Jump to content
News Ticker
  • IPB version 4.2 installed!
Sign in to follow this  

ISD Eliminator: Part I: Mercenary

Recommended Posts

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.
















It is a dark time for the Rebellion.




Although the Death Star has been destroyed,


Imperial troops have driven the Rebel forces


from their hidden base and pursued them


across the galaxy.




Evading the dreaded Imperial Starfleet,


a group of freedom fighters led by Luke Skywalker


has established a new secret base


on the remote ice world of Hoth.




The evil lord Darth Vader,


obsessed with finding young Skywalker,


has dispatched thousands of remote probes


into the far reaches of space...










The Imperator-class Star Destroyer Eliminator was gliding


silently amongst the stars. More a mobile space-station and shipyard


than a warship, it was a world unto itself. A small shape, almost


invisible against it's bulk, dropped out of the forward hangar, and


after a second or two of maneuvering, flashed into hyperspace. A


probe-droid. Then another, and another.


The captain of the Eliminator, Willum Issard, didn't expect to


find much. This particular sector of the galaxy had been explored a


few hundred years ago by the Old Republic, and turned up nothing


except a few primitive cultures. Eventually, some corporation or other


would move in and harvest it's resources, but with an entire galaxy to


choose from, this sector might still be long overlooked. It was too


far outside the galaxy proper, barely qualifying as Outer Rim.


While it was conceivable that the rebels might have


established a base so far outside the Galactic Empire, it was not at


all practical. Still, Lord Vader had insisted, and no sane captain


would consider disobeying orders. The galaxy proper was far behind


them, with only a few scattered stars here and there. As the hours


crept by, the Imperator received one report after another, most of


which were filed in the computer's star-charts, but nothing worth


reporting to the human controllers. Eventually, all the droids had


reported in, and the first were already returning to the ISD. Except


for one.


"Sir. We appear to have an anomaly. Probe 17, heading towards


A5E-7241, has failed to report in."


"Maintenance check?"


"It was fully serviced before launch and all diagnostics,


internal and external, checked out. It could not have malfunctioned."


"We will wait for the other droids to return. If it hasn't


reported in by then, we'll investigate further."


"Yes, Sir."






Seven hours later, all droids had returned, but no word yet


from the missing droid.


"Shall we despatch another droid to A5E-7241, Sir?"


Issard checked the bridge chronomoter. Lord Vader was not the


type to be kept waiting, and neither would he accept an incomplete


report. Worse, if the droid had been destroyed by rebels, they might


already be packing. The last thing he wanted to do was call Lord Vader


to a recently vacated base.


"No. We don't have time. We will investigate ourselves. Set


course for A5E-7241."


"Yes, Sir."


To an external observer, the Imperator appeared to hesitate in


it's majestic course like a diver catching his breath before the jump.


Then it was gone. Human eyes would not have been able to register the


sudden acceleration, launching the immense mobile space station


towards the light-speed barrier in fractions of a second. However, an


observer in the right place, diametrically behind the ISD, would have


noticed an apparent rotation of the starfield just as the ISD




Captain Issard stood at ease, staring out of the viewport,


observing the static of hyperspace. The static was in fact light from


nearby stars, nebulae and clusters. The light, which happened to pass


through the real-space location of the ISD and enter it's reality the


only clue to their existence. If the ISD travelled much slower, they


might actually be able to discern meaning from this static, recognise


certain clusters, and attach names to them.


Issard's feet were spread, his hands behind his back. If his


eyes had been closed he might not even have noticed the transition to


hyperspace, so finely tuned were his ship's engines. He would have


expected nothing less from any engineer that had graduated from the


Imperial Academy. His ship was at full military spec, and that was the


way it should be. The last thing he expected was to be thrown to the




He lay stunned for several seconds, surrounded by cries of


pain and fright. Glancing at the view-screen, he saw the starfield


whirling in a lazy circle. They had been knocked out of hyperspace,


and were out of control, only the alluvial dampeners making the decks


appear to be stable, while the stars whirled by in a disorienting


fashion. For a second he thought they might have hit an interdiction


field, but discounted it, the collision had been too strong. An


uncharted mass-shadow? Surely the safeties would have kicked in?.


Climbing to his feet, he started rattling off orders. In short


order, the ship was on an even keel, and a few injured crew-men had


been dispatched to sick-bay. Damage reports indicated nothing serious.


They could handle the repairs themselves.


"Okay, now what was that?"


"We haven't been able to establish that yet, Sir."


The navigator looked uncomfortable.


"Well, out with it?"


"Sir, have you had a look through the viewing ports yet?"


Issard stared at the controller. Suppressing his anger, he


glanced to one side. Stars. Clusters. Nebulae. Nothing significant. He


glanced at the visible portion of the hull, nothing there either.


Beginning to wonder if the navigator was thinking him stupid, he


looked at the stars again. Nothing unusual, but no star-formations he


was familiar with, which wasn't altogether unusual, them being so far


outside the galaxy proper.


He stopped. He blinked. There shouldn't be so many stars if


they were outside the galaxy. Ignoring the systems operator, he


stepped over to the view-port. They had to be inside the galaxy, not


outside of it. He glanced over the nebulae. Nothing familiar. Nothing


at all.


"Where are we?"


"We haven't been able to establish that yet, Sir."


"Can you at least establish in which quadrant we are?"


"Sir, according to the computer. This isn't our galaxy."


Issard stood still for a long second.


"Can you be sure?" He asked, not really expecting a helpful




"Sub-space and hyper-wave scans have mapped out a sphere


extending for one hundred light-years. The astro-chart for the sphere


does not equate to any part of our galaxy, and our galactic charts are




"Have you been able to locate other galaxies outside of this




"Radio and Microwave analysis have located several galaxies,


none of which match spectral signatures of galaxies commonly used for


navigational purposes."


"And this galaxy?"


"Sub-space and hyper-wave scans are accurate for navigational


data to one hundred light-years, beyond that we are using the


electro-magnetic scanners, although the data is obviously


proportionately old. However, statistically they should be better than


99% accurate, unless one of those stars have gone nova in the last few


hundred years."


"Very well, if we make a hyper-jump, it will be nothing more


than one hundred light-years, then a re-scan."


"Yes, sir."


Issard glanced around the bridge. Everybody was looking at


him. Expecting him to get them home. The captain always knew best.


"Any theories as to how we got here?"


"The navi-comp's data appears to be the best, sir, but I am


not sure if we can believe it."


"I will be the judge of that. Transfer the relevant data to my




Issard sat down in his chair, and allowed it to settle him


into position, with his command displays wrapped around him, all


within arm's reach. The story that unfolded was spectacular.


The navicomp reported a glancing collision with an uncharted


hypermatter body, which had knocked out the time-correction effects of


the stasis field, and caused the ship's hyper-velocity to rocket into


uncontrollable realms. The stasis field could have been


instantaneously re-instated, but the navicomp had determined that it


would take fifty-four thousand years to decelerate the ship to


controllable velocities, and had therefore allowed the crew and the


rest of the ship to remain in full stasis for the entire time, until


it could decelerate the ship to controllable velocities, and end the




"We have been in hyperspace for fifty thousand years!"


"So it says, Sir."






Issard sat in a darkened room, alien stars his only company. He had


never thought of stars as alien before. They had always been


comforting to him, the knowledge that many of them were home to


friendly species, or at least, familiar species even if not exactly


friendly. He had known his place in them. He had belonged. Now, the


stars were alien.


It had been six hours since they had arrived, and his ship was


stationary in deep space. They were short of fuel, maybe only a few


months worth. The navi-comp had expended virtually their entire five


year reserve in a slow burn calculated to bring the ship back into


real-space while the crew was in stasis. His staff had concurred that


any other strategy on the part of the navi-comp would have seen them


stranded in hyperspace for eternity, or returned to real-space in


inter-galactic space, several thousand years later. At least this way,


they were alive, and in a galaxy, and had a chance of survival. There


was no way to get back home. Home was far, far away, and more than


fifty thousand years ago.


A soft noise behind him interrupted his reverie.


"Yes, Lieutenant Drake?"


"The probes have all reported in, sir."


The nineteen probes left to them had been dispatched to


investigate all G-type stars in a three hundred light year radius.


Probe droids were small, and required minimal hyperdrive fuel. The


huge Imperator class destroyer was a guzzler by comparison.




"No signs of life sir, not sentient anyway. Chief Bast is


analysing the geological data returned by the droids, and we have


found a likely base. A planet well within galactic standards, fairly


rich in most of the minerals we need, with several more planets in the


same system which can be mined."




"Yes, sir. Of course, there is no nearby source of blaster


gas, but we have lots of that. It's only fuel we are short of. A


nebula four hundred light years away has a spectra indicative of the


presence of Tibanna, and we have tentatively identified a cluster of


stars six hundred light years away that might include a block hole.


Radio and microwave spectra is certainly indicative of a gravitational


anomaly consistent with a black hole."


"Wait for all the probes to return, then set the most


economical hyperspace course to this system. Once our base is


established, Chief Bast can take a shuttle to investigate the nebula


and the black hole."


"Aye sir."


An Imperator was more than just a warship. Though small by


Imperial or even Old Republic standards, at only 1.6km long, it was


more heavily armed than many an Old Republic battle-cruiser up to


eight kilometers long. It was easily more heavily armoured, better


shielded, and could outgun dozens of ship types up to five times it's


size. Furthermore, it was a fully equipped repair and manufacturing


facility, a veritable mobile shipyard, able to service and or repair


virtually any other ship smaller than itself. It was a complete


self-contained city, with a population of thirty seven thousand


citizens, plus a standing army of ten thousand highly trained and


superbly equipped individuals.


Every crew-member on an ISD was a specialist in some field or


other, and often several fields. The gunners, pilots, navigators,


helmsmen, soldiers and officers were backed up by technicians and


engineers of every ilk, covering every discipline from astro-mech to


civil engineering, including materials engineering, electronics and


positronics, cybernetics, droid mechanics, and a host of others.


Issard's first task was to ensure the long-term viability of


survival of the ship and crew. In the short term, all their needs


would be met by the ship itself. In the long term though, they would


need fuel, energy, food and metals. Once these were secured, they


could plan their next step. The absence of any signs of sentient life


so far in the three hundred light year radius they had explored


indicated that this galaxy was either barren (which was highly


unlikely), or at the least was not dominated by a trans-galactic


civilisation. Such a civilisation would have left signs of it's








The conference room was full of concerned looking men and women.


Issard was gratified to see that none of them showed any outward sign


of despair. The Empire had recruited well and trained better than he


had hoped for.


"Chief Engineer Bast. Your report."


"It will take three days to transfer the entire non-essential


engineering bay facilities to the planet. These facilities are not


ideally suited to the task at hand, but will suffice. We can then


modify droids as necessary to accomplish mining or construction tasks


for us, and the materials can be processed on the surface in the


transferred engineering bay. The initial rate of production will be


mind-numbingly slow, but over the next six months, we will be able to


manufacture additional droids, thus accelerating the operation


progressively. In three years, the facility will be comparable to any


small operation in the Empire. Nothing like Coruscant, Kuat or


Corellia or even New Cov, but certainly better developed than a dump


like Tatooine."


"Why transfer the facilities to the planet. Won't we need them




"In the normal course of duties yes. But not having to contend


with standard Imperial fleet duties such as sector patrols, pirate


hunting, and the maintenance that generates, the load on the


engineering bay will be drastically reduced. Secondly, having them on


the planet means less energy expenditure, because of fewer shuttle


trips to orbit and back."


"Talking about energy?"


"I have a shuttle deploying multiple solar-reflector dishes in


close proximity to the sun. They will provide several thousand square


kilometers worth of solar-conversion energy, which will be relayed


back here by microwave link. This should be more than sufficient for


all planetary operations and more. The ship's onboard systems is


already manufacturing additional power cells to store the energy. The


black hole checked out. A probe I dispatched reported a reasonably


sized black hole. I have already given orders for two Lambda-class


shuttles to be equipped with a team of astro-mech droids. The droids


will assemble a full power extraction facility. Once complete, it


should produce fissionable hypermatter at the rate of 400kg per day."


"Four hundred kilograms per day! That is insignificant. This


ship will burn that just to complete a single jump. It may be enough


for probes, TIEs and shuttles, but certainly not for a Star




"Yes, sir. I know. Even so, it will take our entire reserve


supply of materials and parts to assemble the facility. After that, we


will be totally reliant on what we can extract and manufacture on the


planet below, and it will be three to four years before we can hope to


build a second facility. Even the second facility will be a small




Issard hadn't really expected to hear different anyway. Back


home, a Star Destroyer had the full backing of a galaxy wide


industrial base. As self-sufficient as it was, nobody had ever


expected that self-sufficiency to be total. He couldn't imagine any


real need for the Star Destroyer anyway. Perhaps they were better off


just using it as an orbital space station.


"Is there any way we can accelerate your production curves,




"Minerals. Alloys. Our engineering and manufacturing


facilities will be totally under-utilised for a year to come at least,


because we just don't have enough minerals, or ready processed alloys,


and cannot hope to mine and refine them fast enough until we can


manufacture more droids."


"The only way we can get such minerals would be to find an


industrialised world we can raid, or a species we can trade with,


except we don't have anything to trade."


"Sir," somebody piped up, "permission to speak freely."




"We could sell our skills or technology, if we find an


industrialised species."


"Ridiculous. Our technology is not for sale." Issard addressed


the room as a whole. "We don't know if there are hostiles out there,


and our technology and this ship may be our only defence. We certainly


don't have the resources to rebuild should this planet be destroyed. I


don't know how soon we can do it, but one of our priorities should be


to establish an alternate base. I also don't want our location


revealed to anyone, and all probes, communications, and transports


must be done in such a manner as to maintain the secrecy of this base.


"Further discussion on this however will be deferred until


such time as we have discovered a sentient species, and evaluated


their comparative abilities. If they are too primitive, they will be


useless to us, and if they are too advanced, they will be a danger to


us. There are just too many variables at this stage."


"Sir, if I may speak on another matter?"


"Go ahead."


"Some of the men sir, feel that we should abandon the ship,


and set up on the planet. After all sir, for all we know, the Empire


doesn't exist any more. It has been fifty thousand years."


"I understand. However, until we are absolutely secure, we


cannot take that risk. Certainly small detachments of men will be


assigned planet-side duties, but until we can be sure of our security,


discipline will be strictly enforced. Our very survival may depend on








Three months later a probe droid investigating a G-type system about


two thousand light years away reported something interesting. It had


detected an unnatural tone on it's sub-space communications receptors.


The tone was weak, almost lost in the background static, but steady.


And it was moving relative to the probe. A second probe was dispatched


to the area, and in minutes, they had triangulated the source of the


sub-space noise. The source was several light-years away from the


probe's position, and moving at close to eight hundred times the speed


of light, or about a tenth of a light year per hour.


Issard immediately noticed the flurry of activity on what had


become a very quiet, almost dead, bridge. Suppressing his own


excitement, he calmly waited for his first officer's report.


"Sir. Our long range probes are tracking a sub-space


disturbance at 000 mark 17 mark 2128. It is moving at a speed


estimated at 0.091 light years per hour."


2128 light years away, and 17 light years above the plane of


their base system.


"Heading this way?"


"No sir. It's track suggests an origin at a G-type star 2200


light years away, with another G-type star in the same area as a


likely destination."


"An interstellar craft? A slow one, to be sure, but what else


can it be?"


"Sir. The consensus seems to be that it is an interstellar




Issard considered his fuel situation. It was twenty hours away


by hyperspace, negligible fuel for a shuttle, but close to two percent


of his Destroyer's current fuel load. If he took a shuttle and the


aliens were hostile, he might just be in trouble. If he took the


Destroyer, and incurred loss or damage, the consequences could be




"Set a course for the co-ordinates of the probes, cruising




"Aye, Sir."


They could have made the journey in twenty hours or less, but


at cruising speed, it took them four days. It was their first


hyperspace jump in three months, and would reduce their depleted fuel


supply by at least 0.5%. That was a week's worth of fuel being


manufactured by the hypermatter facility extracting energy from the


black hole. The excitement on the ship was palpable. The last three


months had been uneventful, even if filled with long hours of hard


work. The base on the planet they had named New Coruscant was taking


shape very well, and a substantial portion of the ship's non essential


complement was now housed planet-side. Issard had also given


permission for the regulations regarding use of contraceptives amongst


the crew to be slackened, with the result that a number of the females


were pregnant. Thirty seven thousand people were more than enough


stock with which to populate a planet, except that less than ten


percent of the crew were women. He had given orders though that eighty


percent of conceptions be female, until the balance was redressed.


The operating complement of the Star Destroyer had been


reduced to eighteen thousand, including only three thousand soldiers,


a handful of engineers and a double-shift of technicians, gunners, and


maintenance staff.






Issard ordered the probes to track the suspected starship to the


G-type star it was apparently heading towards, and to do this from


extreme range. They were to take every measure (short of


self-destruction) to prevent their own detection and/or capture. On


arriving at their destination, a quick low-powered hyperwave-pulse


initiated the probe's report. The disturbance was still being tracked,


and would arrive at the targeted g-type star in another four days. In


the meanwhile, the Eliminator was powered down to lower it's sensor


profile. Issard arranged for a fuel shuttle from the hypermatter


facility to meet him here with whatever fuel was available. That would


restore their supply to it's original level.


Sub-space scans were likely to give their position away, but


long-range passive electromagnetic analysis of the g-type star had


revealed an eight planet star system, and after two days of


monitoring, the orbits of the planets were established with enough


accuracy to project their current positions and allow a probe to be


inserted into orbit of one of the outer planets. The probe was


inserted by means of a sensor-stealthed covert jump, it's outer


surface riddled with jamming nodes which would create an illusion of


an asteroid if the probe was scanned.


A few hours later, the probe, finding itself still


operational, and not having been scanned, gradually powered up one


system after another, and began to assemble a more accurate picture of


the system. The data was transmitted back to the Eliminator by a


low-power sub-space directional antennae. The Eliminator was at the


extreme range of twenty light years from the probe. The signal would


be undetectable more than a few seconds of arc outside of the primary


vector of the directional antennae.


Issard watched the tactical holo-board as the data was


assembled into a picture of the system. Low population, humanoid but


not human, maybe a few million on the second planet of the system, no


installations elsewhere in the star system. High concentrations of


refined minerals and medium-grade alloys indicated an industrialised


planet, with several high tech industries and small stockpiles of


materials. More than sufficient for his needs. Energy readings were


sufficiently concentrated and powerful enough to suggest an


inter-stellar capable culture, reinforcing the theory that the


disturbance heading to this system was a starship. The disturbance


itself was now only a quarter of a light year away, and would arrive


in another 2.74 hours. Issard had given orders that the target not be


scanned. He decided to wait for it's arrival.






The Klingon freighter progressively slowed down as it crossed the star


system, and finally settled into orbit over K'vort II. As soon as


landing clearance was authorised, it fired it's maneuvring thrusters,


breaking orbit, and dropped into the atmosphere below. Careful


application of maneuvring thrusters and impulse drive brought it down


to the landing field only a few kilometers away from the industrial


centre of this colony. The field was a permacrete expanse stretching


for two kilometers in all directions, the monotony of the permacrete


broken by a handful of other freighters.


A sled was already being dragged towards the freighter,


carrying the first load of several tons of ready refined alloys.


Alongside the concrete expanse, a number of huge warehouses formed an


artificial horizon. Beyond these warehouses were the industrial areas


and the city itself. The mountains which could be seen peeking over


the warehouses in the distance were rich in high-grade minerals, and


were riddled with mines. The planet was one of the foremost suppliers


of materials for the Klingon ship-building programmes.


The sled never made it to the freighter. A blast from a light


turbolaser cannon smashed through the unsuspecting freighter, into the


concrete surface of the landing area, and penetrated several hundred


meters into the bedrock beneath the concrete. The blast was comparable


in power to a medium sized atomic bomb, except that the energy was


focussed almost entirely along the path of the beam. The rock and


concrete in close proximity to the blast was vaporised, and a wave of


energy flashed outwards from the impact point, instantly melting the


concrete and bedrock for several dozen meters all around the impact


point. The supersonic shockwave of heat and energy was almost


immediately converted into an immense seismic shock wave which swept


across the landing area, tossing ships, equipment and workers into the


air, flattening nearby buildings, and rocking the warehouses in the




Several more blasts of raw energy smashed into nearby ships,


feeding a roiling mass of flame and superheated air following the


seismic shockwaves sweeping towards the nearby settlement, consuming


everything in it's path. Other freighters which had hatches open were


badly damaged as air was sucked out of them along with their crews and


loose equipment. The hulls survived, being made of stuff sterner than


mere flesh and bone, or rock. Had the hulls been sealed, it was quite


possible that the crews would have survived as well.


People in the city several kilometers away were knocked to the


ground, several buildings collapsed, windows were shattered, and


lesser structures imploded as air was sucked out of the area to feed


the wall of flame sweeping across the landing area. Klingons were


sturdy folk, had they been as fragile as humans, many would have died


of concussion, or suffocated due to the sudden lack of oxygen.


The mass of flame and heat rose up into the air in a typical


mushroom cloud formation. If anyone had the time to look to the


distant hills they would have seen several more mushrooms in the


distance, where outlying installations had been struck. People further


from the blast area, who hadn't been blinded by the initial flashes,


were witness to dozens of strange craft punching through the rising


mushroom clouds of flame. The ships opened fire on the stunned


populace with a storm of blaster bolts and tiny missiles, sweeping


large areas clear of any signs of life. Those lucky enough to get


themselves to cover before the storm of blaster bolts found them, were


met by images of humanoid shapes covered from head to toe in white


armour spilling out of strange landing craft. They were followed


closely by mean-looking hover-tanks, fast moving two-legged armored


vehicles, and huge four-legged behemoths that caused the ground to


shake when they took a step.


The strange soldiers in their insect-like armor made no


attempt to take prisoners. Wounded Klingons were executed where they


lay, those that got into cover inside buildings which were still


standing had the buildings blasted out from under them by the armored


vehicles, a few survived by fleeing the onslaught, since the soldiers


showed no inclination to pursuing them. Minutes later, large areas of


the city had been secured by the enemy, and more ships descended. The


warehouses still standing were stripped of all refined minerals,


machinery made of high-tech alloys were loaded onto transports, and


androids of all shapes and a myriad of sizes scuttled everywhere.


Even out in the countryside, farms were stripped of food


animals, ripening crops were harvested by armies of droids and


nutrient stockpiles were loaded onto anything that could fly, even


troop transports. The work of the industrious raiders were punctuated


by occasional loud thunderous cracks as Klingon pockets of resistance


attracted fire from the unseen ship in orbit. Within an hour of the


first detonation on the landing field, the last of the enemy ships


were darting into the sky.






The Eliminator swept through hyperspace, devouring one light


year every twenty eight seconds, as an elated crew celebrated their


successful raid. The probe had transmitted accurate maps of the


planet, and guided the Star Destroyer in to a precisely calculated


orbital path. Two seconds after arrival, they had unleashed one


devastating broadside, the sixteen heavy cannons targeting outlying


outposts, the sixty four medium cannons hitting anything that looked


vaguely military in nature, and the one hundred and twenty light


turbolasers targeting areas designated for 'light suppression' in


advance of troop landings. The troop landings which followed had met


with little resistance.


"Sir." A procurement and supply officer handed Issard a padd.


He glanced down at it.


"Lots of medium-grade alloys, some duranium, no fuel. No


weapons grade materials. No starship grade hull metals. Ah well. I am


sure this will suffice for manufacture of droids and mining equipment,


perhaps a few structures. It should at any rate accelerate our


building programme by several months."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.
















Word of the massacre took time to get out. There was no


working inter-stellar communications left on the planet, and it was


several days before a starship stopped by to investigate the silence.


Eighty percent of the population had been slaughtered. Empty


warehouses delivered mute testimony to the reason for the slaughter.


Of several outlying cities and colonies, nothing remained except for


still warm glass and occasional pools of molten rock. The tops had


been blown off several mountains, and the surrounding countryside was


scarred where molten lava had flowed down the mountains. Fires had


swept across the countryside, blackening large areas of the planet.


The climate of the planet would never be the same again, due to the


immense volume of dust and other pollutants released into the




On the main landing field, several intact freighters were


embedded in still warm rock, where they had sunk into the molten lava


which had flowed across the field.


At first, the Klingon high command attempted to keep news of


the massacre secret, attempting to match the nature of the damage to


known enemies. Very soon, however, it was apparent that none of the


traditional enemies of the Klingons had been involved. The Romulans


had come under the most suspicion, the damage suggestive of their


plasma torpedo weapons, and their cloaking devices the most likely to


have allowed a starship to penetrate Klingon space so effectively.


Eventually, the Klingon high command had relented, news of the


atrocity having spread throughout the Alpha and Beta quadrants, and


messages of support or denial having come in from all quarters.










"Captain's Log. The Enterprise has just completed a fourteen week


journey through Klingon space. The warp drive has performed admirably,


and we have covered five hundred light-years at a steady speed of warp


9.6, stopping only to refuel at Klingon designated supply centres. No


Federation vessel has ever been so far into Klingon space before. Our


mission:- To investigate a planet-wide atrocity alleged to have


occurred on the world of K'vort II. The Enterprise has been detailed


to assist in the clean-up operations, to provide whatever medical and


engineering expertise we can, and then to participate in a search for


the as yet unknown assailants."




Picard walked into the medical facilities, where Dr Crusher was


surrounded by haggard looking support staff.




"Jean-Luc." Picard winced slightly at the use of his first


name, but Dr Crusher rushed through her report before he could correct


her. "There was surprisingly little for us to do. Most of the worst


cases were handled by ships which arrived before us. Typical injuries


are burns, asphyxiation, hypothermia, and early signs of malnutrition.


The survivors have been scrounging a living off the countryside since


the attack. A handful of deep-level miners survived, though trapped


far underground. We were able to rescue them by drilling with ship's


phasers. Chief Engineer La Forge was most helpful."


"Radiation levels?"


"Nothing out of the ordinary. All weapons used in the attack


were some form of energy beam which left virtually no traces."


"Any ideas?"


"I have not seen weapons damage of this type. Certainly very


few modern space-faring species use plasma-based energy weapons, and


nothing found so far matches the Romulan signature traces. No wounds


treated had any indication of disruptor or phaser usage."


Picard made his way to the bridge, and called Geordi La Forge


in. La Forge took several minutes to arrive, he had been inspecting


battle-damage on the planet and had to be transported back to the ship


as soon as he was done.


"Ideas, Mr La Forge?"


"None, Sir."


"Your findings?"


"Whatever the nature of the weapons used, each strike was


equivalent to a multi-megaton blast. It is as if a nuclear device was


detonated in a controlled manner, releasing all it's energy in a


single focussed beam. The lack of radiation consistent with nuclear


weapons indicates that the nature of the weapon is not nuclear though,


but plasma based. The smaller strikes are an order of magnitude


greater than that of Romulan plasma torpedoes. We are not aware of any


plasma that can withstand or generate such energies though."


"The smaller strikes?"


"Yes, sir. The small strikes struck with an impact equivalent


to several megatons of focussed energy, the larger strikes we estimate


at about a gigaton or more of focussed energy, and apparently easily


flattened mountains in a single shot. The smaller strikes were


reserved for populated areas, though I doubt the motive was


humanitarian. The enemy obviously wanted to preserve the warehouses


and industries sufficiently for them to raid. Undoubtedly the attack


was for materials."


"The attack was a total surprise. Have you been able to


confirm how this was so? Surely any incoming ships should have been




"That is difficult to tell sir. The planetary sensors were


amongst the first targets to be destroyed. Certainly, witness accounts


are consistent with a surprise attack."


"Search results?"


Data answered the question. "The Klingons have been searching


surrounding star systems, but the sheer volume of space to be searched


is working against them. They have searched eight hundred star systems


within twenty light years, but there are over 120,000 stars within a


hundred light years. It would be impossible to search all of them."


"Ensign Cullen?"


"Sir. We are conducting a ten light year sensor sweep. It will


be complete in another twenty minutes. So far we have only picked up


the Klingon vessels involved in the search."


"Inform me if anything crops up. Anything. We have no idea


what we're looking for."






Several hundred million kilometers away on the outer fringes of the


system the dark planet of K'vort VIII careened through space in an


orbit prescribed by the laws of physics and the gravity of it's parent


star. Orbiting this planet were a handful of asteroids, forming a thin


'ring' around the planet. Every now and then, two asteroids would


collide with each other, or mildly bump into each other. Such an event


was about to take place. One of the asteroids suddenly shifted it's


orbit ever so slightly, so as to avoid the collision. This change in


orbit required an infinitesimal interaction between it's repulsors and


the gravity well of the planet below. The energy required was very


little, surely nothing that could be detected by any sensor more than


a few thousand kilometers away.








"Yes, ensign?"


"It's probably nothing, but according to the medium-range


sensors, an asteroid orbiting the eighth planet was knocked into a


different orbit, but the computer can't find any record of a




A starship's sensors picked up an incredible amount of data.


The algorithms that analysed the data had been developed over


centuries, with most of the ground work having been done in the years


before a single rocket had ever left the surface of the Earth. Even


back then it was known that an asteroid couldn't simply alter it's


orbit at will without the intervention of some outside force.


Recognising this as an anomaly, the computer had reported it. Without


this anomaly, most of the sensor data would eventually have been


flushed out of the system within a few hours and the operator's


intervention would not have been required.


"A sensor focus on the area, or a probe of the asteroids,


should reveal the cause of the shift." Data offered.


"Negative." Picard ordered. "Ensign, maintain the standard


sensor sweep through the neighbouring star systems. Transfer the


computer's recording of the incident to the central computer. Mr Data,


your opinion."


"Most strange," Data offered after what appeared to be a


cursory examination. "The computer's records are continuous throughout


the event. In the entire sequence, no sign of a collision or any


outside interference was observed. Although, the asteroid could have


been shifted by a magnetic disturbance undetectable at this range."


"Mr Data, how fast can we get there at high warp with as


little fore-warning as possible, and do a short-range sensor focus on


the area."


"May I warn you sir, that high-warp manoeuvring within the


confines of a star system is extremely dangerous."


"Noted. How fast can we get there?"


"We can attain warp 1 in 4 seconds, and warp 9.9 in thirty


seconds. This acceleration will get us across the star system to


K'vort VIII in 19.8 seconds along the straightest route possible."


"Not good enough. Maybe we can do it by deception. Prepare a


course at cruising speed to take us out of this star system, passing


within one or two AU of K'vort VIII. We will do a sensor focus at the


closest approach."


"Sir, do you suspect a cloaked vessel to be in the vicinity?"


"Assuming the enemy knows as little about us as we know about


them, the logical step for them would be to keep an eye on the planet


and observe the enemy during a crisis. An asteroid on the far edge of


the star system is about as inconspicuous as you can get. Either that,


or there is a cloaked vessel nearby."








The probe watched as the new arrival left the star system. It


was travelling no faster than any other vessel had within the confines


of the star system, although it was taking an inefficient route. It


followed a path which curved around the star and headed out on a


trajectory towards a distant F-class star where some of the other


searchers were operating. The trajectory would bring it uncomfortably


close to the eighth and last planet of the system, to within about


eight light-minutes. A little uncomfortable, but not unduly concerned,


the probe took no action, except to ensure that it's sensor profile


was as reduced as possible.


All of a sudden, the probe was awash with sub-space energy. It


was being scanned. The enemy starship changed course and came tearing


across space directly towards the eighth planet, increasing velocity


at a phenomenal rate, and passing light-speed in seconds. It was


invisible to the probe at this speed, except for the unmistakable


sub-space noise it had come to associate with all ships of this


galaxy. Normally, the probe would have self-destructed, but it was


under orders to preserve itself as far as possible, so it did the next


best thing. It activated it's weak deflector shields, poured power


into it's repulsors and punched through the ring of asteroids, keeping


the nearby gas-giant between itself and the fast approaching starship


while it furiously re-checked the calcs on it's prepared hyperspace




The enemy ship covered the eight light-minutes in ten seconds


and was travelling at 100 times light-speed and still accelerating as


it whipped past the edge of the planet. The enemy ship disengaged the


strange sub-space distortion drive mechanism a only a few thousands of


kilometers away. The probe detected an attempt to get a sensor-lock


consistent with a tractor beam's pattern. The only thing that saved it


was the asteroids between itself and the alien ship. The alien ship's


deflectors smashed aside the asteroids as it came tearing after the


probe utilising a pulse-fusion drive mechanism, and the probe


registered a full sensor-lock. It cancelled the safety checking of the


hyperspace calcs, and jumped.










"It's disappeared."


"Scan for drive emissions, gravitational anomalies, traces of


cloaking mechanisms."


"Nothing. Sir."


"Computer analysis of sensor records."


"The computer has three simultaneous tracks of the probe, then


nothing. It was as if it suddenly existed in three places at once, all


in a straight line, then was gone."




"If I may, Sir."


"Yes, Mr Data."


"The sensor readings are consistent with what the sensors


would have recorded had the device been travelling faster than a


sub-space pulse."


"A sub-space pulse is a hundred times faster than any ship we


have, Mr Data. The amount of energy to go that fast is mind-boggling


even by warp standards. Surely we would have detected the energy trace


at least."


"I know sir. However, I am merely pointing out that the nature


of the vessel's disappearance and the sensor recordings are consistent


with a vessel travelling faster than a sub-space pulse. Faster even


than transwarp theory would suggest is possible with current power


production technologies."








Issard looked out over the base on New Coruscant from his vantage


point on the top of Imperial Mount. Chief Bast had kept the


manufacturing facilities working round the clock ever since the fresh


minerals and alloys had arrived. The Eliminator had taken weeks to


clean, the entire ship having been crammed to the bilges with whatever


could be loaded. The 20 shuttles had had to fly back carrying their


own loads, with no place for them to land on the Star Destroyer. Even


the landing barges had been flown back by droids (they had no


hyperspace capability for a human crew) crammed with primitive alloys


raided from the alien world.


Most of the resources had gone into producing additional


droids as a workforce, especially robo-miners. Issard had been


surprised though at one of the choices Bast had made. A construction


droid. These droids were massive, and this one must have taken a


significant chunk of the valuable resources, being more than a hundred


meters tall, and two hundred meters long. Issard had been furious when


informed. Now, he was glad that he had not interfered with the Chief's


duties. Up to now, the base had consisted mostly of prefabricated


structures meant for temporary ground force garrisons.


The flood of requests for particular facilities that had met


the completion of the construction droid had nearly created a new


administrative nightmare. The requests had all been reasonable,


medical facilities, engineering laboratories, manufacturing plants,


mineral refining centres, a recycling facility, additional power


plants, waste processing, food processing and droid repair centres


amongst others. Issard had settled the question by addressing the root


cause of the low morale. He had ordered that the droid be tasked with


building decent accommodation, something that everybody could derive


immediate benefit from, and which would immediately relieve the


congestion problem prevalent in the prefab units. They had been having


a rash of disciplinary problems related to having too many people


confined in too small a space.


As Issard watched, with Bast and a few other officers


alongside him, the droid was advancing slowly across the landscape.


Moving extremely delicately for it's size, it's insectoid like legs


carefully planted between buildings, it eventually settled itself onto


a vacant area. Behind it, another block of completed residential units


were being outfitted by a swarm of tiny astro-mech droids. In hours,


they would be occupied by the first crew-members who had been assigned


quarters. The construction droid was burrowing itself into the ground


on the new site. It appeared to be stationary for a while, very


occasionally rising slowly out of the hole it had dug for itself.


Swarming above the droid, were a number of repulsor-trucks, bringing


load after load of quarried material and low-grade ores suitable for


simple construction. Most of the material would come from the bedrock


itself, molecularly reconstructed by the construction droid.


Issard knew that it was busy laying the foundations and


utility tubes for the residential block. Far underground, a network of


pipes and tubes were constructed for sewage, power, data-links, water,


maintenance, droid access, underground walkways and travel-tubes.


Above this, the foundations were laid for the houses. Each dwelling


was a unique combination of the extensive library of architectural


designs available to the droid, and downloaded from the Star


Destroyer's extensive libraries. All the dwellings though did conform


to a single open-plan style consistent with the temperate climate of


the region. The houses were arranged into neat rows, separated by


walkways and speeder lanes. The walkways would eventually be lined


with local vegetation, but for now were barren.


Issard glanced behind him, and caught a few people grinning


before they could compose themselves. The excitement at the prospect


of moving out of 'digs' into a decent fully equipped house was


palpable. It would be weeks before there was sufficient housing for


everyone, but already spirits had been raised enormously.


"Chief. I would like to add my own requests to the list you


have for the construction droid."


"Yes, Sir."


"We obviously need space-port facilities, along with a


ground-based hangar for TIE support, and a repair-facility for small


ships. I would also like you to set up a double layer of perimeter


defenses, maybe a thirty kilometer ring and a two hundred kilometer


ring. I would like our existing power infrastructure upgraded with a


geothermal and fusion power plant to support extended use of theatre


shields, and at least one manufacturing bay dedicated to producing


light artillery weapons for the perimeter defences. I would also like


you to include gymnasiums, shooting ranges and space combat simulators


as part of the recreation complex."


"Yes, Sir."


"It seems, Chief," Issard gestured towards the construction


droid in the background, "that your new toy will be busy for months to




"Yes, Sir. New Coruscant is beginning to be more than just a


base. Our long term plans for the base of course includes extensive


medical facilities, we will have to build a nursery in the next few


months, and a creche. My city plans has also left wide spaces open for


parks and walkways, maybe a lake in the centre. In a year or two, this


will be a veritable city."


In a more business-like tone, Issard continued, "what does our


supply situation look like, chief?"


"We have nearly used up all that you brought in, sir. Our


manufacturing facilities will be back down to three hours a day within


the next few days, but with the new droids our mining programmes have


been vastly accelerated. The main areas of shortfall are Tibanna and


Hypermatter. We don't have the capability yet to construct a Tibanna


extraction facility, or a second hypermatter facility. We do have


several years worth of Tibanna in storage though, and the single


hypermatter facility we have is slowly replenishing our stores."


"Yes, but it is barely keeping up with our exploration


requirements. We are uncomfortably close to the alien territories.


They have colonies barely two thousand light years away, almost a


year's journey by their star drive, but still within reach. Our probes


are mapping out the limits of their space, and searching for a larger


pocket of empty space so that we will have a larger buffer between


them and us. Don't get too attached to this place chief, we may just


have to move."


"I understand, sir. Our contingency plans include transporting


everything we have constructed here, except the buildings of course."


"Very well. I have been considering going on another resource


raid. I have picked a world belonging to another race, about seven


thousand light-years away. The motivation is not so much to accelerate


our building program here as to draw away their search for our base to


other areas."


"We could do with the resources, sir. We have a very extensive


list of tasks for the construction droid. A second construction droid


would speed up the process immensely, and boost morale, manufacturing


and refining immensely."


















The trip to the jump off point was several days. The Star


Destroyer had been especially prepared for the raid. It's huge holds


had been emptied of all except the bare essentials, even several of


the AT-ATs and repulsor-tanks had been left behind. Four squadrons of


TIEs had also been left behind, emptying several hangars for


additional storage space.


The world chosen had been carefully reconnoitred by sensor


stealthed probes. It was a relatively isolated mining colony, far from


this race's borders with Klingon space, and deep inside the space they


controlled. Most of their patrolling warships were on the front-lines


of their territory. As such, this world was only visited by a steady


stream of freight-ships. Easy pickings for the Star Destroyer, which


could hyper-jump to any point it desired without having to traverse


the space between. Two broadsides, a few sorties by his TIE bombers,


and the planet was virtually devoid of life.


The Eliminator spent a leisurely six hours stuffing itself to


the bilges with every thing that could be salvaged. The shuttles


returned to the surface for one more load, which they would transport


home themselves, the Star Destroyer having no more space left for even


an ant to dock.








"Sir! Romulan warbird decloaking!"


"Steady! Shields, tactical standby. Open a channel."


"They're already hailing us."




Picard glanced over the sensor board to his right, making sure


there were no Klingon ships nearby. They might shoot first and ask


questions later. A warbird this far into Klingon space was asking for




"Captain Picard. I am ambassador Tal-Shura."


"Ambassador. You are rather far from Romulan space? Your


presence here in Klingon territory may be interpreted as somewhat




"Ah, but that's why I sought you out, captain. You will defend


me with your mighty starship, the Enterprise."


"Ambassador, please. I am sure you have a reason for being




"Always so impatient, you Humans." The ambassador's face


turned grim. "I fear I have grave news, and have come to seek your


help. May I beam aboard?"


"Lower your shields, *we* will beam *you* aboard." Picard




"Of course, ever cautious, our dear captain Picard."


The view-screen went dark. Immediately Riker stepped forward.


"Captain, this is very dangerous. Having a Romulan aboard the


Enterprise. I don't recommend it at all. If the Klingons detect that


ship out here, there will be hell to pay!"


"Will, I know how you feel about Romulans, but even the


Romulans would not be so stupid as to penetrate Klingon space for


trivial reasons."


"I will reserve judgement."


The two men quickly made their way to the transporter room,


and nodded to the technician in attendance to initiate the transport.






"... and that is why I am here." The ambassador finished.


"I am afraid we don't have much information to give you. We


arrived at K'vort three months ago, and have been searching system


after system in an attempt to help the Klingons, but have met with no




"I have brought a data card with a copy of all the information


we have on the attack on our world. It was relayed to me via sub-space


even as we travelled here. I would appreciate a copy of all your files


on the K'vort incident."


"Certainly. I will see that our files are forwarded to your




A beep from Picard's communicator interrupted the


conversation. He tapped his chest.




"Captain, we have a Klingon ship coming in at warp 9.2. They


will be here in minutes!"


"I am on my way." He turned back to the ambassador. "One of


the ships involved in the search of a neighbouring system must have


detected your arrival."


The Romulan merely smiled, "I am sure you will handle the


situation." Seconds later he faded from view, having probably


activated a secret transmitter, initiating his immediate recall to the


Romulan vessel. By the time Picard got to the bridge, the Romulan ship


too had faded from view.






"You had no right to supply them with the information!" The


Klingon officer yelled. "A Romulan can not be trusted. The whole story


is obviously a ruse so that they could determine how far we are in our


investigations. This merely confirms my suspicions that it was the


Romulans behind the attack in the first place!"


"I am certain he was telling the truth. The data card he


supplied us is remarkably accurate. I don't think it can be


fabrication." Picard replied calmly.


"Of course it is accurate! They would know how their own


weapons systems performed." The Klingon responded.


"There is more than that. Other data on the card they supplied


concurs with certain observations we made of other events in the


system, of which you may not be aware."


"You have been withholding evidence from us? Please explain."


"We had a bit of a run-in with a probe of unknown origin as we


left the K'vort system. The Romulans had an early warning system on


their planet, in a carefully concealed and stealthed location. This


data card includes the recordings it made. The recordings were made by


a passive device, and are therefore rather poor, but with some


enhancement, can be quite useful. Commander!"


Riker commenced the demonstration, utilising the bridge


view-screen to illustrate the data from the recording.


"The listening post detects an anomaly at this point. The


anomaly is already within the star-system, and already decelerating,


and microseconds later a starship appears in orbit, one planetary


diameter above the planet."


A very grainy metallic shape appeared on the view-screen.


"This is an electromagnetic interpretation of what the passive


sub-space sensors recorded. Enhance, Mr Data."


The image resolution slowly improved second by second as Data


ran the Romulan sub-space recording through multiple enhancement




"Incidentally, the recording also reveals a lot about the


capabilities of Romulan sub-space sensor technology." He remarked.


"Take it with a pinch of salt," the Klingon spat, "the


Romulans probably doctored it."


"The listening post at this point noted that the planet was


scanned intensively by active sub-space, as well as microwave, for a


period of three seconds. Then ..."


On the view-screen, the enhanced image of the metallic


wedge-shape was suddenly engulfed in bright light and severe




"Weapons firing, interfering with the sub-space sensors. Mr




The still image slowly transformed into a sharper image, the


weapons firings coalescing into long lines, dozens of them.


"We count between 150 and 200 weapons being fired." Data


interjected. "Spectral analysis reveals three categories of weapons.


Category one has the brightest luminescence, and there are 12 such


weapons. There are approximately 60 to 70 weapons in category two, and


probably one hundred in category three. All weapons were fired


simultaneously, at different targets, and the firing repeated 2


seconds later, at other targets."


Riker continued. "The listening post also recorded immense


seismic disturbances continuing for several minutes afterwards, as the


entire planet was engulfed by earthquakes, volcanoes, tremors and


tidal waves. The recording equipment was damaged, and no further


recording was possible, although seismic sensors detected further


seismic events from the far side of the planet minutes later, but on a


much smaller scale, if greater volume."


"What does that mean?"


"The Romulans suspect the ship fired dozens of missiles at


targets on the far side of the planet, or launched smaller craft on


bombing raids."


"What else does this card include?"


"The rest is pretty similar to what happened on K'vort.


Survivor reports of troop landings, extreme brutality in clearing out


civilians, regardless of whether resistance was offered. Huge armoured


vehicles patrolling the landing zones. Hundreds of robots being


employed to raid industrial facilities for metals, and everything


being loaded into shuttles and ferried to the ship in orbit. This time


they took their time though. Witnesses claim that the invaders stayed


for several hours, and apparently showed great discernment in the


materials they wanted."


"Such as?"


"They weren't interested in tritanium, but loaded everything


made of pure duranium or duranium related alloys. They also showed no


interest in electronics, optics, or manufactured goods, preferring to


take raw materials. Sometimes though, they melted down sensitive


equipment, and took the raw materials."


"They weren't interested in Romulan technology at all?"


"Apparently not. They were interested in certain minerals and


alloys only, preferably highly refined minerals, and they were




"But this system is five thousand light years away! It would


take twenty months at warp 9.9 to get there. It cannot be the same




"The Romulan data files provided included results of analyses


on samples from the impact zones. The description of the damage, the


indicated weapon yields, and the likely weapon types all concur to a


very high degree with what happened at K'vort. If it is not the same


group, then they must at least come from the same place. How much


exploration have you done of the systems out here?" Picard indicated


the expanse of stars in the Beta Quadrant, beyond Romulan and Klingon




"Very little. We have been channelling all our efforts into


expansion rather than exploration, so as not to be surrounded by the


Romulans own expansion drives. I suspect the Romulans too have not


done much exploring. We know the Borg are somewhere out there beyond


Romulan space, perhaps tens of thousands of light years away, but we


are not aware of other groups. The Borg occasionally send patrols this


way, and we avoid them, but they are not particularly expansive. Not


yet anyway. We don't expect to encounter them in numbers for decades


yet, but are preparing for that eventuality."


"These were not Borg."


"No. Of course not."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.


















The holo-image of the planet rotated before Issard. Yes, it


would be a good world. Over the last six months, the probes (there


were more than eighty of them now) had explored tens of thousands of


stars. This particular system was a gem. A G-type star, with no less


than three habitable worlds. The first habitable world was the second


planet in the system, and was a trifle hot, but with appropriate


atmospheric engineering it could be made bearable. The next two were


both ideal worlds, one having an average temperature of sixteen


degrees celsius, and the other about two degrees below freezing, but


with extensive temperate zones banding it's equator. The system was


fairly rich in minerals, and what was more, the fifth planet was an


immense gas-giant, large enough to have traces of Tibanna in it's


lower atmosphere. And there wasn't a trace of a star-faring society


for ten thousand light years in any direction.


New Coruscant had taken shape exceptionally quickly, with more


than five thousand crew-members permanently stationed there now. It


was a fully independent world, and was easily producing more than


enough minerals to supply all their manufacturing needs, except for


tibanna and hypermatter. All production was being directed at


establishing a large hypermatter facility though, and the next goal


would be to establish an alternate base right here. Already, now that


construction needs on New Coruscant had reduced, one of the


construction droids had been dismantled and brought here. It was busy


manufacturing an exact duplicate of their original base on the third


planet. In time, the tibanna facility would be set up in the




The temptation to raid the humanoid worlds of the rim


territories was growing, but such a raid was unnecessary. The rate of


manufacturing was climbing steeply now that a significant number of


robo-miners were in operation. Mining operations had extended to


several of the other planets in the New Coruscant system, and it was


beginning to look like home. They even had plans to upgrade the TIE's,


since everybody knew they were flying death-traps, and it wasn't as if


they had an endless source of manpower.


Things were going well. Very well. Too well. Issard couldn't


help feeling uncomfortable. Something always came up. He knew his


growing paranoia would rub off on his crew if he allowed them to


realise it. And he was bored. He had joined the Navy to fight great


battles, to become a great leader, a hero. Not to administrate the sum


total of nothing. An empty galaxy.








Picard loved the silence. The captain's cabin was one of the few that


had a real viewport. Unfortunately they were currently at warp, and


the image being displayed on the 'open' viewport was actually a


computer generated image of a moving stellar background. He sat in the


dark admiring the fake stars, sipping a hot cup of his much loved tea.


Even if he could see the stars, the speeds they were travelling at (a


few tenths of a light-year per hour) was not sufficient to cause the


stars to move, at least not fast enough for human eyes to perceive


their movement.


The occasional sigh of happiness was all that could be heard.


This was why he had joined starfleet. Not for the adventure. Certainly


not for any misguided hopes of glory and battle. It had been for the


peace and silence only to be found between the stars on the long


crawls between stops.


They had been journeying now for three weeks back towards


Federation space where they were due to bolster the forces on the


Neutral Zone. The Romulans had upgraded their readiness status, and


the Federation had responded by increasing the ship numbers close to


the Neutral Zone. It would be two months yet before they got there.


Eight weeks of silence which Picard intended to appreciate to the




"Computer. Music. Classical selection."


The darkened room was filled with the soft chords of an early


Beethoven piece. Picard settled back into a more comfortable position


and closed his eyes. Perfect. The most curious sensation slowly came


over him. He imagined himself to be a disembodied mote, able to move


freely through the ship without being observed. Riker and several


younger officers were playing Pirates again on the holo-deck. Data was


officer of the watch. Beverley Crusher taking a nap in sickbay. Geordi


patiently demonstrating obscure warp mathematics to some teenagers


hoping to enter the starfleet academy soon. An ensign having his hair


cut sharing a rude joke with the barber. The creche, filled with the


sound of laughing and playing toddlers. A happy ship all in all.


The images seemed to flow before his mind, and he knew that he


had fallen asleep and was dreaming. He didn't mind. It was a happy


dream. He had a vague uneasy feeling that he was not quite alone, but


was drawn back into the dream. The happy images were seen now as if


through a filter-screen. They were somehow not real. Fake. There was


an ominous presence bearing down on the images, but they didn't know,


and in his dream he tried to warn them. Something was coming.


Something evil. Bearing down on his happy ship. The images were now


overlaid with flame. All those happy pictures. Obscured by flames. The


people in the images looked strange, and he battled to get closer, to


see what was wrong with them. Something was wrong with all the


pictures. He was being distracted by an external view now. A huge ship


bearing down on the Enterprise, spewing death from hundreds of


weapons-blisters pock-marking it's clean military lines.


The wedge-shaped alien ship which had raided the Klingon and


Romulan worlds. It was bearing down on the Enterprise. And the crew


didn't know. They were still going about their happy business. So


happy. With death bearing down on them. He tried to warn them. Forced


the images to come closer. They did. He woke with a muffled shout of


horror. The Enterprise crew were all Borg! His friends, his shipmates,


they were all Borg! Beverley Crusher, features horribly distorted by


metal implants, grossly distorted cybernetic limbs, one artificial eye


leering back at him.


Picard washed his face with cold water over the basin. The


memory of the presence came back to him. He had not been alone in his


dream. Somebody had been with him. He stifled a shudder. Q? Q always


had a hidden agenda. His visits were rarely a good omen, but Picard


suspected he had always had humanity's best interests at heart. His


mood spoilt, Picard decided that he might as well join in the game of


pirates on the holo-deck.








Ben Sisko gritted his teeth in frustration. He had not joined


starfleet to become a diplomat. If this station was not at such a


crucial location militarily and politically he would have requested a


transfer long ago.


"Very well. See that the Cardassians are housed further from


the Bajorans. I don't care who has to move, just as long as it is


done. I also want some results on that surveillance of the Bajoran


Justice Movement. I do not need some hot-headed Bajoran terrorist with


a warped political agenda blowing holes in my station. Dismissed."


The chief of security opened his mouth as if to say something,


but changed his mind when Sisko narrowed his eyes.


"Lieutenant!" Sisko called to Dax. "Get that freighter docked.


And order the Aphrodisia to leave in five minutes. I don't care if


their passengers are late, we need that docking point."


The space around the space station was a traffic nightmare.


Two separate Cardassian expeditions were assembling here in


preparation for a trip through the wormhole, along with all the usual




"Commander Sisko?" from the door.




"Envoy Tal-Shurak is here, and demands that you give docking


priority to the Romulan Healer. He claims that it is carrying urgent


medical supplies."


"Tell the envoy that the Healer will be docked as soon as we


have a bay available. Dax?"


"I'm on it."


Dax soon got involved in a heated argument with the captain of


the Aphrodisia. He was refusing to leave until all his passengers were


accounted for. Specifically two young boys were missing, and their


parents were frantic. In the background Sisko could be heard giving


another ensign a dressing down.


"Tell Quark to take it up with Odo." Sisko was saying.


"But sir, Quark is very insistent, and Odo is not currently


available. He says it is a matter of life and death."


Sisko slapped the civilian communicator on the wall. Quark's


face appeared, slightly greener than usual.


"Sabotage!" He shouted. "They have sabotaged me!"


Sisko was immediately attentive. He wondered what the Bajorans


had got up to now. Many Bajorans would consider Quark's a viable


target because of all the Cardassians frequenting the establishment.


"Quark. Get to the point."


"My holo-decks are off-line and I have a queue of customers


waiting to use them. And I can't get into them at all. They're locked


from the inside."


"That is hardly a matter of sabotage. Put in a maintenance


request to Chief O'Brien."


Sisko cut the communication and sighed.


Dax glanced over her board and blinked in surprise. There was


a small ship coming around the Bajoran star. She was sure that no warp


trace had come in from that direction. Strange that a ship would mask


it's approach by coming in with the star aligned between itself and


the station. Such an approach would be highly inefficient since the


ship would have had to come in at very high warp along a curved path


to keep the Bajoran primary between itself and the station in it's


final approach. In any case, the ship was not at warp now, but


approaching on a variant of impulse. That was not particularly


disturbing, each species's technology was different, and there were as


many variations of inter-planetary drives as there were ships on


approach to Deep Space Nine.


"Contact bearing 002 by 295. Identify yourself."


"We're on a diplomatic mission from the beta quadrant. Just


stopping in to take a break."


"Please state ship's name, registry number and destination.


Also state nature of cargo if any."


"This craft has no name. It's serial number is


Lambda-seven-three-alpha-nine-eight. Our destination is no concern of


yours. Our only cargo are four thirsty passengers. We understand you


have a refreshment facility which serves alcohol? A canteen?"


"You mean Quark's? Yes, I suppose that qualifies."


"Quark's? Yes. That is where we are heading."


"Very well. Come around to vector 353 by 004. Your call-sign


is L73A98. I am DS9 controller three. You will be docked in due


course. We are rather busy today, so you may have to wait around a


bit. Please be aware that for safety purposes you may not transport


aboard the station, but must pass through our customs facilities and


undergo a routine scan for pathogenic organisms."


"Thank you DS9 controller three. Out."






"Did that sound routine to you?" The pilot asked the rumpled


looking man beside him.


"Who in the Force knows? At least they're not shooting at us.


Go on in, and follow their instructions to the letter." The Imperial


commando ordered the pilot, also a commando. The four men sat in


silence, each lost in his own thoughts. Discovering this nexus of


traffic with dozens of species coming and going had been a great boon.


Hopefully they would be lost in the crowd. The facility was rather


small, barely larger than a Star Destroyer, and rather quiet by


Imperial standards, but it appeared to be as busy as things got in


this forsaken galaxy.


Their mission was just to observe, and maybe pick up a few


titbits about the local scene. The chance for a change in scenery and


a few drinks had seemed attractive at first, now they were not so


sure. The shuttle had been carefully wired with concealed explosives


in case they had to scuttle it or it fell into enemy hands, and they


had no doubt that a nervous controller back on the Eliminator had his


finger hovering over the detonator. The Eliminator itself was in a


tight orbit on the far side of the nearest star, ready to jump out at


a moment's notice, and hopefully masked from the nearby station by the


star itself.








Sisko looked over Dax's shoulder. The tiny craft looked


innocent enough, strange as it was. Finally he shrugged.


"I am not familiar with that ship type. Have Odo meet them and


keep an eye on them. Possibly one of Quark's shady deals again. As


long as they keep their noses clean on my station I couldn't care


less. Record their drive signature though, and put it on file."


"Of course, Benjamin."


Sisko glared at her for a second, then sighed. A Romulan


throat being cleared dragged his attention away from the console.


"Yes, envoy. What can I do for you?"


Behind the Romulan Chief O'Brien came barging in half-pushing


and half-dragging two teenagers.


"The missing passengers from the Aphrodisiac, they were the


ones locked themselves in Quark's Holo-deck."


"Dispatch a shuttle, and return them to their parents." Sisko


glared at the unrepentant youngsters.








The four rough-looking humans stood beside their strange


shuttle and looked around with disdain. Odo gestured impatiently for


them to come forward.


"This way please."


They complied, but kept on looking around them, as if


expecting the ceiling to fall on them any minute.


"This station may appear to be in a mess, but it is quite


safe, I assure you." Odo told them.


"If you say so." The lead human said easily. "I have seen


worse, but not by much."


"Do you have anything to declare?"


"Such as?"


"Weapons, hallucinogens, or other contraband."


"No. Nothing like that."


"Follow me, please."


Odo led them into the quarantine airlock.


"The door to the station will not open until you have been


scanned and cleared for any pathogenic organisms." Odo explained. "We


are being scanned as we speak. Just a few more minutes."


The inner door snapped open.


"It appears you are clear to enter this facility." Odo


announced, with a vague hint of disappointment. "The rules here are


simple. No fighting. No brawling. No stealing. No cheating. You are


free to go where you wish. Restricted areas are clearly marked. For


your own safety pay close attention to those restrictions. That is




"Where do we find Quark's?"


Odo indicated to the left.


"Follow this passage until you get to the promenade. You will


find Quark's easily enough when you get there."


"Thank you."


The four casually strolled in the indicated direction, still


glancing around them apprehensively. For a second Odo wondered if


their apprehension was more than just casual caution at the sight of


the station's disrepair.






The commandos maintained their silence as they walked. Men in


their trade were not given to unnecessary chatter. When they reached


the promenade, the unit leader nodded slightly to one side. They


strolled off in that direction, gawking and pointing at the sights


like any tourist. Anyone observing them would not notice anything


beyond the ordinary. Just about everybody who came to DS9 for their


first time gawked at the sights. In actual fact the sights were rather


mundane to the jaded senses of men who had partied and fought and


shopped and holidayed on hundreds of worlds and stations more exotic


than this tiny station. However, gawking at the sights was a good way


to get the lie of the station. One of the first tricks learnt in their


profession was how to blend in to situations like this.


They had expected to find humans on this station, their probe


droids having detected several worlds nearby with predominantly human


life-signatures. They were gratified to see that a large proportion of


the beings on the promenade appeared human. The number and variation


of styles of dress and physical appearance also gratified them. Their


choice of clothes would not appear out of place in this mess. They had


taken pains to dress simply though. Simple tunics were always easier


to pass off than complex costumes.


"That must be it." One of them pointed out a shop-front with a


rather garish looking neon sign on the front, and a number of patrons


sitting at tables in the front. They slowly made their way towards the


shop, and entered.


An ugly green humanoid with large ears bared his teeth at them


from behind the bar.


"Welcome to Quark's. How can I be of service?"


"Can you change these into local currency?"


The unit leader dropped a handful of coins on the counter.


Quark threw his practiced eye over it. Klingon and Romulan coins he


identified easily. There were a few coins he didn't recognise, and he


picked one up. The face of the coin had been filed flat, and it's


origin was unknown to him. But it was made of metal. He bit the metal,


weighed it in his hand, and offered the human a figure. The human


frowned at him.


"Less ten percent for the house of course," Quark added.


Seeing the man's eyes narrow suspiciously, and recognising a hard


customer when he saw one, Quark quickly amended. "But I'll give you


five percent." He smiled smoothly and inflated the figure slightly.


The human appeared somewhat satisfied, even if the frown didn't go




"Very well. But only if you throw in a round of drinks for me


and my friends as well."


"That was always my intention." He smiled, though the smile


was somewhat thinner. "What is your pleasure?"


"A warm ale, with a bite to it, but not too alcoholic."


"I have just the thing." He said, and waved them to a table.






Quark went about his business for the rest of the afternoon,


occasionally catching sight of the four humans. They didn't bother


anyone, just sat there and quietly nursed their ales, with occasional


refills. After a while he didn't pay them much mind. One of them tried


his hand at Dabo after a suitable period of observation, but stopped


quickly when he lost some of his money. Quark made a mental note to


admonish the Dabo girl. She should know better by now. Always let a


first time customer win a bit at first, then milk them dry once they


were hooked. He wasn't too distressed though. He had made a bit more


than five percent on the currency exchange, and these men didn't look


like big gamblers anyway.


The four eventually got up, carefully counted out some


credits, and left without a word. Quark knew he would see them again.


He recognised the type. They obviously had a military background, and


were no strangers to battle. There were more than enough local


conflicts where adventurous souls could gain such experience. He


pegged them as being recently unemployed. Considering that they had


just arrived today, they would probably stay on the station for a few


days, until they felt comfortable with their surroundings, then


approach him with requests for information about work. That was a not


uncommon pattern. Well, there was work for everybody, and they could


do worse than approach him.






The approach happened on the third day. One of the men


casually waved to Quark during a quiet period and offered him a seat.


"Word is," the human started, "that you are the person to


speak to regarding work."


"I don't know what you mean." Quark said, taken aback. He


quickly got up. "Perhaps you would like to come to my office and


explain it to me?"


The humans looked at each other, uncertain for a second. One


of them gave a fatalistic shrug, then got up. The others followed, and


Quark led them to his office. As soon as the door closed, he waved for


them to be silent while he quickly ran around the room with a scanning


device, lights blinking colourfully on it's display panel. Apparently


satisfied, he sat down and indicated for his guests to take a seat.


"The security chief here is a master spy. A shape-shifter. You


never know when he's nearby or what form he's taken. Can't be too


careful. He might be that chair, for all you know." He indicated a


chair on which one of the men had taken a seat. The human jumped up,


glancing suspiciously at the chair.


"Don't worry. I keep this room sealed. The person who sold me


this scanner assured me that it's good for his species as well. It had


better work or I'll skin her alive. We can talk. Now. What kind of


work are you looking for?"


"Let's say that there are few things we are squeamish about."


"Ah. I see. Freelance?"


The men glanced at each other.


"Not quite. We are part of a larger organisation which is


expanding into this, um, sector. As such, we prefer operating as a




"You surely don't intend trying to put me out of business,"


Quark whined. "This sector is mine."


"I am sure that we can come to an, um, arrangement. Our


business interests are confined to, how shall I say, a rather narrow


area. Certainly not as diverse as yours no doubt are."


"I see. And would I be correct in assuming that this narrow


area of business is related to matters military?"


"You would be correct."


"On what scale?"


The men just smiled. "You name the job, we can do it."


"I have just the thing to start you off. A little sabotage


operation for our friends the Maquis."


"Maquis? We are not familiar with local politics."


"The Maquis are a mixed band of humans. They are fighting a


guerilla war against the Cardassians, who have expanded into areas


previously inhabited by these Maquis. Do you wish to know all the


political details?"


"Not really."


"Good. The Maquis have been trying unsuccessfully to destroy


what they suspect is a Cardassian supply depot. The Cardassians always


have at least a Galor in attendance, with another one or two within a


few hours travel. The Maquis have been unable to get close without


being detected so far." Quark handed them a data card. "The Maquis


have now offered a price for any who can destroy the facility, and


provide proof of it's destruction. I will handle all communications


with the Maquis, for a percentage of course."


"Naturally. How will payment be made?"


"Because of the risk that you may fail, and the fact that I


don't really know you, payment will only be made on confirmation of


success. On that card you will also find details of how to contact me


secretly to inform me of your success. I will arrange for a ship to


drop off payment at these co-ordinates." He gave them another data




"Do not attempt to cheat us, Quark. We know where to find




Quark screwed up his face into a picture of humanoid




"I assure you, I am a businessman. Such thoughts just wouldn't


cross my mind."






Sisko watched the strange craft disappear into the blackness


of space, heading for a point beyond the Bajoran star.


"Did you learn anything?" He asked Odo.


"They made no trouble, had one secret meeting with Quark in


his office, and bought several data-padds from a vendor on the


promenade. The padd's included a recent edition of _Jane's fighting


ships_, several civilian commentaries on starship battle-tactics, and


the last six months of info-zines published by all major vendors in


this sector."


"The meeting?"


"I have not yet been able to penetrate that far into Quark's


security. I could call him in for questioning?"


"No. If no crime was committed on this station, then there is


no reason to call him in. One day Quark will overstep the line. Until


then, we can't do much about his other business interests."


"He is too clever for that." The security chief stated.


"As long as he thinks that, he will make a mistake one day."










Issard examined the tactical display. Only one ship, a


Cardassian Galor class according to the commercial pilot's handbook


purchased on the human space-station. If he pulled this off right,


everybody would blame the Maquis, and he would get away with another


shipload of much-needed supplies. The Galor was in high orbit of the


planet, approaching it's apogee, and moving at it's slowest. A sitting


duck. The Cardassian was secure in the knowledge that there was no


incoming warp signatures for several light-years in all directions,


and it only had it's navigational shields in place, with probably a


minimum crew on duty.




The Eliminator had been sitting close to a star in the next


system, 3.8 light years away, with a sensor-stealthed probe monitoring


the Cardassian ship's movements. One minute and fifty seven seconds


later it flashed into position, with the Cardassian ship just eight


thousand kilometers dead ahead.


"Fire at will."


Twelve massive turbolaser blasts, plus sixty four medium


cannons, smashed into the lightly shielded vessel.


"Initiate communications jamming. Locate and destroy all


satellites, especially communications boosters. Launch the TIE bombers


and landing barges."


"Jamming communications."


"TIE Bombers launching."


"Landing barges launching."


The bridge noises was suddenly punctuated by a screech,


causing everybody to look upwards before they realised it was the


battle audio simulators.


"We're being fired upon by a planet-based disruptor type




"Shield status?"


"Shields holding. Minor hull damage. The weapon seemed to


penetrate our shielding with nineteen percent efficiency."


Another screech sounded as the disuptor fired a second time.


"I have the weapon's co-ordinates, sir. Shall I pass the


co-ordinates to fire-control?"


"Negative. Do not fire on the planet. Let the TIE's take care


of the ground-fire, thermal bombs only."


"ETA for the TIE's: three minutes. We'll take several more


hits before the weapon is destroyed, Sir."


"Very well. Come about ten points, full forward thrust.


Evasive maneuvres." The Star Destroyer put distance between itself and


the planet below, changing course by one or two degrees every few




The Destroyer was hit twice more before the weapon was




"External cameras. Let's survey the damage." Issard ordered.


The external view showed several long streaks on the hull


where the disruptor weapon had intersected the ship. The streaks were


several centimeters deep and across. One of the streaks had come very


close to hitting a battery of light anti-starfighter laser-cannons.


"The damage will not impair ship operations at all, Sir. The


astro-mech droids can have the hull patched up within a few days."


"Very well. But we'll have to be more careful of disruptor


type weapons in future. In great volume, they will eat through our


hull regardless of shielding."


"Yes, Sir."


"Take us back into orbit of the planet, grab as much of the


wreckage of that cruiser as you can with the tractor beams and lob it


towards the primary. The less evidence we leave the better."


"Yes, Sir."






The main ground-based installation was nestled in a mountain


valley, with strong-points on all the surrounding peaks. This, plus


the attendant starship, made the base all but impregnable to


everything short of an all-out assault. However, with the starship and


the main ground-based batteries taken out, the base was vulnerable to


orbital attack.


"Long-range sensors, ETA on enemy reinforcements?" Issard




"Two sub-space anomalies approaching at high warp, about 9.1


according to their civilian catalogues. Range 1 light year. ETA five


point five hours."


"I want a detailed scan of the entire planet. If there are any


sensors destroy them, so that no record of our assault remains.


Point-defences to bombard the defensive strong-points into submission.


No prisoners. Be careful not to damage the supply depot. Colonel


Darklighter may commence his assault as soon as the defensive


strong-points have been taken out."


Several batteries opened fire on the planet below, targeting


the Cardassian defensive positions, but avoiding firing too close to


the supply depot itself.


"The enemy's outer defence perimeter has been destroyed. Inner


perimeter too close to the depot to risk orbital bombardment."


"Very well. Commence ground assault."


The massive landing barge hit dirt fifty kilometers from the


supply depot, well below the horizon, and belched out it's passengers.


The army unit fanned out in short order, securing the landing zone,


and mounting several E-web light repeating artillery pieces to cover


all approaches. Six teams of speeder bikes sped out to reconnoitre the


surrounding territory, while a Juggernaut and six light repulsor-tanks


were unlimbered from the barge. Five squads totalling fifty troopers


were settled aboard the Juggernaut and the smaller tanks, and they


headed off in the direction of the distant supply depot. One hundred


kilometers away, another task force approached the Cardassian


positions from the opposite direction.


The repulsor vehicles had been chosen for two reasons. The


terrain was too mountainous to be easily traversed by AT-AT's, and


AT-AT's were not very good at travelling without leaving traces of


their passage.


Several minutes later, a stormtrooper unit commander was


scanning the Cardassian positions in the valley where the supply depot


was located. He was lying in a still warm glass-filled crater, all


that was left of a Cardassian defensive position blasted from orbit.


"I count six bunkers, unshielded, in a rectangular defensive


perimeter. The supply depot itself is lightly shielded, and has


several firing slits for it's defenders. I don't see any evidence of


heavy weapons or artillery of any kind." He reported to his superior,


the captain in charge of the ground assault.


"Juggernauts into firing position. Take out the bunkers."


The massive repulsor-lift vehicle crested the ridge, and


opened fire on the distant bunkers. It attracted only small arms fire


in return. Several volleys later, most of the small arms fire had died




"Bunkers destroyed."


All that remained was the surface installation itself, which


needed to be taken intact.


"Juggernaut advance on the depot. Fire light concussion


grenades to suppress enemy fire. Troopers in covering position behind


the Juggernaut."


The Juggernaut advanced, a massive wall of armour, with the


troopers coming along behind it. It fired a continuous stream of small


concussion and fragmentation grenades. The fragmentation grenades were


fused to detonate in airbursts just short of the depot's exterior


wall, peppering it's surface with shrapnel. The defensive fire


lessened considerably.


Judging his moment, the stormtrooper unit commander shouted an


order into his helmet mike. The Juggernaut fired a high-powered blast


into the armoured entrance of the supply depot from point-blank range,


blowing a gaping hole into the structure. The stormtroopers, waiting


for this moment, charged into the breach, lobbing fragmentation


grenades through the opening as they approached.


"Surface level secured. No prisoners taken. The enemy is


offering to surrender."


"Accept their surrender, then execute them with their own


disruptors. Pump skin-contact nerve gas into the lower levels to take


care of any stragglers, wait fifteen minutes, then release the


nerve-gas suppressant. Get an inventory of the supplies and signal the


Eliminator to send down the supply shuttles."


Two hours later, the Eliminator was once again stuffed to the


bilges with very necessary alloys and equipment. The Cardassian ships


were now less than an hour away. The stormtroopers quickly fanned out


over the base, firing at everything in sight with the Cardassian


disruptor weapons, covering up their own blaster weapon damage as far


as possible. They finished off their evidence destroying mission by


planting a number of small anti-matter charges appropriated from the


Cardassian stores in the area of the depot and it's surrounding


defences. These were detonated as their landing barge docked with the


Eliminator in high orbit.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.






















The insistent beeping of his communicator woke Picard up.


"Captain Picard." He identified himself.


"Captain. We have a priority three message from Starfleet.


Shall I patch it through to your quarters."


"Yes. Thank you."


Priority three was not particularly urgent. Usually a change


in orders. Most communications were standard information updates and


were marked priority four or five. Calls for aid and diversions to


attend to immediate problems were usually priority two. Priority one


was reserved for messages of vital importance to the security of the


Federation. Picard was intrigued by the priority three message, but


not unduly so. He activated the message as soon as his desk confirmed


it's arrival.


It was a change in orders as he had expected. For the last few


months the Enterprise had been adding it's weight to the Federation


patrols of their border with the Romulans, now they were being


diverted to the Cardassian front again. Apparently the Cardassians had


suffered a few minor losses to the Maquis, and were aggressively


chasing down every lead they had. Several times they had crossed the


border into Federation space when pursuing suspected Maquis vessels.


There had also been an increase in tension along the


Cardassian-Romulan front after a Cardassian politician had made it


public that the Maquis were suspected of using cloaked vessels,


possibly of Romulan origin.


"Computer. Request a detailed synopsis of all Maquis activity


for the last six months. Notify me as soon as synopsis is available."






computer responded in a carefully modulated female voice.


"Put me through to the bridge." He ordered. Seconds later the


face of Lieutenant Data appeared on the desk's vid display.


"Bridge here." Data answered.


"Lieutenant Data. Lay in a course for Bajor. Cruising speed."


The android tilted his head slightly, then answered almost


immediately. "I have plotted a course, sir. Our ETA to Bajor is seven


days, six hours ..."


"Thank you, Mr Data. Transfer our patrol logs to sector


headquarters and inform them that our orders have been changed. No


doubt they will already have received confirmation from Starfleet.


Enter the course change and engage."


Picard cut the display. He glanced longingly at his bunk, then


discarded all thoughts of further sleep.


"Computer. Prepare a 40 page synopsis of all Maquis activity


based on current databank contents."


His console beeped as the synopsis was added to his file


inventory. Picard selected it and started to read, but gave up after a


few paragraphs. The information was out of date and there was nothing


there he didn't already know. He would have to wait for the full


update on the latest events from Earth Central. Sighing in


resignation, he forced himself to read through the synopsis anyway in


case there were things he had forgotten.


The Maquis were a rebel group of ex-Federation citizens


disgruntled by the terms of the last peace treaty with Cardassia. To


achieve peace had meant that several border systems had changed hands,


leaving many of them on the wrong side. He sympathised with those who


had lost their homes, but there was a bigger picture. In the interests


of regional peace and security the Federation had been forced to make


a few sacrifices. Instead of accepting the compensation offered to


them by the Federation, these people had chosen violence. He had no


doubt that they were in the wrong, no matter how much sympathy he had


for them.








Odo watched the four humans walk into Quark's bar. This was


the sixth time they had come here in the last four months. He had no


doubt they were Maquis or Maquis related.


He glanced around to make sure that no-one was watching, then


quietly slipped into an air-conditioning tube. Crawling more rapidly


than a human could possibly hope to match, and squeezing past


constrictions that no human would have been able to pass, he quickly


made his way to his favourite spy hole. He barely made it in time to


see the backs of the men disappear into Quark's office. He cursed in




Some time ago Quark had called in a Ferengi construction team


from off-station to outfit his bar. They had deliberately designed it


so that large portions of the space were cut off from the station's


maintenance and service ducts, and installed double-walls in many


areas. Odo knew without a doubt that many walls had a network of


Ferengi intruder alert systems built into them. If he tried to cut his


way through any of the dense walls to make more spy-holes Quark would


know. A slight vibration on what currently passed for his chest warned


him of an incoming call. He silently backed away and slithered through


the familiar ducts to his usual exit close to his office, then


answered the call.




"Odo. Can you report to the conference room immediately?" It


was Sisko's voice.


"Yes, Commander. I will be there shortly."






Odo stepped into a silent conference room. Sisko was seated at


one end of the table, and captain Picard at the other. Both were


looking slightly uncomfortable and making a point of not looking at


each other. Odo knew enough of their history to know why.




"Security Chief Odo. You have met Captain Jean-Luc Picard."


Odo nodded. "The captain has recently been assigned to this sector to


assist in monitoring Maquis activity. I would like you to brief him on


your recent findings."


"Yes, Sir. If you and the captain would like to accompany me


to my offices, I believe I could show you a few things."


"Very well."


The three men walked in silence to the security control


centre. Odo was not given to unnecessary conversation, and Picard and


Sisko had long since given up speaking to each other on matters other


than business.






"In closing," Odo was saying, "I have noticed a pattern around


their visits to Quark. The Maquis have won five major victories


against the Cardassians in the last four months out of eleven


engagements, four of the victories occurred shortly after a visit by


these men to Quark. They appear to be highly trained military


personnel. They don't quite smell like ex-starfleet personnel as many


Maquis do, and an extensive search of starfleet personnel records has


revealed nothing. That means the Maquis are drawing their forces from


elsewhere. I have yet to find out where."


"Obviously," Odo continued, "all of this is conjecture. There


is nothing there that will stand up in a court of law, nothing even


that will justify a search of Quark's premise or bringing him in for


questioning. He could easily deny all knowledge, and we wouldn't have


a leg to stand on."


"The victories won by the Maquis. Are they significant in any


way?" Picard asked.


"They are significant in the sense that the Maquis have


managed to stop the Cardassians in their tracks. They still have


inferior equipment and cannot stand up to the Cardassians in any open


engagements, but they have made the Cardassians more careful, and


stretched their resources thinly in the entire region. Several


Cardassian outposts are suffering from supply shortages."


"Can you tell me about the five Maquis victories?" Picard




"Certainly. There are two that don't really concern me, but


three that are very worrying. I'll leave them for last. Eleven weeks


ago, three Maquis ships ambushed a Cardassian cruiser on a routine


patrol, inflicting heavy damage on it before it managed to outrun them


in a high speed warp chase. Two weeks later an explosive device


destroyed a strategically important Cardassian listening post. It is


suspected that the explosive might have been planted by a Maquis


sympathiser in the Cardassian military. Cardassian forensic analysis


identified the explosive as being of a common commercial variety,


easily obtainable in any mining community. Neither of these incidents


concern me, and their timing may just be coincidental.


"The remaining three victories however are all things I would


not have thought the Maquis capable of."


"Explain." Sisko pressed.


"The first incident is some four months ago, about a week


after the visit by the four Maquis suspects. A Cardassian supply depot


situated just behind their front-lines, and which is the major


supplier to several forward listening posts, was destroyed. No warp


traces were tracked into or out of the system. A Galor on patrol in


the system vanishes without a trace. The supply depot is totally


destroyed, leaving only vague evidence of a major ground battle. Lots


of disruptor scarring of surrounding rock, etc.


"There is no way a Maquis force could have reached that system


unless they used cloaking technology and had a warship powerful enough


to take on a Galor. Of course there is a possibility that one of the


nearby listening posts is compromised and records have been falsified


but the Cardassians claim that the loyalty of their staff in those


posts is unquestionable."


"The others?" Picard asked.


"A listening post close to the Briar patch was destroyed.


Again, surrounding listening posts picked up no incoming or outgoing


warp signatures except for a large supply vessel which was servicing


the outposts in the area. The supply vessel was also lost. The


destruction of the listening post left a large gap in the Cardassian


early warning net for Maquis ships prepared to negotiate the Briar


patch. Again, only a cloaked vessel could have accomplished the


mission, or the Cardassian early warning network is hopelessly




"The last incident is particularly strange. One of the


Cardassian colonies in the disputed territory is a particular sore


point to the Maquis, but the planet itself is too heavily defended for


them to assault it directly, and they don't have the firepower to


enforce a blockade. They have raided the planet in the past, but this


time was different."


"Let me guess," Picard interected. "There was a major supply


raid on the planet, with no warp traces in or out of the system."


"Very close, captain. Very close indeed." Odo looked closely


at Picard, as if hoping to discern something more from this


examination. "The planet itself was not raided, but every single


orbital facility was destroyed and all sensors and communications


equipment knocked out, as well as all sub-space relay stations in the


vicinity. The planet was effectively rendered deaf, blind and dumb


just before a large supply convoy was due to arrive. The convoy never


arrived, and by the time a starship came to investigate, all traces of


the convoy had vanished."


"We're not dealing with the Maquis here." Picard stated.


"Well, not directly. It may be that the Maquis know something, or that


Quark knows something. Let me tell you about a humanitarian mission


the Enterprise undertook into Klingon space ten months ago."








"Well, governor Bast?" Issard joked with his old chief




"Be careful, sir. I may start calling you Moff Issard, or even


Emperor Issard."


"I'll drop you into the first mynock infested space-slug we


find." Issard threatened.


The friendship between the two men had grown in the year since


they had arrived in this galaxy. They had been through lots of trials,


and had come to trust heavily in each other. The distance from the


hard rules of the Empire had also seemed to fade over time despite


Issard's best efforts. The joke about referring to his Chief Engineer


as a governor was also becoming a hard truth. Bast had not served


aboard the Eliminator for more than six months now, his duties as de


facto head of operations for several engineering projects planet-side


was taking up all his time.


The original New Coruscant had been abandoned because of it's


proximity to Klingon space and the city reduced to slag to erase


evidence of the Imperial presence. While mining operations in that


system continued, all planet-side personnel not directly involved with


the mining had been relocated to the star system now referred to just


as Coruscant.


"Nothing major to report this week sir. Those Cardassian


freighters you captured are proving quite effective as inter-planetary


transports for all our mining operations here. They require


anti-matter fuel though, and we don't have a facility to manufacture


anti-matter. It would be great if you could get some anti-matter on


your next raid."


"Can't they be modified to use our power supplies?"


"I am afraid not, Sir. I just don't know enough about how


those engines work to safely take one apart, let alone rebuild it with


a possibly incompatible power supply. The warp motivator and the


anti-matter conversion reactor seems to have been designed and


manufactured as a single unit. If we had access to a grade one


research facility and some expendable technicians it would be a


different matter."


"Very well. I will see what I can scrounge up." Issard


relented. "Other matters?"


"The medical droids report one thousand four hundred babies


born to date, eighty percent female as you required. To date seven


hundred marriages have been performed. Six hundred couples have been


allowed to take up permanent planet-side residence as they are all


technical or engineering staff of some discipline or other. Military


and Naval staff will remain assigned to ship-board duties for now


despite marital status."


"Excellent. This colony then seems to be viable?"


"Yes, Sir."


"The Tibanna extraction facility?"


"Ninety two percent complete. We will be ready to attempt a


preliminary descent into the gas-giant's atmosphere in three weeks


time. If the descent is successful and the facility holds up, there


will be about three months of touching up, then a full descent to a


depth where mining can commence."


"Do you foresee any problems with it?"


"None at this stage, sir."


"The modifications to the TIEs?"


The chief sucked in his cheeks and screwed up his face.


"All the modifications are proceeding satisfactorily except


for two areas. The existing power distribution model of a standard TIE


doesn't take into account a shield generator, which means we have to


weld on an additional power cell separate to the existing power


systems just to power the shields. This has made the fighter rather


heavier and slower. On top of that, if we cobble on a hyperdrive


motivator we are really adding to the weight of the vehicle, and that


is before sealing it and equipping it with a stasis generator so that


a human pilot can survive in hyperspace. At this stage, only a droid


can fly the thing, and it's as about as nimble as a Huttese ballet




"What do you need?"


"A working TIE Defender, or a complete technical readout of




"I meant something within my power to provide for you."


"I am not sure that there is anything you can do, sir. I have


a team of my engineers working on a computer model of something like a


TIE Defender. They are still months away from being able to start


prototyping their design though. Even then, we might not be able to


manufacture something as complex as a starfighter for years to come."


"Very well. The shield modifications?"


"No news yet sir. We have been testing different shield


configurations using the disruptors you captured, but none of the


configurations we tried had a significant effect on them. They pass


right through shields, albeit with limited effectiveness. The best


defence against these disruptors apparently is our armour. Disruptors


take a vary long time to burn through thick, dense armour plating."


"Okay. That is my biggest worry. The Eliminator can take a


fair amount of punishment from phasers and disruptors as long as we


don't lose our shields, but a lightly armoured TIE or gunboat will be


easy pickings for such weapons, shielded or not."


"Yes, Sir. So far a TIEs best defence is still it's small


sensor signature and it's manoeuvrability."


"I am expecting a fuel shuttle from the hypermatter facilities


in three days time. As soon as it arrives, we will go see what that


conniving Ferengi thief has come up with for us."


"The raids have been most helpful, Sir. Are you sure though


that our presence has gone unnoticed?"


"One can never be sure of these things. We have kept a


relatively low profile though, and if anything, we are believed to be


part of one of the local terrorist factions."








"Gentlemen," Quark leered, "do I have a job for you this




"Spare me. What are the details?" The mercenary asked




"The Maquis are short of fuel for their starships. Between the


Federation and the Cardassians they are strangling the Maquis by


strictly controlling fuelling of civilian starships. The Klingons have


no love of the Cardassians, and are still supplying the Maquis with


fuel, but not enough."


"We are not in the fuel supply business." The mercenary stated


flatly. "Unless you are going to point out a fuel facility that is


overstocked and needs to be relieved of their excess." He finished


with a thin smile.


"Precisely." Quark grinned, and pushed over a data card. "The


co-ordinates of the depot. The Maquis would like to work with you on


this one though. They would like you to ensure that they get five


freighters into the system, relieve the depot of as much fuel as


possible, then escape into the Badlands."


"Impossible. We work alone."


"How else would you get the fuel to them?" Quark asked.


"We will supply our own freighters, and meet them at a


location of our choosing once we have procured the supplies."


"Have it your way, but you do understand payment will only be


made after the fuel is transferred?"


"Of course," the hard-looking human scoffed, "and you


understand what will happen to you should you try to cheat us."


"Moi? A cheat? Never!" Quark disclaimed, with his hand over


where a human would have a heart. The soldier didn't know whether a


Ferengi had one.


The two men shook hands, and the human left, his three


accomplices tagging along behind him. Quark watched until they had


left the establishment, then turned through another entrance into the


deep recesses of the bar. He unlocked the door to his private quarters


and slipped inside, coming face to face with Sisko and a writhing


figure tied down on his bed.


"Is it done?" Sisko asked him.


"Yes." Odo answered.


Sisko leaned down over the bed and loosened the gag on the


writhing figure. It gasped for air, breathing heavily.


"Do you know what you have done?" screamed Quark.


"Oh, I am sure you will tell us." Sisko said soothingly to the


still bound Ferengi.


"When they discover you have cheated them, it will be the


death of me! The death of all of us!"


"Oh, I am sure it won't come to that." Sisko smiled. "Now. If


you wish to live through this, you will tell us everything you know


about this mercenary organisation." Seeing a vague hint of hesitation


in the Ferengi's eyes, Sisko added menacingly, "or does Odo have to go


out there and announce a fifty percent price reduction on all your




Odo immediately resumed his Quark disguise and turned towards


the door.


"No. Wait. Please. I'll tell you what I know." Quark whined.


"It's just that I don't know much."








Issard glanced around his bridge and shook his head in wonder.


Several of his junior officers were pregnant and couldn't fit in their


standard uniforms anymore. As a result dress code on the bridge was


rather relaxed. The bridge was also rather empty, a number of seats


were vacant and things just felt quieter than usual.


"Tactical overlay." He ordered.


The nearby holo-board was updated with a tactical picture of


the system they were about to raid. The data was being supplied by a


droid monitor in the outer system, as usual. The system was in a quiet


region of Cardassian space, well away from the region contested by the


Maquis, and close to the edge of Cardassian controlled space. There


were several new colonies in the area, and the region was being


heavily exploited by a Cardassian colonisation drive. This system was


probably a jump-off point for many colony ships. Security was also


relatively light out here, because of the distance from the Cardassian


frontlines with the Federation and Klingons.


Issard noted that there were no starships currently in the


system, only a large orbital facility over the target planet.


Preliminary readings showed a small concentration of life-forms on the


planet itself, as would be expected. The planet itself was within


Cardassian/Human tolerance levels, but for some reason had not been


colonised itself. Perhaps due to it's poor mineral mix. There were


many richer planets out there.


"Pincer jump. Target the orbital facility. I want it disabled,


not destroyed. The data we were supplied wasn't clear whether the


depot was on the planet or an orbital facility. We can always destroy


the orbital facility if the fuel is stored planet-side."


"Understood, Sir."


"Jump calculated."




The Star Destroyer flashed through hyperspace, terminating


it's jump scant thousands of kilometres from the orbital station.


"Light cannons free."


Several green bolts slammed into the facility, smashing


antennae and other protrusions.


"Sir. Picking up a communication from the planet below."


"Silence it. Any other satellites? Nearby relays?"


"None sir. The orbital station was the only relay in the




"Give me a detailed scan of the station. I want to be sure


it's disabled."


"No trace of shields, several internal fires, fluctuating


power core, many failing life signs, no sign of resistance detected so




"Send an assault shuttle to take it over."


"Yes, Sir. Shuttle launched."


"Planetary facilities?"


"We have located what looks like the fuel depot. Transmitting


co-ordinates to the assault team."


"Launch the assault team. TIE's to run cover for them. Light


suppression bombing authorised."


"Aye, Sir."


Issard leaned back in his seat. Another smooth mission, easier


than most. The Cardassians were becoming easy pickings. His forces


would have the planet under control in a few more minutes, then he


could start loading the anti-deuterium fuel. He had no intention of


delivering the fuel to Quark. The Ferengi had served his purpose.


After this, they would have no need for further raiding for a long


time. The anti-deuterium could fuel the freighters he had captured and


also supplement their own requirements for power generation.


"Sir. Major Ozzel reports he has secured the orbital station.


He requests permission to execute prisoners."


"Granted. We don't need witnesses."


"Yes, Sir."


Issard looked out of a nearby view-screen at the station as


the Star Destroyer sailed past it's position. A number of small shapes


were detaching themselves from the station and floating away into the


vacuum. He squinted at the sight for a second before he realised what


had happened. Ozzel was dumping the prisoners out of an airlock. Good


man. He made a note to commend the soldier for saving precious blaster




"Sir. Report from planet-side. Major Kanos on channel seven."


"Kanos?" Issard punched up channel seven on his command




A helmeted figure appeared on a nearby vid-screen. Major


Kanos, from his command centre inside a heavily armoured Juggernaut.


"Sir. It looks like the Cardassians have a number of troops


defending their facilities. They're bunkered in, and have no


mechanised support that we have seen. AT-ATs would have cleared them


out much faster, but I am having to do with aerial support from the


TIE bombers. The facility will be in my control shortly. I apologise


for the delay."


"The delay cannot be helped. We can't use AT-AT's because they


leave too many traces of their use. I'd rather you capture the


facility with minimal losses of men than time, Major. Please proceed


as you deem best."


"Thank you, Sir."


"Long range sensors?" Issard asked of his bridge officer.


"All clear sir. There are no ships inbound for as far as we


can detect."


"Very good. Send for some tea will you, and sandwiches."


"Yes, Sir." The bridge officer waved impatiently to a junior


officer, who quickly placed the relevant orders.




"RANGE?" Issard shouted, the urgency of the contact warning


causing him to surge out of his seat. An annoying sound assaulted his


senses for a second before he realised it was a klaxon sounding


combat-stations. The sensor operator must have keyed it as he called


out the contact warning.


"Twenty clicks and closing fast! All I have is drive


emissions. It's a ship with a level three cloak."


"Force!" Issard swore. The contact was coming from behind and


below, right in their weakest quarter whether by design or by


accident. Two hundred thousand kilometres was well within extreme


weapons range. "Full forward power, pitch up maximum."


"Starship de-cloaking."


"Hard port. Level pitch. Weapons free. Bank left maximum."


Issard glanced at the rear view-screen, where a computer


enhanced image of the de-cloaked starship was rapidly approaching. The


starship was momentarily obscured by a flash of static as it opened


fire, then the computer image was enhanced again.


"He's firing."


A high-pitched stutter and scream sounded from the battle


audio system.


"Pulsed disruptor fire. Shields only partially effective. Hull


damage. Extent unknown."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.














"Stay on course. Keep firing." Sisko ordered.


The alien raiders had one huge starship, easily as massive as


any ship Sisko had previously seen except for a Borg cube. They were


trying desperately to turn, but he had them cold. They were still


barely moving at orbital velocities and he was right in their six, and


just below them. On the view-screen he saw several phaser bolts smash


into the alien shields and splinter into a myriad tiny flashes.


"Damage?" he asked.


"Their shields are holding up quite well, Commander. We are


getting some leakage but their hull is made of some very dense




"Vary phaser modulation to maximise shield penetration.


Prepare torpedoes."


"Torpedoes ready sir. The enemy is opening fire."


"Launch two torpedoes."


Two torpedoes flashed out towards the massive starship, which


had now managed to turn almost beam on.


"Bank right, cease fire, engage cloak."




On Issard's screen he could finally see some turbolaser bolts


flashing out towards the attacking starship, but still wide of target.


As the defensive fire tracked closer though the starship fired two


missiles at them and banked away, then it vanished.


"Track for drive emissions, fire along it's last known


course." He called as two loud cracks sounded on the battle audio.


"What the hell was that?"


"We were hit in the rear quarter by two torpedoes, Sir. Point


defences were caught by surprise. Ventral shields are down to thirty


percent, and at least one shield generator was blown. Damage reports


are still being compiled."


"Tell Kanos to hurry up down there. Prepare two dropships to


pick them up in case we have to retreat. Any luck in tracking that




"Drive emissions have also vanished sir. There is no trace of




"I want all crews on full alert, and the point-defence cannons


had better not miss another torpedo. Do we have any additional damage


repair crews?"


"No sir. We are running on minimum crew as it is."


"Force! This had to be a trap, and they waited for us to be


fully committed before they sprung it. I'll have that damn Ferengi


gutted and drawn across my hull and his balls fed to a womprat!"






Sisko contemplated the massive alien ship. Being cloaked he


couldn't use active sensors so couldn't do a detailed scan of the


ship. However, it had survived a full charge of pulse-phasers and two


quantum torpedoes with virtually no significant outward sign of damage


barring some shield depletion.


"Bring us around into his rear quarter again. We'll attack the


same point. Prepare another pair of torpedoes."


The small starship manoeuvred for some seconds, coming around


in a wide arc into the rear quarter of the alien vessel.


"We're in position and within one light second, Sir."




"Range two fifty and closing, Sir."




The helmsman kept his mouth shut as the alien starship got


bigger on the view-screen. The range was clearly indicated on the


view-screen, so he didn't bother calling it out. He glanced back at


Sisko, but the commander remained impassive.






"Drive emissions! To the rear. Cloaked starship closing."


"Do NOT establish a weapons lock." Issard ordered. "I repeat.


No weapons lock, feed co-ordinates to all guns that can bear. Only


fire on my command. Helm, commence a slow turn to starboard, get ready


to swing us around. Feed co-ordinates to all starboard guns. All guns


hold fire."






On the Defiant, Sisko glanced at the range indicator. They


were down to less than one hundred thousand kilometres, and no


reaction yet from the enemy starship. The helmsman had changed course


slightly to keep them on the enemy's six as they turned back towards


the planet below. Sisko was about to order the cloak dropped when he


was interrupted by the sensor operator.




"What is it?"


"It's difficult to tell on passive, but I could swear that


ship has every single gun-turret pointing straight at us."


"Break right! Warp two. Engage."


The helmsman didn't hesitate, already unnerved by their close


approach he punched in the orders as fast his fingers could move. The


Defiant shot forward, turning hard to the right. On the viewscreen the


alien starship erupted in a frenzy of fire, dozens of weapons


emplacements firing at the position just vacated by the Defiant.


"Well done." Sisko slapped his sensor operator's shoulder.


"Helm, bring us around onto his port beam, drop to Impulse at


two hundred thousand kilometres. Tactical, we will de-cloak and open


fire immediately, four torpedoes into his port flank."


"Aye, Sir."






"He's gone." The tactical sensor officer complained.


"Did we get him?" Issard asked.


"No sign of wreckage, Sir."


"Communications reporting. Sub-space static. Possible warp




"Bearing?" Issard asked impatiently.


"No bearing sir. We do not have a triangulation base. Shall I


activate the out-system droid monitor and calculate a triangulation?"


"No. That will compromise the monitor. There is nothing we can


do about a ship at warp anyway. Report the moment the static clears."


"Aye, Sir."


The communications officer didn't have a chance to report.


Even as the static cleared and he opened his mouth to report the


tactical officer beat him to it.


"Starship de-cloaking, port beam."


"Fire at will. Point defences." Issard ordered over the


stuttering noise of disruptor hits being reported by the battle audio




"Torpedoes. Torpedoes destroyed."


A dull thud sounded through the deck.


"Explosion on the port beam."


"I felt it. I thought you said the torpedoes were destroyed."


Issard accused his tactical officer.


"They were, that was one of the port weapons batteries


exploding. It took a disruptor hit."


Issard glanced over his tactical boards. "Where is he?"


"No trace of him sir. We picked up some drive emissions as he


swung away, but that dissipated very quickly. No sub-space static, so


he's still close by and masking his drive emissions. I reckon if he


closes to anywhere close to two hundred thousand kilometres we'll be


able to track him again."


"Did we score any hits."


"A few gunners claimed hits, but he cloaked before I could get


confirmation, Sir."


"Okay, that's it. Launch the dropships. Get Kanos's force back


up here. Close with the captured orbital station and get Ozzel's force


onboard as well. We're outta here as soon as everyone's back on board,


and make it snappy. Be sure to cover all the boats so we don't lose








The bridge of the Defiant was obscured by smoke.


"Damage report?" Sisko calmly ordered.


"Minor damage sir. A few plasma conduits overloaded, some


electronic terminators were fried, and the shields are down to forty




"How many hits did we take?"


"Six, Sir. Four light weapons, and two medium power weapons.


We banked away before their heavy guns opened fire."


"Firepower rating?"


"Light cannons about 1.5 megatons, medium cannons about 18


megatons. We basically got clipped by the equivalent of two photon




"Any readings on how many weapons emplacements?"


"Yes, Sir. 12 heavy guns, 64 medium cannons and 128 light


cannons. That puts total firepower at about 1,344 megatons excluding


the heavy guns."


"Estimate on the heavy guns?"


"Uh, the readings might be faulty sir."


"What do you mean?" Sisko asked carefully.


"Spectral analysis of the heavier bolts compared to the known


firepower of the smaller bolts yields a computer estimate of 216


megatons each. I can't tell for sure unless we take a hit and get a


reading off our shields."


"Son, if we take a hit on our shields from one of those guns,


there will be nobody left to take a reading." Sisko sarcastically




"Yes, Sir." The youngster remarked.


"Helm, put the planet between him and us for our next


approach. We are going to have to get closer on our next run."


"Closer, Sir?"


"Yes. Those big turrets which represent his heavy guns may not


be able to track us if we get close enough because our angular


velocity will be much higher. It should also make us a more difficult


target for the other guns, and at that range he won't have time to


shoot down our torpedoes again."


"Commander, those bolts radiate a major amount of interference


and heat. A torpedo casing might be melted even by a near miss, so he


may still be able to knock out our torpedoes."


"We'll give it a try anyway as soon as we've taken care of


this damage. He's not going anywhere with his troops on the surface."






"Where is he?" Issard muttered. They had dropped down to a


very low orbit on the planet, shortening the distance for the


dropships to a couple of hundred kilometres only. All guns were


trained at the horizon or out into open space. At this height, the


horizon was only a couple of thousand kilometres away, and they


couldn't see through the planet.


"Sensors? Comms?"


"No sign of anything unusual, sir."


"How long before Kanos's forces are on board?"


"Three minutes, Sir. They're still being loaded, and his


armoured units are trying to keep the Cardassians pinned down so that


they don't launch a counter attack."


Three minutes. Might as well be an eternity. That damned


cloaked ship had only made two attack runs on him and already he had


lost a ventral shield generator and two port gun-batteries. The droids


were still trying to get the crews out of there, and he had no idea


how many casualties he had in that section. A junior communications


officer had also had to be replaced when she burst into tears. Her


husband was in command of gunnery in that section, and he hadn't


reported in yet. He made a mental note to allow only one spouse out of


a married pair on a mission next time. He couldn't afford to have a


crew member's performance impaired because of emotional concerns.




"Bearing?" Issard called, then spotted the enemy starship


coming in over the horizon about forty degrees off their six. It was


already firing, the battle audio system stuttering away as the pulsed


disruptor bolts bit away at his flank. The high-pitched stuttering was


suddenly overlain by a drum-roll of turbo-laser fire. On the


viewscreen, a hail of green bolts flashed out at the enemy starship,


which rolled away, banked under a score of bolts and fired another


volley of disruptor bolts.


The starship flashed past barely a thousand kilometres over


their position, launching torpedoes as it accelerated away. Issard


punched the air as several orange flashes on the view-screen indicated


shield hits, but they were all from the point-defence laser-cannons,


not the turbolasers, and the enemy ship kept going. A dull roar


sounded indicating a nearby nuclear detonation as the agile enemy


starship dropped below the planetary horizon.




"One torpedo hit, dorsal shields down to eighty percent and


recharging. Several proximity bursts from his torpedoes. They


detonated anyway as our point-defences hit them or damaged them.


Nothing we can do about that, the warhead is anti-matter and will


detonate anyway once the containment field is compromised. We lost a


sensor package on the starboard beam as well as a nearby tracking


computer. The starboard guns are now being assisted by the bridge


computers. The extra signal distance means a delay sufficient to cause


a two percent loss in response time."


"Acknowledged. Helm, come around thirty points, and move us


about four hundred kilometres off position before he comes around




"Aye, Sir."


Seconds later the enemy starship was back, but instead of


circling the planet it had doubled back on itself and came attacking


from the direction it had vanished into. A few point defence cannons


opened up on it before they had a positive track and their fire went


wide as two torpedoes came screaming in at high speed. One torpedo got


flashed by a lucky shot and detonated several hundred kilometres away,


the other one slipped in under the laser-cannons and detonated against


the forward shields knocking them down to sixty percent. A volley of


pulsed-phaser fire ripped into the weakened shields and scored deep


tracks into the nose section of the Destroyer, which was rocked by


several small explosions as three pursuit tractor projectors were


blown off their hull-mountings.


A number of light turbolasers stabbed out at the enemy ship


which had already rolled away. The starboard medium batteries opened


up, firing a co-ordinated broadside into the path of the agile


corvette sized attacker, but the broadside went wide. Two torpedoes


came flashing in from only four thousand kilometres away, too fast and


too close for the point defences to respond. Three dull tremors passed


through the bridge as half the starboard shield generators blew under


the onslaught.


"Shields down to fifteen percent. Shield recharge rate is


seriously compromised and is at less than fifty percent optimum."


"Another run on the starboard flank and we're done for."


"Belay that!" Issard ordered. "Starboard point defences to


intensify defensive firepower. I want a sustained bombardment in the


direction of the enemy on his next pass. I don't care if we hit him or


not, I just want all torpedoes taken down!"


"Sir, three light batteries on the starboard flank are


reporting damage. That last torpedo hit must have twisted or melted


their gun-turrets."


"Are Kanos's forces on their way yet?"


"Yes, Sir. They will be on board in one minute or less."


"They had better be."






"Status?" Sisko shouted over the hissing and crackling of a


nearby leaking plasma conduit.


"Shields at twenty percent. Extensive concussion damage to all


optical circuits on the outer decks. Impulse engines at eighty three


percent operational efficiency. Several computer controlled systems


are off-line. We have lost all forward starboard sensor capacity and


the computer reports that the starboard pulse-phaser cannon's


calibration is totally out. It may only be good for five or six more


shots before burning out."




"Control systems are a bit choppy sir, and with the damage to


the optronics it's getting difficult to compensate. I think I can hold


her together for one or two more runs, after that it's anyone's




"Tactical? Do you think we can hit their dropships before


they're taken aboard?"


"It would be incredibly difficult, Sir. The dropships are only


about forty meters long. I would need a steady firing platform for


about three seconds at one hundred thousand kilometers or better to


get a firing solution on a target that small. Hitting a mile long


starship is one thing, a forty meter dropship while performing evasive


manoeuvres is another. It also doesn't help getting as close as we


have, because the angular velocity makes the shot even more




"Flying steady for three seconds under those guns is not an


option. We'll stick to the big ship. What do you suggest?"


"Their starboard shields were the weakest last time around. We


manage to score a torpedo hit there and they're gone."


"They will expect that. Okay, here's how we'll play it. We'll


make a hard run on their port beam, do a fly-by, slow down, and fire


as many torps as possible out of the rear tubes at their starboard


beam while doing our best to evade fire."


"Understood, Sir."


"Then let's do it."






The Defiant came streaking in towards the planet, banked


slightly and skirted as close to the upper atmosphere as they dared.


The alien raider popped up over the horizon almost dead ahead of them,


but it was apparent that they had decided not to play along. The


aliens had dropped even closer to the upper atmosphere, and their


starboard beam was pointing at the planet below with the dorsal


surface facing the Defiant.


"They've changed the play. Bank left." Sisko ordered.


They barely turned aside as a massive broadside flashed past


where they had been.


"Bank right. Open fire, evasive manoeuvres."


The Defiant rolled to the right as the point defences of the


massive ship opened up on them, then twisted away again as the fire


tracked closer. They fired the last of their forward torpedoes just


before they flashed past the ship.


"Cut power. Fire aft tubes. Full evasives."


The attack run had been timed at the worst possible moment for


the alien starship apparently. The dropships were being taken aboard


via a hangar concealed in the ventral superstructure. By positioning


their weakened starboard beam as they had facing the planet, they had


exposed their hangar to attack, and the Defiant's aft tubes were


firing directly at this area as the dropships were being loaded.


The hangars were protected by a network of laser-cannons


though and they were returning the fire of the Defiant. The ship was


obscured by a massive detonation, one of the dropships, the last in


line, had been hit and destroyed. The volume of fire being directed at


the wildly gyrating Defiant was increasing by the second though and


Sisko decided not to push his luck any further.


"Engage cloak. Warp two. Get us out of here."


The Defiant shot into clear space away from the planet. Sisko


allowed several seconds to pass.


"Disengage warp. Hold position. Sensors?"


Several light-seconds behind them the alien starship was still


in position over the planet.


"Active scan. Let's see what damage we did."


"The ship itself does not appear to have suffered much damage,


Sir. We can pick up some damaged weapons blisters, some hull scarring,


a few areas where hull mounted equipment's been blown off. We also


destroyed one of the drop-ships before it could be taken aboard."


"What are they doing now?"


"It looks like they're climbing to a higher orbit. They seem


to be settling into an orbit about twenty thousand kilometres above


the planet."


On the view-screen the big starship pointed itself at the


planet below, then fired a massive broadside into the Cardassian


facility below. More than a hundred mushroom clouds blossomed over a


large area of the hemisphere beneath the ship.


"They've wiped out the Cardassian facility and everything


close to it!"


"Can we manage another run?" Sisko asked.


"The Impulse engines are damaged, the calibration has been


compromised. Any hard manoeuvres under Impulse and we can rip the ship


apart. The starboard phasers have burnt out, and the aft torpedo tube


is off-line. Our shields are almost gone and will take ages to


recharge with the all the circuit damage we've taken. I'm sorry sir,


but there's not much more we can do."


Before Sisko could answer, the alien starship vanished.


"Where'd it go? A cloaking device?" He asked.


"No sir. It's gone, just like the Enterprise predicted. Raced


clean off our scopes faster than a sensor pulse."


"Well, at least we now know what we're up against. Hopefully


we've also taught them a lesson they won't forget. Lay in a course for


DS9. Make sure to avoid any Cardassian presence. They won't be too


pleased if they discover we've been involved in this mess."






"I can't believe you did this." Picard shouted.


"I did what was necessary." Sisko calmly responded.


"You sat there and watched them massacre that station


personnel in cold blood!"


"I had to be sure their ground forces were fully committed


before I sprung the trap. If they disappeared too soon then nothing


would have been accomplished."


"You engineered a raid on a Cardassian planet. If this gets


out it will start a war."


"They were raiding Cardassian worlds anyway. I just made sure


we were there the next time they did it."


"If you had defeated them, what would you have told the


Cardassians on the planet?"


"That I had been chasing a lead about a possible Maquis raid


in the neighbourhood and decided to help."


"And now?"


"There are no witnesses. As far as the Cardassians are


concerned it's another Maquis terrorist attack. Let's leave it at




"I don't like your methods, Commander Sisko. You never used to


be like this. The Benjamin Sisko I once knew ..."


"Was killed by Locutus Borg at Wolf359." Sisko answered


coolly. "Now. This data card contains a full transcript of the entire


battle. Everything we know about that ship is contained on it. The


rest is in your hands. Somehow, they have got to be stopped. My way,


or your way. You choose."


"I will have lieutenant Data compile a profile of the enemy


vessel. No mention or reference will be made as to it's source. This


will remain between us. If what you did gets out ..."


"I know. I did what I deemed necessary."

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

























A story by Michael January,


for the entertainment of the ASVS denizens.


This is not for monetary gain,


and no infringement of copyright is intended.












Issard stood at rigid salute. Behind him, several rows of his


crew also stood at salute. Before them was a double row of funeral


pyres. Seventeen gun-crew members had been killed, and sixty soldiers,


several light hover-tanks and a Juggernaut had been lost in the


destroyed dropship. The sombre mood in the camp was underlain by the


sobbing of the junior bridge officer. One of the funeral pyres


represented her husband. Up to now they had been managing to eke out a


fairly good living in this galaxy, the resource raids on the primitive


alien races supplementing their needs. The damage to the Star


Destroyer and the recent loss of life had brought the reality of their


situation home to them in a most brutal manner.


They would never see their home galaxy again. Families left


behind were forever gone. Had they lost the Star Destroyer, with more


than a third of their number aboard it, the situation of the colonists


remaining would have been dire indeed.






"Damn-it Jase, I got complacent."


"You can't blame yourself, Sir."


The two men were strolling down a broad boulevard through the


center of Coruscant City. The boulevard was lined with local


vegetation, and several fountains were interspersed with the trees and


plants. The greenery and open spaces with fountains everywhere and the


nearby lake combined to remind Issard of a brief visit to Alderaan a


few years ago. Fifty thousand plus a few years ago, he corrected. Of


course, Alderaan had been reduced to an asteroid field by Tarkin


shortly afterwards. The comparison suddenly chilled him.


"No? Ultimately I was responsible. There are a few other


people I would like to make pay, though."


"This Ferengi? Quark?"


"Yes. Oh, Yes. What does the Eliminator look like?"


The engineer shrugged. "Most of the damage is superficial.


There is nothing I can do about the damaged turbolaser batteries. The


laser-cannons I can replace, and probably install a few extra to


improve the point-defences. The damaged sensor suites are also not a


problem, and the targeting computers are minor electronics. The


pursuit tractor projectors are too bad. We'll have to do without them.


I have already fixed the damaged shield generators, and my crews are


installing the spares right now. The ship will be as ready as I can


get her in three days time."


The two men stopped and sat down on a bench overlooking the


lake. There were a number of young men and women swimming in the lake


today. Their laughter and merriment in counterpoint to the funerals of




"Why can you replace laser-cannons but not turbolasers?"


Issard asked, though he suspected he knew the answer.


"Our mineral refinement capabilities are suitable for basic


droids and machinery, but we can't match the tolerances required for


turbolaser turrets. Laser-cannons don't get as hot, and they are not


much more powerful than the cannons installed on TIEs anyway, which is


well within our ability to produce. Even so, the new laser-cannons


won't be as durable as the old ones. You can probably expect them to


be the first to overheat in an extended battle."


Issard stood up and turned around. This was a good vantage


point to survey their new home. About 10,000 of his people were


permanently stationed here now. There was no sign of industry, just a


residential expanse connected by broad walkways and boulevards, with


the lake to one side. In the centre of the town were a few taller


buildings representing hospitals, recreation facilities, laboratories


and workshops for the engineers. There was an underground travel-tube


which connected the settlement to the main industrial facilities four


hundred kilometres away. In the long run, as the industries were


automated, they would be moved off-planet, but for now many factories


required human intervention to continue operating smoothly.


Turning the other way, he could see a shuttle taking off for


orbit in the distance. The small spaceport was about fifteen


kilometres away. There was another spaceport closer to their


industrial facilities which serviced the drop-ships which were used to


ferry materials to and from the captured Cardassian freighters in


orbit. The freighters would be useful for a few weeks more only before


they had used up the last of their anti-matter stores.


"Will we ever be able to improve our manufacturing




"Yes, Sir. It's just that the ability to produce alloys of the


quality required for turbolasers depends on a host of subsidiary


industries. It will be several months before we can build a


nano-robotics facility, the first step in the construction of a matrix


accelerator. I only have five hundred engineers and technicians, and a


fair number of them are required just to maintain the droids we've


constructed. I am working towards being able to construct some more


astro-mech droids, but until then, I just don't have sufficient


trained staff to dedicate to all the projects we've started."


"Okay. I'll leave you to your duties down here."


"Yes, Sir."




The engineer saluted and hurried off. Issard squinted out over


the lake again. The small group of swimmers were drying themselves off


on the narrow beach. He didn't know whether they had just come off a


shift or were about to start one. For a second he wondered at himself.


He couldn't remember ever having been so concerned about the people


placed in his care before, or so disturbed at losing anybody either.


Slapping his palm against his thigh he abruptly turned away.


"You're getting soft in your dotage, Willum," he admonished




He marched over to a nearby drop-tube, and took the lift down


to the travel-tube one hundred meters underground. He stepped out into


a well lit and broad passageway, and a short walk brought him to an


access hatch where he slapped the 'call' button. A few seconds later


the hatch snapped open, and he stepped into the travel-car and sat




"Space-port." He ordered.


It took the car about two minutes to get to the space-port


where his personal shuttle was waiting. He snapped off orders to the


pilot as he marched to the shuttle.


"I want Major Ozzel and Major Kanos in my briefing room when I


get there."


"Yes, Sir." The pilot answered. He made the call as the


shuttle lifted off.


Issard watched as the sky turned dark and the planet fell away


below them. Suddenly the blackness gave way to a colourful stellar


backdrop. The sky was a blaze of stars this close to the galaxy's


core, so much so that the planet below never had a truly dark night.


The starlight was so bright that it was quite easy to see even at


night. One of the stars was visibly growing brighter, and he knew they


were approaching the Eliminator.


The small destroyer which was their only hope for survival in


this galaxy was in a stationary orbit surrounded by a number of solar


reflectors lighting it up from all angles for the work-crews.


"Slow down and take us around. I want to see her from all


angles." He told the pilot.


The damage reports and holo-displays didn't quite bring home


the damage to the ship as it did seeing it with your own eyes. The


hull was pock-marked with areas where molten hull-metal had run and


boiled off. The two turbolaser batteries on the port side which had


been destroyed were large blackened masses of twisted metal. There


were also several holes digging a meter or more into the hull where


the disruptor bolts had passed through his shields. It was not the


first tour he had taken of the damage. The droids and work-crews had


been at it for almost a week now and he could see that they had made


significant progress. That Quark would pay, he had no doubt.


"Okay, I've seen enough. Take us in."








"Quark. We can't go on like this."


"Yes. We can." Quark insisted to his brother Nog.


"But Quark, these Federation security officers have been


hanging around the bar for four weeks now. They make our regular


customers nervous, and they don't buy anything. Business is terrible."


"Business is fine." Quark grated.


"Are you in some kind of trouble?"


"No. What ever gave you that idea? Why would I be in trouble?


I am not in trouble. I never did anything. It wasn't my fault."


"What wasn't your fault?"


"I just told you. I didn't do anything. Now shut up."


Nog hung his head and turned away.


"Oh, stop that." Quark admonished.


"Stop what?" Nog asked miserably.


"I'm sorry," Quark apologised. "I didn't mean to shout at you.


I know business is not good at the moment. But it will get better, I




"Really?" Nog brightened.


"Yes, I promise."


Somewhat appeased, Nog returned to the bar. Quark sighed and


made his way over to Kira Nerys.


"Major. Can't your people at least try to blend in?" Quark


pleaded. "They're scaring away my legitimate customers." He




"Listen Quark. My people ARE blended in." Nerys answered


irritably. "I don't know why I've been saddled with this duty, but it


was NOT my idea. If you want us to leave, just say the word." She


looked at him expectantly.


"No. I don't want you to leave." Quark amended quickly. "I


just, um, want you, um, to be, um, less visible."


"Do you see a uniform anywhere?" Nerys almost shouted at him,


causing the Ferengi to shrivel and withdraw slightly.


"No." Quark answered resignedly. Mentally, he swore at Odo for


the billionth time. One day, he swore, one day! It was Odo that had


got him into this trouble, and Odo should have been the one protecting


him. Lord knew that Odo was the person most able to disguise himself


and blend into the surroundings. Odo would almost certainly also be


the best equipped to defend him should anyone come after him. That


somebody would come after him he had no doubt. He had organised enough


tough assignments for those mercenaries to know what they were capable




Odo had questioned him in detail in the last few weeks about


the operations of the mercenaries and the arrangement they had with


the Ferengi. The questions had been most revealing. How was he


supposed to know that the mercenaries were in fact some previously


unknown alien group, and that they had been responsible for piracy of


an unprecedented scale under the guise of engaging in legitimate


mercenary work for the Maquis.


"Quark!" A stentorian voice boomed.


"Bwaaaah!" he screamed and dived behind a nearby table.


Several seconds later, discovering he was still in one piece, he


cautiously raised his head. A Cardassian was standing absolutely dead


still in the entrance to the bar, with about seven phasers trained on




"I, uh, just wanted to say that, um, those Dabo tables are


rigged." A few of the Federation security people raised their phasers,


one of them snorting in disgust. "I am going to leave now," the


Cardassian finished carefully, and backed slowly out of the doorway.


"That's it!" Nerys said through gritted teeth. "I have had


enough of this place."


She settled her phaser into it's holster beneath the casual


jacket she was wearing. Just then the station rocked violently,


throwing everyone to the floor.


"What the hell?" Nerys said, getting to her feet and wiping


her mouth where she had banged it against a chair.


"It's them!" Quark wailed.


"Shut up. I am going to ops to find out what's going on."


The young Bajoran woman barely made it to the exit onto the


promenade before the Station rocked again, tilting violently to one


side. The floor seemed to be angled up at more than thirty degrees for


a heartbeat before the artificial gravity field compensated and


slammed everybody and everything to the floor.


"You can't leave me here!" Quark screeched, and scuttled back


towards the relative safety of his private quarters.


The lights flickered as the station rocked again, though less


violently. Then they went out, plunging everybody into darkness before


the red emergency lighting kicked in.


Klaxons were belatedly sounding action-stations. The promenade


was a mess. People were running in all directions, fighting each other


to get back to their quarters or to their assigned stations. Pushing


her way through this Nerys fought to get to her ops station. This had


to be a sabotage attempt. Wherever the explosions were coming from it


couldn't be fire from any of the ships which she knew were in the


system. None of them were armed in any serious way. Suddenly another


explosion knocked everyone on the promenade to the deck. Less than


thirty meters away a large section of wall blew into the promenade,


shredding the bodies of people nearby.


Looking over the mass of bodies between her and the new hole,


Nerys was shocked to see a bunch of armoured figures pushing their way


onto the promenade, firing explosive bolts of energy in all


directions. Those hapless enough to be close to the group were smashed


backwards as blood and bone exploded from their bodies.


Lifting her weapon without thinking she fired at the group and


threw herself to one side, rolling as she fired. Two of the figures


were knocked backwards but the others fired a withering volley of


bolts in her direction, many of them hitting the nearby group of


civilians. Survival uppermost in her mind, Nerys put all thoughts of


the nearby civilians out of her mind and fired again, hitting another


figure. Something warm touched her side and she was surprised to find


herself lying on her back unable to move. Opening her eyes, she saw


about ten armoured figures rushing past where she was laying, firing


randomly in all directions.


A human male stood up and tried to grapple one of the figures,


but was smashed in the face with a gauntleted fist. One of the unknown


soldiers casually leaned over, placed the rifle muzzle to the human's


head, and blew his brains out, literally. Nerys tried to move, but her


body screamed in protest, hot pain radiating in waves from her side.


She realised also that it was difficult to breathe, and that


everything was going dark. "Give up," she told herself. "No!" her


training refused to allow her to give up.


Twisting her head she saw a monstrous shape launch itself into


the midst of the squad of soldiers, bowling two of them over like


skittles. The others turned to face their attacker, firing and backing


away, as it grabbed a third soldier and threw him bodily at the


remainder of the squad. Several blaster bolts smashed into the eight


foot tall monster but it barely staggered before advancing on the


remaining soldiers. Suddenly a hail of blaster bolts slammed into it's


back from the direction of Quark's establishment where another squad


of armoured soldiers had emerged.


Screaming in rage the monster hurled itself at the station


wall, then impossibly, it shrank and vanished into a tiny air vent.


The soldiers picked themselves up, some of them limping or gingerly


holding onto their comrades, and backed out of the promenade back the


way they had come. A few of the armoured figures still on the ground


were slung over shoulders and carried off. As Nerys lost consciousness


she realised they were also dragging off a number of Ferengi. Amongst


the terrified Ferengi faces she saw Quark as well, as they disappeared


through the hole they had blown onto the promenade.






"How is she?" She heard Benjamin's voice ask, from a great




"She'll recover," Bashir answered, "In fact, she's coming


around right now."


"What happened?" Nerys asked, but the two faces taking shape


over her only looked quizzically at her. Gathering her strength, and


concentrating on her speech, she asked again, "What happened?"


"You were shot in the chest. You've lost a lot of blood, and


several broken ribs. Some burnt skin too. I'll give you a painkiller."


Bashir touched something to her neck, and instantly she felt coolness


flowing through her body.


"Quark?" She asked.


"We were hoping you could tell us?" Sisko asked. "his bar was


a mess. We lost nine officers in there. More than thirty civilian dead


and about a hundred seriously injured. There were no Ferengi among the




"They took him, and the others." She answered. "where'd they


come from? No strangers came onto the station as far as I know, at


least not anybody who's story didn't check out."


"This huge warship just came out of nowhere," Bashir was


talking excitedly. "It was as big as DS9 itself, and it just fired on


the station without warning, O'Brien is still fighting fires on


several decks. The damage was enormous, we don't know how many people


were killed on the rest of the station yet. They tried boarding the


station too, but we seemed to fight them off. Then the ship left. Just


like that," he snapped his fingers, "they were gone."


"We didn't fight them off." Sisko sighed. "They came for Quark


and left when they got him."


"Odo?" Kira asked. "I saw him fighting with them on the




"Yes, he was hurt. He has reverted to his liquid state. I have


spoken to him, and I think he will be alright, he just needs to rest a




The doctor moved away to tend to another patient. Sisko stood


quietly next to her for a while.


"I'm sorry, Kira. This is all my fault."


"You ordered me to look after Quark. You knew this might


happen, didn't you?" she asked.




"You should have told me." She said evenly. There was no trace


of admonishment in her voice.


"You're not angry?" He asked.


Kira was silent for a long time. "You didn't pull the trigger.


Whatever you and Quark did, I am sure you would not have done anything




"I don't know, Kira. I just don't know."


"Benjamin. There are bad people out there. You're not one of


them. I knew the risks."


"Not this time you didn't."


"I knew the risks when I joined the resistance. I knew the


risks when I joined the Bajoran military. I knew the risks when I


accepted the assignment to this station. Some things are worth


fighting for, Benjamin. I know you feel the same way. Whatever you


did, you should have told me. I trust you. Please trust me."


He smiled at her, and took her hand. "I do trust you." Pulling


over a chair, he sat down next to the makeshift bed.








The small group of Ferengi were all huddled into a corner of


the cell. Quark tried to remain amongst them, to appear anonymous, but


somehow still felt apart. He avoided Nog's eyes. Every time they


looked at each other he saw the silent accusation there.


"It wasn't my fault." He pleaded with Nog.


"It's okay, Quark."


"It was Odo and Commander Sisko. They did this."


"I said it's okay, Quark."


The two brothers held tightly onto each other. A wave of fear


rippled through them as the cell door opened. Two arrogant-looking


humans stepped in. He recognised one of them as the mercenary who he


had been dealing with.


"That's the one, Sir."


"Thank you, Sergeant." The second human waved to someone


beyond the door and two armoured figures marched in. The Ferengii


huddled even further back into the corner of the cell.


"Take that one to the captain, we don't need the others."


The two armoured figures used their rifle butts to break the


group apart, and one of them dragged the screaming Quark out of the


cell into a larger room with several cell doors leading off it. There


was a chair towards one side, with a quiet looking older man seated


there. Quark was thrown to the deck in front of this man.


"Please," he begged. "What are you going to do to my brother


and the others."


"You are the one I want. You are responsible for the deaths of


several of my people. I am not interested in your friends." The man


said quietly.


"Please let them go. I will do anything you ask."


"I don't intend to ask you anything." The quiet man leaned


very slightly forward. "I have everything I need. Your friends may


leave." He looked at the officer standing at attention nearby.


"Major Ozzel. As soon as the jump ends, release his friends.


Use the closest airlock, I don't want them stinking up my ship any


more than necessary."


"Yes, Sir."


Quark smiled in relief, then comprehension seemed to dawn.


"Airlock? Surely you don't mean ..."


"As I said, Quark. I don't need your friends. You I still have


use for."


"What do you want of me?" Quark cried. "Please don't kill


them. I will do anything."


"You will do only thing for me, Quark. You will suffer." The


quiet man turned to Major Ozzel. "You may begin."






The thing that had been Quark before it lost it's mind had


continued trying to speak long after it's tongue had been cut out.


It's torturers had passed it's message on long ago to Issard.


Exhausted, they had finally left it to die in it's own blood and


excrement. The maintenance droids would dispose of it when they made


their next circuit of this particular corner of the ship.


Now Issard sat and contemplated all he had learnt from the


Ferengi. The Ferengi had provided him with lots of useful information.


The two beings who had led his ship into the trap were known as Odo


and Sisko. It had been Sisko who had commanded the cloaked ship which


had sprung the trap on him and killed so many of his crew. Odo had


also been identified as the monstrous alien that had killed two of his


stormtroopers and injured several more. A shape-shifter of all things.


The plan had belonged to Sisko though. For a second he considered


returning to the station known as Deep Space Nine and blowing it to


smithereens. No. He would consider his revenge carefully. Undoubtedly


this Federation would have improved their security, and no doubt


several starships would be investigating the area in case he returned.


His revenge would wait. An old saying came to mind: 'Revenge is a dish


best served cold.' In the meanwhile, he would send a message.








The Enterprise was the first Federation starship to arrive at


Deep Space Nine. The station was a mess. Two docking pylons were


missing, one of them floating uselessly about a kilometre away.


"Enterprise to Deep Space Nine. Do you still need assistance?"


Picard spoke at the view-screen.


"Deep Space Nine here, Captain Picard. We have everything


under control. Most of our wounded have been transferred to Bajor. We


are running short of medical supplies though. We can find a use for


whatever you can spare."








"What news?" Sisko asked.


"The Federation will release all data we have on the pirate


ship into the public domain. A quadrant-wide warning will be issued.


The data will ostensibly be the recordings of this station's sensor


data, and no mention will be made of the incident at the Cardassian


fuel depot."


"Do you think it will help?"


Picard shrugged and shook his head in the negative. "Only a


handful of worlds have the capability to defend against an attack by


that ship. Earth, Antares, a few of the worlds close to the Neutral


Zone. The rest of the colonies have very little in the way of orbital


defences, certainly nothing that can withstand this kind of firepower,


and we don't have the starships to babysit all of them. We don't know


where it's from, why it's here, what it's range is, or even if it's


the only one in this quadrant. If it is, it has travelled tens of


thousands of light years in a very short time. The attacks ascribed to


it are all over two quadrants. We have to assume that there are


multiple ships of this nature. Whoever built it, would surely not have


built only one."


"Do we have any idea they come from. They must have a home


planet, or some sort of base of operations. Somebody built that ship,


or ships."


"With the speeds I think they're capable of, they could be


from anywhere in the galaxy. The ship itself is also large enough to


constitute it's own base of operations. That leaves us only one


choice," Picard finished.


"Yes. We have to make them come to us. I've tried that once.


They won't fall for it that easily next time."


Alarm klaxons disturbed their conversation. Both men's


communicators beeped almost as soon as the klaxons sounded. Sisko was


already running towards the ops station with Picard on his heels as he


answered his communicator.


"Sir, that transport used by the mercenaries that used to come


here arrived in the system, then it left again. It dumped something a


few kilometres away. Initial readings show it to be organic."


"Are there any hostiles still in the system?" Sisko asked.


"No, Sir."


"Okay, call off the alert. Now what did you say it dropped




"Something organic, Sir. About 1.6m long, no more than 60 or


70 kilograms. No sign of an energy source or any fissile material.


Shall we beam it aboard?"


"Have engineer O'Brien isolate the transporter room, then beam


it aboard."


"Yes, Sir."


O'Brien, Picard, Sisko and Odo waited outside the sealed


transporter room. O'Brien ran a check on the control panel next to the




"It's arrived, and the room appears clean. No exotic viruses


or explosives or anything dangerous that the computer can detect.


Shall I open the door?"


"I will go in, the rest of you wait here until I am sure it is


safe." Odo ordered, and nodded to O'Brien. The door snapped open, and


Odo stepped swiftly into the room. The door snapped closed behind him


again. The door remained closed for a long time, then suddenly snapped


open. Odo stood there with his normal bland expression, but a


curiously detached manner about his stance.


"It's Quark," he finally said. "He is dead. There was a note


attached to his body."


"What does it say?" Sisko asked.


"There are three words on the note. The first one has a tick


mark next to it. The three words are: Quark, Odo, Sisko."


"Are you sure he is dead?" Picard asked.


"Yes," Odo answered. "If he wasn't dead. I am sure he would


want to be. He did not die easily."


Sisko made as if to move into the room, but Odo held his


ground in the doorway.


"You do not want to see his body, Commander."








The sun shone down through a blue sky onto the town next to


the lake. A patchwork of agricultural lands surrounded the town.


Marble and polished sandstone glittered in the sunlight, young men and


women strolled down broad boulevards lined with fountains and trees.


There were no children in sight, though many a young woman carried a


baby in her arms or pushed one in a floating pram. Interspersed with


the strollers was the occasional droid hurrying along on some errand


or another.


Turning away from the view, Issard sat down at his desk.


Things were going very well. His engineers had recently completed a


nano-robotics facility, the first stage to completely rebuilding all


their industries to be able to produce goods at Imperial


specifications. The nano-robotics facility itself was being run around


the clock and was churning out battle-droids, droid-fighters and


astro-mech droids. They had finally managed to get mineral production


up to a level far surpassing what they could possibly use, and much of


the raw minerals was just being stockpiled now.


The Eliminator was undergoing a major overhaul by the new


astro-mech droids, and would be out of commission for several weeks to


come. The overhaul would finally include the replacement of the


destroyed turbolaser batteries. They now had the capability to


manufacture heavier turbolasers of the type installed on Mark II


Destroyers and more powerful engines, but the Eliminator's hull was


not designed to accommodate the additional bracings and


force-dissipation capacitors required for these guns. Mounting one on


the hull and firing it at full power would probably smash the ship in


two, or at least rip a hole in it's side.


The idea Issard was toying with was the possibility of


building a completely new ship. Bast had laughed when he had first


suggested the idea, but had subsequently put forward a seven year plan


for building the requisite industries culminating in the construction


of a six-bay shipyard. Initially, all it would be capable of would be


a few transports and bulk haulers, but that would be a start.


Currently though, Bast was supervising things at Downtown, the small


Tibanna extraction facility buried deep inside a nearby gas-giant's


atmosphere. The facility was being expanded to accommodate several


thousand more people and also hardened so that it could descend even


deeper into the gas-giant's atmosphere. They had decided to use it as


a secret fall-back position because it would be near impossible to


detect even at it's current depth.


The last mission of the Star Destroyer before it's current


overhauling had been to drop off several SSMEAR packages in nearby


star systems - a combination of droids which over time would establish


power facilities, mineral extraction facilities, refining and


production, and all the tools needed to sustain their operations. Over


a period of years the droids would re-engineer the planets they had


been unleashed on, making the atmospheres breathable and modifying the


ecosphere to sustain human life without further artificial support. In


a decade or two, these star systems would be ripe for a galactic


civilisation to move in.


In the meanwhile, operations would be limited to this system.


Contact with the SSMEAR packages would be re-established when Bast's


makeshift shipyard could roll off it's first transport.


Issard shoved the plans in front of him away and shut the desk


off. He had time, lots of time. Smiling to himself, he decided that he


would move his quarters to the mountain village established a few


thousand kilometres to the North. A few good walks in the mountains,


maybe some hunting and fishing, then he would start building up and


training a new crew and a small fighting force. Even if resource


raiding was no longer necessary for survival, going on such missions


would serve to keep his core personnel fighting fit. As he left the


office, he left one last order with his desk to pass on to the


construction teams. Three more combat training facilities were to be


constructed in the harshest areas of the planet, the deserts, the


mountains and the polar regions. There would be no slacking tolerated


amongst his people.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this