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Cmdr Joseph Washington: No Mercy

Rune Jolara

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((2373: The Dominion War))

::It was complete darkness as one voice called out.::

Shevchenko:  Joseph!

::Lieutenant Joseph Washington opened his eyes slowly. The Yuan Tseh Lee's operations officer had been thrown to the deck, and he could barely hear Lieutenant Martina Shevchenko, the chief engineer, over the ringing in his ears. Around him, he saw engineers running to their stations, trying to get a status update on the ship.::

Shevchenko: Joe! Are you okay?

::She bent over, extending a hand to help him up.::

::He grabbed hold of her and brushed himself off.::

Washington: I’m fine. Just-

::A sudden sharp stabbing pain in the side of his chest seized his breath.::

Shevchenko: We need to get you to sickbay.

::He was defiant, even as he held his side.::

Washington: No! We need to find out what happened.

::The ship continued to rumble from weapons fire, the bulkheads groaning as duranium twisted apart.::

Washington: =/\= Engineering to bridge! =/\=

::There was no answer, only static. He tried again, but it was no use. There was no one there to respond.::

Tanaka: The bridge is gone, lieutenant!

::Joseph turned to see Ensign Tanaka shaking his head at his console.::

Tanaka: The bridge, the ready room, deck 1 and nearly half of deck 2 have been obliterated.

::Joseph had only a second to consider what that all meant.::

::Captain Cho. Commander T'Shen.::

::Claire… ::

::All dead.::

::He tried to make his way next to Tanaka, wincing as he did so.::

Washington: What’s the rest of the ship look like?

::The young ensign cycled through various damage reports, all flashing with far too much red text.::

Tanaka: Phasers, photon torpedoes… all off-line. Dorsal shields collapsed. Ventral shields at 20%.

::Another volley of weapons fire rocked the ship. Martina yelled back, annoyed.::

Shevchenko: Would someone tell them we’re on a mission of mercy?

::Mercy. How had it come to this? They’d been escorting the medical convoy when engineering first reported a strange fluctuation in the antimatter stream. He'd gone down from the bridge to help out.::

::Two more minutes and he'd have been dead along with the rest of the bridge crew.::

::He tapped his combadge. There wasn’t time now to mourn. They had to survive first.::

Washington: =/\= Washington to all hands. The bridge has been destroyed. I’m taking command. All remaining senior staff, report in. =/\=

::Doctor Corax was the first, the Trill's calm voice a welcome reprieve from the continued chaos in engineering as crewmen battled plasma fires.::

Corax: =/\= Sickbay here... captain. =/\=

::”Captain.” He wasn’t sure he was ready to hear that just yet.::

Washington: =/\= Doctor, what’s our casualty report so far? =/\=

Corax: =/\= Including those on decks 1 and 2, at least twenty-two, but additional casualty reports are coming in from all decks. =/\=

::Martina interjected.::

Shevchenko: =/\= Doctor, you need to do an emergency medical transport for Lieutenant Washington- =/\=

Washington: =/\= Belay that. I’m fine. =/\=

::This time, the engineer was firm as she looked right back at him.::

Shevchenko: No, you’re not! And you’re no good to this ship if you suddenly collapse unconscious from your injuries.

::He wanted to argue, but what could he say? She was right.::

Washington: ...fine. =/\= Doctor, send a medical team to engineering. I’ll check in with you later. =/\=

::Perhaps the Trill doctor understood the desperation of their situation as he merely acknowledged the order before closing the com.::

::Martina though continued to give him *that* look.::

Washington: If the medical team says I need to go for immediate surgery, then I’ll let them take me, but for now, I need you to figure out a way to get our shields back online, lieutenant, or at least give us something to shoot back with.

::The woman nodded and looked back over at the “pool table” display console in the center of engineering. After the other surviving department heads called back, Joseph quickly joined Martina by her side.::

Washington: What’s it looking like?

Shevchenko: Well, the weapons systems are a complete no-go. The entire EPS grid to those systems are down. It’ll take at least an hour.

::He knew most captains would just shout that they didn’t have an hour, but he also knew Martina. If she said it'd take an hour, she was telling him how dire their situation really was.::

::But then, he noticed something.::

Washington: It looks like the tractor beams are still undamaged.

Shevchenko: Yeah, but we’re not planning on towing anything anytime soon… ::She looked back at him, furrowing her eyebrows.:: ….are we?

::Joseph had already turned to Tanaka.::

Washington: Ensign, reconfigure your console for helm control. I want you to do a 180 degree rotation on my mark. Flip us over so we can tractor the Jem'Hadar ship.

Tanaka: Yes, sir!

::Martina shook his head.::

Shevchenko: You can’t be serious...

Washington: It’ll buy us some time. ::He looked back at the ensign.:: Now, ensign!

::The lumbering vessel rolled over as the Jem'Hadar ship continued to fire, but then as the craft turned around to begin another strafing run, the Yuan Tseh Lee’s tractor beam shot out, catching the attacker and holding it suspended in space.::

Shevchenko: You know that’s not going to hold them for long.

::He nodded as the ship rocked again. On Ensign Tanaka’s makeshift viewscreen, he could see the trapped vessel still firing pot shots at the Yuan Tseh Lee from within the tractor beam’s grip..::

Washington: Just get our weapons back online...

::All those deaths. The senseless violence. He shook his head.::

::It was supposed to be a mission of mercy, but the Dominion knew no such thing.::

((Twenty Years Later...))

::Commander Joseph Washington walked through the corridors of his ship, the Sovereign class USS Pioneer, as it continued its patrol along the border of the Tholian Assembly.::

::With the planet Inox still in chaos after its revolution last year, Starfleet Intelligence reported that the famously xenophobic race was beginning to become restless at the deteriorating situation occuring on their doorstep. Starfleet, of course, was bound by the Prime Directive not to interfere. The Tholians, though, had their own code that they lived by, and Joseph knew it was only a matter of time before the Assembly's Ruling Conclave decided that "defensive annexation" -- a favorite tactic of the Tholians -- was justified.::

::As he made his way to his quarters, various crew members would stop in their tracks and snap to attention, acknowledging his presence. He simply nodded back. It'd been now over ten years since he first set foot on this vessel, first as her chief tactical officer, and then as her first officer. For the last four years, he'd had the duty to serve as her captain. In that time, he was proud of what he'd achieve. His crew understood the standards he had set for them and their discipline reflected that.::

::He was strict, but he had to be. He'd seen far too many colleagues -- not to mention dear friends -- return home in coffins. Life and death on the front lines of war and on the frontier of space was decided in a matter of seconds. He might not have been their friends, but he had [...] sure trained them well.::

::When he finally had settled into his quarters, his first officer Lieutenant Commander Jeong paged him.::

Jeong: =/\= Sorry to disturb you, sir, but you have a call coming in from Starfleet Command. =/\=

Washington: =/\= It's all right, commander. I'll take it here. =/\=

::When his desktop viewer activated, he nodded at the familiar sight of Admiral sh’Hiel.::

Washington: =/\= Admiral. =/\=

::The Andorian shen nodded back, the two pretending as if they didn't hate each other.::

sh’Hiel: =/\= Commander. What's the status of the Pioneer? =/\=

::Always straight to the point with her, of course. Then again, Joseph had little time for pleasantries and meaningless drivel. He didn't care about her brood just as he was sure she didn't give a [...] how he was feeling today. So why bother?::

Washington: =/\= The situation remains the same, admiral. We've detected no new movements along the Tholian border and no subspace transmissions. =/\=

sh’Hiel: =/\= So the Tholians have decided to wait and see. Perhaps the analysis by Intel was overzealous. =/\=

Washington: =/\= No, admiral, I fully expect the Tholians to do as they have always done. You and I both know they're not going to just stand by while a nearby world continues to devolve into civil unrest, especially one with a valuable port like Inox. =/\=

::The Andorian's antennae twitched slightly.::

sh’Hiel: =/\= I suppose you're right. But either way, it's going to be someone else's problem to watch over now. =/\=

Washington: =/\= Sir? =/\=

sh’Hiel: =/\= Tell me, commander. What do you know about the Invicta Expedition? =/\=

::The Invicta Expedition? From the President's State of the Federation Address last year?::

::He furrowed his brow, which no doubt amused her to see him break his resolve.::

Washington: =/\= Not much beyond what's already been said about it. A PR stunt. Something for the recruiters to show back home. I can't say I pay much attention to political theatrics, admiral. =/\=

::The Andorian chuckled.::

sh’Hiel: =/\= I think you and I share a similar view on politics, commander, but in this case, you're wrong. It's not just a PR stunt. And the new president has made it clear she's going to continue with the initiative. =/\=

::Joseph found himself getting annoyed. Why was the admiral wasting his time talking about this?::

Washington: =/\= That's all well and good, admiral, but what does that have to do with me? =/\=

sh’Hiel: =/\= The Invicta. She needs a new captain. =/\=

::He just looked back at her, a deadpan expression on his face.::

Washington: =/\= You can't be serious. =/\=

sh’Hiel: =/\= I am. The Pioneer is to proceed to Deep Space 10, where the Invicta is currently docked. Once there, you'll take command. The previous CO, Commander Rahman, has had to take an unexpected leave of absence. She'll brief you when you get there. =/\=

Washington: =/\= You're not going to even ask me if I want the job? Or why you're assigning me to her? =/\=

::The admiral looked at him for a moment before finally chuckling.::

sh’Hiel: =/\= Hmmph. No. Safe travels, commander. =/\=

::The call closed, and Joseph sat there for a moment.::

::Just what had he done to [...] her off that much?::


Commander Joseph Washington
Commanding Officer, USS Invicta

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