. Johnson cringed from the pain but was still vigilant.
"You will do as I say or I will kill each and every one of your people here on the bridge, starting with the lowest ranking person on up. Do you understand me, Commander?"
Johnson showed concern for the first time as she saw a disruptor put up to the head of Petty Officer Post. Post kept shaking her head telling Johnson not to worry about her and to think of the ship, but Johnson was responsible for the ship now--and its crew. She couldn't let her crew die in cold blood.
"All right. I'll do it." Johnson hung her head low.
A smile appeared on Demar's; he had broken her. He nodded. "A wise decision, Commander. Now open a channel and do as I said."
Johnson told the computer to open the channel and she began to speak. "Crew of the Gryphon, this is Acting Captain Commander Johnson speaking. I have orders for you to follow and you must follow them to the letter. This is a direct order. You will all surrender to any Romulan boarders. Repeat: surrender to any Romulan boarders . . . when hell freezes over!"
Demar's face lit up with anger at the defiance Johnson showed in totally going against what he had ordered. He lifted his disruptor from its holster and began to aim it at Johnson when Chief Urban broke free of his captors hold and dove toward Demar. Urban managed to knock the disruptor out of Demar's hand when he hit him and they tumbled to the floor. Urban then rolled on top of Demar and sent a quick palm strike under Demar's nose. The hard impact sent cartilage and bone fragments up into Demar's brain killing him instantly. Urban got up to fight again but was riddled with multiple disruptor bolts. The green bolts slammed into him blowing him off Demar's lifeless body and into a bloody heap.
The rest of the crew reacted and started to fight back. They didn't care what was going to happen as they grappled with their attackers. Then the panels on the ceiling of the bridge popped open and Sgt. Guidarini and his four Marines popped down and started lighting up Romulans. Guidarini and his Marines dispatched the remaining Romulans on the bridge with the help of the rest of the crew.
Johnson leaned over Chief Urban's body. It was limp and lifeless. He had sacrificed himself to save his Commander. Johnson tapped on her comm badge. "Johnson to Sick Bay. Respond, please."
"Sick Bay. This is Dr. Warren."
Johnson held Urban's body in her lap. "I need a medical team to the bridge. We have casualties."
Warren's voice came back. "Ma'am, are there any dead?"
Johnson looked down at Urban for the last time. "Yes. Yes, there are. Johnson out."
Sgt. Guidarini walked over to Johnson and knelt down beside her. "Commander, he did his job and he did it well. It takes a great man or woman to sacrifice themselves for a cause and he felt that keeping you alive was cause enough to endanger himself."
Chief of Security's act of heroism still stunned Johnson. She looked back at Guidarini. "I know. I just wish it wouldn't have turned out like this."
Guidarini agreed. "No one does, ma'am, but what you saw from Chief Urban is something special. You saw Uncommon Valor."
|• Honor Among Warriors: The
Gryphon Story, © 1998 by William D. Smith, is reproduced from
the March 1998 issue of Gryphon
Trek Gazette with permission.|
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