STAR TREK: THIRD CUTTER SQUADRON
Bonito – Final Push
Flying in formation, the Bonito
made up one of the twenty-four ships that had been assigned to destroy the supply base in the Hedakas System. The sole cutter of the Third Squadron still fully operational, the Bonito
had been assigned to the task force on Admiral T’Rona’s insistence. Captain Yolix Va Edar sat in his chair, watching the viewscreen and waited. It had taken only two days for the report from the H’krii
to reach fleet command and the task force to be pulled together, after all they couldn’t risk the Talarians moving their base or reinforcing it with more than just the platforms.
The latest reports showed that there were seventy-nine weaponised satellites orbiting the gas giant, each one was lightly shielded but packed a big punch; plasma missiles and Ferengi phaser banks. They could do a lot of damage, but weren’t anywhere as deadly as the weapon platforms the Cardassians had developed in the war—unfortunately they all contained their own reactor, so each satellite was self-sufficient. This would be tough, as they needed to take out the platforms and destroy the base before the Talarians could regroup and counterattack. As the task force did what needed to be done, a dozen starships along the border would launch a new offensive to keep the Republic off balance. They all hoped the diversion would keep the Talarians away from Hedakas long enough for the task force to secure the system.
A system of sensor decoys and misinformation would make it look to the Militia forces that Starfleet still had all their ships in position, but if they tried anything they would find sections of their lines were weak and could be easily broken. They just had no other options. The attack had to be now and had to have just under half their forces committed to it, in order for the plan to work.
Yolix would have felt better going into the battle with a few of his fellow Border Dogs beside him. But with the loss of the Cyclops
and the T’Vor
, the Peregrine
and the Cam Rahn Bay
both heavily damaged, the Silverfin
barely operational, and the H’krii
not really being up for much in the way of combat; the Bonito
was going in with their Fleet cousins.
The task force had been divided up into six four-ship units, each with their own directions. The Bonito
was working with the Yeguko
, two Miranda-Class ships, and the Intrepid-Class Bellerephon
, which was leading their unit. They would be going in ahead of the command unit (the Zhukov
); their job was to clear a path through the platforms so that the heavy-hitters of the task force could take out the base itself. It was risky, as the greatest concentration of platforms was near the base, so they would be facing more than any other unit.
“Captain, incoming signal from the Zhukov
,” Lieutenant Burke announced from operations.
Yolix rose up on his three spindly legs and clasped two of his hands behind his back, before saying, “Onscreen.”
A moment later a Napean male appeared on the viewscreen. His head was shaved bald, his face was well-lined and his sharp green eyes would be looking into every Captain he was addressing.
“Units three and four, prepare to enter the system and start immediate jamming of all communications,”
Captain Nahro Sayel, the commander of the task force, instructed, “then move in and engage your targets. Units five and six, enter on vector bravo and engage. Unit two, assume position and give covering fire. We’ll be heading straight to primary target.”
Yolix gave a nod. “Burke, signal our confirmation of the orders and tie in with the Bellerephon
. Melkon, adjust course and speed. Take us into position. Patel, shields double front, load torpedo bays and all power to phasers.”
The three officers acknowledged the orders and waited. The assault would begin in a matter of seconds, the first units swooping into the system and flooding the region with thoron radiation, which would knock out all subspace communications, cutting the base off from making any distress calls. It was only after that was done would the others pounce, dropping out of warp as close to the planet as possible. The first few seconds and minutes would be the worst, as they faced off against the full force of the platforms before they were able to thin out their numbers.
Yolix looked around at his crew; Quinn Burke, Melkon and Meera Patel all at the customary positions, focused and ready, whilst Commander Carlos Delgado stood next to his chair, the XO every bit as professional and composed as he’d come to expect over the years. Yolix returned to his seat and waited with the rest of his crew.
They didn’t have to wait for long. “We’ve got the signal from unit three,” announced Burke. “The Bellerephon
is ordering us to move in.”
“Execute warp jump,” Delgado ordered.
followed her unit as they leapt up to warp 9.4 for only a few seconds, before dropping down to impulse. They emerged into the system, the gas giant filling the viewscreen and were immediately under fire. Unit two was in a diamond formation, the Bellerephon
at the front, the two Miranda’s flanking her and the Bonito
at the rear, but even in her position the incoming fire was fierce.
“Fire at will,” Yolix ordered after barely a second of the ship being buffeted about.
Patel threw everything they had at the platforms, as Melkon kept them barrelling towards the planet. Each ship in their unit was taking a battering, whilst behind them the Zhukov
led its ships closer to their target, firing on what platforms they could.
Delgado moved over to help out at Tactical, as Yolix gripped the armrests of his chair and continued to press forward their advance. After all the more substantial hits, their shield status was called out, fortunately they hadn’t suffered much in the way of structural damage and no casualties had been reported. Yolix glanced at the viewscreen as the Bellerephon
was fired upon by four separate platforms.
“Patel, target the platform to port.”
It took her a second to adjust her targeting and unleash a barrage of phaser fire and photon torpedoes on the satellite. The stationary target took every hit, which punched through its shields and into the hull, exploding a few moments later, taking some of the heat off. But it was too late; a volley of missiles struck the Bellerephon
across the forward port quarter, penetrating her shields and into the hull. The sleek starship bucked and lost control. The Intrepid-Class ship hurtled towards the Bonito
, numerous decks and sections open to space.
“Evasives!” Yolix barked as Melkon slammed them to port.
Narrowly missing the out of control ship, the Benzite righted their course and kept them in formation.
Yolix knew they couldn’t worry about the other ship, they had to press forward. “Melkon, move us forward. Burke, contact the unit, tell them to form up on us and lay down a spread of torpedoes—it’ll either blind or destroy them, either way it works for us.”
“Aye sir,” she called over the din of battle. “Sir, the Zhukov
is asking for a status report.”
“Tell them we’re assume charge of the unit and moving into position.”
Ahead of them the three remaining ships of their unit launched their torpedoes. Most found a target, but those that didn’t were detonated by those that did, the explosions playing havoc with the targeting sensors of the platforms. The three ships followed up with multiple phaser arcs, finishing off the satellites that hadn’t been completely destroyed. By the time they were finished the shaking and pounding of enemy weapons was substantially diminished.
“Report,” he called.
“We’ve opened a hole in the grid, sir,” replied Patel.
“Commander, inform the Zhukov
they are clear to proceed. Melkon, head to secondary targets.”
“Heading one-four-four-mark-oh-one-three,” the Conn Officer confirmed.
As the Bonito
veered off heading to engage the nearest platforms, the Zhukov
led her unit through the debris that was left by the satellites and into the upper atmosphere, their phasers and torpedoes firing unabashedly. Yolix ignored them for the time being; instead he focused on what was ahead of them. There were still dozens of active platforms to take care of.
Working together, the three ships targeted each platform they came to and unleashed everything they had. Their shields taking the full brunt of the assault, but managed to hold out, whilst they used up their stock or torpedoes and relied on their phasers. They were luckier than many others in the task force, as some took serious blows that saw them crippled and adrift or forced to withdraw, many calling for help as they lost control, explosions rippling across the ship. Despite his want to help those ships in need, as he had done for decades as a loyal officer of the Border Service, he had to ignore the distress calls.
When they were down to the last two dozen platforms, the Zhukov
emerged from the planets turbulent atmosphere, as the supply base fell from its low orbit. Deep within the atmosphere, as the pressure increased, the base would be crushed and compacted into something the size of a runabout.
It wasn’t long until all seventy-nine platforms were either destroyed or disabled. With the platforms no longer a threat and the base out of commission, the Hedakas System was quiet once again.
Yolix rose from his seat and moved over to Ops. “Status of the task force?”
Burke took a few moments to compile data from sensors and communications, whilst all the other stations checked in with other sections of the ship and assessed just how bad the damage was.
“Five ships destroyed, six more have been severely damaged, seven more have taken moderate damage,” Burke told the quiet Bridge. The comm system chirped and she answered it. “Incoming hail from the Zhukov
Sayel’s face filled the monitor again, but this time he had a bloody gash above his right eye, with dark red rivulets running down his face. “I’ve just heard from the diversion task force, they need reinforcements. All ships that are still combat capable, proceed to nav-point alpha and prepare to move out.
Asgard, remain on site to assist the damaged ships and recover escape pods—support ships will arrive shortly to assist with search and rescue.”
“Understood, Captain Sayel. We’ll see to things here,” Yolix confirmed.
“I know you will, Captain Yolix.
On the viewscreen, eleven starships moved away from the gas giant, heading to the muster point on the outer edge of the system before they departed. The two remaining ships have a lot to see too, but now they were in the Border Services realm of expertise.
Yolix turned to Ops. “Burke, scan all damaged ships, assess stability of life support and warp drives, then prioritise rescue and recovery on those ships that are in the worst shape.”
“Scans already underway, sir,” she replied, moving over to the hooded viewer.
He gave the faintest approximation of a smile his face could manage, then looked at Delgado. “Inform the Asgard
that we’ll run triage, we’ll let them know in a moment what ships to begin with.”
“I’ll have Watters prep all SAR-Op teams,” the Commander replied, moving over to one of the mission ops consoles that flanked the MSD.
He then looked at Patel. “Send out a broadband message to all escape pods. Have them give you an assessment of damage and injuries, then route that to Ops. Tell them we will get to them ASAP, but they are to hang tight for the time being. Also keep monitoring sensors, make sure the Talarians don’t double back on us.”
“Shall I prep recon probes to monitor the far side of the system?”
“Good idea, Lieutenant.”
Yolix then stepped down towards the Conn. “How are you doing, Lieutenant?” he asked the young Benzite at the controls.
Melkon gave him a confident nod. “I’ve got secondary nav-points set for all damaged ships and informed the Asgard
helmsman as well, once we have priorities we’ll be ready to move.”
“Nice work, Mr Melkon.”
“Captain,” Burke called, “I’ve assembled the triage list and transmitted it to the Asgard
. We’ll start with the O’Rourke
and they’ll take the Bellerephon
“Very well. Let’s get to work,” the old Border Dog instructed.