"Down!!! Now!!!" The Ensign pushed the envoy below the table, as the far wall was blown inward. Shards of stone flew by the Ensign, cutting his cheeks and hands, even as his fellow crewmembers were caught unaware.
Except for Capt. Henriksson, he pulled his phaser from its holster and fired upon the Romulans as they started to flow thru the hole in the wall. Tanisians screamed and started to run in panic as Romulan disruptor and Federation phaser fire criss-crossed the air. The Ensign pulled his own phaser from its holster and fired and then darted below the table to join the Envoy.
The Ensign tapped his comm badge. Instead of the usual chirping sound he got a faint buzz. He tried anyway. "Crazy Horse! Crazy Horse! Come in!" No answer, The Romulans must be jamming all communications. Damn! Risking a look above the table, the Ensign saw carnage.
Capt. Henriksson, along w/XO Darren Cumberland was firing into the gathered throng of Romulans, who had erected a field barrier. Their shots bounced off the field and reflected up into the ceiling. Large chunks of which fell into the panicking crowd of Tanisians who had gathered to watch the arbitrations.
Crazy Horse Security officers were also firing, from various vantage points of the great hall. Their shots having the same effect. "Cease Fire!" Henriksson ordered. Henriksson shot a look toward the Ensign. " Stay with the Envoy, without him, these talks are useless! Get him to safety....any way you can."
The Ensign merely nodded and pushing the terrified Envoy behind him, started to crawl towards the end of the table nearest the exit. Phaser pointed ahead of him, a look of grim determination not to fail his charge or his Captain, etched on his face.
The Envoy's teeth were chattering as he crawled. The Ensign whirled, "Quiet!" he hissed, "We can't let them hear us. Noise equals death. Do you understand?" The Envoy nodded his head. Fear apparent in his eyes. The Ensign continued to crawl, pushing dead Tanisians from before him. Their faces and upper torsos seared by disruptor fire. Dead before they hit the ground.
Somewhere, one of the ornamental braziers had fallen, setting fire to the curtains, which hung around the great hall, putting a cloud of acrid smoke in the air and making breathing hard. At least the smoke made it difficult for the Romulans to see, small comfort in this age of tricorders and personal sensors, but it made the Ensign feel a bit better.
Behind him, the Ensign heard his captain, issue orders to the remaining crewmembers. Barely heard murmurs and whispers, the Ensign felt renewed confidence. The Captain would get them out of this. He always did. As long as he got the Envoy towards safety, his job would be done and he could rejoin his Captain and crewmates. Do what had to be done and get the hell out of here.
The Ensign felt a tap on his shoulder from behind. The Ensign half cocked his head towards the Envoy. "Near the exit. I have a personal dematerializer that will take us to my quarters. It's keyed to my hand signature, so I'll have to go before you." The Ensign nodded in affirmation.
They crawled closer to the exit and eventual freedom. The Ensign heard Captain Henrikssen yell from behind, "FIRE!" The whine of phasers erupted from behind and fell away as the beams streaked towards the Romulans. The Ensign stayed his course, he could see a single transporter pad 2 meters away, a touchpad on the wall at around waistlevel. The end of the table was just above his head. The Ensign blew out a breath. Wide-open space that could be taken in 3 steps seemed miles away. They would be semi visible in the pall of smoke. A chance they had to take. Looking at the envoy, the Ensign pointed at the pad. "On my mark. Ready?" The Envoy gulped and nodded. The Ensign readied himself...."MARK!"
They both ran half-crouched towards the pad. Romulan disruptor fire whisked over their heads as they ran. The Ensign held back, letting the Envoy pass him and mount the pad. The Ensign stood and fired his phaser towards the direction of the incoming disruptor beams. The Envoy yelled, "Hurry, we can make it...!" The Ensign yelled back, "You first! You're more important...! With that said, The Ensign waited a beat, firing towards the Romulans.... then, PAIN! His chest felt as if he were struck with a sledgehammer. A sensation of crawling fire spread across his torso and into his body. The pain was incredible and horrifying. Then, the Ensign heard the whine of a transporter being activated and the pain was overshadowed by satisfaction. He had carried out his duty. Done what he was supposed to have done. The edges of his vision began to darken and shrink inwards, The pain suddenly didn't bother him anymore.....his last thought, "Maria..."
A shadow fell over the body of the Ensign.
Torres looked at the body of the dead Ensign. His face and the Ensign's were the same. One had a look of peace, the other pained remembrance. "Bridge to Torres...we are ten minutes from Starbase 1. Lt. Torres and your son are in transporter room 2. Waiting." Torres tapped his comm badge. "Understood bridge, on my way. Computer end "Torres One" and download into my tricorder." The Ensign and all his surroundings vanished, to be replaced by the glowing yellow grid lines of a holodeck. "Program terminated, download complete"
Torres took a deep breath and strode through the opening doors towards a new beginning. A new post, Captain of the USS Osiris. One of the new Sovereign class ships. A command all his own.
As he strode thru the corridor to the turbolift, crewmembers stared and murmured to each other. His enhanced hearing made out every word. "Freaky huh?", "Second chance, he deserves it. But still..." He'd heard it all before. The turbolift's doors opened and he stepped inside. "Transporter room two." The doors closed. So did Torres. eyes.
In no time, the doors opened again. Squaring his shoulders, he strode purposefully towards the transporter room. The doors whisked open to reveal his wife and son. She, speaking to Captain Henriksson, his son, occupied with the transporter technician.
Torres strode to the speaking couple. They both stopped and turned to look at him. His wife held her hand to him, he took it. She was nervous and upset. Her blood pressure was up (5 points from normal) and her pulse was racing at a steady 150 beats per minute. Torres could tell this with a brush of his fingers. The sensors in his hands processing the information and shooting it at computer speed through his neural net and into his positronic matrix. Torres shuddered, there were some things he was just not meant to know. He never got used to it.
"Eddie, Cpt Henriksson was just telling me how lucky you were to be getting this post. Your own command. Think of it!" Torres smiled, her love kept him sane in his suddenly insane world and he cherished her for it.
"She's right Torres. You keep this up and I'll be calling you Admiral soon." Henriksson nudged him in the shoulder with his balled fist. "Your crew has been briefed regarding your, ah, situation so there should be no problems." Torres nodded, "Thank you sir. I'll try to make you proud of me." Henriksson looked at him, wistfully. "You already have son. You already have." With that, Henriksson left. The doors whisking shut behind him.
"Eddie, I'm going to miss you. So is Stephen." With his name being uttered, the 6-year-old, playing with the Transporter technician, whirled around.
"What?" Upon seeing his father, he yelled "DADDY!" and jumped into his father's arms. Torres had never felt such unconditional love before his son was born and he was going to miss it now that he was being transferred. "Where are we going?" His son asked, as if he was going also. "WE aren't going anywhere. You have to stay here with Mommy and make sure she doesn't get lonely while daddy is away. You got that?.
Stephen solemnly nodded his head. "Okay, daddy, okay. She won't." His son disengaged himself from his father and stepped over to his mother. He took her hand and pressed himself close to her. Torres did likewise.
"Maria, you going to be all right? I mean, your posting as XO is two months away. And we're going to be pretty far apart. A shakedown cruise in the outer reaches of the galaxy..." Maria looked at her husband, experience and love mixed in her expression.
"Don't you worry about me Eddie. It'll be sooner than you think.. I love you." Torres, perplexed, whispered back. "Me too you, babe." They kissed. Long and lingering.
Their son looked at the transporter tech and rolled his eyes. The tech suppressed a laugh. The Torres' separated. They both looked at the tech and coughed, cleared their throats and looked at their son, nervously. Torres spoke first.
"Well, Commander. I'll speak to you soon." Looking at his son, he added," Take care of him babe."
Maria replied "Don't I always? We'll miss you."
Over the intercom a voice spoke. "This is Starbase 1. We understand you have a transfer awaiting his new assignment?"
The transporter tech replied, "He's just finishing up some business here. We'll be ready momentarily, Starbase 1." "Understood. Whenever you're ready, Crazy Horse. Starbase 1 out."
"Well, babe, duty calls." Torres said, kissing her one last time. "Go. They need you but don't forget. We do too." His wife indicated her son at her side. Torres said, stepping onto the platform, "Never."
Then to the tech, "Energize." His wife and son faded in to multicolored sparkles& his last thought before beam out......"Please Gods, take care of them until I see them again." Then he was gone.
Chief Engineer Mark Price ran his fingers over his new pips. "Lieutenant J.G. I am a bit surprised..." Price's promotion had just come through. After his (what he thought of) abysmal failure, six months earlier, he thought he NEVER would have made it above Ensign. Smiling, he made his way to the Transport Area, the massive shuttle area that housed Starbase 1282's embarkation/disembarkation level. Price could hear transport instructions over the comm system.
"The shuttle to Benecia Colony is departing from Gold Level in ten minutes...the shuttle for Benecia Colony is leaving from Gold Level in ten minutes. Please report to shuttle bay twelve." Making his way to the prearranged departure area, Price saw the rest of the crew of the Osiris had already reported for transport to their newly assigned ship.
Price could see the look of tired expectation on the Kolean Exec's face as she rounded the Command Staff together. "If you're all ready, why don't we all climb aboard and let's see what we're in store for." Commander Torres watched as her crew stepped wearily aboard the transport shuttle. They didn't have much time to rest after the events of the last couple of months.
"Sir, why don't we just transport directly to the ship like the rest of the crew?" Price wondered.
"Because Lt., I like to give a new ship a once over, visually before I board her, Just to make sure," Torres replied with a small smile.
"Aye sir, I guess I understand that. I guess I would to if I ever get a command of my own," Price said with a 'someday' response.
"Preparing for departure," the Travelpod Pilot said into the comm panel set into a row of instrumentation before him. Immediately, a response came back, reverberating through the small cabin.
"Understood Travelpod 2. This is Starbase 1282 Shuttle control. You are cleared for departure."
The pod lifted slowly and smoothly. Commander Mah'ria Torres watched the faces of her crewmates. All of them had tired looks on their faces. Looking out of the pod's viewport set closest into the hull next to her, Torres watched as the pod departed Starbase 1282 for a nearby shipyard. As the shuttle continued its flight towards the massive construction assembly floating near the Starbase, Torres could only think, not about the Osiris' future, but only of her past.
"Incoming torpedoes, Commander!" Skarka yelled out as the Kreel vessel let loose four torpedoes towards the Osiris.
"Shields at maximum power, Commander," Price reported. Commander Torres yelled at the top of her lungs, as the torpedoes were about to slam into the Osiris, "Brace for impact!" The torpedoes hit. All four rocked the vessel, the crew thrown around panels and chairs. Smoke and small fires broke out across the Bridge.
Price picked himself off of the floor and read off the damage done by the torpedoes. "Shields down 40%, Commander. Phasers are off-line. Torpedoes armed and ready." Price spared a moment to look at the body of Captain K'tar, the replacement CO for Captain Torres as he was recalled to STARFLEET Command to test the engines on a new vessel, lying dead near the Command Chair. One of the first victims of the brutal attack.
XO Torres picked herself off the deck, blood streaming from a gash in her forehead, a look of stubborn determination across her face. "Fire quantum torpedoes." Her voice was cold and without inflection. Skarka, at Tactical pressed the quantorp fire control and three torpedoes flew true from the damaged STARFLEET vessel towards the Kreel ship. Three dull blossoms of fire exploded across the vessel's amidship shields. Direct hit.
"The Kreel shields are down only 20% Commander," a voice from somewhere on the bridge reported. The alien ship spun around to the Osiris' portside and fired a combination of polaron disruptors and four more torpedoes. As the torpedoes and disruptors struck the ship, the Osiris rocked again. Her inertial stabilizers whining in protest.
"Shields at 22% Commander. Phasers still off-line. We have one torpedo tube functional. I have damage control working on the rest! Using all available power for shields. We can't take much more of this, sir." Price reported, his voice heavy with worry.
"Keep those shields up as long as possible! We need to give more time to DS7 to regroup!" Torres yelled back to Price. 'Where is our help?!' Torres wondered to herself.
Price quickly tried to get as much power as possible back to the shields. After a few moments of frantic work, he was rewarded by an increase to 32%, but not much else. As Price was about to turn to the Captain, he saw another round of torpedoes swoop in towards the Osiris. Three more impacted against and wiped out the shields. Once again, pulling himself off the floor, Price looked over the latest damage report. The warp core panel on the upper left corner of the console told him already what was about to happen to the Osiris.
"Warning...Warp core breach in four minutes," the computer reported.
Price tried in vain to do all he could to stop the breach but he was too far from Engineering, all access cut off in the initial attack. His crew mostly dead or dying. Spinning around quickly, he shot a glance at Torres. "Commander, we have a warp core breach in progress. Four minutes is all I can give us and there's nothing I can do to stop it. Shields are down. We're not able to take another hit." Price reported grimly.
A wave of dead silence washed over the bridge. Then, Skarka's deep baritone voice rang out. "Commander, I'm scanning two ships coming in fast." He paused and looked at Torres. His face a mask of savage joy. "Both of them with Federation signatures."
Torres turned to the front of the heavily damaged Bridge. "Give me Tactical."
As the Bridge crew turned to look at the screen, a tactical overlay appeared on the display before them. Two ships came in with iconic representations of phasers and torpedoes blazing. Price smiled and saw who had come to help. A Galaxy class ship, the USS Challenger and a Belisarius class, the USS Sun Tzu. The Kreel vessel, unprepared for the two ships was helpless as she was transfixed between the two pronged attack.
"Heavy damage to the Kreel sir. Destruction is certain," Skarka reported.
With a smile of satisfaction, Torres ordered the Tac Officer. "Let's finish this...fire quantum torpedoes! As the torpedoes from the Osiris let loose, phaser fire from the Challenger and torpedoes from Sun Tzu joined in the attack. The Kreel ship exploded seconds later, in a rapidly expanding ball of fire.
"Warning.... warp core breach in two minutes," the computer said again calmly. Torres sighed heavily. "Lieutenant Rodriguez, open a channel to the Challenger. The Communications Officer deftly tapped the panel before her and was rewarded with a chirp.
"Osiris to Challenger. We have a warp core breach in process. We have two minutes before we have containment failure. We could use some help."
"This is Admiral Vossellor," came the reply from the Challenger. "Situation understood Osiris, standby for transport." All over the ship, crewmembers were whisked to safety by the Challenger's transporters. With a shimmer, most of the Bridge crew of the Osiris disappeared except for Torres and Price.
"Sorry sir, I did all I could," Price said sorrowfully. "I know you did Chief...I know," Torres said. They both gave the Osiris' Bridge one last look and then were snatched away by the Challenger's transporters. The Sun Tzu and Challenger sped away to a safe distance and then...the Bridge crew of the Osiris, watching from the conference room of the Challenger, looked out the observation windows, to see the Sovereign class vessel USS Osiris NCC- 75011, explode in a brilliant ball of fire and gas.
Torres looked over at Price as she came back into the here and now. Cradled in the latticework of dry-dock, was their vessel. "Well, Lt., There she is...our new home." Price looked out of the shuttle's window and saw a ship come into view. A new class of Starship that he had never seen before. Price wondered to himself, "The Commander never did tell us what the ship was named."
As the shuttle passed over the main saucer section, the name painted on the gleaming gray hull came into view. "USS Osiris, NCC-3092" With a smile on his face, Price turned to the Exec, "You're right, Commander. We're home."
As the shuttle passed over the main saucer section, Captain Edgar Torres felt a stab of excitement. His crew was coming to join him in this most auspicious day. Not only his crew but also his wife who he hadn't seen in almost six months of shakedown time. He'd been worried when he heard about what had happened at the Battle of Deep Space Seven at the edge of the Goldin Discntinuity. The attack and subsequent inquest that usually came after the destruction of a Federation Starship. He hadn't been able to be there at the inquest but he was here now. Here for her and here for them, his crew.
Watching as the shuttle made it's way into through the atmospheric force field, Torres tapped his comm badge. It was time to check in with Lt. Laura Hanson, his Chief of Ops. "Torres to Hanson."
"Hanson here, sir" came back the reply. "Have you rounded up the last of our crew?" Torres asked.
"They're all here in Docking Bay 3, sir. We're just about to depart the Starbase."
Torres smiled. "Good. Then let's get moving. We've got a whole universe to explore."
"Aye, sir!" Edgar could hear the enthusiasm in the Terran's voice. He was glad that he was able to get Hanson as his Chief of Ops. If all accounts were true, he was getting a damned fine officer and Edgar INSISTED on the best available. That's why he kept the remaining Bridge crew from the original Osiris. They were good. Damned good and he wanted to keep them. It was a long fight with the STARFLEET Personnel Department to keep them from getting reassigned. Standard procedure after the destruction of a Starship was to farm out the surviving personnel to other ships in need of staffing. He had let the 140 some odd officers assigned to the Osiris go on to other ships but he fought to keep the department heads, which he had won.
Looking around the shuttle's cabin, Mah'ria could see the tired looks on her officer's faces being replaced with barely restrained excitement. Except for Lt. Rodriguez, the Osiris' Second Officer/Chief of Communications and Lt. Skarka, the Chief of Security/Tactical Officer. She could swear they looked annoyed at something. She let it go for the moment as the transport shuttle glided gracefully into the port shuttle bay located behind the massive primary hull and between the warp nacelles. The atmospheric force field surrounding the open bay entrance glowed briefly as the shuttle pierced it and then was invisible again as it passed through. Looking through the shuttle's main viewport, Mah'ria could see that most of her crew had already been mustered to receive her and the senior staff. Standing importantly at the head of the throng of people was her husband, Captain Edgar Torres and Admiral Jameson Clancy. The Admiral was an older gentleman with a thick shock of snow-white hair and a ruddy complexion. He looked kindly and compassionate but under that grandfather exterior was the battle hardened mind of a senior tactician. During the Dominion war, it was Clancy's sense of strategy and tactics that helped STARFLEET win it's more important battles. 'Never judge a book by its cover.' Mah'ria thought to herself. Looking closely, Mah'ria could see that the Admiral was holding a PADD and a small metallic box.
The transport stopped and settled down into the deck with hardly a sound. As the shuttle's doors opened, Admiral Clancy stepped forward to shake Mah'ria's hand as she disembarked. "Commander. Glad to have you aboard."
Turning to Captain Torres, the Admiral asked, "What did you think of her as you came in, Captain?"
Edgar thought for a moment before he replied. "Admiral, she is one of the most beautiful sights that I have ever seen."
Clancy smiled wistfully. "I understand that this is your very first Command, Captain. Is that so?"
Edgar nodded in agreement. "That's correct sir. I came from the Crazy Horse to the Osiris on Admiral Calenzie's recommendation. I still don't know why. Now I never will, since he was on DS7 when it was destroyed."
The older man placed a hand on Edgar's shoulder. "Don't let it eat you up, son. There was nothing you could have done. You weren't even there. Just move on. These people," he waved his arm to indicate the gathered crew, "are looking to you for inspiration, leadership and guidance. It wouldn't look good if they saw that their Captain was being invaded by doubt."
Edgar glanced at his crew and then at his Command Staff. The Admiral was right. There was nothing that he could have done to make the outcome differ in any way. The future ahead was new and clear and his resolve should be as well. Free from doubt or fear or insecurity.
Edgar straightened his shoulders and stood ramrod straight. "Thank you, sir." Clancy smiled and patted Edgar on the back. "Don't mention it son. Just part of the job. Let's get this over with, shall we? I'm sure you're anxious to get under way."
Moving on past Torres, the Admiral stopped to shake the hands of each of the ships department heads, whispering words of encouragement to each of them privately, as he had done for Edgar. As the Admiral finished greeting Ensign Letum, a Klingon Security Officer in traditional Klingon, Hanson's runabout came through the bay's force field. Edgar watched it settle down and its passengers disembark a moment later. Hanson jogged over to Edgar and stood at attention, her face flush with embarrassment.
Edgar stepped over to Hanson, a small grin of amusement on his face. "Thank you for attending, Lieutenant. I thought we would have to do this without you."
Hanson groaned inwardly. "Sorry sir, there was a problem with one of the runabout's sublight impellers and..."
Edgar shook his head and waved her from explaining any further. "Don't sweat it, Lieutenant. I'll let it go."
Hanson relaxed visibly.
"THIS time." Edgar added before he walked away. From the corner of his eye, he saw Hanson's head shake back and forth slowly. The Android chuckled to himself.
Edgar's spirits lightened even more as he stood next to Admiral Clancy at the beginning of the ceremony.
The Admiral began, "It is my duty and honor that STARFLEET Command has given me the power to officially announce the name of this Osiris class Starship as the USS Osiris, NCC-3092, the first of her line! In doing so, I also turn over command of this ship to you, Captain Torres..."
Clancy handed the PADD over to Edgar. Speaking into the air, Clancy continued. "Computer, transfer all command codes and authorizations to the PADD that Captain Torres has in his possession."
"Acknowledged." the computer replied. A chirp immediately followed. "Command Codes and authorizations have been transferred."
Clancy turned over to Edgar. "Captain, do you accept this Command and the responsibility over this vessel and her crew?"
Edgar nodded and replied enthusiastically. "Yes sir, I do!"
"Then by all the power vested in me by STARFLEET Command, I hereby transfer responsibilty of the USS Osiris over to you...and may God have mercy on your soul." Clancy then handed over the small metallic box to the Android. Opening the box. Edgar saw a small silver key attached to a fine chain, topped by the familiar STARFLEET delta arrowhead symbol. Etched on the key was the symbolic representation of the Eye of Horus and the words, USS Osiris written under the eye. Looking up at Admiral Clancy, Edgar could only smile with pride and accomplishment.
Clancy then leaned in over to Edgar and whispered, "Don't scratch the paint, son." He then saluted and stood back as the crew rushed forward to congratulate Edgar.
Later, after the ceremony was over and he had seen Admiral Clancy's shuttle off, Edgar sat in his command chair. In her Executive Officer's chair, Mah'ria could see that this Bridge wasn't different at all from her old ship. She could see very clearly that it was the same Bridge Module from the Sovereign Class ships that the previous Osiris belonged to. She saw her husband's handiwork in that. He must have requested the same module so that his Bridge Crew could feel they were in familiar surroundings. She smiled inwardly at STARFLEET's module design policy, making them swappable, able to be inserted into almost any class of Starship design. The Bridge was large and spacious but clearly designed for optimum efficiency. There was soft blue lighting seemingly coming from everywhere and it felt right to be here.
The Bridge crew had settled in quickly and was preparing for departure from Spacedock. Ensign Dion Powell, the Conn Officer, sitting before him, turned towards Edgar. "Sir, we have clearance from Spacedock. Everything is green."
Edgar checked his armrest monitor and noted what Powell had reported. "Fire maneuvering thrusters on my Mark, Mr. Powell. MARK!"
The Osiris moved gracefully through the massive gridwork of spacedock. Soon, they were free of the massive structure.
Powell reported, "We have exited dry-dock and are free and clear to navigate."
Edgar settled back in his chair and crossed his legs. "Excellent, Mr. Powell. Prepare a course."
The Conn Officer turned back to his board, asking over his shoulder, "Heading, sir?"
Edgar uncrossed his legs and leaned forward. His face a mask of awe and eagerness. "Out into the universe, Mr. Powell. Out into the Universe."
The Osiris turned gracefully on its axis, executing a textbook immelman as she passed Starbase 1282. She banked aft and flashed her port running lights once, first blue, then silver and then finally gold, the colors of the United Federation of Planets, a salute to everyone on the Starbase. She then leapt forward into warp, the Cherenkov radiation pouring off of her shields as she disappeared into the vast unknowable reaches of space.
The Fleet moved on, several thousand strong. This was hoped to be the last fleet action of the Dominion War. Looking at the immense fleet was akin to viewing a galaxy through a telescope, the more you looked, the more ships you saw. Everything from Patrol Craft to the mightiest Dreadnaughts proceeded in groups of a hundred or more. It was like a river of ships against the darkness of space.
Federation, Klingon and Romulan vessels, in no foreseeable formation, proceeded onward to Cardassia. Starfleet Command expected 40% losses in a frontal strike on the Dominion forces. With this fleet en route no one noticed three ships turn off from the main group and accelerate to maximum warp.
What kind of good could three ships do on their own, leaving the safety of the main fleet? Very few noticed their departure, and for those that did, their registries were not on record. Although these few crews saw the three ships, an Osiris Class, a New Jersey Class and a Belisarius Class, move off and accelerate, only one person in the fleet truly knew who they were.
The Commanding Admiral of the allied fleets took a quick look at his arm rest monitor, seeing that the three Cavalry ships had been dispatched on their special mission. He wasn't a big proponent of the Fleet Cavalry and would rather have the three ships add their fighting capacities to the rest of his force. But orders were orders. He sighed silently knowing the Cavalry mission was a suicide run. He knew little of their orders but it had something to do with intercepting a Breen Relief Fleet on the way to Cardassia. 'What good could three ships do?' He kept thinking to himself. Shortly afterwards he forgot about the three and focused on the greater matters at hand.
And The Fleet moved on, their largest and bloodiest battle awaited them.
"Status Report." Captain Torres' voice rang throughout the dimmed Bridge of the USS Osiris.
"All systems go, Sir," replied the Ops officer, Cmdr. Rodriguez, as she scanned the readiness reports coming across her console. XO Torres, the CO's wife, cross checked those reports coming in from Rodriguez and the XO's of the three other vessels. She looked at her husband and with a "thumbs up" sign indicated that they were all in synch and ready.
All across the vessel, the systems hummed almost imperceptably, as if alive. There was tension in the atmosphere, almost like the ship and her crew felt eager to go on its planned mission, to see action. Red Alert lights flashed and the Bridge crew efficiently following protocol. Down in the lower decks, the rest of the crew worked feverishly getting the ship ready for battle. In Sickbay, Chief Medical Officer Williams and Counselor T'Jaoo prepared for casualties, both of the physical and mental kind. Lt. Vitali stood ready at Triage with Ensigns Jones and Rosen ready to assist, just in case.
Chief of Security Jones, OIC Cordero and DOIC Dohnert of the Scarabs, readied their troops to repel enemy boarders, if any appeared. Ensign Torres of the Hazard Team and his people were ready to supply back up if needed. Chief of Intelligence Hubbard, readied her Special Ops team to take it to the enemy by any means possible, if she had to.
In Engineering, Ensigns Colon and Epps as well as the rest of the Engineering Department made sure that the ship's power and essential systems were at optimum effiiciency. Back on the Bridge at Ops., Lt Cmdr. Powell, Ensigns Hanson and Whitlark as well as Lt. Padro worked with Lt. Stanton, Ensigns Mahone-Lonesome, Wilson, Solomos and Mahar of the Science Department to calibrate all the sensors needed in the upcoming battle. Standing a lone vigil at security, Lt. Skarka stood ready to take over for Cmdr. Bonilla, should he fall. Crewmans Gonzalez, Robinson and Thompson sat at their assigned stations, coordinating with the other departments and sending their reports to Cmdr. Rodriguez to disseminate to the Executive Officer.
"Tactical status of Sun Tzu and Lexington," the Captain added as he checked and double-checked all offensive and defensive systems.
"They report optimum readiness, Sir," reported Commander Bonilla from Tactical. The Officer did not miss a beat as he coordinated communication, maneuver and system preparedness sequences with the two other ships in the Cavalry Wing.
Torres smiled. He almost felt sorry for the Breen Fleet. Special Sensor Scramblers would protect them from detection until they were practically on top of them. 'A simple plan really,' he thought, 'we go in, surprise the Breen Fleet, divide and take them out.' He turned to his Strategic Ops Officer. "Mr. Bonilla, I think it's time that you put your 'eye' on the situation."
Bonilla nodded. "Understood sir." The half Vulcan, half Romulan officer stood from up from the Tactical station and walked solemnly across the Bridge and disappeared through a set of doors set near the Master Situation Display, towards the Combat Information Center and the "Eye of Horus". It was from there that the Commander would control the ship's weapons fire and shield usage.
Torres reviewed the plan over and over tacking each and every detail as one crucial step after another. Partway through the process, he smiled again. Starfleet Command and the Federation feared this mission a suicide run and a terrible waste of resources. 'What was it that they told us...What can three ships do, that a Fleet couldn't?'
"Target destination 50 minutes and closing." Ensign Swenson called out, in his routine time to target update.
"Report," called out Commodore Hanford as he sat on his stately Command Chair. Although the Terran Empire vessel had been converted over to Federation Standard, a few remnants of the Mirror Universe influence remained on the ISS Lexington.
"Targets remains unaware. 45 minutes to intercept. Sun Tzu and Osiris at the ready." Commander Cohen reported in the sharp succinct manner that his CO was accustomed.
Hanford nodded in acknowledgement as he perused the Bridge of his New Jersey Class Battleship. Brighter than the Osiris, even with the red blinking lights, the smaller Bridge hummed with perfect precision. The structure and discipline of the Terran Empire carried well into Cavalry Units.
Tapping the Comm Panel in his armrest, "Weapons checks on the minute." The Commodore barked as he pushed his crew to be more than ready. To him, this mission was just another slaughter. Sure, they stood to face more than a hundred ships and a mobile space station, but that was nothing new to him and his crew.
"As you command." Responded Lieutenant Winfree from the Combat Information Center several decks below the bridge. Immediately two additional crew members stepped up to the bridge tactical display consoles and began flash-testing the systems, producing a condition of 'hyper-preparedness' where nearly any situation could be confronted immediately and with enough force to overcome it.
"Target destination 35 minutes and closing," Swenson called out.
Captain Berenberg paced around the outer Bridge of the USS Sun Tzu. He looked over each station and the crew assigned to it. It was his habit to keep aware of all functions of his ship at all times.
"Lieutenant, systems report." The Captain stated as he stepped down to the inner Bridge and walked toward his Command Chair.
The Tactical Officer, Lela Anderson, looked up from her controls and starting swiftly listing weapon and defensive system readiness.
"...Megaphasers on line and SMC holding full charge and stable."
"Thank you Anderson." Berenberg replied as he took his seat and re-routed system reports through his armrest console.
"We are in for quite a show people. We need to be fast and on our feet." The Captain stated as he looked over the reports from the Lexington and Osiris.
"Target destination 15 minutes and closing," Swenson called out.
The Allied Fleet continued deeper and deeper into Dominion Controlled Space. They ran into enemy forces several times, taking minor loses at each encounter. At a major battle, facing and defeating the Dominion front line fleet, the Armada took a 25% loss. The lead ships anticipated rendezvous with Cardassia in 40 minutes, engaging the main fleet orbiting the planet. And still...the fleet moved on.
"Target destination 5 minutes and closing," Swenson called out.
"Prepare to drop out of Warp," Captain Torres called out as he conferred with the other two ships.
"Auto-synchronization on-line and standing ready," Swenson said as he turned to face the Captain. All three ships would drop from Warp at the same time, in preplanned positions relative to the enemy forces.
Intelligence reports advised that the Breen Fleet would be massed re-stocking and re-fueling at the target station, making them vulnerable, very vulnerable. Timing was key, and luckily the Breen have proven themselves to be near monotonous in their scheduling. This force seemed to be preparing for a pincer attack on the Fleet as it engaged the forces around Cardassia.
"Battlestations!" Shouted Commodore Hanford as he stood. His crew accelerated their actions in a near frenzy as the ship prepared to exit warp and do battle with an unknown number of ships. 'The more the merrier,' had become one of his favorite sayings since joining the Federation.
On the mark, the three ships dropped out of Warp 100,000 Meters from the station, and at the same time, appeared on the sensor screens of hundreds of Breen Ships.
"Initiating SMC Run," Captain Berenberg announced to all three crews.
"Starting flanking run," replied Captain Torres.
"Copy that," added Commodore Hanford.
Instantly, the Osiris and Lexington made opposite flanking moves and the Sun Tzu surged forward.
"Opening forward cargo bay doors, target acquired," Anderson called out. The panels retracted and exposed the mouth to the primary weapon a 200-meter long cannon.
The Breen Ships started reacting. Those furthest from the Station and those on patrol turned and faced the three intruders. The majority of the ships were caught with their proverbial pants down, either preparing for or in the middle of re-stocking supplies and munitions.
"Safeties off," continued Anderson.
"Fire!" Shouted Berenberg.
Three seconds after their appearance the SMC, their Spinal Mounted Cannon briefly started glowing and fired an intense beam of energy at the Station, catching it in the reactor section. The SMC capacitor unleashed the power of 10,000 phaser strikes in a single burst. The Breen shields glowed brightly for a moment and quickly flickered out as the massive energy strike pierced it.
Milliseconds later, the entire structure erupted in several massive explosions, vaporizing most of the Breen forces near it. Over 75% of Fleet were either lost or rendered useless, including the flagship which was one of the ships closest to the station.
"Direct hit," cried out Anderson as the Sun Tzu powered down and started closing the forward cargo doors. "Energy systems re-routing, all weapon systems charging." The SMC, while a devastating weapon forced the Belisarius Class to recharge all offensive systems for a short duration after its use. While it still retained its shields, it had limited offensive capabilities during this time.
"Starting attack run," announced Captain Torres, as the Osiris turned toward the remnants of the Breen fleet. The Osiris Class' forward weapons platform came to life, begging for the chance to take on the enemy.
The Lexington also turned and started her run, bringing her awesome arsenal to bear on the confused Breen fleet. "No mercy," ordered Hanford as weapons-fire started.
The Breen scrambled for a counter-offensive against the two attacking battleships that were charging them at half impulse speed. Most of the vessels tried to get their weapons systems and shields on-line; others charged the two Cavalry vessels with everything they had ready. It was one of the worst situations to find yourself in.
The Osiris and Lexington engaged the remnants of the Breen Fleet with barrages of phaser, megaphaser, photon, quantum torpedo and pulsed phaser fire.
Some Breen ships moved to intercept unleashing everything they had, others scrambled to get out of the way while recovering from the station blast..
Streams and pulses of light ignited the darkness of space while a vicious hail of torpedos bombarded enemy ships. The Cavalry ships seemingly vanished in an onslaught of their own sheer firepower.
In rapid succession, the Osiris launched wave after wave of torpedos. Alternating between Photons and Quantum yields, she sent them off in volleys of five and ten. It didn't matter if they hit, proximity blasts were enough to damage nearby Breen vessels.
"Spread your fire Mr. Bonilla, I want to see a trail of devastation." He looked over the Bridge as everyone performed their duties calmly and efficiently. The Captain smiled as he watched his crew busy at the art of war.
The forward weapons platform started glowing as megaphaser blasts ripped through the Breen ships. Continuously launched torpedoes and pulsed phaser fire picked off the remnants. The Osiris class was impressive, but the Osiris was no ordinary ship of the line, she was the first of her class and didn't have a standard weapons package. The Breen ships that met her, soon wished they hadn't.
Ten Breen ships had converged where the Osiris was heading and tried to block her path with a hail of weapons fire. Swenson skillfully maneuvered the big ship through the blasts. Still recovering from the initial surprise, the Breen attacks were not very effective.
"Close In Defense Shields holding at 96%," shouted Bonilla over the holographic comm display that winked into existence next to Torres' Command Chair, as the Osiris took its first serious hit. Bonilla's hands and eyes were a blur of motion as tiny iconic representations of the Breen ships buzzed across him. He tapped the icons and the Osiris' phasers and photons lanced towards them, the Breen disappearing in miniscule holographic explosions. "Standard Shields at full power and holding." The red tracer lights chasing themselves across the Command Information Center lent a savage, almost gleeful sheen to his face.
The next volley of Photons broke the blockade, devastating several ships and crippling a few others. A few phaser blasts at the weakened Breen ships reminded them what it was like to go up against the Osiris.
"Increase speed," Hanford ordered. The New Jersey Class with her Gatling Phasers excelled at close quarters combat. Breen ships that ventured too near the Lexington learned that all to well, albeit posthumously.
The Battleship passed by five Breen ships as it accelerated, and peppered them with Gatling Phaser and photons. Three took critical hits and sputtered out of existence.
The Lexington, like all New Jersey Class Battleships, was not a fancy multi-roll galactic explorer or a large oversized dreadnaught. It was a practical and efficient ship, designed and built with single-minded mission by the Terran Empire...kill. And it did that very well.
Phaser fire shot out in all directions against dozens of enemy ships simultaneously. Photon and Quantum launches accentuated the destructive strikes. Of all the Cavalry Commanders, Commodore Hanford was most experienced in the many against one scenario.
The re-grouping Breen ships took hit after hit. At first their shields illuminated repelling the strikes, then their hulls started flickering with non-stop impact after impact as their shields failed. Shortly implosions and explosions followed as the ships joined the fate of their Station.
They scrambled to form any stable formation, but found themselves unable to organize and resist the enemy at the same time. The crew of the Sun Tzu watched the fireworks as her systems re-powered to near combat ready levels.
"Close in Defense Shields holding at 92%," Bonilla said calmly, as if he were sitting in a rowboat, fishing. His coolness under fire was amazing, the return fire increased from several Breen ships making an attack run.
The two Battleships closed from opposite sides, started converging on the debris of the station. At this point many of the remaining Breen ships were now behind them and started to pursue the Cavalry vessels.
"Weapons systems on line," Anderson called out.
"Start Attack run," Captain Berenberg ordered and soon the Sun Tzu joined the two other Cavalry ships in the battle. Long-range phaser fire started on the ships following both the Lexington and Osiris. Photon strikes followed.
"It's about time." Hanford retorted as he appeared on the main viewscreen of the Sun Tzu. "I thought Edgar and I would have to do all the real fighting!" He ended the transmission laughing.
"Megaphaser Arrays spread fire," Captain Berenberg started with a slight smirk as he looked up the blank viewscreen, "lets hurt them. A lot."
On cue, the four opalescent arrays, one each on the Dorsal, Ventral, Port and Starboard sides, came to life and started bursting in all directions. Instead of attempting to target single ships with the deadly force of multiple arrays, they took on many targets, causing various degrees of damage. The mission was to stop the Breen Relief Fleet from arriving at Cardassia in time, any way they could.
The Cavalry ships were designed for the immense delivery of weapons fire over prolonged periods of time. Massive stores of Torpedoes emptied rapidly. Time was of the essence now that the surprise was over. The remaining Breen ships were more than a match for the 3 Cavalry vessels as they moved into more favorable formations.
"Close in Defense Shields at 88% Captain." Bonilla mentioned, almost as an afterthought as a spark flashed near him from a minor system overload as a dozen Breen ships fired on the aft shields.
The three Cavalry ships converged in the debris field that was once the Breen Supply Station. Parts of ships and the station floated aimlessly. The groups of Breen ships in a wedge formation closed on the Cavalry ships.
"Maximum Warp, Ensign," said Captain Torres as he leaned back in his Command Chair. Small streamers of smoke floated about the Bridge, the result of minor damage taken in the assault.
Simultaneously, the three Cavalry ships turned back towards Cardassia and entered Warp, stunning the Breen once more as they jumped free of the pincer attack.
Within seconds, the remnants of the Breen fleet, some 40 of the remaining 70 ships, turned and followed, jumping to Warp speed. They had originally intended a move to Cardassia and strike the allied fleet nearly 500 strong from the rear, but not on these terms.
The Osiris took the forward position, bearing the most impressive forward weapons array at warp speeds. The Sun Tzu and Lexington stayed closely behind, firing torpedoes and other FTW weapons systems at the Breen force following closely behind.
"All reserve energy to Aft Shields, Lieutenant," Captain Berenberg called out.
The chase continued for some time. The Breen ships launched whatever weaponry they could at the Cavalry units, which was not much. Return fire from the Lexington and Sun Tzu was moderate. They needed to prolong the chase until they reached Cardassia and the Allied Fleet.
The Breen forces needed to take out these ships by themselves, they were not going to receive any support. Their own fleet lay devastated behind them and the nearest Breen or Dominion forces were fighting a pitched battle above Cardassia.
The Sun Tzu and Lexington took well-aimed shots at the Breen ships following them, with the Osiris attacking with her aft torpedo launchers. It turned out to be more of a standoff as they all raced to Cardassia. Slowly, one by one, damaged Breen ships started dropping out of warp or slowing down. Propulsion system failures started taking hold of the damaged ships as they strove to maintain Warp 9+ speeds. This attrition only added to the Cavalry victory.
Captain Berenberg watched the view screen and the sensor readings on the ensuing battle at Cardassia. He was taken aback when he saw the Cardassians had changed sides and were helping the Allied forces.
"Ah, more weak ones to prey upon," Commodore Hanford smiled as he saw the same readings from Cardassia.
"Swenson, take us in. We have a war to win." Captain Torres said softly. Swenson tapped the panel set before him as the Osiris took her place among her sister ships of the fleet.
Within moments, the Cavalry ships rejoined the Armada it had previously left a few hours ago. The thousands of ships it once had, now numbered just under a 1000, a total loss of 60% or all Allied forces. The three ships separated and rejoined their respective squadrons, joining in the battle without skipping a beat.
Behind the Cavalry ships the small remnants of the Breen dropped out of Warp, 26 ships. A force that once would have turned the tide of battle was now more of a nuisance than a threat.
Soon enough, they too were eliminated and the rest of the battle was history.
The Commanding Admiral smiled as he received notice of the Cavalry's success. He read it twice and then smiled. 'What can three ships do that a fleet can't...indeed.' He then sighed quietly. A moment later he returned his attention to the rest of the battle, and certain victory.
Another Cavalry Mission successfully completed, quietly and efficiently. Shortly the three would return to General Franks Station and celebrate the victory over some well-deserved drinks, toasting those that gave their lives for the ultimate cause.
|Last modified: 10.04.12|