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Galaxy of War (Chapters 1-16)

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(Note: Replaced with Michael January's Master Copy 9/2/2000 – RPD)




Blah blah blah about using the creations of Paramount and Lucasarts for purposes


of entertainment. No infringement of copyright is intended, and no profit is


sought from this work, unless it be in the form an Executor-class Command Ship


of my own. Well I can dream, can't I.






JEDI LUKE SKYWALKER: Vader is on that ship.




GENERAL HAN SOLO: Now don't get Jittery on me Luke, there are lots of Command




















A fanfic by Michael January








The freighter captain couldn't help feel a small twinge of almost guilt when he


recognised the new arrival from hyperspace, an Imperator-class Star Destroyer.


He glanced nervously over his manifest to make sure that nothing in his cargo


was illegal. Somewhat assured, he continued about his affairs.


"Boys, hurry up with that cargo back there." He called. It wouldn't hurt


to get out of here sooner rather than later anyway.


He didn't mind dealing with the local security forces. Like most planetary


nations, this one maintained a small fleet of ships for it's own defense,


including several euphemistically labelled cruisers and battle-cruisers


purchased from Sienar and Loronar. The local military was friendly enough, and


didn't turn up their noses at the odd bit of Imperial credit included with


shipment crates from questionable destinations, but Imperial forces were another




The local military however, didn't dare stand up to the Kuat drive yards


Destroyer, which easily outgunned them, despite their euphemistic labelling. He


smirked at the thought, the local military would probable pee their pants if


they saw a real cruiser. The freighter captain almost choked when his thought


materialised into a real Imperial cruiser, flickering in from hyperspace. It was


an Allegiance-class, at least fifty percent larger than the Imperator-class at


2.2 kilometers. The larger ship had the distinctive dagger shape of a Kuat Drive


Yards product, but there the resemblance ended. With only a small combination


docking and launch bay placed far forward on the ventral surface, it's reactor


bulge was shifted much further forward, and the engines were significantly


larger than an Imperator's. The larger ship was also riddled with twenty and ten


meter turbolaser turrets, and several dozen 1 meter and half meter turbolaser




The Allegiance's official classification was ambiguous. Some called it a


heavy destroyer, others a light-cruiser. In the navy it was more realistically


called a Destroyer-killer, and probably played that role in the fleet


engagements for which it was designed. It carried only one squadron of TIE's,


but nearly three times the firepower of the multi-role Imperator.


"Boys! Damnit! I said hurry up. There's something going down in this


system, and it definitely aint pretty."


One of the crew-men wondered forward to see what the fuss was about. He


was about to open his mouth to tell the captain to shove his commission when he


caught sight of the viewscreen.


"Holy shit." He said, and disappeared into the back of the ship again.


There was several minutes of shouting, and frantic movement, as the


crewman egged on his companions. It was rare indeed for a Star Destroyer to


bother to visit such a backwards world as this. For it to be accompanied by an


Allegiance-class could only mean trouble.


By the time the cargo was stowed, the Captain was frantic. The Imperial


presence had grown by four more Imperators, and five Victories. There had been


several frantic communications from the local planetary governor to the Imperial


fleet, but they had just told him to get stuffed. Apparently relieved that the


Imperials were not interested in his planet, the governor had withdrawn his


cheap navy to the far side of the planet, probably to prevent any


misunderstandings which might result in the 'accidental' destruction of one of


his precious miniature cruisers. Something big was going down.


The instant everyone was strapped in, the freighter launched itself into


the relative safety of hyperspace. Meanwhile more ships were still flashing into


the system from various directions. This was obviously a rendesvous point for


whatever the Imperials were up to.






Captain Leahcim Xris burned with impatience. He paced over to one of the


transparisteel windows, battling to project an air of calm indifference. In the


distance he could see the other ships of the fleet. He wondered if any of the


other captains knew what was going on. He doubted it. That was not the way the


military worked. By now, the fleet had grown to eleven Victories, six Imperators


and another Allegiance class light-cruiser besides his own. Xris had graduated


at the top of his class, and had therefore started out as captain on a lowly


Imperator, but the navy had quickly promoted him to the Allegiance class, the


largest destroyer design in the fleet.


It was a clear sign that he was marked for bigger things, and provided he


didn't screw up, he might bag himself a cruiser one-day, perhaps even a


Vengeance-class battle-cruiser. There were much bigger ships in the fleet of


course, but the chances of being assigned to command one of those were nearly


astronomical. One could dream of an Executor or Sovereign, of course.


Xris was looking right at a particular nebula when it suddenly twisted out


of shape. In the centre of the distortion, a massive grey object surged into


view. By the time the distortion cleared, the object had also slowed


sufficiently to be recognisable. It was the slender 10 kilometer long dagger


shape of a Vengeance-class battle-cruiser, with the distinctive wing-like hull-


plates providing additional protection for it's engines and reactors, as if


anything could penetrate it's massive shields. Accompanying it were two more


Allegiance class destroyers.


"Captain, incoming transmission."


Xris stepped over to the holo-board, and punched in his ID code. Instantly


the board was filled with holo-images of other captains. In the centre of the


group, was a significantly larger figure, wearing the distinctive epaulettes of


a rear-admiral.


"I am rear-Admiral Jerec Harrsk. Your new orders are being transmitted to


your ships now. You can read them in hyperspace. Assume defensive formation and


prepare to jump on my mark to these co-ordinates."


Harrsk pressed a button, and a beep from the nav-console told Xris the co-


ordinates had been accepted.


"Dismissed." Harrsk said, and terminated the conference.


Xris glanced at the system display, on which all the ships were listed,


along with seniority ratings for captains. He was third in seniority. He issued


the appropriate orders, bringing his ship into a close-screening position above


and to the rear of the immense battle-cruiser. The other Allegiance class


destroyers moved into diametrically opposite positions, while the Imperator's


spread out and encircled the formation, with the battle-cruiser in the centre. A


jump timer appeared on the display, giving a three-count. When the count hit


zero, the fleet jumped.




Xris sat down in his command seat, and called up the coded orders. He knew


he had about two hours to study them, having glanced at the co-ordinates they


were jumping to. He wondered why they had not jumped directly to the supplied


co-ordinates. He downloaded the mission orders into one of his memory modules,


being a cyborg had it's advantages. The mission orders explained everything to


him. Xris re-read the orders, then read it again. Interesting, he thought.


Allowing them to jump directly to the gate would have been an immense security




Apparently New Republic scientists had developed a hypergate, using


information derived from studying the hypergates of the Bree. The hypergate


though, had produced some unexpected results. It had proven to be


uncontrollable, and had locked onto a wormhole in a remote galaxy.


Imperial agents had procured a copy of the technical readouts of the gate


in the early stages of construction, and the Empire had constructed their own


gate, which had then promptly locked onto the far end of the same wormhole. The


race was now on to dominate the remote galaxy.


While the New Republic controlled 75% of the galaxy, their systems were


mostly Rim worlds. The Empire's small fraction of the galaxy included some of


the richest core worlds, and much of the old Imperial fleet had been restored or


rebuilt in the decade since the cease fire between the two factions. An entire


new galaxy to explore and control and exploit could swing the balance of power


back to the side which won, although neither side could afford open war, yet.


The proximity alarm beeped, and Xris looked up just in time to see the


starlines coalesce and rotate into the familiar forms of local nebulae and star


clusters. Their trip had deliberately ended in deep-space. The holo-display


showed a huge interdiction field ahead of them, maintained by several Dominator-


class Interdictors. Patrolling inside the interdiction field were several


Allegiance-class destroyer killers, and a few of the rare star-cruisers and


battle-cruisers which the Empire had managed to hang onto. Towards the centre of


the interdiction field, two of the last three Executor class ships of the Empire


stood guard on either side of an immense ring-like structure which appeared to


be slightly out of phase. Patrolling throughout the formation were several tiny


(by comparison) Imperators.


Xris couldn't help but be surprised. The fleet assembled here in defense


of the gate must be close to a fifth of the Empire's total fleet resources. No


wonder they hadn't jumped straight in. They would have been caught in the


interdiction field and might have been destroyed out of hand.


The Vengeance transmitted a security code, and a gap was opened in the


interdiction field, allowing the Vengeance task force to micro-jump to the


centre of the formation. The Vengeance led it's task force directly into the


huge gate structure, disappearing in a fury of multi-coloured energies.


Xris didn't perceive any change or time-loss. The instant they entered the


gate the starfield ahead of them re-arranged itself. They were in another




The sight on this side of the gate was pretty similar to the one they had


left behind though. The third Executor-class patrolled the gate entrance here,


supported by several destroyer-killers, a star-carrier, and yet more Dominators,


Imperators and Victories. The combined defences on the two sides of the gate


would have comprised fully a third of the Imperial fleet, an almost unheard of


commitment of resources.


The wormhole the gate had locked onto loomed nearby, it's entrance marked


by the wreckage of several unidentifiable warships, and a small space station,


no larger than an Imperator, with several bits obviously missing. The wreckage


was all of obvious alien manufacture. Xris knew from his mission intelligence


reports that the far side of the wormhole was similarly defended by the New


Republic forces as it was the site of their Gate's location in this galaxy.


Nearby, a brown husk of a demolished planet still orbited the nearby star. It


had been known as Bajor according to reports.


Apparently, there were several alien races in this galactic quadrant which


had aligned themselves into a Federation, and they were preparing an attack on


the Gate so that they could regain control of the effectively sealed wormhole.


The New Republic forces on the far side were similarly being faced by a grouping


calling themselves the Dominion. The job of the Vengeance task force was to pre-


empt the attack of the aliens , possibly by incorporating the Federation into


the Empire, and gaining their support. Failing that, their orders were to


destroy their star-faring capability, and enslave the populations until they


could be properly inducted into the Empire's war effort.


According to Imperial intelligence, the New Republic's efforts to


assimilate the Dominion into the Republic had failed miserably, and the New


Republic was now engaged in a total war with the Dominion forces.






The comm-desk beeped, and Xris nodded to a nearby lieutenant, who


activated the holo-board as Xris stepped up to it.


"Our patrols have mapped out a sphere extending two thousand light years


so far, and the rate of mapping is slowing down as the size of the sphere


increases. We have identified several dozen worlds belonging to various alien


species, known as Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, Ferengi, and even a Human


sub-species. The dominant forces seem to be the Humans of course, closely


followed by the Romulans and Klingons. The Cardassians used to be part of the


Dominion, but have now committed themselves to the Human controlled Federation


along with the Romulans and Klingons. Intelligence suggests that the Ferengi may


prove to be the easiest people to subjugate, but they are a weak race,


insignificant even amongst the local enemy forces, and their starmaps are of


insufficient quality for hyperspace travel. We will however start by subduing a


few of their worlds, starting with the capital world of Ferenginar."


The co-ordinates followed, and seconds later, joined by two Dominator-


class Interdictors, the fleet jumped. It was a short jump, barely a few minutes.


Ahead of them loomed a greenish disk, the world of Ferenginar. A few small


corvette sized ships were in orbit. There was no sign of jamming of any sort.


Xris shrugged, that merely made things easier.


"Lock weapons onto the fourth corvette in line. Hold fire until my




"Yes, Sir."


"Weapons locked."


The Vengeance probably had all the corvette's covered anyway, it certainly


had enough guns. If Harrsk wanted them dead, those corvettes would have been


dust by now.


"Sir, the Admiral has opened a comm's channel to the lead alien corvette."


"Repeat on my console."


Harrsk was demanding to speak to the head of the local government, but an


obviously frightened alien was trying to explain that their government was in


disarray, seeing that several top government officials had been aboard the


destroyed space-station at the site of the wormhole. Harrsk demanded to speak to


the head of the local military, which turned out to be the frightened alien




"Very well. You will surrender or be destroyed. The terms of surrender are


as follows: The command of your ships will be turned over to Imperial officers,


and your ships officers will be relieved of duty. They will be brought onto our


ships to act as advisers on local technologies. All orbital and planetary


defences will be turned over to our troops, and a small garrison of Imperial


army units will be established. Behave yourselves, and they won't be replaced


with stormtroopers.


"My tech crews tell me there are no traces of planetary shield


technologies amongst your defences. A pity, we will have to install our own


equipment. Do you accept these terms, or do you wish to be destroyed?"


"We accept. We accept." The Ferengi quickly answered.


"You will not regret your decision." Harrsk's tone softened slightly,


"Being a part of the Empire means that no-one will dare attack you, for fear of


incurring our wrath. If your technology reaches significant proportions to


warrant trade with Imperial worlds, you might even make a profit, there are few


restrictions on trade within the Borders of the Empire."


At the mention of the word 'profit', the Ferengi's eyes lit up.


"Profit. Trade. Why didn't you just say so? By all means, we will happily


join the Empire. Good citizens, that's what you'll find us to be."




Within the next few hours, the Ferengi officers were distributed


throughout the ships in the Imperial fleet, ostensibly as advisers, but more


realistically, as hostages against good behaviour in the crucial hand-over


phase. A number of low-ranked Imperial fleet officers were placed in charge of


the tiny Ferengi corvettes - Marauders, they were ambitiously named. The few


orbital defences were also taken over by fleet operatives, and a regiment - two


thousand troops - of the Imperial army were garrisoned on the planet below.


While this was being done, the Imperial fleet experimented with the


Ferengi warp drives, versus the Dominator-class Interdictors. In the few


previous engagements with warp ships, other Imperial ships had discovered that


interdiction fields were only partially effective against warp vessels. The


distortion wave on which the warp ships rode was tachyonic in nature, and the


warp ship was forced to slow down drastically or risk destruction. However, at


slower superluminal velocities, the warp ships were capable of withstanding the


effects of the interdiction fields.


By experimenting with the Ferengi marauders in mock attack runs, the


Imperials were also able to determine that an interdiction field plus high-


powered sub-space jamming at low frequencies was slightly more effective,


reducing the fastest warp speed of the Ferengi ships to about twice light-speed.


Other Federation ships might fare slightly better, with better tuned drives or


more powerful warp cores.


The high warp velocities would be advantageous to the Federation ships in


combat, but their weapons systems were weak. Greater protection had to be


assigned to the Dominators, as they couldn't risk standing off without escorts,


since the Federation ships might easily intercept them. The Interdictors would


also play a crucial role in tracking cloaked ships. A powerful sub-space pulse


could detect distant cloaked ships with an accuracy of only five hundred


kilometers over half a light-year. However, Imperial engineers predicted that


modulating the interdiction field with random graviton wave effects would


interfere with most cloaking mechanisms, possibly even to the point of negating


the cloak altogether.


The Imperial ground forces exchanged recognition codes with the fleet, and


established a coded protocol for subsequent communications with a patrolling


destroyer assigned to this sub-sector. The take-over of the Ferengi world


complete, the Imperial fleet prepared to jump to a nearby Cardassian colony.






Six Galor-class Cardassian cruisers were orbiting the colony. They had no


illusions, knowing an attack was coming soon. The colony was only a dozen light-


years from the Bajoran system, where the invading Imperial forces were


congregated. Even so, they were nearly caught by surprise. Nearly two dozen


ships appeared, barely a few planetary diameters away, with no forewarning.


Somebody in the background was shouting about a flash of Cronau radiation, and


the Gul waved them to silence, as he barked out orders. His thoughts consumed by


the devastation unleashed upon the Bajorans, and having no intention of the


nearby colony being subjected to the same, at least not without a fight, he


ordered his ships forward. They broke into two groups, warping to either side of


the enemy fleet.


The Gul paled at the sight of the behemoth at the centre of the enemy


fleet. It was several hundred times the size of his cruisers, even the small


ships escorting it were several times larger than any ships he had ever seen


before. The smallest ships in the enemy fleet were on the same size order as a


D'deridex battleship, but rather more massively built.


A warning shout behind him preceded a shudder in the ship, as it seemed to


caught in the grip of some giant hand. He noticed that their warp speed was


falling drastically, as the engineers cut power to the warp engines. They were


in some kind of anti-tachyonic field, graviton related most likely.


"Disengage warp, full impulse. Target that, that, thing," He said, for


lack of words to describe the dagger shaped behemoth at the centre of the enemy


formation. "Torpedoes, fire!"


Several torpedoes streaked towards the enemy formation. Suddenly, the


bridge crew was forced to cover their eyes as the viewscreen was momentarily


overcome by bright flashes of light. The enemy was firing dozens of some kind of


beam weapon, which detonated violently for no apparent reason right in the path


of the torpedoes. Most of the torpedoes were destroyed by the violence of the


detonation, others smacked into the remains of the detonations, what appeared to


be clouds of green incandescent plasma, and detonated uselessly.


"Disruptors, fire."


The beams lanced out towards the immense dagger, but spattered uselessly


against it's immense shields.


"Sir, the enemy is attempting to open a communications channel."




"Cardassian vessels. Your attack is pointless. Surrender now, or be


destroyed, my patience is already at it's limits."


"We will die first." The Gul spat, angered by the imperious tone of the


human on the view-screen.


"Very well." The human answered.


Any hopes the Gul had had of bargaining or arguing his way out was swept


away as the channel was cut.


"Sir, energy build-up on the big ship."


The view-screen changed back to an image of the enemy fleet just in time


for the Gul to see hundreds of green streaks lance out towards his task force.


He opened his mouth to order evasive maneuvres, but was knocked to the floor as


the turbolaser fire swept through his formation. The enemy had targeted the


general area of the formation, and with the sheer number of bolts, engulfed the


three ships before they could clear the targeted area.


The other three Galors veered away, frantically broadcasting their wish to


surrender. From the planet, somebody was also frantically hailing the Imperial


ships with requests to surrender.


Harrsk let them sweat for a few seconds, then acknowledged the surrender.


He dictated similar terms as he had for the Ferengi, but with a smaller


occupational force, seeing as it was only a colony world. In the next few hours,


the Imperial task force assimilated two Ferengi colonies and six more Cardassian


colonies. They returned to the site of the Gate, where a number of bulk


transports had arrived with additional troops. Already, the Gate was a hub of


traffic, with merchant marine freighters heading out to the new worlds with


additional equipment for the troops, in support of a permanent occupation.


Amongst the equipment were a number of small theatre shields, developed by the


Gencor Corporation and first used by Rebel Alliance forces at Hoth. They were


smaller and less powerful than conventional planetary shields, but sufficient to


defend against any except the most powerful orbital bombardment.


The generators were coded with specific instructions in obscure Imperial


dialects, and the software embedded with trojans to prevent them from being used


by any unauthorised personnel. The task force only waited long enough for their


troop complements to be brought back to normal, many ships were even crammed


with additional troops. The next group of worlds being targeted would include


one Human world, and two Romulan worlds. By then, it was hoped that the patrols


would have mapped out enough space to enclose the Federation capital worlds,


where it was suspected they were assembling a fleet to counter-attack the Gate.




Xris was woken from his nap by a light buzz on the bed-side console. He


had set a five minute warning for the scheduled jump-time. He quickly rinsed his


face (Imperial warships were not short of water), pulled on a fresh top and


stepped out onto the bridge. The bridge crew had been rotated twice in the time


since they had entered the system, but Xris had stayed on duty, except for short


naps. He stepped out onto the bridge as the two minute buzz sounded.


His first officer had already brought the ship into position with respect


to the Vengeance.


"Captain on the bridge." The officer stationed outside his door called.


The first officer stiffened, turned, and saluted in one fluid motion.


"The ship is ready and at your command, Sir!"


"Thank you, Lieutenant."


Xris marched past the officer, and stepped up to his command seat. He sat




"You may proceed with jump preparations."


"Yes, Sir."


The Lieutenant continued his duties, ensuring all was ready for the jump.


The news had been passed that the Federation world would be a subject for a


field test for the ground-forces. If the results were not up to scratch, one of


the Romulan worlds would be chosen. The response of the citizenry was irrelevant


to the invasion, what was important was to give the troops some much needed


battle seasoning.






The Federation world was the furthest world from Bajor in the group that


the Imperials were hoping to use as listening posts. Capturing it would provide


a one hundred light-year safety zone around Bajor, with all these worlds forming


part of one larger tachyonic net, tracking all starship movement around Bajor.


The world had a relatively small population of only half a billion people, with


nineteen major cities, and several dozen small towns, farms, mines, and other


industrial facilities. Already, an Imperial Intelligence hyperspace orbiting


scanner was observing the system.


The fleet dropped into realspace several light-minutes from the occupied


planet, and a Dominator swept the nearby space with a brief cone of gravitons.


The hyperspace orbiter popped out, and immediately dumped it's observations into


the local ships databanks. An intelligence droid-ship immediately set out to the


probe, and prepared to service it, in preparation for either retrieval, or to


place it back in hyperspace should it be necessary.


"The orbiters scanning data indicates the orbital approaches of the planet


is mined, there are several weapons platforms in orbit as well, and possibly on


the surface too. No enemy ships in the system."


On the holo-board, the miniature representation of the Admiral ordered the


Dominators to clear the minefield. Xris observed as one of the Dominators


advanced on the enemy planet, and swept a gravity-cone through the orbital zone


of the planet. The other Dominator jumped to the far side of the planet, but


still well clear of it, and swept it's cones through the orbital zones on the


far side. The mines were cloaked, but had no inertial compensators, and many of


them detonated as they were swept into the atmosphere. Others activated their


maneuvring thrusters to attempt to keep station in the face of the fluctuating


gravity field sweeping them towards the planets atmosphere.


"Victories alpha through delta, clear the mines."


Four Victories jumped in towards the planet, their jumps terminated by the


edge of the gravity cones, and then systematically targeted and destroyed the


mines as their maneuvring thrusters revealed their positions. The Victories were


careful to stay several light seconds clear of the planet, out of effective


weapons range of the orbiting weapons platforms.


Several seconds went by without another mine revealing itself to the


sweeping gravity cones, or to successive sub-space pulses by active scanners.


"Dominators, hold position, power down interdiction fields. Victories echo


through india, clear the orbital platforms." The Admiral ordered.


The five Victory-class ships jumped in to within a few tens of thousand


kilometers of the planet, nearly point-blank range to the orbital stations, and


immediately fired a full broadside. Three of the stations immediately returned


fire, the other two breaking out of orbit as jets of superheated atmosphere


boiled out of their shattered hulls. The damaged platforms only had two seconds


of clear fire at the Victories, before the second broadside slammed home. The


Victories had come away unscathed, their initial point-blank broadsides having


put paid to the orbital platforms.


Even Golan III weapons platforms would have been hard pressed to withstand


those initial broadsides, Xris thought, that some of the platforms had survived


the first broadside was testament to their immense shielding. Perhaps these


worlds would not fall as easily as he had first believed. The fleet advanced


slowly on the enemy world, as the first of the landing barges were launched from


the ISD's. The Victories were already moving into lower orbits, scanning the


surface of the planet for signs of ground-based resistance. The word had


obviously reached this planet that the Imperials were prepared to accept


surrenders, and the sub-space comms desks were flooded with requests for


communications channels to be opened.


Xris ignored the requests, and waved to the communications officer to


switch off the audio prompts on the desks. Silence returned to the bridge. In


the distance, the Victories hung above the planet, their noses pointed at the


surface below, the odd streak of green ripping into the atmosphere as they


softened or destroyed whatever defences there were below. The Imperators


launched several waves of TIE bombers, which tore down into the atmosphere at


hypersonic velocities. One or two red streaks reached out to them, but were


answered with green bolts from the Victories, and quickly silenced.


Following close behind the TIE bombers were several waves of assault


shuttles, followed by larger, slower landing barges. The assault shuttles


carried stormtroopers, and were bound for crucial strong-points or strategic


positions on the surface. The barges carried Imperial army regiments, which,


supported by their AT-AT's and AT-ST's would advance on the cities and occupy


them. They had been ordered to try and keep civilian casualties to a minimum.


This was of course just an exercise, not a real invasion.


The Imperator's were now also in orbit, and between the six Imperators and


eleven Victories they formed a comprehensive sensor net around the planet,


making sure no-one escaped from the invasion forces. The Vengeance battle-


cruiser and the four Allegiance-class heavy destroyers defending it kept their


distance. Their role was fleet combat, not planetary invasions. The Imperators


and Victories were not specialised planetary invasion ships either, but their


multi-role design was adequately suited for this type of operation. The


Dominators also kept their distance from the planet, powering back towards the


protection of the battle-cruiser.


Xris checked the time, a twinge of frustration beginning to make itself


felt. On the holo-board, a new figure appeared, General Darklighter, the senior


army officer in the fleet.


"Stormtroopers report all primary objectives achieved. Thirty seconds


behind schedule."


He blinked out of existence. Xris waited patiently, knowing that if


anything on the surface demanded his attention, he would be notified. Nearby,


the Victories and Imperators still surrounded the planet, their noses pointing


like daggers at the mottled surface below. Very few shots were being fired by


these ships now, as the rate of requests for orbital support slowed down.


"Audio to the surface." He ordered.


The silence of the bridge was now punctuated by staccato bursts of


communication. Most of the orders were automatically filtered out by the


computers, only high level command orders being allowed, and the odd request for


orbital fire-support.


"Colonel Deerborn, keep that flank straight."


"Lieutenant Antilles, I want that hill now!"


"Orbital strike, level five, grid reference blue five, fifty eight by


seventy nine."


"Strike successful, target destroyed, advancing."


General Darklighter made another appearance on the holo-board.


"Mission time has expired. Eighty two percent of secondary objectives




"Continue," the Admiral ordered.


"Yes, Sir."


Minutes later. "All objectives achieved," Darklighter reported. "Total


mission time was optimum plus four minutes, as calculated by the Covell


Planetary Invasion Simulator. Casualties are negligible, thirty percent within


limits predicted by the Covell program."


"Your men are obviously short of battle experience," the Admiral


admonished, "they're too squeamish. I expect you to beat the Covell program on


the next planet in all respects. You may complete the securing of the planet.


Leave two regiments behind as an occupational force, and give the local


government the usual guarantees of Imperial protection and trade. Moff


Jerjerrod's people will be here within a couple of hours."


"Yes, Sir." Darklighter answered.


Xris was unsurprised at the speed and efficiency of the Imperial


bureaucracy. The Moff's task was to establish a political presence, to regulate


all sectoral affairs, and to see to the adequate defences and patrolling of


Imperial held worlds in this sector. The few worlds held in this galaxy hardly


warranted the label of a sector yet, but it was of course geographically


unrelated to any other sector in Imperial space, and so warranted it's own Moff.


Already, the first barges were returning to their mother ships, and the TIE


bombers were already landing. In a few minutes, the fleet would be prepared to


hit the next world. For Darklighter's sake the next invasion had better proceed


more smoothly, or he could expect a demotion.






The fleet dropped into the edge of the Romulan system. Immediately,


several active sub-space pulses were broadcast, as the Imperials sacrificed


stealth in the search for any cloaked vessels. Immediately two blips were


detected, patrolling the outer fringes of the system. The blips were almost


immediately turned into elongated streaks by the computer as they raced to put


themselves between the planet and the invading forces of the Imperials. Another


streak appeared as a previously undetected ship also powered up it's engines and


raced towards the defence of the planet.


"Nine ships positively detected, all of them sized in the same category as


small destroyers. Eleven possibles, all much smaller, corvette sized."


"Track those ships down now." Xris ordered his com-scan team.


The Dominators were also powering up their interdiction fields, and would


soon have the entire area around the fleet covered.


"Move in, velocity sub-two, vector zero-zero-zero by zero-one-five." The


Admiral ordered.


"Helm, keep us within weapons range of the Vengeance, we don't want


anything slipping in between us and them. Com-Scan, if a single graviton in that


interdiction field is interfered with I want to know about it."


"Yes, sir."


The fleet moved in towards the planet, angling about fifteen degrees above


the ecliptic plane. On the tactical display, several Romulan ships disappeared


as they disengaged their drive mechanisms close to the planet.


"Project all trajectories, based on last known course and velocities.


Correct for gravitational distortion."


On the holo-display several overlapping cones appeared, most of them


tracking out towards the Imperial fleet.


"What is the likely area of intercept if the enemy continues to drift


towards us?"


A large cube appeared on the display, encompassing all the cones,


including the Imperial fleets approach path. It quickly reduced size, until it


encompassed an area of space where intercepts were likely to occur.


"Likelihood of detection through graviton disturbance of interdiction




"Very low sir. Most of the enemy ships are at low relativistic velocities,


and their graviton influence would be very low, given their mass-lightening




"Drive emissions? Power fluctuations? Black body comparisons?"


"Computing all now."


The tactical display updated with likelihoods of detection and successful


intercepts. Xris didn't like it one bit. The Romulans were hiding behind their


cloaks very effectively.


"All gunners are to track to zero position. The enemy requires a


significant amount of time to decloak, acquire his target and fire his weapons.


Any gunner who allows the enemy to fire first will be reprimanded. Two


reprimands will result in a charge of dereliction of duty."


An official Imperial reprimand was not that severe, merely a docking of


pay or a demotion of rank. However, dereliction of duty could result in


extensive prison time or summary execution at the discretion of the commanding


officer. A bit harsh on the gunners, Xris knew, especially seeing that they had


several hours ahead of them as they cautiously approached the enemy planet, but


the alternative might be a worse punishment from the Admiral if any cloaked


ships got through.


Xris contemplated all the approach vectors. There were too many unknowns.


He considered the implications of making a suggestion to the Admiral, but


thought better of it. Insubordination could be as career damaging as dereliction


of duty, more so depending on the personality of the Admiral. He didn't know


Harrsk well enough to take the chance.


The Admiral's face appeared briefly alongside the tactical display on the


holo-board, "Fleet course change, come around to vector three-four-zero by




Apparently it wasn't necessary, Xris thought, as he ordered the course


change. The Admiral had seen the dangers himself. Now the Romulans would be


forced to adjust their approach vectors to set up a new intercept. Unless they


were happy to outwait the Imperials.


"Com-scan, keep your eyes peeled." Xris warned. He knew it was an


unnecessary order, but he couldn't take any chances on the crew not realising


the implications of the vector change.


On the tactical display the fleet approach vector shifted out of the cube


denoting intercept ranges. For several minutes there was silence on the bridge.


Then a blip appeared, along one of the Romulan approach cones as an impatient


commander ordered the course change, then cut his engines again, drifting along


a new vector towards an intercept position. Immediately, his projected path was




"Victory alpha, take him." The Admiral ordered.


The fleet was right in the Cerenkov cone of the Victory, which facilitated


tracking it across the system, and there was a brief flash across the tactical


display as the Victory jumped to within 10 units of the projected position of


the cloaked ship, and directly behind it, in the classical cloak-intercept as


taught at the Imperial Academy. Green and blue lines tracked along the projected


path of the Romulan as the Victory opened fire. For several seconds nothing


happened, as the Victory widened it's cone of fire by a few nano-radians. Any


more, and the chance of a hit would be astronomically small. The Victory got


lucky though, as a blue ion cannon bolt deflected off something unseen. The


Victory immediately concentrated fire on the new position, and was rewarded with


a glimpse of a Romulan Bird of Prey momentarily decloaking as another ion cannon


bolt scored a hit.


The Romulan powered up his engines, and attempted to evade, but it was too


late. The Victory fired a broadside into the position, and several shots on the


edge of the broadside cone smashed into the cloaked vessel, even as it attempted


to change direction. Discarding all attempts at stealth, the Romulan deactivated


it's cloaking device, and powered up it's shields. A second broadside was fired


by the Victory, and it scored more hits, the Romulan's shields flickered wildly


as it took fully a third of the broadside in it's flank. It's shields could not


have totally deflected the impacts of the bolts, and the Victories sensors were


picking up several micro-fractures at the base of one of the wing-like sections.


The Romulan vessel attempted to change direction, but a third broadside


slammed home, blowing the shields aside like they weren't there. The ship


detonated spectacularly. The Victory immediately jumped back to the fleet,


taking up it's screening position.


"A poor performance by your gunners, Captain," the Admiral admonished,


"you should have kept some of your weapons in reserve, and as soon as the cloak


was compromised fired your first broadside. Your incompetence nearly allowed him


to escape."


"My apologies, Admiral Harrsk. It won't happen again."


"See that it doesn't. Allegiance Charlie, Captain Xris I believe, the next


one is yours. I trust you will provide a proper display of how to track and


destroy a cloaked vessel."


"Yes, sir." Xris answered.


Xris turned to his com-scan team.


"I will personally flay the skin off each and every one of your backs if


we mess up. Keep a comet watch out. Guns," Xris turned to his gunnery officer,


"I want ion cannons only to track the enemy vector. Small, light and medium


turrets will fire alternating broadsides on a positive track, heavy turrets will


only fire on my mark. Navigation, the jump is to be made according to classic


cloak-intercept doctrine. Helm, as soon as we make the jump, I want you to bring


the ship around, and put the enemy dead ahead of us, in ideal full broadside




The small, light and medium turrets were identical to those installed on a


Imperator, except that they were called light, medium and heavy on the


Imperator. The Allegiance 'heavy turrets' were in fact twice as large as those


on an Imperator, and it carried sixteen of these, ten on the dorsal surface, six




All eyes were on the holo-display, waiting for the next Romulan ship to


change track, as the fleet crept closer to the planet. Battling cloaked warships


was a tricky proposition, and nerve-wracking to both sides. The Romulans though


made no attempt to close in on the Imperials, happy to just drift closer, even


if not on intercept positions. Xris wondered if they were playing into the


Romulan's hands. For all they knew, there were other ships drifting around in


the system, which they hadn't detected in their initial scan. The interdiction


fields of the Dominators continued playing all around the fleet, with no


indication of interference with any mass object. The silence dragged out.


"Fleet, jump to these co-ordinates, on my mark."


"Yes, sir." Xris answered automatically, hoping the Admiral was not


getting too hasty.


The jump brought them to a position 140 degrees around to the far side of


the system, and much closer to the planet. Whatever drift vectors the Romulans


had been on, they were now almost as far from their planet as the Imperials, and


drifting in the wrong direction. Brilliant, thought Xris, it would force them to


come about onto new vectors. Several blips on the tactical display indicated


just that, as the Romulans powered up engines and brought their ships onto new


vectors. Several of them changed course at the last instant as they cut engines,


hoping to prevent a positive track.


"Xris." The Admiral ordered.


"Yes, sir. Sensors, select targets on the basis of track confidence."


"Yes, sir."


"Navigation, execute jump."


The stars briefly flickered as the ship jumped, but the jump was barely


one second long, then the stars re-appeared.


"Ion cannons, fire along confidence cone, helm bring us around."


Several blue streaks ripped outwards in a very narrow cone, quartering the


projected paths of the enemy vessel. They immediately scored hits, and the small


turbolasers fired a broadside into the same region, followed a split-second


later by the light turbolasers. The medium turbolasers hesitated, as something


detonated violently dead-ahead, and a Romulan Bird of Prey took shape before


their eyes, already breaking up.


"Medium batteries, fire." Xris ordered, making sure of the kill.


"Sensors feed second target track to Navigation, stand by for another




The stars flickered again as the ship jumped one more time, and again the


ion cannons searched the projected track for the Romulan ship. The blue bolts


interacted violently with something dead ahead, and the shape of a D'deridex


formed as it's cloaking field failed. Xris' gunners fired three staggered


broadsides in quick succession, as different calibre guns fired in stages. Even


as they opened fire, he released the heavy batteries as well.


It might not have been necessary to open up with the heavy batteries, as


Xris could have sworn that the ship was already detonating by the time the


sixteen heavy bolts ripped into it. Still, it was better to be sure than sorry.


"Take us back to the fleet, resume formation."


"Well done, Xris, Victory alpha, your turn on the next track. Don't


disappoint me."


"No, sir." A determined voice came back.




The Imperials crept ever closer to the planet, trying to draw the cloaked


Romulan fleet into an open engagement before invading the planet. The battle


lasted several hours, as the Romulans and Imperials played cat and mouse with


each other. In the end, the Romulans didn't stand a chance, they were seriously


outgunned by the Imperials. As the Imperials drew within a few light-seconds of


the planet, Admiral Harrsk ordered a few ranging shots to be fired randomly at


the planet. At first, the Romulans took no action, then, realising the Imperials


didn't care about loss of life, launched an all out furious attack on the


Imperial fleet.


There were at least eight D'deridex class ships and twelve old Bird of


Prey's in the system, but their attack was seriously hampered by the


interdiction fields. The graviton interference with their ships served to


neutralise the cloaking field, and three of the D'deridex ships and several


BoP's were destroyed in short order as they tried to break through the screen of


Victories and Imperators to attack the Vengeance. The rest of the fleet


retreated, and Harrsk let them go.


"Darklighter, it's your turn."


"Yes, sir."


Once again, no surrender option was offered to the planet below, and again


the Victories and Imperators formed up over the planet in low orbit. The attack


was decidedly more vicious this time. The Imperators and Victories were kept


busy as the invading troops made extensive use of orbital support. Xris wondered


what motivational elements had been offered the ground forces by their


commanders, or more to the point, what threats Darklighter had made.


The Romulans had no intentions of playing along though, and fought back


viciously. They were fierce fighters, and cared little for loss of life


themselves, often attacking en masse using their own civilians and wounded as


body shields. It was not an effective tactic against Imperial troops, who had no


qualms about shooting the civilians first anyway, especially given their


determination to meet the Covell curve on this attack.


"Stormtroopers have reached all primary objectives," Darklighter reported,


"We are fifteen seconds ahead of schedule. The army units are within minutes of


achieving all secondary objectives. Casualties are two percent over the Covell




"Thank you, General. I am glad you were able to motivate your forces." The


Admiral answered coolly.


The General reported the planet secure, only one minute behind schedule.


"Casualties are four percent higher than the Covell curve, total casualties are


twelve hundred dead and three thousand wounded."


"That is insignificant, General," Admiral Harrsk responded coolly, "We


were carrying too much troops anyway, and we have another forty regiments ready


to come through the Gate. As your troops gain experience, we will no doubt


suffer fewer casualties due to ineptness."


"Yes, Sir." Darklighter replied evenly.


"When we return to the Gate, see that new troops are spread evenly through


the experienced troops, so that a good ratio of experience is maintained in all




"Yes, Sir."


"You may recall your men. Moff Jerjerrod's forces will complete the job of


securing this planet. They are already on their way into the system, and will be


here in minutes. We are at least two hours behind schedule already."


"Yes, Sir." Darklighter responded. He obviously wished to say more,


probably about Harrsk taking his time winning control of the system and then


goading his troops to their deaths, but retained his peace. Harrsk cut the


communications, and if he gave any sign that he had noticed the tightness around


Darklighter's mouth, Xris did not notice it.

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A fanfic by Michael January






Xris stood at attention in front of the holo-board. The board was split


into two. On the left was a strategic display of the mapped out portion of the


galaxy, on the right was a conference sphere, with holograms of all the ship


captains, the Admiral, and General Darklighter arranged in the sphere.


"Gentlemen, matters will be coming to a head soon in this quadrant. Our


patrols have extended our safe navigational zones to 2400 light years, and have


just recently located the capital world of the Humans in this quadrant. We have


located several dozen Romulan and Klingon worlds as well, but have not located


their capitals yet. However, a massive fleet is being assembled at Earth, the


human capital, which includes several Klingon vessels.


"Our troops have performed admirably so far, but I am not satisfied yet


that our fleet has the necessary battle experience against these aliens, despite


their primitive technology. As a result, I am withdrawing the Vengeance to


Bajor, and the remainder of the fleet will be split into two task forces. I want


each task force to capture three systems in the next twenty four hours.


"Your systems have been designated on your strategic displays. They are of


strategic importance to this sector. The task force will be split as indicated


on the conference grid. I want no easy surrenders here, these missions are meant


to be for training purposes. Gentlemen, the clock is ticking."


The Admiral's hologram clicked off, as did most of the captains and


generals. About half remained, with Xris's icon at the top of the display. He


had been designated task force leader for one group. Suppressing a momentary


feeling of light-headedness, he started belting out orders.




Beyond the transparisteel window, starlines whirled, broken occassionally


by a flash of a nebulae or cluster of stars. An experienced navigator could tell


exactly where he was by observing the swirling patterns. To Xris they were a


mere background to his thoughts. In fifteen minutes they would arrive at their


first target. The three worlds they had been assigned were Klingon, Romulan and


Human worlds respectively. Naturally. The Intelligence corps was still building


a psyche profile on each, and these training missions were also to form part of


those psyche profiles. The psyche profile would aid in choice of tactics, and


would refine the accuracy of the Covell curve for planetary invasion for each


respective race.


Xris' task force consisted of his own Allegiance-class heavy destroyer,


the 2.2 kilometer long ISD Render, as well as it's sister ship, the ISD Ripper.


The task force was completed by three Imperators, five Victories and a


Dominator. The Dominator was essentially a modified Imperator, with weaker


shields and weaponry, but the gigantic gravity-well generators of an




"Thirty seconds to deceleration, Klingon system coming up." A navigator




"Shields standing by."


"Weapons standing by."


"Com-Scan standing by."


"ECM standing by."


"Acknowledged. I want full active scanning for four seconds the moment we


mesh in."


"Aye, Full active scanning. Four seconds."


Xris turned away from the spectacle of hyperspace, and leaned against the


railing of the command deck. On the level below him, several rows of fleet


officers sat stiff and upright in front of their consoles. Dominating the


spectacle, was the huge holo-display used for active combat displays. Xris sat


back in his command seat, the bridge laid out before him, with the holo-display


projected directly ahead of him. Behind him, and on the same level, senior


bridge officers monitored the data collected by the junior officers below,


filtering and controlling what was relevant to the command situation.


"Decelerating, Now!" The navigation officer called.


On the tactical system display, several planets were indicated, with


orbital vectors, markings for signs of technology, population, population


density, etc. the display flickered slightly as several blips were added,


starships, with vectors of motion, trajectory cones, energy readings, size


indicators, life-form indicators.


"All ships, execute ambush one, Victories by two, on my mark, then


rendezvous at position three. Execute."


The Ripper, Render and the three Imperators each jumped to intercept


positions to execute ambush attacks on the larger ships, the Victories paired up


and ambushed the smaller ships. This was a manoeuvre designed to destroy or


disable as many enemy ships as possible before they could assemble into a


defensive fleet formation, especially given that many of them had been spread


out across the system, and separated from each other. The Dominator waited five


seconds, the maximum duration of the ambush regardless of results, then also


jumped to the rendezvous point.


Three seconds later, all the ships were in position at the rendezvous


point. In the system, two Klingon ships had been totally destroyed, one badly


damaged, and another two lightly damaged. The Klingons were pulling back to form


a defensive screen on the fourth planet.


"Wait for them to form up." Xris ordered. He wanted the Klingons clustered


all nice and close to the planet for this one.


"Imperators, slash attack on my mark only, the right flank. Fleet, jump to


confront position, range twenty clicks, stand by for co-ordinates." Xris nodded


to his navigator, who punched the fleet transmit as soon as he finished his


calcs. The acknowledgement indicator lit up on Xris's command padd.


"Fleet, Execute."


The fleet jumped in, the Dominator protectively placed between the two


huge allegiance-class ships, and the victories forming a screen around them. The


Dominator immediately began powering up it's gravity-wells. On the holo-display,


the space between the Klingon and Imperial fleets were cris-crossed by multi-


coloured markers showing lines of fire. A few torpedoes were launched by both


sides, but at this range (two thirds of a light-second) there was adequate time


to shoot down torpedoes.


Xris waited for the Dominator's gravity cones to reach critical density.


He ordered one of the cones to be angled across the right flank of the Klingons,


with the edge of the cone a mere ten thousand kilometers from the flank of the


slowly advancing formation. He had to admire the tenacity of the tiny Klingon


ships, they were obviously outgunned, but were bulling their way towards the


massive ships ahead of them. Well, too bad for them.


"Imperators, Execute."


The Imperators, which had been waiting for their mark on the edge of the


system, jumped in on a vector that brought them onto the gravity cone, so that


they re-entered realspace mere thousands of kilometers away from the Klingon


ships. The Klingon ships were not expecting them. The Imperators were expecting


to find the Klingon ships right there. All three Imperators got off full


broadsides, as they turned in towards the Klingon formation, which was hastily


reforming. One Klingon ship lay dead in space, and one of the Imperators made


sure of the kill with a brace of proton torpedoes. By the time the Klingons had


re-aligned their formation, several squadrons of TIE's had been launched.


One squadron tore into the atmosphere of the planet below at hypersonic


velocities. A gunboat sized Klingon capital ship attempted to follow them, but


was balked by a one hundred megaton detonation in the upper atmosphere directly


ahead of it. The atmospheric shockwave flung the Klingon ship around like a leaf


in a high wind. An Imperator was pushing it's way between the Klingon's and the


atmosphere, firing it's light tactical weapons on the planet below, and it's


heavier weapons at the Klingons above.


The TIE's were already ripping past a city on the horizon several hundred


kilometers away, not bothering to fire, but just allowing the shockwave of their


passing to do the necessary damage, shattering of windows, flattening of trees


and light structures, and knocking people to the ground.


Several Klingon ships broke away from the main formation, and attempted to


warp around the Imperial formation, but the Dominator swept a gravity cone


across their path, causing at least one of the ships to jettison it's power


core, while the others slowed down drastically, but retained their cores. A


volley of light turbolaser fire from one of the Victories detonated the core,


causing a huge matter/antimatter detonation just below the errant Klingon




The main formation of the Klingons broke up, as they attempted to dart in-


between their behemoth attackers. The Klingon forces were virtually surrounded,


with TIE's in the atmosphere, more TIE's in orbit attacking the Klingon gunboats


and corvettes, and causing mayhem if not significant damage. The other two


Imperators had outflanked them, and the Victories and Allegiance ships ahead of


them were outgunning them, with a few of the Victories working their way towards


the left flank of the Klingons. At least one of the Victories was already firing


it's light tactical turbolasers at the planet below.


Another of the Victories jumped out to a stand-off position on the edge of


the system, it's shields depleted. The Klingons had no such option, and one


after another, they were destroyed as their shields gave in under the barrage of


hundreds of turbolaser blasts.




"System secured, shields at 71%, all ships reporting in, no damage."


"The Victories?"


"Two of them lost shields during the battle, but withdrew to the edge of


the system, to re-charge."




"Seven destroyed. The others are flying cover for the assault shuttles and


landing barges. The Victories are providing tactical support for the assault




"Remind them to only provide level three support. We don't want to make


this too easy for the grunts. Everybody's got to work in this fleet."


"Yes, sir."


"Get Colonel Jostve on the line. I want to know how long he'll be."


Seconds later a grim colonel appeared on the holo-screen. In the


background was the command room of an AT-AT, and the unmistakable sound of it's


light turbolasers and laser-cannons.


"We are meeting with heavy resistance. The entire civilian population has


joined the army in defence of the invasion, and we have had to make extensive


use of stun gas and electric stunners to control the populace. There have been


extensive civilian casualties. We are currently one point two minutes behind


schedule. Imperial casualties are heavier than expected, about four percent over


the Covell curve."


"Casualties don't concern me, Colonel. See that you don't fall any further


behind schedule. If I have to resort to destroying one or two cities to stay on


schedule I will see that your record reflects your incompetence."


The Colonel bristled slightly, but kept his cool. "That will not be


necessary, Sir."


Xris cut the transmission. They were already five hours into the twenty


four assigned. The troops were doing very well, and Jostve was proving to be a


good commander. The combat experience was beginning to make a difference. No


doubt the Covell curve would have to be adjusted somewhat for the Klingons. The


holo-board lit up.


"The system is under our control. Sir." Jostve reported.


"Thank you, colonel. Casualties and mission progress?"


"Casualties were nine percent higher than expected, and the mission time


was one point one minutes longer than expected. These Klingons are vicious


fighters, but their weapons are useless against a mobile armoured force."


"Your opinion is noted, colonel, but unnecessary. Your recommendations


regarding garrisoning this planet?"


"At least four regiments of stormtroopers, or seven regiments of regular


troops, with ground armour and air support."


"That's ridiculous. Are you suggesting we leave half our combat troops


here as a garrison force, Jostve?"


The colonel hesitated for a second, then stuck his chin out.


"Sir. It is my recommendation that anything less would see the Klingons


overthrow our forces before Moff Jerjerrod arrives to consolidate the planet."


The colonel stared straight back at Xris. Xris considered his options.


Execute Jostve on the spot for insubordination, or accept his recommendations.


He had a funny feeling that either way, it could be a career breaking decision.


He suppressed an urge to glance at his chrono, he knew precisely how many hours


they had left.


"Very well. Do it. Do you have any senior Klingon officers in detention?


Or any other leader I may speak to?"


"Yes, sir." Jostve answered, still with the look of a condemned man, but


with a glimmer of relief beginning to show. He nodded to one side, and the


picture expanded to show a greater portion of the AT-AT's command room. Squeezed


in nearby, two stormtroopers held a captive Klingon between them. The Klingon


was at least half a head taller than the stormtroopers escorting him, and there


was no such thing as a short stormtrooper.


"Sir," Jostve said, "This man was the commander of one of the Klingon


garrisons. He is the most senior surviving officer, a wall collapsed on him, or


we might not have captured him alive. We don't know his name."


The Klingon was shoved forward. Xris looked him over. Lavender fluid


streamed down from a head wound, and probably from one or two other bodily


wounds as well. His hands were handcuffed behind his back, his legs shackled


together, and several straps kept his arms bound to his body.


"I am captain Leahcim Xris, leader of this task force, and the senior


representative of the Galactic Empire. Be advised that your world is now a


subject world of the Galactic Empire. You will find that to be not such a bad


thing. The Universe is a very dangerous place, join us, and your survival is


guaranteed. You may even be allowed to retain your own government and laws, your


people their identity, in return for the appropriate levies."




"Your young men will be subject to conscription, to serve in our armed


forces, free trade is allowed within the Empire, except of course for various


substances and technologies which are outlawed, and as long as the appropriate


taxes are paid. In return, your people will have an equal say in choosing a


senator to represent this sector in the Galactic Senate, where all major


decisions of policy are ultimately made. In time, you may even expand to other


worlds, colonise nearby planets, and establish industrial and mining centres as


you wish. All of these will remain properties of your government, but ultimately


property of the Empire. An attack on you or your properties will be an attack on


the Empire, and the Empire does not tolerate it's citizens or properties being


attacked by outside forces. The Empire guarantees the maintenance of trade


routes, the protection of merchant vessels, and the survival of your species on


this planet as long as you wish to remain here."


"If I refuse?"


"Dissidence is subject to harsh punishment in the Empire. It is within my


power to have this planet ripped apart atom by atom. Give your word of co-


operation now, or be destroyed."


"Your threats mean nothing to me. It is better to die an honourable death


than to live a life of servitude."


"Spoken like a warrior. I'm impressed." Xris said dryly, "Jostve, you have


two hours to see that your garrisons are properly secured. They are to accord


the Klingons every right of any citizen of the Empire, but any sign of


resistance is to be put down, harshly."


To the Klingon, Xris continued, "Your execution will be stayed, for now.


Pray that I won't be moved to change my mind. Take him outside, and release




"Jostve," Xris answered, "I don't want to lose this planet through


stupidity on the part of some idiot, not in the next twenty four hours anyway,


or until it's in Jerjerrod's lap."


"Yes, sir."


Xris resumed his position on the command deck of the bridge.






They hit the Human world next. Xris was worried that he might run out of


time, fully nine hours had elapsed since the start of the mission, more than a


third of the total time allocated. A databank update had included the news that


the other task force had subdued the Romulan world in short order, and was


already engaged with the Human world, their second target. That put them several


hours ahead of Xris' group.


As a result he changed his tactics around completely in his attack on the


Human world. The three Imperators were ordered directly into low-orbit, where


they commenced the invasion despite being under enemy fire. Their only


protection was an interdictor field set up by the Dominator from high orbit,


where it was protected by the two allegiance-class heavy Destroyers who provided


covering fire from high orbit as well, preventing the Human starships from


directly attacking the invading forces. The Victories stood by outside the


system, ready to jump-intercept any Human ship which got caught in an


interdiction cone or disengaged it's warp drive. This forced the enemy to attack


from long-range only, and to stay on the move at warp, effectively reducing


their firepower.


At first the Federation starships launched torpedoes from long-range at


the Imperators, but as soon as the torpedoes hit the interdiction field and


slowed down, they were shot down. The starships themselves could maintain a weak


warp field against the interdiction field, but their reduced speed made them


vulnerable to concentrated turbolaser barrages. The Imperators were left


virtually free to provide tactical orbital fire for the invading troops, who


were meeting minimal resistance. In fact, the troops beat the Covell curve by a


full two minutes, with reduced casualties, before the fleet units had secured


the system. Battle experience was beginning to tell.


The Human starships were left with two options, continue to uselessly


attack the gigantic Imperial ships even though they had already lost the planet,


or retreat. They made up their minds quickly, leaving the system at high warp in


the direction of the recently located capital, Earth. Xris detailed a Victory to


track them and make sure they didn't double back. Two army regiments were


garrisoned on the planet, and a transmission sent to Jerjerrod to inform him


that he had another planet to manage in this sector.


The task force was relatively low on troops now, and Xris jumped for the


Gate next. Thirteen hours had passed so far. The trip to the Gate was one hour,


and it took them several minutes to load up the fresh regiments. In the hour it


took them to Jump to the Romulan world Jostve ordered the regiments broken up


into units, and reassigned his forces to mix the green units with his veteran


unts. By the time they arrived, they were more than fifteen hours into the






"We will take the fight directly to them again," Xris told his men, "the


Romulan fleet can watch us invade their world, or come out and fight. It's up to


them. I want full-spectrum jamming, a large interdiction field around the fleet,


and the Victories to stand by outside the system for possible jump-intercepts."


Once again, the troops broke the Covell curve, with minimal orbital


support. Jostve was rather pleased as well, his troops had vastly improved co-


ordination between forces, and had fully overcome their earlier squeamishness.


They steamrollered over any and all opposition with utter ruthlessness in


dealing with the Romulans.


The planet was secured with four hours of mission time to spare, and Xris'


task force joined the Vengeance at the Gate with three hours still on the clock.


The other task force hadn't arrived yet. Apparently they had secured the Romulan


and Human worlds without too much difficulty, but had vastly underestimated the


Klingon tenacity. The ground-forces were involved in a bitter struggle for


dominance on the planet.


Admiral Harrsk wasted no time in ordering the fleet to the Klingon world.


Having to bombard the world into submission from orbit was not an appealing


prospect at this stage. The Imperials knew from experience it tended to


strengthen resolve amongst surviving worlds rather than cow them into




By the time the fleet meshed in though, the Klingon world had submitted.


The Imperial task force in orbit had made a short demonstration of firepower,


and told the Klingons in no uncertain terms to surrender or be destroyed. While


the victory had been achieved, Harrsk was livid. The Colonel in charge of the


ground-forces was only saved from execution by the fact that he had been ordered


in against his recommendations, because of an over-commitment of ground forces


on the previous two worlds invaded. Apparently, the captain in charge of the


task force had miscalculated how much troops he would need to invade the Klingon


colony, and refused to return to the Gate for more troops before launching the




Naturally, the captain was severely reprimanded, and relieved of his


command. He would be accommodated in the brig on the Vengeance until a court-


martial could be arranged. In the meanwhile, the fleet needed to prepare for an


attack on Earth.

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A fanfic by Michael January






Xris enjoyed his new found seniority. He was the most senior captain in


the invasion fleet, subordinate only to Rear-Admiral Harrsk himself. As such, he


was privy to a conference between the three major Imperial representatives in


this galaxy. Rear Admiral Harrsk, who led the invasion force, Rear Admiral Piett


who was responsible for the defence of this side of the Gate, and Moff


Jerjerrod, who as sector governor, was responsible for the security of the


captured worlds.


"Harrsk," Piett was saying, "your priority should be to destroy the


enemy's fleet. They have assembled a fleet numbering nearly two hundred vessels,


and are preparing to attack this Gate."


"Your forces can easily handle such an attack, and besides it is not my


responsibility. My orders are to expand Imperial control through this galaxy as


fast and as far I see fit. I have twenty two ships with which to accomplish


this, and I have no intentions of losing any of them at this stage. I have


determined that if the enemy capital world were captured or destroyed, it would


be a tremendous blow to their industrial strength, and seriously cripple their


war effort. This will ultimately enable us to expand faster, and will be best


accomplished by launching an attack after the huge fleet they have assembled


leaves the vicinity of Earth."


"I don't doubt the capability of my forces to withstand the enemy attack,"


Piett replied, "but their attack will be a distraction. The real danger will be


from any New Republic raids through the worm-hole."


"We are at peace with the New Republic," Jerjerrod interjected, "they


wouldn't dare attack us. A war between the Empire and the Republic would be as


disastrous to them as to us, and they know it."


"What you believe is irrelevant. It is well within the capabilities of the


Republic to launch an attack here, and any distraction by the Federation would


interfere with my defensive arrangements, possibly even cripple them. That


cannot be tolerated. Harrsk must destroy their forces before they get here."


"You underestimate the power of your defensive fleet." Harrsk stated.


"You know very well that the Federation attack force does not concern me,


but a well-timed Republic attack could be devastating."


"The Republic has no contact with the Federation, or Intelligence would


know. Their movements are as limited as ours, by the extent to which they have


mapped the galaxy. Unless they come through that worm-hole, they have no way of


reaching this quadrant, and won't for years." Harrsk replied.


"All of our orders ultimately require speedy settling of a large region of


this galaxy." Jerjerrod stated, "Harrsk is right. Destroying Earth will


ultimately allow speedier expansion through this galaxy."


"And none of that will happen if this Gate is compromised," Piett




"It appears you are outvoted." Harrsk said. "You have adequate resources


with which to defend the Gate, and there is no reason to believe a New Republic


attack is imminent or even likely."


"Very well, but remember that this conference has been recorded. Should


this Gate fall, then I will ensure that responsibility will be shared between


all three of us."


"The Gate will not be destroyed," Harrsk laconically informed Piett, "You


will make sure of that. It is your responsibility, ultimately."






The fleet lay to at the Gate for half a day, while the majority of the


crews slept, and the droids replenished the stocks. The few days of operations


had not seriously depleted the stocks on-board, but military policy required


that ships be kept fully stocked as far as possible at all times. Merchant


vessels were still pouring through the Gate, ferrying supplies to the few dozen


captured worlds. The supplies included additional armaments, maintenance droids,


military construction equipment, theatre shields, and food-stocks for the


Imperial garrisons.


It appeared that the alien worlds were extremely impoverished, and the


civilians were quite happy to eat recycled food or replicated food. Imperial


troops - and most imperial citizens - would never stoop so low, much preferring


genuinely grown food, preferably preserved in stasis fields rather than merely


refrigerated. The aliens had no time-manipulation technology like stasis fields,


and relied purely on archaic refrigeration technology for food-preservation.


Xris was sleeping when the notification came through. The Human fleet had


set out, and was being tracked by two Imperial Intelligence drone ships, which


had also dropped several hyperspace orbital scanners in or near the Human home-




Imperial military vessels maintained four separate crews, graded according


to seniority. The two junior crews kept most watches during inoperative times,


while the two senior crews were retained for operational conditions. Xris gave


orders that his senior crews were not to be disturbed yet. The fleet would no


doubt embark on their raid in the next hour or two, and Earth was nearly ten


hours away via hyperspace. Ample time to do a watch-change.












Jean-Luc Picard woke with a start. Such dreams! He had not had such dreams in


ages. He stepped over to his mirror and looked at himself. He willed the


haggardness away, staring into the mirror until the face he saw was the one he


wished his crew to see. The calm, determined, confident commander, who feared


nothing. Finally satisfied, he got dressed, and made his way to the bridge.


"Captain," Riker greeted him, a vague questioning look in his eyes. He


knew something was troubling Picard.


Picard greeted him, but waved the unspoken question away. Such


conversations were not for the bridge. He glanced at the view-screen, only


vaguely surprised by the comparative emptiness of the space around them.


"The recovery fleet?" He asked unnecessarily.


"They left an hour ago." Riker confirmed.


Picard nodded. The vague unease hadn't left him yet. It was nothing to do


with the fact that he had been assigned to the Earth Defense Fleet, and not the


recovery-fleet heading for Bajor. There was something else bothering him, and he


relaxed, trying to recall the dreams of the previous night. On waking, the


dreams had vanished like morning mist, but if he could reconstruct his thoughts


of the night before, then maybe he could reconstruct the dreams too. He had been


thinking about Cisko's account of the invasion.






The sudden lack of traffic returning through the wormhole had raised fears


of another Dominion offensive. The Defiant had just departed through the


wormhole, in order to investigate. Worf, Dax, and several other officers had


been aboard. Cisko and Kira had been on a shuttle to Bajor, with several


youngsters including Jake, when the first indication of trouble came. A brief


burst of Cronau radiation of immense intensity had set off every alarm on the


shuttle, signifying the arrival of a structure that had initially looked like a


gigantic copy of DS9. It was an immense ring, easily 30 kilometers in diameter


[not radius, Edam smile.gif]. There the resemblance to DS9 ended though, the structure


was immense, with the ring walls easily 2 kilometers thick, with immense bulbous


protrusions sticking out all around. The centre of the structure was a perfect


black disc, at least 25 kilometers across, according to the scale indicator on


the view-screen.


A metallic device briefly registered on the shuttle's scanners, but was


lost against this blackness on the view-screen. The shuttle was racing back to


transporter range of DS9, several minutes away. The device disappeared, and


seconds later was replaced by another metallic device. This one too immense to


be lost even against that perfect blackness. It was easily a mile long, and


several hundred meters broad and tall, with a massivity that dwarfed the nearby


doughnut shape of the DS9 space-station, which itself was a ring with a diameter


of barely a mile.


Cisko was momentarily paralysed by a fear of another Borg attack, before


sanity prevailed.


"Can you open a communications channel to it?" He asked Kira.


"All channels are flooded with static the instant I open it. They are


deliberately jamming all communications."


"DS9?" He asked.


"The same, I can't get through to them."


On the shuttle's control board, one console after another was reporting


problems as the jamming started interfering with sensors, weapons, targeting,


transporters, the mass-lightening field was showing signs of strain, even the


warp-core was showing signs of reduced stability.


"Get us to the station as fast as possible." He told Kira.


"Maximum warp has been reduced by 20%, the jamming is extremely heavy."


Kira said, but she accelerated as hard as the shuttle could against the


interference. The range to DS9 decreased rapidly as the shuttle warped across


the system. All possibility of transport was dashed by the jamming, and they


would have to take time to dock the shuttle.


"What the ..." Kira started, as something spiked on the sensor board.


"It's firing on DS9." Cisko said, unbelievingly.


On the view-screen, several streaks of green and blue flashed across


space, into the shields of the station. Large parts of the station was lost to


sight as the shields glowed with re-directed energies. The shield-glow quickly


spread around the entire station, as the shields battled to re-direct the


energies faster than they were being poured on. Judging by the intensity of the


shield-glow, the shields wouldn't hold out very long. There was also no chance


for the shields to be dropped to allow the shuttle to land.


"Turn around, Kira, head back to Bajor. Maximum warp."


Kira didn't bother telling him that they were pushing the safety limits by


running the warp core at such power levels in the face of the sub-space jamming.


She turned the shuttle around without a word, and egged more speed out of the


small ship. It looked like Bajor would need every warrior.


Cisko took over the communications. The strength of the jamming was


decreasing as they put distance between themselves and the immense warship


battling DS9. They would soon be able to burn through the jamming, and establish


comms with Bajor. A face appeared on the comm-screen, distorted by static, it


was Bajoran.


"This is Cisko. Launch all your fighters, prepare to defend the planet."


"The fighters are already being launched. Come in on approach path nine,


the fighters are launching on your vector."


Kira nodded, and changed direction slightly. If they could land, her first


order of business would be to get a fighter for herself. If that warship got


past DS9, Bajor would need her more than Cisko would.


"A second warship has entered the system!" Cisko said incredulously.


An identical behemoth of a vessel had joined the first one. The two ships


were moving to flanking positions on the station, each of them firing from


dozens of weapons emplacements. The picture on the view-screen was filled with


static, and waves of distortion, but Cisko could see that some bolts were


beginning to slip through the over-extended shields, and rip into the hull of


the station. Several tiny detonations marked the failure of the shield


generators, and several of the massive bolts slammed home without any deterrent.


Explosions wracked the station, a docking spine was blown clean off and sent


spinning into space. Then the entire station broke into three pieces, rolling


and tumbling off into the darkness, their position marked by glowing metal and


incandescent gases.


One of the immense dagger-shaped vessels accelerated in the direction of


Bajor, the other turning towards the worm-hole. Some kind of a metallic probe


came through the wormhole, definitely not of any known design. The alien warship


destroyed it. A second probe made a brief appearance, and fled at the sight of


the warship. Cisko wondered what Defiant had run into on the far side of the




"Bajor control, can you establish a link to Starfleet, and relay the


communications to me."


"We have already hailed two nearby starships, they will be here within the


hour. All scanner data is being transmitted as we record it."


Cisko nodded. He felt helpless. At it's moment of greatest need, he had


not been aboard DS9. He thoughts briefly touched on the people who had been


aboard, O'Brien, left in charge, Quark, Odo, thousands of others.


He glanced at the huge alien ship angling towards Bajor, strange that it


hadn't activated it's warp drive. It was several light-hours away, which might


mean that they would have time to prepare a defense. The Bajoran fighters were


assembling in high-orbit, ready to defend their home-world. Cisko battled with


the sensors, but was unable to penetrate the enemy jamming to get a clear scan


of the huge warship. He was momentarily distracted by the sight of a third


warship entering the system. It too headed towards the wormhole, taking up what


appeared to be a defensive position.


The warship heading towards Bajor suddenly appeared to elongate, and for a


brief fraction of time it appeared to Cisko that it was in two places at once.


It had warped across half the star system in a fraction of a second, at an


incredible warp factor, if indeed it's drive mechanism was warp based. The


Bajoran fighters were caught totally unprepared. The immense warship had


appeared right in the middle of their formation, and opened fire with what must


have been more than a hundred weapons. A few fighters smashed into the shields


of the immense structure, unable to avoid it in time, others were blown away by


the initial barrage of fire.


The shuttle itself was approaching the upper atmosphere of Bajor, and Kira


had slowed down, preparing for re-entry. The battle was barely two or three


planetary diameters away, and the sensors feeding the view-screen provided an


almost clear picture, with only a hint of static distortion. They could clearly


see at least a dozen tiny shapes detach from the lower half of the immense


warship, then another dozen, and another. The tiny fighters, if such they were,


moved to engage the remaining Bajoran fighters. Then it happened. An event which


shocked Cisko to his emotionally ravaged core. The gigantic warship opened fire


on the near defenceless planet below. A barrage of green energy streaked into


the atmosphere, which seemed to recoil away from the energy bolts.


The cloud formations seemed to shudder and come to a stand-still as the


initial blast wave swept through the thin upper atmosphere. On the surface below


the alien warship, an immense orange mushroom cloud was forming. The cloud


formations were ripped apart, as large sections of the upper atmosphere visibly


boiled away into space.


A scream of intense pain tore Cisko's attention away from the riveting


sight. He punched in a command, and the view-screen cleared, all visual cues


blanked out, replaced only with navigational cues. Grabbing the controls from


Kira, he wrenched the shuttle around and pointed it towards deep space, and


pushed the power control to the maximum. The shuttle surged away from the


planet, heading out of the system.


Kira viciously punched a command into the view-screen control, lighting up


the view-screen again. Her face was white with shock, and she brought her hands


to her face as the image took shape. The alien warship had expanded it's cone of


fire as the orange mushroom cloud spread over the surface of the planet. It


poured yet more energy into the devastation, feeding it, forcing it to spread


over the surface. A significant fraction of the hemisphere already engulfed in


the destruction. On the view-screen, a second warship joined in the attack, then


a third, and a fourth.


Kira attempted to grab the controls, trying to swing the shuttle back


towards the doomed planet. Cisko grabbed her arm, and she prepared to punch him,


but caught his glance over her shoulder. Rolling out of the way of the possible


attack, she came to her feet in a crouched position to face Cisko and whoever


was behind her. There was no-one, except for a handful of children, staring


wide-eyed at her, the view-screen, and the rapidly expanding cones of


destruction sweeping across Bajor.


Cisko cut the view-screen, and waved the children back. He sealed the


hatchway, while Kira curled into a foetal position. He merely took time to put


the shuttle on a course for the nearest Federation world with a starfleet base,


and activated the auto-pilot. He crouched over the silent form of Kira, and


gathering her into his arms leaned back against the bulkhead separating the


children from the cockpit. Through the bulkhead, he could vaguely hear the voice


of Bashir, and Keiko O'Brien, speaking to the children. Keiko O'Brien, who's


husband had just died on Deep Space Nine.


Kira was pushing him away, he allowed her to break free. They stepped over


to the control panel, and she stabbed at the view-screen controls. She waved his


hand away as he reached to stop her. The view-screen was filled with static,


their sensors barely able to penetrate the jamming from this range, but they


could see well enough. Almost the entire planet was one glowing orange ball, and


still the alien ships were firing into it. Cisko counted a dozen of the gigantic


warships, and even as he watched, three more came in through the immense


structure near the wormhole.


These were slightly smaller, but no less massive. The sensors spiked


alarmingly as another vessel appeared, then blanked out as the static


overwhelmed the sensors. Cisko reached for the controls to replay the last bit,


but stopped halfway. It wasn't necessary, he knew what he had seen. The last


ship to enter the system before the sensors were overwhelmed had been truly


gigantic. He hadn't time to get an exact measurement on it, but knew that it


would dwarf even Starbase 74, the largest artificial structure known to the


Federation, and still come out with change. It had to have been at least 15


kilometers long, possibly as much as seventeen kilometers.


He glanced at Kira, and saw the confirmation in her eyes. She had seen it




"I could find no trace of any of our fighters. Not even one survived." Her


mouth remained open as if to say more. She didn't have to. Cisko knew exactly


what was in her mind. She slumped into one of the flight-seats, and buried her


face in her hands. "I should have been there." She finally managed.


Cisko stood helplessly behind her. Part of him shared her pain, Worf 359


flooding back into his thoughts. Another part of him exulted. He had survived


again, and Jake had survived. A slight wave of guilt washed over him, that he


had survived, while many others had not, forcing him to re-evaluate his actions.


There was nothing he could have done, he knew, survival was their only option.


He stepped over to the hatchway, and unsealed it. In the room beyond, a dozen


wide-eyed children sat, with Keiko and Bashir chatting to them. Jake came


charging across the room, and threw his arms around his father.


In the background, Cisko spotted Nog, Jake's classmate. His father had


been aboard DS9 too. Cisko held out his arm, but the Ferengi boy turned away. He


looked to see how Keiko was doing, but she turned her back to him, but not


before he saw the accusation in her eyes. Or had he imagined it. He closed his


eyes and held on to Jake. Around him, he imagined the accusatory looks of the


children, and Keiko, and Kira, and Bashir, cutting into him like knives. Like


Dagger shaped warships, pouring green hatred into him. He shut out the vision


and pulled Jake even closer.






"The Borg!" Picard blurted.


"The Borg? Jean-Luc, are you alright. What are you talking about?"


Picard came to his senses. He glanced around the bridge. Everyone was


looking at him. He remembered his dreams of the night before. He glanced at


Riker, decided to overlook the familiarity of the use of his first-name on the




"The Borg. I heard them in my dreams last night. Somehow, they have


detected this new presence in the galaxy, and they are coming. I don't know how


they detected it, but the Borg are coming."

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A fanfic by Michael January






"Shields standing by."


"Weapons standing by."


"Com-Scan standing by."


"ECM standing by."


"Acknowledged. Active scanning, four seconds, the moment we mesh in. Keep


a comet watch out for cloaked ships. They may have modified some of their ships


by now."


"Aye, sir. Active scanning, four seconds."


The stars rotated and coalesced, with one star significantly brighter than


the rest. Sol, barely a light-day away. The ships of the Imperial fleet spread


out, assuming a defensive formation waiting for the Admiral's pleasure. The


active scan would have broadcast their position for at least a hundred light-


years, but was necessitated by the pervasiveness of cloaking technologies in


this galaxy. There was no such thing as a perfect cloaking field, even the


cloaks used by the Federation and it's allies. There was always one way or


another to detect such ships.


Drive emissions, the odd long-lived pion from an antimatter reaction, an


occasional release of gamma rays from a poorly shielded reactor, various


leakages through the windows of the cloaking shield that was necessitated if you


wanted to see where you were going, or if you wished to allow your weapons to


break through the shield. Even in-direct methods such as observing the stellar


background for lost photons, or sudden transitory gaps in the spectra of


background radiation, the odd flicker in sub-space caused by immersing a ship


partially or totally in sub-space. Some shields naturally radiating energies in


obscure frequencies, which could be detected if you knew what you were looking


for, like the solitrium waves of a phased shield.


Many shields could not totally negate the effect of mass, gravity and


velocity, either radiating gravitons, or interacting with them, or refracting


them. And there was little the Empire did not know about gravitons, the sub-


space detection of gravitons, or the hyperspace detection of a graviton's


tachyonic counterpart.


Then of course, their was the disadvantages of cloaking devices, such as


being a drain on the ships power supply, the necessity of having to drop or


reduce shields, the inability to do an active scan for fear of giving your


position away, and the secondary effects, like not being able to get a positive


target lock without an active scan. And the more effective the cloak, the more


drastic the disadvantages. All-in-all, cloaking devices were not all they were


built up to be.


"Bingo, two cloaked ships, seventy two uncloaked ships."


"Detection confidence of cloaked ships?"


"Position accurate to seven hundred kilometers, velocity accurate to


within thirty percent. As we get closer, we will be able to track them more


closely. If they hit an interdiction field, we can track them by the graviton




"Excellent. Watch them carefully."


"Sir, Admiral Harrsk is in communication with the Federation."


"Repeat the channel."


On the holo-desk two figures appeared. There was the hologram of the


admiral, and a 2-d vid of some bald guy.


"Federation officer. I am Admiral Harrsk of the Galactic Empire. This is


your last opportunity to declare allegiance to the Empire. Resistance is futile.


You will be made a part of the Empire, one way or another."


The officer's eyes widened at this, as if he had read more meaning into


Harrsk's words than met the eye.


"I am Captain Jean-Luc Picard ..." the man started.


"A captain?" The Admiral interrupted, "I don't speak to captains. Put your


commanding officers on the line."


"I am the captain in charge of the defence of this system, and I have been


specifically authorised to negotiate with you. My commanding officers will abide


by any agreement we come to."


"Negotiation and agreements are not an option, you will surrender, or be


destroyed. Captain!"


"There is something you need to know," the ageing bald guy insisted, "the


Borg are on their way here."


"The what? And why should that concern me?"


"The Borg are the most powerful and most relentless foe we have come


across in this galaxy. Somehow, they have discovered your presence in this


galaxy, and they are coming. They consume everything in their path, assimilating


it into their cyborg overmind. They will destroy us all if given the chance.


They are a race of ..."


"Enough! I have no time for your childish fears. Surrender now, and you


will be under the protection of the Galactic Empire. Refuse, and I will destroy


you where you stand. Your answer!"


"We will not surrender! Not to you, not to the Borg, nor anyone else. The


line is drawn, here!" Picard finished, his eyes blazing with determination.


The Admiral cut the channel without another word.


"Proceed with the invasion." He said to his captains.


The Imperial formation split into two forces. The Vengeance battle-


cruiser, one of the four Allegiance cruisers, a dominator and half the victories


formed one group, under Admiral Harrsk. The three remaining allegiance cruisers,


another dominator, the Imperators and the remaining Victories formed another


group under Xris. The two task forces sychronised their jump co-ordinates and


jump-timing, then vanished into hyperspace.






Picard slammed his fist into the armrest of his chair.


"You tried your best, sir." Riker said.


Picard just glared at him. "All ships, we fight for our survival. Remember




"The enemy forces are splitting into two groups."


"Be prepared for anything, they can jump in anywhere."


Having heard the reports of how easily the Imperials had overcome earlier


minefields, and not wishing anything to impair their ship's maneuvrability,


Picard was placing full reliance on the Starfleet ships. He had organised them


into several flights of six or more ships, which would attack as a unit to


maximise firepower.


"Contacts, in orbit, over the moon."


The Imperial ships had flashed into existence, spread out in a net


encompassing the moon. As one they opened fire, large green and blue and tiny


red bolts smashing into every trace of human existence on the moon.


"Flights A and B, strafing runs, their escort ships. Flights C and D, the




The Federation ships swept forward, breaking into four groups, while


Picard held back the rest of his forces over Earth, under cover of the orbital


weapons platforms. The platforms were heavily shielded, and spread out in a net


as they were, their shields were interlocked to cover most of the planet below.


On the planet itself, large populated areas were all covered by theatre shields


of the type used to defend asteroid bases. Starfleet had been manufacturing and


installing these shields ever since the raid by Dominion forces some years back,


which had resulted in tremendous loss of life. The Founders returning the favour


of a similar raid on their home world some years before no doubt.


The first two flights swept past the moon, firing quantums at the smaller


ships, concentrating their fire on one ship at a time as they swept past at


close to half the speed of light. The point-defences of the Imperial ships were


phenomenal, they couldn't have had more than a third of a second to track the


incoming torpedoes, yet still managed to shoot down more than half. The


torpedoes that made it through impacted with devastating effect, the blast


temporarily adding to the static obscuring the view-screen, blinding the view-


screen filters, before adjustments could be made.




"Their shields held, one ship dropped down to sixty percent, but it's


shields are recharging at a phenomenal rate!"


The second wave was sweeping towards the battle-ship taking advantage of


the momentary concentration of fire after the quickly departing first wave. The


battleship, which had not opened fire yet, saw them coming. Picard turned cold


as the battleship seemed to erupt in a blaze of green energy. The blaze started


near the point of the dagger, and swept backwards over the battleship as it's


guns fired in a sequence which rippled along the length of the gigantic vessel.


The weapons were not targeted on the incoming ships though, but at a point well


ahead of them. And the bolts streaking across space terminated in violent


detonations directly in the path of the attacking ships. They had no time to


avoid or dodge the myriad explosions before them, between them, and to all sides


of them.


Picard lost sight of the ships as they swept into the immense barrage of


flak-bursts. Something tightened in his chest, as if a hand had gripped his


heart. Static filled the speakers as the energies of the detonations plus the


incessant static-jamming momentarily overcame the audio channels. Then the ships


burst through the far side of the barrage. The audio feed resumed.


"Shields down! Shields down."


"Warp core failing."


"Where is the Frenchman?"


"Turin, come in, Turin, Turin!"


"Jettison the core, Jettison the core!"


"I can't, the computer's not responding."


The devastated formation had at least three gaps, ships which had not made


it through the barrage. The ships which had made it through were all damaged,


some had just lost shields and got a bit cooked, others were trailing plasma,


with jets of air being lost through hull breaches, at least one ship had totally


lost a warp nacelle. Even as Picard watched, it detonated in a blue-white


antimatter explosion.


"Get into cover now," He ordered the damaged ships, "fall back behind the


orbital screen."


"Sir, I am detecting a sub-space disturbance. It appears to be originating


from that ship." Data indicated one of the smaller ships, which had several


bulbous protrusions spoiling it's lines.


"It's an artificial gravity well, somehow confined to a conical region.


And it is sweeping towards the damaged ships." The sensor operator warned.


On the view-screen, a grey cone appeared, representing the position of the


disturbance. It swept right onto the tattered formation attempting to turn back


towards Earth. The ships immediately seemed to stop dead in space for a second,


then engaged their impulse drives and pressed on. Suddenly, nine of the wedge


shaped warships were right there, on the edge of the cone, dead ahead of the


damaged ships, firing furiously at them. It was a wholesale slaughter. Caught


unawares for the second time, many of them with no or very little shields, they


stood no chance. Every single one of the ships, eight in total, were ruthlessly


destroyed. And then the Imperial ships were gone.


"Twenty two contacts, Sector nine, range 24 light-hours."


They were probably preparing for their next attack. Picard glanced at the


moon. Large areas of the moon was obscured by huge glowing dust-clouds. In the


moon's low gravity, they would take days to settle. Every vestige of human


presence had been wiped from the face of the moon in somewhat less than ten


seconds, and he had lost twelve ships in the same time.


"We don't stand a chance against such firepower!" Riker exclaimed. "That


ship must be a thousand times larger than the Enterprise."


"Two thousand seven hundred and forty four point six times larger, to be


precise, by volume." Data interjected.


"Hell, even those small ones must be at least 3 times larger than this


ship, they make a D'deridex look small by comparison!"


Data started to say something, "Don't!" Riker warned him.


"Enough. Mr Data, any weaknesses?"


"If it was just one ship, we could attempt to outmanoeuvre it, and attack


from a weaker quadrant. However, given the enemy's fleet formations, that may


not be possible."


"Their shields? Propulsion mechanism? This confounded static?" Picard




"They employ multiple independent shields, angled to protect different


surfaces of the ship. The shields are interlocking, and are layered, with


separate layers focussed against different types of energy, radiation or energy,


and magnetic or deflector shields. Their propulsion system is similar to ours,


but employs a continuous fusion driven and field enhanced particle ejection


system instead of an impulsed fusion system. The static is caused by broadband


jamming on sub-space and electro-magnetic frequencies."


"Why doesn't it interfere with their own targeting?"


"They obviously know which frequencies they are jamming, and their own


sensors select an alternate frequency, and filters out the jamming."


"Can we detect this frequency, and tune our sensors to the same




"Yes, given time, but they will probably just switch frequencies. Their


targeting systems and jamming systems are obviously very well synchronised. It


appears that they are used to operating in environments where jamming is


intensely used."


"And their drive-mechanism is impervious to jamming, obviously, where-as a


strong enough sub-space disturbance can drastically affect the performance of a


warp core." Riker added.


"I wouldn't say their drive mechanism is impervious to interference. When


they executed the ambush-attack on Flights C and D, they made deliberate use of


the artificial gravity cone."


"Explain." Picard ordered.


"I noticed that their ships came to a stop almost directly on the edge of


the cone. When I replayed the sensor data, I noticed that they had engaged their


stardrive on a vector that would intersect the gravity cone. They obviously


expected to be stopped when they hit the cone."


"And you didn't see the need to relay this bit of information, Data."


Picard snapped. "is there anything else you noticed but haven't mentioned?"


"No, sir. I am sorry sir, I just did the analysis, I just haven't had time


to relay everything yet."


"That's ok, Mr Data. I didn't mean to snap at you."


"I understand sir."


"Mr Riker, relay this information to the fleet. Maybe we can use it in


some way, or at least predict the attack vectors of the enemy."


"Sir," Data suggested, "It may be that we can reconfigure the deflector


dish to project a graviton field similar to that used by the Imperials. It might


not be as dense or as powerful, but it may serve."


"A graviton field will also reduce the efficiency of our warp cores."


Riker speculated.


"Yes," Picard said, "but we may be able to prevent them from jumping


directly into Earth orbit, or ambushing any of the defensive ships. That will at


least give us some breathing space. Make it so."


Data rushed off to do whatever he deemed necessary. The information was


also relayed to the fleet and the orbital defences. Picard didn't know if they


would be able to set up the field soon enough, the enemy wasn't going to wait


for ever before launching the next raid. He was right.


The next target of the Imperials was the impressive Earth-Dock. Well, it


was impressive compared to the Federation ships, but only a third of the size of


the immense dagger shaped vessel which suddenly flashed in to point-blank range


of it. The battle-cruiser fired a broadside that would have obliterated the


Enterprise several times over, directly into the flank of the massive bulbous


structure. The structure had a power core to match though, and although it's


shields flickered wildly, they settled down, and the massive station returned


fire. It was armed with multiple banks of Type XII phasers, and several torpedo


launchers, most of which could be brought to bear on the enemy battle-cruiser.


The battle-cruiser was obscured by multiple nuclear detonations, the range too


close for it's point-defences to knock down the torpedoes.


The battle-cruiser fired another broadside, many of the bolts detonating


short of the station, forming a protective screen of flak, in an attempt to


block the station's torpedoes, while even it's point defences were firing at the


station. The Earth Dock, although massively powerful, was no match for the


battle-cruiser which dwarfed it, and it was clear which of the two gigantic


duellists' shields would fail first. The battle-cruiser, immediately on firing


it's second broadside, flipped over by 180 degrees, bringing it's opposite guns


to bear, and presenting a fresh shield. It immediately fired a third broadside,


and as the Federation fleet rushed forward to the defence of the huge station,


the battle-cruiser powered away, firing nearly every weapon that could bear on a


target, be it a nearby starship, the dock itself, or the Earth below.


Several orbital weapons platforms were also powering around on their


thrusters, starting to fire on the immense battle-cruiser, as they intensified


the shields on the planetary hemisphere facing the battle-cruiser. Then it


flickered out of the system.


"Contacts," the sensor operator called, "far side of the planet."


"Get those platforms back in position." Picard ordered. "All ships are to


stay on station unless ordered otherwise."


"One orbital station was destroyed, and two starships damaged, in a raid


on the far side of the planet," the communications officer informed Picard.


"Damaged ships are to stay below the defensive grid. Mr Data," Picard


tapped his comm-link, "how far is that modification to the deflector dish."


"Thirty seconds, captain."


"Damage report on the Earth Dock? Any shots get through to the surface?"


"No sir, no damage to the planet below. Orbital platforms are re-aligning


their orbits to close the gap left by the destruction of platform 71. The Earth


Dock reports no damage, but their shield generator is severely damaged, and


several circuits have blown. They may not survive another such attack."


"The enemy ship?"


"By rolling, it spread the energy load across it's independent shields.


Their shields never dropped below forty percent. They could have survived for


several more broadsides if they wanted to."


"Any thoughts on why they pulled out so early?"


"All reports from outlying systems indicate that the enemy's forces are


concentrated around the Bajoran system," Data supplied. "They have a defensive


net around their portal to this Galaxy. All planetary raids and invasions seem


to have been conducted by the same ships attacking this system. It appears that


their fleet resources may be limited, and they are reluctant to risk damage to


their ships, especially the large ones. The battle-cruiser is the only one we


are aware of. It is not the same ship that Commander Sisko observed coming


through the portal though. That ship was significantly larger than the battle-




"They have ships bigger than that thing?" Riker asked.


"Yes, Sir." Data answered, "Commander Sisko's shuttle recorded a ship


estimated to be 17.1 kilometers long entering the Bajoran system, accompanied by


at least eighteen of the smaller escort vessels. Our last intelligence report


indicated this ship was still in the Bajoran system, along with a total of


thirty smaller ships ranging in size from 900m to 2200m each, and three ships of


similar size to the battle-cruiser attacking us, but rather more massively




"For some reason," Riker said drily, "I am suddeny glad we are not part of


that attack force. When are they scheduled to arrive there?"


"Six days." Data answered.


The conversation was abruptly interrupted by another proximity warning.


"Contacts, vicinity of Earth Dock."


The battle-cruiser had returned, with fully recharged shields, to launch a


second attack against the Earth Dock. Four of the orbital weapons platforms had


been moved into the Dock's vicinity as fire-support, but the battle-cruiser


jumped to a point on the far side of the Earth Dock, so that the platforms had


to shoot uncomfortably close to the Dock to hit the slender dagger-shaped alien


ship. Again, the alien ship was virtually obscured by it's own batteries when


they opened fire.


"Flights A and B," Picard ordered, "attack on vector three, Flights E and


F attack on vector seven. Flight G, stand by, attack on my mark."


The Enterprise itself was the lead-ship of flight G. There had been twelve


flights of six ships each, but two flights (C and D) had been totally destroyed


in the first engagement, leaving seven flights of six ships to defend Earth. In


reserve, defending the Martian shipyards, were three flights of ships, with his


trump-card, two cloaked Defiant-class ships.


The first two flights curved around towards the giant battle-cruiser, also


using the bulk of the Dock as cover on their approach path. They burst clear of


the Dock, and opened fire with phasers, launching volley after volley of


quantums as they went. The space between the Dock and the cruiser was a


nightmarish hell of energies and exploding nuclear weapons, cris-crossing bolts


of green and blue and red, and long orange and red streaks of phaser fire. It


seemed unbelievable that anything could survive the energies unleashed, but the


twelve ships swept clear unscathed. None of the fire had been directed at them.


A second double-flight of twelve ships swept in from a covering angle, and


repeated the attacking maneuvre.


"Enemy shields down to 30%."


"Flight G, now!" Picard ordered.


The Enterprise leapt out of it's defensive position in Earth orbit, tailed


by five other ships.


"The enemy is banking away."


"Stay on course," Picard ordered.


The battle-cruiser rolled over, presenting it's dorsal surface to the


Earth Dock, and for a heartbeat, as Picard's ships approached, it lay silent.


The Earth Dock's shields were virtually non-existent.


"Weapons free, bank left," Picard ordered.


Flights E and F had cleared the ship, their weapons impacting uselessly on


the nearly fresh dorsal shields. Still, the battle-cruiser's guns were silent.


Time seemed to stand still for Picard, the deck thrummed as a volley of quantums


were released. On the view-screen, several orange lines of phaser fire rippled


across the shields of the immense ship, hardly seeming to have an effect.


"Enemy dorsal shields, 62%." Riker was saying.


The entire dorsal surface of the battle-cruiser suddenly erupted. Picard


knew there at least four dozen very heavy weapons, and about six dozen heavy


weapons, then several hundred light and medium weapons emplacements on the 10


kilometer length of the enemy ship. It seemed like every single weapon


regardless of size or power level had opened fire, all of them directed at the


Earth Dock. A full wave of quantums from Picard's flight, probably twenty or


thirty in all, were engulfed by the eruption of energy, none of them reaching


their target.


"Enemy dorsal shields, holding at 60%," Riker was saying.


The Enterprise rocked to one side, throwing everybody to the floor.


Several bridge panels erupted as circuits overloaded. For a second Picard


thought they must have been hit by something, but catching sight of the view-


screen, he saw it wasn't them. The Earth Dock had ceased to exist. Well, not


quite, it had been turned into one mass of glowing and fast-expanding scrap




"Power surge from the battle-cruiser."


"Keep firing," Picard ordered.


The battle-cruiser flickered forward, as if accelerating out of the


system, then came to a dead stop.


"The graviton field," Data's voice came over the comm-link, "appears to be




"Their shield status Mr Riker?"


"Starboard shields 48% and climbing. Dorsal shields down to 58%."


"Flights A and B, attack the starboard shields, Flights E and F the dorsal


shields. Flight G fall back. Mr Data, what is the effective range of the


graviton field."


"I estimate effective range to be two light-seconds, sir."


"Flight G, maintain range of one point nine light-seconds from the enemy.


We will keep him here as long as we can."


The Enterprise and it's supporting ships fell back, allowing the battle-


cruiser to pull away for now. It was accelerating hard for open space, and


attempting to put distance between itself and the Enterprise. The four flights


of ships Picard had assigned swept towards the battle-cruiser on low warp,


easily overtaking the behemoth. They launched several quantums, then broke away


at low warp, evading the return fire.


The battle-cruiser's point defenses attempting to set up a wall of flak


between itself and the attacking ships, which helped, but against twenty four


fast moving ships attacking at low warp, there were too many angles to cover.


The point-defences were incredible, but the torpedoes were coming in too fast.


"Starboard shields down to 28%, dorsal shields 32%"


"Come on." Riker shouted, urging the ships on.






Xris had been watching the attack with indifference. The strategy was to


avoid damage, by concentrating on short concentrated jump-intercepts, knocking


out the earth defences one at a time. The enemy had two cloaked ships, and


eighteen others defending the Martian shipyards. That could wait for later. The


Imperials had firstly taken out all lunar defences, so that they could attack


Earth with impunity. The next obstacle to attacking Earth, was a medium sized


space-station, which was probably heavily armed, and a web of more than seventy


orbital platforms, forming a make-shift planetary shield. Lurking under this


web, were at least fifty-four starships of various sizes.


Twelve of them had been destroyed in their first attack run, when they


underestimated the capabilities of the Vengeance during the attack on the moon.


The remaining forty-two would no doubt be more circumspect.


The Vengeance had launched a solitary raid on the small space station,


which had lured out several flights of the enemy gunships and corvettes (they


appeared to have few ships larger than corvettes). The Imperators had used this


distraction to launch a concerted attack on three of the orbital weapons


platforms on the far side of the planet, destroying one and possibly damaging a


second. The make-shift planetary shield had proved capable of withstanding a few


testing shots fired at it.


Harrsk had been understandably protective of his battle-cruiser, the


Empire had few enough of such ships, and had pulled out early in his attack on


the small space station. Subsequent scans had revealed that it's shields had


been severely damaged, and as soon as the Vengeance's shields were adequately


charged, Harrsk had jumped in again to destroy the space-station. At first the


attack had proceeded as expected, and the Vengeance had prepared to jump out to


the stand-off position.


"Sir, the Vengeance is trapped in an interdiction field!" Somebody




On the holo-display, Xris could see it for himself, a light grey cone,


very short, and barely powerful enough to serve, but effectively trapping the


Vengeance. The battle-cruiser was accelerating away from the planet on ion-


drive, but the ship generating the field was keeping pace with it. For a half-


second, Xris considered letting the Admiral sweat.


"All ships," the Admiral's voice came through, with just a hint of


urgency, "I am caught in an interdiction field, jump to support positions."


On the tactical-display, Xris saw the enemy had committed more than half


it's forces to an attack on the battle-cruiser, and the Vengeance's shields were


approaching critical levels. A glimmer of an idea came to him, but the Admiral


wouldn't like it. Well tough, if it worked, the Admiral wouldn't be able to


touch him without looking a fool.


"Sir," Xris said, "Draw them out a bit further, if you can. I have an




"Xris. This had better be good. We can't afford damage to this ship."


"Just a few more seconds sir, I am aware of your shield conditions."


The Admiral glared at him, but was forced to turn away to give orders to


his bridge crew. The battle-cruiser was corkscrewing like a fighter, attempting


to keep it's wasp like attackers away from it's weakened shields. The violent


maneuvring was barely slowing down the rate of accretion of the shields. Just a


little bit more, Xris thought, at the same time marvelling at the ability of the


inertial shields and molecular enhancement fields to withstand the immense


torque that the battle-cruiser must be experiencing. Now, he thought.


"Imperators, I want you to punch a hole in the planetary defences at grid


reference green five nine. Execute. Victories, prepare to bombard the planet the


moment that hole appears. Restrainor to high orbit and set up an interdiction


field to cover them from strafing raids, execute. Stomper, Smasher cover the


Restrainor, and provide high orbital cover for the Victories and Imperators,




"Dominator, join them, and set up a cone to slow down the ships which have


left Earth orbit, I don't want them back too soon. Ripper and Render, we'll go


after that ship generating the interdiction field. Execute."






"Just a few more seconds." Picard was saying. The battle-cruisers shields


were somehow still holding, three or four more volleys of torpedoes and it's


hull would be naked, exposed to phaser fire.


"Orbital platforms 52, 53, and 54 under attack."


"Flights H and I to support positions." Picard ordered, all his Earth


forces were committed now.


"Two platforms destroyed, the planetary shield is compromised, repeat,


planetary ..."


"Flight F, break off attack on battle-cruiser, return to Earth defense."


The view-screen momentarily burst into static, then partially cleared,


half the picture still snowed out.


"We're under attack, experiencing heavy jamming."


"Maintain graviton field."


A bright flash again obscured the view-screen.


"Sir, Canterbury has been destroyed, I suggest evasive action."


"Order remaining ships of this flight to cover us, we're almost through


their shields."


"Platform 54 destroyed, the enemy is bombarding Central Asia. Platforms 48


through 62 are moving in to attempt to close the gap. The enemy has seventeen


ships over Central Asia. Flights H and I request support, they are taking




"Flight E, return to Earth. Flights A and B, continue with attack on the


battle-cruiser, what is status of Group G."


"Canterbury is destroyed, Marseilles has taken severe damage, and is


retreating, the enemy is trying to break through to us, but are being held back


by the rest of the flight. Without going to warp, we will not be able to hold


them off."


The Enterprise rocked as several green bolts struck the shield square on,


but the Arkansas placed itself directly between the attacker and the Enterprise,


giving them a few more precious seconds. A blue-white detonation on the other


side marked the death of the Florida. Again the Enterprise rocked, as one of the


attackers got a few shots through. Only the Arkansas and the Sussex remained to


defend the Enterprise, the Marseilles having retreated already.


"Flight A reports damage to the starboard flank of the cruiser, their


dorsal shields are also about to fail."


Something seemed to kick Picard's seat out from under him, and he was


flung across the bridge. Only Data had had the strength to keep himself in


position against the hammer blow that had rocked the Enterprise.


"Engage warp, take us out of here." Picard ordered. He didn't have to ask


what had happened to the Arkansas. The Enterprise steadied itself, and rocketed


clear before the next broadside streaked through the space it had occupied. On


the view-screen, the static momentarily cleared as they put distance between


themselves and their attackers, only the Florida remaining in the flight. The


battle-cruiser had vanished. The moment the Enterprise engaged warp, the


graviton field had been cut off by it's warp field, and the battle-cruiser had


jumped out of the system.


"Flights A through I, Earth defense." Picard ordered. "Earth status?"


He was answered by a new picture on the view-screen. Central Asia was


completely obscured by multiple overlapping mushroom clouds. Suspended above the


clouds were the six carrier-escort ships, exchanging fire with nine orbital


platforms attempting to close the gap in the defensive net. The eleven smaller


escorts were screening them from strafing runs by the thirty-six remaining


starships of the fifty four he had started with. The starships were battling in


their strafing attempt because of four huge overlapping cones of graviton fields


slowing down their warp runs. The graviton fields were emanating from two ships


in high orbit, where two of the heavy escorts were covering them. They


themselves were also covered by a large field, preventing direct strafing runs


on them.


"The ships which attacked us?"


"Two of the heavy escorts, they have since retreated to the position of


the battle-cruiser, outside the system."


"How far?"


"Twenty seconds at high warp."


"They won't allow us to get close to them again. No matter. Mr Data,


transmit the details of your adjustments to the deflector dish to the fleet, and


to starfleet headquarters. At least we can play the same game with them."






"Captain Xris. Your reluctance to support my vessel has cost us


extensively. If we lose this battle, I will see that you are personally held


liable for the damage to this vessel."


"Sir, my actions were tactically correct. Your distraction of the enemy


has allowed us to breach the enemy's defences."


"Pray that whatever victory we achieve here is worth the effort it will


take to repair this ship. We have few enough shipyards as it is, without one of


them having to sacrifice the time required to repair this damage."


Nearly all the starboard and dorsal shield generators on the battle-


cruiser were damaged or destroyed. The crew, assisted by the astromech droids,


had already started shifting generators from other areas of the ship, but it was


a time-consuming process. Even when done, this ship's shield recharge rate would


have been compromised. The starboard hull had also taken some damage, and


firepower on this side of the ship had been reduced to 82% of optimum. The


damage to the dorsal hull was minor, but the shields would not stand up to


another battle until the generators had been replaced.


Xris spotted movement on the tactical board, movement he had been watching




"Sir, if I may, it looks like the enemy is bringing their cloaked ships


into the battle."


The Admiral glared at him for a long second.


"I will remain here, and oversee the repairs. It appears you have a battle


to run, Captain."


The Admiral cut the channel. Xris knew he had been given a chance to prove


himself, or hang himself, depending on the outcome of this battle. He opened a


channel to the attacking fleet.


"Two cloaked ships are approaching your position. I don't want you to give


any sign that you have spotted them. Smasher and Stomper, reserve some of your


gunners to track them on passive, no attempt is to be made to achieve target


lock. Allow them to approach as close as possible before opening fire.


"Victories 4, 8 and 10. Imperator 3. Your shields are reading as


critically low, withdraw to the Vengeance, and recharge shields. Dominators,


Remaining Imperators, tighten formation. Remaining Victories, adopt screening


formation beta-nine, with position nine clear. Ripper, jump to position nine,


and assist with the screening. Imperators, co-ordinate fire on one platform at a


time, concentrate on knocking them out, not holding them off."


The two cloaked ships would hit the interdiction field in seconds now.


About thirty Federation ships were conducting strafing runs on the Imperial


attack force, with about half a dozen sitting below the make-shift planetary


shield. They were probably conducting hasty repairs or recharging their shields.


The ship which had set up the interdiction field was there too. Judging by the


pattern of scrambled comm-signals, which Intelligence was trying to decode, this


ship was also co-ordinating the defense. Xris slapped a tag on it's icon in the


holo-display. He would watch for an opportunity to take it out.


He wondered why it hadn't attempted another interdiction field yet. No




"Stomper, Smasher, weapon release on the two cloaked ships in two seconds,


the moment they enter the interdiction field. Navigation, jump-intercept,


closure position on the cloaked ships, thirty degrees out of alignment.




The Render flickered in to position behind and slightly to one side of the


cloaked ships just as they slowed down and entered the interdiction field. The


moment they entered the field, he got a positive track on their position. The


Stomper, Smasher and the Render opened fire simultaneously, bracketing the area


with turbolaser and ion cannon fire. They were rewarded with an explosion, but


no debris, then two gunboat sized ships broke clear, discarding their cloaking


shields, and powering away at close to light-speed, using their warp drives. One


of them read as damaged, the other had somehow evaded the mass of fire, and was




The Render accelerated into the safety of the interdiction field, as


another four ships swept around and launched several torpedoes at it. A few of


the torpedoes struck the port shields, coming in too fast to be shot down, but


many of them went wide, unable to target accurately with all the sub-space


distortions and jamming. Xris ordered his ship to accelerate right down to the


position of the Imperators. Three more platforms had been destroyed, but another


Imperator was close to losing it's shields. On the tactical display, more than a


dozen platforms were coming around the planet, and would soon be in line of


sight to the ships in low orbit. They were already exchanging fire with the


Stomper and Smasher, which were holding position about a 100,000 kilometers


above the battle.


At that range, there was little either ship could do to avoid being hit,


and in fact, they had deliberately placed themselves close to the two


Interdictors, shielding them from the majority of the fire. The attack could not


last much longer, their shields were also showing signs of strain.


"All ships, prepare to fall back." Xris ordered. Admiral Harrsk would be


out for his blood if any more ships got damaged.


"The enemy has got another interdiction field going."


Xris swore, they would be slaughtered here if they couldn't get out.


"Trace the source of the field."


"There are two enemy interdictors, that command ship, and another ship


this time."


"Victories 4, 8 and 10. Imperator 3. Your shields should be significantly


improved. Scan for a gap in the planetary shield on the far side of the planet,


with all the orbital platforms coming this way, there is bound to be a gap."


"Shields still recharging, weakest shield position is in sector blue,


forty eight. There is only one platform there, and it's pretty isolated."


"Take it on my mark, Charlie November. We will draw the enemy away first.


Victories, retreat to screening position on the Dominators, Stomper and Smasher


move to outflanker positions. Imperators, cover our retreat. I will support you.


All ships withdraw along vector zero by thirteen by fifty four."


The Imperial ships quickly formed the new formation, powering out of the


system. They were no match for the Federation ships in speed though. Able to


warp around the formation, then attack from any angle, the federation ships had


the advantage. Again, the two ships providing the Interdiction field held back,


staying out of effective weapons range. Xris' only hope was that the Federation


ships would not be prepared to follow them indefinitely.


"Imperator 2, swap positions with Victory 1, your shields are getting


worn. All ships, monitor your shield strengths, swap fleet positions with other


ships so as to present your strongest shield to the outside of the formation."


A few more ships either rolled over or moved to the opposite side of the


formation. The ships with the weakest shields moved to the centre, so that they


could recharge their shields. Xris estimated that they might be able to hold out


for several minutes, but unless the federation ships disengaged their


interdiction fields, his ships were trapped. He kept up the retreat for another


thirty seconds, and was rewarded with the sight of several Federation ships


retreating to Earth orbit. They had now accelerated to close to 0.3 light-speed,


and Earth was more than two light-minutes away, and dropping away fast.


Only about twenty enemy ships remained, the rest having withdrawn back to


Earth in case of any underhand tactics. Their shields would probably last out


the retreat now, but the Earth forces were getting their defences re-organised,


and he couldn't wait much longer.


"Execute Charlie November."


The three Victories and Imperator which had been recharging their shields


outside the system jumped in, concentrating fire on the isolated platform they


had spotted earlier. It detonated, opening a gap in the shield. The ships


immediately poured fire into the gap. The effect on the Federation ships was


electrifying, just like earlier. Most of them streaked off to attack the new


threat, including one of the enemy interdictors.


Admiral Harrsk decided to take a hand at this stage as well, for what


reason Xris couldn't guess. He jumped into attack position on the interdictor


which had trapped Xris' group, using it's own graviton field against it and blew


it to smithereens.


"Fleet, re-assemble, backup position four!" Harrsk ordered, before Xris


could respond.


The entire fleet jumped.


"Damage?" Harrsk ordered.


Almost all the ships had at least one blown shield generator. One or two


had taken minor hull damage, or over-stressed a few turbolaser turrets. The


worst damaged ship though was the battle-cruiser itself.


"Withdraw to the Gate, we will have to effect repairs. We cannot risk the


fleet being trapped by the enemy interdiction fields."


The Admiral cut the channel. Xris could have sworn the last glare had been


directed specifically at himself.








"Final damage report?" Picard asked.


"Twenty one ships lost, including the USS Hood, and three Akira's. Earth


Dock of course was destroyed. Large parts of Central Asia came under intense


bombardment, the damage is severe, but the casualties are relatively low. The


city-shields held in most cases. The same goes for the brief attack on South


America. The ecological implications are bound to be severe."


At least the shipyards had survived, Picard thought. Thank God for the


deployment of shields over all major cities. The orbital shield had also proved


it's worth, and no doubt the first order of business of Starfleet would be to


intensify production of the orbital platforms. If the number of platforms could


be increased to a hundred or more, then it might serve to hold off an attack by


the Imperials, especially seeing they were reluctant to sacrifice ships to smash


the platforms.


The Federation had won their first victory, albeit at great cost.


"Mr Riker, you have the bridge."


Picard returned to his room. He had no intention of sleeping though. How


could he? The voices in his dreams were now intruding into even his waking


thoughts. The Borg were coming, alright.

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A fanfic by Michael January






Most of the invasion fleet were clustered below the immense bulk of the


Aggressor, one of the few Executor-class command ships in the service of the


Empire. They were surrounded by droids of all types and sizes conducting repairs


on them. One of the main roles of the immense command ships was precisely this,


field repairs. It was a virtually fully functioning shipyard, as well as a major


star-carrier, communications, command and control ship. The unfortunate


Vengeance though was too large for even the Aggressor's extensive facilities,


and had had to return through the Gate. It would be weeks before it was


available again.


Piett and Jerjerrod had ruled that Xris' actions were tactically


justifiable, and he had retained his command, despite the debacle at Earth.


Harrsk's actions too had not been unduly criticised. Piett's major motivation


though was to retain the experience of Xris against the unexpected Federation


tactics. The Imperials could not afford major ship losses, and now that the


Federation were able to use interdiction fields against them, the complexion of


the battle had changed. No longer could they jump in and out in short focussed




In two days time, a Federation fleet of more than a hundred ships would be


hitting the Bajoran world, and retreat or tactical withdrawals was not an


option. The Imperials did enjoy a hefty firepower advantage though, in the form


of nearly fifty capital ships, although they were almost exclusively variants of


the destroyer class. The only major capital ships were the Aggressor (Executor-


class command ship), and the Grinder (a Giel-class battleship). The Grinder was


about half the length of the Aggressor, though more massively built. Being a


purpose-built fleet-combat ship as opposed to a multi-role command ship, she


also compared favourably with the Aggressor in sheer firepower. A total of seven


Dominator-class interdictors patrolled the system, their gravity cones providing


protection against any ships which might attempt to sneak into the system.


These two immense battleships were supported by eight Allegiance-class


ships, eighteen Imperator-class, and twenty two Victory-class ships. The


Grinder, with half the support ships, were clustered defensively around the


wormhole. The Aggressor, with the remaining escort ships, were clustered around


the Gate. A probe was poised close to the Gate, ready to traverse the Gate and


call reinforcements from the far side, where the Imperials maintained a slightly


stronger force. A number of Imperators, Victories, and two more Allegiance-class


ships were ready to come through if needed. However, only one ship could


traverse the Gate at a time, with several seconds between each transition,


because of the immense energies required by the Gate's reactors.








The Enterprise was streaking through deep space at maximum warp, and had


been maintaining this speed for several hours now. Starfleet had decided that


Picard should add the firepower and interdiction capabilities of the Enterprise


to the fleet on it's way to recover Bajor. Only six other Sovereign class ships


were in service, and two of them were already in the fleet heading to Bajor. Of


the four remaining, the USS Hood had been destroyed during the raid on Earth,


and the Missouri and Atlantis had been recalled to Earth. The California was on


the far side of federation space, and had been told to remain there, as the only


major capital ship in that part of Federation space.


The graviton beam modifications to the deflector dish of the major


warships was rather controversial, but most captains were in favour of it. The


nature of the Imperial beam being duplicated was such that it interfered with


any form of tachyonic movement. The result was that the moment a ship exceeded


warp one, the power requirements for warp climbed astronomically, forcing a ship


to run the core at maximum power just to obtain warp 2. Below warp 1, there was


hardly any additional load on the warp core, but the sub-space jamming of the


Imperials did result in a significant load increase on the core. On Impulse


there was no problem, but Impulse drive did not offer any significant advantage


over the Imperial ships, whereas even low warp easily outperformed their ships.


The consensus was to remain at warp, but not to exceed warp 1, while in


the interdiction field. Short spurts exceeding warp 1 was ok, but at prohibitive


power costs, posing the risk of a ship running out of fuel in an extended


battle. An extended battle was not out of the question, with two huge fleets,


neither of which were prepared to sacrifice too much, and neither prepared to


back off. The upcoming battle was going to be one long haul of feints and










Jedi Jerec Antilles was meditating in his quarters aboard the Executor-class


command ship, Guardian. Besides being captain of one of the most powerful ships


in the Republic Fleet, he was also part of a team of Jedi visiting the Gate to


investigate the ramifications of the project. They had arrived to discover that


the small fleet attached to the Gate to defend against possible Imperial raids


had just fended off an attack by a race of clones. Attempts at negotiation with


the clones had not gone well, and a vicious battle had resulted. There had


barely been twelve ships defending the gate when the enemy fleet of thirty ships


arrived, and for a while, it had been touch and go. If there hadn't been a


second fleet on the home-side of the Gate the battle might have gone very




One by one, as ships arrived and came through the Gate, they had joined


the battle, steadily swinging the balance. However, the New Republic had lost


five MC-80 cruisers and eight Nebulon-B's. The arrival of two star-cruisers had


finally clinched the battle, but at the cost of heavy damage to them both.


Several squadrons of x-wings had also been lost. The enemy had also taken heavy


losses, and the wreckage of dozens of alien ships littered the space around the


wormhole. Their fighters had been exceptionally fast, though not very


maneuvrable, and several x-wings had been lost for each of the fighters




It had been a long day for Antilles, on a trip through the Gate, into the


other galaxy, he had felt something. Well, not just one thing, but several. This


galaxy, it was so full of fear, anguish, and a sense of wrongness. There was


much good in this galaxy too, he could feel it, but he just knew that something


in this galaxy needed their presence. He was not sure if it was his presence


specifically, or the presence of the New Republic.


Something was happening, and he did not understand it yet. He had conveyed


this feeling to the other Jedi on the investigation team. They had come through


the Gate to see for themselves, but the results had been inconclusive. They had


felt a difference, but none of them were sure if it warranted any action on


their part. Most of them put the feeling down to possible natural differences in


the life-forms of this galaxy, and not to any greater cause.


In the end, they had allowed him to make his recommendation that the Gate


remain open, and the project continue. Even then, his recommendation might not


mean much. Gate technology would have a major beneficial influence on trade and


travel across the Republic, but it had never been meant as a trans-galactic


transportation mechanism. With most of their own galaxy's resources available to


them, and tens of millions of systems still untouched, the settling and


exploring of a new galaxy was not a high priority. The anchoring of the Gate in


the vicinity of the remote wormhole had been unforeseen, and was not yet fully




Jerec's eyes snapped open. He got up and reached for his comm-link just as


it beeped softly.


"What is it?"


"Sir, the wormhole has suddenly become extremely active. The scientists


think that a ship may be coming through."


"I'm on my way. Order battle-stations." Antilles answered, and made his


way to the bridge.


The scientists had not had much opportunity to study the wormhole yet, and


lot's of research time had been lost because of the attack by the clones. The


view from the bridge was spectacular. A swirl of energies marked the position of


the wormhole. Several probes were also visible, recording the phenomenon from


all angles. Out of the swirl of energies, a ship suddenly appeared. It was


almost as long as a Corellian Corvette, but rather more squat, and with a not


too dissimilar drive signature to the clone ships.


"Shall we open fire sir?"


"No. Open a channel to them."


"They're attempting to scan us sir."


"Activate static damping." Jerec ordered automatically.


"Channel open. It's vid, not holographic."


"Respond in kind."


Jerec keyed the appropriate command into his chair's padd, and a two-d


representation of a vid panel appeared before him. On it was a curious humanoid


alien. In the background, he was surprised to see several humans sitting at


various control panels.


"I am Commander Worf, United Federation of Planets. Are you responsible


for the reduction in traffic volumes through the wormhole?"


"Captain Jerec Antilles. The New Galactic Republic. I fear that we may


indeed be part of the cause. We have just been attacked by a fleet of ships


manned by clones. Are you related to these clones in any way, perhaps


responsible for them?"


Commander Worf glanced at one of his crew, who said something to him which


was not loud enough to be transmitted or translated.


"Judging by the wreckage, the clones you refer to are Jem'Hadar. They are


the major military component of the Dominion. We are at war with the Dominion.


The clones are not of our making."


He speaks the truth, Jerec thought. There was no hint of evasion in the


sense or mannerisms of the alien.


"We have various research and scouting ships in this quadrant," Worf


continued. "None of them have returned, and several are now overdue."


He is fishing, thought Jerec, but has been honest so far.


"Commander Worf, to our knowledge, none of your ships have returned this


way. If they had, we would not have interfered with them, though we might be


curious as to their purpose and origin."


"Very well. I do not know what your reasons or purpose is in being here,


but be aware that you are based at the major focal point of the war between the


Federation and the Dominion. It appears that the Dominion have already taken


exception to your presence here. I have been sent to determine the whereabouts


of our scouting teams, and will now proceed on that mission."


The alien had not specifically asked whether the Republic forces intended


detaining him, but Antilles heard the question in his words.


"Your mission is no concern of ours. I hope you find your associates,


Commander Worf. May the Force be with you."


The alien looked quizzically at him for a second.


"I will not need assistance from your forces. Thank You." He finally said.


The vid-screen went blank. On the holo-display, Antilles watched the alien


gunship bank away and head past his defensive fleet. As it passed the fleet, it


suddenly vanished, leaving a long ribbon of motion, which disappeared almost




"Tracking sub-space disturbance, consistent with last observed position of


that ship."


"Log the disturbance as consistent with alien stardrive technology. Feed


the data to com-scan. Commence medium and long-range scanning for similar drive




"Sir, Professor Qwix Xu wishes to send a probe into the wormhole. He says


the alien ship must have come from somewhere, perhaps the probe can determine


where the wormhole leads."


"Permission granted."


The wormhole exploded into a swirl of energies as the probe approached,


then vanished into the colourful nexus of energy. Antilles started making


arrangements for another conference with his Jedi contemporaries and his fleet


superiors. Most of them wished to terminate the project, and destroy the Gate.


Nobody wished for another war, and having two Galaxies to explore and control


might be too taxing a burden on resources. Knowing that the only entrance to the


remote galaxy was in the middle of a war-zone was only going to make his job


harder. He still felt that they should stay, but this new development would


undoubtedly swing more votes against him.


"The probe has returned. It is transmitting data."


"Inform Professor Qwix Xu."


"Sir, you had better take a look at this."


"Computer," Antilles ordered his padd, "display probe data."


The holo-display cleared, and a new image formed. Antilles rocked forward


with shock. He was seeing what the probe had seen. The recording was barely two


seconds long.


"Replay that recording. RMD-5, analyse probe data."


The recording played again, and again.


"Sir," the deliberately electronically modulated of the military droid


intoned, "the probe spotted a Gate at the far side of the wormhole. It fled


before being destroyed by an Imperator covering the entrance to the wormhole. In


the background, there were at least four more Imperators, and one of them was


firing on a planet nearby."


"Send another probe through for confirmation, tell it to be careful, and


to come straight back."


He knew that a security breach had been discovered in the early stages of


the Gate project, but nobody had suspected that the Imperials knew enough to


build a Gate of their own.


"Wake up the whole command team. Now. Immediate conference in the


ambassadorial room. New fleet disposition, priority one is defence of the


wormhole. The Imperials might launch an attack through the wormhole."


Antilles quickly ordered two huge star cruisers to cover the wormhole,


with several smaller standard cruisers as support ships.


"Prepare a probe for a return through the Gate. Request additional ships


to be sent through now. I recommend at least another two star cruisers, with


full complement of support ships. I also recommend that the Lusankya be assigned


to the defence of the home side of the Gate. The Guardian is to remain in


reserve on this side. Request intelligence update on last known positions of all


major Imperial warships, everything from cruiser upwards."


"Yes, Sir. The probe is being launched now."


Antilles left his first officer in charge of the bridge, and headed for


the ambassadorial conference room. Nobody had expected the Imperials to be able


to build their own Gate. The information leaked must have been more


comprehensive than earlier believed. The military droid sent into the wormhole


to see what was happening on the far side never returned. A third droid had not


been necessary. The Empire was obviously watching that side of the wormhole, and


was prepared to destroy anything that came through.


What had been a scientific study, had now turned into a race with the


Empire. Antilles was not sure what the race was about. Knowledge? Resources? The


lives of the billions of people in this galaxy? Mere protection of the


Republic's sovereignty by staying one step ahead of the Empire? A desire to


discover their purpose for being brought into this galaxy? Maybe they would


never know. Many in the Republic believed that their were enough threats to life


and well-being in their own galaxy, without going looking for more in another.


Not to mention the spectre of a new war with the Empire.




"Commander Worf's ship has been detected returning to this position."


"Very well."


Antilles knew that Worf might not be too happy about the new situation.


They could not allow him to return through the wormhole. The Imperials would


destroy anything that came through the wormhole, and ask questions of the


wreckage. He hoped that the alien wouldn't take it too badly.


"Inform captain Sunb of the Star Cruiser Mediator to prepare to shift his


command to the Guardian. I will wait for the arrival of Commander Worf, then


assume command of the Mediator. Captain Sunb will be placed in charge of the


defence of the wormhole at that point."




The Federation ship approached cautiously. They had obviously detected the


greater Republic fleet presence, and the alignment of forces around the




"Captain Antilles. What is the meaning of this. Have you established a


blockade on the wormhole after all?"


"Commander Worf. I am afraid that the situation has changed considerably


since our last meeting. Would you care to dock with the star cruiser Mediator?


It is the ship at these co-ordinates. I am in the process of shifting my command


there, and would like to meet you in person."


"I will not dock the Defiant. I would prefer to beam directly aboard. If


you'd care to lower your shields?"


Antilles hid his surprise. These people were prepared to have themselves


transported around like soulless matter? He sighed mentally. First clones, now


this. Well, people in this galaxy would have their own culture, and so far it


bore little resemblance to his own.


"I will order the Mediator to lower it's shields. You may beam aboard. I


will join you shortly."


Antilles closed the communication. His last order before leaving the


bridge of the Super Star Destroyer was to be aware of possible enemy boardings


via matter transportation beams, and that shields were to be kept raised at all


times to guard against such an eventuality. The moving of his command to the


Mediator had been decided in the earlier board meeting. The consensus was to


expand Republic influence throughout this galaxy as far as possible, to prevent


the Imperials from obtaining a major footing. The Guardian and two star-cruiser


fleets would remain to defend the wormhole. Another full star-cruiser fleet


would remain to defend the Gate, and Antilles would take command of a fourth


star-cruiser fleet, headed by the bulwark cruiser Mediator.


Bulwark-class cruisers like Mediator was the Republic's answer to the


Empire's Executor-class and other battleships and heavy cruisers. Conventional


star cruisers were four or five kilometers long, and while they easily outgunned


an Imperator or two, were not quite up to taking on some of the larger ships in


the Imperial fleet. The Mediator was supported by two star-cruisers, and a mixed


squadron of Imperators and their Mon-Calamari counterparts. All the ships


carried squadrons of starfighters, mostly the very common x-wing, and a handful


of squadrons of b-wings and a-wings.


His first order of business was to negotiate a truce with the clone-


masters at the heart of the Dominion. He didn't like the idea, but the Republic


had no wish for a war that might be averted.


As soon as his shuttle docked with the Star Cruiser, he made his way to


the conference room where Commander Worf was waiting. Worf and three humans in


colourful uniforms were waiting in the room, cautiously watching the four Wookie


soldiers standing guard. Antilles waved the wookies out.


"Commander Worf, I am sorry to have kept you waiting. Please be seated."


Worf and his three companions sat in the seats Antilles indicated. He


introduced his human companions.


"This is ensign Ro, my communications officer. Ensign Lynch, tactical


officer, and ensign Boyd, my science officer."


Antilles nodded to each.


"Are you preventing us from returning home?" Worf asked, directly.


"I am afraid so. It is for your own safety."


"Our safety?" Worf questioned.


"On sending a probe through the wormhole, we ascertained the following."


Antilles waved to a military droid at the back of the room, and it ran the


recording of the attack by the Imperials.


"That looks like your ships. They are attacking our base." Worf said,


standing up.


The alien's mistake was understandable, thought Antilles. His fleet did


consist largely of captured Imperial ships, including several Imperators and


Victories, and of course, the Executor-class Guardian.


"Not our ships," Antilles replied calmly. "The ships you see, though


similar to ours, belong to the Galactic Empire. They are from the same galaxy as


us, but otherwise have no relation to us."


"Replay the recording." Worf demanded, his face unreadable, but his sense


betraying suspicion, dread and anger.


Antilles nodded to the droid. Worf moved over to the holo-board, and


examined the recording carefully, as the droid replayed it several times.


"DS9?" One of the ensigns asked. "That is the Bajoran system, but I don't


see DS9."


Antilles saw a mental image of a ring-shaped space-station. For a second


he was confused by what the ensign meant, because in the ensign's mind the


station was associated with immensity, and had an almost indestructible aura


associated with it. But the shape was clear, and unmistakable, even though to


Antilles the space-station was rather small, about the size of an Imperator, and


nowhere near the size of the immense Bulwark Cruiser they were aboard.


"The wreckage in the corner here is consistent with a small ring-shaped


space-station. Would that be the DS9 you refer to?" He asked.


"Small?" Worf said. He glanced around him, as if remembering the size of


the cruiser they were aboard, and Antilles could sense him re-assessing the size


of DS9 as he mentally compared it to the fifteen kilometer long cruiser they


were aboard.


"We must return," Worf said, "our help will be needed."


"The Empire will destroy you," Antilles said. "By now, they will have


assembled a force at least comparable to this one. Returning will be a useless




"Even so, our duty lies through that wormhole. We must return."


Antilles could sense that the alien would not be deterred easily. He knew


the implications of returning, but his mind was made up.


"Could you not return by another route. Provisional examination of the


star systems observed by our probe shows that the far end of the wormhole is in


this galaxy, only between 65 and 75 thousand light-years away."


Worf looked curiously at him.


"That is a journey of years. We might all die of old-age before we ever


got home."


"Then perhaps I can help. Our ships can traverse that distance relatively


quickly. Unfortunately, we don't have a map of hyperspace lanes between here and


there, otherwise we could detail a ship to take you. Perhaps if you'd let us


examine your star-maps, we can plot a route."


Worf looked at Antilles for a long moment.


"Ensign Boyd, see that Captain Antilles is supplied with a map detailing


what we know about the space between here and the Bajoran system, or the nearest


Federation system."


"Sir, I will make the data available to Captain Antilles' men, but to my


knowledge, no Federation ship has traversed the distance without making use of


the wormhole. As such, we know very little about the space in-between."


"Whatever you know might be useful. I will detail a team of reconnaissance


probes to map a lane based on that."


"How long will that take?"


"No more than thirty days. Once a lane has been mapped, I can detail a


cruiser to take you there. You may have to wait for two or three months, but we


can get you home safely."


"A lot can happen in two or three months."


"The Empire will be in the same position as we are. They cannot expand too


fast because they have to map out safe hyperspace lanes to wherever they wish to


go, and they may have no idea where all your worlds are located. Judging from


past experience, they will want to set up an impenetrable safety net first. I


expect that they will take several weeks to map out a large sphere of space,


perhaps a thousand light years in diameter, and locate all the worlds in that


space. At that point, they may start invading worlds and expanding their




"A thousand light years will encompass hundreds of worlds, including


Romulan, Klingon and Cardassian worlds, as well as Federation worlds." Worf told




"In that case," Antilles said, "their rate of expansion might be very


slow. Even the Empire can only invade so many worlds at a time. Their fleet is


stretched at least far as ours are."


"You are at war with them?" Worf asked.


"Not today," Antilles sighed, "A cease-fire has been in effect for several


years now, and neither side is ready to break it yet, not even over another


galaxy. A war between us would be too costly at this stage."


"What is the nature of this Empire?"


"I will supply you with a data padd with a brief rundown on our recent


history." Antilles smiled. "You are welcome to be our guests until the


droidships complete their reconnaissance."


"What is your purpose in this galaxy?"


"Our presence here is an accident. The Gate was meant to be a trans-


galactic transport mechanism in our galaxy. The fact that it locked onto the


wormhole here was unforeseen. Short of destroying the Gate, we have yet to


discover a means of freeing it. It appears that the Empire's Gate has the same


problem, though they will most likely use this opportunity to expand their


influence into this galaxy. Our mission now is to ensure that their influence


over this galaxy doesn't become total."


"In other words, you wish to grab as much of it as you can before they


do." Worf stated flatly.


"Yes, I suppose you could interpret it that way too," Antilles smiled.


The Klingon, for such Antilles had discovered him to be, appeared to


consider this for a while. Antilles was surprised to sense that the Klingon


momentarily considered that they were as great a threat as the Empire was.


"I can assure you," he said, "that we are not anything like the Empire. As


far as possible we would want to co-operate with any civilisations here. If


anyone in this galaxy wishes to join the Republic, we would welcome them, but


that is not our purpose here."


"And the Dominion?" Worf asked, looking quizzically at Antilles. He


appeared unsure of whether Antilles had merely been speaking in response to his


question, or whether Antilles had read his thoughts.


"Cloning is abhorrent to us. Even so, it was not us who initiated


hostilities. We will attempt to negotiate once more with the clones, but after


that, we will put a stop to the clone-masters."


"You have such confidence that you can?" Worf asked.


"Yes." Antilles stated flatly. "If necessary, we can commit hundreds of


ships to this conflict, without seriously stretching our resources. From what we


have seen so far, the Dominion will not be easy to overcome, but we have


defeated clone-masters before. The Force will be with us."


"The Force?" Worf asked.


"All in good time, Commander. Now, this cruiser is about to lead a mission


to a world our recon probes have discovered. We will attempt negotiation one


more time. Do you wish to remain here, or do you wish to see this task force in




Antilles deliberately dangled the carrot before the Klingon. He had little


doubt that the Federation officer would like to see the performance capabilities


of their ships first hand.


"We will accompany you." Worf answered, with only a slight hesitation.


"However, we will not support you in your actions. Once I have established


contact with my superiors, then they will decide what your status is. For now,


we will remain neutral."


"Very well. You will need to dock your ship. I don't think you can follow


us through hyperspace. You are welcome to remain aboard your ship if you want,


alternately, your crew can be shown to quarters aboard the Mediator. We have


lots of space."


Antilles was interrupted by a beep from his comm-link. He excused himself,


and gave the Wookie guards appropriate instructions. His personal droid was on


the link, informing him that Professor Qwix wanted to speak to him. Antilles


made his way to his quarters, and activated the captain's holo-board. The


insectoid professor was waiting impatiently.


"Jedi Antilles," The academic used his civilian address, "I am about to


return home. I have seen what I need to with my own eyes, the rest my associates


can record and transmit to me. There is just one or two things I wish to bring


to your attention, which you may not have had an opportunity to do yourself.


"I have just reviewed the probe data, and noticed that one of my probes,


while recording data from the wormhole, also happened to record an extensive


part of the earlier battle. It detected Moiré patterns in the shields of the


clone ships."


"I am no engineer, professor," Antilles smiled, "what are Moiré patterns?


How would this be significant to me?"


"Moiré patterns are interference patterns which result when two wave forms


intersect with each other. This implies that the alien shields are modulated to


optimise their defensive capabilities. It was a common practice millenia ago


when starships had relatively small reactor-cores. Modulation improves the


efficiency of shields when limited power is available, but also has the


disadvantage that weapons which are modulated in phase with the shield settings


will penetrate without significant degradation."


"Very interesting. Thank you professor. I am not sure how we can use this


yet. Thank you for the information."


"Oh you can use it alright," the professor answered. "Firstly, you can


detect the modulation frequency. Set two or three communication lasers to


different frequencies, and run them over the shields. Lasers of course are


pretty easy to deflect with any form of energy or distortion field, and


virtually useless against modulated shields, but computer analysis of the Moiré


patterns will reveal the modulation frequency of the shields. Once this is


known, you can reset the frequency of the lasers in the laser cannons to the


same frequency, and this will vastly improve the capabilities of the laser


cannons against these shields. Turbolaser blasts of course do not have a


frequency, but the power levels are sufficient that they do not require one."


"Thank you, Professor. I will pass this information on to my com-scan




Antilles didn't know how useful this would be, laser-cannons were


relatively short-ranged particle weapons, with a significant laser component.


They were primarily a point-defence system, for use against poorly shielded


starfighters or unshielded missiles. Even if they could be set to penetrate the


shields of an enemy ship, it would only work at close ranges. However, the


laser-cannons on starfighters might be a different matter, he would set


engineering to work on it immediately as well.






Worf joined Antilles on the bridge. He observed carefully as they prepared to


decelerate. For several minutes now they had been in 'hyperspace', which


appeared to be slang for tachyonic movement. Apparently, the speed they were


travelling at was equivalent to more than a million times the speed of light,


and they were about to arrive at the nearest Dominion held world. The journey


would have taken more than a full day at maximum warp.


"Nothing with immediate significance. The planet has extensive industrial


and mining centres, but no major civilian centres. A few possible spaceports or


landing zones, with some weaponry, but nothing significant."


"Life forms?"


"Plenty, but none of them unique, there are several variations of the same


basic cloning template. This planet is populated only with clones."


Antilles shivered, this is what their home galaxy might have looked like


had the clone-masters got their way in the legendary clone-wars.


"Hail the planet on all frequencies. Let's see if anybody answers."


"They are not answering us directly, but have sent a sub-space signal off.


We have tracked the trajectory of the signal. It is travelling slower than a


class 1 hyperdrive. A gunship or patrol boat can intercept the signal, or follow


it to it's destination."


"Don't bother. Broadcast the message that their surrender is demanded. We


will destroy all their planetary defences in one minute, whether they answer or


not. Tell General Derlin to prepare his troops. We will set up our own ground


defences, with appropriate theatre shields. The clone population is to be


accorded the same rights as a full citizen for now."


"Commander Worf," Antilles asked, "do you have anything to add?"


"The Jem'Hadar will attack any base you set up on the ground, and fight


you to the last man. It will cause needless loss of life."


"How do you suggest we control this planet then?" Antilles asked.


"It will not be possible to hold the planet and maintain the Jem'Hadar


population. They will die for their masters quite willingly. They are engineered


so that they can't breed, and they are totally reliant on drugs supplied by


their masters. Without the drugs, they will die anyway."


"The clone-masters of course will not care about this, as long as they can


manufacture new clones."




"And the clone manufacturing centres? Where are they?"


"We do not know. We have identified one system which we believe to be the


home-world of the Founders, but we doubt that the cloning facilities are on the


same world. We know only that the Jem'Hadar are clones, they are controlled


through the administration of this drug which meets a deliberate deficiency in


their biological make-up. The Founders do not exercise direct control over the


Jem'Hadar either, but use another race of clones, known as Vorta, to do their




"Somewhere in Dominion space," Worf continued, "they must have extensive


ship-building facilities. The Dominion have an impressive industrial capability,


totally reliant on cloned or slave labour, and economics or population


considerations is not a factor in their industrial capability."


"You suggest that we go after their ship-building facilities? Find their


industrial core?"


"Yes," Worf answered. "Unfortunately, Dominion space extends for tens of


thousands of light years, and our scouts have not penetrated all of it, so we


don't know where their industrial centres are."


"Have you not attempted to synthesise this drug the Jem'Hadar require?"


"All attempts at synthesis have failed. The synthetic drug has to be


force-fed to the clones, and despite our best efforts to replicate the drug down


to the last atom, it has never worked. The current theory is that the clones


have to take the drug willingly, or somehow voluntarily or consciously activate


the drug after ingestion. The clone-masters knew what they were doing when they


engineered the clones."




The Republic forces discovered several Dominion worlds as they expanded


through the Quadrant, and the rate of discovery was climbing steeply, indicating


that they were approaching the main areas of influence of the cloned races. All


the worlds discovered to date had been populated entirely by the warrior clones,


and variations of the same template used as workers and various forms of slave




Whatever race or civilisation was behind the cloning had managed to keep


themselves well hidden, and their worlds had not been discovered yet. The world


identified by Worf had turned out to be a decoy. Sometime in the past it had


suffered orbital bombardment, so the decoy had fooled at least one invader.


Antilles had ordered it slagged anyway, just to be sure.


The Republic had attempted to negotiate with the clones, despite their


abhorrence of the practice, but all attempts had failed. Their masters obviously


had no qualms about sending them to their deaths in droves. Antilles had


deployed scouts to patrol the discovered worlds, in the hope of intercepting a


Vorta ship or even a Jem'Hadar ship. However, it appeared that the discovered


worlds had been abandoned by the clone-masters, and left to their own devices.


Clones were dying in droves all over the discovered planets. Antilles


intention had not been to murder the cones, but it seemed that the moment the


Republic discovered or compromised a planet, the clones were deserted by their


masters, and were dying of intense withdrawal symptoms. Even though Republic


medical teams had offered help to the clones, they had refused, preferring to


die for their masters than live. Eventually, a synthetic substance had been


manufactured which delayed the clone's dying, but the clones refused to take it


unless force-fed.






A courier ship jumped in to the fleet position, and synchronised it's


computer database with Antilles fleet, updating their maps, and delivering new




"Sir, we have a message from Captain Sunb."




"It appears that the scouts have detected an enemy fleet approaching the


Gate. Long range scans by a scout-ship gave an estimated count of 800 ships,


including at least a hundred ships longer than 1 kilometer, but none exceeding


1.5 kilometers. Captain Sunb requests you return to the Gate with all speed, and


assist in defence of the Gate."


"Very well. Plot a course. Mr Worf, it appears that we will have the


action you have been waiting for."






The defence force for the Gate consisted of the Executor-class Guardian,


the Bulwark-class Mediator, five Star Cruisers, and four squadrons of


destroyers. The destroyers were actually a mixed bag of Imperators, Mon Calamari


cruisers, and Nebulon B Frigates. They totalled fifty-five ships, against which


800 Dominion ships would be pitched.


Antilles ordered the five Star Cruisers to cover the wormhole, supported


by one squadron of destroyers. The Guardian and the Mediator moved to protective


positions either side of the Gate, positioned nose to tail, and inverted with


respect to each other, so that each covered the other's weak quarters. Arrayed


around them as a screen against strafing runs were the three squadrons of


destroyers. Protecting the area for several light-seconds in all directions were


a team of interdiction frigates. The interdiction field would serve to slow down


the strafing runs to less than light-speed, and also prevent high-speed torpedo


attacks. It had been observed that the interdiction fields quickly drained the


warp sustainer fields of torpedoes, giving the gunners more time to knock them




Even so, enemy ships doing significantly high relative velocities would be


difficult to knock down, and torpedoes launched at high impulse would be very


hard to hit unless launched from long ranges. Antilles had two trump cards,


which he hoped to play to the full. Several squadrons of snub-fighters with


hyperdrive capability, and an ability to calculate the shield modulation


frequency of the enemy ships.






Worf couldn't help suppressing the odd bit of excitement. He had ordered


his crew to the Defiant, and arranged with Antilles that the Defiant be allowed


to leave the docking area of the huge ship. He had claimed safety reasons, in


case the huge warship was destroyed. Worf himself had elected to remain on the


bridge of the immense warship. On the Defiant, every sensor could be focussed on


tracking the battle as it unfolded. Worf's instincts screamed for him to play a


role, the Federation was at war with the Dominion, after all. On the other hand,


the war hadn't stopped them from co-operating against mutual threats. He


couldn't help but feel that the Republic, despite all appearances to the


contrary, was as big a threat to the security of the Federation as their


Imperial counterparts.


In the last two weeks, he had discovered much, but also very little. While


he knew much about the organisation of their fleet, and protocols and procedures


on board Republic ships, he still knew very little about their technology. Now


at least was an opportunity to see them in action. He stepped out of the


turbolift, and walked down the main corridor leading to the hangar. Other


turbolifts led directly to the hangars, but those were reserved for pilots and


maintenance crews. A bunch of wookies walked by, towering over him. An insect-


like alien grimaced at him, a verpine he believed. Nearby a bunch of reptilean


pilots were in conversation with each other. Mon Calamari.


These people certainly had a high degree of integration with other


species, and no appearance of animosity or reservation. He came to the balcony


overlooking hangar number five. The cavernous area stretched away from him.


Lines of star-fighters were drowning in a sea of droids. Swimming through the


ocean of droids were several humanoid shapes, and some barely humanoid. Here and


there, a huge rock stuck out of the ocean of droids and aliens, corvettes,


gunships, shuttles. In the middle of this mess was an immense black hole in the


floor. Next to it, perched as if ready to fall in to the blackness, was the




Worf stepped onto a nearby drop-lift, and was lowered to the deck of the


hanger. Number five, he thought. There were six hangars like this one, and the


first two were called the primary hangars, and were several times larger than


the other four. The decks above were maintenance bays, engineering bays, service


bays, even manufacturing centres. Worf waded through the sea of droids,


attempting to emulate the manner of the maintenance crews around him, who moved


through the droids as if they weren't there, ignoring them as they magically


moved out of the way of the pesky organics interfering with their work.


Below the Defiant, he met with ensign Boyd.


"Lieutenant Boyd."


"Ensign sir."


"Not any more. You will take the Defiant, and engage the cloaking shield.


I want you to observe the battle from a distance, and record everything you see.


Everything. But you are not to take a hand in the battle."


"Yes, sir."


"These people look very well armed, but there are more than 800 Dominion


ships heading this way, including at least a hundred battle-cruisers. I will


remain on board the Mediator. I will call you if I need to be beamed off the




"Yes, sir."


"Carry on, Lieutenant."


Worf backed off, and watched as the Defiant lifted off. She didn't even


attract a casual glance as she dropped off through the atmospheric containment


shields. Worf felt strangely alone onboard this ship. Shrugging off the familiar


feeling, he marched off through the droids. He made his way to the main


turbolift area, away from the activity of the hangars. Getting into one of the


pods, he ordered it to the officer's quarters. He had no intention of returning


to his own quarters, but was hoping to find Antilles.


A droid at the entrance to Antilles quarters informed him that Antilles


was in the meditation chamber, across the hallway. Worf reached for the door


control, but the door snapped open as he approached. Worf entered the room,


expecting to find Antilles. It took him a second to spot the young captain.


Antilles was several feet above his line of sight, suspended in mid air, in a


lotus position.


"Commander Worf. I have been expecting you."


"Indeed." Worf answered. Perhaps Antilles had the gravity turned down in


the centre of the room. Careful to keep away from the area where gravity was


likely to be turned down, Worf advanced into the room.


"Do you have any training in hand weapons, Commander?"




"Would you do me the honour?" Antilles waved to a wall on the far side,


where an impressive array of weapons were arrayed. Worf walked around the room,


and surveyed the weapons. Eventually he selected one that resembled a bat'leth.


He hefted it.


"Good balance." He stated.


Antilles was dropping down to the floor. The gravity must have been turned


on again. Antilles selected an axe-like weapon.


"Activate the weapon." Antilles ordered him.


"Activate it?"


Antilles reached out, and touched a control half-hidden in the central


grip, and positioned so that it could not be activated accidentally. Worf felt


the weapon hum slightly. The balance was still good, and he swung it


experimentally a few times.


"Test it." Antilles indicated one of the steel posts lining the room.


Worf swung it lightly towards the post, he did not want to damage the fine


blades on the ends of the central staff. The blade passed right through the


steel post with barely a glimmer of impact to the handle, surprising Worf. He


examined the post. It had been sliced through.


"Vibro-blades, with molecular bond enhancements, and sharpened to an


atomically fine edge."




Antilles swung his axe around his head and body a few times, using


extensive wrist movements, and controlling the axe with both hands. He reached


out with the axe in one hand and swung the axe-blade clean through another steel




"The same." He said, and swung the axe at Worf's head.


Worf instinctively blocked with the bat'leth, and twisted it in a uppercut


motion at Antilles' chin. Antilles leaned back, almost casually letting the


blades of the bat'leth-like weapon pass within inches of his face.


"Very good." Antilles smiled.


"Not bad yourself." Worf answered, and stepped in, swinging the bat'leth


around for another blow. Antilles brought the axe around, blocking the blow with


the handle of the vibro-axe. The room was momentarily filled with a low singing


vibration as the bat'leth blade and the axe-handle vied with each other.


Antilles jerked the axe backwards with surprising strength for a human, causing


Worf to roll forward with the motion. He came to a stop on his back, and


instinctively brought the bat'leth up in a defensive position, catching the axe


in mid-stroke as it swung towards his head. Pulling back with his left arm, he


shoved his right out, in a move that would have severed Antilles head from his


shoulders, had he not rolled away himself.


The two came to their feet, and exchanged several blows in quick


succession. Antilles was fast for a human, and strong. For a second Worf


wondered if he was human. He showed absolutely no signs of exhaustion despite


the furious pace of the battle. Worf himself maintained a steady rhythm of


breathing, unwilling to concede on any point to Antilles. Klingons were three


times as strong as normal humans, but Worf quickly realised that the difference


was much less for Antilles. Surely, no human could be that strong. Even so, Worf


was stronger still, and he used his strength against his lithe opponent.


Several minutes went by, with no let up in the contest. Worf fought harder


and harder, eventually getting to the point where he was not holding back any


longer, but fighting with his utmost skill to defeat his opponent. Seeing an


opening, he swung his weapon at Antilles legs. Antilles, instead of blocking,


jumped back, and with incredible speed, swung his axe around against the back of


the bat'leth, using the momentum and strength of Worf's blow to knock the weapon


out of his hand and across the room.


Worf, jumped back, prepared to fend off the killing blow from Antilles


with his hands. Antilles remained standing, quite calmly.


"It is almost time." He said, looking off to one side, as if listening to


something. Stretching out his hand to the side, he reached as if for something


nearby. Worf was surprised to see the bat'leth he had been using rise to


Antilles hand as if called.


Antilles held the weapon out to him. "You fight well, Klingon. Keep this


blade. It will serve you well."


Worf took the weapon.


"Thank you." He said, looking quizzically at Antilles.


The young man offered him no explanation.


"Come, we just have time to shower and change, then the enemy will be upon








The Defiant lay several light-seconds away, cloaked in the shadow of an


asteroid, with a perfect vantage point to overlook the battle. In the distance,


at medium magnification on the view-screen, the Republic fleet lay in space. The


mile long destroyers were mere specks against the bulk of the two immense


warships protecting the Gate. Nearby, a few blobs and more specks marked the


position of the fleet defending the wormhole. Just a few minutes earlier, nearly


two thousand star-fighters of various types had been spewed out from the fifty


odd capital ships. The fighters had formed up into several groups, and vanished


with a flash of superluminal motion.


"Where did they go?" Boyd asked, from the command position.


"They were pretty hard to track, being so small, and they appear to be


deliberately designed to have a low sensor profile."


"So you have no idea?"


"Sorry sir, we can only guess. Judging by their exit vectors, I'd say most


of them are hiding in nearby star systems. They are probably hugging planets or


moons in those systems to prevent detection by the Dominion."


"Watch for their return. Any trace of the Dominion fleet?"


"Yes, sir. They have split into four groups, and are approaching at high


warp from opposing angles."


"Sensors, running commentary on anything you deem important. Keep the main


battle on the view-screen, magnify as necessary."


"Yes, Sir."


Boyd watched the screen as the two fleets drew close together. He glanced


at the status of their cloaking shield. Their calculated sensor profile was less


than that of the asteroid they were using as cover. They were close enough to


the asteroid for a casual sensor operator to miss the odd blip of stray energy


escaping their shield, but far enough away that a sensor focus on the asteroid


wouldn't pick them up as well. With a major battle about to commence, everything


in the area was likely to be bombarded by immense energies from sensor devices


of all types.


"I am detecting an immense energy build-up from several frigates in the


Republic's defensive formation. It's going to hit the fan pretty soon, and


pretty hard."

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A fanfic by Michael January






[From Chapter Five]


Boyd watched the screen as the two fleets drew close together. He glanced


at the status of their cloaking shield. Their calculated sensor profile was less


than that of the asteroid they were using as cover. They were close enough to


the asteroid for a casual sensor operator to miss the odd blip of stray energy


escaping their shield, but far enough away that a sensor focus on the asteroid


wouldn't pick them up as well. With a major battle about to commence, everything


in the area was likely to be bombarded by immense energies from sensor devices


of all types.


"I am detecting an immense energy build-up from several frigates in the


Republic's defensive formation. It's going to hit the fan pretty soon, and


pretty hard."


[end Chapter Five]










Worf suppressed the battle-excitement building up. He was seated in an


observation chair overlooking the bridge, with a clear view of all the tactical


displays and holographic system displays. Unable to read their written language,


he was unable to make sense of many of the displays. However, the major


holographic displays were clear enough to understand, especially for a tactical


officer as experienced as he was.


In the centre of the bridge was a large holo-board, around which several


junior officers were stationed. Certain senior officers had their own smaller


tactical displays. The gunnery officer had a display showing vectors and


trajectories of likely targets, opposed with status displays and controls for


the innumerable weapons emplacements arrayed all over the hull of the fifteen


kilometer behemoth which they were aboard. The officer in charge of the fighter


squadrons had his own display as well, with links to squadron leaders. Antilles


had two displays, a strategic display for the whole fleet, as well as a tactical


display for the ship's defences.


Worf had heard Antilles being alternately addressed as 'Captain' and as


'Jedi'. He was not sure yet what rank 'Jedi' held, whether it was equivalent to


Captain or if it was an honourary title. Perhaps it was the translator that


couldn't properly translate the word.


"We have forty groups of twenty ships, all groups are converging on the


position of the Gate."


"Hold fighters back until shield cataloguing is complete. We might only


have one shot at this. Mediator and Guardian to hold fire. Point-defences are


weaapons-free. The destroyer screen can fire at will. All ships to use their


comm-lasers for shield cataloguing."


"Sir, all interdictors are at full power, with the power being routed into


a capacitor bank. They have to activate their gravity wells in ten seconds or


shut down the reactors."


"Tell them to hold on as long as they can. Sensors, give the interdictors


a direct feed on the enemy's incoming trajectory. I want them to activate their


fields only once the enemy is well inside optimum range. ECM, track all enemy


targeting sensors, and jam as many as possible. All ships to activate full


static damping."


Worf wondered what Antilles was on about. Interdiction fields? Shield


cataloguing? Comm-lasers? He was definitely preparing a surprise for the


Jem'Hadar, the nature of which escaped Worf at this point. The Dominion forces


had slowed to warp 6, still a nearly suicidal run at close quarters. They


couldn't hope to target accurately from such speeds, unless their intention was


to penetrate the outer defences and come to a stop in close proximity to the


Gate before opening fire.


"Interdictors, Now!"


On the holo-display, a huge grey sphere suddenly appeared, surrounding the


fleet out to a range of at least four light-seconds, with several cones


extending out to ranges of tens of light-seconds. A large portion of the


Dominion fleet were caught in the cones, with the rest of the attack groups just


short of the main sphere. The Jem'Hadar ships appeared to stop dead in their


tracks, as they hit the 'interdiction fields'. Worf guessed that they would have


to be graviton fields designed to interfere with tachyonic movement. The


energies used to create them must be immense, especially given the ranges over


which they operated.


On the holo-display several green lines indicated firing from various


ships in the destroyer screen. The interdiction field had effectively destroyed


the dominion's hopes of a successful early attack run on the Gate. Any ship


hoping to get to the Gate would have to take several seconds to negotiate the


Republic fleet's defensive screen if they hoped to get close. The Dominion ships


scrambled away, many of them at low warp (less than warp 1), others on impulse


drive only. Judging by their reactions, the Republic officers didn't seem to


realise what damage may have been done to the warp cores of those ships. Worf


knew that many of those ships must have come close to a warp-core breach.


Colliding with a deep gravity well at high warp was not a good idea. At


low warp it was no big deal, the warp field wouldn't be tachyonic, and the power


requirements were well within safety limits. At any reasonable warp factor the


power requirements would have sky-rocketed above maximum safety levels in short


order. It appeared though that the Dominion had come off lightly, there was no


obvious indication of damage from any ships Worf could see.


About fifteen medium sized ships headed directly into the interdiction


field, and accelerated to warp four, curving around towards the Gate. The


Republic fleet seemed unable to target them at this speed, and the few shots


that were fired weren't even close. The Jem'Hadar ships each launched two


torpedoes while still at warp, and banked away. The torpedoes barely left the


warp fields before coming to a virtual standstill as they hit the interdiction


field, and were easily shot down by the point-defences of the two giants


defending the Gate.


"One of the clone-ships has detonated for no reason." Somebody called.


Worf glanced out the transparisteel window nearby. In the distance a


bright star was fading fast. The remnants of an anti-matter explosion. The high-


speed warp run through the interdiction field had cost the Jem'Hadar one ship.


And another. Worf glanced away, momentarily surprised by the second detonation.


"They must be running their engines without safeties." Another answered.


The thirteen ships which survived headed for the safety of deep-space,


while another group of ships came in on an attack run. The Jem'Hadar were


obviously probing the limits of the defensive capabilities of the Republic.


These ships didn't exceed warp three, which meant at least thirty seconds in the


interdiction field. Several cones of gravitons were rotated onto their incoming


vector, intensifying the field strength they had to contend with. The Republic


forces didn't bother firing on the ships, they had no hope of hitting them.


The fifteen ships swept past the position of the Gate firing disruptors


wildly from warp speed through their own warp fields. Firing a sub-light weapon


at this speed in an environment saturated with sub-space static and


electromagnetic jamming was a useless gesture, even at a thirty kilometer


target. Most of the fire went wide, the few shots that came close to the ring-


like structure were easily caught and dissipated by the structure's shields.


A broadside from the Guardian swept through the vector where the Jem'Hadar


ships had been. The Jem'Hadar were long gone, but if they had stopped at any


point, would have been caught directly in the path of the 1000 weapon broadside.


"The next time they try that," Antilles was instructing his gunnery


officer, "do as the Guardian did. Split broadsides into four, and fire into


their four most likely calculated firing positions, reserve twenty percent of


weapons for calculated incoming or exit trajectories. We won't be able to catch


them on the way in or out, they are just too fast, but if they slow down or stop


anywhere near the Gate I want them dead."


Worf could see that was the Jem'Hadar's only remaining option. To slow


down or stop somewhere in a firing position. Their torpedoes were unable to


maintain a warp field in the interdiction field, so had to be fired from


impulse, and their disruptors too would be much more efficient fired from


impulse rather than warp.


Two more groups were coming in towards the Gate. At the last instant


though they swung aside, stopped, fired everything they had at a nearby


interdiction frigate, and immediately warped out again. The Dominion ships had


barely stopped for a second, hardly long enough to precisely acquire a target in


this high-jamming environment, and much of their shots were wild. However, at


least eight missiles and several disruptor bolts hit the frigate. For a second,


there was only bright light where the frigate was. When the explosions cleared,


Worf was amazed to see the frigate still there.


"Damage report on that ship?" Antilles asked.


"Port shields down to seven percent, recharge rate indicates at least


fifty percent of their generators are blown, internal damage unknown."


"Instruct the destroyers to cover the interdictors, without them we don't


stand a chance. Three destroyers per interdictor. Vornskr squadron to roam free


in the interdiction zone."


Several of the mile long destroyers, and their fish-shaped equivalents


moved to flanking positions on the eight frigates, three destroyers per frigate.


The third squadron split into two groups of six and started to rove the


screening zone in random patterns.


"The damaged frigate has shut down two gravity-well projectors."


"Have them withdraw through the Gate. They can conduct repairs at the


Lusankya. Request a replacement frigate from the Lusankya's task force."


"Yes, sir."


The Jem'Hadar were getting bolder, and no less than five groups of ships


totalling nearly one hundred starships were participating in the next attack


run. Even at low warp, they were nearly impossible to hit. Each group selected


an apparently random target, and concentrated fire on this target for no more


than a second, before escaping at warp. The tactic appeared to be quite


successful against the huge slow moving warships. None of the Dominion ships had


been destroyed so far in battle. Fired from near zero velocities, the Dominion


torpedoes appeared to be no major threat to the destroyers, which had superb


point defence batteries backed up by immense shielding.


The destroyers adopted the same tactic as the two gigantic battleships,


splitting their fire, each selecting a likely firing zone for the Dominion and


firing a broadside into the area. It was absolute guesswork, and the chances of


a solid hit were pretty low given the huge volumes of space to work with,


although they came close quite a few times.


Antilles rotated his forces, bringing the ships with the worst shield-


status to the centre of the formation, giving them a chance to re-charge. So


far, it appeared as if the Dominion were having the better of the battle, and a


sense of urgency was beginning to be felt on the bridge. Worf wondered though,


he knew that the Dominion were running their ships at uncomfortably high warp


factors through those interdiction fields.


"How is the shield cataloguing going?"


"About sixty percent complete. All their destroyer sized ships have been


catalogued, but only half the smaller ships and assault shuttles."


"Have the targeting computers finished the analysis of the enemy


performance curve yet?"


"Nearly done, the computer is getting better and better at predicting


their fire-zones, but the slicers think they can still gain an extra twenty




Worf was not sure what Antilles was up to, but a quick conversion told him


that the 'destroyers' were the Jem'Hadar battle-cruisers, and the 'assault


shuttles' were their fighters. He knew that slicers was a slang term for the


team of programmers and electronics warfare specialists.


Three groups of Jem'Hadar ships were powering through the interdiction


field on another run. One group split off in a familiar move to Worf and came to


a dead stop at an angle off a wedge-shaped destroyer and opened fire. Apparently


the move was familiar to the destroyer as well, or it had just guessed well, for


it fired an unbridled broadside at the Jem'Hadar ships just as they came to a


stop. The Jem'Hadar missiles vanished, destroyed as a wave of energy in the form


of nearly a hundred green bolts of varying size passed by them and tore right


through the Jem'Hadar battle-group. Four of the scout class ships, gunships the


aliens had called them, were destroyed outright. The three battle-cruisers in


the group, and the intermediately sized ships survived.


The group immediately warped away, two ships much slower than the others


Worf noticed, and there was visible damage on one of the battle-cruisers. A


ragged cheer swept around the bridge nearby. On one of the displays, the


positive intercept was being replayed, while a number of technicians crowded


eagerly around, babbling amongst themselves, the translator unable to keep up


with the rush of conversation in the group.


"shields .. performance curve .. confidence of prediction .. distortion


field projection." were some of the terms that Worf heard.


For a minute after that the battle returned to a stalemate, as the


Jem'Hadar attack runs worked away at the shields of the destroyers without


making major inroads. Antilles continued rotating his destroyers, allowing those


with weakest shields to retreat to safe positions between the two command ships


and recharge their shields before resuming there screening operations. Then


another attack group walked into a broadside. Again a handful of ships were lost


and some damaged. It was inevitable, Worf knew, with anything from five to seven


of the forty attack groups making a strafing run at any given moment, it was a


wonder that after several minutes only two groups had taken damage.


The Jem'Hadar had lost a total of nine ships so far, out of eight hundred.


The Republic forces were not much better off, with one damaged frigate having


had to return through the Gate, and three destroyers with low shields taking


shelter close in to the Guardian. The two huge warships hadn't come under direct


attack yet, though, and unless the Gate itself came under attack, they did not


participate in the defence. Worf wondered what they were up to. He had still not


seen any sign of the two thousand snub-fighters which had been despatched before


the battle started.


"We have ninety two percent of their shields catalogued," Worf heard a


comms officer calling to Antilles. "None of the ships have been detected to


change their shield modulation since the start of the battle."


"Okay, we will have one shot at this people," Antilles said. "Start


setting up the fighter trap. Their tactics won't allow us to use our point-


defence cannons against them, the ranges and the timing is against us, but the


fighters have a chance. Watch their assembly points and try to maximise the


number of ships we can hit."


Worf sat bolt-upright. He finally understood what Antilles had been up to.


The Republic forces had been using the time to run their com-lasers over any


ship that they could, and had somehow been analysing the shield modulations. The


point-defence cannons were largely laser based with a small particle component,


and while weapon speed and re-fire rates were very fast, they were pretty


useless against shielded capital ships. However, the same type of cannons were


mounted on starfighters, and against largely unshielded ships would serve a


purpose. All that activity in the hangars in the last few days must have been


modifications to the laser cannons on the fighters to allow the computers to re-


modulate the laser frequencies in the cannons. Apparently, the same modification


wouldn't work for the turbolasers, which only had a very small laser component.


Even so, the starfighters wouldn't be able to intercept ships at warp,


would they? Worf glanced at the system tactical display. On the fringes of the


system, well away from the battle, the Dominion forces were congregated in


several slow moving groups. Every few seconds, a few ships would break away from


the group and attack the Republic fleet, but the groups themselves were slow


easy to hit targets. They were apparently taking every opportunity to cool down


their warp cores, and were only using warp on the attack runs, but otherwise


cruising along at impulse between attack runs.


"All fighters report ready, sir."






On the Defiant, Lieutenant Boyd and his crew had been observing the battle


on passive sensors. One ensign had been designated to keep an eye out for the


fighters hiding in nearby star-systems. Boyd had almost forgotten about her, as


the tension of one attack run after another mounted. Twice the Republic gun-


crews had gotten lucky, and intercepted an attack group. Boyd wasn't so sure it


was all luck, the gun-crews had been getting better and better at predicting the


attack runs as the battle wore on. Boyd could see it in the statistics before




He also wasn't sure if anybody else had noticed, but the average attack


speed had dropped slightly from warp 3.2 to warp 2.4. The continuous strain of


battling the interdiction fields were either beginning to take their toll on the


Jem'Hadar warp cores, or their fuel supplies were running low. They had


travelled at least five hundred light years to get here, and probably had five


hundred light years to go to get home as well.


On the other hand, there were five of the mile-long escort ships


sheltering between the two immense battle-ships, and two of them showed signs of


hull damage. Even as he watched, they were joined by another escort ship which


had lost shields. One of the escorts suddenly dived into the Gate, and several


seconds later, a fresh new mile-long escort ship appeared through the Gate, then


another, and another. The damaged ships were now retreating through the Gate,


and being replaced by fresh ships. Boyd wondered how many ships were on the


other side of that Gate.


"Sir! Energy build-ups detected in nearby systems, the fighters are up to


something. They're gone."


"Hundreds of new contacts. Wait. No. Thousands. The Republic fighters are


attacking the Jem'Hadar ships at their assembly points."


"On-screen, optimum magnification."


On the view-screen, a Jem'Hadar battle-cruiser was surrounded by a full


squadron of snub-fighters. They were firing wildly and almost continuously at


anything identifiable on it's hull, warp nacelles, deflector dish, sensor pods,


disruptor banks, launch tubes. And they were scoring hits.


"What's happening here? When did that cruiser lose it's shields?"


"Sir, I am reading it's shields as up. The fighter weapons are penetrating


the shields with only a thirty percent loss in energy."


The surprised battle-cruiser was only now beginning to shoot back, and


it's first shots went wild, as the fighters scooted away in an evasive pattern


at high impulse. A second squadron swooped past from another vector, scoring


dozens of hits on the armoured surface of the cruiser, knocking out disuptor


cannons and sensor pods. In the background, other Jem'Hadar ships were also


being furiously attacked by the tiny snubfighters. Several ships streaked away


at warp, while others were only now beginning to realise that their shields had


been compromised, and it was useless to stay and fight under these conditions.


The battle-cruiser itself suddenly also streaked away at warp, ripping apart two


fighters caught in it's warp field.


The tiny Republic snubfighters, realising that the element of surprise had


run it's course, decided to head for home. Wave after wave turned their noses


towards the capital ships in the distance and engaged their stardrive, quite


happy to be brought to a stop on the edge of the interdiction field.


"The Dominion ships are re-modulating their shields."




"I count eleven destroyed battle-cruisers, two dozen damaged. The other


group of ships that came under attack were the Jem'Hadar fighters. About forty


of them were destroyed, and maybe a hundred damaged. That still leaves a force


of more than seven hundred ships, although quite a few are now damaged. On the


Republic side, fifteen fighters confirmed destroyed, another eight possible."






Around Worf, several people on the bridge were cheering. Not everyone


looked happy though. Antilles was in serious discussion with some of his


lieutenants, and there was a lot of head-shaking going on.


"Okay people, settle down." Antilles ordered. "We won that round, but we


didn't hurt them significantly. There are still lots of enemy ships out there.


This battle is far from over.


"CAG, have your fighters form up into squadrons, and have them patrol


outside the destroyer screen, but within the interdiction field. I want them to


keep moving, so the enemy can't make a run on them. They are to co-ordinate with


the destroyers, so they don't run into a broadside which wasn't meant for them.


Destroyers are to activate the friendly fire safety-controls on all guns to


prevent accidents."


"Is there any way the shield penetration tactic will work again?" A junior


officer asked.


"Probably not, they are not going to sit around waiting for another


attack, and they have already re-modulated their shields. They will probably


keep up the re-modulation or have the modulation frequency changed at random




"If that's the case," one of the CAG's flight controller's asked, "why


don't we land the fighters. They won't be able to intercept those ships with


their star-drives engaged?"


"CAG?" Antilles indicated for him to answer.


"We will continue to catalogue their shield modulations just in case.


Their attack runs are too fast for us to get the shield frequency and set up a


fighter attack, the laser cannons can't be modulated that fast even with the


extensive modifications we've put in place. But what we have done is identified


the range of frequencies across which the shields are most commonly modulated,


and the fighters laser-cannons are set up on reciprocal frequencies. If we're


lucky, we will get an occasional hit.


"We will also track the larger ships, and watch their shield modulations.


Any ship which doesn't change it's shield frequency is toast on it's next attack




"Lastly, any ship which loses it's shields or has to disengage it's warp


drive not only has to negotiate past the destroyers but also the fighters. The


idea is to just to limit their choice of options on attack or withdrawal."


"What is the repair status of the damaged destroyers and frigates?"


Antilles asked another officer.


"Reports are that the Lusankya's repair droids will have all their shield


generators replaced within the hour. Any other damage will have to wait. There


are four destroyers still available to come through the Gate. Any more and the


Lusankya force will be rather under-powered should the Imperials decide to hit


them. Shall I have them brought through the Gate?"


"No. Not yet. We will stretch our existing resources a bit further. The


fighters will help somewhat. The longer we can hold out the better. Having four


fresh destroyers come in to the battle now will have less of an impact on enemy


morale than ten fresh and fully shielded ones later. Let's not give anything


away just yet."


The bridge quietened down as the Jem'Hadar launched a fresh round of


attacks. Worf could see that while the battle was largely a stalemate, with


neither side able to inflict significant damage on the other, in an extended


battle the Republic forces would ultimately win due to sheer attrition of the


Dominion forces.






Lieutenant Boyd watched the battle below with growing disgust. The


Dominion forces were not doing significant damage, not giving themselves enough


time to properly target the enemy, unless they were simply unable to overcome


the jamming. The rate at which they were damaging the Republic ships was just


too slow, and the Republic forces were actively rotating their forces, allowing


ships to regenerate shields, or at worst, to retreat through the Gate and be


replaced by a fresh warship. The Republic computers were also getting better at


predicting the Dominion trajectories and target selections, and their gunners


were responding quicker to the Dominion ships stop-fire-go tactics.


Either the Jem'Hadar had to change their tactics, or allow themselves to


be slowly ground into the dust.






"Lieutenant Jordison," Antilles called, "send one of the damaged


destroyers through the Gate. Order every ship that can be spared to come through




"Yes, Jedi."


There it was again. The subtle difference in tone when referring to


Antilles as Jedi. The tone was respectful, as it should be when speaking to a


superior officer, but also with a hint of deference, as if speaking to a priest


or religious leader. That was it, Worf decided. Besides being captain of the


ship, Antilles must also occupy some position of importance in their religion.


Now if he could only figure out what all this constant reference to the Force


was. Perhaps it was a generic term for their fleet, as in strike force?


On the status display, the first of the ships appeared through the Gate,


and immediately headed off to assume a screening position, as the updated


targeting algorithms were transmitted to it's computer. Several seconds later, a


second ship appeared. Worf started counting seconds, he would have expected them


all to come through at once, obviously there was some limit to how fast ships


could traverse the Gate.


"The enemy is up to something." Somebody called.


On the screen, the entire Dominion force, of some six to seven hundred


ships, many of them damaged, were heading in on an attack run. Up to now, no


more than fifty to a hundred had participated in an attack run at any given


time, and usually in several small groups of ten or more ships. Perhaps they


were hoping to overwhelm the Republic force with sheer numbers, knowing that


individually their ships were outgunned. The odds were something like fourteen


to one in their favour, excluding fighters. Worf wondered why they hadn't tried


it in the first place. Perhaps they were reluctant to take the heavy losses such


an engagement was sure to incur. Antilles was shouting orders.


"Interdictor frigates to cover the Gate, Guardian and Mediator to support


and protect the interdictors. Destroyers and fighters are free to engage the


enemy in the interdiction zone. Do not leave the interdiction zone. Set gunnery


control to fleet engagement mode. Destroyers to attack the enemy in pairs, cover


each other's flanks. Don't let the enemy isolate you from the fleet. Target the


big ships first, fighters to harass the small ships.


"Com-scan support the fighters, feed them whatever shield modulations you


can. ECM, I want maximum jamming on all enemy targeting frequencies."






On the Defiant, the bridge was a scene of furious activity as well.


Several screens had gone blank with static from the sudden increase in static




"Take us closer, carefully." Boyd ordered.


The Defiant left the sheltering asteroid behind, a short firing of the


manoeuvring thrusters sending it coasting leisurely towards the battle nearby.


On the view-screen, the two fleets were approaching firing ranges (one light-


second) and were well within the interdiction fields. The Republic fleet was


formed up in a protective ball around the Gate, no ships further then forty


thousand kilometers from the Gate, while the Dominion ships formed a huge


enclosing sphere, and were closing on them at low warp, fractionally below


light-speed, where the strain on their warp-core wouldn't be too high.


Besides the static jamming, the Defiant's sensors were also being


confounded by the sheer volume of energies being exchanged. Dozens of nuclear


explosions added their radiation to the noise of energies flooding the Defiant's




All the Dominion ships were now on Impulse, and were taking their time,


allowing their sensors to overcome or circumvent the jamming, closing to


ridiculous ranges if necessary. The jamming didn't seem to have much effect on


the Republic forces, especially given that the Jem'Hadar were making little


attempt to jam their sensors. It also seemed as if the forward line of Republic


ships were feeding targeting information to ships behind them. It was certainly


easy to trace their firing patterns by the brilliant green markers on the energy


bolts, as well as by the tremendous energy they radiated in all directions as


they sped to their targets. Turbolasers, they were called, apparently, for some




The weapon seemed to be designed for close range work as well, since the


rate at which it radiated energy in all directions implied that it would get


weaker very quickly at long ranges, and probably dissipate altogether within a


few light-seconds. However, in a tight broadside, it was pretty much like a


solid wall of energy washed over the targets.


About twenty Jem'Hadar ships directly engaged a 1200m long destroyer that


looked as if it would be more at home under-water than in deep-space. The


destroyer fired a single broadside at them as they approached, which smashed a


battle-cruiser's shields down and breached it's hull in several places. The


destroyer then rolled over, and fired it's remaining weapons singly, at a rate


of several shots per second, ignoring the damaged battle-cruiser. It took


several hits itself, and despite covering fire from two other destroyers


flanking it, was soon engulfed in flames.


A squadron of fighters ripped into the battle-cruiser, as a second


Jem'Hadar ship rolled away, dead in space. The badly damaged destroyer was


retreating slowly, most of it's guns silent. Another destroyer moved in to cover


it, and itself became the target of intense fire. The destroyers seemed to


merely be aiming to knock down shields, and maybe do minor damage, before


selecting another target, while the fighters came in and attacked the unshielded


ships. The remaining Jem'Hadar ships ignored the fighters, concentrating their


fire on the destroyer ahead of them. Three more Jem'hadar ships lost their


shields in quick succession, and a fourth suffered serious damage. The


unshielded ships were suddenly engulfed by fighters, launching small nuclear


missiles into their undefended hulls, and peppering them with low-powered


particle enhanced lasers.


Boyd was astounded at the rate at which the fighters could destroy the


ships, and move on to the next unshielded ship. The second destroyer was now


also retreating, half it's bridge tower missing, and most of it's hull glowing


red from internal infernos. Of the Dominion forces, more than half had either


been destroyed or damaged. On the battlefield as a whole, almost all the


Republic destroyers were showing signs of damage, and were falling back towards


the Gate. The Gate itself was spewing out one destroyer after another, which


rushed forward, launching even more fighters.


The immense wedge-shaped warship, Lusankya, came under attack by several


dozen Dominion ships, it's escorts all knocked out of the battle. Most of the


Dominion ships though were unshielded and surrounded by hundreds of fighters.


They just didn't have enough weapon-systems to engage both the fighters and the


capital ships at the same time. For the first time, the Lusankya fired it's


heavy weapons, picking out the largest and best shielded of the Dominion forces.


Over it's seventeen kilometer length, it had sufficient weapons that at least


ten to fifteen batteries could target a single attacker. It's shields were not


even dented by the time it stopped firing, leaving what was left of it's


attackers to the fighters to mop up.


On the far side, the Mediator was also coming under attack, as it's


escorts fell back towards the Gate. Amongst the attackers of the Mediator were


seven battle-cruisers. In an impressive display of firepower, the Mediator


opened up on them with at least fifty turbolaser batteries of varying size and


power dedicated to each of the battle-cruisers. In a single broadside, five of


them were swept away as if they weren't there. The remaining forces pressed on,


the Mediator not firing for several seconds, then were slammed backwards by an


eruption of fire that totally obscured the Mediator from view. Boyd's computer


counted at least four hundred heavy turbolasers, and close to a thousand light


or intermediate turbolasers, distributed across it's fifteen kilometer length.


That was about one weapon every two hundred meters across it's entire


length and breadth. Boyd suspected it had not even fired all it's weapons,


probably kept some in reserve just in case.


The battle was over. There was not a single operational Jem'Hadar ship in


sensor range. Boyd counted nine wrecks that had been Republic destroyers of


various types. Close to the Gate, there were still about forty destroyers


clustered, every single one of them damaged, some almost totally engulfed in


flames. Others had already passed through. Currently, they were waiting for


ships to come through. Seven fresh destroyers came through the Gate, then the


evacuation of the damaged ships resumed.


Eventually, all that were left in the system were the two super-


battleships, and about ten escorting destroyers. Apparently several hundred


fighters had also been lost, but even so, many were waiting for an opportunity


to land, as hangar space on the remaining ships were a premium. As the traffic


at the Gate died down, the fighters started going through themselves. With not


enough hanger space this side of the Gate, they had little choice.






"It appears that you have won a convincing victory," Worf said to




"It could have gone either way. It was one of those battles that seemed


poised on a knife-edge of indecisiveness, then all of a sudden tilts violently.


As it is, the losses in ships and personnel will be felt, and the down-time of


the damaged ships and the shipyards needed to repair them will cost us dearly.


Our campaign too will slow down tremendously, since we just don't have enough


ships to commit to it."


"This wasn't the largest Dominion fleet I have seen, but I suspect that


they will take a while to recover from this loss."


"This battle was no victory for us either," Antilles answered quietly,


"The Republic has not been on a war footing for a while. We lost nearly a full


squadron of destroyers, with more than thirty thousand crew on each ship. Three


hundred thousand highly trained fleet personnel is a major loss. The ships we


can replace in time, the people are not so easy to replace."


"It never is. I suppose now that you will resume your attempts to locate


the Dominion ship-building centres before they launch another strike against


your Gate."


"Maybe. The expansion into this galaxy has been difficult for us. My


superiors, and the Republic senate, are not keen to tool up for a major war or


expansion here. Especially given the losses we have suffered so far. I suspect


that the Imperials have fared better. When the intelligence reports come


through, the senate will face quite a dilemma. We cannot afford to continue in


this vein here, but neither can we allow the Empire to expand unopposed."


"Surely, for a galactic sized nation, you can afford the loss of a few


destroyers?" Worf pushed.


Antilles glanced at him, and smiled knowingly.


"Your attempts to glean information are not very subtle, my warrior


friend. It is no secret that our fleet was seriously stretched in the war with


the Empire. Maintaining peace and order in a sometimes unwilling galaxy is not


easy. We have a tremendous ship-building program, but much of the galaxy needs


to be rebuilt after the war, and while the Empire doesn't count it's costs, we


do. Many people don't believe that this frontier is important, after all, there


are no citizens here screaming for aid, and no senators from these sectors to


mobilise support for the cause of this galaxy."


"And your opinion, captain Antilles?"


"My opinion, for what it's worth, is that we should stay, and fight. The


first step should be to destroy the Dominion's ship-building capacity. That


means two things. Destroying their shipyards, and putting a stop to their




"That may not be possible. The Founders need their clones to survive. To


stop the Dominion it may be necessary to totally destroy the Founders."


"Perhaps a way can be found to accommodate them in the Republic. Many


races have been, not all of them found it easy, but the galaxy is a big place,


and there is place for everybody."


"I fear you will do it to your detriment. The Founders are master


manipulators and infiltrators. They are able to assume the shape, even the


identity, of just about anybody they choose. It would take draconian measures to


ensure that every sector of your society is not infiltrated."


"Maybe, but wilful genocide is not our way. At the worst, we would ensure


that their planet is isolated from the rest of the galaxy for all time."






By the next day, the system had quieted down considerably. Still, only the


two command ships and the ten destroyers were defending the Gate, with four


cruisers and a single squadron of destroyers at the position of the wormhole.


The Defiant had docked in one of the smaller hangars of the immense battle-ship,


and Worf had returned to his quarters. He was surprised by a chime from his




"Worf." He answered simply.


"Commander," Antilles greeted in return, "I am afraid I have some grave


news. One of our agents in the Imperial Navy managed to smuggle a data-card to


us regarding their campaign against your Federation. I have prepared the


information for download to your computers, I think you should see it




"Please transmit it directly." Worf activated the appropriate controls,


and punched in the security override to receive the data. A second later a


successful receipt was indicated.


"I would appreciate you joining me in my conference room as soon as you


have perused the data. One hour should be sufficient." Antilles signed off.


Worf called up the data. The content of the information was summarised in


a few brief paragraphs, with a number of attached vids and statistics to


supplement the content. A brief conclusion followed, but Worf had derived his


own conclusions from the data. It was not the content that angered him as much


as the way it was presented. The callous and deliberate invasion of peaceful


worlds merely as a test of military readiness. The cold statistics rating


Imperial statistics and efficiency by the speed at which they subdued


'militaristic' cultures such as Klingons and Romulons.


The brutality of the invaders lay before him in the form of performance


factors, with an occasional footnote citing 'incidental civilian casualties' and


'political executions' and 'civil co-operation garrisoning' of planets. It


mattered not to the Imperials whether worlds surrendered or not, only how


speedily the population could be 'subdued' or 'co-opted', and how efficiently


their troops performed. Apparently, dozens of Ferengii, Human, Cardassian,


Romulon and even Klingon worlds had been 'subdued'. The Imperials were currently


preparing a raid on Earth itself.


He pounded the desk in frustration. Composing himself, he prepared to meet


with Antilles.






Antilles felt the approach of the Klingon in the form of a cold fury


advancing towards the conference room. The hatchway couldn't slide open fast


enough for the Klingon. Antilles was somewhat surprised by the cool and calm


exterior of the Federation officer. All that betrayed his inner fury was a fast-


paced stride and an odd twitching muscle. Sometime in his life, the Klingon had


learnt to control himself to a level that was almost in-human, well, un-Klingon.


"You promised that you would return me to Federation space. When can this


take place?"


"The last report I had from our recon droid-ships was that they had mapped


a route stretching some sixty thousand light-years towards Federation space.


Only two droids have been lost so far, indicating a relatively safe route. The


route should be mapped out in a few days. I assure you that no time has been


wasted in this endeavour."


The Klingon closed his eyes for a second, battling to retain control.


Antilles expected an outburst.


"Very well."


"I do understand, commander. I read the report. I know that the Federation


capital is to come under attack within the next day or two. If it was at all


possible to get you there before that, we would have done so. In any case, this


ship, two star cruisers, and four squadrons of destroyers will set out within


the hour."


"You intend to assist the Federation? What about your government's


reluctance to initiate a war with the Empire?"


"My government was very disturbed by the intelligence report you have just


read. It appears that the Empire's rate of expansion through this galaxy has


exceeded our worst fears. Here, we are faced with dozens of worlds populated


only with clones that are dying like flies despite our every effort to keep them


alive. The Empire has captured dozens of worlds with populations ready for the


picking, and is on the verge of destroying that quadrant's only hope of stopping


them. We have already lost more than we could afford in this venture, and the


Empire has gained more than we feared.


"The result is that my government have authorised several drastic


measures. One, a number of commando teams have been sent out to capture or


assassinate the Empire's engineers who are familiar with the Gate project and to


destroy all their records relating to Gate construction. We have reason to


believe that all these records and Engineers are contained on the Gate itself.


Secondly, immense fleet resources are being allocated to this Quadrant. The


government wants the Dominion destroyed, so that we may expand unopposed.


Thirdly, I am to lead a team to make contact with the Federation. I am


authorised to do whatever is necessary and within my power to stop or slow down


Imperial advances short of initiating a war with the Empire."


"How could you hope to interfere without initiating a war?"


"Encourage your government to declare allegiance to the Republic, so that


their planets won't be attacked unless the Empire wishes war with us. Short of


that, to establish military bases on your planets, with your permission, so that


the Empire won't dare attack for fear of initiating a war by accidentally


destroying one of our bases. Short of that, to offer military advice, and


lucrative trade arrangements that will allow your government to purchase such


devices as planetary shields, orbital battle-stations of a scale comparable to


the Imperial warships, or at the very least, rental of our shipyard facilities."


"What about free technology exchanges, or an offer of warships to be


crewed by our personnel, or mutual defence agreements?"


"Honestly? We have no intention of supplying you with the means to fight


us off it comes to that. Mayhap one day we will be enemies. Politically, the


motivation is merely to force the Empire into a political corner, not to empower


your Federation."


"We do not need your assistance. We will stop the Empire one way or


another. Our technology is quite capable of developing the weaponry to deter any


invader. The Federation is a peaceful society by choice, not by circumstance.


That circumstance is in the process of changing, and our culture does have the


means to adapt to circumstance."


"Commander Worf, the price of peace is eternal readiness for war. Your


civilisation may have just left that payment too late. I salute your intentions,


but you will find the universe is a very dangerous place. Trust me. We were


exploring the stars when your ancestors lived in caves, and just when you think


you are the masters of your destiny, destiny slaps you in the face."


"We will see." Worf stated.


Antilles waved Worf to the nearby observation window. In the distance was


the Gate. As they watched, Worf could see, even at this distance, one ship after


another arriving through the Gate. Individually, they had to be huge to be


visible at this distance.


"We too are a peace-loving society, Commander, and this is but a fraction


of our fleet. The Empire is smaller than us, but being militaristic, their fleet


is at least comparable to ours. If necessary, they will commit at least as much


resources as us, and as you see, those resources are mere hours or days away.


Can your society change that fast?


"You have read the stolen Imperial intelligence report. Is your Federation


capable of the same level of ruthlessness?"


"You have kept the Empire at bay, Captain. Yet your people did not need to


resort to that level of ruthlessness did they?"


"Point, Commander Worf."


"Let us hope that it does not come down to that."


"For such a young society, Commander, you are remarkably mature. Perhaps


we do have much to learn from each other."






Worf circled his opponent warily. The lean human in front of him was fast,


and strong. They fought with swords this morning for the first time. Mostly they


fought with the bladed staffs, similar to his beloved bat'leth, and occasionally


with axes, which Antilles seemed partial to. Today however, Antilles had


insisted on swords. Worf had practised diligently with similar Klingon weapons,


terrified that he might miss out on any part of his heritage, but this had never


been his favourite weapon. He fought with abandon, having long ago learnt that


Antilles was an opponent as skilful as he could wish for, but with caution as


well. As much as he enjoyed the exercise and the practise, he hated losing.


At first, he had been embarrassed at losing their regular encounters, but


Antilles continually expressed his surprise at Worf's ability, and seemed to


consider him an excellent opponent. Somehow, he suspected that he had not pushed


Antilles to the limit yet. This morning especially, Antilles was pushing him


harder than ever before, and had disarmed him several times. For the first time,


Worf was beginning to feel frustration and humiliation. Antilles was going out


of his way to demonstrate Worf's lack of ability with this weapon.


Antilles attacked, and Worf defended furiously, determined not to lose his


weapon again. The sword clattered to the ground for the umpteenth time.


"Aaaaargh!" Worf growled, reaching out for Antilles with his bare hands.


Antilles allowed Worf to grab him, and all of a sudden the room spun


around the Klingon, and he landed hard on the floor.


"The first rule is never to let anger rule your thoughts and actions. That


is the way to the Dark Side."


"The first rule? Dark side? What are these things? What are you talking




"Calm yourself. If you wish to be my student, I must satisfy myself that


you wish to learn."


"Student?" Worf thundered. Antilles frowned at him. Sensing the other's


disappointment, for some reason unknown to him, Worf capitulated. "I am calm."


He forced the words out between clenched teeth, still seated on the floor.


Antilles raised his eyebrows.


"Calm," Worf said slowly, "I am calm."


"Very good."


Antilles waved to him to stand, and collected the sword from the corner


where it had come to rest. He placed the two swords back on the weapons rack. He


came to stand before the Klingon, and reached into his tunic. He pulled out a


tubular device, just large enough for a double-handed grip, with a flat metal


disc on one end. Antilles extended the tube to his right, and lightly touched a


partially concealed control. Suddenly the already brightly lit room seemed to


darken in comparison to the bright blade which appeared from the device. Some


sort of energy blade, bright enough to make everything else look pale by


comparison, but still well within the limits of the eye to look directly at it.


Antilles swung the energy blade experimentally a few times. There was a


light buzz as the blade sliced through the air, and Worf was immediately


assailed by the stink of ozone, as the air around the blade was fried by it's




"A lightsabre. The weapon of a Jedi. The secret of making one will be part


of your training. Only a Jedi can wield such a weapon with the skill it


deserves. No, the skill it demands!"


"I have heard this word. Jedi. You are addressed as such. What is a Jedi?"


"A Jedi is one who aspires to become one with the energies of the Universe


itself. The Force. Few have the talent to accomplish this. Fewer still have the


ability to attempt this and survive. And fewer still are accepted as students


and trained towards this goal. Those who are accepted, and who accept the


calling, have a responsibility to all life. In the past, some have believed that


it is life that has a responsibility to the Jedi, but that too is a way to the


Dark Side. You have such potential, Worf Rozhenko. Do you wish to be my




"What would that entail?"


"Caution. That is wise. It would entail nothing. You would continue as you


have so far. Your duty to your Federation would not be compromised. I have


researched this Federation, through you, your men and our intelligence services,


and am satisfied that this is not a bad thing. It would also entail quite a bit.


From now on, all your actions must be ruled by a desire to serve life, not to


control it or use it or abuse it or destroy it. You will learn things such as


you have never imagined, power beyond what you can comprehend, yet you must


retain your humility, your morality, and your desire to serve, above all else.


The temptations to abuse this power will be great, the challenges you will face


may destroy you, and the choices you may be forced to make might damn you in the


eyes of your friends and loved ones. Do you accept?"


"A Jedi's calling is to serve, to protect, to strive to be one with life


itself, in the face of all temptation, danger, and desire?"




"Yet you are a warrior. You have led men into battles where others have


died. You have killed. You fight like a demon. Is this too the way of the Jedi?"


"Sometimes, to serve life, one must fight the forces of darkness. This too


is part of the responsibility of the Jedi, even though those forces would


destroy him. Some believe that a Jedi uses the Force to accomplish these tasks,


but true Jedi know that it is the Force which uses the Jedi."


"The Force? This is the energy of life you mentioned?"


"Yes. Some would call it God. Some would call it Satan. Some ascribe


humanity to it. Some believe that it is only an energy field, and not a living


entity in it's own right. It is all of these things. We are it. It is us. The


Force is Life, it is this metal, it is the stars and the plasma between the


stars. The Force is the Ultimate Purpose of the Universe, and the Universe is


the Ultimate Purpose of the Force. It is where all life comes from, and where


all life returns."


"The Dark Side?"


"The power of the Force is like a seductive mistress. It demands to be


used. Those who give in to this demand, are consumed by it, and are ultimately


destroyed. The people who give in to the power cannot help but use it, but


giving in implies weakness and ambition. Anger, fear and hatred all contribute


to inflaming the desire to use the power, and once you give in to this desire,


your journey to being consumed by the Dark Side has begun."


"Others have gone down this road? Been destroyed by the Dark Side?"


"Oh yes. Their evil cannot be begun to be described. It is out of such


evil that the Empire was spawned."


"I accept."


"I knew you would. In three days, we will be in Federation space. You have


much to learn before then."

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A fanfic by Michael January












Most of the invasion fleet were clustered below the immense bulk of the


Aggressor, one of the few Executor-class command ships in the service of the


Empire. They were surrounded by droids of all types and sizes conducting repairs


on them. One of the main roles of the immense command ships was precisely this,


field repairs. It was a virtually fully functioning shipyard, as well as a major


star-carrier, communications, command and control ship. The unfortunate


Vengeance though was too large for even the Aggressor's extensive facilities,


and had had to return through the Gate. It would be weeks before it was


available again.


Piett and Jerjerrod had ruled that Xris' actions were not unjustified, and


he had retained his command, despite the debacle at Earth. Harrsk's actions too


had not been unduly criticised. Piett's major motivation though was to retain


the experience of Xris against the unexpected Federation tactics. The Imperials


could not afford major ship losses, and now that the Federation were able to use


interdiction fields against them, the complexion of the battle had changed. No


longer could they jump in and out in short focussed raids.


In two days time, a Federation fleet of more than a hundred ships would be


hitting the Bajoran world, and retreat or tactical withdrawals was not an


option. The Imperials did enjoy a hefty firepower advantage though, in the form


of nearly fifty capital ships, although they were almost exclusively variants of


the destroyer class. The only major capital ships were the Aggressor (Executor-


class command ship), and the Grinder (a Giel-class battleship). The Grinder was


about half the length of the Aggressor, though more massively built. Being a


purpose-built fleet-combat ship as opposed to a multi-role command ship, she


also compared favourably with the Aggressor in sheer firepower. A total of seven


Dominator-class interdictors patrolled the system, their gravity cones providing


protection against any ships which might attempt to sneak into the system.


These two immense battleships were supported by eight Allegiance-class


ships, eighteen Imperator-class, and twenty two Victory-class ships. The


Grinder, with half the support ships, were clustered defensively around the


wormhole. The Aggressor, with the remaining escort ships, were clustered around


the Gate. A probe was poised close to the Gate, ready to traverse the Gate and


call reinforcements from the far side, where the Imperials maintained a slightly


stronger force. A number of Imperators, Victories, and two more Allegiance-class


ships were ready to come through if needed. However, only one ship could


traverse the Gate at a time, with several seconds between each transition,


because of the immense energies required by the Gate's reactors.








The Enterprise was streaking through deep space at maximum warp, and had


been maintaining this speed for several hours now. Starfleet had decided that


Picard should add the firepower and interdiction capabilities of the Enterprise


to the fleet on it's way to recover Bajor. Only six other Sovereign class ships


were in service, and two of them were already in the fleet heading to Bajor. Of


the four remaining, the USS Hood had been destroyed during the raid on Earth,


and the Missouri and Atlantis had been recalled to Earth. The California was on


the far side of federation space, and had been told to remain there, as the only


major capital ship in that part of Federation space.


The graviton beam modifications to the deflector dish of the major


warships was rather controversial, but most captains were in favour of it. The


nature of the Imperial beam being duplicated was such that it interfered with


any form of tachyonic movement. The result was that the moment a ship exceeded


warp one, the power requirements for warp climbed astronomically, forcing a ship


to run the core at maximum power just to obtain warp 2. Below warp 1, there was


hardly any additional load on the warp core, but the sub-space jamming of the


Imperials did result in a significant load increase on the core. On Impulse


there was no problem, but Impulse drive did not offer any significant advantage


over the Imperial ships, whereas even low warp easily outperformed their ships.


The consensus was to remain at warp, but not to exceed warp 1, while in


the interdiction field. Short spurts exceeding warp 1 was ok, but at prohibitive


power costs, posing the risk of a ship running out of fuel in an extended


battle. An extended battle was not out of the question, with two huge fleets,


neither of which were prepared to sacrifice too much, and neither prepared to


back off. The upcoming battle was going to be one long haul of feints and






"Sir, I have multiple contacts, three light-years ahead. Sensor profile is


consistent with an Imperial fleet, I count forty eight escort ships, one


battleship. The battleship is several dozen times larger than the battleship


which attacked Earth."


"Such a ship was detected in the Bajoran system by Commander Sisko. What


is it doing out here?"


"Shall we change course, Sir?"


"Maintain course for now, reduce speed to warp seven."


"Sir, several Imperial ships have .. um, translocated. They are now dead


ahead of us, range point zero one light years. Time to intercept, eight




"If we stay at warp," Riker suggested, "there is little they can do to


touch us, as long as we evade their graviton beams."


"If they wish to intercept us, they will do so eventually, we can't outrun


them forever. Maintain course and speed."


"Multiple contacts, behind us, to port, to starboard, above, below.


They're surrounding us. Multiple graviton beams, they're forming a cage, and


we're in the centre."


"Range to enemy ships?"


"None of them are closer than seven minutes at warp seven, or one point


five minutes at maximum warp."


They were trapped, the enemy would have their cage in place before they


could hope to break through.


"We are being hailed. What is this? They are hailing us on a secure


starfleet military channel." The sensor operator said incredulously.


"Full stop, all engines. On-screen."


The almost subliminal vibration which the crew lived with died away, thus


making it's presence felt through it's absence. The view-screen was focussed on


the immense battleship. Judging by the magnification and range, Picard quickly


deduced it's size. Fifteen kilometers from nose to tail, shaped pretty much like


a blunt-nosed dolphin, with a flat belly and a hunched back. A cross-section at


it's widest point would yield a height and width in excess of five kilometers,


probably as much as seven kilometers. Several words flashed through Picard's


mind. Immense, gigantic, tremendous, colossal, mammoth.


The view-screen cleared, to be replaced by what Picard presumed to be the


bridge of the immense spaceship. If Picard had been taken aback at all by the


size of the ship and fleet which surrounded him, he was shocked by the image on


the view-screen.


"Commander Worf?"


"Captain Picard. The fates indeed have conspired to ensure that the first


Federation ship we meet should be the Enterprise."


"The Force has made it so." A tall human standing behind Worf said




"Captain Picard. May I introduce Captain Antilles, of the New Republic


Ship Mediator. He wishes to speak with you. Do we have your permission to come




Picard looked carefully at Worf. Was this some kind of trap? Had Worf


fallen into the hands of the Imperials and somehow been converted to their


cause, as had many worlds in this sector.


"It is no trap, Captain, I assure you." Worf answered.


Picard was still unconvinced, but he knew Worf would despise any attempt


at subversion, and if such was the case, would have somehow made it known to




"You may beam aboard."


"I am afraid that my associates have considerable reservations about the


process of matter transmission. We will come in a shuttle."


"I am afraid we are on a tight schedule, Mr Worf, I will beam aboard, if


you will provide me with the co-ordinates."


"We have ample time, Captain Picard," Antilles interjected, "My scouts are


tracking your fleet. They are sixteen light years out of the Imperial system


they are heading towards. At current speed they will get their in two days. We


can get you there in a few minutes. We have several hours to discuss matters."






Antilles glanced around the hangar. On Worf's advice they had used a very


small shuttle, not the more usual Tyderium-class. Considering how the small


shuttle filled the hangar on the Federation ship, it was obvious that a


Tyderium-class would not have fitted. The lack of landing and launch facilities


on a major capital ship implied that the use of matter transmission technologies


was more pervasive than he had first thought. Antilles briefly examined the


balding old man in front of him, surprised yet again by the fact that their was


no sense of cloning about the Federation personnel. Considering the


pervasiveness of transporter technology, Antilles had expected people here to be


quite soulless.


He had endured countless explanations by Worf on the transmission process,


but still wouldn't consider undergoing the process. He was amazed that it seemed


to work for these people. He wondered how their computers transported their


emotions, thoughts, desires, memories, and what it made of all this data. It


seemed strange to him that the computer was able to analyse and record and


transmit all these things, yet be unable to intitiate direct mental contact with


them, or that they didn't communicate mentally with the computers themselves.


Well, each civilisation had it's own blind spots and phobias and beliefs.


Far be it from him to interfere.


"Welcome aboard, Captain Antilles."


"Thank you, Captain Picard."


"Please follow me, we will proceed directly to the officer's lounge. My


staff are keen to meet with you, over dinner."


"Of course."


Picard and Worf shook hands warmly. Old friends, pleased to see each other


again. Antilles knew that Worf had a lot of respect for this man. The group


stepped into a rather cramped turbolift, barely large enough for Picard, Worf,


Antilles, and a few of Picard's crewmen. Antilles had bade his two Wookie guards


to remain with the shuttle. They would not have been able to squeeze into the


lift anyway.


Antilles was surprised at the plushness of the décor in the hallways of


the ship. It was fitted out more like a cruise liner than a ship of war.


Carpeted hallways, no less. The crew was almost entirely human, with only an


occasional non-human, and even these were all remarkably humanoid. Antilles for


a second wondered if there was any Empire-like discrimination against non-


humanoid species amongst the crew, but a few seconds of casting his thoughts


around revealed nothing of the sort. Just circumstance, he decided.


Picard led the group into a small ward room, with plushly laid tables.


Standing around were a number of officers. They looked strangely at him, as if


they couldn't decide whether he was a mortal enemy or a specimen in a zoo. He


felt a mind approaching, and instantly slammed his mental barriers into place. A


woman nearby gasped, and staggered slightly backwards.


"Counsellor Troi?" Picard asked her quickly, glancing backwards and


forwards between the woman and himself.


"No, I am alright. Really. Just a bit surprised. The power of your mind


is, is, immense."


"I am sorry, Counsellor? You took me surprise. I had not expected to find


a natural empath on board this ship."


"You are telepathic?" Picard asked. His voice was full of caution, the


tone of one who has just discovered that he had been under observation for an


extended period, and was hastily reviewing his thoughts and actions in case of


any unintended transgressions.


"Some would say so. But really, I am no more empathic than the counsellor


here. I can sense feelings and moods, but not explicitly read thoughts."


"This is common amongst your people? A genetic trait perhaps?"


"Not at all common, and it is not certain that it is genetic." Antilles


was slightly disappointed at having to reveal some of his status to this group.


It would have come in handy in any negotiations if people did not know his


capabilities. Now, they would be aware of it, and that would skew his


perceptions slightly, but not by much.


Picard introduced a few of the other officers, and they sat down to the


meal. Antilles carefully kept his mind closed to the woman, Troi, who was


unabashedly attempting to scan his mind. He was doubly taken aback, at the


woman's rudeness firstly, and secondly at the obvious perfection of the food in


front of him. Replicated no doubt. Not real food. Well, it wouldn't hurt him, he


knew, and he had eaten many worse things in his travels. First transporters, now


this. Ah well, each to his own.


The conversation around dinner was kept carefully neutral. The war with


the Imperials was not directly mentioned, although matters of ship design and


the rigours of space flight were discussed in detail. It was one of the few


things they all had in common, a desire to travel the stars. The Federation


officers and Antilles shared accounts of some of the amazing worlds they had


encountered, unusual species, and unusual habits and customs on various worlds


in their respective galaxies. The conversation started off uneasily at first, as


people were reluctant to offend unknowingly, but the tension soon dissipated.


Eventually, Picard indicated to a hovering staffer that the dishes could


be cleared. The staffer quickly dumped everything into a nearby disposal chute.


Antilles clamped his throat closed in disgust for a second, knowing that these


left-overs would merely be recycled and re-assembled into tomorrow's breakfast.


He promised himself that he would be off this ship by then, and wondered why he


had been so eager to come aboard it in the first place.


"The raid on Earth?" Worf started, "I saw an intelligence report


indicating that the Imperials planned to attack Earth. The attack would have


been a few days ago."


"Yes. We managed to fend off the attack, but with extensive losses. The


Earth-Dock was destroyed with all crew, as were seventeen starships including


the USS Hood, our sister ship. A number of the orbital platforms were destroyed


as well, and Earth itself came under bombardment."


"I saw a vid of Bajor being bombarded," Worf said quietly. "The


devastation must have been immense."


"Yes, it was. However, the casualties were much lower than expected. The


bombardment was very brief, and we had managed to deploy shields over most urban


areas. If the bombardment had been any more intense, the shields might not have


held. However, we were unable to similarly defend rural areas, and many people


who live in rural areas were killed. The ecological damage was also immense, it


will take decades to repair the damage."


"The rural areas which came under bombardment?" Worf asked.


"Your parents are safe, Mr Worf. Central Asia came under intense


bombardment, but the Rozhenko family were amongst those who had been evacuated


to St Petersburg. Your father had wanted to stay, but your mother insisted. She


said it was what you would have wanted them to do."


[i have no idea whether Worf's adopted family is still alive. But it makes


for a nice bit of sentiment - Michael January]


"Thank You, Sir." Worf was grateful that Picard had taken the time out to


enquire over such a minor detail which concerned someone not even a part of his


crew anymore. He wondered how many other such details Picard had attended to.


Such was the nature of the man, though.


"Damage to Imperial ships?" Antilles asked.


"We managed to score several hits on a wedge shaped cruiser about 10


kilometers long. We don't know how significant the damage was though. The escort


ships could have given us a hard time if they had stuck it out, but they didn't.


We suspect that they too must have been damaged, though our scans were thwarted


by static."


"Static damping is standard practice on most ships in our galaxy. It


prevents the enemy from determining damage levels and planning accordingly."


Antilles smiled. "I am glad you were able to beat them off. How do you rate the


chances of your attack force at destroying the Gate?"


"We outnumber the enemy at better than two to one, and our ships are


easily capable of avoiding their fire. The only disadvantage is that to avoid


the fire, we have to maintain velocities which reduce our ability to accurately


target the enemy. This is compounded by the intense jamming your ships output."


"Well, the Imperials can not afford damage to any of their ships. Their


navy is quite stretched at the moment. If you concentrate your attacks, and are


prepared to take some damage or limited losses, you can overcome their shields.


The only problem is, they are bound to have a number of ships on the far side of


the Gate they can bring through in support. You will have to find a balance


between acceptable damage and knocking out their shields.


"In defence, you can set up an interdiction zone where your ships can


recharge their shields. The Empire won't attack you there for fear of having


their own ships trapped by the interdiction zone. I have prepared a package with


a battle run-down on our last encounter with the Jem'Hadar. I know Mr Worf has a


similar package recorded by the Defiant. Perhaps you can devise a strategy by


examining these recordings."


"How long do I have?" Picard asked.


"I can give you about twenty hours," Antilles said. "That would put the


Federation fleet about nine light years from the Bajoran system. Any closer, and


we would have to intercept the Federation fleet within range of the Imperial


scanners. Then they would know we are here, and that we are possibly assisting




"If the Imperial Gate were to be destroyed, then it will not be necessary


for us to make contact with the Federation. The Imperials will have no way home,


and we can then step in and offer them an opportunity to return with us. My


government will be only too eager to shut down the Gate project once and for all


as soon as we return. That way, you will be rid of both of us once and for all."


"And if we can't destroy the Gate?"


"Then I will initiate contact with your government. We will request


permission to set up military bases on your planets. This will allow us to


distribute planetary shields to those planets. We will offer your government


various favourable trade agreements, allowing you to purchase weapons grade


minerals from us for your ship-building projects. We may even allow you to


establish a few ship-yards in our own galaxy, and far from the reach of the


Empire, so that your ship-building can proceed uninterrupted.


"Our government is also prepared to assist with humanitarian projects,


such as ferrying civilians, supplies, providing medical services and so on, to


free up your fleet for other purposes. I will be totally honest with you,


Captain Picard, in saying that while my government is quite keen to assist your


people, and most of our citizens would be too, the primary motivation would be


to retard or stop Imperial expansion into this galaxy. For the sake of peace in


our galaxy, we cannot allow the Empire to rise to any significant level of power


and influence. For the same reason, we cannot directly engage the Imperial


forces directly either, and as far as possible we wish to avoid an open war with


the Empire."


"And if those steps don't slow down the Imperial invasion?" Picard asked.


"As much as I would regret it. My orders in such a case is to get as many


worlds to declare allegiance to the Republic as possible, in the face of the


advancing Imperials. As a last resort, I am even authorised to invade worlds, so


as to prevent Imperial occupation of those worlds. Our politicians are making up


new and pleasant sounding euphemisms on a daily basis to justify our actions,


but at the end of the day, the bottom line is that the Imperials must be


stopped, and everything short of open war with the Imperials is authorised."


"Mutual defence agreements?"


"Too risky. If the Imperials attack you, we would be forced to declare war


on them, and we would appear to be the aggressors. Much better if the Federation


were disbanded, and the planets declare allegiance to the Republic. Then the


Empire wouldn't dare attack those worlds because it would be an act of war. I


don't agree fully with my government's policies, but I am no politician. In this


case I have to trust they have their reasons and are doing the right thing."






Antilles and Worf stood side by side in primary hangar number one. On


their right, the hangar extended for a kilometer, the roof was a full 800 meters


above them. Ahead of them, the hangar extended for a length of some four


kilometers. In the distance, humans and droids and aliens were hardly


recognisable. Mere specks. On their left was open space, only the atmospheric


containment field separating them from vacuum. Looking through the field, Worf


could see a long bright rectangular opening about two kilometers away. Primary


hangar number two, an exact mirror image of the hanger they were standing in.


Lining the openings into the hanger were dozens of small laser-canons, most of


them fully automated.


In the distance, below primary hangar two, Worf could see the breaks in


the ventral superstructure below the hangar where the ventral turbolasers were


located. About a hundred meters below his feet, were their counterparts.


Rising into the space between the two hangars was the Enterprise, looking


rather small by comparison. Looking up, about a kilometer above them was the


openings into the six secondary hangars. The Defiant was docked in one of those.


Beyond those hangars, Worf knew, was the bulk of the Mediator itself. The hangar


complex was close to the forward end of the cruiser, and concealed within it's


ventral superstructure, if concealed was the right word. The opening to the


hangar complex was a square five kilometers long, and two kilometers wide. It


extended at least a kilometer into the ventral superstructure of the city sized


warship. Along either side of this cube of vacuum, were the two primary hangars,


and in the 'roof' of the cube of space was the secondary hangars.


The entire complex took up a volume of space roughly equivalent to six


kilometers long, by five kilometers wide, and two kilometers deep. Yet it


constituted only some 15% of the total volume of the battle-cruiser. Length


wise, it took up most of the forward half of the cruiser. Also contained within


the hangar complex, were ten squadrons of fighters, several shuttles, gunships,


assorted small support vessels, and eight fully equipped regiments of ground


troops, plus all the maintenance and manufacturing facilities that went with


supporting all of this.


"Enterprise has cleared the deflector shields."


Now came the tricky part of the docking manoeuvre. The Enterprise's


inertial damping fields were not capable of withstanding a hyperdrive


acceleration, and in any case, was not calibrated with the Mediators hyperdrive




"Enterprise is secure in tractor beams. Enterprise now disengaging


inertial dampeners and lowering shields. Mediator has extended artificial


gravity fields to include Enterprise. Enterprise is disengaging it's gravity


fields. Enterpise inertial and gravitational environment is now fully integrated


with the Mediator."


The Enterprise was slowly being drawn into the hangar, where it would be


'parked' behind a Victory-class destroyer which was being overhauled. Behind the


Enterprise, a Nebulon-B frigate was receiving some minor repairs.


"All personnel, ensure that you are outside the degaussing zone."


A low-powered laser beam marked a curve around the area where the


Enterprise was about to pass through the atmospheric containment shield. As the


Enterprise penetrated the field, and was drawn through it, it's hull was marked


by sparks of energy, as lightning-like arcs of energy sterilised it's hull,


stripping away space-dust and leaving a clean, reflective and apparently freshly


painted surface. A light wind also blew through the hangar, as air was displaced


by the entry of the Enterprise into the hangar.


"Degaussing operation complete."


The Enterprise was still being slowly drawn across into the hangar,


suspended in mid-air by the tractor beams. Several all-purpose docking clamps


descended from the surface, and from the floor, and grabbed onto the frigate


sized ship with a clang audible clear across the hangar.


"Enterprise is secure."


Only the Imperator-class destroyers were too large to fit inside the


hangars. Behind the hangars, concealed in the superstructure, were multiple


reactors, engines, hyperdrive motivators, inertial damping equipment, and all


the paraphernalia of the engineering complex. This constituted a total of forty


percent of the internal volume of the ship.


The outer layer of decks were for shield generation, weapons systems, and


independent power systems for different banks of weapons. Each of these decks


were separated from the next by up to thirty meters of armour, and the decks


were furthermore broken up into multiple independent sectors. The outer hull


itself was forty meters thick, with most of the weapons systems embedded in this


hull. Effectively, the Mediator's hull consisted of five concentric shells,


ranging in thickness from thirty five metres to twenty meters each.


Crewing this ship, were over four hundred thousand individuals of every


description imaginable, plus at least an equal number of droids, probably more.


Even so, there was immense space available for storage. The ship also had it's


own mining and manufacturing facilities, was littered with parks, walkways, and


recreational areas, most of which could be converted into agricultural


facilities if necessary, allowing the ship to achieve complete self-sufficiency


if it so desired. The only description which Worf felt adequately described the


vessel was that it was a complete city unto itself, and a very well armed city




Armed guards patrolled everywhere, probably just to keep them busy. The


regiments consisted mostly of Wookies and Humans, but also several of the


reptilean Mon Calamari and members of various other species. The Federation


itself maintained no standing army, except for it's security officers. It had


never had a need to invade planets, and even then, a tactical bombardment from


orbit was usually sufficient. It amazed him that these people felt the necessity


to maintain such huge armed forces.


"I assume that you will wish to take the Defiant and join your comrades in


this attack?" Antilles asked him.


"Yes. It is my duty."


"You have learnt much, but there is still a long road ahead of you. I


would have liked for our paths to remain linked for longer. I somehow suspect


that our purpose in this galaxy is drawing closer, and that our paths may soon




"That is the way of all life." Worf answered.


"Indeed it is, my friend." Antilles smiled. "The Enterprise is secure," he


continued, "it is best that you make your way to the Defiant. Once the jump is


initiated, we will intercept the Federation fleet in minutes. As soon as we drop


out of hyperspace, the Defiant and the Enterprise will be released. To prevent


any misunderstandings, we will drop you off half a light-year from the Fleet,


and slightly ahead of them. We will withdraw immediately after that. I am afraid


that this battle is yours alone. I wish it were otherwise."


Antilles handed Worf a small package.


"This is the tools and parts you will need to assemble your own light-


sabre. Continue with the training as I have described to you, and one day, you


will discover the means to assemble the light-sabre. From long experience, I can


tell you that even the best engineers will fail, and only a true Jedi will


succeed. One thing though. While the vibro-bladed weapons may survive


transportation, I doubt they can be replicated. The construction extends down to


the sub-atomic level. The same goes for these parts."


The Klingon extended his hand, and the two clasped wrists. Antilles held


on for a long while, refusing to let go.


"Worf. I know that you have great respect and admiration for this Picard.


Somehow, I feel that he is tied into the great purpose I feel bearing down on


us. I fear that you may find that you will need to make a choice that could


break you, or save your comrades. Picard is not all he seems, maybe he is more


than he seems, I can't say for sure yet, but he is tied in somehow to all that


is happening."


"Captain Picard has proved himself time and again in the most trying of


circumstance. He is a warrior worth having at your side, whatever the




"I hope so. You will need such a presence at your side in the times to




The two men parted ways, Antilles heading to his bridge, Worf to the










Captain Leahcim Xris looked around his bridge with pride. His bridge staff


sat stiff and erect at their spotless consoles, paying full attention to their


screens. With Harrsk and the Vengeance out of the picture, He was in charge of


what was left of the invasion force. Piett had pulled rank and ordered him to


assist in the upcoming battle. The strategy they had decided upon was that


Xris's force would stand off, while the Aggressor and the Grinder with their


respective supporting ships would defend the Gate and the Wormhole respectively.


It would be Xris's job to provide support where it was needed, and to otherwise


harass the Federation fleet.


"The enemy fleet is now thirty minutes away."


Advance warning. Such a luxury. With so much time to prepare, it was a


pity they had limited manufacturing facilities, or a decent reception could be




"Can you identify individual ships yet."


"We have categorised the ships according to class, Sir. Three of the ships


are of the same class as the one which trapped the Vengeance. One of them has a


nearly identical drive-signature to that ship. I am sure it is the same ship."


"Good. Place a high designation on that ship. I wish to personally be the


one to destroy it. Navigation, plot a short jump, one light year out of the


system, diametrically opposite to the enemy's approach vector. We will watch the


battle from there, and pick our openings."


Xris settled back to wait, impatience burning in every fibre of his body.


Once they had destroyed this pathetic fleet, they would pay another visit to the


Federation capital, and he would personally oversee it's slagging.






"Picard, this information may prove to be invaluable. After this battle,


you will explain to me in detail where you got it, and how the Defiant got back


from the Gamma Quadrant."


"I will."


"All ships, break into attack formation. Good hunting."

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A fanfic by Michael January














"There are a total of thirty eight individual islands of static on sub-


space. Their locations are consistent with defensive positions in the Bajoran




"Can you scan any of those ships?"


"No sir. The static emanating from the disturbances prevents any form of


scanning, direct target locks, or transportation."


Just like the republic ships they had departed, Picard thought. The ships


had a remarkably small signature for their size even when their so-called


'static damping' was not in effect. The static damping itself was a major source


of frustration for targeting and scanning, let alone when they activated their


jamming systems and broadcast high-powered interference patterns all over the




Picard, and his crew, were used to having to dock in starbases which


dwarfed the Enterprise, and they had come across a few ships larger than the


Enterprise in their time, Borg cubes, Romulan and Dominion battle-cruisers, and


so forth. Yet, they had been taken aback by the sheer immensity of scale of the


Republic battle-cruiser they had docked with for the brief hyperspace trip. It


should have been impossible to maintain an effective inertial damping or


artificial gravity system on a ship so huge and so mobile. At least a starbase


was a comparatively stationary structure. The smallest of the alien battle-ships


easily dwarfed the Romulan and Dominion ships, yet were considered mere


'escorts' to the immense battle-cruisers. Destroyers, they had been called.


Geordi had all the Enterprise's immense sensory systems running to monitor


the performance of the battle-cruiser during their hyperspace trip, especially


the transition to hyperspace. The Enterpise's inertial damping recording


instruments had registered an acceleration that had gone off the scale when the


ship made the jump. If they hadn't been incorporated into the battle-cruisers


environment, the ship would have been torn apart. Not even their Structural


Integrity Fields would have stood up to such acceleration. Whatever served as a


SIF for the aliens had to be exceptionally powerful. They had shrugged questions


aside, with only one person mentioning something to the effect of molecular


enhancement fields and matrix acceleration.


Apparently, one of the ships in the Bajoran system was an equivalent ship


to Antilles immense battle-cruiser. Antilles had designated it an Executor-class


command ship. Apparently it was supported by a Giel-class battle-cruiser, which


though smaller, had equivalent firepower, being a pure fleet combat vessel. They


would have to approach to within a few tens of kilometers of these ships to burn


through their jamming systems. It was not a thought Picard liked to dwell on.


"All ships," Admiral Rostov was saying, "we have one priority, and one


priority only, the destruction of the Gate. According to information supplied by


Captain Picard, the Gate is the only supply line the Imperials have into this


galaxy. We destroy the Gate, and evacuate the system as fast as possible. The


remaining ships we can deal with later, if they don't surrender.


"We will conduct a few raids, to test enemy firing patterns, then all


ships will attack the Gate, and the Gate only."


Picard was surprised. Did the Admiral feel that they could succeed where


the Dominion had failed. They would have to whittle the numbers down first, any


immediate attack on the Gate would be met with immense resistance. It would be


tantamount to suicide. Nevertheless, suicide or not, if they could destroy the


Gate, the battle would be considered won, regardless of the cost.






Leahcim Xris had his fleet lying dead in space one light-year out of


Bajor. All ships had cut every system down to it's absolute minimum. Data from


the battle was being relayed to him from multiple sources. He had dropped off a


number of sensor stealthed probes in the system, some in space, some on


asteroids, some on moons. These were recording the entire battle, and relaying


their data via directional sub-space, impossible to intercept unless you parked


a sub-space receiver directly in the path of the beam.


The enemy ships slowed down just outside the system, coming in at only a


few times light-speed according to their sub-space trails. Careful of the


interdiction fields, they took their time in their approach. Several minutes


crawled by as the sub-space markers representing the enemy ships moved across


the system towards the position of the Gate. At their speeds, they were easy to


track, but impossible to target with conventional weapons. Well, they would have


to slow down in the interdiction field, or at least to fire their weapons with


any effectiveness.


Slowly, the battle took shape. The enemy started out by launching


torpedoes from long range, several light-seconds, forcing the defenders to


activate their interdiction fields to slow down the torpedoes. These torpedoes


were easily shot down, their purpose served. The alien fleet then cautiously


entered the interdiction field, but the defenders had a further surprise. They


allowed the aliens to increase speed again, testing the limits of their warp


drives, then they activated sub-space jamming at the same time as a second group


of interdictors suddenly swept out cones of intense graviton fields, increasing


the field strength significantly around the alien ships. Forced to slow down,


but undeterred, the aliens pressed on, now approaching to a range of one light


second but on a curving trajectory so the distance wasn't closed too soon. The


odd ranging shot was fired by the defenders, but no serious attempt at firing


was made, yet.


A wave of enemy ships broke in, closing the range in half a second, and


launched several fusion engined torpedoes at the Gate. The defenders were primed


for this, and the torpedoes were met by a wall of light turbo-laser and laser-


cannon fire. Both sides were rather tentative about their exchanges at this


stage. Each attempting to test the other's resolve, probing for potential




"Sir," Xris was interrupted, "I have a new group of contacts on the


passive scope. I make fifteen ships, sub-space trails of unknown type, approach


speed an order of magnitude greater than the first group of aliens."


"Confirm destination and time of arrival."


"Bajoran system, likely trajectory is the Gate itself. ETA is three




Three minutes! The Federation ships had taken more than an hour to make


their approach before slowing down. This new group was not messing around.


"Victory-one, jump to grid reference nine by one-seven by eight zero. Five


second active scan, then return to this position and report."




Seconds later, the Victory vanished. Xris waited anxiously.


"Victory arrived, target grid reference. Detecting active sub-space scan


from Victory-one's location. Preliminary secondary data indicates vessel sizes


equivalent to destroyer sized vessels. Victory-one has jumped."


Destroyer sized vessels, Xris thought. Up to now they had seen nothing


larger than frigates or corvettes from the aliens. The destroyers were a


surprise, the enemy must be pulling out their big guns.


"Get Victory-one's sensor-data as soon as she meshes in. Have Victory-two


plot a jump to Bajor. They might not have picked up these signals in all the


battle interference."


"Victory-one meshed in. Data coming through now."


"Echo data to Victory-two."


"Done. We read fifteen cube shaped vessels, on a course for the Gate, ETA


two minutes ten seconds. The cubes are three kilometers on a side. Life-sign


readings indicate upwards of one hundred thousand humanoid life-forms or




"Victory-two. Get that data to the Aggressor. Now."


Xris had a bad feeling about this. He could feel adrenalin beginning to


pump in his system. This battle was going to be a humdinger.


"We read one cube diverging from the main group. It is heading towards




"Okay, we've been spotted. Raise all shields, activate static damping,


power up all systems, weapons have power priority. Victory's to set gunnery


control to point defense mode, form up in screening positions. Imperators


gunnery control to broadside on projected enemy trajectories. Allegiance class


ships will engage the enemy at will."


Xris swore. They didn't have any interdictors assigned to their group, and


no way to suppress the maneuverability of the incoming ship. If it came to it,


they would have to withdraw to the interdiction zone around the Gate sooner than






"Forty seconds."


On the holo-display, the cube-shape of the incoming destroyer was now


quite apparent. Tentative markers were beginning to appear denoting locations of


major power sources on the cube, most likely weapons systems, shield generators,


life-support system, possible devices to do with their distortion drive


technology, a known weak point in the alien technology base.


"Split gunnery into groups, assign targeting priorities as follows. Forty


percent on drive technology, thirty percent on weapons systems. Fifteen percent


to target likely communications or sensor pods, and fifteen percent to


concentrate on shield generators."




"Tactical. The enemy has slowed down, they are attempting to scan us.


Static damping is proving effective. Enemy has ceased attempts at scanning."


"Communications. The enemy is attempting to establish communications.


Audio only."


"What? They want to talk?"


"Yes, sir."


"Very well. Anything to keep them happy. Inform me when they are in


gunnery range."


"Opening an audio channel."


The bridge was silent for a second, then was filled with a voice which


Xris almost mistook for an android voice. But even a droid had more emotion than


the voice which filled the bridge.


"I am Borg. Resistance is futile. Lower your shields. Prepare to be




"Is it asking for our surrender?" Xris asked of nobody in particular,


shocked at the temerity of the aliens.


"Resistance is futile." The voice repeated. On the holo-display the cube


had slowed down to a full stop relative to the Imperial fleet under Xris's


command. It was well within weapons range. On the holo-display, Xris saw a


tractor beam reach out from the cube, attempting to grasp a nearby Victory class


destroyer. The Victory fired it's engine briefly, dragging the cube along


momentarily as it broke the tractor lock.


"Permission to open fire, sir?"


"Cut audio. Open fire. Destroy that vessel."


A ripple of fire from the Victory nearest the cube lashed out, blowing


holes in the hull of the nearby cube. The cube made no attempt to evade, and a


second tractor beam lashed out at the Victory. This time, as the tractor beam


locked on, a powerful laser blast fired at the Victory.


"Victory-seven's starboard shields down to thirty percent. After one hit."


The Victory rolled clear, firing it's dorsal and port guns as they came to


bear. The tractor lock appeared to be broken, but a second and third tractor


beam lashed out across the fifty thousand kilometer gap, narrowly missing the


Victory. A second Victory approached, firing it's weapons and attempting to


break the lock. Chunks of the cube's hull were vapourised by the super-hot


blasts, but it merely attempted to lock more tractor beams on the second


Victory. Other Imperial ships were moving in on the cube now, which though


taking damage, was holding it's own against the two Victory-class ships.


"Sir. I am picking up strange readings from the cube."


"Follow procedures when reporting. What are you picking up?"


"It appears to be repairing itself at a phenomenal rate. I have run a


diagnostics on my sensor board, but the readings are fine."


"What do you mean at a phenomenal rate? How fast is it repairing itself?"


For answer, the operator had a display zoom in on the cube.


"It appears to be almost keeping pace with the rate at which it is taking


damage. And the rate of repair seems to be increasing."


"No," another operator answered, "it's not the rate of repair, it is


generating a shielding system optimised for turbolaser deflection."


"There is also an immense amount of sub-space communication between this


cube and the others."


"Jam all communications."


On the screen now, five Victories were pummeling the cube. Xris could now


visibly see the turbolaser blasts being deflected by it's shields, and still it


made no attempt to evade. Still only the tractor beams and it's associated laser


were being used. The tractor beams appeared to operate on a principal designed


to interact with shielding, and the laser blasts fired along the tractor beams


were highly effective, using the tractors to help dig into the shielding. A nice


trick. An imperator powered into firing position on the cube, and unleashed a


full dorsal broadside on the vessel. The broadside smashed the shields aside,


but the shields had done their primary duty, and the damage to the cube was


significant, but not devastating. By the time the Imperator was ready to fire a


second broadside, the shields were back up, and the cube was repairing itself


behind the shields.


"Move in a second Imperator, let them alternate broadsides on the same


face. Ripper to engage the cube on an adjacent face. Withdraw Victories seven,


nine and eleven."


"Sir, we have managed to jam some of the communications, but the enemy is


now concentrating power in the other bands, and we are not certain that the


jamming is effective in those bands."


"Continue, I want all communications stopped."


The cube seemed unperturbed at the departure of the three Victory's, and


turned it's attention on the Imperator instead. The two remaining Victories,


plus the two Imperators firing on it, had caused it's entire surface to be


covered with superficial damage, which disappeared as fast as it was inflicted.


The two Imperators were now hitting the cube with a broadside every second, and


the face they were hitting was taking damage noticeably faster than the shields


could withstand or the automatic repair system could overcome. The cube merely


rotated, bringing a fresh face to bear.


"Ripper to concentrate fire on that damaged face. Smasher and Stomper each


to take a cube face as well. Victories three, four and eight, take a cube face.


Victories five and six withdraw. All remaining Imperators, move in."


Half his force of Victories had now been forced to withdraw, and Xris


could see that the Imperator which was taking most of the cube's attention


wouldn't hold out much longer either. Four of the cube faces were now just


twisted and glowing metal, but the cube was still fighting. However, with more


than ten capital ships pouring fire into it from all angles, the damage factor


was climbing steadily.


"More than thirty percent of the cube has been destroyed, it's outer hull


has been destroyed, but it is still under way, and firing."


"Continue the attack."


"Yes, sir."


Xris could clearly see the damage rate was climbing exponentially now, as


the combined fire of his entire task force took it's toll. Incredibly, the


damage factor on the cube climbed to eighty percent before it detonated in an


eruption of antimatter.


"All ships, you have thirty seconds to recharge shields, then we jump. We


might as well join the main battle now."


The strategic display was refreshed with an image of the main battle. Xris


blanched. Of the fourteen cubes which had attacked the Gate, eleven remained,


and they were pressing in towards the Gate. Almost the entire Imperial force was


clustered around the Gate, with the eleven cubes pressing hard towards them. On


the outskirts of the interdiction zone, were the Federation ships. They were


allowing the cubes to press the attack alone. Strange that they weren't


supporting the cubes, but maintaining their distance.


"Sir, I read twenty nine ships in the Aggressor's force, they must have


lost a few ships."


"Okay, we're going in. Jump directly into the interdiction field, away


from the Federation's main fleet. We will provide whatever support we can


against the Federation destroyers, or whoever their allies are."








A heated debate raged amongst the five most senior Federation captains.


With the arrival of the Borg, the Federation leaders were unsure what to do.


"We should offer the Imperials our support. We cannot allow the Borg to


assimilate their technology, especially the Gate technology. That would mean


unleashing the Borg on the entire Universe."


"After what the Imperials did to us? I say let them fight it out with the


Borg, we can destroy the Gate once they've torn each other to pieces."


"Gentlemen. This is an opportunity to stop the war. We can offer the


Imperials our support in exchange for their withdrawal from our territory."


"I agree. Support the Imperials in exchange for their withdrawal."


"No. You have seen their attitude. You have read the reports from the


worlds they have invaded. They will never live up to any treaties or agreements.


Let the Borg take care of them, then we'll take care of the Borg, and destroy


the Gate once and for all."


"Hell, it looks pretty even out there. If we wait, we can mop up this


entire battlefield, and destroy the Gate."


"We cannot allow the Borg to assimilate even a part of their technology,


remember they are transmitting everything they learn to the collective as they


experience it. It's paramount that we prevent them from assimilating any part of


the Imperial force."


"Gentlemen, let us not forget why we are here. We want to destroy the


Gate, after that we can handle the Imperials. The Borg are here to assimilate


the Gate and whatever else they can lay their hands on. The Imperials and the


Borg have their hands full with each other. We can run right by them both and


attack the Gate directly. This will destroy the Imperial supply-line, and remove


the primary reason the Borg are here. After that, we can let the Borg duke it


out with the Imperials, and we can pick up the pieces afterwards."


"Are you mad, attacking the Gate will draw the fire of both the Borg and


the Imperials. The conservation of the Gate is of paramount importance to them




"Exactly," Picard joined in, "that is why we must destroy the Gate. That


will cut off the Imperials, and render the Borg's mission here pointless."


"We do that, and we will still have eleven Borg cubes to deal with."


"Ten," Somebody amended, "and there are now twenty six Imperial ships


still in the battle. Most of the escorts seem to be hard pressed, although they


are still covering the two battle-ships. Won't be long before it's only the


battle-ships left."


"I say we do what Picard suggests, run in under their noses and destroy


the Gate, but give them a bit more time to weaken each other."


Even as the speaker spoke, an Imperial escort vessel appeared to stop


firing, and lose way.


"Detecting multiple transports onto that ship. The Borg are attempting to


assimilate it."


"Contacts. Multiple contacts. Twenty more imperial ships have entered the




On the far side of the interdiction field an entire fleet of Imperial


ships had arrived. They were powering down towards the battle at the Gate.


Picard recognised some of the ships from the attack on Earth. This could swing


the battle significantly the way of the Imperials. Even as he watched, though,


another Imperial escort ship was destroyed. The ten remaining Borg cubes seemed


to have adapted quite well to the Imperial weaponry, and were holding their own,


pressing the Imperial formation back towards the Gate and the two immense


battle-ships defending the Gate. In the distance, the wormhole lay undefended.


Picard considered going through for a quick look to see what was on the other


side, but thought better of it. Antilles had said their forces were monitoring


the wormhole quite closely, expecting an Imperial raid. Any ship exiting the


wormhole would be under serious threat of destruction by accident.


The new group of Imperials were now passing the ship on which the Borg


transport flickers had been detected. One of the larger ships callously fired a


full broadside into the stricken ship, destroying it in a violent detonation as


it's reactor core blew. Picard supposed it was the safest thing they could do,


to prevent it coming under Borg control.


"Let's hope it doesn't come to that for us." Picard stated. "I say we go


in now, destroying that Gate is paramount. We can attempt to withdraw


afterwards, but we cannot allow that Gate to survive, whether it is in Imperial


hands or Borg hands."


"Votes. Aye if you support Picard's suggestion."








"Two votes in support, plus Picard, makes three. I vote 'aye'. That is


four to one in favour of Picard's suggestion. Gentlemen, let's do it."






Xris didn't even glance back at the destroyed Imperator behind them.


Admiral Piett had ordered it destroyed rather than risk it falling into enemy


hands, and that was that. Without shields, it couldn't stop the hordes of


boarders transporting onto the ship, and they couldn't spare another ship to


nursemaid it by broadcasting jamming signals to prevent transportation. The


Render and it's sister ships didn't carry as much troops as an Imperator or


Victory class ship, but Xris ordered them distributed throughout the ship


anyway, with priority to vital areas.


"All ships, the enemy is reported to have optimised their shields for


turbolasers. Launch all fighters." They would have to sacrifice the fighters.


They probably wouldn't do much good, except as a distraction for the enemy


capital ships. "Mix up ion and turbolaser blasts, prepare to launch concussion


missiles into any shield or hull breach. Victories and Imperators, broadside


cube-four by pairs on the way in. Smasher, Stomper, Ripper and Render. I want a


co-ordinated four-ship broadside on the cube as the destroyers pass through,


followed up by a volley of concussion missiles."


The first few broadsides on the cube didn't appear to have any noticeable


impact. It's shields had been configured superbly. However, twenty ships firing


a broadside in quick succession will have an effect on anything, and by the time


the four Allegiance-class ships came in line-abreast two of the cube's faces


were severely damaged. It rotated a fresh face to the four ships just as the


broadsides were unleashed, followed by dozens of concussion missiles. The multi-


ship broadside smashed down the shields of the cube, and ripped into it's hull.


Micro-seconds later the concussion missiles slammed home, detonating in a solar-


fusion fury inside the cube. The four allegiance-class ships had time to fire a


second broadside into the remnants of the cube, just in case, as they powered on


past it.


"Xris." It was Piett, "have your ships assume a defensive screen around


the battle-cruisers. My ships will fall back and recharge shields. Withdraw


slowly towards our position. You are to hold the cubes as long as possible."


"Yes, sir." Throwing us to do the dogs, hoping he wouldn't have to commit


his major forces to battle. The bastard.


"All ships." Xris ordered to his forces. "Pair up, two ships to a cube.


Spread firepower evenly through pairs. Continuous fire, gunnery control-mode to


be set to fleet engagement. Watch for opportunities to launch concussion


missiles into shield breaches."


Concussion missiles were pretty useless against modern shields, or even


ancient shields for that matter, but against an unshielded hull, or better yet,


inside an unshielded hull, were highly destructive. The ships were paired,


Imperators together, and Victories with Allegiance-class ships. The Render and


it's paired Victory headed for their cube, relieving three of Piett's


destroyers, two of which were already showing signs of damage. They still had


their static damping going, so probably hadn't been boarded.


"Open fire, concentrate fire on the broadest face of the cube, launch one


concussion missile a second into the same point, maybe we can slip one through


the shields."


The Render shuddered slightly.


"Tractor lock."


"Continuous flak-bursts, in the tractor beam. Break it up. Launch


concussion missile at the tractor projector."


"Tractor lock broken."


"Repeat tactic for future locks. Distribute data to fleet."






"All fighters launched, and waiting for orders."


"Spread squadrons evenly amongst the cubes. Fighters to target any and all


tractor beam projectors with laser cannons. If their lasers are coming out,


maybe ours can go in. TIE Bombers are to maintain steady bombardment of cubes,


any cube-face, anything to put a load on their shields. Put in a request to the


Aggressor for more TIE Bombers."






"Dorsal shields down to thirty percent."


"Put her on the port ventral shield."


"Aye, sir, commencing roll."


"Any shield readings from that cube?"


"They have independent shields, one shield per cube face. Cube rotates to


prevent major shield degradation."


"Shield Power?"


"Current face appears to be sixty five percent, plus or minus ten




"What is the discrepancy due to?"


"The shield appears to be continuously modulated depending on the nature


of the energy it is being bombarded with. I also have no fixed maximum reading


as a baseline."


"Very well."


"Sir, the cube's shields appear to be getting more resistant to our fire


rather than less resistant."


"They are probably just figuring our how to optimise their shields.


Everything has an upper limit of what it can withstand. Switch ion cannons to


negative charge. Helm, come about twenty points, we're going closer in. Laser


cannons stand by, hold fire until my mark."


"Sir, Victory-eight reports their shields approaching critical levels."


"Request it be replaced by one of Admiral Piett's escorts. They should


have recharged by now."


"Admiral Piett has agreed to the request. He is sending out a Nebulon B




"Better than nothing. Have it approach to within laser-cannon range, their


ion cannons to positive charge, turbolasers to be fired in broadsides."


"The frigate acknowledged."


"Order them to come around on our leeward side, they are to approach the


cube using us as a shield until they are in laser cannon range."


"Port shields down to forty percent."


"Put the enemy on our starboard flank, forward quarter. Starboard guns to


broadside mode."


"We are in laser-cannon range."


"Full broadside, laser-cannons."


"We have shield penetration."


"Concussion missiles."




"They have reconfigured their shields for lasers. Two concussion missiles


slipped through. Cube is rotating fresh shields to us."


"Maintain laser-cannon fire, fleet engagement mode, turbolasers to


broadside mode, broadsides to be followed by concussion missiles. Have the TIE's


concentrate on the damaged face."


"TIE's report heavy shields. Cube face is being repaired."


"TIE's to continue bombardment."


"The cube is firing at the TIE's, but their weapon efficiency against the


TIE's is very poor."


"Sir, we have movement amongst the main Federation fleet."


"Ignore that, our job is to keep the cubes back. Piett's ships will have


to handle them."


"The Aggressor and the Grinder are closing with the Gate, they have ten


escort ships moving to screening positions, the remaining destroyers are all


damaged, and will not participate in the defence except to provide support




"The cubes?"


"All nine still fully operational. We have three Victory's and one


Imperator approaching critical shield status."


They were unlikely to get help from the Aggressor and Grinder now, not


with the main Federation fleet heading for the Gate. They had just waited long


enough for their allies to wear away the Imperial defenses. Xris noticed the


frigate he had designated as his personal enemy amongst the attackers. Well,


nothing he could do about it now.


"Another concussion missile has slipped through. It appears that their


shields are momentarily weakened after each turbolaser broadside. The cube has


rotated another face towards us."


"We must be hurting them then. Have a squadron of TIE Bombers co-ordinate


their attack runs on the same face we are hitting. Time their attack to our


broadsides. They can get their missiles in faster than us."


A few broadsides later, the TIE bomber attack came in. Xris ordered an all


weapons broadside, mixing up the charges of the ion cannons. He fired the


broadside an instant after the TIE's launched their missiles, the broadside


impacting just before the missiles did. The combination of weapons hitting the


shield, or the sheer power of the weapons, was sufficient to momentarily smash


down the shields, allowing several turbolaser blasts through, as well as dozens


of the tiny proton torpedoes. The cube was rocked by several internal




"Damage readings?"


"Cube still operable. Fresh face rotated towards us, life-sign readings on


the cube has decreased significantly."


"Damage rate?"


"Stabilised, the cube's shields have been reinstated."


"Set up another attack run. Have all ships co-ordinate their attacks on


their respective cubes. Missiles to follow all weapon broadsides as close as




Their own concussion missiles couldn't be used, because they would have to


be fired before the broadside, but the broadside would overtake and destroy the


missiles. For future engagements they could have the missiles re-programmed for


a curving flight path.


"The Federation ships are attacking the Gate. Aggressor and Grinder are


engaging them."


"Ignore that, our job is to take on these cubes."


"The cubes are pushing past, they are ignoring us. They are going after


their own ships!"


Incredulously, Xris watched as the cubes he had thought allied with the


Federation fleet ignore his ships and open fire on the Federation ships. They


must be from a different faction. Well, it was just in time as far as he was


concerned. Most of his ships were in critical shield status, and quite a few had


taken damage.


"Sir, shouldn't we be going after the cubes?"


"No. They're doing our job for us. Ignore the cubes, come around to an


intercept heading on the Federation ships. All guns, broadside mode. Full power


to ion drives, I want that frigate over there. Fleet order, all ships to defend


the Gate. Repeat. Ignore the cubes, all ships to target the Federation ships."


The hundred strong fleet of corvettes, gunships, frigates and assault


shuttles which made up the Federation fleet had come to a stop arrayed around


the Gate. They were all spread out, preventing the Imperials from concentrating


the fire from their depleted forces. Fortunately, the cubes were doing their bit


as well. Piett had given up trying to target the myriad of missiles and


torpedoes targeting the Gate, and was concentrating fire on the tiny Federation


ships. One after another, they were detonating.


The frigate Xris had targeted was weaving a path through the destruction,


leading an apparently charmed life, firing volley after volley of pulsating blue


missiles at the Gate. The Render swept past a cube, which was firing at a nearby


enemy corvette of some strange configuration.


"Target that corvette, broadside, fire."


The corvette detonated in a blue-white hell as it's antimatter containment


fields ruptured. The cube ignored them and selected another target. The Render


swept on, narrowly missing a collision with a small bird-like ship. A flurry of


turbolaser and laser-cannon shots followed the ship, but it darted away behind


another cube. Ahead of them, a frigate crossed their nose.


"Frigate, dorsal broadside. Fire."


The frigate staggered under the onslaught, and rolled over crazily,


battling to retain it's stability. The Render swept past, going too fast for a


second broadside. Behind them, a cube casually raked it's tractor beams across


the frigate, and blew away a large section of it's circular superstructure.


"We're coming up on the frigate you've targeted sir."


"The Gate's shields are down. It's taking damage."


"Stay on target. Designate every third turbolaser free, laser-cannons are


free to target missiles. Remaining weapons in reserve for broadside."


The immense two kilometer long cruiser shuddered as it smashed through


some wreckage, it's forward shields battling to retain integrity. The elusive


frigate was well within weapons range now, but there were several ships between


them and it, some of them friendlies.


The starfield outside the view-screen whirled crazily as the immense ship


braked and turned to avoid a Nebulon B frigate charging across their path. A


squadron of fighters screamed past, spattering their comparatively small arms on


any ship within sight. Nearby, a Federation ship which had lost it's shields was


swamped by several fighters, chewing away at it's hull with their rapid fire


cannons. The Federation ship accelerated away, smashing through three of the


fighters, only to be rammed by the immense bulk of a cube. The ship detonated


furiously, for a second totally obscuring the cube it had collided with.


The cube emerged from the explosion with a full quarter of it's bulk


burned away, but even as Xris turned away, he noticed that it was beginning to


repair itself.


"Helm, full reverse, come around eighty points, starboard. Full broadside


on that damaged cube. Now! Concussion Missiles."


The cube seemed to shiver and twist away as the broadside tore into the


damaged section. The concussion missiles followed up, adding to the carnage.


"Helm, get us back on course, intercept that frigate."


Behind them, several TIE bombers screamed towards the stricken cube,


firing missiles as fast as they could. A Nebulon B cruiser also turned on the


cube, which somehow was still operational. The Render shook as something hit it.


They had wandered into the path of several federation ships, and took a number


of hits not meant for them, but for the Gate. A furious battle erupted for a


handful of seconds, and then the Federation ships had swept past towards the


Gate, while the Render remained on course for the frigate it was chasing.


"Prepare full dorsal broadside, all weapons. Target that frigate. Fire."


The frigate, with seemingly inhuman reflexes or sheer good luck, banked


away, avoiding most of the broadside, and fired a volley of missiles at the


Gate. The Render spun around on it's axis, the bridge crew actually having to


hold on to whatever support was close by. The helmsman had a look on his face


like a child faced with a new toy, as he played with the controls, lining the


ship up for another broadside.


"Broadside, Fire." Xris shouted.


A second broadside ripped towards the frigate, which somehow managed to


evade, again only taking a few hits. Xris decided it wasn't luck, they must have


a superb helmsman, or a Jedi at the controls. He was pushed back into his seat,


as his own helmsman poured power into the ion engines, accelerating the huge


ship back the way it had come. He must be pulling thousands of gees, Xris


thought, the violent manoeuvres actually putting a strain on the inertial


dampers designed to withstand hyperspatial accelerations.


"Broadside, wide angle on enemy position. Fire." He shouted again.


The broadside this time was fired with a tiny angle of divergence


programmed into the targeting computers, bracketing the enemy position rather


than aiming at it. This proved more effective, several shots hitting the enemy


ship, but spread wildly over it's shields rather than concentrated. Despite


this, the enemy ship fired yet another volley of pulsating blue missiles at the




Xris prepared to order another broadside, but was caught by the sight


outside the view-screen. In the distance, a tiny ring could be seen, the Gate.


Close enough to be seen with the naked eye, and it was glowing. A flash, bright


as a star marked it's position for a second, then nothing. Their way home,




"The Federation ships are withdrawing. The cubes have resumed attacking


us, they are ignoring the Federation ships."


"All ships," Admiral Piett's voice came through, "withdraw to this point."


A set of hyperspace co-ordinates followed.


"Navigation, confirm co-ordinates."




"Execute." Xris ordered.


His last view of the Bajoran system was reminiscent of a starship


graveyard. Dozens of curiously shaped pieces of wreckage were visible, their


shape conformant with Federation vessels. Other wreckage was obviously that of


Imperial vessels, destroyers and frigates of various classes. Interspersed with


that were bits and pieces of destroyed Borg cubes. In the distance, a few


Imperators were loading up the last of the TIE fighters, and still firing


furiously at everything within range, making sure it was dead.


Three cubes were visible, closing in on the Imperators, but they would


have ample time to jump away. The Federation ships had disappeared the moment


the interdiction field had dropped. The image rotated, and flashed into the


static whorls of hyperspace as the Render jumped.






The Federation fleet, or what was left of it, was forced to stop barely


half a light year outside the system. Only forty ships remained, many of them


damaged, including the Enterprise. They had been forced to stop because the


three Borg cubes were closing fast at transwarp, the sub-space interference of a


high-powered transwarp conduit pulling several ships out of warp. Apparently,


the Imperials had vanished from all sensors, leaving only the three Borg cubes


and several millions of tons of largely incandescent wreckage behind. The Borg


had come after the only thing left on their scopes. The Federation fleet. They


would be here shortly.


"Damaged ships to the centre of the formation," Picard ordered, "full


shield modulation and weapons modulation."


Three cubes, two of them still showing signs of damage, against forty odd


Federation ships, most of them damaged, would be no match. Even as they closed


with the Borg cubes, Picard could see the last signs of damage on the cubes


disappear as the cubes repaired themselves. Now it was three undamaged cubes


against a severely depleted federation force.


"Damaged ships, escape to warp as opportunity presents itself, we will


give you as much time as possible to get away."


The Federation ships opened fire, merely attempting to hold back the


cubes, so their damaged counterparts could get away.


"Picard don't be a fool. We will engage them, you get away. The Federation


needs your ships. The Gate may be destroyed, but the Imperials are still out




"I can't leave you behind."


"Traitor! Think of the Federation, get away while you can, we will hold


the cubes up as long as we can."


Picard closed his eyes briefly, and shut out all thought of the fate of


the damaged ships and their crews. He had to do what he could.


"Lower your shields, we will beam your crews off."


"Negative. The Borg will just come after you so much sooner."


"Sir, multiple contacts, six hundred thousand kilometers, port bow."


"Type?" Picard thought wearily. Only Imperial ships could appear that


suddenly. Coming in to take revenge on the remains of the Federation fleet.


"Sensor profile consistent with the Imperial warships, sub-space static is


preventing further analysis. They are opening a communications channel."




"Picard." Antilles said, his visage filling Picard with some relief,


"These cubes, they are your enemy?"


"Yes. They are Borg."


"Do you need assistance?"


"Yes. We do."


Already two of the cubes were heading towards Antilles fleet.


"Two of my escorting squadrons will protect your damaged ships, have them


withdraw to these co-ordinates. Make sure your comrades know that we are


friends. We will destroy the cubes, then offer you further assistance."


So easy, Picard thought. Did Antilles think it was that easy?


"Be wary of those cubes, they have an incredible ability to adapt to


weapons of any type."


"Thank You."


The first of the cubes closed to within a few hundred thousand kilometers


of the Republic fleet. During the earlier battle with the Imperials, Picard had


not had an opportunity to observe one of these big command ships in action. He


now saw what had happened to most of their fleet at Bajor, and to the Borg cubes


which had wandered too close to the immense multi-kilometer battle-ships. The


entire cube was suddenly engulfed in a green burst of flame so powerful that


half the sensors on the Enterprise was momentarily engulfed in static. The cube


was gone.


"Number one?"


"Unbelievable. That ship is huge, but I never imagined. It fired close to


two thousand weapons at the cube. Individually, the bigger of the weapons fired


had a power level equivalent to half a dozen quantum torpedoes, and it had at


least four hundred such weapons. They fired simultaneously. The sheer power of


that broadside must be equivalent to several years worth of a star's total




"Well, I suppose even the Borg would have difficulty adapting to that. Now


we know what happened to the other cubes. The Imperials must have taken them




The two remaining cubes both made a bee-line for the immense warship.


Another one was smashed by a broadside, and the third came under fire from at


least two dozen mile-long escort ships. A third broadside from Antilles command


ship was not needed.


"My hangars are clear. I suspect I can squeeze in all your larger ships,


and the smaller ones can dock on the destroyers. Once the docking is complete,


we can return you to your capital world in a few hours."


"That would be appreciated." Picard answered.






Half an hour later, the Enterprise was once again docked in primary hangar


number one of the Mediator. This time, it was accompanied by a surviving sister


ship in the same hangar. Forward of the two ships were four Akira's stacked side


by side, two deep. Alongside the two Sovereign class ships, several of the


smaller Excelsiors, Intrepids and Oberths had been squeezed in. In the second


primary hangar, two kilometers away, at least a dozen other Federation ships


were docked. Ambassadors, Rigels, and even an old Galaxy. A number of the


smaller ships, defiant-class, peregrines and so forth were distributed in the


remaining six hangars.


A few other ships had been forced to dock in the escort ships hangars. But


fully three dozen of the Federation fleet was aboard the Mediator.


"Prepare for hyperspace jump. Five seconds."


A warning tone sounded in the hangar, picked up by their outboard sensors.


The tone stopped, but nothing appeared to have changed. A glance through the


atmospheric containment field however confirmed they were in hyperspace. The


blackness of space had been replaced by a bright static whorl of colours, with a


vague impression of star formations flashing by.

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A fanfic by Michael January






The Imperial fleet, or rather, it's remnants, were assembled over one of


the planets they had captured. The SSD Aggressor, and the Giel-class Grinder,


were unscathed. The battle, furious as it had been, had not gone on long enough


for either ship to suffer significant shield degradation, let alone hull damage.


The escorts though had not been so lucky. Of the fifty odd destroyer class


vessels, only twenty nine were left, and eight of these were severely damaged.


The other twenty one ships had suffered minor damage, a few scorched hull


plates, and the odd blown shield generator, but were being rapidly repaired.


The Render was one of these. Some alluvial dampeners had had to be


replaced, and two shield generators had been repaired. The Render's own


astromech droids had taken care of it, digging into their rarely used stores for


this purpose. The eight damaged ships were being repaired aboard or underneath


the Aggressor. They would be passably operational in a few more days, but would


need a dry-dock repair to return to full Imperial spec.


Xris himself, and his crew, and no doubt the rest of the Imperial forces,


had been stunned at the loss of the Gate. Subsequent analyses of the battle had


assuaged them that they had fought as well as could be expected, and had been


merely overwhelmed by the opposing forces. The Federation forces had suffered


more than seventy percent damage, and the unknown assailants in the cubes had


suffered ninety percent damage, as opposed to their fifty percent damage. A


victory by that measure, except that the Gate had been destroyed.


Nobody had expected the Federation ships to attack the Gate with absolute


disregard for their own safety or sane military tactics. The attack had been


tantamount to a suicide run, but it had accomplished the obvious goal of the


Federation fleet.


Once the initial shock had worn off, and people realised that their was no


way home, many theories had been put forward in the mess-halls and maintenance


hatchways, which Xris had been quick to suppress. Most of the crew was now of


the opinion that the Empire would build a second Gate. Others were of the


opinion that they should attempt to establish contact with the Republic forces


on the far side of the wormhole, but the single ship despatched had not


returned, if it ever made it to the far side. No starmaps existed which would


allow them to reach the far end of the wormhole.


One suggested project was to detail a group of ships to scout a lane to


the far end of the wormhole, a project which might take six weeks to two months.


Others were prepared to wait for a second Gate to be manufactured. Admiral Piett


had shut off all rumours and suggestions, and issued orders to the effect that


the fleet was to patrol the captured worlds, capture new ones, and otherwise


expand the influence of the Empire until such time as a second Gate was




Xris had little doubt as to what would happen to them should they return


to the Empire with their tails between their legs. The Admiral's orders were the


best course of action. They were having a holo-conference right now to discuss


how this might best be carried out.


"Captain Xris," the Admiral was saying, "We will split our forces into


three groups. This world will be our capital, and it will serve as a base of


operations. The Aggressor, with Stomper, Smasher and a small force of destroyers


will remain here as a defensive fleet. The Grinder, with the Ripper and a small


force of Victories, will patrol the captured worlds, and as far as possible


protect their sovereignty as possessions of the Empire.


"You will take your own ship, three Imperators, and four Victories, and


continue to conduct raids on the Federation worlds, if possible capturing more




A small force, but he at least he would have some autonomy. At least there


was no shortage of troops and supplies. The amount of equipment, troops,


supplys, and transports that had come through the wormhole in the last few weeks


was more than sufficient for several years of operations. The few dozen worlds


they had captured would also serve as an adequate industrial base until the


Empire built a second Gate. If they built a second Gate, he added quietly to




"Yes, sir." He answered. "I will have full autonomy in the targets I


choose, and the strategy I embark on?"


"Of course. As long as you maintain a sufficient rate of expansion."


Yes, Xris thought, and I will be the one to lose my head should things go


wrong. Piett was making sure that he placed himself in the easiest position,


that of defending already secured worlds. Xris had the smallest force, with the


most difficult task.


Thinking about it, Xris realised that if he survived, he would come out of


this whole fiasco untarnished, not so for Piett and Jerjerrod. Already, his


battle record for this campaign was exceptional. His ship had scored the highest


index of damage in the battle defending the Gate. Unless he died, or could be


discredited, then Piett and Jerjerrod could concoct any story they desired, and


he would be cast to the dogs. Well, it was out of such adversities that careers


could be made.


"I have designated the following ships for your task force," the Admiral


continued, "as you can see, they are the best combination possible given the


performance of the crews and the state of the ships. Naturally, with such


forces, I expect you to produce results to match."


"Yes, Sir."


Of course he would be given the best, Xris thought. That way if he failed,


he would have no excuses. Well, he wouldn't need any.


"If it pleases the Admiral, I would like to leave within the hour."






Xris gathered his fleet ninety light years out, close to the edge of the


sphere totally under Imperial control. Beyond the hundred light year radius from


Bajor were many Federation, Klingon and Romulan worlds. Also a few Cardassian




In the short trip, less than one hour in hyperspace, Xris had examined


what he knew about Federation technology, fleet dispositions, starship design,


industrial and population demographics. He needed to find a way to maximise the


damage he could do with the half a squadron he had at his disposal. By the end


of the trip, he thought he had found a way. The Imperial scouts had been largely


placed at his disposal. These consisted of a squadron of gunships, several


droidships, and a few dozen probe droids. These scouts had already mapped and


charted a sphere three thousand light years around Bajor.


Most of them he put back to work, expanding the scouted area. He retained


half of the gunships though, for use as intelligence gatherers on systems he had


marked. What he was looking for, were systems that provided key minerals for


starship construction and maintenance. Also, systems that were used as supply


depots, communications relays, or major industrial centres. It would be


difficult if not impossible for such a small force of ships to seriously impact


communications in the region, the Federation could surely replace sub-space


relays and boosters faster than they could destroy them, but that was one of the


places to start.


His major strategy though, was to attempt to do to the Federation what


they had done to the Imperials. Cut the supply lines. Imperial intelligence had


interrogated several prisoners from the captured worlds, and revealed many


interesting titbits. The Federation antimatter technology relied heavily on


dilithium crystals. Supplies were routed through starbases, many of them planet


or asteroid bound, with richer worlds having a huge bulbous orbital structure


which served as a dock, supply depot, regional headquarters, and field repair




Destroy the major starbases, and the supply lines would be lengthened. Cut


the supply of dilithium, and their antimatter technologies would be severely


curtailed. Destroy facilities dedicated to the mining and processing of material


related to starship hull construction, and their ship-building program would be


curtailed. In between that, capture the odd world here or there. In a few weeks,


he could have the Federation fleet on it's knees, or at least unable to mount a


successful long-distance raid deep into Imperial territory.






Worf and Antilles fought. Perspiration dripped as they sparred. They had


been at it for several hours now, with no breaks. Worf felt in superb physical


condition, not that he had ever allowed himself to go slack, but for the last


three days, and in the time before, Antilles had worked him as hard as he could


wish to work himself.


The mental exercises were proceeding slowly, but the physical ones Worf


enjoyed. He had surprised himself on a number of occasions, moving to intercept


an attack before it could be done. He was familiar with the concept. It was said


that many Klingon heroes had had such abilities, to read an opponent so well


that they could anticipate the opponent's attacks before it had begun. He had


never imagined that the study could be so formalised, or that the techniques


might be unique to certain adepts.


He had difficulty with levitation, telekinesis and such, provoking severe


criticism from Antilles, but 'fighter-sense' came much easier.


"The problem is in your mind," Antilles said, "fighting sense is within


your belief system, so this comes easily. Telekinesis and Telepathy are foreign


to your personal belief system, and so will come harder."


"What about Troi? She is telepathic."


"Genetics. Her race is born with it. Other powers, such as telekinesis,


jedi-sight, meditative reflex enhancements, and more, are outside her race's


capabilities. Only a true understanding of the force allows the full spectrum of




"I have seen other people manipulate objects through telekinesis, and I


have seen Troi read minds, so I do believe that these things are possible."


"Yes, but you have always seen this done within the context of the race's


inherent capabilities. Capabilities which they have developed through various


factors of evolution or socio-psychology. They were not a gift of an individual,


and it has never been adequately demonstrated to you that anybody can achieve


such power, let alone yourself."


"I will try harder."


"No. It cannot be achieved through more effort, or harder work. You will


either do it, or you won't. Stop thinking about it. Just do it."


Worf changed the subject. "The negotiations. How is it proceeding?"


"Your government is as bad as mine. Like all politicians, they argue the


merits of each offer to the death. Many of them are convinced that the Imperials


will no longer be a factor now that the Gate is destroyed."


"And the Imperials?"


"Have rejected all our attempts at speaking to them. They are convinced


that their superiors will build another Gate."


"Will they?"


"I have been told that our intelligence services have satisfied themselves


that it will not be possible. The Imperials are certainly trying to build


another one, but many of their key engineers who were familiar with the Gate


project have been neutralised. Much of their records have also been destroyed by


saboteurs. It appears that the Republic intelligence service has much experience


in such tactics." Antilles smiled.


"Has this been conveyed to the local Imperial forces?"


"Yes, but they won't believe us. They are waiting for orders from their




"Can you not convey such orders from their superiors through your own




Antilles frowned at Worf. "Sometimes you are a bit naïve, Worf. Of course


their superiors haven't given such orders, and are unlikely to do so soon






"As long as their ships are operable here, and they are still attempting


to construct another Gate, they will hold out. Of course, the fact that we are


forced to commit our own much-needed ships to this galaxy is only in the


interest of the Imperial leadership. They are also proving quite effective at


whipping up dissent in fringe worlds, increasing the strain on our fleet


resources. Nothing we can prove of course."


"If it is such a strain, and you are sure the Imperials cannot build


another Gate, then you could leave. We can handle the forces that are left."


"That is the opinion of your government, and the reason the talks are


taking so long. Unfortunately, we feel a desire to stay, just to make sure. And


besides," Antilles smiled, "I can continue your training."


Worf twisted aside as he sensed something behind him. A plastic container


whizzed past his head. The distraction was sufficient for Antilles to place a


knife to his throat.


"See, you need all the training you can get."


"One day .." Worf growled.




"Never mind."


The two resumed sparring. If anything demanded their attention, they would


be informed. For now, the situation was out of their hands, and in the hands of








Starbase 81 was situated at the heart of an asteroid ten kilometers across


at it's broadest point. Externally, their were few signs that the asteroid was


anything other than it seemed. Transportation technology bypassed such


inconveniences as landing bays and launch facilities. Unfortunately, it was not


completely undetectable. Littered across the surface of the asteroid, were sub-


space receivers and transmitters, sensor pods, short and long range


communications devices, and the odd emergency hatchway in case of transporter




Also of course, their was the odd bit of traffic stopping by, which was


sure to give away it's location if nothing else did. However, stealth was not


the station's intent, and the asteroid's surface was also littered with shield


generators, phaser banks, and photon torpedo launch tubes. Well within


Federation territory, until recently anyway, and even then, more than two


thousand light years from the nearest Imperial held world, it's occupants


considered themselves fairly safe, despite most of it's defensive systems not


having been upgraded in the last few years. It's phaser banks were under-powered


compared to modern starships, and the only torpedoes it had were the more common


photon torpedo variety.


The first anomaly in the station's logs had occurred several hours ago,


when a sub-space disturbance concordant with a large starship's power source had


been detected. However, the disturbance had disappeared before a positive fix


could be obtained, and it had not recurred. Electromagnetic sensors were


focussed in the direction of the disturbance anyway, but had detected nothing so


far. The disturbance had been several light-hours away, and even if any


electromagnetic detection could be made, it might still be hours before the


radiation covered the immense distance.


The second anomaly in the station's logs occurred when two wedge-shaped


warships flashed into position a mere fifteen thousand kilometers away from the


asteroid. An automatic alarm shattered the peace of the station, but before any


orders or instructions or even expressions of surprise could be issued, the


asteroid was rocked by the hand of a giant.


A computer, determining that the station was under attack, raised the


shields, and the asteroid momentarily stabilised. Half a second had passed. The


commanding officer, grappling for support as the station stabilised itself,


opened his mouth to enquire of his sensor operator what was going on. Before he


could get a lucid response, the station rocked again, but less violently, as the


shields absorbed, redirected, and retransmitted the energy flung at the




"Two Imperial ships, fifteen klicks." The sensor operator managed.


"Charge Phasers. Load torpedo tubes."


"Sir we have taken damage to .."


"Shuddup. When will those torpedoes be ready?"


"Eight seconds, sir."


The station rocked again, slightly more urgently.


"The shields are .."


"Shuddup. Get a message off to starfleet. Now. Attach full sensor logs."


The station rocked again, throwing some of the bridge crew to the floor.


Others held onto their consoles.


"Torpedoes ready."


"Another ship at red seven, mark nineteen."


"Launch torpedoes."


A violent shudder ran through the deck.


"Damage to .."




A wall of red flame and molten rock exploded into the bridge section,


killing everyone in the room. Eleven seconds had passed.




The two and a half kilometer length of the Allegiance-class heavy


destroyer coasted past the shattered asteroid, much of it glowing red, with


blobs of molten rock radiating into space. An odd flicker of green stabbed into


the molten ruin, a brief flicker of low-energy communications was exchanged with


the two Victory destroyers in the distance. The three warships flickered out of


the system.








Starbase 43 was actually no such thing. Situated eight hundred kilometers


from New San Francisco, the largest city of a one hundred thirty year old Earth


colony. It consisted of a number of buildings, some above and some below ground.


It had never been close to any frontier in the entire history of Federation


space travel, and was meant merely as a convenient supply depot and regional


command centre. The entire planet was one of the most peaceful places in


Federation space. Two thousand light years from the neutral zone, eight hundred


light years from Cardassian space, over a thousand light years from the Bajoran


wormhole. There was nothing of significance on this planet, except that it had


been remarkably easy to terraform, and was conveniently located as a halfway


stop to more remote regions of Federation space.


The first sign of trouble came in the form of a panicky scream for aid


from New San Francisco. Below the horizon, it was effectively out of scanner


range from the starbase, not that they had the best scanners in the Federation


anyway. The only aid that was immediately available was in the form of two


runabouts, neither of them armed. Everything else had long since been recalled


to Earth, to face some new threat in a long string of threats. The base


commander sighed, sometimes he wondered why humanity had ever bothered with


space travel.


He ordered a security team to the transporter room.


"Get over there and report what's happening. The city claims to be under


attack, but our sensors report nothing came in from outside the system."


"We aren't close to any frontiers. Who would want to attack this backwater


anyway?" The officer complained.


"Just do it."


Finally catching the urgency in the base commander's voice, the officer


acknowledged. Seconds later, the comms panel beeped.


"Um, commander, there appears to be a problem with the transporter. A high


level of radiative static in the city area is preventing any transports to the


city area."


The commander pressed another button. "Sensors, are you sure nothing came


into the system?"


"Our antennae are all based in the outer system, and angled into deep-


space. Nothing came in that the sensors detected."


"Can you angle any antennae to scan the system itself?"


"It may not help, if any ships bypassed the sensors, they will be hugging


the planet out of direct line-of-sight. The only ships which could have by-


passed the sensors are those Galactic Empire ships mentioned in the last few


reports. They apparently have a trans-location type drive that can't be




Stepping over to his window, the commander looked out over the landing


area in the centre of the base. The two runabouts were sitting in the sun. They


were unarmed, but at least they could get to the city. He reached for the comms


control to transmit the necessary orders. The turn away from the window saved


his eyes. The window shattered inwards, the safety glass breaking into tiny


blunt bits which wouldn't cut, but the force of the blast driving them like


hundreds of tiny bullets. The commander was thrown clear across the room, his


ears throbbing with a sound he hadn't actually heard, but physically felt. He


knew what it was though. A hypersonic shockwave.


Battling to his feet, and gripping his broken arm, he staggered to the


opening where the window had been. The ferrocrete landing area was a shattered


ruin. Only one of the shuttles was recognisable, but it was lying on it's side


with a gaping hole facing the sky.


A scream was heard over the comms channel, which was still open. The


commander stepped through the glass to the wall on the far side, and smashed the


glass of the display case with his good arm. He reached in for a hand-phaser. He


was no idiot, the base was under military attack.


A noise sounded from behind him, and he froze. Something grabbed his


broken arm, and he twisted in pain. A blow to the back of his knees sent him to


the ground. He lay there, looking up at his attacker. The figure was humanoid,


but covered from head to foot in camouflaged armour. Several seconds went by,


while the attacker calmly stood and watched him, making no attempt to


communicate. In the background, the odd explosion could be heard, interspersed


with the crack of small-arms fire.


A black uniformed human, with embroidered epaulettes on his uniform walked


stiffly into the room. He snapped something to the armour clad guard, who


reached down, and dragged the wounded and bleeding starfleet officer to the


centre of the room. The uniformed figure gestured, and a cardassian was led into


the room by another armoured guard. The cardassian was forcibly seated at a


nearby computer console, and a gun placed to his head.


"Well?" the officer ordered.


"The computer is encrypted. It looks like the auto-encryption was enabled


by the security breach. It is standard procedure, unless the base commander had


specifically overridden the encryption order."


"Can you decrypt it?"


"No. I am not that familiar with Federation computer systems."


"You're useless. I don't know why intelligence thought you could help."


The officer casually blew the cardassian's brains out. He shoved the body


away from the computer console.


"Bring him here." He said to the guard.


"Do you understand me?" He asked of the base commander. The commander


looked at him blankly. It was a stupid move. The officer glanced at the armoured


guard, who smashed a gauntleted fist into his face.


"A test," the black clad officer smirked, "I know about the translator


unit embedded in your ear. Now decrypt the computer, please."


The base commander shook his head. Another blow struck him in the side of


the head, and he felt something give in his mouth. The bitter-sweet taste of


blood assailed his senses.


"Last chance." The officer said, his face hard, his mouth drawn into a


thin line.




The officer shrugged, and the guard shot the base commander in the head,


at point blank range. This was not the first outpost they had hit, and through


long experience knew that they might not capture a computer system before the


computer could encrypt it. Apparently, if a senior officer did not specifically


countermand the encryption order within a specified time-frame after a security


breach the computer auto-encrypted the entire system. They had tried physical


torture, drugs and hostages. However, the computer refused to decrypt if it


detected any sign of duress in the officer or his life-sign readings. They had


even tried simulations of the commander's voice patterns, but without the


physical presence of the base commander, a positive life-sign reading within


certain parameters, and a decrypt code, the attempts had failed.


"There is nothing for us here. Give the evacuation order. Two minutes to


orbital bombardment."








Starbase 72 was on full battle alert. It had lost contact with several


starbases in communications range. A few had managed to transmit reports of


Imperial attacks, others had just failed to respond to communications. Parity


analysis on sub-space signals had detected a noticeable deterioration in speed


and quality, most likely due to damaged or destroyed booster stations. The


Imperials were up to something alright.


Starbase 72 was one of the few starbases worthy of the designation. It


conformed to the typical structure of Federation starbases. A bulbous structure,


with a long 'tail'. It was not the biggest of such stations, at three kilometers


across and five kilometers tall. Armed with Type X phasers and photon torpedoes,


and a comprehensive data pack on the enemy fleet demographics, source unclear,


it was ready for any attack that might come. The wait wasn't long, and the base


commander was prepared for the attack, undeterred by it's suddenness when it did




"Victory-class Destroyer in sector three. Range 100 clicks." The sensor


operator reported, even as the deck vibrated from the first shots.


"Target with phasers, hold torpedoes till he gets closer. Watch for


missiles. Designate phaser bank three to point-defence, wide beam." Fired from


the nearly stationary base any torpedoes could be easily shot down at this


range, one hundred thousand kilometers. Enemy missiles too would be easy to


shoot down at this range.


"Unable to establish positive target lock, heavy sub-space static."


"Shields holding at ninety percent."


"Divert all non-essential power to weapons and shields. Switch targeting


to electromagnetic sensors. Computer to use video frequencies."


"Shields at ninety two percent."


"Positive visual lock established. The enemy is attempting to blind our EM


sensors with wide beam lasers."


"Auto switch frequencies."


"Enemy shields at eighty percent. Range eighty klicks."


"Missile warning."


"Missiles destroyed."


"Second Victory class in sector five. Third Victory class in sector six."


"Split phaser banks, three banks per destroyer. Reserve two emitters in


each bank for point defence."


"Shields down to seventy one percent."


"Seal all non military sectors. Power to minimum, life-support only. All


uninhabited sectors to be totally shut down. Divert power to shields."


The TAC-OF rapidly typed commands on his console, then turned and


shrugged. Any additional power would not make much difference at this stage.


"Enemy shield status."


"The enemy is staying at fifty clicks, it appears that at this range


electromagnetic targeting has only sixty percent accuracy. Enemy shield status


is static."


"They can manoeuvre, and we can't. Without a starship in support, we won't


be able to hold out much longer. Is there any chance of support soon?"


"Last report from starfleet before communications were blocked was that


the nearest starship was eighty light years away. At the optimum calculated


speed of warp 7.4 they will take thirty two days to get here."


"Can't they go any faster?"


"They have a full fuel load, but at higher warp speeds, they will run out


of fuel before they get here."




"We are at sixty nine percent. The enemy shields, as best we can


calculate, is in the seventies."


"Hold fire, divert all power to shields. If any ship approaches closer


than forty clicks give him a full phaser barrage."


"Yes, Sir."


"Enemy maintaining range, our shields have stabilised at seventy four


percent. At current fuel consumption rates we will run dry in seventeen point


four days."


The station rocked slightly.


"What was .."


"Another destroyer, range ten clicks, hit us with a full broadside. I make


it an Imperator-class."


"Shields dropped momentarily to sixty one percent."


"Phasers, full power, hit him with everything we've got."


The station rocked again, as the four phaser banks that could bear on the


target opened fire.


"His shields are down to forty percent. Our shields at forty five




The station rocked again, then again.


"Two more Imperator-class destroyers, range ten clicks, the Victories are


also closing range. Missile warning."


"Split power, shields and weapons. Launch torpedoes at best recycling




"Our shields are critical!"


"One Imperator has vanished, probably jumped out of system. Another ship


has come in, a big one. It has to be the Allegiance-class cruiser."


The station rocked again and again, as broadsides were hitting it now in


quick succession. A crash sounded from somewhere, and several people were thrown


to the ground.


"I'm sorry." The station commander said to his bridge crew, as the station


was slammed yet again by another hammer blow. Before anyone could reply, a wall


of superheated and highly corrosive plasma coolant swept through the control


room. The station died a fiery death, several more broadsides still ripping into


the metal inferno.






Worf was seated at the back of the large conference room. The room itself


was filled with captains, commanders and admirals. In this room was virtually he


entire senior staff of the Federation Starfleet. Admiral Sanchez was providing


an update to the captains on the state of the Federation. On the display beside


him was a representation of the Alpha and Beta quadrants.


"This is the area we suspect the Imperials have scouted out. All their


operations so far have been conducted in this area, with Bajor roughly at the


centre. Here, close to the edge, is Earth, and over here, they are approaching


the Klingon and Romulan capital worlds. Our intelligence shows that the raids


they have embarked on in Klingon and Romulan space mirror those which they have


undertaken in Federation space.


"They have not invaded any new worlds since the destruction of the Gate,


but it appears that they are attempting to cripple our fleet resources.


Communications throughout this area is being disrupted, several starbases have


gone silent, and most dilithium mining and processing facilities have been


destroyed. Two worlds which have been major centres for the conversion of


deuterium to anti-matter have suffered mild bombardment.


"Our reserves, and the untouched industrial facilities down here, are


sufficient to keep the fleet going, but any raids into Imperial held territory


will have to be seriously curtailed. Some ships just can't carry enough fuel for


a trip of that distance and speed, and still have enough for a major battle and


the return trip to follow.


" Also, it appears that they are attempting to cut Earth off from the rest


of the Federation. All booster stations within ten light years of Earth has been


destroyed, and any lone ships attempting to journey to or from Earth has been


intercepted by their interdictors and destroyed. As a result, we have set up


convoys between Earth and nearby industrial worlds, and these convoys are


heavily escorted."


"But we have to do something. We can't just sit back and wait for the


Imperials to destroy us by attrition."


"Yes, we will. Our analysis of the Imperial raiding patterns has allowed


us to compile a list of worlds or bases which might come under attack as the


Imperial scouted sphere expands. We expect that in the next five days they will


discover the dilithium facilities defended by Starbase 17. Starbase 17 is very


well armed, being so close to the neutral zone, and will be the ideal place to


set a trap for the Imperials.


"We will compile a fleet out of the ships here, and that fleet will head


out to Starbase 17 at best speed."


"There is hardly a ship in the system which is not damaged." Somebody




The assembled fleet numbered about 120 ships, and was the combination of


what was left from the Imperial raid on Earth and the forty odd ships returned


by Antilles after their raid to destroy the Gate.


"We have decided to spare fifteen ships, including the Enterprise and the


Defiant. These are the ships in the best state of repair, and with the support


of Starbase 17, should be able to counter the small group of ships the Imperials


have been using for raiding purposes."


"What about the New Republic forces?"


Antilles fleet had been laying up in deep-space half a light-year out of


Earth for several days now, with apparently nothing to do.


"The senate has not decided what to do about them for now. Starfleet will


conduct the operations on our own."


"What do we know about their operations against the Dominion?"


"Apparently, they are expanding quite rapidly, but are not satisfied that


they have located or destroyed the Dominion's industrial centres. However, for


now, it appears that the Dominion have ceased attempting to attack their Gate.


They have employed the same tactic as the Empire have against us, lengthening


supply lines, and cutting communications."








The Render gathered it's small fleet. They had been rather successful up


to now in their operations, striking at will and at random throughout the


explored regions of Romulon, Klingon and Federation space. It appeared that both


Romulon and Klingon forces were spreading their forces to strategic systems, and


their fleet density was thinning out considerably. While increasing the risk of


confrontation on each raid, this also meant that the Imperials could focus their


strength at the enemy's weakest points. In a war of attrition fought on this


basis, Xris had no doubt they would win. Especially once the second Gate was


complete and more ships could join the invasion, if the second Gate was ever




The Federation on the other hand was a tough nut. They had gathered most


of their fleet resources at various crucial worlds, and according to


intelligence, had dispatched another large fleet on some unknown task. The fleet


had disappeared, though, and intelligence had no idea where it intended to


strike. It was as if they had entered hyperspace. They were not known to have


such technology, although they might have just installed cloaking devices on all


their ships. Damn intelligence people, couldn't find their own dicks until after


they had pissed in their pants.


"Intel on the next system?"


"Federation starbase 17. It is well armed, probably has one or two


defending starships. It is located close to a region known as the neutral zone,


an area of historical conflicts with the Romulons. In the past it has probably


served as a major military base in that war."


"Okay. We will attack it in the standard pattern. Victories first at mid-


range, to draw their fire, Imperators at close-range to extend their defenses,


then a direct jump attack by the Render to finish it off. The Oppressor will


remain here, and be ready to jump in should their starships become a problem.


Victories, jump on my mark."






Starbase 17 orbited a gas-giant at a respectable distance. It operated a


number of skimmers which harvested hydrogen and deuterium from the gas-giant's


upper atmosphere. These were then converted into fuel for starships at a nearby


processing plant on the surface of one of the moons. It had two Nebula's and a


galaxy in supporting roles. The crews were quite prepared for any attacks,


knowing that this area had recently been scouted by an Imperial probe. The probe


had jumped out of the system after briefly scanning all objects in the system.


Since then, a second probe had made a brief stop. It was just a matter of time


before the attack came.


Fifty thousand kilometers from the Starbase, too far away to be seen by


the naked eye, a warship easily half again as large as the galaxy starship


suddenly flashed into existence. It immediately opened fire, green bolts of raw


energy lancing into the distance, to the point where it expected to find the


starbase. The energised bolts tracked slightly to one side, as the warship


sensors more accurately located the base. A red beam flickered out of the


distance, passing within a mere two kilometers of the wedge shaped warship. The


warship accelerated off towards the beam, as the beam tracked back towards it.


Unseen to human eyes, a barrage of radiation and counter-radiation lashed out,


attempting to locate or hide their sources as the case may be. Similar energies


flickered through sub-space.


The red-orange beam momentarily intersected the wedge-shaped warship, then


passed on. It tracked back, but the warship had changed direction again, still


spitting green flame towards the unseen starbase. Twenty thousand kilometers


away, also beyond the ability of human eyes to resolve, a second wedge shape


appeared, and added it's energies to the battle. One after another, spread over


a distance of several tens of thousands of kilometers, other Victory-class


destroyers jumped in, each one relying on the data of it's predecessors for the


position of the starbase, and taking full advantage of the second or two's worth


of free fire this gave them before the starbase targeted them as well.


From out of the distance, in the direction of the starbase, three long


streaks of multi-coloured light momentarily appeared. The streaks suddenly


disappeared, and at their head the shapes of three starships resolved. Three of


the Victory-class ships immediately closed towards this new threat, momentarily


letting up the pressure on the as yet unseen starbase, barely a sixth of second


away at the speed of light.


The nearby space was suddenly crowded, as dozens of missiles homed in on


targets, and short-ranged laser-cannons stuttered their caustic flames at the


tiny purveyors of nuclear destruction. Their was a moment of confusion as the


three starships suddenly streaked to a new position, leaving the alien warships


firing at empty space. The warships quickly recovered though, and a new


formation was assumed, as they kept up their fiery exchange with the starbase in


the distance, and flailed away at the shields of the nearby starships. At this


range, the interference signals being broadcast were easily overcome by the


starships, and their return fire was deadly accurate, though not as powerful as


the hammer blows being delivered by the alien warships. Again, the starships


changed position, throwing the enemy into momentary confusion.


Closer to the starbase, a new group of ships suddenly appeared. Three


ships, all nearly twice the size of the four which had arrived earlier. They


each unleashed a terrible broadside on the starbase. The starbase recovered


though, and leaving it's three escorts to battle the four smaller warships,


concentrated on these gigantic new enemies. The starbase itself could not


actually see the enemy ships, the closest of them being at least twenty thousand


kilometers away. However, the three ships closest were almost close enough for a


positive weapons lock despite their deliberate interference with all signalling.


The ships in the distance were mere fuzzy islands of static, it's own three


escort ships lost in the interference, and effectively beyond communications.


One or two specks of orange flame gushing out of minor hull breaches were


evidence of the impact the most recent broadsides had had on the starbase. It's


shields were hard pressed to hold back the rain of energy from the nearby


Imperators. It's shields flickered, but held. They had been designed for combat,


and would not cave in easily. Already, the gushes of flame were dying down,


starved of oxygen as the starbase shut down those damaged areas, and engineering


crews rushed to patch the damage. Without the support of the four Victory-class


destroyers which were fully engaged with the escort ships, the Imperator's could


only flail away at the starbase's immense shields, and hope that their hail of


fire would eventually wear down the generators of the starbase.


In the distance, the four Victories were pulling slowly away from the


starbase, heading for open space, as the battle with the three elusive


federation ships became ever more intense. Something was needed to swing the


battle one way or another. It came in the form of an immense ship, almost fully


double the size of the Imperators, at two and half kilometers long, it's size


comparable to the starbase itself. Designed purely for destruction of other


starships, it's entire hull bristling with weaponry, most of it's internal


systems given over to engines and dense-fusion reactors. It appeared barely five


thousand kilometers away from the starbase, on an angle divergent from the three


Imperators, and fired a broadside easily as powerful as that of all three


Imperator's combined.


The starbase's shields, already stretched close to their maximum, wavered,


flickering on and off, then stayed on. Beneath them, the energy that had smashed


it's way through had ripped deep into the starbase's hull, and several of it's


phaser strips were knocked out. The starbase quickly rotated though, bringing


more phaser strips to bear on the three Imperator's and the Allegiance bearing


down on it, keeping it slightly above their forward dorsal hull, allowing most


of their weapons to fire on the damaged starbase.


Then the battle turned again. On the far side of the starbase, one of it's


immense shield-doors opened, and two fresh Akira-class ships surged into view.


From the gas-giant below, eight more ships powered out of the upper atmosphere


where they had been sheltering.


"Activate graviton beam," Picard ordered, "centre it on the Render. Make


the beam as broad as possible, so that it encompasses the Imperators as well."


Several red-orange beams flickered out towards the Imperial ships,


followed closely by a swarm of red pulsating torpedoes, interspersed with a few


blue ones. Well versed by now in Federation weaponry, the Imperial gunners


concentrated fire on the quantum torpedoes, ignoring the weaker photons for now.


The starbase was forgotten as the Imperial ships accelerated for deep-space for


all they were worth, the three Imperators forming up in flanking formation on


the Render.




"Victories, jam all enemy communications, I don't want those ships to get


a wiff of our approach. Prepare to cover our exit vector."


The Victories attempted to close in and surround the three ships they were


battling, intensifying their sub-space interference to dampen enemy






Seeing the enemy tactic, Picard ordered a warning to be sent to the


starbase's three escort ships, but it was too late. Even as Picard's group


overtook the fleeing alien ships, they fired a massive broadside at the three


ships engaged with the Victories. The two smaller Nebula-class ships were


overwhelmed, and even the Galaxy shuddered to a full stop. A second broadside


from the Render blew the Galaxy apart, literally shredding the huge ship.


The Imperators were laying down covering fire for all they were worth, as


the Render led the chase for deep-space. Already, they had put 10,000 kilometers


between themselves and the damaged starbase, their current velocity would see


them pass the position of the four Victories in another few seconds. The


Victories themselves were arrowing towards the escaping ships, firing at the


fast approaching starships of Picard's group.


The ten starships were furiously firing everything at the fleeing Imperial


ships, who were barely able to hold off the attack, their shields beginning to


show the early signs of strain.




"The enemy starships are too fast, they are evading our gunners at this




"Call in the Oppressor, have her jump to these co-ordinates. Bring us


around to zero seven by zero nine zero. Victories to concentrate fire on the


Enterprise as they pass, then jump to Romeo six."




The Victories flashed past the formation, heading in the opposite


direction, and fired successive broadsides towards the Enterprise. The


Enterpise, surprisingly nimble for it's size, jinked to one side, then another,


avoiding most of the broadsides, and keeping the graviton beam centred on the




"Sir," Riker called, "the Victories are about to pass out of the graviton




"Let them go, I want the Render."


The Victories unleashed a last broadside, spreading their fire throughout


the Federation formation, hitting several ships but causing no significant


damage, then flickered into hyperspace as they cleared the area of effect of the


graviton beam. Unseen to the Federation ships, obscured by the heavy


interference being broadcast by the four warships, the Oppressor jumped into


position several seconds directly ahead of the Render. It began powering up it's


immense gravity generators, shunting the power into a feed-back system, until it


was ready to unleash it's simulated gravity well.




"Oppressor, as soon as you're ready. All ships prepare to come about,


maximum deceleration. Victories prepare to jump back onto intercept vector


supplied by the Oppressor."




On the Defiant, flanking the Enterprise, Worf felt something he was unable


to put a name to. Trained since birth as a warrior, he wasted no time on


dwelling on the feeling, but went into action immediately.


"Break right, disengage sub-space fields, full power to impulse engines,


shut down the warp core, order all ships to do likewise."


The Defiant banked sharply, and slowed considerably for a second as Worf's


instructions were followed, then surged ahead, a little slower than before as


the impulse engines took up the load of the ship's mass. Whether unable to


follow as fast, or dubious of Worf's strange warning, not all ships reacted in


time. An immense wave of artificial gravity swept through the formation,


momentarily stunning the starships into immobility as their sub-space fields


fought to compensate for the imagined load. One ship was rocked by an internal


explosion, and drifted aimlessly for several seconds, before getting under way


again on impulse. The Enterprise had reacted to Worf's warning with remarkable


alacrity, and continued on almost unaffected.


Nearby, an Akira was close to the edge of the immensely powerful cone of


artificial gravity. Worf's eyes were drawn to it like a magnet, and he started


issuing orders to move closer. Even as the Defiant came onto the new vector, all


four Victories reappeared, right on the edge of the cone, flanking the Akira.


They each fired a full broadside, smashing the Akira aside like a paperweight.


The Akira's shields somehow held, and the ship, though spinning out of control,


maintained hull integrity. The Defiant rolled into an attack vector, and fired


several rounds of pulsed phaser blasts into the side of one of the Victories.


The pulsed phasers were designed to drill through shields, the first few pulses


weakening the shields in a localised zone, allowing the subsequent blasts to


smash through. Matter sparked off the Victory's hull, the hull glowing red in


several spots around the point of impact.


The Defiant rolled over the top of the Victory, too close for the


turbolasers to track, laser-fire from the point-defences rippling uselessly


along it's shields, as it lined up the second Victory. On the edge of the view-


screen, the Akira detonated in a mighty explosion, as successive broadsides tore


into it's exposed hull.


"Aim for the bridge." Worf instructed.


The Defiant came out of it's roll lined up with the bridge of the second


Victory, and opened fire again. The Victory had seen it coming however, and was


turning into the attack. Several pulsed phaser shots flickered past the bridge,


tracking ever closer. The last few shots splattered against the bridge shields


as the Defiant swept past.


"Come around one eighty." Worf ordered.


The Defiant shuddered to a halt, flipped around and accelerated back the


way it had come, as a broadside from the third Victory passed through the space


it should have been in.


Worf glanced over the tactical display. The Render and it's Imperator


escort had also changed direction, and were now moving to engage the Enterprise.


Picard was drawing away however, allowing the smaller Federation ships to attack


the Imperials as he kept his distance, far enough to be out of effective weapons


range, close enough to keep the Render in the graviton beam.


"Join the attack on the Render, it is our primary target for this




"Yes, sir."


The Defiant looped around, evading fire from the Victories, and swept


towards the Render in a curved path. The battle was now fully joined, all sides


having played their cards. The starbase had survived, though damaged, but the


Federation had lost four ships so far, the three escorts (two Nebulons and a


Galaxy) and one Akira.


Behind Worf, the four Victories closed on the Enterprise, which curved


away, attempting to stay out of the main battle, but within graviton range of


the Render. The Render was not powerless though, and it was concentrating fire


in the direction of the Enterprise, which appeared to be at extreme effective


range, easily able to dodge incoming fire, especially with Data at the helm. The


Render was relying on it's point-defences and it's escorts to defend it from the


eight attacking starships, while the Victories attempted to force the Enterprise


closer to the Render's guns.


The Oppressor had also moved up, sheltering in the centre of the big


ships' defensive formation. It's gravity well prevented warp drive usage in


it's immediate vicinity, and the intensity of graviton bombardment also


increased the efficiency of cloak-detection by means of graviton interference




Worf brought the Defiant around between two of the Imperators, firing his


phasers at the Render. A squadron of TIE's forced them to swerve away. The TIE's


had launched unobserved in the mass of interference, and were screening the big


ships against just such an attack.


"Four fighters on our tail."


"Fuse photon torpedoes for proximity detonation. Fire."


"One destroyed, others closing."


The Defiant rocked slightly as several pulsed bursts of particle-enhanced


laser fire stuttered across it's shields. The Defiant rolled away, and the


fighters looped around for another run.


"Six more fighters closing in."


"Torpedoes, fire at will."


The Defiant rolled to the other direction, but at one hundred forty meters


to the fighters five or six meters it was still an easy target. Further


vibrations ran through the deck as several bursts of particle energy smacked


into the shields. The shields were in no danger of collapsing, but if the ship


didn't roll away, the pulsed weapons would momentarily drill through the shields


into the hull.


"The Victories have broken off their attack on the Enterprise, they're


heading back towards the starbase."


There was nothing they could do about that now though.


"Head towards the Enterprise, their phasers are not being used, they can


clean these fighters off our back."


"Yes, sir."


The Defiant arrowed towards the Enterprise, angling first one way then


another, seven TIE fighters screaming along behind it. All the other ships were


also being mobbed by the small hard to hit and nearly invisible fighters,


forcing them to split their fire between the fighters and the capital ships they


were meant to target. The fighters closed in on the Defiant, hoping to use it's


bulk to shield them from the Enterprise's phasers, but Worf ordered a last


minute change of direction and velocity, exposing the fighters to the


Enterprise's phasers.


Four of them were consumed in tiny balls of flame, the other three


sweeping by the Enterprise firing their laser-cannons furiously at the deflector


dish atop the saucer. One or two of the pulsed bolts must have gotten through


because the graviton beam flickered for a second, then resumed. That was all the


Imperials needed, and all of a sudden close to thirty fighters were descending


on the Enterprise. They had reckoned without the Defiant though, and Worf


brought her back, diving through the TIE fighters, shooting down five of them in


one pass. The rest converged on the Enterprise like a swarm of wasps,


concentrating fire on the upper section of the saucer, where the deflector dish


was located.


Six or seven of them were destroyed in a flurry of wide-beam phaser fire,


the rest kept a range of at least several hundred kilometers between themselves


and the Enterprise, allowing the wide-beam fire to dissipate without doing too


much damage. Round after round of particle-enhanced laser energy pulsed against


the shields, drilling tiny holes for fractions of a second, occasionally scoring


a hit on the deflector dish. Three more TIE fighters died flaming deaths before


the beam stuttered and died for the last time.


The Enterprise surged forward in a last ditch attack on the Render and


it's escorts, firing several volleys of quantums as it closed rapidly with the


larger ships. An Imperator, it's shields already close to dying, cut across the


path of the incoming torpedoes, firing it's weapons desperately at the


Enterprise. It collected most of the torpedoes, rolling lazily over as the rest


of the Imperial fleet vanished into hyperspace. Huge gouts of flaming gas jetted


out of it's flank, as it attempted to bring it's remaining guns to bear.


"The Enterprise is attempting to hail them and offer them terms of




"A waste of time," Worf said.


He was right, the huge ship, with fully half of one side exposed to


vacuum, and visibly engulfed in internal flames, kept on firing. A wave of TIE


fighters left behind by the hastily departed fleet swept past, launching a


number of tiny missiles into a damaged starship as they passed by. Worf glanced


along their track to see where they were going. The starbase, where two


Victories were still bombarding the starbase.


"Warp 0.5, to the starbase."


The small ship flickered past the fighters, coming to a stop just out of


range of the two Victories. One of them was firing at the starbase, which had


managed to mostly recharge it's shields, while the second one was loading a


number of fighters. Seeing the Defiant heading towards them, first the one, then


the other flickered away, accelerating at blinding speed for a fraction of a


second, then disappearing. Of the damaged Imperator, only wreckage remained. The


handful of fighters left behind accelerated furiously for open space.


A quick scan of the suddenly clear sensors revealed close to twenty tiny


fighters heading for deep-space. Worf wondered what they were up to. Such small


fighters couldn't have much of a range, and their information indicated that the


fighters weren't fitted with hyperdrive motivators either.


"Let them go." Picard's voice came over the ship to ship comm station.


"Imperator, sector three." His sensor operator called. "The fighters are


heading towards it."


"We will allow them to retreat. Damage report."


"Nothing major. A few burns on the hull, some shaken up equipment, an hour


to repair at the most." Lieutenant Boyd offered.


"Get to it." Worf ordered.


Nearby, the starbase's outer hull was breached or scorched in several


places, but it's inner hull retained full integrity. Worf counted seven ships in


the system, which meant they had lost a total of six ships including the


starbase's escorts.


"Imperial losses?"


"One destroyed Imperator class, a second one was badly damaged. Two


Victory's were also damaged, first by us, then by the Enterprise and the


starbase also got in a few licks."


Worf was disappointed. He had hoped for more out of this attack, instead


they had lost six ships for one destroyed, and four damaged. At least the


starbase had survived.


"How many fighters were destroyed?"


"I estimate between thirty five and forty five of their TIE fighters were


destroyed. Plus whatever reserves was on that Imperator."


"They would have probably kept three or four squadrons in reserve, plus of


course all the troops, and thirty thousand crewmen." Worf stated.


"Thirty thousand?" Somebody asked incredulously.


"Closer to thirty seven thousand, plus ten thousand soldiers." Worf


answered. The bridge crew watched silently as the wreckage of the Imperator


drifted apart, much of it still glowing brightly. Nearby, smaller clumps of


wreckage marked the final resting place of several thousand Starfleet personnel.


In the background, Jonathon Boyd could be heard muttering an old sailor's








In hyperspace, several dozen light-years away by now, the Imperial fleet


limped home. Xris analysed the battle over and over. He had no doubt that Piett


would blame him personally for the loss of the Imperator. All his ships were


damaged to some extent. Two of the four Victories would require extensive


repairs, while both the remaining Imperators were damaged, though not too badly.


One of them would be out of action for several weeks though, and his own ship


would require a few days worth of attention from the astromech droids of the


Aggressor. The four dozen lost TIE's had been somewhat offset by the recovery of


most of the TIE's from the destroyed Imperator, and so they were still at a


nearly full complement. That was something at least.

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A fanfic by Michael January






The Aggressor's hangars were still a hive of activity, repairing the last


of the ships damaged in the battle of the Gate. The Render was parked just below


the main hangars, awash with a myriad of droids, surrounded by several tons of


free floating equipment waiting for the pleasure of the droids.


"I wouldn't call the battle a defeat," Piett was saying, "he did destroy


six starships."


"Six corvettes and frigates don't add up to an Imperator!" Jerjerrod


stated harshly. "And he didn't accomplish the primary task of destroying the




"The starbase is too far away to help the Federation anyway, and Captain


Xris did not know about the Republic fleet supporting the enemy. It was not part


of his intelligence package. It appears they are ferrying starships through


Federation space, especially the regions where we have cut supply lines."


"Isn't there a danger of them transporting the Federation ships to an


attack position on this system?" Jerjerrod asked.


"No. So far they have limited themselves to what can be loosely termed


'humanitarian aid', although the incident at starbase 17 skirted close to the


edge of direct military support. The Republic commander, Antilles, claims they


merely transported starships to a nearby system which needed medical supplies.


The starships then supposedly travelled to starbase 17 under their own power.


Transporting starships to within attack range of one of our worlds would come


close to being direct military aid."


"Even so, I feel that such a tactic would not be beyond the style of


rebels. They have shown flagrant disregard for Imperial sovereignty in the past.


The question remains then, what do we do with Xris?"


"Well, his strategy thus far has placed serious limitations on the


Federation's ability to counter-attack us in the future. Our immediate priority


now is to expand our influence. Our supply situation is not bad. In terms of


fuel and food we are very well off, and many local worlds will soon start


contributing to these commodities. However, in terms of technology and


equipment, we are lacking. The supply ships which made it through the Gate


before the attack have a total of 94 theatre shields for planetary defense, and


between all the fleet ships, supply ships, and galleons, we have a total of


fifty seven regiments of troops, including fifteen regiments of stormtroopers,


and three regiments of war droids."


"With those, we can hold at least another ten worlds," Jerjerrod stated,


"and I have prepared a provisional list. The worlds I have selected are


strategically placed in terms of tracking sub-space drive trails, they have


large but not unmanageable populations, and the resources they control will


prove useful in any industrial base we establish here."


"What sort of progress have you made so far, industrially?" Piett asked.


"Very little. The alien technologies are vastly different to ours, and the


alien populations are not well versed in our manufacturing processes.


Nevertheless, we have established several automated plants on each world, and


the robo-miners and mole-miners are proving adequate in terms of primary


resource production. So far, manufacturing is limited to mineral refinement, and


additional mining droids. We are concentrating mineral refinement around


duranium, titanium, alusteel, and similar alloys. We are some way off being able


to mine and process Tibanna gas, or manufacture advanced electronic equipment


such as repulsors and shield generators."


"Weapons production?"


"Nothing of note, the only weapons we hope to be able to manufacture in


the near future are torpedoes and missiles. We have more than enough power


plants capable of producing the necessary nuclear material."




"Four weeks to missile production, two months to tool up for significant


droid manufacturing, after that, the droids will speed up all manufacturing


processes exponentially. We are already stockpiling hull-quality alloys, but it


will be a year or two before we can start assembling a shipyard, and even then,


initially we will only be able to manufacture TIE's, shuttles, maybe a gunboat.


It could be a decade or two before we can build something along the lines of an






"We have a sufficient supply to last between three and five years


depending on combat requirements. Before then, we will have established a small


processing plant in a nearby nebula known as the Badlands. At the heart of the


nebula is a small concentration of Tibanna. A second source has been located in


a number of nearby stellar chromatospheres, but without access to the Empire, we


don't have the equipment to extract it."


"Couldn't we manufacture the equipment?"


"Not for another two decades at least, which will be a stretch even if the


Badlands processing plant comes on line."


"Very well. Xris, your ship will be fully repaired within two days. I will


assign a new task force for you at that time, and you will capture all ten


worlds. I don't want any excuses this time. As you heard, we can not afford to


lose a single ship from now on. Is that clear?"


"Yes, sir."






The Enterprise and the Defiant were still several dozen light years from Earth.


They had left five ships with the starbase, in case the Imperials came back, and


then left for Earth. Both ships holds had been fully loaded with anti-deuterium,


and they were staying at high warp for uncomfortably long periods. They still


had several days to go to get back to Earth, and would probably have exhausted


their fuel supply by the time they got back.






Antilles read the two messages before him with some misgivings. The New Republic


forces in the Gamma quadrant had twice come under attack by cube shaped vessels,


and several smaller ships had been lost in the engagements. The Dominion's


industrial heartland had been laid waste, and all shipyards destroyed, but the


Founder's home-world had still not been located. He had received a directive now


ordering him back. New Republic intelligence was satisfied that the Imperials


would be unable to manufacture a second Gate, and they were preparing to


withdraw all forces from this Galaxy.


The second message was a final decision from the Federation Senate. While


they were quite prepared to accept the New Republic as a friendly government,


and even appreciated humanitarian aid and assistance, no permission would be


forthcoming for the establishment of any military bases, and no military


alliances would be signed. The Federation was also not prepared to become a


member body of the New Galactic Republic. Furthermore, the Federation would


consider any attempt to entice Federation worlds to the New Republic fold an act


of war.


There was only one thing left for Antilles to do. An encoded message from


the Imperial high command had also been received, and Antilles had been asked to


relay the message to the trapped Imperial fleet.


"Send a destroyer to intercept the Defiant, and bring it to rendesvous


point seven. The rest of the fleet will rendesvous there immediately. The


Mediator will join the fleet in three days. Navigator, set course for a jump to


these co-ordinates."


"Sir, that is one of the worlds captured by the Imperials."


"Yes. Jump when ready."






The Aggressor was in a station-keeping orbit over the Imperial sector capital.


Seven kilometers wide at the beam and tapering to a point seventeen kilometers


away, it was also several kilometers deep. Suspended in space below this immense


ship of war were several tiny by comparison ships. One of these was a mere two


and half kilometer long wedge shape. Almost invisible against it's bulk a myriad


of tiny droids finally finished their labours, and swarmed towards the super


destroyer above. Like a child leaving it's parent, the light cruiser dropped


away from the immense bulk of the super destroyer.


Two other tiny wedge shapes, barely a mile long, angled for the workspace


below the super destroyer, and were soon engulfed by it's repair droids. The


small cruiser took up station several light-seconds away from the planet, and


was soon joined by a group of smaller ships, Imperators and Victories. The ships


began forming up into an attack formation spread out over a tight region of only


ten thousand kilometers. Anybody familiar with Imperial tactics would have


recognised the formation as the precursor to a planetary enclosure. Somebody was


about to be invaded.


In the distance, too small to be seen by human eyes, another ship


flickered into the system. It's arrival set off alarms throughout the system,


for the new arrival was a New Republic Bulwark cruiser, which would be a close


match to the Super Star Destroyer serving as command and repair centre to the


Imperial fleet. Fortunately, they were not at war with the New Republic. The


Republic cruiser had also jumped into the system to a point that was not


immediately threatening.


"The cruiser is in communication with the Aggressor."


"Echo the channel." Xris ordered.


"Sorry sir, it is an encrypted channel."


"Very well, we'll wait for the Admiral's pleasure."


The Render and it's half squadron waited while the two big ships exchanged


communications. Xris's squadron this time consisted of only two Imperators and


four Victories, as well as his own ship. The Allegiance cruiser carried only a


single squadron of TIE's, as did the Victories, which also carried a single


squadron of TIE bombers. The two Imperators though each carried four squadrons


of TIES and two squadrons of bombers. That totalled to fifteen squadrons of TIEs


and eight squadrons of Bombers, sufficient to invade the under-armed planets of


this galaxy, although they would have been woefully inadequate back home.


The Republic cruiser flickered out of the system, quickly lost to even the


sub-space sensors as it outpaced their echo-returns, and in two or three seconds


wasn't on any scope. As a matter of routine, it's exit vector was calculated,


but without a probable time on the jump, this was meaningless. In any case,


military vessels rarely jumped directly to their destination.


"The Admiral, on the conference channel, sir."


"Very well. Activate the holo-board."


"We have received a coded set of orders from the Empire," the Admiral said


as soon as all the captains were hooked in, "the orders were encrypted with a


clearance code which I am sure is secure, and I have satisfied myself with the


legitimacy of the orders. The Empire has informed us that all attempts to


construct a second Gate have met with dubious results, and as such, construction


of the Gate has been halted until such time as more research can be done. The


commander of the Mediator is the Jedi Jerec Antilles, and he has assured me that


the Republic will also be shutting down their Gate.


"Apparently, the situation back home does not warrant them dedicating


fleet resources to this Galaxy, and all their ships have been ordered home. He


has supplied us with starmaps and hyperspace co-ordinates so that we can return


via their Gate, before they shut it down.


"Our orders from the Imperial high command are to remain here, until they


complete a second Gate, or capture the Republic's Gate."


"But that may never happen!" The captain of the Grinder stated. "I for one


wish to return home."


"Very well, I will make those arrangements," Piett stated flatly. He


activated another console, "Colonel, place captain Jirr of the Grinder under


arrest. He is charged with mutiny. Does anyone else wish to violate our orders?


Anyone else who wishes to go home, will immediately be placed under arrest and


charged with mutiny. The court-martials will be held this afternoon, I will


preside as Judge, and sentencing will be carried out immediately afterwards.


"This conference is over. Xris, remain on line."


"Yes, sir."


"Xris, you will delay your invasion plans. Meet me on the Aggressor in two


point five hours, directly after the court-martials."


"Yes, sir." Xris answered.






The shuttle with Xris on board landed in the hangar designated. He was met


by a squad of armoured stormtroopers, and he felt a momentary flash of


apprehension. He was assuaged somewhat by the knowledge that he had encrypted


several data files into his ships systems. In any case, even Piett would not


arbitrarily begin executing people for fear of a real mutiny. The unfortunate


Jirr had set himself up for the trumped up charges, and he did not have a major


support base in the fleet, a support base which Xris had been careful to


cultivate over the last few weeks.


He was surprised to be met by the Admiral himself, which probably


explained the armed stormtroopers. In the background, another squad of troopers


marched a small bunch of prisoners to the hangar entrance. They were


unceremoniously pushed through the containment fields. Xris could vaguely make


out bulging eyes, blued skin, and the odd skin rupture as fluid forced it's way


out of the suddenly over-pressurised bodies. He was not surprised that a number


of the so-called 'mutineers' included captains who's personal loyalty to Piett


was questionable. He would have counted himself in such a group, and was


surprised to still be alive.


"Leahcim," Piett said, "we have limited resources, but a clear military


advantage in the speed and mobility of our forces. Jirr was an idiot, and needed


to be disposed of. You, on the other hand, have proven yourself a most able


commander, worthy of your graduation at the top of your class.


"Moff Jerjerrod and I have had many discussions in the last few days, we


had no illusions about our prospects of going home. Had we returned, we would


have been disgraced, all of us, for our failure to defend the Gate. Even had our


orders been to return, it would have been better for us to have stayed."


"Yes. I have been aware of that myself."


"Now, if we can do well here, even were a second Gate to be constructed,


our success here may be our salvation. Even if no Gate could be constructed, we


have an opportunity to forge a mighty Empire. Moff Jerjerrod is working to


ensure that an adequate industrial base is laid. It is your job to ensure that


no-one in this Galaxy dare oppose us. To that purpose, you have at your disposal


most of the fleet, and the command of the Grinder."


"My primary responsibilities?"


"The defense of our industrial base, the destruction of all who can stop


or oppose us, and the expansion of our sphere of influence, in that order."


"Very well. I understand from a previous briefing that Moff Jerjerrod is


decades away from being able to manufacture such devices as planetary shields,


let alone starships, or ground support weaponry?"


"Yes, at least a decade, possibly two. Our existing supplies will last


till then, and we even have sufficient supplies for a limited expansion."


"In that case, I will proceed with the invasion of the ten worlds that


Moff Jerjerrod has listed as crucial to our industrial expansion. I will bombard


all other worlds into a state of barbarism, not enough to destroy their


populations, but enough to deter them from being an oppositional force. That


will allow us to harvest their populations in the future."


"Excellent, I can see that my faith in you has not been misplaced."


"The major priority for now," Xris continued, "is to ensure that the New


Republic forces do in fact evacuate this Galaxy, and shut down or destroy their


Gate. For that, I recommend programming a droid-ship with the starmaps Jedi


Antilles provided, and having the droid monitor their evacuation."


"An excellent suggestion, I will take care of it."






The Mediator flashed into the rendesvous point, where the large Republic


fleet waited. A shuttle immediately set out from one of the Destroyers and


landed in the forward hangar of the Mediator. On board the shuttle was Worf and




"Captain Picard. I am surprised you chose to accompany Commander Worf?"


"I understand you are about to leave this Galaxy, Captain Antilles."


"Yes. My governement is satisfied that we have done what we can here, and


we are needed at home."


"The Imperials?" Worf asked.


"Have apparently been ordered to stay. They still have hope that a second


Gate can be constructed. A vain hope."


"You are sure?" Picard asked.


"Yes. I am. Unfortunately, we are not able to stay and help you in your


fight against them, and neither do we have the authority to attack them




"We will stop them." Worf said.


"Maybe," Antilles said, "but there is much I have discovered, and which I


need to tell you."


Antilles led them to a conference room, where a meal was laid out. After a


brief silence while the three men relaxed, ate, and got comfortable, Antilles


started speaking.


"Ever since I arrived in this Galaxy, I have felt a wrongness in the


Force. After my travels and encounters with the Dominion, yourselves, the Borg,


and even you, Captain Picard, my senses have coalesced into an understanding.


"The Dominion, a race composed primarily of clones, is an anachronism to


Life. What we call the Force. No matter how the clone is improved, these


improvements can never emulate that what Life desires to achieve through


evolution. The power of the Dominion had to be curtailed, so as to allow other


species to grow, to evolve, and proceed on the path that Life has designated for


them. Our presence here, and the immense damage we have done, is a major first


step on that road.


"New Republic fleets have devastated hundreds of Dominion worlds,


destroyed their industrial bases, wrecked their shipbuilding facilities. The


Founders still survive, and perhaps that is the will of the Force, but the power


of the Dominion has been broken, for now. It will fall to you to see that it


stays that way. Cloning is not the path to the Ultimate Purpose of Life.


"The other wrongness in this galaxy is the Borg. Machines, while not an


anachronism to Life, are not alive themselves. The Borg are becoming ever more


machine, and less and less alive, as they strive to attain their own vision of


perfection, which is not compatible with that of Life itself. The Borg also make


extensive use of cloning, which is an anachronism to Life.


"The Borg are perhaps a greater threat than the Dominion, but their


destruction will only be achieved through a long and terrible war, a war in


which the Founders themselves may have to play a part. That war can only be won


by the Federation and it's allies, supported by Worf and his future students.


You will need your own Jedi to beat the Borg. The reason for that is this.


"The Borg pervert the power of Life itself, as their overmind impinges on


the Force. This impingement is felt most strongly in you, Captain Picard."


"In me? That is preposterous. I was once part of the collective, but I am


free of their influence. I should know. I have had every last nanoprobe removed


from my system, and I have regular medical checkups where a search for


nanoprobes is conducted, just in case."


"Exactly. You can't bring yourself to believe there are no nanoprobes in


your system, because you still hear the overmind, don't you. You still feel it's




"Yes." Picard answered, hoarsely.


"Don't you understand. There is more to the mind, to life, than mere


cells, atoms, DNA and nanoprobes. You, your mind, your soul, your spirit, call


it what you will, deny it all you want, but that part of you which defies


understanding is and always will be connected to that part of the Borg. No purge


of nanoprobes will ever be able to erase that. You are connected to the Borg


through the Force, because your mind was once part of it's mind, and that mental


pattern will always be a part of your being."


"Define it!" Picard demanded, "Medically there is no explanation for what


you say. Perhaps there might be a nanoprobe or two, hidden somewhere, unable to


be detected by a tricorder, that still connects me. Once they are located and


destroyed, I will be free of the Borg once and for all."


"I am sure you have been scanned atom by atom on multiple occasions. Your


link to the Borg can not be explained away in terms of machines, or nanoprobes,


or medical science. Yet it is there, tangible, but indefinable. I can feel it.


So can Worf."


"Worf?" Picard turned to him.


"Close your eyes commander," Antilles said to the Klingon, "and reach out


to your friend with your feelings. Feel his mind, follow it's contours, trace


it's connections."


"I feel something, something different, but I cannot name it."


"One day, you will be able to." Antilles smiled. "That is why the Force


led me to you. When you understand it, maybe then, you will be able to help your


friend. For now, though, know that the Borg also hears Picard, that just as he


sees them, and hears them, so do they hear him, and see him. That is how the


Borg knew about the Gate, why it had to be destroyed. That is how the Borg knew


about us, and attacked us. Picard told them, unknowingly." He held up his hand


to silence a protest from Picard.


"Unknowingly," Antilles repeated. "You see captain, you are their spy in


the Federation. That is why they allowed you to be rescued, even allowed all


Borg nanoprobes to be removed from your system without killing you first. They


knew that they would always see you, hear you, through the Force. Perhaps there


are others like yourself, but you are the most highly placed spy the Borg have


in the Federation.


"Even now, the Borg have another group of cubes heading to our Gate, and


this time, we may not be able to fight them off, so my time is brief. We must


leave this Galaxy and shut down the Gate before the Borg get their hands on it's


technology. That is why I don't have much time.


"Once the Gate is shut down, the Borg will concentrate on the Imperials.


The technology of the Imperial warships may not give them the ability to


construct a Gate, but hyperdrive and it's related power systems will make the


Borg nearly unstoppable in this Galaxy. For that reason, if you wish to ensure


your own survival, you must destroy the Imperials, or help them in their fight


against the Borg. Alternately, if your link to the Borg were broken, the Borg


would be blind in these quadrants, and would no longer seek to destroy the


Imperials or invade these quadrants."


"Are you suggesting .."


"I suggest nothing. Just know that you are the reason the Borg attack the


Federation, the Imperials, and any others you come into contact with. They see


these technologies through your senses, and it draws them here before their


time. If you were killed, or sent away, or your mind destroyed, the Borg would


get on with whatever tasks they have. But, as long as they see the technologies


you are exposed to, it draws them here."


"How can I stop this?"


"That will be the responsibility of commander Worf."


"But what am I to do?" Worf asked.


"You must continue with the training as I have told you. Your duty to


Life, and to your friend, will be clear to you when the time comes."


"There is nothing you can do?" Picard asked. "The dreams I have, the


nightmares, the visions of .. the horror cannot be described."


"No, I am sorry, it is not within my ability to do what you ask, without


sacrificing myself to the Dark Side." Antilles said, pain lacing his words.


"And Worf, will he have to destroy himself to facilitate my salvation?"


Picard asked.


Antilles closed his eyes. "Most likely Worf will pay a tremendous price,


yes, though there is a small chance it will not come to that. More I cannot




Worf and Picard looked as if they had a lot more questions, but Antilles


held up his hand.


"My time is short. I have to leave soon, or the Borg will beat me to the


Gate. I have told you what I must, perhaps more than I should have."


He got up, and waved his guests to the hatchway.


"The destroyer on which the Defiant is located is one of the faster ships


in the fleet. It will drop you off close to Earth, and return to the Gate. The


rest of the fleet has to leave now."


He walked them towards the hangar, where the shuttle waited to return them


to the waiting Destroyer. Worf and Picard had a few last questions as they




"Could you not give us a data padd with the specifications or schematics


of hyperdrive technology?"


"If only it were that easy. Even if I could do such a thing, your


manufacturing facilities are not set up to produce the requisite materials and


fuels, and nobody on this ship or in this fleet for that matter could explain


it's scientific principals to you. There are only a handful of engineers in my


home galaxy who fully understand the science behind hyperdrive technology, and


even they do not claim to fully understand it."


"In a nutshell, could you tell us what it entails?"


"Certainly. A successful hyerspace jump has a number of stages. Firstly, a


field effect modifies the state or nature of each and every sub-atomic particle


in the ship. This has to be done instantaneously, so that the ship doesn't tear


itself apart. Secondly, the resulting altered state of the ship, which has a


vastly reduced mass, is accelerated by the ion-engines to close to light-speed


in a fraction of a second, an acceleration facilitated by the conservation of


the energy-state of the ship. Thirdly, as the ship approaches the light-speed


barrier, a second field effect once again modifies the sub-atomic basis of the


entire ship to a tachyonic state, a conversion which requires the entire kinetic


energy plus more to facilitate.


"The energy requirements of the entire jump procedure is so immense as to


defy the imagination's ability to grasp. It is comparable to the entire output


of a star for several seconds."


"Not even an anti-matter fusion plant can output such energy. Why, it


would require at least 2000 kilograms of antimatter to be converted to energy


with one hundred percent efficiency in a fraction of a second. Realistically,


given inherent inefficiencies in any system, you may require hundreds of tons of


antimatter per jump."


"Yes. We have huge antimatter storage facilities on-board, but we don't


store the anti-matter in a natural state. The storage tanks use powerful


artificial gravity fields combined with finely tuned stasis fields. This allows


us to store the anti-matter in a super-dense state, approaching that of


neutronium, while the stasis fields prevents the fuel from spontaneously


igniting. In real terms, we carry enough fuel for several years of operations,


although a ship of this size also has the facilities to mine and process it's


own fuel indefinitely."


"What you're saying is that even if we could dissect a hyperdrive engine,


we couldn't store enough fuel to operate it for more than one or two jumps, nor


would we be able to control the high-speed reactions required to convert the


fuel to energy fast enough?"


"Exactly. Furthermore, the entire Jump must be accomplished in a fraction


of a second, requiring an acceleration to relativistic velocities in a few


hundredths of a second, without a properly tuned inertial damping system, your


crew will be crushed to death. Another factor is the molecular binding strength


of the materials used to construct the ship, conventional molecular or atomic


bonds will not hold up to the strain. For this reason, our ships hulls have a


microscopically small amount of neutronium laced into the structure, and is


further reinforced with a molecular bond enhancement field."


"A structural integrity field?" Worf asked.


"Our ships have similar fields," Picard added, "but while the strength and


accuracy of the field can withstand speeds of up to warp 9.975, any more, and


the ship starts tearing itself apart. Also, in conditions of extreme turbulence,


the field is tested to it's limits. We have tested transwarp drive mechanisms,


but the SIF's were unable to hold the ship together."


"A field of the strength you claim," Worf said to Antilles, "would make


the ship nearly impervious to conventional weapons fire?"


"Yes, but the power requirements are enormous. For the fraction of a


second of a hyper-jump, the field-strength is increased enormously. In battle,


the fields could also be strengthened, but not for significant amounts of time.


The reactors can withstand a one second or two second surge, but would never


survive to four or five seconds, let alone an entire battle.


"The difference I suppose is that the field only has to be maintained for


the duration of the transition to hyperspace. Once in hyperspace, the field is


no longer required. For your warp drives, the fields would have to be maintained


on a continual basis."


By this time they had reached the hangar. The three men bade each other


farewell for the last time. The shuttle barely left the hangar, when the


Mediator and most of the fleet flickered into the distance and vanished.








Leahcim Xris surveyed his new bridge. The overall layout was standard


Imperial fare, except on a slightly larger scale. Xris glanced out of the


transparisteel view-ports, the view enhanced by the port's embedded vid-matrix.


Below the port, the outer hull of the immense battleship stretched away into the


distance. He was riding eight kilometers of pure weapon, a vessel designed for


one purposes only, destruction.


The tactical and strategic hologram's nearby reflected data conducive to


his new role. The data was more administrative in nature. The strategic hologram


currently had a map of the dozen worlds under Imperial control. The worlds were


arrayed through a sphere of one hundred light years. Outside this sphere, was a


shell stretching a little more than one thousand light years, most of it empty


space, comprising the neutral buffers between the Klingon, Human and Romulon


regions. The inhabited worlds of all three species were marked in blue, most of


them a faded blue.


As he watched a bright blue speck suddenly paled, as data from one of his


Victories was received. Another world bombarded into a pre-stardrive state. His


team of Victory destroyers were flitting from one world to another, their only


aim to bombard high technology starship related industries into dust. They were


under strict orders not to engage enemy starships. Over time, those starships


would run out of fuel or fall into disrepair, and in the meanwhile, their


operations would be seriously curtailed.


Closer to home, the dozen Imperial worlds he had under his wing were


marked in green, with several lines indicating the limited warp traffic allowed


between these worlds. A number of Ferengi and Cardassian ships, and a few


captured Human ships, had been stripped of weapons, and put back into service as


transports. They were slow, which hampered resource distribution, but it was


batter than detailing military vessels for the purpose. Xris had also given


orders that subjugated populations be given every opportunity to prove good


behaviour. Powerful concessions were offered to populations that policed


themselves well and took care of their own dissidents without Imperial


intervention. If Imperial intervention was required, both the dissidents and the


population were punished, harshly.


Distributed throughout the explored sphere, were tiny balls of red. These


marked areas recently visited by intelligence gathering ships, patrol boats,


probe droids, reconnaisance droids, and sensor stealthed gunboats. They were


concentrating their patrols on the edge of the sphere, also slowly expanding it,


but also patrolling the space in-between, tracking enemy fleet movements, and


watching for potential raids or attacks.


A major disadvantage of the enemy drive mechanism was that their ships


could be tracked at long ranges, up to several light-years, and their inter-


stellar speeds were extremely slow. This allowed their movements to be tracked


and their destinations plotted well in advance of their arrival. In the sphere


of explored space, Xris had a detailed picture of Federation ship movements. He


knew the position, course, speed and likely destination of every single ship


probably much more comprehensively than the Federation themselves. However,


tracking the enemy movements was one thing, but intercepting and destroying them


in interstellar space would be tricky.


His intelligence forces had been split into three groups. The major group


were set to patrol the forward edge of the sphere, the 'border zone', knowing


that the enemy's drive mechanism forced them to traverse this space, rather than


bypass it. Two patrol boats were always close to the capitals of the three major


species. A second and smaller group concentrated on random patrols in the


'buffer zone', a one thousand light year region surrounding the Imperial held


worlds. The last group of patrols were concentrated in and around the hundred


light year 'green zone', tracking friendly ship movements, and watching for any


signs of enemy ships attempting to slip through the two outer cordons.


His major problem was Earth. Only three hundred light-years away, but


extremely heavily defended. More than a hundred and fifty ships were gathered


here already. There was also a plethora of multi-ship fleets convoying between


Earth and a smattering of nearby worlds. He couldn't afford to lose any ships by


attacking this target.


In total, the Imperials only had twenty nine capital ships, of which


twenty one were in serviceable condition, including four of the precious


interdictors. As the bombing operations were completed, Xris began reassigning


his fleet. The Aggressor naturally was Piett's flagship, and was also doubling


as their only shipyard for now. It was working furiously on the eight damaged


ships to get them into a serviceable condition. Escorting it, were the Stomper


and Smasher, with one interdictor.


He detailed one Victory to patrolling the dozen worlds in the 'green


zone', with the Ripper and Render in close support. That left him with fourteen


ships, including three interdictors, with which to conduct his operations.


"Highlight all enemy ships in the buffer zone, with route indicators,


destination markers, and fleet size indicators."




"Tag all fleets heading towards the green zone, even if their destination


is short of the green zone. Also tag all single ship fleets regardless of their






"Imperators Devastator and Ravager are to monitor all single ship fleets.


The moment they arrive at their destinations and slow down, they are to be


attacked. They must not be allowed to remain in orbit over any world for any


length of time."


"Ships have acknowledged, Sir."


"Set up two task forces, each task force to consist of one Imperator, two


Victories, and one Interdictor. Designate task forces Alpha-One and Alpha-Two.


They are to set up deep-space ambushes on all single ship fleets in the buffer




"Designated ships have acknowledged, Sir."


That left him with four ships including the Grinder, one interdictor, and


two Imperators. He had given specific orders not to bombard the planets he was


about to invade, but should they prove resistant, that could change. He nodded


to the navigator, and seconds later, his small fleet jumped.






Lieutenant Griffiths had been assigned to the starfleet communications


processing centre on this planet until recently. However, when the realisation


came that the planet might be invaded, seeing they were only a hundred and fifty


light years from the centre of the Imperial sphere at Bajor, he had been


approached to take charge of planetary defences. He sneered at the thought.


Planetary defenses indeed. They had no orbital weapons platforms, no orbiting


space stations, not even significant ground based weaponry.


The sum total of planetary defences were the handful of starfleet


personnel on the planet, as well as several bands of untrained civilians. He had


given orders that as many hand-phasers and phaser-rifles as possible be


replicated, but after a few hundred they had run out of collimating crystals.


Knowing that this was a useless gesture, and a simple orbital bombardment would


devastate the population, he had not handed out the phasers to the population.


Instead, he had cached the weapons in secret locations all over the


planet, to facilitate resistance should the planet be invaded. For the last few


weeks, all he had had to do, was wait. Now the waiting was over. On the vid-


screen in front of him was the commander of the Imperial forces which had


suddenly appeared in orbit.


"You will surrender all weapons to our soldiers, and henceforth will be


members of the Galactic Empire. All military personnel on this planet are to


assemble at the local landing zones, where they will be incorporated into the


new administration of this planet. Resistance will be crushed. Harshly.


"Our scanners have detected a number of weapons caches. These caches will


now be destroyed with a short bombardment. Consider this a demonstration of


Imperial power and willingness to crush any opposition."


The room was briefly lit by an eerie green flash. Seconds later, a low


rumbling shook the buildings, rattling the equipment nearby.


"If there are further caches which are hidden from our sensors, inform us


now. Failure to do so will result in this world being labelled dissident."


Griffiths glanced over his status boards.


"There are no more weapons caches. You destroyed them all."


"You have just failed your first test. We deliberately left one unscathed.


Reveal them all now, please." The Imperial officer smiled grimly.


"If I don't?" Griffiths tested, reluctant to give in so easily.


A thunderous roar threw him to the ground, waves of heat washing through


the room. Griffiths got up and rushed to the door. Outside, in the distance, he


saw a huge column of smoke rising, lit up by a ball of flame mushrooming in the


middle. In the street below, people were lying on the ground, scorched and


bleeding. Screams could be heard in the distance. He judged the explosion had


been within the city limits, and from it's size, several blocks of the city had


been razed. He charged back to the comms desk.


"That was not necessary," he shouted, "there must have been hundreds of


people killed. The casualties must be .."


"The locations of the weapons caches. Now!" The Imperial officer was no


longer smiling.


Griffiths complied.








Caledonia was a much richer world. It had been colonised several decades


ago, requiring very little terraforming. Over the years, it's population had


grown exponentially, and it had also become a major node in the network of


federation defences close to the neutral zone. As such, it had a number of


orbital defence platforms, not very mobile, but heavily armoured. These were


supported by several ground-based phaser batteries.


All in all, it was a world ready for any invasion force. Unfortunately,


the defences had been constructed with the Romulans in mind. If the romulans


approached to within transporter range, or close enough for their disruptors to


burn through the atmosphere, they would have been devastated by the return fire


from the weapons platforms. If they fired missiles or torpedoes, the platforms


could knock them down. The Imperials did neither.


They jumped into the system a significant distance from the planet and


opened communications. The communications were a standard declaration of the


terms of surrender, with threats of force if these were not adhered to. The


planetary commander, confident of his defences, ignored the message.


"Open fire on the planetary cities, medium and light weapons only, ignore


the battle stations."


"From this range? Sir?"




The four ships opened fire, from a range of at least ten light seconds,


randomly targeting the cities on the planet below, and ignoring the battle-


stations. Four of the battle-stations immediately returned fire, but at this


range, the fire was easily avoided or shot down. Unfortunately, the planet had


no way to evade the incoming turbolaser bolts. At this distance, they had


dissipated significantly, and mostly detonated in the upper atmosphere. Mostly.


The few bolts which penetrated the atmosphere to any depth resulted in


multiple shock-waves rocking the cities below, and waves of heat radiating into


the atmosphere. Occasionally, a bolt penetrated to ground level, causing immense


devastation to localised areas.


"Hail the planet, order them to surrender, or we open fire with the heavy




"They are not responding, sir."


"Heavy turbolasers, one broadside only, target one of the smaller cities."


The Grinder fired it's heavy turbolasers, sending a rain of significantly


larger and brighter bolts flashing towards the planet. Several seconds later,


they streaked past the impotent orbital battle-stations, and ripped through the


atmosphere like lightning bolts. Hundreds of green bolts of pure energy slammed


into the city, engulfing it in a torrent of heat, molten ferrocrete and


vapourised bedrock. Dozens of fireballs mushroomed across the surface, consuming


everything in it's path, flash-boiling even the river flowing through the city,


forming one huge raging mass of energy before it rose into the sky and




"Hail the planet. Offer them the option of another city, or total




"Sir, the orbital platforms, they're shooting at the planet below."


"No," another voice corrected, "those target locks are for matter beams,


the crews are transporting to the planet. They're evacuating the battle-




Xris sighed. He knew what was coming next. The battle-stations detonated


in blue-white anti-matter explosions. Pity, he thought, it would have been nice


to capture the planet with it's defences intact.


"The planetary governor is hailing us, sir. He is offering his surrender."


"Yes, I know. Accept their surrender. Once the planet is secured, have


intelligence round up the crews of the battle-stations, and the planetary


governor, and execute them. They really should have died at their posts."


It was so easy to invade planets without planetary shielding.






The first officer of the USS Niger glanced over his status panel. They


were close to the end of their fuel supply. They had been travelling for weeks


across federation space towards Earth, as part of the fleet assembly ordered.


Three times they had to change course as fuel depots were destroyed or


compromised. If they didn't get fuel at this next planet, they might never make




"Prepare for orbital insertion. Captain to the bridge. Comms, open a


channel to the planet so-long."


"Aye, sir."


"Captain is on his way. Entering outer system, slowing down to warp five.


Orbit in eleven seconds."


The turbolift quietly hissed open.


"Captain on the bridge."




"Thank you, number one. Do we have a channel to the planet?"


"Yes, sir. Opening now."


The captain briefly exchanged pleasantries with the locals, and started


making arrangements to take on a fresh fuel supply.


"Disengaging warp drive. We are in orbit."


"Lower shields. Prepare transporter room for fuel transfer."


"Ready Sir."


The transfer had barely begun when the bridge tilted violently. A flash of


white light burst from a panel nearby, flinging it's operator bodily across the


bridge. There was no blood coming from the blackened stumps where her hands had


been, the wounds had been neatly cauterised.


"Raise shields." The captain shouted.


A second explosion rocked the ship, from the direction of the transporter


room, as the anti-matter transportation was cut off by the shields. A stunned


operator was being carried off the bridge, staring silently at the blackened


stumps where her hands used to be. She was still in shock, and experienced no


pain yet. Fortunately for her, the pain would never come.


The warship on the view-screen fired a second broadside even as the


captain was ordering return fire. The bridge rocked once more, but less


violently, as the shields absorbed the worst of the impact. But the damage had


been done with the first broadside, and once again secondary explosions rocked


the ship.


"Shields are failing, phasers are off-line, there is no power to the


torpedo launchers, warp core breach imminent, decks fourteen through seventeen


are open to vacuum .."


The litany of damage was cut short as the third broadside slammed home.


The ISD Devastator coasted past the wreckage. It's captain tapped his foot


impatiently while his navigators plotted another jump. On his display, he could


see another ship in his sector was only six minutes away from it's destination.


If they could get there right after it disengaged it's stardrive and surprise


it, then he would be two kills ahead of the Ravager, which was performing the


same duties several hundred light years away. The navi-comp beeped, and at an


impatient nod from the captain, the navigator commenced the jump-cycle. The


Devastator thundered into hyperspace, leaving the still incandescent wreckage of


the USS Niger to cool down in it's wake.






Imperial Task Force Alpha-One arrived in deep-space several dozen AU ahead


of the two ship fleet it was targeting. At the cruising speed of the two warp-


ships, they would get here in about a minute. At this speed, they were also


fourteen days away from the nearest Federation system, fifteen light years away.


The interdictor assigned to the task force began powering up it's gravity wells.


By the time the Federation ships got here, it would have created a zone of anti-


tachyonic movement several light-seconds across.


The Federation ships had no intention of playing ball though, and a slight


course change saw them neatly evade the tiny island of simulated gravity. Once


more, the Imperial ships tried to catch them, but again, they evaded, and


continued on their way.


The Imperial officers had a brief meeting with each other. The interdictor


just took too long to power up, and by that time the Federation ships had


escaped. The Imperator and the two Victories tried jumping into position ahead


of the two ships, and peppering their projected paths with flak-bursts and


missiles, but the two ships flashed past too quickly, and any hits scored would


be pure blind luck, and certainly not meaningful enough to smash down shields.


Short of ideas for the time-being, they gave up, and jumped to a


rendesvous point, to report their lack of success to Xris.






In Starfleet headquarters, another in a long series of crisis meetings


were being held. Reports were coming in from dozens of worlds between Earth and


Bajor. The Imperials had been needlessly bombarding world after world into


savagery. The casualty counts were surprisingly low, though. Many of these


worlds had populations in the hundreds of million, the older colonies had


populations exceeded a billion people. Yet the casualty count rarely exceeded a


few hundred thousand people per world. The enemy was taking care not to kill too


many people, but was obviously destroying everything remotely technological in


nature. A picture of a wasteland grew, the picture extended for a thousand light


years in a sphere centred on the system that used to be home to Bajor.


In that sphere, not a single inhabited planet had escaped bombardment.


Also in that sphere, not a single sub-space booster remained. The reports coming


in were hours old, barely recognisable, and almost unintelligible. Many


starships were known to be in somewhere in that sphere, and occasional reports


were still coming in, indicating that some of them at least were still


operational. Only a few of them were known to be within range of earth or other


major 'safe' worlds. The others might or might not make it, if they reduced


speed or could somehow stretch their fuel reserves. In any case, at the reduced


speeds, it would be weeks or months before many of them would make it out of the




Messages had been despatched throughout Federation space, re-routing ships


away from this zone. It would seriously hamper the assembling of an attack


fleet, with ships having to take detours which would increase their travel time


by several weeks. The general strategy of the Federation was to attempt to trap


and destroy the Imperial fleet, possibly recapture some of the worlds.


"We have to attempt to get help to those planets as well."


"The best thing we can do for those planets is to destroy the Imperial




"It will be weeks before we can assemble a significant force here. Our


fleet is spread across ten thousand light years. Even once we do assemble a


fleet, how are we going to attack them. There is three hundred light years of


wasteland between here and the nearest Imperial worlds. That is more than a week


away at high warp. To get there in a reasonable time, fight a battle and return,


we will have to convert our ships into flying fuel tanks.


"In the meanwhile, we must help those people. Can you imagine the state of


those worlds. No source of power, no industry, no manufacturing, no replicators.


In a few days, those people will start dying of starvation. Starvation! In this


day and age."


"And what do you suggest we do? Spread our fleet and allow them to pick us


of one by one?"


"Those people are depending on us. It is our duty."


"Our duty will be better served by destroying the Imperial fleet."


"Can't we pull another ambush, like at starbase 17?"


"Will it work?"


"It's worth a try. I say we set up one or two worlds, ripe for the


picking, and hide a dozen starships in each system. The moment the Imperials


move in, we lock them down and pulverise them."


"Can we spare the ships? How can we set up the ambush without them


noticing it?"


"Use the ships on their way here, the ones outside the Imperial controlled


zone. Have them assemble at worlds the Imperials are likely to scout in the next


week or so, but keep the ships hidden. The moment an Imperial shows it's nose,


hit them with a graviton beam to lock them down, and pulverise them."


"They will be aware of that danger by now, but it's worth a try."


"At the least, it might prevent them from bombing more worlds."


"Make it so."






On the bridge of the USS Beunos Aires, the captain and his senior officers


pored over various computer scenarios.


"We have not been able to raise a signal from any world in two hundred


light years. We might as well head directly for Earth."


"We cannot hope to reach Earth at anything faster than warp five given our


current fuel capacity. That is a journey of several months."


"We have no other choice. There is not a world between here and Earth that


can supply us with fuel."


Sighing in frustration, the captain chucked a padd onto the table.


"Make it so," he ordered.

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A fanfic by Michael January




The garrisoning of the ex-Klingon world proceeded smoothly. A full ten


regiments, including two stormtrooper regiments, were distributed through the


cities and defensive installations of the planet. Most of the Klingon planet-


based and orbital systems had been destroyed in the initial bombardment, and the


rest had been sabotaged by their crews. As a result, Imperial equipment had been


distributed throughout the populated regions of the planet.


No orbital battle-stations could be spared, but a number of LNR laser


cannons and KDY ion cannons had been installed, as well as several Gentech


planetary shield generators. Each generator provided an umbrella shield


extending for a radius of 900 kilometers. A total of eight were installed on the


planet, several of them linked into a cohesive network, so that all major cities


and strategic mineral areas were covered. The Victory destroyer patrolling the


system completed it's scans, and satisfied that no warp-driven vessels were


within several dozen light-years, prepared to jump to the next system.


"Captain Billic to Colonel Dekker. Confirm communications operability."


"Dekker here. Orbital relay is fully operational. Out-system sub-space


booster is fully operational. We have clear communications to eighty light




"Confirm mid-range scan?"


"Mid-range scan returns are twenty-twenty."




"Long-range scan is twenty-twenty."


"Very well, Colonel. We will resume our patrol, our next stop here is in


fifteen hours."




The Vanquisher pointed it's nose into deep-space, and in a blur of motion,


streaked into the distance, vanishing off the sub-space tracers before it


reached mid-range. It's exit vector was towards deep-space. Not surprising.


Military procedure was to stop in deep-space, then make a second jump towards


the destination, to throw off any attempts to perform a trace.




Six hundred million kilometers away, partially hidden by a gas-giant,


three cloaked Klingon battle-cruisers exchanged low-power communications, and


headed out towards the planet. They remained at extremely low warp, not taking


the chance of their warp signature leaking out of their cloaking shield. Unable


to use active scanners either, two of them crept closer to the planet below,


while a third headed for the out-system communications booster. Between them


they carried thirty thousand troops, which hopefully would not be necessary. If


they could get close enough to detect the ground defences and shield generators


on passive scan they stood a chance of knocking them out and forcing a




Several minutes crept by, as the battle-cruisers drifted closer and closer


to the planet, now only light-minutes away.




"Sir," the operator called, "it seems the gas-giant in orbit number five


has developed some sort of gravitic anomaly."


The lieutenant in charge of the com-scan detachment came and bent over the




"I don't see anything."


"It is intermittent, sir. I am sure the recording would have picked it up,


if it doesn't happen again."


"Wait. There. I see it." The lieutenant said, as the gas-giant on the


scope seemed to waver for a second. "Strange, initial scans did not indicate


that the gas-giant was unstable. Sensor focus on the gas-giant, determine the


nature of the anomaly, and re-calibrate this station accordingly."


The operator keyed for a sensor focus on the planet.




The three battle-cruisers were startled by a sudden wave of sub-space


energy passing through them. For a second they thought they had been discovered,


then realised that the active scan was not meant for them, but the gas-giant


behind them. They changed course slightly, attempting to move out of alignment


with the gas-giant.






"Sir, I think we have cloaked ships in the system."


"What? Run that log again. Echo to my display."


The recording played again. The signature of the planet was clear, except


for two blobs sliding across the face of the planet, and passing into


nothingness as they cleared the planet. The planet itself registered dead


normal, not a hint of gravitic anomaly.


"Colonel Dekker." The lieutenant called over his comm-channel, "I have two


possible cloaked ships in the system."


"Possible? Can you not confirm this."


"If I start hunting for them now with active scans, they will know they


have been detected. If we raise shields, they will also know they have been


detected, and the shields will degrade sensor performance, possibly rendering a


positive track impossible."


"Lieutenant. I cannot recall the Vanquisher on your suspicions. Prepare a


recall message for the Vanquisher, but do not transmit it until a positive trace


can be made. Have all shield generators on standby, and send out an alert to all


ground-stations. I am on my way."






On the three battle-cruisers, the passive sensors began to light up as a


sudden increase in activity on the planet began to register.


"They have detected us."


"No! They are merely suspicious."


"Prepare to decloak and commence attack, on my command."






The lieutenant, had his sensor boards return to normal configuration, but


ordered a passive focus on the region between them and the gas-giant. He slowly


panned out the cone of the sensor focus towards the direction the two potential


cloaked ships had been drifting in. Seconds ticked by as the cone slowly


increased in size.


"Got them!" He exclaimed.


On his board, a faint twinkling of the stars was visible in two tight


regions, as something unseen drifted between the sensors and the stellar


background. He turned to call the colonel over. The colonel took one look at the


scope, and started issuing orders.


"Raise shields. Transmit recall to Vanquisher. Active scan. Planetary


defence weapons are free to fire."






Even as Dekker was giving these orders, the Klingon commander decided he


had had enough. The passive scans showed the enemy readiness level to have


increased significantly in the last few seconds. They had not scanned his ships


yet, and neither had they raised shields yet, but it was obvious that they knew


an attack was imminent.


"Now!" he ordered.


A sub-space signal flashed to the battle-cruiser heading towards the out-


system booster. It immediately discarded all attempts at secrecy, and engaged


high warp, disengaging it's cloaking mechanism at the same time. A fraction of a


second later it came to a stop right alongside the Imperials communications


booster, and opened fire. Closer to the Imperial planet, another battle-cruiser


blew away the orbital relay station. The third cruiser came to a stop in high


orbit, and opened fire on the surface below.


Within a second of opening fire, the planetary shields were in place, and


the disruptors and torpedoes slammed into it, and were shrugged off. He kept


firing for a few more seconds, assuring himself of the strength of the shield,


before he ceased fire. The damage done by the second or so of disruptor fire


before the shields were raised was negligible, knocking out two of the planetary


defence turbolasers, and damaging a power plant near one of the larger cities.


However, the effect on the Klingon population was electric.






"Sir, I have multiple reports of Klingons taking to the streets, armed


with hand-to-hand weapons."


"Have the city garrisons subdue them. Blasters set to stun. If they don't


respond, they have authorisation to kill."


"Yes, sir."


"Did the transmission to the Vanquisher get out before the booster went?"


"No, Sir."


"The enemy ships, are they within range?"


"They are in high orbit sir. At that range, we'd have to lower shields to


hit them."


"If they come in any closer, have the turbolasers and ion cannons fire a


synchronised broadside through a fractional and localised drop in shields."


"Yes, Sir."


"Have all forces that can be spared from population control prepare to


repel invaders."






On the Klingon ships, the commanders surveyed the initial scans of the




"They have impressive shielding. We cannot bombard them into submission.


We will have to land troops at these positions, where there is no shield


coverage, and take the planet by military force."


"I agree. How long do we have?"


"Less than fifteen hours before the patrolling ship returns."


"What is the point? We cannot hold the planet unless we capture their


shields, and they will obviously not let that happen."


"Perhaps not. But we can always beam our troops off, and escape. Then they


will have to invade the planet all over again. According to our information,


they have limited resources, and cannot afford to lose any troops."


"Very well."






Unit commander Bevel looked over his sensor board. An ever growing number


of life-sign readings were being reported seventy kilometers away, just beyond


the limits of the shield, and below the horizon. The enemy was obviously


transporting troops down to the surface, and at a prodigious rate as well.


"Any word on those re-enforcement's?"


"No sir. Apparently, all four backup regiments are fully committed to


population control. There are riots in every major city."


"Damn Klingons. Should just have wasted the lot of them, and seeded this


planet with Humans. Much easier to manage."


"Yes, Sir."


"Prepare two Chariots, and six speeder bikes. I'll go out and have a look


at the enemy. Have the rest of the unit placed on battle alert."


The five hundred man unit under Bevel's command were spread out in a


series of recently constructed shielded and reinforced bunkers along a twenty


kilometer long series of ridges. The ridges had been identified as the choke-


point for one of the likely routes an invading party would take. The bunkers


were connected by a series of turbolifts, and the unit was backed up by a


mechanised unit consisting of two AT-ATs, six AT-STs, and a number of heavily


armoured land-speeders. The Chariots were essentially lightly armoured ground


effects vehicles, armed with two sets of twin blaster-cannons, and crewed by


three troopers. The speeder bikes only required one pilot, had a forward mounted


light blaster cannon, and optionally carried a second rider armed with a blaster




The repulsor-lift scout unit under Bevel's command set out, with Bevel


piloting one of the Chariots himself. The Chariot's scope was tied into the


battle-network, and he could clearly track the advancing column of Klingon life-


signs. The reason he wanted to eyeball them was to see what type of armoured or


mechanised support they were bringing along, because the scope couldn't pick up




"We'll stay under the shield," he joked, "we don't want to be picked off


by those battle-cruisers in orbit do we?"


"Haw Haw!"


Bevel headed for a ridge, seven kilometers short of the advancing column


of Klingons. Pulling to a stop just short of the ridge-crest, he disembarked and


crawled up to the crest. A regular army unit, his men were not outfitted with


the full battle-armour of a stormtrooper unit, so he had no interactive HUD, and


was forced to scope the enemy with his macrobinoculars.


The binoculars detected multiple columns of Klingons, advancing, and he


zoomed into each group in turn. He was surprised.


"Damn. They must be up to something, 'cos I don't see any armor. They're


jogging in, for Force sake!"


Two of his men joined him, and the three men scanned the advancing


Klingons, but couldn't spot anything either.


"Look at that group over there. They're holding up some sort of scanner."


A group of Klingons in one of the point groups were holding up a palm-


sized device, and waving it at the horizon. One of the Klingons suddenly pointed


to the ridge they were lying on.


"Let's get outta here!" Bevel called, and dived back down the ridge,


rolling to a stop in a cloud of dust and stones. The top of the ridge was


suddenly marked with the hissing sound of powerful disruptor beams cutting


through the air and into the rocks above.


The two Chariots and six bikes sped away, as a photon grenade landed


square on the ridge, vapourising the top of the ridge.


"My damn hand is bleeding!" Bevel exclaimed in disgust, and wiped the


blood off on his pants. "One pass, to teach those bastards a lesson, then we're


going back."


The two Chariots jinked between a line of ridges, and dipped into a dry


river bed or gully. Relying on the terrain avoidance systems, they sped along


the gully, well below the line of sight of any observers. The bikes remained on


the surface, but below the tree line, jinking between the numerous squat bushes


of this planet, as fast as their terrain avoidance would allow. The Imperial


formation spread out in a broad line.


"Prepare to fire thermal detonators, distribution pattern delta-two, yield


setting three. Launch on computer timer."


The Chariots started launching thermal detonators on high trajectories,


the trajectories calculated to bring them back to the surface after the ground


forces had swept past the Klingon troops.


"Pop and drop." Bevel ordered.


The Chariots and bikes popped up for a brief second, bringing them into


line of sight of the forward group of Klingons, the Chariot shuddered as the


blaster cannons opened up, sweeping across the Klingon formation. The small


group of airborne vessels veered wildly from side to side, disruptor fire


peppering the air around them, still firing wildly, then dropped below the tree


line again. Bevel pushed the control stick forward as far as the safeties


allowed, the Chariot hugging the ground as it dipped into the gully again, and


he led his group away at high speed.


The Chariot rocked as a photon grenade detonated nearby, then another and


another. On his display panel, he saw the indicators on two of his speeder bikes


wink out, as the bikes were destroyed. Then the Chariot interior suddenly glowed


red as the first of the thermal detonators exploded. Shielded by the gully, the


two Chariots sped on, clearing the area, as another speeder-bike indicator


winked out on his panel.


Seconds later, Bevel brought his forces to a stop below another ridge


eight kilometers away. He popped his Chariot briefly over the ridge-line. In the


distance, several columns of smoke rose into the air, and large tracts of ground


glowed red, whether from photon grenades or thermal detonations was impossible


to say. The com-scan panel beeped to indicate that it had completed it's scan,


and Bevel dropped below the ridge line again. Leaving the computer to guide the


Chariot home, Bevel glanced over the readings.


He had lost three speeder bikes (six men), and the entire forward line of


the advancing Klingon army had been devastated. He was tempted to do a second


run, but decided not to push his luck.


"Relay battle-data to the ground-speeders," he ordered the computer,


"let's get back to base."




The Chariots and three bikes slammed to a stop in the hangar half a minute


later. The flush of adrenalin was clearly visible in the faces of the pilots.


Bevel noticed several chunks of the outer shell of his Chariot were missing


where disruptor beams had hit.


"Man, what a ride."


"Doncha love toasted Klingon."


"Haw daw, did you see those detonators blow. We left those Klingons


sitting on molten rock man."


"Enough," Bevel ordered, "get back to your posts. Droids, prep these


vehicles, we may need them soon. Laser-weld an additional two millimeters of


dura-armour over the sides and bottom of the Chariots, those disruptors nearly


penetrated the plastoid shell."


He stepped into a nearby turbolift, and headed straight for his command






"We still have three thousand Klingons advancing along two separate


fronts. They've been forced to circumvent the area of the attack. Ground too hot


for them, I reckon."




"Coming over in ten seconds."




"They will only have time for two passes though, command has ordered them


to reinforce other sectors. We will have to deal with whatever is left after


that ourselves."


"Typical. We will allow the enemy to approach to within six kilometers of


our forward posts. Prepare artillery bombardment of that area. All bunkers, re-


route power to enhance forward and lateral shields, optimise for photon grenade


deflection. Split the mechanised unit into two wings, I'll take an AT-AT, two


AT-STs and two Chariots on the left flank. Similar wing on the right flank.


Remaining AT-ST's and speeder bikes to attack from the front, with artillery


support from the bunkers in the rear.


"I want two hundred men with full body-armour in ground support, one


hundred men to each wing. Another one hundred men in body-armour to support the


AT-STs in the centre."


That left two hundred men thinly spread through the bunkers.


The body armour issued to army units was more of a body hugging vest, with


leggings and sleeves, and not the beetle-like battle-suits issued to


stormtrooper units. It was a matter of pride to army units to attempt to


'outperform' their heavily armoured counterparts, despite being 'naked'. The


armour was quite efficient at deflecting low-powered blaster bolts though, and


could only be penetrated by blaster-rifles at close range, or cannon equivalent


weapons at medium ranges.


Bevel was not obligated to join his men in battle, and was well within his


rights to co-ordinate the battle from this centre, but that was not his style.


He made his way to the turbolifts, and commandeered the lift to the mechanised


barracks, where he jumped onto a passing barge, and hitched a lift to the left


flank assembly area. Settling into the command seat of the AT-AT, he grinned to


himself, this was more like it.


The AT-AT carried a crew of five [thumb-suck], a pilot, a com-scan


operator, and three gunners. Two of the gunners were in charge of the lighter


laser-cannons used for defensive purposes and as anti-personnel weapons, while


the senior gunner controlled the turbolaser turret, which was the main anti-


armour weapon of the vehicle. Bevel made himself comfortable in the command seat


behind the pilot, and began issuing orders.


"Scouts, flanks by zero decimal two. Chariots, skirmish, by zero decimal


five. Ground units, lead by zero decimal one five, single skirmish line, spread


by zero decimal zero two zero. Five units in the AT-AT, two in each Chariot."


The soldiers quickly assumed the formation, five troopers clambering in


behind Bevel in the AT-AT, while two extra soldiers clambered into each of the


Chariots. The skirmish line advanced towards the low ridge shielding them from


the enemy, seven kilometers away, and hidden by the rough scrub terrain.


"Ground units, advance at best speed, mechanised units, maintain station."


The mechanised units, especially the AT-AT, would come into line-of sight


first, due to their elevated position. Through the transparisteel window, Bevel


could clearly see the Klingon units in the distance, the view enhanced by the


vid-matrix embedded in the screen.


In the distance, several specks could be seen flitting backwards and


forwards, diving on the enemy, as the ground-speeders (really atmospheric


fighters, but powered by repulsor-lifts) conducted their attack runs. The


speeders broke off, and sped into the distance, to wherever HQ wanted them re-


routed. Immediately, a number of tracks curved down into the Klingon lines, as


the sensors tracked the artillery rounds and fed the data to the vid-matrix. In


the distance, several explosions marked the position of the advancing Klingons.


Bevel glanced at the life-sign readings on the com-scan board, and was


surprised at how slowly it was declining, given the intensity of the destruction


raining down on the Klingon positions. Well, the Klingons were tough, they had


dissected a few in previous invasions, live ones as well as dead. If the Klingon


populations could be incorporated into the Empire, they would make fantastic




"Open fire, turbo-lasers only. Laser cannons, point defence mode, watch


for mortar or howitzer rounds. It doesn't look like the enemy has any air




For a few seconds nothing happened, then the cockpit was filled with the


familiar rhythmic scream of the turbolaser turrets recycling. Several green


bolts of energy slammed into the Klingon lines, concentrating on the areas where


life-sign readings were most concentrated.


"Activating haze filters." The pilot called, as smoke began to obscure the


area ahead.


Below and slightly ahead of the slowly advancing AT-AT, Bevel could see


his ground troops scampering across the terrain, the Klingons still below the


horizon from their perspective. The laser-cannons stuttered away for a few


seconds, knocking down photon grenades launched by mortars at the back of the


Klingon lines, tracking backwards along the photon grenade's trajectories, they


fired several rounds into the launch area.


"Some of those rounds are coming from below the horizon, out of our LOS."


The pilot called.


"We don't have air-cover to take them out, feed the launch zones to the


Chariots, have them peel off and take out those launch sites."


The AT-AT rocked slightly as a mortar round detonated behind it, the point


defence gunners were concentrating on the mortar rounds picked out by the


computers as on a direct collision course, with themselves first, or other


friendly units second, and ignoring rounds which would miss. The targeting was


essentially computer driven, with targets prioritised and colour-coded as the


sensors picked them out. The gunners would 'point' at the designated target, and


trigger the weapons, but the aiming was mostly computer co-ordinated and


corrected on the fly by comparing targeting data to sensor data. At this range,


they barely had two or three seconds to track and shoot down the incoming




"The ST's are in LOS, opening fire now," the com-scan operator called.


"Have them spread out, to wide skirmishing positions, and advance ahead of


the ground units."


The ST's accelerated ahead, and angled to wider positions, spreading out


the field of fire. The range to the enemy was now five kilometers, and even the


foot-soldiers were beginning to fire now. At this range, they couldn't hope to


hit anything, but were merely adding to the concentration of destruction hailing


down into the Klingon ranks.


"Enemy count?"


"Five hundred life-sign readings, varying strength, on this front."


Varying strength meant most of the Klingons were wounded in some fashion


or other. The AT-AT rocked again, much harder this time, as a grenade detonated


against it's shields.


"Where are those Chariots?"


"Eight seconds." The com-scan operator called.


A stuttered buzzing began to sound inside the AT-AT.


"What the .." Bevel started.


"Disruptor fire, hand weapons only, nothing strong enough to take down our




"Sounds bad enough."


"The weapons are pulsed, puts an added strain on the shield gennies." The


pilot explained. "We've had this before during the practise invasions. No big




Bevel noticed that the shields were down to seventy percent already. No


big deal indeed. On the vid-matrix, several red blobs indicated the regions from


which the heaviest fire was coming. The turbo-lasers were concentrating on these




"Chariots report mortars are taken down!"


"Retask laser-cannons to anti-personnel."


"Already done. Sir!"


"Bye bye baby." One of the gunners called, as the rapid fire laser cannons


ripped into the Klingon lines. The laser cannons could fire close to a dozen


rounds per second in this mode, and basically peppered the formations ahead of


the advancing Imperial formation.


"Ground units," Bevel called into the command channel, "these Klingons are


tough, make doubly sure they are dead. Leave nothing to chance."


In the distance, about ten kilometers to their right, Bevel could see his


other flank advancing in similar fashion, the AT-AT towering over the terrain


and the only unit visible to the naked eye at this range.


"The enemy is retreating!"


"Scouts and Chariots, pursue the enemy, do not exceed the shield barrier,


repeat, do not exceed the shield barrier. AT-ATs, return to base, ground units,


mop up this battle-field, no prisoners are required."


Bevel sat back. Below the AT-AT, his troops were deliberately shooting


into all Klingon bodies. In the distance, the Chariots and AT-STs were still


firing, harassing the enemy's retreat.




"On this flank, both Chariots lightly damaged, thirty dead troopers. On


the other flank, one Chariot damaged, one AT-ST destroyed, and thirty seven dead


troopers. That is thirty percent losses, overall unit losses are fifteen point


four percent for the day so far."


"Designate a Chariot to pick me up. Return to base at best speed. Have the


troops return in fifteen minutes, and send the droids out to clean up and re-


deploy some mines, trip-wires, and additional sensors."




On getting back to the base, Bevel heard that his units had performed


above average, but not exceptional. A stormtrooper unit four hundred kilometers


further north, in another defensive choke point, had repelled a five thousand


strong force with only eight percent losses. But then, stormtroopers were much


better equipped than army units. Closer to home though, an army unit was about


to be overrun, and their bunker complex had been penetrated. Bevel was ordered


to take a detachment and rush to their support.


The three hundred troops that had counter-attacked the Klingon formations


were still in the field, and the remaining two hundred of his men were spread


thinly through the bunker complex.


"Get one hundred units together. We'll load up three to a speeder bike,


and cram the rest into the Chariots. Issue flechette rifles and flame-throwers,


the fighting will be close in and dirty. Whoever can't fit in, can follow on the




About seventy soldiers were crammed onto the fast vehicles, and sped off


to the next bunker complex, two hundred kilometers away. It took them thirty


minutes to traverse the distance, and the situation was approaching critical by


the time they arrived at the rear of the complex, where they were met by a


junior officer.


"The complex consists of thirty two bunkers, we have lost fourteen of them


to the Klingons. We are down to two hundred men, and we suspect the Klingon


force is down to six hundred. We decimated them on the approach, but hand to


hand, they are formidable."




"We used it on their initial wave, but they only suffered thirty percent


losses and kept coming."


"Damn. Alright men. This is gonna be up close and personal. Work together,


three to a team, and make them pay for every inch. We can only play for time,


until reinforcements get here. Send a Chariot back for more gas."


Bevel turned back to the officer, "Turbolifts?"


"Shut down. The enemy is advancing through the utility shafts."


The officer led Bevel and his officers to a command centre in this bunker,


where he called up a display, showing the layout of the complex. The bunkers


making up the complex were connected firstly by turbolifts, but in the abscence


of these, by a network of utility shafts. The shafts were not straight, but


often ended in crossways, T-junctions, or were segmented by blast doors and


buffer zones, so that detonations in any one bunker could be contained without


damaging related bunkers. The shafts were also set at angles to one another, so


that there were no straight-line joins between successive sections. Several of


these bunkers and shaft segments were outlined in red.


"We have set up barricades at these points, to choke off the enemy's


advance, but their disruptors are very efficient at degrading barricade


materials, and we've had to fall back time after time."


"Okay, have your men hold out as long as possible, and fall back section


by section to these points here. My men will set up further barricades there.


Then you can fall back behind us, and set up another line of barricades here."


Bevel split his men up into a number of squads, and moved out. He took one


squad himself, and led them down into the utility shafts. In the distance, the


crack of blaster fire and the zing of disruptor fire could be heard. Bevel


spotted a construction and maintenance droid loitering in a corner nearby.


"You. Come with me."


"But. Sir. I am not .."




Bevel led the droid to a point just short of the blast door. Peering


around the corner along the crosscut, he saw a number of soldiers were taking


cover in the transverse passageway, and exchanging fire with Klingon forces


hidden by distance and darkness, along another shaft.. Bevel directed the droid


to drill several holes at intervals along the ferrocrete walls, in which he


placed fragmentation grenades. The droid was then directed to spray a thin layer


of ferrocrete to conceal the grenades.


He worked his way back up the shaft, to another crosscut where his men


were preparing another barricade. They had a second droid building up low


ferrocrete walls behind which they could duck, with narrow slits to fire


through. He nodded approval. A third droid was building a raised platform, with


a thick forward shield, and an E-web crew were setting up behind it. He directed


one of his men to continue lacing the tunnels with fragmentation grenades,


concealed by thin layers of ferrocrete.


In the distance, the firing was getting spasmodic. That barricade wouldn't


hold much longer. Two more soldiers came rushing up from behind. They were from


his command, which meant his second detachment had arrived. And they had a


flame-thrower with them. Excellent.


They settled down to wait. A flurry of shots ahead told them that the


Klingons were charging the barricade ahead of them, and seconds later, a group


of soldiers came running out of the darkness towards them. Bevel waited for them


to jump the leading ferrocrete barricades then threw the switch dumping the


entire section into ink-black darkness. Klingons had good night-sight, but this


wasn't dark, it was the ink-black you only got deep underground.


"Thermal sights, everybody. Alternate fire with blasters and flechette


launchers. You men, fall back to the next cross-cut and begin setting up there,


take these droids with you."


The soldiers ducked around the corner, and entered the shaft leading


further back into the complex, and raced away to set up another blockage point.


Bevel ducked behind one of the revetments.


"Don't open fire until the enemy has entered the passageway. You with the


flame-thrower, save that for when they charge this position."


He looked through the narrow slit in front of him, the shaft outlined in


the light green by the thermal imagers he had pulled down. In the distance, a


few vague blobs of red could be seen, as the Klingons grouped in the crosscut


there. He waited for more of them to arrive, then triggered the remote detonator


for the first set of fragmentation grenades. The view through the imager whited


out for a second, and the underground passageways was rocked by the thunder of


the explosions. The explosions were rather mild, not designed to bring the roof


down, but powerful enough to have killed at short range.


A few seconds later, the Klingons responded with a hail of disruptor fire.


Bevel adjusted the magnification on his sights and zoomed in on the group of


Klingons ahead of them. He was momentarily blinded by a flurry of blaster fire,


as his men returned fire, and shut his eyes, allowing them to adjust. He turned


down the brightness of the imager. He opened his eyes just in time to see a


Klingon shape with a long tube over one shoulder assume a familiar kneeling




"Duck!" He shouted, firing a brace of flechette rounds down the


passageway. The flechettes ricocheted down the passage, shredding everything in


their path, including the Klingon with the rocket launcher, but not before he


had fired.


Bevel flattened himself on the ground. The ground smashed into his face,


and his world turned to thunder and heat, as the rocket round detonated nearby.


Shaking his head to clear it, he glanced down the passage. A group of Klingons


were charging up towards them, firing as they came. Glancing around him as he


fired wildly back, he noticed that half of his men were still down, either


stunned or wounded.


"Flame-thrower." He screamed.


A white-hot line of plasma jetted down the passage, igniting into a wall


of flame thirty odd meters away, and tore down the passage. Three soldiers


jumped out of cover nearby, and with their flechette rifles set to full


automatic, unloaded down the passage.


Adrenalin pumping, Bevel grabbed a fresh flechette clip, slammed it home,


and leapt over the hastily assembled ferrocrete defences. He charged down the


passage-way, emptying the clip. He slammed another clip home, and sprinted along


after the fast dissipating wall of flame. His fatigues scorched by the heat, he


threw himself against the wall at the far crosscut, twisted the fuse on a


thermal grenade, and tossed it around the corner into the crosscut. The wall


slammed into his back, knocking him to the ground, as the concussion from the


grenade's detonation slammed through it.


Two of his soldiers, who had come charging up behind him, jumped over his


sprawled figure and ducked through the entrance into the crosscut, spraying the


area with their flechette rifles. Emptying his magazine, the first solder threw


himself to the ground, allowing the second soldier to jump over him and into the


crosscut. Bevel joined them, and together they raced along the cut, stumbling


over Klingon bodies, and slipping in still warm and bubbling lavender fluid


seeping out of the bodies. They made it to the entrance leading to the next


hatchway, and Bevel made ready to chuck another grenade into the passage to


clear it of any likely enemies.


One of his men got ahead of him though, and stuck his head around the


corner to see if anyone was there. Big mistake. A huge bladed weapon thunked


into his helmet, splitting his skull in two. Bevel wrapped his arm around the


doomed soldiers neck, and tossed the grenade past him, holding the body up as a


shield as a second stroke of the weapon sliced into the midriff of the body he


held. A flash of orange in the passage bodily threw two Klingons into the


crosscut, where the soldier behind Bevel casually fired several flechette rounds


into them. Bevel stepped across the entranceway, still holding the body as a


shield, and with the flechette rifle in one hand, fired several rounds down the


passageway. Several Klingons could be seen hugging the walls, trapped in the


passageway, and blinded by the grenade's detonation. They were shredded by the


flechette rounds ricocheting down the passage.


Dropping the body, Bevel calmly slapped another clip home, and with his


fellow soldier alongside him, they advanced up the passage, spraying the blinded


Klingons with the flechette darts.


"Drop!" Somebody behind them shouted.


They complied, dropping to the floor, as a white-hot jet of plasma


whooshed past over their heads. The flame-thrower squad fired several bursts


ahead of them, until the walls of the passage glowed red, with lavender steam


jetting out of the charred Klingon bodies on the floor.


"Fall back." Bevel ordered, "that should slow them down for a while."






The battle gradually turned towards the Imperial's favour as more and more


troops arrived, with additional equipment, and the bunkers were cleared of


Klingon infestation. Bevel was also developing a picture of the battle for the


planet as reports came in from other parts of the planet. The Klingon had


attempted to capture the major cities defended by the Imperial army regiments,


which had been hard pressed because of a lack of reinforcements due to


population uprisings. Once these had been suppressed though, additional units


had been rushed to the forward lines, and even though the Klingons broke through


in a few places, these were quickly contained.


The battle for the planet lasted eleven hours in all, before the three


battle-cruisers in orbit transported the few survivors off the planet, and


warped out of the system. Behind them, each of the ten regiments defending the


planet had taken significant losses. The stormtrooper regiments naturally had


come off the best, due to having the best equipment in the form of armour and


firepower, and only suffered between ten and fifteen percent losses. The army


units however, had all suffered in excess of forty percent losses. That equated


to nearly seven thousand dead on the Imperial side, and estimates for Klingon


dead were in excess of twenty thousand.


Amongst the civilian population, there were close to sixty thousand dead.


The streets of the cities were littered with Klingon bodies. There weren't


enough droids for the work, with all the repairs necessary on the defensive


installations, and several surviving Klingon civilians were co-opted to cleaning


up the bodies, and clearing the streets.


The Vanquisher returned early, to investigate the lack of communications


from the planet, but too late to lend any support, except to assist in scanning


the surface of the planet for isolated groups of Klingons still wandering


around. These were bombarded from orbit, and droids despatched to confirm the


kills, and collect the equipment. All in all, the Imperials considered


themselves lucky. Thirty thousand Klingons had been nearly enough to take the


planet, if there had been an extra battle-cruiser in the system, with another


10,000 men, things might have gone much differently. In the meanwhile, a number


of contingency plans were drawn up so that the civilian population could be more


easily contained in future engagements.


Jerjerrod added sleeping gases to his list of prioritised substances. In


future, they would ensure that all planets with fractious populations had an


adequate supply of the gas readily at hand. The battle data was also distributed


amongst other planets, so that appropriate modifications to weapons and tactics


could be made, to enhance planetary defences. Piett quickly quieted down the


bickering between fleet and army units, over who was responsible for having


allowed the three Klingon ships to slip through. It was eventually decided that


they must have been in the system to start with, and had just waited for an


opportunity to attack when their were no ships nearby. In any case, patrolling


and scouting operations were stepped up, so that such surprises might be


prevented in future.


Xris knew this was another mark against his battle-record. He should have


ensured that the system was properly sterilised in the first place. He had an


uncomfortable feeling that it was not his skill that kept him in Piett's favour,


but the fact that he would make a superb scapegoat should the Empire re-


establish contact with them.












Xris considered his two major problems. Earth, a stronghold with hundreds


of ships in defence, including the large starships with the graviton beam


deflectors, and dozens of fleets of Federation vessels flitting between various


worlds, and untouchable in deep-space. They were travelling in groups, and


forming defensive groups over planet after planet, rendering his ambush attacks


useless. These defensive groups were being re-supplied by convoys operating


between Earth and various other heavily defended planets.


Now that the Federation forces were mostly distributed throughout their


space, defending strategic worlds, but not yet in a position to launch a serious


counterattack, the war was in a stalemate. If things stayed this way, the


Federation was bound to win. In a war of attrition, the Imperials would be


unable to replace lost resources. His major fear was that the Federation and


their allies would assemble a major fleet, and start invading planets. He would


not dare take on such a fleet head to head, and he had no doubt that with sheer


numbers, his ground forces could not hope to hold back the invaders.


Only a few planets were comprehensively shielded to the point of


preventing any landing whatsoever. Most of his planets were only partially


shielded, preventing direct bombardment, but unable to prevent large-scale


landings. The heavily shielded planets only had minimum garrisons, and the


ground forces were distributed to planets likely to be invaded, with an average


of ten to fifteen regiments per planet. He had also authorised the use of


tactical nuclear weapons. In a few months, they would be able to start


supplementing the troops with war droids. The droid designs available to them


were not that intelligent, but considering the enemy's lack of mechanised


armour, would be quite useful.


In the meanwhile he needed to slow down the enemy build-up, which meant


finding a way to intercept and destroy supply convoys in deep-space. With only


four interdictors at his disposal, a large enclosure formation was not


practical, he needed to find a way to knock out their warp drives and keep them


off. As a result, he had designated his interdictor captains and engineers to a


research project using captured Ferengi and Cardassian ships, and analysing the


mechanisms by which their stardrives operated. He did not expect results for


several weeks yet.


The raids he had been running on enemy shipping had toned down as


defensive fleets were put in place. The few ships he had destroyed probably


wouldn't make difference to the Federation war effort, except for forcing them


to commit greater resources to planetary defence and starship re-supply


operations. He had temporarily halted the bombing raids, fearful of enemy traps.


He had no wish to lose any more ships. The Aggressor had completed repair


operations on two more Victory-class destroyers though, and the remaining six


ships would be available within the week.


Xris contemplated the change in tactics he was about to embark on. It


would require absolute surprise, and extreme focussing of force. He intended


hitting the enemy where they least expected it. It was a dangerous ploy, but if


he played his cards correctly, he could get away clean.




Picard had stayed on his bridge today. The Admirals and senior captains


were holding yet another strategic conference. He had declined the invitation.


Meetings wouldn't win this war, only decisive action would. He glanced at the


view-screen. 'What a mess!' he thought. There were close onto three hundred


ships spread through the Solar System, with a continuous stream of ships


arriving and leaving, as supply convoys were despatched to nearby colonies, or


other convoys arrived with fresh supplies. The Defiant too was on convoy escort


duty somewhere out there.


Several groups of ships were assigned to patrolling duties throughout the


Solar System. Picard had suggested that a hundred ship fleet be despatched to


attack one of the Imperial worlds, possibly co-ordinating the attack with


Romulan and Klingon fleets. It had been demonstrated that ships could travel


quite safely at warp, it was when you arrived at your destination that you were


vulnerable. So far, the admirals were reluctant to commit any ships to offensive


engagements, especially considering the recent inclination amongst the Imperials


to make greater use of that eight kilometer battleship, which Antilles had


referred to as the Grinder, a Giel-class battleship, whatever that was.


Such a ship would be hard to destroy, and it had demonstrated impressive


firepower against Borg cubes at the battle of Bajor, which had been analysed to


death by the pencil-pushers at starfleet headquarters, and was still being




Picard sighed. Perhaps the Admirals were wise in their caution. Still, he


couldn't help feel that they should do something, anything. And then there was


Antilles warning, of a coming war with the Borg, hanging over everything like


the sword of Damocles. He shoved the thought out of his mind. Best not to think


about the Borg.


"Number one, I will be in my quarters. Call me if anything crops up. A


convoy to escort, or an Admiral's daughter to rescue." He commented




"Yes, sir."


Picard left the bridge, and took the turbolift to his quarters. And so it


was, that just as Picard was about to enter his quarters, that Xris made his


move. He was about to open the door and enter his quarters when the battle alarm


sounded, and his comm-badge started beeping. He was already running back to the


turbolift as he slapped the badge and shouted, "I'm on my way!"


By the time he stepped of the turbolift eight seconds later, it was too




"What happened?"


"Imperial raid. Twenty ships, including the Grinder. They only hit one


target, then jumped out." Riker said drily.


"The target?" Picard asked, apprehensively.


Riker flicked his eyes to the view-screen, which was centred on an


incandescent framework structure, which was unrecognisable to Picard for the


moment. Dozens of ship designs flashed through his mind as he tried to match the


glowing debris to a ship, and reconcile the magnification setting to the size of


the debris. Recognition came.


"The shipyards." He stated, flatly.


"Twenty ships," Riker said, "jumped directly into point-blank firing


position, they fired two broadsides and dozens of nuclear missiles into the


shipyards before anybody could respond. By the time the patrols got there, they


had jumped. We didn't get a shot off. The whole attack lasted barely five


seconds. Not even enough time to order the necessary course changes."


"How many ships were in the yards?"


"Seven ships were being repaired, and there were at least twelve


incomplete hulls of various types."


"This is the beginning of a new round of attacks. Send out warnings to all


major installations in communications range, not that there is much you can do


about a twenty ship broadside." Picard didn't add that the twenty ships under


consideration each carried at least as much firepower as the largest in the


Federation arsenal. It wasn't necessary.


"There isn't a single sub-space booster in hundreds of light years. The


message will take hours to get through."


"Send it anyway."


Picard wondered how many shipyards would be lost in the next few hours.


The Imperial ships had demonstrated on multiple occasions that they could flit


from system to system faster than any sub-space message.






On Khitomer, a Klingon commander was receiving a major dressing down.


"You attempted to invade a planet with a heavily entrenched and highly


mechanised force with only thirty thousand men. Are you insane? You might as


well have just beamed those soldiers into vacuum!"


"The attack was a valid one. The enemy only had twenty thousand men on the


planet, and most of them were occupied by a civilian uprising. As such, I had a


three to one ratio of forces against their frontline. We nearly broke through as


well, and despite being repelled, inflicted heavy losses on the enemy."


"No doubt they inflicted heavy losses on our citizens. Can't you think!


How many of our citizens do you think died in the streets of those cities? Died


in vain. Because that planet is still in enemy hands!"


"It is better to die a warrior, than live as a slave! They died




"Get out of my sight!"


The Klingon officer marched stiffly out of the conference room. The


General that had chastised him turned to his fellow generals.


"Do you think that he has hit the right strategy?" He asked, much softer


this time.


"Certainly the enemy has limited resources. We have legions of warriors


who would be only too glad to have a chance to fight back."


"Are you suggesting that we put together another attack force?"


"Yes. At least a hundred thousand soldiers. We won't be able to sneak in


this time. They will see us coming, and be ready for us. However, our


information is that they cannot possibly get together more than thirty thousand


troops onto any single planet without sacrificing other planets."


"Their fleet will be waiting for us."


"Our fleet is only too eager to strike back at them. The Federation lost


many ships in destroying the Gate, and we could only support them with a token


force. They won much glory and much honour in that battle. Now it is our turn."


"Agreed. But there are millions of people on each of those planets. We


would need to assign several ships, a dozen or more, to hold those planets, let


alone protect the populations from bombardment. We cannot hope to evacuate


millions of people. We'd need hundred of ships, possibly thousands."

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A fanfic by Michael January










"Commander Worf?"


"Yes, lieutenant Boyd?"


"There is a message for you. It is marked personal, and encrypted. I would


not have bothered you, but I thought it might be urgent."


"Forward it to my personal folder." Worf rolled out of bed. He was halfway


to the bathroom when the padd on his desk beeped. Ignoring the message for now,


Worf refreshed himself first. He knew he would not go back to sleep, and might


as well deal with this message now.


Returning to the desk, he touched the 'read message' control on the padd.


On the screen, a phrase in an ancient Klingon dialect appeared. He typed the


come-back to the phrase in the same language. On the screen, his brother's face




Worf listened keenly to his brother's message. The datestamp revealed that


it had been transmitted several days ago, but due to the breakdown in inter-


stellar communications, had taken several days to reach him. The news was


interesting. Interesting indeed.


He recorded a message to Picard, and hit the transmit button. The message


would be appended to their next progress report to starfleet, and transmitted


within the hour. In the meanwhile, Worf began his regular morning exercises, a


combination of physical exercises he had done since he was old enough to


remember, and meditative techniques taught to him by Jedi Antilles. These would


keep him busy until the transmissions had gone through. No need to go to the


bridge before then, and he did not want to change the time of the scheduled


transmission. That would just attract attention.


The hour passed by soon enough, and Worf made his way to the bridge, and


relieved Lieutenant Boyd.


"Send a message to the Valiant. Inform them that we have received orders


to undertake a surveillance mission, and will henceforth maintain radio silence.


They are to take charge of escorting this convoy."


"Have we received such orders sir?" Boyd asked.


Worf frowned at Boyd. "Are you questioning my decision, Lieutenant?"


"Sir! No. Sir!"


Worf waited just long enough for the sensor operator to transmit the


signal to the Valiant. Before a response could be received. He started issuing


new orders.


"Maintain radio silence. Activate cloaking mechanism. Increase speed to


warp factor seven, and lay in a course to K'trak. Set the course so that we pass


close to as many stars as possible, without going more than three light years


out of our way. Do not at any stage head directly towards K'trak, in case we are


picked up by an imperial sensor device."


"Isn't that one of the Klingon worlds captured by the Imperials?" Boyd




Worf threw him a black look. The Lieutenant gulped, and turned back to his


station, hastily finding something to do.


The Imperials had shown that their sensors were good enough to track


cloaked ships, at short ranges anyway. Passing by close to stars would help


reduce the possibility that they could be tracked, as any sensor device pointed


at a star would lose them in the clutter from the star itself. The only risk of


detection would be if a sensitive graviton detection device were in close


proximity to any of the stars.


"Make sure that none of the stars we use have inhabited systems. Avoid all


stars of spectral types F or G."


"Yes, sir."


Worf called up a navigational algorithm on the command console, and


started making calculations. Time to K'trak, time for the message to reach


Picard, speed of the Enterprise, Enterprise's range to K'trak, speed of the


Klingon invasion fleet, range to K'trak for the Klingon fleet. The calculations


kept him busy, and silence settled onto the bridge. He fed in more variables,


likelihood of Picard persuading other ships to join, speeds of those ships,


possible routes for them to avoid detection by the enemy. He had no doubt that


Picard would come, he just hoped Picard was able to slip through the Imperial's


sensor net. The Klingon fleet, like his own ship, was cloaked, and stood a fair


chance of making it through undetected.


Even if he could only support the Klingons with a token force, it would be


better than nothing, and he had a feeling that his presence would be needed. Any


ships the Federation sent would also come in handy. For a second, Antilles


warning about Picard came to mind, but he shoved the thought aside. Picard was a


warrior and a friend.






Colonel Dekker was satisfied. Very satisfied. He had just completed a tour


of the upgraded defences. His ten regiments had been brought back up to strength


by disbanding two green regiments, and incorporating their troops into his


veteran units. A further two regiments of troops had been assigned to this


planet, as well as to other Klingon worlds. Virtually the entire ground forces


available to the invasion forces had now been distributed through the twenty two


worlds now held by the Empire. Apparently, each ship in the fleet had been


reduced to a single fleet regiment, and was now solely responsible for on-board




The twelve regiments were almost entirely committed to repelling invaders,


with only odd units left inside the cities for crowd control. Mild


tranquillising agents had been introduced into all water supplies on the planet,


and canisters of sleeping gas and stronger tranquillising agents were secretly


distributed throughout the cities, should the populace attempt another uprising.


This was unlikely though, since they had been properly cowed by the crushing of


the last uprising. Military executions of the leaders of the uprising had


continued for weeks afterwards, as surveillance data was analysed and the


leaders were identified.


Apparently, there weren't enough shield generators to go around, and other


worlds with more valuable resources had gotten priority. This meant that shield


coverage was not total, and there were many gaps in the shields which invasion


forces could exploit. A pity that the shields could not be configured into a


spherical shape, so that only the cities could be defended, but the shields were


totally anti-kinetic, which meant they would play hell with weather patterns if


configured that way. And of course, they had not been designed for such use in


any case, since that would not prevent the planet from being slagged.


He felt a moment of apprehension, but shrugged it off. The enemy would


want to take this world back, not destroy it. They would hardly attempt a


slagging with millions of their citizens on the planet.


The level of mechanisation of his forces had also been increased, and he


was also expecting shipments of battle-droids in the next few weeks as


production efforts were intensified. Anybody who attempted an invasion of his


planet now would get their butts kicked! Hard!






The yellow star was of spectral class F, luminosity fractionally below 2.


It radiated immense energies into space. Only a tiny fraction of those immense


energies were directed at the planets enslaved by it's gravity well. The vast


majority of the energies were radiated into empty space. Over the next hundred


years, some of those energies would manifest themselves as a tiny twinkle in the


night-sky of the handful of inhabited worlds close enough for their inhabitants


to see. The rest of the energy would continue on their millenia long journey


through the deep vacuum of space, eventually reaching worlds which were so far


away that their difference in velocity would stretch the perceived wavelength


into infra-red and microwave frequencies, perhaps even radio frequencies.


A very tiny fraction of the energy radiated would strike a blue-brown


planet more than two hundred million kilometers away. This energy would serve to


keep the temperature of the planet only slightly above the level where water


would freeze. The planet had large polar ice-caps, with only a narrow temperate


equatorial band. A human observer in orbit over this planet would not be able to


detect any signs of life from this altitude, but if they watched the stars


nearby, they would notice one star was moving relative to it's neighbours.


Eventually they might realise that this star was in fact an object in orbit over


the planet, which accounted for it's apparent movement.


Moving closer to this tiny star, one would eventually be able to determine


that it was vaguely wedge-shaped. The slow rate at which the apparent size of


the object increased would reveal that it was still an immense distance away. As


the observer came closer, it would notice that this wedge shape was not alone.


It was accompanied by a myriad of tiny stars, dancing in artificial patterns


around it. These stars eventually resolved into even tinier wedge shapes,


themselves surrounded by various other stars. Now these shapes were recognisable


as a fleet of ships, spread over tens of thousands of kilometers, with hundreds


of tiny machines flitting backwards and forwards amongst them.


A knowledgeable observer would recognise the fleet, and attach names to


the starships. The Aggressor, the Grinder, Ripper, Stomper, Smasher, Render,


Devastator, Ravagar, Relentless, Vanquisher, Oppressor, and many other ships.


There were close to thirty warships in orbit over this world, accompanied by


several supply ships and empty troop transports. These supply ships and empty


transports were being modified for new purposes. The ferrying of crucial


supplies to worlds too remote for warp-driven ships to service at reasonable




On the planet below, a properly equipped observer would detect millions of


beings, humans, radiating waves of fear, loathing and depression. Some amongst


them radiated arrogance, intolerance and fury. All were working hard, mining the


minerals found deep inside the crust of this world, even from the upper layers


of the mantle. These minerals were being purified, processed, refined, smelted,


recast into alloys using methods nature itself could not duplicate. The


resultant materials were used to manufacture yet more machines, machines with a


myriad of purposes, purposes ranging from mining, construction, maintenance,


medical, and of course the purveying of death and destruction.


On the ship named the Aggressor, was a chamber so immense as to dwarf the


three men who stood at one end of it. The chamber appeared to open onto space


itself, but that was an illusion. The two men gazed onto the false stars many


of them too far too be seen with the naked eye, but visible due to the


technology embedded into the device which created the illusion.


"Our resources are stretched as far as we can safely allow."


"Yes. Now we must hold onto those worlds. The enemy has been slowed down


and harassed at every turn, but will come for us soon, like a wounded Ragnor."


"Tibanna manufacturing?"


"I have completed two small processing centres. We are ready to deploy


them. The one will be deployed to the Badlands nebula, the other to a nebula


seven thousand light years away. The scout team deployed to this nebula returned


yesterday. They have mapped a lane to the nebula, and determined that there are


no threatening civilisation within three thousand light years. It is not as rich


as the Badlands, but will serve as a backup should the enemy hit the Badlands




"Good. The Badlands are within the ability of our enemy to reach, even


though their ships are not designed to withstand the energies raging at it's


heart. The supply ships have had their shields modified, and with proper


servicing, can ferry the Tibanna from the facility to our warships. Along with


whatever else we can extract."


"We are also close to completing a third hyper-matter production facility.


The first two have been deployed over a black hole twenty thousand light years


away, which will provide sufficient energy for fuel manufacture for the next


millenium. The third facility will be deployed over a neutron star eight


thousand light-years away. Together, the three facilities will easily see to our


needs. In fact, the first supply ship is due to arrive in a few hours."


"Excellent," Xris answered, "some of my scouts are down to forty percent


fuel. The warships are still at better than sixty percent. We can refuel the


scouts, and intensify patrolling operations."


"How did the last round of raids proceed?"


"Brilliantly. We destroyed three major shipyard facilities in Federation


space, and one huge facility in Klingon space. The Romulans had no large


shipyards, but instead, several small shipyards distributed through dozens of


worlds. I destroyed quite a few, but the decentralisation of their industry


reduces the effects of the damage. Possibly the Federation have one or two more


shipyards in worlds we have not located yet, but the Klingons have been hurt


badly. They had one immense shipbuilding facility, which appeared to be the hub


of their entire starship construction capabilities.


"For a warrior race, their tendency to centralise their facilities is


rather strange."


"It would not have been a problem if all they had to contend with was pre-


hyperspace cultures, since few civilisations would have been able to penetrate


so deeply into their space. With hyperspace, the rules of combat are changed."


"On to matters of defence. The enemy will undoubtedly attempt a raid on


one of our worlds soon. How do we counter this?"


"We can't." Xris said bluntly. "We might be able to hold back an invasion


force on the ground, but we cannot afford to engage their fleet directly."


"What if they just blockade our worlds?"


"We can make them pay. Lightning raids, destroy one or two ships at a


time. It will be costly for them."


"The loss in production will be costly for us too."


"We can also embark on lightning raids on their home worlds, force them to


distribute their fleet over a wider area, draw ships out of their raiding fleet.


At the worst, a direct confrontation. We might lose one or two ships, but could


cripple their fleet, forcing a withdrawal. I also have a few other ideas. We


have not, for example, been able to make use of our cloaking devices yet. They


could prove to be invaluable in a defensive situation."


"Cloaks!" Piett sneered. "What good is a cloaking device, except to blind


you in battle."


"We can commit the captured Ferengi and Cardassian ships." Jerjerrod




"It would be a waste. They do not have the firepower to go head to head


with Federation or Klingon ships, and we have only captured a handful. If we had


captured more, then maybe."


"Better to lose these useless ships than to lose a Destroyer!"


"Perhaps we can use them in a surprise attack, if we can trust their


crews. Placed in a battle situation, I wouldn't put it past them to defect, and


we don't have the manpower to risk losing people by crewing the ships








While the three men discussed contingencies, more than a hundred light


years away, the cloaked Klingon fleet ripped through the fabric of space, riding


the crest of a sub-space distortion wave driven by the mass-energy conversion of


several kilograms of antimatter per second. In a day or two they would slow


down, so as to better mask their sub-space drive signature, as they approached


the world of K'trak. Slightly further away, another cloaked ship, the Defiant,


converged on the same world.


Alive to the possibility of cloaked ships raiding their worlds, the


Imperials had intensified their deep-space patrols, and all sensor stations in


Imperial space were hooked together in a sub-space network along with


patrolling droids, missile boats, and Victories. So it was not by accident that


the Klingon invasion fleet was detected, barely half a day short of K'trak. For


any other fleet, this would have been insufficient warning, and the cloaks would


have served their purpose, but to a hyperspace capable fleet, the warning


provided for sufficient lead time.






The Klingon fleet discarded all attempt at concealment as they approached


the outer limits of the K'trak system, the raised planetary shields on the


second planet told them that the attack was not unexpected. Surprisingly, the


Imperial fleet, or most of it, was waiting for them in the system. Arrayed


around the second planet in a defensive formation were a dozen and a half ships,


including the battle-cruiser Grinder, and two light-cruisers, most likely the


Ripper and the Render. They were supported by several Imperator and Victory


class ships. The remainder of the Imperial fleet was most likely busy on other




"Prepare to engage the enemy, activate graviton beams."


Two or three of the ships in the fleet had been modified to allow for the


broadcasting of intense graviton beams, according to information supplied


several weeks ago by Federation liaisons. The Klingon crews began singing their


death chants. Their fleet outnumbered the Imperials considerably, by at least


four to one, but they had nothing to compare to the firepower of the eight


kilometer battle-cruiser at the heart of the defensive fleet.


As they approached to within a light-minute, some of the leading vessels


began launching photon torpedoes at high-warp. Immediately, a wave of sub-space


static and distortion fields slammed through the fleet, forcing them to reduce


speed drastically. The torpedoes, unable to overpower the distortions on their


weak sustainer fields, dropped to impulse, and were dispatched with ease as they


approached laser-cannon ranges.


The main fleet slowed down considerably as well, as their warp cores


started fluctuating under the strain.


"Unable to target the enemy with sub-space sensors, too much static."


"Maintain warp for as long as possible. Hold your fire."


Minutes later, the range between the two fleets now down to only a handful


of light-seconds, the sub-space static and distortions were supplemented by a


surge in the graviton wave amplitude.


"Reducing speed to warp two. Sub-space static intensifying as we approach.


Targeting is impossible."


"We will reduce to below warp one, switch to electromagnetic targeting




"Sir, the warp core cannot take this strain much longer, the power demands


are skyrocketing as the sub-space distortions intensify."


"Very well, disengage warp. Engage the enemy on Impulse power, switch all


targeting to electromagnetic or manual. We will close to eyeball range. With all


this interference, we will see the enemy before our scopes can lock onto them.


All ships, full evasive pattern flying, concentrate on the smaller ships first,


avoid the larger ships until we have reduced their numbers."




The Klingon fleet formation broke up as the ships peeled away and started


launching torpedoes. At this range, now approaching one light-second, the


torpedoes were covering the distance in half a second, but were being fired




"Full military power to ion thrusters, random evasive maneuvres, weapons


free. All ships to stay on station, except for minimal evasive maneuvres. We


will remain in proximity to the planet. Make sure we don't collide with any of


our cloaked ships."


On Xris's display, the battle unfolded, as the fast Klingon ships darted


in and through his formation, often firing blind, forced to use unfamiliar


manual targeting systems. His own gunners, their displays unaffected due to the


Klingons not using any counter jamming, were deadly accurate, only having to


contend with the manoeuvrability of the enemy, but otherwise having clean scopes


with targets at point-blank ranges.


For several minutes, the battle seemed to be a stalemate, as the two


fleets flailed away at each other's shields. The Imperial shields were stronger,


but the slower ships were taking more hits than the fast Klingons, and so their


shields were dropping faster. Here and there, a ship on the outer fringes of the


defensive formation rotated on it's axis, presenting a fresh shield to the


enemy. A few Klingon ships stayed back for a few minutes, allowing their bubble


shields to re-charge. They started taking turns on attack runs, alternately


charging their shields, and strafing the huge Imperial warships.


Slowly, the battle drifted from one point in space to another, as the


Imperials appeared to be randomly changing direction. The three Klingon battle-


cruisers with the modified deflector dishes followed the battle at a distance,


focusing their graviton beams on the Imperials, preventing an escape to




"Outer ships, swap to inner positions, now."


The Imperial formation quickly re-aligned itself, as fresh ships moved to


the outer fringe of the formation, while those ships retreated to the centre of


the formation, and conducted hasty battle-repairs while their shields recharged.


"The Klingon ships shields are deteriorating at a more rapid rate, Sir.


The strain is beginning to tell."


"Excellent. Signal Devastator and Relentless to switch to broadside mode."




A number of Klingon ships were now grouped with the three 'interdictors',


recharging their shields, as the battle wore on. The Imperials were trying to


hit ships with an occasional broadside now, as shielding became a critical


factor. Time and again, a Klingon ship narrowly escaped destruction, saved only


by their incredible manoeuvrability.


Again, the Imperial fleet re-aligned it's formation, as the inner and


outer escorts changed position, bringing the refreshed ships to the fore.


"How long can they keep this up?"


"The strain will begin to tell on them, as on us. Notice, that their


shield recharge rate has slowed down considerably."


"Yes. Are you sure the graviton beams will hold them here?"


"It worked for the Federation. If it doesn't, the planet is not going




"Order the battle-cruisers to keep back, we don't want to lose any troops




"Yes. Sir."


The battle-cruisers carried several thousand soldiers each. It would not


be a good idea to lose any at this stage of the battle. The three battle-


cruisers being used as interdictors were spread out over a broad area of some


fifty thousand kilometers, keeping the Imperial fleet trapped between them and


the nearby planet. Between them, two more battle-cruisers languished, recharging


shields, and further back, a number of frigates and light cruisers. Currently,


only a handful of corvettes and frigates were mixing it up with the Imperials,


while the Klingon fleet prepared for a big final push.




Xris could see the Klingon fleet were setting themselves up for a major


run on his formation. His outer escorts were beginning to appear a bit frayed


around the edges, but his inner escort were not yet ready. Just a few more


seconds. The Klingons were almost perfectly in position.


"Prepare to spring the ambush, light cannons only, wide cone to account


for possible drift."


Two Klingon corvettes, really little larger than missile boats, made one


run too many, and collected several direct hits. They retreated at best speed,


superheated gas jetting out of hull breaches. The Klingons would be forced to


launch their major attack soon.


"Outer escorts, break. Inner escorts, move to flanking positions. Prepare


to spring ambush."


The outer escorts, mostly Victory-class destroyers, dived for the planet


below, pouring on the power. The Klingons, probably expecting them to retreat


closer to the Grinder, were caught by surprise as they swept past the Grinder,


and headed for all points of space beyond the planet below. The Klingon make-


shift interdictors were faced with a choice, the escorts or the Grinder. They


stayed on the Grinder.


"Here they come .." somebody shouted.


"All ships, heavy weapons, broadside mode. Light weapons, spring the




A large wave of Klingon ships, most of the battle-cruisers and other large


ships tore towards the Imperial formation. The Imperials fired a massive


synchronised broadside, from long range really, not waiting for the Klingons to


close in. The Klingon attack wave went a bit ragged as ships evaded the bolts,


but kept coming. The broadside was not as intense as it should have been though,


with many of the lighter turbo-lasers and laser-cannons firing well wide of the


Klingon formation, on divergent tracks.


The hail of bolts swept out towards the position of the interdictors, and


a second later swept beyond them out into open space, dissipating rapidly in


power as they went. Ahead of the interdictors the main Klingon fleet were now


closing with the Imperials, trapping them against the planet below. If any of


the Klingons had kept their eyes on the storm of poorly aimed bolts which had


swept past the interdictors in a wide cone, they would have seen an astonishing


sight. Several of the bolts just disappeared, for a fraction of a second,


winking out of existence as if they had never been. In their place, alerted by


the minor hits on it's shields, three ships appeared as they disengaged their


cloaking mechanism. The Aggressor, the Stomper and the Smasher.


They were only some seventy thousand kilometers behind the three make-


shift Klingon interdictors, and the handful of frigates and corvettes recharging


their shields, some of them lightly damaged. They were well within range of


fire, totally unaware of the enemy behind them, their attention focused on the


battle a handful of light-seconds ahead of them over the planet, their sub-space


sensors blinded by the high level of sub-space static due to the Imperial


jamming. Seventeen kilometers long, the Aggressor sported 600 heavy turbolasers,


and easily twice that number of medium and light weapons. In support, the


Stomper and Smasher both outgunned an Imperator by a considerable margin.


The three Klingon battle-cruisers doubling as interdictors, and two of the


smaller ships, detonated in a fury of fire, as close on to three thousand


turbolaser bolts ripped into the unsuspecting ships. The interdictors had been


hit by close on to two hundred heavy turbolasers each, plus innumerable lighter


weapons and missiles. No shield in the entire Klingon arsenal could hope to


stand up to such energies. A wave of panic spread through the formation, as


ships furiously attempted to accelerate away from the danger area. A second


three thousand weapon broadside swept through the formation in a wave of energy


easily capable of ripping the crust off a planet in a single broadside. Several


smaller ships detonated in a hail of fire, and the uncertainty spread throughout


the Klingon fleet.


The Klingons were made of stern stuff though, and despite the ravaging of


their support vessels and the destruction of the three capital ships, the main


fleet were still unscathed, and exchanging fire furiously with the Grinder and


her support ships. The Grinders escorts were under strict instructions though,


and as soon as the three Klingon ships were destroyed, most of them jumped out


of the system, leaving the Grinder alone, with the interdictors and the Ripper


and Render. The Aggressor, along with the Stomper and Smasher, was accelerating


towards this battle, in which only the large ships of both sides remained.


One of the interdictors took a volley of photon torpedoes, and it's


shields nearly gone, fled the system. The three remaining interdictors followed


within seconds. The Klingons didn't waste a second, half their ships leaping


away at warp speed, coming around for a low warp strafing run on the six big




"Sir! New contacts, two minutes away."


"More Klingons?" Xris asked.


"No sir. Signatures match Federation vessels, at least twenty ships,


including the Enterprise."


"Prepare hyperspace jump, send departure signal to Colonel Dekker, make


sure the Aggressor has also seen them."


The Aggressor fired a huge broadside, spread over dozens of kilometers,


but the Klingons were on low warp, and easily evaded their fire. Not waiting for


further notice, the Aggressor jumped out of the system. The Grinder fired a


final broadside, which ripped through the Klingon lines, battering shields


aside, but not inflicting significant damage, and jumped out of the system.


A minute later, they were joined by twenty Federation ships, too late to


join the party, but soon enough to force an early closure. With a brief exchange


of acknowledgements, they advanced on the planet below them.




In hyperspace, the Imperial fleet was already halfway to their


destination. Xris supposed the battle was a victory. Three destroyed Klingon


battle-cruisers, and a number of destroyed frigates and corvettes and missile


boats, but on the whole the Klingon fleet was pretty unscathed. Initial battle-


reports from his ships as they retreated had indicated several ships with blown


shield generators, and some minor hull damage here and there. Their supply of


spare parts for shield generators was running low, but for now he could repair


his fleet. The cloak strategy had worked beautifully. Now he only hoped Dekker


would be able to hold off the invasion.






Dekker sat calmly in his command room deep below ground. His cities and


industries were pretty well covered by shields. The enemy would be forced to


blow the planet (and millions of civilians) or take the planet by force. Only


two options were open to them, a long and protracted ground campaign, or sending


in a small but fast and heavily armoured detachment to capture or destroy the


shield generators. He was ready for either one, and he had a few tricks up his


sleeve, not least of which was a cloaked Victory-class ship skulking just below


his planetary shields, and well within the zone covered by his ground-based




Should any alien ships attempt to slip below his shields, he had


sufficient firepower to blow them out of the sky. Should a major ground-force be


landed, the Victory could provide fire-support against targets below the


horizon. It's navigational systems had been finely calibrated, so that it could


fly blind to any destination on the planet, and most destinations could be


reached without leaving shield cover. The ground-based computer stations would


also supply triangulation information to the Victory whenever (if ever) it


dropped it's cloaking shield.


For now, he would wait for the right opportunity. An old sabbac player,


Dekker had no intention of showing his hand before all the chips were on the










The first order of business of the Federation and Klingon fleet was to set


up a defensive formation, should the Imperial fleet decide on another attack.


The Enterprise, and a Klingon battle-cruiser fell back about one light-second


from the planet, and set up a broad interdiction zone 'masking' the planet from


any ships coming in on a vector from the last known position of the Imperials.


The Defiant arrived soon afterwards, having burnt up nearly all their fuel in a


mad dash across the buffer zone.


The major portion of the fleet was in a zone protected on one side by the


planet, and on the other by the make-shift interdiction zone. Their flanks were


open, but would probably require a precise in-coming jump vector to slip


through. They didn't really expect the Imperials to attack though, since the


Imperials had shown a marked reluctance to get caught in an interdiction field.


The second order of business was to attempt to build up an accurate model


of the defences on the planet below. The shields prevented accurate scanning of


the areas below the shield, and many attempts were made to scan the planet from


oblique angles, so as to penetrate below the shields. However, the shields


extended for far enough so that even from an oblique angle, much of the surface


was below the horizon. The forward line of defences were some one hundred and


fifty kilometers inside the edge of the shielded areas, preventing bombardment


from an angle.


A few guided missiles fired under the shields were easily shot down as


they slowed down upon atmospheric re-entry. An experimental bombardment of the


shields was enough to confirm it's strength. There seemed to be no way around


the problem. They would have to blockade the planet until eternity, or


militarily invade it. Invading it would mean losses, severe losses.


"None of our societies have fought a protracted ground campaign in


centuries." Picard stated.


"And for good reason," the Klingon commander responded, "with modern


weaponry, especially orbital weapons systems, any ground force can easily be


decimated, and the planet reduced to a mound of rubble in short order."


"It seems as if the enemy's planetary shields have re-introduced ground


warfare as a factor." Riker put in.


"Their troops are equipped with environmental battle-suits, are in


underground bunkers, and travel around in heavily armoured and shielded


transports. If we send in troops, what stops them from using nuclear weapons?


Their troops certainly stand a much better chance of survival in such a case.


For all we know, they might even be prepared to use chemical or biological


agents." Picard said.


"There would be no honour in such a war!"


"I don't think they care about honour. They have shown themselves to be


utterly ruthless."


"Is there no way we can circumvent the shields?"


"I have thought about it at length," Picard stated, "but so far have been


unable to come up with an answer. The only way is somehow shut down their power


production or destroy the shield generators. Commando teams would seem to be the


best solution, but there is no way to get them on the planet undetected."


"We could send in a cloaked ship, and beam some people down." Riker




"You'd have to lower the cloaking shield, and use your sensors to lock on


to the destination. They would detect you for sure. Even then, how will the team


bypass all their ground-based sensors. Battle data from previous engagements


indicate that the enemy has very good detection equipment. It's not as if you


can just walk by them in the dark."


"The only way," the Klingon commander suggested, "is to send in a group of


low flying ships, they can enter the atmosphere, slip under the shields, and


strafe the enemy positions, specifically targeting power plants and shield


generators. The ships will provide a relatively safe environment protecting


against nuclear, chemical or biological agents."


"That is a good suggestion, but a few atmospheric nuclear detonations


would destroy any ship. A nuclear detonation in a vacuum is one thing, in an


atmosphere, it's another thing entirely."


"If the group advances at a reasonable speed, we might lose a ship or two,


but the mission would be a success. Certainly, the losses would not be as




"What about just blockading the planet? Surely, if we blockade enough


planets, we will force the enemy to commit to a full fleet engagement, and


settle this war once and for all."


"Captain Picard. We have millions of citizens on that planet. It is our


duty to retake the planet. Even so, we cannot possibly hope to put a fleet large


enough to engage the Imperials in orbit of every single planet. They would pick


us off one by one. By retaking this planet, we force the Imperials onto the back


foot. They do not have the resources to invade more planets. I say we take this


planet, then move on to the next, and the next, until we have recovered all our


worlds. Their fleet will be impotent, and either they will have to leave, or


directly engage our fleet in an attempt to establish supremacy."






Dekker and his command staff had their eyes glued to their displays. He


didn't understand what the delay was all about. The enemy ships had been in


orbit for two hours, and no attempt to land troops had yet taken place. The


entire base was in a state of high readiness, and all over the planet, troops


waited at their posts, anxious about the lack of developments. This was


beginning to look more like a blockade than an invasion.


"Sir, eleven ships have just disappeared off my scope."


"Have they gone to hyperspace, I mean warp, any sub-space trails out of


the system."


"No sir. It looks like they have engaged their cloaking device."


"Okay, they might be trying to slip under the shields, track for


atmospheric disturbances, drive emissions, magnetic or gravitational anomalies.


Ensure that you don't mistake the Vanquisher for one of them. All ground-based


defences stand by."


Seconds ticked by. Any ship entering atmosphere would create a sonic


shockwave, or a wake of heated hair from re-entry friction, or drive emissions.


These could be detected by doppler or infra-red sensors. Magnetic or


gravitational disturbances caused by a large metallic body moving at high speeds


could also be detected by appropriate mechanisms. At planetary ranges,


electromagnetic sensors served as well as sub-space sensors. If the cloaked


vessel was travelling at supersonic speeds it would be a significant distance


ahead of the shock-wave, and if it was hypersonic, there would be a vacuum in


the trail of the ship, as it drilled through atmosphere.


"Tracking atmospheric anomaly." A sensor operator called.


"Use propagation speed and bearing to calculate position of cloaked ship,


feed co-ordinates to weapons. All batteries in LOS track and open fire."


A hail of red, green and blue bolts flashed into the upper atmosphere,


following the track of the anomaly and exploded into a storm of superhot plasma


flak-bursts in the upper atmosphere. Seconds later, a Klingon ship was


momentarily visible, already breaking up. It detonated in a multi-megaton


antimatter explosion, the radiation lit up the ground for hundreds of kilometers


in all directions, shockwaves shattered cloud formations, and tons of flaming


debris started to rain down.


"Target that debris, detonate it at high altitude, I don't want any


ordinance blowing up on the surface, we're gonna have our hands full treating


the damn civilians for radiation poisoning without contending with all the other


rubbish on those ships. Barbarians, exposing their own kind to such risks."


"Sir, the enemy fleet is back to it's original size, minus the one


destroyed ship of course."


"Okay, keep out a watch for further incursions though. Send out a general


order to all garrisons, they are to advise the population to remain indoors,


underground if possible. Have them detail a number of transports to move as many


workers as they can underground, into mining facilities. City garrisons are to


detach half of their medical droids. If we start the anti-radiation treatments


straight away we might not lose too much of the workforce. How many decon droids


do we have?"


"Only a handful sir, and they are spread through all the power production


facilities, in case of accidents or battle-damage."


"Detail as many of them as can be spared, and set them to work straight


away at decontaminating all affected cities. Damn barbarians," he muttered








A furious argument was taking place between the Klingon high command. The


detonation of the warp core could have devastating consequences. Fingers were


pointed harshly, in an attempt to lay blame.


"Silence!" A Klingon general ordered, bringing the group to order. "None


of us foresaw the risk, we are all to blame. The tactic was not without merit


though. That ship penetrated several hundred kilometers. Perhaps, a co-ordinated


effort by multiple ships will work." He held up his hand to silence a wave of


protest. "After they have shut down their warp cores, and beamed off all


antimatter fuel and other potentially hazardous substances. That still leaves


the fusion reactors, but with appropriate safety measures in place, we can


ensure that they will not detonate, or seed the environment with potentially


harmful substances."


"That is still a huge risk, General." Picard interjected. "You could have


ships crashing into cities at high speed, the potential for a disaster is




"Perhaps you are right. If we are to retake this planet, we will have to


do it the hard way. I just somehow feel that the entire prospect is fraught with


disaster. We have never in the history of travelling the stars had to invade a


planet under the situation we have here. The enemy is obviously well versed in


this facet of warfare. But take the planet we must."






Dekker settled back to see what the enemy would do next. It had become


obvious ever since the Empire moved into this galaxy that the races here were


inexperienced in the art of ground warfare. Quite a few of his strategies


revolved around that fact. He supposed that from their perspective, a capital


ship raid had been the most logical first step. The second logical step was to


attempt a raid by smaller ships, fighters and other atmospheric craft. However,


the enemy had no such force, and in any case, ground based defences were


generally heavily shielded, and with a stable firing platform against a forcibly


slow moving aerial force (due to atmospheric flying), any such attack would be




The enemy ground forces also had no environmental protection, meaning open


season with chemical and nuclear weapons. Biological weapons were too


unpredictable, especially against an attack force consisting of a diverse


grouping of species.


"Detecting enemy transporter usage, sector seventy-three."


"Send a recon unit out to eyeball them, Long-range."


Several minutes went by, and several other sectors were also targeted by


transporter locks. Dekker despatched more recon units, and a few probe droids,


before the first reports started coming in. Thousands of soldiers were indeed


being transported to the ground. They appeared to be digging in, setting up


defensive positions and otherwise securing their landing areas.


'Let them,' he thought. They were well defended by their orbiting


starships. Attacking their LZ directly would be suicide. However, no harm in an


indirect attack, as soon as they were more settled.


"Prepare to tractor launch the ballistic missiles." He ordered.


For several more minutes, the enemy kept up their transporting. He


absently began to wonder how many people a single ship could transport per


second, multiplied by the number of ships in orbit, how long would it take to


transport a significantly-sized army to the surface? No matter for now. Later,


if they started their evacuations, it would be nice to know how many troops were


saved, and how many were left to die. As soon as the transporter activity


started dying down, he gave the order.


"Arm the warheads. Activate cloaking mechanisms. Missiles first, then


multiple dry-fires. Launch!"






On the Enterprise, a startled sensor operator called Riker over. Riker


quickly waved Picard over.


"We have a major energy surge, multiple points across the planet, in


Imperial territory. Their shields are preventing accurate readings, but the


signal profile is similar to a tractor launch."


"Are you tracking any of their starfighters?"


"No metals, nothing solid at all. Whatever it is, we can't detect it


through their shields."


"Cloaked ships?" Riker asked.


"Missiles!" Picard said. "Sound the alarm. Mr Data, do we still have that


program for locking weapons on deep-space gas compression?"


"Yes, Sir. The program is called Geordi-Data-Seven-three-two."


"Activate that program, focus sensors on the atmosphere, scan for gas


compression waves in the atmosphere, lock sensors onto the leading edge of the


wave. Transmit program to all other ships."


The sensor operator's fingers flew over the console, and glanced at


Picard, surprise evident in her posture.


"Tracking multiple targets, average velocity seven kilometers per second,


ballistic trajectory, targeted at the landing zones."


"They are still under the shields," Riker called from tactical, "we will


be able to hit only when they clear the shields. That gives us a fourteen second


window, to knock down fifty three definite targets, and forty eight possibles."


"If we move to a higher orbit, we can cover a greater area of this


hemisphere." Data offered.


"Make it so."


Picard could only hope that other ships were reacting fast enough to cover


the opposing hemisphere, or to support them in covering this hemisphere. Over a


hundred atmospheric targets of unknown nature in fourteen seconds was a lot to


ask. Even a slight change in trajectory, and a phaser shot might miss, wide beam


wouldn't penetrate the atmosphere to great depth, and if the targets got too


close to the landing zones, he would risk hitting the ground forces.


"ETA, Mr Riker."


"Eight seconds. Sir."


"The troops under cover?"


"If you can call it cover. If those missiles are .."


"Yes. I know."


"Targets will clear shields in three .. two .. one .. firing phasers."


Multiple red-orange beams flickered into the atmosphere, one or two other


ships also joining in.


"Targets are MIRVing!"


Picard gripped his armrest tightly, his knuckles whitening, and hoped no-


one would notice. There were thousands of men on that planet. There was no way


to beam any significant fraction of them to safety.


"The missiles are too fast, we can track the compression waves, but the


missiles are supersonic, and are out-racing the compression waves!"


"Estimate missile position as proportional to velocity, manual overrides


on weapons, shoot ahead of the compression waves."


Riker was a picture of concentration, his fingers a blur as he worked the


tactical controls. His face was absolutely blank, his eyes unblinking. For an


instant, Picard could almost swear that Riker and Data had changed places. On


the view-screen, the image of the planet was overlaid with grids and markers,


indicating areas of shield coverage, enemy defensive positions, friendly unit


positions, ballistic arcs of potential missiles and markers showing potential


target zones. The display was animated by tiny explosions indicating destroyed


missiles or warheads.


"Debris analysis indicates that some of the warheads are rocks, others are


genuine missiles. Most of the tracks now shown are warheads. Nuclear warheads."


The ballistic tracks on the display had MIRVed into dozens of uncloaked


warheads, easier to track, but no doubt there were some cloaked warheads or


missiles seeded in amongst them as well.


"Track ALL targets number one. We can't take the chance that some missiles


have not MIRVed, or are still cloaked."


"Targets approaching danger zone."


"Keep firing. Better a friendly phaser hit than an enemy nuke." Picard




"They're detonating short of the target zone! Many at high altitude."


"Detonations are small yield. Some 100 kiloton fusion devices, mostly 1


kiloton to 15 kiloton neutron devices."


"Neutron devices! Radiation levels?"




"My God. Transport those men out of there! All ships."


"It's useless, Jean-Luc, radiation levels are extreme. No transporter lock


will be possible for several days, in or out."


"Sensors are also shot to hell, too much interference, there are still


warheads heading in and detonating, but with all the radiation and atmospheric


turbulence, we can't track them. Not all the detonations are nuclear, some


appear to be chemical weapons, others are conventional explosives."


"There is movement amongst the enemy defensive positions. It appears like


.. yes, the enemy has launched several shielded atmospheric fighters. They are


launching an aerial attack on the landing zones."


"Can we track them?"


"With difficulty. Ambient radiation levels are extreme, and are


interfering with sensors. We can shoot on manual, but with all that turbulence,


the phasers might be refracted or deflected."


"Do it." Picard ordered.


The enemy fighters were tearing through the atmosphere, spreading out and


staying low, and weaving erratically as they hugged the terrain. Their shields


and armour would protect the occupants against the suddenly lethal environment,


even the turbulence did not seem to affect them, their flight performance being


determined solely by gravitational considerations being anti-gravity vehicles,


with exceptional stability.


The view-screen zoomed in on one of the ground-effects craft, and red-


orange beams lanced out, striking the ground all around the ship, which lived a


charmed life for exactly one point nine seconds. The view-screen quickly shifted


to another vehicle, which, aware of the orbital fire, managed to survive for a


full three seconds. The next vehicle was already firing on the Klingon


positions, and even as the phaser blasts tracked closer to it, entered a


fortified Klingon position, which was shockingly quiet in terms of return fire.


The phasers ceased firing for a second, as the ship stayed within the friendly


zone, then resumed fire as it sped away.


Picard turned away from the view-screen, his mind filled with the images


which had flashed past on the view-screen. Scorched ground, smoking bodies,


glowing metals, no sign of movement. Those unlucky enough to have survived would


die a slow death as the extreme cell-damage due to radiation took it's effect.


He swallowed back the bile rising in his gullet. Behind him, he heard an almost


unfamiliar retching sound. The sensor operator was being sick all over her




"Can we get a runabout or shuttle down there?"


"The shuttles were not designed to survive such an environment. Even if


they could, we couldn't squeeze more than a handful of people onto them."


"My God! This is war as our ancestors fought it. This is what the Earth


looked like during the Eugenic wars. We have seen the vids, even of the wars


before that, but the brutality, the horror. I never imagined anything like








"How many Chariots did we lose?"


"Five, Sir."


"Not too bad. What did they pick up?"


"Their reports confirm what we had hoped for, sir. The enemy had no


chemical or nuclear protection of note, not even environmental battle-suits. No


mechanised vehicles, no tanks, no armoured transports. The devastation was




Behind Dekker, a ragged cheer sounded.


"Alright, people. Settle down. This isn't over yet. In the meantime, let's


have some tea shall we."

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A fanfic by Michael January










The cloaked Romulon battle-cruiser slipped through the black of deep-


space. A skeleton crew only manned the bridge. They were not expecting trouble.


They had heard of a war with some new enemy, but that was on the far side of


Romulan space, nearly ten thousand light-years away, and as yet no concern of


theirs. The few species they had encountered so far in this region of the Beta


Quadrant had not offered much in the way of resistance, and the expansion of the


Romulon Empire had been proceeding smoothly for decades, except of course for


odd skirmishes with the Klingon scum.


Their mission of exploration had brought them well beyond the Romulon Star


Empire's space, probing star systems for industrial minerals and mapping out


likely sites for future exploitation. A secondary aim of their mission was to


establish if there were any likely threats out here. One day, their expansion


would bring them into contact with the Borg, but the limits of Borg expansion


were not known.


"Sir. The engineers report a fast growing disturbance in sub-space."


"Bring the ship to alert status. It could be a Borg transwarp conduit."


"Yes, sir."


Their fears were confirmed by the rapid rate at which the disturbance was


catching up to them, soon forcing the engineers to shut down the power core


before the singularity charge was destabilised.


"Multiple vessels approaching. Range two light years. ETA, six minutes."


The captain did a few calculations. Twenty light years per hour, that was


about thirty times faster than the fastest Federation ship they had ever


tracked, and forty times faster than his own ship.


"Prepare a transmission, as soon as we have positively identified the


vessels as Borg, and established their number, send it to Romulus."


"Yes, Sir."


"Prepare to power up all defensive systems, all crews to stand by. Do not


power up the weapons yet, maintain cloaked status. Perhaps they will not detect




Silence descended on the bridge, as the ship held it's collective breath,


hoping the Borg would pass them by.


"We are being probed."


"Deactivate cloaking device. Divert power to weapons and shields."


"Tracking fifteen cubes. Positively identified as Borg vessels. They are


maintaining their heading. Their course will not bring them close to any of our


worlds for several thousand light years. It appears they are heading for


Federation space."


"Transmit report to Romulus. Echo report to the nearest Klingon worlds,


and request them to forward the report to the Federation."


"Sir? Why should we warn them? They are our enemies."


"Fool. Do you think the Borg care about that? One day, we will have to


face the Borg. Pray that we do not have to face them alone."






The data package from the Romulan vessel slipped through the unreality of


sub-space. Several hours later, almost at the limit of it's range, it was picked


up by a Klingon listening post on the edge of Romulan space. The signal was


recorded and re-transmitted to a nearby Klingon military base, which promptly


boosted it to the Klingon high-command. In a few days, it would arrive in


Federation space, two weeks ahead of the Borg.






Picard read through the report. It was unconfirmed, and an annotation


indicated that it had originated in Romulan space, which meant that it was open


to as many interpretations as a Romulan had ulterior motives. Despite this, all


ships were requested to report to the nearest Federation world and prepare for


the worst. With all the communication problems and supply problems due to the


war with the Empire, as well as the weakened state of many Federation worlds


which had come under bombardment, the Federation was extremely vulnerable to a


Borg attack.


"They are not after us." Picard stated.


"Sir?" Riker.


"The Borg. They are after the Empire. They are after hyperdrive




"How do you know that?"


Picard glanced at his first officer. He saw the unspoken questions in


Riker's eyes. Even so, how could he tell Riker that he knew the Borg like his


own mind, that he could hear them in his sleep and sometimes even in his


conscious mind.


"If they were on a routine patrol, they would have assimilated the Romulan


ship that detected them. Or at least, one or two Romulan worlds on their way


here. No, they are after the Imperials."


"What do we do about it?"


"We can't afford for the Borg to assimilate hyperdrive technology. It


would allow them to vastly increase their rate of expansion, and attack us at


will with no fore-warning whatsoever."


"We can't stop them." Riker argued. "If these fifteen cubes don't succeed,


the Borg will just send thirty more, or sixty, or a hundred. Eventually, they


will wear down the Imperials. What do you suggest?"


"To stop the Borg, we have several options. Help the Imperials. Destroy


the Imperials. Convince the Borg they have left. Convince the Borg that it is


not worth it."


"The Imperials won't accept our help. We can't destroy them if they keep


escaping to hyperspace, or if their worlds are shielded. We can't hide them from


the Borg, and the Borg don't care what it costs them."


"Perhaps. We will speak about it in the conference room. In the meanwhile,


give orders for the fleet to return to Federation space. Except for the Defiant.


I want Mr Worf included in the conference."


"Very well. I will see to it."


The other Federation ships blockading the Imperial held world of K'trak


had also received the report, and were merely waiting for Picard to rubber stamp


their orders. The Klingon ships were keen to remain, but had also received


orders to return to Klingon space. Several Klingon worlds had suffered raids by


the Imperials in the days since the blockade had been in place. The combined


fleet soon left the system, leaving tens of thousands of dead. Radiation levels


around the devastated ground-bases were still too high for transporter usage.


One Klingon ship attempted a last ditch effort to ascertain whether there were


any survivors on the ground.


They identified a region far from any ground-based defences and sent in


two runabouts. The runabouts made it quite far into the atmosphere, slowing down


as the atmospheric density increased, before the Imperials opened fire. The


ground fire however was not directed at the runabouts, but into the upper


atmosphere of the planet. This strange action soon took on meaning, as a few


bolts forced a cloaked ship to reveal itself. A Victory-class destroyer, which


had been holding station just inside the planetary shield, revealed itself after


being struck by a few bolts.


The runabouts turned around and fled towards the vacuum of space, but the


Imperials had timed their attack well. At it's altitude, the Victory had a large


portion of the hemisphere in it's line of sight, and in seconds, had opened fire


on the stranded runabouts. At a range of a mere few thousand kilometers, the


runabouts didn't stand a chance, it was a point-blank attack. The Victory didn't


even leave the shield coverage.


Seconds later, it vanished, without a trace. A sensor focus on the region


through the planetary shields revealed vague traces of charged particles from


it's ion drives, but the ship had obviously reverted to a repulsor drive


mechanism on activating it's cloaking mechanism, and the ions soon dissipated.






Dekker watched the scope as one by one the alien ships vanished, out of


range of the scope. The blockade had been lifted.


"Lower shields. Deploy communications boosters and contact the fleet. Have


those decon-droids unpacked, and start the clean-up."


Minutes later, the first transports arrived, followed closely by an


Imperator. The Imperator and the Victory which had stayed scoured the system,


ensuring that no alien ships had stayed behind. The transports loaded up the


supplies which had built up, and dropped off other supplies which were much


needed, including a few thousand recently manufactured but out-moded battle-


droids and a controlling nexus for them. These would come in very handy.


Several legions of sentient troops were transferred to the Imperator and a


transport, while the battle-droids were deployed to their positions. Battle-


droids were so much easier to maintain, requiring no food, no waste-disposal, no


entertainment, no training, and minimal accommodation. Dozens of droids could


easily take up the space allocated for a single trooper, and of course, the


droids were more resilient to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and


could take more damage than troopers. While less intelligent, they were also


easily repaired, did not tire, and did not require sleep.


On a life-signs scan, droids would register no different than any other


piece of equipment.


A defensive complex previously requiring upwards of five hundred soldiers


plus support staff could now be manned by thousands of droids. Soon, the only


soldiers left on the planet were the one or two legions garrisoning the larger


cities. Smaller cities and outposts on the planet were garrisoned by droids.


Dekker himself was transferred to the Imperator itself. Now they would


have sufficient troops for more invasions, except that there were still not


enough shield generators to go around. The ships were themselves now fully


stocked with droids, with one of the Imperator's holds containing upwards of ten


thousand battle-droids, all neatly stacked and folded. A handful were used to


patrol the ship itself, including a few of the Destroyer droidekas.


These were not much use in a ground campaign, but were superb as automated


ship defence systems, being lightly shielded and virtually impervious to hand


weapons, but carrying sufficient firepower to devastate a platoon of troops.






The Enterprise and the Defiant had come to a stop in a deserted binary


system, where they took up position between the two stars, rendering themselves


almost invisible to long-range scans. Picard, Worf and Riker were in conference


aboard the Enterprise.


"I suggest that we warn the Imperials of the impending Borg attack."


Picard stated.


"Why?" Worf asked.


"We cannot afford for the Borg to assimilate hyperdrive technology."


"True. But will the Imperials believe us?" Worf asked.


"What options do they have anyway? Face the Borg and lose a few ships, or


run away and leave their planets to the Borg?" Riker asked.


"I can't visualise the Borg taking one of their planets, especially given


the heavy shielding they employ. If they do refuse to engage the Borg in a fleet


battle, what would the Borg do?"


"I don't know. Blockade their planets, and force a confrontation."


"If the Borg can't force them into a confrontation, then we'd have fifteen


Borg cubes roaming our space. Who knows what they might attempt?"








Xris was seated in his command chair, several status panels wrapped around


his position, many of them with translucent holo displays, with his bridge


visible through the displays. A single enemy vessel, deep inside the buffer zone


around Imperial space, was highlighted. It was his enemy, the ship identified as


Enterprise. And it was attempting to establish contact, broadcasting a subspace


carrier signal, and had been doing so for a while. Xris had long since made his


decision, but had waited. Now it was time.








It was deathly quiet on the Enterprise. They had been sitting here for


several hours broadcasting a sub-space carrier signal at the ex-Klingon world of


K'trak. More than enough time had passed for the Imperials to have responded.


Riker was convinced they were on a suicide mission. Sitting still like this


broadcasting their position was just inviting an Imperial fleet to jump into


attack position on them. But nothing had happened.


"If they were prepared to speak," Riker broke the silence, "they would


have done so by now."


"If they wanted to destroy us," Picard riposted, "they could have done so


by now."


The words were barely out of his mouth when the alarms went off.


"Multiple contacts, all around us, we're surrounded. Imperial warships two


light-seconds, spherical enclosure formation."


"Permission to raise shields?" Riker asked.




As tactical officer Riker was well within his rights to ask for shields,


despite Picard having made it clear how he wanted to handle the situation. It


would be recorded so.


"We're being actively proved. Probe analysis indicates multiple weapons


locks on our hull."




"We're still here aren't we?" Picard said easily.


The view-screen suddenly lit up. The picture looked strange for a second,


before Picard realised what he was seeing. On the screen was a picture of a


hologram. Not the analogue units used by Federation holo-decks, but a medium-


resolution digital image limited to eight-bit colour for live transmission via


low-bandwidth sub-space. The holographic image was that of an austere uniformed


figure. A thin-faced human male, wearing an even more austere looking uniform.


"Captain Picard, USS Enterprise, United Federation of Planets." He


introduced himself.


"Captain Leahcim Xris, ISD-G18 Grinder, Galactic Empire."


"Would you agree to a meeting under more civilised surroundings, Captain




"You may come aboard via shuttle. We will not allow the use of




"Thank you. I will be accompanied by Commander Worf. Is that acceptable?"


"You may bring whoever you wish."


The view-screen blanked out.






"You are sure you want to use this vessel, Captain?" Worf asked as he


squeezed aboard the tiny runabout. The vessel was designed to accommodate two


humans, and a human plus a Klingon was a rather tight squeeze. "The battle-


cruiser we are boarding will be able to accommodate much large vessels, possibly


even the Defiant itself."


"Yes, I am aware of that. This is precisely the vehicle I wish to use."


If Worf had any more to say he kept it to himself. His superior officer


had made his wishes clear, and he was too much of a soldier to question it, even


if he thought differently.


The runabout quickly sped across the few hundred thousand kilometers


separating the starships. It initially appeared as if they were heading towards


empty space, the Imperials being too far away to see with the unaided eye


despite the size of their ships. The first sign of them (to the unaided eye) was


a few tiny stars moving amongst the immobile backdrop of real stars. As they


approached, the tiny stars resolved into a dagger-like shape surrounded by tiny


motes of light. The motes of light soon themselves resolved into man-made shapes


before being paled into insignificance by the dagger-shape which kept growing


larger and larger.


Distances in the vacuum of space are difficult to resolve into distance,


and Picard glanced at his range indicator several times. It looked like they


were about to smash into the hull of the Giel-class battle-cruiser ahead of them


but the range-finder still indicated several kilometers. Eventually they were so


close to the massive vessel that it totally dominated their view, except that


their sensors indicated that they were still a kilometer away.


A comm-indicator blinked on the control panel, and Picard touched the


control. The runabout's view-screen lit up with the face of an Imperial officer,


who directed them onto a new course, bringing them to a docking bay concealed in


the superstructure of the immense vessel. Picard couldn't help thinking of it as


the 'bottom' of the ship, even though such concepts had no place in space.


Nevertheless, it was satisfying to know that like many terrestrial species, the


Imperials couldn't help but design their starships with terrestrial concepts of


symmetry, just like Federation and Klingon designs. Few starship designs he had


seen was totally devoid of such influence.


The runabout landed with a light thud on the metallic deck of the Imperial


starship. Picard and Worf clambered out of their tiny vessel into an immense


space. Used to the relatively confined and enclosed spaces aboard federation


ships, both Picard and Worf gazed upwards, seeking the ceiling. It was


satisfying to see the ceiling, albeit very far above their heads. In the


distance dozens of machines were scurrying about, with a few humans barely


recognisable amongst them. Directly ahead of the shuttle was a single line of


white machines. No. Armoured troopers. The runabout and it's welcoming committee


was almost insignificant in the immense space of the docking bay.


A massive machine, easily seven meters tall marched past right behind the


welcoming line of armoured troopers with an animal-like grace, briefly turning


to glance over the tiny spectacle. The troopers didn't even glance backwards as


the machine folded it's legs into it's body and leapt into the air. Curving


around and over the group, it shot outwards into space.


"A droid fighter." A mechanical voice announced. Picard turned to the


light silver android which had approached from one side. "I am IMP-19, an


Imperial protocol droid. The captain is waiting for you in conference room


seventeen B. Please follow me."


The droid tottered off towards a distant bulkhead, looking like it was


about to fall over it's own feet any second. It didn't. Which Picard considered


a minor miracle. Considering further, he decided that it was a deliberate ploy.


A protocol droid didn't need the grace or agility of the droid fighter they had


observed earlier. Along the way they were passed by a squad of marching soldiers


with a decided insectoid look to them. These walked with a deliberate mechanical


grace, and he had no difficulty in identifying them as androids. Some type of


military droid. He made a note to mention these to intelligence when he got


back. The line of white-clad armoured troopers had formed up around them, and


marched with a grace no machine could hope to match, as far as Picard knew.


Definitely human, he decided.


A long ride on a turbo-lift later, they stepped out into a wide gangway.


It was about five meters wide, and probably five meters high as well. A


deliberate waste of space? Picard decided not. The Imperials were a decidedly


efficient lot. The gangway's size probably had a reason.


"How far have we come?" Picard asked the droid.


"The landing bay is three kilometers below us, and two point five


kilometers forward. The main bridge is five hundred meters above."


"Why is this hallway so large? Even on a ship as large as this, a five


meter hallway which would be deserted most of the time is a waste, is it not?"


"I am a protocol droid, not a military droid. As such, I have limited


knowledge of such things. Possibly it is to accommodate the scout walkers."


"Scout walkers?"


For answer the droid touched a panel on the wall. A massive door, at least


three meters thick snapped open. An immense machine stood beyond the doorway. It


was bipedal, and had two ugly turrets mounted on it's 'face', along with a


number of smaller turrets.


"An AT-ST-II scout walker, modified for ship defense during boarding




Picard raised an eyebrow. Worf grunted.


"Smaller passageways would of course be defended by droidekas, and there


are many traps where boarders can be gassed, decompressed, poisoned, or flushed


out into space."




"Man sized droids with built-in shielding and heavy weapons. Specially




"The droids we saw in the hangar?"


"No. Those were cheap battle-droids, designed for mass production and to


supplement human troopers. A droideka has more firepower than a double-squad of


such droids, but is rather more expensive."


"Expensive? Ah. A disadvantage of a monetary economy."


"Why would anyone design a battle-droid along human lines. Surely more


efficient designs for droids exist. Even for a droid such as yourself, if you


forgive my asking?"


"Certainly," IMP-19 answered, "but human shaped droids are deliberately


designed so they can do anything that a human could. A battle-droid can use the


same weapons as a human soldier, drive the same vehicles, and can generally


fully integrate with a squad of human soldiers."


"Ah, efficiency of design, in a manner of speaking."


"Exactly. We are here."


The droid opened another door. Ahead of them was a roomful of uniformed


humans. The uniforms were decidedly military, unlike the deliberately non-


militaristic jumpsuits that Picard and Worf wore. A tall human marched towards


them. His military bearing not quite concealing his energy and impatience.


"Captain Picard. Commander Worf. Welcome aboard. Please, have a seat, and


let's get right down to business. Are you here to surrender?"


"Surrender?" Worf bellowed.


Xris's eyes narrowed.


"No, we came to warn you, and to make a proposal."


Xris's eyes narrowed more, his mouth pressed to a thin line.


"You came to warn us?" He asked quietly.


"You misunderstand." Picard said quickly. "We came to propose a cease


fire, possibly an alliance, in lieu of the fact that you are about to be


attacked by the Borg."


"How do you know this? Why would you ally with us? And what makes you


think we would ally with you?"


"A scouting vessel on the edge of explored space reported fifteen Borg


cubes heading towards this sector. They are not interested in us, yet. Neither


are they interested in any other races in this quadrant of the galaxy, yet.


However, you are a new and unknown factor, and they will be keen to assimilate


your technology."


"What makes you think they can? We have faced the Borg before, when your


fleet destroyed our Gate. They were allied with you, then."


"No. Our fleet merely used their attack as a divergence to destroy the


Gate. You may have faced them off then, but you did take losses. They will have


adapted accordingly and it will not be as easy to face them a second time. Also,


without the Gate, you are cut off from any logistical support. How many ships


can you afford to lose?"


"That is none of your concern. We will soon have the industrial capability


we need. Your warning is appreciated Captain Picard, but I don't understand why


you would warn us. Surely any losses we suffer at the hands of the Borg will be


to your advantage."


"Not if the Borg manage to assimilate your technology. With this


technology and the Borg industrial capability, their rate of expansion would


increase dramatically, thus jeopardising the survival of everyone in this


galaxy. If you agree to a cease-fire, I will see that the Federation provides


whatever assistance we can with the Borg."


"Any who dare oppose the Empire will be destroyed." A young officer piped


up. "This entire galaxy will soon be ruled by the Empire. We won't need your


assistance." She finished contemptuously, looking towards Xris for confirmation.


Xris casually turned towards the officer, smoothly drew an ugly hand


weapon and pulled the trigger. The young woman was catapulted backwards by a


bolt of blue energy. The room was suddenly filled with the smell of burnt flesh.


Looking at the body, Picard saw only a blackened and scorched hole where her


face had been. Blood began boiling out of the hole with a light bubbling sound.


"Clean up that mess." Xris ordered the nearby protocol droid sharply.


"Stupid Imperial spies. They make poor officers anyway."


One of the other officers smirked and barely suppressed a grunt of




"She would have had to go sooner or later." He said.


"Now. Captain Picard. You must understand my position. I am merely the


senior officer in charge of fleet operations. I do have superiors. My superior


officers are firmly ensconced upon the SSD Aggressor, a ship even larger than


this ship. They will not agree to your suggestion, regardless of it's merits.


They still believe in the Empire, even though we are totally cut off from it. As


such, they suffer from the same blindness and stupidity as that piece of garbage


over there." He indicated the carcass the protocol droid was dragging from the


room. In the silence, Picard could here the soft bubbling of blood out of the


head wound, and the hum of the life-support systems scrubbing the air. Already


the stench of burnt meat was fading from his senses, though it was engraved in


his memory.


"I fear," Xris was saying, "that I will have to become a mutineer in order


to ensure my people's survival in this galaxy. How long before the Borg get




"Ten days. Maybe less."


"In seven days, I will contact you and let you know whether my attempt at


a coup was successful. In the meanwhile, my fleet will not engage in any more


raids upon Federation shipping. Should the raids resume, know that my attempt to


seize command of this operation has failed." He held out his hand. "For myself,


I pledge peace with the Federation, and will appreciate your support against the


Borg in the future."


Picard looked at the hand which had so casually slain a young woman just


seconds ago. The lesser of two evils? He hoped so. He grasped the hand.

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A fanfic by Michael January






Xris looked out of the viewport at the receding Federation shuttle. It soon


vanished into the distance in the direction of the Enterprise, itself also too


small to be seen from this range. He tapped the vidmatrix controls, and the


image he was looking at was overlain by a superscaled image of the Enterprise in


the distance, with the shuttle heading towards it.


"The assassination of Lieutenant Va'ash has set us on a path we cannot


turn from." His first officer commented.


"It was inevitable. I have waited for this moment since the day the Gate


was destroyed."


"Do all the captain's support you?"


"Most of them do, and even if they don't, they know we are trapped in this


galaxy. We are fighting a war we cannot lose, but do not yet have the resources


to win. Against the Federation and her allies we might prevail, but against the


Borg, we will be ground to dust. I suspect some of them will find excuses so as


not to dirty their hands either way, until they know for sure that the Borg are


coming. But by then it will be too late."


"You believe this Picard is telling the truth, about the Borg heading this




"Who knows? If he is, then we have no choice. If he isn't it doesn't


matter. This may be our best chance to seize control."


"This battle-cruiser is close to an even match for an Executor-class. With


the support of the allegiance cruisers and a few ISD's, we can take out the




"That will be our last option. Even outnumbered, the Aggressor is a


dangerous ship. She could maul this entire fleet very badly. No, a direct


confrontation is out of the question. Our best bet is to capture the Aggressor




"That's impossible. Boarding and capturing a Super Star Destroyer will


require dozens of legions of stormtroopers, and the losses will be incredible!"


"Perhaps. On our own it would be. But if we had inside support, then it


could be done."


"Inside support? That's impossible. Admiral Piett has ensured that the


Aggressor is manned by the most loyal troops. The commanders are all personal


friends of his."


"I never said it would be easy." Xris smiled. "But I have been planning


for this since the day the Gate was destroyed."






General Darklighter and his squad of bodyguards marched down the deserted


passage of the super star destroyer Aggressor. He had been rather busy for


several weeks now with the redeploying of green units to veteran units. He had


designed several new computerised battle-strategies and re-written the tactical


algorithms for army operations. The new priorities were designed to limit losses


to the absolute minimum. The knowledge that no more cheap reinforcements were on


the way had finally spurred the fleet people on to allow this change. As a


soldier who had come up through the ranks he despised the unnecessary loss of


life, but had always accepted it as a necessity.


The invasion of this galaxy however had reminded him just how wasteful the


Empire could be. They looked after their stormtroopers and soldiers extremely


well otherwise, but in battle, results counted for more than soldiers lives. It


seemed that with this campaign the navy pukes had finally lost all perspective


in their rush for 'efficiency points'. The losses they had suffered had been


unnecessary. If he had been given a free reign in the campaign to command his


troops properly, they would have achieved the same objectives with virtually no




He stopped. Behind him, his bodyguards also stopped. The last few weeks of


re-programming battle-algorithms, and the inclusion of battle-droids as a


consideration, had also provided him with an opportunity he might otherwise


never have had. He tapped his secret access code into a nearby doorway's control


panel. The door snapped open, and his bodyguards charged into the room. They


were elite troops, the best of his men, and supremely loyal to him. In seconds,


they had killed all the technicians in the room, and one of them was already


furiously typing away at a console. He nodded to the General.




A number of his soldiers dressed as technicians came trotting around the


corner into the passageway. They saluted briefly to Darklighter and moved into


the surveillance control room, taking up the stations of the dead Imperial


intelligence operatives. He now had full control of all systems controlled from


this room. The room was the Central Internal Surveillance Control Room. It was


the hub through which all video and audio surveillance was passed. It had


nothing to do with the military defense of the ship against boarders, but


everything to do with spying on the crew.


Darklighter spoke briefly into his comm-unit, secure in the knowledge that


the treason he was about to commit would not pass this room and reach Admiral


Piett or Grand Moff Jerjerrod.






The droid control room was probably the untidiest room on the ship, even


including waste disposal. The slicers who were responsible for monitoring the


droids and supervising their operations were amongst the most overlooked staff


on the huge ship. Droids were lower than slaves, beneath the notice of most of


the crew, and their handlers were generally placed in the same category. As


such, they had more freedom than most, and it showed. Dress codes were not


strictly enforced, lewd posters and graffiti decorated the walls, and many


operators were seated behind desks cluttered with several weeks worth of crumbs


and food-cartons.


When the squad of troopers marched in, they were met with groans. Surely,


nobody would bother to inspect this particular spot of the huge ship? The groans


dissolved into a disbelieving silence as the slicers realised that the troopers


had their blasters levelled towards them in a rather menacing stance. One of the


troopers tossed a few datacards onto a desk.


"Load those programs."


The slicer didn't even hesitate. Something in the demeanour of the troops


told him this was no exercise, and a wrong move would see him and all his


colleagues dead.


"Yes, Sir."


Further back, another slicer surreptitiously moved his foot, touching a


'panic button' hidden in the corner of his desk.






In the central surveillance room, a red light started flashing.


"Sir," one of Darklighter's men called him over, "we have an alarm in the


droid control room."


"Trace the route of the signal."


"The alarm signal would have registered in surveillance room 3B the same


time it registered here."


"Their standard response will be to immediately contact the nearest


security squad, and dispatch them to the droid control room. Once that is


accomplished they will contact us. It is our job to inform the captain."


Even as he finished speaking, there was a buzz from one of the


communication consoles. He stepped over and answered it himself.


"Hello 3B. We've been expecting your call. Do you have a squad on the




"Yes, central. Internal security units 19A and 23B both responded. Shall I


alert a backup force?"


"Yes. Stormtrooper legion A77-B2, General Darklighter's personal guard.


They are extremely loyal to the Empire. Have them send a detachment down just in




"Very well. You will inform the captain?"


"Yes." Darklighter cut the communication.


"Send troop 3 to intercept and destroy security unit 19A, and two


droidekas to ambush unit 23B."


"Yes, Sir."






The turbolift doors snapped open and a brace of black-clad security guards


stormed out, taking up covering positions. They advanced down the passage


covering each other by twos. The droid control center was ninety meters ahead,


hidden by a bend in the passage. They were barely a third of the way down the


passage when the turbo-lift doors snapped open. They spun around, training their


weapons on the stormtroopers stepping out. Then one of them recognised the


markings on the stormtrooper's shoulder-patches.


"Troop 3, legion A77-B2." A stormtrooper announced. "We've been sent to


provide support."


"We've been expecting you."


The black-clad security guards resumed their advance down the passage.


Behind them, one of the stormtroopers quietly gave an order over his squad-level




A hail of blaster fire smashed into the backs of the security guards. The


guards that survived the initial volley dived into cover and turned around to


return the stormtroopers' fire. Just then five men in regular army uniforms came


charging around from the direction of the droid control center, catching the


surviving security guards in a murderous cross-fire. It was all over in seconds.


One of the soldiers waved to the stormtroopers, and they returned to the control




"Inform General Darklighter that the first squad has been eliminated.


Organise a droid-detail to clean up the mess."






The second security squad was on the deck above, moving into position


above the droid control room. They stopped moving at the sound of distant


blaster fire.


"Squad 19A has made contact with the intruders."


"Alright, get a move on. They might need our support."


One of the guards moved to an airduct and started cutting his way into it


with a laser-cutter. Behind the squad a soft ticking noise denoted the approach


of a droid. Familiar with droid noises few in the squad even bothered to look


up. One or two, recognising the ticking as that of the rolling action of a


droideka looked up just in time to see the mobile droids unfurl and lock


themselves into position. Shocked guards shouted warnings and spun around to


face the two droidekas, opening fire as they turned.


Their blaster bolts spattered uselessly against the shields of the large


droids, even as the droids opened fire, firing their heavy blasters with deadly


accuracy. Caught out in the open between the two droids, the security squad was


ripped to shreds. The droids advanced on three legs scanning the bodies for


life-signs. Finding none, they immediately curled over and rolled away down the


passage, back to their station.






Over the course of the next hour Darklighter's men gradually took over one


crucial station after another. The central computer room, life support control,


various surveillance centers, the engine room, and finally the command center


for ship-defense. They kept the ship running as if nothing had changed and made


no overt moves. On the bridge, the officer of the watch and Piett's officers had


no idea that the ship was not really under their control anymore. Here and there


a few technicians or guards had to be shot, stunned or otherwise subdued, but in


general there were very few fatalities. Darklighter had been planning this for


weeks, and had used every opportunity to insert his own access codes and


overrides into the ship's security systems.


"Seal barracks one through eight. Place droideka's on alert at all points


accessing barracks one through eight. We'll make our move at the change of


watch." He was pretty sure that the officers in charge of the other legions on


the huge ship would support him, but many of them were his friends. Should this


bid fail, he would rather there be no incriminating evidence against them. This


way, they could always argue that they had been out-maneuvred.






On the bridge, all was quiet. Pit crews went about their business,


oblivious to the happenings elsewhere in the city-like structure surrounding




"Contacts. Imperial warships at bearing one nine three by zero five two.


It's the Grinder, and her escorts."


The officer of the watch glanced at his schedule.


"That's funny, they're not due back, and they didn't inform us that they


were returning. Call the Admiral. This is a serious breach of procedure. He will


want to question Captain Xris about it."


"Yes, Sir."


The junior officer put a call through to the captain's cabin, situated


just abaft the bridge. A few seconds later Piett came marching out onto the




"Get Xris on comm."


"Yes, Sir."


Piett marched to the captain's holo-station on the bridge, and waited


impatiently. Several seconds later, the holo-board was still dark. Piett was


starting to feel agitated.




"They're not responding to our hails, Admiral."


"Have you tried all the frequencies?"


"Yes, Sir."


Piett stared at the nervous officer for a full second, and turned back to


the holo-board.


"Tactical display. NOW!"


The holo-board surged to life, quickly painting a picture of the system


echoed from a nearby station. The Grinder and her escorts were quickly moving


into an enclosure formation on their starboard flank.








Klaxons blared all over the massive starship. Throughout it's seventeen


kilometers, hundreds of thousands of men and women started moving to their


assigned stations.


"More ships, on our port flank, it's the four Allegiance-class destroyers.


There are three interdictor's outside the formation, they are powering up."


Out of habit Piett glanced at the readiness board to see which stations


were battle-ready. Most of the ship should be at full alert by now. The board


was dark. He stared at the board in stupefecation.


"Security. Echo surveillance data to this board. What is happening out




"Sir, all cameras are reporting deserted corridors. It appears that nobody


on the ship has responded to the battle-call."


"Patch me through to surveillance central." Piett said with a look of


horror on his face.


"Surveillance central not responding."


"Run self-diagnostics on surveillance system."


"Self-diagnostics reports no faults. Sir. And ... this is impossible!"




"The self-diagnostics says that we are being fed recorded data."


"De-activate the computer control. Patch directly into shipboard cameras."


"Sir, there are thousands of cameras. We can't possibly monitor them




"I don't care which camera, lieutenant. ANY CAMERA."


The surveillance data cleared to show a deserted corridor. No, not quite


deserted. Two droideka's stood blocking the passageway. Otherwise there was no


sign of life.


"Next camera."


"Next camera."


"Next ... next ... next ... stop. Back one."


On the screen a number of uniformed navy crew were running towards the


camera. Suddenly they came under fire. A volley of stun bolts slammed into them,


sending bodies reeling backwards, many spasming in shock as their central


nervous systems were short-circuited.


"Track to see where those shots came from."


"Those stormtroopers over there, Sir. They're blocking the access ways


from the crew quarters to the gunnery control centers."


"Sir. We have a number of shuttles on their way here from the Grinder.


Assault shuttles."


"Do we have communication with the launch bays. Launch three squadrons of




"Communication is open, sir, but ..."


Piett turned to look at the next screen. In the massive launch bays, a


squad of battle-droids were standing guard over a number of pilots and


technicians. Behind them, a droid fighter circled the launch bay lazily, a few


hundred meters overhead. In the distance, a pair of stormtroopers stood guard at


the turbolifts.


"Zoom into those troopers. Can you identify their unit."


"It's General Darklighter's personal guard, sir."


Piett closed his eyes. On the tactical board, the assault shuttles from


the Grinder were getting closer. There was no winning this battle.


"Navigation, plot a jump, ten light years minimum, out of their sensor


range. Jump at will."


"Jump plotted, but hyperdrive won't engage."


"Cameras. Engine room."


In the engine room, a number of technicians were busy at work, everything


seemed normal.


"Pan the cameras."


The cameras panned through several engine rooms, everything appeared


normal, then Piett spotted it. The technicians. They were all large, tall men.


Big men. With ramrod straight stances. These were soldiers, not technicians.


More of Darklighter's men, maintaining an aura of normalcy should anyone check


the engine room. Piett knew that all was lost. Running out of options, he tried


one last desperate gamble. Maybe Darklighter was working on his own.


"Ship-wide call. Admiral Piett to General Darklighter."


"General Darklighter, Sir."


The holo-image cleared and coalesced into the face of Darklighter.


"General, do you realise that Captain Xris has launched several assault


shuttles and is even now attempting to land troops on this ship? He is


attempting a coup, now I don't know what you're up to, but I am prepared to


overlook it if you'll give my ship back to me."


"Admiral Piett. You are charged with treason against the Galactic Empire.


Admiral Leahcim Xris has authorised me to place you under arrest. You will


unseal the bridge and my troops will escort you to secure quarters where you may


await trial."


"What! You are mad. I will see you executed for this, Darklighter."


"Am I to understand that you are resisting arrest, Admiral?"


"Resisting arrest? You are a mutineer and a ..."


The holo-board snapped into darkness. Piett glanced around him. His bridge


crew were staring in shock at their displays and at him. At the door, his


bodyguard were looking rather unsure of themselves.


"Shoot anyone who attempts to gain access." He ordered. "I am not giving


up this bridge without a fight. What weapons do we have?"






After due consideration, Piett realised his position was better than he


had expected. His personal legion controlled the bridge and all access to the


bridge. The major passageways were guarded by AT-ST-II's, and smaller access


ways were covered by armoured infantry units in full battle-armour. The bridge


had it's own independent life-support system, so they were unlikely to be


gassed, decompressed, or cut off from air.






"General Darklighter. You have done well. I will not forget this."


"Admiral Leahcim Xris. I hereby pledge allegiance to you as most senior


officer representing the Emperor of the Galactic Empire."




"The Admiral has managed to retain control of the bridge and all access to


the bridge. The only way we can dislodge him is with a direct assault. Success


is guaranteed, but losses will be heavy. As ordered, I have refrained from


inflicting unnecessary loss of life up to now."


"General, you think too much like a soldier. The Admiral may be firmly


ensconced on his bridge, but his ship is vulnerable."


"I don't understand."


"Withdraw your men to the most secure bulkheads below the bridge, and have


them seal those sections off from the bridge. The Admiral is about to be


decompressed. My men under Colonel Deerborn will take the bridge."


"I see." Darklighter nodded. "Give me two minutes to get my men into a


position of safety."






Piett was thinking furiously. Most of the soldiers on this ship were loyal


to him, or at least to the Empire as they knew it. Darklighter had the drop on


them, and obviously had taken control of the droids. But if he could engineer a


way to help the loyal legions to break free from the quarters where they were


confined by Darklighter's men, he might still be able to win the ship back. The


unknown factor was how much of the ship he would be able to win back before Xris


gave up trying to capture the ship, and just blew it away.


"Sir, the Grinder's assault shuttles have changed vector. They are not


heading towards the landing bays."


"What is he up to?"


As the assault shuttles moved away, Piett realised what was about to


happen. He swore viciously as the Grinder fired a devastating broadside into his


bridge shields. The deck thrummed as something exploded nearby. An overloaded


shield generator. A second broadside smashed into the shields. And a third.


"The shields are down. Another broadside and ..."




The fourth broadside never came. Instead, a wave of TIE's came screaming


past firing precisely targeted bolts into the unprotected superstructure of the


bridge. Shattered bodies were thrown dozens of meters through the air, and


screams from a nearby compartment was underlain by the shriek of atmosphere


escaping through a breach. A solid beam of flame smashed through a nearby wall,


incinerating two stormtroopers standing nearby.


"Seal that door." Piett shouted, even though he knew it was useless.


Another bolt smashed into the main bridge section, and Piett looked on in


horror as half his bridge-crew was incinerated by an intense blast of heat. Many


more were sucked out into vacuum, and the rest tossed around like leaves in a


breeze from the hammerblow. For a second Piett wondered why everything was so


quiet, then realised that his eardrums had been shattered. He tried to draw a


breath, but couldn't. The oxygen had been sucked out of the room by the flames.


He closed his eyes, waiting for the decompression to kill him. He felt his eyes


bulging out, and tried to put his hands up to stop them from exploding like


over-ripe tomatoes. Then A dull thud vibrated through the deck and caused him to


open his eyes.


The breach at the far end of the bridge had been sealed, but not by anyone


friendly. An assault shuttle had wedged itself into the breach, effectively


sealing it. It's main hatchway snapped open and two spacetroopers dived through


launching stun grenades and sleeping gas canisters as they came. Two more


troopers charged over the prone forms of their comrades shooting down anyone who


had been too brave or too stupid to duck. Their advance was answered with a


flurry of blaster fire from his own guards, sending two of the troopers reeling


backwards before his guards were cut down. In seconds, the bridge was full of


spacetroopers, air was being pumped back in, and his surviving crew-members were


being herded into a corner.


From nearby, sporadic firing could be heard as the space-troopers advanced


through the entire bridge superstructure, supported by squads entering through


other breaches. One of the troopers grabbed Piett's arm and unceremoniously


dragged him to the assault shuttle, where he was shoved into an airlock on the


far side. Despite his screaming and begging, the space trooper casually opened


the hatch and dumped him into vacuum.










Xris examined the damage to the bridge section of the Super Star


Destroyer. It looked remarkably intact, except for a number of holes where the


several meters of armour had been blown away. Molten metal had run across the


deck in several places where bulkheads had been torched or blown out. The troops


that had been confined to their quarters by the droids and Darklighter's men had


soon capitulated once the bridge was gone and news of Piett's death had spread.


"Just how bad is the damage?" Xris asked one of the engineers.


"The ship is in full working condition, and can be commanded from the


battle-bridge. A few functions will be marginally impaired because the battle-


bridge was never intended to provide the full functionality of the main bridge,


but it should serve. If we had access to a shipyard, then the entire main bridge


could have been replaced in a matter of days."


"Without a shipyard?"


"Six weeks. It will be messy, but will suffice."


"Very well. I suppose you had better get started."


"Sir?" Darklighter stepped forward.


"Yes, General?" Xris asked.


"What are we going to do about Grand Moff Jerjerrod?" The Moff had not


been aboard, but was out visiting the captured planets.


"He has just been in touch. Apparently the news spread quite fast. Moff


Jerjerrod has pledged full allegiance to me. All he wanted to know is whether he


should continue with his rebuilding program as outlined, or if their was


anything I wanted prioritised."


"A pure political animal." The General sneered.


"Yes. He knows where his bread is buttered. He is an able administrator,


and will manage the colonies well. I have appointed him my Chancellor. I will


remain in charge of fleet operations, and you of course will be fully in charge


of planetary defense, troop training, and all non-fleet military operations."


"Shipboard security?" Darklighter asked.


"Will now be the province of Deerborn. I have promoted him to General."


Xris smiled thinly. Darklighter was still the most senior non-fleet officer, but


Xris could hardly risk having him in charge of ship security, after all. If


Darklighter had any misgivings about his new status he kept it to himself. He


probably counted himself lucky to have come out of the entire mess with any


authority at all. He must have known that he would never be trusted by another


ship's captain after this day's work.


"The Aggressor will be my new flagship. The main bridge and the battle


bridge will be fully manned at all times. Until such time as the main bridge is


fully repaired the battle-bridge will have seniority. The repairs will have to


be conducted on the move. Now, what is the situation regarding enemy




"The Enterprise has returned to Earth. Federation shipping patterns are


unchanged, all freighting is being done via escorted convoy. No sign as yet of


the Borg." His newly appointed tactical officer reported.


"They are not due for at least four days yet. For now, we need to


formalise the cease-fire with the Federation and her allies."


"Your excellency. Is that wise? In the long run, our purpose would be best


served by totally destroying their industrial capability."


"Their industrial capability has been seriously impaired. Intelligence


indicates our shipyards will be fully functional within a year, whereas their


primary shipyards will take them three to five years to re-assemble. Also, their


starship construction methodology is such that they need several years to


complete a decent starship, whereas our facilities will be able to churn out a


ship every few weeks or months when fully functional. What does concern me is


that we may not have located all their shipyards yet. Only sixty percent of


Federation space has been mapped."


"Hyperspace course for Earth is set, Excellency."










The Bajoran system was deserted. Since the destruction of the Gate it had


been totally barren. Several million tons worth of rubble dotted the empty


spaces between the barren planets. The world which had been Bajor was a brown-


orange rock, totally devoid of life. Suddenly, close to the asteroid field, a


swirling mass of energies exploded into life, then vanished as if it had never


been. A tiny space-ship negotiated it's way through the wreckage. It's sensors


ran over molten metal barely recognisable as a destroyed Imperator. It carefully


probed a piece of tritanium, barely recognisable as once having been part of the


saucer section of a Federation starship. Another piece of wreckage attracted a


lot of attention. A fraction identifiable as the remains of a Borg hull.


Several minutes later, apparently having satisfied it's curiosity, it


withdrew to the vicinity of the wormhole, and made it's way back to the Gamma


Quadrant. The Founders would be very interested in what their loyal servant had










The blue-green planet continued on it's inexorable journey, oblivious to


the intense emotions it incurred in those it had given birth to. Currently, it


was orbited by dozens of starships, each imbued with energies sufficient to


render it's fertile surface sterile for all time should they be unleashed. A few


million planetary diameters away, it's red brother too was hosting several


starships. Also orbiting it's red brother was a huge mass of wreckage. This


wreckage had been the birthplace of many of the starships now orbiting the two


planets, and was the primary subject of discussion amongst the beings that still


referred to the blue-green planet as home.


"There have been no new reports of shipping raids in the last six days.


Perhaps we can hope that the cease-fire negotiated by Captain Picard will be




"Today is the deadline. Picard said this Xris would contact us today if


his bid to seize control was successful."


"We can only hope so. What is the situation at Canis Minor?" Canis Minor


was the only operating shipyard left to the Federation. It was not currently


capable of producing anything larger than an Akira or an Intrepid.


"The first resource convoys will be arriving there shortly. There are


three nearly complete Akira's in the yard. We will rush them into service, then


temporarily expand the shipyard facilities to accommodate the simultaneous


construction of five more Akiras. If we keep up the resource convoys, we can


have them done within a year."


"A year!"


"I am sorry, Mister President, but Canis Minor was never a large shipyard


to begin with. It will take us five years at best to recover from the loss of


the Utopia Planitia yards and the Alpha Centauri yards. Should the war continue,


we may never recover. We might be able to refit older ships with more powerful


phasers, modern organic warp cores, quantum launchers and better computers, but


we cannot hope to construct an entire navy overnight."


"Why was I never told just how bad off Starfleet was?"


A few of the Admirals glanced at each other. To their credit, the warhawks


amongst the Admirals kept their mouth's shut. It was Jellicoe who eventually




"Mister President. Such a contact situation could never have been


predicted. We've had long-term plans for countering a Borg invasion, but such an


invasion was always thought to be a long way off. Our other enemies were


quantifiable. The war with the Empire, especially it's brutality and suddenness,


was a totally anomalous event. We could not have predicted it."


"Yet we were warned." The President sighed. A few raised eyebrows.


"The first contact with the Borg." The President expanded. "Picard


mentioned that the being known as Q told him that we had become complacent,


secure in our position as the big fish in a small pond. He told Picard that the


Borg were merely a wake-up call, a sign of the terrors awaiting us, and that


complacency could result in our extermination as a species. We prepared for the


Borg, but we did not rid ourselves altogether of the complacency."


"We couldn't have known." One of the doves said, plaintively. The


President waved the idiot to silence, then continued.


"It may serve the purpose of this Xris to make peace with us now. The


Klingons may not readily agree to a cease-fire, but I doubt they have much


choice. We cannot win this war yet. But we can make sure that we don't lose


today. If Xris is successful in his bid to take control of the Empire, then we


shall make peace with this Galactic Empire, and we shall use the peace just as


he will use it. To rebuild. To prepare. The peace will not last forever, and


when it is over, I want Starfleet to be ready to win the war. Do you understand


me? Win. Gentlemen. This war is not about politics, or religion, or resources,


or borders, or ideologue. This is a war for our very survival."


The Admirals looked at each other. They knew what the President meant.


They had been given an effective Carte Blanche. Starfleet would rebuild, but the


new Starfleet would not be a fleet of science vessels and explorers. It would be


a war fleet.






The Imperial fleet arrived with a suddenness that was still unnerving to


many Federation captains. One second, their sensors were clear of enemy ships


for light-years in all directions, the next, the Imperial fleet was in orbit


over Venus. Many a sensor operator yelped in surprise. It was difficult to wrap


your head around a stardrive that could so effectively and totally circumvent


all means of detection. For centuries, ships and their crews had been forced to


crawl across the gulfs of inter-stellar space. Embarking on an inter-stellar


journey was not unlike the experiences of seventeenth century sailors. Days,


weeks, even months would slowly drag by as the ship ploughed it's way to a


distant destination. Enemies could be seen approaching for hours, and


preparations for battle could be a long drawn out affair, culminating in a short


and fierce action.


Many Federation crewers wondered if their seventeenth century counterparts


would have felt the same as they did now if they had been confronted by a


supersonic jet-plane.


"Multiple bogeys orbiting Venus. I count seven ships."




"One Executor-class ship, two Allegiance class escorts, and four


Imperators. The Executor-class is registering minor damage around the bridge




"Attempt to open a channel."


"Opening channel ... responding."




A thin-faced human appeared on the screen. The human in the recordings


provided by Picard.


"Captain Xris? I am Admiral Jefferson. We have been expecting you."


"I am now Admiral Xris. What arrangements have you made for our




Jefferson nodded. This Xris certainly didn't beat about the bush.


"We have prepared a conference facility on Mars, the fourth planet. I am


transmitting the co-ordinates to you now. There are landing facilities


available, and it is quite far from the major population centres."


"Security arrangements?"


"We guarantee your ambassadors safety, Excellency. If you require, our


starships will withdraw ten light-seconds from the planet. We also request that


your ships not approach any closer than this, except of course for the


ambassadorial shuttles."


"If I insist that the meeting take place on this ship?"


The Admiral looked uncomfortable for a second.


"Your excellency, it is our position that we were never the aggressors in


this conflict. We would consider it an immensely placatory gesture should you


agree to meet on our soil."


"I suppose you couldn't have said it any more diplomatically than that. So


be it. We will send one shuttle shortly." The thin face twisted into a grimace,


barely recognizable as a cynical smile.






Xris looked out at the red-brown surface of the planet below with disdain.


A backwater colonial world if he had ever seen one. His shuttle was approaching


one of the smaller settlements, a domed village barely worthy of the name.


Probably no more than ten or twenty thousand inhabitants. Considering the


world's proximity to the Human home world Earth, he was quite amazed that the


Earther's had not put greater effort into it's re-engineering. It was in their


home star system for goodness sake. He wondered if the technology was beyond




According to his intelligence brief, the planet was being re-engineered,


but at such a slow rate that it would be centuries still before it would have a


breathable atmosphere. As it was, the planet was home to a number of small domed


cities, only a handful having more than ten million citizens.


"Uncivilised barbarians." one of his honor guard was heard to mutter.


Surprisingly, even the home world, Earth, was only home to a few billion


citizens concentrated into a number of so-called cities, huge tracts of the


planet being un-utilised. Nature Reserves, they called it, and Parks. What a


waste, he thought. If you wanted a park, build it on an uninhabited planet




The shuttle descended through a temporary opening in the dome. The shuttle


rocked lightly as it's weight was transferred from the repulsor lifts onto the


landing gear. Xris stood stiffly at the top of the ramp as his honor guard


marched past him in a double rank, and assumed their ceremonial stations at the


base of the ramp. With an impatient flick of his robe, he marched down between


the double rank of stormtroopers. He would negotiate a cease-fire, but as soon


as his industrial and economic strength was up to it, he would bring these


primitives to heal.

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A fanfic by Michael January






The Imperial fleet was all gathered over the world of K'trak. Buzzing in-


between and around the massive ships were hordes of repair droids from the SSD


Aggressor and the Giel-class SD Grinder. The fleet now numbered a total of


twenty-eight ships, even those having been severely damaged in the Battle of


Bajor when the Gate was destroyed having been repaired. Xris was actually quite


happy with his fleet. Few fleets even back home could compare in firepower. A


Super Star Destroyer, A Giel-class Battleship, four Allegiance-class escorts,


seven Imperator's and a motley assortment of sixteen smaller ships, Victories,


Interdictors and a handful of Carracks and Lancers.


He didn't bother to count the troop transports, freighters and patrol


ships which had also been trapped in the galaxy. They were after all not really


military ships. At this time, all non-combat ships were fully engaged in


freighting supplies between the dozen worlds held by his forces.


"I have an incoming warp signature." A sensor operator announced. "ETA


three hours twenty minutes."


"Send a Lancer to ID the signature."


Since the signing of the cease-fire three days ago Xris had relaxed his


patrols to the bare minimum necessary so as to conserve their fuel supplies.


Even so, they were still currently using more fuel than they could manufacture.


The incoming warp signature was not unexpected. The Federation hadn't exactly


agreed to provide support in the event of the Borg attack, but they had implied


that having a Borg presence on their doorstep was not a heart-warming thought.


Xris suspected that at least Picard and a few others might feel strongly


enough about it to have come in support. Minutes later his guess was confirmed.


It was a Federation task force come to assist in the expected Borg attack.










Colonel Madine, in charge of system defense of Sandar V, narrowed his eyes


at the sight on the com-scan console. A warp signature, coming in much faster


than any he had seen before.




"Forty minutes, maybe less."


"Send a notification to the fleet. It looks like we're on our own though.


I doubt they can get a strike force together in time."


"Yes, Sir."


"Sound a general alert. Prepare to raise shields when they enter the


system. Alert the populace as well. Tell them we have Borg incoming. Fifteen










"Is that the entire fleet, do you think?" Riker asked.


"I suspect so, yes." Picard replied.


On the view-screen, approximately thirty Imperial ships including the two


massive battle-ships were assembled. Some of them still showed signs of battle,


but these signs were much less than they had been even a few days ago at the


peace conference.


"Quite an efficient bunch." Riker commented.


"Give me a scan of the planet, and any other activity in the system."


Picard ordered. In seconds, data began scrolling up the view-screen, and images


started coming in.


"They're raping the system!"


"Indeed. They certainly don't seem to have any regard for preserving the


natural order of things."


The planet below was a hive of activity. Large tracts of the planet were


being strip-mined by massive robotic vehicles. Factories were spewing pollution


into the atmosphere, and massive construction projects seemed to be underway.


Just four months ago this had been a peaceful farming colony. Now it was




"Would you look at that!" Riker exclaimed.


On a moon of one of the outer-system gas-giants, an immense structure was


taking shape.


"That must be dozens of kilometers tall. What do you think it is?"


"I can have the computer run an extrapolation of the existing


construction," Data offered, "based on what we know about the Imperials, it


should make a reasonable guess."


On the view-screen, the structure suddenly seemed to extend and expand,


with several arms sticking out from a central column that must have been


hundreds of kilometers long, and embedded several dozen kilometers into the moon




"The computer projection indicates that it may be a docking structure


which will allow their ships to dock onto that moon. Possibly for extensive


repairs purposes. It might also be a ship construction facility."


"Good grief. I would never have thought anybody would build something so


monstrous. There will probably be nothing left of that moon when they're done.


Their industrial capacity must be immensely greater than we feared."


"Yes. Only the Borg might attempt something like this, or have an


equivalent industrial drive."


"Sir. Admiral Xris."




"Captain Picard. I have just received a communication from one of my


colonies. They have fifteen Borg cubes on their way in. The system is 190 light


years away. The Borg cubes will arrive in less than forty minutes, but my ships


can only get their in 1.5 hours. The planet will have to hold out on it's own


till we get there. My docking facilities can accommodate all your ships. We will


wait until your ships are secured before we make the jump."


"Thank you, Admiral."


Picard was mildly frustrated at the paternal attitude of these aliens


towards their slow warp drives, but he had no other choice. 190 light years was


a three week journey by warp. If he wanted to assist in any way, then he would


have to subject his ships to the humiliation of the docking procedure again.






Twenty minutes later he was looking at a truly intimidating sight. On the


view-screen, several Akiras, a few Intrepids and a couple of Nebulons were


stacked like toys in one of the huge docking bays of the SSD Aggressor. Another


bay, diametrically opposite them and separated from them by three kilometers of


open space, was home to a partially rebuilt Imperator-class Destroyer. Below the


gap, where he would have expected to see stars, was the static whirl of


hyperspace. He was reminded of the journey he had made in Antilles flagship a


few short months previously. The mental image of his task force all bundled up


like little toys in the pocket of the Super Star Destroyer's immense repair bays


was rather disconcerting.


The Enterprise of course had been docked inside various Starbases before,


but even those starbases were dwarfed by this monstrosity of a battleship. The


plan was for the fleet to disengage hyperdrive about a tenth of a light-year


outside the system, so as to allow time for the Federation ships to undock, and


warp in on their own power.








"Okay, raise shields." Madine ordered.


There was no point in waiting. The Borg cubes were now only two minutes


out of the system. He had one regiment of stormtroopers and three army regiments


at his disposal for last ditch defense of the shield generators. The outlying


areas were defended by twenty thousand battle-droids of varying design. The


designs were the same designs that centuries of warfare had proven most viable,


except that the droids were rather more autonomous than their predecessors. The


Old Republic had encouraged battle-droids to be slaved into one cohesive system,


and even designed their ships that way. The lesson learnt at Naboo by the Trade


Federation, followed shortly thereafter by the loss of the Katana Fleet, had


convinced military designers of the folly of this design principal though.


Imperial military engineers preferred unit autonomy. The best droids were


manufactured with intelligent self-learning motivators, but an undesired side-


effect was a tendency to achieve sentience. Regular mind-wipes solved the




On a nearby scope, several sharp spikes suddenly appeared.


"The cubes are firing on shield sector nineteen. They've ceased fire. Now


trying to drain energy from the shield. Planetary shield nineteen down to ninety


seven percent."


"Already? Route residual power from adjacent shield generators to


generator number nineteen. Geothermal plants to stand by."


"Geothermal plants standing by. Planetary shield nineteen stabilised at


ninety five percent."


"Can't we recharge it to full power?"


"Those cubes are draining energy out of the shield at a tremendous rate,


sir. If we increase reactor output on generator number nineteen we risk




"Keep a close watch on that generator. How are the other generators




"Generators 16, 15, 24 and 25 running at ninety percent capacity


supplementing generator nineteen."


"If any generators look like overheating patch in the auxiliary cells. For


now route all borehole energy into the auxiliary power cells. Have the mining-


droids sink another geothermal borehole close to generator nineteen in case it


needs supplementing."


"Yes, Sir."


"Transporter locks detected. Multiple sectors."


"Tactical holo. Planetary scale."


A hologram appeared in the command centre showing the globe of the planet.


Most of the planet was obscured by blue umbrellas denoting shield coverage,


several of the umbrellas overlapping to provide additional cover for


industrialised areas. Several red dots appeared on the surface in zones outside


the shield covered areas.


"Looks like they're going to attempt a ground assault. Do we have any data


on Borg ground assault tactics?"


"None, Sir."


"Well, let's prepare for the worst. The Borg may utilise any number of


tactics or equipment combinations they might have assimilated from other


species. The safest course would be to assume the worst. Ensure that all


vehicles and droids are programmed for self-destruct in event of capture or




"Sir, according to the sensor data, there have been more than three


million transports detected."


The command centre was stunned into silence. They had only five thousand


troops and twenty thousand battle droids at their disposal. At least they had


the full co-operation of the local Cardassian population. Tens of thousands of


Cardassian males had volunteered to fight off the Borg, but their help had been


refused. The Imperials were not yet ready to trust their workforce with weapons.


"Have the manufacturing centres maximise droideka construction. I don't


know how long we will be expected to hold out, but every single droid


manufactured will be needed."






The Droid Control Centre was located on the level below the command centre


where Madine was co-ordinating the defense from. It was currently in direct


communication with hundreds of command units scattered through the Imperial


droid armies on the planet. Thousands of battle encrypted reports in military


droid binary language were coming in each second, and thousands of instructions


re-transmitted to the droids. The DCC was also continually updating the tactical


displays for it's organic overseers above, who would give it the occasional


strategic command. One such encrypted signal had just arrived.




Captain MD-752-B91 Reporting:


..tactical evaluation follows.


..four hundred MD units located on ridge-line designated A72-S15.


..all non-armoured units in cover below ridge-line.


..supporting units as follows:-


..fifty S-10 War Droids


..ten repulsor-lift tanks


..ten light chariots.


..one humanoid cyborg approaching at two meters per second.


..range five decimal two nine eight.


..please advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-752-B91.


..terminate cyborg




Captain MD-752-B91 acknowledges.


..fifteen shots fired by local MD units.


..adjustments made for local atmospheric conditions and terrain features.


..five hits reported.


..humanoid cyborg has malfunctioned.


..life sign indications falling rapidly.


..cyborg terminated.






On a different part of the planet another Borg drone was crossing an open


plain in the face of another group of droid defenders.






Captain MD-391-G62 Reporting.


..grid reference A78-S15


..tactical evaluation follows.


..evaluation unchanged.


..one humanoid cyborg approaching at two meters per second.


..range six decimal one five three.


..please advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-391-G62.


..terminate the cyborg.




Captain MD-391-G62 acknowledges.


..eight ranging shots fired by local MD units.


..adjustments made for local atmospheric conditions and terrain features.


..one hit confirmed.


..cyborg defended by a personal energy shield.


..zero damage to cyborg.


..forty two shots fired by local units


..cyborg energy field still in place.


..zero damage to cyborg.


..please advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-391-G62.


..advise synchronised volley by multiple units.




Captain MD-391-G62 acknowledges.


..twenty shots fired in volley.


..seventeen hits.


..cyborg still advancing.


..fifty shots fired in volley.


..thirty-eight hits.


..cyborg is damaged.


..cyborg has repaired damage in 2.1 seconds.


..cyborg advancing.


..one hundred shots fired in volley.


..seventy-eight hits.


..eleven hits in close concentration on Cyborg's chest.


..extensive damage to Cyborg's organic component.


..life signs falling rapidly.


..cyborg terminated.






Captain MD-752-B91 Reporting.


..tactical evaluation follows.


..tactical situation unchanged.


..one humanoid cyborg approaching at two meters per second.


..range four decimal eight one two.


..please advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-752-B91.


..terminate cyborg.




Captain MD-752-B91 acknowledges.


..twenty shots fired.


..zero damage.


..cyborg is shielded.


..please advise.




Droid Control Centre to all command units.


..advise volley fire targeted at individual cyborgs.


..all cyborgs appear to have been retro-fitted with energy shields.




Captain MD-752-B91 acknowledges.


..fifty shot volley fired.


..cyborg damaged.


..cyborg has repaired damage.


..one hundred shot volley fired.


..cyborg terminated.




Droid Control Centre to all command units.


..advise use of thermal detonators if launch vehicle available.


..alternatively, minimum one hundred shot volley per target.


..defensive groups with no armoured support and fewer than one hundred MD


units are to fall back to secondary positions.






In the command centre Madine watched the developments with gritted teeth.


The advancing drones had superb personal shielding that would basically render


his infantry useless.


"Send advisories to all units about this development," Madine ordered. "If


we can't damage the drones directly, then we'll do it indirectly. Melt the


ground they walk on, poison the air they breathe, burn them with incendiaries.


One way or another, we should be able to destroy them."


He swore silently as he looked over the reports. Only three individual


drones had been sent so far. The Borg were obviously testing their defences. He


wondered what their next move would be.






Captain MD-612-X31 Reporting.


..grid reference A74-S15.


..tactical evaluation unchanged.


..one humanoid cyborg with full body armour approaching


..no external organics detected.


..range 5.182 and closing at two meters per second.


..Please Advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-612-X31.


..Terminate the cyborg.




Captain MD-612-X31 acknowledges.


..fifty shot volley fired.


..zero damage.


..cyborg is shielded.


..one hundred shot volley fired.


..cyborg's left arm melted.


..cyborg's left arm has been repaired.


..one hundred shot volley fired.


..zero damage.


..Please Advise




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-612-X31.


..advise launch of thermal detonators.




Captain MD-612-X31 acknowledges.


..two thermal charges launched in ballistic trajectory.


..cyborg has fired energy weapon.


..MD-612-X01 terminated.


..cyborg has fired energy weapon.


..MD-612-X02 terminated.


..thermal charges impacting.


..target obscured.


..re-calibrating optics.


..no sign of target.


..correction follows.


..molten metal detected with spectral signature identical to cyborg




..confirm cyborg termination.






Droid Control Centre to all command units.


..advise use of thermal detonators as primary offensive weapon.


..cyborg threat level upgraded from infantry to light bipedal armoured








Madine tapped his fingers in frustration. Like all droids, military droids


relied on self-learning algorithms to advance their sentience level. But being


brand new and still inexperienced, their sentience level was just not developing


fast enough. Still, the Borg hadn't been particularly imaginative up to now, and


if that trend continued they just might make it until the fleet got here. If the


fleet were coming.






Captain MD-612-G91 Reporting.


..multiple humanoid cyborgs approaching at two meters per second in an


extended random dispersal pattern.


..range four decimal nine.


..elected course of action: cyborg termination.


..Launching thermal detonators.


..Multiple weapons discharges from cyborg position


..MD-612-G01 terminated by energy discharge.


..One hundred twenty three cyborgs and counting.


..Two hundred and eighty cyborgs and counting.


..detonators impacting.


..Re-calibrating sensors for atmospheric disturbance.


..multiple cyborgs destroyed or damaged.


..Five hundred plus cyborgs advancing.


..MD 612-G15 terminated by energy discharge.


..thermal detonator destruction radius reduced by forty two percent.


..repulsor tanks opening fire at optimal rate: sixty percent power, four


rounds per second.


..tanks report seventy five percent fatality rate for a direct hit.


..MD-612-G53 terminated by energy discharge.


..tanks report fatality rate decreased to sixty two percent.


..tanks increased weapon power to eighty percent, re-fire rate down to one


shot per second, fatality rate increased to eighty percent.


..MD-612-G42 terminated by energy discharge.


..estimate two thousand plus cyborgs advancing, range three kilometres.


..estimate three minutes to exhaust thermal detonator supplies.


..request re-supply of thermal detonators


..MD-612-G28 terminated by energy discharge.


..tank-crews estimate four minutes to anti-armour cannons overheating.


..Cyborg casualty rate insufficient for successful defence.


..estimate this position to be overrun in twenty five minutes.


..Please advise.




Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-612-G91.


..hold position.


..air support ETA your position in two minutes.






"Sir," a junior officer reported to Madine, "we have a major Borg advance


in sector fifteen. All other sectors report thousands of drones beyond weapons


range and in attack positions but no sign of an advance."


Madine glanced at the holo-map. "Focus on sector fifteen."


A holographic map of the sector appeared, showing twenty five separate


lines of advance on all defensive positions. Sector fifteen was the only area


with terrain conducive to a large-scale defence of shield generator twelve.


Should the Borg overrun the position, they would be able to mount a direct


offensive on the shield generator. He could only imagine what would happen


should the Borg manage to compromise the generator. Besides losing that entire


part of the planet to the Borg, they would assimilate the technology.


"Authorise use of nerve gas. Set up an incendiary-based air-strike. Start


rounding up every thermal detonator we can spare and organise a re-supply drop


for Sector fifteen."


"Shall we withdraw forces from other sectors to assist?"


"No. This sector was attacked because it was the easiest to overrun.


Should we weaken any other sector, the Borg there will just advance. They have


numerical superiority and are using it."


"Sir. What about an air strike on those positions before withdrawing




"Negative. That would require leaving the shield coverage. The air units


will be exposed to orbital fire. We don't have sufficient ships to risk it."


Madine waved the officer away while he contemplated likely alternatives


should the position be overrun.






Captain MD-612-X31 reporting.


..tactical evaluation.


..MD-612-X41 terminated by energy discharge.


..multiple thousand fully-armoured and shielded cyborgs advancing.


..range two kilometres.


..MD-612-X74 terminated by energy discharge.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is ninety one percent.


..enemy approaching optimum range for anti-armour kinetic projectiles.


..tanks authorised to fire kinetic projectiles.


..MD-612-X82 terminated by energy discharge.


..multiple cyborgs destroyed.


..kinetic projectiles has ninety four percent fatality rate.


..advise all units to use anti-armour kinetic projectiles.


..MD-612-X14 terminated by energy discharge.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is sixty two percent


..troop losses approaching thirty percent.


..request reinforcements


..request additional tanks armed with anti-armour kinetic projectile




..MD-612-X29 terminated by energy discharge.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is sixty seven percent.


..S-10 War Droid units moving into attack position on defensive flanks.


..War Droid units opening fire.


..multiple cyborgs destroyed.


..MD-612-X43 terminated by energy discharge.


..S-10 War Droids proving effective in volley fire against individual




..likelihood that position will be overru






Unit MD-612-X32 reporting.


..captain MD-612-X31 terminated by energy discharge.


..unit MD-612-X32 now designated Captain MD-612-X32.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is sixty five percent.


..seven tanks ceased heavy blaster fire due to overheating.


..two tanks report anti-armour kinetic projectile launchers losing




..likelihood that position will be overrun is seventy two percent.


..MD-612-X62 terminated by energy discharge.


..S-10 WD-612-W01 damaged by chemical explosive.


..request reinforcements.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is eighty one percent.


..request reinforcements.


..urgent request reinforcements.


..cyborgs obscured by multiple detonations of unknown source.


..source identified.


..TIE Bombers overhead.


..cyborgs obscured by green vapour.


..vapour identified as XN-20 nerve gas.


..nerve gas caused momentary halt of cyborg advance.


..multiple cyborgs experiencing apparent electronic spasms.


..cyborgs recovered.


..likely that nervous system disruption was overridden by cybernetic




..nerve gas ineffective.


..cyborgs advancing.


..likelihood that position will be overrun is seventy one percent.


..bright flash has caused short-circuit of optical circuits.


..unit retiring from command position.






Unit MD-612-X49 reporting.


..captain MD-612-X32 has suffered extensive damage to visual circuitry.


..unit MD-612-X49 now designated Captain MD-612-X49.


..bright flash identified as anti-amour incendiary-based aerial




..large volume of incandescent debris falling on cyborg positions.


..multiple cyborgs damaged or destroyed.


..five tanks report weapons sufficiently cooled to resume firing.


..likelihood of position being overrun is now forty two percent.






Droid Control Centre to Captain MD-612-X49.


..ETA for reinforcements three minutes.


..reinforcements consists of three repulsor-tanks, five tracked tanks, two


AT-AT walkers and twenty shielded destroyer-class droids.


..reinforcements will be delivered by dropship.






Captain MD-612-X49 reporting.


..cyborg advance halted.


..random cyborgs still advancing, many of them damaged.


..likelihood of position being overrun now less than ten percent.


..new targets detected.


..multiple thousand cyborgs detected advancing in second attack wave.


..insufficient fire-power to stop second attack wave.


..this position will be overrun within twenty minutes.


..please advise






Madine slammed his fist into the table. The Borg had just been testing the


defensive strength of the position, and he didn't have sufficient droids to


counter their numbers. With the losses incurred by the droid armies in that


sector so far, there was no hope of holding off the second wave. He would have


to take a few risks. He had an army regiment in a last-ditch defensive position


in Sector Thirteen, only forty kilometres from the shield generator the Borg


were advancing towards.


"Recall the reinforcements heading to Sector Fifteen. Send in empty


dropships to evacuate all droids in sector fifteen and re-form at the secondary


position in Sector Thirteen. Stormtrooper regiments BL-2345 and XU-4193 are to


reinforce the Army regiment at that position."


A subordinate looked questioningly at him, but it was not in the nature of


Imperial army officers to question orders. Madine knew that would leave two


other shield generators without their last-ditch defences. Well, he thought, the


droids forming the outer perimeter in those areas would just have to hold their


lines. At least it would take the Borg drones several hours of walking to reach


that position. A small reprieve. He glanced at the ceiling, wondering what was


happening in the space around the planet.

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A fanfic by Michael January






"All Federation ships are clear."


"Communications. Set up two battle channels. Designate Federation ships


blue, Imperial ships green. Navigation, transmit jump co-ordinates on blue


channel. All ships, stand by for mark. Mark!"


The Imperial flickered out of sight, leaving the forty odd Federation


vessels in deep space. Seconds later the Federation fleet engaged warp drive and


streaked towards the nearby star where the Imperial ships were already closing


with the fifteen Borg cubes blockading Candar V.






On the bridge of the SSD Aggressor Admiral Xris calmly issued orders to


his fleet. His officers were unaware of his inner turmoil. This battle was


crucial to the survival of his new found status in this galaxy. He could not


afford to lose an entire planet to the Borg, nor could he afford for any


Imperial technology to fall into Borg hands. On the other hand, he couldn't


afford to lose any ships either.


The fifteen cubes were loosely spread around the planet in an enclosing


formation. Two cubes broke away from the planet and headed towards the newly


arrived Imperial fleet.


A triad of Imperators moved forward and opened fire on one of the cubes,


but made only a minimal impression on it's shields. The second cube was heading


directly towards the SSD Aggressor, which was keeping back from the frontline of


the duelling ships.


"Triad two engage cube one with ion cannons. All ships launch TIE Bombers


and Gunboats. Fighters are irrelevant and are not to be used. Co-ordinate


bombing runs for squadron level torpedo salvoes. Remaining escorts engage cube


two with ion cannons. Aggressor prepare for full power dorsal broadside on my




Xris watched as the approaching cube was brought into their primary firing


cone and the range closed. A myriad of blue streaks were ripping into the flank


of the three kilometer cubed monstrosity approaching. Electrical discharges


flickered across all it's faces, but the vessel came on undeterred.


"Fire!" Xris ordered.


The seventeen kilometer long ship actually shuddered as several thousand


turbolaser emplacements simultaneously fired at maximum firepower, totally


shredding the approaching cube. Somehow, the cube still retained it's cohesion,


even though most of it had been reduced to molten slag and large chunks were


spinning away. In places large holes had been drilled clean through to the other


side of the ship. Two lancers moved in firing a salvo of concussion missiles


into the wreck. Eight multi-megaton nuclear detonations deep inside the mass of


molten metal totally vapourised the wreck, making sure that there was no chance


for it to repair itself.


On his tactical display Xris noted that the first cube was still managing


to return fire, even though it was now the sole focus of the fury of six


Imperators. It's entire outer surface was one mess of wrecked tubing and


incandescent metal vapour, but the damage was disappearing as fast it was being


inflicted. A wing of gunboats swept in towards the battle at high speed, firing


several volleys of torpedoes. Several torpedoes smacked directly into the hull,


burying themselves deep inside the ship before detonating. The detonations did


minimal damage, the torpedoes being designed primarily to do pinpoint damage to


external or hull-mounted structures rather than as ship-killers, but the sight


caught Xris's attention.


"Order all bombers and gunboats to program the missiles for impact


detonation only. No proximity detonations. Their shields are optimised for


energy re-direction, not physical deflection."


Ironically, the bombers and gunboats were doing more damage to the cube


than the six Imperator's beating on it. The problem was that the cube was just


too massive for the damage to be really significant.


"Two more cubes approaching, sir."


On the tactical display, two cubes had broken off from the blockade and


were also now on an intercept bearing with the Super Star Destroyer.


"Allegiance-class ships to target cube one, I want it taken down now. The


Giel is to intercept those two cubes. Launch all fighters with full proton


torpedo loads. Tactical mode is squadron-level torpedo salvoes. Move us further


away from the planet. The Aggressor will serve as docking platform for bombers


and fighters."


The twelve kilometer long battleship Giel accelerated away from the main


formation, placing itself between the Aggressor and the two incoming cubes. To


the right of the main formation, the four allegiance-class cruisers moved to


support the six Imperators pinning down the first cube. Three of the Imperators


were already backing away, their shields flickering wildly. Squadron after


squadron of TIEs slashed across the face of the cube, sending multiple barrages


of torpedoes into it's bulk. The tiny torpedoes were doing damage though,


destroying tractor beam emitters as fast as the cube could repair or rebuild




"Damage level climbing. Estimate cube destruction within forty seconds."


Not fast enough, Xris thought, as the Giel engaged the two fresh cubes by


firing a broadside powerful enough to rip a continent sized chunk off a planet


into the closest of the two, obliterating it from existence. It would be nearly


a full minute before the Giel would be able to power up it's guns for another


broadside of that level. In the meanwhile it peppered the second cube with it's


light laser-cannons as it attempted to power past in a curved trajectory. The


cube, recognising the vulnerability of the immense battleship changed direction


and closed in, locking on to it's immense shields with multiple tractor beams.


"Fighter Command," Xris ordered, "re-task fighter priority to destroy all


tractor beam emitters on the cube designated Delta. Leave cube alpha to the


destroyers. ETA for Picard's force?"


"Two minutes." A mid-range com-scan operator called.


"Fighter Command?"


"Twelve squadrons coming in for re-supply. All landing bays fully occupied


with re-fuelling and re-loading. They'll be done in two minutes."


"Cube alpha at twenty percent operational efficiency. Fifteen seconds to


total destruction."


"Order the Imperators to withdraw 0.1 light years and re-charge shields.


Allegiance-class to support the Giel."


The Giel's shields were already down to less than thirty percent as the


first squadron of bombers swarmed the cube, ripping away at it's offensive


mountings. Given a temporary reprieve, the Giel started rotating on it's


longitudinal axis, bringing the cube into optimum position for a dorsal




"Fighters clear of cube delta, Now!"


Seconds later the cube ceased to exist as the Giel finally completed


charging it's weapons for a second broadside and let loose it's main guns. Over


the planet below, all eleven cubes remaining were moving. Even with the combined


firepower of the Aggressor and Giel, they couldn't hope to take down that many


cubes. The Giel's main guns were still far from fully charged, and it's shields


were still only at forty percent.


"All ships, close with the Aggressor. Get those fighters loaded and


launched. Those cubes will be here in less than a minute. Fighters to assemble


at grid reference two eight by seven one by nine three. Hold off attack until


the cubes have cleared the planet. Communications, limit all comms to channel


green. All ships, stand by for jump as soon as the Federation ships have engaged


the enemy. Fighters will remain and support the Federation ships. Aggressor


prepare for a dorsal broadside on lead cube."


As the Imperial formation tightened up around the Aggressor, the Borg


cubes came in on a direct frontal approach. The fastest of the Federation


starships had just entered the outer limits of the system and were moving to


flanking positions on the cubes.








"Randomise shield frequencies. All weapons free, target the closest cube.


Fire at will." Picard ordered as the Enterprise dropped out of warp. It would be


a wild free for all until the slower starships arrived, then they might try a


few co-ordinated attacks. His view-screen was suddenly awash with static as an


immense disturbance briefly blacked out his ship's sensors. Through the static


he saw the massive Imperial flagship unleash a storm of fire in a concentrated


burst at the lead cube. A glance at the instrument panel of his tactical officer


told him the power level was beyond the ability of the sensors to measure. The


cube's shields were smashed aside and huge chunks of armour easily hundreds of


meters across were ripped from it. The broadside was followed moments later by


smaller broadsides from the Imperial escort vessels, ruthlessly ensuring the


destruction of the cube. Then the Imperial ships flickered into hyperspace.


"They've gone!" Riker shouted.


"Full evasive maneuvres!" Picard called as the ten remaining cubes turned


on the small group of Federation starships. He gripped his armrest with ice-cold


fingers. The last time he had engaged a Borg cube he'd had more than forty


Federation starships in support and the battle had been a close call. Now the


Imperials had left him to face ten cubes with even fewer starships in support.


The thirty odd starships weaved blindly through the Borg formation, firing


furiously at any target which presented itself. Their spattered uselessly


against the adaptive shields of the cubes. The Borg shields adapted to their


weapons as fast as they could modulate weapon frequencies. Only two thoughts


came to Picard's mind. Survival, and the fact that the Imperials had sold out


his ships to buy themselves some time. His vision blurred with the force of his


fury, then an unrecognised voice broke the train of his thoughts.


"What was that?" he asked. "repeat that message?"


"Red leader to Captain Picard. What are your orders?"


"Wil?" Picard asked.


"I have approximately six hundred Imperial fighters of various


designations standing by four hundred thousand kilometres away." Riker answered,


a glimmer of relief in his voice. Perhaps they had not been totally abandoned.


"Red leader, stand by." Picard said, surging out of his seat. He took two


long strides to Data's console, pushing the android aside as he typed furiously


at the console. His mind was awash with recollections from his time as part of


the Borg collective, and he recalled how the linked bursts of tiny proton


missiles fired from Imperial fighters had troubled Federation starships in


previous engagements. The glimmerings of an idea started coalescing.


"Red leader. I am transmitting an energy signature to you. Can your


fighters locate this energy pattern on the Borg cubes and target the centre of


the pattern." He asked, taking care to speak slowly and clearly so that there


could be no mistake.


"That's a roger. Energy pattern locked into targeting computers. What is


it, Enterprise?"


"The pattern represents the power conduits feeding the Borg shield


projectors. The projector is at the centre of the pattern, approximately seventy


meters below the surface of the cube. Several linked bursts of proton torpedoes


should be able to penetrate seventy meters into a cube's outer armour and take


down the shield projector. It will be several seconds before the cube will be


able to repair or replace the generator. That will give our ships a chance to


fire through the shield gap. It's the only way we stand a chance of damaging




"Transmitting energy pattern to all fighters. Targeting solutions locked


in. We're on our way, Enterprise."


"Wil. Bring us around on to attack vector of those fighters. Data, monitor


all Borg shield projectors you can locate. The moment one goes down transmit co-


ordinates to all ships. In the meanwhile, conserve weapon energy."


The Federation ships pulled out of the Borg formation in a hard turn as a


galaxy-class spun out of control for several seconds, a huge chunk missing from


it's saucer section. The galaxy-class regained control and broke away before it


took more damage though. An Akira cork-screwed into position ahead of a squadron


of tiny TIE bombers and used it's bulk to protect them from a storm of blue


plasma bolts fired from a nearby cube. The plasma bolts spattered harmlessly


against it's shields, and it pulled up sharply allowing the bombers to sweep by


and launch a double volley of torpedoes into the cube's closest face.


The small Imperial torpedoes smacked directly into the cube's hull, their


small proton scattering warheads ripping holes into the dense outer armour.


Several slower concussion missiles buried themselves into the breach and


detonated below the armour, gouging a hole nearly eighty meters deep into the


cube face. The damage was nearly insignificant, merely a scratch on the immense


cube, but the Akira detected the sudden loss of shields over a large portion of


the cube-face. It fired a full salvo of four photon torpedoes programmed for


impact detonation into the shield-breach. When the nuclear flash from the anti-


matter warheads cleared, the cube was rolling lazily end over end, a crater one


kilometer deep and two kilometres across ripped out of one cube-face.


Like hyena closing in on a sick elephant the Federation starships darted


in, launching volley after volley of photon and quantum torpedoes into the


stricken cube. The remaining squadrons of Imperial fighters swarmed over the


other nine cubes, like angry bees around a grizzly bear, not inflicting any real


damage but distracting them sufficiently for the Federation ships to get clear.


Twice more the same tactic was repeated, a Federation starship using it's


bulk and agility to allow a squadron or two of bombers to get sufficiently close


to a cube and take out it's shield generators before a second wave of starships


came in firing torpedoes into the shield-breach.


Finally recognising the snubfighters and TIE bombers as the real threat


the Borg were ready when the fourth cube was singled out. The Akira leading the


strike force was snagged by several tractor beams and ripped apart by several


disruptor beams, while a second cube fired plasma bolts from a divergent angle


and decimated the TIE bomber formation before they could launch their proton


torpedoes. The few torpedoes which were fired shattered uselessly against a


deflector shield several meters from the cube's hull.


Several dozen more fighters were lost as they belatedly realised that the


cubes had hastily constructed hundreds of additional plasma bolt launchers to


counter the threat of the agile fighters. For several minutes the Federation


starships and the Imperial fighters flailed uselessly at the new Borg shield




"All ships, clear the Borg formation, Now!" Xris's voice suddenly broke


through on all frequencies. The Imperial capital ship fleet were back, shields


and weapons fully charged.


Two of the seven remaining cubes were blown apart by respective broadsides


from the Aggressor and the Giel. Knowing that the massive ships would need close


to a minute to recharge their weapons for a repeat of the broadside the five


remaining cubes moved in quickly towards the Imperial formation. The Imperial


escort ships attempted to place themselves between the cubes and the two giant


warships but were ignored by the cubes. Several squadrons of fresh fighters


launched from the Aggressor screamed across the path of the approaching cubes


but their fire was ineffective against the new shield configurations. Several


were blown apart by a wall of plasma bolts.


Two of the cubes locked energy draining tractor beams onto the Aggressor


while the other three latched onto the Giel. Several fighter squadrons attempted


to knock out the tractor beam emitters but their fire was useless. All twenty


eight remaining Federation starships concentrated fire on one of the cubes,


forcing it to rotate a fresh cube-face on them and lose it's tractor lock on the


Giel. Their shields draining fast, the two massive warships were desperately


powering up their weapons for another broadside. An Imperator sailed directly


into the path of a tractor beam, breaking it's lock on the Aggressor, and fired


several torpedoes which detonated in the path of another tractor beam, filling


the surrounding space with trac-reflective particles. The tactic only worked for


a few seconds before the Borg ship shifted to another trac-frequency which


ignored the reflective particles.


The Aggressor finally let loose a second broadside at point-blank range,


ripping apart a cube with the sheer power of the energy unleashed. It's shields


now down to twenty five percent, the race was on as to whether it could manage a


third broadside before losing it's shields altogether to it's second attacker.


The Giel's heavier guns took a few more seconds to power up before it


could destroy one of the three cubes facing it. The two remaining cubes were


being peppered by all the remaining Imperators and Allegiance-class cruisers, as


well as the Federation starships, but to no avail.


"Forget the heavy guns," Xris ordered, "we don't have time to power them


up. Route all power into medium-sized batteries and laser-cannons. Randomise ion


cannon polarity. Order Federation ships to randomise their weapon frequencies.


Order all ships to hold fire till my mark. All ships target cube designated


Omega, fire only on my mark." Their only hope was to overwhelm the cube with


sheer weight of numbers, with each weapon firing at a different frequency.


"Launch missiles, hold, hold, fire!"


The targeted cube detonated with demonic fury under the combined onslaught


of photon torpedoes, quantum torpedoes, concussion and proton missiles, phasers,


turbolasers and ion cannons. Only the two cubes pinning down the Giel remained.


"Order the Imperators and Victories to protect the Giel at all costs."


Xris ordered after a momentary hesitation.


The small Imperial escort ships moved in, totally disregarding their own


safety, placing themselves physically between the two cubes and the twelve


kilometer long battleship. One of the cubes locked all tractor beams onto the


Stomper, ripping it's shields away in seconds in an awesome display of power,


blowing half it's own tractor beam emitters in the process. Immediately, the


Stomper was awash with a myriad transporter locks. Xris knew in that instant


that the allegiance-class cruiser was lost. He opened his mouth to order the


other ships to target the Stomper before the Borg could assimilate it, but the


order was unnecessary. The massive two kilometer long cruiser launched itself at


maximum acceleration at the closest cube.


On the comm.-board, a small figure appeared. The captain of the Stomper.


He was firing his hand-blaster wildly at an unseen target nearby. Turning


briefly to the holo-pickup, he hastily saluted.


"For the Empire!"


On the view-screen, Xris watched as the cruiser approached the cube and


suddenly flickered forward as somebody pulled the hyperspace levers. The cruiser


smashed into the three kilometer cube, it's entire forward half vapourising on


impact, the rest burying itself deep inside the cube before the ionisation


reactors detonated with the fury of a star being born. Seconds later the Giel


finally finished powering up it's heavy guns and blew the last cube to dust.






Captain Ulrich Stardrifter threw down his rifle in disgust, it's barrel


melted from continuous firing. Fat lot of good it had done him anyway. Glancing


around him, he saw the entire battle line in disarray. Army ground-pounders and


stormtroopers were falling back as fast as they could, firing as they went. A


squad of AT-ST's pounded forward, kicking hapless troopers and droids out of


their way as they fired into the mass of approaching drones. A group of Borg


drones reached the leading AT-ST, and it desperately tried to kick them loose


but was disintegrated by a massive green blast from a nearby AT-AT, which


obliterated the drones around it's feet as well. Stardrifter blinked hard, tears


running from his eyes as he fought to see through the glare of the detonation.


He jumped over a shattered military droid, and ducked as an S-10 opened


fire over his head. Darting between it's legs he spotted an abandoned E-web,


it's two crewers lying dead around it's tripod mounting. He sprinted to the


weapon and lifted it off it's mountings. Bracing his legs, he pointed it


squarely at a drone less than ten meters away and fired. The drone rocked


backwards, then kept coming. He fired again and again, each time rocking the


drone, until it's shields eventually gave way and the E-web ripped it's torso


apart in an explosion of burnt flesh and molten metal.


"Fall back!" He screamed into his helmet mike.


Bracing the heavy rifle across his shoulders, he stumbled towards an


armoured landspeeder nearby, it's crew laying down covering fire with a heavy


repeating blaster. He dumped the E-web over it's, and clambered aboard. Two more


troopers threw themselves bodily onto the speeder before it accelerated away,


smashing aside a drone that managed to get in the way. Stardrifter grabbed a


handrail and steadied himself as he stood up. Most of his men had gotten away,


with the droids fighting a holding action. Several AT-ST's were running


alongside the landspeeder, firing backwards as they ran. They were heading


towards the shield generator itself, where a group of six AT-ATs were formed up


in a line firing recklessly into what was left of the defensive position.


A number of small explosions rattled the landspeeder. He didn't have to


look to know what it was. Somebody must have activated the self-destruct on the


military droids, shredding the front line of the Borg advance and incidentally


killing any troopers who hadn't managed to fall back in time. Seconds later the


landspeeders pulled to a halt beneath the AT-ATs. They would have about six


minutes before the Borg drones got this far. He picked up the discarded E-web


blaster and chucked it overboard, clambering afterwards. As he walked beneath


one of the AT-ATs, he felt a wave of heat from it's chin-mounted laser-cannons.


It wouldn't be long before they overheated from continuous firing.


He didn't have to give his men any orders. They were running around


finding whatever cover they could and sighting their weapons on the approaching


horde. Many had discarded their blaster rifles and were either lugging E-webs or


manning light artillery pieces. Stardrifter pushed his way into the shield


generator building and climbed several levels of stairs to one of the top story


windows. He pushed it open, and rested the barrel of the E-web on the window


sill. The Borg drones were only one kilometer away, and advancing steadily. They


hadn't even dented the numbers. There must be thousands of them, he thought.


He waited. For the E-web to be effective at all, they would have to get


much closer. For the moment, only the AT-ATs and repulsor-tanks were firing.


Even the AT-STs held their fire. It would be useless at this range against the


shielded drones.


"We're gonna die, ain't we."


Stardrifter turned to see who had spoken. A technician, one of the shield


generator crew most likely. He was staring wide-eyed at the approaching horde.


"I hope so." He said evenly.


"What do you mean?" The tech asked, suspiciously.


"Better to die than to be turned into one of those." Stardrifter nodded


towards the oncoming drones.


"Oh shit." The techie said.


Oh no, Stardrifter thought, he's gonna psych out on me. He watched the


techie with baited breath waiting for the youngster to burst into tears or




"Where can I get one of those?" The techie finally said.


"Not any more laying around," Stardrifter answered, "I'll show you how to


work this one though. If anything happens to me, you can take over."


"Show me." The techie said, and came to kneel next to him.


"Good man."






Colonel Madine was too busy to take notice of the inexperienced


communications operator. The Borg were advancing on several fronts, forcing him


to commit all his troops to defensive operations all over the planet. He had no


troops to spare to send to Shield Generator Twelve. Barring a miracle, the


generator would be overrun in minutes. Only a handful of AT-ATs, repulsor-tanks


and three depleted regiments of troops were left to fight a last ditch effort at


the site of the Generator itself. He considered evacuating the lot and


abandoning the Generator but discarded the idea. It was too late for that. By


the time he got them out, the generator would be compromised and his dropships


wouldn't be able to clear the shield coverage area before they were being fired


upon by the orbiting cubes.


"Sir!" A voice that had been bothering him for several seconds finally


became too insistent to ignore.




"Admiral Xris is ordering you to lower all shields."


"What?" he repeated.


"The Borg cubes have been destroyed. Admiral Xris is in orbit. He is


ordering you to lower shields now."


"Thank God. Lower shields."








Stardrifter carefully sighted along the barrel, lined up a drone, and


squeezed the trigger. The E-web bucked against his shoulder as several bolts


smashed into the drone. It staggered, but remained standing. He calmly squeezed


off several more shots, until the drone dropped. A series of large explosions


ripped through the Borg frontlines as the last line of landmines were activated.


A few hundred drones were ripped apart, but the rest came on. He lined up


another drone in his sights, subconsciously noting that the techie was no longer


next to him. Probably gone to pee his pants, he thought. He let off a three


round burst, another, another, and another. Finally the drone dropped. Something


was bothering him. He stopped for a second, something was wrong. The subliminal


vibration of the power shield projector was dying down.


"What the fuck .." he started, and abandoned the heavy E-web. Running into


the main control room he spotted the techie hastily turning dials and pulling




"What are you doing?" He screamed.


"Didn't you hear the orders man, the fleet is here, we've got to power


down the generator."


"What do I need to do?" he asked.


"Just keep the damn Borg outta here."




He ran back to his firing position. He knelt down just as a massive green


tower shot down into the rear of the approaching horde of drones. He turned his


head away and closed his eyes as a massive blast ripped through the Borg lines.


As he looked up again he was just in time to see an incredible sight. The ground


was heaving like water in a pond as a ripple shot across the surface. In the


half second before the expanding blast wave hit the building he saw the ground


behind the approaching wave turn orange as it was almost instantly liquefied by


the heat of the turbolaser blast. Then he was slammed into the ground as the


shockwave ripped through the building, knocking even the massive AT-ATs over and


smashing the repulsor-tanks like bugs into the ground.


His eyes snapped open. Dust motes drifted lazily through the air in front


of him in an unreal dance. It was so quiet. He pushed himself to his feet,


brushing dust off his body armour. Faint sounds came to him now. As he stepped


out of the building, amazed that it still stood, he saw other soldiers


staggering to their feet here and there. One AT-AT was still standing, and it


fired a single shot into the distance. It's head slowly swivelled from side to


side, like an animal sniffing the air. It fired a second shot.


In the distance, a still glowing crystalline lake marked the position of


the turbolaser strike. At the periphery of the glowing ground a few drones


attempting to rise to their feet, many sporting ripped apart limbs, or half


molten bodies. Around him, Stardrifter saw that many of the army groundpounders


had also suffered major burns. The stormtroopers with their body armour had come


off rather better, but many lay unmoving on the ground. He staggered forward,


picked up a heavy repeating blaster rifle, and moved towards the Borg frontlines


to mop up what he could.

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