Ambushed (Challenger-A)

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Mission Report submitted by Lieutenant Commander Tallis Rhul, Stardate 2387.08.01

En route from Earth to Deep Space 17 with a contingent of Marines, the USS Challenger was ambushed by an unknown enemy. During a formal dinner, during which Commander Frazier was promoted to Captain, the table was literally upset by the impact of weapons exploding against the Challenger's hull. The senior staff raced to the bridge in an attempt to find out what was happening and to repel their attackers.

It soon became apparent that the enemy ships had ambushed the Challenger from a subspace corridor. Scans showed that not only had the ships literally appeared from nowhere, but their weapons also seemed to penetrating the Challenger's shields on an infrequent basis. Modulating the shields to a rotating frequency improved the ship's defenses, and Lieutenant Commander Marcus Dickens devised a means to close the subspace openings using a modulated graviton beam. As he worked to configure the main deflector, a devastating impact blew out the EPS grid around the dish, and a plasma surge began to build on Deck 7. Fearing for the occupants of the Mediplex, Lieutenant (j.g.) Joe Cormalen raced to bring the surge under control, while Lieutenant Commander Tallis enlisted the help of Ensign Angelo Rossi and Ensign Pham from Engineering to take care of the Deflector. Repairs did not come easily, however. Lieutenant Cormalen was forced to seek assistance from Lieutenant Commander Elina Kincade Tel-ar when he determined that the power surge would be more difficult to contain than first thought, and during secondary explosions, Ensign Pham was caught beneath a falling support beam. With transporters down there was no way to beam him to sickbay, and Medical teams were unable to break quickly through the devastation. Lieutenant Commander Tallis and Ensign Rossi worked quickly to bring the Deflector back online and rescue Pham, just as Lieutenant Cormalen was able to bring the power surge on Deck 7 back under control.

The enemy's attack was relentless. Even as the deflector dish was being repaired, they took advantage of a disruption to the Challenger's shields, launching a pod that hit the Shuttlebay. Worrying that the pod may have been manned, Security and Engineering teams were dispatched to the scene. They quickly found that the area was under the influence of a dampening field. With its proximity to the Mediplex causing serious concern, a detachment of Marines was also dispatched. Lieutenant Commander Aleana Netal organised her Engineers into teams who quickly provided natural light sources for the Security teams to work by, while Lieutenant Commander Turc Brakur and Lieutenant (j.g.) Miles Unum both worked to keep the pod's contents contained.

The situation changed from bad to worse when the Challenger's Chief Medical Officer, Lieutenant Commander Jerry Reid, returned from a Medical Conference, only to find that the Challenger was under heavy fire. In order to protect his shuttle from potential annihilation, the Challenger leapt into action. Co-ordinating with the shuttle, the senior officers were able to work together to bring the Doctor's shuttle into the Secondary Shuttlebay. Reid instantly found himself hard at work dealing with a backlog of casualites, his staff inundated with injured officers.

Back in the shuttlebay, the Security team gained access to the enemy pod. They had originally read no life-signs inside, but their scans were proved inaccurate when a member of the enemy species threw a grenade, causing injuries to a large number of Marine and Security personnel. Led by the rest of the Security detail, the Challenger crew were able to enter the pod. As the enemy troops were evacuated to their own ship by transporter, some of the team noted that they had snake-like ridges along their necks. Ensign Lex Menar theorized that they may have been Cardassian, although this theory was dismissed when some odd readings came to light from a metallurgic analysis run on the pod.

With the deflector repaired, Lieutenant Commander Dickens found himself in a position in which he could attempt to seal the subspace rifts. His theories proved to be successful, evidenced visually by a probe that he had sent to the location of one of the subspace disturbances being crushed as the conduit closed. Urged to think of a solution to the problem on a larger scale, Ensign Mailea Labria remembered an old tactic used during the Dominion War: self-replicating mines. With members of the Operations and Engineering departments, she began to hurriedly construct enough graviton mines to cover the area and prevent further incursions.

The mines were quickly completed, and deployment began using the USS Centaur, supported by the Challenger and the USS Irwin. Lieutenant Jesse Lawn and Lieutenant (j.g.) Hannibal Parker set the mines quickly, and devised a cat and mouse tactic to trap the final enemy ship, but just as they did so it withdrew. With the area secure, the Challenger was left to report back to Starfleet, in need of repairs. Lieutenant Lawn set course for Midway Repair Station, where the crew were to receive a brief shore leave while the Challenger was overhauled. As the ship set out for its destination, Captain Frazier received a communiqué informing him of the identity of the attackers. They were Vaadwaur.

With the crew uncertain of the reasons behind the attack, and what the arrival of this previously distant species held in store for them, Lieutenant Commander Tallis and Ensign Menar both received strange messages from Ensign Labria. Concerned by what he had heard, Lieutenant Commander Tallis tried to find her, and when the computer located her on Deck 24 he beamed to her location. She lay in a crumpled heap at the bottom of one of the Jefferies Tubes: plagued by hormonal changes wrought on her unique physiology by puberty, she had taken her own life.