The start of a new series detailing the Dominion War. Enjoy!

Remember, I don't own Star Trek in any form. Let me know what you think, please.

The Dominion War.

Betazed's Fall.

"I wonder what this meeting's about," Deanna Troi was saying to Beverly Crusher as they walked into the observation lounge.

The doctor's usually smiling expression was missing as the stresses of the war were getting to her. War was always the worst for doctors.

"Probably about the war," Beverly replied darkly, not even trying to think there might be any other reason behind Captain Picard summoning the senior staff to the observation lounge for an important meeting.

Deanna nodded, although she was trying not to think too much about the war which was going on with the Dominion. The last two years had been nothing but one fight after another, with the war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire which had been started when Starfleet had discovered the Klingons believed the Dominion was covertly helping the Cardassian, and the Borg attack on Earth which had resulted in a terrifying mess where the Borg had tried to assimilate Earth just on the eve of First Contact.

The Dominion.

For the last three years, the Dominion had been nothing more than a bogeyman lurking on the other side of the galaxy, with the only way of reaching them was through the stable wormhole discovered near Bajor five years before, the only stable wormhole known to exist. Led by a race of shapeshifters who had been persecuted because of their abilities, the Dominion was a powerful interstellar empire in the Gamma Quadrant who followed their master's desire to impose order on a chaotic universe through either diplomacy or conflict, and they didn't care about how many died.

With their genetically engineered foot soldiers, the Jem'Hadar, the Dominion was a force which had quickly become feared. They had already destroyed several Starfleet ships assigned to explore the Gamma Quadrant, slaughtered the Bajoran colonists of New Bajor, and they had shown how far they were willing to go many times.

For a year or so, the fear of the Dominion had ignited little wars, and it had undermined the Federation-Klingon alliance which had been standing for years.

But now they were at war. Many in Starfleet blamed Captain Benjamin Sisko for starting it off, but there were many others who had seen the Dominion and their Cardassian allies who had joined the Dominion in order to regain their strength and kick out their Klingon invaders once and for all and perhaps gain new territories which were in keeping with typical Cardassian tactics.

Personally, Deanna wasn't surprised there was a war on since the Dominion had sent convoy after convoy of ships to Cardassia, and they had been building up their forces ever since. And given how hostile the Dominion was to the Federation, it had been inevitable the Founders would have wanted a war.

Deanna was not a soldier even though she was a trained and experienced Starfleet officer and like everyone else who served in Starfleet, she was prepared to fight if she needed to although it wasn't what she and many others had signed up for.

She took a look at Beverly, noticing the lines of strain around the doctor's eyes. Enterprise had been attacked many times by Jem'Hadar, and although the Sovereign-class ship was better equipped for combat than the old Galaxy-class, several of the crew had been killed or critically injured, which had certainly shaped the minds and attitudes of the crew.

It didn't help Starfleet had adopted an engage-retreat-engage-retreat mindset, although that had been lessened somewhat since Deep Space Nine and control of the wormhole was retaken. Everyone in Starfleet knew it was because many in the fleet were reeling from the fact they had been thrust into a war, but the attitude had existed since the recent Federation-Klingon war although the Borg attack had been taken more seriously. Unfortunately, Starfleet and the Federation had never been in a true war for years, and as a result, the mindset to fight and wage a full-scale war was hard to come by.

Deanna and Beverly stepped into the lounge. They found Will Riker, Geordi La Forge, and Data already there.

"Any idea what this is about?" Beverly asked as she took a seat.

Will shook his head. "No, but the Captain received a priority one distress call from Starfleet. Shortly after that, he called this meeting," he said.

Daniels, the new tactical officer walked in, his expression was grim. Deanna could feel his emotions churning and it took all of her training and experience not to react.

"What's wrong?" Geordi asked him, his eerie blue optical lenses taking in the security officer's mood.

"I received a letter in the last communique. My sister on the Cairo is missing," he said. "Apparently she was lost several days ago, and it is only now we're in communications range we were able to get the message of the casualty list."

Everyone at the table looked grimly at each other. For some reason, Starfleet had been sending them on deep-space assignments and they had been kept out of the loop for some time. It was very frustrating, especially since they rarely dealt with the Dominion although when they did have the chance, the battles were fierce and costly.

"I'm sorry," Riker apologised.

Daniels nodded, but any further discussion was stopped when the doors opened and Captain Picard walked in. The moment everyone saw him they saw whatever was on his mind, whatever he had just heard, it was bad.

Picard walked to the table and looked gravely at everyone. "I have received disturbing news. The Dominion have invaded Betazed."

Deanna gasped in horror. "What?" she whispered aghast while everyone looked at her in shock and horrified sympathy as Betazed was their Counsellor's home planet.

Picard nodded, and he walked over to the observation room monitor and he tapped in a code. A diagram of the battle appeared on the monitor. Riker studied it closely.

"They came from the Kalandra sector," he observed while he tried to suppress the emotions he was feeling since he and Deanna had had great memories of Betazed.

"They did," Picard's voice was low and tight and everyone didn't need to be empathic to know how angry and disturbed their captain was by this latest turn of events in the war.

"How….," everyone turned to Deanna, and for the first time they had ever known her they were shocked to see the look of utter loss on her face, "how did Starfleet Intelligence not find out about this?"

Picard sighed. "They considered Kalandra, but they felt it was too far from the Dominion's major supply lines to be a threat. There is a lot of blame to go around; before the war even began and the Jem'Hadar were sending in their ships through the wormhole, Starfleet Intelligence sent Starfleet Command possible strategies for the defence of the major members of the Federation, and when the war began the Tenth Fleet was assigned to protect Betazed."

"They didn't do a good job," Deanna commented.

"They weren't there."

"What do you mean, they weren't there?" Geordi spoke for the first time, looking at Picard with confusion.

"The Tenth Fleet," Picard shook his head at the insanity at it, "were caught out of position on a training exercise. But when the Dominion attacked Betazed itself, the planetary defence system around Betazed was obsolete and the Dominion took the planet within ten hours."

Data was studying the map. "The Dominion's takeover of Betazed has put them in the strategic position to launch invasions into the heart of the Federation," he pointed out in his clipped voice although with the emotion chip switched on everyone could hear the concern and the worry in the androids' voice, "They can strike out at Andoria, Tellar, Alpha Centauri, and Vulcan."

Picard nodded. "Starfleet is already mobilising to fortify those planets, and the admiral who spoke to me was vague about the details of what was going to come out of it."

"Just like they've been vague about everything else about the war," Daniels remarked. "Ever since the war started, there have been dozens of poorly thought out plans."

"He's right," Geordi said his expression set. "We've known about the Dominion for years, and yet there hasn't really been any headway; the production of more advanced and battle-capable ships. Yeah, we've got some, but it's still not good enough."

"Starfleet was caught by surprise when the Borg invaded and the Battle of Wolf 359 occurred; they'd known for a year of their existence, but everyone was surprised when the Borg invaded not long after. When they did, all of our tactical experience and knowledge was thrown out of the window," Picard said grimly, his eyes hard as he remembered what happened to himself during the Battle. "When the Borg Cube was destroyed, Starfleet embarked on work to create a battle fleet so it wouldn't happen again, and new designs were tested for new starships, including the Sovereign-class. But the Borg threat became less urgent, so Starfleet continued as before on other matters."

"Are there any plans for retaking Betazed?" Beverly whispered.

Picard shook his head. "No," he replied. "Starfleet is trying to come up with new strategies for dealing with the Dominion-."

"No, they're not, Captain," Deanna interrupted, her eyes fierce with anger and heartbreak at the thought of whatever the Dominion was doing to her world. "Since the Dominion was first encountered and their intentions were made known, Starfleet have done very little but the barest minimum to prepare. But now they're faced with a major interstellar war, now Starfleet is mobilising."

"That's enough, Counsellor," Picard interrupted, putting stress on Deanna's title to make her see she was crossing the line although everyone around the table saw he actually agreed with everything she had just said.