Zenith (Iota Cruics IVd), 2372
There was an adage, she believed of human origin, which had been drilled into her ever since she had first joined the Marines a dozen years ago.
No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy.
Beatiar Sh’Fane mentally chided herself for not having been more consciously aware of this truism before setting foot onto the Xenarth moon.
The captain’s voice sounded far away and distorted though her head-mounted comm-unit which was supposed to allow her to be in constant communications even when engaged in battle. But the sturdy headgear, sitting on top of her short white hair like a crown, had not been designed for intense melee combat.
The tall Xenarth solider swung his spear-like weapon at her and the Andorian Marine managed to duck underneath it just in time to avoid being decapitated.
She swiped one leg across the smooth floor, cutting out the legs from underneath the insectoid warrior and sending him crashing down.
With no time for subtilties, she brought her boot down hard into his face, feeling the crushed exoskeleton even through the heel of her footwear.
She swung around and pulled free her pistol-shaped phaser to fire three rounds at point blank range at another Xenarth who had hoped to rush her from behind and taking her by surprise.
The ambush was cut short when the near-invisible phaser blasts struck him in his weakest areas and immediately rendering him unconscious.
“I’d say at least two to three hundred more than we expected,” she said in reply and aimed her gun at the next warrior trying to cut her down.
She fired one round before the weapon vibrated slightly in her hand, indicating that the current power cell had been depleted. She uttered a choice Andorian curse and dropped the phaser, knowing full well that she didn’t have the time to reload her weapon.
Donners said over the comm. “That’s an opposing force almost two thirds larger than we anticipated. Can we still achieve our main objective?”
After her gun had given out, Sh’Fane had quickly picked up one of the spear-rifles dropped by the fallen Xenarth warriors and immediately appreciated its weight and balance. The multipurpose design allowed for it to be used as a long-distance beam weapon, a medium distance stabbing weapon or use it two-handed like a staff to fight somebody at very close range.
She fired a bolt of cobalt colored energy at an enemy warrior barring down on one of her people. As Donners’ orders of using non-lethal force had been made very clear to her, she aimed low, trying to cut the large insectoid down by taking away his ability to stand upright.
Then she swung around and just in time to deflect a blow with a similar weapon which had been aimed at her head. Clearly the Xenarth had not been given the same kind of orders.
the captain said when she hadn’t responded.
It was pure luck that the Andorian found herself in a better position to press the attack against her opponent. If all else would have been equal, she doubted that she could best a Xenarth who had undoubtedly trained many years with his weapon compared to the few minutes she’d had with it. But as it stood, the Xenarth had overextended his spear ever so slightly, allowing her to pry it free from his hand with a quick twist of her own staff.
She couldn’t tell by seeing those large compound eyes if her opponent had realized that he had made a fatal mistake but his feelers jerked up suddenly and just before she brought down the blunt end against his hardened skull in force. She admittedly wasn’t completely sure if he would survive the blow but he certainly wouldn’t get up again any time soon.
“Lieutenant, are you still there?”
She let go of the spear and looked across the long underground corridor, she found that her team had seemingly prevailed with the floor practically littered with unconscious Xenarth bodies.
She fought hard to catch her breath again. “I’m here, ma’am,” she said and then bent over when she found her pistol again. She promptly ejected the spent power cartridge and replaced it with a fresh one from her belt.
“Are you alright?”
said the captain, sounding concerned now.
She found Fabrizio Lombardi, her Italian second lieutenant, on the floor picking himself up and she quickly reached out a helping hand to pull him back onto his feet. “We ran into a Xenarth patrol,” she said. “Nothing we couldn’t handle.”
It was an understatement to say the least. In fact the two-dozen strong patrol had come out of nowhere and had nearly decimated Sh’Fane’s advance team which had been surprised by their agility and speed.
Practically everyone in her combined Marines and Starfleet Security team had come away with at least a few scratches and scrapes. Private Santiago had taken a spear tip into his side and the corpsman had already begun treating his wound.
What their intelligence had failed to anticipate, other than the much more numerous hostile force, was the Xenarth proclivity for close quarter melee combat, a strategy that made even more dangerous, especially when taking into account their tough exoskelton which protected them like a natural armor, their razor-sharp mandibles and their extra set of hands.
the captain wanted to know.
“I’ve got one man down,” she said even as she stepped up to her injured private. The corpsman looked at her and gave the company commander a reaffirming nod. “But he’ll be alright.”
“You didn’t answer my earlier question, Lieutenant?”
The Andorian found her rifle which she had lost moments after the Xenarth had nearly overran them. She quickly checked to make sure it was still operational. “My drill instructor back at Command School tried to part onto us young officers the concept of superior numbers and superior firepower in order to win a military engagement. Shock and awe, he called it.”
“And we lost the superior numbers element.”
“We never really had it in the first place,” said Sh’Fane and then consulted a padd which Lombardi had thrust into her waiting hands. “We always knew that. But the plan was based on us being able to quickly eliminate a token force while the majority of Xenarth soldiers would be busy engaging our drones on the upper level.”
“If you are right about the number of enemy troops in this facility,”
said Donners over the comline, “then those drones will be cut down in a matter of minutes after which their main force will move down here and take us on directly.”
“That is correct, ma’am,” she said, still working on that padd.
“Then what are our chances to get to Omega in time?”
She looked up. “Getting there won’t be the problem,” Sh’Fane said.
“I’m not prepared for this turn into a suicide mission, Lieutenant.”
The Andorian handed back the padd to her second lieutenant, motioned for her team to get ready to move out again and then powered up the phaser rifle, causing it to whine slightly. “Ma’am,” she said. “There may not be an alternative any longer.”
* * *