Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 6 – Uneasy Alliance and USS Mackenzie: The Mackenzie Squadron – The Uneasy Alliance

17 – The Uneasy War Part 2

USS Mackenzie / Janoor III
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The bridge of the Mackenzie was quiet as the ambient thrumming of the ship beat a rhythm along with the beeps and chirps from the various stations.  The countdown clock on the screen had started four hours ago, and as each minute had been shed, the awareness of what was coming increased.  Each department had run its final checks, simulations, and meetings in the intervening hours.  The clock showed the five minutes left, and everyone alternated between working on their consoles and glancing at the clock.  

Damage Control teams had been assigned.  The engineering and operations teams had finished the enhancements of the power system.  Quick repair packs with replacement equipment lay secured in corridors, engineering, and the bridge.  Sickbay had been restocked, checked, and rechecked.  All available hands were at their stations.  

Waiting.  

Watching.

Hoping.

Captain Wren Walton sat in her command chair, reviewing the preparation list on her PADD.  The clock ticked over to two minutes.  She sighed and handed the PADD to the ensign who had been patiently waiting.  Waiting was the hardest part, especially when it was something you didn’t want to wait for.  She would rather have fought anyone up to and including the Borg.  She’d been thankful she’d avoided this fight the first time around.  “Give me a Klingon or a Romulan any day,” she muttered under her breath.  Turning her attention back to the bridge, she made the call, “Red alert.  Sound battlestations.”  The klaxons rang out in kind as the officers shifted to their muster stations.  Some left the bridge while others entered and took their seats, thankful for the movement to dispel some of the nervous energy that had been building.  The lights dimmed and faded to a deep ruby red.  

The klaxon faded to a lower volume as Calog reported from OPS, “All departments report ready.  Cardassian fleet confirms they are at battle stations.”  He glanced at the clock.  Thirty seconds remained.

 

Gul Hasara watched the countdown on his chrono, the restlessness of the moment stirring from his feet to his shoulders.  The mixed group of Cardassian, Starfleet, and Janoor III security was stationed in the capital of Polaris.  The chrono beeped as it reached zero.  The Gul announced, “They’ve arrived.”  He led the group down the street to the main square, and they quickly took cover.  Thirty seconds later, he smiled with pride. They were hidden so well; he couldn’t spot them from where he stood.  Hasara slipped into his own hiding space and waited.  His earpiece held the secure communications from the operations center on the Mackenzie.  They’d converted one of the larger cargo bay spaces into an operational center to route the Cardassian Fleet, the Mackenzie, and the Janoor III defense operations into one location. Commander Park had been tasked with coordinating the efforts with a senior team of operations, engineering, and security.  Her voice was the one in his ear as she worked to organize the massive response.  She was giving orders to Lieutenant Vol with the phaser and torpedo banks.

 

Operations Chief Vol appreciated the work they’d done to improve the Janoor III command center.  They’d upgraded her chair in the center of the room while the consoles around her had been given a brush-up with their chairs and displays.

Ensign Kelly Morrison sat at one of those consoles, his heart still beating quickly.  He could see the markings of the fighters and battlecruiser above the planet as they danced with the Mackenzie and the Cardassians.  They’d put three more ensigns with him, and each of them was responsible for grouping the defensive weapons.  They all touched their ears as the voice of Commander Seoyeon reported the engagement had begun.  The sensor feed from the ships in orbit filled their screens, and Vol took a deep breath as Park ordered them to focus their fire on the fighters.  The battle cruisers remained maddingly out of range..

 

“Shields holding at 85%!” Kondo reported as he worked his console at the front of the bridge while the two auxiliary tactical officers sat at their consoles on either side of the bridge.  He gripped his console, thankful that the captain had ordered restraints activated for all stations.  ‘Victory is Life” was the Jem’Hadar way.  To his right, Ensign Gabriela Castillo followed his requests for maneuvers to assist him in lining up the best phaser blast or launched torpedo.  The bridge shuddered as the fighters increased their attacks.  He read from his tactical report, “One Galor class ship has been disabled – they’re abandoning ship and transporting to the planet to provide additional support.”  He sighed as one of his auxiliaries sent him a note, “Five fighters are breaking off for Janoor III.”

Wren gripped the arms of her chair, watching her console as the battle unfolded.  There was so much going on and so few of them to fight the tide.  She set her jaw.  They were going to win this fight – push, pull, or drag.  Walton tapped the arm of her chair, “Park, you’ve got five incoming.”

 

Ten decks below, the lieutenant at tactical control confirmed, “They’re entering our view.  Transmitting lock coordinates to Janoor Actual.”  Seoyeon stood in the makeshift command center, unwilling to sit.  There was too much nervous energy bouncing around her body to consider taking a chance at the chair.  She’d been fighting the urge to pace around the room, knowing that she’d go flying if the ship took a tumble.  Park had placed herself in front of a banister and gripped the wood to keep upright when the ship shook.  Another shudder and a further report, “Janoor Actual is activating phaser defenses.”  

The commander turned her attention to the ensign in charge of the Galor fleet, now down to four, “Report?”  The woman at the console turned to her, worry filling her face.  A mass of fighters was separating two ships, and communications were getting harder as the fire intensified.  “They are asking for permission to abandon ship for the planet.”  The XO didn’t hesitate.  ‘Victory is Life’ meant those ships wouldn’t last much longer.  The crews were far more valuable armed, and on the planet.  “Get them going, ensign.  Our other two?”  That was some of the better news.  Whoever had taken the center chairs hadn’t given up and was working with the Mackenzie’s tactical chief to help clear out the glut of fighters filling the space around them.

 

On the bridge, Wren grimaced as her ship shook.  Her eyes searched the screen, wondering what the two battlecruisers were up to.  “Fowler, get me a reading on the two big boys.”  She turned in her chair as the science chief tapped at her console, a frown forming.

“They’re…just sitting there, captain.  I’m reading nominal power levels.”  She faced her captain, curiosity turning to worry, “Those two ships have 5,000 Jem’Hadar combined.  What are they…oh…”  She spun in her chair, “We’ve got five more fighters peeling off towards the planet.”

Kondo nodded from his station, “Fowler’s correct.  I think they’re trying to take out the planet’s defenses so they can move them closer and transport them down.”  He winced at the sparks from his station, “Shields at 70%…and holding.”

Walton grumbled, “Godddamn Dominion.  Park,” she tapped her chair again, “We’re thinking they’re trying to make a path for our two big players.”

 

Seoyeon muttered, “Goddamn Dominion.  Get Janoor Actual and confirm if they can hit the battlecruisers from here.”  A moment later and the ensign gave a hesitant nod.  It was possible, but they needed to be closer.  Park glanced at the tactical map and wondered aloud, “What if we pull them ‘em?”  She walked around the holographic table display for another second, “If Mackenzie starts hitting them, they’ll have to come to us…gets ‘em closer.”  She tapped her badge, “Park to Walton.”

 

Wren listened as the bridge shook.  It wasn’t the worst plan she’d heard.  “Kondo?”

The tactical chief nodded as he worked, “Victory is Life is both a motto and a motivator.  We start pinching and poking…they’re likely to punch back…but they’re going to want to get close”  He paused and turned to her, “You could…help motivate them.”

The CO blinked blankly.  “What do you mean…oh…some old-fashioned bar fight talk?”  She felt a smile tug at the edge of her lips, “I do have a history of pissing off the wrong people…and a Vorta is as wrong as they can be.”  She considered it for but a moment before motioning to the communications senior cadet, “Open a channel to the two battlecruisers.”  She deftly disconnected her restraints and stood, balancing as the deck shook again.  Reede signaled the channel was open, and she focused her energy, “This is Captain Wren Walton of the Federation Starship Mackenzie.  You’ve proven nothing today, Vorta commanders.  You’ve shown your lack of courage and your fear of the Federation.  The longer you stay out there…, the less victory you will gain, I assure you.  As long as we live and breathe…your victory will be denied.  Walton out.”  The channel closed, and she returned to her chair and restraints, “Let’s see those shitheads ignore that.”

 

In the refurbished missile silo, Vol reported to Park, “Confirmed Squadron Actual.  We’ve taken out five of the ten.  Sensors tracked the remaining five to landing sites, and we transmitted those locations to the ground commanders.  As for the battle cruisers, we’ll need them within this range, “ she transmitted the coordinates, “…so that we can make an impact.”  Park confirmed and ordered her to focus on the fighters in space above.  They were down to fifty.  The operations chief gave her orders, “Concentrate all phasers on the remaining fighters – fire at will.”

 

The bridge shook, and Kondo felt the jolt burn the restraints into his skin.  The two Jem’Hadar Battlecruisers had responded to Captain Walton’s aggressive taunting and were now testing the Mackenzie’s shields.  His hands flew across the console as he and the other two tactical offices did their best to keep up with the new incoming fire.  He gripped his console and reported through gritted teeth, “Shields at 60%.  We’re down to thirty fighters.”  Several conduits sparked, the deck rumbled, and a fire exploded in the corner of the bridge from an EPS conduit.  They were asking a lot of the Mackenzie and her shields, Kondo knew.  He willed her silently to hold together and felt some hope return as the Dominion ships drifted into range of the planetary defense weapons. The intensity of fire exploded, the darkness of space around them now very bright with phasers and torpedo fire.

Wren braced herself as the intensity of the attack crescendoed.  The planet’s defenses were giving the larger ships something to think about, but the fighters were able to cause more trouble, with the larger ships taking much of the attention off of them.  One of the battlecruisers looked to be moving towards the planet, “Kondo, intensify all fire on that targ….”  The bridge went nearly sideways as the other battle cruiser poured weapons fire into the Mackenzie.  Several consoles exploded, and screams were heard as the sparks and fire burned at the officers’ skin. The lights above flickered as smoke gathered above them all.  Walton coughed out a “Report!”

Kondo wiped the blood from his face, “Shields are at 40%.  Weapons still firing.”  He coughed, “We have a battle cruiser headed for the planet – impulse engines…” he looked at Castillo, who wasn’t moving, “…functional – I’ll see if I can get us going.”

Walton tapped at her badge, “Bridge to sickbay – we need medics.”  She unstrapped and moved shakily to the side of her new chief helm officer.  A gaping wound in her neck was oozing blood, and her eyes were slow to respond.  Wren returned to the command area, slapped an emergency kit open from behind her chair, and stumbled back to Gabriela.  With shaking hands, the captain haltingly tended to the wounds.  

The eyes of the young helmswoman cleared as the loss of blood was slowed, “Ca…ptain?”  Her eyes looked around wildly as the bridge shook again, and she winced in pain.  “We’re not going to make it are we?” Another impact and the ceiling sparked.

Wren secured the bandages, “We’re going to fight like hell, Castillo.  I don’t intend to go out with a whimper.  Can you work?”  Gabriela blinked and gave a slow nod as she moved her hands back to her console.  As the ship took another barrage, Walton nearly fell, and Kondo reported shields were at 35%.

Fowler turned in her chair, alarmed, “Captain!  New contact…coming into the system…approaching fast!”  She tapped at her console furiously, terrified that the Dominion had sent more to wipe them from the sector.  She found the reality much more confusing.  “Captain…it’s the Thomas Jefferson.”

Walton fell roughly to her chair and wrestled with the restraints, “Hail them.  I swear if it’s someone else wanting to kill us….”

Basta’s bruised and bloodied face filled the screen.  He was slumped in the helm station, his eyes dim but alive.  Wren met his gaze, and he chuckled, “I had…hoped it would be Dread.  Goddamn Changelings…had three more on my ship.  Killed most of my crew by attrition before we figured it out.  It’s just me and the engineering chief now.”  He gestured to his wounds, “I’m not going to make it, Captain…but I came to help.”  He tapped at the helm console, “I’m going to even the score…I wish I could have done more.  This will have to do.  Give Captain Dread my regards…and let her know she was right.  She’s always right.”  He stared at the screen once more, “Goddamn Dominion.”  The channel blinked out, and the Intrepid Class surged toward the ship, slowly closing in on the planet.

Wren’s mouth was open in shock.  She shook herself loose a moment later and ordered, “Cover them as best we can!”  She stared at the ship.  What had happened on the Jefferson to put the captain near death, destined for ramming speed?  How dark had been the creeping reality of death stalking his corridors before the truth revealed itself?  She shook loose her fears.

Fowler reported somberly, “Auto destruct sequence has been activated on the Thomas Jefferson.  It looks like they’re cooking the warp core to critical….”  She shuddered at imagining standing in the engine room as the warp core neared critical status.  What that room would feel like…or even smell like?  Glancing over the damage reports, she could see, the ship had been torn apart from the inside out.  Entire decks were missing, open to the vacuum of space.

The battle came to a lull as the Mackenzie and the two remaining Galor cruisers ran interference for the last journey of the Thomas Jefferson.  It took but half a minute for the Intrepid Class to slam into the top of the battered battle cruiser.  It took less for the self-destruct to activate.  And just a little longer for the warp core to go critical.  The forces at work burst upon the hull with a ferocity, leading to gasps from the Mackenzie bridge crew as they limped away from the resulting explosion.  

The self-destruct left a gaping and flaming hole in the battlecruiser’s hull.  The warp core ripped apart the ship’s superstructure as if peeling it by hand and then by the handfuls as it cracked and snapped into fiery pieces.  Decks crumbled into each other, smashing the bodies of the Jem’Hadar into bloodied dust.  Breaches slid from one side to another, ejecting bodies into the ether as debris fell free at speed, colliding with the already dead and soon-to-be dead.  The remnants of the once mighty ship floated free, no longer a threat to the planet below.

Walton turned her attention to the remaining battle cruiser, “Kondo, let’s make our final stand.  Coordinate with our Galor friends.  Let’s make them pay for Captain Basta.” 

Comments

  • Fast paced action, fighting words from the Walton, and a good old selfless sacrifice, this post has got it all! The little moments sprinkled within the post were great too, like the injured helmsman and the exchange with the Intrepid Captain. This post captures the frenzy of battle, and then guts is emotionally at the end with the sacrifice and all this final stand talk. It also leaves open questions, both the clear and present one of how this battle is going to turn out, but also the scary sinister one about what happened to the Thomas Jefferson.

    June 1, 2023
  • Wow, I felt the anxiety of this chapter in my bones! The anticipation of something dreaded... 'Goddamn Dominion' is becoming quite the mantra. Heh, not that I blame any of them! Also- noooooo! I had a bad feeling something was going to happen to Basta. I have a knack for immediately latching onto those destined to die 😶🙁

    June 3, 2023