She was old before she was even born, coming into the universe in equal parts leftover parts and desperation. Officially, she was christened as the U.S.S Gladius, NCC-41379. But anyone who was fortunate or unfortunate enough to serve on her called her “the Lazarus”, because she would not die.
The Abbe-class torpedo destroyer was built for only one function; slinging projectiles at everything around it. She was fast on her feet, and built to run instead of brawl. This was made clear during the Cardassian War, when her primary hull was cut in thirds during an ambush. But the Gladius had proven her metal and was repaired, sent back into the wild to wave the mighty Federation flag in its farthest reaches.
As with many of her sisters, it was only a matter of time before the cosmic wonders of creation also became wells of destructive power. Such was the case when she ran across a subspace rupture that bent what once was reality into the raving illusions of the crew’s repressed fears. Several of her crew, Captain included, went psychotic as they collapsed into their secrets and no less than a third of the crew were killed in some fashion. Only by burning the impulse engines hot enough to melt the surrounding bulkheads did Gladius push herself free to begin the silent trip to a safe haven.
During the brief Klingon War, she gave more punishment than she received at last, pouncing on the even older K’tinga-class battlecruisers. Her new captain at the time had developed quite the tactic for ripping out the bellies of the older Klingon dreadnoughts, and that method carried the Gladius up to the Dominion War. Then everything changed.
If there was a mission that a picket ship like her wasn’t built for, it was counter-insurgency. Calming rebellions and detaining prisoners was a job for a larger Galaxy or Excelsior-class. And the Dominion were savants at creating dissonance and chaos within the outer limits of the Federation. While the might of Starfleet concentrated on saving worlds like Bajor, Trill, Betazed and even Earth, the Gladius watched frontier worlds descend into anarchy and panic.
Whenever she had to fight, the battle would always go one of two ways, depending on who her opponent was. Silencing a planetary resistance or indoctrinated fighting group was easy. The Gladius would simply rain down photon torpedoes on her foe until they buckled, or were blasted into pieces.
The Jem’Hadar were the opposite, chewing up and spitting out the Gladius whenever they met. Her first fight with one of their raiding packs cost her a nacelle, most of her torpedo magazine and all of her commanding crew. She wasn’t even fully repaired when she suddenly had to fight off a Breen assault, which left her adrift in the void for a week until she was rescued. And at the penultimate Battle of Cardassia, the Gladius had endured the suicide ram of a desperate Jem’Hadar fighter, at the cost of having her torpedo launchers ripped right off her back.
Time and again, her limping back to a repair yard threatened to spell her end. After all, her parts could be used by a dozen other starships, and her crew were gaining experience unlike many in Starfleet ever would. Yet Fate, either in mercy or as a cruel joke, continued to push the aging torpedo ship back into the stars to fight the irregular and unpredictable fight. And so, “Lazarus” endured, always evading the guillotine of bureaucracy.
When the War ended, and her crew rotated out for greener pastures and greater things, the Gladius was long overdue for a gift rarely known at her age; a full refit. Everything including her bones would be removed, restored or upgraded and reapplied in loving detail. She would transcend beyond the original limits of the Abbe-class destroyer and be a young, modernized starship at last.
But the galaxy was a different place now, and there was no rest for the wicked or the dutiful. The major powers were still reeling from the bloodshed, and nowhere was this more prevalent than ever out in the Federation’s frontier. The Maquis insurrection against Cardassia may be a dead memory, but their model of rebellion was alive and well. The promise of utopia and Federation stability had been shattered by the Borg and the Dominion, and several once-nameless worlds now stood alone from the union and each other. So while the shiny new starships rolled off the line and rebuild the Federation from the center first, it was up to her to hold the line of peace until they were ready.
So this was all based off the picture of the starship itself, which gave me a spark I haven’t felt in a spell. She’s old, rugged and in the twilight of her years. But never call her outclasssed and never count her out.
I hope you all enjoy.