Hello dear readers. Another story for you, my 50th story. I have had a lot of time to do a lot of writing. I have other projects I hope to catch up as I work on this. I hope you enjoy.

The War of '73
By OneHorseShay

Disclaimer: Star Trek and related properties are owned by ViacomCBS Studios. I don't own it.

Rating: T to M due to Sci-fi Violence.

Summary: History records that in the winter of 2372, the Klingon Empire invaded the Federation due to the Founders' manipulations. War was avoided by the combination of exposing such an act, sporadic ceasefires and negotiations until the Cardassian Union joined the Dominion the following year. This is the universe where some saw no need for negotiation and thus, Armageddon that had been put off by the Organians a century before had finally arrived.

Chapter One - The Battle of Archanis IV

Eighty years after the signing of the Khitomer Accords between the United Federation of Planets and the Klingon Empire that led to the final cessation of hostilities and the avoidance of Armageddon between the two great powers, few could have imagined in the mid-to-late twenty-fourth century that they would finally play out the near Biblical struggle their grandfathers and great-grandfathers had expected to face.

This unexpected twist of fate came to pass in the waning days of 2372 A.D. (Sol III Gregorian calendar), when the Klingon Empire demanded that the Federation give up the Archanis Sector to them, a sector that had been firmly in control of the Federation for the last century. When the Federation expectedly refused to relinquish the sector to their former allies, the Klingons attempted to overrun the border across multiple sectors in their attempt to take the Archanis Sector. Starfleet barely held the line, but they did hold the line against the Klingon aggression along most of their shared border, but still lost the majority of the Archanis Sector.

In an attempt to bring a swift end to the hostilities, especially with the looming threat of the Dominion, Starfleet launched a covert operation led by Captain Benjamin Sisko in the hope to expose the possibility that the Klingon Chancellor Gowron may have been replaced by a Changeling from information provided by Bajorian Militia officer Odo after he joined the 'Great Link'.

The operatives in their attempt to expose Gowron, instead exposed Gowron's top military advisor, General Martak, of having been replaced with a Changeling to stoke the flames of war between the two star powers.

After the revelation of the Changeling and Captain Sisko pointing out that the infiltrator was simply sowing more distrust and disruption among the two powers to leave them vulnerable to attack by the Dominion, the captain suggested the best way to strike back at the Dominion was to cease hostilities. However, Gowron would not agree to end the fighting without the Klingons being allowed to hold onto the planets they had conquered, but did agree to a cease fire long enough for the operatives to safely leave and open negotiations…

…negotiations that immediately fell apart when the more pragmatic council members of the Federation rejected Gowron's demand out of hand and realized Starfleet's attempt at a peaceful resolution was a failure. They had only one option left if the Federation itself wished to continue to exist as a political entity: War.

Archanis System
Archanis Sector
Contested Federation Space
Stardate 50038.6

General Chu'vok, an older Klingon with white hair and fairly muscular build, smiled as he sat in his command chair to watch the tactical display on the main viewer on the bridge of his flagship, a top of the line Vor'cha-Class attack cruiser. His House had invested additional resources into making his flagship next to none save for the Klingon flagship. The viewer displayed an icon of the planet retreating behind him, dozens of icons representing Klingons vessels surrounding his vessel and a set of blue icons representing Federation ships approaching them at high impulse.

The Klingon sensors could not give an exact account of how many Starfleet ships were approaching his flotilla due to extensive sensor interference from the Federation flotilla. He wasn't surprised by Starfleet sending out electronic countermeasures to try to hide their numbers and capabilities since they didn't have cloaks and their technical capabilities were near legendary. His sensor operators' best estimation was there was about fifty vessels on their way to meet him. They were going to meet him with roughly a numerical parity, but they were Klingons after all and more than a match one on one against any foe—something they had taught the Cardassians with a simple one-third of their military strength. If Fate wasn't smiling more upon them, it appeared the Federation relief force was made up of older class vessels that should have been sent to a scrap yard decades ago.

It didn't matter to the general hungry for battle he could be facing such inferior vessels. He was going to get something that Klingons had been dreaming about since the Klingons and the Federation were going to meet in the Organian system during their brief war: a proper, open fleet battle. In his opinion and others, he believed the Federation had grown soft and weak since those glorious times where the Klingon Empire expanded anywhere it wanted and faced near equals, but he would still savor this opportunity to smash a Federation fleet. The glory would be his and to his House, securing for it more power on the High Council and justifying to Gowron that he should take the opening left by Martok's abduction and replacement as a shapeshifter.

He remained quiet, just the faintest of smirks on his face as the two fleets raced at each other at high impulse to meet between the orbits of the fourth and fifth planet, giving each side plenty of space for open space combat.

He eagerly watched the estimated time countdown to when they would be in weapons range of each other, preparing to unleash the full might of his fleet once they were in disruptor range. He wanted this fight up close and personal, figuratively knife to knife. He believed they would crush and scatter the Federation fleet as they had done to the Cardassians and beaten back other Starfleet vessels in the sector to claim this system and several others.

He believed he had reason to feel so confident. He had a powerful force under his immediate command in the system of a dozen Vor'cha-class attack cruisers beside his own, flanked by another two dozen mix of updated K't'ingas cruisers and K'vort destroy birds-of-prey. Their flanks were protected by another layer of about two dozen B'rel birds-of-prey.

The general had been given plenty of time by the Federation commander to recall his ships from across the system to meet them head to head. It was an honorable gesture, but one he would make the Federation commander pay in blood.

However, the Federation taskforce was not as weak or obsolete as the Klingons were led to believe. They quickly dissuade the Klingons of their superior notion as the Starfleet ships fired first from a pair of Akira-class and a trio of Nebula-class vessels unleashing dozens of torpedoes from their respective torpedo launchers to weaken the center.

The frontal elements of the Klingons were hammered hard from direct and proximity blasts of the torpedoes, weakening shields and some vessels were just blasted apart. The explosions brightened the respective view screens of the fleet and the remains of the Klingon vessels flying about to smash into their fellow ships.

Vor'cha Flagship

The ship rocked under Chu'vok as one of his Vor'cha's on his port side exploded and the remains crashed against the ship's shields. He watched as other vessels were hit and spun away or outright destroyed from the barrage of torpedoes. He hissed as his frontal elements were being smashed before they got into disruptor range and worst, some of his commanders panicking and loosened their formation away from his Vor'chas while the rest of the fleet increased impulse speed to close range to hopefully limit the use of torpedoes further stretching his fleet out. Some ships started firing torpedoes in return in the hopes of returning the damage, but it was too spread out from the loosening formations to make much of an impact on the Federation vessels.

The two sides sped to each other for another few moments until they reached phaser and disruptor range. The two sides started to exchange the deadly energy fire that filled the space between the two battle groups in the greatest light show the system had seen since its star first ignited. The destructive energies were devastating impacts upon shields, but the Starfleet vessels were the ones on the winning side of that engagement.

The Klingon general had failed to properly assess the fleet he was facing with simple cloaked recognizance as the Federation shields held for the most part from the onslaught because instead of being just potential 'rust buckets', they were led by half a dozen Galaxy-class ships supported by about ten Excelsiors, a pair of Ambassadors and the trio of Nebulas that had just unloaded a torpedo barrage. Their powerful shields held against the onslaught and returned the fire by unleashing a hail of powerful phaser blasts at the center, concentrating their fire on the Vor'chas. The attack cruisers first rocked then some were outright eviscerated by the combination of powerful type-X, IX and VIII phasers striking them. The Starfleet vessels followed up with about another three dozen or so photon torpedoes.

The Klingon center broke as the Vor'chas were either blasted away or had to veer off to survive. The flagship veered away by quick thinking of her helm officer without an order given. The K'vort and K't'ingas continued to close, hoping their superior speed and maneuverability would give them the edge over the larger vessels. They were met with the same deadly fire as the Excelsiors and Akiras turned their phasers on them. The flanks of the Starfleet formation, made up of Miranda and Saladin refits, moved out a bit ahead of the center and turned in a pincer maneuver to try to catch them in a phaser crossfire.

The Klingons were bracketed on either side from the phasers of the smaller vessels, but no less deadly, then hit head on by phasers from what were the pentacle of battleships sixty years ago along with support by the current top of the line battleships and the newest of cruisers.

Even the bravest of Klingons knew continuing such a charge was suicide that brought no honor, so they desperately veered away in any direction other than the oncoming Federation taskforce.

The flanks attempted to cover their retreat by trying move out wider from what they saw as over extended Federation flanks to try to turn the pincer movement, but the Starfleet ships turned their bows to the incoming enemy and finally brought their torpedoes to bear on them.

A torpedo was a torpedo, whether it was fired from a top of the line Akira or the ninety year old designs of Mirandas and Saladins, which the Klingons soon learned the hard way. The torpedoes raced to the racing birds-of-preys to try to keep them at a distance, easily knocking out some of the B'rels in hellish fire and causing others to tumble away from proximity blasts. The ones that continued to close were met by multiple phaser strikes while the Starfleet shields took a pounding from their mix of light and heavy disruptor bolts.

A few of the Saladins were crippled or outright destroyed and four of the Mirandas were knocked out of formation with venting atmosphere and bits torn off their hulls by a surprising amount of fire discipline of concentrating fire on the smaller Federation ships by the mix of Klingon vessels. However, they didn't go quietly into the night before blasting away more than their fair share of the K't'ingas and K'vorts.

Deeper in the formation, hiding among the big guns of the taskforce, raced out a half dozen Saber-class vessels supported by three dozen or so Peregrine attack fighters. They went head to head with the birds-of-preys, matching their lighter disruptor bolts with phasers and torpedoes.

Shields flared and overloaded on the smaller birds-of-preys with the concentrated fire, wiping them off the battlefield but the K'vorts' shields held long enough to close range and mix it up with the newer starships. The Sabers and Peregrines were more maneuverable and bracketed them with fire from the flanks and rears to avoid their heavier disruptors and torpedoes.

In the melee, a Saber swung around to the rear of a K'vort and hammer the rear with multiple phaser strikes then were pumped with a pair of torpedoes into the rear. The K'vort attempted to turn away to break the pursuit, but turned into multiple phaser strikes from a pair of Excelsiors as Federation taskforce continued forward. The ship couldn't handle the combined firepower of the vessels once categorized as battleships as first shields collapsed then armor disintegrated then the vessel hulled out for a fraction of a second before internal explosions claimed the vessel.

One Vor'cha attempted a suicide run at the center of the Federation formation, blasting away with her heavy forward disruptor cannon and secondary batteries along the hull. One of the Galaxy-class ships took the brunt of the fire, her forward shields flaring with a bit of seepage getting through from the alpha strike and scorching some of the primary hull. However, the Klingon vessel was met by a dozen Type-X phaser shots from the Galaxy-class, her sisters and the Nebulas, blasting through the shields and cutting her to pieces before internal explosions consumed her and leaving her molten high speed debris.

On the Klingon flagship, the general was incise that his helmsmen had veered away, but it had saved their lives and enough time for him to shout, "Signal to all ships to return to orbit, now!"

His order was quickly transmitted and the main battle line soon turned into full retreat to Archanis IV. It was the only sane order to give other than cloaking and retreating as it would bring what was left of the flotilla under the protection of the hastily stationed defense platforms in orbit of the planet. The holding action vessels turned to follow them once the main body of the fleet was out of immediate danger, some cloaking, some remaining uncloaked.

The Federation taskforce remained in pursuit, but let the Klingons pull ahead of them towards the fourth planet of the system.

USS Saratoga (NCC-72812)
Galaxy-Class (Flight II)

On the bridge of the flagship of the Federation battlegroup, the commanding officer, Vice Admiral Gareth Bullock, stood watching the tactical display on the main viewer of the unfolding rout of the Klingon fleet. He was a tall, dark skinned Human with a touch of gray in his short hair. He stood confidently on the bridge, not question that he was in command. He glanced over in the right hand corner of the large view screen that showed the starship casualties of his taskforce. He held his expression, mourning for a moment the loss, but had to focus on the task at hand. In a cold, clinical analysis, the casualties had been light and on the lighter and older model starships while the core of his taskforce was relatively intact with only various forms of manageable battle damage.

He turned his gaze back on the display of Archanis IV and the various indicators in orbit of the planet. The Klingons still had three dozen ships capable of fighting with a ring of defensive stations around the planet. He had no intention of diving head long into their defensive posture with their overlapping fire for round two of some form of honorable combat.

He called over his right shoulder to the captain standing behind the back arch of the bridge at the tactical station with his tactical officer, "Captain Morrison, signal the fleet to reorganize into formation and maintain course to Archanis IV then answer all stop at five hundred thousand kilometers from orbit. Bring up the Nebulas, Akiras and Miranda wing three for long range torpedo bombardment of the platforms. The flanking units and Excelsior wing will provide cover in case the Klingons want to come out for a rematch."

The human captain in his early forties with a head full of white hair nodded along and replied, "Aye sir." He and the tactical officer began relaying the orders to the battlegroup and soon the ships repositioned themselves to give each other cover and approach the planet.

The Nebula, Akira and Miranda-class vessels were given a clear line of fire towards the Klingons and the platforms and picked their targets. The targeting of the platforms from outside the normal range of torpedoes and the possibility of missing and hitting the planet below was of considerable concern, but with the interlocking and powerful sensors of the Nebula and Galaxy-classes, the ships overcame that obstacle. The vessels started saturated firing at a pair of the platforms with dozens upon dozens of torpedoes.

The Klingons attempted to shoot the torpedoes down from the advantage of range and a few foolhardy ship captains positioned their ships in front of the wave of torpedoes. The Klingons did show a considerable amount of targeting skill with the taking about half of the hundred or so torpedoes down, but the other half found their mark in blasting away the defensive platforms and several Klingon vessels that were unfortunately in the way.

The Starfleet ships turned their targeting to another pair of platforms and starting firing again with the same results as the first.

The Klingons soon realized that they were sitting ducks if they simply remained in their defensive position. They started returning long range torpedo fire with the Federation taskforce, but were out of effective targeting range and couldn't match the volume of fire. The Excelsiors and rest of the escort ships provided point defense with their multiple and independently targeting ball turret phaser cannons.

One squadron of Klingon ships made up of a few K't'angs and K'vorts pulled away and cloaked, leaving a gap in the defensive fleet of the planet.

The Starfleet ships initially ignored them and continued to fire on the platforms, knocking another pair out and crippling or destroying a few more Klingons ships. They had now took out half the platforms and leaving the section of the planet's defenses open.

USS Saratoga

Captain Morrison called out from the tactical station, "Their defense platforms on the hemisphere we're facing have been destroyed with three dozen or so Klingon ships remaining. We still have another dozen out there we can't get a positive detection on."

Bullock replied with a calm, even voice, "Very well, start targeting their remaining Vor'chas and keep an eye out for that cloaked squadron."

The tactical officer called out, "Admiral, we're receiving a message from the Klingons."

The graying admiral paused for a moment then answered, "On main viewer."

The viewer switched to the image of a red hue lighted bridge with one Klingon prominently standing in the center. He wore the rank insignia of a general.

Bullock straightened up a little bit and put on his poker face. He introduced himself with a stern tone, "I'm Vice Admiral Bullock, to whom am I speaking?"

"My name is no matter. You will withdraw from this system immediately. My reinforcements will be here within minutes and when they arrive, I will destroy you…" he began and smiled as his eyes were diverted downward to presumably a monitor. "…unless you withdraw immediately. As you can see on your vaunted Federation sensors, they are light-minutes away from the system. This is your chance to turn back and live to fight and die another day."

Bullock made a motion across his throat as he slightly turned to look over his left shoulder and asked, "Status?"

Morrison paused for a moment as he looked at the sensor display with his tactical officer then replied, "Our pickets above the system are reading about fifty or so Klingon warp signatures approaching at warp seven… and a one word message in the lower subspace band: IDIC."

The Admiral allowed a faint smirk to appear on his face then reigned it in before turning his attention back to the Klingon commander. "Open channel."

"Channel open," the tactical officer answered as he tapped the panel.

Bullock directed a cold hard stare at the Klingon and replied with a firm voice, perhaps with a bit of faint mocking in it, "I can see them approaching, but my orders are clear: eject all Klingon forces from this sector and you're still here, so… how does your saying go? 'Today is a good day to die'? Well… I guess we'll put that to the test unless you want to withdraw?"

The Klingon started to laugh, causing the others around him to join him in the laughter, before he calmed himself and replied, "I wouldn't expect such bluster from a Federation admiral, some weak negotiation perhaps, but not bluster. Very well, I will enjoy wiping your fleet from space, something we should have done a hundred years ago."

The next moment the channel cut off and was replaced with the tactical display of the planet and the Klingon flotilla.

Bullock called out to Morrison in a firm and resolute voice, "Order deployment of the fleet for incoming vessels. I want the Klingons trapped between us and the planet. All ships are to hold torpedo fire until ordered to do so. We don't want to risk hitting the planet trying to aim at so many targets."

"Aye sir," the senior captain replied and relayed the instructions to the rest of the fleet.

A minute or so later, the ships rounded the planet and the Klingon commander thought he'd have the necessary reinforcements to crush the Federation taskforce… until the ships on his starboard side and over the northern pole of the planet turned out to be Federation vessels.

The Starfleet ships wasted no time in firing on the Klingons, catching them on two sides. Phasers and torpedoes tore through them from more modern Starfleet ships such as the Nebulas, Ambassadors, Akiras, Steamrunners and Sabers with a mixture of latest flights of Excelsiors, Centauries and Mirandas.

The Klingons desperately broke formation and attempted to flee from the crossfire with some cloaking. As they pulled away from the planet, Bullock's taskforce accelerated at high impulse speed to try to cut them off and once the Klingons didn't have the planet behind them, the Federation ships unleashed a hail of phaser and torpedo fire on them.

In the three way crossfire, it was a massacre for the Klingons within minutes with floating hulks left drifting in space. A few managed to cloak and slip away, but for all practical purposes, the Klingon fleet in the system was destroyed.

USS Saratoga

Bullock looked at the view screen with a grim expression, feeling the loss of life in his soul even for his enemy as they had killed as many ships as the Borg had killed at Wolf 359. If the only had this fleet back then to face them… He pushed that aside and ordered, "Signal the fleet to redeploy for possible counter attack against the planet, begin rescue operation and signal the Normandy that their group is free to enter the system and to land their troops on the planet. I don't expect the Klingons left there to willing give up."

Morrison called out, "Aye sir. We have an incoming message from the T'Kumbra. It's Admiral Sitak."

"Put it through."

The next moment the view screen switched to the bridge of the Nebula-class vessel, nearly identical to the bridge he was standing on, with a stoic, apparently young Vulcan woman in command red with short hair, not too dissimilar to Romulan style, and wearing rear admiral (upper half) pips on her collar.

He warmly greeted her with a hint of a smile on his face, "Admiral, I see your mission was a success."

She replied with an even voice, "Yes Admiral. We engaged the Klingon reinforcements within light-years of them leaving their forward base and neutralized them in open space. We did manage to double back and neutralize their base before making our way back. I have thirteen vessels roaming the surrounding space on commerce raiding in case we missed any resupply shipments."

"Good job Admiral. That should keep the Klingons from counterattacking for a while, but I want this system fully secure before we move on to the surrounding systems."

"The Klingons could pull forces from the surrounding systems for a counterattack and attempt to trap us in the system. This is the primary system they want in the sector. Would it not be prudent to simply fortify and hold the system until further reinforcements arrive or further orders from Starfleet?"

"Perhaps, but I don't want to give the momentum back to the Klingons. I want to keep them off balanced, so we'll secure and attack as soon as possible. It's time to remind the Klingons why their grandfathers and great-grandfather's feared us."

The junior admiral cocked an eyebrow, but the limited facial expression was all Bullock needed to confirm she understood his thinking.

Capitol Building
Archnais Capital City
Archnais IV

On the surface of the planet, the news of the incoming Federation fleet and reports of the battle galvanized not only the resistance movement that had been resisting the Klingon occupation for the last month to strike, but the population to rise up. They started hitting every concentration of Klingons they could move against and in turn, the Klingons pushed back. The result was fighting breaking out throughout the various cities across the planet in bloody street to street and building to building fighting.

One such battle raging was at the capitol building of the planet that had stood for nearly the last hundred years. It was partially a smoldering wreck with half of it having collapsed in the fighting with the other half being fought for control due to it being the command and control center that had been set up by the Klingons during the occupation. However, in the case of the occupying Klingon military governor, it was his survival from the inhabitants that wanted his blood as his primary motivation in desperately holding onto the building.

He was in one of the officers, desperately monitoring the situation in orbit. He wore a stoic expression as he watched the orbital platforms first be swept out of the sky then the Klingon fleet blasted away or driven off. He kept his rage in check in not smashing a fist down onto the heavy oak desk at Chu'vok's arrogance and incompetence that had put him in this position. He could hear in the distance the whine of disruptor and phaser fire.

His warriors were holding back the ragtag group of inhabitants made up of stranded Starfleet personnel, local militia, police and any able bodied person that could pick up a weapon. They had breached the perimeter and now the fighting was from room to room with green disruptor fire being exchanged with a mix of orange and blue phaser fire and orange-reddish bolts from civilian and old, surplus laser and plasma weapons.

There were a number of monitors that displayed the fighting throughout the building, used originally by the building's security. The group of subordinates watched them, each seeing a horrific scene played out against their fellow warriors as they desperately tried to direct the defense of the building.

In a room two floors below them, a Klingon shouted in rage as he swung down his bat'leth at one of the attackers. The young human male raised up an older plasma rifle, a model a generation or two after the ones used by the United Earth forces during the Earth-Romulan War, to block the swing. He growled from the impact as his arms gave way a little so the pair could stare into each other's eyes. Each growled and exchanged gazes, for the Klingon, battle lust and thrill of the battle, for the human, hatred of the being in front of him.

They struggled for several moments until the human fired up a knee into the Klingons armored gut. He hissed a little in pain from the impact, but it caught the Klingon off guard enough to slip and bend down. The human followed up with head butt to the side of the Klingon's cheek, avoiding his forehead ridge. The strike threw off the Klingon long enough for the human to push him back with the rifle. The warrior stumbled back a few paces and shook his head, smirking to see the human had fight in him. He began to raise his bat'leth again for another strike, but the human had no interest in honorable combat with the Klingon and brought his weapon up to fire two quick bluish plasma bolts into his chest.

The Klingon scream in shock and searing pain as the armor didn't offer him enough protection from the contained superheated bolts. He fell back onto the floor, clenching his chest with one hand. He didn't get any chance to try fight through the pain and try to recover even as some of his organs were cauterized and shutting down because the human placed a boot hard on the wounds to press down on them and keep the Klingon on the ground.

The Klingon warrior howled in pain and that was that last thing he did as the human raised his weapon and fired a third bolt, but this time into his face. His face exploded yet caved-in in a gory, cindering mess.

The Archanis native didn't waste any time in any sort of gloating or satisfaction as he stepped over the body and joined a few of his compatriots as they moved down the hall and tried to clear the other rooms.

In another room, a lovely blonde Centuarian in her thirties wearing body forming black Starfleet battle fatigues with a gold stripe running over her collarbone hung onto the back of a female Klingon warrior as she twisted and turn to try to toss her off his back. She had her left arm wrapped around the front of her throat to try to choke her while she stabbed down at her shoulder and side of her face with the Klingon's own d'k tahg.

The Klingon screamed in pain as flesh was penetrated and sliced away. She reached back to try to grab her arm to slow her down, but the Starfleeter was relentless and stabbing down at her opponent, filled with battle lust as much as the Klingon. After a few more stabs that sent her pinkish blood flying, she started dropping down to her knees. Her pinkish blood ran down her shoulder and neck. The blonde kept stabbing the warrior until she dropped face first down onto the floor and stopped moving.

After several moments, she released her arm from around her neck and sat up on her knees, huffing for breath and trying to assess her situation. Her cheeks were flushed with exertion and her face, shoulder and arm was sprayed with the pinkish colored Klingon blood. She was trying to come down from the adrenaline high when she looked to see a pair of Klingons start charging at her from another entrance to the room. One had a bat'leth and the other raising a disruptor rifle at her.

Her eyes went wide for a split second and she was about to dive off of the dead Klingon for any kind of cover, but the pair of Klingons were hit with a beam and bolt of phaser fire, sending them back and crumbling to the floor. She looked over her shoulder to see one of her comrades, an Andorian, holding a Type-III phaser rifle and a militiaman holding an older phaser rifle from the latter half of the last century. She nodded her thanks then reached over to find her discarded rifle then stood up with the help of the Andorian grabbing under her other arm to join them in their push forward.

The scenes were similar throughout the building as the Klingons were slowly being driven back, room by room, floor by floor by sheer numbers and determination of the inhabitants. In random spots, some Klingons attempted to charge the motley attacking force with their bladed weapons as their fellow warriors provided covering fire, an attempt to show force and drive their enemies into panic of facing such a foe.

However, fear was apparently the last thing on the attackers' minds as the Klingons were met the nasty end of a phaser or plasma bolt that cauterized chunks out of their chests or faces. The inhabitants weren't bothering with any stun setting as they wanted blood from their occupiers.

As those scenes played out throughout the building, the military governor watched the last Klingon vessel leave orbit and a few Federation ships take up orbit around the planet. He looked to his subordinates and ordered, "Gather what you can and destroy the rest. We're withdrawing."

One subordinate questioned in outrage, "You want us to retreat against Humans, Vulcans… Bolians?"

The military governor gave the young warrior a barely patient gaze and answered, "We are about to be overrun, Starfleet now controls the orbit and no doubt will be landing reinforcements soon. It is our duty to survive for the Empire and resist by any means until another fleet arrives to relieve us, so we withdraw and fight again."

The young subordinate snarled, "I will not run from farmers and shopkeepers." He pulled his disruptor and turned to leave the room.

Another one of the subordinates drew his disruptor and pointed it at the first one's back, but the military governor raised his hand to stop him. "No, let him go. Let him try to obtain all the glory and honor of fighting the farmers and shopkeepers…"

He obeyed his commanding officer's order and holstered his weapon.

"Now, carry out my order. We'll withdraw to our secondary command post. We'll take their sewage system. Glorious it is not, but I don't intend to be shot down in the street like a targ."

As he gave the order, the young warrior exited the room and headed to the sound of weapon's fire.

Somewhere in the Archnais Sector between star systems

The bridge of the Constitution-Class (Enterprise-subclass) ship bearing the name USS Tori across the saucer section rocked to the port side as her starboard shields held back the destructive energy of the Klingon disruptor shots from the twin B'rel birds-of-prey as they approached for a strafing attack.

The captain, a Caucasian human male with an athletic build, short, spiky brunette hair appearing to be in his late twenties and wearing a class 'B' command uniform, focused on the view screen as he held onto his sat in the command chair. He watched as the once queen of the fleet maintained her course towards the teeth of the enemy. A K't'inga-class battlecruiser with several B'rel-class birds-of-prey filled the screen as the two sides rapidly approached. He knew there were far more ships to the port side not on screen, but that was not his concern at the moment and did not dissuade him or his fellow starship commanders as the went head to head with the fierce starships. He shouted towards the dual stations in front of him, "Helm, maintain your course. Harrison, starboard phasers hold until one hundred kilometers! Starboard torpedoes, full spread on the K't'inga!"

A human Caucasian male in his early to mid-twenties sitting at the helm station wearing with same uniform as the captain but with lieutenant pips on his collar replied in a muted North American Northeastern accent, "Aye sir!" His fingers danced across the still tactile controls verses the LCARS controls on most, if not all Starfleet vessels, to keep the ship steady as she was barraged by disruptor fire.

Lieutenant Commander Harrison, a dark skinned human with pulled back dreadlocks in his late twenties and wearing a command red Class 'A' uniform sat at the navigator's station, set the orders for starboard phaser crews on the birds-of-prey while he confirmed the lock on the approaching battlecruiser. He called out as he pressed the red fire control button, "Good lock sir, firing!"

The starboard torpedo bay at the base of the neck and top of the secondary hull fired off a quartet of photon torpedoes and sped towards the battlecruiser. One of them hit one of the birds-of-preys trying to race ahead, obliterating it to fine pieces of scrap while the other three struck the forward shields of the K't'inga. The shields flared considerably and the ship rocked a bit with enough bleed through to scorch most of the bulbous head of the vessel with a few gouges left in the hull venting atmosphere and flames, but continued forward. The ship didn't continue forward for long as a pair of torpedoes from an accompanying Miranda-class obliterated the forward shields and the head and most of the neck of the vessel in short order. The rest of the hull was scorched and pocketed from the blast as it tail spun away to its port side while the birds-of-preys continued forward.

The B'rels on the starboard side of the Constitution-Class continued firing, weakening the shields, but once they were in the specified range, the dorsal and ventral duel phaser banks of the saucer section lashed out in twin pairs. The Klingon ships' forward shields held out for about two seconds before one was speared and broke apart from the munitions and antimatter cooking off while the other one had a wing sheared off and spun out of control.

The chief science officer, a young attractive woman with a light tanned complexion with long, brunette hair pulled back in a ponytail with a few stray hairs hanging on either side of her face and wearing a form fitting female class 'A' blue science uniform that accentuated her lithe form, called out from the science station situated to the captain's right and behind, "Sir, we have a K'vort and a pair of B'rels swinging around to our starboard side again."

The captain ordered in a terse voice, "Commander Harrison, starboard phaser crews are weapons free to keep them off of us. Miss Reese, make sure you coordinate our fire with the rest of the squadron."

A duo of "Aye sirs!" rang out from navigation/weapons station in front of him and communications station behind and to his left as the ship maintained her course with the rest of the wing made up of Mirandas, refitted Saladins, Okinawa-class frigates and an occasional twin nacelle 'Constitution-variant' Saladins that made up the rest of the squadron.

The smaller Klingon vessels continued to try to harass the starboard flank, believing their superior speed and tenacity would break who they believed were weak humans in their antiquated and rusty ships and let them get into the heart of the squadron. They were repeatedly and rudely surprised as the Starfleet vessels beat them back with precise and devastating phaser strikes and proved not to be so antiquated with the wreckage of their fellow Klingons floating in space as a testament.

The two sides started exchanging phaser and disruptor shots as soon as they were in range of one another, causing shields to flare up and energy bleeding through to scorch some hulls. As they continued to close to knife fighting range, shields began to fail and chunks of hulls were being gouged out. For the Klingons, their lighter ships were being blasted apart while the heavier Federation ships kept going and fighting.

The two groups merged and flew past on another, trading more fire then it turned into a melee as each side tried to turn on one another for the best firing positions. The Federation ships had the distinctive edge in that arena with mostly full arc coverage while the birds-of-preys only had forward fire and the Starfleeters made them pay for it.

USS Tori

The deck seemed to come out from under the feet and seats of the crew as the ship was hit with a torpedo under the secondary hull near the hanger deck of the cruiser. The bridge crew held on to dear life as the red battle lights flickered for a moment and the compensators tried to soften the blow.

The captain didn't have to give the order as the secondary hull phaser crews unleased four phaser cannons positioned on the underside of the hull onto the K'vort's bow shields.

The shields held for a few moments under the intensity of the four type-VIII phasers until one punched through and sliced into the neck of the K'vort. The ship veered off, but not before being hammered against by another few blasts and tearing chunks out of the ship and making it spiral away, desperately trying to compensate and regain control.

A Saladin came up in pursuit of the Klingon ship, unleashing several phaser shots and fired a pair of torpedoes into her, punching through the weakening shields, gutting the craft and sending her to the black fleet. The Starfleet ship didn't celebrate the kill as it turned to go toe-to-toe with a B'rel.

The Tori turned to face another Klingon vessel in the melee as the science officer called out, "Vor'cha-class decloaking nine hundred twenty three kilometers off the port bow."

The captain hissed under his breath, "Spitting distance…" He raised his voice to call out, "Helm hard over to port and bring tubes to bear! Full impulse, pull us away and give Harrison a clear shot."

The young helmsman didn't hesitate in following the command to take the ship headlong towards what was effectively a battleship two generations ahead of her and pushed the impulse engines to full to try to pull them out of the starship dogfight. Several moments later they cleared the other ships, picking up a B'rel on their tail. The aft phaser crews lit the ship up in short order, alternating firing a pair of aft phasers above the hanger deck to blast through the shields and spear the small vessel.

Harrison glanced at his console for the briefest of moments before he called out, "Good lock sir."

The captain intently stared at the view screen as he sharply ordered, "Full spread, both tubes!"

The senior officer pressed the launch button and the twin torpedo tubes started stagger firing torpedoes until eight torpedoes raced towards the Vor'cha just as it fired her main disruptor cannon.

The disruptor shot impacted hard on the forward shield of the old queen, causing them to flair and flicker green, but it held with just a bit of bleed through to lightly scorch some of the dorsal part of the saucer.

The Klingon vessel wasn't as lucky as the first four torpedoes impacted the forward shield, weakening them enough for another one to explode in the flickering shields to bring them down just long enough for the other three to slip through to hit the head of the ship and obliterating it and down the neck of the ship as if pealing an Earth banana. The rest of the ship started tumbling away and moments later exploded as containment systems failed.

The young captain called out with a hint of a smirk, "Good shooting commander."

The celebration didn't last for long as the ship was rocked to starboard from more disruptor hits. Screams were heard as the more lights flickered and sparks flew in some stations on the starboard side of the bridge. The captain gripped the ends of the armrests to his chair and shouted out of instinct, "Return fire, full broadside!"

The mighty ship rolled to port just enough to line up with the incoming K't'inga cruiser and unleased six phaser shots from the starboard ventral side of the saucer, underside secondary hull phasers and the rear dorsal phasers above the hanger deck. They impacted hard onto forward shields of the cruiser.

The Klingon vessel's shields flared and energy seeped through from the battleship (late 23rd /early 24th century) grade phasers salvaged from an older Excelsior-class when it went through an updated, and raked some of the hull for some superficial damage. The K'tinga continued forward, blasting away with her wing disruptors, willing to slug it out with its opposite from the previous century.

The Tori's shields held from the blasts and she turned into the circle to bring her bow to the Klingon ship to go head to head. Her torpedoes were still reloading, but she still had plenty of firepower as she unleashed her ventral and dorsal saucer phasers, striking the Klingon ship head-on again with four phasers. The shields flared again from the impact, holding back the destructive energy for the most part for several moments before some slipping through and hulled part of the bulbous head, including through the bridge tower, just as it fired its primary red colored disruptor from its former forward torpedo launcher.

The red disruptor beam struck the forward shields, rocking the mighty Constitution-class vessel again, heavily straining the shields from the previous main cannon shot, but they held. There was more energy bleed through to scorch more of the hull, but she remained steady on course.
The two were prepared to fire again as they were closing to less than a thousand kilometers, but their deadly dance was interrupted when several phaser shots lanced downward from a seventy degree angle to the plane of the vessels traveling and speared through the secondary hull of the Klingon cruiser.

The K't'inga went up in a fiery plume a moment later as her containment field failed, sending out a shockwave of debris.

The ships that destroyed the Klingon cruiser pulled up and headed to join the rest of the melee, revealing herself to be an Excelsior-class followed by a New Orleans, Cheyenne-class and Freedom-class light cruisers and a trio of Mirandas. They started targeting individual Klingon ships with coordinated phaser fire as the Klingons continued to tangle with the Federation squadron.

The Klingons realized they were outmatched with the additional firepower and started to pull away and cloak. The original squadron led by the Tori took a bit more of a toll on the ships by gouging chucks out of the hulls and taking out another two vessels before they fled.

USS Tori

After the last Klingon vessel cloaked, the captain ordered, "Maintain alert status. Miss Reese, signal the squadron to reform formation and keep your ears open for any stray Klingon transmissions in case they're just coordinating for another round. Engineer, I want full damage report from the damage control parties."

A pair of 'aye sirs' called out, but the communications specialist at the communications station, a young enlisted woman barely into her twenties with a pale complexion, fair lovely face with golden locks wearing a gold operations 'skant' uniform called out, "Sir, we're receiving a message from the Tecumseh."

"Carry out my first order then on screen," he didn't hesitate to acknowledge.

Reese took a few moments to send out to the rest of the squadron the order to reform for a possible counterattack then the screen showed the bridge of the Excelsior-class bridge with the commanding officer walking around the twin stations in front. He was a tall, older and imposing man with slightly greying hair and wearing a class 'A' command red uniform.

The Tori's captain stood up from his command seat and greeted the older, senior captain with the respect he deserved, "Captain Raymond. Good to see you sir."

He cracked a hint of a smile as he spoke, "Good to see you too Captain Benedict. I see you've given the Klingons more of a bloody nose than they expected."

"I think they underestimated these old girls, thought maybe they were just old rust buckets."

Raymond's smile grew a little larger then reigned it in to reply, "Status of your squadron?"

"Reports are coming in now, but no ships lost. I take your mission was a success?"

"Yes it was. You pulled enough of them off to destroy the supply depot. That should get their attention and throw off their operations for a while. It certainly will make it easier to take the rest of the sector back from them."

The tactical officer onboard the Tecumseh, Lieutenant Larak, a Triexian, interrupted, "Sir, picking up several vessels entering sensor range and heading for the Archanis system. Identifying several heavies, but can't confirm if they're large freighters or warships."

The Tori's science officer called out, "I can confirm Klingon warp signatures, but we're just too far out to make a definitive identification."

Raymond looked to Benedict and commented, "A supply convoy or a reinforcement squadron for them, either way…" A soft smirk started forming on his face as he finished, "…a nice target to tie them up."

Benedict nodded his head as he replied, "Agreed sir."

"We'll take point. I want your squadron about a light minute out for support."

"Yes sir."

Raymond walked around the twin stations and retook his command chair. He quickly followed up, "This is Captain Raymond to squadron, set a pursuit course for the unknown contacts, warp seven, out."

The screen switched off a moment later then Captain Benedict ordered, "Commander Harrison, plot us a pursuit course to the contacts. Mister Griffin, set your speed to warp seven and engage when signaled."

A pair of 'aye sirs' called out as the officers carried out their orders.

The captain retook his seat just as Miss Reese respectfully called out, "Captain?"

Benedict slightly swiveled the chair to his left and looked over his left shoulder to her. "Yes petty officer?"

"What about possible Klingon survivors? Some may have survived in the hulks or made it to escape pods."

The question caught the attention of the lovely science officer, causing her to slightly turn in her seat and glance over her left shoulder. She looked back at her station and turned on the bio-scanners to do a quick sweep over some of the Klingon wreckage. She looked back over her shoulder and called out, "I'm picking up sporadic Klingon lifesigns among the wreckage."

The captain sighed then slightly cocked his head and replied with a resigned voice to his science officer and communications specialist, "And under normal circumstances, I know Captain Raymond would allow us stay for rescue operations, but with cloaked Klingon ships out there, once we lowered the shields…"

He let her complete the sentence in her mind.

The young blonde nodded her head then sadly replied, "They would fire on us while trying to rescue their fellow shipmates? It doesn't sound very honorable sir."

The science officer answered for the captain, perhaps violating decorum, "Yes they would Chloe. To the Klingons, the greatest honor is victory and killing a few of our ships even if we were attempting rescue of their fellow shipmates, would be counted as a victory against us."

The captain turned his head to look over his right shoulder to spy his science officer, giving her a supportive gaze instead of an admonishing one. He looked back to Petty Officer Reese and added, "Commander Kozak is quite right. The safety of our fellow crewmembers is not worth the risk in attempting to rescue them and unfortunately Captain Raymond has to carry that burden in knowing he's potentially condemning them to death."

"Yes sir," she answered regretfully then turned back to her station to monitor possible Klingon transmissions.

The young captain looked at the back of her head for another moment, directing a sympathetic gaze to her then turned his seat back to look forward. He spoke quietly as Lt. Commander Harrison confirmed the plot of the course, "Miss Reese, I'm sure the Klingons still lurking about will pick them up once we're gone."

He couldn't see her relieved smile as they had their backs turned to one another.

The next moment, the view screen showed the stars start to stretch out then a flash light before showing the stars streak by them.

I hope you enjoyed this opening chapter. I appreciate any feedback.

A little side note, the Tori was one of the ships listed in the first proposed list of Constitution-Class ships for TOS and suggested by the great and now late D.C. Fontana. The ship in this story is in honor to her that gave us such great stories and shaping of Star Trek.