Acrid smoke wafting through his bridge, Sonel held on to his command chair to avoid an ungraceful tumble towards the viewscreen as his ship groaned and shuddered under another fierce barrage.
"Shields holding at fifteen percent, osu. Vulcan life signs located."
"Lock on. Prepare for evasive C'hik."
"V'Shar reports Federation crew rescue in progress."
Not that the surprisingly small and even more unusually fair haired V'Ket Commander would ever have said the words 'About time', or even allowed them to show on his face. Or asked how the agency was going about it. But all the same, there was a distinct air of both about the way he quirked his brow before a green beam tore away a starboard section of his ship's hull and made wounded Rala tumble so fiercely he jolted in his chair as if on a bucking Jarel.
"That is quite enough I think. Full spread, and re-establish shields."
[IRW Endless Sky]
Before Kovel's astonished eyes, familiar amaranth sparks began to dance about T'Pelar's unmoving form and then pulled her away with a low, melodious hum. There was no time to ponder any implication or even blink, for that matter. Though the sight after the transporter beam released him was a most welcome one. If they were not Vulcans, they might have cheered.
[Endless Sky, Bridge]
Faithful Yyaio, the adjutant that never was. Spurred by Savant's unquenchable optimism, betting against the odds, working steadily and without regard for her own gruesome state on the lifeless Vulcan sprawled on the deck.
Futile, some might think. Futile, if you did not know that this particular race can stave off death for precious minutes if they have ample enough warning to feel its cold breath in their bones. Shut down almost every physical function, draw their souls into a tight coil, reduce themselves to the merest spark of life, a glimmer to be extinguished under the faintest breeze.
[Vulcan System Communications Network]
As Savant gained further control of Endless Sky, the ship's mighty computer network appeared within the systems' computer network - no starbase, but a ship as large as this carried significant weight. Savants' processes within the Romulan warship eagerly connected with their siblings within Charon and the rest of the system, finally rejoining the processes separated months before.
If a computer program could be said to breathe easy, Savant certainly did. With access to Vulcan came prodigious processing resources, and once again time slowed to its normal rate, at least from the perspective of those routines isolated on Endless Sky. From the larger perspective, Savant regained a lost piece of her psyche and re-integrated it, reworking that of her from Charon and from Endless Sky into the one seamless whole once more. It was a homecoming, and as always it brought to her a flush of joy as she assimilated the new information from her satellite software.
What was once hard became easy, what was once prolonged became momentary. Savant brushed aside the remaining resistance on the mighty Romulan warship and assumed full control of its processes, overwhelming it with the sheer power of the billion processing nodes of Vulcan and nearby Memory Alpha.
Transporter systems came online, allowing her to efficiently pack the Romulan crew into their lifepods and eject them. Endless Sky cast off its crew like a dandelion casting off seeds into the night sky, each one leaving behind a slim white streak of fusion thrust in its wake. Meanwhile, with the speed of digital thought, the displaced crew of USS Charon found themselves once more upon their rightful ship, within the comfortable confines of her medical ward.
Commander Tyrax, however, was another case entirely. Her fragile medical condition required immediate attention that could only be given on Vulcan proper, but this was compounded by greater issues - she had been on Endless Sky and could have been contaminated with the Memento Mori virus. While the odds were low of her carrying the weapon without being afflicted by it, it was there, and the risks were simply too great. Savant cogitated on the problem for a few milliseconds before striking on a workable solution. She would simply have to beam in stasis field generators around the Commander's unconscious body before sending the whole works to Vulcan. An ugly solution, and there were still risks involved, but they were below the threshold of concern she was currently operating under. So, off Sakarra went, to the land of furnace-skies and white sand oases. With luck, she was not too far gone.
[IRW Endless Sky, Bridge]
Nothing lived on IRW Endless Sky. Nothing lived, but automated processes did not care one way or the other whether there were living things to give orders. Savant, specifically, preferred that the crew of the ship be away from danger. She summoned a hologram in the centre of the lonely, gore-flecked bridge, as she hailed the Vulcan Space Control Station. Savant didn't fidget or need to adjust her perfect, crisp Starfleet uniform, wearing full Captain's bars and sporting a slight aristocratic graying of the hair on her temples. This was not the personality archetypes dominant to Charon - no, this was fully Savant; galaxy-sweeping, with the resources of star-systems within her reach. If a Vulcan could look surprised, the one on the receiving end of the communication channel certainly did.
Savant did not pause. "IRW Endless Sky to Vulcan. Do not attempt to dock with this vessel or any of her life boats. She has been contaminated with an engineered virus tailored to target Vulcan life. I repeat, do not attempt to dock with this vessel or any of her life boats until proper decontamination can be arranged."
"Endless Sky, this is Vulcan Space central. Please specify the nature of said virus and proceed to Tel-Alep docking facilities."
"I acknowledge your request, Vulcan. The contaminant is a prion-based endogenous retrovirus which acts via protein unfolding. I cannot comply with flight plan. This vessel is contaminated. I am transmitting flight path information towards the stellar infrasystem for decontamination. Please confirm my flight path."
Without warning a deep, sonorous voice cut into the conversation. Old, to one with ears to hear, but no less firm for it, even and gravelly. Savant immediately recognized it as the V'Shar frequency, as distinctive as a voice.
"We are aware, Endless Sky. Authorization is granted and quarantine protocols enabled."
"Acknowledged, Vulcan. Adjusting vector and engaging to warp one. Endless Sky Out."
The channel closed, and Savant let the hologram dissolve into a fizzle of sparks upon the Romulan vessel's bridge. Only the powerful sounds of the warp engine at work remained as a reminder of the overweening pride that the now-hollow warship once knew.
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu
Vaek'Riov Itsak tr'Sahen
Brevet First Lieutenant Brent Warren