Very good question about why IG-4 wasn't given Alpha Weapons. Or were they?
Six Days Later…
Captain Erasia shared her first officer’s skepticism, but she plunged ahead anyway. “Kothlis’Ka armada,” she said, her voice clear and strong, “In the furtherance of galactic peace we ask that you alter your course.” She directed Commander Sheppard to transmit an alternate heading and waited calmly for a reply.
Per Commander Rhizzo’s suggestion, the taskforce had formed into a diamond slot formation, which greatly increased the breadth of the thoron shield encapsulating them all. Empress was the lead ship and Ariane brought up with the rear, with the other three in the middle. Erasia could hear its steady thrumming overriding the normal buzz of the main bridge, but not eclipsing the pounding of her heart.
Long-range sensors brought the armada into full view and it felt too close for comfort. The alien armada was vast, with the 15-kilometer seedships dominating the center and protected by attack cruisers and destroyers, each bristling with what were assuredly weapons. However Tan noted that the Kothlis’Ka aesthetic seemed to favor sharp edges and the some of the ships might have looked more aggressive than was their function.
The intercept group was trailing the massive fleet, and was just within communications range. Tan hoped that they weren’t in range of the neutronium ammunition. Flanking the taskforce was the full complement of unmanned warp combat vehicles each ship possessed. Slightly bigger than Type-7 shuttlecraft, each warp vehicle boasted two type-X phasers, 40 quantum torpedoes, and five tricobalt devices.
The warp vehicles filled out the taskforce immeasurably and made Tan feel a tad more confident. She was also mollified that the unmanned vehicles meant fewer casualties.
Heeding Tanaka’s advice and against the knot of distrust in her gut, Tan had placed Commander Rhizzo in charge of operating the warp vehicles. Erasia conceded that the woman’s skills in tactics were enviable.
In the event that Ariane was unable to direct the warp vehicles, Empress would take over command duties. If Empress was impaired, the vehicles’ artificial intelligence fail safes would activate and the vessels would continue the fight without a guiding hand.
Still waiting, Erasia glanced at the Arkarian manning the tactical console. She nodded at the young man and his returning smile was confident. Despite herself, Tan wished that Katrina was at tactical; as did Lt. Moeller without a doubt. Katrina had not been pleased when the captain had broken the news to her that she would she would be joining the Narcissus rescue mission.
Each ship was supplying a senior officer and Commander Sheppard had balked, and Tan felt guilty about thinking of sparing Thav by sending him, and Segen would’ve given Commander Hsiao too many headaches, so she had selected Moeller. The rescue mission would need the best security officer among the taskforce and Tan was certain that that was Lt. Moeller.
The woman had put up a fight, at first, but reluctantly accepted the inevitable. She had hand-picked Lt. Quim to replace her. The man’s demeanor and bearing thus far seemed to be another indication of Katrina’s good judgment.
“No response to our hail,” Commander Sheppard said after an interminable time. “Shall we try again?”
Tan’s two stomachs roiled. She patted them both while smoothing the front of her uniform. “Yes, once more.” She really wanted to resolve this peacefully. “Open a frequency.”
“Frequency open,” Lt. Aarti’s voice was tight, and lacking its usual mirth. Erasia could imagine that the woman wasn’t just thinking about her own life and that her colleagues, but that her entire bond group, including Thav, was aboard the Empress. The quartet had struggled to produce offspring and it was very likely that none of them would get the opportunity.
It would be a profound loss not just to Starfleet but to the Andorian people who were suffering a severe population decline. Each Andorian life was even more precious than before and many Andorians looked on procreation as a patriotic duty.
Tan had had her reservations about Thav and Aarti’s plan to bring the other two members of their group aboard Empress. On some level, her dark imaginings had envisioned them running into something like the Kothlis’Ka. But neither Andorian had listened to her.
Both Eirwen and Neva had been welcome additions to the civilians working and living aboard Empress. The captain hated leading them to their deaths too.
“Kothlis’Ka fleet,” Erasia reined in her flagging hopes and put as much strength into her voice as she could. “The new heading we provided you will help you avoid encroaching into sovereign territories and will decrease the chances of misunderstandings or hostilities.”
“Like the misunderstanding of them blowing the Narcissus to hell,” Sheppard murmured, just loud enough for the captain to hear. She frowned at him.
“Kothlis’Ka armada,” Tan tried again, “While we might be able to accept that a miscommunication resulted in the destruction of our fellow ship the Narcissus. That you were perhaps acting out of self-defense, such comprehension will not be shared by the Tholian Assembly or the Romulan Star Empire.” Her stomachs twisted at how she described the loss of the Narcissus, but Tan was trying to be as diplomatic as possible and to project as much empathy into her voice as she could muster.
As she waited, likely in vain, for a reply, Tan took stock of her crew. All had determined looks on their faces, though she knew them well enough to know how fragile those masks were.
“Ariane is hailing,” Aarti said. “Commander Rhizzo.” Tan sighed.
“Put the commander onscreen,” the captain ordered.
“Captain I think we’ve gotten our answer,” the Zakdorn said. “I suggest we send our first wave of warp vehicles to hammer home our resolve.”
Erasia glanced at Sheppard. The dark-skinned human nodded in agreement. The captain sighed again.
“All right,” she relented and gave the fateful order. “Commander Rhizzo, prepare the first wave. I only want them to shoot off the bows of the rear Kothlis’Ka vessels; phasers at low-yield.”
“Aye sir,” Rhizzo’s grin was smug. The Zakdorn was going to get the war she wanted; Gods help them all.
“Captain!” Quim nearly shouted, drawing everyone’s attention, even Rhizzo’s.
“What is it Lieutenant?” Tan asked, her stomachs knotting with fear of Kothlis’Ka incoming.
“Long-range sensors are detecting new vessels, lots of them,” the Arkanian said, a mix of confusion and relief on his face, “and they are heading on an attack vector toward the Kothlis’Ka armada!”