Part of USS Susan B. Anthony: Well of Blood and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Failure to Communicate

Near Relay Station RS-DG3
Stardate 2400.11
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Captain’s Log, Stardate 2400.11 – After two weeks of holding our position near the Barzan Wormhole, we have set course for Relay Station D-G3, which is at the midway point between the wormhole and the Markonian Outpost. This relay station is a critical link between our assets and allies in the Gradin Belt and the wormhole communications link. Our orders are to investigate and make any necessary repairs.


Captain Paula Camarero stood with her hands behind her back as she observed the shimmering bubble of the Susan B. Anthony’s warp field distorting the space beyond the ship’s curved hull to sustain them at well past warp nine. While still formidable tactical cruisers in their own right, the Anthony and many of her sister Sovereign-class starships now served as workhorses and flagships like the Excelsior had done for a century before them. As the regular host to senior Fourth Fleet officials, the Anthony’s hull glinted with blue and gold Starfleet Command accents and insignia. Camarero focused on the blue pinstriping at the edge of the saucer section for a moment, reflecting on how unusual it was for them to be heading directly into danger. Admirals didn’t lead from the tip of the spear, and so the Anthony had almost always been well behind the front lines in the campaigns she’d participated in so far. 

So far, the so-called Blood Dilithium Campaign had been no different. Admiral Liam Dahlgren was the senior officer present in the quadrant, and he was coordinating Fourth Fleet starships from the relative safety of the wormhole, a location not readily known to many of the minor powers in the area. The Anthony’s secondary objective was to keep a watchful eye on any ships probing the wormhole itself, being mindful that the Voth, Vadwuaar, or Borg were all likely candidates to take advantage of the chaos that blood dilithium was creating. They were also three of the races which would cause Starbase 38 to enact contingency protocols to destroy the wormhole rather than giving enemies of such power a foothold in the Alpha Quadrant, so the Anthony was a last-resort defense against the bulk of the Fourth Fleet being isolated in the Delta Quadrant for the foreseeable future. 

The door chime sounded.

“Enter, please,” Camarero said, turning her head just as Midshipman Emerson Blair entered the room carrying his holoPADD. Yellow alert lighting from the bridge briefly silhouetted him before the doors closed behind him. The young officer-in-training was spending the second half of his six-month midshipman cruise aboard the Anthony as Camarero’s yeoman. “What is it?”

“I’ve compiled the reports you asked for, Captain. All departments report ready for combat,” Blair reported, flicking a report from his PADD towards the console on Camarero’s desk. “Do you think it will come to that, sir?”

Camarero moved behind the desk, running her fingertips along the suede back of her chair as she thought about how to answer that question. The report popped up on her display when she glanced at it, and she could quickly see that the young man’s assessment was correct. That didn’t surprise her, though. Being in the Delta Quadrant had kept the crew on their guard.

“One thing I’ve learned in this job is that you should always expect the worst and be pleasantly surprised when it doesn’t come to pass,” the captain replied. “We’ll hope that it’s just a transceiver malfunction, but we should be ready for a Borg cube to be on the other end of a warp jump.”

Blair nodded, but he furrowed his brow slightly. “I’m sure we’ll be ready,” he said, though he didn’t sound particularly sure about that.

“There aren’t a lot of things even in this quadrant that wouldn’t take a look at the Anthony and turn tail, Midshipman,” she reminded him with a rare smile of pride. She glanced down at the report again. “Are you passionate about paperwork or just talented at it?”

“Sir?”

“What I’m asking, Midshipman, is what kind of role you see yourself in. It’s dangerous to reveal such a talent for reports unless you’d like to end up as a records officer,” she said, the barest hint of a teasing lilt in her voice.

“Oh,” Blair chuckled. “Ideally, sir, I’d like to be on the bridge. But I’m learning a lot from this assignment. There’s much more to being a captain than just giving orders.”

“You’re telling me,” Camarero muttered as she thought about the seven or eight other reports waiting for her in the system.

“Captain Camarero to the bridge,” came the first officer’s voice over the comm.

“Understood,” Camarero replied before tapping her badge. “With me, Midshipman. It sounds like we’re about to get an answer to your question.”

Captain Camarero led the way out of her ready room, finding the bridge abuzz with activity as officers compared notes on various systems all around her. Commander Adir Goodman rose from the command seat and moved off to the captain’s right as she took his place. He looked unusually grim, especially since his normal energy was that of an overgrown golden retriever. 

“We just got a data burst from RS-D-G2. The last thing the sensors from RS-D-G3 picked up was a pair of Hazari ships,” Goodman reported. “Our own long-range sensors are also now picking up a Hirogen warp signature.”  

“What is our ETA?”

“Two minutes, Captain,” the Andorian Lieutenant Arha reported from the helm.

“At this speed, we won’t be able to confirm the tactical situation for at least another minute, and if we slow down, we could give any hostiles time to react,” Goodman noted.

Camarero nodded and then pressed the intercom on the command throne. “Bridge to Admiral Dahlgren. Sir, we’re now aware of possible Hazari and Hirogen activity in the region of RS-D-G3. Do we have permission to engage, or should we abort?”

“The last thing we want is for either of those two groups to think that they can molest our equipment with impunity. Engage at will, Captain,” Dahlgren ordered immediately.

“Red Alert. All hands, stand to battle stations!” Camarero ordered. 

The illumination around the bridge darkened, and the klaxon began to surround all around the ship. The Anthony’s formidable defensive armaments were brought online as preemptive forcefields energized around key systems. Camarero kept an eye on the chronometer on her chair as they passed into real-time sensor range.

“Sir, I am detecting three Hazari vessels in combat with a Hirogen battleship in the proximity of the relay station,” Lieutenant Sharpe reported calmly from her station at the rail behind Camarero and Goodman. 

Camarero swallowed. Four ships would be a challenge for even a ship like the Anthony, but they did have an advantage from the element of surprise and from the fact that the other ships were already in combat. What wasn’t clear, though, was whether the Hazari attacked the station and were caught by the Hirogen or vice versa. She would have to give up some of her tactical advantage to answer that question, though.

“Dropping out of warp in thirty seconds,” Arha noted.  

“Sharpe, load a full salvo of photon torpedoes set to proximity blast. Disrupt their sensors but don’t target either the Hazari or the Hirogen directly until we know who started this,” Camarero ordered.

“Recommend Attack Pattern Gamma III in this scenario,” Goodman offered.

Camarero nodded. “Arha, slide directly into that once we’re out of warp.”

“Aye, Captain!” the Andorian replied with a tone of eagerness that Camarero had come to expect from her anytime the prospect of combat was brought up; as a transfer from the Andorian Imperial Guard, she had a perspective that wasn’t quite in line with the mainstream Starfleet ethos. “Dropping out of warp now,” she reported. “Executing Attack Pattern Gamma III.”

“Proximity volley away,” Sharpe added. 

A full salvo of golden-brown torpedoes arced out from the Anthony’s main forward torpedo turret, peppering all three Hazari ships and the larger Hirogen one with energy blasts that would be enough to severely impede their targeting abilities for a few moments as the Starfleet ship swung around to try to put herself between the hostiles and the station. There were plasma fires raging on the station, and the defensive emplacements had clearly been destroyed. Its failure to transmit could have been from any of the number of holes in the twin catamaran-like antennae assemblies to either side of the main habitation module.

“Oh, they didn’t like that. I’m sensing a lot of pissed-off aliens, Captain,” Lieutenant Edrun reported from the communications station. The Betazoid’s telepathic abilities often gave him a slight head’s up before formal communications had actually been established. “Should I hail them?”

“Open a general hail, Lieutenant,” Camarero confirmed.

The Captain took a deep breath and thought about all of the famous ultimata she’d heard in the historical annals from other starship commanders. Eloquence here could mean the difference between ending a conflict before it started and starting a war.

“Attention hostile vessels, this is Captain Paula Camarero of the Federation starship Susan B. Anthony. You are ordered to withdraw immediately from the area, or I will consider you a threat and respond accordingly. This is your first and only warning,” Camarero said as soon as the channel opened. 

The bridge fell utterly silent as they awaited a response.

“Sir, the Hazari vessels are falling back, but the Hirogen ship is coming to bear on us,” Sharpe reported from tactical. “Detecting weapons lock.”

“They’re hailing.”

“On screen.”

Moments later, the face of a masked Hirogen Alpha appeared on the viewscreen. He had light markings around his eyes and darker ones leading under his helmet where other humanoids would have a scalp. It was Camarero’s first time seeing one off of the holodeck or in historical records from Voyager.

The Hirogen laughed, which made Camarero raise an eyebrow; they weren’t a race known for their sense of humor, after all. “The Devore were right. You will make excellent prey, indeed.”

The mention of the Devore nearly made Camarero rise from her seat in surprise; the dots weren’t hard to put together from that admission, though: if the Devore had tipped the Hirogen off to the presence of the Anthony, the Devore likely sent the Hazari to attack the station as bait. Untangling that thread would be a task to handle when they were not nose-to-nose with a Venatic-class battleship.

“Your ship will be a fine trophy. We will give you the honor of a clean death, Starfleet,” the Alpha continued before the channel cut.

“Like hell,” Camarero muttered. “I don’t think our Hirogen friend was listening to my previous message, Commander. I’m inclined to raise my voice,” she said, turning to Goodman.

“Aye, Captain. Lieutenant Sharpe, let’s show these bastards why it is such a bad idea to face down a Sovereign-class starship. Prepare full salvos from all launchers and ready an alpha strike,” Goodman ordered. 

“Ready, Commander.”

Camarero gripped the armrests of her chair in preparation for the coming battle. There were over eight hundred crew members aboard her ship, not to mention a four-star admiral and his staff. The loss of even one soul would be a tragedy, but they were now in a situation likely engineered by the Devore to decapitate the entire fleet, and there was no backing out.

“Fire,” she ordered.