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Join Date: Aug 2013
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# 1 Red Fire, Red Planet (fanfic)
03-24-2014, 12:52 PM
This time I'm adapting a Cryptic mission, "Second Star to the Right, Straight on 'til Morning". This one stars my KDF crew.

-------------------

Red Fire, Red Planet
By StarSword

Chapter 1: Logical Routines

Operations Specialist, Second Class Kybok
Listening Post 204RT
Oort Cloud, Sol System
0715 GMT, 2 March 2409


War is illogical. It always has been. It always will be.

Therefore it was fortunate that Opspec Second Kybok had managed to stay well away from it.

204RT was a Paul Revere-class telemetry processing station forty-five astronomical units from Sol, gathering data from microsatellites monitoring a thirty-degree cone of the system edge that reached a third of a light-year from the station in the direction of 40 Eridani and Epsilon Indi. Fourteen enlisted and one officer called it home. The Oort cloud listening posts were seen by most assigned to them as a dead end. War rarely came within a dozen light-years of Sol, the invincible paradise at the heart of the Federation. Few opportunities presented for people assigned there to distinguish themselves.

Kybok welcomed it. He had seen the damage war could do. His father Chu'lak had been driven insane by the random deaths of his comrades during the Dominion War thirty-four standard years earlier and had come to consider murder a logical course of action. The best medical minds on Vulcan had been unable to help him and Chu'lak spent most of his days infused with antipsychotics.

Kybok had no interest in becoming his father. Therefore it was logical to avoid war. But this conflicted with the logical duty of a citizen to serve his country in whatever way he could.

The logical solution? An assignment where there was no chance of actually seeing combat. If one does a mostly unimportant job to the best of one's ability, one will fulfill one's duty to one's country while avoiding inherently illogical situations.

Kybok ran his life by a precise routine. This, too was logical. He awoke at precisely 0715 hours and replicated a meal. Today was a Monday by Earth's calendar, meaning breakfast was hot plomeek soup and dry-roasted dirka nuts. He arrived on duty at 0745 and monitored the telemetry from the satellites. It was boring, predictable work, monitoring space traffic in and out of the system. Forty ships were scheduled to pass through 204RT's arc today.

At 0815, Chief Operations Specialist Sally Blackhawk had broken out her deck of cards. This was also routine, although the tanned, high-cheekboned brunette didn't do it at the same time every day. Kybok liked card games. They were random but still followed logical rules. They mostly played blackjack and variations of bridge, since Blackhawk had forbidden Kybok to play poker with her after the Vulcan cleaned her out seven times in a row. Vulcans have excellent poker faces.

At 0822, Lieutenant Tiyerissel sh'Kreem, the commander of the listening post, turned up. "Deal me in," he said, taking a seat at the table.

"How is your leg this morning, sir?" Kybok asked sh'Kreem. The Andorian had lost his right leg at the hip when the USS Hamburg was ambushed by the IKS QarchetvI' while patrolling near Deep Space K-7. The prosthetic never quite knit properly so he wasn't cleared for field duty. He had another round of therapy scheduled for next month.

"Hit me," sh'Kreem said after glancing at his two cards. "Better than it was yesterday. That meditation thing you showed me seems to be helping, Kybok."

Kybok placed some more chips outside his betting box and pointed a finger. "I am gratified to be of service, sir."

"Okay, one more card for you, Kybok," Blackhawk said. "One card for me. Damn it, dealer bust. What is that, three in a row? Okay, take your chips."

"Just isn't your day, is it, Chief?" Crewman Yasmin Sherazi remarked from a console against the wall.

"Eyes on your board, Sherazi," sh'Kreem said without looking up. "You want me to deal, Chief?" Blackhawk gave an exasperated nod and passed him the deck.

"Yes, sir," Sherazi's board chirped. "Got a warp sig. And the transponder, Tuffli-class inbound from Vulcan. Looks like the SS Ayanami, though I think Captain Ikari's about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Logged and sent."

Kybok got two tens. He spread them apart and added chips to his pot, and sh'Kreem drew two more cards. The eight of clubs and the ace of hearts. Blackjack. Blackhawk tossed a total of twenty-three across the table, swearing.

"What the..." Sherazi said.

Kybok hadn't heard the Iranian use that tone before. "What is it, Crewman?"

"I'm not sure. Some sort of weird ripple pattern on the subspace feed from satellite Charlie-Ten-Thirty. There one second, gone the next. There it is again."

"Sensors probably got turned around," Blackhawk commented. "Run a diagnostic."

"I already did."

Kybok frowned almost imperceptibly. Subspace anomalies were the exact opposite of logical. He laid his cards down, got up, and walked over to his own station. "Odd. I have the same reading. Point-three light-years out and and traveling inward at warp 8."

"I've got a warp signature," Opspec First Bikog Bu-Tal-Rek announced from his bench. "Big ship, same vector as the anomalies."

"There is nothing of that mass on the schedule," Kybok noted.

"Hail them, main viewer," sh'Kreem ordered. "This is Starfleet Listening Post Two-Zero-Four-Romeo-Tango to unidentified ship. Identify yourself."

Nothing appeared on the monitor, but a slightly raspy male voice came through the speakers. "204RT, this is Captain John Hollingsworth of the USS DeWitt. We're headed for Spacedock to offload wounded and seek repairs."

Kybok pulled the files on the DeWitt from the computer. NCC-96047 was one of the big Typhoon-class battleships they'd started building in the early nineties. He passed the file to the lieutenant, who briefly perused it.

"The codes match, Eltee," Sherazi informed sh'Kreem.

The Andorian's antennae twitched in acknowledgment. "All right, sir. We'll let them know you're coming. May I ask why you're not using video?"

"Our communications array took some battle damage. We haven't been able to get the video working again. DeWitt out."

-------------------

Lieutenant Commander Brokosh
Chel'toK House Fleet Bird-of-Prey IKS
mupwI'
Edge of the Sol System
1238 Qo'nos Central Time, Ninth Month, Fortieth Year of the Age of the Risen Emperor


Lieutenant Commander Brokosh closed the channel with a taloned right hand. "Our evil plan is working, Meromi," the Lethean commented to his first officer. The diminutive Orion said nothing in response.

In point of fact, the Xenexian Hollingsworth and most of his crew had been dead for several days. Poor bastard expired of wounds sustained during his capture, and after taking the 52 survivors off the blazing wreck to which he had reduced the DeWitt, Brokosh had used the Typhoon-class for target practice. Those survivors were now prisoners of the Klingon Defense Force, who at Chancellor J'mpok's order were dragging their feet on informing Starfleet of their capture.

The last part mildly disgusted Brokosh, despite it being essential for operational security. While he had no particular stake in the Klingons' frankly targ-**** idea of honor in battle, in his career as a mercenary he had long followed an ethical code of his own choosing. Don't kill anyone you don't have to, don't risk your underlings without cause, and treat your prisoners with decency.

Brokosh bared his teeth in an annoyed snarl and pushed the intercom button. "Ba'woV, how's the warp core holding up?"

"Very well, loDnal," her contralto voice came through. "Generating a warp field as strong as a qughDuj 'eyjo' was difficult but the ship is taking the strain well."

Brokosh's snarl turned into a smile. loDnal. Husband. Two years they'd been married now and he still wasn't used to the sound of the word. He'd met Ba'woV almost a decade ago when she'd been an engineer on the SS Shargrash, a freighter on the Deep Space 9-Qo'noS trade route. He'd been a combat engineer with Hanson's Harriers at the time, moving between assignments, and that red-haired Klingon, not much more than a girl but a good warp core engineer, had proven a lot of fun to talk shop with. It was only after they'd started dating that she told him she was a noblewoman. Chel'toK was a fairly inconsequential Great House in the scheme of things -- currently its only holding of worth was a nearly depleted arc of asteroid belt, and the house "fleet" consisted of two Birds-of-Prey and that ancient relic of a D7 called the IKS Khorazhar which they couldn't even fully crew -- but Ba'woV was still the grand-niece of its leader.

That had been something else, trying to propose to her in the Klingon manner for appearances' sake. Old man Chel'toK had tried to kill him. Twice. Not right, having a member of the kuve, the servitor races, getting into a position where he might someday inherit the leadership (Ba'woV was second in line behind her cousin Kidu). Not that Brokosh was interested; he didn't really get, or want to get, all that Klingon political targ-****. He just loved Ba'woV. Luckily the old racist didn't have a say in who could marry into the House; that was up to Lady K'Ronu.

As much as he loved her, though, Brokosh was uncomfortable with having his wife aboard. It wasn't just the two of them he had to worry about. They had a son, K'orTuH, and yes, Ba'Wov's sister T'Orchal was taking care of him, but it still wasn't smart putting both parents in danger. But, she was the only one who knew the mupwI' well enough to pull this crazy plan off.

The door at the back of the Bird-of-Prey's cramped bridge slid open and Norigom clanked his way in. Brokosh had no idea why the big yellow Nausicaan went literally everywhere in that corroded durasteel armor, but that thought took a backseat to his observation of Norigom's and Meromi's daily ritual, for lack of a better term. "And a very good morning to you, Meromi," he said, trying too hard to sound sweet as he leaned down next to her face.

"yI' meQ, petaQ," the Orion replied in her deceptively girlish voice, before punching him under the chin.

Brokosh walked over and helped his ops officer back up. "What is it with you, Norigom? You a masochist or something?"

"What's a masochist?"

"One who takes pleasure from being hurt," Ila'kshath, the oversize Gorn at the sensor station, answered without looking up. It was a fair assessment as far as Brokosh was concerned. When he came aboard last month, having been conscripted from Rura Penthe on a recommendation from the late Ambassador Rozhenko, Norigom's first order of business was apparently getting laid for the first time since probably the end of the Klingon-Gorn War. And what better target for his affections than the 147 centimeter, 45 kilo red-and-black leather-clad Orion girl acting as -- he thought -- ship's entertainment?

Norigom came to half an hour later with four cracked ribs, two broken metatarsals and a nose that was somewhat flatter than it had been when he'd entered the room. What had cemented Meromi Riyal as the object of his affections wasn't so much the beating itself as how lethally graceful she'd looked on the security feed he'd watched to figure out what the flying **** happened. Brokosh's tusks twitched in amusement at the memory as the big Nausicaan rubbed his jaw.

Out the corner of his eye he saw Meromi lean over her board. "Captain," she said in a very slightly concerned tone. "The Hegh'QeDp is reporting trouble with their fusion reactor. Microfracture popping in the containment bottle."

"Great. Have them drop out of warp and go dark. We'll pick 'em up on our way out." Brokosh turned to a console and hit the key for the intercom. "General K'Bor, this is Commander Brokosh. Please come to the bridge. Repeat, General K'Bor to the --"

"I am here already, Brokosh HoD," a gravelly voice came from the back of the room.

Brokosh turned and gave a slight nod to a somewhat overweight graying-haired Klingon in a flowing red battle robe and glittering stainless steel and brass ceremonial bandolier. "General. The IKS Hegh'QeDp is having engine trouble. They're falling out of the formation."

"QI'yaH," the general spat. "Cowards."

"Respectfully, sir, I don't consider dropping out of warp because of an imminent reactor casualty to have anything to do with cowardice."

"More glory for the rest of us, then," and the general pounded the railing.

The merc resisted the urge to roll his eyes, though he saw Norigom doing so in his peripheral vision. K'Bor, son of QulDun, of the House of J'mpok was one of the old guard, a white-haired Klink nearly a hundred and forty years old who'd been a junior officer under Koloth in the 2290s. Crazy old Dahar Master with more bloodlust than sense, a fierce field commander but a bit short on pragmatism. The raiding party of twenty-five Birds-of-Prey -- no, make that twenty-four without the Hegh'QeDp -- had picked him up at a border base on orders from his nephew, the Chancellor, who'd put him in charge of the deep-strike after the Lethean ripped the entry codes for the Sol system from Captain Hollingsworth's mind.

Whatever. As long as his orders didn't conflict with Brokosh's own sense of self-preservation, which extended to his crew, he'd respect the chain of command. He shook his head and looked back to the plot on the main viewer. Warp 8 was a bit more than a thousand times the speed of light, a little under half a billion kilometers per second. But from where they were, it would still take almost two and a half hours to reach their target.

A lot could happen in two and a half hours.

-------------------

Author's Notes:

The Chu'lak mentioned in Kybok's narrative is the Vulcan serial killer from DS9: "Field of Fire". The whole idea of how a Vulcan could've turned into a serial killer is pretty much borrowed straight from Chuck Sonnenburg's review of the episode.

Chief Blackhawk is meant to be of primarily Shoshoni Indian descent. And yes, I realize "Chief Blackhawk" seems like a really bad pun with that frame of reference. It wasn't intentional, I swear; I only noticed it later.
Vadm. Kanril Eleya, U.S.S. Andraste, Strike Team Alpha

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Last edited by starswordc; 07-18-2014 at 01:48 PM. Reason: name update of sh'Kreem to ch'Kreem due to gender mistake
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Join Date: Aug 2013
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Chapter 2: Things Are Looking Up

Ensign Kaitlyn McMillan
Crew Quarters, Fabrication Facility 19, Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards
Mars Orbit
0910 GMT


"So you'll be there, then?" Jacques Pierre asked.

"When does the show start again?" Kate McMillan replied to her fiance.

"Twenty-one hundred."

Her mouth quirked as she considered her shift schedule. "I will if I can get Lieutenant Medrona to let me off a few minutes early."

"Please do. And maybe you can stay over here through tomorrow morning?" The Quebecois wiggled his eyebrows suggestively and Kate snorted. "A man can dream, can't he?"

She laughed. "I'll see what I can do. Lord knows we haven't had any serious time together in weeks."

Off the screen she heard somebody ask, "Ensign, have you got that tetryon flux pattern analysis for me yet?"

Jacques muttered, "Merde," then looked over his shoulder and said, "Thirty seconds left on the algorithm, sir."

"Quit wasting time with your girlfriend and get it finished. We need those numbers for the core retrofit on the Repulse."

"Yes, sir."

"He sounds like my dad," Kate commented. Jacques' head spun back to the screen with a surprised look on his face and she chuckled. "No, he does, seriously. All right, stay safe, hon. I love you."

"Je t'aime. Au revoir, ma cherie."

The screen flicked to the Utopia Planitia logo and Kate got up and twisted her long, flaming red curls into their usual tight bun. She actually really hated that style—she preferred to wear her hair loose—but it was either that or cut it military short: way too easy for long hair to get caught in something at the shipyard.

She dug into the dresser and pulled out her black and red uniform jacket and zipped it up, taking a moment to ensure the single stainless steel pip on her right breast was straight and shiny. She grabbed her stab vest off its hook on the wall and shrugged into it, then buckled her gun belt and checked the charges on her stunstick and sidearm. Finally she palmed the door access and stepped out into the corridor to head to her duty station. Kate was Starfleet Security, one of the shipyard's guards, though she was hoping to get into the Investigative Service eventually. She'd met Jacques in their second year at the Academy. She was studying criminal investigation; he was a subspace physics major on Starfleet Science track. It'd taken some doing to even get them both assigned to the same installation when they weren't married yet, but sufficient begging had gotten Captain Kirkpatrick, Jacques' major advisor, to pull a few strings and get them both assignments at the shipyard after graduation. He'd proposed in September when they'd gotten some time off and visited her mom on Staten Island, and the date was set for April 14.

Kate arrived in the station security office after a short tram ride, unzipped the vest and hooked it over her chair, then grabbed a cup of coffee from the replicator. She was glad she'd pulled second shift this week, since it tended to be the quietest. There really wasn't much to do except break up the occasional argument at the station cantina and sweep for contraband.

Lieutenant Medrona, the chocolate-skinned Xindi-Primate in charge of the office, walked in a minute later. Kate stood up and snapped to attention. "As you were, Ensign. Good morning."

"Morning, sir. Uh, can I get you a cup of coffee?"

"Only if you want me to have a stomachache."

"Oh, right, caffeine—"

"Bad for the Xindi stomach lining, yes. Herbal tea, though…"

"Peppermint?" Medrona nodded and Kate turned to the replicator. "Peppermint tea, hot." The machine hummed but then made a squawking noise. Kate smacked the side with the heel of her palm and some kind of black sludge materialized on the tray. "Oy vey." She reached around back, felt around for the power feed and disconnected it, then plugged it back in. The replicator came back up and she hit the "dematerialize" button, then made the request again. A cup of hot tea glittered into existence and she handed it to the lieutenant. "Sir, I, uh—"

"Spit it out, Ensign."

Kate paused to organize herself. "Sir, I wanted to know if I could go off-shift early today."

"Why?" the Xindi asked, taking a sip of her tea.

"Jacques got tickets to a concert in New Venice, and, um, we haven't seen each other in weeks."

"Jacques is your lifemate, yes?"

Kate blushed. She hadn't thought of it quite that way. "Um, we're engaged, yes, sir."

"'Engaged'?"

"It means we're getting married but we haven't had the ceremony yet."

"You humans," the lieutenant commented in what sounded like a patronizing tone.

"Sir?"

"Never mind." Medrona shook her head and took another sip of tea. "I don't see why not, barring any unforeseen circumstances. But I want your Form 407-C on my desk before you leave."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir."

Medrona smiled. "Get to work, Ensign," she said, and walked into her office.

Kate maintained something close to military composure until the door slid shut, then couldn't resist leaping half a meter into the air and shouting "YES!"

"A bit quieter, please, Ensign," Medrona's muffled voice came from the opposite door. "They can probably hear you on Phobos."

"Yes, sir! Sorry, sir!" She struggled to stifle a giggle, then sighed.

Today was definitely looking up.

-------------------

Operations Specialist, Second Class Kybok
Listening Post 204RT
Oort Cloud, Sol System
0920 GMT


"Bikog, I'm telling you, I saw something," Sherazi insisted.

"And I'm telling you, Sherazi, there's nothing on the scanners," Bikog contradicted her. The Choblik's cybernetic arms raced across the board as his tail agitatedly whipped back and forth. "See, nothing. Nothing. More nothing. Carry the nothing. Nothing plus nothing equals nothing!"

"What the heck is that supposed to mean?" Chief Blackhawk said from her console.

"It means there's nothing there, Chief!"

"Oss-One Bikog, calm the frak down or I'll have Kybok pinch you," Lieutenant sh'Kreem interjected. "Kybok, take a look at her data."

The Vulcan idly wondered where, exactly, he was supposed to grip a Choblik to perform the nerve pinch as Sherazi shot the data over to his console. That faint ripple pattern in subspace was still appearing sporadically, traveling inward along with the DeWitt. They had already alerted Captain Hollingsworth that he was having possible warp field problems.

Kybok advanced through the logs to the timeframe Sherazi had marked, a minute or so after they'd finished talking with Hollingsworth the first time, and went through frame by frame. He spent forty-five seconds looking when he suddenly spotted it. "Sherazi, Bikog, come over here, please." The human and Choblik walked over. "A tachyon burst, from frames 102 to 115, point-two-nine-five light years out."

This was deeply unsettling. It was the result of large quantities of tachyons, matter that permanently existed at superluminal speeds, suddenly entering normal space and self-annihilating. According to everything Kybok knew about subspace physics (he understood the basic concepts, though writing a paper was out of the question), that was impossible under normal conditions. Now, subspace was inherently unpredictable and there were natural phenomena that could cause a tachyon burst, but none of the ones he knew about had ever been sighted this close to the Sol system.

"Computer," Sherazi said, "analyze readings during selected timespan and explain tachyon burst."

The intercom chirped. "There are four hundred forty-seven possibilities." Kybok heard Blackhawk say a word he had been told humans considered very rude.

"Sort by descending order of likelihood and give me the top five," sh'Kreem requested.

Chirp. "Microsingularity interacting with gravity wave. Nadion inversion field. Cloaked starship entering normal space. Quantum flux—"

"Repeat the third item," Kybok interrupted.

"Cloaked starship entering normal space."

"Likelihood?"

"Four percent."

Kybok spun in his chair and saw sh'Kreem sitting in his chair, staring at the readout, and scratching his goatee. "Sir?"

The Andorian stood and tugged the hem of his jacket straight. "Sound yellow alert. Any one of those could be dangerous to navigation if nothing else. Bikog, you're with me. I want to take the Ibn Yunus out to get a closer look. Chief, the deck is yours."

"I have the deck," Blackhawk confirmed.

Bikog and sh'Kreem walked to the turbolift and the Andorian requested, "Docking ring." The door slid shut. About two minutes later, the listening post's only Type-10 shuttlepod appeared on the plot and went to warp.

-------------------

Author's Notes:
You may or may not remember Kate McMillan from Bait and Switch. Same gal.

According to the Star Trek reference book Federation: The First 150 Years, the Xindi joined the Federation in 2311.

The Choblik are a Federation member species from the Star Trek: Titan novels. Very much non-humanoid; they look kind of like a therapod dinosaur with no arms (a precursor race gave them knowledge of cybernetic prosthetics to fix that problem).

The Ibn Yunus is named after the tenth-century Egyptian Muslim astronomer Abu al-Hasan 'Ali ibn 'Abd al-Rahman ibn Ahmad ibn Yunus al-Sadafi al-Misri. You can see why it gets truncated.
Vadm. Kanril Eleya, U.S.S. Andraste, Strike Team Alpha

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Last edited by starswordc; 07-18-2014 at 01:49 PM. Reason: name update of sh'Kreem to ch'Kreem due to gender mistake
Captain
Join Date: Aug 2013
Posts: 3,648
# 3
03-30-2014, 10:25 PM
Chapter 3: Why Do You Fight?

Lieutenant Tiyerissel sh'Kreem
Shuttle
Ibn Yunus
Beyond the Edge of Sol
1034 GMT


Like most Starfleet shuttles the Type-10 wasn't originally designed to travel at high warp. For most of recorded post-warp history, full-size starships could fit much more powerful warp cores, letting them reach speeds upwards of warp 9.9 in some cases. Even one of the old Danube-class runabouts could handle warp 9.4 after then-Senior Chief O'Brien's upgrades made it throughout the fleet. By contrast a first-run Type-10 shuttlepod could maybe hit warp 5 going flat-out.

But advances in miniaturization in the mid-'80s had drastically reduced the size of the warp coils needed for such high warp factors, and Starfleet shuttles were now almost as fast as their motherships, if considerably shorter-ranged. Which was how Ty sh'Kreem was able to push the Ibn Yunus past warp 9 and into the asymptote with a sizable safety margin, arriving near their target coordinates in about an hour.

"All right, Bikog, let's see what's out there." Ty stood up to stretch; his prosthetic was bothering him.

"There's nothing there! Sir."

"Bikog, is there something wrong with your cyber-brain? You're really twitchy today." The Andorian's antennae quirked left as he squatted to stretch his leg out straight. "Start with a gravimetric scan and work your way down the list."

"Yes, sir."

Ty grunted as he pressed his leg against the floor, carefully controlling his breathing as Kybok had shown him, then felt something give in his hip. With that the pain all but vanished and he let out a breath in relief.

"No black hole, Eltee, and no abnormal gravity waves. Wait, hold that thought."

"What? What is it?"

"I have a very slight anomalous signal about four thousand kilometers out. It's like a ... a dent in the fabric, like somebody's pressing lightly on spacetime with a stick."

"That's weird," Ty said, standing and leaning over the Choblik's haunch to get a look at the data.

"What's even weirder is it seems to be unidirectional."

"The frak?" Bikog dragged a hand across the touchscreen and rotated the anomaly in place. Sure enough, the gravity anomaly uniformly pulled in a single direction, upward relative to the Ibn Yunus, at 1.23 gravities. "What in the name of Lor'vela could that possibly be?" That sense of unease he'd felt aboard the station was coming back. "What was number three again?"

"Cloaked ship coming out of warp?"

"Let's eliminate the possibility. Fire a burst of antiprotons from the main deflector." It was a tried-and-true method of detecting cloaked vessels that Starfleet had copied from the Dominion and refined.

"It'll take me a minute, sir." Suddenly Bikog shouted, "Eltee, look!"

Ty's head whipped up to the main viewscreen in horror. There was a ripple in the blackness, as if reality itself was bending to allow something to come into existence.

Something much bigger than their shuttle.

Something shaped like a predatory bird and painted pale green.

"Take evasive action! Shields--"

Then the Bird-of-Prey fired its main cannons and Ty and Bikog died instantly.

-------------------

Operations Specialist, Second Class Kybok
Starfleet Listening Post 204RT
Oort Cloud, Sol System
1045 GMT


Kybok stared impassively at the plot as the Ibn Yunus' transponder signal suddenly vanished. He reached for the communicator. "204RT to Ibn Yunus. 204RT to Ibn Yunus, please respond."

"Kybok," Chief Blackhawk ordered, "Sweep the area with a high-res burst from the hyperradar arrays on the two nearest microsats. I want to know what the ****ing hell just happened."

Kybok input the commands and waited for the telemetry. "Reading fine debris indicative of fusion bottle failure, and ..."

"Yes?"

"I am unsure. A very brief bounce-back from another object, four thousand kilometers from the debris field. It has now disappeared."

"Magnify and play it back."

Kybok zoomed in on the anomalous reading. It resembled part of a wing. With a very large gun attached to it. He put it on the monitor.

"Kiopek oghlu," Sherazi breathed. "That's a Klingon Bird-of-Prey."

Just like that, Kybok figured out what was really going on. The ripples in subspace? Fluctuations from a cloaking device in use at warp. The DeWitt? Either hijacked or destroyed, with a Klingon Defense Force vessel mimicking her warp signature in the latter case.

Chief Blackhawk hit the intercom key on her console and bellowed, "Battle stations!" into the microphone. Klaxons began shrieking as her hands danced across the board. Again, into the microphone she shouted, "Starfleet Command, this is COS. Sally Blackhawk of Listening Post Two-Zero-Four-Romeo-Tango, authorization Charlie-Papa-Oscar-3255-Alpha-Whiskey-24827! Case Zulu! Repeat, Zulu, Zulu, Zulu! Details to follow!"

And for that brief moment, Kybok's Vulcan composure slipped. Case Zulu was a code phrase that had not been heard in Sol since the Breen attack thirty-four years ago. It was never, ever given during exercises to avoid crying wolf, and had only one definition: "Enemy invasion imminent."

"Allah preserve us," Kybok heard Sherazi whisper.

-------------------

Fleet Admiral William T. Riker
Nob Hill, San Francisco, California
Earth
0248 PST


Will Riker was jolted out of a sound sleep by the squeal of an emergency signal. He struggled to disentangle himself from his sheets and Deanna and said, "Computer, get that," pressing his fingers to closed eyelids. "What the hell time is it?" he mumbled.

A female voice came through the flat's intercom. "Sir, this is Admiral Singh at HQ. We just got a Case Zulu from one of the listening posts in the Oort cloud."

That woke him up. "Home Fleet?"

"What's here is scrambling, but remember the exercises?"

Will grunted and bit back a curse as he got to his feet and looked for some clean underwear. A good three-quarters of the Sol defense fleet was on maneuvers four light-years away in the Centauri system and couldn't get back for another twenty hours or so. Whoever set off the listening post had great timing. "Civil defense?"

"We've got every emergency service in the system going ape****, sir, all the way down to SFPD."

"All right, then, the important question: who's out there?"

"The CPO who got off the message says it's the Klinks, sir."

Will frowned at the slur that had been making its way through Starfleet over the past decade as the Federation's long, if rocky, alliance with the Empire collapsed. He'd served with more than enough Klingons not to use it himself and still hoped there was some way to mend fences.

Eh. That was Deanna's department. She was, after all, the head of the Diplomatic Corps now, and she still kept in touch with Worf. His job was keeping the Federation physically intact so she could do her job. "Mr. Singh," he said to the intercom, "I'll be there in ten minutes or less. Try and hold it together for me."

"You got it, sir."

He zipped up his jacket, leaned down and kissed his sleeping imzadi on the cheek. "Computer, when Deanna wakes up, tell her I got called to HQ." He started to walk out the door but then realized he was missing something. Then he looked down. "Oh, dammit, pants."

-------------------

First Lieutenant Meromi Riyal
Chel'toK House Fleet Bird-of-Prey IKS
mupwI'
Sol System, Approaching Primary Target
1509 Qo'noS Central Time


Meromi turned off her screen and looked at her reflection. Why do I fight? Meromi thought to herself, as always before she went into combat.

I fight for my freedom.

Meromi wasn't a slave so much as an indentured servant, as marked by the tattoo of the House insignia under her right eye. It was the deal the House of Chel'toK had made with her: She gave herself to their house fleet for five years--year one was up in four days--and they didn't hand her to Imperial Security, who wanted her head, literally, for arms dealing. Once her term was up, she'd get a full pardon, and she'd even get citizenship for her military service.

Meromi had been one of the fifteen hundred, the slave girls given by the Queen ***** of the Orion Syndicate, as she thought of Melani D'ian, as "gifts" to the Great Houses of the Empire at the signing of the Treaty of Ter'jas Mor. Two months of drunken pawing and post-coital trips to the infirmary had been her limit and she'd escaped to the First City underground. That was where she'd learned to fight. Klingon mok'bara. Andorian shan-dru-shaan. Human jujutsu. Any style relying more on finesse and leverage than brute force. When you weigh 43 kilos in one gravity, that's the only way to fight.

I fight because of my captain.

"All hands, come to general quarters," she heard Brokosh announce into the intercom behind her. She liked Brokosh's pragmatism and trusted his ethics. She couldn't have dealt with a Klingon captain; they were near-uniformly nuts, and a lot less restrained. Orion women had enough problems. And she liked his wife. Even though it was Ba'woV who had caught her hiding in the Chel'toK estate's basement after Imperial Security broke open her smuggling ring, it was also Ba'woV who had gotten the house head to conscript her and save her from execution.

She filtered out the chatter on the bridge and focused on the task before her. "Coming out of warp in five, four, three, two, one." The streaking stars flashed and danced as the Bird-of-Prey rapidly braked for a crash translation to normal space. This part Meromi considered beautiful, a spectacular light show as radiation and particulate matter was tortured and torn by the deflector and the collapsing forward lobe of the warp field and a blue-shifted sphere inflated into view.

They swiftly braked to 25,000 kilometers per second and the distorted colors faded, giving the Orion her first-ever view of a coppery red orb, capped on either end by white icecaps. The humans called it Mars, supposedly after some ancient god of war. Ironic.

She punched in a few commands to correct her vector to point her at the shipyard control center, dropped the wings into combat configuration, and remotely popped the ventral hatch on the cargo bay. "Strike package ready for deployment, Captain."

"Deploy the package."

For such a theoretically devastating weapon the "strike package" was incredibly simple. It was nothing more than a ten ton block of solid uranium-238, less than a meter on a side, with a crude gimbal-mounted chemical rocket and simple radar guidance that let it make minor course corrections (maybe a few degrees in any direction). And the mupwI' was the only ship in the formation carrying it, which made Meromi feel rather special.

At 430,000 kilometers she activated a preprogrammed macro and the cargo bay tractor beam pushed it clear of the Bird-of-Prey.

"'Strike package'?" the general wondered from his seat at the back of the bridge. "What is this?"

"Observe, General," Brokosh said. "Meromi, come left, two one five, and continue deceleration to combat velocities."

"New sensor contacts," Ila'kshath said. "A flight of Peregrine-class fighters, sixty thousand kilometers and closing."

A voice over the comms. "Qap'gargh to mupwI', we're on your wing. Heghlu'meH QaQ jajvam!"

No, it's not, Meromi thought. It's never a good day to die.

"Meromi, you may fire at will," Brokosh ordered.

She set the cannons into scatter mode and killed the impulse engines, diverting their power to the disruptors, selected a vector, and fired. A low-pitched thrum echoed through the ship as the main cannons went into rapid, continuous fire, sending a luminescent green hailstorm of energy packets into the oncoming fighters.

"Package impact in three, two, one," Norigom stated. On the main viewer, the disc-shaped central control terminal of the Utopia Planitia shipyards was suddenly replaced by a momentary flash of white light. Seconds later an answering glow blossomed on the planet surface, part of the projectile overpenetrating its target.

The general bellowed with gleeful laughter behind her and she looked away from her screen. The computer was handling all the targeting at this range. "Wonderful! I shall take this weapon to the High Council!"

"Be sure to credit the jeghpu'wI' who came up with it," Brokosh mildly pointed out, gesturing in Norigom's direction.

"What?"

"Basic physics," the Nausicaan said. "High mass plus high velocity equals ouch. Hey, it worked on you jil'kresh during the Gorn War. That jinya on the HoSbegh never knew what hit him."

The general's expression darkened. "My grandson ... commanded that ship."

"Yeah, he died a warrior's death; what are you complaining about?"

Meromi and their wingman flashed through the formation of Peregrines, firing as she went. The already dim lights on the bridge dimmed even further for a moment as answering fire impacted the shields. She started to turn the ship for another pass. "Norigom," Brokosh said, "you will keep a civil tongue in that mouth when speaking to a superior officer or I will sew it shut. Do we have an understanding between us?"

"You don't pay me to talk pretty. Just because--"

"NORIGOM!"

"Yes, Captain." The Nausicaan meekly turned back to his screen.

"General, I respectfully request that if you have a problem with one of my officers that you take it up with me, and at some less hectic time."

"Captain," Ila'kshath said, "I have a Galaxy-class cruiser coming out of warp in sector four. Identifying. USS Abraham Lincoln, NCC-71187."

"Oh, brother," Brokosh groaned. "One of those carrier refits they did for the Dominion War. Meromi, try to disengage and take us after it."

"Yes sir," she acknowledged.

The general reached for his communicator. "Second and Third Wings, form up on the mupwI'. Qapla'!"

Despite herself Meromi felt the left side of her mouth curl into a teeth-baring smirk.

I fight ... because I like it.

-------------------

Author's Notes:

The little infodump at the start of the chapter does two things. For me, it gives me an excuse for how a shuttle, limited to normal cruising speeds of warp 2 according to the various technical manuals, could reach the required location in the time allotted. It also gives a fanonical explanation for why a runabout was only gradually outrun by a Jem'Hadar attack ship on a few occasions in DS9 when the Danube-class were supposedly limited to warp 5 according to DS9: "Dax". My reference to Miles O'Brien as "then-Senior Chief" refers to my fanon decision that by 2409 he's the Master Chief Petty Officer of Starfleet.

The language in which Crewman Sherazi is swearing in the second section is transliterated Azerbaijani, one of several languages spoken in Iran (on the order of 12 million speakers there, according to the CIA World Factbook).

And, of course, "Case Zulu" is a shameless Honor Harrington reference and I borrowed the bit where Brokosh threatens to sew Norigom's mouth shut from the Firefly pilot.
Vadm. Kanril Eleya, U.S.S. Andraste, Strike Team Alpha

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Last edited by starswordc; 07-18-2014 at 01:49 PM. Reason: name update of sh'Kreem to ch'Kreem due to gender mistake
Captain
Join Date: Aug 2013
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Chapter 4: Blood, Fire, and Steel

Fleet Admiral William T. Riker
Starfleet Headquarters, San Francisco, California
Earth
0256 PST


So it was more like five minutes. Even Will Riker, who worked here every day, had never seen this level of chaos in Starfleet Headquarters' central transporter terminal. MACOs and Starfleet Security personnel in full battle dress, armor and all, were working their way through the crowds of people trying to get to their ships. Periodically a ship would find a lock and beam people out before they got to a pad. This chaos wasn't helped by somebody who saw him and managed be heard hollering, "Admiral on deck!" over the noise of the crowd. Everybody froze where they were and snapped to attention.

"As you were," Will shouted, but he hand-signaled one of the MACO fireteams, and two of the commandos pressed their way through the crowd with their stunsticks to open a path for him past the security desk.

"Good morning, sir," one of the MACOs said to him as they reached him and started guiding him through the morass. She was shorter than Deanna, and a Vulcan. No, a Romulan: he could see the v-shaped ridge on her forehead behind her decidedly non-regulation-length bangs.

Will yawned. "I suppose it is, technically."

The petty officer next to her chuckled. "I suppose you're usually here on the day shift, then, sir."

"Usually, Operator, um—"

"Freeman, sir. This is Master Chief Haellh."

"Pleased to meet you," Will said. "Trying to get to the command center."

"This way, sir," Haellh said. "Move! Out of the way!" The small Romulan forced her way through the crowd, twirling her powered-down stunstick to prod a path open.

"Where are you from, Master Chief?" Will was just making conversation.

"Srhaien originally, sir. Ocean world near Hobus that got caught in the blast. I was offworld with the—out of the way!—with the RSN at the time."

"I'm sorry," Will said.

"Twenty-two years ago, sir. The pain can't last forever and I've got a husband here on Earth now. Um, if you'll excuse my curiosity, do you have children, sir?"

"Grandkids, now, three of them. Wait a minute, are you—"

She smiled. "Six weeks along, sir," Haellh said, palming the access panel for the turbolift.

"You didn't tell me that!" Freeman said, wide-eyed.

"Gordon, I only found out yesterday afternoon for S'harien's sake. I haven't even filed the paperwork with BuPers yet."

"Congratulations, Master Chief," Will said.

"Thank you, sir."

The turbolift door slid open and the two MACOs stepped inside with him. "You don't have to—"

"Sir, the other floors are just as much of a mess," Freeman interrupted. "Getting you to your station so you can save the system is a better use of our time than crowd control. Oh, look at that. Door's shut. Looks like you're stuck with us."

Will didn't quite know what to say to that. Apart from Master Chief O'Brien he hadn't held a conversation with any noncoms willing to talk back to the C-in-C of Starfleet like that. MACOs were weird. They were some of the most sane, stable people he'd ever met, and that was actually a little spooky. They also knew they were good, had internalized it completely, and they knew their duty and would complete the mission if at all possible or die trying.

The door slid open and the MACOs muscled their way through various crowds of people rushing back and forth and finally got him to the command center three minutes later. He thanked the commandos for their help, and entered.

The command center was arranged like an amphitheater, five concentric semicircles of workstations with several large viewscreens where the stage would be. The center screen was dominated by a plot showing the fleet movements near Mars, but Will's jaw dropped when he saw the video playing on a loop on one of the secondary screens: A blinding white flash enveloping what he recognized as the control center of Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards.

He grabbed the sleeve of a blue-jacketed two-star from Starfleet Science. Xindi-Primate; Fallora, he thought her name was. "What the hell did they do? Subspace inversion?"

"No sign of anything so fancy, sir," Fallora said. "Whatever it was, it ripped through the control center's shields like they weren't there and hit with the force of a 750 megaton bomb. Based on the maneuvering of one of the Birds-of-Prey in the formation and the fact that something hit the surface a second or so later, we're thinking kinetic strike."

"Kinetic?!" Will whistled through his teeth. Hardly anybody used those in space, and certainly nobody had attacked a target in the Sol system with one since the Optimum dropped an asteroid on Mecca in 2060. He pushed aside the bad memory that dredged up of the Thorsen incident in '66. "How many casualties?"

"The control center had a crew of four thousand and we're assuming a hundred percent. Kieran City on the Martian surface took a direct hit, too. Emergency services are en route but we're not expecting much."

"Son of a *****. Okay, tell me about the Klingons."

"Follow me. Admiral Singh!"

They jogged down the steps to reach a red-jacketed woman with graying black hair and brown skin. She turned and saluted. "Admiral Riker," she said in her Liverpudlian accent.

"Ava. What have we got?"

Admiral Avaninder Singh, the C.O. of Starfleet Command, brushed her bangs out of her eyes and answered, "We count twenty-four Klingon ships, sir. Came out of warp and went straight for Mars. Number twenty-five seems to be staying put outside the system for some reason but it blew up a shuttle that went snooping."

"Class breakdown?"

"Two B'Rotlh-class, three Hegh'ta-class, and the rest B'rels."

"So not an invasion, then, just a raid." Twenty-four Birds-of-Prey couldn't carry anywhere near enough troops for that; they'd need a couple hundred full troopships at least, and that was just for the major population centers. Depopulating a planet was easy. Conquering and holding an actively resisting planet, as opposed to one that had surrendered once you'd gained space superiority, was an incredibly complicated and resource-intensive effort, as the Cardassians had demonstrated with Bajor.

Ava told him, "We've tentatively identified the B'Rotlh leading the pack as the IKS mupwI', a ship sighted back in January on the border that briefly tangled with Commander Kanril of the Hammond before she ran them off."

"What do we know about that one?"

Ava pulled up a Starfleet Intelligence file on the console. "Oddball, sir. Part of a house fleet, name of Chel'toK, rather than KDF regular. Really minor power aligned with Martok and opposed to J'mpok. Not sure how they could afford a brand-new B'Rotlh from the shipyard. Captain's supposedly the house heir, Kidu, son of R'Mor, but he hasn't been seen in several weeks."

"Not exactly like the Klingons to use kinetic strikes, is it?"

"If that's what they used; we're still not a hundred percent sure. But there's reports from Intel that some Nausicaan crews used kinetics during the Klingon-Gorn War."

"KDF's new blood."

"Yes sir."

"What have we got in-system?"

Singh clicked a remote. "Spaceworthy? Fifteen ships, mostly heavies. The Nautilus and the Lincoln have microjumped over and the latter is deploying fighters, but we've got four dozen ships that are sitting ducks at the shipyard. Vice Admiral Atoa is coming back from Centauri with the rest of Home Fleet at max warp but he's still over nineteen hours away."

Manny Atoa could have actually gotten a couple of his newer ships, like his flagship the Rademaker, back to Earth much sooner than that, but two ships, even with quantum slipstream, wouldn't be much use against that many Klingons. Better to come in force than in dribs and drabs, as Starfleet had learned to its cost at Wolf 359. Will sighed and grabbed a mug of coffee and a chicken sandwich from a tray being brought around by a petty officer. "It's going to be a long night."

Suddenly one of the other admirals shouted, "Command to Nautilus! Break off, now!"

--------------------

Lieutenant Commander Brokosh
Chel'toK House Fleet Bird-of-Prey IKS
mupwI'
Mars Orbit
1524 Qo'noS Central Time


"Come right, two three niner, forty up!" Brokosh barked. The Bird-of-Prey yawed and pitched and he braced against the acceleration. He liked keeping the inertial dampeners set a little low on the bridge: just enough to let some g-forces through so Meromi could feel the ship, not enough to turn everyone into blood pie.

The stars blurred and spun past on the viewer and the underside of an Akira-class heavy cruiser swiveled into view. The computer supplied USS Nautilus, NCC-63565, which was spraying torpedoes from its fifteen launchers into a furball of Birds-of-Prey and Peregrines. "Popping cloak! Locked and firing!" Meromi announced. Twin volleys of green energy bolts streaked out and smashed into the underside of the ship, which Brokosh randomly thought looked something like an entrenching tool he'd used over a decade ago on Kreax.

"Enemy shields failing!" Ila'kshath said.

"Fire, fore tube!" Brokosh ordered. Klingon Intelligence had stolen the plans for quantum torpedoes from Starfleet back in the eighties, and the version carried on the mupwI' was no less potent than those carried by the Defiant-class. Four missiles with bright blue energy jackets shrieked from the launcher above the deflector dish on the Bird-of-Prey's nose. The first two failed to acquire and shot past on either side of the Nautilus, but the third crashed into the Akira's shields, collapsing them. Number four proximity-detonated in a blinding flash, sending a shaped charge of energy pulled from the zero-point field slamming into one of the engine section struts and ripping clean through it. Debris struck the starboard nacelle, setting off a chain of secondary explosions that tore the engine apart and set the rest of the shields flickering. "Break his back, Meromi!"

Meromi dropped her reticle onto the remaining strut and fired the cannons again as the mupwI' closed with the stricken ship. Energy bolts ripped into the hull and the impulse-powered saucer section suddenly broke loose from the warp engines and shot away, out of control.

Brokosh heard a gleeful roar issue from General K'Bor. "Finish them off, Gunner!"

"Belay that!" Brokosh ordered, turning from his readout. "General, they're helpless. They've even powered down their engines and"—he scrolled down the readout—"they're flashing a surrender signal with their running lights. Even if I didn't find it personally repugnant, that carrier is still active and our weapons are better used against a ship that isn't already dead in space. Meromi, activate cloak and take us back to the Lincoln!" He paused. "Don't you Klingons have something about it being dishonorable to attack an opponent who can't or won't fight back?"

K'Bor growled, "You have no right to lecture me, the son of QulDun, about honor. Learn your place, leth'ngan."

Aaaand that was why Brokosh didn't like most Klingon nobles. Martok's people, Ambassador Worf's family especially, were all right, though that was in part because the late Chancellor had been common-born and never forgot it. And he got on well enough with Lady K'Ronu and with Ba'woV's cousin Kidu, the current heir, who was recovering from severe injuries courtesy of an exploding console.

But he'd been lucky. For a non-Klingon the only way to get full Imperial citizenship was to join the KDF or the civil service, neither of which happened easily. Brokosh had sixteen years of experience as a combat engineer on the fringeworlds and a chemical engineering degree from a Federation university, and marrying into the House of Chel'toK had gotten his foot in the door. But he'd seen the crime-ridden slums on the fringes of First City where those without his connections and skills, including many of his own people, were forced to live, out of sight of the powerful nobles who controlled their fates without caring. They'd come to Qo'noS for work and found none because the Klingons kept most of the good jobs for themselves.

Much as he hated it, there wasn't a whole lot he could actually do about it. He did what he could on his visits to the capital and had even recently opened a sort of community center with two other KDF Letheans and a pointy-ear from the Republic named Makus. But without some sort of major shift in the Imperial government it wasn't anywhere near enough to help everyone in just that neighborhood, never mind the city.

"We're entering firing range, Captain," Meromi said, shaking Brokosh out of his introspection.

"Onscreen, max mag," he ordered. The viewer flicked over to a big Galaxy-class cruiser. Brokosh had always thought the design was something to be admired from an engineering standpoint: Starfleet had managed to develop a ship that was at once beautiful and mighty. And the things were enormous, too, more than big and modular enough to be modified to serve virtually any mission function imaginable. Of course, being so big meant they were also very expensive to build and operate, so only about a hundred had ever been in service at any one time according to Klingon Intelligence records, and their warp cores were notoriously finicky.

The more relevant problem, of course, was that despite having phaser strips covering nearly every approach, they were still vulnerable to swarming attacks. And Brokosh also knew that with the Lincoln and her two sisters in particular, opening up the internal spaces to accommodate an expanded hangar for fighters and attendant equipment meant the Lincoln had lost some structural strength in a key area. "General, I want to try and crack their aft shields and get a shot at the hangar. Might be our only chance of taking that thing out. I'm going to need some help."

"Very well. Two and Three Flights, vector to assist!"

Over the battlenet Brokosh heard, "M'Char to mupwI', we're headed for one of the factories. Detected up a shield harmonic and we think we can get a squad or two through."

"Bold indeed!" K'Bor said approvingly. "Authorized, Commander B'Ren!"

"Captain," Ila'kshath reported, "we're in position."

"Pop cloak and begin attack run. All ships, concentrate on the aft shield!"

The Bird-of-Prey's cloaking field fell away and Meromi set the main cannons into rapid, continuous fire. Three other Birds added their fire and the giant cruiser's shields glittered and pulsed under the barrage.

"She's coming to port, trying to bring the broadside to bear!"

"What, seriously? Trying to outmaneuver a Bird-of-Prey? What an idiot! Stay behind him, Meromi."

"Reading a power buildup!" the Gorn shouted.

"Taking evasive action," Meromi said conversationally. The view suddenly spun and Brokosh grabbed his console to steady himself as Meromi tipped the ship up on its starboard wing and pulled "up". Several searing orange lances erupted from the Lincoln's chase emitters at the group of KDF ships. Most missed or were blocked, accompanied by the lights on the bridge dimming briefly and Norigom barking an inconsequential damage report, but one, stronger than the rest, smashed into the Qap'gargh, hanging twenty kilometers off where Brokosh's port side had been a second ago. The unbelievably powerful point of energy sliced through the raider's shields as if they weren't there and slammed into the belly armor, reappearing on the other side. A fraction of a second later the fusion bottle blew in a single retina-burning white flash, followed closely by the warp core.

Brokosh gritted his teeth. The name of the captain of the Qap'gargh was Vor'Kang. He was one of the rare common-born officers, a family man and a highly professional soldier. Brokosh had liked him.

"Enemy shields at seventy and increasing!" Ila'kshath announced.

"Goddess, that thing's tough," Brokosh remarked, impressed. He'd fought a lot of ships in his time in the KDF but he'd rarely seen a ship hold up so well against this kind of pounding. He hit the intercom. "Ba'woV, I need more power for the main cannons!" A photon torpedo crashed into the mupwI's shields and a display blew out to his left, sending a Klingon bekk flying from his chair. "Yesterday, preferably!"

"Working on it, dear! I'm trying to ram-boost!"

"Medic to the bridge!" Norigom said into the intercom before clattering over to the fallen soldier with a first aid kit.

"There, try it now!" Ba'woV said.

Meromi hit her triggers and a powerful series of particle bolts crashed into the Galaxy-class. The Hegh'ta, sitting on Brokosh's wing, added its own fire along with a blast of tachyons from its main deflector that set the shields flickering. "Firing, fore tube," Meromi announced impassively. Two quantum torpedoes smashed into the remaining shields, enough energy leaking through to rip open a huge hull breach on the back side of the cruiser's neck, laying compartments on a half-dozen decks open to space. Debris and vacsuited bodies rushed out of the gash and Meromi fired again, this time at the shuttered hangar bay on the saucer. Sickly green disruptor bolts smashed through the tritanium alloy door and an enormous fireball blew back out and was quickly snuffed as it consumed the available oxygen.

"Chong'pogh to mupwI', their fighters are disengaging!" Sure enough, the Peregrines attacking the other Birds-of-Prey were repositioning to screen their stricken mothership. Two made a run at the mupwI' and a phaser beam penetrated the shields and blew a crater in the armor on the starboard wing. Brokosh grabbed for the underside of his console as Meromi went evasive.

But the fighters were falling back with their carrier. After a few more salvos back and forth of phaser and disruptor fire the surviving ships suddenly spun hard about and stretched into the distance, vanishing in a staccato series of blue-white flashes. The bridge erupted in cheers and Brokosh crossed his arms with a satisfied smile. "Bravo, people. Let's head for our second objective. Meromi, take us after those comsats."

As the ship turned back towards Mars, Lieutenant Dorn at one of the ops consoles started singing, "Qoy qeylIs puqloD. Qoy puqbe'pu'."

First the other Klingons on the bridge picked up the song, then Norigom, Meromi, and Ila'kshath joined in. "Say'moHchu' may' 'Iw. maSuv manong 'ej maHoHchu'."

By now, despite himself even Brokosh had joined in the tlhIngan Hol battle hymn. "nI'be' yInmaj 'ach wovqu'. batlh maHeghbej 'ej yo' qIjDaq vavpu'ma' DImuv. pa' reH maSuvtaHqu'. mamevQo' maSuvtaH ma'ov!"

--------------------

Author's Notes:

I envision the MACOs' status in 2409 Star Trek as being basically the Starfleet version of Navy SEALs, hence the use of the address "Operator" for Freeman. It's short for "special warfare operator", an enlisted rating exclusive to the SEALs. As for why he's called "Gordon Freeman"? I came up with the surname first, and it was either that or "Django Freeman" and I thought "Gordon" would be the funnier of the two references.

The thing about the Optimum dropping an asteroid on Mecca isn't a jab at Islam; in fact, it's the opposite. The Optimum were a neo-fascist movement that turned up in the EU novel Federation and took over much of the world, which led to World War III. In my head the Islamic countries refused to accept them and so the Optimum made an example of a large chunk of the Arabian peninsula. I included it because I really like that book, although I haven't really decided how to account for the chronology issues resulting from Star Trek: First Contact messing with that book's version of Zefram Cochrane's backstory.

The Commander Kanril mentioned in Riker's portion is indeed my own Kanril Eleya from Bait and Switch, before she got the Bajor. Manny Atoa is Manuele Atoa, the guy who did the Samoan fire dance at Jadzia's hen party in DS9: "You Are Cordially Invited..."

The "pointy-ear from the Republic named Makus" is the Romulan PC's fellow Tal Shiar dupe in episode "Allies", mission "Memory Lane".

The song at the end of the chapter is Hilary Bader and Marc Okrand's "The Warrior's Anthem" from Star Trek: Klingon and DS9: "Soldiers of the Empire".
Vadm. Kanril Eleya, U.S.S. Andraste, Strike Team Alpha

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Last edited by starswordc; 04-21-2014 at 02:54 PM.
Starfleet Veteran
Join Date: Jun 2012
Posts: 511
# 5
04-21-2014, 05:53 PM
Nice work so far.

I look forward to seeing more.
Originally KiraYamato before the Account Linking - True Join Date August 2008

"In the game of war, there are no clear rules you can follow." - Andrew Waltfeld
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