EPISODE 5.44.5 - “From the Front Lines”
written by Travis Cannon
STARDATE 58524.79 - In orbit of Zëthoun:
The Red Alert klaxons sounded all over the ship. The bridge was bathed in the dark red light of the alert status. The ship shook as a green disruptor blast from the enemy vessel structure the side. Captain Markev Riganoff gripped the arms of his command chair and gritted his teeth. This is no way to win a battle, he thought.
“Full reverse!” he shouted over the fray of an explosion from the operations station, which caused Lieutenant Burton to go falling to floor.
Commander B'verk, the Andorian first officer, tapped his commbadge, “Medical team to the bridge!”
“Ensign!?” Riganoff urged.
“I'm trying to, sir,” Ensign Ludwig responded as she frantically tapped the helm controls in front of her. “All engines are all full. The ship isn't moving.”
“They're coming around for another pass!” Lieutenant Hogan cried from his tactical station.
“Increase forward shields!” Commander B'verk commanded.
Hogan nodded. “Diverting all available power.”
Riganoff stared at the view screen as the So'jan warship did a swooping arch before facing them. Luckily for them it wasn't one of those hybrid ships, but they had found themselves in the middle of a battle with the Zëthounian defense fleet and the vanguard of the approaching So'jan invasion fleet, presumably with several hybrid warships and Mass Drivers. The green disruptor blast hit the front shielding of the Ticonderoga once again. Riganoff gripped the arms of his chair and gritted his teeth.
“Engineering, this is Riganoff,” he called. “We need the warp drive online now!”
“We're trying our best, Captain!” came the frustrated and anxious voice of the chief engineer. “We lost containment during the initial attack, and now the plasma injectors have gone offline.”
“We need warp power now, Lieutenant,” Riganoff said.
“Aye, sir,” came the voice of the chief engineer.
Riganoff looked over at B'verk.
“I hope he does, because I don't think we can handle much more of this,” B'verk said, holding tightly onto his chair as the bridge shook again under the impact of another disruptor blast.
“Let's just hope the scalys don't decide to use torpedoes,” was Riganoff reply.
“Sir!” cried Hogan from his station. “Two more Zëthounian ships have been destroyed.”
Riganoff cursed in Russian. “Ensign, do we have enough power for combat maneuvering?”
Ensign Ludwig looked at her console. “Just enough, sir.”
“Right!” Riganoff said. “Let us see if we can give some over to the last remaining Zëthounian defense fleet.”
“Sir?” Commander B'verk's antennae twitched. “Are you sure that's wise?”
“We can't abandon them,” Riganoff answered. “Not after we came here and told them to fight.”
“Coming in between the lead So'jan attack ship and the Zëthounian battle cruiser,” Ludwig announced.
The turbolift doors opened and a medical team arrived. B'verk pointed toward Lieutenant Burton and they medical team rushed over. Meanwhile Riganoff and stood up, preparing himself to fully engage the Ticonderoga in the battle.
“Mr. Hogan, locked phasers onto their weapon systems,” Riganoff commanded. “Fire when you have a clear shot.”
“Aye, sir,” Hogan said, returning his attention to his station. “Locking on.”
The red beams of the Ticonderoga's phaser banks shot out from the hall and hit the incoming So'jan attack ship. The attack ship spun around rapidly and retreated.
“Warship coming up behind us!” Ludwig announced.
“Increase rear deflector shields!” B'verk ordered.
“To late, their firing.”
The So'jan warship shot out to sparkling torpedoes. One barely missed the aft section of the dish portion of the Ticonderoga, but the other one impacted the center nacelle of the Galaxy class Dreadnought refit vessel.
“Center nacelle's been hit!” informed Ludwig, tapping rapidly on her console, maneuvering the ship away from the pursuing warship.
“Can we still go to warp with only two nacelles?” B'verk asked.
Riganoff nodded. “The third one is really just redundant, it gives us extra power for combat.”
B'verk tapped his commbadge.
“B'verk to engineering, status report!”
“Well the constant stress put on the shields and engines aren't helping,” came the chief engineers voice. “But we're making progress. I'll have warp power back online in ten minutes.”
“That might not...,” B'verk began.
“We'll manage, Commander,” Riganoff said, sitting in his command chair. “The Ticonderoga has endured tougher battles before.”
“Yeah, but back then we had the support of the fleet,” B'verk added. “The So'jan are not the Dominion, they're using technology that is older and more advance than anything we've encountered. You heard the reports from Starfleet. The Pioneer witnessed the destruction several Borg cubes using a weapon that the So'jan now possess.”
“I'll remind you that it was a human who invented that weapon,” Riganoff said.
“Tyson Calok's not human, not anymore,” B'verk replied.
Riganoff was force to concede to that point.
“Sir!” Hogan nearly burst out of his station. “Picking up the So'jan fleet on long range sensors. They'll be here in five minutes.”
B'verk groaned. “I knew it, we're not going to make it, Markev.”
“We still have combat thrusters, B'verk,” Riganoff said. “We'll manage.” He arched his head back. “Mr. Hogan relay a message to the Zëthounian, tell them that I regret we will be leaving them soon.”
“They demand that we stay, Captain,” Hogan said. “They say, 'you got us into this, you will burn with us'.”
“Not the gratitude you'd think they show us for giving them an early warning about the Coalition's advance,” B'verk said.
“They're fighting for their world, B'verk,” Riganoff said, sympathetically. “And they're losing. Their tempers are bound to be wound tight.”
“Coalition ships emerging from sub-space, sir,” Ludwig said.
The view screen flashed and showed an armada of Coalition vessels, a mixture of tradition and hybrid vessel, pulls the big ones carrying the Mass Drivers bringing up the rear.
“We still have some fight in us,” Riganoff said standing. “Let's see if we can knock out one of those MDs.”
“Ensign, take us through the So'jan fleet,” Riganoff commanded. “Mr. Hogan, prepare a volley of quantum torpedoes... target the most vulnerable part of the Mass Driver vessel.”
“And what part might that be, sir,” Hogan replied.
Riganoff turned and looked up at Hogan, who was standing behind the tactical station. He thought for a minute.
“The power regulatory systems,” he said, spinning around to face the view screen again. “Just think about it, Mass Drivers must require a lot of power to maintain them. If we weaken the power regulatory systems, it might disrupt the power flow just enough to case the Mass Driver to overload.”
Hogan thought for a while. “I just might work, sir. Though, I'll have to program the torpedo to the precise frequency of their deflectors.”
“A good phaser shot so disrupt them long enough for the ship's sensors to pick up the modulation,” B'verk said.
“Do it,” Riganoff ordered.
B'verk got up from his chair and darted up to join Hogan at the tactical system, preparing to scan the So'jan deflectors at just the right moment.
“Approaching the fleet,” Ludwig said.
The Ticonderoga dived down to avoiding ramming into the first Coalition warship. Green disruptor blasts engulfed them as all the surrounding hostile ships fired upon them.
“Shields are holding,” Ludwig confirmed.
“You're doing a great job, Ensign,” Riganoff said, leaning against the back of the CONN officer's chair.
“Hybrid Warship up ahead.”
“Captain, I recommend we avoid it as best as possible,” B'verk called from behind the tactical station.
“I don't think we have much choice, Commander,” Riganoff said. “It's on a direct course with us.”
The Ticonderoga spun on its axis to avoid disruptor blasts from the hybrid warship. Ludwig did a nice maneuver, which caused the Ticonderoga to acquire a quick burst of speed, which propelled them past the warship. The mean looking warship with its three talon wings curved around space in pursuit.
“Approaching the Mass Driver vessels,” Hogan said, in awe.
No Starfleet ships had ever seen one of these vessels up close, at least lived to tell the tale. The Saladin was the only one that had caught a glimpse of them before being destroyed. Riganoff backed away from the CONN and stepped towards the view screen, almost reaching out, as if to touch the ships.
“They’re huge,” he muttered.
“Each 3,218.688 meters across, sir,” the awe in Hogan's voice rang out.
The two ships hung in space like two big dark eggs, the tip cut off where the Mass Drivers were propelled out and aimed towards their targets. Riganoff's eyes widen as the front began to blink a series bright of colors.
“Get as much information as you can, Mr. Hogan,” Riganoff command. “Starfleet could find this information useful.”
“Sir,” Ludwig shouted out. “The warship is charging its pulse cannon.”
The hybrid warship's three equally spaced fins, around its center, began to glow a bright green. Within moments the energy particles converged in the center of the vessel's nose.
“Evasive maneuvers!” Riganoff shouted.
“Useless, sir,” B'verk said.
“Warp powers back on,” the chief engineer's voice rang over the intercom.
“Captain!?” called Ensign Ludwig.
“Markev!” B'verk gripped Riganoff shoulders and shook him.
Riganoff came to his senses. “We can't do any more here,” almost in a trance.
B'verk took command of the situation.
“Ensign, get us the hell out of here!”
A green beam pulsed towards the Ticonderoga, second from hitting. But then the Federation ship vanished into warp. The pulse beam curved around, disrupted by the remaining warp pattern left behind, and arched up towards the nearby Mass Driver ship. The So'jan hybrid warship set signals out alerting its comrades. One of the small attack fighters disengaged from its squadron and met the pulse beam, exploding in a terrifying display of particles and light. It had saved the Mass Driver vehicle.
Fifteen minutes later, after the remnants of Zëthounian defense fleet had been eradicated, the Mass Driver ships took position above the planet and began the planetary bombardment.
Four days later...
Captain Markev Riganoff sat in the office of Admiral Toshio Kawamura aboard Deep Space Five. The recovering Captain Benjamin Kelsoe, of the Pioneer, sat on the couch, along side Admiral Christopher Truman.
“Sir,” Riganoff spoke with a straight back. “I take full responsible for leaving the field of battle.”
“Captain?” questioned Kawamura, a little amused. “Are you under the impression you're here to be punished?”
“Well, yes, sir,” replied Riganoff. “The Ticonderoga did abandon the Zëthounian... now they are a so-called protectorate of the greater So'jan Empire.”
“You're not in trouble, Markev,” Truman said in his gravelly voice. “In fact, we're quite pleased you survived.”
“If the Ticonderoga hadn't escaped we wouldn't have the information we now have on the ships that carry the Mass Drivers,” Kawamura said. “We are very pleased that you survived.”
“So something useful came from our sensor scans?” Riganoff inquired.
“Curious, sir,” Riganoff put forward. “Would my plan have worked?”
“The power regulatory systems?” Kawamura pondered.
All three turned and looked at Captain Kelsoe, who spoke for the first time.
“I've had time to review the data,” Kelsoe said. “Whatever these ships are, they are not of So'ja design. They are something entirely different.” He paused. “I don't think anything we currently have can stop them.”
“Then what?” Truman inquired.
“Admiral Kawamura, do you remember the talk you had with Grace Mul La?” Kelsoe questioned.
“Yes, what about it?”
“Remember he mentioned a race known as the Oppressors,” Kelsoe explain, slowly, thinking carefully over his words. “He said that the So'jan were using Oppressor technology.”
“Yes,” Truman said, nodding. “I remembering something like that, do you Toshio?”
Kawamura nodded. “I don't like where this is going, Kelsoe.”
“Well, I can't help that,” Kelsoe said. “But I can't help thinking that these Mass Drivers aren't similar to the ones used by the Oppressors, but are in fact the very same technology that that ancient race used to conquer most of the Oralian sector.”
“My God,” Truman uttered. “And now the named scalys have their hands on it.”
All four men looked at each other in utter despair, and then turned and looked out the window at the starry expansion of space, all thinking about how the So'jan could have gotten their hands onto something so old and yet so dangerous.
Tyson Calok stood near the railing on a large baloney along the imperial palace on Ka'al and looked down at the city of Ka'fa. He watched as the mindless so'jan warriors gathered in the large square. Beside him stood Chancellor Ar'kon, dressed in the traditional yellow robes of a so'jan king. Calok looked over at him and almost laughed.
“You think you are a king, Ar'kon?” Calok asked.
“Uh... excuse me?” Ar'kon asked, taken aback.
Calok grinned mischievously. “Don't worry, Ar'kon. Soon you'll discover who has the real power here.”
“What?” a confused Ar'kon hissed in his native so'jan tongue.
Calok looked at him with his red eyes, and Ar'kon stepped back. Calok smiled.
“See, you're already learning,” Calok said, barely in a whisper. “Good boy.”