Part of USS Shepard: Arsenal of Democracy and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Chapter 7

USS Shepard
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Mack gunned the Shepard’s impulse engines to max in an attempt to put space between their ship and the incoming torpedoes as Tallera sent forth a volley of proximity bursts, academy training and intuition forced to take the place of orders in a point-blank defensive action. Firing prox blasts at such close range was highly risky, and the blasts’ detonations sent violent shudders through the Shepard’s hull… but not before taking out five torpedoes.

“Aft shields at 60%! Two more torps closing!” Vic called out, prompting a frantic groan from Mack as he threw the ship into as tight a bank as he could. Unable to turn hard enough to bring about an un-damaged shield facing, he carefully placed the Shepard’s rollbar in-between the torpedoes and the ship’s hull.

Twin explosions rocked the ship like an earthquake, all bridge officers holding onto their seats for dear life as the lights flickered and the ship violently shook around them.

“Status!” Zelenko called out once the impact force seemed to have subsided.

“Aft shield is gone,” Vic grunted from the science station. “Substantial damage to the rollbar, its torpedo pod and phasers are completely shot. The rear EPS grids are nearly overclocked.”

“The last aft array got burnt out in my point defense fire, too,” Tallera said, her voice tinged with a hint of regret. “We’re down to one front dorsal and one front ventral phaser.”

“But no structural damage to the hull?” Zelenko asked.

“Negative,” Vic confirmed, shaking his head. “Looks like the only torpedoes that made it through the prox blasts hit the rollbar. Main hull’s fine.”

Zelenko let out a deep breath. “Mack, Tallera, that was some damn fine defensive work.”

Tallera looked at Mack with a bashful smile, who smirked and shrugged in kind.

“Travers, where’s that bandit that shot at us?” Zelenko continued, mind again on the task at hand. 

“Bugging out, Sir,” Vic replied. “He’s heading back out into… oh, hell, the last one’s back!”

“Bearing!”

“195-mark-167, 4,500 klicks. He’s sneaking up right behind us, looks like he’s been there a minute, too.”

Zelenko narrowed her gaze. “Divert power to bring the aft shields back online. Why hasn’t he launched torpedoes? He’s right where we’re vulnerable.”

“I think he’s trying to get inside our minimum point defense range,” Vic said. “That means he probably doesn’t know our aft phasers are fried.”

Zelenko chewed on her tongue for a split second, then nodded. “Mack, pursue the fleeing bandit.”

Mack raised an eyebrow, but did as he was told, burning hard impulse towards the raider who’d torpedoed them and away from the convoy.

“Travers, on my signal, vent hydrogen exhaust from the bussard collectors.”

“Aye, Sir,” Travers nodded with a grin, beginning to understand Zelenko’s plan.

“Helm,” Zelenko continued. “Prepare to split the throttle.”

Mack looked back at her with a manic glee in his eyes. “Really?” 

“Yes, Ensign,” she said with a smile and a nod.

The Shepard continued speeding after the fleeing raider, leaving the convoy further and further behind.

“Pursuing bandit’s closing to 1000 klicks…” Vic called out. “800, now.”

“When it closes to 50, vent the exhaust,” Zelenko ordered.

“Aye, Sir. 700… 600…” 

The bridge tensed as the distance between the pursuer and the vulnerable aft of their ship grew smaller and smaller.

“200… 150… 100… 50! Venting now!” Vic declared, plumes of hydrogen emanating from the front of the Shepard’s warp nacelles and trailing behind them – right into the raider’s flight path. The gas coated its hull and immediately rendered its cloak worthless.

“Can’t hide from that, bastard,” Vic muttered.

“Mack! Now!” Zelenko shouted, and the helmsman flew into action. The Shepard pitched upwards 40 degrees before Mack idled the port impulse engine and boosted the starboard to max, throwing the vessel into a brutal 180-degree yaw spin. The bridge crew braced as the inertial dampeners struggled to negate the intense g-forces, and if it hadn’t been for her lap-belt, Tallera would have been thrown from her seat.

But now the Shepard’s bow – and its remaining phaser arrays – were pointed right at the raider, and the crew knew exactly where it was. 

Tallera didn’t even wait for the order to fire. 

Beams from the two forward arrays fired simultaneously on the distortion in the hydrogen plume, with obvious impacts on the cloaked, unshielded vessel soon appearing. After less than two seconds of sustained barrage, the raider’s warp core exploded.

“Splash three!” Tallera announced triumphantly, adrenaline coursing through her veins as she cycled the phasers’ power suites. 

Excellent job, everyone,” Zelenko smiled. “Let’s regroup with the convoy and see what this last bandit decides to do.”

“Uh, that might be a bit tricky, Sir,” Mack said, his voice unexpectedly uncertain. “It looks like splitting the throttle may have overpowered the impulse EPS systems, since they were already vulnerable after the torpedo attack. We’re RCS thruster-only, now.”

“Well, that certainly complicates things,” Zelenko said, massaging her temple.

“Commander, I hate to be the bearer of more bad news,” Vic interjected. “But the last bandit is coming around to attack us again. Bearing 205-mark-332 at 52,000 klicks.”

Zelenko’s nostrils flared. “S’Geras, contact Rapier and Ushaan, tell them to converge on our position to hunt the last-”

“Commander, second tachyon blip spotted.”

The bridge fell absolutely silent.

“What.” Zelenko spoke up. “Is there another raider?” 

“Unknown. Bearing 351-mark-029, 131,000 klicks, seems to be on a loose inter – whoa, hang on, it’s decloaking.”

“Onscreen!”

Their viewscreen jumped to the warped shimmer of a ship dropping cloak, and the crew of the Shepard found themselves face to face with a Valdore-class Romulan Warbird.

“Commander, we’re being hailed,” S’Geras spoke up.

“Open a channel,” Zelenko responded, her nostrils flaring again.

“Federation vessels,” a voice called out over the bridge intercom. “This is Republic Warbird RRW Demorax. We detected an anomalous subspace signal in this region, do you require-”

Demorax, this is USS Shepard,” Zelenko near-shouted as she pressed the captain’s chair’s intercom button. “I apologize to cut you off, but we have no impulse, limited phaser operations, and are under attack by a cloaked enemy raider. We request immediate assistance.”

The bridge was silent for a moment.

“Aye, Shepard, we’re en-route to your position now,” the Warbird responded. “Are you capable of marking the target’s location?”

“Yes, target will be marked.” 

“Confirmed. Hang tight, we’re on our way.”

Zelenko released the intercom and turned her attention to her crew. “Mack, rotate the hull with RCS to bring the surviving arrays to bear on the bandit. Tallera, fire as you bear. Burn out the last phasers if you have to, you mark that tachyon pulse.”

“With pleasure, Sir,” Tallera said, gaze steeled on the again-empty viewscreen as the starfield in front of her rolled with the Shepard’s movements.

“Tachyon blip bearing 037-mark-004, 7,000 klicks,” Vic called out, and Tallera opened fire with an unfettered barrage of proximity blasts, by far the largest she’d fired to date. She couldn’t help but smile as the elegant, winged form of the Demorax soared above and past them towards the blasts in the far distance. Finally, no one had to sit back and protect the convoy – they could engage on their terms, now.

Give ’em hell, fellas, she thought.

“Proximity blasts have revealed bandit location, we have target lock,” Demorax radioed over the intercom.

“S’Geras, follow Demorax’s attack on the viewscreen,” Zelenko ordered, and the screen display jumped to the image of the Warbird sending a volley of plasma bolts into seemingly empty space, where the final Hazari raider exploded.

Comments

  • You had me sitting on the edge of my seat while reading this story, I thought for sure they were going to be goners in the sense that they really took a heavy beating. I could tell that the crew of the Shepard was the type to go down fighting until the very last. Thank goodness that the Republic ship showed up when it did and took care of that last Hazari raider. Great job!

    December 6, 2022
  • Wowowow. In the interest of full-disclosure, I grew up on TNG in an era where they simply couldn't afford to film space battles, so space battle isn't usually my bag. I am massively impressed by how gripping you portrayed this conflict. You managed to walk that really tricky tightrope of giving a lot of specific detail that helped me to imagine the dance of the starships, and yet you also kept it pacey and moving along at a nice clip. I never felt like I was reading technical specifications in a wikipedia article -- every detail had a purpose in the story. Honestly, this was as compelling as the nebula battle in Wrath of Khan. Fantastic storytelling!

    December 10, 2022