-class starship Ascension
came hard about, her sublight engines kicking the vessel up to full impulse in a matter of seconds. On the bridge’s main viewer, an ankh-shaped Cardassian cruiser followed suit, falling into a tight tactical formation with Ascension
The two ships pulled out of their geosynchronous orbits around Sarpedion V, one of the most heavily defended planets in Cardassian territory. Home to the Twelfth Order, the Sarpedion system’s defenses boasted fields of interlocking fire from orbital weapons emplacements and manned battle-stations. A well guarded shipyard and multiple squadrons of heavy fighters and corsairs also girded the ramparts of this formidable military base.
Lieutenant Commander Judith Rigsby stepped onto the bridge in response to the red alert, still dressed in her workout sweats as she frantically toweled her long brown hair, trying valiantly to dry it. “This better not be one of Legate Vora’s damn readiness drills,” she said in a voice muffled by the towel.
“Negative, sir,” her XO called from where he stood looking over the science officer’s shoulder at their sensor returns. “Gedok Nor just sounded a priority scramble of all available ships to coordinates five-point-zero-seven AU out from defense perimeter Thet.”
Rigsby stopped toweling, leaving her hair looking like the afterimage of a warp-core breach. “And what’s at those coordinates that’s got our Cardassian friends so alarmed?”
“Their gravimetric sensor grid just detected some kind of subspace anomaly. Very localized, and very unusual for this area.”
Now the trill of a sensor alert sounded, prompting Science and Ops to lean over their displays in unison.
Science was faster on the draw. “Detecting a subspace fissure at those same coordinates, Captain.”
The towel brushed the deckplates as Rigsby’s hand fell to her side, eyes riveted to the viewer. “What kind of fissure?” she asked carefully as she slid into the vacant command chair.
“Uncertain, sir,” replied the science officer. “We’re seeing a moderate elevation in chronometric energy and Q-particle emissions, but thus far nothing in the visual spectrum.”
The specialist at Ops called out, her voice tinged with surprise. “Sir, both Grela
are launching escape pods. Both ships are being evacuated.”
Rigby sat back in her chair, dropping her towel into her lap. “Let’s see.”
The viewer angle shifted aft, where ranks of life pods could be seen thrusting away from the two Galor
-class warships that were now trailing Ascension
The Tactical officer touched a hand to his comms earpiece. “Gul Dreilis is signaling that both ships are evacuating in preparation for a warp jump directly into the phenomena. They’re alerting us to move to a safe distance.”
Rigsby’s eyes widened even further. “Helm, give them the necessary space to complete their maneuver, and plot a course to collect their crews afterwards if our assistance is needed.”
“It’s a good bet they think this is the Amon,” the XO offered as he stepped over to the captain’s chair.
After sparing a glance at her first officer, Rigsby nodded numbly in response. “It’s an even better bet they’re right. The Cardassians have tasted annihilation too many times in the last decade to take any chances.”
With a crew of just over fifty souls, Ascension
was hardly in the same league as her Cardassian escorts, but the little ship still had teeth. “Arm weapons, raise shields, and alert medical and damage control personnel to report to duty stations,” Rigsby ordered.
"Eruption,” called out the specialist at Ops. “Same location as the subspace fissure, now bleeding energy into the visible spectrum.”
“On screen,” Rigsby commanded.
It appeared as though something had torn asunder the very fabric of the universe, exposing a brilliant white light that penetrated through the rupture from whatever lay on the other side.
“That can’t be good,” someone remarked.
The Science officer’s voice had taken on a hard edge as she noted, “This phenomenon is very similar to the one identified by the Klingons. Computer estimates a ninety-four-point-four percent probability this is an Amon transit portal.”
Two orangish streaks appeared instantly, bracketing the anomaly. They joined with the flaring light of the eruption so quickly that it took Rigsby a second to realize those had been the Cardassian warships jumping to warp.
An explosion blossomed near the event horizon of the portal, the destructive wave partially obscured by the glare of the phenomenon.
Rigsby chose to add whatever they could to the effort. “Target those coordinates and open fire, all weapons.”
The Cardassian defense grid responded in kind, and suddenly that area of space was awash in weapons fire.
The white flare of the portal darkened as something extruded through it, an elongated black shape whose leading edge was awash in flame.
“Target confirmed as Amon warship,” Tactical advised. “Detecting probable Amon habitat structures slaved to a Whalesong probe.”
“Reinforce harmonic shielding to all critical systems,” the XO barked, calling into play Starfleet’s best guess for a defense against the alien probe’s incapacitating subspace transmissions.
The dark cylinder measured some seventy kilometers in length. It’s elegant symmetry was disturbed by hundreds of tumescent protrusions affixed to its neutronium shell; the habitats, docking bays, and weapons emplacements of the Amon were strewn across the probe’s surface like a parasitic infestation.
The foremost portion of the titanic craft was obviously damaged, with great gouges plunging deep into the neutronium shell to expose a soft blue light emanating from within. The radiant, vaguely organic looking spherical antenna that was lowered from the belly of the beast when it broadcast its overwhelming signal was nowhere to be seen.
Voluminous weapons fire converged on the enormous craft, with nearly one-hundred photon torpedoes impacting the probe in the first volley. Most struck the neutronium surface harmlessly, their destructive energies ineffective against the incredible density of the hull material. A handful, though, dove through the wounds created by the faster-than-warp impact of the Cardassian warships as the probe had transitioned from transwarp velocities.
Still other torpedoes hit the Amon structures studding the surface, blasting apart environment domes, weapons batteries, and launch gantries. The lighting within the Amon structures seemed to flicker randomly, and there were no shields in evidence.
“Target those hull breaches,” Rigsby called to the tactical officer. “Ready a tri-cobalt warhead and fire it into whichever breach is the largest.” A tri-cobalt device would create a self-sustaining wave of matter-to-energy conversion in any unshielded target, a process that typically progressed until the target suffered catastrophic structural failure.
“Direct phasers against the Amon structures,” she continued.
Another wave of torpedoes approached, this one numbering in excess of one-hundred fifty.
Fourteen more Cardassian ships of various classes and two dozen fighters were now inbound to join the fight.
sent the tri-cobalt device plunging into the great probe’s innards, the XO looked to Rigsby with an expression of astonishment. “I can’t believe we’ve actually hurt them,” he said in a low tone.
Her grim smile hinted at grudging admiration. “Leave it to the Cardassians,” Rigsby noted. “Let’s not squander this opportunity.”
The Amon weapons which had remained silent until now, suddenly came to life with a vengeance. Beams, bolts, and a plethora of missiles flashed outward from the surface of the probe.
Scores of inbound Cardassian torpedoes were annihilated, and a powerful stream of collimated energy punched into Ascension’s
Bridge consoles sparked and flickered as a massive jolt raced through the ship’s spaceframe. The deck tilted alarmingly as inertial dampers were pushed beyond their tolerance. “How bad?” Rigsby called out, knowing there was damage without having to ask.
“Ventral grid at seventeen percent,” Tactical advised. “Hull deformation on the underside of the saucer, and engineering is having to reroute the feeds to the primary starboard power coupling.”
Rigsby grimaced. It wasn’t good, but it could have been much worse. “Helm, invert us. Engineering, auxiliary power to shields, reinforce our dorsal grid.”
was now racing down the starboard side of the probe, her phasers and torpedoes reaching out to lash various Amon structures, some shielded while others were inexplicably unprotected.
A third fusillade of photons from the Cardassian defense grid slammed home. This time, many of them had been targeted on the vulnerable cavities carved into the prow of the gargantuan cylinder. Amon return fire began to slacken as more of the predators’ guns were silenced by the blistering attack.
Three Amon missiles stuck Ascension
in concert. While the first two were rebuffed by the shields, the third pierced the invisible energy curtain to strike the aft-dorsal section of the ship. The weapon tore into the superstructure and detonated inside the port shuttle bay. The hull buckled and rent as gouts of flame and atmosphere blossomed into the void.
The explosion obliterated main engineering, and only the ship’s faltering containment fields kept the core intact for scant few seconds as Ascension
lost attitude control and tumbled towards the surface of the probe.
Rigsby clutched the armrests of her chair as the bridge spun around her. She dared release a hand just long enough to slap clumsily at her combadge. “This is the captain, evacuate the ship! All hands to esc--”
dove into the flank of the Whalesong probe, her detonating warp core scoring a five kilometer path of destruction directly through an Amon settlement. The clutch of industrial pods housed three of Amon bio-essence collection satellites that remained slaved to their launch gantries, unlaunched for want of power.
The great cylinder began a slow course change, coming about to flee the unrelenting onslaught from the Cardassian ships and weapons platforms. In the bowels of the juggernaut, great engines which drew their power from dimensional planes of pure energy struggled to repair themselves in the face of the unexpected damage suffered by the probe’s internal systems. Nothing had breached the neutronium shell of the device in over a million years, and those ferocious antagonists had long since turned to dust.
The mighty warship made good its escape moments later, vanishing through the convulsing aperture torn through the warp and weft of space/time.
In its wake the probe had shed a trail of debris, a mix of neutronium slag, technology, bodies, and other flotsam that represented the Alpha Quadrant’s first measurable success in the face of Amon aggression.
* * *