Limis Vircona stared blankly at the desk monitor in her quarters waiting for her transmission to Bajor to be acknowledged.
She had made a point to keep in touch with her son ever since she had freed him from the clutches of the infamous Cardassian scientist Crell Moset to let him know that he was an important part of her life. He had resented her for placing the Maquis ahead of finding him after he had gone missing. They had exchanged letters on a weekly basis after they had escaped Sentok Nor. She told him about the progress of the war to provide a more firsthand perspective of the mostly impersonal News Service reports while he told her about life at the university.
Limis had nearly nodded off when the computer chimed. “Transmission received,”
its feminine voice intoned.
She flashed a wide smile, something she rarely ever did in the last two years, seeing the young man’s light blue eyes and dark blond hair. The exchange of written messages was helpful in maintaining a mostly strained relationship, but still impersonal. Seeing his face through a live transmission brightened her day. He was the one light in her life, the one constant in an otherwise chaotic universe.
“Mother, this is a surprise,” Hasin Yanith said with a blank stare. “You usually send time-delayed recordings. Is everything all right?”
She reduced her smile to a smirk, realizing she often tried to soften the blow of bad news with a smile. “Everything is fine for now, son,” she assured him. “I just wanted to talk to you face-to-face, just in case I…” She couldn’t bring herself to finish that sentence. She was mostly worried that her son would seem indifferent to the possibility of her demise. Despite the rocky state of their relationship, she knew losing both parents just two years apart would be tough on Yanith. “Let’s just say the Dominion will make us fight for every inch of space.”
“Is it really that bad?” Yanith inquired. “I’ve been hearing that they’re massing for one last strike, that most of us won’t live to see the final outcome.”
“I’m not going to sugarcoat it,” Vircona said with a more somber expression. “Win or lose, we’re going to lose many lives before it’s all over. I just wanted to let you know how much I love you in case we never see each other again.
“I may have placed my work ahead of you over the years. That comes with being a single mother. Of course, if I had to do it over again, I wouldn’t abandon you on Tevlik’s moonbase. If you don’t see me again, just know that I did this for you. I’m going to do whatever I can to keep Bajor safe, and hence keep you safe.”
“It’s quite all right, Mom. I forgive you. I might not have been able to say it while I was under the tender care of Crell Moset or when you chose to send me away again as if I was an inconvenience. I’ve had some time to think, and I know you had your reasons for everything you’ve done. I know that deep down, you care about me and want to do everything to keep me happy and safe.”
Vircona’s eyes were brimming with tears as she simply overcome with elation that her son had forgiven her negligence. While he was an adult, she knew he couldn’t deny how much his mother’s love was a source of emotional strength for him. Those words had now given her reason to survive the next few weeks. “You have no idea how relieved I am to hear you say that,” she replied. “Stay safe and wish me luck.”
“Stay safe, mother. We may not believe in the Prophets, but I will pray for your safe return home.”
“Thank you. That means a lot. I love you, son.”
“I love you too, mother.”
After the transmission ended, Limis played it back, paused it, and stroked her son’s face.
Rebecca Sullivan entered the cabin she shared with Sara Carson not expecting her cohabitant to be there. That was why Rebecca stopped in her tracks, at a loss for words when she did see her. Sara had just lit the first candle of a menorah, situated on the coffee table in the living area.
“I just dropped by to pick up a toolkit,” Rebecca said nervously, trying to avoid coming across as disrespectful towards a long-practiced religious ritual. Humans who had any religious affiliations had been increasingly rare in recent centuries, ever since interstellar space travel was achieved. Rebecca was not particularly enamored with any particular human or non-human religious practices, but she was open to the possibility that a divine being existed on some higher plane of existence even if it could not be proven. Most of all, Rebecca was pleasantly surprised to learn that her lover practiced any type of religious ritual. “I thought you’d be on the bridge by now,” she added.
“Not for another ten minutes,” Sara replied, as she placed the candle used to illuminate the first candle in the center of the menorah. She grinned when she saw Rebecca still staring awkwardly at her and at the display of candles. “It’s a menorah,” she explained. “The illumination of lights on each of the eight days of Hanukah is meant as beautification of the mitzvah
“I know what it’s for…mostly,” Rebecca replied as she circled the table while keeping her awed gaze on the lit candles. “I just didn’t know you were…what’s the word…Jewish?”
“Not entirely; Sephardic Jewish ancestry on my mother’s side.”
“So what do we do after it’s lit?”
“We pray and meditate.”
Rebecca flashed a grin of embarrassment. “I’m afraid I don’t know any prayers.”
“Neither do I. We’ll stick to meditating; reminding ourselves that all life is sacred even as we cope with the reality that so many flames will go out today and beyond.”
Rebecca couldn’t help but be moved by Sara’s eloquence. Her eyes brimmed with tears as she remembered all the losses the endured throughout her life and that all the candles in the universe could not adequately memorialize the deaths of her parents, the thousands of her friends and colleagues in the Maquis who were mercilessly slaughtered by the Jem’Hadar, and most especially, her husband. True, Michael Eddington was her past and Sara Carson her present, there would always be a place in her heart for her deceased husband. And many more lives would still be lost before the war was resolved. “That was beautiful,” she told Sara.
“I thought so,” Sara modestly replied.
Then cometh Jesus with them,
Unto a placed called Gethsemane…
Then saith unto them,
My soul is exceeding sorrowful,
Even unto death.
Nightwish: Gethsemane/Gothic Sanctuary
Limis was seated at the command chair, anxiously waiting for a perimeter alert to sound. She took quick glances at Morrison at tactical, then Carson at the conn. She was then reminded of who was absent, seeing an empty chair to her left and a fair-skinned human male officer at ops. Kozar and Huckaby, she remembered, were temporarily reassigned to the USS Kaneda
by her order as captain and tactical officer respectively.
The expected perimeter alert sounded, nearly knocking Limis out of her seat, as her focus had been entirely on reading status reports on a padd.
“Enemy fleet coming into range,” Carson reported.
“Shields at full strength,” added Morrison. “All weapons charged.”
“Open a channel to all ships,” Limis commanded while rising from the command chair. “We’re launching a three-pronged attack,” she announced once Morrison had opened a ship-to-ship communications channel. “Light cruiser wings five through fifteen will take on the Cardassian squadrons on the outer formation. All Luna
wings will take on the Jem’Hadar and Breen in the center to try to open a hole in their lines.
“The Lambda Paz
, and Thunderchild
will lead a squad of ships towards the sun. Our hope is to induce a solar eruption that will knock down a considerable portion of the enemy ships. When I give the order, break off and do not look back. This tactic has already worked before when the Monac Four shipyards were taken out. That also means they’ll be prepared for it. Nevertheless, this will give us a better chance of fighting our way to Cardassia. So stay sharp and be prepared for anything.”
Waves of Nebula
-class ships spread out and fired at a line of Galor
-class destroyers while fighter shuttles took on Hideki
-class patrol vessels. They remained fairly evenly matched, but a few Starfleet fighters managed to slip past the fireball of exploding enemy ships.
Breen and Jem’Hadar fighters closed in on a line of three Prometheus
-class ships, firing simultaneously at the three ships’ forward sections. The Starfleet ships returned fire with both phasers and quantum torpedoes. Two of the Breen fighters were destroyed while a trio of Jem’Hadar fighters swerved out of the way. A wave of Saber
class Starfleet ships, Klingon Birds-of-Prey
, and Romulan starbirds moved up alongside the formation and confronted two dozen Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters behind the first line of fighters. Phaser salvos slowed down the advancing enemy ships while swarms of torpedoes damaged or destroyed a third of all the oncoming ships.
The Lambda Paz
, and Calisto
swooped in on the center of the enemy formation, firing alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes at a group of Jem’Hadar battleships and Breen heavy cruisers. A line of Akiras
, Klingon attack cruisers and Romulan warbirds provided supported alongside the three Lunas
, knocking down supporting Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters. The Lambda Paz
was able to take out one of the two Dominion battleships.
“We destroyed out one of the Jemmies,” Morrison reported, “while the flanking Breen ships are moving around for another pass.”
“Target secondary phaser arrays on those ships,” Limis replied while glancing from her tactical display. “Helm, move us through that wedge up ahead.”
“New heading: eight-six mark three-four seven,” Carson said as she entered the new course.
,” Limis added. “Follow us in while laying down cover fire against those Breen cruisers. Thunderchild
, call in as many support vessels as you need and keep all the surrounding vessels occupied. Anyone else who gets through doesn’t stop until we reach the sun.”
The command deck of Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47 was now being manned mostly by Jem’Hadar. Second Turak’miron manned the master situation console at the center of the compartment. Third Ikan’irral and other lower-ranking Jem’Hadar manned surrounding stations. Various auxiliary stations throughout the command deck were manned by low-ranking Vorta, who held no positions of authority outside of their own departments. They were also in no position to try to stage any type of counter-insurgency, so they simply accepted the changing of the guard without question in order to spare their own lives.
Turak’miron looked up from his console when his display indicated about a dozen enemy vessels had penetrated Dominion lines. “They appear to be headed for the sun, First,” he offered. “They may be trying to trigger a solar eruption similar to the one that destroyed the Monac Four shipyards.”
“Then we must make sure they do not reach their target,” replied Mirak’tiral. He adjusted his eyepiece containing a holographic tactical to zoom in on three Luna
-class destroyers fighting their way past Dominion and Breen battleships. The center ship was designated USS Lambda Paz
. “Move us within twenty-thousand kilometers of the center ship,” he went on with a brief glance at Ikan’irral, and then back at Turak’miron, “and engage all forward torpedo tubes. Target launchers one through three on the center ship and the rest on the two flanking vessels.”
“Yes, First,” Turak’miron quickly replied.
“Closing to within twenty thousand kilometers,” Ikan’irral added.
The humongous Dominion heavy cruiser homed in on the formation of Starfleet vessels, firing swarms of plasma torpedoes. One spread of torpedoes plowed into the Thunderchild
, heavily damaging the saucer section’s aft.
Keith Ellison firmly grasped the arms of his chair to keep himself from being thrown to the deck by the back and forth rocking of the bridge. He took brief glances at Truxia, who was manning operations slightly to the left of the two command chairs, and then at Sarah Nave, manning the helm. The Bolian manning the tactical station, slightly to the right of the captain’s chair, was Lieutenant junior grade Jovis Ren. According to his file, Ren had served on what seemed like a dozen different ships since the war began.
Ellison knew firsthand how flexible ship assignments tended to be during wartime. Much of the crew of the late Constantinople
had been reassigned elsewhere, including the Thunderchild
after she lost her captain and first officer, along with many key officers.
“Hull breach on deck five,” Ren grimly reported. “Aft plasma conduits there have ruptured.”
“Evacuate that section,” Ellison barked. For a second, he had forgotten the Bolian officer’s name, but then put that thought aside. In the heat of battle, he had no time to worry that this lower-ranking officer might not be as competent a tactical officer as the late Jeth’ron. “Route emergency to shields,” he added while consulting his tactical display on a panel on the chair’s right armrest. “Call in light cruiser wings ten and thirteen for support. Evasive pattern delta.”
Truxia futilely tapped controls on her console, but all she got was static. “I can’t get through to any ships beyond ten thousand kilometers,” she grunted in frustration. “Communications are being jammed.”
“Damnit!” Ellison hissed, smacking the right armrest of his chair. “Try to compensate. Helm, bring us about. We’re going to take them head on.”
“I’ll do what I can,” Nave tried to assure him, “but they’re still closing.”
The bridge of the Lambda Paz
rocked hard from enemy weapons fire. A fuel conduit ruptured in the wall behind the tactical, from which Morrison was able to duck away. “We’ve just lost number two shield,” he reported. “Number three shield at sixty-three percent.”
“Reroute auxiliary power,” Limis snapped. “Stand by to bring us about. Load forward and aft torpedoes. Attack pattern beta rho.”
“Torpedoes ready,” Morrison said as his hands hovered over the controls.
The Lambda Paz
fired aft torpedoes, and then quickly arched around firing another swarm of torpedoes from the two forward launchers. The torpedoes plowed into the hull, scorching large portions of the forward hull on the port side. The Kaneda
fired torpedo spreads that damaged the starboard side.
“Heavy damage to launchers three, five, and eight,” Huckaby reported while jumping out of the way of gushing sparks.
“Any luck breaking through that jamming field?” Kozar inquired.
“Not yet, sir.”
“Keep at it. Hopefully, some of those other ships will figure out that we could use some help.”
A few supporting ships swerved in on the heavy cruiser, firing alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes. More ships joined from behind, including three Prometheus
-class ships that engaged multi-vector assault mode. The three modules of each of the ships, damaging the heavy cruiser’s warp nacelles.
“We’ve knocked out three more of their torpedo launchers,” Morrison reported. “Moderate damage to nacelle field emitters.”
“Stand by,” Limis said with her focus on the tactical display. She waited until most of the ships, indicated in the form of Starfleet logos, had swung past the heavy cruiser. “Break!”
The Lambda Paz
and the flanking vessels spread apart and swung back in the direction of the Minakus star.
The Lambda Paz
, along with the Thunderchild
sped towards the star with the Derna
bringing up the rear. A swarm of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters emerged from the stars corona. The Jem’Hadar fired aimless disruptor salvos in the direction of the five ships while the Breen fired pulse cannons. Just as the two rear ships were breaking off, a Jem’Hadar and a Breen fighter rammed into the Calisto
, blowing it apart.
Undaunted, the three ships charged with triggering the solar eruption continued moving closer and closer to the sun. At the same time, the ships that continued to engage the enemy broke off their attacks, tractored away disabled ships, and streaked into warp.
The Lambda Paz
, and Kaneda
spread apart and moved closer to the surface of the sun. They fired simultaneous phaser bursts at the sun, triggering the expected solar eruptions. Three large plumes coursed from the sun, vaporizing several hundred Dominion, Cardassian, and Breen vessels.
“By the Founders, get us out of here!”
Mirak’tiral’s expression was one uncharacteristic of a Jem’Hadar. He could not contain the terror in his voice as he watched one of the solar eruptions moving closer and closer to his ship.
“Engineering is having trouble generating a stable field,” Ikan’irral nervously explained.
Mirak’tiral grunted in frustration. “We have seven redundant power cores,” he snapped. “Surely, the enemy fleet didn’t damage all
of them. Route power from one of them and get us out of here.”
“It’s not that simple, First,” Ikan’irral attempted. “We need to…”
“We are not interested in excuses, Third,” Turak’miron hissed. “Just take us to warp before we’re all vaporized.”
Right on cue, a chirping on Ikan’irral’s console caught the Third’s attention. “We have warp three.”
“Then engage!” Mirak’tiral snapped.
The heavy cruiser’s warp nacelles lit up, but were still sluggish in bringing the ship to warp. As the ship was moving away at impulse, one of the solar eruptions clipped the aft. Within a second, the ship streaked into warp to escape further damage.
Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47 was only able to stay at warp for an hour before it slowed to impulse.
Seventh Trok’dalon had been monitoring repairs to the ship from the main engineering section while serving as a spy for the Founder. He had never envisioned a scenario in which he would have to go against his fellow soldiers. It was not entirely unprecedented. Every so often, a troop commander executed an insubordinate soldier or a lower-ranking Jem’Hadar executed his superior by order of a Vorta. That was to assure discipline within the unit. Instances of open rebellion were comparatively very rare, and those rebellious tendencies were quickly rooted out of the gene pool. The cold, hard fact of the matter, though, was that his shipmates had broken their oath to the Founders. They were disloyal soldiers who had to be exterminated.
After warp capability had been lost, he headed for the Founder’s new quarters, which was designated headquarters for the counter-insurgency. The Founder and his personal guards were already present upon his arrival.
“Founder,” Trok’dalon said with a bow of his head. “The ship has fallen out of warp and is now at one-half impulse. Repairs are being rushed to the warp drive. Most lower-ranking Vorta are now serving the insurgents to assist in the repairs.”
“We will need to do whatever we can to slow repairs,” the Founder replied. “That means sabotaging key circuitry.”
“We have an adequate number of troops who support the counter-insurgency.”
“Excellent. And what of the primary locational transponder?”
“We have been unable to access it yet, so whether the insurgents have shut it down or have altered the frequency is uncertain.”
“Access to the transponder will be your top priority then,” the Founder informed the young Jem’Hadar. “We have to let others know this vessel has been hijacked by disloyal soldiers.”
“Of course,” Trok’dalon replied with another bow of his head. “I serve the Founders in all things.”
The withering Changeling returned the bow in acknowledgment. “Your fidelity is appreciated. Now get to work retaking this ship.”
Trok’dalon turned around and headed out of the cabin, now feeling uncertain he could carry out taking back this monstrosity of a heavy cruiser.