Part of USS Auckland: Three Days Grace (The Supply Depot) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Chapter 9 – I Am the Weapon

USS Auckland
Mar 2401
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Aris and Gin were both seated on the bridge viewing the wargame scenario he had authorized and analysing the data that was being transmitted back. Both were pleased with the results so far. As the initial reports started coming through, Joci burst onto the bridge. Aris and Gin both turned at the disturbance but quickly relaxed when they saw who it was.

“Right on time, Ensign.' Gin greeted Joci, handing her a padd as Joci returned to her station. ”The initial reports are looking good."

Joci cast an eye over the data as she fed it into her terminal. All the code and automation routines were looking good and thankfully no signs of any further sabotage attempts. The prophets were surely shining on her today.

“How are we placed, Ensign?” Aris asked as he looked toward the young officer who was carrying far too much of a burden.

“Its amazing.” Joci breathed. “For some quick and dirty hacked together algorithms, we seem to be operating above expectation.”

“Do we anticipate any issues in a real engagement?” Aris queried. This had to go well.

“Key indicators are looking positive, Sir.” Joci replied. “I will continue to monitor for any variances outside acceptable norms.”

“Thank you, Ensign.” Aris nodded to his ops chief.

Over the course of the next several hours, Aris and Gin continued to monitor the results of each scenario authorized. With no further objections from Joci to be heard, Aris had made a decision. “All ships, stand down and return to drydock. All simulations have been completed. Lieutenant T’Keterk, please return to the Auckland for debriefing.”

“Acknowledged, Captain.” T’Keterk replied. “I will return to the bridge once we have all returned to Drydock.”

Closing the channel, Aris got to his feet and stood at the front of the bridge, facing his senior crew he looked over everyone. Despite the absence of T’Keterk, Damien and Nora, those seated before him had quickly become his trusted advisors and dare he say it, his closest friends.These fine officers had performed their job admirably under immense strain and the massive burden of preventing the Dominion from retaking the system. Some much needed shore leave was in order, if they lived to see another day.

He could feel the eyes of the crew following him as he paced up and down the stretch of floor in front of the main viewscreen. As his thoughts became more ordered, he started making lists. Debrief with the senior crew, address the rest of the crew, and prepare for what is likely to come.

“Commander Fenway.” Aris spoke suddenly. “Once T’Keterk is back on board, please call the senior crew to the Deck 1 Conference Room. The clock is almost run out.”

Swallowing the newly formed lump in her throat, Gin nodded in acknowledgement to Aris. “Shall I dial in Administrator Avaya as well?”

“Please.” Aris replied as he gathered his padd and exited the bridge. The clock that was featuring prominently on the majority of the displays littered throughout the ship were a stark warning, one that he was heeding well. Intel reports across the sector indicated the push back against the Dominion incursion was having some degrees of success, but not without losses too.

Making himself comfortable at the head of the table with a steaming mug of raktajino, he sifted through the intel reports and made adjustments to their own schedule. With any luck T’Keterk was arriving any time now and then the real heat was about to be applied.

“Captain.” Gin’s voice crackled over the comm. “Lieutenant T’Keterk has transported board and we will be arriving momentarily.”

“Thank you, Commander.” Aris replied as he closed the channel. Tapping some commands into the terminal on the table, the holo-emitters activated and Administrator Avaya faded into view.

“Captain.” Avaya greeted. “Is it time?”

“Very nearly.” Aris answered. “Prepare your chosen crews for departure, the briefing will begin shortly.

Right on schedule, Gin and the remaining senior crew filed in, taking a seat at their chosen spots and setting their padds on the table. The apprehension was thick and heavy around them.

“Thank you, all.” Aris greeted the assembled crew. “As you have no doubt seen, courtesy of the very prominent displays around the ship, we are a few short hours from the predicted arrival of our uninvited guests. I will hand the floor over to Administrator Avaya to go over the specifics of our proposed counter-offensive.

“Thank you, Captain.” Avaya inclined her head in acknowledgment. The displays spaced around the table flickered to life as a map of the current sector was displayed. “Intel suggests this squadron will be made up of a complement of Jem’Hadar fighters escorting a battle cruiser.”

Avaya clicked to the next slide before continuing. “We intend for the reactivated centaur-classes to draw the attention of the fighters while the miranda and freedom classes will hold back the battle cruiser with the support of the Auckland. If the battle proves too costly, we are hoping they will withdraw on their own accord.”

“Any questions?” Aris asked as he looked at his senior crew. Not receiving a reply, Aris pressed on. “Orders have been transmitted to your padds. “”Lieutenant T’Keterk and Ensign Malra, i’m counting on your to keep a close eye on those drone ships and ensure everything is working as expected and instructions are getting transmitted promptly.”

Joci and T’Keterk both nodded in acknowledgement knowing they were an important part of what was about to happen

“Ensign Shan.” Aris turned to his tactical officer. “I want you to keep an eye on all the telemetry updates from Ensign Swain. I want to know about the slightest anomaly.”

“Officer Andrews, Same with you as well. Any fluctuation in the sensor grid needs to be confirmed.” Aris continued. “A lot of your work has gone into this.”

“Lieutenant Yates, your report please.” Aris continued around the table.

“I have replenished as many critical supplies as I could muster, Sir.” Nora began. “I have also been going over trauma treatment techniques with the medically trained crew. They should be able to treat moderate injuries easily enough but anything requiring emergency surgery could be a little dicey.”

“Let us hope it doesn’t get to that.” Aris mused. “Any further questions?” 

Various murmurings in the negative was the response he got before dismissing the crew.

“The fleet is awaiting your command.” Avaya replied as she closed her channel.


The waiting was the worst. That calm before the inevitable storm had everyone on edge. So far the long range probes were coming back clear, but that could change at any moment.

“Ensign Swain, open a channel to the fleet.” Aris asked his navigation officer.

Channel open, Sir." Emma acknowledged.

“This is Captain Suin to all vessels. Centuar wing you will be drawing the attention of the fighter escort, while Miranda and Freedom wings will adopt escort positions around the Auckland while we distract the battlecruiser long enough to allow your return, or until we force a retreat. Acknowledge.”

“Centaur wing acknowledges.”

“Miranda acknowledged.”

“Freedom acknowledges.”

Projecting an air of confidence, Aris retook his seat while Emma began the process of undocking the ship and joining the formation.


Emma had made short work of getting the Auckland in position while the rest of the crew went over their final checks, anything to keep them busy really. Sadly, the eerie silence wasn't too last long. 

“Captain.” Damien called over his shoulder. “Long range sensors have detected something on approach. No positive ID just yet.”

“Confirmed, Captain.” Taylor added as he scanned the information running across his console. “We should be able to establish ID in approximately 98 seconds, however they should be within hailing distance.”

“I highly doubt the Jem'Hadar will be up for a chat.” Aris replied. "Open a channel."

“This is Captain Aris Suin of the USS Auckland. You have entered restricted Federation space, please alter course or we will be forced to defend ourselves. Acknowledge.”

“No reply, sir.” Emma reported

"I repeat, “this is Captain Aris Suin of the USS Auckland. You have entered restricted Federation space, please alter course or we will be forced to defend ourselves. Acknowledge.” he tried again, not surprised when his hails went ignored.

“Red alert.” Aris continued as the bridge dimmed. “Report.”

“We are getting a positive match on our visitor, Ensign Shan do you mind confirming?” Damien replied from the science console.

“Checking now.” Taylor scanned the data he had received from the science station. “Confirmed, Sir, it's the Dominion.”

“Battle stations, Everyone, it's go time." Aris broadcast to both the assembled ships and his own crew.

The sight of the Dominion squadron warping in was equal parts breathtaking and terrifying. Aris couldn't afford to let nerves get the best of him yet. “Centaur wing, engage and good luck.” He could do nothing but hope the Jem'Hadar would take the bait and that these ships would be a fair match against the Dominion.

“Andrews, maintain a sensor lock on the battlecuriser. I want to be updated on any change to its status.”

“Sensor lock established.” Damien replied as his fingers slid across his terminal.

“Sir, the fighters have broken off to engage Centaur wing.” Taylor reported from his post behind Aris and Gin. “No change in the battlecruiser's status to report.”

“Tactical analysis.” Gin requested.

“Standard Jem'Harda armaments, directed energy weapons and forward mounted torpedo launcher.” Taylor replied as he glanced at the readout.

“How do you think we should proceed here, Ensign.” Gin continued.

“I recommend defensive pattern Sigma 9, a coordinated torpedo volley followed by sustained phaser fire targeting impulse engines and weapons. This should disable the vessel or at least cause enough damage to deter them.” Taylor explained

“Well reasoned, Ensign.” Gin replied. “Make it happen. Lieutenant T'Keterk please update instructions across Freedom and Miranda wings"

“Yes, Sir.” Taylor replied as he got to work, ready for the Captain's order.

“Orders have been transmitted, Commander.” T'Keterk acknowledged. “Sigma 9 has been confirmed by all vessels.”

“Be ready to engage on my command.” Aris spoke up, his eyes fixed to the main viewscreen and the Jem'Hadar vessel filling the space.

“Sir, the battlecruiser has targeted us and is powering up weapons.” Taylor reported.

“Raise shields.” Aris ordered as he strapped himself in.

“Shields not responding.” Taylor replied in slight alarm. “Brace for impact while I try to bring them online.” It was too good to be true that only the automation protocols had been altered, but now the shields. If Taylor was a betting person, he would put his money on this being another deliberate act.

The Auckland shuddered violently as a torpedo from the battlecruiser hit its target. “Direct hit, Sir.”

“Hull integrity at 87%, containment fields holding and repair crews have been dispatched." Joci reported as damage reports came flooding in.

“Ensign Shan, get those shields online.” Aris threw over his shoulder. “All hands, engage defense pattern Sigma 9. Fire at will.”

The image of the viewscreen changed to focus on the ships in escort position as they fired spreads of torpedos and followed it up with bursts of phaser fire. 

“Shields, restored from back up and reactivated.” Taylor reported. “Executing Sigma 9, ready to fire on your command, Sir.”

“Fire at will, Ensign.” Aris replied as they flew toward the Jem'Hadar vessel. “T'Keterk, whats the status of the fleet?”

“No word yet from Centaur wing, but they are clearly keeping those fighters off us. We have lost one of Freedom wing and Miranda wing has sustained some heavy damage. ”T'Keterk replied. “I will advise you if we hear from Centaur wing.”

“Sir, incoming torpedo.” The ship shuddered again, less violently but still enough to lose balance. “Shields are down to 78% and holding.” Taylor continued to update.

“Ensign Malra, transfer power from all non-essential systems to the shields.” Gin ordered as she like the Captain had her gaze focused on the battle unfolding in front of them.

“Captain, we have lost Freedom wing.” Emma spoke up. “Miranda wing has also lost a ship.”

It appeared Centaur wing were still occupied. “Engage attack pattern Tau Gamma 1.” Aris replied as the remaining ships updated their tactical information and broke formation to flank the battlecruiser.

“Sir, we're barely making a dent in its shields." Taylor spoke again as the ship again shook violently. Another torpedo run had found its mark. “Shields down to 53% sir, hull integrity at 89%”

“Keep up the attack, Ensign.” Aris ordered. “And see what you can do about the shields.”

“On it, Captain.” Taylor replied as he adjusted his targeting. This ship just wasn't giving up and the dwindling number of support vessels showed just how persistent the Jem'Hadar could be.

“Captain.” T'Keterk interrupted. “Centaur wing reporting in, fighters have been destroyed but they lost the Okatina.

“Acknowledged, Lieutenant.” Aris replied. “Initiate Tau Gamma 1 on the remaining vessels.”

As the last of the centaur classes altered course, there was a renewed hope they would be able to successfully push back the Dominion. These ships were significantly more powerful than the miranda and the Jem'Hadar must have realised there was still some fight left in the rag-tag group of vessels.

“Sir, the Jem'Hadar vessel appears to be activating its warp drive on a course out of the system.” Taylor updated Aris.

“All hands, stand down, the battlecruiser is making a run for it.” Aris activated the comm system. "Dispatch search and rescue crews and return to dock for damage assessment."

Surveying the debris littered around them, the visible scars of combat, Aris had a difficult time feeling like they had come out as the victor. Why break off the attack, the battlecruiser could certainly have outlasted them, and how was someone able to manipulate the shields to remain offline. Those systems were generally only accessible at the highest security clearance. Was a traitor still in their midst? Had they only put off the inevitable?

So many people had lost their lives in defense of their homes and livelihoods and for what? To satisfy the Dominion's need for total supremacy. Even after success the victory always felt hollow.

Comments

  • Great way to end the story, the tensions that everyone was feeling could be felt by the reader. Is there a saboteur onboard the ship? Glad they were able to restore the backup shielding generator or things would have had a very different outcome. Though I do wonder why the battlecruiser didn't just stay and take them out. Did he feel that he would be overrun? Or did he get orders to report elsewhere? In any case great job with this story! Glad it had a good outcome even with some of the losses they sustained they were able to defend the system and the station.

    June 17, 2023