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…"