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Old August 12 2012, 11:27 PM   #13
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Nine

Day Fourteen

He sent forth a dove from him,
To see if the waters were abated
From off the face of the ground.
(Genesis 8:8)


Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47


Yelgrun stared at a tactical display on his eyepiece while awaiting word from the rest of the bridge crew. The blips on his screen would occasionally appear and disappear, so he had no way of knowing if those energy signatures were real or not. He became increasingly apprehensive with each passing second, not sure if an enemy vessel would appear right on top of his ship, as had often happened ever since the Seventh Fleet had lent reinforcements to the area.

The main console chimed, catching Yelgrun’s attention. Another wave of enemy ships was on its way. “Enemy ships on approach,” Torgroth confirmed.

“How many?” First Mirak’tiral inquired with an ominous tone as he was towering over the Vorta.

“Four squads of twenty,” Torgroth placidly replied, keeping watch on his console to avoid seeing the Jem’Hadar’s prominent stature. “Federation light cruisers, Klingon Birds-of-Prey, and Romulan starbirds. At least those that we can see.”

Yelgrun turned to towards a compact male Vorta at a port forward tactical station. “Are the new tachyon warheads ready?” the ranking Vorta asked him.

“They are, sir,” the tactical officer answered, concentrating on one of his screen readouts. “One-hundred fifty isoton yield, explosive range three million kilometers. Should be enough to expose any cloak ships within that radius.”

“Very well,” Yelgrun said with an approving nod. “Jem’Hadar and Breen attack wings three through seven, move in on the asteroid field, try and weed out any ships you can find at close range. The rest, spread out and target any ships that try to slip out.”

“All forward guns,” Mirak’tiral added, “prepare full spreads of plasma torpedoes containing the new tachyon warheads. And fire at your discretion.”

“Belay that,” Yelgrun firmly chimed in, much to the First’s chagrin. He shot a disarming glare at him. “We don’t want to tip our hand just yet. Fire standard torpedoes to lay down cover fire, but do not, repeat do not arm any of the tachyon warheads until I give the go-ahead.”

“Understood,” one of the weapon technicians replied.

“Sadok’toran,” Mirak’tiral hissed. He made sure to keep his voice down, but the condemning tone still got the attention of the Vorta on the bridge.

“Not another word, First,” Yelgrun fired back in a more hushed tone, “Or you will not receive your next allotment of White with the others.”

Mirak’tiral simply looked away from Yelgrun. Whether he would raise this issue again, Yelgrun was not certain since his facial expression was nearly always a cold stare. Yelgrun was both thankful that he was around the Jem’Hadar to prevent them from acting too hastily and anxious about how dangerous a Jem’Hadar suffering from withdrawal was. Nevertheless, threatening to withhold the next dosage of ketracel-white still seemed like an effective means of discipline.

###

Captain’s log, Stardate 52895.3. We continue to head off attacks from fighter squads in the Daxura asteroid belts. In the last ten days, our forces have been largely successful in offsetting large-scale counter attacks. Stopping hit-and-run strikes from deep inside the asteroid fields is proving difficult, while their ace cruisers remain elusive.

“Moondance” by Nightwish

Limis was seated in the command chair reading a padd containing the latest system status updates. She signed off on those updates with a brief text message through the panel next to the chair. She perched the padd on the left armrest and glanced at Kozar, who was consulting with Morrison and Huckaby at the starboard mission ops station. She had an ominous feeling that the advantage the Federation Alliance fleet’s recent streak of victories would not last very long. That feeling seemed to be confirmed when the proximity alert sounded.

Morrison jaunted over to the tactical station while Huckaby raced across the bridge to ops. “Enemy ships on approach,” Morrison alerted the rest of the bridge crew. “Five fighter wings closing in on the asteroid field. Others are holding position along the periphery.”

“Alert all ships to form up at their designated coordinates,” Kozar instructed with a few slow steps in front of and to the right of the tactical station.

Limis tapped a few keys on the padd she was reading before stowing it in a side compartment on her chair. “Signal the rest of the Akira and Steamrunner wings to lend support just outside the asteroid field.”

“Enemy wings closing to forty thousand kilometers of the periphery,” Morrison added. “Weapons hot!”

Limis stood up and took a quick glance at her tactical officer, and then to Lieutenant Carson at the helm. “All weapons on full,” she ordered. “Attack pattern delta.”

A trio of Jem’Hadar fighters closed in on the Lambda Paz in a single-file formation, taking turns firing disruptors. The Lambda Paz fired back with phasers and a swarm of quantum torpedoes homing in on all three ships, clipping the outer ships while blowing the starboard nacelle off the center ship. The three ships broke off and swung back for another pass at the same time a trio of Breen fighters closed in, firing plasma charges at the ship and nearby asteroids to make maneuverability more difficult. Undaunted by the debris and plasma torpedo spreads from the heavy cruisers, the Lambda Paz arched downward and to port, and then swung around firing swarms of quantum torpedoes at the all the ships.

Six Excelsior and Vorcha-class ships, meanwhile, used phasers and disruptors to target the weapon ports of three Dominion heavy-cruisers and three Breen heavy cruisers while avoiding the seemingly endless swarms of torpedoes with haphazard twists and turns.

Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47, at the center of the line of capital ships, was largely able to absorb those attacks, while firing forward plasma torpedoes towards the edge of the asteroid field. Some those torpedoes exploded, illuminating silhouettes of Negh’Var-class heavy cruisers and D’deridex-class warbirds. Another spread of torpedoes destroyed three of the ships as they were uncloaking while others moved out of the line of fire while uncloaking.

“Looks like our decloak-and-attack maneuver is no good,” Morrison rhetorically observed.

“No need to tell me twice,” Limis responded while continuing to observe her tactical display. “Have all Klingon and Romulan attack wings spread out and lay down cover fire for any of the disabled ships. Instruct Luna wing five to provide support as well.”

Klingon and Romulan vessels of various classes and sizes swooped in to defend the disabled ships, destroying wings of Jem’Hadar and Breen attack cruisers along the way. A wing of Starfleet vessels, led by the Calisto and four other Lunas, moved in from behind to destroy a few more ships. Hordes of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters moved in from two sides firing at asteroids as opposing ships were trying to move out. A few Miranda and Constellation-class ships were destroyed by the onslaught of plasma torpedoes from the heavy cruisers while, at the same time, dodging fighters. The heavy cruisers stepped up their defense against attacking ships, firing from all gun ports destroying the six ships. Jem’Hadar and Breen battleships and attack cruisers targeted the approaching Klingon and Romulan heavy cruisers, destroying one Negh’Var-class ship and two Morgai-class warbirds. The lead Dominion heavy cruiser moved in closer to the periphery of the asteroid field and fired endless rounds of plasma torpedoes, hitting ships and asteroids alike.

Consoles on the bridge of the Lambda Paz exploded and a ceiling beam crashed, sending officers to the deck. The bridge rocked back and forth as the ship was trying to dodge debris with weakening deflectors.

“Deflector two just went offline,” Huckaby grimly informed the bridge. “Deflectors three and four are down to seventy percent effectiveness.”

“Route auxiliary power to the forward deflector to disperse that approaching debris,” Limis snapped. “Do whatever you can to move us out of its path, helm.”

“If I were holding anything back, I’d tell you,” Carson retorted while keeping a firm grip on the helm to make quick course corrections.

“Jem’Hadar fighters to port and starboard,” Morrison reported. “Firing phasers.”

“Aft torpedoes on that heavy cruiser on the port stern,” Kozar added as he let the tactical station break his fall with the bridge shaking back and forth. “Dispersal pattern tango-delta.”

The aft dorsal torpedoes fired, weakening the heavy cruiser’s shields, but it kept coming while more Breen fighters slipped in and fired, doing heavy damage to the Lambda Paz’s secondary hull. The Starfleet vessel fired phasers from the nacelles emitters at fighters that had swung by with additional Breen fighters targeting those emitters, disabling them. A spread of torpedoes was able to destroy passing fighters. Two more Jem’Hadar fighters then emerged from deep in the field and fired, blowing out the port nacelle.

“Heavy damage to the starboard secondary impulse engine,” Carson reported. “Attempting to bypass.”

“We’ve lost power to the port nacelle,” Huckaby added. “Dorsal phaser emitters on both nacelles are gone as well.”

“Route as much power as you can to the emitters still functioning,” Limis replied. “Prometheus-wing one, how ‘bout you guys take some of the pressure off us?”

The Epimetheus and four other Prometheus-classes swooped in and engaged multi-vector assault mode, both to give the enemy more targets and maneuver more easily in the asteroid field. The five ships, that were now fifteen, fired alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes. The modules of each ship stayed fairly close to one another because of the difficulty of communications in the asteroid field.

Several enemy fighters were damaged or destroyed, while surviving ships whether fully functional or not were equally as relentless. Using either weapons fire or ramming, they were able to take out individual modules of two of the Prometheus-classes.

“That took some pressure off, indeed,” Morrison half-sarcastically remarked. “But we’re still losing ships as fast they are.”

“Recommend we fall back to a position just outside the system,” Kozar suggested to Limis.

“Concur,” Limis said with little hesitation. The resistance fighter in her wanted to curse the Starfleet portion of her persona. Her side was very often the side pulling off hit-and-run strikes, but even though the shoe was now on the other foot, Limis felt caught completely off-guard. Sooner or later, the tide of battle would turn, she knew, but she chose to ignore that gut feeling this time. “All Luna and Prometheus wings, move out. Lay down cover fire for any nearby disabled ships. But tell the Epimetheus to hold position, Mister Huckaby.”

That last order caught Kozar and Huckaby by surprise.
Ignoring the confusion on their faces, Limis continued issuing orders. “Helm, take us deeper into the asteroid field.”

“Captain?” Sara blurted, struggling to comprehend the logic of that order.

“Do it,” Limis confirmed. “Come to course two-one mark three-five-five. Full impulse.”

Kozar took several steps closer to the captain’s chair to punctuate his pending question. “Captain, what are you doing?” he demanded.

Limis ignored Kozar’s inquiry and arched her head towards Morrison. “How many tactical nukes do we have in our arsenal?” she asked him.

“Fourteen,” Morrison answered, trying to hide his skepticism.

“Attach six radiogenic warheads to the quantum torpedoes,” Limis continued. “Get down to the torpedo bay and lend a hand. Epimetheus, follow us in so you can cover us.”

The serene voice of Commander Selek piped in through the ship-to-ship comm chatter. “Captain, if I may ask the logic behind this course of action…”

“No, you may not,” Limis unflinchingly replied with a collectedness that belied the stereotypical Vulcan calmness. “Put us on course.”

Carson quickly entered the new course, and then rose from her chair to address the captain. “Captain,” she said, “the starboard impulse engine is a little sluggish and could give out at any time. I should probably help out with repairs down there.”

“Go ahead,” Limis answered with an approving nod. “Kozar, take the helm, Huckaby, tactical.”

The two men quickly obliged, Kozar racing over to the vacant helm station and Huckaby heading across the bridge to tactical. Limis wanted her best officers at key positions on the bridge. After seeing Morrison and Carson step on the starboard turbolift, Limis sat in her chair wondering if her next move was a risk worth taking or a foolish effort at redemption.

***

Where Morrison and Carson were headed happened to be on the same deck. They gave each other the usual silent treatment along the way. Upon arrival at their destination, Mandel offered to let Sara exit first. She happily obliged.

As they rushed down the corridor, Rebecca Sullivan caught up to them from an adjoining hallway. She walked alongside Sara with a toolkit in tow, catching a glimpse of Mandel right behind them. “Fancy seeing you down here,” she said. “I was on my way to take a look at the starboard impulse engine.”

“I figured you could use some help,” Sara retorted even though she had no way of knowing that Rebecca would be the officer sent from engineering.

Morrison quietly snickered, wondering if this was some kind of playful flirting. Then again, maybe it wasn’t or they just hid it very well since they were speaking professionally to each other. Outwardly, he expressed some kind of perverse admiration for his former lover now being involved with another woman. Deep down, though, he regretted having sabotaged his relationship with Sara. Those feelings would be no different had Sara been involved with a man. In the long run, he didn’t know what he wanted out of any romantic partnership, which had cost him many relationships over the years. For now, he was happy for Sara and Rebecca.

The long and awkward silence was interrupted when the deck shook, courtesy of a Jem’Hadar fighter firing blindly. A large chunk of a destroyed asteroid plowed into the ship’s secondary hull. The corridor rocked even harder, sending all three officers to the deck. Sparks gushed from the walls and metal beams crashed from the ceiling, blocking the hallway in both directions. One of the girders pinned Rebecca’s left leg to the ground, and she cried out from the intense pain.

***

The Lambda Paz fired phasers continuously, clipping the Jem’Hadar fighter’s hull on the third shot. The still separated modules of the Epimetheus swooped in from behind and fired swarms of quantum torpedoes that destroyed the attacking ship.

“Got him,” Huckaby said with reserved jubilation. “But there are anywhere between three and fifteen other fighters within a fifty thousand kilometer radius.”

Limis nodded lightly in acknowledgment. What was more on her mind was that Morrison had not yet arrived at the main torpedo bay, nor had Carson been able to lend a hand with the sluggish impulse engine. That only meant getting the ship ready for this daring maneuver would take a while longer. No sense in dwelling on assets she did not have.

The sound of comm chime soon caught the captain’s attention. “Torpedo bay to bridge,” came the voice of a male weapon technician. “The warheads are installed, but launch control is down.”

“Then use transporters to seed them on nearby asteroids,” Limis quickly responded. She closed the channel with a quick tap of her comm panel and stood up to address the bridge. “All right, people, this is going to get bumpy. And the explosion may take us with the enemy. Huckaby, be ready to detonate on my command. Kozar, lay in an escape course. Transfer as much reserve power as you can to the impulse engines and be ready to take us to warp once those nukes blow. Do you copy, Epimetheus?”

“Affirmative,” Selek stoically replied over the ship-to-ship comm. “We’re heading out at maximum impulse, ready to jump to warp at the exact moment of detonation.”

“Torpedoes away, Captain,” the weapon technician added. “You’ll be ready to proceed.”

“Escape course, helm,” Limis steadily instructed. “Detonate on my mark…”

The Epimetheus’s three modules quickly moved out ahead of the Lambda Paz, which was hanging close to three nearby asteroids in order to trigger the remote detonators.

“Distance, thirty-five thousand kilometers,” Kozar reported. “Forty thousand…”

Limis was not the least bit concerned about what would happen after the nukes detonated when issuing the order. “Mark!”

Six different explosions originated from the three asteroids as the Lambda Paz was speeding away. The blast encompassed a very large area, vaporizing an entire squad of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters within ten thousand kilometers. The explosive shockwave still clipped the Lambda Paz and Epimetheus.

Kozar kept a heavy grip on the helm to hold the ship steady as the bridge rattled. “Impulse engines are out. I’m trying to reset the inertial dampers.” With a few quick commands entered on the console, the shaking stopped.

Limis gathered herself, brushed off her uniform, and sat back in the command chair. “Epimetheus, what’s your status?”she inquired with hope they were in better shape.

“Warp and impulse engines off-line,”Selek replied calmly, but ominously. “Shields are failing, and we cannot reattach the three modules.”

Limis sighed in frustration. That seemed like nothing compared to Kozar approaching after he relinquished the helm to a Ktarian male ensign. “Are you happy?” he asked with cold stare.

Limis was quite taken aback by his confrontational tone in earshot of the rest of the bridge crew. “Excuse me?” she asked with wide-eyed bewilderment. “Are you actually asking me if I’m happy my ship crippled? Then, of course not!”

This exchange caught the attention of Huckaby and other lower-ranking officers. Kozar quickly realized his error and seated himself in the other command chair. “With all due respect, Captain,” with a more hushed tone, “that was an insanely risky a maneuver.

Limis sighed, trying to keep her composure. “We’re not dead yet,” she plainly stated. “If we get out of this predicament, feel free to file a formal protest. Right now we need to concentrate on keeping this ship in one piece.”

“Not to mention,” Huckaby chimed in with a grim tone, “getting out of this part of the asteroid before the shields fail completely. Radiation levels at ninety millirads per minute and rising. At this rate, we’re looking at lethal exposure in about thirty-seven minutes.”
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