UT-TFV: "No Win Scenario"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Oct 14, 2013.

  1. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Admiral and TLR,

    Thanks for your comments. I'm glad you are both enjoying the story so far. With the fate of this taskforce mostly a forgone conclusion I thought it would be neat to go back and attempt to make this doomed group more alive and resonant for their successors in "The Quality of Mercy" while also building a little on the Kothlis'Ka.

    *************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS K’mpec

    Captain Kenji Tanaka didn’t know what shocked him more: the order he just gave or the fact that it was carried out. A line of phaser fire from the Akira-class heavy cruiser had stitched across the primary hull of the Shuttlesworth; not enough to damage the larger Nebula-class explorer, but enough to send a message.

    Tanaka wasn’t going to let Baltimore and Shuttlesworth gang up on Ariane and force Rhizzo to back down, especially since he thought she was the only one making sense. None of the other captains had stared down the gun ports of a Kothlis’Ka attack cruiser. And Erasia had proposed taking on an entire armada and with their hands tied to boot!

    None of them truly could fathom what they were up against. And if they wanted to at least have skin in the game, they needed to use more powerful weapons, and subspace weapons were the most lethal in their arsenal.

    “Send Captain Ottah a hail,” Tanaka found his voice again. Though he cleared his throat before adding, “Next time the gloves come off.” In response, the Shuttlesworth halted its advance on the Ariane and slowly turned to face the K’mpec.

    Behind the triangular tactical pod on Shuttlesworth’s superstructure, Tanaka could see Baltimore and Ariane trading shots, both ships unwilling to give ground. Empress had remained off to the side. Kenji imagined he could feel Erasia’s indecision through the void. Shuttlesworth continued to advance on them, the large saucer of its primary hull was starting to blot out the raging battle.

    “Sir, should we utilize evasive maneuvers?” Lt. Commander Mehita asked.

    Tanaka shook his head, “No,” he said. “We’re holding our position. We’ll make Shuttlesworth either ram us or blast through us.” The captain was certain Ottah wouldn’t do that. The Edoan was a decent fellow, and he hated putting him in this position. But if Shuttlesworth relented, it might force the more hardnosed Thelius to give up.

    It didn’t seem like Captain Erasia was going to be a factor in this dust up. And that might have been for the best. Perhaps the Efrosian was merely the only adult still left in the room and was allowing the children to throw their tantrums. So far no one had gotten hurt.

    Kenji had noticed that while a flurry of shots passed between Ariane and Baltimore, they were all low-yield. Even the volley he had ordered be fired at the Shuttlesworth had been depowered. Despite Tanaka’s verbal threat, he wasn’t sure if he could really carry it out if Ottah pushed the issue.

    Kenji was hoping that the Edoan would back down instead of calling his bluff. As if reading his mind, the young Gnalish male at the operations console called out, “Shuttlesworth is still advancing.”

    “But they are not charging their weapons,” Lt. Retha said from the tactical terminal. The Kamorian had also divined his thoughts it seemed.

    “Damn peculiar,” the chief engineer grumbled from an aft auxiliary engineering panel. Tanaka glanced back at the hulking, hirsute Gumato.

    “No, it isn’t really,” the captain rejoined. “He doesn’t want to hurt us anymore than we do him.”

    “He’s hoping we back down first,” Lt. Commander Mehita chimed in.

    “So it’s a game of chicken huh?” The ensign at flight control quipped before quickly reddening at her interruption. Tanaka merely smiled.

    “Right you are Ensign Langdon,” the captain said, grateful for the opportunity to smile, if briefly. Looking back at the main screen and the oncoming Shuttlesworth, he wasn’t sure if he was going to get another chance to do so.
    **************************************************************
     
  2. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh, good, they don't want to hurt each other. All is well then until the kid gloves come off and somebody steps over that line. And if cooler heads don't prevail soon, that line's gonna be a distant point in the rear view mirror.
     
  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    Meet the cooler head.

    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Empress

    “Tanerasia Ni-Inguyokaii,” Chief Thav’s voice thundered, shaking her loose from her complacency, “You’ve got to put a stop to this,” the hefty Andorian added. He was halfway out of his seat at the auxiliary aft engineering console.

    Despite the circumstances, Tan smiled. “No one has called me by my full name since I was a cadet.” Tan had decided to shorten her name, breaking apart her first name because she thought it would be easier for others to pronounce. Her Academy instructors doubtlessly thanked her, Tan imagined.

    “Perhaps that’s because you haven’t frinxed up something as badly since,” Thav blistered.

    The Efrosian winced. “You’re right,” she said, her tone and countenance sobering. She tugged down on her tunic and reappraised the scene before them.

    Ariane and Baltimore continued their slow dance, while Shuttlesworth trudged toward an unmoving K’mpec. A riot of fear, desperation, and ego were all raging before her.

    Things had broken down so quickly it had taken her by surprise and overwhelmed her. For too long, all Tan had been able to do was watch in sick wonder as the intercept group turned their phasers on each other, a mini-civil war over the desire of Commander Rhizzo and Captain Tanaka to use banned weapons.

    The captain imagined that Captain Landau would not have allowed things to devolve to this point. In fact, it’s doubtful that Rhizzo would’ve ever bucked the venerable captain.

    Landau had a respect that Tan had not earned. Perhaps it was time to change that situation. “Mr. Sheppard,” she put on her best command voice. It was a tone that would brook no debate. Because Tan realized she had to win back her crew in addition to commanding the respect of the rest of the intercept group.

    “Aye captain,” Sheppard quickly replied. Tan glanced at the man. He was on the edge of his seat. He had been chomping at the proverbial bit to get involved. The Efrosian tried to ignore the doubt glinting in the human’s eyes.

    “Get me the prefix code overrides for all of those ships,” she ordered. “It’s time to put the children in their corners.”
    **************************************************************

    Ready Room
    USS Empress
    Five Hours Later…

    “You have no right!” Commander Rhizzo thundered. Captain Tan Erasia leaned back in her seat, and took the woman’s outburst in stride.

    “You can’t seriously have just said that right now,” she replied. Then she leaned forward, propping her elbows on her empty, polished desktop. Her expression hardened. “You’re self-righteousness rings a bit hollow since my away teams are removing all traces of illegal subspace weaponry from your armories.” The other four ships in the intercept group hung idly in space, their weapons and shields deactivated.

    Tan had locked out the ship’s commanders from changing the prefix codes once Empress had taken control of them. And she would remain in control of the weapons and defense systems until Commander Sheppard confirmed that all subspace weaponry had been confiscated. Out of a sense of fairness, Erasia kept Baltimore and Shuttlesworth on the hook as well until the situations on both Ariane and K’mpec were secure. Captain Thelius had already made his displeasure well known, and Captain Ottah had been too gracious to do so, but Tan didn’t care. It might have taken her a bit too long to respond to the fracas, but once she did so, she moved swiftly and decisively.

    “Captain, I still think this is a mistake,” Captain Tanaka said. At least the human, standing beside the still fuming Rhizzo, was contrite.

    “Kenji you can think what you like,” Erasia shrugged, “but you should be pleased that I am letting you both keep your tricobalt devices.”

    “This is outrageous!” Rhizzo threw up her arms. Her jowly, wrinkled cheeks, jiggled at the sudden, violent movement.

    “And your instigation of this melee, that wasn’t?!” Erasia stood up, planting her hands wide apart on her desk, her pale blue eyes shooting disruptor beams at Rhizzo. “Give me one good reason not to still install Commander Atwell in command of your vessel?!”

    Tan was at least happy to note that the man hadn’t received any serious injuries after he had been shot by Rhizzo’s security officer while acting on Erasia’s orders to replace the rebellious Rhizzo.

    “Captain,” Tanaka said quietly, yet firmly, a voice of reason. “Despite her temper and rashness, Commander Rhizzo is one of the best strategic minds we have. She was instrumental in stopping the Dominion from taking the Kabrel system, and she received a Star Cross for her actions during the Talarian Incursion.”

    “I know her service record,” Erasia snapped, still miffed at Rhizzo’s haughty attitude. For her part, the Zakdorn wasn’t backing down. Rhizzo glared right back at Tan, with her arms crossed tightly across her chest.

    “To be blunt, we need her for this fight,” Tanaka said, “Whereas we might survive seconds against the Kothlis’Ka, Rhizzo could get us minutes, and that might help us change the tide of battle.”

    All three knew it was unlikely, but Tan nevertheless conceded the point. A few more minutes might impress upon the Romulans and Tholians how fierce the Starfleet crews fought to protect them. While that might matter little to the policy makers on Romulus and Tholia, it could endear them to the general populaces. And Tan realized that was better than nothing.

    Not looking at Tanaka, Tan kept her focus on Rhizzo. “You better be glad I trust Captain Tanaka’s judgment, despite all that has happened.” She stood up, and the tension began to drain from her muscles. Still looking at the Zakdorn, Tan’s gaze softened, and became searching, imploring. “Sometimes it’s not winning the fight that counts; it’s how we conduct ourselves while fighting it. And if we are going into an impossible situation, I would rather leave this galaxy knowing that we upheld the principles we swore to give our lives for in the first place.”

    “What good are those principles if they do nothing to stop that armada?” Rhizzo rejoined.

    “Gilma, we don’t know if that we don’t have enough extant firepower to stop the Kothlis’Ka,” Tanaka conceded, and Erasia nodded in agreement.

    “Kenji is right,” the Efrosian said, “We don’t know if our weaponry is enough to stop them without resorting to illegal armaments.” Pausing, she drew herself up to her full height and looked them both in the eye before adding, “But we’re going to find out.”
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    Last edited: Nov 3, 2013
  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Well done, Eraisa, first crisis averted. Now off to the next one which is going to make the first appear like child's play in comparison.

    I was almost hoping that this mini rebellion would have had a greater impact. If it had, the likely upcoming defeat could have been explained away more easily. No more excuses now.

    Oh well, I suppose there are always those subspace weapons if things don't work out this time around ...
     
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    I did toy with having Ariane and K'mpec break off and go after the Kothlis'Ka by themselves (and they still might). However as I was writing this rebellion I thought I was putting Erasia in too much of a bad light. I wanted to reestablish her as being back in control and capable of pulling the reins on her rowdy subordinates.
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    I want to thank Gibraltar and Galen for their input in the following scene. Without Gibraltar's questions and information and Galen throwing out a possible scenario, this scene wouldn't exist.

    ***************************************************************

    Ready Room
    USS Shuttlesworth
    Seven Hours Later…

    “I wasn’t expecting to talk to you so soon again Captain Ottah,” Captain Erasia said with a slight smile as she crossed the threshold. The Edoan weakly smiled back. He stood up from his desk and awkwardly extended his torso appendage in her direction. The man’s other two arms held personal display devices. Tan took the proffered hand, feeling a pang of jealousy that she wasn’t born with a couple extra limbs.

    After her exhausting half-discussion/half-chewing out of Captain Tanaka and Commander Rhizzo, Tan had brought both Captains Thelius and Ottah to her office. Most of her ire in this instance had been directed at Thelius. Though she appreciated the saturnine Andorian taking her side in the contretemps, he had acted without her approval, a disregard for the chain of command nearly as grievous as Rhizzo’s rebellion.

    Ottah’s bunched shoulders and pinched expression told Tan that she was about to get some payback. She waited patiently while the Edoan searched her face as if divining clues or motives.

    “When are you going to dispense the Alpha Weapons?” The man eventually asked.

    “What are you talking about?” Erasia asked, “What are ‘Alpha Weapons’?”

    Her reply made Ottah stand up to his full height. His expression hardened, his yellow eyes burned like suns. “Captain Erasia, I hoped that we had established strong enough bonds of trust, despite the recent misfortunes, to move beyond such deceptions. Certainly you weren’t planning to hoard all of the armaments yourself.”

    Tan shook her head and blinked rapidly several times as she tried to process exactly what the man was asking her. “Ottah I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

    “While checking with my first officer on the progress of the rescue mission, I informed her of recent events here,” Ottah said, his gaze still brimming with skepticism. “Commander Hsiao said she was shocked that things would devolve to the point where Rhizzo and Tanaka felt the need to create subspace weapons since we had Alpha Weapons in our possession.”

    “I really don’t know what these Alpha Weapons could be,” Erasia answered honestly, her exasperation straining her voice.

    “Janice said that select starships, among the overall taskforce, were given incredibly powerful weapons such as subspace fractal inversion fields, zero-point singularity initiators, and protomatter bombs,” Ottah’s look was damning. Tan was certain hers was horrified.

    “Oh gods,” she shook her head, “Don’t tell me Starfleet has actually devised such weapons?”

    After a few tense, silent moments Ottah said, “I know you are a skilled medic, but there’s nothing in your service record that said you were an actress. I believe you knew nothing about these doomsday weapons.”

    “The question I have is how does your first officer know about them?” Erasia asked. The tension she felt at being accused by Ottah had shifted to anxiety about being left in the dark.

    “She’s an acquaintance of the chief strategic operations officer aboard the Galaxy,” the Edoan explained. “He told her about these weapons and she trusts him.”

    “I don’t get it,” Tan admitted. “Why equip some ships but not all?”

    “Or why equip any with weapons this destructive?” Ottah added.

    “We can be certain that neither Tanaka nor Rhizzo have any of these weapons,” Erasia reasoned. “If they did, neither would’ve been so sanguine about creative subspace weapons. Further, Ottah if you had these armaments, you wouldn’t be questioning me about them.”

    “But what about Thelius?” Ottah asked, his expression becoming ominous. “Could he possess these arms and not tell us?”

    “If so, maybe because he isn’t authorized to do so,” Erasia said, wanting to give the querulous man the benefit of the doubt. “Whoever could authorize these weapons doubtlessly has the power to order Thelius or any other ship commander to be silent about storing them aboard their ships.” Ottah nodded in agreement.

    “Should we ask him?” The Edoan ventured.

    “I don’t think he would tell us,” Erasia admitted.

    “We could scan Baltimore?” Ottah offered.

    “I’m sure that precautions were already taken for that probability,” Tan reasoned.

    “Well there is another possibility,” the Edoan’s shoulders lifted slightly before slumping. “That the Alpha Weapons were aboard Narcissus.”

    “Possibly,” Erasia thought, as she stroked her chin. “Though it begs the question why Captain Landau didn’t use them against the Kothlis’Ka?”

    “I have no clue,” Ottah confessed. “Perhaps the armada attacked before they had the time to respond?”

    “There is that,” Tan conceded, “though there is another possibility we haven’t considered,” she said, her expression darkening. Ottah looked at her askance.

    “None of our ships were given Alpha Weapons,” Erasia answered.

    “I hadn’t considered that,” Ottah said, shaking his head, “But why? Even though we are closest to the Alpha Quadrant, we could still face impossible threats,” he gestured, not needing to spell out the present situation facing them.

    “Maybe Starfleet Command had the same concerns I had, about using such weapons near the Tholians or the Romulans,” Erasia offered, not quite satisfied with the answer. These weapons conceivably did not violate any accords and they could give them a fighting chance, though at a terrible cost.

    Ottah shook his head and looked down at his desk. It was the most dejected Erasia had ever seen the man. “I fear that we might never know the answer.”
    **************************************************************
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Well, this is interesting, isn't it? Why didn't this IG get the Alpha weaponry? Or did they and it's just that these guys weren't told about it?

    Either way, something's up and I'm sure the answers, should we ever get them, won't be pretty.
     
  8. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay,

    Very good question about why IG-4 wasn't given Alpha Weapons. Or were they? :)

    ******************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Empress
    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!”
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  9. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    Geez, someone else wants to crash this horrific party? :wtf:
     
  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Gibraltar,

    You'll find out who in this passage.

    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Shuttlesworth

    “My gods,” Captain Ottah muttered, his body trembling as ship’s sensors brought the attacking ships into view. A flotilla of venomous green dagger-like ships cut through space toward the Kothlis’Ka.

    “What is it Captain?” Lt. Commander M’Reah asked, perched on the edge of her seat. The perceptive Caitian next asked, “You know whose ships those are?”

    “It’s something that I could never forget,” Ottah replied, more to himself than his first officer.

    “Who are they?” M’Reah asked after a respectful few moments. The question finally pried the Edoan’s eyes from the screen.

    “The Chakuun,” Ottah coldly answered. “The shock troops of the Tholian Assembly,” he added.

    “I thought they were a myth,” Lt. Zaiden interjected.

    “No, they are very real,” Ottah shook his head and tsked. “What are they teaching at the Academy these days?”

    Zaiden was at loss for words. M’Reah threw the man a preserver. “Captain Ottah saw action against the Tholians during their expansionist programs.”

    “That was over a century ago,” the Acamarian security officer replied in wonderment.

    “My climb up the ladder was a tad slow,” Ottah gave a quick smile before his expression clouded. “I was a yeoman aboard the Carpenter at the time. We were one of the first ships to respond to the Tholian attack on the New Milan colony. We didn’t get there in time,” he paused, and lowered his head, the failure still stinging.

    “We couldn’t do much to protect the colony but my captain was determined to make the Tholians pay. She ordered our ship on a pursuit course.”

    “Like many aboard the ship, I was livid and wanted payback cloaked in the guise of justice as well,” Ottah admitted. “We thundered after the Tholians, but what we found instead were the Chakuun…and their ghost ships.” He pointed at the main viewer. “It looks like the design hasn’t changed in over a hundred years.”

    “What happened sir, when you faced them?” The eager Junior Lieutenant Calder couldn’t help but interject.

    Ottah shook his head again and looked sadly at the bright-eyed redhead. “The Carpenter was lost, destroyed by the ghost ships and their fusion casters. Captain Lawton was one of the casualties.” Shocked gasps and deepened, contemplative silence followed Ottah’s revelation.

    “My grasp on history might be a little shaky, but I do remember ships, and Carpenter was a Constitution,” Zaiden said. “It would take quite a lot to destroy one of the Connies.”

    “You are correct Mr. Zaiden,” Ottah said, “and the Chakuun armaments were more than adequate.”

    “I wonder how they will fare against the Kothlis’Ka?” M’Reah asked the question everyone had to be thinking.

    “I have no doubt the Chakuun will soon put on a demonstration,” Ottah stated.
    *****************************************************************
     
  11. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    There's nothing like having someone else show up to test your enemy's defenses while you watch. Keep the phasers charged and make some popcorn, boys and girls! :rommie:

    Great stuff, DarKush!
     
  12. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Gibraltar,

    Not everyone likes being spectators.

    *****************************************************************
    Battle Lattice
    Chakuun ghost ship Deathstroke

    The Cohort General’s mind stretched along the psionic network, linking with the rest of the minds and eyes of her immediate subordinates. It was a facsimile of natural Tholian telepathy and took years to master. Only the best among the Chakuun warrior-elite mastered the ability to process and transmit such astronomical levels of information.

    With hundreds of eyes she saw both enemy fleets. The minor Starfleet contingent stood idly by, as was their wont, waiting for someone else to finish their battles for them.

    If not for the threat posed by the Kothlis’Ka to Tholian borders, the Assembly would have been content to allow the aliens to continue their rampage on to Romulus and probably Earth.

    The cohort general could only imagine that the discussion among the Ruling Conclave on Tholia gleeful at the prospect of an alien armada dispatching two nuisances at once. Such thoughts were distaste to a warrior of her ilk. The cohort general preferred to fire and sword to inaction and delegation.

    The Chakuun was pleased that the news the Ruling Conclave had learned about the encroaching fleet had rattled them enough to send her out to meet them. The warriors hadn’t unsheathed their blades in many cycles, the last Seltorian revolt being too long for the general’s liking.

    The arrival of the Kothlis’Ka were like a gift from on high, and the cohort general intended to honor the war goddess the only way she knew how.

    “Attack,” she said and projected mentally, trembling slightly as she watched the thought ripple in a hundred directions.

    As one the Chakuun bore down on the Kothlis’Ka.
    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Empress

    “I played with one of those models when I was a kid,” Commander Sheppard said in amazement, as he watched waves of Chakuun starships dive toward the heart of the Kothlis’Ka armada. Trailing them were several waves of Chakuun fighters, which had been belted out of the ghost ship holds.

    Captain Erasia watched the green, silver-winged ghost ships in stunned silence. The gods had seemingly answered her prayers. The battle might not be hopeless after all; in fact the intercept group might not have to engage the Kothlis’Ka at all.

    “Captain,” Aarti pulled Tan out of her reverie, “Commander Rhizzo is hailing.”

    “Audio,” Erasia ordered, not wanting to miss the battle about to begin.

    “Captain Erasia,” Rhizzo’s voice was unusually chipper. “I guess the cavalry has arrived.” At that moment the starless void erupted in violent showers of light as the two navies engaged.

    “You could say that Commander,” Erasia nodded.

    “What are your orders?” The Zakdorn asked.

    “We are going to hold position,” Tan said.

    “You’re making a joke right?” Rhizzo asked, her voice full of incredulity.

    “No, jokes are not in my skill set,” Tan shot back.

    “Our odds of success have just multiplied exponentially,” Rhizzo replied. “We have a real chance against the Kothlis’Ka now, thanks to the Chakuun.”

    “We don’t know how well the Chakuun will fare against them,” Erasia said.

    “Well certainly with our help it will increase their chances,” Rhizzo rejoined.

    “And it is possible that the Chakuun can handle the Kothlis’Ka without our assistance,” Tan said cold-bloodedly, “which will leave this taskforce intact and able to complete our mission of exploration and contact.”

    “I can’t believe that you would rather have us sit on the sidelines and let the Chakuun fight our battle.” Now derision peppered the disbelief.

    “As mission commander my job is to safeguard this group to the best of my abilities,” Erasia answered, “and sending us against the Kothlis’Ka needlessly is not the optimal way to do that.”

    “Even to secure justice for the Narcissus?” Rhizzo was now aghast, “What about that?”

    “I don’t think adding more casualties to the list is a preferable option,” Erasia replied, “I will not throw away our lives.”

    “Perhaps being in Tango Fleet made you gun shy,” the Zakdorn charged, and the accusation stung. Tan’s eyes narrowed and her mouth turned into a slash and a scalding reply boiled on her tongue. But she held it in and pushed back the bile rising in her throat.

    “This is our one chance to stop the Kothlis’Ka and I’m not wasting that!” Rhizzo declared.

    “Commander!” Erasia snapped.

    “Ariane has cut communications,” Aarti said, looking at the captain with an alarmed expression.

    “And she has broken formation,” Lt. Quim added.

    “On screen,” the captain barked. The view quickly shifted to Ariane angling away from the diamond slot formation. The screen flickered and the lighting brightened minutely.

    “Thoron shielding is down %20 percent,” Aarti said next.

    “Hail them Aarti,” the captain ordered.

    “Ariane is not answering our summons,” the Andorian ops officer said.

    Erasia pounded her armrests. “All right then, if she wants to play it rough,” she muttered to herself. More loudly, the captain ordered, “Commander Sheppard, bring up the Ariane’s prefix code.” She would shut the ship down again until the obstreperous Zakdorn saw reason.

    Sheppard tapped furiously at his console for several seconds. Eventually he conceded defeat. Looking up at the captain, his features stormy, Sheppard said, “Captain, it appears that Ariane has changed their prefix code.”

    “Damn you Rhizzo,” Erasia softly cursed.

    “Captain, Ariane has gone to warp!” Aarti announced. “And she’s taking the warp vehicles with her!” The compact Saber-class light cruiser shot past Empress, surrounded by streaking unmanned warp vehicles. They headed toward the battle.

    “After the Ariane!” Erasia bellowed. The captain hoped she could catch and disable the quick little cruiser before they got close enough to draw the attention of either the Kothlis’Ka or the Chakuun.
    ****************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2013
  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    And just when you thought that maybe this task force had reestablished some unit cohesion this happens.

    Personally, I don't believe Rhizzo deserves to wear the uniform. Nobody likes a mindless drone who follows orders at any cost but her antics are endangering this mission and even worse, her own people. Bad captain.
     
  14. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    ^ Agreed, she just blew her last chance. Time to revoke her command certification, provided she survives this little suicide run of hers.
     
  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    CeJay and Gibraltar,

    I see neither one of you are in the Commander Rhizzo fan club.

    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Ariane

    “Empress just attempted to override our prefix code,” the Nasgulian Ops officer said with a smug grin. “Bet they’re shocked.” On the viewer screen, aft sensors were showing the larger starship charging after them.

    “Damn right,” Commander Rhizzo chuckled. “Captain Erasia wasn’t going to pull that one on us again.”

    “Captain,” Lt. Commander Atwell spoke him. His voice was tight and his eyes burned like coals.

    Rhizzo tensed, prepared for the rebuke. “What is it Commander?”

    “You know I disagree with your actions,” he told her bluntly.

    “File a formal complaint,” she shrugged. “I don’t have time for a tantrum.”

    “You’re the one to talk,” Atwell retorted, exasperated and disgusted.

    “I can have you removed from the bridge,” Rhizzo nodded in the direction of the eager Zileena.

    “No,” Atwell shook his head. He placed a hand over his head and shook his head again. Removing the hand, he looked at her squarely, “I don’t like this. But this crew needs me; you need me right now, more than ever.”

    “You’re right,” the Zakdorn acknowledged. “Thank you for this.”

    Atwell’s expression was stony. “Damn you for it,” was his reply.
    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS K’mpec

    “Didn’t we just do this dance several days ago?” Captain Tanaka said aloud. “Hail the Empress. We’ve got to get her to pull back.”

    “Empress is not answering our hail,” the Virtili communications officer snappily replied. Tanaka nodded at the avian woman before turning his attention to Lt. Commander Mehita.

    He leaned close to her and lowered his voice. “Recommendations?”

    “Sir, I think you should pursue the Empress and talk sense into Captain Erasia. It’s too late to sit out this battle now. Even if the Chakuun somehow won it, there is no telling if they won’t turn their fusion casters onto us in the aftermath. One way to lessen that is to give them a helping hand.”

    He nodded in agreement. Sitting back in his chair, Tanaka said more loudly, “Helm, lay in an intercept course for the Empress.”
    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Baltimore

    Commander Erean didn’t hide her frustration. “What are your orders Captain?” Thelius didn’t answer immediately.

    Instead he pondered the battlefield with the Chakuun lobbing their fusion discharges at the eerily complacent Kothlis’Ka. Explosions illuminated the void. The din was so fierce Thelius couldn’t make out how it was faring for either side. His antennae writhed as his attention switched to the incipient battle brewing between the Empress and the Ariane.

    “Commander Rhizzo might be brilliant, but she is also impulsive, rash, and driven by grief,” he surmised. “It’s dampening her talent for strategy.”

    “Should we join the Empress?” Erean asked. Clearly it was what the Argelian wanted to do. But Thelius’s antennae lowered in disapproval.

    “I think Rhizzo is right in this instance,” Thelius said. “We shouldn’t dither, not in front of both the Chakuun and the Kothlis’Ka. It is likely that the Kothlis’Ka could be persuaded to leave our sector of space, but at worst they’ll be the Romulans’ problem. But now that the Tholians have thrown the Chakuun into the fray, any reports back of our inaction could have serious repercussions with the Tholians. It might embolden them to start another series of expansionist campaigns.”

    “I hadn’t thought of that,” Erean admitted.

    “That’s why I’m the captain,” Thelius quipped. Turning slightly away from her, he barked, “Helm, best speed into the middle of the firefight.”
    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Shuttlesworth

    Captain Ottah threw up his three hands. He didn’t know what to do. Empress and Ariane were heading toward a confrontation, with K’mpec in hot pursuit. The Edoan didn’t know which side Captain Tanaka would choose. It appeared that Baltimore had abandoned them all to join in with the Chakuun.

    “What do we do sir?” Lt. Commander M’Reah asked.

    “I wish I was the one asking that question,” Ottah honestly replied, “Instead of having to make the decision.” His head swiveled to take in the debacle. His flesh recoiled at the idea of helping the Chakuun, but he realized that they might be the best chance the intercept group had at surviving the Kothlis’Ka armada.

    However he recognized it was suicidal not to join forces with the Chakuun together; united. He had to talk sense into his colleagues.

    Ottah directed the Suliban male at the helm to intercept the Empress. “Let’s tackle the small imbroglio before we have to deal with the bigger one,” he said with forced cheer.
    ******************************************************************
     
  16. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Open Rebellion: Part II. But this time ... it's personal.

    This is not going to end well, is it?
     
  17. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2005
    Location:
    US Pacific Northwest
    I've never seen a Starfleet task force unravel like this before. The pressures of this mission are testing the mettle of even the most experienced commanders.

    Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, dyin' time's here.
     
  18. Galen4

    Galen4 Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    I can only guess that the cumulative losses of the Dominion War, a second Borg attack and multiple incursions by hostile species all occurring during a period of a few years, have brought out the worst in some officers.

    COs who would never break ranks before, are now abandoning the chain of command in a blind panic.

    No matter how you slice it, the UT universe has a rocky road ahead of it.

    Great stuff as always, Darkush!
     
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Hey guys,

    You'll see that Captain Erasia isn't into having an Open Rebellion Part 3.

    *****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Empress

    As Empress bore down on Ariane, Captain Erasia hated what she had to say next. “Mr. Quim, target the Ariane’s engines.”

    The Arkanian complied. “Fire,” the captain ordered. Golden spears flew from Empress, impacting Ariane’s shields. The tough, little Saber-class was jolted, but quickly resumed course.

    “Fire again,” Erasia said. She felt Sheppard’s eyes on her, but she didn’t turn to meet his gaze.

    She wasn’t sure what she would find there, and she didn’t want to second-guess herself. Quim let loose on the Ariane again.

    “Ariane’s shields are down 10 percent,” Sheppard said.

    “She’s still not stopping,” Tan shook her head. “Hit them again, this time with photon torpedoes. Full spread.”

    “Captain,” Sheppard’s voice was quiet, but his tone was insistent.

    “Not now Commander,” she said, too sharply.

    “Captain, K’mpec is heading our way, on an intercept course,” Lt. Aarti informed her.

    Erasia shook her head. “It seems that Captain Tanaka has cast his lot with Commander Rhizzo again. Do not alter course. We’ll deal with him later. Fire photon torpedoes, full spread.”

    “Belay that order Mr. Quim,” Sheppard said.

    Half out of her seat, Erasia whipped around on her first officer. “What did you just do?”

    “Captain, such an action could seriously damage the Ariane, and in the middle of a battle with two hostile forces,” Sheppard projected a damnable reasonable tone.

    “Don’t you think I am aware of that?” She snapped.

    “Of course sir,” Sheppard looked mortified.

    “Then don’t countermand my orders again!” She barked. On some level she knew she was taking her frustrations out on Mark, but Erasia also knew that she couldn’t be seen to look any weaker than she had already.

    Settling back into her chair, Tan smoothed her ruffled tunic. “You heard me Mr. Quim.”
    ***************************************************************

    Battle Lattice
    Chakuun ghost ship Deathstroke

    The Cohort General demanded tactical reports. They streamed in along the psi-network, through diodes attached to the general’s skull.

    The pain was excruciating, and for one timeless moment unbearable. And then all the streams coalesced into manageable information that she could analyze and then formulate war plans.

    The battle was proceeding apace. The ghost ships had swept in among the hulking, slow Kothlis’Ka fleet, blasting them with their fusion casters.

    So far the alien vessels’ impressive shielding held. It was superior to anything the Chakuun had encountered. But each strike was draining the Kothlis’Ka shielding and soon the vessels would be defenseless; ripe prey.

    The general wasn’t overly concerned about their lack of progress thus far. Granted no ships she had ever encountered, in nearly a century of defending the Assembly’s borders, had withstood such a barrage, but so far the Kothlis’Ka had proven more recalcitrant than she had expected.

    Perhaps they had heard about the dreaded Chakuun and knew that they would not be as easily defeated as the Nyberrite navy or Starfleet.

    A frenzied bolt pulsed into her brain, blinding the general with its brilliance. Squinting against the pain, she regained control. Her heart thudded as she ran the information through her mind, more slowly, and luxuriated on the data.

    They had penetrated the shields of one of the smaller Kothlis’Ka vessels. In her mind’s eye she saw it. It was huge by humanoid standards, and dwarfed the ghost ship that had been pounding it. Unlike many of the other vessels it had a rounded hull and two large transparent bulbous windows on each side. Through them the general saw strange-colored, spiky flora but no other signs of life. The ship was powered by three engines in a pyramid configuration at the rear of the ship. So far scans hadn’t revealed what powered the Kothlis’Ka vessels.

    “Ships Beta-14, Beta-17, and Beta-30, concentrate your fire on the engines of the unshielded ship,” the general commanded. “On my mark,” she added.

    Beta-17 had been the ship that brought down the shield. Now Beta-14 swung into position behind the hapless vessel. Beta-30 did likewise.

    She paused, waiting for the Kothlis’Ka to respond. She was expecting them to ask for leniency for their benighted ship.

    Her face twitched at a new spike of information. She processed it quickly. Another Kothlis’Ka vessel was lowering its shields and moving toward the alpha ship. Her vessel! The Kothlis’Ka ship was far larger than the vulnerable ship. It had a unique split shell hull design with long, thin struts connecting the upper and lower hulls. Tinier struts ran along the length of both hulls. It made the ship look like a gaping mouth full of sharp fangs.

    How did the Kothlis’Ka know her ship was the lead vessel? It looked no different than the others and was similarly in the thick of the alien fleet.

    The general’s concern was somewhat mollified by the larger vessel lowering its shield. It was a classic gesture of supplication. The general grinned. It had been far too long before any species had bowed before her.

    “Contact the oncoming vessel,” she ordered. “Inform them to submit or we will destroy the other ship.”

    “Message transmitted,” her communications officer said. The man’s face was masked by his helmet visor. All of the other Chakuun were in full body armor. Only the cohort general went sans helmet, so she could better integrate with the battle lattice.

    After a few quiet seconds, she ordered, “Tell them they have twenty seconds to comply.” The only response the general got was that the approaching vessel stopped. Its thinner connecting struts retracted, revealing a circular orifice in the center of the structure connecting the hulls. Energy tendrils began to flicker from the orifice like tongues.

    “Energy readings?” She demanded.

    “Our sensors are detecting high electromagnetic radiation, emanating from the opening on that vessel,” the science officer informed her.

    “Is it a weapon, of some sort?” The general asked.

    The other woman shook her head, “I cannot say Cohort General.”

    “Aim our weapons at that vessel, inform all nearby ships to do the same,” the general said, “And contact them once more. Tell the Kothlis’Ka fleet to stand down and that ship in particular to desist or we will fire on them.”

    “No reply,” the communication’s officer snappily responded. He didn’t hide the satisfaction in his voice. The foolish young man wanted Kothlis’Ka blood. But while he was sending his entreaty the general had taken stock of the battlefield. Despite all of the energy the Chakuun had expended, only one enemy vessel had lost their shielding.

    The battle wasn’t going as well as the communication’s officer and many other Chakuun warriors thought. “Redirect your fire on the incoming vessel,” she ordered her fleet, “fire on my mark.”

    The other Chakuun vessels swung into position, powering their fusion casters. The cohort general stared with hundreds of eyes at the fanged vessel bearing down on her, its orifice looking like a gullet preparing to swallow them.

    “Electromagnetic readings are building within the Kothlis’Ka ship,” the science officer informed her.

    “Mark,” the general didn’t flinch.
    ******************************************************************
     
  20. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS K’mpec

    “What the hell did she just do?” Captain Tanaka asked, pounding his armrests. The Empress had just unloaded a full salvo against the Ariane. The beleaguered Saber took evasive maneuvers but the barrage was too strong. Eventually, Ariane stopped trying to avoid being hit and turned to face the larger Galaxy-class ship head on. The Saber-class cruiser opened up on the Empress, pelting it with phaser blasts. Fortunately Rhizzo had not turned the warp vehicles on the Empress. They floated idly in space, silent sentinels to the monumental egotism and stupidity on display.

    The bigger fight between the Chakuun and the Kothlis’Ka was all but forgotten now. Even Baltimore, swallowed up among the titanic ships, and Shuttlesworth, galloping to catch the K’mpec had been pushed to the back of Kenji’s mind. Tanaka’s focus was solely on his battling compatriots.

    “Hail the Empress,” he ordered. Seconds later, the stern visage of Captain Erasia blinked into view.

    “Captain Tanaka if you’re not contacting me to inform me that you will help subdue the Ariane, then you’re wasting your time.”

    Tanaka didn’t care for the woman’s imperious tone, but he held a retort in check. “I’m asking you Captain to stand down,” he said, “If you do it, I know that Gilma will.”

    “Commander Rhizzo has shown me plenty about how reasonable she can be and how much she respects the chain of command,” Erasia scoffed. She paused, looked off screen, and said something unintelligible. Looking back at him, her pale eyes glinted like ice cubes, “It’s a wonder how she made it to command a starship. I’m guessing Captain Landau had amazing pull.”

    “That’s unfair,” Tanaka said. “You know her service record.”

    “And we also know how eager Starfleet has been to replenish its command ranks since the wars with the Klingons and Dominion, and now the Talarian flare up,” Tan said. “It was doubtless that some bad Levithi nuts got through.”

    “Give her another chance,” Tanaka pleaded.

    “Perhaps you should be having this conversation with her,” Erasia retorted.

    “Captain I think she will follow your lead…this time,” Tanaka added quickly. Erasia’s laugh was mocking.

    “Stay on the sidelines,” she warned before ending the communication.

    Tanaka was preparing to attempt to reestablish communications with the Empress, when Lt. Retha interrupted.

    “Sir, the Shuttlesworth is hailing.”

    “On screen,” Tanaka ordered, a tad bit reluctantly. He really wanted another crack at Tan. He had never seen the woman act so stubbornly before.

    “Captain Tanaka,” Captain Ottah greeted him.

    “Captain,” Kenji nodded tersely.

    “I hope we aren’t going to engage in hostilities,” Ottah floated.

    “No,” Tanaka glowered, “I think we’ve all made our share of asinine decisions over the last several days. I don’t want to go over my quota.”

    “So, what do we do about our colleagues?” Ottah asked. Tanaka thought about trying to state his case again to Erasia, but gave up on the idea. She wanted to teach Rhizzo a lesson and while that might not be a bad thing it wasn’t the optimal time.

    Kenji sighed. “Let them tussle. I say we join Thelius. I’ve lost track of him and he might need our help.”

    “More likely he’ll need us to pull him out of a messy situation,” the Edoan surmised.

    Tanaka’s smile was sour. “Sounds about right,” he nodded, “but doing that is better than watching these two embarrass the Fleet.”
    ****************************************************************

    Main Bridge
    USS Baltimore

    “Great Uzaveh the Infinite,” Captain Thelius gasped in astonishment as the intensity of the ghost ships’ weapons’ fire overwhelmed the main viewscreen. After a few seconds of furious blinking, and a minute of watching the hologrid behind the display, the Andorian had already asked for reports about the barrage.

    “Had it worked? Had the Chakuun destroyed the Kothlis’Ka vessel? Had they at least penetrated its shields?” He hurled the questions at his crew.

    As they struggled to answer him, the main viewer reactivated and he gasped again. The Kothlis’Ka vessel was listing, with massive perforations in its hull. A cheer went up among the crew, as if they had struck the blow.

    “They can be hurt after all,” Lt. F’lk’yn said with heartening confidence. The Xenexian’s purple eyes had a savage gleam in them.

    The Chakuun swooped around the vessel like redbats, toying with their food. The other Kothlis’Ka vessels had not responded. Perhaps they are as stunned as I am, Thelius wondered.

    The listing vessel slowly righted itself. The Chakuun trained their weapons on it again.

    “Arm a tricobalt device,” Thelius ordered. He wanted in on the kill. “And inform the Chakuun that we are here to assist them.”

    “I don’t think they need our help,” Commander Erean noted.

    “And they might resent us trying to procure some of the spoils,” F’lk’yn added.

    “Do it anyway,” Thelius said. “I want the Kothlis’Ka to realize it isn’t only the Chakuun they need to fear this day.”

    “No response to our hail,” F’lk’yn said. Thelius frowned. He ordered the ship to move toward the Chakuun anyway. He would dare them to fire on them. Though he had little doubt that the Chakuun could defeat them, he calculated that their masters back on Tholia hadn’t given them license to start a war with the Federation. The Andorian grunted with satisfaction as Baltimore fell in beside one of the Chakuun vessels that now held stationary orbit, encircling the struggling Kothlis’Ka ship.

    Thelius didn’t know whether to admire or be chilled by the lack of response from the other alien ships to the vulnerable position of one of their fellows. Perhaps the Kothlis’Ka lived by a survival of the fittest credo?

    “Reading a spike in electromagnetic energy from the Kothlis’Ka ship,” the Bijani operations officer said.

    “They’re attempting whatever they were attempting before,” Erean reasoned. Thelius nodded in agreement.

    “Let’s not give them the chance,” the captain said. “Prepare to fire the tricobalt device at my command.”

    “Aye sir,” F’lk’yn was jaunty. He was enjoying this. Conflict was nothing new to his tactical officer. The Xenexians were warriors, like Thelius’s people once had been.

    Though he would never admit it, Thelius half expected that F’lk’yn had joined Starfleet to test himself during the war with the Tzenkethi ongoing at the time.

    “Intense electromagnetic buildup, emanating from Kothlis’Ka ship,” the operations officer’s voice rose considerably.

    “Increase magnification,” Thelius said, wanting to get a closer look. The hull of the alien vessel was literally throbbing, its plating bucking and buckling.

    “I think that vessel is undergoing a massive containment breach,” the Bijani said. Erean looked troubled.

    “Back us off,” Thelius said, his gut agreeing with the operation’s officer’s guess.

    “Chakuun ships are preparing to fire,” F’lk’yn said.

    “No,” Thelius muttered. More loudly he said, “Warn them off. Tell them what we speculate.”

    “Too late,” F’lk’yn replied. Thelius gasped for the third and last time as he watched the Kothlis’Ka ship rip apart from the inside, the dark energies ravishing it meeting and merging with the Chakuun fusillade, creating a massive shockwave that consumed everything in its path, including the Baltimore.
    *****************************************************************
     

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