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Old October 19 2012, 06:45 PM   #32
Enterprise1981
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Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Four (Part 2)

The Lambda Paz and its battle group swooped in closer to the planet’s upper atmosphere and immediately came under attack from both enemy vessels and orbital weapon platforms.

In sickbay, the EMH was examining an unconscious patient when he began fading in and out. “Aurellan!” he called out.

Doctor Markalis’s attention was momentarily diverted when she heard her name called. She gestured for one of the other doctors to attend to the hologram’s patient upon seeing the program malfunction. She took a quick glance at her patient’s vitals and saw them holding steady, and looked back at her lover.

“I love you!” he called to her as he faded out again. And this time, he did not reappear.

Aurellan just stared, wide-eyed, wondering how long the EMH program would be out of commission.

***

The Lambda Paz continued taking a pounding as supporting light cruisers and fighter shuttles continued dropping left and right, courtesy of the weapon platforms. A few more of the platforms had been taken out, but at a much slower rate than the automated weapons were taking out Allied ships.

Hull breaches throughout the ship, including the bridge, blew unsuspecting personnel into space before the emergency forcefields kicked in. Raldon was dead, courtesy of a falling beam impaling him through the neck. Sterns took over at tactical while Carson scurried to ops because the helm console was smashed by falling debris.

“Warp and impulse engines are down,” she said. “Maneuvering thrusters are functioning on reserve power only. That’s not much with most of the auxiliary transfer conduits fused.”

“All forward phaser arrays are out,” Sterns somberly added, “as are primary torpedo launchers. Shields are nearing failure.”

“What if we concentrated what we had left into a full-out phaser and torpedo salvo?” Limis suggested.

“Still wouldn’t be enough to take out even one fighter,” Sterns replied with a shake of his head.

The communications boards on the ops console quickly grabbed Carson’s attention as it chirped. “Incoming hails from Captain Lenaris, Commander Kozar, and Commander Ellison,” she reported.

“Put it through,” the captain replied, “and route it to as many of the other ships as you can.”

Limis walked towards the master situation monitor situated between the two turbolifts on the bridge’s aft. She tapped a few keys on the console below the schematic of the ship to convert the monitor into a makeshift viewscreen. Capsules of the three ship captains appeared--Ellison on the left, Kozar on the right, and Lenaris in the center. The bridge of the Derna was just as smashed up, while the Kaneda and Thunderchild appeared to be in worse shape with sparks erupting every few seconds.

“What have you got, gentlemen?” Limis inquired.

“The plan for taking out the weapon platforms is sound,” Lenaris quickly responded. “We’re still losing ships faster than we can take them out.”

“We’re pretty much dead in the water,” said Kozar. “At least the whole fleet is still putting up a good fight. The Jemmies are going to concentrate on ships still fighting before they come and finish us off.”

“Same here,” added Ellison. “Our main engines are gone and we’ve got no weapons or shields to speak of.”

“How long before the Second and Ninth Fleets get here?” Limis wondered, desperate for some bit of good news even knowing that six hundred more ships would face similar losses before they could overpower the automated defenses.

“Not soon enough before our lines completely collapse,” Ellison grimly replied.

A long and somber silence follows, as all four ship captains felt a sense of doom. They all remained optimistic that the battle would ultimately be won, but not without at least forty or fifty percent casualties among the troops still standing when those fleets arrived at Cardassia Prime. And there was a pervading sense among the four that they and their ships would not survive the battle’s final outcome.

“I’m open to suggestions, people,” Limis said with half-feigned enthusiasm. Any luck locating the platforms’ central power source?”

Kozar sighed, indicating to Limis that he had both good and bad news. “Yes, but I don’t think we have the means to take it out.”

“There may be a way,” a fifth voice chimed in.

Limis entered a sequence on the keypad to allow another visual capsule to appear on the top of the monitor above those of the other captains. The newest visual capsule was of Commander Logan in the engineering section of the Kaneda. “What are you suggesting, Mister Logan?” she asked.

“We throw all the power we can into the warp drive and trigger a series of antimatter explosions,” Logan offered. “The first one knocks out the protective forcefield, the rest take out the power source.”

“The rest of the Seventh and Twelfth Fleets will only have a thirty-second window before the independent power source kicks in,” Kozar reminded the rest of the group.

“Let me worry about alerting the ships,” Limis assured her colleagues, even as all four video images momentarily weakened.

“We still have minimal weapon capabilities,” Lenaris offered. “We can lay down cover fire in case there are automated sentry pods guarding the place.”

“The Thunderchild and Kaneda are among those ships that are expendable,” Ellison added. “Kozar and I will begin evacuating our crews immediately while Logan prepares remote navigation autopilot.”

“Done,” Logan acknowledged.

“Agreed,” Kozar said.

“Good luck, everyone,” Limis declared to the rest of the group.

“To us all,” Lenaris replied.

###

Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47 was in battle with enemy forces. The Jem’Hadar vessel fired torpedoes from all its functioning launchers. Swarms of Starfleet light cruisers were firing phasers at both the port and starboard sides of the ship while a Galaxy-class and two flanking Nebula-class ships fired alternating rounds of phasers and quantum torpedoes. The heavy cruiser fired plasma torpedoes from four of its forward launchers that plowed hard into the forward saucer sections of all three ships ahead.

The command deck suddenly went dark. Mirak’tiral looked around in a daze of confusion. The decentralized power cores, he knew, made this kind of sabotage almost impossible. Almost, not completely impossible. A Starfleet team infiltrating a Dominion heavy cruiser certainly couldn’t pull off unleashing a virus that would cause all the computers to crash at once. On the other hand, the crew of this ship, especially the Vorta engineers keeping things up and running possessed enough expertise to try something like that. The First wanted to curse himself letting those Vorta live, but he quickly reminded himself that while the Jem’Hadar had the most basic of technical knowledge, the Vorta had a better understanding the ship’s inner workings than any Jem’Hadar.

“What just happened?!” he demanded as the deck shook.

“No idea, First,” Turak’miron calmly answered. “All the computers have crashed.”

“Do we have any engine capability?”

Ikan’irral was feverishly pushing buttons on his console in the hope that something was working right. “Not until emergency power engages,” he informed the First.

Seemingly on cue, the lights flashed back on, but at the same time four Jem’Hadar materialized on the command deck and start shooting. A firefight between mutineers and counter-insurgents broke out on the bridge, killing two Jem’Hadar on each side. Six more counter-insurgents beamed in. They and the mutineers took refuge behind whatever nearby consoles they could find.

“Are you sure you want to be here, Founder?” Trok’dalon asked the Changeling while also firing his pistol and dodging weapon fire at the same time. “You may end up in the line of fire.”

“As I told you,” the Founder reiterated. “I wish to see Mirak’tiral and his followers punished for their disloyalty myself.”

As the back and forth firing continued, a Jem’Hadar approached Turak’miron and shot him square in the chest with his pistol. Ikan’irral saw a good target, but was killed the second he aimed his rifle. Mirak’tiral and Trok’dalon were face-to-face, pistols pointed at each other, and completely oblivious to the shooting happening around them.

They stared at each other for what seemed like a very long moment. Mirak’tiral just wanted the leader of the counter-insurgency to pull the trigger. All he had to do to prevent his own death was pull the trigger on his own gun. Deep down, though, he knew he deserved to die for his subversive actions. He just wanted Trok’dalon to shoot and get it over with.

“I did not expect that you would side with the old order,” Mirak’tiral grumbled. “I would think you would understand that the Vorta answering to us was a more efficient arrangement.”

“You were able to bring some of the Gammas onto your side,” Trok’dalon retorted. “Now, your Second and Third have paid for their error in judgment.”

“And the Founder?”

Trok’dalon moved aside so that Mirak’tiral could see the Founder. “He is here.”

Mirak’tiral lowered his pistol and bowed his head upon seeing one of his gods. “Founder, I am pleased you are safe.”

“A small comfort for your betrayal, First,” the Changeling angrily shot back. He winced in pain at the same time gunfire clipped the wall above. He used that wall to break his fall, unaware that electrical current was coursing through it. The Changeling was writhing as electricity crackled through his body.

“No!” Mirak’tiral cried in an uncharacteristic display of emotion. He tried to rationalize his recent actions as having been taken out of loyalty to the Founders. He had come to see a Vorta as an impediment to achieving victory. In an effort to reconcile this cognitive dissonance, he had convinced himself and those under his command that they answered to no one but the Founders. But in the end, he still allowed one of his gods to perish.

The shooting stopped, and all the Jem’Hadar on both sides watched in horror as the Founder’s humanoid form was reduced to a pile of gelatinous material. The flow of electrical current gradually subsided, and the gelatinous material transformed into a mound of ash.

Mirak’tiral and all the other Jem’Hadar bowed their heads as a form of ritual mourning. “We are united in our grief,” the First proclaimed. “Because those on both sides are responsible for the death of a Founder, there can be only one course of action.”

“Agreed,” Trok’dalon responded.

“Locate the nearest enemy capital ship and lay in a collision course.”

The ship they were seeking was a Negh’Var-class Klingon heavy cruiser. The Dominion vessel fired plasma torpedoes at the enemy ship’s maneuvering thrusters while speeding towards the target. The two ships collided, triggering a massive fireball. As the Klingon ship was in flames, it collided with a nearby Jem’Hadar battleship. The resulting fireball enveloped both those ships, and they both blew apart in a blinding explosion.
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