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Part of USS Valhalla: Mission 2: Ragnarök and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

(7) The Jem’Hadar Part: II

In Orbit of Arkan II
MD 9
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Abby sat up in her chair at operations.  All her senses were alert as her console blared in alarm, “Captain, sensors are detecting five Jem’Hadar fighters on an intercept course.”

Aoife stood, and moved to the center of the bridge.  “On screen, go to red alert.” 

“Shields up, weapons charging,” Ethan announced from the tactical station.   

The bridge dimmed and was bathed in a red glow as the klaxon summoning the crew to battle stations blared.The image of Arkan II switched to a squadron of beetle like ships flying in close formation. 

Aoife swore under her breath.  Her Chief Engineer and Tactical officer were down on the planet with Captain Murphy upgrading the planetary defenses.  That meant both ships were operating with skeleton crews in those two departments.  That’s why Commander Talon had taken up the tactical station and Commander Halstead was covering engineering.

“They’re loaded for bear,” Ethan announced.  “Their shields are up and their weapons are charged.”

“I guess that means they aren’t in the mood to talk,” Aoife quipped.

“Should we beam our crews back?” Nicholas Halstead asked, looking away from the engineering station. 

Aoife considered it for a moment, and decided against it. “No time.”

“Captain, are you going to let the Andromeda go into battle without her captain?” Halstead asked.

Aoife glanced back at her XO.  He was right after all.  Lieutenant Commander Hayden was a solid officer but she was not the captain, and new to her role as executive officer as well. But with all the atmospheric interference communications with the planet was clunky at best, and transporters were still a little bit of an ordeal.  “Your objections are noted Commander. Helm move us into an attack posture. Ms. Willis hail the Andromeda.”

“Channel open captain.” Willis announced.

The image of Lieutenant Commander Erin Hayden appeared on screen.  “Commander, have your sensors detected the Dominion squadron?”

Erin nodded, “We’re tracking them now Captain.”

“Good. Move the Andromeda to the far side of the planet’s poles.  Let the magnetic field conceal you. You’re our ace in the hole.”

“Understood,  Andromeda out.”

The viewscreen snapped back to the incoming Jem’Hadar fighters. “The Andromeda is moving into position,” Willis announced, her voice pitched up to be heard above the noise of a bridge on full alert.

 “Ms. Willis initiate multi-vector assault mode.” Aoife ordered. 

“Aye captain.”

The separation klaxon started blaring. “Initiating decoupling sequence,” the computer announced shipwide. “Auto-separation in ten seconds.  9… 8… 7… 6… 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Seperation sequence in progress.” The USS Valhalla’s saucer separated from the drive section and the drive section broke into two parts flanking the saucer section.  “Auto-separation complete.”

“All sections are in formation and responding to our commands,” Commander Halstead announced from the engineering station.

“Armed and ready,” Ethan added from tactical with a grin.  The Jem’Hadar thought they had the tiny Starfleet armada outnumbered two to five. Each of Valhalla’s sections was more than capable of dealing with a single fighter which leveled the playing field considerably. 

“Attack sequence Baker-three.” Aoife said, settling into her seat to brace against any sudden movements that may dislodge her from her position.

“Baker-three,” Lieutenant Anthony Talon, the helm officer, responded by entering commands into the navigation panel. The two drive sections banked sharply one to the left and one to the right while the saucer closed in straight on the Jem’Hadar fleet.

“Commander Talon,” Aoife said with a rueful smirk, “Inform the Dominion this is their last warning before we attack.”

“Message transmitted. No response,” Ethan replied.

“They can’t say we didn’t warn them,” Halstead added. “All systems are green.  Transferring non-essential power to shields and phasers.”

“We’re in weapons range,” Ethan read from the tactical display.

Aoife frowned.  The realization she would have to give the order to attack meant she was also giving the order to kill.  This wasn’t a simulation, and she certainly wasn’t following someone else’s orders.   She was giving them this time. She stared into the viewscreen watching the enemy ships approach, willing them to break away, but of course they did not. They wouldn’t.  That just wasn’t the way of the Jem’hadar.  Retreat went against everything in their nature.

“Captain do we fire?” Ethan asked. 

As if to answer Commander Talon’s question a barrage of weapons fire slammed into the saucer shaking it violently. The five fighters flew past the viewscreen as each fired at them. There was a menace to the violet glow of the engines and the carapace shaped hulls that Aoife couldn’t quite put a finger on.

“Direct hit. Minimal damage to shields,” Willis responded. 

“Fire at the lead ship!” Aoife shouted the decision made for her.

The two drive sections closed in from a flanking position with phasers and quantum torpedoes; the sections lanced out striking the lead vessel.  One of the nacelles sheared off completely and explosions rippled along its hull before splitting open in a brilliant antimatter explosion. 

The remaining fighters scattered in four directions.  The Valhalla may outgun the tiny ships,  but what they lacked in firepower they more than made up for in maneuverability.  The Prometheus-class was built to fight these ships. The Valhalla was a good ship with an even better crew, and she had no doubts in the final outcome. 

“Indepent attack sequence,” Aoife ordered. Reading the battle map she took in the situation. “Helm, for Section Bravo, have it attack the ship at 41 mark 0. For Section Charlie, attack the fighter at 181 mark 20.”

“Aye Captain,” Anthony responded piloting the independent sections, his fingers frantically moving over the panel.  It was a little like spinning plates piloting three ships at the same time, and exhausting.

Two fighters closed in on the saucer, their energy phased poloran beams ripping across space and slammed into the Valhalla. They broke off and dodged the return fire.

“Shields down to seventy-five percent,” Abby reported. “Minor damage to the EPS conduits on deck two.”

Ethan adjusted his targeting and fired at one of the retreating ships, “Direct hit. Minor damage.” Turning his focus  to Section Bravo a fighter flashed within his firing arc.  He let loose a full volley of phaser and torpedo fire.  The phasers hit, but the fighter twisted away from the torpedoes and they exploded harmlessly. He swore softly in frustration, “You can’t run forever.”

Another pounding shook the Valhalla and a console exploded in the back of the bridge that showered the crew in sparks. “Shields at 63 percent,” Abby reported.  “Casualties reported on deck three and six. Structural integrity at 79 percent.”

The noise of battle filled Aoife’s ears. Taking a centering breath she absently brushed a loose strand of hair from her face. “Attack pattern Delta!” 

Bravo and Charlie sections broke free of their individual quarries and fell into a close formation with the saucer section.   The three ship formation closed in on the pair of fighters harassing the saucer. Phasers lashed out in angry red and orange.

One of the fighters shook under the onslaught.  The back carapace ripped open and bits of the interior exploded out of the breech from the explosive decompression in a cloud of debris and gases.  It slowly rolled to port as a dead stick and drifted along the gravitational forces of the system. 

“Splash two!” Anthony explained in jubilation.

“Mr. Talon,” Aoife chastised, “the battle isn’t over. bring us about 010 mark 5.  Commander Talon, return to independent attack mode.”

“Aye captain,” Anthony said more soberly, “010 mark 5.” The captain was right. He didn’t like being reprimanded,  but he also needed to focus on his job.

“Independant attack mode aye.” Ethan added.

Aoife nodded in appreciation.  She wondered if it was the whole Talon family that was so cool under pressure. There was something about them.  They were natural born warriors. She could see the strain etched on the other members of the crew, but Ethan and Anthony were both just treating this like another day in the office. She could dismiss it as age and experience with Ethan, but the same couldn’t be said of Anthony. He was just a kid.

“Ms Willis,” Aoife announced.  “Send word to the Andromeda and have them engage the enemy. Let’s mop this up and get it over with.”

“Aye Captain,” Abby said from operations. “Commander Hayden acknowledges and the Andromeda is moving into position.”

 

Andromeda….

“Torpedoes loaded,” Kat announced from the tactical station  

“Moving into position,” Ensign Vass announced from the helm. Her dark fingers danced over the console as the Intrepid-class gracefully moved towards the battle. 

“Attack pattern Alpha-four,” Commander Hayden ordered from the center seat. “Lieutenant Donovan fire when ready.”

“Torpedoes away,” Kat announced.

The first three exited the launchers as intended,  but instead of hitting the lead Dominion ship all three slammed into the Valhalla’s wedge shaped saucer.

The fourth and final torpedo never fully exited the launcher. The resulting explosion ripped a hole in the port side of the ship.  Consoles all over the bridge exploded as EPS conduits overloaded.  The violence of the explosion sent Erin flying from her chair as a heavy support beam crashed to the deck inches from where she had been. The lights of the Andromeda flickered and went out.

“Damage report!” Hayden demanded picking herself up. A quick self-examination told her she was mostly uninjured. Just some carpet burns on her hands and elbows from the fall.  Her left side ached, probably from the chair’s armrest.

“Main power off-line,” Amanda Wheeler replied, working the flickering controls of her console. “Structural integrity at eight-percent. There are hull breeches on decks two through fourteen. Sections eleven through fifteen are exposed to space. Emergency bulkheads are in place.”

Erin turned to face Kat, “What the hell happened?”

Kat smirked,  “As the Jem’Hadar are fond of saying,  ‘Victory is life’.” The security chief then morphed into a gelatinous liquid and shot into a nearby ventilation duct. Erin drew her phaser and missed the departing Changeling leaving a harmless black scorch mark on the bulkhead where it had been a moment before.

Erin swore loudly, “Lock everything down!”

“Aye ma’am,” Wheeler responded as she fought with the damaged systems of the ship. “Unauthorized access of Transporter Room One!”

“Disable it,” Erin demanded.

“I’m trying.  I’m locked out! The Changeling must have planned this.  She’s installed some sort of fractal security code.” And alarm beeped and Amanda sighed, “Transport complete.”  Turning to Erin with a defeated look on her face, “Sorry ma’am, there was nothing I could do.”

Erin swore again, “Bridge to Choi. Commander, I need main power back now.”

“Give me ten minutes. I think I can bypass the damage.  No promises on how stable it will be.”

“You have five Mr. Choi. Bridge out.”

 

Valhalla…

“The Andromeda fired on us!” Abby exclaimed from the operations station at the front of the bridge.  “Direct hit, our dorsal shields are down.”

“Evasive maneuvers,” Aoife ordered as she entered commands into her armrest display. “Keep our belly to the enemy. Lieutenant Talon maneuver Section Bravo for an attack on the lead Jem’Hadar ship.”

“I’ll get down to engineering and see what I can do to restore those shields,” Commander Halstead announced, pushing himself away from the engineering station.

Aoife simply nodded, “Do it. Somebody get the Andromeda on the line. I want to know what the hell is going on.”

“Captain,” Ethan said disbelievingly, “the Jem’Hadar are disengaging.”

Aoife’s attention snapped back to the viewscreen.  The three remaining ships banked away from the Valhalla Squadron and sped in the opposite direction at impulse for a few heart beats before jumping to warp and disappearing.

“Should I pursue?” Anthony asked.

Aoife sighed, “No, stand down. We’re in no shape for that.”

“Channel open Captain, ” Abby added.

“On screen,” Aoife announced once again, shifting gears.  She was starting to feel a little dizzy with all the different events going on simultaneously. 

The bridge of the Andromeda appeared on the main viewer. It was dark and there were occasional sparks flashing in the background. Erin stood in the center of the screen a black smudge across her face and her blonde hair a rats nest.

“Commander what the hell happened?”

“Lieutenant Donovan… She was a Changeling.  She targeted you and detonated a torpedo in the tube.  We took major structural damage, and the worst part she beamed over to one of those Jem’Hadar ships.”

“Kat,” Ethan said softly so no one could hear him. Kat Donovan had originally been a friend of his sisters while Aimee had been studying pre-med at Oxford University in the United Kingdom.  In the months since taking over as the Commander of Outpost Houtman, Kat had gone from his little sister’s friend to a trusted colleague and a friend of his own. 

Ethan swore bitterly, drawing the attention of a nearby ensign, “Are you okay Commander?” 

Ethan looked at the officer and simply nodded, “I will be.”

“I take it she escaped?” Aoife said, continuing her own conversation with the Andromeda’s XO.

“Yeah… she did. Captain, she knows everything.  She’s been into our systems for two days now.”

Aoife groaned at the implications.   This not only threatened Valhalla Squadron and their operations at Arkan II, but the 4th Fleet as a whole. “I’m recalling the engineering teams.  Get on those repairs.  We’ll need Andromeda as whole as we can get it.”

“Understood, and thank you captain,” Erin said.  That appeared to lift the weight of the world off her shoulders.   

“Don’t thank me yet Commander,” Aoife said. “We may have won the battle, but this war is far from over.”

Comments

  • No freaking way, Kat was a damn changeling all along :O I knew something was fishy about her (I say after totally not noticing it). The Dominion played their cards right this time, both Valhalla and Andromeda need their time to recoup of what just happened, but the question is will they have that time. Wonderful work!

    May 28, 2023
  • Hell, yeah, multi-vector assault mode! What the Dominion War most definitely needed was more Prometheus-class starships. I like the way it really let Aoife change her tactics in fighting back against the Jem'Hadar. It's such a different way of perceiving ship-to-ship battle, especially amid a squadron. Despite all that, I really respect the way Aoife didn't fire first; she warned the Jem'Hadar, which is pretty damn generous given the circumstances. The way it weighed on her, giving the order to fire, was well-characterized. Even to the point it gave her pause! I liked that a lot.

    June 1, 2023