TEASER

	
“We’re what?” 

Jean-Luc Picard looked at his first officer, Will Riker, who was 
leaning across the Ready Room table aboard the sixth starship to bear 
the name Enterprise.  

“We’re participating in a strike against the Torros Three shipyards, 
Will,”  Picard said, lifting the data padd on which Admiral Neyechev’s 
orders had been downloaded.  

“But, sir, Deep Space Nine...”

“Will be left to its own defenses.”  Picard said, standing and looking 
out the Ready Room viewport, watching Klingon and Starfleet warships 
cruise in formation with the Enterprise, which had joined Task Force 
Nine, a portion of the Seventh Fleet.  

Picard knew where Riker’s worries stemmed.  The crew of the Enterprise 
had two deep personal connections with DS9: Chief O’Brien and Lieutenant 
Commander Worf.  Many other Enterprise -D crewmembers had also 
left the D to serve on the deep space station, but most had gone on to 
promotions and challenging assignments.  

“They’ve got the Defiant,”  Picard reminded his first officer.  
“And most Federation personnel have already been evacuated.”

“The wormhole?”  Riker asked.

“I spoke to Captain Sisko a few hours ago.  He wouldn’t go into specifics, 
but he told me that no ships will get through.”

“They’re going to destroy it,”  Riker murmmered silently.

Picard was quite for a moment.  “Maybe.  It sounded like Ben had something 
up his sleeve.”

“With O’Brien on his side, I wouldn’t be suprised if they built a brick
wall in front of the damn thing,”  Riker cursed.  When the wormhole had
first been discovered, he had been one of the most vocal supporters of 
sending the Enterprise on a long range exploratory mission into 
the Gamma Quadrant.

Unfortunatly, the reality of the situation was that the Enterprise
 -D (as the -E was now) the flagship of Starfleet and the United Federation 
of Planets.  As such, it was needed for diplomatic and “show” missions.

An Enterprise had not boldly gone where no one had previously gone 
since the decomissioning of the -A.  

“Bridge to Picard,”  a deep voice said.  “Incoming transmission from 
Admiral Brimler.”

Brimler had risen through the non-commissioned ranks of Starfleet to 
become an officer in 2350 during an extended skrimish with the 
Cardassians that would eventually be termed as one of the “Cardassian 
Wars”.  Brimler was a brilliant tactician, and commanded from the 
Nebula-Class starship Gallant.  

“On screen,”  Picard said, activating the monitor on his desk.  

Brimler appeared.  “Captain...it’s good to see you.”

The last time Brimler had contacted the Enterprise it had been 
to order the starship to patrol the neutral zone while a Borg cube 
threatened Earth.  

“And you, Admiral,”  Picard concurred.

“Jean-Luc, I’m placing Attack Wing Three under your command,”  Brimler 
said briskly.  “Your job is going to be to knock out the outlying 
defense satellites and hold off an attack by any defenders.”

“Yes, sir,”  Picard said, checking the attack plans that had just been 
downloaded into his computer.  

“Good,”  Brimler said, pausing.  “Captain...I’m sorry I doubted you.”

Picard nodded.  “Thank you, Admiral.”

The screen went black, and Picard turned to Riker.  “Attack Wing Three,”  
he ordered.

Riker looked at his padd and quickly brought up some information.  “Two
Sovereign-Class Starships - the Segur and the Prince George, 
three Athens-Class ships, a Galaxy-Class, one Miranda-Class and four 
Steamship-Class.  There’s also a Vor’cha class Klingon warship and six 
birds-of-prey.”

“Good,”  Picard said, nodding his head as he obsorbed that information.
“I’m going to need you to ‘command’ the Enterprise while I coordinate 
our objectives.”

“Yes, sir,”  Riker said, not suprised by the order.  For Picard to 
have enough concentration to coordinate the activities of nineteen 
different starships as well as direct the individual duties of his own 
command would have been downright impossible.

“Dismissed, Number One,”  Picard said.

“Aye, sir,”  Riker said.



ACT ONE

====	Scene 1

Doctor Beverly Crusher paled when she recieved the communication from 
the bridge.  The Enterprise was going into combat, but 
more than that she was going into war.

“Ogawa!”  Crusher yelled out, standing from her desk, her blond hair 
flapping around her.

Crusher’s trusted nurse raced into the office.  “Is something wrong?”

“Get everybody on shift!  And I mean everybody,”  Crusher said.  “We’re
going into combat.”

It was time of Ogawa’s face to pale.  But then the two women were in 
charge, moving into sickbay and preparing for the incoming casualties.

====	Scene 2

Commander William T. Riker stepped onto the bridge, and realized that 
for the first time in almost ten years he had butterflies in his 
stomach.  In all his years in Starfleet, he had seen a lot of combat 
and a lot of death.  Too many times, circumstances had forced him to 
write “those” letters to the families of those who died under his 
command.

He had fought the Borg - and won.  He had fought the Kligons - and won.
He had fought Cardassians, Gorn, Orions, Andorians, Tellerites and 
other humans - and had won every time.  He had done the impossible and 
defeated the enemy.  He had survived a starship crash landing.

But this was different.

The Federation had been at war during Riker’s Starfleet tenure before.
Twice with the Cardassians - the first of which while Riker had been a 
cadet - and once with the Tzenkethi.  But all three wars had been small
affairs and had not placed Riker in the line of fire.

Now he was.

War was on the horizon.  It had been brewing for several months.  Last 
week, the Enterprise had recieved word to begin rationing
of supplies and replicator credits.  

And that had told Riker that war was coming.

Now, the first officer scanned the bridge of the Enterprise.  
Usually when the ship entered battle she fought alone.  Now she would 
fight as part of a coordinated group.   

Riker was relieved to see Lieutenant Commander Data, the ship’s android
second officer and Operations Manager working calmly at his console.  
The previous day, Picard had suggested to the officer that he switch 
off his emotion chip for the duration of the war.  

At the Conn, Ensign Darryl Mann worked the controls nervously.  Mann 
had taken the place of Lieutenant Hawk, who had died during combat with
the Borg months earlier.  Still, Mann was a very capable pilot, and 
during combat simulations he put the starship through evasive manuvers 
that Riker had sworn had made him dizzy.

Working the Tactical station was Lieutenant Commander Heather Seiyan, 
the former security officer of the Invincible whom Picard had 
recruited following Worf’s second departure after Borg incident.  In 
those short months, Seiyan had taken Worf’s place as senior security 
officer aboard the ship.  There was no denying it - Riker was strongly 
attacted to her, but who would be crazy enough to get involved in a 
relationship before a war?

The security officers stationed near the turbolifts worried Riker.  The
fact that they were armed with phaser rifles was as well disturbing.  
It was a clear sign of war.  

Riker turned, this time looking at the main viewer.  In front of the 
Enterprise, a giant Galaxy-Class starship cruised slowly.  The 
saucer had been seperated and left at Starbase Two One Five with the 
majority of the ship’s civillian and non-essential personnel.  He felt 
a stab of pain in his heart for the Enterprise -D.

“Sir,”  Seiyan spoke up.  “Incoming transmission from Deep Space Nine.
A combined fleet of Cardassian and Jem’Hadar...”

Picard stepped out of the Ready Room and waved her to silence.  
“Intership communications, Commander.”

“Aye, sir,”  Seiyan said smoothly, triggering the com unit.

“All hands,”  Picard spoke.  “This is the captain.  Five minutes ago, 
the Federation Council, without a disenting vote, declared war on the 
Dominion and their Cardassian allies.”

Riker felt the hair rise on the back of his neck.  

“The Enterprise is going to participate in the raid on the 
Torros Three.  Our objective is the total and complete destruction of 
the shipyard.  If we succeed, Dominion production will be decreaed 
tenfold.”

Picard looked at the faces of the bridge crew.  Many were young ensigns
and lieutenants.  

“To distract the Dominion fleet, Deep Space Nine is being sacrificed.  
It is Ben Sisko’s job to get his crew off the station safely and close 
the wormhole while allowing us enough time to accomplish our mission.  
If he fails, we could find our escape route blocked by Dominion 
warships.

“I have faith in each and every one of you.  Remember your training, 
and you will survive.”  He motioned to Seiyan and she terminated the 
intership link.  “Ensign Mann, keep up with Attack Wing Three.”

“Yes, sir.”

An ensign at one of the science stations spoke up.  “Sir, the Admiral’s
ship has gone to warp.”

“Mr. Mann?”

“Warp speed, aye, sir,”  Mann said, tapping his control panel.  The 
Enterprise snapped forward and roared into warp speed.

“Captain,”  Riker asked in a muted whisper when the combined Starfleet/
Klingon force crossed the Dominion border.  “Are we supposed to be 
anticipating a welcome party?”

Picard shook his head.  “The Dominion are concentrating all their 
forces on taking Deep Space Nine.  The wormhole is what they need to 
survive an extended war.  They’re keeping up doubled patrols, but they
won’t risk pursuing us.  And Torros Three only has a few dozen 
defenders.”

“That’s good to know,”  Riker replied, knowing that over one hundred 
starships made up the task force.  

“Mr. Mann, ETA at Torros Three?”  Picard asked.

“Two hours and seventeen minutes, sir,”  the ensign replied.

“Sir,”  Seiyan broke in.  “Two dozen starships are breaking off from 
the fleet...assuming orientations around us.”

Picard didn’t have to ask her to clarify, and he certainly hoped that 
he wouldn’t be expected to offer any clarity either.  The twenty-four 
starships would intercept any enemy warships that tried to interfere 
with the task force.  

“Incoming Jem’Hadar fighter,”  Data said simply.

“Tactical on viewer,”  Riker ordered.

A three-dimensional chart appeared on the main viewscreen.  The Jem’
Hadar fighter was indicated by a blue marker.  Two Starfleet vessels, 
identified by the silver arrowhead and their names alongside, moved to 
intercept.

“Boylar and Coupland moving to intercept,”  Seiyan said.

Data spoke up.  “Boylar is a New Orleans class starship, 
commanded by Captain Philip Vilardo.  Coupland is a Haven class 
scoutship, commanded by Lieutenant Alyre’seei.”

“I know Vilardo,”  Seiyan chimed in.  “Served with him a few years ago 
on the Yorktown.  Real great explorer...”

“But not a great tactician,”  Picard finished.  “He commanded the 
Neason during the Klingon Civil War a few years back.”

The two Starfleet ships engaged the Jem’Hadar ship.  As the task force 
continued deeper into enemy space, Picard ordered the combat channel 
played over the bridge’s speakers.  The Boylar took a heavy 
burst intitially, but it drew the Jem’Hadar’s attention, allowing the 
Coupland to score several damaging blows.  Finally, the two 
ships were able to catch the Jem’Hadar fighter in a crossfire and 
cripple and then destroy it.  

“Boylar reports seven dead, nine injured,”  Data said.  “Minor 
damage to their hull and internal systems.  The Coupland reports
minor injuries and two dead.  Both are proceeding at best speed to the 
Torros system.”

Seven other times Jem’Hadar or Cardassian ships attempted to engage the
task force.  Three Klingon birds-of-prey and four Starfleet starships 
were destroyed.  Two other Starfleet ships were forced to turn back and
head for the Federation after becoming too heavily damaged to continue.

“Thirty-four minutes from the Torros shipyards,”  Mann reported.

“Stay on course,”  Picard ordered.  

“Cardassian battleship on intercept course,”  the ensign at the science
station said suddenly.  “They’re in weapons range!”

Picard and Riker spun, wondering how the hell an enemy ship got so 
close.  

“They were hiding within the atmosphere of the gas giant we just 
passed!”  Seiyan shouted.  

“Dammit, a trap!”  Riker swore.

“The Tok’rath, the Jessup and the Iylianna are 
moving to intercept,”  Data said.

“No good,”  Picard snarled.  “Tok’rath is a bird of prey and 
the other two are scoutships.  Order the Segur to intercept that
Cardassian ship.”

Seiyan frowned.  “Sir...”

“We’re in command of the defense operations once we arrive in Torros,”
Picard said, a touch of anger in his voice.  “We can’t afford to be 
late.”

“Communicating with the Segur,”  Seiyan said quickly.  “Captain 
Dasz is signalling and the ship is moving to intercept!”

“Send them our good luck,”  Picard ordered.

“Luck sent,”  Seiyan said.  

“Captain, six Jem’Hadar fighters and a battleship have departed Torros 
Three to intercept the Task Force,”  Data said.  

“The Tok’rath has been destroyed,”  Seiyan said, monitoring the 
battle.  “Jessup is leaking plasma.”

Picard closed his eyes and wished that the Enterprise could 
come to their rescue.  But the Torros shipyards were more important, 
and Picard was ready to sacrifice the ships battling the Cardassian 
warship.  

“Put the channel on,”  Picard ordered after learning from Data that the
Dominion ships wouldn’t intercept the task force for five more minutes.

“...hard port!  Return fire!”  Picard recognized Michelle Dasz’s 
harried voice.

“Direct hit!  Section seven!  Damage teams-”

“Evasive!  Return fire!  Lock and load photon torpedoes!”

“Jessup, this is Segur!  Get out of here!”Negative, Segur!  We’re not running out in the middle of a 
fire-”

“The Jessup has been destroyed,”  Seiyan interupted, shocked.  
Forty-six Starfleet officers were dead.  

“We’ve got their rear shields down!”

“All weapons - fire!”

“Cardassian ship destroyed!”  Seiyan crowed.  Cheers rose around the 
bridge.

“The Segur is resuming course,”  Data said.  “However, the 
Iylianna has plotted a return course for Starbase Five-sixty-
seven.”

“Captain,”  Mann said.  “The Dominion force has engaged!”

“Admiral Brimler to all ships,”  the deep voice said over the 
com unit.  “Attack Wings Five and Six, break off and engage those 
ships.  Keep them off our backs, and rendezvous with us at the ship
yards.  Godspeed.”

“Twelve minutes to the shipyards,”  Data said a short while later.  
The battle had been won - but Attack Wing Five had been decimated and 
Attack Wing Six wasn’t in much better condition.  Only three ships 
were able to head for the shipyards - the others were destroyed or 
crippled.  None had enough power to head for the Federation and safety.

Picard looked around the bridge.  Many of his officers had experienced 
combat before. 

Lieutenant Okun at the enviormental controls had served with Picard 
since the Enterprise -D had departed Earth Station McKinley.  
He had only been an ensign then, fresh out of San Francisco, an untried 
officer who had been forged in the pressures of space service.

Ensign Brice had arrived on the Enterprise -E following the 
starship’s refit after the Borg incident.  Straight out of the Academy,
Brice had enjoyed her service aboard the starship, but now Picard 
wondered if her young features would cease to age after today.

“Today we go to war,”  Picard said, spur of the moment.  “But we do so 
to protect the principles of the United Federation of Planets and our 
allies.   If we die...”  Picard’s throat caught, and was suprised when 
Riker spoke up.

“Today,”  the bearded first officer said loudly, “is a good day to 
die!”

The younger bridge officers grinned and cheered.  The older officers - 
those who knew the horrors of combat - tried to look upbeat, but their 
eyes turned downwards and inwards.  Their hearts clutched up.  

“Six minutes,”  Data said tonelessly.  “The Torros Three shipyards are 
broadcasting a general distress call.”

“Response?”

“None,”  the android officer replied.  “The Dominion fleet is engaged 
in hostilities with Deep Space Nine.”

“How is that battle going?”  Picard asked.

“The station is holding her own,”  Data replied.  

Picard said a silent prayer for the Starfleet officers defending the
station, but especially for Worf and O’Brien - two former 
Enterprise crewmembers that he truly wanted back on his bridge.

“Two minutes,”  Data said.  “Attack Wing One has arrived in the 
shipyards and is proceeding on mission.”

“Here we go,”  Riker said, settling himself into his chair and bracing
himself for the salvo of torpedo hits he was anticipating the Enterprise 
would be greeted with.

“Dropping to impulse speed,”  Mann said.

Picard looked at Riker.  “The bridge is yours.”  He crossed over to an 
empty communications station and pulled up the data necessary to coordinate 
movements with Attack Wing Three.

Riker took the center seat.  For the crew to ignore Picard’s presence 
on the bridge he needed to remind them that he was in command.	

“On screen,”  Riker ordered.

The shipyards appeared on the Monitor - a giant twisting maze of
construction framework surrounding the forms of Dominion warships under
construction.  Two Starfleet scoutships were already in weapons range 
and pelting the yards with phaser fire.

“Incoming Jem’Hadar fighters,”  Seiyan chimed in.

“Move in and engage,”  Picard ordered loudly, turning his attention back to 
relaying orders to the ships under his command.


ACT TWO

Alison Brown and Marinich are turning to engage,”  Data 
said.  “Prince George, Smith and Roshakk are 
moving into cover formation.”

“Weapons range of Jem’Hadar fighters in twenty seconds...”

“Lock on phasers and Quantum torpedoes,”  Riker ordered.  “Fire as 
soon as we’re in range.”

“Five...four...”

“Jem’Hadar fighters are firing on the Smith...”  Mann said.

“Smith is engaging in evasive manuvers, Roshakk is 
attempting to cover her.”

“Torpedoes away!  Firing main phaser array!”

The Enterprise raced at the lead Jem’Hadar fighter, and it 
didn’t alter course, opening fire at near point blank range.  The 
Enterprise took the brunt of the blow on her nose and returned 
fire with her phaser batteries.  The Jem’Hadar fightered turned on a 
dime and peeled away.

On the bridge, Riker fought the urge to spin and track the Jem’Hadar 
fighter’s movements with his naked eyes (as if he could stare through 
a bulkhead).  

“Sir - two Jem’Hadar fighters are...”

On the viewer, the Prince George fired at the two ships 
harrassing it.  Seiyan didn’t even wait for the order, but simply 
opened fire with a pinpoint blast that forced one Jem’Hadar fighter to 
alter course and ram the second.  Both exploded, and the Prince 
George cruised through the dissipating cloud of the explosian, 
firing on a third Jem’Hadar fighter.

“Coming up on target two three...”

“Fire at will, tactical,”  Riker ordered.

“Resqueel is moving into covering position, Commander,”  Data 
said.  “Monitor and Jim Wright are...”

The deck shuddered.  Sparks flew as overhead panels exploded from the 
impact.  All the bridge crew who had been standing were dumped, 
uncerimoniously, onto their rears.

“Jem’Hadar fighter!”  Someone yelled.

Riker picked himself up, steadying himself with the armrest of the 
command chair.  

“Resqueel is in pursuit...”

“On viewer!”

There it was - a tiny Klingon bird of prey taking on a far superior 
Jem’Hadar fighter to draw the attack off a state of the art Federation 
warship.  Today was not the day that the Enterprise needed to be
saved by a Klingon scoutship, Riker told himself.

“Mann, full speed ahead on a course with the Jem’Hadar.”

“Sir?”

“Chicken, Mr. Mann.”  Riker said, sitting as the starship beneath him 
surged forward.  “We’re going to play chicken.”

“Sir?”

“Old Earth term, ahead full.”

“Ahead full, aye-”

The deck pitched as Jem’Hadar weapons fire played over the saucer.  The
science station exploded and Ensign Brice went flying backwards, 
crashing to the deck.  

“Evasive!”  Riker ordered as the ship was hit again and again.  
“Medical team to the bridge!”

“Shields down to seventy-four percent!”  Seiyan called out, triggering 
the ship’s massive phaser arrays.  “Firing target solution alpha three 
zero!  Launching torpedoes!”

An explosian rocked the port side of the bridge, and Riker and Seiyan 
threw themselves to the deck to avoid the detritus that flew at them.  
Riker picked himself up quickly and caught back a curse as he saw 
Captain Picard lying slumped across the deck.

“Jem’Hadar coming around for another pass!”

“Get us out of here, Mr. Mann!  Helm’s alee!”

“Yes, sir,”  Mann said, pitching the Enterprise to port and 
slamming on the impulse power.  The Enterprise coursed forward, 
and a Jem’Hadar fighter actually raced to avoid being hit.  

“Contact the Segur,”  Riker said.  “Captain Dasz is in command 
of Attack Wing Three!”

“Aye, sir,”  Seiyan said, triggering another volley of quantum 
torpedoes that claimed one Jem’Hadar fighter and put another out of the
battle altogether.  

“Where did they come from?”  Riker barked as the turbolift doors opened
and two engineers and three nurses piled out, dragging two portable 
stretchers.  

“Dropped out of warp,”  Seiyan said.  

“Sir, there is a relay station bearing two two three mark three five 
six that is transmitting a low band distress call,”  Data spoke up.  
“It is on a frequence low enough not to be immediatly picked up.”

“Alter course to intercept,”  Riker ordered as Picard and Brice were 
whisked off the bridge and the remaining nurse saw to minor injuries.  
The two engineers were quickly at work at the science station, trying 
to replace the destroyed viewing console.

“Altering course, aye, sir,”  Mann said, and the Enterprise did 
an abrupt about face.  “Full impulse power.”

“The Segur is signalling the Venture, the Resqueel
and the Crystal Brown to cover us, Commander,”  Seiyan crowed.

“Three minutes until firing range, sir,”  Mann said.  “Relay station on
screen.”

“Sensor report?”  Riker asked.

Ensign Grishman frowned at his console.  “It’s about the size of an 
Athens-Class starship, sir.  Crew of forty-nine.  It’s equiped with 
long range sensors and a huge communications array.  I’m detecting...no
weapons, no shields.”

“Sir?”  Seiyan said.  “A pinpoint phaser shot could destroy the 
communications array.”

“Two minutes.”

“I wish we had that luxery,”  Riker finally said.  “Target two quantum 
torpedoes, prepare to fire on my mark.”

“Sir...”

Riker spun towards Seiyan.  “Lock on two quantum torpedoes, targeted 
on the Relay station.  Fire as soon as we’re in weapons range.”

“But...”

“But what?”

“We can shoot of their communications array...”

“And risk that they’ll repair it!  They’re summoning Dominion warships,
Commander!  We have to shut them down, and we need to destroy them to 
do it.  We can’t risk them jury-rigging something.”

Seiyan’s face hardened.  “Yes, sir.  Two quantum torpeodes locked and 
loaded.”

“Resqueel has been destroyed,”  Data reported.  “Two Jem’Hadar 
fighters have managed to evade Crystal Brown and Venture 
and are on a direct course to intercept.”

“Time to intercept?”

“Two and a half minutes, sir,”  Mann said.  “Firing range in twenty 
seconds.”

The Relay station appeared on the viewer.  It was an ugly thing, a 
boxy superstructure surrounded by a masive communications grid.  

“Firing range,”  Mann said quietly.

“Fire.”  Riker ordered.

Two torpedoes sparkled from  the underside of Enterprise’s 
saucer section, and the two weapons of destruction hurtled through 
space.  The first impacted in the communications grid, exploding and 
knocking the station off course.  The second flew through the explosian
and hit the relay station dead on.  The explosian completely destroyed 
the post.

No one cheered.  

“Sir,”  Data interupted the silence.  “I am detecting another Relay 
station.  Six hundred thousand kilometers away.  It is also 
broadcasting a low frequency distress call.”

“Move to intercept,”  Riker ordered.  

“Aye, sir,”  Mann said smoothly.

Riker turned to Ensign Aschenbach at the Damage Control post.  “Report.”

“Sickbay reports twenty-one casualties and six fatalaties,”  the ensign
replied.  “Shields are down to sixty-seven percent, but Commander La
Forge believes he can have them up to seventy-five if we manage to 
avoid any combat for the next five minutes.  Minor hull buckling on 
decks seven through ten.”

Riker cursed.  “The captain?”	

Aschenbach shook his head.  “Sickbay did not specify, sir.”

Riker swore.

“Jem’Hadar fighters closing, sir, one minute to intercept.”

“Cardinal is moving in, sir,”  Seiyan interupted.  “Forty-seven 
degrees, intercept with the Jem’Hadar...”

“She’s taking fire,”  Mann said.

Riker knew that the Cardinal was a New Orleans-Class starship, 
more than capable of holding off two Jem’Hadar fighters.  

“Continue on course.”

“Five point six minutes to intercept with Relay station two,”  Data 
pointed out.

“Cardinal has suffered a hull breach,”  Seiyan said.  “But - 
yes!  They took out one of the Jem’Hadar!”

“Second Jem’Hadar fighter continuing after us,”  Mann said.  “Primary 
mission complete!”  He suddenly crowed.

“Viewer,”  Riker ordered.

The Dominion shipyards appeared.  Klingon warships and Starfleet 
starships streaked away from the huge construction which was being 
consumed by brackets of fire and explosians.  

“Sir,”  Seiyan said, “the Aurora, Gallant and 
Endeavour are moving into orbital firing positions of the Torros 
Three Colony...”

“Never mind them, Commander,”  Riker said.  “Target station two.”

“Targeted - weapons range in twenty seconds.”

“Sir...”  Mann gasped.  “The Torros Three Colony...”

“Yes, I know,”  Riker said, trying not to think of the orbital weapons 
barrage that had destroyed the colony.  “There were very few 
civillians, Ensign.  It was mostly comprised of military technicians - 
including six of the Cardassian Union’s most renowned ship architects 
and engineers.”

“Yes, sir,”  Mann said.

“Incoming transmission from Admiral Brimler aboard the Gallant, 
sir,”  Data interupted.  “All starships are ordered to reform and set 
return course for Starbase 215, best possible speed.”

“Sir, we’re in firing range...”

“Fire,”  Riker ordered, not looking as the two quantum torpedoes 
blasted the second Relay station into metal shards and scraps of flesh.

“Jem’Hadar fighter still closing...”

“Full torpedo spread, fire at will.”
	
“Firing...damn!  I got a glancing blow, but they dodged the rest!”

“Evasive manuvers, pattern Riker three-six!”

“Riker three-six confirmed, sir!”

The Enterprise moved deftly to one side, but the small fighter 
stayed behind them, firing compressed energy against the ship’s hull.  

On the bridge, Riker slid into the conn station, not looking at the 
still form of Ensign Mann.  The acridic smell of the burning circuitry 
in the Conn panel wafted across the bridge.  “Continue firing, Seiyan!”

“Yes, sir,”  Seiyan muttered under her breath, triggering two phaser 
bursts.

Suddenly, a sleek Excelsior-Class starship streaked past overhead.  A 
second later Seiyan reported that the Jem’Hadar was done for. 

“Captain Desoto hailing from the Hood, Commander,”  Seiyan said.
 “He suggests that we get the hell out of here.”

“Fleet report?”	

“Twenty-four starships destroyed,”  Data said.  “Six others have been 
crippled.  Those ships are being evacuated and then destroyed by 
quantum torpedo.”

ACT THREE

===	Scene Four

Riker stood as a young ensign, Markham, slid into the conn station.  
He bent beside Mann and made sure the young man was still alive.  The 
nurse assured Riker that Mann would be back on duty soon.

“Sir, automated distress call from the Crystal Brown,”  Data
said.

“On speakers.”

“Captain Emily Gai...USS Crys...heavy dam...leaking plasma, 
we cannot go to war...immediate evacuation...”

“Set course.  As soon as we’re in range begin beaming the crew off,”  
Riker told Data.  He turned to Seiyan.  “Ready a single quantum 
torpedo.  As soon as have everyone off the Crystal Brown, 
destroy her.”

“Yes, sir.”

“Three minutes, Commander.”

“The Hood has gone to warp, sir.”

“Commander!”  Seiyan yelled out in sudden terror.  “Three Jem’Hadar 
battleships incoming!  They’re ten minutes out!”

Riker felt a chill.  The huge Jem’Hadar battlecruisers carried over 
2,500 crew and soldiers and swarms of the smaller fighters.  

“Then let’s not waste time.  How many ships are waiting to go to warp?”

“Nine...”

“Are all warp capable?”

“Except for the Crystal Brown and the Klingon flagship Iak’tonn .  
The Wetzler and Hannibal are transporting survivors off 
the Iak’tonn.”

“We are in transporter range, sir,”  Data said.  “Transporter control 
reports that we have begun mass evacuation.”

“The Wetzler and Hannibal have gone to warp.  The 
Iak’tonn  has been destroyed.  Only the Segur and the 
Constantine are standing by.”  

“Transportation complete, sir,”  Data said.  “We’ve rescued two hundred
and four crewmembers.”

“Data?”

“The Crystal Brown suffered ninety-five fatalaties, sir.”

“Seiyan?  Fire torpedo at will - then go to warp.”

As the Crystal Brown crumpled in a series of brilliant 
explosians, the Enterprise angled across space and raced into 
warp speed.  The Segur and the Constantine jumped into warp 
seconds later.
	
====	Scene 5

Two hours later, Riker walked out of the turbolift and grimaced at the 
sight that greeted him.   A smoldering burn marred across three bulk
heads.  An officer in a repair tunic was working hard to remove one of 
the panels.  

Riker turned and headed for sickbay.  He wasn’t prepared for what he 
saw.  Portable stretchers had been set up in the corridor and they were
all filled.  Other wounded crewmembers sat or stood against the wall.  
A few nurses tended to them.

Entering sickbay, Riker was relieved to see Captain Picard - with a 
bandage on his forehead - sitting on a bio bed as Nurse Ogawa tended 
to his arm.  “Captain?”  Riker asked.
	
“Number One,”  Picard said, smiling.  “A broken arm, but none the 
worse for wear otherwise.”

“You be careful,”  Ogawa warned.  “If Dr. Crusher has to knit your arm 
back up, she’s going to be very upset.”

“Yes, sir,”  Picard said.  He turned back to Riker.  “Report.”

Riker’s face was downcast.  “Deep Space Nine was evacuated fifteen 
minutes ago, sir.  But the mine field was erected, so the wormhole is 
going to be useless to the Dominion.”

“Torros Three?”

“Completely destroyed.  We lost a lot of good ships.”

“And onboard the Enterprise?”
	
“Thirteen dead,”  Riker said.  “Geordi’s working on a complete damage 
control list...but it looks like it could take awhile.”

“How long for repairs?”

“A couple of days...if we had a starbase to dock in.  New orders...
we’ve been shifted to Admiral Kvach’s command.”

Picard looked at Riker.  “Looks like we might be in for a long war.”

Riker nodded.  “Yes, sir.” 


TAG


“When I first took command of this post, all I wanted was to be 
somewhere else.  Anywhere but here.  But now, five years later, this 
station has become my home.  And you’ve become my family.  Leaving this
place, leaving you, is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.”

Captain Sisko stood on the Promenade, grateful to the assortment of 
aliens who had gathered.  Outside, the Dominion fleet came closer and 
closer.  The Defiant was eagerly awaiting orders to depart DS9 
for safer ports.

“But this war isn’t over yet,”  the Emmisary of the Prophets continued.
“I want you to know while we were keeping the Dominion force occupied, 
a combined Starfleet/Klingon task force crossed the border into 
Cardassia and destroyed the Dominion shipyards on Torros Three.”

A flicker of suprise ran through the assembled crowd.  Nog and Quark 
looked up, both smiling.  The Bajorans smiled as well, but theirs were 
hardfelt.  They were about to begin their second occupation in five 
years.  

“Our sacrifice made that victory possible.  But no victory could make 
this moment any easier for me.  And I promise...I will not rest until 
I stand with you again, here, in this place...where I belong.”

Eyes bored into him.  An occasional head nodded.  Linking him - keeping
him - to that promise.  And he would hold himself, as well.

Sisko tapped his combadge.  “Sisko to Defiant.  One to beam 
aboard.”

The blue lights that siezed Sisko and lifted him away gave final 
confirmation to the fears that many in the crowd had.  There would be 
no Starfleet navy coming to the rescue, pushing the Dominion away.  
There would be no hope of being saved an occupation.

Starfleet was running.  

For now.


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