A Brave Act
Chapter Twenty-Four (Part 3)
Erhlich Tarlazzi was working at a console in Kandea’
sengineering section, making sure the remote navigation link with the other ships was still in place. It was a bold plan crashing five ships lacking weapon capabilities into the first moon of Cardassia Prime in the hope that would temporarily disable the automated orbital weapon platforms over Cardassia Prime. The whole engine room had been cleared of personnel with the exception of Tarlazzi and Logan. The entire ship was being evacuated while the two engineers finished programming a collision course for the platforms’ central control.
“You’d better get out of here,” Logan reminded Tarlazzi. “The last group is about to be beamed out.”
“I know, I know,” Erhlich replied, keeping attention on the console. “I just have a few more calibrations to finish.” After he had finished programming the remote link with the other ships, he looked Logan in the face, hoping the commander would be honest with him about something.
“This jury-rigging isn’t completely automatic, is it?” he said. “Someone has to be at the controls when these ships blow.”
Logan sighed, and then grinned. “You’re too smart for your own good,” he quipped. “I’m more than willing to do it since I don’t have a wife and kids to come home to.”
Tarlazzi rolled his eyes. It was an uncomfortable reminder of the family he lost when his wife and daughter left him and of the responsibilities he had as the father of Shinar’s unborn child. He envied Logan’s lack of a family, and hence his freedom to lay down his life so brazenly.
“I helped build these ships,” Logan continued, “so I get to be the one to blow them up. We may have had our differences the last two years, but serving with you has been an honor.”
Tarlazzi smiled, not sure whether Logan’s words were genuine or patronizing. It wasn’t really important under the circumstances in which they were said. “I’ve been honored to serve under you as well,” he answered with a nod. He caught glimpse at a readout on the main console as he was making beeline for the exit.
“This matter-antimatter mix isn’t calibrated properly,” he remarked, “but I can fix it.”
“You’re right,” Logan agreed, noticing the same readout. “An even mix would generate a warp field that would just weaken the forcefield for a few seconds. Good catch.”
“We’re ready to transport the last group, Erhlich,”
came Rebecca’s voice on a ship-to-ship comm channel. “I’m locked onto your combadge.”
“Stand by,” Tarlazzi replied, tapping his combadge. “I just have one more adjustment.”
He had just noticed a few more errors in calibrating the collision course, which he did not have time to point out to Logan. He had to correct these errors himself. Logan was not qualified to carry out this suicide mission, Tarlazzi had concluded. His expertise was in starship design, not in crashing ships into barren moons. Someone else had to fly these ticking time bombs--someone with experience in making major sacrifices for an important cause.
I’m doing this save the lives of Shinar and our offspring,
Erhlich convinced himself. And for my closest and dearest friends, Vircona and Rebecca. I had a lingering feeling one of us would not survive the war.
He lunged towards Logan and punched him square in the jaw. Then he swapped his own combadge with Logan’s. “Ready,” he called. “Energize.”
Logan was enveloped in a transporter dematerialization as he tried to prop himself up with his right elbow. “What are you doing?!” he demanded of Tarlazzi even knowing the transporter had whisked him away.
A Dead Boy, who failed to write an ending to each of his poems
Five ships, including the Thunderchild
, emerged from the dark side of Blind Moon. Three Saber
-class ships were next to them. At opposite ends of the line of ships were the Lambda Paz
and Derna. As the seven ships neared the innermost moon of Cardassia Prime, Lambda Paz and Derna
provided cover fire for the ships that would crash into the moon, while absorbing hits from automated surface defenses. As planned, the forcefield failed after the first explosion, and four more ships spiraled towards the OWP central control.
With no time to think about the life that was lost, Limis arched her head in the direction of the tactical station. “Quickly, alert the other ships,” she barked at Huckaby.
“Gul Latham is already in position,” Huckaby replied.
Kozar and sh’Aqba had just arrived on the bridge and saw four successive explosions on the surface Cardassia’s first moon through the hole where the main viewscreen used to be. Along with the rest of the bridge crew, they silently memorialized Logan for having made the ultimate sacrifice to make the last battle of the Dominion far less bloody. That was why the eyes of both Kozar and sh’Aqba widened in awe when they saw Logan step onto bridge from the port turbolift. Limis, Carson, and Huckaby were also pleasantly surprised to Logan alive and well.
Each of them immediately knew that someone else had pulled off this daredevil attack. Someone else had sacrificed his own life to carry it out. “Tarlazzi?” sh’Aqba asked with slim hope that he was still alive.
Logan shook his head.
“I’m sorry,” Kozar whispered, putting a hand on his friend’s shoulder.
Sh’Aqba just shook her head and scoffed. She wanted so badly to break down and cry, even if she was on the bridge. The feelings of grief and loss were just not there. She simply walked away from Kozar and turned her back to the former location of the viewscreen.
“Captain,” Huckaby said, ending the eerie, morbid silence across the bridge. “The remaining platforms are powering back up.”
“Move us in, Carson,” Limis instructed, doing her best to keep her emotions in check. “We may not have much in the tank, but we’re going to make every shot count.”
The Cardassian ships firing at the weapon platforms were joined by other allied ships. The platforms had powered back up and continued firing as though they hadn’t stopped. The Lambda Paz
swooped in, firing simultaneous spreads of phasers and torpedoes to take the pressure off those ships with better weapon arsenals.
A fresh set of ships from the Second and Ninth Fleets joined the battle. Among the reinforcements were the Starfleet ships Defiant
and Klingon heavy cruiser IKS Negh’Var
and Bird-of-Prey Rotarran
. The Defiant
and the Rotarran
fired multi-targeting phasers, weakening the forcefields of two of the platforms. The Bellerephon
then went in for the kill and fired phasers and disruptors, destroying those platforms.
As the battle continued, all the Breen were moving out. They streaked into warp leaving the Jem’Hadar on their own. And despite their reputation for relentlessness, the Jem’Hadar also ceased firing.
“I don’t believe it,” Huckaby gasped. “All enemy ships have ceased firing.”
“Say again,” Kozar requested, not sure of what he was hearing.
“They’ve stopped firing,” Huckaby repeated. “And I’m getting an incoming message from the planet’s surface.”
Limis’s eyebrows perked up. Had the moment she and her crew had been hoping for when embarking on this deadly quest finally arrived? “Open a channel,” she instructed. “Let’s find out if they’re actually surrendering.”