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Umoth System: Federation/Cardassian Border

Stardate: 50974.9

Tigranian lay on his klongat fur listening to a new Klingon opera he just acquired. The First City's Metropolitan Company had released the cast recording of their latest production of Aktuh and Melota and it was far better than expected. Unfortunately, Tigranian had to listen with headphones as the Halcyon's eighty year old bulkheads were not as sound-proof as he (or his neighbors) would have liked. He almost didn't realize his desk monitor was ringing across the room.

"Computer, pause playback." He knew it was important. Only two people ever called unexpectedly and Torlek was out patrolling the Klingon side of the Cardassian border over forty light years away.

As Tigranian hit, "receive" he smiled as he saw the familiar face on the screen.

"Hello, Sir."

"It's good to see you, Dan," Captain Murphy said. "I'm also pleasantly surprised that I don't seem to be reading as many negative reports from Captain Zelas these days."

"Yeah, I'm definitely the ship's new favorite resident," Tigranian said sarcastically.

"I'm not sure I would go that far yet, but at least the ire of your shipmates seems to have shifted away from Klingons towards a more Cardassian/Jem'Hadar flavor for now."

"Enemies seem to shift quickly out here, Pete. I'm just happy that I can get real bloodwine again."

"Unfortunately, I didn't call to call to chat about your beverage choices, Dan. Starfleet Intelligence has picked up some chatter from its few remaining contacts in the DMZ, and I think it concerns you…"

* * * *

"In two days, we'll enter the Ronara System and continue our scans of the Cardassian Border. Starfleet was impressed with our investigation of the suspected Jem'Hadar listening posts in the former DMZ. However, they're still concerned that the Dominion could be using the former Maquis bases as possible staging areas for a future invasion," Captain Zelas said finishing the Halcyon's morning staff meeting in the observation lounge. "Lilia, is there anything you can do to increase our sensor definition? The more information we can get without crossing the border, the better."

"Not without getting some serious attention back in our direction. The Dominion sensors are as good as ours," the science officer said furrowing her brow.

"Active scans of their facilities could be viewed as an act of aggression," Harshbough added.

"And that could make an already tense situation ten times worse," Olsen said nodding his head.

"Xenia," Zelas said turning towards the Halcyon's Betazoid helmswoman, "Ensure we don't get within 100,000 kilometers of the border. Any closer could be viewed as a provocation."

"Yes, Ma'am," Lieutenant Relia responded.

"We should still be able to get a good sensor view at that range. We won't see much of a drop in resolution," Tavin said reassuringly.

"Make it so," Zelas said confidently. "Now, unless anyone has anything else to add?" she said moving to stand up.

"Actually, Ma'am," Tigranian said speaking up. "I do." There was audible groan from the rest of the table at the prospect of the meeting going on any longer.

"Well, Mr. Tigranian, what is it?" Zelas said settling back into her seat.

"Last night, I received a message from one of my contacts at Starfleet Intelligence…"

"We all know you only have one contact at Starfleet Intelligence left, Tigranian," Harshbough said cutting in.

"What does Captain Murphy have to say?" Zelas said sarcastically. Tigranian had to resist the urge roll his eyes as he stood up and headed to the holoscreen. He entered a few commands and brought up the schematic of a Cardassian warship no one else had ever seen before. It was quite different than the more linear Galor class. This vessel was shaped more like a bird-of-prey with two long, downturned wings. It looked extremely powerful…and dangerous.

"It's called the Velkath class. Starfleet Intelligence learned of its existence through a third-party Lissapian contact. Vorta engineers have been helping the Cardassians build a new generation of capital ships augmented with Dominion and captured Klingon technology."

"How powerful is it?" Olsen asked leaning towards the screen.

"Ten photon torpedo tubes, multiple phaser banks in the wing pylons, and a centrally mounted disruptor cannon powerful enough to cripple a small starship at close range."

"The Cardassians wouldn't be building a ship of that type right now if they didn't intend to use it," Harshbough said turning to Zelas concerned.

"This is all very interesting, Mr. Tigranian," Zelas said skeptically. "But why bring this up now."

"The Lissapian contact said he knew of one complete prototype and there's a strong possibility that a second one is nearing completion or already complete. I believe that these ships are currently engaging in space trials in the Badlands near the Ronara System."

"Right where we're heading…" Lieutenant Relia said as her eyes grew wide.

"Alright, everyone, calm down!" Zelas said. "Let's not jump to conclusions before we have a few more details. Tigranian, now that you've tried to scare the hell out of us, just what makes you think these two ghost ships, that may or not may not exist, are operating near Ronara and why do you think they are a threat to us?"

"Ma'am," Tigranian said steeling himself for a tongue-lashing, "The area around the Ronara system is a traditional proving ground for the lead classes of Cardassian ships. In addition, many in the Cardassian military feel that quite a bit of prestige was lost when Gul Dukat turned over control of the government to the Founders. After all, the Jem'Hadar accomplished in a few days what the Cardassians couldn't accomplish in over a decade: wiping out anti-Cardassian forces in the DMZ. What better way to simultaneously prove the viability of these new ships and regain the respect of the Alpha Quadrant than taking down a Federation starship? Also, no disrespect to the Halcyon, but an older Excelsior class is a much softer target than a newer, more heavily armed design."

"So, you have a hunch?" Zelas said more than a little dismissively.

"Duj tlvoqtaH," Tigranian replied.

"Just what the hell does that mean?" Harshbough said.

"A very old Klingon proverb, Sir. Always trust your instincts. Mine haven't failed me yet."

"Well, Mr. Tigranian," Zelas continued. "No disrespect to your instincts, but I'm not going to alter the course of this ship without some more substantial evidence. I will also not be intimidated by Cardassians, Jem'Hadar, Vorta, your Lissapian friend, or anyone else who thinks they are better than this ship or its crew. We will continue to Ronara Prime and we will face any threat we find there with the same professionalism and courage that I expect from everyone on board. I think you will be presently surprised what this 'old ship' can do in the right hands." Everyone around the table but Tigranian laughed.

"Ma'am…" he continued before the captain cut him off by raising her hand.

"We will maintain yellow alert just as we have been Mr. Tigranian. If your ghost ships do appear, there are three other Federation starships within a few hours warp. We'll regroup and act accordingly. The Dominion doesn't want a war on its hands yet. They'll respect our borders."

"Yes, Ma'am…" Tigranian said balling his fists under the table.

"Now, if no one else has anything useful to discuss…" the rest of the senior staff shook their heads. "Dismissed…except for you, Mr. Tigranian."

Everyone climbed to their feet and exited to the bridge. When the captain and Tigranian were alone, Zelas flashed a very angry look in his direction.

"You know, I actually thought you were starting to get it. Then, you pull a stunt like that."

"Ma'am," Tigranian said resisting the urge to rub his eyes with frustration. "As the chief tactical officer, threats to this ship are my primary business."

"Correct," Zelas snapped. "However, you don't just dump something like that out in the middle of a meeting without running it by me or Commander Harshbough first!"

"I didn't realize that my recommendations were to be censored."

"Dammit," Zelas said slapping the back of her chair. "I'm not censoring you! I'm trying to teach you something about how to talk to your commanding officer. If by some miracle you get promoted, you have to understand that you can't just change your decisions at the drop of a hat. Everything you put out to your crew has to be carefully weighed and measured. Once you decide on a course of action, you can't keep changing it or else you just look weak and indecisive."

"Well, if you or Commander Harshbough actually took my recommendations seriously…"

"Watch your tone, Lieutenant Commander," Zelas said cutting in. "I realize that you didn't have the best examples on leadership to learn from as a junior officer…"

Now, it was Tigranian's turn to cut in.

"Ma'am, I really hope you're not referring to the officers of the Sk'oh."

"What if I am?" Zelas said straightening her back. "I have no idea why you have such an admiration for Klingons, Tigranian. I'm going to be honest with you. Despite my professional obligation to tolerate all alien races and their traditions, I have never respected Klingons. They represent every belligerent, ignorant, unenlightened, and un-disciplined tenet that the United Federation of Planets has worked for centuries to overcome."

"So, you're willing to put this ship and everyone on board at risk because you don't respect what I stand for?"

"I'm going to stop you right there, Mister," Zelas said trying to stare him down. "Don't you ever think for one second I would put myself or my pride before the security of this ship. Now, we are going to continue to Ronara as planned, and if you don't agree with that, perhaps you will find the brig more comfortable than the tactical station. Am I understood?"

"Yes, Ma'am."

"Good, now get your ass on the bridge and take your station." Zelas turned around and exited the observation lounge leaving Tigranian alone. It was at that moment he was reminded of another Klingon proverb:

"Today is a good day to die."

* * * *

"What did you do?" T'les asked with as much surprise as a Vulcan could muster.

"What could I do?" Tigranian said rhetorically. "She was the captain. I had made my recommendation and she ignored it."

"But you were heading right into a Cardassian trap," Alex said shaking her head.

"In hindsight, it was probably more like bad timing. Nobody knew that Sisko took it upon himself to mine the wormhole and that the war was about to begin."

"Yet you found yourself right in the middle of one of the war's first engagements," Phil added. Tigranian chuckled.

"It's getting late guys," the captain said. "Are you sure you want to hear this part? It's all in the official record."

"Oh no," Annabeth said raising her hand. "We're this far into it. You're gonna finish the damn story, Sir."

"Yeah, Sir," Katie said. "We want to hear what happened from your perspective. From the guy who was actually there."

"Alright, alright," Tigranian said looking at Laria. She gave him a soft reassuring smile.

"We approached Ronara Prime at Yellow Alert. To her credit, Captain Zelas was doing things by the book. Nothing appeared on our long range scans. Of course, that was about to rapidly change…"



Ronara Prime: Federation/Cardassian Border

Stardate: 50975.3

"We are now entering the Ronara System," Lieutenant Relia said from the helm.

"Maintain full impulse, Xenia," Zelas said. "Lilia, give me a long range scan."

"Yes, Ma'am," Lieutenant Tavin said adjusting her instruments. "Nothing yet. The border is still quiet."

"Any sign of Tigranian's mystery ships?" Harshbough said with a laugh.

"Not a thing Sir," Lieutenant Tavin said from Science.

Tigranian balled his fists at his console. He didn't need more attitude from anyone. Especially for trying to do his job…

Suddenly, his console began flashing.

"Ma'am," Tigranian said hitting a few keys on the panel in front of him. "Priority One Message from Starfleet Command."

Zelas and Harshbough turned to look at him.

"What does it say?" the captain said concerned.

"We are to proceed at maximum warp to rendezvous with the rest of the Ninth Fleet at the Valo System. A joint Federation/Klingon task force under Admiral Ross is being assembled immediately."

"For what purpose?" Harsbough said in shock.

"Sir, you only assemble a fleet like that for one reason," Tigranian said staring at him. "Valo is within striking range of at least three separate major Cardassian bases. I think this is it."

"Oh my God," Relia said with a hint of terror in her voice.

"Ma'am!" Tavin shouted. "Something's wrong!"

"What do you mean something's wrong?" Harshbough asked angrily. "You said you weren't reading anything?"

"Exactly, Sir," Tavin said looking up at him. "I'm not reading anything. No civilian traffic, no border stations, not even any natural subspace disturbances. It's almost like…"

"Like our long range sensors are being jammed," Zelas said as her eyes grew wide.

"Xenia, get us out of here now!"

It was already too late.

"Ma'am!" Tavin shouted again. "Two ships approaching at high warp!"

"Visual!" Harshbough said. The viewscreen came to life just in time to reveal two shapes dropping out of warp. Everyone recognized them from Tigranian's briefing two days before.

"Red Alert! All power to shields!" Zelas said. Tigranian made the adjustments just as the nearest Velkath cruiser opened fire with its primary disruptor. The energy beam slammed into the Halcyon right in between the warp nacelles. The entire ship lurched, knocking everyone off their feet. A plasma conduit exploded a few meters away from the first officer's chair and sent Commander Harshbough flying across the bridge. As the emergency lighting engaged, Zelas immediately ran over. There was nothing she could do. He was already dead.

"Lock phasers and return fire!" she shouted clawing her way back to her chair.

"Yes, Ma'am," Tigranian said bringing the main arrays to life. Several beams lashed out from the Halcyon's saucer. "Direct hits. Minor damage to both ships, but their shields are holding."

"Bridge, this is main engineering!" Olsen shouted over the comm system. "That disruptor blast hit us right in the primary plasma network. We're limited to Warp 2. There's no way we can outrun them."

"Bridge, Sick bay!" Doctor Alonzo said cutting in. "I'm receiving casualty reports from all over the ship."

"Xenia," Zelas said trying to get her bearings in the chaos. "Bring us about. Tigranian, ready photon torpedoes."

"Yes, Captain," Lieutenant Relia said trying to get the ship back under control.

"Captain," Tigranian looking at his instruments. "The lead Cardassian ship is hailing."

Everyone froze and waited for the captain to speak. Finally, Zelas managed to utter a phrase.

"Put him on screen."

Tigranian obeyed and the viewscreen changed to the image of a grinning Cardassian.

"Why have you attacked my ship?" Zelas shouted at him angrily.

"Federation vessel," the Cardassian replied, "I am Gul Delutas of the Cardassian Union. The reason I attacked your vessel should be obvious. You are an enemy vessel in a period of declared hostility."

"What declared hostility?" Zelas continued to shout. "There's been no attack by the Federation or any of its allies against the Cardassian Union."

"How dare you feign ignorance? I suppose that Starfleet mining the entrance to the Bajoran wormhole is not a direct act of war against the Dominion/Cardassian alliance? I also suppose the Federation and Klingon fleet massing in the Valo system is not meant to attack Cardassian and Jem'Hadar targets?"

"I assure you, Gul Delutas, my orders are merely to patrol the border. I have received no instructions to attack any Cardassian or Dominion forces…"

"Irrelevant," Delutas said, "You will immediately drop your shields and allow my forces to board your vessel. You will then be escorted to Cardassian space where you will be held as prisoners of war."

"You must be out of your mind!" Zelas said climbing to her feet.

"What choice do you have, Captain? Refuse, and I will destroy you."

The entire bridge crew tensed at that remark.

"You can try…" Zelas said defiantly sitting in her chair. "Tigranian, turn that bastard off." The screen cut back to an image of the two cruisers. "Are those photons ready?"

"Yes, Ma'am," Tigranian said placing his finger over the button.

"Target Delutas' ship and fire."

Tigranian immediately launched four photon torpedoes into the Velkath's forward shields.

"Moderate Damage, their forward shields are down to forty percent."

"Xenia, evasive now!" Zelas ordered.

"Aye, Ma'am," Lieutenant Relia did her best to maneuver the old starship, but the two Cardassian ships were already maneuvering to engage. Their disruptors began battering the Halcyon and the entire vessel rocked and heaved. Consoles and power conduits exploded everywhere showering the entire deck with sparks and flashes. The lights flickered in and out of existence.

"Olsen! Hold us together until you can get full warp power back!" Zelas shouted into her intercom.

"Ma'am, a few more shots like that and there won't be anything to hold together!"

"You heard me!"

"Yes, Ma'am…"

Tigranian was already firing everything he could at the Cardassian ships. The arrays and launchers were pushed to their limits, but a few tricks he learned on the Sk'oh kept them from overloading. His random weapons patterns were able to confuse their sensors, but only enough to delay the inevitable killing blow.

"Focus your fire on the lead cruiser. Our only chance is to try to disable one of them."

"Aye, Ma'am," Tigranian replied. "Delutas' shields are down to fifteen percent, but I'm losing power to the phaser arrays. Plasma is venting into space. It's like we're bleeding to death."

"I don't want excuses, I want results. I thought you were a Klingon warrior?"

Before Tigranian could reply to Zelas' challenge, another disruptor blast hit directly on the saucer section and the ship's weakened shields finally collapsed. Another explosion rocked the bridge, this time sending a hail of razor sharp debris directly at the captain's chair. Zelas screamed in pain as the shards of duranium and polycarbonate sliced opened her chest. She collapsed to the deck with a gasp.

"Captain!" Tigranian shouted diving over his console towards her. She was lying flat on her back, blood pouring from her chest and mouth. Tigranian cradled her in his arms and stared into her eyes. "Captain!" he repeated trying to rouse her from her dazed state. Suddenly, her eyes cleared and she stared right into his face.

"You were right…" she said coughing up more blood.

"Don't talk," Tigranian commanded as he tapped his comm badge. "Sick bay! Medical emergency on the bridge!"

"No," she said placing a bloody hand on his chest. "You have to keep fighting. Keep Fighting…" she struggled with her last bit of strength to maintain consciousness. "Computer, transfer all command codes to Lieutenant Commander Tigranian, Daniel V. Authorization: Zelas Beta 7-4 Romeo ..."

"Command codes transferred."

As soon as she heard the computer's voice confirm her command, she immediately fell limp.

"Captain! Captain!" Tigranian repeated trying to shake her awake, but she was already gone. Tigranian instinctively reared back his head and howled. The rest of the bridge crew trembled at the realization that their captain and first officer were dead and Tigranian was in charge.

The battle was still far from over. The ship continued to shake under fire from the Cardassians. Tigranian immediately leaped back over his console and continued firing phasers. However, the weakened beams did almost nothing to the Cardassians' shields.

The awareness that he was about to lose this ship flashed through his consciousness. He desperately grabbed at any thought: any idea at all that could save them. Suddenly, a memory pushed its way into his mind.

He was back on board the Sk'oh in the sparring room. It was in his first few weeks onboard and the captain was teaching him the way of the sword. Torlek was landing blow after blow with his bat'leth. It was everything in Tigranian's power not to collapse under the onslaught. Finally, it was too much and he fell to the mat.

Torlek cursed.

"Daniel, you cannot defeat me with a forward attack! To choose a foolish strategy is to choose defeat."

"You're too strong," Tigranian said trying to catch his breath. "You're too fast…"

"For your sword, yes!" Torlek said reaching out a hand and hoisting the young human to his feet. It's not the weapon, but the warrior that wields it! Your legs, your fists, even your stubborn head. Strike at me with whatever you can.

This is true of all combat. Think what you have at your disposal and do not stop fighting until the breath leaves your corpse. Your weapons may fail, your shields may collapse, your warp core may breach. If Kahless the Unforgettable calls you home, point your bow into the enemy's maw and charge forward to meet your destiny….

Tigranian's eyes grew wide. His fingers flew over the tactical console as he readied one final burst of torpedoes with the remaining power they had left.

"What do we do now, Sir?" Tavin asked on the verge of panic.

"Are the lead Velkath's shields still about to fail?" Tigranian asked as a new confidence overtook him.

"Yes! But they still have ten centimeters of reinforced armor and another very angry ship that's still at full power…"

Tigranian cut her off and keyed the intercom.

"Olsen! I'm in command."

"God help us all…" the chief engineer replied.

"Shut the hell up and listen to me! Do we still have the capability to jump to warp?"

"Yes, but I already told you it would never be enough to outrun them…"

"We're not going to outrun them…" Tigranian said quietly. "Computer, how many crewmembers are left alive?"

"Currently, there are 678 crew members still alive onboard."

"Olsen, tie the transporters into the main warp power grid. I need enough power to simultaneously transport 678 people. If it's not enough, tie in life support."

"WHAT!?!"

"Just do it and do it now!"

"That's not physically possible."

"Well, you have about twenty seconds to make it possible or we all die!"

"Aye, Sir…" Before the intercom cut off, Tigranian heard "that crazy mother…."

Another burst of disruptor fire shook the ship. Xenia cursed at the helm.

"We don't have enough power left to maneuver. One more hit from their main arrays and we're dead in space."

Tigranian ignored her as he keyed the shipwide intercom.

"All hands, this is the acting captain. You are immediately ordered to grab the nearest weapon and prepare for transport. You're going to fight hand-to-hand when you re-materialize at the far side. Wherever you appear, gain control of that area."

The rest of the bridge crew's eyes grew wide as dinner plates as they realized what Tigranian was planning. They fumbled underneath their consoles and grabbed their emergency hand phasers.

"Computer, initiate Tigranian Omega Protocol."

He held his hands out as the computer engaged the site to site transporter interlocks beaming his bat'leth and dk'tagh directly in front of him. As he grabbed his weapons, Lieutenant Tavin started breathing heavily.

"You never know when you'll be in a hand to hand fight. Programmed that little contingency just in case…" he said with a smirk.

"Oh my God," she said nearly hyperventilating as she held her phaser. "We're all gonna die…"

Tigranian also ignored her lack of confidence as he continued to put in his plan into action.

"Computer, set automatic heading of 352 Mark Seven Five."

"WHAT!!?!!" Xenia screamed from the helm.

"Warning: specified heading will result in collision."

"Override, Authorization: Tigranian Omega 3-6 Tango."

"Acknowledged. Specified heading set."

"Bridge: this is main engineering. You have your transporter power! We're ready for whatever the hell you're gonna do!"

"Computer, From my mark institute the following sequence: Deactivate shields, energize simultaneous transport of all surviving Halcyon crew members onto the nearest Velkath cruiser, and one millisecond after the last crewmembers rematerializes, engage automatic heading at maximum available warp."

"Acknowledged."

"Everybody ready?" Tigranian said preparing to fire his last torpedoes.

"HELL NO!" Tavin said climbing to her feet.

"That was really a rhetorical question," he said launching his weapons at Delutas' ship. The burning red spheres impacted with the Cardassian's weakened shields and they finally collapsed.

"Computer, Mark!" Tigranian shouted as he raised his bat'leth. Less than a second later, he and the rest of the Halcyon's crew disappeared in a shimmering blue haze….

* * * *

In space, the Halcyon automatically turned away from Delutas' ship and pointed directly at the second Velkath cruiser. Without warning, the old ship's warp engines engaged.

Even with its powerful shields and thick armor, the Cardassian ship was no match for a 2.3 million metric ton starship moving at several times the speed of light. Both vessels exploded in a brilliant flash of white light. Delutas' ship tumbled with the shockwave, but survived, now with two crews on board fighting for control.

* * * *

Tigranian appeared in a corridor with the rest of the bridge crew. Intruder alarms echoed across the metal bulkheads as the ship's internal sensors registered their presence. Now, the Cardassians found themselves outnumbered nearly two to one on their own ship.

The acting captain tapped his comm badge.

"Olsen, where the hell are you?"

"I'm with the rest of the engineering crew in what looks like a cargo bay." Tigranian heard the sound of phaser fire in the background. "The ten spoon-heads working in here weren't too happy to see us appear."

"See if you can't break out and gain control of main engineering."

"No problem," Olsen shouted with his usual mix of anger and sarcasm. "I can ask these guys for directions!"

Without warning, three Cardassians appeared from around a darkened corner. Tigranian lunged at the nearest one and nearly sliced him in two with his bat'leth. Tavin and Relia dispatched the others with blasts from their phasers.

As the rush of the adrenaline started to come under control, Tavin nodded towards Tigranian's bat'leth.

"I'm starting to understand what you see in that thing."

"We have to get to the bridge! Tigranian shouted. "Follow me!" he said charging forward.

Navigating in the strange and unfamiliar Cardassian ship was hard enough, but the loud and vicious sounds of battle echoing across the corridors made it harder. Determined groups of Halcyon survivors were attempting to pry control of the Velkath away from its original owners. Power fluctuations continually caused the lights to flicker and acrid brown smoke choked their lungs.

However, this was when Tigranian felt most alive. The blood pounded through his veins with a vigor he had not felt since his days on the Sk'oh. His confidence gave his frightened companions a new strength.

Tigranian's blades dispatched several more Cardassians along the way, and after a few minutes of searching, the trio found themselves outside the metal hatch leading to the main bridge. However, it was magnetically sealed shut.

"Lilia," Tigranian said motioning to Tavin. "See if you can get it open." She immediately started to pry open an access panel while he and Relia took positions to cover her. A Cardassian flew around the corner and raised his phaser. He took aim right at Tavin, but Tigranian slapped his arm away just in time. The science officer winced as a shower of sparks from the beam's impact rained down from above her.

"This is hard enough without people shooting at me!" she shouted as Tigranian dispatched the Cardassian with another blow from his bat'leth.

"Figure it out!" he shouted as he pried the phaser pistol from the Cardassian's dead hand.

Relia took aim at another pair of Cardassians around a corner. She and Tigranian immediately began firing as Tavin pulled several fiber optic cables from behind the panel and began splicing them together. Phaser blasts cascaded across the hall, illuminating them all in a hellish glow of sparks. Ozone created by the energy bolts stung their nostrils.

"Lilia!" Revin shouted as one of the Cardassians she was firing at finally fell to the ground. "Now would be a good time!"

"Got it!" Tavin shouted just as Tigranian hit the second Cardassian right in the chest. The doors parted and they all rushed onto the bridge. They ducked just in time as another hail of phaser blasts from the Cardassians still manning their stations impacted the bulkheads behind them.

Tavin and Relia took cover behind two empty consoles and started to return fire. Tigranian, however, bobbed and weaved through the energy beams with the skill of a seasoned warrior. A Cardassian shouted in surprise as the flash of a bat'leth ended his existence. Tigranian rolled forward and took aim with his captured phaser. A well-aimed shot took out another Cardassian standing across the bridge.

Tavin and Relia's fire finally found their marks and killed the remaining two. Tigranian spun around and pointed his phaser at a trembling form huddled behind the captain's chair. He stepped forward, not taking his muzzle off the target.

Delutas had a phaser in his hand, but he didn't point it Tigranian. He merely stared back at him with paralyzing fear. Tigranian couldn't help but savor the irony that just a few short minutes ago, this Gul was threatening to destroy him and his entire ship. Now, he was cowering on his own bridge as Tigranian loomed in front of him.

"You killed my first officer…" Tigranian said stepping towards him.

"It's not possible…" Delutas whimpered.

"You forced me to destroy my ship…" Tigranian said taking another step.

"We should have obliterated you!"

"And you killed my captain…"

"My entire family will pay for my failure…"

"You should have thought of that before you attacked us," Tigranian growled readying his bat'leth.

"THE FEDERATION WILL FALL!" Delutas pointed his phaser at his own chest and fired. He burst apart into a cloud of charged ions.

Tigranian finally exhaled.

"Not as long as I have I say…" he said before turning around to his compatriots.

"Xenia, take the helm. See if you can figure it out."

"Yes, Sir."

"Lilia, see if you can get us full access to their computer."

"I'll do what I can."

Tigranian tapped his comm badge again.

"Olsen, you still alive?"

"Thanks for your vote of confidence," Olsen replied. "We're in control of main engineering. If I read this Cardassian chicken-scratch right, we've got full warp power."

"Good, we're about to get the hell out of here." Tigranian found the shipwide intercom and keyed it.

"This is the Starfleet Commander to all remaining Cardassian forces. We are now in control of this ship. If you surrender now, I give you my word of honor you will be treated fairly as prisoners of war in accordance with treaty regulation and interstellar law."


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