Fifteen-year-old Ensign Sandi O'Donald sat in her chair watching the stars flash by on the screen. Looking around, she saw no one was paying attention and as bored as she was she reached down and pulled her data pad up into her hands and started reading the latest book on how to write a romance novel from author Cindy Canter of Centauri Prime. She was so engrossed in the book that she didn't see the warning on her sensor board of the closing of the T'Lari heavy cruiser. Yawning she looked around the room and saw everyone was still working and then the flashing light caught her eyes. Dropping the pad, she activated the scanners and the saw the twelve million ton cruiser was less than fifty miles behind the Wishbone's engines. Turning in her chair, she said, "Sir, sensors have a T'Lari heavy cruiser fifty miles behind us and closing fast."
Captain William Anderson dropped his coffee cup and swung his chair around to look at the young girl. "How the hell did they get that close?" He then saw the data pad on the floor by her feet. "You were fucken reading again, weren't you?"
Sandy went white as she realized that she might have just killed them all, and tried to apologies to him, "Sir, I'm so..."
William glared at the child as she tried to apologies, and said, "You're fucken relieved, and if we survive. I will file charges against you, now get off my deck, and report to your quarters."
Sandy scooped up her datapad, turned, and fled the deck, her tears dripping down her face. Jumping into the nearest transport tube, she shot to the deck with her quarters on it.
Captain Anderson turned and looked around at the crew who was suddenly working like crazy. Flipping the intercom on, he said, "This is the captain, all hands man your battle stations, enemy cruiser fifty miles behind us and closing. We are turning hard to port, open fire when your weapons bear."
Around the ship, the eight hundred-person crew rushed to their battle stations, gathering up their personal weapons and bringing the weapons online. The little destroyer started bringing her weapons online as the cruiser suddenly opened fire, her weapons hitting her engines and knocking half of them off line. With her speed drastically reduced, she whipped around and unleashed her main batteries and then her missiles, the weapons fire hit the shields followed by the fifteen 500k ton nuclear weapons that hit the shields of the enemy cruiser, and they crashed down. Then her lasers opened up again, and they start tearing into the cruisers bow and bridge sections.
The enemies return fire ripped the destroyer's shields apart like tissue paper and the hits destroyed her engines, bringing her to a dead stop right in front of the cruiser.
Aboard the T'Lari cruiser, Vargin Captain T'Lrikin watched the human ship get closer. It was as if her sensors were not working. "Bring all weapons online, we will target their engines and destroy them. Once they are down, we will board and eat well. Have all warriors ready to board but the ships support crew."
Suddenly, the weapons officer shouted out, "Sir the human ship is turning."
T'Lrikin looked back up at the screen, and said, "Open fire now!" The weapons opened up and the destroyer's engines exploded from the damage, but she was still moving. "Hit her engines again." Then the human opened fire and his shields went down and then more weapons fire crossed his, and he saw the destroyer come to a dead stop. Then his bridge explodes under a direct hit. The hit entered the bridge and traveled all the way down the ship, exploding the rooms to space and killing the crew as it went. With no hand at the helm, the ship plowed into the Federations cruiser and cut her almost in half.
Commander Mike Garret was sitting in the officer's mess having a later lunch when the ship came to general quarters. Dropping his napkin, he jumped up and was out the door before the napkin hit the plate. On the overhead speaker, he heard the captains voice, "This is the captain; all hands man your battle stations enemy cruiser fifty miles behind us. Hard port, open fire when she is insight," Jumping into the transport tube, he said, "Bridge."
The Wishbone lurched as her engines took another hit and the power faltered. Captain Anderson watched his hits devastate the cruisers front half, and then his ship lurched as the power died. When it came up again he saw the cruiser less than mile away heading right for his ship. "All hands brace for impact, Marines prepare to repel boarders, all crew prepare..." William went flying as the cruiser rammed his ship; he flew across the bridge and smashed into the wall. He felt his arm snap as he hit and lay there for a second until his second in command came over and helped him to his feet.
Commander Mike Garret stepped out on the bridge deck, the ship lurched as the ship was hit and he flew into the wall across from him. Shaking his head, he stood up, and started running towards the bridge. Reaching the door, he rushed onto the bridge and saw the crew getting up and the captain laying on the deck. Going over to him, he helped him up, as he asked, "Sir, are you ok?"
Grimacing in pain, he said, "Yes, I am Mike; now get me a damage report."
Lieutenant Terry Hando sat in her chair and brought up her control board, and said, "I'm on it sir." On the board, the damage came up, and it's bad, the ship is almost cut in half. "Sir, we were rammed just in front of medical and behind the boat bay. Damage to compartments seventy to ninety-one on all decks, T'Lari are boarding in the damaged compartments. The hull force fields have sealed the ships together preventing the atmosphere from escaping. Engines are offline, weapons off line, limited sensors."
"Damn that girl she has gotten us all killed." Walking over to the intercom, he flipped it back on. "All hands, repel boarders, form hunter killer groups and kill the enemy when you find them. Remember they will give you no quarter, so do not offer any. That is all." Turning to his second in command, he said, "Mike, we need weapons, start issuing them out."
"Aye, Aye, Sir," Mike replied, as he walked over to the wall. He opened the weapons locker and started passing out plasma pistols and power magazines to all the bridge crew. "These are the new Mark 5 plasma pistol they have twenty shots before you need to replace the power supply. There are three power clips each." Mike passed the ten pistols out to the bridge crew and handed one to the captain as he walked up. "Here you go sir." Handing him the pistol and three clips, he continued, "Do we have a chance sir? And Sir, what girl got us killed?"
"Thanks Mike and I am not sure, but we will make them regret it if we don't. And Ensign O'Donald, she was reading a book and not paying attention to her job." Turning to his crew, he said, "We will work in groups of six. Mike, take five of them and let's go, you take starboard, we will get port."
Mike picked out five of the crew and headed out the starboard bridge door while William took his five and heads out the port doors. Rushing down the halls, they ran past the crew setting up choke points to stop the invaders. They came to a damaged section of the ship, and they saw the shimmering force shield covering an opening to space. Backing up twenty feet, they stepped into the transport tube, and dropped several decks and started inching towards sounds of laser fire. Coming up behind the T'Lari firing on some marines, they noticed one was eating a bloody arm ripped from the corpse by its feet. Taking aim, Mike fired and the plasma round hit the T'Lari in the back of the head, which exploded like a rotten melon. The rest of his men rushed around the corner and opened fire and the remaining four T'Lari fell to the deck dead.
Suddenly, a voice shouted out, "Who's out there? Come forward and identify yourself or be fired upon."
"This is the captain. What's your damages?"
"Captain this is Corporal Hawk, I have three marines with me, and two navy."
"Ok we are coming around, don't shoot us."
"No Sir, I wouldn't do that."
Leading his men and woman down the hall, he linked up with the Marines and two navy personal. Coming to a halt, he saw Ensign O'Donald standing there with a laser rifle in her arms. "Ensign what are you doing here?"
Sandy looked at the angry face of the captain, and replied, "Sir, I am trying to make up for my mistake."
With a snarl, he responded, "You have a long way to go for that. A lot of good men and woman are dead because of you."
With a tear running down from her left eye, she told him, "I know that, Sir, this is all I can do for now. If you want me dead let them do it."
Nodding at her, he said, "If they don't kill you, expect to be tried." Looking at the people with him, he said, "let's go and take our ship back." Moving down the hallway, they came to the open boat bay doors, peeking around the corner, he saw about hundred T'Lari getting ready to spread out in the ship. More were climbing down from a sixty-foot tear in the side of the enemy cruiser. Looking around he saw the power supply for the bay force shields. Looking back at the people with him, he said, "We need to take out the force shield, if it was to go down it should suck all the air out of the bay and the cruiser. So we are going to spread out and engage them, but I need a volunteer to take the shields down."
Sandy saw him looking at him as he said volunteer, and she blurted out, "I will do it, Sir."
With an evil grin, he said, "Ok, O'Donald, don't fail me again?"
Sandy gulped and looked at him, and replied, "I won't, Sir."
"You better not, Corporal Hawk you go with her, keep her alive so she can follow her orders. The rest of you will go right when we enter, draw them away from the field control room." Looking at the other navy person, he saw the name Styles on the uniform, "Styles get some breathing sticks from the replicator in the next room."
The rating saluted the captain, went into the next room and ordered up the sticks for the captain, gathering them up, and bringing them back to the crew. He started passing them out, and as he handed one to the captain, he said, "Here you go Captain."
"Thank you Style." Taking the item, he stuck it in his pocket.
The men and woman rushed out and into the bay, ducking behind the wrecked shuttles. They started firing on the T'Lari drawing them away from the door and the control room. Peeking around the corner, Sandi saw all the T'Lari firing on her friends. Taking a deep breath, she dashed around the corner with the corporal right behind her. Several T'Lari saw them and rushed towards them their mandibles snapping as they brought their weapons up. Behind her, the marine stopped and lifted his Plasma rifle up and started spraying liquid fire all over the charging creatures, lighting them up like candles as they rushed around the room trying to put the flames out. Sandi stopped and lifted her rifle and burned down three more before they could turn and fire their weapons.
Corporal Hawk aimed at another T'Lari, and he saw it crumble before he could fire. With a quick glance, he saw the beautiful young girl standing there trading shots with the T'Lari, and shouted, "Go! Don't stop, I will cover you."
Sandy started to aim at another creature when the marine's words hit her, and she looked at him, and said, "Ok, I am going, but watch your back."
"I will, just go."
Sandi took off to the corner room and the small office as she reached the door she heard a scream, looking over her shoulder, she saw Corporal Hawk being torn apart by the T'Lari. She watched as one pulled his head of and started to lick the blood up. Feeling her stomach start to heave, she smacked the palm print, and said, "Open damn it."
The door opened about five inches, and she grabbed the edge of the door and started pulling on it. Looking over her shoulder, she saw a T'Lari coming towards her, blood dripping from its mandibles as it pulled out a huge skinning knife. "Oh God, please not that," she cried out as the door suddenly moved a few more inches, and she squeezed in to the room as the huge creature slammed into the door.
"You're my meat houman." Grabbing the door, it tried to force it open more.
Sandy started crying as she grabbed her laser carbine, and aimed at the creatures head and fired. The beam hit the creature in its jaw, slicing off its left mandible.
"Die you fucken bug, die damn it." Sandy screamed. Adjusting the beam, she hit it in its left eye and the back of its armored head exploded as the laser punched through the skull. As the creature fell, she saw five more heading towards her. Scrambling to the door, she slapped the scanner and the door started closing.
Getting to her feet, she saw them overwhelming the defenders as she sat at the computer and brought it online. As the system came up, she ordered the computer to lower the launch ramp and to drop the force field. She watched as the lights started flashing and then the great ramp descended. Then the shields dropped and the oxygen level in the bay plummeted to zero. With the sudden depressurization of the ship, the dead, dying and the living were picked up, and pulled along with the life giving air. Unknown to her, the ship lost all the air in the stern of the ship as well as the enemy cruiser. She watched as the captain and the rest of the brave men and woman with him were sucked out of the ship. The Captain stood there hanging on to one of the damaged shuttles, a breathing stick in his mouth, and then he saluted her and was gone. Sandi collapsed by the computer and cried her heart out, until she passed out.
Commander Mike Garret led his troops down the starboard passageway, gathering up crew as they went; passing through environmental they headed towards medical, when the lights suddenly started flashing. Stepping over to the nearest computer board, he entered his code and the image of the boat bay come up. The captain and his men were hiding behind the damaged shuttles and firing onto the enemy troops, then the landing bay doors start to open and then the field dropped. Suddenly, the ships alarms started up and the ship started to depressurize. Activating another command Mike started sealing the ship, but no orders were able to get back to the stern so only the forward emergency bulkhead shields come up. Watching the screen, he saw the captain standing there and saluting towards the corner of the bay. Panning the camera, he saw someone standing in launch control station, but before he could tighten the image, the person disappeared. Flipping it back to the captain, he did not see him or his team.
"OK let's start the repairs; it looked like the captain has taken the T'Lari out. I want a marine unit to board the enemy cruiser."
Five hours later the repair crews get into the bay and re-pressurize it. As the pressure built back up inside the ship, repair teams spread out throughout the ship and started recovering the dead for burial. While outside, a tug started pulling the crippled T'Lari cruiser out of the side of the destroyer. As the bow left the ship, the emergency force field came up and the crew stood there looking into space. Commander Garret watched as the repair bots from the repair ship went to work restoring hull integrity. Watching the small repair robots work, he said, "They should station those on all the ships. Would make repair work easier for the crew, and make it a lot faster."
"Won't happen sir, those are property of the repair ships, and they don't give them away. Admiral Callahan is fiercely protective of his repair ship."
Mike looked at the young Lieutenant from the repair ship Vestal, and said, "Yes, I know, I served two years on the old Cheyenne about eight years ago."
"Well it should be about five more minutes to remove that damaged door and then you crewperson will be free. I cannot understand how they got that close. It is not as if you were in fold space. You were cruising along; your sensors should have picked them up."
"I don't know the whole story, all I know there was a problem on the bridge and then all hell broke loose. What's the body count so far?"
Sir we have recovered four hundred and ninety-six bodies. We have not gotten into the damaged engine room yet, we have to rebuild the passageway into the room. It has totally collapsed, we are going to open just the passageway to space and remove the wreckage, then rebuild a new deck, so we can get in there. It is going to take about six hours to do that. We then can..."
"Sir, we have the door opening."
Looking over at the repair crew at the door, he said, to his aid, "Thank you Tom, we will be right over." Looking back at the commander, he said, "So Commander let's go meet your survivor?"
As they start walking over, one of the repair techs went in and then shouted out, "We need a med tech now."
Mike started running towards the flight control room, and as he arrived, one of the med techs pushed into the room and knelt by the body lying in a pool of blood. As he looked at the figure, he realized it was a woman, and said, "Is she going to be alright?"
The med tech continued to work on her and say, "Don't know Sir, she's lost a lot of blood. Damn it, don't you dare die on me." He raised his fist and hit her chest trying to get her breathing. "Live, damn you!"
Mike listened as the med tech works on the woman, and then he heard behind him, 'Clear a path.' Stepping back, he allowed the doctor from the cruiser Portland to squeeze into the room. The doctor opened his pack, pulled out some nano injectors, and pressed them against the girls arm. That was when the med tech moved, and he saw that it is Ensign O'Donald. Looking around he saw two marines helping to clear wreckage. Shouting to get their attention one of the marines looked up at him. "You two come here."
The marine nudged his partner, and they trotted over, "Sir, you wanted us?"
"Yes I did, as soon as the doctor has Ensign O'Donald stabilize, she is to be transferred to the brig."
One of the marines with the name Woods on his uniform, said, "The brig sir! Are you sure?"
Mike looked at the marine, and responded, "Corporal did I stutter?"
Coming to attention, he said, "No Sir, you didn't, we will escort the prisoner to brig."
"Good now do your duty." Mike turned and walked away. Ten minutes later, he was sitting at the captain's desk viewing the bridge records. He saw the crew doing their jobs, the captain getting a cup of coffee. He watched as the young ensign pulled her data pad up and started reading. For twenty minutes she read before she noticed the light flashing on her board, then the captain ordered her off the bridge.
Reaching over, he activated his computer, and said, "Computer charges to be filed against Sandi O'Donald, Ensign on board the USS Wishbone on this date July 3rd 2478. Charges as followed
'Charge number 1 Dereliction of duty.'
'Charge number 2 Dereliction of duty resulting in injuries to fellow crew.'
'Charge number 3 Dereliction of duty resulting in death of fellow crew 496 counts possibly higher.'
'Charge number 4 Dereliction of duty resulting in damages to Federation property Item in question USS Wishbone Destroyer number 9823.'
'Charge number 5 Dereliction of duty resulting in destruction to Federation property, Item in question USS Wishbone Destroyer number 9823 number of shuttles destroyed 8.'
"Charge number 6 Damage to Federation property one Sandi O'Donald, see charge number 7.'
"Charge number 7 Attempted Suicide.'
'Charge number 8 Conduct unbecoming and officer.'
'Charge number 9 Disrespect to a superior officer.'
'Charge number 10 Failure to follow the orders of a superior officer.'
'Facts to be taken in her defense, When Ensign O'Donald disregarded her orders to report to her quarters, she disobeyed and took up arms in defense of the ship. While facing superior forces in the boarding, Captain Anderson ordered her to get into the flight control room, disabled the landing bays force fields, and purged the bay of all air. Thus resulting in the captain's death, along with eight other crewmembers, it also resulted in the deaths of 128 T'Lari soldiers who had boarded the ship or in the process of boarding. The event also resulted in the decompression of the T'Lari cruiser and the stern of the ship. I hope the court takes light on these actions of this brave girl. As for the Captain, I recommend that his widow be awarded the Federation medal for Valor. End Report Commander Mike Garret senior officer onboard the destroyer Wishbone.'
Three weeks later the destroyer Wishbone pulled into the lunar repair bays. While the surviving crew gathered for what rumors have as a quick vacation that is quickly squashed, when they are escorted off the ship and the are taken to secure quarters on the moon. While on another part of the ship, four marines, and a Navy Lieutenant walked to the brig to pick up their prisoner. Janet Taylor walked down the empty passageways of the ship, having read the charges against this young girl she knew it was wrong to charge her. Walking into the brig the marine came to attention and saluted her. Returning the salute, she looked at the marine sergeant, she said, "Sergeant is the prisoner ready for transfer?"
The guard lowered his arm, and replied, "Yes Ma'am." Picking up the some shackles, he moved to one of the force field doors, lowered it, and went inside.
Sandi sat in the cell, staring at the wall, her reader beside her untouched. A plate of food sat on the small table beside her, was still untouched. When the field went down and the marine sergeant came in, he noticed that she hadn't eaten.
James Connors stood there looking at the child; even if she was an officer, she was still only a child, a child that had made a horrible mistake. "Sandi, they are here for you. I need to put the shackles on you. I am so sorry."
Sandi slowly turned her head and looked at her friend James, and replied, "It's Ok James, I am ready, for whatever they want to do to me. I don't care, I want it over."
Walking over he knelt by her side, attached the ankle bands, and then looked up in to her beautiful face. "Sandi, don't you ever surrender, do you hear me? Fight, do not let them win, you made a mistake, you are young and a child. Learn from your mistakes, and grow. I will testify on your behalf so have your lawyer call me as a witness. Let me see your other wrist." James said as he attached the bands around each wrist and the miniature force field connected them, preventing her from running or trying to attack anyone. "I am sorry about the bands its standard operation procedures."
Sandi kissed the gruff old marine on his cheek, and replied, "It's ok," Reaching down she picked up her prized possession and handed it to him, and continued, "Give this to your granddaughter for me."
"Sandi, this is your book reader, and diary pad."
"I know, where I am going, they won't let me keep it, it would be given to my family if they were alive, and since they are not. This is the best thing for it. The code name to run it is Blackbeard was a pirate. Good bye James."
Taking the reader, he stuffed it in his back pocket and guided her out of the room. "Goodbye Sandi." Looking at the Lieutenant he said, "The prisoner Ma'am."
Janet looked at the young woman who looked like she has lost ten pounds from her picture, and said, "Ensign Sandi O'Donald, I am here to deliver the charges against you and to deliver you to Ontario Base for trial. You are advised that anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You will be appointed a lawyer, but I am not that one, so I advise you to keep your mouth shut, until the court appoints one, unless you can afford one. You have been charged with the ten following charges.
'Charge number 1 Dereliction of duty.'
'Charge number 2 Dereliction of duty resulting in injuries to fellow crew.'
Sandi tuned the woman out, and counted the seconds in her mind. As they go by the woman droned on, and finally she ended, and asked her the one question she was waiting for. "Yes I understand and I wave my right to consul."
Janet looked at the woman, and she felt dead to her, turning to the nearest marine, she said, "Guards escort the prisoner to the landing bay." Then turned back to the Sergeant and said, "Sergeant your commanding officer left me some evidence, I need it please."
"Yes Ma'am I have it in my safe." Walking over he pressed his hand against the safe top as he entered his code. The door popped open and he pulled out two envelopes. Sealing the door, he entered a code on the keypad and walked back to the officer. Grabbing the keypad off his desk, and said, "You need to sign please." Handing her the pad he continued, "Ma ' am, I hope they are not to rough on her, she is only a kid and made a mistake. Yes people died, but that's war."
Janet signed the keypad and handed it back, and responded, "That's not up to me. That is up to the courts." Taking the envelopes, she tucked them into her briefcase as she continued, "Thank you Sergeant."
Sandi walked between the marines, the ship sounded dead and quiet except for the marines boots on the deck. They took her down past-unpainted walls that were blasted apart weeks ago. Steping into the transport tube, Sandi felt tears start to run down her face as she thought of all her dead friends. She did not even notice when she arrived at the bay and was put on the shuttle and taken back to the prisoner section and placed in a cell.
Five days later, she was standing in court, her lawyer beside her as they read the charges against her.
General Andy Thornton watched as they led the girl in and guided her over to the defense table. Before he can even bring the court to order, he noticed the tears running down her face. "Order. I said Order in the court. The court has been convened to find out if Ensign Sandi O'Donald should be charged for the following counts, the court reporter, will read the charges.
She stood there with tears running down her face and when the judge asked if she is guilty or not guilty, she did not even try to fight it. "Your honor, I am guilty of all the stated charges."
Lieutenant Commander Xenia Scott quickly tried to cover up the young's woman's voice, and said, "Your honor, my client is not in her right mind, I ask for her to be seen by a doctor and then have her mind treated. She is surly suffering from some mental defect."
Sandi looked at her lawyer, and snarled out, "I am not mentally challenged, I messed up and five hundred and sixty-three of my fellow crew are dead because of me. I am pleading guilty and I pray the court follows standard procedure and kills me. I have no right to live for what I have done to my ship and crew." Sandi went quite as she realized that everyone was looking at her.
General Thornton stared at the woman who just made this outburst, and signed her own death, and said, "Ms. O'Donald do you realize I can sentence you to death for you pleading guilty."
Sandi came to attention and looked the General right in the face, and said, "Yes Sir, I do. I would like to apologies to the Navy, the Federation, and this court and to the people. I have failed in my duty; I betrayed my oath for a childhood dream of being a writer. I am so sorry for what I have done, now please just end it."
General Thornton cleared his throat, and said, "Young lady, I can see you have remorse for what you have done, and looking at the charges and your file, I'm loath to place the death sentence on you. Instead, I am going to recommend two years confinement at the Titan military prison, counseling and a discharge from the Navy. I saw you come from Alpha Centauri Prime, and it is their policy to draft anyone over the age of fourteen years, I believe you were too young to be enlisted. Therefore, I am going to recommend to the board that no one under the age of sixteen be allowed into the armed forces or be put in a spot where combat can happen to them. Now as to being a writer, it is not a silly dream, Ms. O'Donald ... Sandi be a writer, write a best seller, just put this whole nightmare behind you. That's an order young lady, and I want to see it on the book charts in three years, a book by you. Do you understand?"
Sandi stood there listing to the General speak, tears running down her face as she listened to him. "Yes sir, I will."