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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Among the Naked Stars (Star Trek AU) PostPosted: 2006-09-11 04:01am
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Dedicated to John M. Ford for all the obvious reasons.

Table of Contents

Lancer rocked as lasers tore into her port shields. Squadron Leader Kardon barked an order. "Roll on axis one hundred eighty degrees. Zan Kolenth, give them a taste of the tertiaries. Turn the ship twenty-two mark ten."

"Acting," said Lieutenant Krevon at the helm, turning the ship starboard as he rolled the ship and brought her more heavily shielded side to face the heaviest fire. Zunnati destroyers were swarming around the Klingon vessels, trying to avoid the heaviest firepower of the battlecruisers that had shattered their heavier brethren and bring their weapons to bear on where the Klingon's shields were weakest.

"Acting," said Lieutenant Kolenth. The tertiary disruptor batteries were placed on the battlecruiser's hull to give near total coverage. They lacked the power of the primaries or secondaries, but against Zunnati destroyers they were devastating.

The Zunnati destroyes were crescent shaped, with warp nacelles trailing along the horns of the crescent. The mid section housed laser cannons, which fired beams warp accelerated into the delta frequencies, and the accelerator cannons that launched fusion torpedoes. Against the other inhabitants of their star cluster the Zunnati ships were matchless, the sure striking sword of a star empire. Against Klingon battlecruisers they were meat.

Green fire from two disruptor emitters on Lancer's upper hull struck a destroyer dead center. The beams blew through the destroyer's shields and hull, sending a plume of fire and debris into space from the gaping wound. The wounded ship begun an evasive course that would take it behind the Klingon squadron.

Kardon stabbed images on the repeater screens by his chair. "Aft torpedoes, finish the wounded. Weapons, primaries on that one, torpedoes that one."

"Acting," responded Senior Gunner Kaan. The primaries, the array of disruptors clusters around th wing-edge and warp nacelle area, sent blazing beams into the Zunnati ship. It exploded almost instantly, transformed into a blazing matter/anti-matter reaction. A torpedo launched from both the bow launcher and the the weapon pod mounted on top of the primary hull. Another Zunnati ship was blown apart.

"Enemy ships moving to concentrate on Khaless's Hand," warned Arkehd from his post at the science station. The squadron was deployed in the trailing V formation, with Lancer a the point of the V and trailing her fellow ships by five thousand kilometers.

"Zan Krevon, bring us about two eighty mark zero", ordered Kardon. "Zan Kaan, stand by with all weapons. Zan Krevon, use the tertiaries to keep them off of us. Chief Engineer, more power to the disruptors."

Lancer swung to port, leaving the wreckage in her wake. Her course change brought a Zunnati ship within the firing arc of her rear torpedo tubes. From his station near the back of the bridge, Kolenth fired a spread of torpedoes. Two impacted on the destroyer's port nacelle, blowing apart the entire nacelle/wing array.

"Targets acquired," said Senior Gunner Kaan as Lancer came to face the Zunnati swarming Kahless's Hand.

"Death Dealer is signaling that they are moving to support us," said Azrithel from the communications.

"Zan Kaan. Target secondaries and torpedoes on the Zunnati cruiser. Primaries at your discretion."

"Acting," said Kaan. The delta wing shape of the Zunnati cruiser, one of the only large capital ship to survive the initial klingon torpedo volley and the subsequent closing engagement, was firing on Khaless's Hand from low port. Delta ray lasers and fusion missles raked the battlecruiser's shields. Even the newest and most powerful battlecruiser designs in the Imperial Klingon Navy had their limits and Khaless's Hand was approaching hers.

Lancer's
secondaries fired, searing beams shot from the command module and struck the Zunnati cruiser dead one. Torpedo salvos fired from both forward launchers. Four struck the wounded cruiser and it exploded. Khaless's Hand's shields withstood the blast and the cruiser began to rotate on access. Several Zunnati destroyers were not so fortunate, their shields completely overloaded by their proximity to the explosion. They began frantic evasive maneuvers.

A Zunnati destroyer dived at Lancer from above and starboard, its zig-zag course allowing it to evade fire from Lancer's tertiaries. Lasers licked at Lancer's shields and a fusion missile struck home.

"Zan Kolenth, dispose of that one," ordered Captain Kardon. Kaan triggered Lancer's primaries at the wounded destroyers. The portside beams sliced off starboard wing of one of the destroyers and then the port wing as well, leaving the ship to tumble through space. The starboard disruptors sliced through the engineering section of another destroyer and blew it apart.

"Kai the weapons," said Kardon. The diving ship swooped underneath Lancer, firing lasers again and evading Kolenth's return fire. "The klin lives in that one," said Kardon. The ship swung around Lancer's other side. The Zunnati destroyers could move, whatever their other deficiencies.

Unfortunately, its luck ran out. While it had managed to evade Lancer's fire, it ended up within the fire cone of Death Dealer's primaries. The battlecruiser cut the smaller ship to scrap.

"Surviving Zunnati ships are making a break for warp," announced Arkehd.

"Do not pursue," ordered Kardon. One trick the Zunnati were good at was leaving fusion bombs in their wake to discourage pursuit when they went to warp. "Finish off the remaining ships that don't surrender. Zan Kaan, generate a firing solution for long range torpedo bombardment of their orbital defences. Communications, inform their government that their fleet has been defeated and their orbital defences will soon be destroyed. Perhaps they will reconsider surrender now that their homeworld lies defenceless before us."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-09-25 07:08pm, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-09-12 06:33am
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The chime to Kardon's door buzzed. "Enter," the captain said into the calm. The captain's ready room on a Klingon vessel was small, but not spartan. Trophies and status symbols were expected and Kardon's room was no exception. Soft, snow white zolast fur lined his chair and his dueling sword hung on the wall next to hull fragments from a Rom warbird and a Fedarazhon destroyer.

Lieutenant Commander Mara vestai-Subor entered. She was a tall for a woman of the Imperial race, barely shorter than her captain. Her dark hair was kept in a braid that fell down her back and her face was narrow almost to the point of gauntness. "Captain, the Zunnati have offered to surrender."

"Already?"

"Yes. Their fleets are wrecked, with the exception of a few hiding in the outer systems. Their home world lies defenceless before us. They are quite agitated about negotiating terms."

"What is Intelligence's opinion?"

"This one doesn't know what you mean. I'm the ship's security officer, not Imperial Intelligence."

"Of course not," said Kardon. The komerax zha, the great game of empire, was always in motion. "You're evaluation of the Zunnati's sudden . . . . docility? As security officer, of course."

"They are kuve. Starships and guns do not change that."

"Thank you. You are dismissed." She saluted, fist to her heart, and exited the room. Kardon watched her go. She was an ambitious member of a fallen family line. A successful cruise, especially one that brought new territories into the empire, would revitalize her line's fortunes. At the same time as security officer it was her job to keep Kardon's ambitions in check, especially as they were at the fringes of the empire. While his glory was her glory as well, that situation changed dramatically if he decided to go renegade.

He had not intention of doing so. Some of the riches of these new worlds would go to his line. The world's were not terribly rich, but twenty-three inhabitable worlds and three new servitor races was an enormous amount of wealth. Of course, the actual conquest fleets with their assault transports and regiments of marines would have to arrive before any of those worlds were actually added to the empire in more than name only. Still, it meant a governorship in his future when he retired from the navy. If he lived that long.

Kardon got up and walked back into the bridge. A few eyes flickered towards him, but quickly returned to their duty stations. Kardon sutai-Rezhad wasn't what one normally imagined when one thought of a captain in the Expeditionary Forces. He was of average height and build for a member of the Imperial race. He was perhaps better looking than most, with a neatly trimmed black beard and hair. He was not the huge, grim icon that endless episodes of Battlecruiser Vengeance had lead people to expect in a captain.

The command chair swivled towards him. "Captain-," began First Officer Arkhed, as he rose in the chair.

"You have the conn. Status on Zunnati?"

"All quiet, except for the comm frequencies. Their government either knows they are beaten or they are laying a very futile trap." The science officer smiled. He was taller and leaner than his captain.

"What are they saying 'Rith?"

"They're asking for favorable terms captain. They want all sorts of guarantees and autonomy grants." The wry expression on Azrithel's face broad casted her opinion of the Zunnati's entreaties. "This one is of the opinion that know that they've lost and now think they can talk their way out of being conquered."

"Sound like Tellarites. Or Orions. Tell them that they need to send a delegate with the authority to sign a binding treaty up here and recall all their military vessels for a formal surrender." Having a Zunnati destroyer swoop out from behind an moon and hit a transport just as it was dropping shields to deploy troops was not something Kardon wanted happening if he could possible avoid it.

"The one hears and obeys," said Azrithel as she turned back to her comm boards. Kardon's gaze lingered. Azrithel was a good companion in a fight and he had to admit her long, dark hair suited her well.

"Going to have your transporteer snag a piece of hull for your wall?" Arkhed asked.

"No," said Kardon. "There is little glory in killing kuve in antique ships."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-09-24 06:31am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-09-17 08:21am
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Two burly marines, one of the Imperial race and the other a smooth foreheaded Human Fusion, proceeded the Zunnati Niratarch into the confrence room. Trophies of battle hung on racks on the walls, most of them the personnel weapons of Zunnati officers and soldiers. Beneath the ceremonial axes and the slender laser rifles sat Captain Kardon, First Officer Arkehd, and Force Leader Memneth. The marine commander was tall by the standards of the Imperial race and built like a stormwalker. His left cheek bore scars from the impact of a Kinshaya bullet, although the reconstructive surgery afterword had restored his face. Memneth looked exactly the sort of Klingon that featured in Federazhon holos as stupid, brutal thugs. Stupid, brutal thugs did not become Force Leaders in the Imperial Marines.

The Zunnati flinched away from Memneth. Kardon looked over the alien in some distaste. The Zunnati was struggling in the higher standard gravity of a Klingon starship. He was a slim bodied, blue skinned hairless creature. The Zunnati skull was elongated and featured large eyes and well developed olfactory receptors. Certain intricacies of their language were scent based, which had given the universal translator fits. Fortunately, they had developed a standard language for dealing with their client species that had been much easier to translate. The computer at the center of the table served as translator.

"You are empowered to come to terms on behalf of your government?" Kardon barked. The table consol would serve as a universal translator.

The alien pulled itself erect to its full two meter height. It wore elaborate, multilayerd robes of gold and black cloth that were probably much easier to manage in their native world's lower gravity. "I am Niratarch Nuugo Aloxi Coltarel and I speak for the Nine. I am empowered to negotiate the terms for the ending of this world with the appropriate representatives of the Klingon Empire."

"I am Kardon and I command this expedition. In this matter I speak for the Empire. I require with your surrender and assistance in maintaining order and productivity in the interim before the governors arrive."

The Zunnati's nose wiggled. "Are you saying you are going to take our worlds?"

"Your worlds and people will be incorporated into the Komerex Klingon. This will happen. You can only choose how long you will resist us and how many of you we have to kill before capitulating."

"And if we capitulate immediately?"

"Those officials which continue to be useful will be maintained in positions of authority in the Empire. The more effectively your people and society serve the Empire, the less need there will be for harsh measures and drastic restructuring." The fool had half surrendered already. Kuve. Throwing him a bone while showing him the knife would work. It always worked on kuve.

It wasn't all a lie. The Empire cared far more about maintaining order and production quotas than the minutiae of administration. The Zunnati figited. "I will recommend your proposal to the Nine. Until they ratify the surrender, my agreement is nonbinding." Kardon bared his teeth. The Zunnati flinched.

"You have one planetary rotation to surrender," said Kardon. "Failure to do so will result in the destruction of a major city every rotation." His eyes flickered over to the marines. "Take him to the transporter room and return him to his shuttle."

Memneth waited just long enough for the door to close. "They're playing for time. Using lawyer's tricks for Keth's sake. Wreck a continental power grid to remind them who has the high ground."

"Only if I think I'll be gone before I start getting complaints from the Force Leader of an occupation engineering detachment about all the needless work I've created."

Arkehd smiled. "Just have Rith not take his calls. Problem solved." Memneth laughed. An urgent signal from the desk console interrupted them.

"Report," said Kardon crisply.

"We have just detected a powerful signal sent from the planet just moments ago. Captain, they were broadcasting in the clear in the Zunnati's universal language." A language they had to know the Klingons understood.

"Play the transmission."

"Acting." A moment latter the translated signal came through. "We, your faithful Zunnati servants, have been defeated. The realms that you have left in our stewardship have been seized by the Klingon Empire. Unless you act, your empire is lost."

Memneth growled. The niratarch hadn't been forbidden communications equipment, so he could contact his government. This particular error would fall on Kardon's shoulders. "If they wanted to make that broadcast, " the captain said, "they could have done it at any time." That statement was as much for security's benefit as theirs. Security was always watching. "Rith. Have the Zunnati representative beamed back on board. Now. And I need to know where that broadcast was aimed at."

"Already done." The console screen displayed the local star cluster. A pocket of far worlds, marked as quarantined on Zunnati charts, were illuminated.

"Transporter Room two reports the niratarch is on board," Azrithel said.

"Have him taken to Security," said Kardon. "We'll tear the truth about these quarantined worlds out of him if we have to destroy his body with the agonizer booth and his brain with the mind sifter."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-09-22 01:37am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-09-22 01:34am
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"Please," Niratarch Nuugo Aloxi Coltarel pleaded as two security officers strapped him down in the chair and positioned the contact points of the agonizers along his body.

Security Chief Mara turned to Captain Kardon. "Just another minute and then we can get started. An hour or so in the agonizer booth, low power, and the Zunnati have no resistance to the mind sifter whatsoever." Several Zunnati officers had been captured and interrogated during the early stages of the campaign. "A higher setting and their nervous system fries. You'll have your information captain.

The captain's gaze lingered on the politician. "Please," the Zunnati begged. "There is no need of this. I'll tell you what you want to know."

Kardon gazed at Mara, whose face was serene and opaque. She would take his life and career as a prize if she thought he was unworthy of command. There was no one Security watched as much as the captain. "Speak," Kardon barked. "What was the nature of your transmission to the quarantined worlds?"

"Please lord, you must understand we are merely caretakers."

"Yes yes," said Kardon. He had heard or read dozens of justifications for empire over the years, all made by kuve or humans who had become so cunning by lying incessantly to themselves and each other. Komerex nil khesterex was all the justification that empire required. One conquered or perished.

"A thousand years ago," which translated to about six hundred Klinzhai standard years, "the Chelemen conquered this star cluster. We lived under their rule. And then three hundred years ago they withdrew to their homeworlds. They placed those worlds off limits and left us alone. We regained the stars and took control of the other worlds. We held them, always knowing that the Chelemen had been stronger than we were. Always, we listened. Now, that we are beaten, we discharged our final obligation."

Kardon touched a wall panel. "Captain to the bridge."

"Arkehd here."

"Broadcast to the planet that the following action is punishment for their attempt to endanger citizens of the Klingon Empire with their transmission. Level the closest mid sized city with the main disruptor batteries."

"Acting."

"No!" Coltarel screamed. "You can't."

"I just did," said Kardon. "In the future your people will remember there are consequences to acting against the empire." Kardon walked out of security. Mara trailed after him.

"What do you intend to do captain?"

"I will inform you at the appropriate time. I'll need every scrap of information you can extract about these Chelemen."

"The one wishes to remind the captain that this information may be two hundred years out of date."

"The one has not forgotten. The one has not forgotten the Admiral Kaga-zantai-Sudeptai departed Gnuu Rei with an occupation fleet yesterday, if he left on schedule."

"It would not help one's carrier to have a large and possibly dangerous mystery next to his newly occupied territories. It would certainly mar the honour won by the conquest. Our supply situation would support a continued campaign."

"I am glad security concurs with that assessment of the situation."

"How long until the squadron departs?"

"Barring any other surprises, three days."

---------------------------------------------------------------

Kardon's squadron broke from warp three light minutes from the Chelemen world. "Sensors," Kardon ordered.

"Still no sign of any space ships," Arkehd replied. The rangy Klingon was bent over the scanner display at the sciences station. "Strong energy readings still coming from the planet, which seems to covered by some kind of cloaking shield. More detail still cannot be ascertained."

"Weapons?"

"Reading no weapons or shields, but both could be present beneath the cloaking shield."

"Keep the guns hot and the shields up," Kardon ordered. "'Rith, signal the planet."

"Standard broadcast being sent," Azrithel. She waited. "No response captain."

"Continue on course. Put the planet on the main display." A featureless orb of light blue haze appeared on the screen.

"That's as much as we can determine at this range captain," said Arkehd. "The cloaking shield extends into orbit. They may have orbital weapon platform in addition to ground based weapon emplacements."

"Cloaked ships?" Kardon asked.

"If so they're as sneaky as Roms. No sign captain."

"Captain," said Azrithel. "Transmission from the planet."

"On speakers."

The voice was a firm baritone. "Soldiers of the Klingon Empire depart from these worlds. We have long abandoned the futile endeavour of empire. You do not threaten us and have nothing to offer us. Leave."

"Bravado does not carry the day against the ships of the Imperial Klingon Navy. You world is a stationary target and Klingon weapons officers receive frequent practice."

The Chelemen responded. "It was unlikely that gentle persuasion would work. Leave was not a request. It was an outcome. You will leave."
The bridge lights died and every screen went black.

"Emergency lights!" Kardon howled. Back up lights bathed the bridge in red light. "Damage control!"

"Computer systems crashed and are restarting," Arkehd replied.

"Get me answers!" Kardon shouted. "Coms!"

"No contact from Khaless's Hand or Death Dealer."

"Science station back online," Arkehd interrupted. "Mains are offline. Battery power online. Shields are down. Sensors down."

"Engineering. I need main power back. Now!" Kardon didn't wait for a reply.

"Targetting offline, but the guns are still hot," said Senior Gunner Kaan.

"Helm?" Kardon barked.

"Maneuvering thrusters only. Main impulse drive is not responsive."

"Short ranged sensors restored," said Arkehd. "Detecting a large vessel. Approaching at impulse, range ten thousand. Configuration . . . a Federation battleship!"



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


Last edited by Imperial Overlord on 2006-09-24 03:36am, edited 1 time in total.
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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-09-24 06:30am
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"Status of Federation ship?" Kardon shouted.

"Slowing," Arkehd responded studying the sensor readings. On the main viewing screen a vessel that was unmistakably of Federation design appeared. It followed the classic lines of the venerable Constitution class, but much larger and bulkier. The primary hull in particular was disproportionately large, an oval that was wider than it was long.

Arkehd's head whipped around. "Weapons are cold, shields barely above navigational!"

"Helm, bring us about!"

"Acting," said Krevon coolly.

"Weapons, as they come to bear," said Kardon in the clipped version of Klingonaase used in combat situations. "Engineering, shields, and weapons. Action!"

"Hail coming in," said Azrithel.

Thrusters fired, causing Lancer's starboard wing to dip as the ship began to turn to starboard. Two disruptor bolts flashed from the tertiary emitters, striking the secondary hull. Shields collapsed in flares of light.

Then the starboard primaries and secondaries fired. Streams of bolts flashed from Lancer's command pod and wing. The primaries tore through the Federation starship's and ripped a jagged line from the front of the engineering section down to the back. The secondaries traced a line of fire from Lancer's command pod to the navigational deflector disc. Under the hammer of Lancer's disruptors the disc exploded in light and fire. Debris blossomed into space as the secondaries continued to blast through the remains of the navigational deflector and deeper into the secondary hull.

Deprived of main power, Lancer turned sluggishly, but against the ravaged Federation ship it was enough. More tertiaries came to bear and fired, sending bolts into the Federation ship's phaser strips.

"Jam all communications," Kardon ordered. "Weapons, target their weapons and shields with the port batteries." Disruptor bolts slammed into the amidships torpedo launchers and the ring of phaser strips around the bottom of the primary hull. The Federation ship listed drunkenly as the crippled vessel attempted to plot an evasive course.

"Guns are almost cold," said Lieutenant Kaan. "Torpedoes on your command."

"Engineering, status?" said Kardon.

Chief Engineer Zumakka replied, his voice softer and higher than that of an Imperial or Fusion Klingon. "We are in the process restarting the impulse and warp engines. Main power should be restored in several minutes."

"Status of Federation starship?"

"Main power offline," said Arkehd. "Ventral phaser ring destroyed. Torpedo bay heavily damaged. Severe damage to main engineering. Warp drive offline. Navigational deflector destroyed. Four shield generators destroyed. Dorsal phaser ring undamaged. Secondary impulse unit engine on line."

"Their pushing a lot of power into a distress signal," said Azrithel. "They're rotating frequencies."

"Engines, power to coms. Drown them in static. Weapons, put a torpedo through the secondary impulse engine. Nothing more. I want my prize."

"Affirm," said Kaan. "Acting." A torpedo flew from the main hull launcher to impact at the rear of the underside of the saucer section where it connected to the secondary hull. Fire blasted out the dorsal plates as the torpedo blew all the way through. "Secondary impulse unit destroyed," said Kaan with savage satisfaction in his voice."

"Arkehd?" asked Kardon.

"Sensors confirm Federation vessel is helpless."

"Communications?"

"The one regrets to report that is likely that part of the Federation vessel's message will reach Starfleet. Too little power to jam and too much power on their transmission. Their coms officer knew her job."

"Understood." Kardon flicked a switch on his chair. "Force Leader Memneth. Deploy your marines to the troop transporters in full armour. We will take this ship as a prize. I want prisoners for interrogation."

Anticipation was clear in Memneth's voice. "Kai the captain. The one has prepared his entire career to take a major Federazhon warship from Starfleet's Marines. Ready force is already deploying. All others are suiting up. Entire force should be ready by the time power is restored to the transporters."

"Captain, you need to look at this," said Arkehd. Kardon switched off the com and approached the science station. "Power is still low, but long range sensors are online. We've been able to confirm our position."

"That's more than thirty lightyears from our former position."

"Yes. We've been moved out of the star cluster."

"That doesn't explain what a Starfleet battleship is doing this far from Federation territory."

"I can't explain that, but take a look at how her interior space is configured."

"That can't be right. Not even the Federazhon could be that soft."

"The scans are correct. All the space is devoted to living quarters. And all this space is recreational facilities. Lack of redundancy of systems or physical bulkheads. Extensive weapon systems and a what is probably a high powered power plant and high performance warp engines, but an enormous amount of wasted space and resources. How did this thing get passed the design stage?" The member races of the Federation might have been soft by Klingon standards, but no Klingon made captain who didn't respect Starfleet's capabilities.

"The answers are aboard that ship," said Kardon.

"Engineering to bridge. Impulse power restored. Transporters are now online."

Kardon returned to his chair and flicked on the com. "Force Leader. Captives and computer data highest priority. High losses acceptable. Success is essential. Sensor data indicates no sign of Starfleet Marine presence."

"Understood captain. The one may rest assured that the Marines will accomplish their tasks. Kai kassai Klingon!"



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-09-25 05:57pm
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Thanks to frigidmagi for being a sounding board for this section.


Lieutenant Melar tai-Rrevvic lead his squad to the troop transporter. He was a Human Fusion, the product of genetic engineering that had added human genes to Klingon ones. Fusions were better able to pass as humans and more tolerant of human-norm environments. For a time Human Fusions had dominated Klingon affairs along the Federation border, but that time had past. Their lines were still strong, but not no longer dominant. The amount of aid the Rrevvic line could provide to Melar's career was limited. Luck and skill were what he needed to advance and Melar trusted in his own.

He glanced over his platoon. Most of them were of the Imperial race, wearing red-brown armoured space suits. The suits restricted movement, but provided protection from hard vacuum, projectile, and stunner weapons. High powered beam weapons would be able to breach the suit, but the armour could mean the difference between a couple weeks in medical and death.

The other marines were mostly Human Fusions, with a single Romulan Fusion and three Golethi mixed in. The Golethi were two meters tall, six fingered fured primates with protruding jaws full of tearing teeth. They had only recently developed gunpowder weapons when they had been encountered the Komerex. They had been eager to gain the benefits of high technology and gain glory under the naked stars.

"Stand by," said the transporter operator as Melar and five other Klingons stood on the transporter pad. Klingon transporters lacked the secondary carrier signal that the Federation and the Romulans models incorporated. This made certain accidents involving transmission failure more likely, but it also eliminated the parasitic noise that accompanied transporter operations making Klingon transporters completely silent.

Melar and his men flickered out of existence and materialized inside a spacious and well appointed office. The captain's ready room according to the sensor scan. It looked like a lot of wasted space of Melar. Still, only five of his marines were with him, do to space limitations, despite the fact that the troop transporter could move three times that many soldiers.

Melar signaled his men and they moved towards the door. "Remember prisoners," said Melar. Messek and Metnar both held stun grenades. "Action."

The door slid open. The first thing Melar saw were two humans in black and grey uniforms with Starfleet insignia. They had clumsy looking weapons which he assumed were phasers on their hands. Melar put two bolts from his disruptor rifle into the human's chest, sending him flying back with smoking holes in his chest. The other security officer fired back, hitting him in the chest. The phaser beam wasn't powerful enough to do worse than scar his armour. Melar stepped forward and burned him down.

Messek and Metnar tossed the stun grenades. Blue-white flashes starkly illuminated the bridge and the crew collapsed. Only one, an Andorian at the periphery of the blast, stayed on his feet. Disruptor bolts burned him down.

Melar activated his communicator. "Bridge is secured. Senior officers appear unharmed."

"Understood," came Memneth's reply. "Status of bridge consoles?"

"One appears to have exploded. Others appear functional."

"Stand by."

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

A beeping sound from the command chair informed Kardon that Force Leader Memneth wished to speak with him. He flicked the switch. "Kardon."

"We have secured the bridge. Systems appear functional, computer online. Heavy casualties throughout the ship. Apparently they relied heavily on force fields to seal off atmospheric breaches and not emergency bulkheads. Resistance is feeble. Civilians and children are on board."

"Repeat the last."

"Civilian families and children are on board." Kardon wrestled down his disbelief. There must be some explanation to this madness.

"Transport senior officers to security. Continue securying the ship." He turned to communications. "Rith, get a replacement up here and head to a transporter room. I want you working on their ship's computer."

"Understood."

He looked over at Arkehd. "Coordinate information flow from the prize and security's prisoners." The tall Klingon inclined his head.

"Security, stand by to receive prisoners. I want answers as soon as you can get them."



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Thanks again go out to frigid.


Ensign Nguyen gripped her phaser rifle and moved up the corridor. "How's it coming chief?"

The curly haired man looked back over his shoulder. Chief Drake was a big dark skinned man who was used to doing the near impossible to translate the orders of Starfleet officers into something approaching reality and who had fought against Klingons and latter the Dominion from Arcanis to Cardassia Prime. "I managed to reactivate one of the containment force fields by diverting some of the battery power."

"I guess that should hold them for a bit."

"Until they mass disruptor fire against it. Sir, it isn't going to hold long."

"We've got to do what we can chief," said the slight woman. "I've Richardson and Dekann evacuating the civilians towards the escape pods."

"We're a light year from the closest star system. If the Klingons decide to star shooting escape pods, they're as good as gone."

"I know chief, but I don't have any better ideas. If you do, I'm all ears."

"Not really beyond make them pay from every meter sir. And make sure your phaser is set to at least ten."

"That'll eat the power pack up pretty quick chief."

"The armour they're wearing is a lot tougher than a packing crate. If you want to do more than scar their armour, put it at least ten."

The whine of massed disruptor fire came from nearby. Drake checked his tricorder. The force field was down. Three Klingons and something else were advancing towards them.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Sergeant Mor's suit sensors detected the tricorder beam and he called up his sensor display on his suit faceplate, setting for local scan. Two Earthers around the corner, an Andorian and another human behind them.

"Grenades," he said in Klingonaase. Starfleet Security had a reputation for putting up stubborn resistance during boarding action, but then Starfleet Security usually wore body armour and carried a phaser one could actually aim with some accuracy. Prisoners were a priority, but one carried only so many stun grenades and the completely armourless security officers were practically begging for fragmentation weapons to be used against them.

Mor pulled a grenade off his belt, hefted it and eyeballed the angle, and then bounced it off the wall and around the corner. He took a pair of quick steps back. A dull roar sounded a moment latter and another roars as Moloth's grenade following it. The weapons of Klingon Marines tended to be high on the explosive force. The interior walls of this ship weren't equal to those of a Starfleet frigate. The explosions turned not just the grenades casing but the thin walls of the Yamato into deadly shrapnel.

Mor checked his built in tricorder display. The two close ones were dead, the other two weren't. "Action," he ordered.

Moloth and Traneth, who was slim of a Golethi, jumped into the corridor. Small fires burned on the torn carpet and the floor and walls next to the grenade detonations were ragged. The badly mangled bodies of two Starfleet officers were nearby, their clothes half removed by the explosion and their bodies riddled with shrapnel. Several splinters had struck the Earther and the Andorian further down the corridor. Their disruptor rifles spat rapid fire bolts on setting that would burn a very large hole in a human or crater battle armour. The human died instantly, struck twice. The Andorian fire one of those ackward looking hand phasers.

The beam struck Traneth in the abdomen and burned through the armour. The huge humanoid moaned and doubled up. A burst from Mor's rifle cause the Andorian to retreat down the corridor. Mor fired another blast to keep the Andorian back as Moloth ran down the corridor. He was trusting much to his luck and reflexes, but the klin lived within him.

Moloth dived across the mouth of the corridor, his disruptor rifle spitting fire. A phaser beam blazed a trail a half meter over his head. Moloth didn't fire again. "He's dead," said Moloth. "Andorians are just as slow as humans.

"If he had aimed lower you would be even slower," said Mor. He activated his communicator. "Marine Traneth is wounded. Beam him to sickbay."

"The one is mistaken," said Moloth. "Even in the Black Fleet I wouldn't be slower than human."
---------------------------------------------------------------

Azrithel materialized on the bridge of the Federation starship in a shimmer of red light. Two marines wearing rust-red armoured spacesuits had their disruptor rifles covering the turbolifts. Another took a step forward and saluted, fist to heart.

She returned the salute. "Status?"

"Bridge secure, senior officers beamed to security, several consoles intact and running. Sciences station is one of them and over there." Sciences usually had the fullest access to the ship's central computer in Federation vessels. Azrithel gripped her tools case and walked over.

Klingon communications officers were extensively trained in electronic warfare techniques, including various forms of computer hacking. The Federation was sometimes surprisingly sloppy with information security and the Klingon Empire was not inclined to leave such a weakness unexploited. She opened her case and removed a scanner and a remote probe. She activated both of them and placed the scanner on the console.

Everything reading normal. She tapped several controls. Access was still enabled. She pulled up ship status. USS Yamato, NCC-71807A, Galaxy class Explorer commission date-. She stopped. That couldn't be right. A ship like this couldn't have remained secret from the IKN for this long. She pulled up the data on the Galaxy class.

First vessel launch was the Enterprise is 2363. Impossible. There was no such vessel. Enterprise was a Andromeda class starship during that time. There was no way two vessels could bear the same name. She felt something cold clutch at her liver. On impulse she pulled up the star map from the ship's library banks. It confirmed her suspicions.

Moving quickly she began to download historical data files. She pulled out her communicator. "Azrithel to Lancer. I need to speak to the captain immediately."

"Patching you through," said Aperoke.



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Five klingons materialized silently in columns of crimson light. Four of them were members of the Imperial race, two of them in the standard uniforms and armour and the other two wore the bulky rad resistant clothing of ship's engineers. The last was yellow skinned humanoid with a slit noise, large ears, and bulging dark eyes. He was barely over one and half meters in height and wore protective clothing like the other two engineers.

"Scan for rad levels," said the short Natrethee. "I don't want to blunder into any hot spots even if those marines didn't manage to damage anything critical." He took out a scanner of his own and activated it.

Two marines, even bulkier than usual in their space armour, advanced and gave the fist to heart salute. "Chief Engineer," said the one on the right. "This one has the honour of conducting you through the ship."

"Proceed lieutenant," Lancer's Chief Engineer replied. Few non-klingons rose to high rank in the IKN and those that did were watched closely by Security. That might have bothered Zumakka more if he ambitions to command a starship, which would have been almost impossible. His ambitions were more grandiose, that the next generation of Klingon battlecruisers would contain innovations he had come up with. The captain commanded, but the ship only lived because of engineers.

The marines lead them down halls marked with disruptor blasts. "No one was wearing any protective gear, even their security troops," the marine lieutenant explained. Several bodies lay around, large burn marks indicating the impact of high powered disruptor bolts. "We turned down the power to conserve ammunition. That was lucky," he continued as he lead them into a larger room. A half dozen dead Starfleet officers lay dead around a number of ruined terminals. "Because at first we didn't realize what that was."

The marine was pointing at a long glowing cylinder that ran through the next room top to bottom. There was some kind of chamber at the center of the tube. Zumakka raised his tricorder and scanned it. He examined the result, slapped the side of the tricorder, and scanned again. He looked at the marine. He opened his mouth, then closed it. Then he spoke. "I have never even conceived of this level of engineering incompetency from Starfleet. That's the ship's warp core and its completely exposed."

"This section can be sealed by emergency bulkheads and there is apparently a force field defence system," replied the marine.

"This ship could be destroyed by one man with disruptor," replied Zumakka. "Idiots. Continue lieutenant. One must see all the design deficiencies so the report to the captain will be thorough, although at this point one suspects that only the captain's luck was strong enough to prevent this ship from exploding when we opened fire on it. The imbeciles Starfleet employed as ship designers have made destroying their ships easy."

"Too easy," said the lieutenant. "We didn't realize what that was until after the fire fight. One stray disruptor bolt and-"

"Imbeciles," Zumakka repeated.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Kardon walked into Security. Two members of the Imperial race on duty through him fist to heart salutes, which he returned. "Where is Security Chief Mara?"

"Interrogation cells captain," the older of the two replied. He had Kardon's build, but the left side of his face was almost totally covered in scars. Chief Melgoth, Kardon remembered. They had fought side to side seven years ago in a desperate, close quarters battle against the Kinshaya. He had mentioned the sergeant in his report, just as Squadron Leader Kang zantai-Rrustez had mentioned him. It had only been a few minutes and after that they had been assigned to seperate shifts, but those minutes had been an eternity. They hadn't even exchanged names. Kardon had had to track down the security soldier's name for his report.

"The one is pleased to see you again chief."

"Our association has brought the one honour and glory," Melgoth replied.

Kardon walked into an adjacent room. The Starfleet captain was strapped down in an agonizer booth. He was an unremarkable human, white haired with a close cropped beard. His shoulder's were broad and there was just the hint of a paunch about his waist. His skin was very dark.

"Captain, we were just about to begin," said Mara.

"Continue."

"The ship's first officer is now with the mind sifter." The mind sifter usually got results from humans. It also often inflicted severe mental trauma. That made repeated sessions for confirmation unlikely and thus a tool best employed in conjunction with others.

"As the one sees fit." Kardon's communicator chirped. He picked it up and activated it. "Speak."

"Azrithel hear. I have just gone through their ships history banks. This ship is not from our universe. Their history diverges, their borders are different and the Komerex, the Komerex is radically different."

"Parallel universe," said Kardon. They had been proven to exist. "Send your data to sciences immediately and coordinate. A full briefing on the situation and options as soon as possible. And I need to know what universe we are in and if we are in theirs how to get back."



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As Kardon rose from his chair, Azrithel spoke. "This one has additional information of importance."

Kardon sat back down. It was not wise of junior officers to catch senior officers off balance, at least not if the senior officer survived the experience. This had better be good. "Their data security is terrible, there are no other words for it. As such vital information has been gleaned faster than one would expect."

Slightly mollified, Kardon indicated for her to continue. "Several important points. Overheard subspace radio transmissions indicate we are in their universe. The divergence point is approximately one thousand years ago." She hesitated before continuing. "And in this universe the Komerex Klingon and the United Federation of Planets are allies."

The room was silent for a moment as the implications of that statement sunk in. Their glorious victory transformed to ash in seconds. They had gone from defending the territory of the Empire to destroying a presumably allied ship with cold guns.

"G'dayt," swore Arkehd softly.

"Continue," Kardon snarled.

"Data from their stellar cartography data base indicates in this universe this is Federation territory. And the Empire itself is . . . . different. In fact, the divergence point between our universes occurs on Klinzhai. One thousand years ago, a minor warlord didn't die young. He built an Empire that expanded to cover the globe. As a result a unified planetary empire persists for hundreds of years before venturing into space. This minor warlord exists in our history, notable for two things. His luck ran out and he died young and a distant descendant took his name. That descendant was Khaless epetai-Riskadh."

The room was quiet for a moment. "Did Khaless exist?"

"There is no sign of Khaless the Unforgettable in their historical records, only their earlier Khaless."

"Points of divergence with this komerex and the true komerex?" Kardon barked.

"Line houses seem stronger, institutions weaker. Heavy emphasis on dueling. Old lines seem to have a near monopoly on power. Absence of the fusion program, but there was some kind of genetics program of their own. And they are a junior partner in a Federation alliance."

"Are you sure?" Arkehd asked intently.

"Very sure. The Federation ambassador is a member of the leader of the High Council's line. He killed their previous high chancellor, their equivalent of the emperor in single combat and then gave the office to his line leader. The previous succession was arbitrated by the Federation."

"The last two leaders of the Klingon Empire were put on the throne by the Federazhon?" Kardon nearly shouted in disbelief.

"The one regrets the answer is yes."

Another moment of silence. "Captain," said Arkehd, "we cannot expect shelter in this Empire. We have destroyed one of their allies ships, their leader is a Federazhon straav, and the other powers are old lines we have no connections with. One does not have to be a master of the komerex zha to see that he easy move for them would be to deliver us to Starfleet."

"Chances that their distress call reached Federazhon territory in readable shape?"

"Unfortunately very high. In this universe there is a nearby Federation space station. It is likely to have received the signal despite the jamming. The one has one more matter to report."

"Continue," said Kardon. His face was now set like a block of stone.

"The inhabitants of this universe have had recent contact with two aggressive and powerful empires originating in distant parts of the galaxy. Given the nature of the divergence between our two universes, they should exist in our universe. The ship's data base on both empires is vital to the future of the komerex."

Kardon smiled, showing teeth. It was not a reassuring gesture at all. "So," he said, "we have a prize for the empire after all." Fierce grins met his. "Arkehd, I need to know how to get back. Go through our data files, the Federazhon ones, everything. Find us a way back to the Empire."

The science officer rose. "I had best start reviewing the sensor tapes."

"Go. 'Rith, whatever this Federazhon knows about parallel universes, send it to Arkehd."

"The one understands."

"Coordinate with Security. They are to give priority in the data extraction to such information."

"Security might not appreciate that."

"Mara can take it up with me if Security has a problem with it. We need to get back home with every byte of information possible. Stations." His senior officers rose up, saluted, and exited the room.

Kardon looked up at the ceiling. Mara hadn't been present, but Security was always watching. She would know what occurred here soon enough.



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Arkehd tapped the monitor display at the sciences station. "These readings were recorded when we arrived. I had other things holding my attention at the time, but if the data on the so called "Mirror Universe" is accurate, these readings should allow us to plot a course back to our universe."

"Waste energy from the transfer?" Kardon asked.

"I think so. Physical law still applies. Mass and energy need to be conserved between universes. That's why transfer happens between transporter systems. They juggle matter-energy exchanges all the time."

"We can't do that."

"True, although there is an anomalous incident in the data base involving a Federazhon starbase. Deep Space Nine. A small craft transfered over and back."

"Do we understand how it occurred?"

"The Vulcans are still puzzled by it, if their data banks are to be trusted.."

"The one has great faith in his science officer, but does not ask the impossible. Options."

"We can't move the ship. It's going to be lost, unless Rith can turn up something in what's left of the Fed luxury barge's computers. How did Mara come up with the command codes so quickly? I thought a captain and first officer would hold out for a while longer."

"She put one of the children in an agonizer booth in front of the captain. After she turned up the power, the captain capitulated."

"Madness. They bring children along on a warship and then worry if they will come to harm?"

"It's not a warship," said Kardon. "They have become fat, soft. They lie to themselves that they do not need soldiers, that the galaxy is safe. And until they encounter a komerex that can contest with them, they will believe these lies because it makes them 'feel' better."

"Because the Empire is strong, Starfleet is strong," mused Arkehd. "I wonder what happened to the Kinshaya in this time line."

"We got into space a hundred years earlier," said Kardon. "We encountered them sooner, with better ships and they were still the Kinshaya. They lost." He was silent for a moment. "So, as of this moment, the only thing we can do to get back to where we belong is match proximity with an transporter system in our universe and beam crew members over?"

"Yes captain."

"And we are renegades in this universe. Selecting a target site will pose some difficulty. I will be in my ready room." Kardon turned away. "Zan Kaan, you have the con."

The klingon captain sat down and activated his terminal. Every cell of his body loathed the idea of abandoning Lancer, but it seemed the only chance of getting home. But first they would have to penetrate this false komerex in the vicinity of where a major naval base existed in the true komerex and then, without getting reduced to their component atoms in the process, attempt to transfer personnel through to their universe.

He pulled up the star charts and the briefings downloaded from the Federazhon ship. The damning differences in history were laid before him. Unity achieved hundreds of years before it happened in his own time. A different language becoming dominant within the Empire. With no one to fight but each other, the great houses became increasingly powerful as they absorbed the weak and gutted the institutions that could hobble them and used them as tools in their squabbles. An obsessive focus on personal honour and hand to hand combat, the only kind of fight most Klingons would ever know. By the time the Empire went into space, the damage had been done.

There were attempts at changes, but they were sabotaged. The great houses held the most power and they had the most to lose. They undercut and gutted every attempt. Only personal charisma and clear outside threats allowed for unity. The Empire was a hydra with neither Imperial Security nor Imperial Intelligence to bind it together. The minor houses were kept out of the High Council and the military was divided and factionalized. Add in the disaster of the Praxis Explosion, something that hadn't happened in his time line, and it was no wonder the Federazhon acted as if it had no real rivals.

There were some worrying signs. The Galaxy class may have been designed as a show piece in an era of unchallenged Federazhon hegemony, which even a poorly run series of conflicts with the Cardassians couldn't shake, but the more recent conflicts and designs suggested a return to more warlike roots. The Sovereign and Defiant classes appeared to be much more formidable and practical designs and many of Starfleet's captains would be those who had the luck and cunning to survive the conflicts with the Borg and Dominion. Those ones would be dangerous and the Federazhon still possessed the resources of the dominant power in this region of space.

He called up a star map, plotting a course that would bring them closer to this universes Klingon Empire while evading detection. It wouldn't be long until they had ripped the last useful bit of data from Yamato's computers and they could leave, well ahead of any Federazhon rescue attempt.

The klaxon for battle stations sounded. His com beeped. "Captain," said Arkehd, "two Federazhon cruisers have been detected on long range scanners."

"On my way," said Kardon. "Keep them away from Yamato." He switched channels. "Rith. Status?"

"Almost done captain. Fifteen minutes until the last of their secured science files are accessed and transmitted." Encrypted science files which could be of crucial value. He left the his ready room and entered the bridge.

"Time until weapons range?" he barked as he entered. Arkehd rose from the center seat and retook the sciences console.

"Two minutes," Kaan replied from his usual position at one of the rear tactical stations. Arkehd had evidently relieved him when sensors had registered enemy contacts.

"Inform Azrithel to continue."

"Acting," said Ensign Kuln, a young Klingon on his second ship duty assignment.

"Tactical display," Kardon ordered as he took the center seat. Time to see exactly what Lancer was up against.



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An icon displaying the hulk of the Yamato flashed into existence on the main viewer, with vectors displaying the course that Lancer was taking past it and towards the two Federation starships. Indicators by Lancer's icon indicated full strength shields and armed weapons. Lancer's path was projected to the top of the screen, where it crossed the paths of two Federation vessels advancing at full impulse. The one ahead to starboard was the Excelsior class USS Repulse. The vessel off to port was the Miranda class USS Nautilus.

"Signal incoming from the Repulse," said Aperoke. "They are demanding our surrender."

"Jam them," ordered Kardon. "Zan Krevon, put us off the Nautilus's starboard side. Zan Kolenth, hold the tertiaries for my mark."

"Acting," responded Krevon.

"Federation torpedoes incoming," said Arkehd.

"Evasive," ordered Kardon. The launchers located on the weapon pod on top of Nautilus's weapon's bar and in the Repulse's mid section sent spreads of torpedoes on a wide pattern towards the Klingon vessel. Krevon was an able helmsmen, only three scored direct hits. One torpedo on the dorsal shields, one forward starboard, and one starboard. Lancer shook with the fury of the antimatter detonations.

"Shields holding," said Arkehd.

"Zan Kaan, Nautilus is the target. Fire at your discretion."

"Nautilus is target," Kaan repeated from his station behind the captain. On the tactical display the Nautilus continued to move straight ahead while Repulse turned towards them as Lancer cut across the Nautilus's bow at an angle. The prospect of delivering even more punishment to Lancer's starboard shields was too tempting to resist, as Kardon intended it to be.

"Captain, Nautilus's rear torpedoes are armed," warned Arkehd. To sweep past a target, raking its forward shields with disruptors and torpedoes and then fire aft weapons into the frequently poorly shielded aft quarters was an old Klingon tactic. "Her aft shields are strong."

"Noted," said Kardon. Phaser pulses flashed from weapon emplacements where the weapon's bar met the Nautilus's primary hull, several shots striking Lancer's forward shields. Beams flashed from the Repulses's forward emitters, flashing through empty space and then correcting to tear away at Lancer's starboard shielding.

"Heavy damage to forward and starboard shields," Arkehd announced. "Burn through with next hits."

"Acting," said Senior Gunner Kaan. Tight clusters of torpedoes flew from the launcher in the command pod and the main hull weapon pod. Four torpedoes impacted on the Nautilus's forward shields, inflicting massive damage. The primaries and secondaries sent deadly disruptor bolts through the weakened shield, ripping open a glowing wound half the length of the primary hull in her dorsal surface and blasting apart the torpedo pod on the weapons pod in an explosion of fire and a cloud of glowing metal fragments.

"Nautilus's torpedoes destroyed, heavy damage to foreward shields. She is accelerating to sweep past us." The vector indicator on the tactical display changed to show Nautilus's course change. The Federation starship was going to play the Klingon game.

"Engineering, power to disruptors. Zan Krevon, hard turn starboard on my mark." A pause. "Action!"

Klingon designers placed more emphasis on weapons and maneuverability than shields. It was a truism among Klingon captains and helmsmen that a ship had to move to live. Like most Klingon battlecruisers Lancer had been designed with that and mind and was more maneuverable than her Federation equivalents. The battlecruiser's bow swung starboard as Nautilus swept pass, crossing in front of Lancer.

"Zan Kaan. Action." The primaries and secondaries hadn't fully recharged, but they didn't need to be. Nautilus's shields had been damaged and she had transferred power to her aft shields to deal with strikes from Lancer's aft weaponry when the battlecruiser swept pass. Disruptor bolts flashed from the command pod and the wings, slamming into Nautilus's shields and then blasting apart the Federation ship's starboard phaser banks and tearing burning holes through the engineering section. Secondary explosions wracked the Nautilus as Lancer swept forward through the crippled ship's wake.

"Kai weapons!" Kardon shouted. Lancer rocked as the Repulse's forward phasers struck the battlecruiser.

"Forward shield collapse imminent!" Arkehd shouted. On the tactical display the Federation vessel was dead ahead, undamaged and heading straight down Lancer's throat.

"Evasive port sweep!" Kardon shouted. "Zan Kolenth, stand by." Lancer swung to port as torpedoes shot from Repulse's launchers and blazed their way through space. One smashed a blazing hole in Lancer's port wing as the detonation overpowered the already stressed shields and blew through the hull. Two others struck Lancer's stronger port shields and merely scarred the surface.

"Damage to portside deflector generators," Arkehd said.

"Standby for full emergency turn," Kardon ordered. "Turn us into him. Feed him everything we have, tertiaries included."

Lancer turned back towards the Repulse, facing the Federation cruiser's forward port shields. Single bolts flicked from the primaries and secondaries and several rapid but lower powered pulses from the tertiary disruptor mounts. Most of them hit the Repulse and battered her shields, but did no secondary damage. Torpedoes flew from her launchers, streaking through space to detonate in close proximity or strike directly along her forward and port shields.

"Heavy damage to Repulse's shields," Arkehd noted.

"Emergency turn!" Kardon ordered. "Zan Kolenth, fire as they bear." Lancer swung hard to port as Repulse fired her port phaser banks. Brilliant beams of energy lashed the battlecruiser's shields as it turned, burning through weakened shields and scarring her hull. Then the aft disruptors came to bear.

A volley of disruptor bolts overloaded the damaged shields smashed into the ventral surface of the Repulse's saucer dish, destroying three phaser banks. A moment latter a volley of torpedoes struck Repulse's engineering section. The shields absorbed most of the damage from the first one, resulting in a explosion and a shallow wound. The other two hits were devastating, sending jets of fire shooting into space as they blasted deeply into the Repulse's secondary hull.

"Warp core breech!" Arkehd shouted.

"Power to engines and aft shields!" ordered Kardon. Lancer hurled forward herself forward moments before the Repulse was consumed by a tremendous blast wave.

"Kai kassai Klingon!" Kardon cried.

"Aft shields withstood the blast," Arkehd announced. "Not even radiation burns on the hull."

"Yamato?" asked Lancer's captain.

"Far enough away to be undamaged."

"Finish Nautilus. I need a damage control assessment as soon as possible. And I want our people off that Starfleet hulk. I want us underway as soon as possible."



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Admiral William Ross rotated the holo image in front of him, displaying the ventral surface of the Scimitar. The massive Reman warbird was officially constructed at some Reman secret base under Shinzon's direction. Ross didn't believe a word of it. Some escaped slaves, smugglers, gun runners, and soldiers building a vessel more powerful than a Sovriegn class starship while hiding from the might of the Romulan Star Empire in around a remote asteroid or moon? It was ridiculous.

No, what was far more likely, especially if one considered the shape of the vessel without the wings, was a conversion job on a large Dominion warship. At some point Shinzon stole the damn thing and the Romulans weren't about to admit that they had stolen Dominion technology and kept it from their allies or their problems with internal security.

His com badge beeped. He slapped it. "Ross here."

"Sir," his secretary said, "there's an urgent communication to you from Admiral Janeway."

Ross turned off the projection of the Scimitar. "I'll take it here," he said. The Scimitar was a current problem, Janeway a supposedly solved one. When Voyager had returned with great fanfare, Janeway had been elevated to pedestal for a brief period of time. A too hasty promotion had gone through and then closer examination of her logs had shown some troubling decisions she had been made. Trying to bust her down in rank would have been a public relations fiasco so the decision had been made to pack her off into a corner where she couldn't do any damage.

That corner had been Beta Quadrant Exploration Command. She pushed paper and managed logistics for the small part of Starfleet that was actively exploring the Beta Quadrant, which was mostly Klingon territory. So that meant there wasn't very many ships or resources assigned to that and that any truly important decisions would probably in some way or another involve the Klingons and thus bring in other branches of Starfleet and officers who could actually do their jobs. So why was Janeway calling the Chief of Military Operations? It couldn't be anything good.

He activated the viewer. "Admiral. What can I do for you?"

"I have bad news Will," Janeway said, the smug smile for once absent from her face. He hated to be called Will. "Klingon renegades have destroyed three of my ships."

"What?" he almost shouted. Dear God, she had lost three ships? "You had better start from the beginning," he said.

"The Yamato was encountered a Klingon battle cruiser of unknown design and was attacked. We got pieces of its distress call back at Deep Space Twelve. I dispatched the Repulse and Nautilus on a rescue mission."

Ross really couldn't fault her for that. She had sent in two good ships, with captains that were veterans of the Dominion War. They should have been able to handle themselves.

"The Klingons killed them too. We got another transmission fragment from Nautilus. They were attacked by a single ship. I'm sending you the sensor file."

The ship was a nasty looking bastard, like someone had cut down a Negh'Var to about the size of a Vor'cha and dropped the ventral warp nacelles. The disruptor batteries were placed somewhat differently, but there was a strong resemblance. This had to be what the Klingons intended to replace the Vor'cha class with, but what the hell was it doing attacking Federation vessels?

"Just a moment admiral," Ross said and put her on hold while he pulled up the most recent of Ambassador Worf's reports. "Computer, compare vessel with any ship in our data base. Check any and all reports on Klingon activity for any references to the development of a new class of battle cruiser."

A calm female voice responded. "Search is negative." Damn. Relations with the Klingon Empire were at an all time high and developing this ship in secret would be hard. And Martok certainly wouldn't have given it to a hot head inclined to attack the Federation.

He switched back to Janeway. "Thank you for your patience admiral. There is no sign of the existence of any vessel matching these specifications or even that such a vessel is being built."

"Fifteen hundred dead Starfleet officers say otherwise admiral."

"I here you admiral. This matter is top priority."

"Good to here. And admiral?"

"Yes?"

"Those were my people. Don't try and keep me out of the loop."

"I won't. If you excuse me admiral, I have some orders to issue."

"Of course. Good hunting admiral." She cut the com.

Ross stared at the blank screen for a moment and then pulled up the coordinates of the encounter and the locations of Federations starships nearby suitable for assembling into hunter-killer packs. Fifteen hundred dead men and women and a rogue Klingon heavy battle cruiser. He had a feeling this was going to get a lot worse before it got better.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana


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Kardon sutai-Rezhad walked down the corridors next to Chief Engineer Zumakka. Lancer's captain new every centimeter of his ship and he was not content to merely receive a damage report when he could inspect it himself. "On one level captain we were very fortunate," said Zumakka, "on another level we were not."

He stopped at a door. A warning light indicated environmental hazard inside. Kardon knew what lay beyond that door without having to read the letters on the door. "Our main replicators. How bad?"

"Total wreck. Direct hit with phasers. Forcefield is up while the hull breach is being sealed."

"The industrial replicators on Yamato are a wreck as well. How long to repair using the shop units?"

"We have to replicate it piece by piece," said Zumakka. "And that leads to our other replicator needs. We gave most of our shield spares to Death Dealer and we took a direct hit on shield plates in addition to several overload burn outs. Forward shield capacity is down thirty percent. In addition, there is the status of our torpedo stores. We were well below half before transiting to this universe, before our battles with Starfleet. Yamato had more than enough antimatter to replenish our stores and allow the replication of additional torpedoes we no longer have the replicator resources for that."

"That will do for now. Priority is for repairing the shield generators. See to it."

"Understood."

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Kardon was the last to arrive at the briefing room. "The chief engineer will not be joining us," said Kardon as he sat down. "Repairs take priority. The ship is now underway, cloaked."

"The cloak will not prevent Starfleet vessels from detecting us, at least not at close range," said Azrithel.

"First Officer Arkehd concurs with your evaluation," said Kardon. "It will allow us to avoid long range detection and that should suffice for now. We are currently heading for Orion space at warp seven."

"Orion space?" Mara asked.

"Yes. They remain neutral in this universe as well. Federation files indicate that there are two shipyard facilities that will do work, no question asked. Primarily for Orion pirates, but they should serve our purposes."

"How will we pay these criminals?" Arkehd asked.

"Yamato's dilithium crystals," said Kardon with a smile. "Our prize provides."

"And then?" asked Mara.

"That would depend on Azrithel's findings." He turned to Lancer's communication and electronic warfare officer. "You said you had promising findings?"

"This one is pleased to report that a recent Federation discovery may be of considerable use to use." She touched a control and activated a holo display of Federation space. A single star at its periphery glowed brightly. "A Federation scout ship discovered ruins consistent with a vanished race known as the Iconians. The Iconians possessed the ability to open portals in space/time, possibly including the ability to reach other universes. They vanished mysteriously, but some of their technology survivies. An earlier version of the Yamato was destroyed by an Iconian probe and this version has several members of their science department who are Iconian specialists. They were contacted two days ago about the find."

"That's almost on the other side of the Federation from us," said Lieutenant Krevon.

"Yes," said Kardon. "Any direct route there would take us near Orion space anyways. Navigation, coordinate with me and Lieutenant Azrithel about plotting a course from Orion space to the Iconian ruins. Are there any other concerns?"

"What do you want me to do with the Federation prisoners?" asked Mara.

"The sciences personnel have their uses and the rest are useful as hostages to compel cooperation. I want them alive and unharmed, for the moment."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Kardon walked into Lancer's brig. Four soldiers were on duty, watching the inhabitants of the cells. Kardon stopped in front of the cell containing a Vulcan with a lieutenant commander's insignia on his uniform and the blue underlayer colour of Starfleet's science section. The Vulcan looked back calmly from the other side of the force screen.

The Vulcan was Kardon's equal in height, although his build was slimmer than that of the Klingon captain. He was stronger too, pound for pound at least, although Kardon's heavier frame made up for much of that. Vulcan's were a little faster than humans, although they tended to be slower than those of the Imperial race and Kardon was fast indeed. Vulcan's tended to practice a lot of very practical martial arts, but Klingons didn't just train in them they used them. Kardon had first killed in the Year Games when he had been twelve and had no doubts who would win a weaponless fight between.

The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. "Have you completed your evaluation captain?"

"What evaluation do you speak of Vulcan?"

"Sizing me up as an opponent in hand to hand combat."

Kardon considered denying it and realized there was no point. He would have to take a different path with this one. "Yes."

"And you conclusion?"

"My conclusion is based on knowledge of my own capabilities, Vulcan characteristics, and your Starfleet file. Lieutenant Commander Sulak, expert in computer systems and physical sciences, awarded Starfleet Medal of Commendation for your role in repulsing Jem Hadar boarders during the Dominion War, received injuries to the upper arm and abdomen on Cenjari II . . . ."

"So you have succeeded in breaking into the main computer. I had estimated an eighty-seven percent chance that you would have succeeded by now. Human resistance to Klingon interrogation techniques is limited. They are frailer, mentally and physically, than Vulcans. There is, however, a limit to what you can obtain from them. You wish my help in returning to your own universe."

Kardon controlled his surprise. "How did you know?"

"The differences in uniforms, the use of different but related language instead of tlhIngan Hol, the design of your ship, the hostile nature of our encounter, and the sudden appearance of your vessel along with some very powerful energy emissions. That you have arrived from a parallel universe is the answer that fits all the available facts."

"Correct," said Kardon. "You will assist us in returning to our universe."

"In what way would you require my assistance?"

"You have already deduced that answer Vulcan. You are simply hoping that I haven't figured it out. You are an expert on the Iconians."

"Why would I assist you?"

"I would think that the lives of your shipmates and having us leave your universe would be reason enough."

"Such a solution would result in the knowledge to operate Iconian portal technology falling into the hands of a bellicose Klingon Empire. Using conservative estimates, I would be endangering billions of lives. No captain, I will not aid you."

"They aren't even part of your own Federazhon!" Kardon shouted.

"Irrelevant. Their lives still have value. The needs of the many outway the needs of the few."

"Your shipmates remain in my hands. Children as well. I could have them killed, slowly, in agony. Their minds broken by the mind sifter, their nervous systems shredded by agonizers. Would you pay that price for defiance."

"I am resolved. Your threats do nothing but convince me that the knowledge of how to operate Iconian technology must not fall into your hands."

"Have you considered what I could do to you Vulcan?"

"I'm sure you could inflict a most unpleasant form of death or maiming. Such an action is illogical, as it will not convince me to yield the information to you."

"Very well Vulcan," said Kardon. "Further conversation would be pointless. For now." The Klingon captain turned around and stalked away. The door out of detention slid open. Mara was there.

"Captain," she said respectfully. Kardon was walking like a stormwalker and the captain was even more dangerous.

"I now know the truth behind the old saying, 'less fun than torturing a Vulcan.' He is impossible."

"This one could assist."

"He is Vulcan. Neither torture nor the mind sifter will work well on him. Besides, we want his willing cooperation. We must find another means of approach."

"Does such a thing exist?"

"If it does, I will find it."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Kardon took his tray from the replicator slot and sat down on the bench. He poured syrup over the batter toast and took a long drink from his tall glass of reddish-pink quam juice. His rapid Klingon metabolism broke down the sugars and provided a pleasant buzz. He speared a slice of fruit from his side dish and then went to work on the batter toast with a vengeance.

Azrithel sat down opposite of him. He finished swallowing the stick of batter toast and grimaced. "I don't know how you can stand it?"

"What?" she asked.

"That," he pointed to the dark liquid in her cup.

"Its an acquired taste," she said. "Actually, its more of a family tradition. A line full of Commando Force Leaders each trying to be tougher than the rest. So the Navy part started drinking this. I think the first batch was taken as a prize around my grandfather's time." She shrugged and took a sip.

"Earther pervert," said Arkehd as he sat down. "I'd rather eat Marine emergency rations." He began salting his eggs, which had bright red oaks.

'Rith smiled. "Drink coffee and you'll actually enjoy Marine emergency rations. It'll make you the toughest Klingon in known space."

"I am the toughest Klingon in known space," said Kardon. "I fight Kinshaya hand to hand and win."

"Putting down all those calories will take care of that," joked Arkehd. "If you don't watch it you'll be as thick as a Tellarite."

"I burn them exercising," said Kardon.

"There's a reason our ancestors invented the disruptor," said Arkehd. "I'll stick with that. Having to use blades or fists is a sign that you screwed up somewhere."

"Does getting smashed across the deck of a Kinshaya warsphere by a concussion blast count as screwing up?" Kardon asked.

"No. Not keeping a tight enough grip on your disruptor does."

"The mek'leth did the job," said Kardon. "Kinshaya are strong and tough and can soak up disruptor fire, but they aren't fast. Even humans are faster, though not much. Strike and move with a good blade and you stand a chance."

The science officer changed the subject. "We are about two hours from Orion Space if we are still cruising at warp seven. It seems we might have given the Feddies the slip."

"Perhaps," said Kardon. "But that leaves the Orions. They will be tricky. According the Federazhon dossier they'll insist on a face to face meeting and they are less than honorable."

"That's my problem," said Arkehd. "First Officer's job after all."

"Except we can't spare you," said Kardon. "Unless we can use the Iconian portal systems our mission fails and you are the best chance of that. So you're staying."

"You intend to go," said Arkehd.

"They won't deal with someone junior. They are Orions, not Kinshaya. I'll be fine."

"Having your chest obliterated is still fatal, whether its by a Feddie phaser or a Kinshaya blade."

"I'm aware of that. I have no intention of placing myself entirely within their power. We need those repairs, so we'll take the chance." Kardon sliced off a chunk of steak and gulped it down. "Now is there anything else you wish to discuss?"

"No captain."

"Good. Progress on deciphering the Iconian database."

"This one regrets to say that the Federation database on the Iconians is limited. There simply isn't enough to go on. Neither Iconian site they've found survived for very long. I'll have to finish working things out when we get there."

"Then you had actually better be the best science officer in the fleet," said Kardon.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

The USS Tycho raced through space at warp eight. The Akira class cruiser was the most powerful vessel assigned to Beta Quadrant Exploration Command now that the Yamato had met an untimely end. The deaths of three sister ships and their crews had sent a ripple throughout the fleet. Renegade Klingons were one thing, Klingons who could beat Starfleet's best were another. "Reading Deep Space Twelve on long range sensors," said Julia Collins at the navigation station. Readings normal.

"Take us in," Captain Smyth ordered. The captain was not a young man, his curly hair had gone gray years ago, which contrasted vividly with his mahogany skin. He was tall and lean, a champion triathlete at Starfleet academy. He knew every trick in the book and had more than a few of his own along with a relentless bulldog tenacity. These qualities had steered the Tycho safely through the Dominion War and been passed on to a greater or less extent to host of promising junior officers. "Hail the station and let the Admiral know that we've arrived."

"Aye sir," said Anek Celzu, the Andorian at the ops station. He paused. "We're getting a response from Deep Space Twelve. Its the Admiral."

"Put it on screen," said Smyth.

The starfield on the main viewer vanished to be replaced with Admiral Janeway's face. "Thank you for coming so quickly Thomas."

"Your message said urgent admiral," said the older man. "I don't tend to take the scenic route when I hear that. What's so god damn important?"

"I'll brief you in person," said Janeway.

"I'll prepare to beam over," said Smyth. "We'll be at the station in-" he paused to look down at a display, "two minutes."

"That's not the plan captain," Janeway said smugly. "I'll be beaming aboard as soon as you are in range. This mission I'll be overseeing personally."

Smyth bit down a retort. "As you wish admiral." The transmission ended. Smyth turned to address his crew. "Jamie, see to it that quarters are prepared for the admiral. I'm going down to the transporter room to greet her.



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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"A message from Ambassador Worf has arrived," said Admiral Ross's desk in a pleasantly neutral female voice.

"On screen," said Ross. The last week had been a lot of long hours and little sleep rearranging patrols and getting reports from long range scanning installations in the hopes of finding the mysterious battlecruiser. Everything had come up empty. He watched as Ambassador Worf's features filled the screen.

"Admiral, as you have requested I have consulted Chancellor Martok about the existence of battlecruiser. There is nothing in the High Council records indicating the existence or the commissioning of such a vessel. Klingon Intelligence also indicates that there is no evidence to suggest one of the major houses had such a vessel built and monitoring at every major shipyard indicates it was not constructed there. The only remaining possibility is that it was secretly designed and built by someone with vast resources and access to a hidden shipyard.

"No such transfer of resources has been detected. It is possible that the Duros or their allies secretly commissioned the vessel during the recent civil war or managed to acquire the necessary resources to begin construction before being driven into exile. If true, then the ship is likely commanded by a senior warrior who has be discommendated. He will either seek glorious death in battle or change in Klingon domestic politics that will allow him and his crew to regain their honour. It is possible that he believes he can achieve these ends by sparking a war with the Federation or driving Chancellor Martok from power.

"There is one other possibility, that Chancellor Martok or someone else in the Klingon government is deliberately hiding the truth. While I cannot discount the possibility, I do not find it likely. Worf out."

William Ross sat back in his chair. He had to agree with Worf. He had gotten to know Martok very well during the Dominion War and while the man wouldn't hesitate to trick his enemies or launch a surprise attack, he wouldn't betray his friends or allies. This battlecruiser was too big of a secret to be easily kept from Martok and the legions of Klingons in the government who respected the general. No, Worf was probably right. It was probably the damned Duros coming to bite everyone in the ass. Again.

That meant that the battlecruiser would probably be headed into Federation space, not back to the Klingon Empire and that would explain why they hadn't found a trace of it. He thought of the ships and worlds of the Federation's core, too many of them easy prey to a warship on a mission to do as much damage as possible. He activated a com channel and began to issue orders.

-------------------------------------------------------------

"Admiral," said Smyth as Janeway materialized aboard the Tycho.

"Thomas," Janeway replied. "Permission to come aboard?"

"Permission granted Admiral."

"Call me Kathryn," said Janeway with a smile. "We need to talk."

"If you would follow me to the ready room?" said Smyth. The two Starfleet officer walked down the corridor to the turbolift. "What's this about Admiral?"

"Its about that Klingon battlecruiser that has killed more than fifteen hundred men and women and is likely to kill more." The reached the turbolift.

"Ready room," said Smyth. "Admiral, you have other responsibilities."

"I owe it to those men and women to see to it personally. I won't let them down."

"What makes you think you can make a difference here?"

The turbolift doors slid open and they walked into Tycho's ready room. "Simple. I know where no one is looking and that's where she'll be."

"And where is that Admiral."

"Deep inside Federation space. She'll be caught if she head's back into Klingon territory or stays on the boarder. She has to head deep inside to survive and that's where we'll be. Either that or this is just the opening shots of an all out war, but in that case this won't really matter."

"Admiral," said Smyth, "you are pulling this ship away from its duties at what could be a critical juncture on the basis of a unsubstantiated guess in the hope that we'll be lucky enough to be at the right place at the right time. There are other ships admiral-"

"And they'll need all the help they can get. I've gone through hostile territory in the Delta Quadrant. I know every trick those Klingons are going to try and pull out there. Too many lives are at stake and my experience could mean the difference between catching them and a disaster. We have to go."

Smyth knew defeat when he heard it. "As you say Admiral."

"I'm glad you're with me on this Thomas. The Tycho is a good ship, with a damn good captain sitting center seat. This is unorthodox, I know, but sometimes you have to break the rules in order to follow them."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Lancer coasted into orbit around a dark, cloudless world. Two billion kilometers away, the system's red dwarf sun burned feebly. Oreja was not a world worth much to anyone now that the last of its mineral wealth was nearing depletion. Deep beneath the planetary surface mining cities eked out the last years of their existence. The wealth of the Orion worlds was legendary, but in this place it would soon come to an end.

Nature abhors a vacuum and just as the miners began to trickle away, leaving the old underground cities and atmosphere plants so newcomers came in their place. There had always been a criminal presence on these words, even if slave trading, drug dealing, and prostitution were legal in Orion space. Slave trading at least had been almost exterminated by Federation pressure, but their prosperous neighbor presented a whole new set of opportunities to ambitious Orions. Piracy, smuggling, black marketeering, arms dealing, and industrial espionage to name just a few and that's before one added the Klingon Empire into the picture. There were a lot of ways for an Orion of few scruples to get rich and their civilization valued wealth over clean consciences.

Having a battlecruiser like Lancer show up was surprise. Top of the line warships didn't just enter Orion territory, but Lancer was acting like it wanted to do business and that was fine with the powers that ruled here. Starfleet had extensive dossiers on suspected criminal activity in this place, dossiers that included questionable dealings during the Dominion War. The dossiers told Kardon where to go for custom large scale replication work.

The soundless shimmer of Klingon transporters marked the arrival of Kardon and four security officers on to High Point station's public transporter pad. The space station had been old fifty years ago with constant maintenance and patchwork upgrades keeping it in service. The Klingon's stepped past the green skinned orion guards and out onto the promenade. All but one of the over head light tubes were functioning properly and there were old stains on the walls and floors. Bars, brothels, holosuites, drug dens, and fences lined the broad corridor. Glowing holographic signs in half a dozen major languages spelled out their names and services. Members of a dozen species walked the corridors or drifted through. Many were armed and almost all of them looked disreputable. Most of them, even the intoxicated ones, got out of the way of approaching Klingons. Not all.

Four Nausicaans staggered out of establishment that seemed to sell intoxicating liquids. They saw the Klingons and the biggest one, who rivaled a Gorn in height if not bulk, yelled something. Kardon was almost surprised. More sign of what was wrong with this universe when Nausicaan pirates thought they were equal to a numerically superior force of Klingons. The smallest Nausicaan, half a head taller than Kardon, pulled out a long serrated edged knife and hissed.

Blue flashes burst among the Nausicaans. A pair of Orionsin bulky armour ten meters behind the fallen Nausicaans lowered their blocky phaser pistols. The Klingons stepped around the fallen Nausicaans and continued on their way.

Another pair of armed and armoured Orions guarded a door. "I am Captain Kardon. I have a meeting with you employers."

The Orion on the left touched a control and the door slid open. "Please proceed captain." The Klingons stepped onto immaculate crimson carpet and gold platted walls. An stunningly beautiful Orion female in a dress of gauzy silk bowed. "Please follow me captain. My employers are eager to meet with you. They send their regrets that you had to pass through the common riff raff of the station, but they do not possess the authority to contravene the transportation protocols. Security concerns and the mutual distrust of the larger players here is unfortunately paramount."

Klingons knew something about security concerns. "My men come with me." His tone broked no disagreement.

She inclined her head. "The follow me." She lead them down the golden halls to a semicircular room. Two Orions in gaudy silks sat on a couch that conformed to the curve of the bank of windows behind it. Through the windows the void beckoned and in it drifted Lancer, barely visible in the distance. Two more Orion guards stood in the corners of the room.

"Captain Kardon," said the Orion on the left. "We are pleased to receive your proposal. You said you had an extremely profitable business arrangement for us."

"You are Desen and Kresk?" Kardon asked.

"Yes we are," said the Orion on the right. "I am Kresk."

"I need the use of your industrial replicators and raw materials. My crew will supervise operations."

"Impossible," said Desen. "We don't do business like that."

"I will pay you," said Kardon, as if he hadn't been interrupted, "in dilithium."

"Dilithium?" as Kresk in an sharp tone.

"We can negotiate over the amount. And my need for your facilities will be brief."

"I think," said Desen slowly, "we can come to some form of agreement in principle. Shall we crunch the numbers?"



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

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Admiral William Ross walked into his office. "Hello Nerhanna," he said to his secretary. The Betazoid young woman was as pristinely beautiful as she always was.

"Admiral, how much sleep did you get last night?" she said with a touch of concern in her voice.

"Not enough," he said. "Between the Romulans, the Cardassians, and the Gorn we have no shortage of potential flash points that have to be handled delicately and that includes showing just enough muscle to make them play nice while not enough to make them jumpy."

"And then there are your mystery Klingons," she said brightly.

"Icing on the cake."

"Starfleet Intelligence sent over a data packet for you. All there anomalous Klingon information I think."

"Thank you," he said. He walked into his office and stopped by the replicator slot. "Coffee, large. Black. Blueberry muffin." The muffin materialized next to tall mug. He took them both to his desk. "Computer, display messges."

There is was. A top secret report from Starfleet Intelligence, along with other matter of routine business. "Computer, play message three."

A starmap flashed into existence on the screen, displaying locations of in flashing red lights. "Display reports, starting with those with visual confirmation included." He took a bite from the muffin and then a sip of coffee.

The first report came up. It was from Oreja in Orion Territory, specifically from High Point Station. An electronically obscured voice began to speak. "This ship arrived at High Point Station at two-seven-nine point seven three in the local timescale." The Klingon battlecruiser was as unmistakable as it was unique.

"The vessel's captain conducted business with local crime lords Desen and Kresk. The Klingons were able to secure exclusive access to the industrial replicators and raw material for what appeared to be battle repairs." More images followed, displaying suited figures moving over the battlecruiser's hull.

"At no point were any of the vessel's crew allowed on the station for leave. They remained on station for one hundred and seventy three Terran standard hours before leaving. Station sensors record this course before they lost contact."

"Computer," Ross ordered. "Display the course on a map of the Federation." The computer obeyed. Ross studied it. The course took them near nothing of importance until it reached the heavily patrolled Romulan border.

They obviously weren't going to follow it that far but where were they going to go? They could have headed for Klingon space, the Empire was close to the Orion Territories, but they could have entered the Klingon Empire long ago if that was there aim. No, they had some other purpose in mind and had laid down this false course to confound any observers.

If they intended to reach any place near Orion space they would probably already be there by now. If they crossed any densely populated or widely travelled areas of the Federation they were likely to be swiftly discovered. Which left the the younger worlds and colonies, mostly at the edges of the Federation space, that were their likely destinations. It limited the likely routes that they would take as well.

Ross put his projections into his computer and then sent them to his staff for analysis and refinement. Supposing no flaws in his work were found, they would send out alerts and new patrol orders to the relevant ships and with a little luck they would bag the Klingon bastards. He didn't like the likes of them running loose in the Federation, but there was an upside to having them in the Alpha Quadrant. He wouldn't have to deal with Janeway anymore.

-------------------------------------------------------------

Captain Kardon sutai-Rezhad walked back into the security holding cells. He stopped in front of Lieutenant Commander Sulak. "Vulcan, there is a flaw in your reasoning."

The Vulcan rose from the bed. "Unlikely."

"You have based your conclusions on several very specific sets of circumstances and have not considered several larger and more important factors."

"From the pleased expression on your face you have probably concluded you have found some way of compelling my compliance. I must warn you captain, your conclusions are likely in error."

"Perhaps," said Kardon, showing his teeth. "Perhaps. Shall we reason together?" he said mockingly.

"I do not appear to have much choice in the matter. By all means captain, proceed."

"You based your refusal to aid us on the possible negative outcomes associated with that aid, correct?"

"Correct."

"Essentially, if the aid you provide us allows us to use the Iconian equipment faster than we would have if we figured it out for ourselves, if that sliver of time saved results in us learning to use Iconian technology in a decisive manner that will alter the local balance of power. Your refusal is, in short, based on the threat posed by that very narrow set of circumstances. Not enough time to learn it on our own, but the equipment possessing the capability of effecting a monumental change in the time available. Of course, if your assumptions about the power of the Iconian technology are wrong or the use we can make of it or, of course, if we have plenty of time then your withholding aid will be meaningless."

"You are correct. The circumstances are unlikely, but the consequences are no less undesirable because of that."

"There are other consequences to consider," said Kardon. "If Lancer succeeds into returning to our universe, the Iconian outpost will still be far nearer Federation space than our own. It is unlikely that we will be able to do anything than flee, even if we emerge right where we want to be. However, if we fail to return we will be unable to pass on information about two threats to this entire region of space."

Kardon paused for effect. "The Borg and the Dominion are unknown in our universe. Given what you know about their behavior they will continue to expand at the expense of every species they encounter. There will be no premature contact with the Borg. There invasion will not be one of limited commitment sparked by a chance encounter. They will invade in force when they have assimilated their way to the us. Nor will the Dominion be discovered through the Bajoran wormhole which is not open. There will be no closable supply corridor. The victories that you won against them will not be repeated."

"There is another way. If Lancer returns with data on them, our scientists will begin work countering their weapons and defences. The secret will not be kept forever. The Federation and then the rest of the Alpha Quadrant will learn and have a chance to defend themselves. Defensive alliances will be struck. The minute chance of aiding Klingon domination is a worthwhile risk to take to ensure the survival of everything in this part of the Galaxy!"

Sulak was quiet for a moment. "I will consider what you have said captain."

Kardon nodded and left. The Vulcan would come around eventually. The math made it inevitable. One obstacle, almost overcome, and so many more left. If they succeeded, eternal glory. If they failed only the naked stars would remember.



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-11-19 04:03am
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Kardon feinted with the the dueling blade. Arkehd took a step back, the single edged blade in his hand never wavering. Kardon stabbed at Arkehd's arm. The taller klingon parried and then riposted. Kardon, fast even for one of the Imperial race, dodged aside and thrust. The point of his blade touched his science officer's chest.

"A touch," said Arkehd. The Klingons separated and moved back to their starting positions. The sparing room on a Klingon battlecruiser was small, space being at a premium on a dedicated warship. At most four people could use the space at the same time. The captain and his executive officer had the room to themselves.

"How is the Vulcan coming along?" asked Kardon as he saluted Arkehd with his blade.

"Reluctant," said Arkehd. "He is offering aid to the enemy if he cooperates."

"Still hasn't?" Kardon advanced.

Arkehd lunged. The captain retreated. "No. He doesn't rank Klingon dominance as being much better than Dominion or Borg conquest."

"Fool," Kardon said and lunged low, forcing his first officer back. "If he's concerned about how the Federation will fare in our universe, how can he oppose our return? The Dominion and Borg were only contacted be accidents. To resist either of them requires alliance of local powers, not conquest and our chances of surviving improve with forewarning."

"I know," said Arkehd. "If we weren't evil, warmongering Klingons he wouldn't be having this crisis of conscience," he said with a smile. Blades flashed between them.

"Bah," said Kardon. "Justice belongs to the strong." He drove his first officer back. Arkehd parried furiously.

"You're good at handling the Vulcan. Too bad you're not the science officer."

"It is not enough to kill your enemy, you must understand him," Kardon quoted as he pressed harder.

"Yes, Thought Admiral. Maybe give the Vulcan another taste of your brilliance. Or maybe not." He grinned fiercely.

"What kind of breakthrough?"

"The universal translator's been programmed with their alphabet and language, as much of it as we have. There's a good chance just adding the context and additional symbols of the control room will help with the rest. We have a decent foundation as it is." Arkehd beat back Kardon's assault and lunged. The captain parried easily and drove his first officer to the wall.

The wall panel blared. "Battle stations. Captain to the bridge." The two Klingons disengaged and Kardon hit the wall panel.

"Report," he barked.

"Federation vessel, Nebula class has detected us and is in pursuit," said Azrithel.

"On my way," Kardon replied and headed for the bridge, Arkehd a step behind him. They arrived in less than a minute. The bridge doors slid open and the marines guarding the entrance gave fist to heart salutes.
"Status?" Kardon ordered.

Azrithel stood and left the center seat. "We have been detected by a Nebula class cruiser that is now in pursuit. I have ignored hails, but they have sent a transmission to Starfleet."

"Speed?"

"We are holding at warp seven, cloaked. The Nebula is pursuing at warp seven point one." She displaced a junior officer and retook the communications and electronic warfare board.

"They aren't eager to close with us," said Kardon. "They have some sense. Tactical."

The image of the pursuing Nebula class vanished from the mainstream, to be replaced with that of Lancer fleeing ahead of Federation vessel. With the cloak powered, it was impossible for Lancer to travel at full speed and despite having plotted a course that avoided all frequently travelled parts of Federation space, they had been found. Stealth had failed them.

Uncloaked Lancer could outrun the Nebula, but would be pursued and would inevitably be intercepted by faster vessels as they converged on the battlecruiser. Kardon had only one option. "Disengage the cloak, raise shields to battle levels, heat the guns, and arm torpedoes."

Buttons were pushed and switches flicked at the twin tactical station at the rear of the bridge. "Helm, prepare to bring us about. Intercept course, near brushing their hull."

"Acting," replied Lieutenant Krevon. "Course laid in."

"Bring us about. Drop us to impulse when we pass. Torpedoes, tight spread from dorsal launcher. I want to blast him out of warp."

Lancer began a wide turn, reversing direction and bringing her directly on a course opposite that of the Starfleet vessel. With both ships moving in excess of warp seven, they closed quickly. The outside indicator for accurate torpedo fire was marked on the tactical display. Lancer passed it. "Helm, evasive maneuvers upon enemy torpedo launch, assume standard or widespread pattern," said Kardon. Weapons, torpedoes on my mark. Zan Kolenth, fire as opportunity occurs."

"Nebula firing," said Arkehd. Lancer lurched hard up and starboard as Krevon initiated emergency maneuvers. The superstructure groaned in response to the violent course change, but only one of the Nebula's torpedoes struck Lancer's bow shields and another proximity detonated just below her belly.

"Zan Kaan, fire at will." Torpedoes flew in a tight cluster from the dorsal launcher on Lancer's back. Blood red blazes flashed through space and burst in intolerably bright detonation on the Nebula's forward shields.

"Nebula knocked out of warp," Arkehd reported. Lancer streaked towards and past the Federation vessel, barely one hundred meters above the Nebula's dorsal weapon pod, and dropped into impulse.

"Helm turn hard to port and bring us about," said Kardon. Torpedoes fired from the aft launchers of both ships, apparently the Starfleet captain wasn't a complete fool. Lancer was already moving and took only two hits, aft and aft-port. Three of her own higher yield weapons scored direct hits.

The tertiaries emitters on Lancer's hull sent disruptor bolts flashing into the Federation vessel and the Klingon vessel slid up her starboard side. Phaser beams flashed from the Nebula's emitter ring, causing brilliant flashed where they struck Lancer's port shields. "Port side mains, action," ordered Kardon.

"Acting," said Senior Gunner Kaan. The Klingon battlecruiser's fearsome primaries and secondaries were arrayed so that two of them had broad forward and starboard fire arcs while the other two covered forward and port. Kaan triggered the portside weapons. Green disruptor bolts hammered into the Nebula's starboard shields at point blank range, shields which had already been raked over by the tertiaries. The bolts scored direct hits on the phaser collimator ring and the shields were only able to deflect most of the energy. With guns as powerful as Lancer's mains, most wasn't enough. Hull metal was scorched and blasted into fragments, plasma conduits breached, and phaser capacitor banks blasted apart.

On a Klingon vessel, with its distributed systems and redundancies, such a hit would have merely put one emitter off line. With the Nebula, it put half of its phasers out of commission. The Nebula tilted its starboard side up to bring its ventral ring into firing position as Lancer turned towards its prey. An orange phaser beam struck its forward shield and then another.

"All weapons, action!" ordered Kardon. Torpedoes flew from the bow launcher in a tight cluster to strike the Nebula's belly with devastating results. Shields crumpled under the battlecruiser's fire. The main batteries added their own fury moments latter, blasting through the weakened shields to blow a whole right through the center of the saucer section. Hot gas and debris tumbled from the wound as the Federation starship continued on its course through space.

"Finish them with the mains," Kardon ordered. A Klingon vessel would have junior officers standing by at auxiliary control to deal with just this kind of situation, but this ship was finished. "Then cloak us and resume course. We need to leave before the reinforcements arrive."



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-11-23 11:16pm
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The door to the captain's ready room chimed. "Come in," said Kathryn Janeway. Captain Smyth had generously given over his ready room to the Admiral, allowing her to work and be close to the bridge.

Thomas Smyth entered what had once been his office. The dark skinned man cleared the distance between them in a few long legged strides. "We just got a transmission from the Poseidon. They found the Klingons." His face was grim.

"I take it the news isn't good."

"The last transmission indicates that they were about to engage them in battle. And then nothing."

"Damn," said Janeway. "Where were they? Did they get a course reading on the Klingons?"

"Yes," said Smyth. "Its in the computer."

"Computer," said Janeway, "display all transmissions from the Poseidon." She studied the display. She frowned in concentration. "Computer, display all starmap of the region of Poseidon's last transmission."

She took a moment to study the map. "What do you think Thomas?"

"Atria Beta. The archaeological expedition to the Iconian ruins. Its in the same general direction, nearby, and its the only thing even close to the trouble and risk they've taken."

"I concur," she said coolly and leaned forward. "They were travelling cloaked at warp seven. We should be able to beat the Klingons to Atria Beta at maximum speed."

"Yes, but that will leave us and Bellerophon going up against ship and to be frank admiral, those are odds I don't like. They've killed four ships admiral."

Janeway smiled at him. "I wouldn't expect you to get cold feet Thomas."

"I haven't," he said angrily. "I fought alongside Tekene and MacGregor during the Dominion War. They were good captains with good ships under their command. Anyone who could take one of them should be respected and the damned Klingons killed them both. We can't just hit them hard, we have to bury them before they realize what's happening."

He stopped for second, to let his words sink in. "The Cerebus and the Sweden are nearby. We can rendezvous with them and then proceed as a group to Atria Beta before the Klingons if they maintain warp seven."

"Alright," said Janeway. "I'll consider it. Why the rendezvous point before Atria?"

"Because I don't want to get ships chopped up piecemeal as we arrive one at a time because the Klingons decided to increase speed and arrive ahead of schedule."

"And the Bellerophon?" Janeway asked.

"She's an Intrepid class," said Smyth. "If necessary she can run like hell toward us at warp nine point five or better."

"Good point," Janeway conceded. "Make it so Captain Smyth."

"With pleasure Admiral."

------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Drop the cloak," Kardon ordered, leaning forward slightly from the chair.

"Acting," Azrithel replied. "Proceeding to drop cloak."

"Zan Krevon, accelerate to warp nine point two." The Federation would have a good idea where they were. They hadn't been able to prevent the Nebula from transmitting their location. There was only one important target in the region. Stealth would no longer serve them, but speed would.

"Acting," replied Krevon.

"Weapons, heat the guns and arm torpedoes. It is likely that we will receive a warm welcome." He grinned savagely, showing teeth. What glorious victory would be complete without battle?



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-12-04 01:40am
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Lieutenant Commander Sulak rose to his feet and approached the front of his cell. "Captain Kardon. I presume you are here in an attempt to persuade me to cooperate. Success is unlikely."

"Your decision could doom billions to enslavement by the Dominion or conversion by the Borg."

"The possibility is remote. My observations suggest that the Federation and Klingon Empire in your universe are more military capable than those in my universe. Given that and our own successes against the Dominion and the Borg, I find the risk of increasing the likelihood of Klingon conquest of the Federation to be too high. I will not assist you."

"I see," said Kardon. "This forces me to rely upon the Federation database on the Iconians and the abilities of my own science officers. This does mean that I have no use for most of my remaining prisoners."

"Threats will not alter my decision captain. Killing them will in no way profit you."

"Of course," said Kardon. "They are my prizes and evidence that will support my report. Their freedom would have been negotiable if you had agreed to assist us, but since you will not bargain for their lives there only remaining value is as evidence."

"Your attempts are coercion will fail captain."

"This is not coercion," said Kardon. "This is the logic. Unless you can provide me with a better alternative."

Silence answered him. "I thought not," said Kardon. The Klingon captain turned around and walked out of the brig.

------------------------------------------------------------------

"Nearing cloak radius," Azrithel said, turning to face Kardon.

The captain stroked his beard and turned his attention to the main viewer. "Decrease speed to warp seven. Activate the cloak," he commanded. Atria Beta wasn't quite within range of their long range scans.

"Acting," said Lieutenant Krevon. "Now at warp seven."

"Acting," said Azrithel. "Cloak engaged."

"Helm, swing us around to keep the sun between us and the second planet."

"Coordinates transferred from navigation, acting," said Krevon crisply.

"Permission to leave the bridge and prepare to join the landing party?" Arkehd asked.

"Permission granted," said Kardon. He smiled. "Have fun with the marines."

Arkehd gave a fist to heart salute and showed teeth. "Just don't forget and leave me down there." He departed from the bridge as a junior officer took his station.

Lancer entered the outer system and swung around the yellow G class star, keeping it between them and the 2nd planet for as long as possible. "Maintain course," Kardon ordered. "Zan Krevon, do not on any account enter the inner system until we are on the other side of the planet than the Iconian site."

"Understood," said Krevon.

"Subspace radio broadcast originating in orbit above the Iconian site," said Azrithel. "Indicative of a starship in geostationary orbit."

"Continue on course," Kardon ordered.

"Beginning approach vector to second planet," said Krevon. "Dropping to impulse."

Kardon hit a button on his chair. "Force Leader are your troops ready?"

"We are still making sure a certain science officer doesn't damage himself or his equipment while suited up," Memneth replied dryly. "First strike weapons have been loaded into the cargo transporters and the first wave are in troop transporters. We await your word captain."

"It is imperative that you be successful Force Leader. Records indicate that the Federation will destroy the facility before letting it fall into enemy hands."

"If these were Starfleet Marines, that might be a problem. Victory is all but assured. Kai Kassai Klingon!" Memneth cut the connection.

"Bring us around so we are within transporter range of the Iconian site zan Krevon."

"Acting," said the Helmsman. Lancer began to circle the world.

"Enemy vessel on sensors," Azrithel said. "Intrepid class. Their shields are up and their guns are hot. She's focusing scans on the outer system. She could detect us at any moment."

"Sciences, power readings on the Iconian structure?" Federation records indicated at least one Iconian structure had some kind of power dampening field which interfered with the operation of energy weapons.

"Within norms. Sensors indicate the structure is built of some kind of extremely dense substance. Readings are defaulting to neutronium." Which was wrong, but the closest match the computer could make to whatever it was the Iconians had used to build the structure."

"Transporters, action." There was no way the Federation ship would miss that. "Drop cloak, raise shields, heat the guns. For the Empire."

"For the Empire!"



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-12-05 12:45am
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"Captain!" came the shout from the sciences station. "Transporter activity near the surface!"

"Origin point," Sandra Quan asked crisply. The news that a killer Klingon battlecruiser was on its way was going to do damage to morale any way you slice it. In Captain Quan's opinion the best way to counter it was to appear calm no matter what.

"Five thousand kilometers aft," said Lieutenant Michaelson. "Klingon battlcruiser decloaking. It's them!"

"Break orbit, full impulse," Quan ordered. "Target them with aft phasers and photon torpedoes. Signal the ground party to activate the demolition charges."

"Our signals to the ground are being jammed," said Lieutenant Commander Radcliffe at tactical. "Direct phaser hits on the Klingon's forward shields. Enemy shields holding."

The ship shook. "Disruptor hits on aft shields. Shields at sixty percent," continued Radcliffe.

"Take us to warp. Now." The Bellerophon shuddered and broke past the light speed. "Take us to warp nine point eight. Set course towards the rendevous with Tycho. Signal them that the Klingons arrived early."

"The battlecruiser has entered warp and is pursuing," said Michaelson. The young woman had gone as pale as her caffe au lait skin tone allowed. "Warp nine point two and accelerating."

"Divert power to aft shields," Quan ordered. "Aft torpedoes, wide spread."

Torpedoes sped through space, one scoring a glancing hit on Lancer and another scoring a direct hit on the battlecruiser's forward shields.

"Shields holding," said Kaan. "Seventy-three percent."

"Torpedoes," ordered Kardon. "All forward launchers."

"Acting," said Kaan calmly. Torpedoes wrapped in crimson shield flares were shot from the bow and dorsal launchers. Proximity torpedo detonations flayed the Bellerophon's shields and direct hits hammered the Starfleet vessel.

"They've fallen out of warp," Azrithel announced calmly. "Shields heavily damaged. We've overshot."

"Zan Krevon, drop us out of warp and bring us around for the kill. Disruptors, fire as we bear."

"Three Federation vessels detected on long range sensors," said Arizhen at sciences. "Closing at high warp. Norway, Akira, and Prometheus class."

A Federation heavy cruiser, a light warship, and what the Fedarazhon kuve called a "tactical" cruiser because they could not bear to call to actually call a warship a warship. "Belay the order," Kardon snapped. Tactical displays still showed the Intrepid with a third of its shield strength and only minor damage. Lingering to finish it off would mean that all three reinforcing vessels would arrive just after Lancer had reduced the Bellarophon to dust. "Warp speed. Take us back to Atria Beta." A ship had to move to live and against these odds he needed every advantage he could seize from an uncaring universe.

----------------------------------------------------------------------

Two disc shaped drones silently materialized over the wedge shaped Iconian building. Broken rock and alien weeds chocked the surrounding ground, broken only by the occasional stunted tree, the tallest of which was six meters. Dark purple leaves glistened from their branches. Three of Bellarophon's crew remained outside the structure, minding the communication relay. The ultra dense structure of the Iconian portal building prevented communication signals from penetrating, so a short ranged console had been set up, with cables snaking inside to convey signals into the building's interior.

The first pod was an electronic warfare device, jamming sensor and communications signals. It only needed to prevent the ground team from understanding what was occurring long enough for the other drone to do its job. There was a slight hissing from several of the nozzles on the other drone.

Invisible, odourless, Theragen gas seeped down on the unprotected Starfleet personnel and began to penetrate the Iconian structure. "Hey chief," said Ensign Ritter.

"What is it?" said Chief Sutter, a grizzled veteran of both Cardassian Wars.

"My tricorder's acting up," said the young officer. "I'm getting garbage."

"Let me take a look at it," said Sutter. Starfleet seemed to like instruments with too much sensitivity and too little shielding. Would it kill anyone in the design departments to make something that was robust?

He took the tricorder. "Probably just a spike from one of those intermittent power sources." He wrinkled his brow. "That's odd. Looks more like jamming." There was an odd metallic taste in his mouth.

"Christ," muttered Ritter. "Does that mean the Klingons have shown up? Wouldn't Bellarophon have told us? You alright chief?" Then the ensign's arms started shaking. All strength left his limbs and he collapsed, convulsing.

Three minutes latter the armoured forms of Klingon Marines arrived at the front of the building. "Section two, secure the front of the building and set up defences," ordered Force Leader Memneth. "Section three, take point. Take it slow. Let the gas do its work. That way they'll be dead before they know what's happening."



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Lancer swooped by the Bellerophon, trinaries on the battlecruiser's dorsal side firing as she did. Phaser beams flashed from the Bellerophon's phaser strips, striking the battlecruiser's shields in a blaze of light before the Klingon ship went into warp and was out of range.

The Cerebus came charging ahead at warp nine point nine closing on the Bellerophon. "It looks like you could use a hand Sandra," said Captain Vance Mather of the Cerebus. The Prometheus class vessel was leaner than classic Starfleet designs, with double warp nacelles on each side. The dedicated warship was heavily automated and light on crew. Regenerative shields covered a hull plated with ablative armour, allowing the ship to take massive amounts of punishment. With multiple phaser emitters and quantum torpedo launchers, the Cerebus was ready to go head to head with the Borg or Dominion battlecruisers. Or Lancer.

"I'll call you a liar if you repeat it, but I'm glad to see you Cerebus. And your friends to."

"Can your ship still fight?"

"Ship's in good shape, but our shields have taken a beating."

"Bellerophon, this is Admiral Janeway aboard the Tycho. Fall in at the rear of our formation. We'll show these Klingons a thing or two."

"Admiral," replied Sandra Quan, "the Klingons beamed to the surface before they decloaked and attacked. I've got people down there, people who may be fighting for their lives at this very moment."

"Alright captain," said Janeway. "Let's go and lend your away team a helping hand. Where is the battlecruiser?"

"They're near the fifth planet," answered Anek Celzu. The Andorian's antenna quivered with anticipation. "A ringed gas giant with a moon system."

"They're choosing a fighting ground where they can try and use their maneuverability to fight us one at a time," said Smyth. "Or they can play hide and seek with us until their landing team gets results from the Iconian device. I doubt they will take it as slow or carefully as we did."

"And what would you do in this situation?" said Janeway.

"Nothing fancy," said Smyth. "I would smash a moon into them until there weren't any pieces left larger than a molecule. These Klingons are slippery. Don't give them the chance to try anything clever."

"Your opinion is noted captain," said Janeway, "but I have a few tricks of my own."

---------------------------------------------------------------

Sergeant Mang ejected the power cell from his disruptor rifle and slammed another one into butt of the weapon. He had disintegrated a semicircular trench in front of the entrance of the Iconian installation. Two portable, rapid fire disruptor cannons were being wrestled into place and set up with the ease and smoothness of frequent practice.

"Portable force field generator online," said Corporal Mehong. He was standing next to the portable generator and the force field projector. On the other side of the trench was a small missle battery.

"Good," said Mang. "I want everything online before the Federazhon kuve even think about showing up."

Deep inside the Iconian installation, within walls that blocked sensor scans and communications signals, Arkehd walked in front of two marines carrying heavy cases. Ahead of him was Force Leader Memneth and four other marines.

The Klingons stepped into a large, circular room with only one entrance. Alien displays lined the walls and a circular console sat in the center of the room. On the wall opposite of the arch stood an empty doorway. Three Humans and a Vulcan wearing the blue under tunics of sciences lay on the ground. Their equipment was lying next to them or by the central terminal.

"Put the cases down over there," said Arkehd. He activated the suit tricorder. "The Federation gear is still active. They must have been dying before they knew what hit them."

"Prevented this from being a wasted trip," said Memneth. He pointed at two containers. "Those are bombs." The four marines with him, combat engineers, moved forward to deal with explosives.

Arkehd opened one of the cases and withdrew leads from the computer inside. He attached them to the Federation tricorders. "Unencrypted data. Typical."

"They got power to the console. And have performed some additional linguistic analysis." The computer hummed slightly as it compared databases. "Who needs a g'dayt Vulcan anyway?



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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-12-07 04:49am
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"All Federation starships are in high orbit above the Iconian facility," said Azrithel. Lancer was cruising just above the cyan and white gas giant's ice rings.

"Weapons, status?" Kardon said.

"The last stealthed sensor drone will be deployed in . . . ten seconds," said Kaan. "Special ordinance will be ready within two minutes."

"Shields over ninety percent and rising," Azrithel said.

"Navigation, lay in a long range strafing course against the Starfleet vessels. Helm, weapon, stand by."

"Course laid in," said Lieutenant Kalmath.

"Action," Kardon ordered.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------

"Captain," said Lieutenant Commander Celzu, "we are receiving no signals from the surface and are detecting the presence of Theragen gas. In addition, a force field has been erected covering the entrance of the Iconian site."

"Theragen gas?" Janeway asked. "I'm not familiar with it."

"Klingon nerve gas," said Smyth. "They don't consider it an honourable weapon, but that didn't stop them from using it on the Jem'Hadar. It's very deadly. That's why we aren't getting any communication from the surface. They may have been incapacitated before having the chance to set the destruct charges."

"We can't let that facility remain in the renegade's hands."

"Agreed Admiral, but our security people need time to suit up or they're just committing suicide." He turned to his tactical officer. "What else is down by the entrance?"

"A lot of jamming, so I can't be sure," said Cezlu.

"A force field and even one synched disruptor cannon and we're going to take heavy casualties trying to storm the place. Admiral, I recommend we send security compliments from every ship, suited up and with every heavy weapon in the armory. Fighting Klingons in close quarters is hell under the best of conditions. I hate to say it, but we are going to have to accept that we are going to take heavy losses retaking the installation."

"I think you are underestimating our people captain."

'I think you are underestimating our enemy Admiral, but that's beside the point. Do you concur with my course of action?"

"Yes," she said. "Give me an all ships channel," she ordered. "This is Admiral Janeway. All security personnel are to don environmental suits and arm themselves with the heaviest weapons in the armories before reporting to transporter rooms. Beaming sites will be coordinated through Captain Smyth."

"Mister Cezlu," Smyth ordered. "Target the front of the Iconian facility and any other Klingon target you can find on the surface. After lock is achieved, fire phasers."

"Yes sir," said Anek Celzu. "Firing phasers."

--------------------------------------------------------------------

"Khest it," Memneth swore.

"Problem Force Leader?"

"I just lost contact with the outer perimeter Accredited Specialist," the marine replied. "Observations consistent with orbital beam weapon fire. Apparently the this Federazhon has not completely lost the concept of fire support."

"Bad?"

"Yes, but we are prepared. They will attempt ground assault soon. Are you making any progress?"

"Yes," said Arkehd. One of his computers was projecting a complicated holographic model. He consulted it and then approached the center terminal. He touched three panels in sequence.

"What did you just do?"

"Powered up the reactor, if I did it right. If not, hope the Iconians built their power plants better than this universe's Starfleet does its warp cores."

"That was not entirely reassuring."

"Wasn't meant to be. The alternative is to be like those khex Federazhon kuve and be afraid to take the necessary steps forward." He consulted readings. "Power levels rising."

"Just get that portal open. Preferably before the ground assault begins." Memneth and his combat engineers headed toward the exit.

"Where are you going?"

"To lead the fight."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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 Post subject:  PostPosted: 2006-12-07 07:08am
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"Transporter beams detected," said Lieutenant Arizhen at sciences. "All Federazhon vessels now raising shields. Beginning maneuvers. They definitely see us."

"With the amount of transporter activity they have had time to beam down a contingent that outnumbers our marines three to one," said Security Chief Mara. Security rarely had much to say during battle conditions, but with Lancer's marines deployed Mara covered Memneth's duties. "Conservatively."

"Three to one is bad odds storming a defended position," Kardon replied. "Weapons, target Bellerophon."

"Bellerophon is at the rear of their formation," Arizhen said. Kardon shot him a look. The junior officer shut up.

Kardon wasn't inclined to explain himself. Long range attacks on the weaker vessels, the Sweden and the Bellerophon, would either wear down and destroy the vessels or goad Starfleet into pursuit. Kardon was prepared to take either, but expected the latter. One thing that had been repeatedly demonstrated was that Lancer held the edge in long range accuracy and that her torpedoes had more powerful warheads than those of the Starfleet vessels. They would hold the advantage in long range sniping engagements.

"Weapons, fire at will," Kardon ordered.

"Acting," said Kaan. Orbs of bloody light shot from the bow and dorsal launchers and shot across open space. One struck Bellerophon directly, two more were close proximity hits.

"Federazhon vessels accelerating, full impulse," said Arizhen.

"Zan Krevon take us to our chosen battleground. Full impulse."

"Acting," said the helmsmen. Lancer's course changed and arced back to the cold gas giant in the outer system.

"Starfleet vessels in pursuit," said Arizhen. "Bellerophon and Sweden trailing."

"Tycho and Cerebus firing torpedoes," said Kaan.

"Evasive," ordered Kardon. Lancer shook with the impact of several hits.

"Tycho is equiped with rapid fire launchers," Azrithel commented. "And Cerebus is armed with quantum torpedoes." And quantum torpedoes packed an even heavier punch than Lancer's.

"Continue with evasive. Angle around the seventh moon as cover and put us on the other side of the gas giant." Lancer shook again.

"This only works if they take the bait," said Mara.

Kardon bit back a snarl. His security chief was getting so bold because she didn't think he was going to win. Security's job was to doubt the captain, but if the doubt spread to his other officers she might try to relieve him of command and get them all killed. "They'll take the bait," he snarled. "If they don't we can either snipe them or take an attack run on their ground forces on the second planet. After we bleed them for a second time they won't be able to resist."

--------------------------------------------------------------------

Starfleet security officers warily approached the Iconian structure. Tycho's phasers had blasted a smoking crater in the ground and scorched the exterior of the building, but hadn't done any noticeable structural damage. There weren't even bodies left of the Klingon's who had been defending the building's entrance. None of the men and women advancing thought the rest of the fight was going to be that easy.

They wore bulky environmental suits that only moderately encumbered the wearer. Most of them were armed with phaser rifles, although some support teams carried heavier weapons for blasting strong points and blowing through defensive force fields. Everyone expected the fighting to be rough.

Disruptor bolts flashed from the interior in a rapid stream. A stunted tree had its trunk blown apart by a single bolt and two security officers were hit. Return fire was directed towards the interior of the Iconian structure. The hose of disruptor fire swivelled and blew apart a large boulder in a hail of shots and then disintegrated one of the Starfleet officers hiding behind it.

Phaser pulses were filing the corridor, but the fire kept coming. "Launchers!" ordered Commander Sanderson. Two officers rose with tubular weapons resting on their shoulders. Scanning beams adjusted for range. Shielded projectiles shot into the corridor and loudly detonated in brilliant flashes of light.

Sanderson checked his tricorder. "Force field down, no life signs. We bagged them. Remember, we can't scan through the walls at all. The area could be literally crawling with Klingons. They don't die easy. Don't stop shooting them until they drop. There's a lot a dead Cardies and Jemmies who made that mistake. I expect better of Starfleet. Now move up."

Four Starfleet officers in white environmental suits advanced up the corridor, which was revealed to be a T junction. The remains of a tripod mounted heavy disruptor and a small force field generator were visible as well as the body of armoured Klingon marine.

Two Klingons poked disruptor rifles around the corner of either side. Disruptor and phaser bolts flashed at close range. Two Starfleet officers went down immediately, disruptor bolts burning through their suits and destroying tissue and organs. A phaser bolt hit a Klingon on the shoulder, disintegrating the outer layers of his armour but failing to penetrate. Starfleet officers behind the vanguard dropped into crouches or prone and added their fire. The rest of the advance team was down in seconds.

Another Klingon was hit and didn't drop. They opened up on the closest Starfleet officers. "Up the power!" a young lieutenant yelled. "Their suits are armoured. He jacked increased the power setting of his rifle three increments and resumed firing. One of the officers carrying a launcher was hit and dropped before he could fire.

A glowing mauve projectile hit the wall near two Klingons and exploded. Security officers ran up, ready to finish wounded or stunned Klingons. There were no new bodies when they arrived. One went two far forward and was cut down by Klingons waiting at the next corner.

Sanderson saw him fall. "Damn," he swore softly. This was going to be real bad. "Bring all the support weapons forward," he said. "And make sure your rifle is set on high. Yeah, that'll burn the power pack out quickly. That's why they invented reloading. These bastards are going to make us pay for every meter."

-----------------------------------------------------------------

"It looks like Klingons won the race," said Captain Mather. "They seem to want to play hide and seek behind the gas giant." The planet's mass would do a good job of hiding the Klingon battlecruiser, not that the radiation belt was going to make things easier. "Let's go get them."

"Classic englobement tactics are the order of the day captains," said Kathryn Janeway. "We hit them from all sides so they don't get the chance to run.

"We lack the ships for a classic englobement pattern," said Smyth. "And in any case, Bellerophon is a weak link. She's still operational, but her shields have taken a beating. We should pursue as a group, Bellerophon trailing and let Cerebus get right up to their thrusters."

"On the contrary," said Janeway, "we do have the ships. Bellerophon will approach on a similar vector to Tycho so we can cover them. Sweden comes up from the pole, we follow their trail, and Cerebus goes over the top and takes them from the front. Captain Mather, split your ship. We'll hit them from every side and cling like a bull terrier," said Janeway. "They won't know what hit them."

"Admiral-" began Smyth.

"You're a good captain Thomas," said Janeway, "but there's still a few tricks I can teach you. Engage."



The Excellent Prismatic Spray. For when you absolutely, positively must kill a motherfucker. Accept no substitutions. Contact a magician of the later Aeons for details. Some conditions may apply.

Librium Arcana

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