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Old August 31 2012, 12:28 AM   #17
Enterprise1981
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Eleven (continued)

“The Islander” by Nightwish

The Constantinople and the 272nd tactical wing dropped out of warp just outside the nebula.

Ellison had completed a full circuit around the bridge to assess the status of each station, while Jellico sat in the command chair monitoring tactical displays and communications chatter. The admiral had a grim expression on his face when the first officer sat down in the chair on Jellico’s right, as if he had gotten some bad news from one the other ship captains.

“The Klingons and Romulans are sending additional warships,” Jellico noted. “They’re not going here for a while with Chancellor Martok struggling to get all his generals in line and Temlek briefing his successor after…”

“Yes, sir,” Ellison replied with a light nod, knowing how Jellico would finish that sentence. Martok had been anointed chancellor of the Klingon Empire just a few short weeks earlier, though not every general in the Defense Forces recognized him as the new leader because of the role a Klingon Starfleet officer played in his rise to power. Temlek was the commander of the Romulan Star Navy forces contributing ships to the Seventh Fleet until Captain Limis took her ship into a sector under Romulan protection against his wishes.

Both Ellison and Jellico knew all too well had prompted Temlek to request a transfer, so they saw no point in rehashing it on the bridge. A proximity alert then quickly caught the attention of the captain and first officer.

“Ships are coming out of the nebula,” Jeth’ron informed the rest of the bridge crew. “Three hundred fifty seven Jem’Hadar and Breen ships closing fast.”

“That’s three times the number of ships the preliminary scouts indicated saw,” Jellico remarked. “All ships, spread along the outer periphery of the nebula. Lay down fire on any attacking ships.” He glanced at Ellison once again, and he agreed with what Jellico might have been thinking.

“You’d think they knew we were coming,” Ellison remarked. “And they’re not going let us get out of here in one piece.”

Swarms of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters swooped in, destroying light cruisers and fighter shuttles very quickly. Other fighters targeted the capital ships, laying down cover fire for the attack cruisers and battleships, leading the way for five Dominion heavy cruisers to fire barrages of plasma torpedoes from all gun ports. One of them targeted the Constantinople, doing considerable damage to the saucer section.

The bridge rocked hard and consoles exploded, sending officers to the deck. Ellison checked on one of the fallen officers, feeling for a pulse on his neck, while Jellico was fervently entering commands on his right armrest panel. “Signal all ships to fall back and regroup at these coordinates,” he instructed Matthew Herron as he entered a set of numbers.

“I’ll do my best to compensate for a rotating EM pulse they’re emitting,” the communications officer responded, firmly gripping his console.

“That’s all I ask,” Jellico replied. He rose from his seat and marched towards the tactical station. “Jeth’ron, have all capital lay down cover fire for the smaller ships. Helm, move us off at one-quarter impulse.”

The bridge shook again. The combination of an electrical overload in the deck and a falling ceiling beam claimed Jellico as one of the latest casualties. Ellison kneeled next to the admiral and felt for a pulse on his neck, finding he was still alive, albeit barely. “Where are those damn medics?!” he bellowed in Herron’s direction.

“They’re coming, sir,” Herron replied, hardly reassuring since they were not yet here.

Jem’Hadar materialized on the bridge in two groups of three, prompting Ellison to sound intruder alert. Two security guards stationed at each of the two entrances to the observation lounge fired their phaser rifles at the intruders, dispatching two of them while the other four spread out. Truxia and Nave dove for cover while Jeth’ron and the four guards kept laying down phaser fire. One of the Jem’Hadar effortlessly lifted the petite Nave off the deck by the collar. She landed a punch to his left jaw, and in that moment of distraction, Jeth’ron shot him.

***

In a narrow corridor just outside of engineering, Lisa Neeley and Loukas Pherrelius were firing phaser rifles in the direction of attacking Jem’Hadar and Breen. Two armored Breen were armed with curved swords, slashing the necks of two human soldiers, but they were just as quickly dispatched by kligats that two Capellan males flung in their direction. Amidst the back and forth exchanges of phaser fire with neither side giving in, two Jem’Hadar slipped by into a perpendicular corridor.

“Cover us while we go after them,” Neeley instructed what was now an eight person team. The other Marines obliged, firing in the direction of four Jem’Hadar and four Breen. Pherrelius followed the two Jem’Hadar who slipped by the barrages of weapon fire down the connecting corridor while Neeley headed in the opposite direction, which was the more direct route to engineering.

As the two Jem’Hadar are on their way to engineering, two Brikar soldiers emerged through doors on both sides of the hallway and snapped their necks. But they were met by four Jem’Hadar and two Breen coming from opposite directions. The two Brikars engaged the Breen in hand-to-hand combat while the Jem’Hadar laid down cover fire as they slip past the close quarters fighting. The pair of Breen then managed to dispatch their two opponents.

Down the hall, Neeley threw a stun grenade that took out both Breen and one Jem’Hadar. Firing her phaser rifle, she was able to dispatch two of the remaining three Jem’Hadar, while the one still standing fired and clipped her in the left shoulder. Pherrelius fired at him from behind. “Looks like he got you in the shoulder,” he remarked as he saw a burn mark on her vest.

“It’s just a flesh wound,” Neeley replied, hoping to dodge further discussion of her wound.

“Where Jem’Hadar weapons are concerned, it’s not just a flesh wound.”

“I’ll let you know when I’m bleeding to death.” They dodged more plasma charges as they resumed firing in the enemy’s direction with the rest of the unit lending support from behind the intruders.

***

Ellison tried to move Jellico’s unconscious form out of the line fire towards the row of starboard auxiliary stations while clipping a Jem’Hadar with his phaser. Two Jem’Hadar emerged from the observation lounge’s port egress, killing one of the guards and sending the other to the deck. One of the guards at the starboard egress shot one of the Jem’Hadar with his rifle while Ellison dove towards the second. He grabbed the blade from the rifle of an incapacitated solider and jammed it into the other Jem’Hadar’s chest.

Four medics emerged from the deck hatch in front of the port turbolift, each accompanied by security guards. The guards laid down cover fire for the medics while four more Jem’Hadar materialized on the port side of the compartment and began shooting indiscriminately. Truxia flung her chair in their direction, creating a momentary distraction. Nave and one the security guards alongside a medic dispatched him with their phasers. The Starfleet officers on the bridge still standing kept firing aimlessly while ducking out of the way of enemy fire.

Despite every effort to protect the medics and their patients, one of the medics was killed by a barrage of plasma charges. With a primordial wale, Ellison dispatched two of the Jem’Hadar with a fallen Jem’Hadar’s plasma rifle. After Jeth’ron took out the last of the intruders with his phaser rifle, he looked down at his console. “The emergency transport dampening field has switched on,” he informed Ellison. “There are still intruders on decks five, eleven, and fourteen.”

“Understood,” Ellison replied, trying to catch his breath. With a murderous rage in his eyes, he stared at the body of the dead medic and then at the body of the Jem’Hadar who killed him. He launched the plasma rifle still in his hands at the corpse, savagely beating it. “Fuck you!” he screamed. “Fuck you, you heartless pieces of shit! That’s for every medical transport destroyed, every injured or dying soldier you thugs have killed!”

Nave and Jeth’ron pulled him away from the corpse and restrained him. He took a few breaths and calms himself. A proximity alert then caught everyone’s attention at that same moment.

Truxia picked up her chair off the floor and placed it front of the ops console. “I’m reading several dozen tachyon surges,” she said, keeping her gaze on the console as she seated herself in the chair. “Ships are decloaking.”

Dozens of Klingon and Romulan capital ships uncloaked. A few Raptora-class warbirds were right on top of Dominion and Breen heavy cruisers, doing heavy damage to the outer hulls. Twelve Negh’Var and Vor’cha class cruisers laid down additional fire from further away, destroying two Breen ships and one Jem’Hadar. Waves of starbirds and Birds-of-Prey managed to drive off the most of the fighters and attack cruisers.

Ellison stared at the viewscreen in awe as the fresh set of ships continued blowing away enemy ships. While he did not believe in any deity for most of his life, he believed in divine intervention at this very moment. “Where’d they come from?” he wondered aloud. “They weren’t supposed to be here for another two hours.”

“We should just be thankful they are here,” Jeth’ron plainly replied. A blinking indicator on his console then caught his attention. “Security reports the boarding parties are contained, most of them having retreated when reinforcements arrived.”

“Casualties?”

“Fourteen dead,” Herron grimly responded, “seventeen others in critical condition in sickbay.”

Ellison just stood in eerie silence. He watched the medics carry away the dead and injured on anti-gravity stretchers. The last of the bodies taken away was that of Admiral Jellico.

###

The wounded were being treated in sickbay, the more critical cases in the primary ward. Ellison, Jeth’ron, and Nave were among those being treated for minor wounds in the secondary ward—Ellison for scrapes and bruises on his jaws, neck, and forehead; Jeth’ron for a disruptor wound in his right hip, and Nave for broken bones in her right hand and fingers where she landed a punch on a Jem’Hadar’s jaw.

After he was treated for his injury, Ellison sauntered by Neeley, who was being treated for her injury, and entered the primary ward where Collins was attending to Jellico in the main intensive care unit. “How is he?” he inquired with very reserved optimism.

“Not good,” Collins answered with a dour shake of her head. “I’ve managed to induce a coma to protect his higher functions. I can keep him alive indefinitely with a respirator. Whether he regains consciousness at all is highly unlikely.”

Ellison sighed while staring gloomily at the unconscious Jellico, most of his face covered with a breathing apparatus and a feeding tube inserted into the side of his mouth. “Do whatever you can,” Ellison instructed the doctor. “Contact his next of kin at your earliest convenience. I’ll make an announcement to the crew.”

***

“The chances that he’ll regain consciousness are very slim,” Ellison informed the senior staff while sitting at the head of the table in the observation lounge. “That means I am officially assuming command. Captain Lemnitzer of the Nicopolis has assumed command of the 272nd tactical wing. We’ll be rejoining the battle group in forty-eight hours.”
Kopolev’s jaw dropped when he heard that last statement. From Ellison’s left, he looked the acting captain straight in the face. “That’s hardly enough time to complete repairs of major systems,” he contested, “especially with a third of my crew down.”

“I understand the difficulties,” Ellison assured the chief engineer. “But this class of ship can hold out a lot longer in a firefight. And we need every functioning ship on the front lines crewed by the best officers we can spare. Lieutenant Commander Truxia, you’re first officer.”

Jeth’ron was seated to Ellison’s immediate right and to Truxia’s left. “With respect, sir,” he interjected, “as second officer, I am next in line.”

“That’s true,” said Ellison. “But I need your expertise at tactical. Commander Logan, the Agamemnon lost her chief engineer and most of that department’s senior officers. They could use your experience.”

Logan was seated at the far end of the table on Ellison’s right. “If this has anything to do with…” he started to say.

“It does not,” Ellison hissed, resisting the urge to tell him off. He admired Logan’s strict adherence to safety regulations. What frustrated Ellison was that no matter how many times superior officers reminded Logan that following those regulations to the letter was not always possible during times of war, the career starship designer could not switch off that particular mental schema. By now, Ellison was eager for any pretext to get Logan off Constantinople.

“If you’re going to continue to be this petty,” Ellison added, “I can, instead, relieve you of duty and send you back to Utopia Planitia in the slowest transport I can find.”

Logan remained silent, simply rolling his eyes and lowering his head deferently.

“Now, I need each and every one of you to continue doing your jobs to the best of your ability,” Ellison announced to the rest of the officers in the meeting, “because we still have a war to win. What we all do here will make a difference in the freedom of the galaxy or its enslavement.”
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