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Tyralak

ISD Eliminator: Part I: Mercenary

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

vanished.

 

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

 

deck.

 

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

 

answer.

 

"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

 

comprehensive."

 

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

 

one?"

 

"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

 

station."

 

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

 

jump.

 

"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.

 

"Well?"

 

"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."

 

"Most?"

 

"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

 

presence.

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

on-board?"

 

"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

 

Destroyer."

 

"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

 

one."

 

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,

 

Chief?"

 

"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."

 

"Granted."

 

"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

 

it."

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

craft."

 

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

 

catastrophic.

 

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

 

speed."

 

"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

 

distance.

 

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."

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

atmosphere.

 

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.

 

"Doctor?"

 

"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

 

detected?"

 

"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.

 

 

 

 

 

"Sir?"

 

"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

 

collision."

 

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

 

jump.

 

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."

 

"Ideas."

 

"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

 

come."

 

"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."

 

"On-screen."

 

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

 

trouble.

 

"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

 

provocative."

 

"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

 

here?"

 

"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

 

stated.

 

"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

 

success."

 

"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

 

ship."

 

A beep from Picard's communicator interrupted the

 

conversation. He tapped his chest.

 

"Picard."

 

"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

 

algorithms.

 

"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

 

distortion.

 

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

 

Data."

 

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

 

selective."

 

"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

 

group."

 

"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

 

space.

 

"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."

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER THREE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

gas-giant.

 

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

 

maximum.

 

"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

 

traffic.

 

"Commander Sisko?" from the door.

 

"Yes?"

 

"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

 

all."

 

"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

 

away.

 

"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

 

unit."

 

"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

 

card.

 

"Do not attempt to cheat us, Quark. We know where to find

 

you."

 

Quark screwed up his face into a picture of humanoid

 

innocence.

 

"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.

 

"Execute."

 

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

 

weapon."

 

"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

 

seconds.

 

The Destroyer was hit twice more before the weapon was

 

destroyed.

 

"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

 

asked.

 

"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

 

down.

 

"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.

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FOUR

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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."

 

"COMMUNICATIONS LAG WITH EARTH CENTRAL IS CURRENTLY SIX POINT

 

NINE HOURS. SYNOPSIS WILL BE AVAILABLE IN FOURTEEN HOURS." The

 

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

 

frustration.

 

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.

 

"Security."

 

"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.

 

"Commander."

 

"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

 

asked.

 

"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

 

compromised.

 

"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

 

engineer.

 

"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

 

dancer."

 

"What do you need?"

 

"A working TIE Defender, or a complete technical readout of

 

one."

 

"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

 

time."

 

"Spare me. What are the details?" The mercenary asked

 

disgustedly.

 

"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

 

goods."

 

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."

 

"Mark."

 

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

 

system."

 

"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

 

far."

 

"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

 

gas.

 

"Sir. Report from planet-side. Major Kanos on channel seven."

 

"Kanos?" Issard punched up channel seven on his command

 

console.

 

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.

 

"CAPTAIN! CONTACT BEARING ONE SEVENTY BY TWO TEN."

 

"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."

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER FIVE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"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

 

armour."

 

"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

 

ship?"

 

"Drive emissions have also vanished sir. There is no trace of

 

him."

 

"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."

 

"Closer."

 

"Range two fifty and closing, Sir."

 

"Closer."

 

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.

 

"Sir?"

 

"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

 

drive."

 

"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

 

feed.

 

"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

 

any."

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

percent."

 

"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

 

torpedoes."

 

"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

 

remarked.

 

"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.

 

"Incoming!"

 

"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.

 

"Tactical?"

 

"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

 

again."

 

"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."

 

"Helm?"

 

"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

 

guess."

 

"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

 

difficult."

 

"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

 

that."

 

"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."

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STAR WARS

 

 

 

Vs

 

 

 

 

 

STAR TREK

 

 

 

 

 

ISD ELIMINATOR

 

PART I

 

MERCENARY

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

CHAPTER SIX

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

yesterday.

 

"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

 

capability?"

 

"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."

 

"Dismissed."

 

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

 

himself.

 

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

 

down.

 

"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

 

promise."

 

"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

 

complained.

 

"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

 

of.

 

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

 

him.

 

"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

 

distance.

 

"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

 

dead."

 

"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

 

promenade."

 

"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

 

while."

 

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.

 

"Yes."

 

"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

 

wrong."

 

"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."

 

"Done."

 

 

 

 

 

"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

 

off?"

 

"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

 

door.

 

"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.

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