A fiery nebula and stellar nursery

Standing At The Cusp

After months of travel the Potemkin was a mere three days from reaching the Stellar Fountain. Even across the light years, the viewsscreens and portholes across the ship are at near maximum opacity because of the massively bright object. Shields were up to keep the steady beams of antiprotons from tearing through the ship. Sensors are also behaving erratically because of the constant barrage of subatomic particles, but they did detect an object directly ahead, so the 'Tem stops once again to investigate ...

In the glaring light of the anomaly the object could only be made out as a dark, fuzzy looking shape. Sensors reported it was probably metallic, perhaps a meter or two in length. As the crew watched it, it seemed to more toward the Potemkin, and Warp ordered the ship to move out of its path.

Amid the torrent of antiprotons, the sensors were able to detect a power, familiar subspace signal emanating from the object. The Potemkin's shields unexpectedly dropped, and the object move to match course with the 'Tem. Power system across the ship began to fluctuate, causing lights to flicker as the object moved closer.

Efforts down in engineering managed to take the ship to warp and although it tried to intercept the 'Tem, the object clearly didn't have a warp drive. But things weren't over yet as a second object was picked up on sensors just seconds away. Sensing these were the same objects that had caused all sorts of havoc with the ship's systems weeks earlier, Warp ordered an emergency full reverse at maximum warp.

The Potemkin managed to steer itself into an area of lighter antiproton bombardment and restore shields, but a proximity alarm blared when a ship, nearly the same size, de-cloaked off the starboard beam just a kilometer away. Before the bridge crew could put some distance between the 'Tem and this new arrival, a second ship de-cloaked off of the port beam.

Hails went unanswered, and the two ships began slowly pulling away, but transporting more of the destructive objects all around the Potemkin. Phaser fire was weakened because of the antiproton beams and Fullers attempts to destroy the objects were easily absorbed. Lycan at the helm angled the ship downward to escape from the trap, and several of the object began pursuing as the Potemkin dipped out an away from the sphere of destructive metallic devices.

Soon the whole sphere had turned into a long trail of devices pursuing the 'Tem. They unleashed their subspace signal and managed to knock shields offline yet again and cause more power fluctuations. Fuller decided to up the ante and fired a photon torpedo at the nearest object. It was a hit and destroy the first one, and, as they objects were clustered together, it caused a chain reaction that destroyed the rest. However, now the ships that laid the trap got into the action, slowly following the Potemkin and then transmitting a black video image with no audio.

Warp tried addressing whatever ship he was speaking to, demanding to know the cause of the attack. Eventually a heavily distorted voice responded that the Potemkin was trying to reach "the Eye" and could not be allowed to do so before communications were cut. Then, in a horrifying moment, a massive minefield of objects de-cloacked directly in front of the Potemkin.

Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Warp ordered a warning shot off one of the pursuing ship's bow. The action was met with an automatic reaction of one of the devices leaving the minefield and flinging itself at the 'Tem's stern. With less antiprotons around, Fuller was able to destroy it with a phaser fire and suggested a few well-placed torpedoes to try and take out the entire minefield. However, as the spread sped toward the mines, they moved out of place, allowing the torpedoes to past harmlessly by.

Options were getting limited with the adaptive minefield ahead and the waiting ships behind. Then Warp came up with a bold, possibly suicidal, plan. Could the 'Tem release a large enough torpedo spread that it would cause the mines to move en masse and open a hole behind the torpedoes for the ship to follow? Fuller and the helmsmen on duty agreed it could be done, but it would be tricky.

After making what preparations they could, Fuller sent out the barrage. The mines moved as before, creating a hole the Potemkin could easily move through. The helmsmen kicked the ship into gear and it followed closely behind the torpedoes. The other ships also fired up their engines, engaging in pursuit while simultaneously ordering the mines to close in the Potemkin.

The hole, once the size of several Akira-class vessels, began to shrink, closing in around the 'Tem, but the ship managed to break through the lines before the closed completely - right onto the two mystery ships that couldn't stop in time! There was a brilliant explosion as the two hunting ships were caught and destroyed in their own trap.

Safely on the other side, Warp thanked the crew for their expert timing and then set the course once again toward the anomaly, noting they just avoided a very precarious situation.

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