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Old October 12 2012, 08:48 PM   #29
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Two

Day 37

Lena Katina: My Sister Yugoslavia

Pilate said unto them,
What shall I do then with Jesus which is Christ
They all say unto him,
Let him be crucified.
(Matthew 27:22)


It was the middle of the night in Pogar City when ships descended on the industrial city. Streetlights filled the otherwise darkened area when the attacking ships came, casting shadows on the concrete ground. The ships were firing indiscriminately, destroying everything in its path. Many of the city’s residents would not know that they had died in their sleep, assuming they did not believe in some kind of afterlife.

That mattered very little to the Jem’Hadar piloting those ships and carrying out massive aerial bombardment of cities and villages all over the planet. They were simply concerned with wiping any and all potential sources of rebellion after a massive popular uprising, even if that meant wiping every sentient being on the planet.

“Stop!” cried a nighttime maintenance supervisor while looking up at a trio of ships in the sky. He knew his pleas for mercy were futile, but he was desperate to try to preserve his life and the lives of other residents not yet hit by the bombings. “We are no threat to you! Surely, you must know that.”

A Jem’Hadar battleship descended closer to him and fired a swarm of plasma torpedoes in his direction. He and everyone else within a kilometer perished in that explosion.

***

Something was darkening the sky above Fanehr City. People gathered in the town square, as the sky darkened in the middle of the afternoon. Whatever was blocking the sun was too big to be a solar eclipse. The silhouettes blocking the sun looked more like starships: Jem’Hadar fighters and battleships.

The ships began firing indiscriminately down on the city. The combination of focused disruptor fire and swarms of plasma torpedoes were destroying houses, shops, and factories all over the city. People scrambled to try to get out of the way of descending weapons fire. Some of them were felled by the oncoming charges and ensuing explosions. A woman managed to get her three small children to safety behind a standing of wall of a fallen building. It offered them temporary safety as a fighter swooping in from another direction took out what was left of that building.

***

Miners in the Vorcal Mountains were hauling buckets of a rare mineral, one of the few natural resources indigenous to Cardassia Prime or any other inhabited world in the star system. They were just hard working people doing their part to serve the state. They knew next to nothing about the politics behind Cardassia’s affiliation with the Dominion or their government and military’s decision to break that alliance. That bit of minutiae did not matter to Jem’Hadar aboard the ships descending towards those mountains.

The mountains contained a metal that could scramble nearly type of scanning device. Even the Dominion, for all its resourcefulness, had not yet found a means of locking onto individual lifesigns in the caves of these mountains. For all the Founders knew, insurgents were hiding in those caves. To assure no future uprisings would originate in the Vorcal Mountains, every person there had to be eliminated. Knowing that, however, did not alleviate the miners’ fears of their own demise.

The fighters fired disruptor salvos while the battleships launched wave after wave of plasma torpedoes, destroying the face of each mountain and everyone there.

***
In the village of Nokar, an elderly man was hunched over his wife’s corpse, sobbing inconsolably. The ships in the sky destroyed his home, claiming the lives of his wife, two of his children, and one of his small grandchildren. He knew of the brutality the Cardassian military practiced on the Bajorans and other subject races. He was thankful that he didn’t have to make those kinds of decisions, as he had been a simple farmer all his life. He never thought his family would be made an example of in such a manner.

The Jem’Hadar were raiding the village, killing everyone in their path—men, women, and children alike, the sick and the infirm—with no mercy whatsoever. When they came for him, this simple farmer welcomed his own execution. “Just get it over with,” he pleaded to three approaching soldiers. “I have nothing left.”

The leader of the trio, standing in the center, pulled his gun, showing less than no remorse in his eyes, and fired.


Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47

First Mirak’tiral had received news of the intense bombardment of Cardassia Prime when a Vorta communications technician handed him a padd. He stared blankly at the padd while silently pleased that someone was being punished for having betrayed the Dominion.

He would still not be satisfied until his fellow Jem’Hadar were hunted down for continuing to follow the old ways, where a race of warriors were subservient to the puny Vorta. The Founders—their Gods—were the only ones the Jem’Hadar answered to. Even more important than defeating the Federation and its allies, even as his ship was under heavy fire from enemy warships, was rescuing the insurgents’ hostage. He knew that the Founder hadn’t been taken hostage, but that was the only way Mirak’tiral could convince his fire teams to use discretion against the insurgents when they were not aware of the Founder’s presence on this ship.

The command deck rocked, and Mirak’tiral shoved the padd at the Vorta’s abdomen. He then turned his attention towards the Second and several lower-ranking soldiers manning the central console. “Torpedo tube five is offline,” reported Turak’miron.

“Prepare another spread of torpedoes from launchers four, six, and seven,” Mirak’tiral commanded while the compartment rocked back and forth from two more weapon hits.

The main piloting console chirped, catching the First’s attention. Third Ikan’irral had also been responsible for monitoring communications ever since the change of command. “Incoming message from headquarters,” the Third reported. “All ships to fall back to Cardassia Prime.”

Mirak’tiral scoffed. “Relay the message to the rest of the fleet,” he replied. “That order does not apply to us as long as we are without warp drive.” As long the heavy cruiser was fully intact and most of its weapons arsenal functional, it would participate in this and any upcoming battles. As an extra precaution, Mirak’tiral instructed engineering teams to configure a scattering field to let the enemy believe his ship could follow them to the ends of universe. Knowing the resourceful Federation, they would find a way to use this ship’s non-functional warp drive to their advantage.

Mirak’tiral was still far from satisfied with warp drive repeatedly failing for the last nine days. “Why have the repair crews been unable to keep the warp drive functioning for longer than two days?” he demanded of Turak’miron.

“They continue to encounter sabotage to the matter-antimatter flow regulators and computer sub-processors,” the Second plainly stated.

“For nine days?!” Mirak’tiral hissed. “And why have the security teams been unable to find the insurgents and their hostage in that amount of time either?”

“It’s a big ship, First,” Turak’miron offered.

“Do not assume I am not aware of the size of this ship, Second. The Vorta engineers are either incompetent or are derailing the repair efforts. Since we are making no progress in getting this ship fully functional, have all our forces focus on apprehending the saboteurs and rescuing their hostage alive.”

Even though guilt and remorse had been bred out of almost all Jem’Hadar, Mirak’tiral still sensed that he could not maintain such a façade indefinitely from the extra emphasis placed on the word hostage. “Do you really believe they are capable of harming a Founder?” Turak’miron inquired as if also uncertain his superior believed such a falsehood.

“If desperate enough.”

***

Fire teams throughout the ship were conducting hit-and-run strikes throughout the ship, hoping to eventually wrestle control away from the mutineers.

One Jem’Hadar popped out of a ceiling vent and jumped two opposing soldiers. He managed to grab one rogue soldier’s gun and shoot him in one motion. The second was about to blast his head off with his rifle when two Jem’Hadar unshrouded and jammed the blades attached to their rifles into the rogue’s neck.

***
In main engineering, a young Vorta male was busy rewiring an access panel near the floor. He looked around to make sure no one would notice what he was about to attempt. A passing Jem’Hadar, sensing he was dawdling, poked the Vorta with the butt of his rifle, barking, “Back to work!”

The Vorta pretended to oblige by randomly sorting through different sets of wires. He jammed two of those wires into the access panel, causing a wall-mounted computer panel to short out and send two Jem’Hadar to the deck. Just as other guards reacted, the engineer grabbed the pistol of one of the fallen Jem’Hadar and began haphazardly firing while taking refuge behind a nearby console.

He managed to take one additional guard while four previously invisible Jem’Hadar suddenly appeared. They started shooting at rogue Jem’Hadar, as did other soldiers perched on second and third level catwalks. After several minutes of back-and-forth shooting, the rogue Jem’Hadar were defeated while most of the fifteen counter-insurgents who stormed the compartment were still standing.

***

One of the counter-insurgents delivered a status report on a padd to Trok’dalon. He quickly studied the padd while accompanying the Founder and his two personal guards through one of the secondary corridors.

Unlike the main corridors, used for regular transit throughout the ship, this hallway was carved out like a circular tunnel. It was rather dank and musty, like the industrial areas of almost any starship in the galaxy. They allowed access to some of the ship’s main circuits. On the downside, these secondary corridors allowed intruders and saboteurs to move stealthily about the ship.

“We have secured main engineering,” Trok’dalon informed the Founder.

The Founder gave a simple nod. “You have done well, Trok’dalon,” he replied. “Fight well in the battle to retake this ship, I will see that you advance four steps in rank. The Alpha Quadrant Jem’Hadar may have been of great value, but not all of them understand the importance of respecting the chain of command. I am pleased that you are one such Alpha. You will play an important role in defeating the Federation and the other major Alpha Quadrant powers.”

“I am curious about one thing,” Trok’dalon said with a hint of nervousness that his inquiry would come off as presumptuous or disrespectful.

“I encourage your curiosity, Seventh,” the Founder assured him.

“Why not sabotage weapons and shields? That would give the mutineers incentive to withdraw from battle, so we can take back this ship more easily.”

“We need an intact ship to take back,” the Founder simply explained. “And the mutineers are not the only ones who need to be shown the price of their disloyalty.”

Trok’dalon immediately knew the Founder was referring to the popular uprising taking place on Cardassia at this very moment. “You are wise, Founder.”

The Changeling ignored the compliment and continued down the hallway with his guards in tow and Trok’dalon bringing up the rear. They did not get very far, as the Founder stumbled. Trok’dalon took quick paces towards him and injected a hypospray on the Changeling’s arm.

“The pain medication is no longer having any effect,” the Founder said while feeling throbbing pains in his head.
“Then you should rest,” Trok’dalon replied, gently clasping the hand of one of his gods. “I swear by all the Founders, I will not let you die.”

The Founder had a look in his eyes that Trok’dalon thought he would never see in a god. He appeared defeated, dejected, as if he were resigned to his coming demise. “That may not be enough,” he somberly stated.



CUW Pakar

The Pakar and surrounding Galor-class warships limped through space at impulse. A few small towing ships of both Cardassian and Starfleet design were ahead of the larger warships were tugging broken hulls out of the way to prevent the capital ships from colliding with wayward debris. The ships that were still largely intact, but had lost warp drive, would later be taken to the nearest repair base while what was left of destroyed ships would later be taken to a salvage depot.

Gul Latham stared at his desktop monitor, appearing almost catatonic as he read reports of what was transpiring on Cardassia Prime at that moment. The Dominion was simultaneously targeting many cities on the planet at once. It had gone beyond making an example of a few million civilians. Their campaign was now a campaign of genocide. His thoughts went back to his earlier failure to act. If he had defected sooner, then maybe the Cardassian Liberation Front would not have been defeated and a more organized military rebellion would still be alive and well, not leaving any future uprisings in the hands of ordinary civilians. Now those ordinary civilians were paying the price in deaths on a scale of millions. But then again, what difference could one military leader have made?

He was awakened from his trance when his office doors slid open. Latham saw Orlak enter with a padd in hand. “Just leave it on the desk,” he instructed his second-in-command.
Latham’s lack of interest in what was on the padd was Orlak’s cue to leave. The glinn made a beeline for the exit when Latham looked up from the monitor. “Lakarian City was only the first casualty,” he blurted out. “They’re razing the entire planet now. Tens of millions have already died in the first wave of attacks.”

Orlak suddenly stopped in his tracks and turned around to face Latham. “Oh, my…” he gasped.

“Are we too late to stop this?” Latham wondered aloud. “How many more are going to die because I was too cowardly to act sooner?”

Orlak took a few quick paces closer to the desk while looking straight at Latham. “You can’t blame yourself, sir,” he insisted.

“No?” Latham replied, rising from his chair. “I was too concerned with keeping my family safe. I tried to hide behind our values. And even when it became more and more clear that the Dominion had little interest in helping us, I was afraid to take more direct action—trying to convince myself I was lending a hand by sending covert tactical data to the Federation Alliance.”

“If you had turned on our allies sooner, they still would have done this in retaliation.”

Latham rolled his eyes and scoffed. “That’s supposed to make me feel better?”

“I am simply suggesting that acting sooner wouldn’t have changed anything,” Orlak offered. “We can still make a difference in the coming battle.”

Latham took a deep breath and considered Orlak’s words. “I suppose you’re right,” he said. “It’s hardly of any comfort to the families of the twelve million who have already died. All we can do is make sure they don’t wipe out the entire planet. Thank you, Orlak. You’re dismissed.”

Orlak stood at attention and quickly exited the office, leaving Latham alone with his thoughts. His executive officer had helped to reassure him, but he still stared gloomily out the window once Orlak was gone. Latham was far from sure the battle for Cardassia would be won. If not, he could at least die trying to take back his home.
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