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Part of USS Altai: The Other Side of Us

Battle of Fortel

Fortel Colony, Beta Quadrant
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[Fortel Colony – July 5, 2396]

Fortel Colony was only a few light years from the old Romulan Neutral Zone. With the fall of the old Romulan Empire rouge factions sprang up vying for power in their respective regions, and old territorial claims would threaten the peace of those living in their path.

Fortel Colony was one such planet. It was an unassuming rock barely habitable if not for modern technology. Too hot in the day and too cold at night a protective shield protected the settlement.

The people who called this rock home were hard. The planet’s only reason for existence was the ores pulled out of the hard rock mines that were used to build ships, space stations and other construction projects around the galaxy. Few knew of Fortel, but many had reaped the benefits from its mines.

The USS Audacious came to the planet, responding to a distress signal. Astrid wasn’t on the bridge when it came through, nor did she hear the exchange between the Romulan commander and the Captain. Not that that mattered in the slightest. As an NCO leading a squad of security crew members knowing the details wasn’t her place or to question.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we have a situation brewing on Fortel,” the ship’s Chief of Security started. Astrid and fifteen others were standing outside transporter room three. All were armed with phaser rifles, and wore backpacks over their standard Starfleet uniforms. “The captain has ordered you to beam down to the colony and help secure it from Romulan incursion. Petty Officer Vogler will be in command of this operation. Any questions?”

“No sir!” The unit responded in unison.

“Then get to it.”

It was dark when Astrid and her squad beamed down to the colony. An exhausted man approached with a phaser rifle in in his hand. His black hair was matted and greasy, and his clothes were dirty and torn.

“This is all Starfleet sent?”

“Petty Officer Astrid Vogler,” Astrid introduced. “Yeah, this is all we can spare at the moment. The ship is facing off with two Romulan Warbirds.” What she didn’t say was that this was all that the Captain was willing to sacrifice. Starfleet had a duty to protect the colony and they would to the best of their ability, but the captain wasn’t going to throw good money after bad, and was prepared to retreat to fight another day.

“David Ketchum, Fortel Colony Constable.”
Astrid accepted his offered hand, “Well, let’s get down it. I take it you got the supplies?”

“Much needed, and thank you. They took out the power gird right off the bat and we’ve been living what little water we can scavenge and no one thought to keep extra food on hand.”

She nodded, “Still, Starfleet rations are not what I would call living. Daniels and Jorell,” She shouted over her shoulder. “See what you can do about getting the replicators up.”

“Aye aye Top,” Daniels responded.

“I’m not an E-8,” Astrid replied, “but get to it.” Slinging her phaser rifle over her shoulder she nodded to Ketchum, “I better figure out what we are up against.”

The local security chief nodded and lead her into the Security office. The colony was operating on emergency power. There was just enough power to keep the shields up and computer functions going. He sat down behind the desk and entered some commands into his terminal and a holographic display popped up.

“The colony shield doesn’t keep solid matter or transporter energy in or out. Its sole function is to maintain atmosphere and reflect the majority of the star’s harmful radiation. The Romulans have taken the north side of the colony and hold our government buildings and the Governor.”

“How many enemy troops are we looking at?”

Ketchum shrugged, “A couple hundred.”

Astrid was pretty sure she wasn’t going to like the answer to the next question, “And how many do you have in your militia?”

“Twenty-eight, and another twelve walking wounded and could probably fight from a fixed position. We started off with seventy-five.”

Astrid sighed, “We have to hold the line. There will be reinforcements; it’s just a matter of holding out long enough for Starfleet to respond. Everyone who can hold a phaser needs to be a fighter. The attack will come from here,” Astrid said tracing the only real way into this part of the colony. There was a canal on three sides with only one bridge crossing it. The back side was butted up against as craggy set of cliffs.

Pointing to a building nestled amongst the cliffs, “Put the non-combatants in the basement here. We’ll set up a firing parameter along this street. The enemy will be funneled into us. I’ll place snipers at these buildings here, here, and here. We can’t hope to hold them indefinitely, but the plan is to inflict as many casualties as we can so they lose their will to fight.”
“Ketchum swallowed, “Casualties…”

“Yeah, it’s us or them. I hate the idea too, but here we are.”

“It’s a solid plan. Okay, we have work to do.”

The Romulans came at dawn. Their progress was slow as the moved from cover to cover. Their snipers were the first to open fire. The initial assault was intense. Astrid felt like her rifle was continuously firing, but they had taken light casualties. One of her Starfleet security officers took a disruptor to the shoulder. He’d live but he was out of the fight, and the colonists had two killed and another four injured. It was impossible to say what the Romulans took, but she estimated that there were at least twenty or thirty casualties on their end.

The second wave was better prepared. They had anti-matter mortars and portable micro torpedo launchers that decimated her lines and destroyed the buildings where her snipers were hiding.

“Ketchum get your people back to the fall back position we’ll cover you!” Astrid shouted over the din of weapons fire. She had to take out the mortars and torpedo launchers. “Jackson, Grel, and McPherson you’re with me. Douglas you hold this line to the last man. The colonists have to get out you understand?”

“Yes ma’am,” the young NCO replied.

“Good. I suggest you did in. Once the colonists are evacuated you fall back to them. That is our Alamo. I think we can both agree that being prisoners to these Romulans would be a bad idea.”

George Douglas nodded. There was no official channels for Starfleet to negotiate with these rouge entities, and since they were acting like war lords Starfleet would be unlikely to negotiate with them anyway.

Astrid and her tiny team worked their way slowly through the rubble trying to avoid the Romulan patrols. The rest of the Starfleet contingent was keeping their attention away from them and the moved undetected.

Finding the locations of the enemy artillery was a fairly easy task. They just needed to follow the ordinance back to its source. They were lightly guarded, but there were outnumbered.

“Grel, you set up here and create suppression fire. McPherson you follow that line of shrubs to the right and keep their attention off of me and Jackson. Questions?”

They all shook her heads. “Get to it,” Astrid ordered. Hanging right and keeping to cover as best as possible she and Jackson moved into position. When the allied fire opened Astrid sprung her trap. She felt slightly guilty shooting them in the back, but needs must.

She and Jackson ran to the mortar with enemy disruptor beams striking the earth around her. They each dropped explosives into the weapon and ran for cover as she pressed the button exploding their target destroying them.

Now all that was left was the micro-torpedo launcher. They found it a few blocks away. This time there was only one guard. The Romulans probably never thought that their quarry would attack them in this manner. Hubris had been the downfall of many generals.

“I’ll run across their field of fire,” she said to her people. “Don’t miss!” Vaulting over their cover she ran full tilt across their field of view. Disruptor fire hissed out at her. She had almost made it to the other side when she felt a burning sensation across her back and then everything went black.

Astrid woke. There was a ceiling above her, but beyond that she didn’t know where she was. Was she in a Romulan POW camp? Suddenly the face of the Audacious’ Chief Medical Officer came into view. “Welcome back the land of the living Crewman. It was touch and go there for a minute.”

“They weren’t supposed to miss,” she groaned in pain.

“I didn’t, but the Romulan didn’t either. Sorry about that Top.”

“I’m not and E-8,” she protested, but it was weak. She was so very tired at the moment.

“Excellent work Crewman,” The voice of the captain said as he came into view.

“Uh… yes sir,” Astrid said and forced herself into a sitting position in an effort to stand.

“Relax Petty Officer, that’s an order.”

Astrid fell back into the bio bed with a sigh. “Yes sir.”

“I’m putting you and your team up for accommodation. You guys save the colony. We reatreated and feared the worst. When returned the Romulans had pulled out and abandoned their attack. Whatever you did you made it too expensive for them to keep fighting. Good work,”

“Thank you sir.”

“Now, get some rest. We need you back on your feet.”