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Old February 7 2010, 12:40 PM   #28
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Embers of the Fire - Chapter 8

Chapter 8 <cont'd>

Legate Urlak looked on with approval as his captains put the finishing touches on the next phase of the insurgents’ resistance strategy.

Guls Dien and Panor had devised an impressive attack plan for the modest squadron of ships available to them. They would begin by confronting the depleted Starfleet presence in orbit of Lakesh, and would eventually move outward, taking their fight to the occupiers’ forces system by system.

For the initial attack, the Cardassian ships would emerge from a holographic sensor blind established in a crater of Lakesh’s largest moon. They had remained undetected there since before the arrival of Federation ships to the Crolsa system weeks earlier, protected by the same sensor dampening field that had been employed in the Glanisuur operation.

Urlak hoped the Klingons would soon appear on scene. More so even than the continued attrition of Starfleet forces, the Empire’s presence would serve to give the insurgency assured longevity. The legate believed that only when the inevitable Klingon reprisals began would the average Cardassian, already wearied and traumatized by war, understand the necessity of continued resistance. This was to be a fight for the very survival of their species.

A Klingon campaign of attempted genocide against the Cardassians would poison the Empire’s relationship with the Federation. At the very least, the alliance between the two powers would crumble as the Federation worked to distance itself from Klingon atrocities.

The most fortunate outcome in Urlak’s opinion would see the two governments going to war over the issue. The legate relished the idea of pitting the Federation’s sense of moral superiority against the Klingons’ codes of honor and tradition.

Holographic symbols that represented the insurgency’s three Hideki-class corsairs trailed thin lines through the air to join with the icon representing their single Galor-class warship. A cloud of Ordis-class fighters, small one-man craft, enveloped the image of the Federation starship Gibraltar. As the four larger craft concentrated their fire on Phoenix, Gul Panor continued his presentation, a running commentary on the battle strategy on display overhead. “While the fighters harass Gibraltar, we will focus our firepower on the Nebula-class ship, clearly the greatest enemy threat. We will utilize the dimensional shift transporter to beam photon torpedoes inside the ship’s shield bubble. If successful, this tactic should result in our disabling of Phoenix.”

Urlak knew that Panor had included the proviso ‘if’ because of the DST’s failure to successfully deliver the engineered virus onto Gibraltar. The technicians still had no definitive explanation. The best they could come up with was that perhaps the DST had delivered the pathogen off-target and had missed the ship entirely. The competing theory was that the virus had arrived on time and on target, but that the interdimensional transit had warped the virus’ DNA to such a degree that it was rendered inert. Regardless, Urlak now had serious doubts about what had been the movement’s most promising new weapon.

Panor continued, “Once Phoenix has been dealt with, we will make short work of Gibraltar. After we have neutralized both starships, our forces will attack the civilian relief vessels holding at the moons’ LaGrange points. We estimate these ships contain sufficient foodstuffs, medical and survival supplies to support our cause for the next year.”

That brought mutterings of approval from the assembled insurgent leadership. “We’ll take those ships we believe can be retrofit with weapons, and we’ll scuttle the rest.”

Urlak smiled. “Well done, gentlemen. Your plan is approved. How quickly can we implement it?”

Dien spoke up, “Twelve hours, sir. We only need to finish the installation of the DST onboard the Vintar.”

The legate rose from his chair. “Proceed.” He took a last look at the plan, then turned and walked away. Better not to over think things, he thought. Events will transpire as they ought to. The future of Cardassia depends on it.


The maintenance bay was located just off main engineering. Captain Sandhurst, Lt. Commander Plazzi, and Lieutenant Ashok were gathered around the central work table, under the glare of lighting directed at the surface from overhead. Atop the table was a partially assembled device bearing a striking resemblance to the apparatus joined to Gibraltar’s plasma flow regulator.

Sandhurst was irritated. Reverse engineering the multi-phasic distortion generator, as they had come to name it, was proving more difficult than anticipated. They had detailed scans of the device’s internal components and structure, and Sandhurst had felt certain their understanding of how the mechanism operated was sufficient to enable the three of them to build a working reproduction. So much for his vaunted engineering skills, he thought soberly.

Plazzi examined the schematic displayed on the wall-mounted view screen. He scratched idly at his beard as he tried to puzzle out one of the more mystifying attributes of the device, namely how it managed to infiltrate the ship’s monitoring and diagnostic computer subroutines. He gestured at what they had all agreed was probably the central computational nexus, “You see these tubule looking structures here? I’m betting these are what the device extrudes in order to penetrate our optical data network. They appear very similar to Borg technology, both in design and function.” He traced a finger along a circuit pathway. “And this processor here, this is a Bynar design.”

Ashok spoke up, his voice booming unexpectedly in the confines of the work bay. “The programming that I managed to download from the original contained a series of complex algorithms. They were in a Vulcan programming language, if I am not mistaken.”

"I hate to say it, but if a foreign power built this, they based it on a great deal of Federation know-how.” Plazzi shook his head.

The captain frowned, as if having come to a difficult conclusion. “I think we built this.”

Plazzi gave the captain a sidelong glance. “And by ‘we’ you mean?”

“The Federation. This thing was constructed by someone using our techniques, utilizing technology only we have access to.” The captain sat down on a stool at the table and looked thoughtful. “Somebody who either knew or suspected that we’d encounter the dimensional shift transporter technology put this thing on our ship.”

Plazzi appeared confused. “Why not simply tell us? Why the secrecy? If we’d been notified, we could have more easily integrated the device into our systems.”

Sandhurst shrugged. “I don’t know. Whatever the reason, it’s damn troubling.” He shook his head sadly. “And why only us? If they’d placed one of these devices aboard Phoenix, we might not have four hundred plus people in cryo-sleep now.”

Ashok’s imperturbable visage cracked slightly, and the huge Bolian actually looked annoyed. He struck his sizeable fist against the top of the table, which rattled the assorted tools littering its surface. “Regardless, we need to finish this. Until we can safely maintain orbit of the planet, we are effectively useless.”

Plazzi quirked an eyebrow at the engineer’s outburst. He winked at the captain as he set back to the task at hand. “Right, Lieutenant. To work, to work.”

“No argument here, Mister Ashok.” Sandhurst raised his hands in a good-natured gesture of surrender.

ST: Gibraltar - The complete series at Ad Astra: ST: Gibraltar
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