"I'd never join a club that would have me as a member.
USS Yamato NCC-71807
Federation Galaxy Class Battleship
Yamato Battle Group
Two hours later.
The USS Yamato sped through warp speed accompanied by its enhanced battle group, another Galaxy class battleship the Yamato was almost identical to its sister ship Enterprise, only the slight increase in the Yamato's armour during it's last refit allowed any acknowledgement of the differences between the ships.
Like many ships in the fleet the Galaxy class warship no longer carried any form of external identification, where it's name and registration would be so proudly shown in another time and universe nothing but blank hull adorned the surface of the ship.
The Yamato came out of warp in an uncontested sector close to the front lines, their sensor systems constantly scanning for any sign of Klingon incursions in their lines. Since the messages had come through from the Betazed monitor station there had been no sign of the Klingons at all.
The rest of the battle group had come out of warp all around her, some damaged and some intact, fortunately for both the Yamato and the Enterprise none of the ships had been lost in the convoy attack.
The massed torpedo attacks from their escorts combined with the powerful enhanced Phasers of the Galaxies had allowed the enlarged battle group to cripple or destroy the entire Klingon convoy plus it's escorts. In all more than thirty armed freighters and container ship plus it's fifteen ship escort had been caught flat footed and blown apart in only an hour of combat.
The Yamato herself had taken damage from the attempted ramming of it's saucer by an old style K'tinga class vessel, the Klingon ship had tried to crash into the bigger ship only to be blown apart by the speedier escorts of the battle group.
The rest of the group had had a field day against the enemy ships; the destruction of the smaller and less powerful escorts had allowed the federation vessels to beam away the cargoes of the convoy and then blow the ships out of space.
The attack over the battle group had retreated at the notice that reinforcement battle groups from the Klingon side of the lines were closing in, the signals from the monitor stations received the entire group went to warp and back into their own lines.
Aboard the Galaxy class warship the crew were at their stations, even with the border several light years behind them didn't mean they weren't followed or could have the enemy somewhere in the area, at his station Captain Donald Varley perused the latest tactical reports from the other sections of the third fleet.
Each of the sections of the third fleet were dispersed over half light year overlapping sections of this area of the border allowing them to call upon each other if needs be, however two sections had merged to allow the attack and would soon separate and return to duty.
"What is it XO?"
"Message from the Enterprise Sir, they are ten minutes from contact and apparently they have brought a visitor,"
"What kind of visitor?" Varley asked intrigued.
"They don't say sir, just that it won't interfere with the changeover."
"I see, keep me informed."
"Aye sir, another message from the Monitor station as well sir a third group of enemy ships have cloaked and entered our space."
"That's nine of those monstrosities, do they know where they are headed?"
"The first six were heading for the Enterprise's patrol point, they believe all nine may be headed for this rendezvous, however they are thirty minutes, one hour and three hours out."
"However if we separate from the Enterprise task force those ships may be able to do some damage to us."
"And keeping together leaves two of our most powerful battleships in one place as well as a number of heavy cruisers."
"They know it's a suicide mission, we outgun them and outnumber them, any that escape would be destroyed before leaving our space."
"Yes sir, but they may be willing to risk it to destroy us and the Enterprise, it would put a hole in the defences in this sector."
"Contact the Enterprise, tell them we're ready to receive them, order all ships to yellow alert, order the Ajax and the Exeter to point all other ships overlapping formation leave a gap for the Enterprise, Achilles and Jervis Bay to the centre leave room for mutual phaser coverage."
Around the massive battleship the sixteen ships of the task force entered their formation, two of the forces eight Akira class ships took point above and below the other ships their fores pointing towards the anticipated vector of the Enterprise while six of the eight escorts closed in between the heavy cruisers and the battleship protected by the immense firepower of the nine ships.
The two remaining and damaged Norway class vessels entered into the formation settling in close to where the two Galaxy class vessel's saucer sections would be once the enterprise arrived both kept safe by the immense bulk and power of the battleships.
From the eight Akiras a full wing of forty-eight Valkyrie class fighters launched from each of their cavernous hanger bays, forming up into the areas not covered by their command ships the groups settled in to wait for the Enterprise and with any luck the first wave of Klingon ships.
"All ships in place sir." The tactical officer said
"Time to Enterprise."
"Two minutes sir, Enterprise is on sensors moving at warp eight, strange."
"The Enterprise seems to be towing something sir, whatever it is it's big."
"Capital ship sized sir can't get a decent reading the Enterprise's ECM and warp fields are interfering with our scans, forty five seconds to intercept."
"All ships, red alert bring all weapons and defences to standby, as soon as the Enterprise arrive standard IFF and pass checks, anything is wrong destroy them."
Across the fleet Phaser arrays and torpedo launchers warmed up, their systems locked onto the incoming Galaxy class warship's exit vector, one false move and over a hundred torpedoes as well as dozens of Phaser beams would impact on the warship erasing it from existence.
From the darkness in front of the fleet space warped and settled as the newly arrived Federation warship settled into position in front of the allied fleet, behind it the assemble battle group could see the visage of a badly damaged warship.
"Sending IFF and passcode demands sir."
"Good, operations can you identify that other ship?"
"She's an Ambassador class sir No IFF beacon, standard for front line units sir."
"Response sir." Tactical said.
"IFF flash indicates Enterprise sir, imbedded codes in IFF as current, passcodes verified it's them sir."
"All ships stand down to yellow alert, keep weapons and sensors to maximum."
"Aye sir, Sir we're being hailed it's Captain Picard."
The viewscreen activated slightly brightening the dark bridge, the large visage of the Enterprise's veteran captain filling the screen, nodding to the man Varley greeted the other man.
"Captain Varley, how did the mission go?"
"As well as could be expected, one or two of the ships got a dent."
"Good to know, we found something interesting on patrol though, you may want to transport over as soon as possible."
"Indeed, however it may have to wait, we believe that the Klingons have sent over three waves of their monstrous Birds, we also believe they were tracking you here."
"We knew of two waves but not the third, how long?"
"If they wait for the third wave three hours, if not fifty minutes."
"Take position with the rest of the fleet, we don't know what's coming and we have sufficient numbers and weapons to take them on."
"We have a problem with that, the ship we're towing is damaged and is not combat worthy at this point."
"Is it of any real use?"
"With a decent refit yes, she's an Ambassador class type one."
"Another heavy cruiser could be of help, alright, we have two damaged Norways in the fleet we'll detach them to stand guard with her at the centre of the formation."
"There's more Don she's the Enterprise-C."
All movement on the bridge of the Yamato stopped dead as the information seeped into the brains of the crew, some of them looking at each other and others at the screen none more so than the captain.
"Are you sure Jean-Luc?"
"Very sure, we've checked her over and she's more than spaceworthy but she's badly damaged."
"The C disappeared over thirty years ago."
"I know, she was found drifting close to the border, this is something you will need to come over to the Enterprise to talk about. After we deal with the Klingons."
"Understood, we'll be ready Yamato Out."
The screen blinked off in time to see the Enterprise leave its position towing the damage starship behind her, the warships of the assembled war group broke formation slightly to allow the Enterprise into the group.
The two Norways broke formation to settle on either flank of the damaged vessel taking the Ambassador class vessel under tow themselves and allowing the Enterprise to redirect power to the more necessary systems. The Enterprise settles in below and to the port flank of the Yamato allowing the other ship to take the command of the battle group, it's CIC still set up for fleet combat with the assembled ships.
Aboard the Yamato the systems were reset to allow for the inclusion of the newly arrive battleship, it's immense firepower now attached to the readout designating combat sectors to each ship.
The Enterprise settled in and powered up it's weapons systems and shielding diverting power from those systems that had been used to allow the battleship to tow the not inconsiderable bulk of her predecessor.
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
Federation Galaxy Class Battleship
Yamato Battle Group
"All decks report battle ready captain, boarding parties to standby at all transported bays, all non essential areas and decks have been shut down and power diverted to the EPS system we are at full red alert." Data reported.
"Good, Mr Yar weapons status?"
"Main phasers at maximum power, primary and secondary warp cores are tied into the weapons and shields, all Torpedo launchers set to rapid fire mode, all secondary systems are set for immediate cut in."
"Captain." Data said, " Message from the Yamato, Klingon wave one has not attacked Captain Varley expresses his belief that they will await group two before attacking, all ships are to stay at Red Alert."
"Signal Acknowledgement Commander."
"Status on the Ambassador Class ship?"
"Stationary at ten thousand kilometres beneath us, she is flanked by two Norway class frigates, reading indicate that secondary power has been brought fully online as has many of the secondary systems. Message coming from the ships Sir It's Commander Riker."
"On Screen, Commander Status?"
Riker appeared on screen he was still on the Enterprise-C's bridge with several crewmen working on the systems. One man with the burgundy jacket of the C's crew was assisting with the repairs to his ship, the engineering crew willingly listening to the man due to his rank and his knowledge of the ship's systems themselves.
"Sir the ship's secondary power systems have been reactivated as has primary life support, all structural integrity and inertial fields have been reset and brought to maximum, however main shields and warp drive are now completely down. The good news is that the main saucer phaser arrays have both been reactivated at eighty percent power and the rear torpedo launchers are at full capacity."
"Well done Commander."
"Thank you sir, the surviving crew members of the ship's crew have been of help, orders sir?"
"Contact Captain Varley for combat orders Commander, however keep that ship intact or if you can't get off her and let the Klingons destroy her."
"Aye Sir, Riker out."
"Commander Data, status of transfer?"
"All the ship's logs have been transferred to our own computers, scientific and tactical data are insufficient for our use as they are thirty years out of date."
"What do the logs say?"
"The ship was indeed attacked by the Romulans at Narendra III twenty two years ago, four of their warbirds attacked and crippled the Enterprise C." Data brought up the information on the main viewscreen, "I believe it was a test against the Klingons in order to find out the capability of their newest ships and defensive systems."
"Such as their cloaks."
"Indeed Sir, the Enterprise-C was unable to see through the cloaks of the Romulan ships, however they were able to destroy one of the vessels while crippling another before being overcome."
"So their attempt on the Klingons was an exercise and the other ship got in the way?"
"Yes Sir, obviously the attack was a failure as the Romulans not only had surprise but numbers on their side, the loss of half of the attack force would not have been seen as any form of success."
"Then why didn't the Klingons find anything from the battle, debris from the Romulan or federation ships."
"Unknown sir, there should have been something found by the investigators."
"Copy the information and ready it for immediate transmission to Earth and to Starbase 211."
Klingon Battle Group
One light year away
One hour later.
"The Second wave of vessels has arrived, the patrol's Captain wishes to speak with you."
"I shall take it in my quarters."
"At one my lord."
The large Klingon warrior left his chair and exited the bridge, as he walked warriors stopped what they did and saluted the man as he passed, ignoring the actions of his crewmembers the hefty man entered his quarters and sealed the door.
"Computer." He growled. "Access communications systems and receive transmission."
The screen activated showing the equally broad and angry face of another Klingon.
"It is good to see you again Kurn."
"You too Worf."
"Who did you annoy this time to be stuck on this detail?"
"I told Duras' son what I thought of him."
"You should be careful Kurn, Duras is powerful."
"As are we my brother, the house of Worf is trusted and beloved by the people of the empire, Duras will not try anything against us."
"That is if we survive this attack." Worf said
"The Federation ships are pitiful compared to our Birds of Prey." Kurn countered
"Take warning my brother, we may be defeating this federations Starfleet at the moment but they have numerous powerful and worthy ships we may be hard pressed to defeat them."
"They cannot defeat the great Klingon Empire my brother."
"Perhaps not but they may be able to bleed us white."
"The destruction of their border worlds have cowed them, they are constantly retreating against our forces, we have more ships whilst they lose those they cannot replace."
"Are you sure of that Kurn?"
"It is said by the council that we are close to victory."
"Yes as we get closer to their inner sectors they will have less space and many more ships to protect their territory.
"Then we will destroy them in droves and continue on into their space and destroy the entire Federation."
"What do you mean?"
"After destroying the federation, what will be next?" Worf asked his brother.
"I still do not understand."
"The Federation have been both our allies and our enemies, we destroy them we have neither, our people and fleets will be exhausted by the war, too much to pacify every planet the Federation ahs under the belt."
"We destroy those planets that do not conform to our wishes."
"Destroy billions more than the billions already dead by our actions, no brother I believe it will be us that will take the most loss I this war."
"You cannot believe that Worf."
"I don't know Kurn, I hope we can destroy the Federation or is not make them surrender and join the Empire."
"Indeed, the humans can fight with the spirits of the old Klingons, General Kor's orders have been to study our enemy and watch how they fight, indeed they fight well few other races would fight so hard and so long against us, an empire where Human and Klingon war alongside each other would be a glorious one."
"We will see."
"We have the latest information from our spy station along the borders, the Enterprise has met up with another of their formidable battleships."
"We do not know, however intelligence says it could only be only three of the known ships, the Missouri, the Yamato or the Hood, although even those names are suspect."
"What do we know of these ships?" The elder brother asked
"As with all their battleships we know little, each are responsible for the loss of more than a dozen of our ships each, they and the escorts have been able to hold entire sectors where many groups had not been able to before. The Hood is the latest of these ships to be brought here, however we do not know where she was sent, there were no markings on her hull according to our spy network."
"They are changing their ways of fighting."
"They could be anyone or anywhere, we might never know what the ship is."
"No we might not." Worf said. "Continue sensor scans, we shall await the last of our ships and then attack."
"As you order brother."
The viewscreen died as the signal cut off from Kurn's ship, satisfied that they merely had to await the arrival of their fellow ships Worf turned to his computer and brought up the scant information they had about these new battleships of the Federation and how his small fleet would destroy them.CIC Deck
USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D
Federation Galaxy Class Battleship
Yamato Battle Group
The Enterprise floated gentlyin space, it's calm exterior belying the constant movement and tension of the crew that inhabited it's metal structure, the crew merely awaited an attack that was inevitably coming most knowing that they would be the primary target when the Klingons arrived.
Sometimes being the Flagship can have a down side.
Deep in the battle section of the warship was a secondary command centre, unlike the main bridge or even the battle bridge of the battle section this command section was responsible for much more than simply control ships functions.
The CIC or Command Information Centre was a two deck section dedicated to battle command and Information and intelligence gathering from multiple sources, designed around the idea that the massive ships would be the lynchpin of any sufficiently sized group of combat ships the CIC could coordinate entire fleets.
For the moment however the majority of the CIC's systems were in use simulating any attacks that may come from the Klingons or going through the data garnered from the Enter prise C's computers.
In the middle of the room dominating the entire deck stood a massive holographic map, the map could be programmed to show the immediate area or anything in the ship's navigation systems allowing for simulations to be programmed in and played or to allow for past actions to be replayed, the main use was to coordinate the battle groups that may be attached to the Enterprise.
However for the moment the majority of the CIC personnel were watching the battle of Narendra Three from over twenty years previously, the shock was apparent on the faces of all as they watched the four Romulan warbirds attack the civilian outpost and then cripple their comrades.
The last of the data recorded before the ship was sent through the portal played out as the view of over a dozen Photon torpedoes hit the Federation ship, the screen went white and then blanked out.
"The Romulans attacked and destroyed the Klingon outpost at Narendra twenty years ago, however there was no sign of any debris from wither the Romulan ships or from the damaged Federation ship involved." Picard said standing above the gathering on the second deck's balcony.
"In addition we already know that this is one of the few incidents that pushed the Klingons to war with the Federation, the destruction of the outpost and the fact that no Federation vessel in the area came to help destroyed what little good will still existed, the destruction of Khitomer a few years later was the last straw. Commander Kingston."
From beside him the commander of the CIC, a bald dark skinned man walked up next to the Captain, he activated the hologram system once again and began speaking his cultured English accent almost identical to that of the Captain's.
"The arrival of the USS Potemkin after the attack with weapons armed led the Klingons to believe that the Federation had attacked and destroyed their station at Khitomer, combined with the fact that they believed that the Federation had had something to do with the attack on Narendra pushed them over the edge. However with the information we have gathered from the Enterprise C's sensor data the Romulan Empire destroyed Narendra however it seems that the time travel event shifted the C some twenty years into it's future leading it to it's successor, this ship."
"What we do not know is how and why this has happened and as such we shall be taking the Enterprise C to the nearest docks and try to make sense of everything that has happened, more than anything we need to keep both this ship and the C intact and capable until that time. All personnel are to continue with the simulations, that is all." Kingston finished.
"Dismissed." Said Picard.
"What do you think Sir?"
"About what Commander?"
"About the other ship."
"I'm not sure Commander, this could all be an insanely elaborate trap, however the damage to the other ship and it's crew preclude that, I'm not sure why it's come to here and now but it must be important."
"I don't believe that exists Commander, any more than I believe in the No Win Scenario."
"Then you do not believe the information coming from Starfleet Command?"
The Captain and Commander had received classified orders shortly before the Enterprise had been posted on the front; the news had not been good.
Starfleet had sent them the latest updates from the front and the news had not been good, the twelfth fleet had finally been fully recalled from the far edges of the Federation, it had taken several years to recall the entire fleet and refit them, in all one hundred and forty ships had managed to be combined into a fully capable attack fleet.
Said fleet had been unknown to the Klingons and had hoped to be one of the strikes that would hold the Klingons back long enough for the Federation to reinforce and rebuild their shattered armadas.
Led by three of the Federation's most powerful vessels, the USS Venture- Galaxy class and twin Nebulas USS Phoenix and USS Farragut the force had left Federation space and pierced the thinly defended lines at the very edge of Federation space. They had headed into Klingon space to hit anything and everything possible.
Seventy of the most advanced combat warships had been pooled with seventy smaller and older ships each fully outfitted in order to make them stronger and deadlier to the Klingons. The fleet's entire make up was a combination of power of the newest ships and numbers that could be pooled from the outer sectors.
Mirandas, Excelsiors, New Orleans and Ambassadors had been merged with Akiras, Norways and a number of other newly designed and built ship designs headed by the most powerful ships in the fleet.
However news had arrived barely two months later that the entire fleet had been lost in combat with the Klingons, all one hundred forty had been destroyed by the Klingon ships in the area a blow that Starfleet had not foreseen.
The loss of so many ships had been a blow to the plans that had been in the works, worse the three battlewagons were lost at a time when the construction schedule for more of the ships had been pushed back by supply and crew problems in the outer core sectors. While the smaller and less powerful ships were streaming out of the yards the command ships and heavier capital ships were produced in less and less numbers.
"The loss of those ships may have been one of the most damaging to the fleet in the last five years." Picard Said, "Combined with the losses taken before the heavier ships in the fleet could be sent out in numbers, this may have put another nail in the Federation's coffin."
"You could be right sir, we've lost close to half the entire fleet in this war, the ships we have are sufficient to take on multiple Klingon ships in combat but their numbers seem to be increasing not reducing no matter what we do."
"The Akiras and Nebulas are making up the shortfall however, we might be able to hold out for a while."
"Fleet Command is contemplating retreating all across the border, allow us to concentrate on a smaller area of space, build up our forces while holding the necessary areas to keep the Federation marginally intact."
"Leaving almost twenty allied planets to the Klingons, No the federation council wouldn't allow that."
Klingon Battle Group
One light year away
The IKS Kal'eth had received the signal from the third wave of K'vort class cruisers as they entered the system the tight beam subspace communication brief and to the point allowing the Klingon ships to join their fellows without notice to the Federation ships.
Pulsing their versions of IFF beacons the nine ships of Commodore Worf's flotilla clustered around the command ship, the combat systems ready for battle, as the nine ships settled into position the three commanders began their conference intending to plan the destruction of their enemy.
"Ahh my old friends, it has been too long since we battle together."
"Good to see you old man."
"Not that old Kurn, young enough to thrash you in one on one."
"When this is over we shall see."
"Kurn." Wolf said shutting up his brother, "Kaath it is good to see you here with us, it has indeed been too long."
"This day shall be glorious for both our houses."
"As it should be, you have the latest information from our long range scans?"
"Yes most of their ships are heavily armed and worthy opponents, two of their prize Battleships the loss of either will make this a victory no matter the outcome. However I am puzzled by this damaged ship they seem to be guarding."
"They have been towing the vessel since they left their patrol sector several hours ago we do not know why that have or what the vessel is they are guarding however considering the fact that they have a full battle group there guarding it means it must be of some special significance to the Federation."
"Then we destroy it." Said Kurn.
"No we concentrate on the Battleships first, we destroy the other ship if we can as we leave, do not engage that ship or its escorts until we are clear of the main attack." Worf said
"Very well." Kurn growled
"The Federation forces are powerful, however they are dispersed in formation and will make easy targets, however we must destroy several of their heavy ships in order to destroy the Battleships and that will not be easy."
"They have a formidable fighter screen as well." Kaath spoke up, "Enough that it will not be easy to take on any of the federation ships in close, and we need to get in close to negate their ships torpedo advantage."
Bringing up a computer simulation of the long range scans they were making of the enemy position he singled out one of the ships, strangely shaped it looked very different to the usually saucer and nacelles design of the past years he tapped the screen and it brought up what little they knew of these ships.
"With our pulse disruptors capable of doing much damage to their ships the Federation concentrated on torpedo numbers instead of Phaser power to a scale we are unable to duplicate. These ships have been taking a large number of our larger ships out before we can get into range and we are lucky that there are only a small number of these, however these small numbers are backed up by their most powerful battleships and fast escorts something we have to take into consideration."
"What is the total number of enemy ships?"
"From continual scans they have around twenty ships including the damaged one, the normal components of a battleship group as far as we can tell."
"Several heavy ships and a number of escorts, as long as we concentrate on one flank the other ships will have to manoeuvre to attack us allowing us time on target against the Battleships." Kurn spoke up
"They outnumber us by two to one, however we have the element of surprise and heavy forward firepower, an alpha strike on each ship as we decloak should put them out of action allowing us to concentrate on each of the battleships." Worf said
"We need to split our force, three to each Battleship and three to cover against the other ships." Kurn looked to his brother.
"My patrol group will draw the fire from the enemy to give you the time you need to hit their escorts and their battleships." Kaath spoke, "Concentrated fire from you groups should destroy the escorts in short order, the Battleships will take longer you will need the extra time."
"Agreed." Rumbled Worf, "For the Empire."
"For the Empire." the others shouted.
The screens shut off as the communication terminated, pressing a button on the console he barked out orders to the bridge keying the line off as he left his quarters, outside the ship the other eight ships of the attack force broke off and rearranged their formations.
Unseen under their cloaks the wings of the Klingon warships raised to a high position much like the wings and claws of the creatures they were named for, weapons active and awaiting the power to destroy the enemies of their creators. Turning towards the system the Federation ships were awaiting them in the nine ships went to warp.
The battle would be theirs.
USS Enterprise, NCC 1701-C
Ambassador Class Cruiser
Commander Riker took a long moment to absorb his surroundings, since he had gotten on the ship it had been hectic with repair crews scurrying all about and the sparks of welding torches and clang of metal panels being removed and replaced. The ship had been cleared of the dead and wounded and was beginning to look more like an operational vessel, its scars were healing and systems began to work again.
The ship was old and outdated compared to his posting on this vessel's successor, but there was still some awe to this ship and a tiny sense of wonder which pressed him on to exploring this ship and sating his curiosity.
Starfleet didn't have many ships from this vintage left, most of the Ambassador series were long since destroyed along with the Excelsiors and Mirandas which had constructed the bulk of the Federation forces when this ship had proudly borne the flag.
Every surface had a dull grey sheen to it in contrast to the generally lighter colours used on modern ships, and the displays projected information using blue and green diagrams and text rather that the warmer tones used on the neighbouring battleships.
However beyond the superficial differences this ship wasn't all that different to the other Enterprise, its controls were much the same, it's technology was the same just a little older, and the principles that went into building and running her were the same. She was a Federation vessel, and that made her part of the fleet.
"Commander." Riker's attention was caught by Lieutenant Commander LaForge stepping through the bridge turbolift. "We've just finished up in engineering, it was a mess but we've solved most of the problems."
"Can we get main power back?" he asked.
"Not anytime soon," the chief engineer sighed. "We've patched up the warp core, happily that didn't take too long, and we've fixed the coolant system. That's where our problem comes from."
"How do you mean?"
"The system itself is fixed, the conduits and magnetic constrictors all work fine now but during the battle this ship was forced to jettison its coolant supply, they haven't got any spare."
"So your saying the system is out of juice?" Riker followed on. "Can we replicate some?"
"Not fast enough." LaForge replied. "But what we could do is siphon some off from the rest of the fleet, one or two percent from the coolant tanks on the Enterprise, I mean our Enterprise, and Yamato should give us enough to make it back to the nearest base under our own power."
"Nice work Geordi, but for now focus your efforts on defensive systems, Captain says we're going to have company."
"Okay, I'll see what I can do." LaForge headed back for the lift. "I can probably promise manoeuvring but I don't know about shields. I'll give it a try."
"Alright, if you need me I'll be talking to Captain Garrett." He smiled through his beard. "Let's see if we can give the Klingons a surprise from in here."
Rachel Garrett had been transfixed by the view from her quarters for some time, the long windows sloping down across the roof and sides of the room still mesmerising in their wide vista. She had spent a lot of her time watching her ships new namesake, a much larger and evidently more powerful design of Federation ship that had been born during this long war with the Klingons.
It was a very different vessel, and yet unmistakeably Starfleet with its common design traits and layout. At first glance she hadn't really liked the design, it looked bulky and misshapen to her eyes but slowly it was growing on her.
The rest of the fleet seemed to follow the same pattern, they were different yet still similar enough for her to recognize them as friendly ships, though they seemed much dimmer. It took her a few moments to see that they had far fewer running lights than ships of her era, these vessels did not proudly display names and ownership but remained subdued, glowering at the universe around them ready to lash out at the first instance of trouble.
These ships looked aggressive, and that was something which disturbed something inside her. From the little she had heard Starfleet was in a very tough position and was fighting hard against a massive Klingon force many times more powerful than she would have believed. Things had changed a lot and she wasn't sure how anything fitted in.
There was a knock on her door, the chime system having been overloaded in the battle.
"Come in." she allowed and the door slid open.
"I thought you'd like to see the latest status reports Captain." Riker produced a flat data pad, noticeably smaller than the ones she was used to.
"Thank you Commander." She nodded. "What is the general situation?"
"We're still working on main power, but we have a plan to restore it within an hour or two." Riker reported. "Bad news is we believe a Klingon force is on its way, that's why the fleet has assumed a defensive posture."
She took a look beyond the windows at the ships out there. "Is this a regular thing Commander?"
"The Klingon attacks?" he asked. "Yes Ma'am, happens every week or so, sometimes daily. They try and overwhelm one of our ships with surprise and numbers, but this time we've got them beat."
"You're confident of that?"
"Yes Ma'am." He nodded with a grin. "They're going up against a full battlegroup, they haven't got a chance."
"If they didn't have a chance Commander they wouldn't attack." Garrett stated. "The Klingons aren't stupid, if they're coming they think they have a chance to do damage."
"Perhaps Captain, but for them it is a matter of honour, they're committed to attack and to break off would be shameful for them."
"Klingons aren't as rigid as that Commander Riker." Garrett turned from the window. "They'll retreat if necessary, Kahless himself said there is no dishonour in retreating from an unwinnable battle."
Riker suddenly gave her a very suspicious look. "How do you know Klingon teachings?"
"I was Captain of the Federation flagship, it was my job." Garrett replied. "I can quote you from the teachings of Surak, Kahless, Marx, Toserel, Menkhet and a dozen other influential leaders from a hundred cultures. Now if you are suggesting I was close to the Klingons, then you'd be right, I took part in a number of missions working alongside Klingon ships before their isolationists started taking charge, and let's not forget the reason I am stood here is because I sent my ship in to protect Klingons." She met his gaze evenly. "But I don't work with them Commander Riker, I am a Starfleet officer and Captain of the Enterprise. That should tell you all you need to know."
Riker stood a little more rigidly, a sign of his more militant background. "Yes Ma'am."
She returned her gaze to the window. "What happened?"
"What happened to the Federation?" she asked quietly. "Where did it all go?"
"The Klingons attacked." Riker said "No warning, no declaration of war they just attacked."
"All that we worked to build and protect." Garrett sighed. "How did it come to this?"
"At first we weren't sure what was happening." Riker took a more relaxed pose and settled his gait. "The sensor stations went dead, then the outposts, then a couple of starbases, all within an hour or so. The ships sent to investigate never reported in, and as more stations and patrols went black Starfleet ordered a full scale mobilisation and deployed towards the source of the attacks."
"Commander, sit down." Garrett gestured. "Go on."
"That's when they hit us hard. The Klingon navy was big, we expected that from reports of the forces massing on the Romulan border but we totally underestimated their real power. They completely overwhelmed our expeditionary forces and pushed through deep into the Federation, a blitzkrieg aimed at the core worlds themselves."
He settled down and recounted the tale, clearly it was quite hard for him.
"Worlds fell one after the other, every desperate battle we fought barely slowed them down. They deployed terrible weapons, from protomatter bombs to biological agents. We thought the attack would stall when they tried to subdue planets, but they just wiped them out from orbit and moved on. Whole planetary populations dead in hours. By the time our ships arrive the Klingons had gone. We hit their supply lines, we hit the Klingon border worlds, we tried to flank their fleets, none of it worked. They just kept right on spearing for Earth. At the last minute we pulled together enough ships to stop them, we met them head on and we killed every last murdering bastard in that fleet."
He smiled a bit at that a triumphant smile which held no true joy.
"Next few years we had to reclaim the worlds we lost, try and stabilise our shattered fleets and economies, we've never really achieved the sort of might we always thought we could have if it ever came to war."
"Why didn't we?" Garrett asked. "Our resources are far greater than the Klingons."
"They were." Riker said solemnly. "But the Klingons held a lot of our major industries for the early years of the war robbing us of an early mobilisation, and by the time we had taken back our heartlands the damage was done. We've been rebuilding, turning out ships and troops constantly, but the Federation is a shadow of what it was like when I was a kid." He looked down at the floor sadly. "The thing that most hurt us was the death toll, most of our losses happened in our first few months of combat before we organised enough to counter attack. Two thirds of the fleet were destroyed, only the newer ships really made it through those early battles, and casualties on the core worlds were astronomical, even Earth and Vulcan weren't spared."
"They hit Earth itself?" Garretts expression turned to worry.
"Yeah, not enough to do permanent damage but it was enough to hurt us badly. I was there at the time, a young kid fresh from high school in Alaska. It's not something I'll forget." His voice turned bitter. "I'll never forget."
Garrett read his expression with genuine sympathy and concern. Riker seemed a loyal and competent officer and not someone to fall prey to useless emotions. His reaction to telling the story told her a lot about the prevailing psychology of this new Federation. It wasn't hopeful, it wasn't optimistic but it was grimly determined to fight and win.
The question she most wanted to know was what Riker and his fellow officers and crew were fighting for, was it to reclaim the old Federation or simply to destroy the Klingons.
One was a positive goal, the other simple vengeance.
"And we've been fighting ever since." She half asked, half stated.
"The war goes back and forth, sometimes we're winning, sometimes we aren't." The first officer nodded. "The frontlines have been stable for years now and all our resources are going into holding the line, fighting over the old colonies."
"They're nobodies now, no mans land." Riker answered. "Nothing but bare rock and impact craters. And graves."
"Then it becomes our job to ensure they did not die in vain."
Riker fixed the Captain with his gaze, still hinting at suspicion but unable to fault the woman's apparent sincerity. "Yes Ma'am, that we will."
"I'm sure you have duties Commander." She stood and straightened her tailored uniform jacket, as much a relic to the dead past as the beliefs she held and the ship she commanded. "As do I, please keep me informed of the developing situation and when this crisis is over I would like a full briefing from Captain Picard."
"Yes Ma'am." Riker said formally.
"I am heading for the bridge if you require me." Garrett informed.
"I'll be in engineering myself Captain." He opened the door and they both left the quarters.
"And Commander," She paused in the corridor. "One way or another, we're going to succeed in this war."
"Yes Captain, we will." Riker agreed. "One day we'll be burning Quo'nos to the ground, and the Enterprise will be leading the way."
Garrett nodded quietly, keeping her thoughts on that comment to herself. "Dismissed Commander, and thank you."
The Bridge was almost back to normal as far as Captain Garrett was concerned, some minor work continued but most of the consoles were active and the debris was cleared. A thick black scar still covered two thirds of the roof from fire damage and the view screen was still offline, but the old lady was starting to feel more like herself, and the old Captain commanding her was also beginning to feel better. It was an immense change, but the familiar surroundings were making it more bearable.
"Captain on deck!" the familiar announcement reminded her of her responsibilities.
"As you were." She commanded. "Lieutenant Castillo, Commander Riker has just briefed me on the condition of the Enterprise, did you get a full list of survivors?"
The usually confident officer seemed hesitant. "Yes Captain, the full list is on this report."
Garrett stepped into the centre of the bridge and headed for her chair, a dark blood stain colouring its back. Her own blood. She looked at the sight for a few long moments, the symbolism not lost on her before Castillo stepped up with the data.
"Thank you Lieutenant." She took it from him and sat in her chair, sitting down exactly like she would do on any day as a way to encourage the remaining crew to get back into a normal routine, if anything could be called normal anymore.
It took her far less time than she had hoped to read the survivor list. Keeping a straight face as she read the names of the dead was the hardest thing she could remember doing, names and faces she had known for years, sometimes for decades following her from ship to ship as her trusted officers and friends, now just part of a list.
"One hundred and twenty five." She said sombrely. "Barely enough to run the ship."
"Not even a quarter Ma'am." Castillo read her mind. "I don't know how we survived."
"Sensors showed no indication of temporal instability." Garrett said.
"Excuse me Captain." A feminine voice interjected. "If I may speak."
Garrett looked to her side to see a slender woman with short blonde hair and a modern uniform, one of Riker's companions.
"Lieutenant Tasha Yar." Castillo introduced. "Tactical officer on the other Enterprise."
"Go ahead Lieutenant." Garrett acknowledged.
"We've recorded instances of extreme weapons fire in certain areas of space affecting the space time continuum, in fact during the battle of Tellar the USS Rosetta disappeared from our time and reappeared seventeen minutes later directly behind the Klingon flagship." Yar grinned. "Sometimes we get lucky."
"Is it possible to go back?" Castillo wondered.
"I guess maybe." Yar said. "But you'd need to ask one of the science officers." She shrugged.
"Weapons status Lieutenant Yar?" Garrett asked a more pointed question.
"Torpedo bays have limited capacity available, and phaser banks are charging across the board." She answered. "Shields are a problem but we're working on it, hopefully we'll be ready for the Klingons."
"Thank you Lieutenant, return to your duty."
Yar stood straighter and then spun on her heels and headed for the back of the bridge leaving Garrett and Castillo to talk.
"Lieutenant Yar was giving me some recent history Captain." Castillo began.
"I heard the same from Commander Riker. Sounds like the Federation is in serious trouble."
Castillo glanced over at Yar working with three of her own crew and the last surviving tactical officer of the Enterprise-C. "At least we seem to be holding on here."
"At least." Garrett nodded. "But you've spoken to these people, you can see it in their eyes, the emptiness."
"I'd noticed something like that Ma'am." Castillo admitted. "Couldn't put my finger on it."
"They've been fighting for years, look at some of those crew members, they're barely out of school. The war has been going on for as long as they have been alive, what sort of person does that breed?"
"A hardy one Captain." Castillo replied. "I haven't seen a more determined group."
"Determined, yes." Garrett said. "But hopeful? These are people expecting to die Lieutenant, they don't think they'll see the end of the war."
"It hasn't been going well." The helm officer said. "The Federation seems to have a technology edge, but the Klingons have numbers, plus there are the Romulans to worry about."
"Romulans." Garret spat the word. "I understand they are still neutral?"
"They are from what I've heard, but they are enforcing treaty obligations, like the treaty of Algeron."
"So we can't use cloaked ships for fear of drawing in the Romulan fleet." Garrett guessed. "And they could swing the war either way."
"They claim neutrality, but there are rumours they're playing both sides." Castillo relayed. "There's a lot of bad feeling in the other crew, and right now I'd love to throttle one of the pointy eared bastards."
He lowered his voice as a Vulcan technician looked over. Castillo shrugged and looked away.
"I'm going to get some more information from our new fleet mates when the crisis is over." Captain Garrett said. "We need to understand the bigger picture if we're going to fit in."
"So we're not planning on going back?"
"I don't think so Lieutenant." Garrett shook her head. "I understand what you're thinking, and I don't like the idea of just running from the Romulans and leaving the colony at Narendra, but I don't think we'll have a chance to go back now, and we're needed here. From what I've heard an operational ship and a trained crew will be invaluable right now."
"Yes captain." Castillo resigned himself to the new reality. He was uncomfortable with this whole developing nightmare and it wasn't settling in his mind yet, the consequences of this new situation were still hazy and little understood.
What he did know however was that all his friends and most of his comrades were dead and taken to the other Enterprise. He was alone and he was out of place, only Lieutenant Yar had made an effort to see how he was coping, but now that his Captain was recovered enough to resume command he was hoping things would resume their direction.
"There's one more thing Lieutenant." She said. "It seems that after me, you are the senior officer on board the ship."
"Yes Ma'am, I guess so."
"Which means I'll be needing you to act as my new first officer." Garrett even managed a smile. "You deserve it Richard, I just wish it was in different circumstances."
"Yes Ma'am. Thank you Ma'am."
"First thing I want you to do is go through the survivors and find anyone with training to fill the bridge and engineering posts." Garrett said plainly, assuming an even but firm tone familiar to all Captains of her age. "I'll still need you on helm Lieutenant, there's no one else I know up to the job."
"Yes captain." He said not entirely sure of himself.
"This isn't the future we planned Lieutenant, in fact I think it's just about the worst thing which could have happened to the federation." Captain Garrett said quietly. "But we're here now and we have our duty as Starfleet officers to uphold the articles of the Federation and defend its citizens. That oath still stands Lieutenant, we are at war with the Klingons whether we like it or not and the next time we see a Klingon ship, then we will open fire."
"The past is dead and gone Lieutenant, like a lot of friends and family. When we get back to a Starbase we'll know more and we can try and contact our love dones, but until then we are in a war zone and I need everyone alert. As First Officer you're going to have to help me motivate the crew."
"Understood Captain." Castillo kept his answers professional, turning over in his mind the new responsibility of his role.
"We're here now Lieutenant, so let's make the most of it and try to make a difference." Captain Garrett said plainly. "This is an all-new galaxy, but it's still the same Federation we're fighting for, the same people, the same ideas. And when the time comes Lieutenant, we will fight."