((Bridge, USS Excalibur, 2356, During the Great Klingon/Federation War))
The bridge was burning. Only one figure, shuffling painfully between stations and leaving a trail of blood on the deck, still moved. With an exhausted gasp she collapsed into her chair and stabbed for the shipwide intercom, the controls blinking intermittently. She wasn't sure if anyone was listening, but as long as she drew breath she had a duty to her people.
From her seat in the center of the bridge Captain Yareli De La Lago knew this was the end. The Excalibur had suffered near constant attack since the Klingons had swept through this sector three days earlier, obliterating their escorts and chasing them like hungry jackals as they fled headlong into unexplored space. The small Cardenas-class starships slight advantage in top speed had been their only saving grace, but it hadn't been much. Her first officer and much of the bridge crew were dead, some still at their stations, their unmoving bodies grim testament to their dedication.
Many had been her friends, men and women she had trained and served with for years, and they had given her everything in their desperate race to safety. She wished she could honor their sacrifice but she had failed to reach a safe harbor, if there was even such a thing left. The dream of the United Federation of Planets, of different peoples unified through mutual cooperation and respect, seemed lost in the face of the never ending Klingon onslaught.
From somewhere behind her, Yareli heard metal being moved and shouted voices, the sounds of a damage control team still trying to make their way to her. She’d been trapped on the bridge by herself for nearly a day now, cut off from the rest of the ship and forced into frantic, desperate action. Their destination had been an uncharted nebula in which they’d hoped to hide and make repairs, but at this rate there wouldn’t be enough of a ship left to get them there. The warp core was damaged, they’d lost a ventral nacelle strut and more compartments were exposed to space then pressurized. A single tear rolled down her cheek as she patted the armrest of her chair.
Lago: Lo siento viejo amiga, pero creo que esto es un adiós…*
A resounding bang shook the deck and Yareli braced herself for the explosion, but none came. Instead, she heard the sounds of voices and footsteps drawing closer and suddenly she was no longer alone. A small group of visibly burned and bleeding junior officers, none with a rank higher than lieutenant JG, crowded onto the bridge and began rushing towards stations. A young man in a blue medical tunic took a knee in front of her and pressed a hypo to her neck. She felt better enough to cough out a few words.
Lago: Thought...I ordered you...to abandon ship….
A tactical officer who had been with the ship less than three months spoke up, apparently the leader of this small group.
McKittridge: Respectfully ma’am, you ordered us to prepare to abandon ship. Making our way to the bridge was part of our preparations. ::He turned to the medical officer:: How’s she doing, Ensign?
Huang: Not good Tommy...I mean...Lieutenant...she’s got...a fractured skull, nine busted ribs, a punctured spleen, perforated kidney, blood in her lungs and enough shrapnel in her chest to open a salvage business….uh...sorry, Captain. We have to get her down to Doc DeSoto. She needs major surgery immediately.
Yareli waved the medic away, certain she was already well beyond that kind of help.
Lago: How’s...the crew....
McKittridge: My last count is about two hours old but we were down to less than forty still able to stand. Doc’s been in surgery since...well I’m not sure, ma’am, but she’s saving any that can be saved. Let us get you out of here, ma’am….
Yareli shook her head sharply, the effort making her vision swim.
Lago: I’m...right where I’m...supposed to be….Lieutenant...and I’m ordering you…
One of the few consoles still functioning on the bridge began shrieking in alarm. It took her a few moments to realize it wasn’t the alert of incoming weapons fire or some catastrophic engineering calamity, but one of their science stations. Apparently their sensor array was still, miraculously, functioning and it had found something of note. McKittridge crossed to the console, respectfully moving aside the corpse of Lt. Cmdr. Sombok, their Vulcan science officer.
McKittridge: Ma’am, we’re detecting a planetoid just on the inside of the nebula perimeter at heading zero two three mark two two one....sensors show it as class M...but there’s a lot of interference from the nebula...and some bizarre energy readings….
Yareli’s eyes widened...perhaps she could still save a few...
Lago: How close?
McKittridge shook his head.
McKittridge: Almost an hour at this speed, if we can even stay at warp. I’m sorry ma’am, I don’t think the ship’ll get us that far. Not with all the damage and the Klingons still harrying us.
Yareli steeled herself. An hour. She had an hour left to give. She closed her eyes and poured her spirit into the ship, willing it on, encouraging it to run faster in these last moments.
Lago: Don’t give up on her yet, Mr. McKittridge. This old girl still has something left for us. Set a course for the planetoid, best possible speed.
McKittridge: Aye Aye, Captain. Since we’re planning ahead, ma’am, what do you suggest we do when we get there?
Captain Yareli Lago looked around her dying, smoke filled bridge and found solace in the eyes of the young men and women looking back at her. They were tired and scared and hurt, but even the youngest Ensign was determined and focused. It rallied her remaining strength and helped to clear her mind. In the end, there was only one order left for her to give.
Lago: We survive, Mr. McKittridge. However we can. We survive.
* - I’m sorry old friend, but I think this is goodbye
Captain Yareli De La Lago and Crew
USS Excalibur - NCC 1424