June/July Challenge Entry: A Fine Klingon Morning

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    June/July Challenge Entry: A Fine Klingon Morning

    Metralus II – New Iskander Colony, December 2372

    The Federation had been at war with the Klingon Empire for a total of thirty-seven hours by the time the Centaur-class starship Mendelssohn responded to the desperate cries for help from New Iskander Colony in the Metralus system. Caught behind the lines by the Klingon’s staggeringly swift attack on Federation colonies and installations, Mendelssohn had been separated from Task Force Bulwark and forced to try and sneak back to Federation lines alone.

    It had been one-hundred and sixteen years since the Empire and the Federation had last engaged in a protracted military conflict, and even with tensions high due to the Klingon’s invasion of Cardassian territory, Starfleet had been woefully unprepared for open warfare when the Empire invaded the Archanis Sector.

    As their ship practically shook itself apart to reach the colony, Mendelssohn’s chief security/tactical officer reflected grimly that the peace-loving Federation was forced to re-learn the same lessons every generation. Armed conflict in the galaxy was a certainty, regardless of alliances made or general goodwill towards others. Despite months of lead time and repeated diplomatic failures, hope had trumped pragmatism and Starfleet had twiddled its collective thumbs rather than prepare for the war that was clearly coming.

    Captain Joshua Van Cleve’s voice retained its usual authoritative timbre, despite the stress of the situation and the significant vibration rattling the starship’s spaceframe. “ETA to the colony?”

    “Ten minutes, seventeen seconds,” Heruk, the Denobulan at the Helm console answered, his control board flashing with a troubling number of red tell-tails as Mendelssohn’s engines were pressed far past their design tolerances.

    “Tactical, what are you seeing in orbit?”

    “Two Vor’cha-class heavy cruisers and four K’Vort-class light cruisers—”

    “That’s not too bad,” Van Cleve uttered with a dash of his customary bravado.

    The Tactical officer continued, “…as well as twelve K't'inga-class destroyers and an indeterminate number of Birds-of-Prey, Captain.”

    Van Cleve had no response to that revelation. “Ops, status of the colony?” he inquired.

    “I’m reading heavy damage to all colony settlements, sir, the result of an orbital bombardment,” Ensign Ahuja replied. “All defense satellites have been neutralized and surface life signs are indeterminate from this range.” He glanced back with a dour expression, “Given the catastrophic nature of the damage, I’d imagine civilian casualties are significant.”

    “Can we beam survivors aboard?” Van Cleve pressed the chief engineer.

    The female Vulcan lieutenant, Taulass, replied from a control station that mirrored the helm’s cascade of crimson warnings. “Sir, the engine damage we’ve sustained maintaining this speed for so long will affect all major systems, to include weapons, defenses, and the transporters.”

    “Not to mention that we’d have to lower shields with half the Klingon Defense Force holding station in orbit, sir,” Lieutenant Lar’ragos noted laconically from Tactical.

    Lt. Commander Bendis, the ship’s newly appointed executive officer gave the smaller man at the Tactical station a glowering rebuke from his seat to the captain’s immediate right.

    The science officer offered, “Respectfully, Captain, our emergency evacuation capacity is six hundred. This colony supported a population of over eight-hundred thousand. Our efforts to that effect would be negligible.”

    “So, the Klingons strike from orbit and are what, just sitting there?”

    “No, sir,” Lar’ragos replied patiently. “The Klingons will have beamed troops to the surface to subjugate the colony. They will enslave those who surrender and kill any who resist.”

    Van Cleve had come up through the ranks in the Science division, and despite his admirable disposition and sense of fairness, had never been particularly tactically savvy. He turned to direct a skeptical look at the El Aurian lieutenant. “How can you be so sure what they’ll do?”

    “Well, general history, sir. This isn’t the first time we and the Klingons have danced to this tune. Additionally, I lived in the Empire for a time prior to gaining Federation citizenship.”

    Bendis shot an alarmed expression towards the captain as he exclaimed, “That’s not in your service jacket, Lieutenant.”

    “To be fair, sir, there’s a lot that isn’t in my service records.”

    Van Cleve waved away the side-tracked conversation. “In that case, what are our odds here?”

    “Slim to none,” Lar’ragos allowed. “We’re outnumbered and outgunned. A direct confrontation with the Klingons will result in our destruction within minutes of our arrival.”

    Van Cleve stood, bracing himself with a hand on the back of the command chair in deference to the rattling deck plates. He surveyed the bridge crew. “I’m open to suggestions.”

    Taulass was the first to respond. “Asymmetrical warfare would appear to be our only viable option, sir. I would recommend a hit-and-run style campaign, to use the human vernacular.”

    Lar’ragos smiled at his friend’s forthright suggestion; she was never one to mince words. “I’d concur, sir,” he added.

    From the Helm, Heruk joined in, “Our maneuverability is our only real advantage, sir. Lt. Taulass’ recommendation would capitalize on that.”

    The captain looked to his XO. Bendis shrugged reluctantly. “I’d favor a stand-up fight, sir, but I’d agree that isn’t in the cards.”

    “Okay then,” Van Cleve announced. “We’re raiders then.” He resumed his seat and analyzed the tactical plot map on the main viewer. “Drop us out of warp at these coordinates, and be ready to open fire with torpedoes from just over the orbital horizon. Hopefully, that’ll blind their sensors long enough for us to make a run for the planet’s polar magnetic field.”

    “Aye, sir,” came the chorus of replies.

    * * *​

    Three and a half hours later…

    The fight had not gone well.

    Mendelssohn’s nuisance attacks on the Klingon squadron had proved a distraction, but little more. They had destroyed a Bird-of-Prey while damaging another scout and a destroyer, but had themselves suffered significant damage in the exchange. Now, a pack of Birds-of-Prey had hounded the starship back into the relative safety of the polar magnetic field.

    The atmospheric filters struggled to cycle the contaminants out the bridge’s smoke-laden air as the assembled officers tried to divine something from the pea-soup on their sensor returns. The excited magnetic fields surrounding the ship were as much a hindrance as a help in their present situation.

    “Still nothing,” Ops muttered sourly.

    “They’re out there,” Van Cleve murmured softly, his agitation beginning to show. “But… where?”

    “Another distress call from the colony capital, sir,” Science officer Terrence noted. “It’s garbled, but I can make out something about Klingon troops overrunning the Starfleet Marine garrison. They’re rounding up prisoners and…” she blanched, touching a hand to the receiver in her ear, “…carrying out executions.”

    Bendis slid out from under the Helm console where he and Heruk had been making field repairs to overloaded multitronics. The XO stood, brushing the bandage on his forehead absently. “Captain, with respect, our strategy doesn’t seem to be making as much of a difference as we’d hoped.”

    Van Cleve nodded slowly, tearing his attention away from the damage reports scrolling across the display adjacent to the command chair. “I’d be forced to agree with your assessment, Commander. Did you have something in mind?”

    The younger man tried to formulate his words carefully. “The colonists… our people, they’re down there being slaughtered. There were over five-thousand Marines in that garrison, and I can guarantee you they all went down fighting. We have to do something, anything to try and help. This, this just isn’t it.”

    Van Cleve fixed his gaze on his first officer. “Again, Mister Bendis, you’re stating the obvious. What can we do about it?” He turned to gesture to the surrounding bridge. “We tried our best, and got our noses bloodied for the effort.”

    “I— I’m not sure, Captain,” Bendis stammered.

    “We are, to use another human aphorism, ‘playing it safe,’” Taulass remarked from behind them, having just stepped out of the turbolift. Her uniform was smudged and torn, giving bleak testament to the conditions in Main Engineering. “We are attempting to do what little we can while keeping the ship and crew intact. Making a real difference here will necessitate sacrifice.”

    The captain turned to look at the Vulcan. “What kind of sacrifice, Lieutenant?”

    “The one we all swore to make when we donned the uniform, sir. The ultimate one.” She arched an eyebrow that Lar’ragos had learned firsthand was her expression of critical disappointment. “The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”

    Silence reigned on the bridge as they all absorbed that.

    “How?” Van Cleve finally asked, his voice heavy.

    “Though damaged, the warp drive is still capable of short FTL jumps. Mendelssohn’s mass, accelerated to warp velocities, should prove more than sufficient to annihilate the Klingon flagship leading the assault here.”

    The color drained from Van Cleve’s face. “I… see.” To his credit, the captain set his shoulders and sat a little taller in his chair. “Commander Bendis, ready the crew. Prior to our ramming their flagship, I want all crew members beamed the surface, equipped for ground combat. There’s no sense in all of us dying up here, when we should by rights be down there protecting the civilians.”

    Bendis accepted the order with a firm nod. “Aye, sir.” He moved to an auxiliary console and began making preparations.

    Lar’ragos cleared his throat softly, garnering the captain’s attention. “Sir, I’d be the better choice to remain aboard and execute our attack on their ship.”

    Van Cleve managed a wan smile. “We haven’t served together for very long, Mister Lar’ragos, but after witnessing how you pulled my bacon out of the fire back on Gelur Secundus, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that you’d do far more damage down on the surface than I could ever hope to.”

    Lar’ragos cocked his head, conceding the point without protest. “Yes, sir.” He entered a series of commands into his console. “I’m inputting an automated routine that will route everything to our shields with the exception of enough power to execute the final warp jump. That should keep the Birds-of-Prey off you until you’ve got clear line-of-site on their flagship.”

    Van Cleve stood and walked around to where the Tactical console was situated. He extended a hand. “Thank you, Pava. It’s been a privilege and an honor to serve with you.”

    “With you as well, sir,” Lar’ragos replied, shaking his hand firmly.

    “Captain,” Bendis called from his station, “Replicators are furnishing everyone with phaser rifles, sidearms, armor, and first-aid kits. We should be ready in twenty minutes. Utilizing our cargo transporters along with our personnel units, we should be able to beam everyone down in roughly fifteen seconds.”

    “Good work, Exec,” Van Cleve praised. “I’ll endeavor to keep the Klingons out of weapons range long enough to lower shields and get you all safely planet-side.”

    He stepped back to the command chair and toggled the ship’s public address. “All hands, this is the captain. Today is a difficult day, and not one that I’d anticipated. Federation citizens on the planet below are fighting for their lives against overwhelming odds, and despite our best efforts, we’ve been unable to affect the outcome of the battle in orbit or on the surface. That is about to change. You will all be beaming down to do what you can to stem the tide, while I neutralize their task force’s flagship. I understand that this is almost certainly a suicide mission for all of us, but I would remind you that this is ultimately what each of us signed on for. The people down there have every right to expect us to intervene and lay down our lives to safeguard theirs. Please report to your assigned transport stations to receive equipment and further orders. It’s been an honor to lead this fine crew, and you have my gratitude.”

    Van Cleve looked to his bridge crew. “Let’s get this done.”

    * * *​

    The stuttering transporter beam struggled to penetrate the periphery of the Klingon transport inhibitor fields erected throughout the capitol city. However, with a final burst of energy, the officers and crew of the starship Mendelssohn materialized in an uninhabited industrial park on the outskirts of the city.

    The roughly three-hundred crew fanned out, following Bendis’ instructions to locate and attack Klingon forces in the vicinity.

    Lar’ragos held his phaser-rifle in one hand and reached out with his other, taking Taulass by the arm. “Come with me,” he urged.

    She frowned, appearing perplexed. “Commander Bendis’ orders were clear. There is a Klingon contingent less than five kilometers from us. We are to prepare an ambush of that patrol element.”

    “That’s ridiculous. They’ll spot us from orbit before we’ve made it a klick and vaporize us.”

    Taulass gestured to the life-sign scrambler armbands they both wore. “These should suffice to mask our bio-signatures.”

    He sighed. “It won’t be enough, Taulass. Trust me. I know these people, how they think and how they fight.”

    Up went the judgmental eyebrow. “I cannot willfully disobey direct orders.”

    “What’s the hold up here?” Bendis snapped as he jogged over to them, cradling his rifle.

    “I’m trying to convince the good lieutenant here that she’ll live longer if she comes with me,” Lar’ragos summarized for his benefit.

    “You’re well aware of my orders, Mister Lar’ragos,” Bendis said pointedly. “We’re going to track and ambush that patrol we detected.”

    “We should be splitting up to move into the city and get as many civilians as we can to emergency shelters,” Lar’ragos countered. “Trying to pretend we’re Starfleet Marines is just going to get a lot of people killed unnecessarily.”

    “Those weren’t my orders,” Bendis reiterated. "You and I already hashed this out topside. I listened to your recommendation, but I've decided this is the best course of action."

    “Yes, sir. I understand. I also don’t care,” Lar’ragos replied.

    Bendis goggled. “What did you say?”

    “I said I’m not following your orders, Commander.”

    “That’s mutiny,” Bendis snarled.

    “In point of fact,” Taulass offered, “it is not. He is not attempting to seize your authority for himself or to remove you from your post by force. He is merely refusing to follow a direct order. That is a separate charge entirely under the Uniform Code of Starfleet Justice.”

    “She’s right,” Lar’ragos said supportively.

    Bendis sighed with exasperation. “I don’t have time for this. I’d have rather had your help as our most experienced solider, Lar’ragos, but if you’re determined to break ranks there’s not a lot I can do about it at the moment.”

    “I’m glad you understand,” Lar’ragos said dryly. He looked to Taulass. “You’re sure you won’t come with me?”

    “I cannot,” she maintained.

    “I feared as much,” Lar’ragos acknowledged. He raised a hand with his index and middle fingers extended towards Taulass. She replied in kind, touching her fingers to his in a surprisingly intimate Vulcan gesture that caught Bendis off guard.

    “Live long and prosper, Taulass,” Lar’ragos said.

    “I shall do neither,” she answered, her eyes communicating a deeper level of meaning. “However, the sentiment is appreciated.”

    “For what it’s worth, good luck, Lar’ragos,” Bendis offered. “Oh, and consider yourself on report,” he added with a wry grin.

    “I’ll do that—”

    Their conversation was cut short by a brilliant flash overhead, a radiant blossom of energy that shone more brightly than the Metralus star for a brief moment.

    “Well, what do you know,” Lar’ragos marveled, dropping his rifle to shield his eyes with his other hand, “the old man pulled it off!”

    Taulass held Lar’ragos’ gaze for a moment longer. “Parting, yet never parted,” she said in a soft voice. Then she withdrew her hand, cradled her rifle, and followed Bendis back towards the others.

    Lar’ragos watched them go for a brief time before remarking sadly, “Time to go to work.”

    * * *​

    Author's note: This concludes the June/July Challenge Entry portion of the story. However, those wanting to know how this tale ends can read the rest, titled Klingon Afternoon, here:

    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
    Galen4, Think, Tim Thomason and 5 others like this.
  2. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Captain Captain

    Jan 17, 2009
    Vancouver, WA
    This is a really great story. It was great seeing Lar'ragos again. I've missed him.
    Gibraltar likes this.
  3. CeJay

    CeJay Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Feb 5, 2006
    A tough story of doing the right thing, even against all odds, and noble self sacrifice. I particularly liked the professionalism these men and women displayed in the face of certain death.

    To fully appreciate the though, I think one needs to read the story to which this one serves as a prequel. I had to re-read it myself after this and it kinda makes you see Pava in a different light. He's still an awesome character, but not because he's such a kick-ass, cold-blooded warrior even Klingons don't stand a chance against but because he's a fundamentally flawed, maybe even damaged, individual.
    Think and Gibraltar like this.
  4. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    ^ Many thanks for your feedback, folks!
    Think likes this.
  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Nov 18, 2005
    Congrats on your win!
    Gibraltar, Think and Tim Thomason like this.
  6. Cobalt Frost

    Cobalt Frost Captain Captain

    May 22, 2004
    Cobalt Frost in Phineas & Ferb's backyard
    Gibraltar likes this.
  7. Gibraltar

    Gibraltar Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Sep 25, 2005
    US Pacific Northwest
    Thank you! :hugegrin:
  8. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 27, 2007
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    What's both tragic and enthralling about this story to me, is the ages-old military dilemma: when faced with hopeless odds, does a commander sacrifice the lives of their entire crew when there's no chance of winning the overall battle? Or is it better to withdraw and come back with more assets, knowing your own people will be slaughtered in your absence?

    I don't know if they made the right call on this one. I'll have to read the over all story to be sure.
    But I'll tell you, the crew's sacrifice is haunting. Hopefully, there's a fitting memorial somewhere at Starfleet Academy!

    Oh..and congrats!
    Gibraltar likes this.