Star Trek: Lambda Paz-- "To the Bitter End"

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Enterprise1981, Jul 3, 2012.

  1. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Special fan made Dominion War trailer

    During the final forty days of the Dominion War, battles become more and more dangerous as the Dominion, Breen, and Cardassians are determined to make the Federation Alliance fight for every inch of space. Even knowing the heavy cost in ships and in lives, Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan forces remain resolved to put an end to two years of devastating war.

    Aboard the Lambda Paz, Limis Vircona cannot help but contemplate her future in Starfleet, while she and her crew wonder if they and they're loved ones will live to see the final victory.

    On the Constantinople, a crew of decorated war heroes prepare for what may be their last stand.

    Behind enemy lines, a Cardassian gul's devotion to his beloved empire is pushed to the limits and one of the Dominion's most loyal servants remains determined to fight for a lost cause even as his gods stand on the verge of extinction.

    Heroes will be made, legends will be born, lives will be lost, courage will be tested, but hope will never die...

    Londo Mollari on the Earth-Minbari War (from the Babylon 5 prequel movie "In the Beginning")
  2. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Additional note: This is also a direct continuation of story arcs first introduced in "Raising the Stakes" and "That's Our Q".

    As a preface to this story detailing the last forty days of the Dominion War, the dimensions of various starship are presented. This is based on data available on Memory Alpha as a point of comparison, especially for two non-canon starship classes. The specific dimensions of the Raptora-class Romulan capital ship and Dracon-class Cardassian heavy cruisers are not listed, but are merely described in comparison with canon starship classes.

    Galaxy-class: 2108 ft. (643 m.) in length
    Sovereign-class: 2248 ft. (685.2 m.) in length, smaller in width and height than a Galaxy-class
    Excelsior-class: Length 1676.5 ft. (511 m.), Width 643.1 ft. (196 m.), Height 285.4 ft. (87 m.)
    Akira-class: Length 1522.3 ft. (464 m.), width 1036 ft. (316 m.), height 285.4 ft. (87 m.)
    Nebula-class: Length 1450 ft. (442 m.), width 1043 ft. (318 m.), height 427 ft. (130 m.)
    Miranda-class: Length 908.8 ft. (277 m.), width 567.6 ft. (173 m.), height 213.3 ft. (65 m.)
    Steamrunner-class: Length 1230.3 ft. (375 m.) width 885.8 ft. (270.9 m.), height 262.2 ft. (79.5 m.)
    Defiant-class: 560 ft. (171 m.) in length
    Luna-class: 1476 ft. (450 m.) in length
    Prometheus-class: 1360 ft. (414 m.) in length

    Vor’cha-class: Length 1578 ft. (481 m.), width 1118 ft. (341 m.), height 351 ft. (107 m.)
    Negh’Var class: Length 2238 ft. (682 m.), width 1541 ft. (470 m.), height 450 ft. (137 m.)
    K’Tinga-class: Length 1148.3 ft. (350 m.), width 826.8 ft. (252 m.), Height 325 ft. (99 m.) (Note: closely resembles the D-7 battle cruisers seen in The Original Series, but is larger and sleeker)
    B’rel-class: Length 518.4 ft. (158 m.), wingspan 597.1 ft. (182 m.), height 324.8 ft. (99 m.)
    K’Vort-class: Length 2224.4 ft. (678 m.), wingspan 2562.3 ft. (781 m.), height 1391 ft. (424 m.)

    D’Deridex-class warbird: Length 4440 ft. (1353 m.), wingspan 2536 ft. (773 m.), Height 935 ft. (285 m.) height
    Morgai-class/Norexan-class/Valdore-type: Length 1969 ft. (600 m.), wingspan 2953 ft. (900 m.), Height 300 ft. (92 m.)
    Raptora-class: dwarfs a D’Deridex-class warbird, which itself is a twice the length of a Galaxy-class starship

    Galor-class: Length 1217 ft. (371 m.), 630 ft. (192 m.), height 194 ft. (59 m.)
    Keldon-class: Length 1220 ft. (372 m.), width 630 ft. (192 m.), height 229.7 ft. (70 m.)
    Dracon-class: dwarfs a Galor or Keldon-class

    Jem’Hadar fighter: 68.32 meters; beam, 70.02 meters; height: 18.32 meters
    Jem’Hadar battle cruiser/battleship: Length, 639.75 meters; beam, 568.44 meters; height, 204.97 meters.
    Jem’Hadar heavy cruiser: twice the size of a Galaxy-class starship, assume that Breen heavy cruisers are roughly the same size
  3. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Featured Starships

    USS Manchuria: Galaxy-class capital ship

    USS Lambda Paz: Luna-class light cruiser

    USS Constantinople: Sovereign-class capital ship

    CUW Pakar: Dracon-class heavy cruiser

    Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47

    Featured Crewmembers

    USS Manchuria

    Rear Admiral (upper half) Phillip Gündersen: Commanding Officer (Human male)
    Commander Inuri Jin-han: Executive Officer (Human female)
    Lieutenant Commander Krear (pronounced Kre-ar): Tactical Officer (Capellan male)

    USS Lambda Paz
    Captain Limis Vircona: Commanding Officer (Bajoran female)
    Commander Ronnie Kozar: First Officer (Human male)
    Lieutenant Commander Mandel Morrison: Second Officer/Chief Tactical and Security officer (Human male)
    Lieutenant (jg) Sara Carson: Alpha Shift Flight Controller (Human female)
    Lieutenant Shinar sh’Aqba: Chief Engineer (Andorian shen)
    Lieutenant Erhlich Tarlazzi: Assistant Chief Engineer (Vulcanoid Rigelian male)
    Lieutenant Tirren Ra Hoth: Deputy Chief of Security/Acting Marine commander (Edosian male)
    Ensign Rebecca Sullivan: Gamma Shift Flight Controller/Engineering assistant (Human female)
    Lieutenant (jg) Willis Huckaby: Alpha Shift Operations manager (Human male)
    Ensign Goris M’Rev: Gamma Shift Operations manager/Astrophysics officer (Tellarite male)
    Lieutenant Aurellan Markalis: Chief Medical Officer (Human female)
    Emergency Medical Hologram Mark III: Deputy Chief Medical Officer (Human male facsimile)

    USS Constantinople

    Rear Admiral (lower half) Edward Jellico: Commanding Officer (Human male)
    Commander Keith Ellison: First Officer (Human male)
    Lieutenant Commander Jeth’ron: Second Officer/Tactical Officer (Efrosian male)
    Lieutenant Commander Truxia: Operations Manager (Denobulan female)
    Commander Charles “Chaz” Logan: Chief Engineer of the Seventh Fleet (Human male)
    Lieutenant Commander Gregor Kopolev: Chief Engineer (Human male)
    Lieutenant Commander Samantha Collins: Chief Medical Officer (Human female)
    Lieutenant Lisa Neeley: Starfleet Marine commander (Human female)
    Sergeant-Major Loukas Pherrelius: Starfleet Marine deputy (Human/Argelian male)
    Ensign Sara Nave: Flight Controller (Human female)
    Ensign Matthew Herron: Communications Officer (Human male)

    CUW Pakar
    JaGul Arek Latham: Commanding Officer
    Doko’toran Diralna: Dominion liaison (Vorta female)
    Glinn Printus Orlak: Executive Officer/Fleet Liaison Officer
    Glinn Trejak Maret: Second Officer/Tactical Officer
    Dalin Pirella Thomar: Chief Engineer (Cardassian female)
    Dalin Ereb Pretac: Chief Medical Officer
    Garresh Hamar Murrel: Pilot (Cardassian female)
    Gorr Nezhak Perron: Records officer (Cardassian female)
    Gorr Inira: Communications officer (Norsaian female)
    Gorr Dronnek: Engineering assistant (Martosian male)

    Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47
    Unnamed male Founder
    Sadok’toran Yelgrun: Fleet Commander (Vorta male)
    Suba’toran Torgroth: Fleet liaison, senior engineer (Vorta male)
    First Mirak’tiral: Jem’Hadar troop division commander
    Second Turak’miron
    Third Ikan’irral
    Thot Jroln: Breen fleet liaison (Amoniri male)
    Thot Drelf: Breen fleet liaison (Paclu male)
  4. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Part One: “Surviving the Flood”

    “It will be the end… or the beginning.” The Prophets of Bajor foretelling the Reckoning.


    Day One

    [LEFT]And God said unto Noah,
    The end of all flesh is come before.
    For the Earth is violence through them.
    And behold,
    I will destroy them with the Earth.
    (Genesis 6:13)

    Chin’toka System

    An armada of four hundred forty ships was gathered near the outermost planet of the Chin’toka system. From just outside the orbit of the twelfth planet’s lone natural satellite, the many ships moved deeper into the system awaiting orders from fleet commanders to strike.

    Ever since the Breen had driven out the Federation Alliance, their Dominion and Cardassian allies had dug in deep throughout the sector that served as the jumping off point for further incursions into Dominion-held territory. The system was far more fortified than it was almost a year earlier when the Ninth Fleet launched a successful offensive. The Alliance now had a numerical disadvantage. The fleet commanders still believed a major victory could be achieved by outthinking and outmaneuvering the enemy, now that their ships had a defense against the Breen energy dissipaters.

    The combination of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan warships belonged primarily to the Eighth and Twelfth Fleets. Wings from the Ninth, Tenth, and Eleventh Fleets provided support, along with ships from various non-aligned worlds. The Twelfth Fleet’s flagship was the Galaxy-class USS Manchuria, which was flanked by an assortment of stitched together Excelsior, Ambassador, Constellation, and Miranda class ships. The exteriors of most of those older ships appeared outwardly battered, but still functional.

    On the bridge of the Manchuria, Rear Admiral Phillip Gundersen was seated in the command chair listening to reports from various bridge officers while working a padd and communicating with other fleet commanders and ship captains, acknowledging status updates as they come in. He was a tall human male of advanced middle age. Though in his early sixties, his face showed minimal signs of aging, with slight wrinkles around his blue-gray eyes and along his outer cheekbones. His straw blond hair did have a few gray streaks and receded a considerable amount behind his forehead.

    Commander Inuri Jin-han moved about the bridge making inquiries about the various ship functions. As tall as the admiral, she towered over the young human male helmsman while monitoring various readouts and directing last minute changes in course and speed.

    After conferring with officers manning starboard communications stations, she took a few quick steps back to the command chairs, facing the tactical station. “Estimated weapons range of enemy fleet?” she asked the Capellan tactical officer. While she was of mostly Chinese and Japanese ancestry, Jin-Han spoke with an English accent that was a mostly Liverpool cadence.

    “Two minutes, twenty-three seconds,” answered Lieutenant Commander Krear, a fair-skinned male with long dark hair tied back into a ponytail to conform to Starfleet uniform regulations, who dwarfed even the captain and first officer.

    “Weapons status?” Gundersen asked Krear as he handed Jin-Han the padd that had been in his lap.

    “All weapons at optimum power,” the tactical officer replied. “Shields and deflectors at full strength.”

    “Communications status?”

    “All ship-to-ship communications frequencies coded and scrambled,” a young human male responded. “EM wave guides compensated for all anticipated dampening amplitudes and frequencies.”

    “Open a channel to all ships then,” Gundersen instructed, rising from the command chair. “All right, people. This is how it’s gonna go down. As you already know, we’ll be intercepting an enemy fleet of over six hundred. We may look like we’re in bad shape being vastly outnumbered and with a bunch of older ships brought out of mothballs. This is an all-hands-on-deck fight, and hopefully more upgraded circuitry will prevent their computers from suddenly crashing.

    “Our job will be to outthink and outmaneuver an enemy fleet consisting primarily of Breen heavy cruisers. The Klingons, having developed a counter-measure to Breen weaponry faster than the rest of the Alliance will move in towards the center. Galaxy-wings one, three, and five will follow, hoping to continue to provoke the Breen into firing their energy dissipaters. The Galaxy and Excelsior wings, along with Akira and Steamrunner wings one through five, will move out to try to draw away supporting Jem’Hadar and Cardassian capital ships. All other light cruisers, form up with the capital ships to try to box in their capital ships.

    He looked around the bridge of his ship, seeing doubt in the some of the faces of the younger officers. “This will be a difficult struggle,” he assured them while still keeping the communications channel open. “We’ve gotten some tough breaks over the last month since the Breen entered the war. We have a chance to show our enemies we are still just as determined. So, let’s give ‘em hell.”

    “Enemy weapons range in fifty-three seconds,” Krear chimed in.

    “All ships, stand ready,” the admiral commanded.


    Deep Space Nine Dominion War trailer; Featuring “End of All Hope” by Nightwish

    Wings of Akira and Steamrunner-class ships spread out while the Galaxy-wings closed in on the Breen, supported by smaller ships of older and newer designs laying down swarms of phasers and quantum torpedoes. The smaller ships were in front of each formation, trying to squeeze between the heavy cruisers. The Breen fired energy dissipaters in small intermittent bursts, which the shields quickly absorb this time, while firing mostly pulse weapons. The older ships proved more resilient than expected, as Excelsior, Ambassador, Miranda, and Constellation-classes absorbed hard swarms of weapons. Those torpedo hits left huge holes in the saucer sections of two of the Mirandas, but were still going strong.

    Several groups of smaller vessels swooped in on Jem’Hadar and Cardassian vessels on the edge of the formation, hoping to draw their fire. Some of them took the bait and pursued their attackers while others hold formation, drawing the allied light cruisers into close quarters combat.

    A few squads of Breen heavy cruisers formed up in very close groups of three, four, or five to concentrate on the Galaxy, Negh’Var, and Morgai-classes, hoping to exploit their larger size and lesser maneuverability. Starfleet and Klingon capital ships employed a similar bridge-burning maneuver--but with smaller ships as support rather than forming up close together-- creating difficulty in squeezing between the opposing ships or moving off before colliding. While the smaller fighters run kamikaze maneuvers against Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan light cruisers, the crews of the larger ships were not considered to be as expendable, hence were not as quick to sacrifice themselves. As one line of ships from either side moved off, another came in hard with pulse and projectile weapons firing.

    The rest of the capital ships--Galaxy, Ambassador, and Excelsior-class Federation ships, Negh’Var and Vor’cha class Klingon ships, and Raptora and D’Deridex-class Romulan ships—not going against the Breen stayed on the outer formation drawing the fire of Jem’Hadar battleships and Dracon-class Cardassian ships. Swarms of Miranda, Akira, and Steamrunner-class Starfleet ships and Klingon and Romulan Birds-of-Prey took on Breen fighters on the outer formation as well. For each allied ship they take out with both weapons fire and ramming maneuvers, four Breen fighters are destroyed.

    Jem’Hadar and Cardassian light cruisers that don’t take the bait swoop in ships taking on the Breen, which able to take some of the pressure off the Breen; a few Mirandas and Akiras are torn apart. A number of Ambassadors and Excelsiors with the support Klingon Birds-of-Prey moved in while firing phasers and torpedoes.

    Wings of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan capital ships cut off Jem’Hadar and Cardassian warships trying to get back with the regular formation. Ambassador and Excelsior classes, with Vorcha and K’Tinga-class Klingon ships and D’Deridex and Morgai-class Romulan ships take on the Galor-class Cardassian cruisers and Jem’Hadar battle cruisers with seemingly endless lines of torpedoes, enveloping the enemy ships in blinding fireballs. Galaxy, Negh’Var, and Raptora-class ships took on the Dracon-class Cardassian capital ships and Dominion heavy cruisers. They remained in close quarters combat exchanging flurries of phaser and disruptor fire, knocking out ships on both sides and leaving behind large chunks of debris and ship hulk spiraling towards the ninth planet and its moon.

    As battle raged on, the Federation Alliance fleet gained a decisive advantage, now outnumbering the enemy fleet one-and-a-half to one. The Alliance fleet continued pouring on with phaser and torpedo fire even while losing ships at a fast rate, relentlessly blowing apart opposing ships until they were down to almost nothing. What was left of left would regroup and retreat deeper into the system.
  5. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter One

    Starbase G-6

    Limis Vircona sat at one end of a meeting table in one of Starbase G-6’s briefing rooms. She was among a dozen starship captains in a teleconference with Admirals Phillip Gündersen and Edward Jellico discussing plans for a follow-up operation to what was becoming known across the Federation as the Battle of Three Suns. It was a much-needed morale boost after allied forces endured one defeat after another at the hands of the Breen.

    The News Service reels had provided brief highlights of the offensives at Zhamur, Daxura, and Chin’toka. However, Admiral Gündersen provided more firsthand accounts of the battle and how much they had taken the enemy by surprise. “The Breen were more cautious at Chin’toka than at Zhamur or Daxura,” the admiral explained. “They used the energy dissipaters a lot more sparingly. The result was still very much the same. For every one of our ships in the first wave we lost, we took out four of theirs. Overall, we still took heavy losses. They’ve moved deeper into the system, so we should expect that they’ll be coming after us again.”

    Those last words were a humbling reminder to Limis that any kind of military victory in the war was not enough of a reason to celebrate. The Dominion always had something in their bag of tricks, and so no captured star system was secure until the last vestiges of enemy resistance. It was a strategy that had been employed ever since the allies began a push into Dominion-held territory. Continuing to fight for a lost cause seemed foolish to Limis, even when she was willing to go down fighting. After all, what good would come from literally fighting to the last man? Perhaps, the thinking was that the price of defeat was too high. In the Founders’ case, they were a race facing extinction courtesy of a debilitating disease.

    She took a glance at her former Bajoran Underground colleague and fellow starship captain Lenaris Holem, wondering if he was thinking the same thing. Lieutenant Commander Selek, on the other hand, appeared calm and collected even if similar thoughts were racing through his mind.

    “We should have replacement ships from the Seventh Fleet there within a day, Phil,” Jellico informed Gündersen.

    “That should help,” replied the higher-ranking admiral, “but they’ll come at us harder next time.”

    “Meanwhile, the Dominion holdings at Kalandra are down to almost nothing,” Limis chimed in while she was consulting a padd containing details of the battle. “We have them all but bottled up in the Zhamur system.”

    “Which made them all the more determined to destroy the reinforcements there,” Gündersen added.

    “The Constantinople and the 272nd tactical wing will be providing reinforcements at Zhamur within the next twelve hours,” Jellico replied. “When can the 273rd depart the starbase for Daxura?”

    “We’re sending as many ships as are available now,” Limis told Jellico. “The Lambda Paz will need another day’s worth of maintenance. How go the repairs on the Derna and Epimetheus?”

    “We’ve had a few setbacks in getting our maneuvering jets up to snuff,” said Lenaris. “But the repairs aren’t too far behind yours.”

    “We have a few tests to run on the multi-vector assault mode,” Selek added. “Our departure time should be the same as yours.”

    “Do whatever you can to speed matters along without compromising key systems,” Jellico suggested. “The Daxura system’s a hell of a challenge with multiple asteroid belts. Just get it done.”

    “Godspeed,” Gündersen added.

    And at the exact same moment, both transmissions ended, leaving the ship captains attending the briefing to confer amongst themselves.

    USS Lambda Paz

    Shinar Sh’Aqba lied down on a biobed in sickbay for her latest prenatal exam. She was wearing a gray sleeveless tank top while her uniform layers were tucked away at the foot of the bed. Monitoring devices were attached to her neck, shoulders, chest, and abdomen to allow Aurellan Markalis to monitor heart rate, blood pressure, and pulse rate of the mother, along with the health of the embryo. This exam was fairly routine, but Sh’Aqba swore it was far more exhaustive than most routine prenatal exams, but still necessary since she was carrying a rare hybrid baby, while not being anatomically equipped to carry the barely developed infant to term.

    “Take a deep breath,” the doctor instructed.

    Sh’Aqba inhaled slowly through her nose and exhaled through her mouth.

    “One more,” Aurellan added, while keeping a glance on the vital sign monitor. “Quack like a duck.”

    “What?” Shinar gasped, looking utterly baffled.

    “Medical humor,” Aurellan awkwardly explained, sensing that Shinar was not amused. “It would help if you could loosen up.”

    “Doctor?” called a Denobulan female nurse.

    “One moment,” Aurellan said to Shinar. With a somewhat forced friendly smile, she turned her attention to the nurse. “Yes?”

    “The last of the medicines are in Cargo Bay Four for your inspection,” the nurse informed her.

    “I’ll take care of it.”

    “You keep saying,” Shinar insisted, “but there seem to be completely random emergencies in engineering everyday.”

    “How has that meditation program worked out?” Aurellan inquired after seeing off the nurse.

    “It’s helped,” Shinar answered with a hint of hesitation. “Sort of.” She then became perturbed that her doctor was more focused on a padd a human male nurse handed her.

    “I still have a few I think you should try,” Aurellan said as she handed the padd back to the nurse.

    “Doctor?” came another voice.

    ”What?!” Aurellan impatiently shrieked. She quickly calmed herself when she saw Emergency Medical Hologram standing at the foot of the biobed. “Oh, I’m really sorry,” she contritely said.

    “We’re ready to set up the new triage equipment in vacant quarters on deck seven,” the EMH informed her, seemingly oblivious to having been snapped at.

    “I’ll stop by there as soon as I can spare a few minutes.”

    “You sound a little stressed out yourself,” Shinar offered.

    “I’ll be all right. Don’t worry about me,” Aurellan assured Shinar while gathering up the monitoring devices attached to her. “You’re free to go, Lieutenant.” She quickly handed Shinar her uniform while focusing on the holographic doctor. She followed him into the office, still feeling a need to apologize for snapping at him.

    “Again,” she told holographic boyfriend. “I’m really sorry about that.”

    “You needn’t try to spare my feelings,” the EMH insisted. “I have no ego to bruise… at least not what Freudian psychologists define as an ego.”

    Aurellan circled her desk and gathered up padds on the desk for no other reason other than strongly valuing neatness. “How can you be sure?” she asked the hologram with a teasing smile.

    “I’m simply a computer program,” the EMH attempted. “It’s not the same thing as the humanoid brain.”

    “Maybe not in the technical sense, but all your heuristic algorithms and medical knowledge are stored and processed in much the same way as how the humanoid brain functions. You’re even programmed to emulate various humanoid emotions and facial expressions.”

    “As you say, I only emulate humanoid behavior as accurately as possible through all sorts of complex programming.”

    “Humanoids are ‘programmed’ with certain behaviors through millions of years of evolution. Sentient beings have even evolved the brainpower to decide whether our primordial instincts are reflective of an appropriate course of action. The brain’s frontal lobe, or in Freudian terms, the superego mediating conflicting desires of ego and id.

    “But my point was this,” Aurellan added with a realization that she had strayed too far off the intended topic. “As social beings, we humanoids can never apologize too much. It’s a behavior that’s more or less programmed into us, even around a holographic projection that looks like a humanoid.”

    “Then your apology is very much appreciated, even if it is unnecessary.”

    Aurellan almost giggled, but then clasped her mouth to avoid attracting outside attention. She leaned in closer to the hologram with a seductive smile. “Even if you don’t have an ego, you still desire me,” she said, “do you not?”

    “Of course, I do,” the EMH flatly replied. They were about to kiss, but Aurellan backed away. She was largely averse to public displays of affection, even though they shared their first kiss in this office. They just stared silently at each other, a form of PDA that did not involve physical contact of any kind.


    Rebecca Sullivan was on her back in an access tunnel rearranging circuits. She and Sara Carson were overseeing a few shipboard systems checks in one of the flight control maintenance rooms. In anticipation of close quarters exchanges in the Daxura asteroid belts, they were making a few minor adjustments to various systems to make the constant course changes less nauseating for the crew.

    Rebecca slid her way out of the tunnel and placed the access hatch back on the opening. She then took a look at the status readouts on the above console.”

    “Sensor resolution?” Sara asked while looking up from a padd.

    “Two point eight-nine terrahertz,” Rebecca answered.

    “Signal enhancement modules?”


    “Inertial flight dynamic stabilizers?”

    “Two percent above nominal,” Rebecca said with a slight hesitation, “…most of them.”

    “‘Most of them’?” Sara impatiently repeated. She was working two padds at once, and she handed off one of them to a nearby technician. “We’re going into a solar system with three asteroid belts,” she reminded Rebecca. “We can’t have people being thrown against the bulkheads and puking their guts out every time there’s a course correction.”

    “Thank you for reminding me,” Rebecca sarcastically shot back with a roll of her eyes.

    “Sorry for that,” Sara said more calmly. “Really. We just have a lot of preparations to make and we don’t want any slip-ups. You know what? I’ll head to the bridge and start running computer simulations anyway.”

    “And I’ll head to thruster control and see what the problem is.”

    They both suddenly realized that people were staring at them. Rebecca turned around and walked away even knowing that didn’t fool anyone.

    “Back to work, everyone,” Sara told all the three technicians working in the room. She headed out the door and caught up to Rebecca down the corridor, all the while making sure nobody else is around. “Becca, are you okay telling people about us?”

    “Of course,” Rebecca gleefully assured her. “When I was in the Maquis, there were hardly any secrets within our group.”

    “On a Starfleet ship, it’s not as make it up as you go,” Sara hurriedly replied, but then wanted to curse herself for saying that.

    Rebecca gasped in astonishment. “What is that supposed to mean?” she snapped.

    Sara sighed apologetically. “I’m sorry, that didn’t come out right,” she said. “That some people may be talking about us just reminds me how embarrassed I was that time I was late for a shift.”

    Rebecca leaned in towards her lover and touched Sara’s shoulders. “I promise I won’t make you late to any of your shifts, Sara,” she assured her. “It would help if you weren’t so uptight. Maybe after the war is over…”

    Sara coaxed Rebecca’s hands off her own shoulders. “Let’s plan for after the war after the war,” she gloomily suggested.

    “That’s reasonable,” Rebecca quickly relented, not wanting to read too much into how worried Sara suddenly sounded considering she herself lost a spouse just two years earlier. “I’ll let you get to the bridge.”

    “Sure,” Sara said with a quick wave. “Bye.” They leaned in for a kiss, but Sara slowly pulled back a second later and made a beeline for the turbolift.


    Unbeknownst to Sara until after she had stepped into the turbolift, her former lover Mandel Morrison had entered the same lift.

    “Commander,” she said nonchalantly. “Bridge.”

    “Lieutenant,” Morrison flatly answered. Headed to the bridge? were the next words on his mind.

    Sara wanted to ask if he was headed for the bridge as well, but she quickly stopped herself. Duh! I said ‘bridge’ and he didn’t request any other deck of the ship.

    Mandel had another topic of small talk on his mind, but still kept quiet, staring at her blank expression. Sara had a similar idea of what to say to him, but also remained quiet. They knew each other’s duties on the bridge, so no need to ask the other as if they didn’t know. The same old boring and mundane topics of conversation had worn out their usefulness while they took the turbolift up to the bridge at the start of alpha shift.

    Once the doors slid open revealing the bridge, the two of them stepped off the turbolift at the same time and exchanged courteous nods before they headed to their respective stations.

    Erhlich Tarlazzi sauntered into engineering through the warp core chamber where he saw Sh’Aqba conferring with two of her officers. She handed off a padd to a human male ensign and cordially dismissed him. She then sighed emphatically and handed off a second to a Denobulan male technician.

    “I want those axis coils functioning properly before we leave starbase,” she hissed at him, “not after we arrive at Daxura.” As she headed for a nearby console, she muttered an Andorian swear word as Tarlazzi approached. He flashed a light grin that always that relieved Shinar’s most stressful of mornings as he rested his wrists on the front of the console.

    “You doing all right?” he inquired.

    “Of course,” sh’Aqba said with a reluctant smile while still concentrating on her console. “I wouldn’t be here if the doctor hadn’t cleared me.”

    “I just hope you don’t stress yourself out,” Erhlich offered while lowering his head so his eyes met hers.

    Shinar lifted her head so that his gaze met hers. “I’m fine, Erhlich,” she calmly insisted. “There’s no sense in both of us being stressed out.”

    “I understand. It’s just that this is my kid, too. And you need to exercise caution with a rare hybrid.”

    “Enough!” Shinar snapped. Noticing the increased volume in her voice, she looked around to make sure she did not attract any attention. Satisfied no one was watching she lowered her voice to a hushed tone. “We won’t need to make the harder choices until the third or fourth month of the pregnancy.”

    Erhlich lifted himself back into a straight standing position and raised his hands in surrender. “I get it,” he conceded. “Look, after we get some time off, we could go to Risa or Casperia.”

    “Sounds like a date,” Shinar replied. She clasped his hands with hers and smiled. For as long as she remembered, she was most often in a very foul mood. And though it took her a year and a half to acknowledge it, being around Erhlich Tarlazzi and his easygoing nature gave her a reason to smile. He was a part of her life she wanted to cherish, knowing he could very easily be gone tomorrow.


    Limis was lying awake in her quarters, in uniform with the two outer layers zipped all the way down. As much as she wanted to, she could not fall asleep. If today was tense, tomorrow would even more tense, especially while her ship was battling the Dominion in the Daxura system. Walking onto the bridge tomorrow morning without having gotten a few hours of sleep was not an option.

    Her eyes still remained wide open, staring out of the upper edge of the diagonal viewport. Maybe something greater was on her mind. For two and a half years, Limis had envisioned settling the score with the Dominion for eliminating the closest thing she had to family. And with the Federation Alliance going back on the offensive, the end of the war was becoming closer to a reality. The biggest question now on her mind was whether she would live to see the final victory. Or better yet, would this ship and her crew live to see that victory?
  6. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Two

    USS Constantinople

    The primary duty of the Seventh Fleet’s chief engineer was to conduct inspections of all ships. Chaz Logan had carried out those duties on the flagship USS Constantinople during her journey to the Zhamur system. Yet he still noticed a few issues that were not to his liking. To address his concerns, he had been hounding Lieutenant Commander Gregor Kopolev all morning. Kopolev had tried to maintain his composure throughout the whole process, but was now very close to threatening to call security on a superior officer.

    “These induction coils are still slightly out of alignment,” Logan informed the chief engineer, while following him across the catwalk.

    “But still well within safety specifications,” Kopolev firmly, but calmly replied with a thick Russian accent.

    “I’d rather err on the side of caution, Gregor,” Logan insisted as they both stepped onto a lift that would lower both down to the main engineering level. “We need all systems functioning at peak efficiency considering what we’re going up against at Zhamur.”

    “And they are. I can assure you.”

    Logan seemingly dismissed that statement and looked back at the large padd in his hands. “Of course,” he said quietly. With a more professional tone, he added, “I also have a few concerns regarding the Doppler compensators. The phase inverters…”

    Kopolev turned around to face Logan upon their arrival at the master situation console just in front of the main entrance that was often nicknamed the “pool table”. “Commander Logan,” he said firmly while still trying not to lose his cool. “With all due respect, your duties as chief engineer of the Seventh Fleet are to make sure ships are battle ready, not to micromanage my entire department.”

    “I am aware of my responsibilities, mister,” Logan calmly responded. He, once again, consulted the padd while continuing his appraisal of the ship. “Now, as I was saying about the Doppler compensators, phase inverters sigma-19 and eta-15 are a bit sluggish.”

    “I will look into it if time permits,” Kopolev answered with a sigh. “But this ship did pass your inspection, did it not?”
    “If it didn’t, we wouldn’t be on course for Zhamur, would we?”

    “Then if you still have any complaints regarding how I run my engine room, I suggest you take them up with Commander Ellison. Until then, I would thank you to leave… sir.”

    There was a brief pause as the two men stared silently at each other. Logan was at a loss for words, but after a few tense moments, he walked away and left the engineering section.

    Kopolev shook his head while whispering an old Russian swear. As if Admiral Jellico being this rigid wasn’t bad enough.


    Lisa Neeley addressed a contingent of Starfleet Marines in the ship’s main armory. She was now serving as head of the Marines on the Constantinople after recent stints on the Defiant and the Lambda Paz. She had been transferred to the flagship of the Seventh Fleet after she and Mandel Morrison had proven unable to coexist peacefully after the termination of their non-romantic sexual partnership. She was still a capable commander when not caught up in relationship drama. She would not be on this ship if that were not the case, given Jellico’s rigid style of command. The troops she was briefing consisted of replacement officers to offset heavy losses suffered during the Constantinople’s last engagement at Moreska. They were very young men and women who had completed Marine training no more than a year ago. The senior member of that platoon, Staff Sergeant Loukas Pherrelius had strongly vouched for them, however. He and Neeley still agreed that they should repeat a lot of the basics to these young officers before each combat operation.

    “The Jem’Hadar will usually board sections of enemy ships containing narrow corridors, hoping to force close quarters hand-to-hand combat,” Neeley explained to a group of thirty-three officers and troops. “That’s where they have a decisive advantage in terms of brute strength. Remember to keep your truncheons tightly secured at all times.”

    “You’ll be stationed at the most critical areas of the ship,” Pherrelius added, “engineering, sickbay, deflector control, the nacelle junctions. They’ll also board through the outermost cargo holds when shields are at their weakest there. You’ll need to coordinate with your squad leaders upon deployment.”

    “So keep your squads in close formation until you get boarded,” Neeley continued. “Upon confrontation with an enemy squad, the strongest soldiers in your unit will take point and engage the enemy in hand-to-hand if necessary while the rest of the unit brings up the rear with phasers ready. Make sure you have enough phaser power packs and stun grenades on your equipment belts. Any questions?”

    The crowd murmured, but no one spoke up. Pherrelius then began reading names off a padd, assigning each individual to squads. As the rest of the soldiers filed out of the room, Neeley conferred with her immediate subordinate. He was a tall and handsome young man, just like most human males of Greek ancestry. He was only half-human, though, while also half-Argelian. Though the Argelians were generally known as a hedonistic pleasure seeking culture, he was not the stereotypical Argelian. Lisa felt some level of physical attraction to him, but chose not to act on it after learning some valuable lessons from her partnership with Morrison. Besides, Loukas was more like a brother than a prospective significant other, since they had been close friends since their days in Marine training.

    “You think they’re ready?” Lisa asked, looking straight ahead as they sauntered through a corridor, trying to avoid looking into Loukas’s dreamy eyes.

    “Needless to say, as ready as they’ll ever be,” Loukas replied while also looking straight ahead. “They can’t be any more or less ready than they actually are.”

    “It’s their inexperience that worries me.”

    “They have to start somewhere,” Loukas retorted as they neared a turbolift. “And having survived the destruction of the Tsingtao, we’re prepared for almost anything.”
    “I’ll take your word for it.”

    An awkward silence followed as the turbolift doors parted. They both stepped into the lift while exchanging light grins. They both sighed and looked back ahead, watching the turbolift doors slide shut.


    Admiral Jellico exited the ready room and stepped onto the bridge. Commander Keith Ellison acknowledged his captain’s arrival with a quick nod and rose from the command chair. The youthful-looking middle-aged blond man then walked over to the master situation monitor, where he and the admiral were joined by Lieutenant Commander Jeth’ron.

    “What do you have, gentlemen?” Jellico asked the two subordinate officers.

    Jeth’ron entered a command on the console to replace the standard ship schematic with a general tactical display. The display screen indicated mostly Cardassian logos, along with a few Dominion and Breen logos dispersed along the periphery of the echelon’s formation. “Long-range sensors are picking up fifteen garrisons of Cardassian capital ships and support vessels,” the white-haired Efrosian male informed the two human officers.

    “Time to intercept?” Ellison inquired.

    “About five minutes,” said Jeth’ron.

    “Curious,” Jellico mused. “The Breen may have been overconfident during the last engagement, but they wouldn’t back off that easily.”

    “Suggesting the Dominion and Breen have some other trick up their sleeves,” Ellison added. He knew too well that on a few occasions, the Jem’Hadar employed the conventional tactic of having ships lie in wait for a follow-up engagement when allied ships were confronted by an all Cardassian battalion or they would mine the area with explosives burrowing in subspace. “Or,” he added grimly, knowing that a Cardassian reserve unit of old men and walking wounded was deployed as an “easy target” at Septimus Three, “it’s a cannon fodder maneuver.”

    “Either way,” Jellico said with a shake of his head, “we’re not changing our tactics.”

    “Entering the Zhamur system, sir,” Ensign Sara Nave reported from the helm. She was a fresh-faced twenty-year old with straw blond hair. Though she was just over a year out of the Academy, she was a very gifted pilot.

    “Take us out of warp,” Ellison barked. “Slow to full impulse.” Looking over to the communications station on the port side of the bridge, he added, “Open a channel to all ships.”

    “This is fleet command,” Jellico announced after a ship-to-ship communications chime sounded. “As soon as we intercept the enemy fleet, battle groups two, four, ten, and twelve will move in on the outer formation and try to pick off the Jem’Hadar and Breen. Battle groups five, six, and nine, break formation and stay back in case the Jem’Hadar and Breen have any reinforcements hiding outside the edge of our sensor range. The rest will take on the Cardassians. Akira and Steamrunner wings, move in towards their light cruisers while Sovereign and Galaxy wings one through five will take on the Dracon and Galor-class heavy cruisers.”

    The fleet of Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan vessels closed in on the armada of mostly Cardassian warships ready to do battle. From all outward appearances, the Federation Alliance fleet had the advantage in numbers for this initial confrontation. The captains and crews of the ships still were hardly expecting an easy victory over an adversary that would make them fight for every cubic millimeter of the Zhamur solar system, as had been the case with nearly every offensive in the last year.
  7. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Three

    Cardassian Union Warship Pakar

    Gul Arrek Latham was beside himself. He had just received a communiqué that the Dominion and Breen could not spare any additional ships at Zhamur. It was as if the Dominion had conceded that they had lost their hold on the Kalandra sector, and the Cardassian garrisons were only there to give the enemy target practice. Leaving him and the Ninth Order to be slaughtered needlessly still seemed completely pointless even if it did serve the purpose of softening the enemy. He still went along with it, knowing that the price of defeat was too high. And because a loyal soldier did not take up arms against the State under any circumstances, even if someone who was once its leader had done so.

    What annoyed Latham the most, though, was that woman always hovering over him. He understood that Doko’toran Diralna was among those keeping Cardassian fleet commanders on a tight leash. The Dominion was not willing to take any chances now that Corat Damar had betrayed Cardassia. While the Vorta generally tended to dress conservatively, Diralna was one of those female Vorta who dressed rather provocatively as a way of manipulating the males of a race notorious for succumbing to worldly pleasures. She was dressed in a maroon mini-skirt that showed considerable cleavage with matching knee-high leather boots. True, she was easy on the eyes, but Latham had spurned Diralna’s advances to this point.

    Latham flung a padd on the desk and gave a derisive snort. Diralna was seated in one of the guest chairs with her feet up on the desk. “Are you sure you can’t spare any more Jem’Hadar or Breen ships than a measly five squadrons?” he asked her, even knowing her title did not give her the power to summon additional reinforcements.

    Diralna pulled her legs away from the desk and leaned forward to face the gul. “My superiors have assured me that the bulk of Dominion and Breen forces are better served defending the Cardassian Union from your treacherous former leader,” she rasped while letting her fingers prance along his chin while breathing on his lips. “By Hentek’toran Weyoun’s estimates, his defeat is only a matter of days. Then we’ll be in a far better position to defeat our common enemies as well as teach any surviving disloyal soldiers the price of becoming an enemy of the State.”

    The doorbell chimed, diverting his attention from the attractive Vorta. “Enter,” he called. He turned back to the Vorta saying, “Can you excuse us, Diralna?”

    She walked away from the desk and stood in a corner of the office peeking towards the door as a petite young Cardassian woman entered. One look at her nubile figure, and Diralna knew this visit served the purpose of both business and pleasure.

    Nezhak couldn’t help feeling threatening by the two Jem’Hadar guards towering over her even though they made no threatening moves. Latham gestured for the young service woman to approach his desk. “I mean you and the statues go outside,” he barked at Diralna.

    “You know I can’t do that under the Founders’ latest injunction,” Diralna plainly answered.

    Latham just rolled his eyes and took another look at the Jem’Hadar. They remained completely impervious to all that was taking place in this office. He wondered if he could dress them up in the same way that his five-year-old daughter dressed up her dolls. On the other hand, those Jemmies would probably snap his neck without hesitation.

    “Here’s the updated inventory you requested,” Nezhak informed Latham, placing a padd on the desk. “All ships have a fully loaded weapons arsenal. And full caches of phaser rifles and photon grenades are being issued to every fire team.” She batted her eyebrows at him while sauntering seductively towards him. She sat on his lap and poured kanar out of a bottle into empty glasses. “I also I wanted to remind you of our plans for this evening,” she added, lifting up the two glasses and handing him one of them.

    “Yes, of course,” Latham said, lifting his glass. They clinked their glasses together in a toast. “To celebrate our impending victory.” He said those words very calmly, even knowing his charges would be brutally slaughtered. He then shot an annoyed glance at Diralna, who was glaring at them suspiciously the whole time.

    After the two Cardassians downed their beverages, Nezhak stood up and left, leaving the gul alone with the Vorta and the two Jem’Hadar still standing motionless like statues. “Such a barbaric practice for your females to serve as sexual objects,” Diralna scoffed.

    Big talk from a female Vorta who walks around here half naked, Latham wanted to say. “She’s from a family that is not so well off,” he explained. “My engineer, on the other hand, is from one of the more wealthy houses.”

    “Maybe once Damar and his team of traitors are defeated,” Diralna offered, leaning down on the desk, “our efforts to create a more egalitarian Cardassian society will go on unhindered. Still, it would be such a shame for your wife and children to learn about your twenty-year old whore.”

    Latham slammed the padd Nezhak gave him on the desk. Diralna had apparently struck a nerve. Such grandiose ideas were being suggested by someone acting very whorish herself, as Diralna was leaning on the desk with her cleavage in his direct field of vision. He tried to divert his attention by pretending to read more of the padd. “She’s twenty-four,” he hissed while gritting his teeth, “not that my relationship with her is any of your business.”

    “I stand corrected,” Diralna answered playfully. She flashed a seductive wink, which Latham thought was a reminder that while anatomically an adult, she was, chronologically, much younger than Nezhak.

    Latham sighed while watching the Vorta slowly saunter away from the desk. He turned back to reading reports on his desk when the comm chime suddenly caught his attention.

    “Gul Latham,” came the voice of Glinn Orlak, “another enemy fleet is on approach.”

    “I’m on my way,” Latham hurriedly replied. He jumped out of his chair and headed for the door, trying his best to avoid leering at the Vorta.


    Two armadas quickly approached each other from opposite directions, soon to do battle. The Cardassian battalion consisted primarily of Galor and Keldon-class capital ships and swarms of smaller light cruisers and fighters, with small squads of Jem’Hadar and Breen light cruisers along the outer periphery of the formation. Each Cardassian garrison was led by a Dracon-class heavy cruiser, roughly fifty meters longer and wider than the Galors and Keldons. It had the same shark-like superstructure as any other class of Cardassian warship, but with the head and fins more rectangular and its large disruptor cannon blending in with the rest of the bronze-colored hull to look less conspicuous to an attacking enemy.

    On the other side were larger battalions of Federation, Klingon, and Romulan destroyers led by dozens of Sovereign and Galaxy class capital ships with swarms of Akira-class light cruisers, Klingon Birds-of-Prey, and T’rasus-class starbirds taking point. A few of the battle groups hung back in case the Jem’Hadar and Breen had some unexpected reinforcements waiting in the wings. The rest of them sped closer to the Cardassian armada, ready for a tense confrontation.
  8. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Four

    Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47

    Suba’toran Torgroth briefed Sadok’toran Yelgrun on the latest combat operations. While he summarized the reports very smoothly, he remained distracted by the presence of the two Breen Thots standing behind the higher-ranking Vorta. True their great stature made them as mean and intimidating as the Jem’Hadar, but Torgroth still felt threatened by the presence of the Breen since they hid what they looked like underneath those refrigeration suits. Yelgrun knew, of course, while Torgroth couldn’t help but wonder what the Breen were hiding if the reports that the Breen home planet was a frozen tundra were not entirely accurate.

    “While the Federation Alliance was largely victorious on all three fronts,” Torgroth informed his superior, “our forces suffered the heaviest losses at Zhamur. That can largely be attributed to the Breen’s complacency.”

    Thot Drelf, standing on Yelgrun’s left, let out a piercing buzzing noise, suggesting he was offended by the younger Vorta’s choice of words. Yelgrun raised a hand to assure him that Torgroth meant no disrespect. “He said ‘complacency’, not ‘overconfidence’,” he assured the Breen.

    Thot Jroln emitted what sounded like a mechanical cackle, possibly the Breen equivalent of a snicker. Drelf then made a buzzing noise that could have been interpreted as, “Oh, shut up!”

    Ignoring the bluster between the two Thots, Yelgrun turned his attention back to Torgroth. “You were saying, Torgroth?”

    “The Breen were the most selective at Chin’toka,” the younger Vorta continued. “And while we had more ships, the outcome was still largely the same, as Alliance forces were able to use the unusually close proximity of the eighth and ninth planets coupled with planet nine’s largest natural satellite to their advantage. The surviving ships have retreated deeper into the system.

    Jroln emitted a low buzzing noise. It was a statement Drelf grudgingly agreed with.

    “Yes, they are regrouping for another confrontation,” Yelgrun confirmed. “We can’t promise much with the rebuilding of the Monac shipyard going slower than expected.”

    Jroln buzzed an impatient, “Why?!”

    “The residual radiation levels are still dangerously high after the artificially induced solar flare earlier this year,” Yelgrun explained.

    Drelf buzzed again, which Yelgrun interpreted as a helpful suggestion.

    “Great idea,” Yelgrun replied. “Inform the ships to stay in tighter formations to try to soften them up. And how long before we reach Daxura?”

    “Just under an hour,” Torgroth plainly replied, keeping his eyes away from the two Breen.

    “Inform me upon arrival. In the meantime, I will confer with Hentek’toran Weyoun and the lead Founder on Cardassia Prime. Dismissed.”

    Torgroth turned around and headed for the exit. He quickly found himself stuck between the two Breen Thots on his way out of the office. He still did his best to hide how nervous he felt standing between them as they were arguing with each other and gesturing emphatically.


    Yelgrun later visited crew quarters occupied by a male Changeling. This Founder was hiding in a dark corner of the room, continuing to wither away from a disease that had afflicted his entire race. His face was hideously disfigured, as if it had third degree burns, and in some portions, his face had the appearance of skin completely burnt and peeled off. His hair was raggedly unkempt. Pieces of him were scattered throughout the floor. His whole body was like a fractured lump of stone that could crumble apart at any minute.

    “Do not come any closer,” the Founder instructed Yelgrun once the doors closed behind the Vorta.

    “I’ve just spoken with Headquarters, Founder,” said Yelgrun. “The Hentek’toran and the lead Founder have informed me that if we cannot expel the ongoing incursion, we will have no choice but to fall back to the Cardassian Union’s core sectors.”

    “She has told me the same thing,” the male Changeling rasped. “The battle of the three suns does not go well. Will your presence on the line turn the tide back in our favor?”

    “We will fight to the last soldier, Founder. I promise you that.” Even as he was doing his best to appease one of his gods, he still believed the situation was hopeless.

    “And if we cannot prevail, it could be the end of us.”

    Yelgrun would have been moved to tears by those words if Vorta clones had tear ducts. “I would never allow a god to die,” he assured his Founder.

    “I expect nothing less from a loyal subject of the Dominion. Even if we are defeated, then as the human expression goes, we will see these Solids in hell.”

    “I will make sure of it,” Yelgrun deferently assured the Changeling, even though he was greatly disturbed that the Founder was resigned to his race’s inevitable extinction.


    First Mirak’tiral conducted a full survey of all the bridge stations, while monitoring ship movements in the Daxura system on his eyepiece. He nodded to Yelgrun once the senior Vorta and two Breen had entered the bridge through the guillotine-sliding door in the compartment’s aft. “We have arrived in the Daxura system,” he informed the Sadok’toran. “No enemy vessels in the immediate vicinity. Our long-range scans do indicate battle groups in all three asteroid belts.”

    Yelgrun latched an eyepiece that Torgroth has just handed him to his shoulder. The display on its screen indicated Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan logos spread across a schematic of the system. “I see them,” he informed his subordinates. “Break up into smaller battalions and spread out across each asteroid belt.”

    “Should we draw them out or trap them in?” Mirak’tiral coldly inquired.

    “Do whatever you can to box them in,” Yelgrun replied. “Thots Drelf and Jroln, order your ships to do the same.”

    Both Thots nodded in acknowledgment and marched off the bridge while Yelgrun called up a tactical display of his battle group on his eyepiece.

    Swarms of Jem’Hadar, Breen, and Cardassian light cruisers and fighters broke off from the fleet and headed off in three different directions. The capital ships and heavy cruisers stayed in formation while still following along with the smaller ships, the battalion and squad leaders ready to issue further orders to the captains and pilots of the smaller ships.
  9. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Five

    Day 2

    And the windows of heaven were opened.
    (Genesis 7:11)
    And the rain was upon the Earth
    Forty days and forty nights
    (Genesis 7:12)

    Daxura system

    The Daxura system contained three different asteroid belts, and the denseness of those asteroid belts created high levels of gravimetric and electromagnetic energy that impaired communications and sensors. The Jem’Hadar and Breen had hoped to use that to their advantage in order to sneak up on unsuspecting targets, not to mention close quarters. Federation and allied forces had the same tactic in mind by positioning ships deep inside the asteroid field. The Dominion’s counter-move was to try to pin Federation Alliance ships in the asteroid field by firing blindly in order to prevent any ships from sneaking up on them.

    Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters were effortlessly shooting at asteroids while also firing at Starfleet Akira and Steamrunner class light cruisers and Klingon Birds-of-Prey, making maneuverability through the debris increasingly difficult. The Starfleet and Klingon ships return fire doing minor damage to the attacking fighters while gliding around asteroids to avoid scattering debris. Some Jem’Hadar fighters plowed into enemy ships, destroying both the target and attacking ships. Other wings of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters and attack cruisers swooped in from all angles in order to try to pin the ships deep in the asteroid field.


    Commander Ronnie Kozar looked up from his display panel on the left of his chair on the bridge of the Lambda Paz. “The ships are signaling for us to proceed,” he informed Captain Limis.

    Limis accessed the tactical readouts on her display panel and turned her attention the helm. “Helm, set course three-four mark six-seven. Attack pattern omega two-four,” she instructed. “All weapons ready. Signal Luna and Prometheus wings two, four, and six to follow us in.”

    Lieutenant Willis Huckaby entered a set of commands to send ship-to-ship signals. “I’m having trouble getting through to a few of the ships,” he said with a slight hesitation. Nearly all the other bridge officers looked up with alarm. “Hold on, I think I’ve compensated,” he added, eliciting a sigh of relief. “Message received.”

    “Don’t scare us like that again, Lieutenant,” Limis scoffed in silent annoyance. “Prometheus wings, try to pick off as many of the attacking fighters as you can. Use multi-vector assault mode at your discretion. Derna and Callisto, take point with your wings and take on the larger attack cruisers. Give our ships maneuvering room through the asteroid field.”

    Derna and Callisto report ready, sir,” Morrison informed the captain.

    “All ships,” Limis commanded, “fire a full spread of phasers and quantum torpedoes.”

    The Epimetheus led the way into the asteroid field, rapidly firing phasers and quantum torpedoes at attacking fighters. It and the other Prometheus-classes concentrated torpedoes on the center ships of each wave of Jem’Hadar fighters while firing phasers at the outer ships.

    With the Lambda Paz, Derna, and Callisto in the lead, wings of Luna-class ships fired heavy swarms of phasers and quantum torpedoes at Dominion and Breen attack cruisers along the outer periphery of the asteroid belt, inflicting heavy damage on the ships in the center. Enemy ships on the port and starboard perimeters broke off and moved in for another pass, firing swarms of disruptors and plasma torpedoes destroying two ships and significantly damaging three others, giving time for the others to fire their reserves.

    The bridge of the Lambda Paz rocked and consoles exploded. The officer at the port mission ops managed to dodge sparks from his console.

    “They’re still closing,” Morrison called out.

    “Keep our bow on the center ships,” Kozar snapped. “And fire another spread.”

    Morrison entered a firing sequence to carry out that order. “Moderate to severe damage on the ships to our port and starboard sides. The center ships are coming in a little bit closer.”

    “Take them out any way you can,” Limis replied.

    The Lambda Paz’s dorsal phasers fired at an attack cruiser that was within a hair of the forward saucer section, leaving significant burn marks on that portion of the hull.

    “Got him,” Morrison said in a brief moment of triumph. “Here come a few more.”

    The bridge rocked as four Breen fighters fired at close range. Phasers clipped the four ships, which then spread further apart and took turns firing.

    “I’m picking up two more squadrons of Jem’Hadar and Breen attack cruisers,” Huckaby interjected, “closing three-two-six mark two-seven-one.”

    “Time to summon the rest of the cavalry,” Limis declared.


    A Vor’cha-class attack cruiser, supported by three Klingon Birds-of-Prey, and a D’Deridex warbird, supported by four starbirds, uncloaked within a few feet of their respective targets, both Jem’Hadar attack cruisers with weapons hot. They blew the enemy ships to pieces before they could get off a shot. Additional attack cruisers and warbirds uncloaked just outside the asteroid field.

    As the rest of the two squads continued moving in, a Negh’Var-class and Raptora-class heavy cruiser uncloaked and picked off supporting fighters and attack cruisers while attempting to slow down the two Jem’Hadar heavy cruisers and two Breen heavy cruisers.

    Yelgrun was befuddled by what was transpiring. By all reports regarding the combined gravitational pull given off by Daxura system’s asteroid belts and high electromagnetic activity, cloaking a ship would not make it invisible to sensors.

    “Where did those ships come from?” he demanded, flipping aside his eyepiece.

    “They just uncloaked, sir,” Torgroth stammered.

    “I know they uncloaked,” the senior Vorta snapped, “but why didn’t we detect them before? The high gravimetric and electromagnetic fields should render their cloaking technology useless. The entire area would be flooded with saturated tachyon particles.”

    “They must have enhanced their nullifier cores,” Torgroth nervously surmised.

    “Of course,” Yelgrun snorted.

    Despite his experience and those of his previous clones, he still doubted that they could have come up with a solution so fast without much study of these asteroid belts, possibly as a result of all that genetic conditioning. “Tell the rest of the ships to flood the area with ionizing radiation,” he suggested. “That should allow us to locate some residual subspace inertial displacement patterns.”


    The rest of the Starfleet battle group that had been holding position on the solar system’s outer perimeter joined the battle as well. Waves of Excelsior and Nebula-class ships fired at the incoming reinforcements from behind. Supporting them were squads of Miranda and Akira-classes. Several of the attack cruisers were damaged or destroyed while the shields of the heavy cruisers absorbed torpedo hits.

    “Fifteen more ships destroyed,” Morrison reported. “Dozens more heavily damaged.”

    “Signal all remaining ships to form up outside the asteroid belt,” Limis answered, “and fire everything they have.”

    The ships still standing formed up in five columns, firing phasers and torpedoes in alternating rounds. Back and forth, ships on both sides fired endless volleys, but the Jem’Hadar and Breen were losing fighters twice as fast as Federation Alliance ships. The heavy cruisers’ plasma torpedoes inflicted damage on some of the larger ships, but they kept coming whether they have functioning shields or not. Wings of Excelsior, Miranda, and Luna-class ships fired dorsal phasers at the heavy cruisers while concentrating on the closer vessels. Many Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters that were intact, but without weapons, plowed into oncoming ships. Numerous Klingon Birds-of-Prey and Romulan starbirds employed the same kamikaze maneuvers.

    Most of the Federation Alliance was able to penetrate the line of enemy vessels with a wave of vessels ready to take the heavy cruisers head on.

    “We’ve managed to punch a hole in one cruiser’s shields,” Morrison announced.

    “Target torpedo tubes two and three,” Kozar instructed.

    The Lambda Paz and two other Luna-classes swarmed in on one heavy cruiser and fired quantum torpedoes that inflicted heavy damage on the forward hull. Three Nebulas and five Akiras then moved in and fired torpedoes at the other three heavy cruisers. The remaining fighters and attack cruisers gathered up alongside the four heavy cruisers and all the ships quickly streaked into warp.


    And the waters prevailed exceedingly upon the Earth
    And all the high hills
    That were under the whole heaven
    Were covered.
    (Genesis 7:19)

    Zhamur system

    A wing of Starfleet vessels led by the Constantinople was having very little trouble taking out Cardassian destroyers. A few Miranda-class ships spiraled out of control after two Galor-class ships fire dorsal phasers at their saucer sections.

    Two Nebula-class ships fired phasers and torpedoes in alternating rounds, inflicting minor damage to two Galor-class warships and destroying a few swarms of Hideki-class fighters. Torpedoes from a Dracon-class capital ship clipped both ships’ forward saucer section while knocking off one ship’s dorsal sensor pod.

    The Constantinople, flanked by two Galaxy-classes, fired phasers at the CUW Pakar and the two flanking Galors, while firing ventral phasers and aft torpedoes on the fly-by.
    The bridge of the Constantinople rocked back and forth. Jeth’ron looked up from the tactical station and reported. “Direct hit on our aft ventral phaser array.”

    Ellison nodded in acknowledgement and turned his attention to the forward conn and ops stations. “Reroute auxiliary power through secondary circuits,” he commanded.

    Truxia, a middle-aged Denobulan female at ops entered commands into her console to try to carry out that order. “Controls are fused,” she informed the first officer.

    “Bring us about, helm, course two-one-oh mark three-six,” Jellico snapped while tapping the right keypad at the end of his chair’s armrest. “Mister Jeth’ron, fire dorsal phasers at twenty-three degree elevation.”

    The Constantinople continued firing at the Pakar as it was picking up speed. Two Galor-class warships fired from port and starboard at the Constantinople and the two flanking Galaxy-classes, as did waves of Hideki-class fighters. About a dozen other Cardassian vessels converged on one position and streaked into warp.

    But even as the Cardassian warships were moving off, three small spherical devices closed in on two unsuspecting Nebula-class ships, homing in on their impulse wakes. The spheres lit up and exploded, severely damaging the ventral hulls of both ships. Similar mines detonated throughout the immediate vicinity, severely damaging or destroying a large number of Nebulas and Mirandas that were flanking larger ships. The worst the larger ships took was some chafing on the hull.

    On Ellison’s tactical display, several Cardassian logos were moving out of sensor range. “Looks like they’re withdrawing, sir,” he reported. But then the bridge lurched in both directions. “What the hell’s going on?” he wondered aloud.

    “I’m not sure,” Jeth’ron answered while trying to make sense of all the new information that was on his sensor display. “It appears several dozen mines have detonated. Commander Truxia, did passive scans indicate any subspace spikes that are usually associated with ‘Houdinis’?”

    Truxia attempted to access the relevant information on her console. “Just give me a minute to run through the sensor logs,” she said while tapping different keys “… no, none at all.”

    Jellico rose from his chair and sighed in frustration. “Then, at the risk of stating the obvious,” he announced to the entire bridge crew, “we’re dealing with a different kind of mine that’s just as stealthy. Everyone, we need to find out where the hell these things came from and to develop a countermeasure. You have the bridge, Keith. I’ll be in my ready room on comm with Starfleet Command.”

    Jellico slowly sauntered towards the starboard door that lead to the ready room, trying to keep his head up around the rest of his crew. The doors slid open at the exact second that the young woman manning the conn called to him. “Sir, do we stay here,” she inquired, “or withdraw to our fallback position?”

    Jellico silently cursed himself for forgetting that this girl flying his ship, despite her great skill as a combat pilot, was still very inexperienced. “I don’t want to risk hitting any more mines,” he gently informed Ensign Nave. “We’re holding position here,” he added in a firmer tone with the rest of the bridge crew. “Ensign Herron, signal the rest of our ships to do the same. Maintain continuous yellow alert. You all have a job to do before the next engagement. Just get it done, people.”
  10. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Six

    [LEFT]CUW Pakar

    Gul Latham paced back and forth on the bridge of the Pakar. He took a quick glance at the tactical station on starboard side of the bridge. Glinn Trejak Maret was manning the primary station, while a noncommissioned male service officer was monitoring readouts on a secondary station to Maret’s right. The tactical display said the same thing it did five minutes earlier. None of the Starfleet vessels were pursuing the Cardassian battle group.

    Maret was just a few years younger than Latham, but lacked the qualifications to become a gul. His hair was still a solid jet black, while Latham’s was showing streaks of gray. Latham had come to rely heavily on Maret’s advice over the years, as he was quite possibly the best combat tactician in the Ninth Order.

    Latham then sauntered to over to the helm at the front of the bridge manned by Garresh Hamar Murrel. She was a young woman of nearly thirty years, but still fresh out of the military academy. Her experience as an enlisted fighter pilot during the last Federation-Cardassian war came in handy during the Dominion War. Perhaps that was why she made garresh in just two short years.

    As had been the case when he had just passed by Maret, he did not want to ask questions to which he already knew the answers. He just glanced at Murrel’s readout screen and saw the same thing he did the last time he passed by her station. The Pakar and the rest of the fleet were on course for their fallback at warp six. He felt a need to check periodically in order to put his own mind at ease.

    He then turned his attention to the woman monitoring communications chatter at her station on the port side. “How long can we expect additional ships?” he asked.

    “Five days, sir,” Gorr Inira calmly answered. While Cardassians comprised most of the bridge crew, Inira was a Norsaian. They were a longtime subject race of the Cardassian Union who had medium gray skin and completely hairless faces. Outside of the usual gender differences, Norsaians still appeared largely androgynous. Unlike in the Federation, where all member races could join Starfleet and advance in rank equally on their merits, non-Cardassians were confined to serving as noncommissioned enlistees in the Cardassian military.

    Latham gave a snort of derision while diverting his gaze towards Diralna, who was consulting with Glinn Orlak. “Maintain course to our fallback position, pilot,” he instructed Murrel. “Glinn Maret, maintain a sensor lock on the remaining enemy vessels and keep an eye out for any additional ships entering the system.”

    “Aye, sir,” the junior glinn calmly responded.

    Latham slowly approached Diralna with a cold stare at the Vorta. “May I see you in private, Diralna?” he asked.

    “By all means,” the attractive Vorta woman responded with an acerbic grin, showing no fear whatsoever that Latham would take the pent up anger in his voice out on her. They both walked up the stairs leading to the gul’s office, oblivious to the rest of the bridge crew exchanging befuddled glances.

    Orlak noticed it, however, and was quick to refocus his crew’s attention. “Stations, everyone,” he barked, and they all quickly obliged. But even he could sense an unusual level of tension between gul and Vorta, which he kept to himself as he seated himself in the command chair.


    They stepped into the office, both of them keeping a level head until the doors slid shut. Latham then turned his gaze to the Vorta, his eyes widening in a murderous rage. It was an expression Diralna found more amusing than frightening.

    “Why do you keep holding out us?” Latham hissed.

    “I don’t quite follow,” Diralna innocently responded with a shrug.

    Latham snorted, becoming increasingly frustrated with Diralna’s feigned ignorance. “The mines deployed throughout the system,” he said with restrained rage. “Why was I not informed of them? You led me to believe we were on our own to defend what was left of our holdings on what’s been our jumping off point for invading Federation core sectors.

    “Nearly a million lives have been lost defending Chudala, Ventani Two, Septimus Three, and now here at Zhamur. Yet, you either do nothing or have some trick up your sleeves we don’t know about.”

    Diralna smirked and stroked Latham’s right arm, letting her fingers prance up and down the back of his elbow. “I would think you’d begin to understand why I’ve kept you out of the loop on a lot of these matters, Arrek,” she said seductively.

    Ignoring her attempts at flirtation, Latham backed away. He emphatically yanked his arm away while sneaking a glance at her bulbous chest. “Even as a number of misguided officers have abandoned our cause,” he insisted, “my loyalty to the Dominion has been unwavering. Surely, that entitles me to some need-to-know.”

    “You make a convincing case,” Diralna replied while taking a few small steps towards the desk. “But you and your crew are still functionally treasonable. So you understand why there are certain risks we are simply not willing to take. Am I making any sense? Or are you too busy staring at my breasts to comprehend a single word I just said?”

    Latham let out a resentful snort at the Vorta’s inquiry. “I understood you completely,” he hissed while looking straight into her eyes.

    Diralna tiptoed closer to Latham and stroked his forehead ridges. “Good,” she said. “Victory will not come easily. But we will be victorious. You can count on it.”

    Latham nodded in agreement while coaxing her hands away from him. But he wasn’t as optimistic as he let on. Defeat was only a matter of time, though he was not prepared to sit back and let the rest of his garrison be completely massacred. But, like a good soldier, he would fight right down to his last breath. Once Diralna was gone, he circled around his desk and tapped the comm panel. “Glinn Orlak, can you come into my office?”

    Just a few seconds later, his second-in-command stepped into the office. Orlak looked worried, but Latham tried to assuage those feelings by motioning his exec closer to the desk. Orlak did, allowing the doors to slide shut.

    “Gather up all the sensor logs on those mines,” Latham whispered. “And do it carefully so you don’t get caught. Make it look like what you are doing is part of the deletion process. Understand?”

    “Completely, sir,” Orlak responded with a nod.

    Latham then gently grabbed Orlak’s right arm and coaxed him back towards the entrance. As the doors slide open, he saw Diralna just outside the doorway listening suspiciously. He handed the glinn a blank padd saying, “I want full warp drive capability in six hours. No excuses.”

    “I’ll tell Dalin Thomar to get on it immediately,” Orlak replied.

    Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47

    Yelgrun sat behind his desk as Torgroth, Mirak’tiral, Jroln, and Drelf stepped into his office. After a few hours for his ships to withdraw and regroup just outside the solar system, he called a briefing to discuss how to counteract the ability of the Klingons and the Romulans to utilize their cloaking devices in spite of the natural conditions of the Daxura system.

    The Jem’Hadar First and the Breen Thots remained very calm and collected. Of course, with the Breen, it was difficult to tell since they always hid their faces from outsiders. Torgroth appeared the most nervous. That was an unfortunate, yet necessary consequence, of naturally born Vorta. If a clone of him was bred, that personality trait would be quickly removed from his genetic makeup. That was an honor usually bestowed upon the Vorta’s greatest politicians, diplomats, and scientists. Though he was a competent engineer and tactician, Torgroth needed at least another twenty years of service to the gloried Founders before he was judged worthy of being cloned.

    “What do you have?” Yelgrun asked his young apprentice.

    “I have teams analyzing the sensor logs of when ships uncloaked right on top of us,” he said, trying to avoid the eerie and pensive stare of First Mirak’tiral, “making sure to scrutinize every detail of the surrounding space. We found the same graviton emissions as inside the asteroid belts.”

    “It’s a starting point,” Yelgrun replied with an approving nod. “Keep at it. There has to be a way to differentiate natural emissions from those given off by the cloaking device. Thot Jroln. What have you learned about the reconfigured Starfleet and Romulan shield geometry?”

    “Shield generators, more resilient against energy dissipaters,” Jroln replied. His voice was that of a hissing whisper through the breathing apparatus in his helmet. Torgroth suddenly froze in shock that he could understand the Breen. “Attempts made to change dispersal amplitude. Shields highly adaptive.”

    “We still have an advantage in numbers with your ships as part of the war effort,” Yelgrun reassured Jroln. “And your consultations have proven strongly invaluable.”

    “Overconfident, he still is,” Drelf chimed in with a voice that sounded very Neanderthal-like.

    “Yours as well,” Yelgrun responded, hoping not to be drawn into another one of their silly arguments.

    “Not as overconfident as you at Zhamur,” Jroln shot back. “My ships, consume your ships for midday meal.”

    “Save your petty squabbles for after the war,” Yelgrun cut in. “The fact of the matter is that both have been able to quickly improvise new tactics. That’s going to be even more important now that a countermeasure has been devised for your biggest weapon innovation. First Mirak’tiral, institute troop deployment protocol five-seven-four. Reassign squad leaders on this ship to fighters.

    Mirak’tiral stood at attention upon hearing his spoken. “Yes, Sadok’toran,” he responded.

    “Dismissed,” Yelgrun told everyone else at the meeting.

    Once the others had left, the desk monitor chirped. Yelgrun opened the incoming communique, a printed message that the field tests on the mines deployed in the Zhamur system were successful.

    That is certainly good news, he silently mused. Even if the Dominion did fail in the battle for dominance in this quadrant, the enemy would still lose much in the way of ships and other major resources.
  11. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Seven

    Day 8

    And all flesh died that moved upon the Earth,
    Both of fowl, and of cattle, and of beast,
    And every creeping thing that creepeth the Earth,
    And every man.
    (Genesis 7:21)

    The Lambda Paz sickbay was flooded with casualties-- so much so that six unconscious officers and crewpersons had to be placed on cots or were sprawled on the floor. Yet, as long as they were in no immediate danger of dying, they were not a high priority. The nurses would still attend to them every now and again.

    One of those patients, a middle-aged human male Marine was helped onto a biobed when a young Ktarian male engineer was cleared to leave. A human male security guard picked the Marine up by his arms and a male Denobulan medical technician grabbed his legs. They gently placed the unconscious man on the bed while an Andorian female doctor attended to him, first assessing his condition with a surgical readout monitor.

    Markalis was dealing with a patient who was even further gone. As the chief medical officer, she often got the most difficult of cases. At times like these, she wondered if she was worthy of the title. Just two years ago, she was a fifth year resident who had not even been considered for the position of chief resident at Starfleet Medical headquarters on Delos Four. If not for the war, she would have received a trauma surgery fellowship there. When a patient was knocking on death’s door, Aurellan wondered if she truly deserved this assignment.

    “Cardio-stimulator,” she called to a Denobulan nurse. The nurse handed her the requested device, and Aurellan placed it on the unconscious human male’s chest. “We’ll start at sixty microvolts.”

    The Denobulan nurse entered a set of commands on an EKG monitor, sending an electrical pulse into the man’s chest with the expectation of jumpstarting his heart. “Blood pressure still falling,” she said both grimly and calmly.

    “Sixty-five microvolts.”

    Another pulse, but readings remained the same.

    “No change,” said the nurse.


    Again, no change.

    “Neural readings are still falling,” T'Pren, a youthful-looking Vulcan female doctor, reported.

    “Cortical stimulators,” Aurellan snapped, “ten cc’s tricordrazine.”

    The nurse handed Aurellan a hypospray while T'Pren attached the cortical stimulators to the patient’s forehead. The combination of tricordrazine and the cortical stimulators had no effect on those neural readings. Three more pulses, and he was still flat-lining.

    “No brain activity,” T'Pren said with calm grimness.

    “Time of death,” Aurellan reluctantly proclaimed, “1436.” She seated herself in an elevated metal chair next to the biobed. As she was taking a quick breather, the sickbay’s main doors opened and more wounded entered.

    Doctors and nurse scrambled towards the wounded to assess each patient and find biobeds for them where available.
    The first patient Aurellan scanned with a medical tricorder was a male Capellan Marine being escorted by a Brikar male security officer. “Third degree plasma to the face, neck, and chest. Prepare antibiotics and a dermal regenerator.”

    The next patient was a human female engineer being attended to by the Denobulan nurse. “Multiple rib fractures and a punctured lung,” Aurellan said with a look at her tricorder. “Prep bone and surgical tissue regenerators. Get her ten cc’s of dexalin as well.”

    After her was a human male security officer, who was barely conscious and being wheeled on a stretcher. “Multiple broken bones, internal bleeding, severe concussion. Let’s get him on a main biobed!”

    Yet another patient in grave danger of dying. Despite all the inner doubts, she reminded herself that she could not save every patient. All she could do was try her best to free him from the jaws of death. “We need to bring down the swelling in the meningeal tissues,” she instructed the Vulcan doctor and Denobulan nurse.

    “Still reading increased myxedema,” the nurse reported.

    “Clamp off that artery,” Aurellan barked. “Try and reduce the hydrostatic pressure. Watch that intraparenchymal hemorrhage…”


    Within the last hour, three different patients had died on her watch. For every patient she had either declared dead or saved from death, three more would pour into sickbay. Only when there was a lull in combat was there a lull in having to assess and prioritize the wounded and the dying.

    While she was able to get an extended break, Aurellan went to one of the replicator stations in the main research lab to order another dose of a tranquilizer she normally took on a daily basis. She could easily obtain such a drug in one of ship’s pharmacies. Since others would need those medicines more than she would, she chose to leave that stock alone. But she was no good to any of her present and future patients if she was not functioning at peak efficiency. Despite the warning that exceeding the recommended dosage could leave a person highly susceptible to suggestion, she considered herself more of liability without that second dose than with it. After all, it was just one extra dose.

    Her heart was racing so fast, she thought it would jump out of her chest. The temperature seemed to jump five degrees in the last few minutes as she felt sweat trickling down her forehead and the back of her neck. She was nearly on the verge of taking out all her pent up frustrations on the replicator if she could not get that tranquilizer soon.

    “Unable to comply,” the computer coldly said in response to her request. “Requested amount exceeds your optimum daily dosage.”

    Silly me. Of course, my own authorization code won’t work. “Override. Medical authorization two-three-seven, alpha red priority.”

    “Unable to comply.”

    “Fuck it,” Aurellan hissed while banging the computer terminal. The computer might as well have said, “Yeah, right, I’m not falling for that trick.”

    She entered a set of commands on the terminal to have the requested drug replicated through manual override. Five vials perched on a tray materialized in the replicator slot.

    A familiar shadow crept up to Aurellan from her right. She took a quick glance at the EMH and flashed a light smile. His presence seemed to lower her blood pressure, but not by much. She removed the tray and carried it with her to the office. Once there, she loaded one of the vials into a hypospray and injected the drug into her carotid artery. She felt immediate relief from that injection, even as she knew the drug would not take full effect for another hour.

    “Twenty cc’s triataline,” the hologram nonchalantly noted. “Don’t you take that much every morning?”

    “Yes, and how do you know that?” Aurellan shot back, annoyed that he knew things about her that she did not tell him.

    “I am the ship’s Emergency Medical Holographic program,” he plainly stated. “I know everyone’s medical records.”

    “Of course, you are,” Aurellan chastised herself. She sighed and held one hand to her forehead.

    “You’re under a lot of stress.” Unbeknownst to her, the EMH was scanning her with a medical tricorder. “Elevated adrenaline levels. Blood pressure is one-hundred-fifty over ninety, heart rate…”

    Aurellan snorted and looked up from the desk, seeing that her lover was checking her vitals. This was probably what the programmers meant when they said the Mark Three had a better bedside manner than the previous two models. “Will you stop that?” she demanded. “I’m fine…”

    “Not based on these readings.”

    Aurellan stood up and yanked the tricorder and hand sensor out of his hands. “Remember what I said about doctors being the worst patients?” she asked in recollection of a heated confrontation the EMH had with sh’Aqba in engineering over a missed annual physical and the discussion she had with him afterwards.

    The EMH moved his lips to speak, but Aurellan continued. “This may be one of those times. I know from an intellectual standpoint that addicts say they are in complete control when the habit starts. I am in complete control. It is just one extra dose. You are not to breathe a word of this to anyone, and that’s an order. Understand?”

    “Yes, ma’am,” the hologram calmly replied.

    Even as he responded thusly, Aurellan still sensed that the holographic doctor would not let this rest even if he was willing follow her order. “I’d better let you continue your business here,” she added with a few light nods.

    The EMH stepped out of the office through the ICU entrance to collect some spare instruments stowed in a drawer while Aurellan stood behind her desk in rueful silence, hoping that she really was in control of taking one extra dose of her prescribed medication.
  12. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Eight

    Day 13

    And every living substance was destroyed,
    Which was upon the face of the ground,
    Both man, and cattle, and the creeping things,
    And the fowl of the heaven.
    And they were destroyed from the Earth
    And Noah only remained alive,
    And they were with him in the ark.
    (Genesis 7:21)

    Fleet commander’s personal log, Stardate 52894.8. USS Constantinople and squads from the 272nd tactical wing continue to fight off hit-and-run strikes from Cardassian garrisons in the Zhamur system. Why they continue to fight, when the Dominion has more or less lost its hold on the Kalandra sector, is baffling to say the least considering how easily they were deterred nine years ago in Sector 21505 and at Minos Korva six years ago.

    Perhaps, even as Legate Damar himself has called for full-scale uprisings, the Cardassians know the price of defeat this time around is too high. So they’re going to make damn sure we lose as many ships and troops as they do. Still, the officers under command and throughout Starfleet understand the cost and remain resolved to win this war any way they can.

    One point in the enemy’s favor is these mines that have been a constant thorn in our sides the last twelve days. My chief engineer may have devised a means of outsmarting them. We could still stand to lose many ships in the process.

    The USS Constantinople, along with two dozen smaller light cruisers and fighter shuttles, was holding position between a gas giant and its nearest moon, awaiting another garrison of Cardassian destroyers that had just entered the system. Four similar squads, two led by an Excelsior-class and two by a Galaxy-class, were spread out throughout the region as well.

    The waiting part was what Jellico and his senior bridge officers hated the most. Since squads were coming at them from multiple vectors, the bulk of those enemy ships could arrive any minute. And they all had to be mentally alert at a moment’s notice.

    Everyone had their own way of keeping their minds active. Jellico paced around the bridge, giving approving nods to officers at various auxiliary stations. Ellison circled the bridge asking the same questions of the tactical, conn, ops, and communications officers that he had asked five minutes ago. Truxia and Jeth’ron looked over the results of various system diagnostics for about the twentieth time. Nave took one more look the star charts of the Zhamur systems, while Herron kept making sure all ship-to-ship communication was functioning properly.

    Kopolev sat at the primary engineering station on the port side of the bridge, situated between the mission ops one and environment stations, conducting final checks on a series of sensor buoys designed to get the attention of the so-called virus mines. He tapped his console, quietly in order to avoid irritating nearby officers, waiting for word that enemy ships were closing in.

    Jeth’ron heard a chirp from his console and looked down to see a flashing blip. “Enemy ships on approach,” he alerted the captain and officer. “Closing at five-hundred kilometers from vectors of four-seven mark one-eight-five, three-two-seven mark one-four-eight, one-eight-seven mark three-five, and two-four-zero mark five.”

    Ellison nodded an acknowledgment of the tactical officer and directed his attention to the engineering station. “Launch buoys on those vectors, Mister Kopolev,” he instructed. Then looking back at Jeth’ron, he added, “How many ships are we talking about?”

    “Six Galor-class cruisers in each group,” the Efrosian replied, “accompanied by fighter shuttles in groups of four, six, and eight.”

    “Open a channel to all ships,” Jellico ordered while looking up from the control panel on his chair’s left arm rest. “This is fleet command,” he said once Ensign Herron opened a fleet wide comm channel. “Assume attack formation delta. But hold position within eight hundred thousand kilometers of the approaching squadrons. We want them to fire the first shot while at the same time, we try to get the attention of those mines.”


    Three of the Starfleet squadrons swung around to confront the ships approaching from behind while the other two, including the Constantinople’s, spread out to take on the ships from ahead. Their Cardassian counterparts were spread out even further, with some of the ships seeking multiple targets.

    Swarms of Hideki-class lighter cruisers and smaller fighters moved in on their Starfleet counterparts. As Jellico had expected, the Cardassians fired first, doing some moderate to heavy damage hulls of stationary Miranda and Nebula-class ships with wide spreads of torpedoes. The Starfleet ships returned with quick phaser bursts and spreads of quantum torpedoes fired from the upper sensor pods. Akira and Steamrunner ships at both ends of each line of ships fired simultaneous rounds of phasers and torpedoes at the approaching Galors, slowing down some and disabling the weapon emitters of others.

    The sensor buoys launched from the Constantinople swooped in on oncoming enemy vessels. The Galor-class destroyers in each formation concentrated on the stationary Starfleet ships and fired their dorsal phasers at the probes; destroying some, while others were able to veer out of the line of fire. As expected, though, a number of the mines lit up and detonated.


    Kopolev’s sensor display flashed, indicating the positions of the exploding mines. Other blips appeared on the screen around the blips indicating the detonated mines. “Right there, sir” Kopolev informed Ellison, indicating the blips on all edges of the screen.

    “Transmit those coordinates to the tactical station and to the rest of the fleet,” Jellico responded from the command chair.

    Without warning, the bridge shook. Jeth’ron firmly gripped his station to continue to program the firing sequence. Ensign Herron was thrown off his feet. Ellison leaned downward and helped him back up. “We’ve been hit by one of those mines,” Kopolev explained.

    “Damage report?” the first officer asked as he headed for the center seats.

    “Hull breaches on decks four and five,” Truxia answered. “Minor damage to power transfer conduits. Attempting to bypass.”

    “Evasive pattern beta-chi, helm,” Jellico instructed, while tapping keys on his right armrest panel. “Keep us on course towards the mines. Prepare a full spread of torpedoes while concentrating phaser fire on the Cardassians.”

    The Constantinople veered left and right, dodging Cardassian disruptor fire and mines homing in on the ship’s power signature. The Starfleet vessel fired dorsal phasers, damaging two Galors and destroying of fighter shuttles, while firing wide spreads of quantum torpedoes. Inactive mines were effortlessly destroyed.

    Active mines were harder to destroy, as they were equipped with resilient defensive forcefields while plowing into their targets. Small fighter shuttles were easily destroyed while light cruisers took heavy structural damage. The Constantinople was clipped on all sides by mines, causing hull breaches throughout the vessel.

    As in previous confrontations with the Cardassians in the Zhamur system, disabling and destroying their ships proved relatively easy. Of course, mines were still appearing seemingly out of nowhere. And that kept the Starfleet group from gaining too much of a decisive advantage over the Cardassians. Throughout the area surrounding the gas giant and its nearest moon, Starfleet ships overpowered Cardassian destroyers and inactive mines quickly and methodically. Active mines were knocking out Starfleet ships just as quickly though.

    The Cardassian battle group eventually withdrew after it was down to a third of its ships. But the Starfleet group lost nearly half of its light cruisers and fighter shuttles, leaving a scant number of vessels supporting the capital ships.

    Jellico sat in the command chair, staring silently at the debris that filled the viewscreen. He ignored the beeping of consoles and the voices of subordinate officers and quietly asked himself what made all those people who died more expendable than him or the Constantinople’s crew. Was it that this ship was manned by more experienced officers? Was it because this ship and the other capital ships were captained by captains and an admiral while the smaller ships were captained by commanders and lieutenant commanders? Who decided which officers were assigned to the heavily armed big ships and which ones were assigned to the lesser-armed small ships?

    It was a feeling known as survivor guilt. It wore on much of his crew, so much so that a few crewmembers on the Constantinople had been declared unfit for further duty. As fleet commander, though, Edward Jellico had to put his own survivor guilt aside before the next confrontation if this campaign was to result in victory over the Dominion.


    “And thanks to the heroic efforts of Gul Revok, Damar was lured to Cardassia to meet with five other traitors.”

    Gul Latham sat in his office, watching a video announcement from Weyoun on Cardassia Prime. Latham just stared silently and pensively at the monitor while listening to the details of how the Dominion had eliminated the latest enemies of the Cardassian state.

    “But his co-conspirators were killed before they could begin plotting against the people of Cardassia,” Weyoun continued. “And Damar himself was killed while trying to penetrate our defense perimeters in a stolen Dominion vessel. I'm also pleased to report that just hours ago, acting on information obtained by our intelligence operatives, our brave troops began a coordinated assault on Damar's terrorist bases. From Atbar Prime to Regulak Four, from Simperia to Quinor Seven, our forces have eliminated a total of eighteen rebel bases.

    “With the rebellion crushed, nothing can impede our march to final victory. Truly, this is a great day for the Dominion.”
    Latham was expecting a sense of triumph upon receiving the news that Corat Damar’s rebellion had been so thoroughly defeated. With the elimination of those engaging in more open rebellion, perhaps the Founders would not be as paranoid—a major stretch, though, considering their unwavering distrust of all humanoid life. Maybe they would be a little more trusting of those who continued to serve them—but again, very unlikely. Instead, Latham was more relieved that this was a burden he did not have to carry, especially considering that Damar’s wife and children were murdered in the Founders’ efforts to locate him. It seemed so much simpler when Cardassian authorities tried to coerce subject races through the killings of innocent people.

    At least Latham did not have to worry about his family being the target of such casual brutality. When the rebellion began, Latham thought he continued to serve the Dominion because he still believed they would prevail in this war against the Federation and their allies. More and more, he thought he was continuing to serve out of fear that his family would be targeted had he chosen to rise up in opposition. Family was everything to a Cardassian. And he would not sacrifice them on a futile quest of unconcealed subversion.

    He slammed the palm of his hand on his desk in a momentary fit of anger. He hit the button on his desk that controlled the wall monitor. Once the screen went blank, he saw Diralna’s reflection staring back at him. Latham quickly calmed himself with a few deep inhalations through his nose and turned around to face the Vorta with a disingenuous smile.

    “I hope you’re not thinking about breathing new life into Damar’s rebellion yourself,” Diralna warned with a menacing stare.

    “Of course not,” Latham scoffed. “I assume now that the traitors have been found and eliminated, those Dominion and Breen forces will be redeployed throughout the Kalandra sector.”

    “No,” Diralna said unflinchingly.

    Latham could not believe his own ears when he heard the Vorta’s blunt reply. He angrily flung aside a padd at which he was glancing. “What?” he spat, quickly rising from his chair until he was towering over Diralna. He scooped the padd off the desk and held it close to her face. “Have you read the latest reports?” he hissed. “Even with those mines of yours, we lost two-thirds of our garrison at the sixth planet.”

    Diralna smirked and nudged the padd away from her direct line of sight. “But the Federation counterparts lost half of their ships as well,” she said with remorseless indifference towards Latham’s dismayed glare. “The Kalandra sector is immaterial now. But as long as we continue to send ships to its outer systems, they will remain too occupied to launch an all-out offensive in our territory. And I really do mean our territory, Dominion and Cardassian.”

    She gently clasped Latham’s chin and aligned her face within an inch of his. Latham let out an annoyed grunted and slowly nudged the Vorta away from him. As a military veteran with a little more than twenty years of leadership experience, he saw the value of misdirection, but not at the expense of so many lives. Not when troop morale was plummeting faster each day. “Then send the Jem’Hadar and the Breen for such an undertaking,” he insisted. “They have no qualms about volunteering for death.”

    “Now that would be foolish,” Diralna shot back. “We can’t have large numbers troops who may decide to switch sides while we’re protecting more valuable assets. Now, are you going to continue to hold the line here and in adjacent star systems? Or will my superiors have to replace you and your crew with officers who wouldn’t be moving up in the ranks so fast during peacetime?”

    Those words chilled Latham’s skin. He had heard of recent instances where guls only suspected of betraying the Dominion were executed and replaced by less experienced officers--those more likely to blindly follow their Vorta’s orders. In fact, the latest rumors were that the bumbling Gul Broca would soon be named the new Supreme Legate. For now, all Latham could do was continue to serve the Dominion and distance himself from any subversive actions taken by his crew so that he could stay alive long enough to take more decisive action.

    “No, of course not,” Latham relented. He seated himself back in his chair and poured himself a glass of kanar.

    “Good,” Diralna said with a pleasant, but firm, stare at the gul. She then sauntered out of the office, leaving Latham alone with his own conflicting emotions. He was about to take a small sip, but stopped himself. He then downed the alcoholic beverage in one gulp and quickly refilled the glass. After gulping that down, he slammed the glass on the desk so hard, it broke. Too bad that Vorta harpy couldn’t be dismembered as easily.
  13. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Nine

    Day Fourteen

    He sent forth a dove from him,
    To see if the waters were abated
    From off the face of the ground.
    (Genesis 8:8)

    Dominion Heavy Cruiser 9-47

    Yelgrun stared at a tactical display on his eyepiece while awaiting word from the rest of the bridge crew. The blips on his screen would occasionally appear and disappear, so he had no way of knowing if those energy signatures were real or not. He became increasingly apprehensive with each passing second, not sure if an enemy vessel would appear right on top of his ship, as had often happened ever since the Seventh Fleet had lent reinforcements to the area.

    The main console chimed, catching Yelgrun’s attention. Another wave of enemy ships was on its way. “Enemy ships on approach,” Torgroth confirmed.

    “How many?” First Mirak’tiral inquired with an ominous tone as he was towering over the Vorta.

    “Four squads of twenty,” Torgroth placidly replied, keeping watch on his console to avoid seeing the Jem’Hadar’s prominent stature. “Federation light cruisers, Klingon Birds-of-Prey, and Romulan starbirds. At least those that we can see.”

    Yelgrun turned to towards a compact male Vorta at a port forward tactical station. “Are the new tachyon warheads ready?” the ranking Vorta asked him.

    “They are, sir,” the tactical officer answered, concentrating on one of his screen readouts. “One-hundred fifty isoton yield, explosive range three million kilometers. Should be enough to expose any cloak ships within that radius.”

    “Very well,” Yelgrun said with an approving nod. “Jem’Hadar and Breen attack wings three through seven, move in on the asteroid field, try and weed out any ships you can find at close range. The rest, spread out and target any ships that try to slip out.”

    “All forward guns,” Mirak’tiral added, “prepare full spreads of plasma torpedoes containing the new tachyon warheads. And fire at your discretion.”

    “Belay that,” Yelgrun firmly chimed in, much to the First’s chagrin. He shot a disarming glare at him. “We don’t want to tip our hand just yet. Fire standard torpedoes to lay down cover fire, but do not, repeat do not arm any of the tachyon warheads until I give the go-ahead.”

    “Understood,” one of the weapon technicians replied.

    “Sadok’toran,” Mirak’tiral hissed. He made sure to keep his voice down, but the condemning tone still got the attention of the Vorta on the bridge.

    “Not another word, First,” Yelgrun fired back in a more hushed tone, “Or you will not receive your next allotment of White with the others.”

    Mirak’tiral simply looked away from Yelgrun. Whether he would raise this issue again, Yelgrun was not certain since his facial expression was nearly always a cold stare. Yelgrun was both thankful that he was around the Jem’Hadar to prevent them from acting too hastily and anxious about how dangerous a Jem’Hadar suffering from withdrawal was. Nevertheless, threatening to withhold the next dosage of ketracel-white still seemed like an effective means of discipline.


    Captain’s log, Stardate 52895.3. We continue to head off attacks from fighter squads in the Daxura asteroid belts. In the last ten days, our forces have been largely successful in offsetting large-scale counter attacks. Stopping hit-and-run strikes from deep inside the asteroid fields is proving difficult, while their ace cruisers remain elusive.

    “Moondance” by Nightwish

    Limis was seated in the command chair reading a padd containing the latest system status updates. She signed off on those updates with a brief text message through the panel next to the chair. She perched the padd on the left armrest and glanced at Kozar, who was consulting with Morrison and Huckaby at the starboard mission ops station. She had an ominous feeling that the advantage the Federation Alliance fleet’s recent streak of victories would not last very long. That feeling seemed to be confirmed when the proximity alert sounded.

    Morrison jaunted over to the tactical station while Huckaby raced across the bridge to ops. “Enemy ships on approach,” Morrison alerted the rest of the bridge crew. “Five fighter wings closing in on the asteroid field. Others are holding position along the periphery.”

    “Alert all ships to form up at their designated coordinates,” Kozar instructed with a few slow steps in front of and to the right of the tactical station.

    Limis tapped a few keys on the padd she was reading before stowing it in a side compartment on her chair. “Signal the rest of the Akira and Steamrunner wings to lend support just outside the asteroid field.”

    “Enemy wings closing to forty thousand kilometers of the periphery,” Morrison added. “Weapons hot!”

    Limis stood up and took a quick glance at her tactical officer, and then to Lieutenant Carson at the helm. “All weapons on full,” she ordered. “Attack pattern delta.”

    A trio of Jem’Hadar fighters closed in on the Lambda Paz in a single-file formation, taking turns firing disruptors. The Lambda Paz fired back with phasers and a swarm of quantum torpedoes homing in on all three ships, clipping the outer ships while blowing the starboard nacelle off the center ship. The three ships broke off and swung back for another pass at the same time a trio of Breen fighters closed in, firing plasma charges at the ship and nearby asteroids to make maneuverability more difficult. Undaunted by the debris and plasma torpedo spreads from the heavy cruisers, the Lambda Paz arched downward and to port, and then swung around firing swarms of quantum torpedoes at the all the ships.

    Six Excelsior and Vorcha-class ships, meanwhile, used phasers and disruptors to target the weapon ports of three Dominion heavy-cruisers and three Breen heavy cruisers while avoiding the seemingly endless swarms of torpedoes with haphazard twists and turns.

    Dominion heavy cruiser 9-47, at the center of the line of capital ships, was largely able to absorb those attacks, while firing forward plasma torpedoes towards the edge of the asteroid field. Some those torpedoes exploded, illuminating silhouettes of Negh’Var-class heavy cruisers and D’deridex-class warbirds. Another spread of torpedoes destroyed three of the ships as they were uncloaking while others moved out of the line of fire while uncloaking.

    “Looks like our decloak-and-attack maneuver is no good,” Morrison rhetorically observed.

    “No need to tell me twice,” Limis responded while continuing to observe her tactical display. “Have all Klingon and Romulan attack wings spread out and lay down cover fire for any of the disabled ships. Instruct Luna wing five to provide support as well.”

    Klingon and Romulan vessels of various classes and sizes swooped in to defend the disabled ships, destroying wings of Jem’Hadar and Breen attack cruisers along the way. A wing of Starfleet vessels, led by the Calisto and four other Lunas, moved in from behind to destroy a few more ships. Hordes of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters moved in from two sides firing at asteroids as opposing ships were trying to move out. A few Miranda and Constellation-class ships were destroyed by the onslaught of plasma torpedoes from the heavy cruisers while, at the same time, dodging fighters. The heavy cruisers stepped up their defense against attacking ships, firing from all gun ports destroying the six ships. Jem’Hadar and Breen battleships and attack cruisers targeted the approaching Klingon and Romulan heavy cruisers, destroying one Negh’Var-class ship and two Morgai-class warbirds. The lead Dominion heavy cruiser moved in closer to the periphery of the asteroid field and fired endless rounds of plasma torpedoes, hitting ships and asteroids alike.

    Consoles on the bridge of the Lambda Paz exploded and a ceiling beam crashed, sending officers to the deck. The bridge rocked back and forth as the ship was trying to dodge debris with weakening deflectors.

    “Deflector two just went offline,” Huckaby grimly informed the bridge. “Deflectors three and four are down to seventy percent effectiveness.”

    “Route auxiliary power to the forward deflector to disperse that approaching debris,” Limis snapped. “Do whatever you can to move us out of its path, helm.”

    “If I were holding anything back, I’d tell you,” Carson retorted while keeping a firm grip on the helm to make quick course corrections.

    “Jem’Hadar fighters to port and starboard,” Morrison reported. “Firing phasers.”

    “Aft torpedoes on that heavy cruiser on the port stern,” Kozar added as he let the tactical station break his fall with the bridge shaking back and forth. “Dispersal pattern tango-delta.”

    The aft dorsal torpedoes fired, weakening the heavy cruiser’s shields, but it kept coming while more Breen fighters slipped in and fired, doing heavy damage to the Lambda Paz’s secondary hull. The Starfleet vessel fired phasers from the nacelles emitters at fighters that had swung by with additional Breen fighters targeting those emitters, disabling them. A spread of torpedoes was able to destroy passing fighters. Two more Jem’Hadar fighters then emerged from deep in the field and fired, blowing out the port nacelle.

    “Heavy damage to the starboard secondary impulse engine,” Carson reported. “Attempting to bypass.”

    “We’ve lost power to the port nacelle,” Huckaby added. “Dorsal phaser emitters on both nacelles are gone as well.”

    “Route as much power as you can to the emitters still functioning,” Limis replied. “Prometheus-wing one, how ‘bout you guys take some of the pressure off us?”

    The Epimetheus and four other Prometheus-classes swooped in and engaged multi-vector assault mode, both to give the enemy more targets and maneuver more easily in the asteroid field. The five ships, that were now fifteen, fired alternating rounds of phasers and torpedoes. The modules of each ship stayed fairly close to one another because of the difficulty of communications in the asteroid field.

    Several enemy fighters were damaged or destroyed, while surviving ships whether fully functional or not were equally as relentless. Using either weapons fire or ramming, they were able to take out individual modules of two of the Prometheus-classes.

    “That took some pressure off, indeed,” Morrison half-sarcastically remarked. “But we’re still losing ships as fast they are.”

    “Recommend we fall back to a position just outside the system,” Kozar suggested to Limis.

    “Concur,” Limis said with little hesitation. The resistance fighter in her wanted to curse the Starfleet portion of her persona. Her side was very often the side pulling off hit-and-run strikes, but even though the shoe was now on the other foot, Limis felt caught completely off-guard. Sooner or later, the tide of battle would turn, she knew, but she chose to ignore that gut feeling this time. “All Luna and Prometheus wings, move out. Lay down cover fire for any nearby disabled ships. But tell the Epimetheus to hold position, Mister Huckaby.”

    That last order caught Kozar and Huckaby by surprise.
    Ignoring the confusion on their faces, Limis continued issuing orders. “Helm, take us deeper into the asteroid field.”

    “Captain?” Sara blurted, struggling to comprehend the logic of that order.

    “Do it,” Limis confirmed. “Come to course two-one mark three-five-five. Full impulse.”

    Kozar took several steps closer to the captain’s chair to punctuate his pending question. “Captain, what are you doing?” he demanded.

    Limis ignored Kozar’s inquiry and arched her head towards Morrison. “How many tactical nukes do we have in our arsenal?” she asked him.

    “Fourteen,” Morrison answered, trying to hide his skepticism.

    “Attach six radiogenic warheads to the quantum torpedoes,” Limis continued. “Get down to the torpedo bay and lend a hand. Epimetheus, follow us in so you can cover us.”

    The serene voice of Commander Selek piped in through the ship-to-ship comm chatter. “Captain, if I may ask the logic behind this course of action…”

    “No, you may not,” Limis unflinchingly replied with a collectedness that belied the stereotypical Vulcan calmness. “Put us on course.”

    Carson quickly entered the new course, and then rose from her chair to address the captain. “Captain,” she said, “the starboard impulse engine is a little sluggish and could give out at any time. I should probably help out with repairs down there.”

    “Go ahead,” Limis answered with an approving nod. “Kozar, take the helm, Huckaby, tactical.”

    The two men quickly obliged, Kozar racing over to the vacant helm station and Huckaby heading across the bridge to tactical. Limis wanted her best officers at key positions on the bridge. After seeing Morrison and Carson step on the starboard turbolift, Limis sat in her chair wondering if her next move was a risk worth taking or a foolish effort at redemption.


    Where Morrison and Carson were headed happened to be on the same deck. They gave each other the usual silent treatment along the way. Upon arrival at their destination, Mandel offered to let Sara exit first. She happily obliged.

    As they rushed down the corridor, Rebecca Sullivan caught up to them from an adjoining hallway. She walked alongside Sara with a toolkit in tow, catching a glimpse of Mandel right behind them. “Fancy seeing you down here,” she said. “I was on my way to take a look at the starboard impulse engine.”

    “I figured you could use some help,” Sara retorted even though she had no way of knowing that Rebecca would be the officer sent from engineering.

    Morrison quietly snickered, wondering if this was some kind of playful flirting. Then again, maybe it wasn’t or they just hid it very well since they were speaking professionally to each other. Outwardly, he expressed some kind of perverse admiration for his former lover now being involved with another woman. Deep down, though, he regretted having sabotaged his relationship with Sara. Those feelings would be no different had Sara been involved with a man. In the long run, he didn’t know what he wanted out of any romantic partnership, which had cost him many relationships over the years. For now, he was happy for Sara and Rebecca.

    The long and awkward silence was interrupted when the deck shook, courtesy of a Jem’Hadar fighter firing blindly. A large chunk of a destroyed asteroid plowed into the ship’s secondary hull. The corridor rocked even harder, sending all three officers to the deck. Sparks gushed from the walls and metal beams crashed from the ceiling, blocking the hallway in both directions. One of the girders pinned Rebecca’s left leg to the ground, and she cried out from the intense pain.


    The Lambda Paz fired phasers continuously, clipping the Jem’Hadar fighter’s hull on the third shot. The still separated modules of the Epimetheus swooped in from behind and fired swarms of quantum torpedoes that destroyed the attacking ship.

    “Got him,” Huckaby said with reserved jubilation. “But there are anywhere between three and fifteen other fighters within a fifty thousand kilometer radius.”

    Limis nodded lightly in acknowledgment. What was more on her mind was that Morrison had not yet arrived at the main torpedo bay, nor had Carson been able to lend a hand with the sluggish impulse engine. That only meant getting the ship ready for this daring maneuver would take a while longer. No sense in dwelling on assets she did not have.

    The sound of comm chime soon caught the captain’s attention. “Torpedo bay to bridge,” came the voice of a male weapon technician. “The warheads are installed, but launch control is down.”

    “Then use transporters to seed them on nearby asteroids,” Limis quickly responded. She closed the channel with a quick tap of her comm panel and stood up to address the bridge. “All right, people, this is going to get bumpy. And the explosion may take us with the enemy. Huckaby, be ready to detonate on my command. Kozar, lay in an escape course. Transfer as much reserve power as you can to the impulse engines and be ready to take us to warp once those nukes blow. Do you copy, Epimetheus?”

    “Affirmative,” Selek stoically replied over the ship-to-ship comm. “We’re heading out at maximum impulse, ready to jump to warp at the exact moment of detonation.”

    “Torpedoes away, Captain,” the weapon technician added. “You’ll be ready to proceed.”

    “Escape course, helm,” Limis steadily instructed. “Detonate on my mark…”

    The Epimetheus’s three modules quickly moved out ahead of the Lambda Paz, which was hanging close to three nearby asteroids in order to trigger the remote detonators.

    “Distance, thirty-five thousand kilometers,” Kozar reported. “Forty thousand…”

    Limis was not the least bit concerned about what would happen after the nukes detonated when issuing the order. “Mark!”

    Six different explosions originated from the three asteroids as the Lambda Paz was speeding away. The blast encompassed a very large area, vaporizing an entire squad of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters within ten thousand kilometers. The explosive shockwave still clipped the Lambda Paz and Epimetheus.

    Kozar kept a heavy grip on the helm to hold the ship steady as the bridge rattled. “Impulse engines are out. I’m trying to reset the inertial dampers.” With a few quick commands entered on the console, the shaking stopped.

    Limis gathered herself, brushed off her uniform, and sat back in the command chair. “Epimetheus, what’s your status?”she inquired with hope they were in better shape.

    “Warp and impulse engines off-line,”Selek replied calmly, but ominously. “Shields are failing, and we cannot reattach the three modules.”

    Limis sighed in frustration. That seemed like nothing compared to Kozar approaching after he relinquished the helm to a Ktarian male ensign. “Are you happy?” he asked with cold stare.

    Limis was quite taken aback by his confrontational tone in earshot of the rest of the bridge crew. “Excuse me?” she asked with wide-eyed bewilderment. “Are you actually asking me if I’m happy my ship crippled? Then, of course not!”

    This exchange caught the attention of Huckaby and other lower-ranking officers. Kozar quickly realized his error and seated himself in the other command chair. “With all due respect, Captain,” with a more hushed tone, “that was an insanely risky a maneuver.

    Limis sighed, trying to keep her composure. “We’re not dead yet,” she plainly stated. “If we get out of this predicament, feel free to file a formal protest. Right now we need to concentrate on keeping this ship in one piece.”

    “Not to mention,” Huckaby chimed in with a grim tone, “getting out of this part of the asteroid before the shields fail completely. Radiation levels at ninety millirads per minute and rising. At this rate, we’re looking at lethal exposure in about thirty-seven minutes.”
  14. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Ten

    Limis paced back and forth on the bridge while in communication with Epimetheus. Screen-to-screen communication had not been possible for either vessel, so it was an audio communiqué. At a time like this, she wished Commander Selek were the ranking officer of this wing of the Seventh Fleet. As a Vulcan, Selek was a rational and logical person. The biggest surprise was that he did not contest her orders to fly both their ships deep into an asteroid to pull off a daring maneuver to take out any Jem’Hadar and Breen vessels burrowing there even if it meant crippling or destroying their ships as well. He had only joined the service just a decade earlier when the threat of a Borg incursion first loomed. Though having just turned one hundred years of age, he was relatively inexperienced despite having quickly moved up in the ranks. Unlike Limis, he had entered the more conventional way.

    What’s done is done, Limis reminded herself. All that could be done now was to try to get out of this asteroid before radiation left behind by the thermonuclear explosives killed every living thing on hers and Selek’s ships.

    “Upon further assessment,” Selek informed Limis and the rest of the crew on Lambda Paz’s bridge, “our impulse drive wasn’t as heavily damaged as yours was. I estimate we can have half impulse in thirty minutes.

    “Warning,” the computer ominously intoned as Limis was about to speak. “Radiation levels at one hundred fifty millirads per minute and rising. Lethal exposure in twenty-seven minutes.”

    Limis sighed and rolled her eyes, mulling whether to silence additional audio warnings. “Status of your tractor beam?” she asked Selek.

    “All three modules’ primary tractor emitters are nonfunctional,” the Vulcan commander ambivalently replied.
    “Why did I get the feeling you were going to say that?” Limis wondered with a frustrated scoff.

    “I am uncertain.”

    Kozar signed off on a repair order and handed a padd back to a Trill male crewman. He had also been listening to Limis’s conversation with Selek. “All of our tractor beam emitters are in full working order,” he offered while slowly sauntering up to the captain. “We could transport components over to Epimetheus. “Of course, the radiation will limit its effectiveness.”

    “How long will it take to remove them and integrate into their systems?” Limis asked, eager for any bit of promising news.

    Huckaby was entering probability calculations at ops upon hearing this suggestion. “That’s the problem,” he chimed in. “Forty minutes.”

    Limis shook her head feeling a mix of dread and amusement. “At least the ship will still be intact. But I’m still pushing for a stay of execution. Huckaby, lend a hand. One extra pair of hands won’t hurt.”

    Kozar took over ops once Huckaby made a quick beeline for the port turbolift. “Radiation protocol is in place,” he said. “Hopefully with hyronaline being pumped into the air supply and sh’Aqba working to feed any power that’s available to the shields, that’ll buy us some extra time.”

    “It’ll have to,” Limis retorted. “The only other thing we can do is hope to hell we won’t have to deal with any more Jem’Hadar or Breen ships.” She then sat in the command chair and stared straight at the viewscreen. The same old asteroids were pictured, but seeing them was preferable to possibly seeing Kozar’s glowering stare.


    “Bridge to sickbay, initiate full radiation protocol.”

    The entire on-duty medical staff gathered just outside of Doctor Markalis’s office upon hearing Kozar’s page. Markalis and EMH-Mark III stepped out of the office to address the group.

    “All right, everyone,” she announced. “You all know the drill. We’re to see to the evacuation of the outermost sections of the ship. The air supply will be treated with hyronaline additives to counter the effects.

    “Along the way, treat anyone showing symptoms of radiation poisoning. So keep enough hyronaline on hand. All teams, report to your assigned area. Any questions can be directed to the EMH, Doctor T’Pren, or myself.”

    “Warning,” came the nasally feminine voice of the ship’s computer. “Radiation levels at one hundred fifty millirads per minute and rising. Lethal exposure in twenty-seven minutes.”

    No pressure, Markalis silently reminded herself as she returned to her office to gather up supplies. While hyposprays loaded with hyronaline, along with other medicines and a medical tricorder into a kit, she started to feel warm and light-headed. Thinking she was on the verge of a panic attack, she retreated to the head. She removed the two layers of her uniform, revealing a blue-gray sleeveless tank top, and splashed water in her face. She patted down her face, neck, and arms with a towel, but she was still sweating profusely. After a few heavy exhalations, she dunked her head in the sink.

    Upon freshening up, Aurellan returned to her office, her hair still very damp, and reached into a desk drawer to administer a tranquilizer. The EMH-Mark III quickly noticed, having been standing in the doorway for the last few seconds.

    “How many extra doses is that in the last six days?” he wondered aloud.

    “Really?!” Aurellan snapped. “You’re worried about that right now?”

    “Probably not important right now,” the hologram relented, “but this could become an addiction.”

    “Maybe it could, maybe it couldn’t,” Aurellan responded with an annoyed sigh. She was certainly not in the mood for another lecture about addiction. She rose from her chair while scooping up her medical kit and heading to the primary ICU’s main entrance. “I’m still in complete control, and we have an important job to do right now. So let’s move. Move, move!”

    Those firm instructions caught the attention of a few of the interns and nurses still nervously scrambling to make sure they had everything they needed in their emergency kits. They quickly went scurrying out of the primary ICU after Markalis and the EMH.


    In engineering, sh’Aqba sat at a master situation console situated just to the left of the warp core. A Caitian male ensign was standing to her right, helping to assess repair needs that would help boost power to the shields and the impulse engines.

    “Forward shields at forty percent, aft shields are still at ten percent,” sh’Aqba said while keeping her eyes on a display screen. She entered a few commands on the console to zoom the display to the part of the ship where the shields were the weakest, so that she could get a better idea of how to fortify the weakened aft shields. “The problem seems to be with generator fifteen-beta,” she added, looking up the ensign. “The repair techs could use some help there.”

    The Caitian left her side, and Tarlazzi slowly sauntered up to her from the section’s main entrance. “We managed to get a quarter impulse for all of two seconds,” he remarked with reserved optimism.

    “That’s something,” sh’Aqba responded with a light smirk. “We should check out one of the manifolds on Deck Seventeen.” She picked up a toolkit perched underneath the console, and they both headed for the nearest Jeffries tube access junction.

    “Assuming we survive this,” Erhlich said to try to ignore the computer’s warning that radiation would reach lethal levels in twenty-one minutes, “and the end of the war, what do you plan to do afterwards?”

    They stepped inside the access junction, and Shinar tapped a button to open the door to the nearby crawlspace. “I’d really rather not plan for ‘after the war’,” she ambivalently replied.

    They both crouched down into the crawlspace, Shinar first, then Erhlich. “Doesn’t being with child constitute planning for after the war?” he rhetorically asked.

    “Sure it does. But I’d rather not make any other kinds of plan. If we survive the next few months, I can worry about finding a surrogate. And if that works out, I can look forward to being a single mother. One thing at a time.”

    “Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Erhlich cut in as they crawled out into another junction. “What do you mean single mother? Won’t I get to raise this kid, too?”

    Shinar grinned and gently clasped his right shoulder with her thumb and forefinger. “Of course you will since you’re the father. I enjoy all the fun times we have. You’re a wonderful man, but I got into this relationship with you to flip off Andorian marital traditions, as it were. Marriage is far from my mind, even if we are having a child together. But you know, like I said, one problem at a time.”

    Erhlich was about to reply while they climbed down the ladder to the deck below, when sh’Aqba realizes her choice of words. “I didn’t mean I consider our courtship a ‘problem’,” she corrected herself. “I simply never expected to become pregnant so soon. I don’t want that pregnancy to be a reason to move our relationship along too fast.”

    Upon reaching the deck immediately below they head into another crawlspace up ahead. “I understand completely,” said Erhlich. “But outside of us and our unborn child, you don’t have any other plans for after the war?”

    “No,” Shinar droned with prideful certainly. “I’d like to go outside, feel the frigid air of Andor on my skin again, or visit some tropical paradise.” And by tropical paradise, she meant the equatorial region on her home planet where the climate was temperate compared to other Class-M worlds. “As much as I love my work, two years on this ship has made it feel confining, claustrophobic. I can’t really think about that right now, though, can I?”

    “In this crawlspace, I’m hardly in a position to disagree about how confining this ship can feel,” Erhlich quipped with a chuckle. “But why do we even assume that we’ll be alive tomorrow? It’s far from a guarantee. Planning for the future still makes life worth living.”

    They arrived at a circuit housing, where Shinar opened the hatch. “That sounds like an almost Vulcan bit of wisdom,” she observed, while opening her toolkit.

    “Don’t try to sound surprised,” Erhlich replied while sorting through the tools and handing her a laser drill. “Nobody knows what’s going to happen tomorrow. We can still make our own futures as best we can.”

    “You’re right as usual.” While applying the drill, Shinar’s quadroscopic vision sensed some gloating on his part, as if he rarely heard her, his former wife, or other lovers say that he was right. She just grinned as Erhlich squeezed next to her to apply another tool to the circuit housing.


    Sara Carson was trapped in a corridor with both her current lover and her former lover. While Morrison was scouting the area for some trap door that they could escape through, she was tending to Rebecca, who was pinned to the floor as a result of a fallen ceiling beam that had impaled her right foot. Lacking the physical strength to lift the beam up, all Sara could do was apply a dermal regenerator to the wound and inject her with extra platelets to stop the bleeding in the wound the regenerator could not access. Amid all the awkwardness in the closed off corridor, she kept her mind on the immediate task.

    “Just leave me,” Rebecca calmly insisted.

    “And go where?” Sara asked with a scoff. She wound up in this predicament on her way to repair one of the damaged engines, but she was in no position to even get to that damage impulse engine right now. “There’s no way out. Even if there were, I wouldn’t even think of leaving you behind.”
    “Even if it meant saving the ship?”

    Morrison slowly approached them after a few futile attempts to push obstructing rubble aside. “That’s a moot point, since we’re not going anywhere for a while,” he reminded them. “I can’t even get this status monitor working, much less send a message letting someone know we’re stuck back here.”

    Based on the fallen debris blocking their path in both directions, the women both knew their situation and didn’t require his recent confirmation. “Shut up, Morrison!” they both said in unison.

    That was one thing they agreed on, but Rebecca persisted in her inquiry. “But would you? If I was on the deck bleeding to death and you needed to make critical repairs?”

    Morrison grunted while wondering how he could make himself useful. Sara remembered asking him those kinds of probing questions. She could understand his annoyance now that she was being asked a very difficult question about a hypothetical scenario she hoped would never, ever arise.

    “Don’t make me worry about that,” she snapped. “You’re not dying and I’m in no position to help the ship. Besides, you lost a husband two years ago. I wouldn’t want you to abandon me if the situation was reversed. I couldn’t ask you to go through that again so soon.”

    “You’re right,” Rebecca relented. “I’m sorry.”

    With that issue resolved, Sara could concentrate on more immediate concerns. Ordinarily, they wouldn’t have such a sensitive discussion around a third party. Considering the gravity of the situation, though, Sara didn’t feel the awkwardness of a former lover eavesdropping. “I might be able to get that terminal working,” she suggested to Morrison, “assuming the emergency toolkit wasn’t smashed up. Keep applying the dermal regenerator to the wound, plus a platelet injection to make it coagulate faster. And maybe you’re strong enough to lift that beam off her foot.”

    “Can’t hurt to try,” Mandel assured her. He kneeled down in front of Rebecca and followed Sara’s earlier instructions first, applying the dermal regenerator and administering another injection. Then he tried to move the beam off Rebecca’s foot. “You can just hope neither of you never have to be put in that position,” he reiterated of the women’s conversation. “Even if you had already been once before…” At this moment, Sara expected Morrison would say something crass, but grinned to herself when a reminder of Michael Eddington’s sacrifice never came.

    Rebecca flashed a smirk, but then let out a melancholy sigh. “I don’t know that I could put myself through that again,” she said with intense sadness in her voice.

    Sara smiled at her. They stared at each other for a very long moment as if having telepathic conversation, as Rebecca’s words reaffirmed what Sara had just said. We’d at least be together in a better place, they were seemingly thinking at the same time.

    “Would you have gone against orders to save me?” Morrison wondered aloud.

    Sara let out an annoyed exhalation. Maybe she was pushing her luck in hoping the subject of Morrison choosing to disobey orders and save her almost two years ago would not come up. It was a sensitive subject since their relationship went downhill after she suggested his actions were motivated by his love for her and added that she was in love with him. She did not want to take that kind of risk again with Rebecca, who only recently became a widow. “You were doing so well,” she quipped with a roll of her eyes. “As I said, I’m glad I didn’t have to make that decision.”

    “I can still thank you for saving her,” Rebecca sardonically teased. “Otherwise, I wouldn’t have had a shot with her.”
    Morrison chuckled as he continued trying to lift the beam off Rebecca’s foot. Once he was able to summon enough strength to lift the beam just enough for her to move her foot away, Rebecca slid off her boot and sock. Morrison then scanned it with a medical tricorder. “It’s a pretty nasty wound,” he remarked, gathering up both the dermal regenerator and the hypospray. “But we’d better keep trying to stop the bleeding.”

    In the meantime, Sara thought she was able to feed just enough energy into the terminal to get it back on-line, but the screen was still blank. She hit it in frustration, and it lit up momentarily. A status display was fading in and out. Without putting in too much thought, she entered a concise enough message. While she hit the send button, the screen winked out again. “Now, we wait and hope someone got that message,” she mused. “Which we’ve been doing for quite some time,” she added after hearing scoffs from both Mandel and Rebecca.

    The deck rattled and arched a bit to the right, shaking loose debris blocking the corridor. They all exchanged feared expressions, knowing that could only mean a nearby hull breach. “I don’t suppose someone found us already?” Morrison wondered, which didn’t amuse either of the women.
  15. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Ten (continued)

    A warning alarm caught Sh’Aqba’s attention while she and Tarlazzi were repairing one of the plasma manifolds. She instructed Tarlazzi to finish the repair work and crawled out of a Jeffries tube and into a nearby junction to check what triggered that alarm. She activated a status monitor and what she found out left her speechless.

    An emergency forcefield was failing, threatening to decompress the entire deck. One of the emergency bulkheads would not close. If the bulkhead could not be closed, the breach would widen and spread to other decks once the forcefield failed completely.

    “We have a new problem,” she called to Erhlich. “Unless we close one of the bulkheads, the hull breach will widen and decompress this whole deck. Finish up here while I close the bulkhead manually.”

    Tarlazzi’s focus was completely on the circuit housing. He was only able to catch a break after sh’Aqba hurriedly sped down an adjoining tube. “What?!” he shouted. “Why don’t I do that and you fix the manifold?” He dove out into the junction and shouted down the other Jeffries tube. “If the thinning atmosphere doesn’t kill you, the radiation will!” he continued, even though he knew she probably couldn’t hear him.

    Without even acknowledging him, sh’Aqba opened the hatch at the other end and went into the corridor. Tarlazzi thumped the wall in frustration, as all he could do now was hope this wasn’t the last time he saw Shinar sh’Aqba alive.


    “Warning, radiation levels at two hundred fifty millirads per minute and rising,” sh’Aqba heard the computer warn, while she was plugging jumper cables into doorframe of the open bulkhead. “Lethal exposure in ten minutes.”

    With the jumper cables, the bulkhead lowered halfway down. That wasn’t enough. The forcefield continued to periodically wink out. She began repeatedly yanking the manual release lever to lower the bulkhead the rest of the way. She became increasingly lightheaded as the radiation levels increased and the air thinned.

    Don’t think, just act. Sh’Aqba kept reminding herself that as she continued manically tugging at the lever. With each passing second, she became more and more convinced that she would not get to see her homeworld again. She would not live to raise her child. That seemed far from significant at this moment. If that bulkhead didn’t close, she and her unborn child would not be the only casualties.

    Eventually, the forcefield shorted out completely and air was blowing out into space. She grabbed the wall firmly with her left hand while continuing to pull the lever until the bulkhead locked into place. On the verge of passing out, she dove into the panel across the corridor to engage an emergency air supply. Finally, she slid down the wall and lost consciousness, certain she would never wake up.


    Huckaby returned to the ops station at the same moment the computer warned oflethal radiation exposure in two minutes. “The Epimetheus is ready to proceed,” he informed Limis. “Engineering has made some progress in getting the secondary hull’s impulse engines in better shape. They’re not promising anything.”

    Limis sat in the command chair while staring pensively at the viewscreen. “Be ready to throw as much auxiliary power into those engines at a moment’s notice,” she instructed with a quick glance at the young man at ops. She tapped a control on the chair’s side panel to hail the other ship. “Commander Selek. We’re in position as well.”

    “Initiating first towing,” Selek replied.

    The dorsal module of the Epimetheus swooped in front of the Lambda Paz and engaged its tractor beam. The other two modules lined up to port and starboard next to the Luna-class ship. Both ships neared the edge of the asteroid field when the beam shorted out. The upper module veered aside to allow the central module to lock its tractor beam. When that tractor beam winked out, it was the ventral module’s turn. That towing beam was rather sluggish, as if it would short out within a second of its activation.

    Ensign Bronak, a Ktarian male manning the helm, was becoming a bit anxious. “We might not make it out,” he said grimly.

    “Let’s hope we do,” Limis replied just as nervously. “Route every last bit of auxiliary power to the impulse engines.”

    The tractor beam shorted out while both the Lambda Paz and the Epimetheus were still inside the asteroid field. A few seconds later, though, everyone on the bridge could feel the ship speeding up. On the viewscreen, the asteroids become fewer and farther between until there were none up ahead.

    “We’re clear of any radiation danger,” Bronak reported.

    Limis breathed a sigh of relief. “Set a course to rendezvous at our fallback position.” While issuing that order, she glanced over at Kozar, who was at the tactical alongside a Benzite male ensign. And she was reminded of the downside of surviving this ordeal. Kozar would probably still file a protest over the decision that got the ship in that predicament in the first place.
  16. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Eleven

    Day 16

    Whoso sheddeth man’s blood?
    By man shall his blood be shed,
    For in the image of God,
    Made he man.
    (Genesis 9:6)

    Admiral Jellico convened a meeting of most of the Constantinople’s senior staff. As in most of these staff meetings, Commander Ellison sat on the window side of the conference table to Jellico’s right. Logan and Jeth’ron sat next to him. Lieutenant Commander Kopolev was seated across from those three officers, keeping his expression as blank as possible while wondering why Logan had to sit in on every staff meeting when the commander’s engineering duties were not just limited to one ship.

    Logan had recommended Kopolev for the vacant position of chief engineer just prior to the Battle of Three Suns. In the years leading up to the Dominion War, they had served together at Utopia Planitia where Kopolev was a supervising engineer. Gregor knew then that Logan was a stickler for safety protocols, though he wasn’t always looking over his shoulder as he seemed to be doing on Constantinople.

    “Each of our confrontations with these mines, at least, yields new information,” Kopolev informed the rest of the group. He wanted to assure his colleagues that he understood that lives were lost whenever one of these mines detonated. All he could do was make sure those lives were not sacrificed in vain. “The means in which they draw power from a target vessel, energy emissions, internal scanning equipment. We’ve managed to salvage a few of the destroyed mines and run some analyses on their composition.”

    Doctor Samantha Collins was seated behind Kopolev. She had dark caramel-colored skin, indicative of some African ancestry, and long free-flowing dark hair. “The outer hulls are composed of the same organic material as those on Breen fighters,” she said with a slight Canadian inflection.

    “Which means they’re susceptible to our radiogenic warheads,” Jellico plainly answered with a light nod. He quickly arched his head to the right to look in Jeth’ron’s direction. “Mister Jeth’ron, begin attaching all the radiogenic warheads we have left to our quantum torpedoes. And instruct the rest of the ships in our wing to do the same.”

    “We’re also working on modifying the deflector,” Logan chimed in, “to send out pulses of ionizing radiation hoping that will disrupt the mines as well.”

    “And will these radioactive pulses be fired randomly?” asked Collins.

    “Most likely,” Jellico replied with a look of confusion. “You’re not usually concerned about these matters.”

    “I’m concerned about the long-term implications of flooding an inhabited star system with heavy concentrations of radiation,” Collins explained, even knowing Jellico could not dissuaded from implementing this plan.

    Kopolev also had similar concerns. His time on Constantinople had been rather short, so he largely knew Jellico, by reputation. Since serving as dean of students at Starfleet Academy, Jellico was known as a hard-nosed CO who was intransigent to the point of considering the slightest questioning of his decisions once made, even from a second-in-command, to be insubordination. If he was going to speak up without getting a reprimand in his file, the time was now.

    “I have to agree with the doctor,” he said. “Depending on how much radiation we saturate this system with, that would make travel largely unsafe for civilian traffic for years to come. Accurentum-63, for example, has a half-life…”

    “The admiral is well aware of the dangers,” Logan interrupted.
    Resisting the urge to lunge across the table, Kopolev took a deep breath. “… Has a half-life of seventeen years, and even longer for other isotopes we’ll be employing—upwards of forty years.”

    “A number of hospital ships should be arriving within two hours to provide additional provisions,” Ellison assured both Kopolev and Collins. “And our ships will take extra precautions to make sure no radioactive debris ends up in the atmospheres of either of the inhabited planets. And new travel protocols will certainly be initiated after the war is over.”

    “What if that’s not enough?” Collins wondered.

    “I understand your concerns, Samantha,” Jellico firmly stated. “But we don’t have the time to consider too many long-term hypothetical scenarios. The here-and-now is what I’m most concerned about. And speaking of which, I’ve had a hunch that the primarily Cardassian garrisons dispatched here and in neighboring systems are nothing more than a means of misdirection.”

    “Why would say that, sir?” Jeth’ron inquired.

    “Think about it. The Kalandra sector has been a jumping off point for attacking Federation core systems ever since the invasion of Betazed just over a year ago. And yet all they can spare now are wings of Cardassian ships along with those pesky mines. And we’ve outmatched them at nearly every turn.”

    “Suggesting that they don’t really care about Kalandra anymore,” Ellison offered to finish the admiral’s thought.

    “Exactly,” Jellico confirmed, “which why is most of the ships stationed here will be bypassing the Zhamur system for the Tong-Beak nebula. About a dozen squads will remain here and in outlying systems. I’ve spoken with Admirals Dennings and Bellamy, and they’ve agreed to dispatch additional ships to this sector and the nebula. We leave within the hour. Gregor, make sure warp and impulse drives are up to specs. Jeth’ron, in addition to modifying the weapons, place the ship on level-one security alert. Have Lieutenant Neeley see to the distribution of arms to all hands. Dismissed.”


    On his way back to engineering, Kopolev caught up Logan in a main corridor. He had hoped to air a grievance regarding the staff meeting in a setting where other senior officers were not listening. Kopolev knew that arguing with Jellico was very often ineffective, but Logan was still out of line for his interruption.

    “Do you have minute, Commander?” he quietly asked his superior.

    Logan nodded gingerly, as if knowing what Kopolev would say next.

    “If I may speak frankly, sir,” Kopolev continued as they continued walking side-by-side down the corridor. “I did not appreciate being interrupted during that meeting.”

    “Admiral Jellico does not need to be reminded of what he already knows.”

    Kopolev momentarily looked away from Logan and rolled his eyes. “I was simply trying to make the point about the dangers to the inhabitants of this system and of how long that danger could last.”

    “Once a decision has been made, there isn’t much point in contesting it, especially with him. I should certainly know since I’ve often put up more of a fight with him than you just did.”

    “Then why does he even bother with staff meetings if the decisions are not open to any debate?”

    “So we can carry out his orders to the letter.
    Kopolev picked up his pace and stepped in front of Logan to emphasize his next point. “I understand completely, sir,” he said, now face-to-face with the commander. “Nevertheless, while you may be chief engineer of this entire fleet, I am still chief engineer of this ship. Until that changes, my opinions and recommendations carry just as much weight as yours. So it is perfectly reasonable request that I be allowed to finish sentences. Furthermore, I will be filing a formal complaint with Commander Ellison about your consistent undermining of nearly every major decision I have made these last two weeks.”

    Logan smirked as if admiring Kopolev’s assertiveness, even to a superior officer. “That is your right,” he confirmed. “Just keep in mind that Admiral Jellico’s style of command is far different what you’re used to at Utopia Planitia. And any argument on your part once a decision is made is, more often than not, futile.”

    Logan made a semicircular turn around Kopolev and continued down the corridor. Kopolev just stood still, silently hoping that Logan would be on one of the ships remaining at Zhamur.


    “They’ve taken the bait, sir. A significant number of Federation Alliance vessels have departed the Zhamur system to a rendezvous at a point just outside the Tong-Beak Nebula.”

    Diralna contacted Yelgrun once the Seventh Fleet withdrew a significant portion of their forces from the Zhamur system. In addition to keeping Gul Latham and the rest of the Ninth Order in line, Diralna had the responsibility of monitoring and decoding enemy communications. Yelgrun had known that Federation fleet commanders would eventually deduce that the constant hit-and-run strikes at the sites of the Battle of Three Suns were a means of misdirection and push deeper into enemy territory. “I am uncertain the exact coordinates,” she continued. “I can decode the message further if you like, though that may take several days.”

    Yelgrun smiled, appreciative of his former protégé’s enthusiasm. “That’s not necessary,” he assured her, “but I appreciate your initiative. Have you identified the flagship of the battle group?”

    Diralna accessed a data set on her computer terminal, which displayed the general schematics of a Starfleet capital ship on the bottom left corner of Yelgrun’s screen. “From the transmissions we have been able to decode, the flagship is a Sovereign-class vessel, designation USS Constantinople.” After she keyed another command sequence, the image of the ship disappeared and was replaced with the image of a white-haired human male Starfleet admiral. “It’s commanding officer is lower half Rear Admiral Edward Jellico. He is an accomplished war veteran and diplomat, having negotiated the original armistice between the Federation and Cardassian Union…”

    “I don’t require a full biography,” interrupted Yelgrun. “You’ve done a fine job to this point, Doko’toran Diralna. I just need you to continue to keep Gul Latham in line.”

    “And I have been, for the most part, successful in that regard. I am concerned that some of his crew may start an uprising, especially the woman who shares his bed.”

    Yelgrun scoffed, indicating his lack of interest in the gul’s extramarital activities as well as amusement that Diralna’s efforts to seduce Latham had been unsuccessful. “Make every effort to curtail any mutinies before they occur,” he instructed. “I have a little surprise for the enemy fleet. Sadok’toran out.”

    Gul Latham viewed the entire communiqué between Diralna and Yelgrun on the wall-mounted monitor in his quarters. Once both of the Vorta signed off, he pushed a button to complete the recording and load it and all the transmitted data onto an isolinear data rod.

    “You know what to do with this,” Latham instructed as he handed the rod to Nezhak.

    “Of course,” the young woman replied. “I’ll have the contents transmitted on one of the Starfleet frequencies we decoded.”
  17. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Eleven (continued)

    “The Islander” by Nightwish

    The Constantinople and the 272nd tactical wing dropped out of warp just outside the nebula.

    Ellison had completed a full circuit around the bridge to assess the status of each station, while Jellico sat in the command chair monitoring tactical displays and communications chatter. The admiral had a grim expression on his face when the first officer sat down in the chair on Jellico’s right, as if he had gotten some bad news from one the other ship captains.

    “The Klingons and Romulans are sending additional warships,” Jellico noted. “They’re not going here for a while with Chancellor Martok struggling to get all his generals in line and Temlek briefing his successor after…”

    “Yes, sir,” Ellison replied with a light nod, knowing how Jellico would finish that sentence. Martok had been anointed chancellor of the Klingon Empire just a few short weeks earlier, though not every general in the Defense Forces recognized him as the new leader because of the role a Klingon Starfleet officer played in his rise to power. Temlek was the commander of the Romulan Star Navy forces contributing ships to the Seventh Fleet until Captain Limis took her ship into a sector under Romulan protection against his wishes.

    Both Ellison and Jellico knew all too well had prompted Temlek to request a transfer, so they saw no point in rehashing it on the bridge. A proximity alert then quickly caught the attention of the captain and first officer.

    “Ships are coming out of the nebula,” Jeth’ron informed the rest of the bridge crew. “Three hundred fifty seven Jem’Hadar and Breen ships closing fast.”

    “That’s three times the number of ships the preliminary scouts indicated saw,” Jellico remarked. “All ships, spread along the outer periphery of the nebula. Lay down fire on any attacking ships.” He glanced at Ellison once again, and he agreed with what Jellico might have been thinking.

    “You’d think they knew we were coming,” Ellison remarked. “And they’re not going let us get out of here in one piece.”

    Swarms of Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters swooped in, destroying light cruisers and fighter shuttles very quickly. Other fighters targeted the capital ships, laying down cover fire for the attack cruisers and battleships, leading the way for five Dominion heavy cruisers to fire barrages of plasma torpedoes from all gun ports. One of them targeted the Constantinople, doing considerable damage to the saucer section.

    The bridge rocked hard and consoles exploded, sending officers to the deck. Ellison checked on one of the fallen officers, feeling for a pulse on his neck, while Jellico was fervently entering commands on his right armrest panel. “Signal all ships to fall back and regroup at these coordinates,” he instructed Matthew Herron as he entered a set of numbers.

    “I’ll do my best to compensate for a rotating EM pulse they’re emitting,” the communications officer responded, firmly gripping his console.

    “That’s all I ask,” Jellico replied. He rose from his seat and marched towards the tactical station. “Jeth’ron, have all capital lay down cover fire for the smaller ships. Helm, move us off at one-quarter impulse.”

    The bridge shook again. The combination of an electrical overload in the deck and a falling ceiling beam claimed Jellico as one of the latest casualties. Ellison kneeled next to the admiral and felt for a pulse on his neck, finding he was still alive, albeit barely. “Where are those damn medics?!” he bellowed in Herron’s direction.

    “They’re coming, sir,” Herron replied, hardly reassuring since they were not yet here.

    Jem’Hadar materialized on the bridge in two groups of three, prompting Ellison to sound intruder alert. Two security guards stationed at each of the two entrances to the observation lounge fired their phaser rifles at the intruders, dispatching two of them while the other four spread out. Truxia and Nave dove for cover while Jeth’ron and the four guards kept laying down phaser fire. One of the Jem’Hadar effortlessly lifted the petite Nave off the deck by the collar. She landed a punch to his left jaw, and in that moment of distraction, Jeth’ron shot him.


    In a narrow corridor just outside of engineering, Lisa Neeley and Loukas Pherrelius were firing phaser rifles in the direction of attacking Jem’Hadar and Breen. Two armored Breen were armed with curved swords, slashing the necks of two human soldiers, but they were just as quickly dispatched by kligats that two Capellan males flung in their direction. Amidst the back and forth exchanges of phaser fire with neither side giving in, two Jem’Hadar slipped by into a perpendicular corridor.

    “Cover us while we go after them,” Neeley instructed what was now an eight person team. The other Marines obliged, firing in the direction of four Jem’Hadar and four Breen. Pherrelius followed the two Jem’Hadar who slipped by the barrages of weapon fire down the connecting corridor while Neeley headed in the opposite direction, which was the more direct route to engineering.

    As the two Jem’Hadar are on their way to engineering, two Brikar soldiers emerged through doors on both sides of the hallway and snapped their necks. But they were met by four Jem’Hadar and two Breen coming from opposite directions. The two Brikars engaged the Breen in hand-to-hand combat while the Jem’Hadar laid down cover fire as they slip past the close quarters fighting. The pair of Breen then managed to dispatch their two opponents.

    Down the hall, Neeley threw a stun grenade that took out both Breen and one Jem’Hadar. Firing her phaser rifle, she was able to dispatch two of the remaining three Jem’Hadar, while the one still standing fired and clipped her in the left shoulder. Pherrelius fired at him from behind. “Looks like he got you in the shoulder,” he remarked as he saw a burn mark on her vest.

    “It’s just a flesh wound,” Neeley replied, hoping to dodge further discussion of her wound.

    “Where Jem’Hadar weapons are concerned, it’s not just a flesh wound.”

    “I’ll let you know when I’m bleeding to death.” They dodged more plasma charges as they resumed firing in the enemy’s direction with the rest of the unit lending support from behind the intruders.


    Ellison tried to move Jellico’s unconscious form out of the line fire towards the row of starboard auxiliary stations while clipping a Jem’Hadar with his phaser. Two Jem’Hadar emerged from the observation lounge’s port egress, killing one of the guards and sending the other to the deck. One of the guards at the starboard egress shot one of the Jem’Hadar with his rifle while Ellison dove towards the second. He grabbed the blade from the rifle of an incapacitated solider and jammed it into the other Jem’Hadar’s chest.

    Four medics emerged from the deck hatch in front of the port turbolift, each accompanied by security guards. The guards laid down cover fire for the medics while four more Jem’Hadar materialized on the port side of the compartment and began shooting indiscriminately. Truxia flung her chair in their direction, creating a momentary distraction. Nave and one the security guards alongside a medic dispatched him with their phasers. The Starfleet officers on the bridge still standing kept firing aimlessly while ducking out of the way of enemy fire.

    Despite every effort to protect the medics and their patients, one of the medics was killed by a barrage of plasma charges. With a primordial wale, Ellison dispatched two of the Jem’Hadar with a fallen Jem’Hadar’s plasma rifle. After Jeth’ron took out the last of the intruders with his phaser rifle, he looked down at his console. “The emergency transport dampening field has switched on,” he informed Ellison. “There are still intruders on decks five, eleven, and fourteen.”

    “Understood,” Ellison replied, trying to catch his breath. With a murderous rage in his eyes, he stared at the body of the dead medic and then at the body of the Jem’Hadar who killed him. He launched the plasma rifle still in his hands at the corpse, savagely beating it. “Fuck you!” he screamed. “Fuck you, you heartless pieces of shit! That’s for every medical transport destroyed, every injured or dying soldier you thugs have killed!”

    Nave and Jeth’ron pulled him away from the corpse and restrained him. He took a few breaths and calms himself. A proximity alert then caught everyone’s attention at that same moment.

    Truxia picked up her chair off the floor and placed it front of the ops console. “I’m reading several dozen tachyon surges,” she said, keeping her gaze on the console as she seated herself in the chair. “Ships are decloaking.”

    Dozens of Klingon and Romulan capital ships uncloaked. A few Raptora-class warbirds were right on top of Dominion and Breen heavy cruisers, doing heavy damage to the outer hulls. Twelve Negh’Var and Vor’cha class cruisers laid down additional fire from further away, destroying two Breen ships and one Jem’Hadar. Waves of starbirds and Birds-of-Prey managed to drive off the most of the fighters and attack cruisers.

    Ellison stared at the viewscreen in awe as the fresh set of ships continued blowing away enemy ships. While he did not believe in any deity for most of his life, he believed in divine intervention at this very moment. “Where’d they come from?” he wondered aloud. “They weren’t supposed to be here for another two hours.”

    “We should just be thankful they are here,” Jeth’ron plainly replied. A blinking indicator on his console then caught his attention. “Security reports the boarding parties are contained, most of them having retreated when reinforcements arrived.”


    “Fourteen dead,” Herron grimly responded, “seventeen others in critical condition in sickbay.”

    Ellison just stood in eerie silence. He watched the medics carry away the dead and injured on anti-gravity stretchers. The last of the bodies taken away was that of Admiral Jellico.


    The wounded were being treated in sickbay, the more critical cases in the primary ward. Ellison, Jeth’ron, and Nave were among those being treated for minor wounds in the secondary ward—Ellison for scrapes and bruises on his jaws, neck, and forehead; Jeth’ron for a disruptor wound in his right hip, and Nave for broken bones in her right hand and fingers where she landed a punch on a Jem’Hadar’s jaw.

    After he was treated for his injury, Ellison sauntered by Neeley, who was being treated for her injury, and entered the primary ward where Collins was attending to Jellico in the main intensive care unit. “How is he?” he inquired with very reserved optimism.

    “Not good,” Collins answered with a dour shake of her head. “I’ve managed to induce a coma to protect his higher functions. I can keep him alive indefinitely with a respirator. Whether he regains consciousness at all is highly unlikely.”

    Ellison sighed while staring gloomily at the unconscious Jellico, most of his face covered with a breathing apparatus and a feeding tube inserted into the side of his mouth. “Do whatever you can,” Ellison instructed the doctor. “Contact his next of kin at your earliest convenience. I’ll make an announcement to the crew.”


    “The chances that he’ll regain consciousness are very slim,” Ellison informed the senior staff while sitting at the head of the table in the observation lounge. “That means I am officially assuming command. Captain Lemnitzer of the Nicopolis has assumed command of the 272nd tactical wing. We’ll be rejoining the battle group in forty-eight hours.”
    Kopolev’s jaw dropped when he heard that last statement. From Ellison’s left, he looked the acting captain straight in the face. “That’s hardly enough time to complete repairs of major systems,” he contested, “especially with a third of my crew down.”

    “I understand the difficulties,” Ellison assured the chief engineer. “But this class of ship can hold out a lot longer in a firefight. And we need every functioning ship on the front lines crewed by the best officers we can spare. Lieutenant Commander Truxia, you’re first officer.”

    Jeth’ron was seated to Ellison’s immediate right and to Truxia’s left. “With respect, sir,” he interjected, “as second officer, I am next in line.”

    “That’s true,” said Ellison. “But I need your expertise at tactical. Commander Logan, the Agamemnon lost her chief engineer and most of that department’s senior officers. They could use your experience.”

    Logan was seated at the far end of the table on Ellison’s right. “If this has anything to do with…” he started to say.

    “It does not,” Ellison hissed, resisting the urge to tell him off. He admired Logan’s strict adherence to safety regulations. What frustrated Ellison was that no matter how many times superior officers reminded Logan that following those regulations to the letter was not always possible during times of war, the career starship designer could not switch off that particular mental schema. By now, Ellison was eager for any pretext to get Logan off Constantinople.

    “If you’re going to continue to be this petty,” Ellison added, “I can, instead, relieve you of duty and send you back to Utopia Planitia in the slowest transport I can find.”

    Logan remained silent, simply rolling his eyes and lowering his head deferently.

    “Now, I need each and every one of you to continue doing your jobs to the best of your ability,” Ellison announced to the rest of the officers in the meeting, “because we still have a war to win. What we all do here will make a difference in the freedom of the galaxy or its enslavement.”
  18. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Twelve

    Day 19

    And the waters decreased continually,
    Until the tenth month.
    In the tenth month, on the first day of the month,
    Were the tops of mountains seen.
    (Genesis 8:5)

    Shinar Sh’Aqba was lying down on a biobed, watching Aurellan Markalis standing over her. The doctor scanned the Andorian woman’s abdomen with a wand-like device while glancing at readings on the bed’s primary scanner.

    Shinar wasn’t exactly what readings meant, but she gathered from Aurellan’s neutral expression that the news was good so far. Neither she nor her unborn offspring suffered any ill effects as a result of exposure to radiation and thinning atmosphere. That was the prognosis yesterday and the day before. Yet, the doctors were far from finished with all the comprehensive testing. She was completely ambivalent about the results of those tests. If she were in danger of suffering a miscarriage, she would be released from the obligations of motherhood. What was making her excruciatingly bored was being confined to sickbay for the last five days, courtesy of a suicide watch placed on her. Ordinarily, a suicide watch was seventy-two hours, but Markalis insisted on holding her longer.

    “Everything still checks out,” Markalis blankly informed her. “Neither you, nor the baby suffered any permanent damage from the radiation.”

    Sh’Aqba looked away from the doctor and rolled her eyes. She knew that was true based on the last few exams. Hearing it again was rather redundant with all the rest she was hearing just being medical mumbo-jumbo. “Then can I leave?” she asked with feigned eagerness.

    “You’re still on suicide watch for another six hours,” Aurellan replied with a chastising smile.

    Shinar propped herself up with her elbows and sat up to look straight at Aurellan. “Oh, don’t be absurd!” she scoffed. “I’m not going to try to kill myself.”

    “Not overtly. But taking these kinds of risks is an indication of a death wish. That makes you a danger to yourself and your crew.”

    Shinar sighed. Just more medical mumbo-jumbo. “But what’s the point of keeping me here the full five days? I could just slit my wrists after I walk out that door.”

    “Andorians don’t have major arteries in the wrists.”

    Shinar was not sure whether to be amused or annoyed by that answer. “Really?” she said with widened eyes. “That’s your response? I was making a joke.”

    “And grounds for being kept here longer,” Aurellan retorted. “I ran a complete brain scan. And I crosschecked it with the Andorian central medical database. It took exhaustive research considering they don’t let just anyone see the most updated research on psychopathology.”

    Shinar shook her head. She could take apart the circuits of this ship in her sleep. But words like “psychopathology” baffled her. “I am not becoming a violent psychopath, Doctor, am I?” she asked.

    “Of course not,” Aurellan said with a chuckle. She handed Shinar a padd, adding, “There’s a biochemical imbalance consistent with clinical depression.”

    Shinar stared at the padd intently without any understanding of what was on the screen. “But I don’t feel depressed,” she insisted.

    “People with clinical depression don’t always ‘feel’ depressed. This imbalance means that certain stimuli can trigger depressive symptoms, including major life changes. I’m going to prescribe anti-depressants.”

    “More medicine?” Shinar answered with a sigh. “Great. But if it’ll get me out of here.” She looked around to see no one else in the immediate vicinity. “Word around here,” she said in a hushed tone, “is that you’ve been overdosing on your medication.”

    Aurellan sighed, hoping to avoid this uncomfortable topic of conversation. “It’s just a few extra doses here and there to deal with the stress of all the suffering and death,” she insisted, even knowing how hollow that rationalization sounded. “It’s not an addiction. I’ll be able to cut back after the war’s over.”

    Shinar had heard this before from a few colleagues overcome by the stresses of the Dominion War and the Federation-Cardassian War. “Addicts think that at the beginning. It’s not something I’ve dealt with, but I’ve seen what it does to people. They eventually find that they can’t live without the drug.”

    She seemed to be getting through to Aurellan, as she looked away from Shinar in rueful silence. “My holographic boyfriend said the same thing,” Aurellan said with a tone suggesting she was both confident she wouldn’t become an addict and worried that she would.

    “Then if you don’t my word for it, you should take his since he’s a walking medical database.”

    “Thank you. I’ll keep that in mind. I have to get back to work.”While still averting her gaze away from Shinar, Aurellan just sauntered into her office.

    Shinar seemed genuinely worried for Aurellan even if she kept a professional distance from her patients. Through all the visits to sickbay, Shinar had still gotten to know Aurellan as a person rather than the reclusive and introverted young chief medical officer. Aurellan was always very serious, but could still crack a joke now and then. That made Shinar more appreciative of the rigid aspects of her personality. Maybe they were becoming friends, even if Aurellan did not realize it.

    She was lost in those thoughts when a red alert sounded. She let out a loud exhale and fell back on the bed, having been reminded she was stuck in sickbay for another six hours. That the rest of the crew was scrambling to their stations and she wasn’t elicited a disheartening, perhaps even depressing, sense of helplessness.


    Montage of 2010 HBO miniseries “The Pacific” (listen and watch for a familiar DS9-alum) featuring “The Good Die Young” by The Scorpions ft. Tarja Turunen

    A vast armada of Jem’Hadar and Breen vessels of varying sizes ambushed the 273rd tactical wing while it was en route to a rendezvous with the 272nd at the Tong-Beak Nebula. Trios of Jem’Hadar fighters in single file formation quickly took out Nebula and Miranda-class light cruisers and Klingon Birds-of-Prey, while the Breen fighters were more spread out, firing plasma charges that destroyed even more light cruisers and fighter shuttles. Jem’Hadar attack cruisers and battleships fired disruptors and plasma torpedoes at a large number of Akira, Steamrunner, and Excelsior-class vessels. Those Starfleet ships were able to destroy attacking ships just as quickly as they were being destroyed. Some swarms of torpedoes did heavy damage to the forward hulls of the Lambda Paz and two outlying Luna-class ships.


    “Return fire!” Limis barked. “All forward phasers.”

    The captain sat in the command chair keeping a close eye on her tactical display while the bridge was shaking in all directions. Morrison tightly gripped the tactical station with both hands as the bridge lurched forward for a brief moment, and he quickly keyed a targeting sequence once the shaking stopped. “Direct hit on one ship’s starboard nacelle,” he reported. “It’s moving off. The other two ships to port are locking on.”

    Kozar rose from his chair and slowly sauntered towards the helm. “Helm, evasive pattern gamma five,” he instructed Carson. With a quick glance towards Huckaby at ops, he added, “Auxiliary power to number two shield.”

    The bridge rocked in both directions as the attack cruisers fired disruptors and the battleship fired more barrages of torpedoes.

    “We’ve got hull breaches on decks three, four, and five, forward section eight through thirteen,” Carson reported while practically hunched over her station.

    Limis jumped up from her seat as well and looked in Morrison’s direction. “Status of forward shields?” she inquired.

    “Back up to forty-eight percent, sir,” Morrison calmly replied.

    “Keep firing all forward phasers,” the captain ordered. “Helm, move us in closer to that battleship.”

    “How much closer?” Carson apprehensively wondered.
    “Right up his throat, full impulse,” Limis emphatically stated. “Prepare another spread of quantum torpedoes. Dispersal pattern foxtrot. Fire on my mark.”

    Carson then began counting down from one thousand meters in two hundred meter increments. “Eight hundred meters, six hundred…four hundred…”

    “Captain?” Kozar nervously gasped, knowing that any closer would most likely destroy them as well.

    “Fire!” Limis barked.

    The swarm of torpedoes destroyed the battleship and one outlying attack cruisers while quick phaser bursts inflicted considerable damage to two other attack cruisers. The three attack cruisers to starboard swing around and laid down additional fire at the stern of the Lambda Paz as it emerged from the fireball of destroyed ships. The onslaught of weapons fire damaged the aft torpedo tube on the upper sensor pod. The other two Lunas alongside Lambda Paz and a Prometheus-class vessel formed up closer, taking out three fighters and damaging one of the attack cruisers with phasers. The Lambda Paz then did a near full one hundred eighty degree turn and fired back and forth rounds of phasers and torpedoes.

    Kozar headed back to his chair and saw a flashing blip on his side control panel moving closer to a Starfleet delta that represented the Lambda Paz. “See those three heavy cruisers hovering just outside of our weapons ranges?” he asked Limis and Morrison.

    Limis nodded to Morrison, signaling him to be ready at a moment’s notice. “I see them,” she said while hovering over the control panel next to her chair. “They’re closing in. All power to dorsal shields.”

    “It might be tough with starboard EPS lines out of commission,” said Huckaby, “but I’ll do what I can.”


    A Dominion heavy cruiser, flanked by two Breen heavy cruisers swooped in on what was left of the Alliance fleet, firing quick barrages of plasma torpedoes. Allied light cruisers and fighter shuttles continued dropping like flies while bigger ships sustained moderate to severe damage from enemy fire. The heavy cruisers then moved back upwards with smaller ships gathering alongside it on the port and starboard sides. Once clear of the Federation Alliance fleet, all the ships streaked into warp.

    “I don’t believe it,” gasped Morrison. “They’re all moving off.”

    “Heading?” Limis asked.

    “Deeper into Dominion territory.”

    “Do we pursue?” Kozar inquired.

    Limis shook her head and sat in the command while letting out a sigh of relief. “Negative,” she said. “We need to dress our own wounds before deciding our next course of action.”

    She stared at the viewscreen, watching the backs of the attacking ships as they moved further and further away. They’re sudden withdraw could not have come at a better time even if it was not consistent with how thorough the Jem’Hadar were in destroying a target. As Limis was speculating five days earlier in the Daxura system, they were simply trying to soften them up for a major offensive.

    The unexpected lull in combat was certainly welcome, but Limis was certain that sooner or later, the worst was yet to come.
  19. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Chapter Twelve (continued)

    The 272nd wing was under heavy fire from Jem’Hadar battleships and Breen heavy cruisers. Cardassian capital ships and light cruisers were shooting at Starfleet, Klingon, and Romulan light cruisers and fighter shuttles. Waves of Akira, Steamrunner, Vorcha, and D’Deridex-class vessels spread apart and fired at the Cardassians from the behind, tearing off the wing of one Galor-class cruiser.

    A horizontal formation of Jem’Hadar and Breen heavy cruisers took on Galaxy, Sovereign, Negh’Var and Morgai-class capital ships. Swarms of plasma torpedoes tore through the hulls of Birds-of-Prey and starbirds, while the capital ships took out Jem’Hadar and Breen fighters with phasers and grazed the hulls of the heavy cruisers with torpedo barrages.

    Two plasma torpedoes tore through the forward saucer section of the Constantinople.


    Explosions filled the bridge of Constantinople, sending pieces of shrapnel flying all across the deck. Lieutenant Commander Jeth’ron was able to duck out of the way of the scattering debris while keeping a close eye on the readouts flashing on his console.

    “Hull breach on deck three, section twelve,” the Efrosian officer called over the cacophony of electrical crackling and beeping consoles. “Emergency forcefields are in place.”

    Ellison was seated in the command chair while Truxia occupied the first officer’s chair to his right, both of whom were monitoring tactical displays on their respective panels. Ellison updated a tactical display on the right armrest’s keypad while Truxia monitored the conditions of nearby ships on the console situated in front of her chair.

    “All emergency power to forward shields,” Ellison instructed the tactical officer. “Move us in a little closer, helm. Target weapon ports three through seven with a simultaneous spread of all forward phasers and quantum torpedoes.”

    “Aye, sir,” Jeth’ron responded while gripping his console, struggling to stay on his feet.

    Constantinople and two flanking Sovereign-class ships fired alternating salvos of phasers and torpedoes, grazing the hulls of three different heavy cruisers. Three Galaxy-classes swooped in and fired phasers and torpedoes at the same time Akiras were firing from further away. The hulls of the heavy cruisers experienced moderate damage with two of the weapon ports being blown out.

    “We knocked out two of the weapon ports,” Jeth’ron informed the captain. “They’re locking on again.”

    A swarm of torpedoes homed in on Constantinople, inflicting damage on the primary and secondary hulls, as well as grazing the deflector.

    “Number four shield has failed,” Ensign Herron reported from ops. “The deflector is leaking antiprotons. Nicopolis and Agamemnon are reporting similar damage.”

    “Repair crews, seal off the deflector breach,” Truxia snapped. “Evasive pattern delta-seven, helm.”

    The bridge shook several more times. Sparks gushed from various auxiliary stations. The secondary security station to the right of tactical exploded sending the officer manning it to the deck, as did the port mission ops and engineering consoles. Truxia jumped out of her chair to check on the injured male human at the security station before taking a look at the console. The two security guards stationed at the port turbolift, meanwhile checked on the other two injured officers.

    “Heavy damage to the port nacelle,” Nave sang out. “Inertial stabilizers one and four are offline. Attempting to compensate.”

    Another spread of torpedoes blew apart Nicopolis, while tearing off Agamemnon’s starboard nacelle, and a significant portion of the forward half of the Constantinople’s saucer section.

    Truxia was attending to the medics escorting injured officers off the deck. A flashing indicator at mission ops caught her attention as she directed replacement personnel to the vacant stations. “The Nicopolis is gone,” she said. “Agamemnon has lost its starboard nacelle and their life support systems are failing.”


    Three Dominion heavy cruisers took out two of the three attacking Galaxy-class ships while Breen heavy cruisers on the outer formation destroyed one of the Akiras.

    A direct torpedo hit knocked out Constantinople’s shields and shorted out the forcefield protecting the warp core. Two engineering technicians were thrown off the catwalk from an explosion. Fires were all over the compartment. Kopolev was trying to put one of them out with an extinguisher when a readout on one of the master situation consoles elicited an ominous look in his eyes.

    “Engineering to bridge,” he said with a tap of his combadge. “I’ve lost containment on two of the starboard antimatter pods. I’m attempting to isolate them before the core breaches even though that may not be possible since the protective field just failed.”


    On the bridge, the main light fixture gave way and spiraled down towards the deck. Nave managed to dive safely out of the way, while Herron was not so lucky. In addition to the ceiling fixture, a girder smashed the ops console and crushed a considerable portion of his body up to his shoulders. “Matt!” Nave cried. She stared in silent horror at the young man’s broken body and frozen expression of terror on his face.

    The falling debris had managed to knock over the command chair, but Ellison managed to get out of the way just in time. He quickly trotted across the bridge and clasped Nave’s shoulders to rouse her from what looked like a catatonic state. “I know he was your friend, Ensign, but I need you at your station,” he told her calmly, but firmly.

    “Aye, sir,” Nave replied. Her lips were trembling and her voice was breaking as she was choking back terrified sobs. But she quickly composed herself and sat down at the helm.

    Consoles were shorting out and electrical currents coursed across the bridge. The Constantinople was the latest target of the Breen energy dissipaters. The newly modified shields had held up well against the weapon that gave the enemy a major tactical advantage when the Breen entered the war. Any ship without shields, though, was still very susceptible to such a weapon.

    “Back us off,” Ellison screamed, even knowing that saving his ship was futile. “Jeth’ron, try to…” Before he could complete his sentence, he saw the Efrosian was dead with his eyes still wide open. The tactical station had fallen to the deck, taking him with it and electrocuting him to death.

    “It’s no use, sir,” Nave responded. “All helm controls are offline.”

    “Structural integrity fields are failing,” Truxia added while hovering over the barely functioning communications console. “Core breach in two minutes.”

    The next order was clear. “Abandon ship,” he barked. “Move! Move!”

    The rest of the bridge crew scrambled off the deck, filing through the four emergency deck hatches. Ellison just stood in the center of the compartment, watching his ship fall apart around him. “The captain went down with his ship,” was something he had heard many times before. But under these circumstances, that wouldn’t have done any good. He silently said goodbye to the ship on which he had served the last two years and quickly headed for the aft port deck hatch.

    As more and more capital ships and support vessels continued falling, the Dominion and Breen armada gathered near the nebula and streaked into warp. A swarm of escape pods, along with two runabouts and five shuttles emerged from the broken hull of Constantinople. One of the retreating attack cruisers fired one last killing blow, tearing apart the ship and taking a few escape pods and one shuttle with it.

    Day 20

    And on the second month,
    On the seven and twentieth day of the month,
    The Earth had dried.
    (Genesis 8:14)

    Thousands of ships soared through the vastness of space like a giant swarm of insects. They were clustered so close together that they could block out the stars they passed.

    They had all been pulled off the front lines of a war that darkened this side of the galaxy for nearly two years. Each and every starship that had fought on the side of the Dominion was recalled to the most central region of the Cardassian Union. The hope was to defend a much smaller region of space with a large amount of ships, all the while building up their numbers to a level that would easily overcome the great powers of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants.

    It was a maneuver the Founders had hoped to never use through the course of the war. Of course, they did not expect that the Federation Alliance War would last this long. They expected to defeat the Federation and its allies within four or five months. That was assuming the availability of regular reinforcements from their side of the galaxy. Yet somehow, the Bajorans’ false gods residing in the Anomaly had intervened in a big way on the eve of the Dominion’s greatest victory. And with the Founders standing on the verge of extinction, defeat was not an option. It was better for them to wither and die from a mysterious affliction than to be conquered and exterminated by the Solids.

    All the ships converged in locations that surrounded the Cardassian Union and its core worlds. Thousands of ships were gathered in one such location—a solar system the Cardassians named Minakus. It was a force as big as every celestial body within the Minakus system put together. It was a force that would require the bulk of the enemy’s forces to break through.

    The enemy wouldn’t dare try to penetrate this fortress. And even if it did, a very miniscule number of ships and troops would survive the attempt.

    For the Founders of the Dominion, victory literally was life.

  20. Enterprise1981

    Enterprise1981 Vice Admiral Admiral

    Oct 23, 2008
    Tethered to a large plant
    Part Two: “Nothing Less Than Full Victory”

    “We will accept nothing less than full Victory!” General Dwight David Eisenhower, June 2, 1944

    Chapter Thirteen

    Day 23

    And when the tempter came to him,
    He, said, if thou be the Son of God,
    Command that these stones
    Be made bread.
    (Matthew 4:3)

    Limis Vircona sat at one end of the conference table in the main briefing room participating in a teleconference with two fleet commanders and three senior admirals, detailing the Dominion withdraw. Vice-Admiral William Ross appeared on the center of the monitor screen. Vice-Admirals Arthur Bellamy and Grenthanneck th’Talach were pictured in video capsules on the right of the screen, while Rear Admirals Phillip Gundersen and Bartholomew Coburn appeared on the left.

    Through her experiences in staying one step ahead of the Jem’Hadar during their relentless efforts to exterminate the Maquis and fighting in the Dominion War, Limis learned time and again that they did a very thorough job in eliminating a target. From the attempted mass slaughter of the last remaining remnants of the Maquis on Athos Four to the destruction of ninety-eight ships at the Battle of Tyra early in the war to the deaths of fifteen hundred miners in the Coridan Massacre, they were even more thorough than the Cardassians in killing as many people as possible, even noncombatants, before declaring victory. On a number of occasions, the Jem’Hadar did not hesitate to destroy escape pods and medical transports. No Jem’Hadar soldier or starship would withdraw from battle when a significant number of enemy forces were still capable of putting up a strong fight unless it was to their tactical advantage. The same was true of the Breen in their attack on Earth. After Starfleet reinforcements arrived, the Breen had very few ships left to continue fighting only after having done considerable damage to the planet’s infrastructure. A Dominion fleet left over two hundred vessels intact as they withdrew deeper into their own territory during the Lambda Paz’s last encounter with them four days earlier. Since then, Starfleet battle groups throughout the Federation had reported similar incidents.

    The questions now were whether or not the Dominion had indeed pulled off a complete strategic retreat from Federation and allied territories in order to make a final stand in Cardassian Union core systems, and how the Federation Alliance was to respond to this latest development in the war.

    “We have been able to confirm that all Dominion and allied vessels have withdrawn from the Vulcan and Bolian fronts,” Bellamy informed the other senior officers from his office on Starbase 19. “The reconnaissance squads in the Kalandra Sector have found the Dominion has withdrawn all of their remaining ships.”

    “Admiral Jellico’s hunch was correct,” the Andorian th’Talach chimed in. A quick silence followed the mention of Jellico, everyone having been reminded that contact with his battle group was lost. “Recon surveys of the Klingon and Romulan fronts can find no Dominion activity. Even ships massing for attacks on Qo’Nos and Romulus have pulled out.”

    “Couldn’t they have tried to attack those planets with the same goal in mind as when Earth was hit?” Limis wondered. Almost immediately, she wanted to curse herself for posing such a crass question. Of course, her thoughts at that moment were for her human crewmembers and for those residing on Earth. Why Earth and not the home planets of the Klingon and Romulan Empires?

    “Let us be thankful they did not,” Bellamy replied with a narrow stare indicating that he found that line of questioning inappropriate while being understanding of it at the same time.

    And thankful that they haven’t hit Bajor either, Limis silently added. That may be selfish, but I am thankful the Breen did not yet attack Bajor.

    “They did still inflict plenty of damage along the way,” Ross chimed in. “They took care to take out as many capital ships and fleet commanders as possible.”

    “We lost a lot of good tacticians,” Coburn added. “Admiral Sitak, General Gh’ralg…”

    “Not to mention to losing contact with the group led by Admiral Jellico,” said Gündersen. “There could be any number of reasons why…” His voice trailed off upon realizing that his colleagues were still contemplating a worst-case scenario.

    “The Dominion is hoping we back off as well,” Ross plainly announced, “while they take the time to regroup. That’ll put them in a much better position to win the war if we do leave them alone. That’s why we have to kick them while they’re down. This is our best chance to end the war here and now.”

    Limis’s eyes widened with surprise. Never in the history of the Federation had a military operation of this scope been conducted. And slaying the dragon in its lair, to quote an Earth metaphor, would take a lot more ships than the forty thrown at the Borg at Wolf 359. “That’s very bold, sir,” she offered. “It’s going to take a lot of ships to break through that line. We’ll be lucky to get one battle group through to Cardassia.”

    “Maybe so,” said th’Talach, “but it will be our best chance.”

    “We’ll be massing the largest fleet ever assembled,” Bellamy informed the rest of the group. “All intact and functioning warships in this region of space will participate in a full-scale invasion.”

    “The Gorn and Xindi will also be committing warships to this endeavor,” Ross added. “Several non-aligned worlds that had previously hesitated to take sides militarily will also contribute ships. We expect that will bring the total to roughly eighty-three hundred strong.

    “The entire armada will still be outnumbered two and a half to one. The goal is to hit the enemy in four places—Getha, Minakus, Tirolk, and Sarpedion—hoping to punch holes in the defense perimeter and fight their way to the Cardassian system. And that’s assuming enough ships survive to mount a final assault.

    “Since travel there will require three days or more, the ships involved will engage in search and rescue operations. A number of hospital ships will be along to assist.”

    Many different thoughts were racing through Limis’s mind while Ross and the other admirals continued talking. After surviving twenty days in the Daxura System dodging raiding parties, a much bigger challenge was on the horizon. Once again, Limis worried both that she would not survive the pending battle and that she would. If she did survive, she probably had a court martial on trumped up charges.

    What Limis was certain of, after her Maquis cell survived being on the run from the Dominion with fewer resources, was that the Federation Alliance would ultimately triumph.


    Shinar Sh’Aqba awoke to see Erhlich Tarlazzi sitting beside her on the edge of her bed. Ever since being released from suicide watch, she had to get some sleep whenever she could. Additionally, she and Tarlazzi took turns overseeing the repairs and maintenance needed to make the ship battle ready. It was far from an efficient operation. Shinar would still get only two hours of sleep with the long repair list, but it seemed like the best way to follow medical advice.

    “Sleep well?” Erhlich asked her with a wide smile.

    “I’d hardly define just two hours as a good sleep,” Shinar answered with an unamused sigh.

    Erhlich held her right shoulder as his smile diminished a little. “You were supposed to relieve me a half hour ago,” he reminded her. “I’m guessing the antidepressants aren’t having much of an effect. Still as grumpy as ever.”

    Shinar chuckled lightly. “I haven’t tried to kill myself if that’s what you’re wondering,” she said with a smile. “I’m taking so many different medicines, I’ve stopped keeping track of all of them. Nitrosorene to extend the time I can carry our child, isoflavene for the intermittent hot flashes, and now this amoxi-whatever it’s called for the depression.

    “Your life is not the only one you’re responsible for. You could always ask for a medical leave of absence.”

    “Absolutely not,” Shinar huffed with a disarming scowl. She nudged the edge of Erhlich’s left shoulder, utterly surprised and even offended by such a suggestion. “You think pregnancy is a disease?”

    “Whoa, of course not,” Erhlich snapped, raising his hands in surrender. “I was just saying…”

    Shinar quickly calmed down and clasped his right hand with both her hands. “We’ve come this far,” she continued. “I’m not quitting now. What scares me more than dying is thinking I didn’t do enough. Being diagnosed with depression is still a grave dishonor among my people. I may have backed away from Andorian marital practices, but I still have my pride. I will not back away from this fight. I will see it through to the end, Tarlazzi.”

    “And I’ll follow you to the gates of hell,” Erhlich quipped. He leaned forward and planted a soft kiss on Shinar’s lips.

    “I’d expect nothing less,” Shinar purred while returning his kisses. She slowly backed away and slid out of bed. “The bed’s all yours,” she said while slowly sauntering towards the shower alcove.


    Shinar stood in the sonic shower, leaning back against the wall while feeling sonic pulses up and down her body. With time to ruminate in solitude, Shinar felt her bare abdomen in order to establish some kind of mental bond with her unborn child. For a few moments, she asked herself if she truly had the right to continue to put another life in such danger the way she already had. It didn’t seem as black-and-white as when she swore to her lover that she would stay on duty for as long as medically feasible. What if an incident similar to when she closed that bulkhead took place and she was not so lucky? She quickly nudged that thought aside and reminded herself of a simple platitude.

    Hope for the best, and prepare for the…no, no…just hope for the best and don’t even think about the worst-case scenario. If convinced she would die tomorrow, she’d probably find ways to make it happen.


    After a long and stressful shift conducting repairs over the last eight hours, Rebecca Sullivan and Sara Carson quickly paced into the quarters they shared. Rebecca walked in first, and then Sara. Rebecca set down her engineering kit in front of the sofa and sprawled herself over one side of the sofa. Sara then placed a smaller toolkit on the desk.

    “I thought that shift would never end,” Rebecca groaned while taking slow and deep breaths. “The starboard inertial compensators get fixed and the main navigational proximity sensor crashes. We fix that, and then the accelerometer relays burn out. Why should we even bother sending this ship back to the front lines? I could use a long sonic shower.”

    Sara flashed a sly grin and seated herself next to Rebecca. “Mind if I join you?” she asked with a suggestive nudge of her lover’s arm with her elbow.

    “I’d invite you if the alcove was big enough for two,” Rebecca said with a teasing grin, “and if it was working properly. Right now, I just want to sleep for a whole day.”

    Sara blinked her eyes shut, surrendering to her own fatigue. “Me too,” she mumbled. A few seconds later, she opened her eyes with a question on the tip of her tongue. “Becca, you ever wonder?”

    “Wonder what?”

    “If we’re going to win this war, if it’s worth throwing away so many lives. Are either of us going to live through it? Will you still be serving in Starfleet after the war?”

    That last question caught Rebecca’s attention. She had only been conscripted into Starfleet because of the Dominion War. Even as the possibility of that war soon coming to an end loomed, she never really considered whether a former Maquis would have a place in Starfleet after the war. “Every minute of every day,” she said with her eyes still closed. “But every so often, I’m reminded that it all scares the hell out of me. And so I try not to think about it and live each day as if it were my last.”

    “What if it turns out not to be?” Sara asked, nudging her shoulder against Rebecca’s.

    Rebecca leaned over towards Sara, resting her head on her shoulder. “Then I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.”
    Sara wrapped her arm around Rebecca’s shoulder and stroked a few free strands of her hair with her fingers. “I could use a drink,” she suddenly blurted out.

    “Me, too,” Rebecca replied, coaxing Sara’s arm away from her shoulder as if being reminded of something she had forgotten. “Vodka martini?”


    Rebecca stood up, but appeared to lose her balance from having put too much weight on her injured foot. She seated herself back on the sofa and stood back up while putting more pressure on her uninjured right foot.

    “Go easy,” Sara told her. “There could still be some nerve damage.”

    “I’m still taking one for the team,” Rebecca said, walking with a slight limp towards the replicator. She tapped a few keys on the computer panel, and two drink glasses materialized in the tray. “It would be simpler for me to stay behind or for this ship to stay behind,” she continued on her return to the sofa with the drinks in tow. “But then I couldn’t live with myself knowing I could’ve helped out in some way. To our upcoming victory. Cheers.”

    They both raised their glasses and clinked them against each other’s. “Cheers,” Sara repeated. They took sips of their drinks and set the glasses down. A long pause followed before they shared a kiss.


    Aurellan Markalis was stirring in her sleep, her head twitching back and forth. “Don’t you die on me on me damn it,” she was muttering.

    She was reliving an incident where a patient died. What was different in this dream was that she was confused and disoriented, not sure what procedures to follow to improve the condition of a man drifting in and out consciousness. She was even administering drugs that worsened the patient’s condition despite warnings from T’Pren and the EMH-Mark III. Within seconds, the patient was dead.

    Almost immediately afterwards, though, the patient blinked his eyes open. “You killed me,” he said with an ominous stare. “You could have saved me, but you chose to kill me instead.”

    “No,” Aurellan insisted. “You were too far gone.”

    “Was that your excuse for not saving me?” a feminine voice called.

    She looked up and saw an angry mob approaching her. They were ghosts of patients who died while under her care going all the way back to when she started her internship. She slowly backed away from them, but they kept coming as she meandered towards the two main biobeds. They were saying that her incompetence killed them.

    Sh’Aqba joined the mob telling her, “You killed my baby.”

    “No, I did everything I could,” Aurellan insisted.

    The angry mob suddenly vanished. The shouting was replaced by maniacal laughter. Aurellan turned around and saw… herself. But rather, this other Aurellan Markalis had jet-black hair and eyelids painted different shades of gray, while dressed in all black Gothic attire.

    “We did this all by ourselves,” this evil doppelganger proclaimed while spreading her arms out to indicate the deck littered with dead bodies. “We didn’t need the help of the Cardassians, the Jem’Hadar, or the Breen. More people died because of us than because of the war with the Dominion.” She continued cackling while walking slowly towards one of the main biobeds. “Nurse, I’ll need fifty cc’s of sodium pentothal.”

    She held the hypospray close to Shinar’s neck. Aurellan wanted to lunge towards her evil twin, but couldn’t. “She wants to die anyway,” the evil twin said, “so why not let her?” She injected the poison into Shinar’s carotid artery causing instant death.

    “No!” Aurellan cried out.

    She was suddenly awakened, her face bathed in a cold sweat. She was relieved that it was only a dream and terrified that such a dream could become a reality.

    Aurellan leaned towards the nightstand and picked up the hypo-syringe containing the next dose of her daily tranquilizer. She stared at it for a very long moment, wondering if she really needed it. She pushed aside the bed covers and took the syringe to the replicator tray. Upon pushing a button on the computer panel, the syringe dissolved.

    It was an important first step. After repeatedly insisting that she was not an addict, Aurellan Markalis received a sobering warning of what could happen if she did not kick this habit and soon.