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Yes, this is going out late in the day.  We’ll see if it impacts readership.

The next section (Chapter eight) is pretty long, so it will be posted in 2 or 3 parts.  As I typed this up, I found myself wondering “What in the world was Kirk thinking in the second paragraph?  I wrote this and I have no clue…”

Anyway, the story is winding down (but the epilogue is LONG – when you see what the aftermath is going to be, you’ll understand why).

Without further ado, here is the next installment:

Chapter Eight

“Captain Kirk, this is Commander Soved.  Please report to the bridge immediately; long range sensors have picked up a single Romulan ship in our quadrant.  It’s the Ambush, sir, but she is severely disabled.”

“Kirk here.  I’m on my way.”  Kirk was extremely perplexed by the scenario which was now playing itself out.  If everything was all right, what had damaged the Ambush?  If there had been a surprise attack on a federation starship, what had gone wrong?  Was there something else, possibly a Klingon presence, which had caused a young commander to become trigger happy and spring his trap too soon?  As an afterthought, Kirk called down and had Zealot release Korrd and offer the captain’s most sincere apologies.

“Raise the shields, Sulu.  We’re not going to fall for the same trick twice.”  Everyone on the bridge knew of their disastrous encounter with the USS Reliant several years before, and Kirk had decided that he was going to play this by the book.

“What’s the status of the Ambush, Mr. Soved?” Kirk asked as he settled uneasily into his chair.

“One warp nacelle is severely damaged.  Communications are inoperative as well as all weapon systems and shields.  She is operating on partial auxiliary power.  Something’s very wrong, Captain.  Most of the damage was inflicted by Romulan plasma mortars.  It could have been pirates, but…”  He allowed his voice to trail off.

“What about life form readings?” the captain inquired.

“The majority of the crew seems to have survived the attack, but life support could fail at any moment,” Soved reported.

“Mr. Sulu, lower the shields for transport.”

“Captain, six Romulan warships decloaking and firing!” screamed Soved.

“Raise the shields!” Kirk exclaimed, realizing that it was already too late.  He found himself calling down to engineering for a damage report before the initial shockwave had passed.