Concentrated beams of tremendous thermal energy lashed out all along the dorsal phaser arrays of the U.S.S. Thomas Paine at the remaining Klingon K’tinga-class battlecruiser as it closed toward her at flank speed. The battlecruiser’s shields shuddered violently against the onslaught of the phaser strikes, but the ship continued undauntedly towards the Thomas Paine amidst the burning hulks of its three former companion B’rel-class birds of prey.

Captain Leland J. Maddox, Starfleet, Commanding Officer of the Thomas Paine, firmly gripped the arms of his chair as the Klingon battlecruiser unleashed searing beams of disruptor energy against the Thomas Paine’s shields.  

Sitting one point nine meters tall, Captain Maddox wore the burden of command with informed detachment and fierce countenance. The remnants of brown in his parted hair had faded to elemental grey, with the depth of his experiences chiseled proportionally on his powerful block face. He shook his head as the resulting damage report came in. The Thomas Paine was on a routine mission to resupply a listening post along the Federation border with a neutral area of space known as The Triangle; she had run into a Klingon raiding party lying in wait immediately after she delivered her cargo. It was a testament to his leadership, his crew’s proficiency, and the overall sturdiness of the New Orleans-class starship that they held out through the engagement.   

“Divert power from fusion generators three and four to the shields! Watch our EPS output.” Maddox snapped.

“Diverting now, Captain.” Lieutenant Theodore Sladek, the Tactical Systems Officer, acknowledged from the primary tactical console behind the command area.

Orders and counter-orders flew around the bridge of the Thomas Paine as the ship regained the initiative against its assailant. The battlecruiser launched a volley of trilithium-depleted photon torpedoes from its forward launcher as the Thomas Paine maneuvered hard to port away from the line of bearing.

“We have EPS juncture breaches on decks six, seven, and thirteen. Primary Phaser control is offline, switching to secondary systems. Shields are at twenty-two percent and holding!” Sladek called out as his fingers flew across the surface of the tactical console.

“Snapshot six, tube four with level eight warheads!” Maddox roared as the call to combat the EPS casualties sounded over the ship’s intercom circuits.

“Snapshot six, tube four with level eight warheads; all launch systems operational.” Sladek confirmed.

“Very well.” Maddox’s piercing gaze bore into the main viewscreen.

As the torpedoes ran from the Thomas Paine’s primary aft launcher in the secondary hull toward the Klingon ship, he turned to find Lieutenant Commander Holt, his executive officer staring at him from his chair along the right side of the embossed wooden tactical rim. Maddox nodded at him; there was nothing much to do now but brace for shock.

Maddox turned back toward the viewscreen, where the stars were replaced by a tactical plot showing the incoming Klingon torpedoes in relation to Thomas Paine’s snapshots.

Thomas Paine’s first four torpedoes obliterated the battlecruiser’s shields; the remaining two struck with paralyzing force in the underbelly of its drive section forward of her aft torpedo tube and impulse engines. Secondary explosions ignited throughout the ship.

Maddox saw little else as the torpedo volley launched from the Klingon battlecruiser impacted Thomas Paine. Intense energy, violent shudders, explosions, and then darkness pervaded the ship.

Captain Maddox hit the deck near his chair, and a torrent of searing pain pulsed through his body. Maddox felt lethargic and could feel the inevitable dizziness kicking in as he struggled to regain his senses. The pain became disorienting, but despite this, or perhaps due to it, he pulled himself to his feet after recovering his stead. It took him a moment to gather his thoughts or collect enough of them to think clearer.

Maddox held his furrowed brow closed with calculated pressure from his right hand, and his face turned to a grimace as he regarded his Executive Officer. Swallowing the pain and harnessing it to his best advantage was his only option. After a few more moments of pure focus, he blocked out the pain just enough to make it nothing more than a minor annoyance.

He turned to find Lieutenant Commander Holt getting up off the deck, his left arm mangled and utterly useless.

“Are you alright, XO?” Maddox asked.

“I am no worse for wear, Captain.” Holt mused sarcastically.

“Good man.” Maddox firmly patted the side of his right shoulder.

A handful of heartbeats later, chaos reigned as the auxiliary generators restored lighting on the bridge. The bridge was severely damaged. Operations/ Second Officer Slayton laid dead on the deck in an expanding pool of his own blood with several pieces of duranium mesh forcefully driven into his neck when his console exploded.  The navigator at the conning station was slumped over her console. Several other officers and crewmen were injured. The primary tactical console was online and the aft bridge stations were not functional.

“Mister Watts.” Maddox commanded.

“Yes, Captain.” Lieutenant Junior Grade Theo Watts, Assistant Operations Officer, approached him.

“As of this moment, you are acting operations officer. Your first task is to get at least one of the aft bridge consoles working. I do not want part of my bridge in engineering for too long.” Maddox’s piercing gaze bore into Watts’s eyes.

“Aye, Captain.” Watts turned with perfunctory courtesy and headed up the ramp to the aft bridge stations.

“Sickbay, Captain. Get a trauma team to the bridge immediately. Maddox out.” Maddox thumbed the intercom circuit on the right arm of his chair.

“Captain!” Lieutenant Sladek motioned toward the viewscreen. Mortally wounded, the Klingon battlecruiser limped away from the combat area.

“Like hell they will.” Maddox glared toward the viewer as he keyed the intercom circuit once more.

“Main Engineering, Captain. Divert all bridge functions to Main Engineering except for tactical systems. Come to course 110 degrees mark 50, all impulse engines ahead two-thirds for point one three C. Captain, out.”

The Thomas Paine limped toward the retreating Klingon ship, her three Series 6 Mark-IV HighMPact impulse units slowly closing the distance. Of all the places in the region, these Klingons chose to pass through this area of space to raid Federation interests in the region. Why did they launch this attack? Nothing was gained, not even honor or pride. If the Klingon ship made it back to its base, follow-on attacks would follow in short order.

“Phasers are back online, Captain.” Lieutenant Sladek reported from tactical.

“Fire!” Maddox snapped.