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The Fifth System


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Chapter I

Flashes. Thousands of images tearing through my mind. I can’t take it…

“Ahh,” I groaned, “w – where am I?”

“Sir? No, don’t move,” a gentle voice commanded. I know that voice…

“Where am I?”

“Huh, where to begin. General you in the sickbay of the Intrepid,” the voice said, “Yo-“

“Wait,” I cut him off, “who are you?”

“Well,” the response was a mix between the word and a sigh, “I am Commander Derek Lee now in command of the Intrepid.”

copyright 2006 Arthur Quarequio

“No, you can’t be... I am…” and then I blacked out again.

As I started to reawake I noticed pure white engulf the veiwport. I knew we must have gone to overspace, but what factor? I did not know.

As I tried to stand up I noticed that I was cold and naked. I looked around the room and I saw my uniform atop a table across the room. I took a step but almost fell. As I regained my balance I attempted to take a step, and this time successful. I cautiously took baby-steps to the table, then putting on my pants and shirt. I then put on my jacket and noticed my shirt was a little bit baggy. I concluded that in my coma I must have lost a bit of weight.

Suddenly I heard the soft hiss of the sickbay doors opening. I turned and saw Commander Derek Lee and the science officer Lai Nootka enter the large white room.

Nootka was a Mitoch. As a Mitochs he was a very tall slim creature, his skin gleamed as if it were slimy or wet but was neither the light that his chitonous armour reflected made my eyes water. He had two antenni on top of his head that could sense emotion in other creatures, well that is what the Mitochs say, I thought the antenni could do more than that though. He had eyes like a bug’s; bulging and rounded like a golf ball, tesseleted into hexagonal segments. He walked in a graceful, flowing motion, never off balance, but was a strong and powerful warrior.

“General, do you remember this person with me? Any thing at all?”

“Yes, yes I do. His name is Lieutenant Lia Nootka the science officer on board the Intrepid.” I replied.

“Before you say anything else Sir, please answer my questions.” Lia Nootka said in his raspy voice.

“Certainly.” I said.

“So, who are you and what is your rank?”

“My name is Jonathan Achilles,” as I was talking Nootka was scanning me with his small handheld datapad, “I am a General in the United Federation a Defense.”

“What is the name and class of your ship?” Nootka asked

“Well the name is the Intrepid and the class is a custom built model from my ship yards DarkStar Systems. I designed it myself.” I replied, but as I was talking Nootka was typing something into his datapad with two hands while a third was scanning me with his other handheld datapad.

Nootka whispered something into Commander Lee’s ear. Then lee said, “ Well nothing is screwed up in your head or anything from the coma.”

“Huh? That’s it? There aren’t anymore questions in this…uhh... interrogation?”

“No, I don’t think so I have all the information I need.” Nootka said. The light of the white room was reflecting off of his eyes and stinging mine.

Later that night the visions returned. They exploded into my mind and the pain followed short there after. This agony I feel now is nothing compared to the torture I was put through that sent me into the coma. This was real agony. I felt like I was being torn apart by a black hole spinning into it from the dark void. “Ahh!” Then it all stopped.

I heard the red alert siren tear throughout the Intrepid’s hull. A tremor ran through the ship from fore to aft. “What the hell!”

On the bridge of the Intrepid Derek was trying to gain control of the situation at hand. “All personnel battle stations! Lieutenant keep with red alert.”

“Aye, Sir!” the tactical officer confirmed.

“Ensign, open all hailing frequencies to the Dominion ship.”

“Yes, Sir” the communications officer replied, “channels open.”

“Dominion ship this is the UFD flagship the Intrepid. State your purpose for attacking the Intrepid and here crew, and initiating a war between the Dominions and the United Federation of Defense?”

“Intrepid this is the Dominion ship the Nuc’alk. We have no intention on starting a war with you for we are just protecting our territory. Now get out or be destroyed!” The Dominion commander barked.

“This is not your space it is the outlands of the U.F.D.’s territory. It is our territory and you did not get the proper permission to come here. Now let us carry on our duties.”

“Turn Back NOW!” the Dominion captain said.

“I will not leave our territory.” Derek said in a smooth voice.

“Sir, we have a volley of torpedoes inbound!” the helms warned.

“All hands brace for impact!”

The first two torpedoes plowed into the particle shield, though, the last three of them snuck in through the wake of their lost counterparts. As the torpedoes smashed into the hull they sent a tremor down the ship. They ripped through the hull plating sending an enormous explosion tearing the bulkheads right out of their support beams.

“Sir! We have hull breeches on decks D-F! The emergency force fields are up and holding!” The tactical officer yelled above the shouts from the ship communications.

Again the Dominions ordered us to turn back. Derek replied, “We will not leave unless u stop attacking us! Power down your weapons.” Then without warning the view screen went black.

“Sir they are coming in for an attack run!” the tactical officer warned.

I replied to him, “Lieutenant, power up fore and aft weapons and fire on my mark…”

“Ready Sir.”

“Initiate attack maneuver Lee-beta-6!” Derek gave the order and the Intrepid’s eight mighty ion engines roared to life. The Intrepid dove at a heavy angle and fired all of its heavy lasers and torpedoes at the Dominion ship’s hull. The Dominions persisted on firing back. “Shield report Lieutenant!”

“Fore shields at 40% and aft…88%!”

“All power fore shields.” Derek ordered, “Helm to coordinates Delta-2. Full speed.”

“Fore shield now at 128/200%!” Lieutenant Crant (the tactical officer) replied.

“Helm to Delta-2. Full speed” Muntar the helmsman replied. “Sir, may I ask what we are doing? At this rate we are going to ram the Dominions.”

“Exactly.” Derek replied.

“Sir, permission to speak off record?” Crant asked.

“Granted.”

“This is insane! I don’t think General Achilles would do something this wreck-le-“

“General Achilles would do the same thing and you know it!!” Derek snapped, “plus our shield power will hold out. I hope…”

“What do you mean ‘you hope’?”

“It’s nothing, it’s nothing.”

Derek looked towards the view screen and sat down. He could see the dominion ship getting bigger and bigger. This is crazy!

Just before the two ships collided the shields did. Bolts of energy slammed into the shields of each ship. Sparks flew inside of the bridge. The shield controls in the tactical station exploded sending Crant into the wall behind him. The shield generator short-circuited and exploded sending a blue gas into the void of space.

As the Intrepid and the Nuc’alk collided the crew of each ship almost connected in such a way that Derek could not understand at that time. Every soul aboard the Intrepid was praying that the hull plating would hold. When the ships hit the screech of metal on metal tore its way through the ship. The inertia of the two ships instantly stopped. On the Intrepid’s bridge Ensign Megan Donaly (the communications officer) was sent over her console and slammed into the view screen where she crumpled into a heap on the floor. The shields then died and that is when the real damage took place. The light fixtures above the helm gave way and almost crushed Muntar. A steel support beam from the Nuc’alk smashed through the view screen sending shards of glass raining over Donaly’s unconscious body.

If you were an onlooker you would not recognize these two starships as starships. They would look more like just a pile of twisted metal that is red hot and smoking.

“Well that was a great idea!” Crant remarked getting off of the floor and clutching his head. “This really helped our situation here!”

“Crant?” Derek asked.

“What?” he replied coldly.

“Shut up. All power to engines, full reverse.” Derek ordered. The Intrepid started to pull itself out of the wreckage. “Bridge to sickbay.” Derek said through his comlink.

“Sickbay here.” Doctor Wokhu answered.

“Get some personnel to the bridge. Then send General Achilles down to my ready room. I would like to have a word with him.”

“Yes sir, right away!”

In a moment the bridge turbolift doors opened and about three medical personnel filed out with Doctor Wokhu. The doors closed with a soft hiss. Then suddenly the ship shuddered and stopped moving back abruptly. Then the plasma engines let out an earsplitting whine.

“Shut engines down!” Derek yelled into the comlink over the engines’ cries.

“We’re trying sir but the controls won’t respond!” Lieutenant Horarch (the head engineer) replied, once again in a yell over the engines.

“Then power down the reactor!”

“I’ll try!” The light fixtures suddenly died out and left the bridge in darkness. Then red lights flickered to life in replacement of the others. “Reactor powered down and emergency power up and running.”

“Good.” Derek replied. Then he walked into his ready room on the other side of the bridge. He was surprised to find me already there and typing on a data pad. “Sir!” he said and saluted briskly.

“No formalities,” I said to him, “It is you who is the ranking officer here.”

“Sir, I have called you here because I want to give you back command of your ship.”

“My ship?”

“Yes sir, your ship.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why would you want to give away your command of the U.F.D. flagship?”

“It is simple. I believe you are a more qualified commander. I still can’t believe some of the stuff that you have gotten us out of. It is amazing and I could never mange do some of the things that you have done over the past years,” Derek replied. “I am giving up the command of this ship either to you or to Lieutenant Crant. Either way the ship will have a new leader, though I think that you will do a better job at it than Crant.”

I stared at him, studying his face for any signs of mocking or fooling. “Hmm… I accept your offer. I will resume my command of the Intrepid immediately, unless you wish to fill out today?”

“By all means sir!” Derek said with enthusiasm. I walked out on to what was left of the bridge. I would not have remembered it have I not walked onto it from the ready room. It was a complete mess. Wires hung from the ceiling and walls emitting sparks as they swung back and forth. The light that used to be over the helm was now sitting on top of the crushed station. Behind it I saw the command chair standing there amidst the wreckage. I remembered the first time I sat in that chair. The Intrepid was only a day old and still in space dock. It was the most proud day of my life when I gave the command “Take her out”. Now I stood in the middle of a wreck. A devastated ship entangled with another in a mass of twisted metal.

About now Ensign Donaly was conscious and sitting up with the help of Doctor Wokhu. Aside for a rather large lump on her head and some particularly nasty cuts and bruises she seemed to be all right. When she first noticed me standing before her she gasped. She jumped up and gave me a brisk salute.

“At ease ensign.” I said to her. The whole bridge was in silence aside from a small fire burning at the shattered shield control panel. “Megan?”

“Yes, sir?”

“Open a link to the nearest stardock.”

“Yes, sir, right away!” She tapped a few buttons on her control station and a gruff male voice answered.

“This is Commander Onrang. Stardock 1571 reporting.”

“Commander this is General Achilles. We need a tow out of here. Here are our coordinates.”

“Sir, I am reading two ships at your location. One is…Dominion?”

“That is correct. We need a tow for them too.”

“Yes, sir. Right away. Stardock 1571 out.” In about two hours later two heavy haulers arrived to bring the Nuc’alk and us to the stardock. The Intrepid shuddered as the magnetic clamps latched onto the hull of the ship. The haulers sped up so that the stars were only streaks against the black of space. Then the stars merged into a white-blue tunnel as the haulers went into overspace.

Chapter II

After the Intrepid arrived in the stardock I was finally able to see what had happened to her. Nothing was able to prepare me for the shock as I looked out the viewport. The whole fore section of the Intrepid was totally torn off, small fires were still burning in some places. The place where the shield generator and projector was gutted out and still smoking. My god! I thought, what happened???

“Computer, how long will it take to finish the repairs to the Intrepid?”

“Approximately three weeks,” said a voice from behind me before the computer could respond. I turned around and saw Megan Donaly smiling at me. I returned the smile and leaned against the viewport railing. “I know you are wondering what happened.”

“Well…yes I am,” I couldn’t lie to her, plus I really did want to know what happened.

“Well it was like this. A dominion ship assaulted us; I think it was called the Nuc’alk…anyway Derek was desperate. He rammed the dominion ship with the Intrepid. That is the basic rundown.”

“Why would he do something like that?”

“I told you. He was desperate. We weren’t prepared for a battle like that. We were only on scout duty. We didn’t have the right equipment for that battle.”

“So he rammed them?!? I have to say that is a bit rash.”

“Well he did and it is done,” Megan snapped.

“Easy! I just think it was what I would do in that situation.”

“Wow, that is what Derek said.”

“Heh. That sounds like something he would say.” I laughed to.

“Yeah well you know Derek. Oh by the way I am to escort you to the main chamber.” She said in a more serious tone.

“What do they need me there for?” I asked.

“I have not been told that information, I only know that you have to be there A.S.A.P.”

“Ok though I do wish we can stay here.”

“Well I have my orders and I need to bring you there.” She said.

“Fine.” We set off down the hall and into the turbolift. When we were inside Megan looked at me with a look of concern. “What is it?” I asked.

“Oh it’s nothing…it’s just. Oh John I thought you were gone.”

“Don’t talk like that. I am back. Nothing will change that.”

“Yea I suppose your right.” She still had that same concerned look on her face but she looked considerably more cheerful. “I should try harder and not be as reckless and more careful this time around.

“Ha!” she laughed “I know you better than that. You and careful don’t mix.”

“Yea I s’pose your right.” I laughed as the turbolift started to slow and come to a stop the Main Hall. We got out and walk down a short hall and into the Main Hall. I was met by an avalanche of applause; I was knocked backwards a few feet from it. The hall was filled with people. I noticed that many of them wore the Intrepid’s logo on the right arm of their uniforms. Others wore the uniforms of the space dock. Across the room was a banner that read: ‘WELCOME BACK ACHILLIES!’ “What’s going here?” I asked amazed.

“It’s to welcome you back!” She replied excitedly. “It has been planned on a private channel so your headset wouldn’t pick it up.”

“You’re a sneaky little one aren’t you?”

“If you recall I am the communications officer on the Intrepid.”

“And a very able one as well.” I said to her. Megan positively beamed. “But why for me? I am no admirable.”

“Well we think you are more than an admirable. You gave yourself to protect us back in Fifth System.”

When I heard those two last words my heart bottomed out. I couldn’t bring myself to talking more about it; I hastily (and sloppily) changed the subject, “How did you ever manage to get all of this food shipped in?”

“I have my ways.”

“Yea I know, you’re the communications officer.”

Megan laughed aloud. I knew nothing could ruin this night. She steered me over to the food and I looked around the Hall again. The first thing I noticed was that everyone seemed to be eating. The second was the music. All of my crew new I was partial to old “rock” music from the 1970s-1990s. That music was considered ancient because of it is 2239 now. “You know you have to address all of these people.” Megan said.

“Huh? No I can’t.” I replied caught off guard choking over some food.

“Oh yes you do. You are a legend returning back from the grave. Plus you know they are expecting it.” Megan demanded.

“Really I can’t.”

“You have to!”

“Please no.” I pleaded.

“Oh come on. You can command a Starfleet but can’t talk to a few people who you know for Christ sake.” She replied sternly.

“Fine, fine you win.” I walked towards the raised platform where higher officials may address the people if they needed to. Now it was my turn to ‘address the people’. “Uhh…hi everyone. Um I am not sure what to say except that I would like to thank all of you for coming and for this great party. So once again thanks and that I’m back!”

I was met with more of a sonic assault than applause. It was so loud that it must have shook the whole stardock. I strode off stage and back to Megan who was still applauding when I reached her. “How was that?” I asked her.

“It was great.” She replied.

“Thanks. I really appreciate all that you have done for me tonight, but I need to go.”

“Why?” Megan asked.

“I have a lot of paper work to do.” I said to her, “if you need me just drop by my quarters.”

“Ok I’ll see you later John…err…General.” With that I walked out of the Hall and into the turbolift. A few minuets later i was at the lift.

“Airlock one.” I said s i walked in.

“Airlock one is restricted to all low ranking officers except for Intrepid crew and authorized workers. Voice recognition is required.” the computer replied.

“General Jonathan Achilles.” A few seconds later the computer made a beeping sound and said:

“Accepted.” and the turbolift started to move. After a few minutes the turbolift slowed and let me out. To my left i saw a holographic sign. It read: INTREPID CREW AND WORKERS ONLY. Hmm...well i guess i count as crew. I walked over to the air lock and the computer once again asked for my I.D. I gave it and the hatch opened with the distinctive hiss of escaping air. I walked in to the airlock and waited for the other hatch to open once again with the hiss.

I stepped into the Intrepid. I walked towards the turbo lift in the ship, but the monitor next to the lift doors said it was inoperable. “Eh, i guess i have to take the long way.” I muttered. I opened the door to my quarters and walked in.

I sat at my desk and and pressed a smell button. A holoscreen rose out of the desk and so did a keyboard. The holoscreen flickered to life and said:

UFD 98-59621 Intrepid

Comfort and computer systems

Life Support: operational

Mark XI Computer Core: Online

Auxiliary Power: Ready

Turbolift: Offline. Primary Electromagnet damaged, secondary malfunctioned

Artificial Gravity Projectors: Online

Weaponry

Primary Heavy Lasers: 42%

Secondary Heavy Lasers: 63%

Torpedo Tubes: 37%

EMP Emitters: 4%

Defense

Shields:

Fore: 0%

Aft: 19%

Hull Integrity: 4%

Hull Plating: 3%

“Computer, show me a damage diagram of the Intrepid.” I commanded.

“Processing...” After a minute a hologram of the Intrepid formed. Most of the ship's hull appeared. Most of it was in the shade red meaning it was seriously damaged. The rest was in either red or yellow. “There are hull breaches on decks C-H, sections 5-98. Critical damage obtained from battle.” The computer informed.

“My god! How...did...this...wha?” I was just amazed how much damage was actually done to her. I was examining the projection when...

Chapter III

“Holy Faa!” I screamed in the renewed agony tearing my body from my mind. Muscle spasms rippled throughout my body. This pain affected not only my body but my mind and existence together.

I was a tear in time and space. Something but nothing. I saw my quarters but also something else. Flashing through my mind were images. Clawing through my existence and tearing my mind apart. I entered time itself. I could only see some of the images: The space dock, Intrepid, Dominions, the Nemesis, explosions... I could only see what my mind picked up and threw away.

I must have banged my head on something because everything went dark.

When i awoke i still had those images burned into my brain, a mental scar so to speak, but not just that. They were too real. It has to be a premonition...I thought. As i moved i winced at the splitting pain in my head. I felt my temple and felt a warmth on my hand. I pulled it back and found blood smeared

The door alarm rang out. Who can that be? “Enter”

Through the door came Megan. “Um hi.”I acknowledged her quietly. I tried to force a smile on my lips to no avail, and Megan noticed.

“What's wrong John?” She asked.

“N-nothing...I'm fine. Please sit.”

Pulling chair to my said and taking my hand she said, “Don't lie to me John, especially when there is blood running down your face.” I swiftly wiped the blood away. “Let me see that cut.” She put her hand on my forehead and examined the gash there. “What happened here?”

“I really don't want to trouble you with my problems.”

“It's no trouble. C'mon tell me.”

“Well, i am not sure how to explain.”

“Just tell me straight forward.”

“Hmm...how to explain this...”

Chapter IV

After I explained what was happening to me to her she just stared at me. “Why didn't you tell me this earlier?” she asked.

“I didn't think you would believe me.”

“And why, John, why would you think that?”

“I don't know maybe i am just delirious.”

“You aren't and you know i-” She never finished her sentence because at that moment a tremor rippled through the hull of the ship and the dock. The door alarm sounded, barely able to be heard over the force of the tremor.

“Come in!” I yelled. Lt. Crant ran through the door trying to catch his breath and almost knocked off his feet by another tremor.

“Sir...Dominions...torpedoes...at space dock...Intrepid...” he said in between breaths.

“What?”

“The Dominions are back. They are attacking us and the space dock and us!”

“What do they want?”

“The Nuc'alk.”

“Power up the main reactor I'll meet you on the bridge.”

“Yes, sir.” He ran off to relay the orders to the head engineer. I ran past Megan and down the hall. I passed right by the turbolift remembering it was off line. I charged down the deserted halls when the red alert siren went off. I heard Lee's voice ring though the halls saying: “All hands to battle stations. A Intrepid crew report to battle stations!” At the bridge door i was showered with sparks as a third tremor threatened tear the ship apart. I ran through the door as it slid open and entered the bridge. “Report!” I ordered.

“We have a situation sir!” Derek said.

“Really? As if I don't know that.”

“Ok...well there are two Dominion ships attacking the dock and us.” he reported.

“Sir, the head Dominion ship is hailing us!” Megan yelled.

“Put it on screen.” I ordered. The new viewscreen flickered and the Dominion commander came on.

“You are surrounded. Surrender now and give us the Nuc'alk so your lives are spared.” With that the image faded.

“A U.F.D. Ship is trying to contact us on a private frequency.”

“On screen” An image of the Admirable of the UFD high command came on.

“I am Admirable LaFlage. You are ordered to stay put and by all means do not and I repeat DO NOT engage the Dominions.”

“Sir with all due respect-” I began to protest. He cut me off.

“ I don't want a crisis on my hands. You and your crew stand down. The Nemesis is en route as of now.” With that the screen went dark. Another volley of torpedoes battered the shields.

“We can't take much more of this sir.” Crant yelled.

I faced Derek and said, “You may not like what i am gonna do.”

“Sir?”

“You'll see. Muntar.”

“Yes, sir?”

“Take us out.”

“But sir! That's against our orders!”

“Just do it!” I snapped.

“Sir, this may not be a wise action.” Lee advised. I glared at him.

“Would you rather give yourself to them? It is either sit here and be killed or protect these people.” I said, anger surging through my veins. “I will say it again. Take us out Ensign!”

“Yes, sir,” Muntar replied, “Core active, impulse 25%.”

“Good as soon as we are out of the dock take us up to combat velocity.”

“Roger that. Taking us to combat velocity.”

“Load torpedoes in all tubes and ready lasers. Fire at will.” I ordered.

“Yes, sir.” Crant replied in a disapproving tone. Then he shouted “More torpedoes incoming!” Before i could react they hit the shields. Another tremor threatened to tear apart the still damaged hull.

“Shield report!” I shouted.

“Shields at 34%!” Crant shouted back.

“Damn! Make an attack run. Fire all weapons!” I ordered. The Intrepid accelerated even faster and swung towards the Dominions. Red beams lanced from the Intrepid and slammed into the hull of the Dominions' ship leaving deep black scars. When Intrepid pulled away from the Dominion and turned to face them. They accelerated and dove. I had just enough time to realize what they were doing. “They're going for our underbelly! Hard to port!” The ship swung to the left as another volley of torpedoes shot past the hull. At that time I realized what they were trying to accomplish, and their plan was working.

“Heh heh heh...good, good! Everything is going as planned. That UFD ship will be scrap by the time we are done with it.” triumphed a figure shrouded in shadow. His voice contained such venom to it that even the most courageous warrior would quiver with fear when heard “they are no match for us. The UFD is at my fingertips and soon will be in my grasp!”

“Counselor Flu'naga, the Intrepid is making an attack run on the Naw'solI!” said one of the man's aids.

“No matter,” his voice grew even more venomous as he said this, “they have no chance against us.” he lazily waved a hand dismissing the problem. “Have the rest of the fleet decloak and move in, but keep us cloaked a safe distance.”

“Yes counselor.” the aid replied and ran off to relay the orders.

“General, there are five more Dominion ships decloaking and moving in to attack!” Crant yelled.

“Damn! This isn't good.” I commented.

“All of the Dominions are unloading more torpedoes at us!” Crant reported.

“No! Evade!” I ordered.

“We can't avoid all of them sir! A few will hit us!” Muntar yelled, struggling to avoid the barrage. Ten of the torpedoes hit the fore shields shattering them while seven hit the hull sending a massive shock wave through the hull knocking me off my feet. While the other thirteen shot past harmlessly.

“Report!”I screamed at Crant.

“Fore shields are down, the bridge is wide open! The torpedoes ripped open the port side of the ship. One hit the port main ion engine, it is going down! All emergency force fields are in place.” He reported to me.

“Equalize thrust on the starboard engine.” I ordered. “Achilles to Engineering.”

“Aye, sir.”

“Try and bring port number two back up.” I told him.

“Aye, we are trying to sir.”

“Keep at it. Crant!”

“Sir!”

“How many torpedoes do we have?”

“None.”

“Achilles to flight deck one and two.” I said.

“Sir!” they responded.

“Do we have and operational fighters?”

“No sir, not on one.” said one of the men, “Deck two has only one fighter, but it needs fuel.”

“Then fuel it!”I ordered. More torpedoes raked across the ships hull. “We can't take much more of this punishment can we Crant?”

“No sir, front shields stabilized but only at 17%.” He reported. “That's only enough for one torpedo.”

“I know.”

“Sir there is another ship coming out of warp 1400 yards from here. Sensors indicate it is the Nemesis!” Megan reported, “they are hailing us!”

“On screen.” I commanded. An image of Admirable LaFlage came up. His eyes were on fire with rage and is eyebrows seemed as one from the nasty scowl that engulfed his face.

“General Achilles! Just what the hell do you think you are doing?” he spat, “you have violated a direct order. Your whole career is in the hole. I would have you escorted off the bridge right now if it was up to me! STANDDOWN! We will settle this with the dominions diplomatically.”

“I am sorry sir i cannot do that, for th good of my crew.” I replied to him knowing that he would have me executed.

LaFlage's face contorted with rage, purpling until he looked like a grotesque sausage. A vein in his forehead throbbed uncontrollably. “Treason!” He cried, “General you are going to be boarded as soon as this skirmish is over and relived of your comman-”

“I can't take this anymore cut the signal.” I ordered. The image suddenly ended and reverted back to the battle screen.

“Sir this is flight deck two, the fighter is ready to launch. Ready when you are.”

“Launch at will.” I said in reply.

“Aye sir. Flight deck out.” The flight deck operator then moved to the fighter. A sleek and agile ship the fighter was capable to take out a capital ship by itself though only if the pilot is skilled enough. He ran his hand over the fuselage looking for any damage. Once he was satisfied he backed away from it. And a fighter maintenance worker ran over to him.

“Junter, sir, the fighter is ready.”

“Ready the launch tube, and bring the fighter into position.” He ordered.

“Aye sir. Ready the tube! Bring Shadowstriker 1 into position!” the worker ordered as he ran off. The Shadowstriker moved into position into the tube. The airlock closed behind it. A blast shield rose into place as the fighter's powerful thrusters roared to life. The fighter shot out of the launch tube and into combat.

On the bridge I watched as the Nemesis closed in and the fighter streak out into the crossfire. The Nemesis' battle plan was erratic. It would just bypass some of the Dominions and head towards the Intrepid. It only attacked the Dominions in the way.

The Shadowstriker on the other hand blasted apart the hulls of the Dominions. Nothing could seem to touch it. It accelerated to blistering speeds and then slowed to a complete halt in a nanosecond. It unleashed a lethal barrage of laser blasts and missile volleys but then backed away innocently. One of the Dominion ships was already reduced to a flaming ball of metal. It weaved in and out of the laser blasts fired at it and then stuck back with a vengeance.

The Nemesis still advanced on the Intrepid and the Dominions as if it couldn't make up its mind on what to attack. They fired on anything that got on their way, Dominions, the Intrepid whatever came too close. It didn't matter matter. They just wanted one thing: the Intrepid. It fired in all directions, damaging the space dock in the process.

“Sir the Dominions are moving in on the space dock.” Megan warned.

“Intercept them!” I ordered, “They are going after the Nuc'alk! Engineering do you have port two back?”

“Almost. Give me five minutes.” Horarch replied.

“You have thirty seconds.” I ordered.

“Almost sir...there, powering up.” Horarch reported.

“Good. Muntar intercept them!” I yelled. The Intrepid accelerated faster and tried to cut in front the lead ship to no avail. The Dominions were too far ahead. They are going to get there before us. Wait... “Donaly, let me talk to the fighter.”

“Yes sir. Talk away.” She replied.

“Pilot.” I said.

“Sir, this may not be a good time to chat right now.” came a strained voice from the comlink speaker.

“Shut up. Attack that Dominion ship going for the dock.” I ordered.

“Yes, sir. Shadowstriker out.” The connection ended. The fighter swung around and streaked towards the advancing ship. Its ruthless lasers tore through anything they came into contact with. It weaved out of the crossfire and then dove back into the fray adding its own power the to collection.

Chapter V

“What the hell does he think he is doing?” Admiral LaFlage spat slamming his fist on his command chair's armrest. “I will have him executed slowly and painfully for this. DAMNIT! Bring the Nemesis up to full sub-space. When we're close enough bring the Intrepid down with an EMP blast. Don't hit the Dominions at all costs, unless they get in our way.”

“Bring those Dominions down!” I screamed. A vein was pulsating uncontrollably in my neck and my face was a disgusting shade of purple. “Damnit, when is that striker going to take them out?” Suddenly every screen and light on the bridge began to flicker uncontrollably. Then everything went black. “What the hell happened?”

“W were hit by an EMP missile. Every electonic device on the Intrepid is gone sir.” Crant said frantically trying to sort out the situation.

“Do we at least have communications?” I asked.

“Negative sir. Like i said all the electronics are gone. Well we still have comlinks. They have enough protective coating on them to with stand the blast.”

“Grr...we can still maneuver manually.” I said to myself. I got out of my seat and started running to the bridge doorway when it didn't open automatically I remembered the EMP missile. I reached to the right of the door and tore off a wall plate shielding the manual release mechanism.

“Uhh, sir where are you going?” Crant asked.

“To engineering.” I said as i forced the latched off and the door slid open. “I am going to reconfigure the drive control from computer to manual.” Before he could respond I was sprinting down the hall. I came to a halt at a a turbolift door and and pulled the manual release. I slid down the emergency ladder into the darkness below.

“The Nemesis came right on time. Its EMP missile disabled the Intrepid. This Admiral LaFlage is a reliable man.” Flu'naga said with a smag tone. Red bloodthirty eyes shone from the depths of hood that covered his head. A scar was barely visable in the shadow that cloaked the rest of his face. It was long and slender, a bright white color. Like a ghost it glared at the ones who looked at it. It ranged from just over his right eye to the bottom of his left cheek. Fear ran through any one who dared to look at it.

His figure was imposing. At over 8 feet tall he towered over his subordinates and only his word was needed to give an order. Even though he had a cunning mind with the capacity for outwitting anybody he only needed intimidation to rule over others. But this was also his weakness. His arrogance clouded his mind. He thought himself invincible, and that is what put the scar on his face.

“This time General Achilles I will emerge victorious. Your blood will fill my dinner glass. AHH HA HA HA HA!” Flu'naga roared. One was almost able to taste the arrogance that poured from his lips. “Take us in further, I want to be the one to finish him off.”

“Yes, Counselor.” The helmsman replied.

“And take us out of cloak.” Flu'naga commanded.

“But then we will be visible!” excliamed the Tactical officer.

“That is the point you idiot. I want Achilles to see who is the one to bring him down. He is no match for my MIGHT!”

“Sir another Dominion ship just decloaked and is approaching rapidly!” Crant yelled through the comlink.

“Just what we need.” I muttered.

“Our sensors indicate it is the Shar'toma.”

“This isn't good.”

“What is it?” Crant asked.

“That is the ship of the Dominion Counselor Flu'naga,” I said as i reached the bottom of the turbolift shaft.

“So? He's just another Dominion.”

I suddenly had a revelation. An image of Flu'naga flashed into my head. As i gripped my forehead I suddenly remembered something i had not previously about the Battle. “I know him. Trust me he is not one to give up. Achilles out.”

I released the door to exit the shaft and proceeded forward. I ran down the hall to the aft of the Intrepid and releases the door to the engineering control room. Horarch immediately saluted to me and i just waved it off. As i ran passed him into the engine room he looked at me as if i was crazy. The ship shuddered from the might of more torpedoes. She can't take much more of this. I thought.

While I slid under a large control panel i glanced at the main reactor. Thankfuly it was still working. The EMP blast must not have been powerful enough to take it out. As Horarch caught up with me he shouted “What the hell are you doing?” then added as an afterthought “Sir.”

“I am switching the drive control from computer to manual.” I said as i ripped a sheet of metal clean off the underside of the panel.

“That is impossible. I studied these engines inside and out and the computer is the only thing that can control it.”

“Who designed this ship Lieutenant? Although it is not the most orthodox method to convert it it can be done. Notice how i put controls like a fighters on the helm that can be extended. Titanium cutters.”

“Oh. What? ok...” he ran off to a storage compartment.

“Now Lieutenant! Oh and a plasma torch” I ordered.

“Here.” He thrust to tools at me.

“Thanks.” I cut one wire and not getting electrocuted i proceeded to cut another. I attached the opposite wires together and then welded them together via the plasma welder. I closed that compartment back up and slid deeper under the reactor and drive controls. I tore open a large grate and examined the interior for a minute. I cut another wire and left it hanging there. “Slide me a monkey wrench.”

After a minute he slid one to me. Another tremor ran through the ship causing me to slam my head into the metal above and drop the wrench, cursing i went back to my work. I picked the wrench off the ground and forced a few gears into position. I then cut a hydraulics pipe and welded it to a new intake tube. “That should just about do it. Achilles to Muntar.”

“Muntar here.” he replied.

“Reach under the helm and press a small square in the center of the panel.”

“O...K...” Muntar said cautiously. As soon as he pressed it panels opened in front of him, to his sides and below his feet. A flight stick emerged in front of him while maneuvering pedals came up below his feet. To his sides grew from his chair thrust control levers. “Damn! This is sweet!”

“Muntar i assume you know how to fly a fighter?” I asked.

“Yes, sir but it has been a long-”

“Good,” I cut him off, “Then fly us into evasive maneuvers.”

“Yes sir.”

“And remember, she 'aint no fighter either, not to mention heavily damaged. She can't take much more stress.” I told him.

“OK! I get it. I'll be gentle.”

“See you on the bridge.” I said. The ship lurched to the right sharply and back the left. Damnit! I told him not too rough with her, she can't take a lot of this punishment. I sprinted back to the turbolift shaft as the lights came back on and flew up the ladder. The shaft violently shook as the Intrepid took more missiles to the hull. I was almost thrown off the ladder as the ship shook but caught myself with the tips of my fingers and hugged the smooth metal rails. As the ship gradually settled i started to climb again. When i reached Bridge Deck red lights flashed and an earsplitting siren rang out. Derek's voice rang out over the in-ship intercom. He said:

“Attention all personnel! Assume defensive positions! The Intrepid is about to be boarded by a Dominion task force!” As soon as he stopped talking a shudder ran down the ship, although I knew it wasn't a missile barrage or lasers. This was different. I knew then that this was serious and i had to get to the bridge now.

Crew members raced down the halls grabbing anything they could get their hands on and use as a weapon. Others loaded hand held rail guns, rifles and pistols. As i ran down the hall to the bridge i could see the panic in the crew's eyes. One young officer who had obviously just joined the UFD and the Intrepid struggled to load his rifle. I stopped by and grabbed his weapon. I pulled the bolt back and a bullet fell into place. I handed it back to him and he stared in awe at me. “Keep that close,” I said motioning to his rifle, “you're goin' to need it.” I started down the hall again as the officer saluted to me with a shaking hand.

I reached the bridge where the door was latched once again. I pulled the release and ran in. As soon as i stepped an inch into the door five rifles were trained on my head. “Whoa!” I said with my hands up instinctively to protect myself, “They're not in the ship yet!”

“Oh! Sorry sir!” Derek said as they all lowered the weapons. I moved to the weapons locker on the bridge and grabbed a rifle and a sidearm. A loud banging sound rang through the Intrepid's halls with another boom following it.

“Get ready, they're here.”

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