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…