The Federation Hyperspace Early Warning Network was a marvel of engineering and collaboration between Starfleet and the New Republic. Two dozen satellites floated tirelessly throughout the Sol system, scanning for the slightest twinge of hyperspace travel and constantly talking to each other. Every hour, for the blink of an eye, the system would sample the background chatter of the universe to make sure it knew that everything was normal or that it knew what normal was. If something suddenly arrived that wasn’t supposed to be there, then Starfleet’s Rapid Reaction Force of starships and fighters would pounce on it, escorting it if lost and disabling it if needed.
It took Imperial Intelligence two months to work out the timing down to the picosecond needed. And only one month to plan and ambush a Romulan Warbird, capture it and figure out its cloaking device thanks to ‘volunteered information’ from the crew. After that, the industrious might of the Imperial Navy took what was a developing plan against the Republic and reshaped it.
Now they waited, hidden in the shadows of Io and cloaking. Onboard the stripped-down bulk carrier, ten squadrons of modified Scimitar bombers purred to life, waiting for only a word from the next phase of their operation to go. Ever since Union had occurred, the foundation for this mission had been laid, and the resources sitting in their hanger alone could have fed a nation. One hundred and twenty bombers had to be specially crafted and rebuilt to carry heavier weapons, shields and faster engines without sacrificing maneuverability or armor, essentially making them better in every way. Even then, the crews knew that most of them were probably not making it out of this one alive, but that wasn’t the point of their mission. They would be the monsters in the shadows of a complacent and comfortable Federation. They would be the demons who kept Starfleet from sleeping at night, so they could never commit to the frontlines of battle.
And as soon as the command was given, Starfleet’s military might of Utopia Planteia Shipyards orbiting Mars would burn brighter than Sol itself.
“Nightscream One to all squadrons, prepare for inter-system jump and launch. Lock in primary targets and arm torpedoes. Good hunting!”
There was something awe-inspiring about watching a starship come together. Each piece, carefully laid by the Worker Bees and tireless crews in spacesuits were like the fingers of the master blacksmith at their forge. The slender nacelles of the Prometheus-class dreadnaught closest in view hung in the slender talons of the dock, waiting for the couplings to be ready for mounting. He could have watched them all day if not for the mountain of paperwork burning a hole in his desk.
Thankfully, being almost 6pm at night Terran GMT, someone intruded on him by clinking a bottle down on his desk. “Room service. No cleaning, no chocolates.”
Cdr. Daniel Lohnes grinned at that, snatching the fine Bajoran spirit from its owner and his friend, Lt Cdr Vartris, “You have no idea how much I need this. One more staff report or resource requisition and I’d go blind.”
“Beware false Prophets, unless they bring good wine,” he smirked while fetching two glasses. “So, who’s up your ass today?”
Daniel sighed, tossing the PADD in his hands ono the stack, “Oh, the usual. This Admiral needs his ship spick and span ahead of everyone else so he can inspect it, Captain whoever-that-is brings in a wreck that’s not due for overhaul until next year so that tosses the plans out the airlock…”
Vartris finished his glass quickly, “So, Tuesday then. Want some good news?”
The human cocked his brow at that, so the Bajoran handed him another PADD, “Someone wants you as their XO.”
“Yeah?” Daniel sat up and studied the offer. “Capt. Grigorovich, huh?”
“You know it! The 24th Century Captain Kirk needs a new right-hand man. And not just that, it seems like,” Vartris tapped Daniel’s PADD with one of his own, “opening for a new Ops Chief as well. Most of the crew of the Omaha is rotating off, so he’s looking for good hands. But he’ll settle for us. Besides, I thought you wanted to get back out there.”
The Commander shrugged at the notion, “I did, a few months ago. But, I gotta admit, it’s been kinda nice having a steady position here. And the family likes it too, no more cosmic strings or tachyon bursts that strand us in a super-advanced tin can a few thousand light years away.”
Vartris nodded and raised his glass, “To stability and the doldrums.” They clinked together a fresh round, when the Bajoran struck a confused look, “Huh, that’s a new twinkle up there.” He pointed and Lohnes turned to see the new sparkle among the stars seemingly grow larger as it approached.
And then the drydock containing the incomplete Prometheus shattered in a blaze of metal and impulse engine fuel. And the burning hulk of an incomplete defender began it meteor’s fall toward Mars and the city below.
“TORPEDO! GET DOWN!” Daniel tackled his friend to the ground, an impact punctuated by their entire complex rocking and going pitch black for a moment. The screams and red alert siren sang around them before the emergency lights flicked on. Ruby pulses and screeching beams of light shot out in multiple directions toward the shipyard.
“Razor One to Lead, initial strikes complete. Pulsar One reports losses above expected, the Federation weapons systems activated quicker than expected.”
She clenched her fist and let loose another missile into her target, her wingman following suit. Ahead of them, the saucer of a recently-completed Galaxy-class titan was pierced, then snapped in thirds like a dropped plate. “Nightscream One copies, we’ll take care of it. Continue Phase One targeting! Two, on me, set for quad launch!.” The two Scimitars swept under the raining hulk of their kill and set their sights on the shipyards Control Center. Even without main power, it was still working to direct counterfire and defend its territory. The first hit from Pulsar had taken out the main shield grid as well, but the secondary defense coordinator was still going.
Another pair of bomber slipped into formation without prompt or query, but only one managed to launch a torpedo before its comrade evaporated in flames thanks to the screaming dive of a defending Valkyrie. Snapping onto its belly to dodge its wingman’s fate, the second Scimitar dove planetside, Starfleet’s defender giving chase, and leaving Nightscream unguarded for a few critical seconds. She shook as the missile packs emptied, her partner only a split-second behind. Quivering blue energy tried to hold against the repeated impacts, but the shields finally collapsed. The remaining missiles ripped into the tower and blasted man and steel into space, crippling whatever automatic defenses were left.
Fire and screams littered the corridors as they ran, trying to find some semblance of control. Leaping over a shattered bulkhead, Daniel and Vartris finally found something promising, an intact door to an emptied Admiral’s office.
“See if you can reroute comms through here! I’m gonna try overriding the drydocks and get as many ships as we can out of here!” Lohnes gestured without looking at his friend, his hands flying over the screens. He could hear phaser fire lashing out over and over again, the snap of a small explosion. The floor shook again as what once was an old Excelsior-class sentry went supernova, melting anything nearby itself.
“I’ve got the local channels clear, Commander! Getting operational reports from active starships now. It looks like the whole shipyard is under Imperial attack!”
“See if you can get through to the defense batteries! We’ve got to clear out those bombers!” the ranking officer charged while more and more Starfleet firepower slowly came awake with his liberty.
“I’m getting a lot of static, something might be jamming those lines!”
Daniel and Vartris shared a look of understanding. Those bombers didn’t make it this close without support, which meant a carrier at least. “Signaling the closest starship… U.S.S. Diamante, this is Shipyard Control! Priority Override!…”
She rose from the burning hulk of a wrecked defense platform, the ashes of her wingman snowing down to the planet below, when suddenly the sun behind her was eclipsed. Racing toward the stars, a Sabre-class scout belted fire into the darkness until it struck home, and their transport was unmasked. The Imperial cruiser tried in vain to retaliate, its heaviest weapons long removed to make way for the cloak. Slowly pitching over to try and cover itself, the carrier was soon set upon by a rising giant of an awakened Titan-class dreadnaught, which wasted no time in ripping the wounded starship apart.
A move that had been planned on, as was briefed to Nightscream One and her alone, as now the communications blackout was gone and her remaining pilots exposed. “November-Zero-One! November-Zero-One! Signal Epsilon! Begin Phase Two!”
“Commander, we’re turning it around! I’m only reading about twenty enemies left and their doing more running than attacking!” Vartris relayed with a clenched fist of excitement.
Daniel sighed with a small semblance of relief, “Have Diamante, Cape Town and any fighters channel the bombers away from the shipyard. See if they can disable one for salvage and questioning.”
He turned to the junior officer, only to see his friend a stark white, “Subspace wave incoming! Multiple cruisers at least! Estimated time to…”
He never needed to finish his report, and the thundering arrival of a shining white dagger among the floating debris drove Daniel’s heart into his stomach. Yet even the menace of an Imperial Star Destroyer over Mars was pittance compared to what appeared above it. Nineteen kilometers of death in the form of a Super Star Destroyer overshadowed the entire yard, wasting little time in beginning its merciless bombardment of anything left moving within the yard. Whatever Federation defenses still worked instantly turned heavenward to meet it. And the mighty U.S.S. Cape Town was quickly broken apart by heavy turbolaser fire, the remains of the saucer section careening into the Shipyard’s control tower below them, leading to the unmistakable hiss of escaping oxygen.
“Shit! We gotta go!” Daniel cried out, grabbing his partner by the arm
“The transports are probably down, but there’s an observation pod still attached to Port Nineteen, only two decks down!”
He nodded and the two men began their sprint. Thankfully, through all the chaos and carnage, the small pod had been ignored and Vartris quickly unlatched it so they could escape. They headed straight down and away, the thunder of cannon fire and torpedoes still shaking them so far away. But all Daniel could do was stare at the Super Star Destroyer than reigned above them all as if it were a vengeful god. The carnage it rained down upon a helpless world burned his blood, his fists clenching unconsciously.
It was all over as quickly as it had begun, the Imperial invaders jumping out of the system once their work had been done. The infrastructure of Starfleet’s primary starship forge was laid to waste and the call to war had been sung. Why the Empire had decided to engage the Federation while still fighting the entirety of the New Republic was a question for the analysts and diplomats to figure out, he didn’t care what it was. All Daniel Lohnes knew now was that for his friends, for his family and for tomorrow, his place was at the front.
This is something I mentioned a good long time ago, an event and catalyst that really ties universes together in conflict.And the drive for one man in particular to stand his ground.
I hope you all enjoy.