Summary: SEASON 6 FINALE: The combined Cardassian State and Romulan fleet launch their assault on Celdis Prime. The Federation braces for a second front as the rest of the Imperial Navy prepares to attack across the Neutral Zone. The Pershing class battlestarships hold the line alone.
Categories: Expanded Universes Characters: None
Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama, Family, Friendship, Romance
Warnings: Adult Language, Adult Situations, Character Death, Violence
Series: Star Trek: New Horizons
Chapters: 9 Completed: Yes
Word count: 12983 Read: 7132
Published: 08 Jul 2018 Updated: 08 Jul 2018
1. Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
2. Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
3. Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
4. Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
5. Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
6. Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
7. Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
8. Chapter 8 by captaintigranian
9. Chapter 9 by captaintigranian
Chapter 1 by captaintigranian
Celdis Prime: Military Demarcation Line, Republic of Cardassia
"Red Alert!" Murphy commanded. "All hands to battle stations!"
Klaxons echoed across the task force. Katie immediately raised the shields and armed the phasers and quantum torpedoes. The entire bridge of the Pershing was instantly bathed in red light.
Resked screamed and disconnected the transmission.
"All ships," Murphy screamed into the open comm line. "Evasive! Evasive!"
The task force scattered apart just in time. A hundred beams of yellow Cardassian phasers and green Romulan disruptors shot out from the bows of the enemy vessels and sliced through the space where the battlestarships had been just seconds before.
"Sir," Adamson shouted while checking his sensors. "The enemy fleet is breaking into echelons and pushing across the MDL towards Celdis Prime. It looks like they're trying to get in between us and force the task force apart."
"Shran, Houston!" Murphy shouted. "Hard a stern! Fall back to Point 250 in high geo-sync orbit. Fight in tandem and don't them get behind us!"
"Moving!" Zhe'vasda yelled back.
"Lone Star 6, acknowledges!" Soloth replied.
Both ships gunned into full reverse impulse. It nearly overwhelmed their structural integrity fields, but soon they were moving backward towards Celdis and fighting the whole way. Two waves of Cardassian Galors charged straight at them in wedge formations. The lead wave went for the Shran, but Ice-Ax 6 ordered a full forward barrage from her phaser arrays. Six beams ripped through the lead cruiser and tore it apart like tissue paper. Its wingmen broke off and tried to circle back around. The second formation aimed their cannons at the Houston's port nacelle to cripple her, but Soloth adjusted his trim just in time. Lone Star 6 then ordered a spread of quantum torpedoes across the breadth of the Cardassian front. They exploded in a wall of energy and shrapnel that sheared off the stubby starboard wing of one of the Cardassian ships. It drifted away disabled. The other two were severely damaged, but managed to rejoin their fleet for another pass.
"Lone Star 6," Zhe'vasda shouted into her comm system. "Z-minus twenty degrees. Belly to Belly herringbone!"
"Roger, Ice-Ax 6," the Vulcan replied. He ordered his helm to barrel-roll Lone Star 180 degrees over and dive forward. The Shran and the Houston nudged their keels together till their ventral shields were almost touching. Then, they canted their bows outwards at forty-five degree angles. Now, their powerful forward weapon systems had the entire battlefield within their field of fire while the more vulnerable armor along their keels was protected by the other starship.
"Freedom 6, Ice-Ax 6," Zhe'vasda reported to Murphy. "You got an Andorian and a Vulcan watching your back and they're both stubborn as all hell. Go!"
"Nelson, Nevsky!" Murphy commanded. "on Blackjack's nacelles. We're going for the warbirds! We'll mark the targets, you keep these Cardassian hornets off of us. Emergency flank!"
"Victory 6, WILCO!" Quan replied.
"Motherland 6, roger!" Tarn said.
"Engineering, Bridge," Annabeth shouted into her intercom. "Emergency flank!"
"Aye, Ma'am!" Scharr shouted back. She heard him yelling commands to his teams before the connection disconnected. "Adjust port and starboard EPS flows! Overpressure lines three and four and open the release valves on one and two. Balls to the wall, Guys and Gals!…"
The Nelson and Nevsky took positions to the port and starboard of the Pershing. The three ships blasted forward at a speed that was remarkable even for vessels a quarter of their size. The inertial dampeners had trouble compensating and the acceleration pushed the crew back into their seats. Murphy reached out and grabbed Annabeth's chair for support.
"Helm," the admiral ordered. "Set course 184 Mark 350. Top-down attack onto the starboard flank of the nearest D'Deridex formation. Tactical, lock phasers and blast with everything you got in the forward arrays when we're in range. We have to break those ships apart or those things will cut us to pieces."
"Aye, Sir!" the two Lexingtons said together. The battlestarship wedge flew up and over the Cardassians who were unprepared for their burst of speed. The three ships moved in perfect formation before nosing over and heading straight at the side of one of the Romulan ships. The size and power of the D'Deridex was overwhelming, but it came at the precious cost of speed and maneuverability. The Romulans tried angling to bring their forward weapons to bear, but it was too late. Katie sent a full forward barrage of six phaser beams directly into their upper neck brace. It cracked in half and the resulting explosion decapitated the raptor like a chicken on a chopping block. As the burning head section drifted down and away, the Romulan's two wingmen finally managed to turn towards the Federation attackers. The Nelson and Nevsky opened fire with their weapons and pushed them back, but a second formation of warbirds augmented by a wave of Cardassian Galors came about and attempted to trap the Starfleet vessels in a pincer move.
Cardassian phaser fire ripped into the port shields of Nelson and Pershing while Romulan disruptor beams pounded into Nevksy's forward shields. Sparks flew across the Pershing's bridge and an auxiliary console exploded to Adamson's left. The force knocked him to the ground.
"Aaron!" Katie said looking over with concern.
"I'm alright! Keep going!" the young lieutenant said gripping the sides of his control panel and rising back to his feet.
Then, one of the D'Deridex fired a spread of plasma torpedoes directly at the Pershing's keel plating. Incoming alarms sounded a dire warning. Phil desperately tried to adjust their trim, but he couldn't outmaneuver the burning green spheres flying three times faster than they were. Just before they were about to take the full force of the hit, Quan ordered the Nelson to fire the forward phasers. The spread detonated the Romulan projectiles less than a thousand meters from the Pershing's ventral hull. The crew of the Pershing was nearly knocked off their feet by the shockwave, but Lady Blackjack's shields held.
"Damage Report!" Annabeth shouted.
"Port shields down to fifty-two percent," Daredevil shouted over the sound of battle. "Minor buckling of the ablative armor along the port keel and decks six and seven are both reporting injuries."
"Bridge to sickbay, prepare to receive casualties!" Annabeth shouted.
"Acknowledged!" Katan shouted back. "We'll get 'em back in the fight!"
"Thanks for the assist, Shu Yin," Annabeth said into the subspace radio gratefully. "You kept our ass in one piece.
"No worries," Quan responded. "Hopefully, you'll return the favor before the day is out."
Annabeth actually managed to smile for a brief moment.
The starship formation continued flying laterally along the enemy formation forcing the warbirds to break apart to engage them. The three Pershings dodged disruptor beams and plasma torpedoes as the massive green warships tried to get the fast moving battlestarships into their sights.
One of the other D'Deridex tried cloaking in order to maneuver unobserved, but it wasn't fast enough. Katie spotted it and fired three quantum torpedoes just as it was beginning to disappear. The moment its shields dropped, her weapons hit and blew it apart. It exploded in a massive fireball.
Three more Cardassian State Galors came charging in at full speed with phasers blasting. Captain Tarn on the Nevsky managed to get a lock in time and fired his forward arrays. He managed to destroy one and disable the other two.
"Freedom 6, this is Motherland 6," Tarn warned sharply. "The jig is up! The Romulans are reforming to our starboard aft and the Cardassian formation has split. A third of them are coming after us, but the others are heading straight for Ice-Ax and Lone Star!"
Murphy turned and checked the tactical display on Annabeth's chair. Tarn's assessment was spot on. They wouldn't be able to stay here much longer and Zhe'vasda and Soloth were about to be overwhelmed by a massive swarm of ships.
"We've done all we can here!" Murphy shouted. "We've at least bought us some time before the Romulans form back up. Helm, set course 102 Mark 043. Get us back into the fight to help Shran and Houston."
"Aye Sir," Phil said making the necessary adjustments. The Nelson fired a spread of quantum torpedoes at a nearby warbird which exploded right in the space beneath its upper wing section. The D'Deridex lurched violently and then began to drift as its attitude control failed. However, Victory wasn't fast enough to avoid a few hits of disruptor fire from another Romulan cruiser nearby.
"Freedom 6, Victory 6," Quan said. "Shields down to sixty percent. We're punching well above our weight, but it's not enough! There's still thirty-five very perturbed Romulan ships out there and their turning straight at us."
"Just hang on, Shu Yin," Murphy said desperately. "Stay on our nacelle and watch your starboard quarter. There's another wave of Cardassians coming in!"
"Acknowledged," she replied. "I'm moving over three degrees to try to cover your damaged shields with mine."
Another spread of Romulan torpedoes found its mark and exploded against the dorsal shields of the Nevsky. Motherland took damage, but kept moving.
"We're alright!" Tarn shouted. "But one more hit like that on our back and we're gonna lose our whole shield grid."
"Goddammit," Murphy cursed under his breath. His formation finally managed to break free of the enemy main body and speed back towards the planet. However, all of his ships were now damaged and the Romulus Pact fleet was only disoriented, angry, and far from defeated.
Meanwhile, the Shran and Houston were being mercilessly pounded by wave after wave of Cardassian ships. The enemy would attack in fast groups of three while firing their main phasers at point blank range against the port and starboard shields of the two battlestarships, Then, they would break off and run out of range just before the next wave hit. Though the Cardassians lacked the hard hitting power of the larger Romulan ships, Ice-Ax and Lone-Star were being stabbed to death by a hundred pin pricks.
Zhe'vasda and Soloth were firing their forward phasers as fast they could charge them. They were doing severe damage to their attackers, but with each pass, the Cardassians would get a little closer and closer. Finally, two waves attacked at once and fired their main arrays on overload. A power conduit on the bridge of the Houston exploded as their dorsal shields dropped below twenty percent.
"Freedom 6, this is Lone Star 6!" Soloth shouted as a bit of fear finally penetrated his Vulcan calm. "My shields are failing and have ruptures in three primary EPS conduits. Auxiliary power is holding, but request immediate assistance."
Before Murphy could answer, Annabeth answered for him.
"Lone Star 6, Blackjack 6," she yelled. "Hold the line for a just a few more seconds. We're coming right to you!"
The Pershing shuddered as she took a hard hit to her aft shields. The Romulans had reformed faster than expected and were now slowly pressing forward well past the MDL. Alarms echoed across the ship.
"Bridge, Engineering!" Scharr shouted through the intercom. "The EPS lines can't take this speed anymore. If we don't slow down in the next thirty seconds, we're gonna blow out our impulse manifolds. I guarantee it's the same thing and all the other ships too!"
"Acknowledged…" Annabeth said as another disruptor bolt slammed into their shields. She wanted to give the order to keep pushing, but it was the admiral's show. She looked up to him with a pleading expression.
Murphy gritted his teeth. He desperately wanted to get back to the Shran and Houston in time to preserve some of their shields, but three ships with disabled engines won't do anyone any good.
"Nelson, Nevsky, Freedom 6, drop to three quarters impulse and reroute auxiliary power to shields and structural integrity. We can't help anyone if we're dead in space."
"Victory 6, acknowledge," Quan said.
"Motherland 6, acknowledge," Tarn echoed.
Both sounded ashamed.
The three ships watched as another overwhelming wave of Cardassian ships charged straight at Shran and Houston. Zhe'vasda and Soloth's phasers managed to destroy half of them, but three broke past and headed straight at Celdis Prime at full speed.
"Mein Gott," Annabeth said rising to her feet. She watched as the Cardassians recharged their weapons. "Katie!" she said pointing at Tactical. "Emergency message to the Red Cross hospital! Tell them to take cover now!"
Space raid sirens echoed across the Red Cross compound. Children screamed in terror as aid workers rushed to corral as many people as possible into the makeshift permacrete bomb shelters hastily build into the nearby mountainside. The smell of panic and fear mixed with sweat and the heavy breathing of over three thousand people trying to cram into the confined spaces.
Zhenia Scharr was shouting orders to a team of medics just outside the main hospital building. They were helping her move a gurney carrying an old man who had lost his leg fleeing the Cardassian State.
"C'mon, we have to move!" the young Andorian said as veins popped out of her forehead. In one arm she held the handle of the stretcher. In the other, she was holding an IV full of the fluids and medication that was helping keeping this pour soul alive. They pushed their way through the crowd when suddenly a Cardassian State phaser beam ripped through the clouds and slammed into the surface only 1500 meters away. The ground shook like and earthquake and the blast shockwave knocked hundreds of people to the dirt. Instinctively, Zhenia bent over and covered her patient as clouds of small rocks, sand, and dust poured down from above. Another phaser blast hit on the other side of the compound with a sound louder than twenty claps of thunder. Very quickly, the refugee camp structures were blown completely apart. Luckily, they had just been emptied. However, very shortly, everyone knew that the phasers would start aiming at the hospital and thousands of people were going to die. The desperate screams and shouting of the civilians became a panicked roar as they surged forward trying to find even the smallest space under overhead cover.
"Take him!" Zhenia shouted to the medics. "We're out of time and I'm going back for another patient!" They nodded as she pushed against the humanoid flood trying to get back to the main building's ICU ward. A Cardassian man, blinded by fear, slammed into her but she pushed back hard and shoved past him. Just as she made it to the front doors, another phaser beam hit less than a kilometer way. She looked over to see the metal shells of pre-fabricated buildings blown two hundred meters into the air. Nothing, not a single thing down here could hope to protect against firepower that strong.
She looked up at the sky and finally realized this meant that the enemy had made it past the blockade.
"Daddy…" she whispered to herself. However, Zhenia had too much to do to wish her father a safe trip to the ancestors now. She had more people to save…
Chapter 2 by captaintigranian
Imperial Romulan Forward Logistical Base 37: Syrcanis Belt, Romulan Star Empire
"Move! Move!" a Romulan legionnaire shouted as he herded the last of the slaves onto a personnel transport. The loading of the fleet was almost complete. The High Command ordered all slaves removed from critical areas once they were no longer needed to prevent sabotage of any warship. The final twenty warbirds were getting ready to push back from their berths in the ordnance bays. The other fifty D'Deridex of the assault fleet were guarding the station perimeter in a tight circle facing outwards. Everyone was on edge and no one wanted to see a rebel attack delay the departure of the Battle Wings to their assembly areas along the Neutral Zone.
There was so much chaos in the final few minutes before the last slave transport's departure, no one noticed an older Sarinid man slip away from the group and into a service corridor. He waited until the transport left and then made his way to an auxiliary shuttle bay. He boarded a Romulan naval security skiff. Then, it took off and blasted towards the stars.
"Security Skiff," a controller in the logistical base's command center shouted at them through subspace. "No launch from your shuttle bay was authorized. We have a lot of traffic in the area and you're getting in the way."
"Acknowledged Control," Valaa said into her headset with perfect Romulan elocution. "We were getting some anomalous readings from one of the perimeter sensors. We got told to go check it out and make sure it's not someone trying to sneak through the security screen."
"I wasn't notified," the controller replied.
"Well, it's probably because everyone's been going full throttle on no sleep for four days. Don't worry we'll give the big cruisers a wide berth. They won't even know we're here."
There was a pause on the other end.
"Roger," the controller finally replied. "Go check it out and return as soon as you can."
"Acknowledged Control," Valaa said with a grin as she piloted the skiff away from the base. "We'll be right back." She disconnected the transmission and looked up to Rellas standing behind her. "Too Easy," she said.
Esrak looked over to the Sarinid man.
"Were you able to get it done, Tubango?" he asked.
"Yes," he chirped back through his stubby beak. Before his rescue from slavery, Tubango Gustyl had been a maintenance worker on a Romulan industrial drilling derrick in the Schlass cluster. He was an expert in large fuel distribution systems.
"The real question is," Rellas asked with concern, "will they discover your modifications?"
"By the time they discover my modifications," Tubango replied, "it will already be too late…"
Chapter 3 by captaintigranian
Celdis Prime: Military Demarcation Line, Republic of Cardassia
The Shran and Houston were about to be overwhelmed when the other three ships finally made it back to them. Katie, along with the tactical officers on the Nelson and Nevsky, fired a well-aimed spread of quantum torpedoes straight into the swarming Cardassians. Two of the ships managed to survive and turned back to rejoin the approaching main body that was still coming. They would be in range of the Federation starships in less than a minute.
"Are we in range of those three Cardassian ships bombarding the planet?" Murphy asked desperately.
"No Sir," Katie replied quickly. "We're a hundred thousand kilometers short."
Murphy turned back to look at Annabeth. Despite her best efforts, defeat was starting to creep into her expression. Beside her, Daredevil pinched the bridge of her nose and drew in a deep breath.
"You know," the Trill said loud enough to be heard by everyone on the bridge, "I always thought I'd buy it punching out of a flaming T-Bat flying near the speed of light." She then looked around to each person one at a time. "But if I have to die on the bridge of a starship like a fleetie scrub, I'm glad it's with you people. It's been a pleasure."
"Terrors of the stars, Dee," Phil said smiling back at her.
"Lancers for life, Sab" she replied trying not to choke up. Katie and Adamson both stood tall at their control panels.
"Well Sir," Annabeth said with a small nod to Murphy. "No point in drawing things out. Let's get to it."
The Admiral steadied himself.
"This is Freedom 6 to Task Force: Marne. Prepare to fall back to low planetary orbit. We'll take out those three Cardassian bastards back there and then we'll regroup for our last stand…"
More alarms echoed across the Pershing's bridge.
Two battle cruisers decloaked in orbit around Celdis Prime. They opened fire straight into the sides of the Cardassian ships bombarding the planet. Torpedoes shredded their hulls at point blank range. The Galors were knocked sideways by the force of the impacts. They careened into each other before exploding into flaming debris.
"What in the hell!?" Murphy shouted. Annabeth leapt from her chair and stared at the viewscreen.
"The Klingons are here!" she exclaimed just as fifty heavy warships decloaked in a unbroken line directly in front of the huddled group of Pershings. They fired a volley of torpedoes directly at the approaching mass of Romulan and Cardassian vessels. The explosions immediately halted their advance and the mix of warbirds and Galors desperately turned in different directions trying to evade the blasts.
An attack cruiser decloaked alongside the Pershing.
"YES!" Katie shouted triumphantly from her console. "Sir, the Imperial jenSa' of Cardassia is hailing from the nentay. He'd like to speak to you."
"Put him onscreen."
The viewscreen switched over to an image of Tigranian smiling at them from behind his warrior's beard.
"I apologize for our tardiness, Admiral," he said. "Legate Dyoldas wasn't very happy when he found out I was pulling our ships off the line. However, it looks like all the enemy are here anyways."
"It's good to see you, Dan," Murphy said. "What changed your mind?"
Tigranian shook his head before looking back to Murphy.
"Our governments may be going off the rails, Pete, but someone reminded me that we can still do what's right for a friend…" Tigranian glanced down at Laria seated in the captain's chair of the nentay. She looked over to Murphy and winked.
"Who was it who told you back when we were making the Pershing's crew roster that she would come in real handy one day?" Murphy asked feigning confusion. "I can't remember."
Tigranian rolled his eyes.
The admiral laughed.
"I hope that Chancellor Martok and the High Council won't be too upset that you hijacked half the Klingon navy without permission just for us," Murphy said.
"reHlughcharghwI', Pete," Tigranian replied. "To Klingons, the victor is always right. If we win, it won't matter."
"Then I guess we better win, Dan," Murphy said. "How do you suggest we go about doing that?"
"We built the Pershing class together to do one thing," Tigranian said, "grab the Dominion Navy by the spine and snap it clean in half. That war may be over but now it looks like someone else wants to play. You've got friendlies guarding both your flanks now. Do your thing."
"Our medial shields are a little tore up," the admiral said. "You think you could give us some close cover?"
Tigranian smiled and punched a button on his command console.
"HuD Strike Fleet, establish a security perimeter around Celdis Prime. Nothing gets through! woQ and nagh Strike Fleets fall back by volley fire and form up five hundred kellicams port and starboard of the Federation starships. HeghmoH B'rel Squadron, assume cover Z plus one thousand kellicams. Prepare to conduct strafing runs at my command."
The Klingon ships all acknowledged Tigranian's orders. The line of Klingon vessels fired another series of torpedo shots to keep the Romulus Pact off balance before they broke apart and assumed their directed positions.
"Where are you gonna be, Dan?" Murphy asked.
"Where I should have been all along, Tohpah," Tigranian replied, "right next to you. Do you think I'd miss the first time my starship did exactly what it's designed to do?"
"Your starship?" Annabeth grumbled sarcastically.
"Oh, cut him some slack, AB," Laria said. "He's had a hard last couple of months."
"Well," Annabeth answered, "Just for you then, L."
"Let's do it, Pete," Tigranian said.
"Task Force: Marne, Freedom 6," Murphy shouted into the comm system. "Spearhead. I say again: Spearhead! Come about to 263 Mark 0-0-0. Speed: one half impulse. Echelon Heavy Port. Lady Blackjack has point, Order of March: Nelson, Nevsky, Shran, Houston. Klingons have security to our port and starboard. IKS nentay will be keeping watch on our port edge."
"Acknowledge, Freedom 6," Quan said. "Tell Tigranian to get his boys out of our way! The Klingons are about to see some real shit!"
"Might of the Motherland is moving to position!" Tarn said.
"Ice-Ax 6 acknowledges!" Zhe'vasda shouted.
"Lone Star 6 acknowledges," Soloth said. "Yippy kay yay motherfuckers…"
Annabeth didn't have time to laugh at Quan's uncharacteristic slip into colorful language or Soloth's attempt to sound intimidating. She slammed the intercom on her chair.
"Bridge to Engineering," Annabeth screamed. "Spearhead! Spearhead! Give me everything you got! I want every single millivolt in this bad bitch's tritanium body going to forward weapons and shields!"
"Aye Ma'am!" Scharr shouted back. "T'les and I got it down here! You're free to put the hammer down!"
"Tactical, set targeting scanners to Aegis mode. Forward phasers to five hundred millisecond recharge, quantum torpedo auto-loader governors off," Annabeth continued.
"Aye Ma'am," Katie complied.
"Helm," Annabeth said turning to Phil. "We're the tip of the spear. Take your commands from the admiral."
"Aye Ma'am," he replied steadying himself behind the flight controls.
Daredevil clandestinely leaned over and whispered in Annabeth's ear.
"Yeah, I'm just a stupid fighter pilot who just got here like six weeks ago. What exactly does 'Spearhead' mean?"
Annabeth looked back at her grinned.
"You're about to find out, Number One. You might want to hold on to something…"
In space, the five Pershing sisters turned back towards the enemy fleet and formed a tight line that angled back and left like the edge of a precision blade. The nentay took position off the port nacelle of the Houston to pick off any stragglers attempting to flee the coming assault. Murphy spoke into the comm system one more time.
"Ladies and Gentlemen," the admiral said. "We just became a wall. Everything behind us is free space and we are pushing forward. Move out!"
On the bridge of the Cardassian flagship, triumph had quickly morphed into pandemonium. Victory was almost within their grasp. Then, the Klingons appeared out of empty vacuum to rip their perfect plan apart.
"Get a message to Admiral Chilma on the lead warbird! Tell him that the Romulans have to get back into position now," Resked yelled at his communications officer. "We need their firepower to cover us before the Klingons have a chance to mount a counterattack! The Federation dreadnaughts are unprotected now. We have to destroy them while we have a chance. Order our Galor wings to push forward and get the Pershings back in firing range…"
"Sir!" his helmsman shouted to get the legate's attention. "We don't have to push forward. They're coming at us!"
"What!?" Resked said jumping out of his chair. He stared at his viewscreen in shock as five battlestarships and a Klingon attack cruiser moved together in attack formation straight at his fleet…
Chapter 4 by captaintigranian
Imperial Romulan Forward Logistical Base 37: Syrcanis Belt, Romulan Star Empire
"Fuel transfer at eighty-seven percent, Sir!" the centurion shouted from his control panel. The final wave of warbirds was almost complete with upload. The sub-commander ran over and checked the station's fuel levels. The deuterium pressure was approaching ten percent of normal. This meant the only thing preventing the super-cooled liquid from transforming into the most volatile explosive gas in the galaxy were the forcefield thermal curtains built into the cathedral sized holding tanks only a hundred meters beneath their feet.
He looked up at the looming silhouette of the D'Deridex in front of him. For the briefest of moments, he let himself look forward to the triumph of watching these ships leave his station, join the fleet, and finally warp away. It meant that his crew had accomplished their mission flawlessly and served the Star Empire to the best of their ability. It also meant his first hot meal, sonic shower, and real night's sleep in almost a week.
"Get the Paraktar clear of the bay as soon as upload is complete," he ordered. "They've been full an ordnance for almost half an hour and they're just waiting on fuel."
"I know Sir," the centurion replied in a tone dangerously close to insubordination. "I can't bring the transfer rate over 2000 liters per minute with the main tanks this low!"
As soon as he said it, the centurion's eyes filled with terror. The sub-commander was well within his rights to reduce him two steps in rank for such a thoughtless statement. Instead, his officer's tired gaze softened. He placed a hand on his subordinate's shoulder.
"I know, Sebalius," the sub-commander said. "You have done the work of a hundred men in the past four days. For that, I am nothing but grateful."
"Thank you, Sir," the centurion replied with a weak smile.
"Don't worry, it's almost time to rest…"
Emergency klaxons echoed across the entire ordnance deck. The centurion looked down at his controls.
"Thermal curtain failure in primary tank two!" he yelled.
"What!?" the sub-commander shouted. The pressure in the deuterium tank soared five hundred percent in just a matter of seconds as the fuel began to evaporate uncontrollably.
"Hit the repress valves now!" the sub-commander screamed desperately. The centurion desperately slammed a series of levers shut, but the pressure continued to rise at an astronomical rate.
"They're not working!" the centurion said as his voice broke into panic.
"All of them? That's impossible!" the sub-commander said checking the status indicators. To his horror, every single valve had been fused into the open position. "Emergency vents! Blow the gas into space!"
The centurion tried, but the last failsafe measure was also not functioning…
With the breakneck speed of operations over the past five days, they hadn't had time to shut down the system and conduct safety or maintenance checks. Both men looked at each other as they realized their station had been sabotaged. The pressure spiked well above the tolerance of the fuel lines and continued to rise.
The sub-commander stood erect and silently straightened his uniform tunic. Then, he turned the centurion.
"For the Senate and the People of Romulus…" he said as his mind drifted back to thoughts of his wife and sons back on the homeworld.
"It has been an honor, Sir," the centurion replied with a salute. "Jolan Tru."
The fueling lines ruptured. A million metric tons of super-heated hydrogen vapor streamed out. When it made contact with the oxygen in the station's atmosphere, it instantly detonated into a fireball that engulfed the entire base. The station was ripped apart into burning chunks in only a matter of seconds. The twenty warbirds in the loading bays were instantly incinerated. The thirty D'Deridex orbiting nearby in the security perimeter were consumed in the resulting shockwave. Another fifteen vessels were hit with flaming debris and drifted away critically damaged. Only five warships managed to escape under their own power. The survivors cloaked themselves and warped into hiding. It was Romulan standard procedure to preserve combat power in the event of a catastrophic attack.
Five hundred thousand kilometers away, a Romulan security skiff hid in a cluster of asteroids. Its occupants watched the entire event unfold. Valaa reached into the pocket of her fatigues and pulled out a cigarette. She lit it and blew out a puff of smoke that filled the cabin.
"I told you they wouldn't find anything until it was too late," Tubango chirped.
"You're a man of your word," Rellas said solemnly. He didn't take his eyes of the firestorm still consuming the last bits of oxygen left in the debris.
"There were so many ships damaged and destroyed. How much of their fleet do you think is left?" Esrak asked hopefully.
Rellas leaned over and tapped Valaa who was still smoking her cigarette. She reached into her pocket and handed him a crumpled pack covered in Yridian writing. The Gralluscan pulled out one of the paper tubes, put it to his lips, and touched a flame to the end.
"Not enough to survive much longer," he said blowing out a puff of smoke.
Chapter 5 by captaintigranian
Celdis Prime: Military Demarcation Line, Republic of Cardassia
"Thirty seconds to firing range!" Katie shouted from Tactical.
Daredevil nervously shifted in her chair as the enemy fleet grew larger and larger on the viewscreen.
"This is crazy!" she said sucking in a breath. "We're waltzing straight into their forward weapon arrays at slower than the speed of smell!"
Murphy ignored her outburst as he monitored the task force's tight formation on the tactical display.
"Twenty seconds!" Katie said.
"Calm yourself, Number One," Annabeth said looking over to Daredevil. "You're about to see what these beautiful ladies can really do…"
"Ten seconds!" Katie added.
A flight of four Romulan D'Deridex pulled out to block their path. Each one prepared to unleash a spread of plasma torpedoes. Their bows started to glow with a hellishly bright green haze.
"Hey Pete…" Tigranian said over the open comm line. The nentay was holding position on their left flank as they advanced.
"Yeah Dan?" Murphy answered with a smile.
"I don't think I every thanked you for getting me command of the Pershing three years back."
"Hell of a time to get sentimental, Dan," Murphy replied.
"I figured it was now or never…"
"It's alright," Murphy replied. "I'm also the one who fired you…"
"Firing Range!" Katie shouted. Murphy savored the moment for only a second before shouting out his command:
"LIGHT 'EM UP!"
Daredevil's eyes caught the reflection coming off the platinum-plated figureheads on the forecastle of each warbird. The raptor-shaped seals cast off a sinister green hue as the plasma torpedoes in the tubes beneath them prepared to fly. She gripped the armrests of her chair expecting a barrage to slam into them any second. Instead, she witnessed the bows of the Romulan vessels simply melt away. In an instant, the ships were nothing but super-heated debris.
Slowly, Daredevil climbed to her feet as she finally saw what five battlestarships fighting together could do. It wasn't a fast rate of fire. It was an IMPOSSIBLY fast rate of fire. There wasn't a single square centimeter of space not filled with a phaser beam or the burning blue sphere of a quantum torpedo. The armored turret mounted between the warp nacelles above and behind the Pershing's bridge shook the entire ship with each volley:
"KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK!"
"KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK! KA-THUNK!"
"Forward phaser arrays at seventy-two beams per minute," Katie said. "Temperature of torpedo turret holding at 650 degrees centigrade."
"All other ships in the task force reporting the same," Annabeth said to Murphy as she read off Daredevil's display. Technically it was the first officer's job to report, but the captain kindly stepped in. Her Number One was currently dumbstruck by the level of sheer hell being thrown out in front of her eyes. The five Pershings simply obliterated everything in their path. Within ten seconds, eight more D'Deridex and twelve more Galors were vaporized. Several of the enemy vessels attempted to get around behind them, but they flew right into the hungry maw of the Klingons. "For future reference, Dee," Annabeth said to Daredevil, "This is a Spearhead."
"Torpedo status?" Murphy asked without turning around.
"453 casings and dropping," Katie said. "Displaying ammo count on main viewscreen."
Two animated cut views of the hollow struts supporting Lady Blackjack's torpedo turret appeared along the bottom edge of the viewscreen. Daredevil saw they were functioning exactly like the old-fashioned magazines used to feed ancient chemical firearms. That's when she realized what Tigranian and Murphy had originally built the Pershing to be: a giant anti-starship machine gun with two warp nacelles glued on. It was a superweapon built to end a war. With the Klingon's help, it was ending this one before it even started.
"The Federation has had this thing for three years and we're just kicking ass like this now!?" Daredevil shouted in shock.
"Come come, Number One," Annabeth said with bemusement. "We both know that 'kicking ass' is a relative term. Some days you need a scalpel. Days like today, however, you need to bring out the sledgehammer."
The five sisters kept pounding. Now, the Romulus Pact had no hope of turning the tide. The Cardassian fleet broke apart in sheer terror and fled in ten separate directions. Most were obliterated by the Pershings, some were destroyed by the Klingons, and only a few lucky survivors managed to warp out back towards Cardassian State space. The twenty Romulan D'Deridex left soon realized they had been abandoned. Rather than stay and fight, they saw the writing on the wall. They threw up their cloaks and disappeared.
"Contact lost with the Romulan ships!" Adamson said. "At last sensor hit, they were setting bugout course back across the MDL. All Cardassian ships in range disabled or destroyed. The rest are long gone." The young lieutenant looked up from his console in shock. "I think we won…"
"All ships, CEASE FIRE, CEASE FIRE!" Murphy shouted. "Keep your phasers armed but run your torpedo launchers through a cooling loop. I want ammo consumption reports from every ship ASAP. We don't know if the Romulans are gonna show back up for round two. We might have to do an emergency quantum torpedo cross load."
"Task force acknowledges, Sir," Daredevil said coming back to her senses and taking her place back in the first officer's chair.
Tigranian opened his audio comm line again from the bridge of the nentay. The officers on the Pershing could hear the Klingons celebrating in the background with the loud verse of some war ballad.
"Congrats, Pete. You're the first admiral that got five Pershings firing together in one attack. That was the second most beautiful thing I've seen in a while," Tigranian said.
"What's the most beautiful thing you seen then?" the admiral asked.
"You think I'm stupid?" Tigranian replied. "My wife is sitting right next to me here…"
The bridge crew then heard the sound of a leather-gauntleted fist slamming into Klingon armor.
Tigranian stifled a grunt.
"Dan," Annabeth asked, "was that the sound of Laria punching you?"
"Maybe…" he replied.
Murphy and Annabeth chuckled.
"Ammo consumption reports coming in from the other ships Sir," Daredevil said. "We're looking alright across the board. Nobody has below three hundred casings. The task force started out with eight hundred each!" Daredevil exclaimed as she realized what that meant. "That means combined we shot almost 1500 torpedoes in less than a two minutes!"
"Your arithmetic skills are stunning, Commander," Murphy replied with a smirk. "Pretty good for a bunch of 'fleetie scrubs' right?" He turned back to the viewscreen. "We'll hold what we got here. Lord Daniel, I'd like to bring my ships back to orbit around Celdis Prime to conduct some repairs. We still need to stand firm until the hospital ships arrive. Can you have some folks stay and help pull security?"
"I think I can spare the HuD Strike Fleet to help out Starfleet for a few days," Tigranian replied. "nentay isn't going anywhere either. I have no desire to head back to Cardassia Prime and sit in the same room with Dyoldas right now. Of course, that means Laria and I have to have you, Blackjack's senior staff, and the other Pershing captains on board tonight to celebrate. I lugged a barrel of bloodwine all the way from Lakarian City for this."
"Celebrate?" Murphy laughed. "What if we had lost?"
"DujDajHubtaHvISHegh 'e' tul Hoch tlhIngan," Tigranian replied. "No matter what, we would have something to celebrate."
"I'll take your word on that," Murphy replied. The admiral looked around the bridge as the others listened to their old CO's words. Annabeth grinned from ear to ear as she settled back into the captain's chair. "It's good to have you back with us, Dan…"
"Ahem…" an annoyed voice sounded on the comm line.
"Of course it's good to have you back too, L," Annabeth said. "That's just implied."
The officers on both bridges laughed.
Two days later, Tigranian stood on the surface of Celdis Prime watching the evacuation shuttles transfer civilians from the ground up to the hospital ships USFS Refuge, USFS Oasis, and USFS Mercy. He had his bat'leth in one hand and was running a strand of Klingon prayer beads through the other. He looked down towards the crowds just in time to make out his former chief engineer running up to Zhenia and throwing his arms around her. They leaned forward and touched the tips of their antennae together.
"Way to go Scharrs," Tigranian muttered to himself.
The reunion wasn't over yet. Scharr had brought an unexpected guest down with him from the Pershing. Lieutenant Hawkins grabbed Zhenia, lifted her off the ground, and then planted a big kiss on her lips. Tigranian raised his eyebrows in shock that Scharr wasn't currently trying to snap the marine's neck.
"Well that's interesting…" Tigranian added.
"What's interesting?" a familiar voice asked from behind him. Tigranian turned around to see Murphy strolling over.
"Oh nothing," Tigranian replied. "Merely that we don't seem to be the only ones kissing and making up these days."
"I ain't gonna kiss ya," Murphy said standing next to the jenSa's. "But I will do this," he said reaching out his hand. Tigranian laughed as he shook it. "You're still alive," Murphy continued. "Can I take that as a sign your brief to Lord Torlek went well?"
"Chancellor Martok has ordered five hundred klongats and one thousand targs sacrificed and thrown into the Kri'stak volcano in gratitude for our victory. It's so the Unforgettable and honored dead may feast in Sto'Vo'Kor."
"I think quantum torpedoes and luck had more to do with our victory than anything Kahless did," Murphy replied.
"Klingons don't believe in luck, Pete," Tigranian said, "and don't forget that you were about ten seconds from obliteration when the Children of Kahless bailed your ass out. You're welcome, by the way."
"Well, if it makes you feel better, you can throw livestock into a magma pocket to appease a warlord who's been dead for a thousand years."
"Thank you. It does," Tigranian laughed right back.
"Where's Laria," Murphy asked looking around.
"Upstairs," Tigranian said nodding up to the sky. "She's overseeing the redeployment of the fleet. I have an attack cruiser and two battle cruisers staying behind after the Fed leaves. They'll be keeping watch on Celdis until the Republican Guard readjusts their defense plan."
"They still think the war is going to happen?" Murphy said. "The Cardassian State fleet has officially been downgraded to the level of a second-tier coast guard. The Romulans are just as bad off after that little 'accident' across the Neutral Zone. We probably have your blue friend to thank for that massive save."
"I believe Rellas had something to do with it, yes," Tigranian said, "but you know our green-blooded acquaintances, Pete. They're the most dangerous when backed into a corner. I think the Cardassians understand that better than most."
"Speaking of Cardassians…" Murphy said with surprise.
They looked over to see Dyoldas walking up with a bemused grin on his face.
"Legate!" Murphy said, "I didn't expect to see you here."
"Forgive my Cardassian candor, Admiral," Dyoldas replied, "but with the amount of Romulus Pact ships sent to attack this place, I didn't expect to see you here either."
"Touché," Murphy muttered.
"I'm sorry, I'm afraid my translator doesn't know this word," Dyoldas said shaking his head.
"It's not important," Murphy said shaking his head.
"On the contrary," Dyoldas said. "Despite Lord Daniel here almost giving me an aneurysm, your defense of this planet was legendary. The fact that we were able to keep our other systems safe while also retaining Celdis Prime is a miracle." He paused. "It's not often that Cardassians express gratitude to members of other races," he said looking to both men, "especially humans. However, you brought hope to my nation in a way we haven't experienced in a generation. For that, I thank you both."
"Hope is a wonderful thing, Legate," Tigranian said. "But it's what your people do with it that really matters."
Dyoldas scoffed and turned to Murphy.
"Your ships may escort the civilians to Kolani III. The Detapa Council has agreed to provide medical services and relocation support there to help these men and women start their new lives. Is that good enough for you?" he said turning back to Tigranian.
"It's a start," Tigranian smirked.
"The hospital convoy will be ready to depart by 0700 tomorrow," Murphy said. "We'll get them there safely."
"I know you will," Dyoldas said. "Despite the political machinations of our leaders, you have always been a trustworthy man, Peter."
"I appreciate that," Murphy replied. "What now? The Republic has this planet back and I don't think the Cardassian State or the Romulans will be attacking again any time soon."
"I've ordered Legate Thrax to move the Ninth Fleet forward and plant their flag here. If this is truly going to be our new country, then we have to learn to defend it by ourselves."
"Maybe not completely by yourselves…" Tigranian mused. Murphy recognized the tone. It meant that his old friend was scheming something.
"What are you thinking, Dan?" he asked.
"Well," Tigranian said looking from the Federation admiral back to the Cardassian legate. "I think the three of us may have developed a little more positive influence with our governments in the past few days. Maybe we should put it to good use…"
Chapter 6 by captaintigranian
Palais de la Concorde: Paris, Earth
The Federation Councilor from Ardana, Vraska Vanna, walked into the President's office. It was a beautifully clear day and the Eiffel Tower loomed in the windows behind the chief executive's desk.
"Vraska," President Bacco said rising to her feet. "It's good to see you. Thank you for coming on such short notice."
"Of course, Nanietta," the Councilor replied shaking the President's hand. "Anything for an old friend."
The two women sat down on a couch for what Councillor Vanna would be a chat about political strategy. Why else would Bacco summon her so suddenly? Vanna and Bacco had been political allies for years. It was the Ardannan councilor who had instigated the investigation against Tigranian and the Klingon Empire that had figured so prominently in Bacco's successful election campaign.
"First off, Nanietta," Vanna began, "I know the media is going crazy about Tigranian and the Klingons saving our ships at Celdis Prime. Don't worry about political fallout for one second. It still doesn't change the fact Tigranian was in bed with the Klingons the whole time. My staff has already been working on ways to spin this back in our favor…"
"Vraska," Bacco said holding up her hand. "That isn't why I've asked you hear today. I was just informed of something very disturbing. We have another big problem that I think you need to be aware of."
"What problem?" Vanna asked concerned. Bacco reached out and pressed an intercom on the coffee table.
"Would you please her in," she said to an aide out in the hallway. A side door opened. Admiral Yoshizaki walked in carrying a PADD. She marched over to the seated women and saluted.
"Admiral Yoshizaki, Chief of Starfleet Intelligence, reporting as ordered, Ma'am."
Bacco saluted back.
"At ease, Admiral. You may ask your question to Councilor Vanna now. I'm curious to know the answer myself."
Vanna looked back and forth extremely nervously.
"Nanietta, what is going on?" she demanded.
"Just answer honestly, please. A lot of things depend on this," Bacco said.
"Councilor," Yoshizaki began. "In regards to your investigation of Captain Daniel Tigranian and his collusion with Qo'noS, were you fed any incriminating information about Captain Tigranian or the activities of the Klingon Empire by your chief of staff, Mr. Vatu Guzka?"
Vanna looked angry and shocked. She turned back to look at the President.
"You used Starfleet Intelligence to spy on me?" she shouted. "I'm a sitting member of the Federation Council and a Federation citizen! This violates a least half a dozen separate laws! How could you!?"
"Vraska, stop," Bacco said. "Starfleet Intelligence didn't come to this conclusion by spying on you..."
"What do you mean?" Vanna asked. "How else could they know who discovered the evidence of Tigranian's treason? Guzka said he had sources in the Klingon government who told him specifically that Tigranian was a Klingon agent being directed to influence Starfleet operations in the empire's favor…"
"Vraska," Bacco said reaching out and grabbing her friend's hand. "Guzka wasn't being told to say that by anyone in the Klingon Empire. I know that thanks to Admiral Yoshizaki here."
"He would never lie to me!" Vanna said indignantly. "Vatu Guzka has worked for me for over ten years."
"Perhaps you should explain," Bacco said turning to Yoshizaki.
"Yes Ma'am," the Admiral began. "One month ago, the USS Pershing intercepted a shipment of gold-pressed latinum being smuggled to Ferenginar…"
Chapter 7 by captaintigranian
Ebrie Lagoon Apartments: Abidjan, Cote d'Ivoire, Earth
Guzka grabbed his cup of Deluvian Espresso out of the replicator in his kitchen. He took a moment to savor the rich aroma before heading to the breakfast nook's table. It was one of his favorite parts of day: drinking his coffee and reading the news before departing for his morning train to Councilor Vanna's offices in Paris.
He had just sat down and picked up his PADD when a battering ram took his front door clean off the hinges. Guzka's beverage went flying as five burly men wearing blue body armor and helmets burst in with phaser rifles drawn.
"FEDERATION SECURITY SERVICE!" their leader shouted. "SEARCH WARRANT! SEARCH WARRANT!"
Two of them grabbed Guzka by the arms and tackled the Rigellian to the hardwood floor.
The other three rapidly cleared the apartment before returning to the main room.
"All clear! All clear! All clear!" they shouted. The leader started speaking into a comm headset attached to his rig.
"What is the meaning of this!?" Guzka shouted struggling against the force of the two men holding him down. "Do you know who I am? Do you know who I work for?"
"Remain calm, Sir, or we will have to stun you," the leader said brusquely.
"You just broke down my door and shoved weapons in my face!" Guzka replied. "I am the chief of staff for Councilor Vraska Vanna! When she finds out about this, every single person in your chain of command will…"
"She already knows!" an angry voice said. He looked up and saw a woman standing in his door. "Who do you think authorized the warrant?"
"Why Vraska?" Guzka asked dejected.
"Because I wanted to see if it was true with my own eyes," Vanna said. "Admiral," she added with a look back over her shoulder. Yoshizaki entered holding an open tricorder. She immediately began scanning the room. As she approached a wooden hutch in the corner of the living room, the device began chirping faster and faster.
"Behind here…" she said.
Two of the security officers walked over and pulled it away from the wall. A duranium door was directly behind it.
"DNA encoded wall safe, Ma'am," the leader said.
"Open it," Vanna ordered her soon to be former chief of staff.
"I don't have to do a damn thing," Guzka replied. "I'm a Federation Citizen and I plead the Seventh Guarantee…"
"You're forgetting I'm a lawyer and a damned good one!" Vanna shouted back. "That only applies to testimony and not evidence gathered during a legal search and seizure. Now, either you open it right now or I'll have these gentlemen place your hand on the genetic scanner for you and tack on obstruction charges to boot."
Finally, Guzka dropped his head and nodded. The two officers escorted him over to the wall. He reached up and placed his palm on the safe's access plate. The locks clicked open.
Yoshizaki pulled the safe door open. Inside were ten bars of gold pressed latinum. She held up the tricorder. Its beeping changed to a steady tone as it confirmed the presence of the viridium tracer left by the crew of the Pershing. The admiral pulled out a bar and showed everyone the Imperial Romulan Raptor pressed into the glistening surface.
"These are it…" Yoshizaki said before turning to the security officers. "Take him away."
As the men led Guzka towards the door, Vanna reached out a hand and stopped them.
"Why, Vatu?" she said in total disbelief. "You've been with me since the beginning. What happened to that young kid who said all he wanted was to make the Federation a better place? How did he decide to start working for the devil?"
Guzka scoffed. He knew there was no point in hiding anything. They already had enough evidence to send him away to a maximum security penal colony for the next century.
"Simple Vraska," he replied, "the devil pays a hell of lot better than you do…"
Vanna clenched her jaw.
"Get him out of here!"
Chapter 8 by captaintigranian
Palais de la Concorde: Paris, Earth
Every single member of the Federation Council was present for this special session. President Bacco stood at the podium in front of a large UFP flag. Members of the media lined the galleries and snapped holophoto after holophoto. Cameras beamed the live broadcast to all four corners of Federation space and beyond.
Bacco took a final deep breath. She knew it was time to eat some serious crow, but rendering proper honors to heroes far outweighed the cost to her poll numbers. She had a lot of ground to make up anyways. Her entire political platform had been the result of a concerted misinformation campaign perpetrated by the Romulans. Still, it was time to start making things right.
The senior staff of the Pershing sat in the special VIP section of the gallery alongside the senior staffs of the Nelson, Nevsky, Shran, and Houston. Alex was also there with Max nestled against her chest and a smile on her face. The Scharr family had an entire row to themselves. Tren sat next to his wives: Schrie, Fos, and Xel. Ten of their eleven children were also with them. Even Brett Hawkins was now part of the clan. He was next to Xel holding baby Ryth in his lap. No one wanted to miss what was about to happen.
The President of the United Federation of Planets walked forward and took her position in the aisle between the two raised tiers of Councilors. She glanced over to Admiral Paris. He was standing a few meters away with the Vice President of the Federation, Rachs Zonorax. Bacco gave the signal to get started.
"AWARDEES, POST!" the Starfleet Chief of Operations shouted loud enough to echo through the entire chamber. Every individual in attendance rose to their feet.
Admiral Murphy marched out from the wings. All five Pershing captains marched close behind. The officers looked spectacular in their dress whites. Zhenia Scharr followed wearing an Andorian formal fur robe. Murphy ordered his formation to halt and face left towards the President. Then, the group snapped to attention.
"Publish the orders," Bacco said.
"Attention to Orders!" Admiral Paris shouted while reading from an old-fashioned piece of printed paper. President Bacco walked over to a Murphy. A Starfleet staff captain followed her carrying a gilded tray.
For conspicuous gallantry at the risk of their own lives, the President of the United Federation of Planets has authorized the award of the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor, the highest commendation for bravery, courage, and leadership while in service of the United Federation of Planets as a member of Starfleet, to the following personnel in that they did on Stardate 54526.5 prevent the combined forces of the Cardassian State and Romulan Star Empire from seizing control of the Celdis System in the Republic of Cardassia. Despite overwhelming opposition, these men and women stood firm to protect innocent lives against a dangerous and determined foe. Their actions reflect great credit upon them, Starfleet Command, and the United Federation of Planets. Signed: Nanietta Bacco, President of the Federation.
"Admiral Peter Patrick Murphy!" Paris shouted. Bacco reached onto the tray, grabbed a medal, and pinned it to Murphy's jacket.
"Well done, Admiral," Bacco said. He saluted sharply.
"Thank you, Ma'am," he replied as she saluted back. Bacco took a step to her right.
"Captain Shu Yin Quan!" Paris shouted.
The president pinned a medal onto her chest. Quan smiled while she saluted.
"Excellent job, Captain," Bacco said.
"Thank you very much, Madam President."
"Captain Belen Tarn!"
"Incredible work, Captain," Bacco said pinning on Tarn's medal.
"It was an honor, Ma'am," he replied with a salute.
"Captain Kivrana Pyllaa Zhe'vasda!"
"It seems true what they say about Andorians, Captain," Bacco smiled as she pinned on her medal. "Your bravery is exceptional."
"Yes Ma'am," Zhe'vasda said proudly with her salute.
"Captain Soloth, Son of Sponn!"
"Peace and Long Life, Captain," Bacco said to Soloth.
"Live long and prosper, Madame President," Soloth said with a crisp salute.
"Captain Annabeth Marie Geist! Second Award!"
Bacco stepped in front of Annabeth, reached up, and removed her first Pike Medal. Then she picked up a new medal with a golden palm leaf attached to the ribbon. The president placed it on Annabeth's uniform.
"Only the best of our servicemen and women receive this once, Captain," Bacco said. "You've done it twice. On behalf of the entire country, thank you."
"That's who I do it for, Ma'am," Annabeth said with a salute.
Murphy led the officers off to the side to a round of energetic applause. Zhenia Scharr then stood alone.
"Vice President Zonorax, please publish the next proclamation," Bacco said to the assembly.
The Federation Medal of Freedom is the highest civilian award in the United Federation of Planets. It is bestowed only on individuals who have displayed the highest levels of courage, dedication, and personal sacrifice in defending the ideals of liberty, civil rights, and democratic rule. The President of the United Federation of Planets has authorized this award to Zhenia Ajhara Scharr in that she did on Stardate 54526.5 risk her own life to protect Cardassian civilians during the evacuation of Celdis Prime while serving as a medical aid worker with the Intergalactic Red Cross. Without thought to her own well-being, Miss Scharr knowingly and repeatedly exposed herself to a Cardassian State orbital bombardment to escort injured and sick individuals to safety. According to Red Cross leadership, as many as twenty-one individuals are alive today because of her heroic deeds. Her actions reflect great credit upon her and the United Federation of Planets. Signed: Nanietta Bacco, President of the Federation.
Bacco grabbed the medal. Zhenia lowered her head and allowed the president to place it over her antennae and around her neck.
"You're only nineteen," Bacco said in disbelief. "When I was your age, all I could think of was not being late for my morning classes."
"You're never too young to do the right thing, Madame President," Zhenia replied calmly. "It was my job to take care of those people. If I didn't do it, who would?"
"Well said," Bacco replied placing a hand on her arm. "Your family should be very proud."
Zhenia looked over to the VIP section and saw them all smiling back at her. Her youngest brothers and sisters were furiously waving. Scharr tried to hide the tear streaming down his face. Her mothers all looked down on her with love in their eyes. Hawkins placed his fingers to his lips and then pointed them towards her.
"I think they are…" she whispered.
Another thunderous round of applause echoed through the room. Zhenia moved off to be congratulated by the Starfleet officers. Many of the councilors thought the ceremony was over, but Bacco raised her hands.
"The Christopher Pike Medal of Valor is traditionally given only to Starfleet personnel," she began, "however, at the discretion of the president, it may also be awarded to foreign military personnel who display exemplary conduct in service of the Federation."
The room went silent. The other councilors were sure she couldn't mean what they were thinking.
"Ambassador!" Bacco called out. Two sergeants-at-arms pulled open the rear doors of the council chamber. Lady L'Stok entered and marched forward between the rows of Federation representatives. She stopped directly in front of Bacco and bowed at the waist.
"nuqneH, Madame President," she said with a tone decidedly different than the last time they spoke face to face. "At your formal request, I present to you Lord Daniel, Son of Tigranian, Imperial jenSa' of Cardassia and Lady Laria, Daughter of Amira, Fleet HoD of the Klingon Empire and Knight of the Order of the Bat'leth."
L'Stok stepped aside and gestured towards the open doors. A pair of Klingon warriors entered the Federation Council chamber. The only sounds were the sound of the Klingon boots marching on the polished floor and the click of dozens of holocamera shutters. Bacco's face was firm in contrast to the stunned expressions on the faces of the other politicians. Just a few weeks before, many of them had been calling for these two to be extradited on charges of treason. Now, the same men and women were standing to honor them in a formal ceremony.
Tigranian and Laria marched down the center aisle before coming to a stop in front of the president. They both saluted with a fist over their hearts. Tigranian looked out of the corner of his eye to see Annabeth smiling a few meters away. Almost directly behind her, Councilor Vanna, the politician who spearheaded the now discredited investigation against him stood and looked down with a mix of surprise and remorse.
"Admiral Paris," Bacco ordered.
""Attention to Orders!" he shouted again.
For conspicuous gallantry at the risk of their own lives, the President of the United Federation of Planets has authorized the award of the Christopher Pike Medal of Valor, the highest commendation for bravery, courage, and leadership while in service of the United Federation of Planets to the following personnel of a foreign military fighting alongside Starfleet in that they did on Stardate 54526.5, without obligation or purpose of evasion, lead a Klingon relief force to Celdis Prime that saved a Federation fleet from destruction at the hands of a determined enemy. Their actions saved the lives of both Federation citizens and Cardassian civilians and were instrumental to the safe and successful evacuation of the Celdis System. Their actions reflect great credit upon them, Starfleet Command, the Klingon Empire, and the United Federation of Planets. Signed: Nanietta Bacco, President of the Federation.
"Lady Laria, Daughter of Amira!"
Bacco stepped forward and pinned a Pike Medal onto Laria's armor directly next to her Order of the Bat'leth badge.
"The Federation is eternally grateful to you, Captain," Bacco said.
"Glory and Honor to you," Laria said placing a fist over her heart.
"Lord Daniel, Son of Tigranian! Second Award!"
Bacco reached up to Tigranian's baldric, pulled off his old medal, and replaced it with a new one affixed with the golden palm leaf.
"I don't suppose it means much coming from me," Bacco said, "but your actions probably saved my country, General. Thank you."
"Actually, Madame President," Tigranian replied, "coming from you that actually means quite a bit." He saluted with a fist over his heart.
The rest of the room was still completely silent. No one was sure how to react. Tigranian looked to Bacco.
"Madame President," Tigranian's voice boomed. "Permission to address the council?"
She hadn't expected this, but somehow couldn't refuse.
Tigranian walked over to stare up into the rows of faces staring back at him. Most were still in shock at his presence, a few were enthusiastic, and a few more were still skeptically hostile. He looked over to his old crew smiling at him and realized that two very important people were now missing. He found them next to Annabeth. Alex had slipped down to stand with her wife while holding Max in her arms. When he saw his godson, it filled him with new resolve to get these words out. He had to make this better for this child's future.
"Distinguished leaders," he began, "I am a Klingon warrior. As such, I am not supposed to have regrets. However, I now confess that I do have one: the Federation lost faith in me…."
He reached down and pulled an object from a pouch on his belt. Not even Laria knew that it was there. Tigranian held it up so that all could see it. It was his old Starfleet comm badge. The sight sent a fresh round of surprise through the ranks of the audience.
"But I never lost faith in it," Tigranian continued. "I've carried this with me since that day on Cardassia Prime as a reminder of where I came from and what Starfleet meant and still means to me. I am not asking you to return my position or restore my old life. I am Klingon and so I shall remain. However, what I am asking of you is to remember the ideals that founded this nation: faith, trust, and the never-failing belief that we are stronger together than we ever were apart.
Eighty-five years ago, the Federation agreed to tear down a neutral zone to help save the Klingon Empire from environmental and economic disaster. Thirty-four years ago, a Federation starship sacrificed itself at Narendra III to save a Klingon colony from annihilation. One month ago, Klingon warships stood between a Romulus Pact fleet and a Starfleet task force because allowing brave men and women to die at the hands of an honorless opponent disgraces us all.
What do these incidents all have in common?" Tigranian asked turning to stare into the councilors' eyes. "The answer is we put aside our differences and joined as one! In times of difficulty, only the weak claim to be infallible. Only fools believe you can move forward without being anchored in the lessons of the past. However, the strong recognize problems, study the wisdom of those who went before us, and work together to find solutions! It is not too late to correct a terrible mistake. You have the power. Reach out and unite with the rest of the galaxy again."
More crushing silence. Then, the sound of clapping started echoing through the chamber. Tigranian and Laria looked over to see Councilor Vanna applauding. Slowly, the rest of the assembly joined in until cheers echoed off the ceiling.
Annabeth and Alex walked over with Max. Tigranian and Laria met them in the center of chamber. They didn't care that the entire Federation was watching.
"Somebody's missed you," Alex said to Tigranian. She said holding her son out to him.
"nuqneH, Little Warrior. I've missed you too." He picked up Max and held him against his armor. Max looked up with wide eyes and smiled.
"He's gotten huge!" Laria said rubbing his little arm.
"We finally seem to be past the 'wearing food' versus 'eating food' stage. That really helps," Alex laughed.
"Boy do we have some stories for you later, Big Guy." Laria said.
"I think all of us want to hear them," Annabeth grinned. Then, the baby reached up, grabbed Tigranian's beard, and pulled on it hard. The four of them laughed.
"Growing up with two moms means he doesn't see a lot of those," Annabeth explained.
"Don't worry, Kid," Tigranian said looking down, "I have a feeling we're gonna get to see a lot more of each other now…"
The applause continued thundering around them. Tigranian, Laria, Annabeth, and Alex fell forward into one tight embrace. They were soon joined by the others from the VIP section. The press rushed forward to snap pictures of the reunion while the military brass and politicians still looked on in awe. Starfleet, Klingon Defense Force, or civilian didn't matter to these people. Their uniforms, faiths, and even their species were completely irrelevant. They were bonded by something much more sacred: blood. A family was finally back together.
Chapter 9 by captaintigranian
Proconsul's Chambers, Ki-Baratan: Romulus, Romulan Star Empire
Proconsul Semachs leaned back in his chair and rubbed his eyes. His opulent office, trimmed in wood, leather, and red marble was once his personal symbol of Romulan greatness and power. Now, it seemed like the only refuge left. His whole world was rapidly being consumed by a spreading inferno. Everything that had brought stability and strength for the past thousand years seemed on the verge of collapse. Half of the Imperial Navy had been destroyed in one day. Most of the remaining vessels were damaged beyond the country's current capacity to repair. The plan to discredit Tigranian and isolate the Federation had been exposed as a plot by one of his personal agents…and the slaves, THE DAMNED SLAVES, were still fighting back. He looked up at the holoscreen on the wall. It was displaying a Federation News Service special broadcast from Camp Khitomer:
"In the very same hall where the First Khitomer Accords were signed over eighty years ago, a new treaty has just been signed," the human announcer proudly spoke. "President Bacco and Chancellor Martok both affixed their signatures to the 'Alpha Quadrant Mutual Security and Economic Cooperation Agreement' along with Prime Minister Elim Garak of the Republic of Cardassia and First Minister Shakaar Adon of the Republic of Bajor. MSECA not only restores all the provisions of the Khitomer Accords and the Federation/Klingon Treaty of Alliance of 2352, but expands them to include elimination of customs duties and visas between member nations, mutual economic growth incentives, free trade, and a promise of military assistance in the event of attack…"
The holoscreen shifted to an image of all four leaders joining hands together and smiling at the cameras over the signed document. Semachs nearly vomited. Not only were the Federation and the Klingons back together, even the Cardassians and Bajorans were making peace to unite against Romulan influence.
"Though she's only been in office four months," the announcer continued, "economists and political scientists are saying that President Bacco's actions today could reverberate throughout the Federation for centuries. She made the following statement after the signing ceremony."
The image changed to Bacco standing tall behind a podium emblazoned with the presidential seal. The flags of the UFP, Klingon Empire, Republic of Cardassia, and Republic of Bajor were displayed behind her.
"For over two hundred years of our history," she began, "the only way planets could achieve such a level of economic and military cooperation with the UFP was to gain Federation membership. However, as the events of the past decade have shown, many nations in our region of the galaxy are not interested in making Earth their capital.
We have different ideas of what freedom means. We have different thresholds for the use of armed intervention. We do not agree about whether it is appropriate to make contact with pre-warp civilizations. However, rather than focusing on what divides us, MSECA will allow us to focus on our commonalities. Member nations will keep their complete political sovereignty, their individual views on religion's role in government, as well as maintain their own independent militaries. We will strive together to make the quality of life for all our citizens, regardless of nationality, better than it ever was before. In addition, MSECA sends a strong message to our enemies who I know are probably watching these proceedings as I speak. Understand this," she said looking into the camera, "an attack on one of us is an attack on all of us…"
"Screen off!" Semachs shouted before slamming his fist into the polished desk.
"Proconsul," his adjutant said through the intercom. "General Shinzon of Remus is hailing. He wishes to speak with you again."
Semachs cursed. For months, that disgusting freak, long thought buried in the dilithium mines of Remus, had been requesting an audience. Semachs had always been opposed to the use of Remans during the Dominion War. He became even more convinced it was a mistake after Shinzon seized control of the Reman shock troops by crushing every Jem'Hadar and Cardassian who stood against him. Now, he had an army of rabid dogs at his disposal and the audacity to believe his life mattered. Normally, Semachs could have easily dismissed the self-serving bleating of such a blunt instrument, but the situation was growing so desperate, the proconsul needed all the allies he could get.
"Put him through to my office terminal," Semachs said once he swallowed the bile in his throat.
An image appeared on the desk's computer screen. A figure, dressed in purple Reman robes, sat in a completely darkened room. Only the outlines of his bald head and revolting rounded ears were visible.
"Jolan Tru, Proconsul," Shinzon said with his ridiculously polished accent. "Glory to the Senate and the People of Romulus."
"What do you want, Shinzon?" Semachs said hoping to keep this unpleasant conversation as short as possible. Semachs was completely aware of Shinzon's unnatural origins. It made him wish the forgotten experiment actually was one of those demonic, subterranean creatures normally kept segregated from their Romulan betters. "I'm a busy man."
"Yes, you are, Proconsul," Shinzon replied. "It is quite a…dark…time for the Empire, is it not? The Federation and the Klingon Empire have reconciled their differences. The slave revolt has come back with a vengeance." Even though Semachs couldn't see his mouth, he knew that Shinzon was grinning. "Romulus has so many enemies and so few friends."
"And what exactly are you, Creature?" Semachs said furrowing his brow. "Don't believe for one second that just because you have a few thousand monsters at your command that you are a threat to me."
"Of course I am not a threat to you, Proconsul," Shinzon replied innocently. "In fact, the reason I called is to reiterate the unbreakable bond between Remus and her mother planet in this hour of need."
"You were used as cannon fodder during the war. Just because you somehow managed not to get yourself killed doesn't mean I'm willing to resort to that level of desperation again. I don't need more slaves. What I need are more soldiers."
"On the contrary, Proconsul," Shinzon said gesturing with his right hand. "What better soldiers to fight slaves, than slaves? I hereby offer the services of the Reman Imperial Auxiliary to exterminate all who would stand against the Empire."
"What exactly is in it for you?" Semachs asked skeptically.
"Merely the chance to prove that Remans are not worthy of your utter contempt. We are superior to all other sub-Romulan races in the Empire."
"I highly doubt you are capable of that level of excellence," Semachs retorted. "Besides, you are not Reman. We both know that."
"I am more Reman than you realize," Shinzon said angrily. "Do you want my forces fighting with yours or not?"
"What makes you think I simply won't order you to fight?" Semachs said.
"Because the last thing Romulus needs is another armed race of disgruntled slaves…especially one located right next door."
"So, you're blackmailing me, you disgusting filth?" Semachs spat back at him.
"Not all all," Shinzon said taking on a more diplomatic tone. "I am merely reiterating the facts."
"We both know your motives are not altruistic. Remans don't murder for free. What else do you want?"
"Only a small pittance…" Shinzon replied.
"How small?" Semachs asked rubbing his temple.
"Thirty years ago," Shinzon began, "about the same time they were conducting mis-guided cloning experiments, the Tal Shiar also conducted some cursory research into the biogenic effects of thalaron radiation. In addition to that information, we would also like access to the experimental data on mining stellar plasma collected by Doctors Jedras Vran and Sora Talv in the Cardassian State last year. These pieces of information might prove useful in pacifying slave planets that do not wish to submit to re-conquest."
"Feel free to waste your time all you want. Both of those lines of research were dead ends," he said. "Exactly like those mis-guided cloning experiments…"
Shinzon ignored Semachs' insult to his heritage.
"But we will have access to the databases, correct?" he clarified.
"Very well," the proconsul said with a deep breath. "But if you fail at ending this slave revolt, Shinzon, I will bury your corpse so deeply on that black rock of yours that not even the Mines of Alaram will ever reach it. Do you understand?"
"Perfectly, Proconsul," Shinzon said with a bow of his head. "The Senate will soon have nothing to worry about."
"It better not…" Semachs said as he disconnected the transmission.
In his chambers on Remus, Shinzon smiled again.
Vkruk, Shinzon's Reman viceroy, emerged from the darkness.
"Are you sure this isn't a mistake?" he growled in his deep voice. "The Senators we have recruited to our cause may betray us if we prove unable to defeat the slaves."
Shinzon's mirth instantly turned to rage. The veins on the side of his head popped out and he banged the side of his desk while writhing in terrible pain. Vkruk wondered if he had said too much, but Shinzon regained his composure with a few deep breaths.
"The slave revolt is nothing," Shinzon said turning towards him. "All I require is the freedom it provides."
"Freedom?" Vkruk said incredulously. "What freedom?"
"No one will pay attention to activity in the Reman shipyards if they believe it is in service to the Romulan cause," Shinzon said plainly. "Seizing control of the empire means nothing if we cannot defeat the Federation fleet…including their damned Pershing class dreadnaughts." He paused triumphantly before leaning back in his chair and steepling his fingers. "The construction of the Scimitar will allow us to do just that."
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters and settings are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. No money is being made from this work. No copyright infringement is intended.