RSS iconTwitter iconFacebook icon

The Trek BBS title image

The Trek BBS statistics

Threads: 138,336
Posts: 5,353,565
Members: 24,619
Currently online: 602
Newest member: nmatos2005

TrekToday headlines

Sci-Fried To Release New Album
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek/Planet of the Apes Crossover
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Star Trek into Darkness Soundtrack
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Horse 1, Shatner 0
By: T'Bonz on Jul 28

Drexler TV Alert
By: T'Bonz on Jul 26

Retro Review: His Way
By: Michelle on Jul 26

MicroWarriors Releases Next Week
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Ships Of The Line Design Contest
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

Next Weekend: Shore Leave 36!
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25

True Trek History To Be Penned
By: T'Bonz on Jul 25


Welcome! The Trek BBS is the number one place to chat about Star Trek with like-minded fans. Please login to see our full range of forums as well as the ability to send and receive private messages, track your favourite topics and of course join in the discussions.

If you are a new visitor, join us for free. If you are an existing member please login below. Note: for members who joined under our old messageboard system, please login with your display name not your login name.


Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek Fandom > Fan Fiction

Fan Fiction Other forums talk about Trek. We make it.

Reply
 
Thread Tools
Old October 19 2012, 06:41 PM   #31
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Four

Day 39

He is not here:
For he is risen, as he said,
Come, see the place
Where the Lord lay
(Matthew 28:6)


Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47 limped towards Cardassia Prime at low warp. Mirak’tiral never doubted that his ship would reach its destination. This class of heavy cruiser had seven redundant power cores decentralized throughout the ship, making any system-wide sabotage of the ship from the inside or the destruction the ship in one fell swoop from the outside nearly impossible. Those redundancies kept warp drive functioning even after the insurgents barricaded themselves in main engineering.

The size of a Dominion heavy cruiser made it one of the most intimidating classes of starships in the quadrant. As long as the weapons arsenals were intact, this ship would participate in any battle for the duration of the war. Its large size was also a drawback, as it allowed saboteurs to hide almost indefinitely.

“Approaching Cardassia Prime,” Ikan’irral reported.

“About time,” Mirak’tiral replied. He turned to Turak’miron asking, “What did the diagnostics of the weapons systems turn up?”

“All weapon systems are functioning normally,” answered Turak’miron.

Mirak’tiral activated his eyepiece, which showed a tactical display of ships on both sides. “Signal the rest of the attack fleet, we stand ready to join the biggest battle in Dominion history. For all of us, victory literally is life. Either the enemy fleet obliterates us, or we obliterate them. Win or lose, we will fight to the last man no matter what.

“Send out all the fighter wings to conduct reconnaissance along the first moon’s perigee. All battleships and heavy cruisers, hold the line around the planet. Make sure nothing gets through.”

***

The counter-insurgents were gathered in main engineering, preparing to take back the ship. Seventh Trok’dalon did a full survey of the compartment, requesting status reports from Vorta and Jem’Hadar at various consoles. Once he heard from each of them, he sauntered over to the Founder in the center of the room.

“We’re ready to crash the main computers,” he informed the Changeling.

Other Jem’Hadar gathered around the leader of the counter-insurgents, plasma rifles at the ready, eager to storm the command deck and execute the traitors. “Make sure your personal transporter uplinks are in working order,” the Founder instructed them. He was struggling to keep his balance, eliciting the concern of his devoted servants, who worried that his whole body would crumble and turn to ash any second.

Trok’dalon clasped the Changeling’s arms, trying to keep him standing. “Perhaps you should return to your quarters and rest,” he suggested.

“I will see this through until the mutineers are punished for their treachery,” the Founder blithely replied.

“We’re in position to storm the command deck,” said a subordinate Jem’Hadar.

Trok’dalon strutted towards the main console and pushed a button. He triggered a computer virus that caused the lights go out all over the ship.

###

Babylon 5 episode “Endgame” montage featuring Beauty & the Beast by Nightwish

Ships were massing outside the orbit of Cardassia Prime’s outermost moon.

Despite the colossal risk involved, a wing of fifteen Romulan starbirds dropped out of warp and decloaked very close to the Blind Moon’s surface to knock out the unmanned sensor stations. The moon was known as Blind Moon because it never appeared in Cardassia’s sky on its own--only with one or both of the other moons. Coincidentally, the Allied fleet was firing at Blind Moon in order to partially blind the enemy’s perimeter sensors.

Ground-based weapon platforms lit up and destroyed two of the attacking fighters. The rest of the starbirds continued descending towards the surface while continuing to fire swarms of torpedoes at the sensor platforms. Twenty Jem’Hadar fighters in groups of three and four swooped around the moon and fired disruptor salvos at the attack ships, sending three more ships spiraling towards the surface. Two Romulan warbirds and four light cruisers broke formation and laid down supporting fire as the surviving ships ascended from the moon.

A large group of Allied ship sped up towards the planet and took a wing of Dominion and Breen battleships by surprise. Groups of Klingon attack cruisers and Akira and Steamrunner-class ships fired salvos of torpedoes that plowed into the hulls of five Jem’Hadar battleships. Three Breen battle ships broke off and fired rounds of plasma torpedoes, damaging the saucer section of one of the Akiras.

***

“Looks like they were taken by surprise.” Kozar reported on ship-to-ship comm. “We’ve managed to punch a hole in their outer lines.”

Limis paced across bridge from the command chairs to the helm while taking quick glances at the officers at ops at tactical. “We’re coming in right behind you,” she told Kozar. “Helm, stand by parabolic interception course.”

“New heading: four-seven mark one-seven-three,” Carson reported.

“All light cruiser and Luna wings, form up behind us,” Limis instructed. “Take out any scouting wings along the way. Ready all torpedo tubes to target oncoming capital ships.”

“All ships report ready,” said Sterns, the bleached-blond ensign at ops.

“All weapons arrays standing by,” added Raldon, the Benzite at tactical

“Then take us in,” Limis commanded.

***

The Lambda Paz, along with four other Luna-class vessels and flanking light cruisers, arched to port and glided upward to intercept the first wave of ships. A large fleet of Cardassian warships, led by the Pakar, formed up alongside the Starfleet battle group. They fired alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes at heavy cruisers and smaller fighters alike. The orbital weapon platforms fired almost unending rounds of plasma torpedoes, effortlessly destroying Hideki-class patrol vessels on the outer formation. Dozens of Starfleet light-cruisers and Klingon Birds-of-Prey swooped in on the platforms and fired at them. Each round was deflected by their almost impenetrable forcefields. A line of six ships then broke off, giving way to another line of ships that continued firing to no avail.

The Galaxy-class USS Manchuria and four flanking Excelsior-class ships fired both phasers and torpedoes from deep range as a third line of light cruisers moved in. The onslaught of weapons fire eventually weakened the forcefields on five platforms. The group of ships led by the Manchuria then fired simultaneous torpedo spreads that destroyed those platforms. That allowed a group of ships led by the Lambda Paz to escort squads of fighter shuttles closer to the planet’s upper atmosphere.

###

The first wave of fighters and light cruisers were promptly shot down by the automated orbital defenses. Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters joined in and managed to disable or destroy a few more fighter shuttles. A second wave of shuttles got through while firing alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes.

Nave dodged a few sparks erupting from the port side of the cockpit. She tightly gripped her console with one hand while her fingers skidded across a set of keys to plot a new course. Other fighter shuttles around hers were blown out of the sky over Cardassia. One of the scout ships was one she quickly recognized as it was spiraling towards the planet’s surface.

“Truxia,” she whispered, realizing she had lost yet another friend in recent months. But, just as when Matt Herron died, she had no time for mourning. She still had a job, and that was to soften up orbital defenses and open a big enough window to transport troops down to the surface.

More explosions took place in the back of the cockpit. Those caught Nave’s attention, but she quickly turned her attention back to piloting the vessel. “All units,” she said, activating a comm panel, “prepare to beam down.”

###

Led by Morrison, a team of security and Marine officers materialized in a recently razed city. With their rifles pointed ahead, they marched through the streets, dodging falling debris from broken buildings. They turned a corner at a back alley, taking care to look all around to make they would not be individually ambushed by Jem’Hadar or Breen soldiers.

Morrison noticed in the corner of his eye Calliope Morales quickly jumping out of the way of a corpse. Upon a quick glance as she passed by the dead body, and she saw it was that of a frail old man with his face locked in a terrified expression. “My, God,” he heard her gasp.

As he watched her stare at the body of a man who was most likely in no position to fight back, he was reminded of similar atrocities committed by Cardassian soldiers. Now they were victims of mass murder, including an elderly man who was probably not part of any organized rebellion, and who likely never fired a weapon in his life. Yet the Jem’Hadar who murdered him most likely did not show any hesitation, did not show any remorse while ending his life.

“Some more over here,” called Tafiq Nasir, the security officer who had taken point once the group had landed on the surface. Others gathered around him very near a street intersection.

Individuals of all ages--adults and children alike, the sick, injured, and infirm, elderly who couldn’t walk or even feed themselves--had been dragged into the alleyway from their residential tenement units and brutally slain. One of them was a mother, who had tightly held her infant child until their last breaths.

While Morrison had seen this type of casual brutality firsthand during the Setlik Three Massacre, many in his unit had not seen a sight so morbid--people killed by the millions, perhaps hundreds of millions, and their bodies left to rot in the streets as an example to anyone thinking of defying the Dominion. Those traumatic memories soon gave way to a greater determination not to let something like this happen on Earth or Vulcan or Qo’Nos.

“I know it’s hard to look at,” he assured his troops, “but we have a mission to complete, and that’s to make sure this doesn’t ever happen on a Federation world.”

“Yes, sir!” some of the troops shouted in unison.

“Then let’s keep moving!”

And they pressed on, continuing their march towards a nearby Jem’Hadar base camp.
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 19 2012, 06:45 PM   #32
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Four (Part 2)

The Lambda Paz and its battle group swooped in closer to the planet’s upper atmosphere and immediately came under attack from both enemy vessels and orbital weapon platforms.

In sickbay, the EMH was examining an unconscious patient when he began fading in and out. “Aurellan!” he called out.

Doctor Markalis’s attention was momentarily diverted when she heard her name called. She gestured for one of the other doctors to attend to the hologram’s patient upon seeing the program malfunction. She took a quick glance at her patient’s vitals and saw them holding steady, and looked back at her lover.

“I love you!” he called to her as he faded out again. And this time, he did not reappear.

Aurellan just stared, wide-eyed, wondering how long the EMH program would be out of commission.

***

The Lambda Paz continued taking a pounding as supporting light cruisers and fighter shuttles continued dropping left and right, courtesy of the weapon platforms. A few more of the platforms had been taken out, but at a much slower rate than the automated weapons were taking out Allied ships.

Hull breaches throughout the ship, including the bridge, blew unsuspecting personnel into space before the emergency forcefields kicked in. Raldon was dead, courtesy of a falling beam impaling him through the neck. Sterns took over at tactical while Carson scurried to ops because the helm console was smashed by falling debris.

“Warp and impulse engines are down,” she said. “Maneuvering thrusters are functioning on reserve power only. That’s not much with most of the auxiliary transfer conduits fused.”

“All forward phaser arrays are out,” Sterns somberly added, “as are primary torpedo launchers. Shields are nearing failure.”

“What if we concentrated what we had left into a full-out phaser and torpedo salvo?” Limis suggested.

“Still wouldn’t be enough to take out even one fighter,” Sterns replied with a shake of his head.

The communications boards on the ops console quickly grabbed Carson’s attention as it chirped. “Incoming hails from Captain Lenaris, Commander Kozar, and Commander Ellison,” she reported.

“Put it through,” the captain replied, “and route it to as many of the other ships as you can.”

Limis walked towards the master situation monitor situated between the two turbolifts on the bridge’s aft. She tapped a few keys on the console below the schematic of the ship to convert the monitor into a makeshift viewscreen. Capsules of the three ship captains appeared--Ellison on the left, Kozar on the right, and Lenaris in the center. The bridge of the Derna was just as smashed up, while the Kaneda and Thunderchild appeared to be in worse shape with sparks erupting every few seconds.

“What have you got, gentlemen?” Limis inquired.

“The plan for taking out the weapon platforms is sound,” Lenaris quickly responded. “We’re still losing ships faster than we can take them out.”

“We’re pretty much dead in the water,” said Kozar. “At least the whole fleet is still putting up a good fight. The Jemmies are going to concentrate on ships still fighting before they come and finish us off.”

“Same here,” added Ellison. “Our main engines are gone and we’ve got no weapons or shields to speak of.”

“How long before the Second and Ninth Fleets get here?” Limis wondered, desperate for some bit of good news even knowing that six hundred more ships would face similar losses before they could overpower the automated defenses.

“Not soon enough before our lines completely collapse,” Ellison grimly replied.

A long and somber silence follows, as all four ship captains felt a sense of doom. They all remained optimistic that the battle would ultimately be won, but not without at least forty or fifty percent casualties among the troops still standing when those fleets arrived at Cardassia Prime. And there was a pervading sense among the four that they and their ships would not survive the battle’s final outcome.

“I’m open to suggestions, people,” Limis said with half-feigned enthusiasm. Any luck locating the platforms’ central power source?”

Kozar sighed, indicating to Limis that he had both good and bad news. “Yes, but I don’t think we have the means to take it out.”

“There may be a way,” a fifth voice chimed in.

Limis entered a sequence on the keypad to allow another visual capsule to appear on the top of the monitor above those of the other captains. The newest visual capsule was of Commander Logan in the engineering section of the Kaneda. “What are you suggesting, Mister Logan?” she asked.

“We throw all the power we can into the warp drive and trigger a series of antimatter explosions,” Logan offered. “The first one knocks out the protective forcefield, the rest take out the power source.”

“The rest of the Seventh and Twelfth Fleets will only have a thirty-second window before the independent power source kicks in,” Kozar reminded the rest of the group.

“Let me worry about alerting the ships,” Limis assured her colleagues, even as all four video images momentarily weakened.

“We still have minimal weapon capabilities,” Lenaris offered. “We can lay down cover fire in case there are automated sentry pods guarding the place.”

“The Thunderchild and Kaneda are among those ships that are expendable,” Ellison added. “Kozar and I will begin evacuating our crews immediately while Logan prepares remote navigation autopilot.”

“Done,” Logan acknowledged.

“Agreed,” Kozar said.

“Good luck, everyone,” Limis declared to the rest of the group.

“To us all,” Lenaris replied.

###

Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47 was in battle with enemy forces. The Jem’Hadar vessel fired torpedoes from all its functioning launchers. Swarms of Starfleet light cruisers were firing phasers at both the port and starboard sides of the ship while a Galaxy-class and two flanking Nebula-class ships fired alternating rounds of phasers and quantum torpedoes. The heavy cruiser fired plasma torpedoes from four of its forward launchers that plowed hard into the forward saucer sections of all three ships ahead.

The command deck suddenly went dark. Mirak’tiral looked around in a daze of confusion. The decentralized power cores, he knew, made this kind of sabotage almost impossible. Almost, not completely impossible. A Starfleet team infiltrating a Dominion heavy cruiser certainly couldn’t pull off unleashing a virus that would cause all the computers to crash at once. On the other hand, the crew of this ship, especially the Vorta engineers keeping things up and running possessed enough expertise to try something like that. The First wanted to curse himself letting those Vorta live, but he quickly reminded himself that while the Jem’Hadar had the most basic of technical knowledge, the Vorta had a better understanding the ship’s inner workings than any Jem’Hadar.

“What just happened?!” he demanded as the deck shook.

“No idea, First,” Turak’miron calmly answered. “All the computers have crashed.”

“Do we have any engine capability?”

Ikan’irral was feverishly pushing buttons on his console in the hope that something was working right. “Not until emergency power engages,” he informed the First.

Seemingly on cue, the lights flashed back on, but at the same time four Jem’Hadar materialized on the command deck and start shooting. A firefight between mutineers and counter-insurgents broke out on the bridge, killing two Jem’Hadar on each side. Six more counter-insurgents beamed in. They and the mutineers took refuge behind whatever nearby consoles they could find.

“Are you sure you want to be here, Founder?” Trok’dalon asked the Changeling while also firing his pistol and dodging weapon fire at the same time. “You may end up in the line of fire.”

“As I told you,” the Founder reiterated. “I wish to see Mirak’tiral and his followers punished for their disloyalty myself.”

As the back and forth firing continued, a Jem’Hadar approached Turak’miron and shot him square in the chest with his pistol. Ikan’irral saw a good target, but was killed the second he aimed his rifle. Mirak’tiral and Trok’dalon were face-to-face, pistols pointed at each other, and completely oblivious to the shooting happening around them.

They stared at each other for what seemed like a very long moment. Mirak’tiral just wanted the leader of the counter-insurgency to pull the trigger. All he had to do to prevent his own death was pull the trigger on his own gun. Deep down, though, he knew he deserved to die for his subversive actions. He just wanted Trok’dalon to shoot and get it over with.

“I did not expect that you would side with the old order,” Mirak’tiral grumbled. “I would think you would understand that the Vorta answering to us was a more efficient arrangement.”

“You were able to bring some of the Gammas onto your side,” Trok’dalon retorted. “Now, your Second and Third have paid for their error in judgment.”

“And the Founder?”

Trok’dalon moved aside so that Mirak’tiral could see the Founder. “He is here.”

Mirak’tiral lowered his pistol and bowed his head upon seeing one of his gods. “Founder, I am pleased you are safe.”

“A small comfort for your betrayal, First,” the Changeling angrily shot back. He winced in pain at the same time gunfire clipped the wall above. He used that wall to break his fall, unaware that electrical current was coursing through it. The Changeling was writhing as electricity crackled through his body.

“No!” Mirak’tiral cried in an uncharacteristic display of emotion. He tried to rationalize his recent actions as having been taken out of loyalty to the Founders. He had come to see a Vorta as an impediment to achieving victory. In an effort to reconcile this cognitive dissonance, he had convinced himself and those under his command that they answered to no one but the Founders. But in the end, he still allowed one of his gods to perish.

The shooting stopped, and all the Jem’Hadar on both sides watched in horror as the Founder’s humanoid form was reduced to a pile of gelatinous material. The flow of electrical current gradually subsided, and the gelatinous material transformed into a mound of ash.

Mirak’tiral and all the other Jem’Hadar bowed their heads as a form of ritual mourning. “We are united in our grief,” the First proclaimed. “Because those on both sides are responsible for the death of a Founder, there can be only one course of action.”

“Agreed,” Trok’dalon responded.

“Locate the nearest enemy capital ship and lay in a collision course.”

The ship they were seeking was a Negh’Var-class Klingon heavy cruiser. The Dominion vessel fired plasma torpedoes at the enemy ship’s maneuvering thrusters while speeding towards the target. The two ships collided, triggering a massive fireball. As the Klingon ship was in flames, it collided with a nearby Jem’Hadar battleship. The resulting fireball enveloped both those ships, and they both blew apart in a blinding explosion.
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 19 2012, 06:48 PM   #33
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Four (Part 3)

A Brave Act

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 and Kaneda, 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 and Derna 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 Bellerephon 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 and Negh’Var 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.”
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 20 2012, 07:28 PM   #34
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Chapter Twenty-Five

Fighting on the surface of Cardassia Prime had become hand-to-hand combat. Six members of Morrison’s team had already been killed--impaled through the chest or shot. Morrison and one Jem’Hadar were exchanging punches, with neither of them giving way. His face, though, was covered in blood and dirt and bruises while his opponent showed no signs physical trauma.

After dispatching his opponent with a kartokin, the Jem’Hadar squad leader heard a chirp on his communication device. He tapped the device on his arm and said, “Understood.”
“Withdraw!” he shouted to the rest of his unit.

To the surprise of the four people on Morrison’s team still standing, the Jem’Hadar ran off. They camouflaged themselves while laying down cover fire with their pistols. Morrison, Morales, and Nasir, and another human male officer all exchanged bewildered stares. Neither side had the upper hand in hand-to-hand fighting. But the Jem’Hadar--yes, the Jem’Hadar--had just retreated from battle. Morrison wanted to ask himself why, but that didn’t matter. His life, and the lives of three others on his team, had been spared. A strange thought had come to his mind, though seemingly too good to be true.

The Dominion had just surrendered.

###

t.A.t.U.: Gomenasai (Instrumental)

A Founder appeared on video monitors throughout the bridge of the Lambda Paz. This Changeling was in the form of a humanoid female, with the face, hair, and ears similar in shape and arrangement to that of of Deep Space Nine’s chief of security. Why the Founders chose to mimic Odo’s appearance when interacting with various humanoid races was a curiosity, considering they were better shapeshifters than he was. Maybe it was a distinctive appearance they had never considered using prior to his visit to their homeworld.

According to the intelligence reports Limis and all other starship captains had to familiarize themselves with, this particular Changeling was the leader of her race. What was most puzzling to Limis, and the rest of the bridge officers, was that this Changeling appeared to have been cured of the disease afflicting the Founders. No longer was her face parched, but molded like smooth clay.

“As you may already know,” the female Founder announced, “our ships have ceased fire. On behalf of the Dominion, I offer total surrender. We wish to formally end hostilities with the United Federation of Planets and its military allies in exchange for the cure for the disease that has brought my race to the precipice of extinction. A fellow Changeling, one who has served on one of your Starfleet installations has cured me, and he wishes to share that cure with the rest of the Great Link as a demonstration of the good will of the Alpha Quadrant Solids.”

Kozar gave a befuddled glance at Limis. Others stared in silent shock. Carson, Huckaby, sh’Aqba, and Sterns couldn’t believe what they were hearing. Dominion battle tactics throughout the war were consistent with soldiers determined to go down fighting, to fight to the last breath. Now, with nearly the entire Dominion fleet in the Alpha and Beta Quadrants fortifying Cardassia Prime, the leader of the Founders was waving the proverbial white flag.

Limis was certain this surrender was another effort on the Dominion’s part to lull an enemy into a false sense of security. During that moment of indecision--whether to stand down as the enemy had or continue to keep close watch--a more familiar face appeared on the substitute viewscreens. Deep Space Nine’s chief of security, dressed in the uniform of a Bajoran Militia constable, was now on the monitor.

“In case anyone doubts her sincerity,” said Odo, “an end to the fighting in orbit and on the surface should be the first gesture of the Founders’ intent to surrender. I have, in fact, cured her of the disease that has threatened our race. While she will surrender herself to the authorities, I intend to share that cure with the rest of the Founders in the hope that this act of compassion will mark the first step towards peace between the Dominion and the major powers of the Alpha Quadrant.”

Limis was at a loss for words. Was this the answer all along? Had Odo finally convinced his fellow Changelings that the Federation and its allies were no threat to them? He had no success in that regard in the four years since he had made contact with his people. But what was always believed to be antithetical to Dominion military policy was taking place at this very moment. Though having met this particular Changeling only once, Limis knew from the accounts of Bajorans serving on Deep Space Nine that Odo was a man of integrity who stayed true to his own ideals during the Occupation of Bajor and had continuously condemned his own people’s conduct towards the races of the Alpha Quadrant and Beta Quadrants. If not for Odo’s words, no one would have believed the female Changeling’s offer of surrender.

“Tell the ships to stand down,” Limis instructed.

“Aye, sir,” Carson responded. She was in the process of relaying that message when the communications board chirped. “Incoming message from the Pakar.”

“Put it up,” Limis replied.

“Captain Limis,” came the voice of Gul Latham on the audio speakers, “we are dispatching medical shuttles to provide assistance.”

“Thank you, Gul.” She flashed a smile, having never expected to be saying those words to a Cardassian before.

“You’ve earned a friend in the Cardassian Union today, Captain. Pakar out.”

Limis stood and stared silently at the former location of the bridge’s main viewscreen. “You have the bridge, Commander,” she told Kozar. She sauntered towards the ready room, hoping to be alone with her thoughts and to mourn the losses suffered in the final battles of the war--including the heroic sacrifice of her dear friend, Erhlich Tarlazzi.

***

Ellison entered the shuttlebay of the Starship Manchuria where he saw members of the ground assault forces disembarking two scout vessels. Medical personnel were attending to people limping out of the ships and assessing barely conscious soldiers on antigravity stretchers. One of group of doctors and nurses stationed between the two support vessels was responsible for having corpses placed in body bags.

Ellison just watched silently as the two ships were being evacuated. With each passing moment, he became more doubtful of seeing two particular officers step out of the egresses of either of the two scout vessels. His blank expression did not indicate any type of favoritism towards two of his bridge officers. He was thankful that so many of his crew dispatched to the surface of Cardassia Prime had survived, more than would have survived if not for the Founders’ surprising decision to surrender. The mission had been accomplished, but a heavy price.

His eyes widened and his lower lips dropped slightly when he saw Sarah Nave step out of a scout vessel’s port egress with her arm around the shoulder of a male soldier with a nasty burn on his left leg. A female nurse attended to the wounded man as he was placed on an antigravity stretcher.

Ellison stared at Nave for a very long moment, wondering if his second-in-command had survived as well. “Truxia?” he mouthed.

She shook her head. Her face was blank and her eyes were devoid of any emotion. She waved away a female doctor, scanning her with a medical tricorder, insisting she was okay. But then she let out a stifled sob. She fell to her knees and then curled up in a fetal position. The doctor she had dismissed just a few seconds earlier and Ellison both hurried towards her. He wrapped his arm around her shoulders. She was bawling like an infant, as all the emotions of she held in for so long poured to the surface.


Day 40

Teaching them to observe
All things whatsoever
I have commanded you:
And lo, I am with you always,
Even unto the end of the world.
Amen.
(Matthew 28:20)

On video monitors in public venues and in homes throughout the Federation, a live transmission from the Federation News Service interrupted various time-delayed broadcasts of entertainment programs and sporting events. News Service anchor Marina Gomez appeared on those monitors to deliver a breaking news bulletin.

“We interrupt regularly scheduled transmissions to bring you breaking news. The war that has darkened the Alpha Quadrant for the past two years has come to an end.”

A tavern on Tau Ceti Three erupted in raucous cheering as patrons heard that news.

“The United Federation of Planets and its allies have prevailed,” Gomez continued. “At oh-three-fifty-three Earth standard time this morning, a multi-planetary force overpowered the automated orbital defenses fortifying Cardassia Prime. And to the surprise of many of the troops in the battle, the Founders of the Dominion had agreed to stand down as fighting ensued.

“Negotiations of a peace treaty detailing the Dominion’s complete withdraw from the Alpha and Beta Quadrant are now underway. For now, though, all military conflict has come to an end.”

###

Evanescence: My Immortal

Gul Latham stepped through the rubble of what was left of his family mansion. A forensic team helped sort through the debris. In the process, they had found his wife, his father-in-law, and his second born son had died. Latham was not sure whether to be thankful or worried that other relatives were not in the house at the time it was being leveled. The whereabouts of his oldest son, his two younger sons and his two daughters were unknown. He had no way of knowing whether they were alive or dead. He could only hold out hope that they had survived.

What he was certain of now was that he could’ve chosen not to act against the Dominion, and this still could have happened. He had initially thought that he would be protecting his family by not rebelling against the Dominion. He had soon come to learn how much of a coward he had been by ignoring what was happening on his home planet. So by rising up in opposition, he might have saved many more lives. If only some members of his family still hadn’t lost their lives. Family was everything to a Cardassian.

Glinn Orlak stood to Latham’s right. They were both staring somberly at the wreckage in front of them. “I’m sorry, Arek,” Orlak said.

Latham patted his second-in-command on the back. “And for your losses as well, Printus,” he replied. It was certainly a tragedy affected his entire crew with over eight hundred million dead. He knew Orlak had family in Pogar City, while Glinn Maret’s immediate family resided in Lakarian City.

“We will certainly mourn the dead,” Latham declared. “But for so many people’s imperialistic ambitions, Cardassia has gotten what it deserved. After all the suffering our race has inflicted on the Bajorans, the Martosians, the Norsaians, and so many others, justice has now been served. Now is the time for change--to build a better Cardassia.”

###

The medical facilities aboard the Lambda Paz had taken in dead and wounded soldiers. The primary and secondary sickbay facilities and the triage center were filled beyond capacity, with injured troops resting on biobeds or cots on the floor. Dead bodies were carried to the morgue in body bags, including that of deputy chief of security, Lieutenant Tirren Ra Hoth.

Doctors and nurses from recently arrived hospital ships had been able to lend a hand. What had impressed Doctor Markalis even more than how calmly and professionally all the Starfleet and civilian medical practitioners had handled so many cases at once were the contributions of Cardassian doctors in her medical facilities, and that the Starfleet doctors welcomed their collaboration without the influence of preconceived notions about Cardassian medical ethics. Once they were enemies on the battlefield, but now Cardassian doctors were treating human patients and human doctors were treating Cardassian patients. The medical practice was one area where such distinctions were not recognized.

While she was loading a hypospray in preparation to treat a patient, she was approached by a middle-aged Cardassian dressed in black and gray medical attire. “You are the senior medical officer of this ship, correct?” he inquired with a friendly smile.

“Yes,” Aurellan said with a light smile and nod.

“I wish to express my appreciation to you for allowing me and my staff to provide assistance,” Ereb Pretac continued. “It is my hope that this recent collaboration marks the beginning of more amiable relations between our peoples.”

“Mine as well,” Aurellan sheepishly answered. She had never learned to hate a Cardassian the way many soldiers on the battlefield did, even though she had heard rumors about Cardassian doctors stepping outside the bounds of Federation medical ethics. Pretac might have been one such doctor, not that it mattered at this moment with representatives from two once mutually hostile powers united in a common cause.

###

Limis poured what was left from a bottle of spring wine into a glass. She and the senior staff, plus a few other colleagues, had gathered in the mess hall to memorialize the dead. Much of the furniture had pushed aside to one corner to accommodate a larger group of people. Kozar, Morrison, Carson, sh’Aqba, and Markalis were all present. Chaz Logan, Rebecca Sullivan, and Lisa Neeley were part of this gathering, as were Captain Lenaris, Commander Ellison, and Lieutenant Commander Selek, and they all held wine glasses filled with Bajoran spring wine.

“A toast,” Limis said, raising her glass. “To absent friends.” Her voice broke while still to fight back her own tears, still trying to be strong for her crew. Of course, they would understand in this setting that the deaths of so many friends and of so many individuals serving under her command would certainly wear on her. “To family.”

The others raised their glasses and then took quick sips.

Limis took slow glances at every other person in the room. She had lost so many loved ones in her lifetime--her parents and her surrogate family in the Maquis. Despite varying philosophical differences in the past two years with a lot of her Starfleet colleagues, these people were now her family.

“I had never met anyone who was such a free-spirit as Erhlich Tarlazzi,” Rebecca said. Her eyes were brimming with tears as she held Sara’s hand for emotional support. “He knew how to give people a reason to smile even in the darkest of times, even while what was left of the Maquis was on the run from the Dominion, the war.”

Limis grinned in agreement of Rebecca’s statement.

“He was my best friend,” Rebecca added, letting a single tear escape her right eye. Sara wrapped her arm around Rebecca’s shoulder and held her close.

“At first, I didn’t like him,” the expectant mother of Tarlazzi’s child candidly remarked. “He seemed awfully cavalier, taking unnecessary risks, pridefully disregarding safety protocols. He lived life to the fullest. I admired that in him. Laying down his life the way he did was the most...”--sh’Aqba was choking back sobs, feeling slightly hesitant to praise Erhlich’s sacrifice--“selfless things he’s ever done. And the most selfish.”

Limis directed an empathetic stare at Shinar, knowing firsthand the difficulties of single motherhood.

Kozar gently touched sh’Aqba’s right shoulder. He looked into her tear-filled eyes for a few seconds, and then looked in the general direction of the others. “Many probably knew Admiral Jellico, though technically not declared dead,” he said, “as a pompous windbag. He knew how to get results. He knew that there are times in the crunch where orders had to be obeyed without question. Things had to get done, no matter how difficult. He instilled that in a lot of his officers and crew and in his students at the Academy. He was a mentor to me and a lot of us here.”

He raised his glass, and Limis, Morrison, and sh’Aqba raised their glasses in agreement. “To Admiral Jellico, an influential teacher and a great tactical and diplomatic mind,” Kozar concluded.

“To Ben Maxwell,” said Morrison, in reference to a one-time mentor of his who laid down his life in the war earlier in the year.

“Jeth’ron,” Ellison chimed in. “Truxia. Matthew Herron. And everyone else who didn’t survive the destruction of Constantinople.”

Limis looked to Markalis, hoping the doctor would mention the Emergency Medical Hologram Mark-III, or, as Aurellan named him, Leo Houseman. Aurellan remained silent though, leaving Limis to wonder whether she was holding out hope the program could be retrieved or was trivializing her romance with a hologram to avoid feelings of grief and loss.

Every person gathered at the service held out their wine glasses and clinked them all together in tribute to their fallen friends and colleagues.

###

Mandel Morrison rummaged through fallen debris in his quarters. He didn’t keep anything of great value in his quarters, but still felt a compulsion to make sure everything in his cabin was still accounted for. He picked up a padd off the floor, dusted it off and noticed it contained recent scores from that week’s parrises squares championship tournament. He stared out of the viewports, realizing he wasn’t that concerned with the outcome of competitive sporting events when so many lives had been lost in the last two years in a bloody conflict with far more at stake.

While he was in deep thought, the doorbell rang. That came as a bit of a surprise since he was not expecting visitors and his residence was not in a condition to be receiving them. He stepped towards the door and, to his even bigger surprise, he saw Lisa Neeley in the corridor as soon as the doors parted. Since her return to Lambda Paz, she had given him the silent treatment outside of their professional interactions.

“Is there something I can do for you, Lieutenant?” he asked, maintaining a professional demeanor even while noticing marks on her cheeks that indicated she had been crying.

“I just need someone to talk to someone,” she answered, stepping into the cabin without an invitation to come in.
Mandel walked away from the door, allowing it to close, while wondering why Lisa chose to talk to him to seek comfort from him when she spurned his sympathies while watching a dear friend’s life slip away. “How are you able to handle all of it, so much death and destruction, so calmly?” she asked.

“I give myself a reason to continue to do my job,” Mandel tenderly explained, remembering the encouragement he gave his troops. “We lost a lot of good people, but it was to prevent the atrocities we saw on Cardassia from happening on any Federation planet. You reminded me of that a while back when it was all wearing on me.”

Lisa scoffed, letting tears start to flow down her cheeks again. “We’ve both learned to be personally detached from the troops we lead,” she said while shaking her head. “That’s hard to do, though, when you work with them on a daily basis. Loukas was my friend for ten years, ever since Marine training. It seems like I’ve buried so many people I tried not to call friends…”

Her voice trailed off as Mandel took slow steps towards her and brushed away her tears with the back of his forefinger. She then clasped both his shoulders and kissed him on the lips. His eyes widened with shock, but he quickly returned the gesture.

“Don’t read too much into this,” she said between two of the kisses. “I just need this one night.”

Mandel did not know how to respond initially. He reminded himself not to take advantage of her emotional vulnerability when she arrived on the Lambda Paz with other survivors of the Constantinople’s destruction. Now that she was initiating a sexual liaison, he was okay with comforting her in that manner as they so often had done before.

###

Aurellan Markalis paced back and forth while watching sh’Aqba at the main diagnostic console. With other repairs proceeding on schedule as the Lambda Paz was being towed back to Starbase 401, Shinar found the time to assess the damage to the EMH program. But with each passing minute of silence, Aurellan became increasingly worried about the pending prognosis.

“The projection matrix can be repaired,” Shinar informed her.

During a brief pause, Aurellan sensed some bad news was to come. “But…?” she impatiently asked.

“It needs a new memory core.”

Aurellan sighed, just wanting the bad news straight out. She certainly knew what replacing the program’s memory core entailed. She just didn’t want to process those facts at this moment. “Meaning what?” she asked with a feigned glimmer of hope.

“He’ll look just like every other Mark Three,” Shinar reluctantly explained. “But the man you had gotten to know and fall in love with this past year will be gone.”

“I see,” Aurellan said with forced stoicism, trying to tell herself EMH was just another piece of sickbay equipment.

“Aurellan, I’m so sorry.”

“I’m fine, really. Just do what you have to do to fix it.”

She took slow steps towards her office, fighting back tears. She had hoped to convince herself that Leo was just a hologram. Now that she was alone, she realized all too well that was not true.

She leaned her head back against glass wall, the reality of her loss sinking in. While the EMH-Mark III could be repaired and reinitialized, the man she knew as Leo was dead. She slid down the wall, held her knees up to her chest, and started crying. Tears flowed freely down her cheeks as she finally gave in to her own grief and sadness.
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 20 2012, 07:32 PM   #35
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Epilogue

Kerli: The Creationist

“Today the guns are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. The skies no longer rain with death-- the seas bear only commerce-- men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight. The entire world lies quietly at peace. The holy mission has been completed. And in reporting this to you, the people, I speak for the thousands of silent lips, forever stilled among the jungles and the beaches and in the deep waters of the Pacific which marked the way.

“We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.

“A new era is upon us. Even the lesson of victory itself brings with it profound concern, both for our future security and the survival of civilization. The destructiveness of the war potential, through progressive advances in scientific discovery, has in fact now reached a point which revises the traditional concepts of war.


“Men since the beginning of time have sought peace. Various methods through the ages have been attempted to devise an international process to prevent or settle disputes between nations. From the very start workable methods were found in so far as individual citizens were concerned, but the mechanics of an instrumentality of larger international scope have never been successful. Military alliances, balances of power, Leagues of Nations, all in turn failed, leaving the only path to be by way of the crucible of war. The utter destructiveness of war now blocks out this alternative. We have had our last chance. If we will not devise some greater and more equitable system, Armageddon will be at our door.”

General Douglas MacArthur, September 2, 1945


In memoriam of those gave their lives for a better tomorrow:

Richard Bittle
Shirley Brand
Elizabeth Braswell
Barbara Covington
Curtis Danhouser
Jadzia Idaris Dax
Laura Derr
Michael Eddington
Karen Ferris
Leslie Galloway
Paul Gordon
Matthew Herron
Leo Houseman
Jethron
Alan Kobayashi
Benjamin Maxwell
Nadia Larkin
Dinara Nowitzki
Paolo Ortega
Rata Patal
Loukas Pherrelius
Tirren Ra Hoth
Raldon
Riley Aldrin Shepherd
Quentin Swofford
Erhlich Tarlazzi
Truxia
Antonio Vargas
Timothy Watters
Leslie Wong

Let us never forget those who are no longer with us.


And they worshipped him,
And returned to Jerusalem
With great joy.
(Luke 24:52)
And were continually
In the temple,
Praising and blessing God.
Amen.
(Luke 24:53)
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 26 2012, 09:43 AM   #36
Ln X
Fleet Captain
 
Ln X's Avatar
 
Location: The great gig in the sky
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Nice one for wrapping up season 2 of your series so awesomely! I felt you really expanded upon all the major characters in this season; especially Aurellan and Limis. You've definitely built up a strong chemistry with certain pairs of characters and I'm looking forward to seeing how these characters will grow in season 3! Well done!
__________________
Star Trek: The Approaching Shadow...

Caption contest: DS9
Ln X is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 27 2012, 10:37 PM   #37
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Thanks. It may be a while since I'll try to wrap two of my other stories that are still in progress.
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old October 28 2012, 09:17 PM   #38
Enterprise1981
Rear Admiral
 
Enterprise1981's Avatar
 
Location: Starship Defiant
View Enterprise1981's Twitter Profile
Re: Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

I've made a few minor alterations here and there for the stories in this series. With TBBS having limited window for editing, here are links to those stories on AdAstra.


Meta essays and everything else:

Star Trek: Lambda Paz character biographies

Worlds of Deep Space Nine Expanded Universe


Pre-launch stories

The Dating Game

Vigilante Justice


Year 1:

Revenge a Dish Best Served Cold

Moral Dilemma

Divided Loyalties

Heavy is the Burden of Command

(Not Quite) Home for the Holidays

The Tides of War, Part I


Year 2:

The Tides of War, Part II

Faces in the Crowd

Midnight Ride

Religion To Do Good

A Cause of Greater Worth

True Lies

Especially the Lies

Reinventing the Wheel

Across Two Universes

Foul Play

Raising the Stakes

That's Our Q

To the Bitter End
__________________
A new enemy is "Awakening".
Join the hunt to stop "Omega".
Enterprise1981 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump



All times are GMT +1. The time now is 12:52 AM.

Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.6
Copyright ©2000 - 2014, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
FireFox 2+ or Internet Explorer 7+ highly recommended.