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Sailor Trek Chapter 5: ...once more into the breach...

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 · 2 months ago
Sailor Trek Chapter 5: ...once more into the breach...
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Here's part 5. Part 6 (the conclusion) will be due by the end of next week.

Chapter 5 - "...once more into the breach..."

"Captain's log, Stardate 5048.5 I am leading a landing party, accompanied by the Sailor Scouts, in an effort to recover the stolen crystals. We must accomplish this before Beryl can use them to release the Negaforce."

Seven pillars of light, a mix of orange and blue instead of the usual red and orange, illuminated a deserted corridor. After materializing, the security detail readied their phaser rifles while Spock scanned the area. Seeing the area was secure for the moment, Kirk pulled out his communicator. "Kirk to Enterprise. The area is secure. Send the rest of them in." Six more energy columns appeared, resolving into the forms of the Sailor Scouts and Doctor McCoy.

McCoy shivered after the materialization process was complete. "And I thought a normal trip through the transporter was bad."

"Really?" remarked Sailor Moon. "I kind of liked it." McCoy shot her a pained look.

Kirk grinned slightly and opened his communicator again. "Landing party down safe, Uhura. We'll maintain communications silence until the mission is accomplished."

"Yes, sir. Enter..." Uhura's voice trailed off. "Sir, Mr. Scott needs to speak with you."

"Very well, Lieutenant. Kirk out." He adjusted a control on his communicator. "Kirk to Galileo. What's wrong, Scotty?"

"We've got a power supply problem, sir. When the transporter beam went through the field, it caused a massive power drain, worse than I expected. The Galileo's reserves were almost drained. I dinnae know if there'll be enough for when ye want to beam out."

"Understood. Kirk out." He looked over at Spock. "Tricorder readings, Mr. Spock?"

"There is substantial interference in the area, Captain," he reported. The Vulcan was still busy scanning the area with his tricorder, while Sailor Mercury had been doing likewise with her computer since she beamed in. "Tricorder range is extremely limited. I am unable to locate the crystals."

Mercury looked up from her scanning. "I've found them! Approximately five hundred meters in that direction." She pointed up the tunnel.

"All right!" said Jupiter. "Let's go!"

"Commander Giotto, you heard the lady."

"Yes sir," stated the security chief. Turning to his team, "Advance pattern alpha. Anderson, you've got point." One of the security detail nodded and went to the head of the formation. The group walked slowly down the tunnel, silent save for the sound of the tricorders scanning the area. Eventually they came to a point were the tunnel open up into a large cavern. Anderson moved into the cavern cautiously. He turned to face a sudden rustling noise behind him. "Captain, look ..." he began, but his warning cry ended in a strangled shriek.

One of the other guards fired his phaser at the youma standing over Anderson, and it vanished in a haze of red light. More youma came charging out into the cavern and rushed the landing party, threatening to overwhelm them.

Mercury jumped into action. "MERCURY BUBBLES... BLAST!"

A thick fog formed in the area, causing the charging youma to hesitate, confused. Somehow, the security detail was still able to pick out their targets. The phasers rifles fired in unison and several of the youma vanished.

A few were able to withstand phaser energy. Having shaken off the fog-induced confusion, they charged among the security guards.

Then the Scouts joined the action.

"VENUS CRESCENT BEAM... SMASH!"

"JUPITER THUNDER... CRASH!"

"MARS FIRE... IGNITE!"

As they had in the engineering room, the Scouts' attacks ripped through the onrushing youma, leaving only one left. It jumped Giotto and brandished it's claws, ready to disembowel him. Several of the guards fired at it in a desperate attempt to save the security chief, but to no avail.

"MOON TIARA... MAGIC!" Sailor Moon's tiara tore the youma in half, leaving only a pile of dust atop the security chief. She helped him to his feet. "You okay?"

"I am now. Thanks."

"Hey, not a problem." she replied. Giotto retrieved his phaser rifle and moved into the cavern.

McCoy examined Anderson briefly and shook his head sadly. There wasn't anything he could do for the guard.

"So much for the element of surprise," muttered Kirk. He looked around at the multiple exits. "Which way?"

After a brief moment of scanning, both Spock and Mercury said "This way," indicating one of the rear exits. The landing party reformed and continued on their way.

The cats looked out from the shuttle onto the ruins of the Moon Kingdom. "It hasn't changed much since the last time we were here," Artemis observed.

Luna nodded in silent agreement. After a time, she turned away from the window. "I prefer to remember it the way it was before."

"I'm afraid those days are gone, Luna."

"I know. But perhaps they can be once again, if only in another form." She jumped down from the console, and headed for the rear of the small ship. "But first we must deal with Beryl. How are things here, Mr. Scott?"

"We've managed to get the reserves back up. I just hope there enough left in these bairns to get them back out." The engineer paused to make an adjustment. "Baker, keep an eye on the power flow." The other engineer nodded.

Malachite materialized in the chamber containing the crystal apparatus. "Is everything in readiness, Prince Darien?"

"Yes. The crystals are in place. All we need now is a modest amount of energy to channel through them, and the Negaforce will be released."

"Excellent."

"There they are," stated Sailor Mercury.

The landing party had stopped at the entrance of a large cavern, staying low behind whatever cover they could find. In the center stood a large, almost organic looking device. Mounted inside it were the stolen crystals, arranged linearly.

Kirk frowned. Also inside were Malachite and Darien. And who knew how many youma were nearby. They headed back a bit. "This isn't going to be easy," Venus observed quietly.

Spock concentrated for a moment. "I would estimate the odd of our success as approximately five thousand two hundred forty seven point six to one against," he said, drawing several incredulous stares from the Scouts.

"That's what I like about you, Spock. You're always the optimist," McCoy retorted.

"Still Bones, it's better odds than we had on Organia."

"I was well aware of the capabilities of our opposition there, Captain. I'm afraid that my estimate of Malachite's abilities may be somewhat of an underestimate."

"Oh."

"Excuse me, but can we get back to business?" Mars snapped.

"She's right, sir," Giotto said. "Whatever we're going to do, I don't recommend a frontal assault."

"Agreed," Kirk replied. "We haven't got time for anything fancy, so here's the plan: Spock and I will work our way through these tunnels and try and find way to one of those other entrances. Give us fifteen minutes, then create a diversion. With luck, we'll be able to get the crystals and then beam right out of here."

Giotto nodded, but Sailor Mars muttered, "Oh, that sounds like a *great* plan." Her tone indicated that she thought it was anything but.

"Have you got a better idea?" McCoy retorted.

"Yeah. One of us should go with them."

Venus nodded, "You know what they say: Two's comfortable but three's company."

"Mars' idea makes sense to me," Jupiter added, ignoring the latest misquote. "After all, what if you run into a phaserproof youma?"

"It's only logical," said Mercury.

"You've been around Spock too long."

"Bones..."

"Mars is right," Sailor Moon said, drawing several surprised looks from the others. "And I'm the one who should go."

Mars was about to object vehemently, but Spock spoke up first. "She is correct. In their recent battles with Malachite, Sailor Moon is the only one who has demonstrated the power to face him one on one. Since the mission of those who stay behind is merely to provide a distraction, it is logical for the most powerful member of your team to accompany us." The hot tempered Scout subsided, but still looked unhappy.

"Let's go, then." The three of them moved off and the others waited quietly. Ten minutes after they left, several youma entered the chamber and began moving the apparatus under Malachite's direction.

"Where are they taking it?" Jupiter asked.

"It doesn't matter," Giotto replied. "If they move it, the Captain won't be able to get the crystals. We'll have to attack now."

"Excellent," gloated Malachite. "Soon the Negaforce will be released."

"Not in your lifetime, negatrash!"

Malachite spun around. "Who...?"

The Sailor Scouts stood by the entrance. "You should know us by now, Malachite! Those crystals don't belong to you! In the name of the Venus..."

"...in the name of Mercury..."

"...in the name of Mars..."

"...and in the name of Jupiter..."

"...we'll punish you!" they concluded simultaneously. A keen observer would have heard the slight groan that come from beyond the entrance.

Malachite was utterly dumbfounded. "Impossible! You can't all be here! Obsidian should have injured you badly enough that you couldn't interfere!"

"Another one of your 'brilliant successes', Malachite?" quipped Darien.

"It doesn't matter," snarled Malachite. "You were fools to enter the heart of our domain alone, Sailor Scouts! Especially without your precious leader!" He motioned the youma carrying the crystal apparatus. "Destroy them!"

The youma charged the Scouts, only to be met by five phaser beams. Giotto shifted his aim from a now vaporized youma to Malachite. "They didn't come here alone."

"Are you sure you know were you're going?" Sailor Moon asked.

"Yes," Spock responded. "Tricorder range may be limited, but is sufficient to map out the immediate area. The entrance we want should be just around the bend."

When they rounded the curve Spock indicated, they bumped into a rather large youma that was carrying an equally large crystal. They gaped at each other for a moment, then the youma charged. Kirk fired his phaser, but it had much the same effect as when he fired on Obsidian. Which is to say, none.

Sailor Moon reacted instinctively. "MOON TIARA... MAGIC!" Spock bent down to examine the crystal that lay amid the dusted remains of the youma. "Interesting. This appears to be some form of storage device for bioenergy."

"You mean that's the energy they collected?" Sailor Moon asked. Spock nodded.

"Well, this should put a crimp in their plans." Kirk motioned for them to get back and aimed his phaser at the storage crystal. He fired and it vanished in a bright flash that was followed closely by the whine of more phasers being fired. "They're early," muttered Kirk.

"Commander Giotto is normally quite punctual," Spock noted. "The situation must have changed." The two officers and the Sailor Scout ran into the room.

Malachite watched the display of weapons fire from behind his force wall. "Very impressive," he said. "But ultimately useless." The guards hurriedly dodged the energy bolt he sent at them.

They arrived at the crystals. Sailor Moon glanced at the ongoing battle. "Hurry! I don't know how long the others can handle Malachite."

Imperturbable as always, the Vulcan merely nodded. "We need only two point three minutes to remove the crystals. Then we will be ready to beam out."

"MARS FIRE...IGNITE!"

Mars' fireball splashed off Malachite's forcefield. He sent a blast of energy her way, knocking her off her feet. A security guard rushed out to pull her into cover.

By this point, the youma had been vaporized, dusted, electrified or otherwise disposed of. Disposing of Malachite was proving to be another matter. Giotto and his men kept firing, trying to distract Malachite from the Scouts as much as possible.

Darien watched the battle. 'Strange,' he thought. 'they don't seem to be trying to get to...' He glanced back at the crystals. '...aha! Very clever Captain.'

"Last one," said Kirk. He moved towards the last crystal. As he reached for it, a black blur cut across the back of his hand. He recoiled instinctively, looking at the black rose imbedded in the wall.

"I don't think so, Captain Kirk." Startled, they turned to face a masked man in a tuxedo, complete with cape, cane and top hat.

"Who are you?"

"Tuxedo Mask!"

"At your service," he answered, brandishing another black rose. "And you're not getting those crystals, Captain."

"What does it take to get to this guy?" muttered Giotto. One of his men was down, with McCoy tending to his injuries. The remainder of his squad was maintaining a near constant barrage against Malachite, as were the Scouts. So far, all their attacks just bounced off his force field.

"VENUS CRESCENT BEAM..."

"JUPITER THUNDER...."

"...SMASH!"

"...CRASH!"

The combined attack seemed ineffective once again, but Giotto could swear he saw several beads of sweat on Malachite's forehead. Perhaps they where finally beginning to were him down. He aimed his phaser rifle and pulled the trigger.

The tip of the rifle glowed slightly, but there was no other reaction. The charge in the power pack was exhausted. He moved quickly to change it out for a fresh one.

Kirk drew his phaser. "Get that last crystal, Spock. I'll try to hold him off."

"Be careful, Captain," Spock advised. "Tuxedo Mask is another alias for Prince Darien, and was an erstwhile allay of the Sailor Scouts before he was recently coopted by the Negaverse. He has abilities akin to the Scouts."

"Your pointy-eared friend is right." Tuxedo Mask smiled and threw the rose, impaling it on the phaser. "Give it up, Kirk. You haven't got a chance against me."

Kirk threw the ruined weapon at Tuxedo Mask and charged.

Malachite flung his arms wide, unleashing a wave of energy. Giotto felt a wave of nausea as it washed over his position. He snapped back up again and quickly evaluated the situation. Not good. Besides himself, only one other security man was still up. The third had been injured in the last blast, McCoy moving to tend to his injuries. The Scouts were knocked down, but were slowly getting back up.

Kirk hit the ground hard. He got to his feet slowly, trying to catch his breath. Tuxedo Mask was a lot stronger than he looked, and he was fast.

"Stay out of my way, Kirk. I don't want to have to hurt you, but I will if I have to. You're not getting those crystals." He turn to face Spock.

'Big mistake.' Kirk grabbed him by the shoulder and spun him around. He punched him in the jaw with a right cross, followed by a left to his stomach. The two punch combination would have stunned even a Vulcan for a few seconds.

Not Tuxedo Mask, apparently. He snarled and lashed out with his cane, striking Kirk across his face. Again, he fell to the ground, stunned. 'Maybe not such a big mistake.'

Tuxedo Mask brandished another black rose. "Enough! Stay down and out of my way, Captain Kirk, or die! You can't possibly win."

Kirk struggled to get to his feet. "I've... heard that line... from tougher people... than you." Admittedly the person Kirk was thinking of was a Gorn, but it was true, nonetheless.

"Have it your way." He got ready to throw the rose.

Sailor Moon interposed herself between the two men. "Darien, wait!"

Giotto and the other guard fired at Malachite. He sneered at their efforts. "How utterly pathetic." He raised his hand, preparing to fire a concentrated burst of energy at Giotto. The force field fell for the split second necessary...

"VENUS CRESCENT BEAM... SMASH!"

The beam of light caught Malachite squarely. He had managed to erect his forcefield enough to deflect some of the blast, but enough got through to hurt him.

"Darien, you don't want to do this," pleaded Sailor Moon. "Try to remember who you are. Beryl couldn't have completely erased your memories." Tuxedo Mask stared silently at her. "You've helped us a lot fighting the Negaverse."

Kirk watched the interplay between the two of them as he attempted to catch his breath. Amazingly, her words -- imploring him to remember who and what he had been -- seemed to have some affect on Tuxedo Mask. His face was strained, as if some internal struggle was going on, that some memory buried deep in his subconscious was trying to surface.

Finally, he said "Enough." He flung the rose in her direction, embedding its in the cavern floor. "I'll let them go with their crystals, and your friends too, Sailor Moon... if you give me the Silver Crystal." She hesitated.

"No." Kirk spoke up. "You don't have any right to the dilithium crystals... or the Silver Crystal, either. We're leaving here with them."

"As if you can get by us," replied Tuxedo Mask. "Look around, Kirk. Most of your men here are injured. And you certainly aren't getting past me." A hand grasped his shoulder at the base of the neck and squeezed. Darien's eyes rolled up and he fell unconscious.

"As ever, Mr. Spock, your timing is impeccable." Spock looked at his captain, raising an eyebrow.

"Darien!" Sailor Moon raced to his side.

"He is undamaged," Spock reassured her. "The Vulcan Nerve Pinch is a non-lethal method of subduing a foe. He will recover shortly. Captain, since we have the crystals, I suggest we withdraw to the Enterprise."

"Agreed. Kirk to Enterprise."

"Enterprise, Lieutenant Uhura."

"Mission accomplished. Tell Chief Kyle to get us out of here."

Giotto continued firing, as did the remaining guard. Mars and Jupiter were back on their feet and alternated with Venus in launching their attacks on Malachite. Every now and then Mercury obscured the area with fog. The 'run and shoot' mode prevented Malachite from getting a solid shot on them, but his forcefield was still powerful enough that he hadn't been hurt seriously either. At best it was a stalemate.

His communicator chose that moment to beep. "Giotto here."

"Uhura here. Stand by for beam out."

"Right Lieutenant," he answered. "Standing by." He maneuvered himself over to Sailor Mercury's position. She had her visor deployed, trying to find some weakness in Malachite's shield. "We're pulling out. Think you could arrange for some cover for us?"

Mercury nodded. "Yes." She stood up and summoned her power. "MERCURY BUBBLES... BLAST!"

Malachite peered through the dense fog. 'Where were they?' Typically, the Scouts would use this cover to launch an attack of some type, but the area was strangely silent except for a humming noise that repeated itself several times. As suddenly as it appeared, the fog bank lifted.

His eyes widened as he scanned the cavern. They were gone!

The lights in the shuttle flickered and the low hum from the engines began to fade. Scotty raced over to examine the subspace field readouts and uttered several gaelic curses. "The power drain has become critical. We cannae maintain the field." He snapped open his communicator. "Scott to Kyle. Did ye get them all out?"

"No sir. The subspace field density dropped just as we were about to beam the last batch out," Kyle replied. "The corridor isn't wide enough to get a positive lock on the captain and the others."

"What happened?" Artemis asked.

"In generating the field, we've drained the shuttle's engines dry. What power we've got left is coming from the batteries." Unless he could come up with some sort of solution, and quickly, the Captain, Mr. Spock and Sailor Moon were trapped in the Negaverse.

"We need more energy to increase the field integrity?" asked Luna.

"Aye. But the engines havnae any power left." He looked down at the black cat. "Unless ye happen to have a power generator hidden somewhere."

"Would a large surge of electricity do the trick?" Jupiter asked over the communicator.

"Aye, it could. But what...?"

"That's it!" cried Artemis. "Beam Jupiter down here!"

"Sir?" Chief Kyle sounded confused.

Scotty looked at Artemis, puzzlement clear on his face. Then his expression brightened. "Ye heard the cat, Mr. Kyle," Scotty answered the chief. "Beam Jupiter to the Galileo."

"We're working on a solution, Captain, but it's going to be a few minutes before we can give it a try."

"I suggest you hurry, Scotty. Kirk out." He snapped his communicator closed and looked at his two companions. "We better find a hiding place until Mr. Scott can perform his miracle."

"We can't leave Darien behind," said Sailor Moon.

Kirk nodded. "We'll bring him along. But we better get out of here, quickly." Before either he or Spock could pick up Darien, a force field of black energy enveloped him.

"I don't think so, Kirk!" roared Malachite.

"Run!" said Kirk. They headed for cover just before a bolt of black energy swept over their location. As they raced for an exit, Kirk paused long enough to scoop up his ruined phaser. It may not be able to fire, but if the power cell wasn't damaged it still could do one thing... He twisted the controls to maximum and a whine came from the weapon, slowly rising in pitch. He turned and tossed it to Malachite. "Catch!" he yelled, then ran down the tunnel as fast as he could. When he judged it to be the correct time, he yelled "Down!" to Spock. Grabbing Sailor Moon, he headed for cover himself.

Malachite glanced down at the phaser where it lay on the ground. Did that fool think that throwing this would hurt him? Still, the noise from it was becoming very high pitched... and loud.

"What's going on..." she began to ask when there was a massive flash of an explosion from behind them. The cavern shook as the tunnel collapsed behind them.

"Darien!"

"I'm sure he's fine," Kirk reassured her, hoping that was indeed the case. "Remember, he was enclosed in one of Malachite's force fields."

When the dust settled, they got up and looked back at the now impenetrable tunnel. "That should slow down any pursuit," Kirk said with satisfaction.

"Not entirely, Captain," Spock answered. "We have seen that some of the entities here have the ability to teleport. I suggest that we expedite our departure from our current position as rapidly as possible."

Sailor Moon looked puzzled. "Would you mind repeating that in english?"

"He said run," Kirk translated.

They ran.

Malachite growled in anger. Those vermin from the starship and their sailor brat allies were becoming annoying. He had just managed to teleport himself and the fool Darien out of harms way before the explosion. It was a good thing too, for he wasn't sure he could have handled a blast that large.

How he was going to make Kirk pay for the indignity...

Scotty worked hurriedly to rewire the power systems of the shuttle's engines to accept a direct power feed from Sailor Jupiter. From there it would channel directly into the subspace field generator, hopefully without overloading.

"Hurry," urged Luna.

"I'm going as fast as I can, lass. We're only going to get one shot at this. If it doesnae work the first time, the engines and the field generator will be just so much scrap metal. And then we'll never get the Captain or the others back."

Kirk and Spock raced through the tunnels of the Negaverse, trailing Sailor Moon. They hurried along the tunnel, until it stopped.

"Dead end," said Kirk.

"Did you have to phrase it like that?" asked Sailor Moon. They stopped for a moment and listened for sounds of pursuit. Nothing.

Spock glanced at his tricorder. "I detect no signs of pursuit."

"Does that mean nobody's after us?" asked Sailor Moon. She hardly appeared to be winded.

Kirk nodded, breathing heavily. "I think... we lost them."

"Don't be too sure of that, Kirk!" Malachite appeared nearby. He fired a quick energy blast that knocked Spock's phaser from his hand, leaving it smoking on the ground. "I'll take those crystals back now. And thank you for delivering the Silver Crystal here."

"Ready," announced Scotty. He nodded at Sailor Jupiter.

Lita concentrated, feeling the power building up within her. She was battered, bruised and exhausted from the recent battle, but she was determined to succeed. Too much depended on her for her to fail. Kirk, Spock, all the people on the Enterprise... but most of all, Serena depended on her right now.

And there was no way she was going to fail her.

Not now... not ever.

She felt the power yearning for release and strained against it. Even so, some of it managed to leak through, manifesting as sparks coruscating along her hands. She gritted her teeth against the pain, trying to force the energy level up as high as she had ever done. Finally she unleashed the energy with a loud cry.

Alarms came from half a dozen systems as a sudden burst of energy surged through the Galileo. "Now, Mr. Kyle!" urged the chief engineer.

"I've got a transporter lock!" the chief replied. "Energizing." Sparks began to fly from several of the consoles.

"You're not getting those crystals, Malachite!" exclaimed Sailor Moon. She moved in front of the starfleet officers, Crescent Moon Wand in hand. "Or the Silver Crystal, either! In the name of the Moon, I'll punish you!"

Kirk was astonished at the amazing change in her demeanor. One minute she was leading the way in running out of here, the next she was brazenly challenging a being that had singlehandedly held off the combined forces of the Sailor Scouts and a heavily armed Starfleet security detachment. And the really odd thing was that he thought she could do it, too.

Malachite seemed less than impressed. "We'll see about that Sailor Moon!" he said, throwing an energy bolt at the three.

It never arrived. At Sailor Moon's mental command, the Silver Crystal pulsed and unleashed an energy bolt of it's own that met Malachite's head on. The was a brief flash as the light and dark energies canceled each other out.

Then a low humming noise filled the tunnel. An orange-blue light enveloped Sailor Moon and the two Starfleet officers and they vanished.

"They're gone! And with the crystals too!" Malachite's eyes narrowed. "Queen Beryl isn't going to be pleased about this!" he muttered.

"Good work, Scotty," Kirk's voice came from the communicator.

"A little too good, sir," replied Scotty. He waved at the smoke filling the room, trying without much success to clear the air. Baker was busy with a fire extinguisher on the small fires that had erupted from several of the panels. "Jupiter's energy discharge fried half the systems in the shuttle. It'd be a while before it would be ready to take off, even if the fuel reserves weren't exhausted."

Jupiter staggered while trying to her feet. The recoil from the blast had thrown her to the floor and the strong use of her powers had left her feeling weak as well. "Er, sorry about that."

The engineer shook his head as he helped her up. "Don't be, lass. Ye did what ye had to get our people out of there." He surveyed the smokey interior. "All this can be replaced, but their lives cannae. Ye did a damned fine job."

"Escaped?!? With the crystals?? How did this happen, Malachite?" Beryl snarled menacingly.

Involuntarily, Malachite shivered. Beryl was in one of those moods. "The crew from the starship sent a raiding party to steal the crystal from us, my queen. They were accompanied by the Sailor Scouts."

Beryl was beside herself. "How did they manage to get here?"

"I'm not sure, my queen. We knew that the starship had matter transmission capabilities, but I had believed that piercing the dimensional barrier was beyond them. Apparently they have formed an alliance with the Scouts." Malachite paused for a moment, staring into space. "My queen, I can detect the ship again. I could go there and get the crystals back."

Beryl leaned back in her throne, considering. "No. I have a better idea."

Jupiter looked up as the shuttle began to shake. "What is that, an earthquake?"

"I don't know, lass."

Luna and Artemis felt the fur on the back of their necks rise. "Something's dreadfully wrong!" Luna exclaimed. "We have to get out of here, now!"

The intercom whistled insistently. "Captain," said Chekov, "sensors are picking up a large dimensional distortion forming right on top of the shuttle!"

Kirk looked questioningly over at his science officer. "Spock?"

Spock activated the auxiliary viewer and glanced at the readouts. "Something is emerging from a pocket of subspace."

"Mr. Kyle, get our people out of there!"

The space above the shuttle seemed to shimmer, and an odd ship appeared. It was much larger than the Federation starship, black as night and looked something like a mutated sea urchin. It quivered as if alive, then a bright beam came from it and neatly cut the shuttle in two.

"LITA!" screamed Sailor Moon upon seeing the shuttle destroyed. The other scouts looked on, horrified.

"Chief, did you...?"

Kyle nodded. "Yes sir." He smoothly brought down the levers for the final activation sequence. "They're materializing now." On cue, the shuttle crew appeared on the transporter pads. The scouts clustered around Jupiter, welcoming her back. Luna and Artemis squirmed in the bearhugs they were getting from Sailor Moon and Sailor Venus. Scotty and Baker skirted the celebration and stepped off the platform.

"Welcome back, Scotty."

"Thank you, sir," Scotty said. "That was a wee bit too close for comfort."

"Captain," said Spock over the din of the Scouts celebration. "The alien craft is approaching rapidly."

Luna struggled in Sailor Moon's grip to get a better look at the screen. She gasped when she saw the creature. "Oh no..."

"Do you know what that is?"

"We've seen them before," Artemis answered. "We don't know who they are or where they cam from, but they helped Beryl in her attack on the Moon Kingdom. I think it's safe to assume it's hostile."

"We'll recloak and..."

"I don't recommend that, Captain. Activating the cloak will preclude the use of shields. And at the rate the creature is approaching, it will be in weapons range before we can fully cloak."

"Then let's do the next best thing: Get the hell out of here." Kirk snapped on the intercom. "Kirk to bridge. Raise shields and proceed out of orbit at warp factor one."

The Enterprise turned from the dark ship, accelerating towards the speed of light. The shadowy vessel almost seemed to scream, and another beam of energy sliced through space, striking the starship's shields as it entered warp.

The ship shook slightly when the shields were hit, then pitched more violently and the lights flickered.

"What was that?" asked Sailor Venus. Scotty swore softly. "The dilithium crystal just blew! We won't be able to use the warp drive now!"

Kirk handed Scotty the bag containing the other four crystals. "Scotty get these installed fast!"

"It will take at least ten minutes..." the scotsman began.

"You have five. Go!" Kirk watched the approaching ship on the viewer, then activated the shipwide intercom. "This is the captain. Red alert! All hands to battle stations!" Next Time: They've managed to regain the dilithium crystals, but it may prove a Pyrrhic victory as the Enterprise is nearly helpless in the face of an attack by a powerful ally of the Negaverse.

Tune in for part 6: "Moon Cosmic Power!"

Bill Harris
"I don't do Windows... 95 or otherwise!"

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