Having made their escape from their probing and insistent alien counterparts, the party threaded their way out of the engagement zone and warped away to a nearby Cerulean-class nebula, expending the last of their fuel reserves as they do so. Emony configured the ship’s Bussard collectors for mass-particle collection, and Taban skirted through the nebula harvesting Deuterium until he started nodding off behind the command console. Liara transmits a mission report and learns that alien forces have assaulted several key positions on Romulan worlds. With no orders to follow at this time, the crew sets off back to the tidal-locked planet they crashed on, and opt to set course directly through the dense nebula to save time.
10 days later, the Demitus arrives in the appropriate system, with cloak online. A Federation Talon-class scout is incoming, which arrives in orbit and commences detailed scans of the planetary surface, at which point Liara adamantly states that the ship should remain cloaked so as not to reveal the Empire’s presence in this system. After several hours, the scout breaks orbit and establishes planet-fall, then sensors indicate the scout’s crew of two has disembarked. Taban tracks the two crewmembers and notes that they enter a strange alien building. Dolvak insists he go down and investigate, at which point everyone retorts, “NO!” First Officer Liara, Arjin the doctor, and Hogue the Cardassian rogue are beamed down, Hogue with tears in his eyes as he stands on the transporter pad.
Hogue’s tears are justified, as Taban miscalculates the transporter coordinates, and Hogue materializes 37 feet above ground. Hogue however manages to roll on landing and only breaks his arm, at which point he begins cursing violently in Cardassian. Hogue decides to hide in the sand in case the others also fall from the sky and alert everyone to their location. Taban manages to put Arjin down at ground level… on top of the buried Cardassian. The doctor sets to work repairing the Cardassian’s broken arm, stripping away flesh and suturing bone without incident. Meanwhile First Officer Liara materializes, again on top of an angry Hogue.
Looking around, the planetary party can see the Federation scout ship and the alien structure but no Federation officers. Hogue stealthily moves toward the alien building while Arjin snorts in derision and walks like he was meant to be there. Communicating from the ship, Varreth requests the party attempt to capture an alien if possible, but not to make it a priority, even as Dolvak sulks for not being allowed to beam down. Approaching the alien building, the team sees the two Federation crew dead, from laser cuts to the torso and decides to proceed no further.
Liara inspects the Federation scout, accidentally triggering a system lockout, while Hogue goes back to the alien structure. After scans fail to reveal anything, Hogue throws a rock through the doorway and leaps out of the way. Two laser turrets spring from the ground and vaporize the flying rock. Liara raises her rifle and, after Hogue throws another rock, disintegrates the entire doorway. Cautiously the team proceeds through the structure, finding a locked door at the bottom of a flight of stairs through which they cannot pass.
Inspecting the Federation bodies, the crew finds a datapad indicating the officers were sent to this planet as their commander believed there was something important to the war effort here. The Demitus detects some kind of signal jamming gradually growing stronger and Taban pulls the team back without incident. Dolvak senses a psionic force drawing closer and even Xaina the Betazoid mystic is concerned.
Emony, Varreth, and Ion decide to quickly beam down and retrieve the dilithium from off of the Federation ship. Emony breaks the lockout triggered earlier and starts opening the storage tanks, managing to recover one full canister. Meanwhile in orbit, Dolvak quietly suggests, “We should run an active scan.” Taban runs the scan and detects a momentary distortion, bringing up the shields in sudden horror. Arjin the doctor starts sprinting down the corridor from the bridge towards the runabout, as the battle stations klaxon rings out. With unusual grace and skill, Arjin brings the runabout online and disengages from the Demitus just as an alien vessel decloaks and burns in weapons hot.
Arjin, failing to have any concept of tactics or of his own precarious position, simply opens fire on the incoming ship, hoping to provide some cover to the slower and heavier Demitus. First Officer Liara at the tactical station aboard the Demitus manages to get a lock on the alien ship, opening fire with devastating effect. Now at short range, the opposing craft releases a volley of fire but misses completely. Arjin sees the opportunity for an attack run and strafes the alien, hurting the enemy shields significantly. Liara continues suppressive disruptor volleys, missing well over half of her shots. Suddenly the hostile rakes heavy fire all down the sides of the raging Demitus, causing critical hull breaches on all decks, systems to scream in digital pain as they fail, and cutting the shields down to half what they were before. Arjin misses again, firing completely off-target into empty space, but manages to land another blow to the angry alien ship.
With shields significantly reduced, both Dolvak and Xaina sense the thoughts of the attacking crew and attempt to disrupt their psionic communication. With a mental shout, they manage to confuse the enemy, buying the Demitus valuable time. Taban tries to weave the crippled Demitus in an evasive pattern, only to start panicking as Liara completely misses two more shots. Their focus out of sorts thanks to the efforts of Dolvak and Xaina, the alien crew also misses with their ripple-fire. Arjin, missing and landing shots intermittently, manages to hit a power conduit on the enemy ship.
The Demitus, bleeding plasma and atmospheric gasses as forcefields collapse and as fires rage along the hull, tries desperately to answer the calls of her helmsman and tactical officer, even as her manoeuvres pop rivets and break welds in her bulkheads. Xaina loses her focus on the enemy ship, and staggers about in confusion while Dolvak just barely manages to keep it together. The alien craft’s erratic turns manage to break the Demitus’ weapons lock, however they miss their shots thanks to Taban. Pulling up in a hairpin turn, the hostile lines up on the limping Demitus, and Taban cries, “It’s been a pleasure working with you,” as it opens fire.
Shields all but drop and are rendered useless, and gaping holes appear in the hull plating. Life support is unable to keep up with the venting, and the atmosphere starts thinning. Primary systems fail, alarms screeching as redundancies struggle to take over. Entire bulkheads break off into the void of space, and a plasma inferno streams from the left impulse drive. Dolvak sinks to his knees as he tries to maintain the psionic disruption, and Taban’s eyes blur as he taps controls to move the ship and keep it from falling apart. Ship’s sensors failover to optics and ladar systems, and the terrible clamour of a core breach alarm sounds.
Hogue, unable to do anything to affect the outcome of the next few seconds, says, “My dying wish is to steal something. If I die, I want to go stealing something.” With a heroic push, Dolvak unleashes a psionic battery against the minds of the alien ship, sufficient to confuse the enemy helmsman. Liara manages to achieve a weapons lock and fires at the enemy hull, scoring a hit with the last energy the Demitus’ weapons could muster. Arjin, watching the Demitus’ slow death out of the corner of his eye, soars down with a vengeful fire and manages to cause the hostile core to become unstable, even as the Demitus rolls out of control…