Star Trek: Defiant
"The Federation Strikes Back" - Part Eight
Written by Daniel Clark
40 days later
Captain Jeffrey Bridges stared at death. He had seen the sight on the viewscreen several times before, and every time it had conjured images of life, vibrancy and excitement. As Riza floated before him he knew that below him were ten million automatons that had once been free thinking, breathing and living beings.
While the Captain stared at the viewscreen there was a flurry of activity behind him, Lieutenant K’larn, Lieutenant Commander Lebin and Lieutenant Commander Mak huddled over an auxiliary station they had commandeered. They were monitoring the Defiant’s orbit and the timing of the firing of the atmospheric torpedoes. It had taken K’larn three weeks to alter the quantum torpedo firing system to handle the new torpedoes, and he monitored the firing system religiously.
As the Captain watched the viewscreen he would see flashes from the bottom of the screen. He followed the twinkle of light as it soared away from the mighty ship. The twinkle would quickly become a flicker and then would flash out of sight. He could have ordered the viewscreen to magnify the scene but he was too entranced. Each torpedo would come into sight an average of once every twenty seconds. Sometimes more quickly when the ship passed over heavily populated areas, and almost never when the ship orbited over Risa’s three huge oceans.
The Defiant hung over the planet like a mobile animal hangs over a child’s bed. It slowly circled the planet and kept watch for any oddities. The ship had been in orbit for two days already, its cloak turned off, and definitely in harm’s way. The Captain had not slept since the ship had decloaked, and despite Rael’s urgings, was not even considering doing so until the ship was safely cloaked again. So far there had been no sign of nanite ships, but like all things that was bound to change.
"Captain," said Lieutenant Commander Wolfrom who was monitoring the sensors, "I am detecting something at maximum sensor range. I am reading an undetermined number of ships on an intercept course. Sir, they are traveling at high warp."
"Shit," replied the Captain matter-of-factly, "Well we knew this party couldn’t last forever. Commander Lebin, what’s the status of our deliveries?"
"We are just over one half finished. I estimate we will need at least five hours to finish delivery."
"Commander Wolfrom, do you have an ETA for our friends out there?"
Wolfrom keyed in several commands, "If they maintain present speed they will intercept us in three hours."
The Captain smiled to himself, "Ours is not to reason why. We’ve been given a job, and I’ll be damned if we’re going to take off now. Computer, yellow alert. Commander Mackowick, turn the ship to face our guests. Lieutenant K’larn, you have two and a half hours to continue the torpedo delivery from the aft launchers, and prepare our fore launchers for battle. Take whoever you need, and get to work. Mr. Mackowick, your instructions during the fight are to make sure that nothing gets between the planet and the aft of this ship. Ensign Harvey, I want you on shield controls. I want shields between us and the nanites at all times, but shields must not block the torpedo launches. Damn these fragile atmospheric torpedoes. Commander Matute, you have weapons controls, when I given the command you start firing and don’t let up. I may give you strategic targets, but your job is to make sure we put up the greatest fight since the Canadians at Vimy Ridge. All right people, let’s get to work."
Within seconds the bridge was a flurry of activity. Crewman moved left and right like ants in a colony. There wasn’t a member of the Defiant’s crew who wasn’t hard at work; including the Captain. Bridges programmed half a dozen attack patterns into the computer that would keep the Defiant pointed at her enemies. As always happened when there is a deadline and lots of work to do, three hours passed very quickly.
"K’larn to Bridges. Captain, we have just reinitiated the delivery program from the aft launchers. My fore launcher team is just finishing up the reconversion. You will have quantum torpedoes in five minutes."
The Captain replied, "Excellent work Mr. K’larn, you are just in time."
Wolfrom quickly interjected, "Captain, five ships have dropped out of warp. I have identified them: they are the USS Nimitz, USS Komalov, USS Churchill, USS Pearson, and USS Ironwolf. All are believed to be nanite infested ships."
The Captain took a breath, "Well, folks, it looks like we’ve run out of time. Computer, red alert. Mr. Harvey, raise shields. Commander Matute, ready phasers and quantum torpedoes. Mr. Mackowick, you have your instructions."
"Sir, they’re hailing us." Called out Lebin.
"Do not respond to that hail! Instead send them this message on a different frequency. To nanite ships, we are on a mission of peace, do not attack or we will destroy you. This planet is in Federation space and we will defend it."
"No response sir." Replied Lebin.
Suddenly the ship shook violently as a barrage of phaser fire racked its shields. The Captain said wryly, "Looks like we have our answer."
Bridges tapped his comm badge, "Bridge to Bedard. Transfer warp power to the shields. Transfer all other non-essential energy including impulse power and all but minimum life support to the weapons systems."
Another barrage raced the ship. Bridges braced himself. His body tensed like a snake preparing to strike. He was about to say the one syllable he dreaded more than any other. And as much as the feeling of dread overwhelmed him, an almost hypnotic jolt of adrenaline and power shot through his entire body. He finally said the word his body had taken several seconds to prepare for, "Fire."
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