Sunday, October 11, 2015

Hard Transitions--A Star Trek Fan Fiction Story



 (Author's notes: This is the second attempt at Star Trek fan fiction using characters I have created. The first story, "Out of the Darkness", seemed okay after near countless hours of me fixing the damn thing. Unfortunately, since this went far longer than I wanted it's part one of a multi-part story.)



The Freedom-class starships that served during the Dominion War can directly trace their linage back to the similar Saladin-class vessels first constructed by Starfleet in the early 2240s. Designated as destroyers meant to provide cover for larger Starfleet ships in times of conflict, Saladin-class vessels proved extremely versatile for planetary survey, short to mid-range exploration, and convoy security missions in unsecured sectors of Federation space. However it was during the Four-Years War between the Federation and the Klingon Empire that the Saladin and her sister ships proved their worth by being able to take heavy damage and continue on with their missions. For that reason alone the basic Saladin design has seen only relatively minor changes from its initial construction to the Freedom-class. The chief design upgrades starting in the late twenty-third century, were the elimination of the main deflector and the adoption of navigational shields along with far superior off-axis maneuvering field generators. 

USS Saladin


Like their predecessors, Freedom-class starships were able to blunt numerous Klingon attacks during the short but intense conflict of 2372. Klingon K'vort and Tha'linn-class light cruisers (both Birds-of-Prey designed ships) were totally ineffective when they faced Freedom-class vessels. During the Dominion War though, Freedom and her sister ships took heavy losses against both Jem'Hadar fighters and Cardassian gunboats armed with Dominion weapons allowing them to breakthrough and attack the heavier Starfleet and allied vessels they were supposed to protect. It took Starfleet months to develop countermeasures and defensive upgrades before they were able to meet the enemy on equal terms.

After the end of the Dominion War the Freedom-class vessels, along with nearly every other space-worthy Federation and allied ship, no matter how small or lightly armed, found themselves occupying numerous Cardassian star systems and facilities. All in an effort to contain any possible rogue elements or outside force from gaining access to to enough resources and ships to restart a war even the Klingons were happy had ended.




Mandith System, deep inside Cardassian space
7.2 lightyears away from the Cardassian homeworld
Stardate: 53211.6

“Occupation duty is vilest and most degrading type of service you can ask any Starfleet officer to perform.” Commander Mya Farias exclaimed from the operations duty station situated beside Lieutenant Joshua Curtis who was manning the helm of the Freedom-class, USS Justice.

“That may be the case commander,” Captain Ubaid Sallem said sitting in the command chair, “but I would rather avoid anyone getting their appendages on all the weapons stored at these shipyards. The Orion Syndicate alone is crazy enough to attempt a raid ”

On the main bridge viewscreen was a constantly updating tactical display of the Mandith system. At the center was the system's only star, a dim and unremarkable red dwarf orbited by two Class-K, Mars-like planets and a couple of billion kilometers beyond them, a Class-T super gas giant. What made the Mandith system vital to the Cardassians during the war and important enough for Starfleet to secure now that the conflict was over was the massive asteroid belt between the inner and outer portions of the star system. Consisting of thousands of proto-planets rich in vital strategic metals, the Cardassians had long ago built huge shipyards in the system along with other facilities including weapons factories and dilithium crystal extraction plants to take advantage of the resources.

With the successful allied invasion of the Cardassian homeworld, the Mandith system was quickly taken since the only real personnel left were military support and thousands of civilians living in the giant habitat cylinders. Cardassian resistance forces were in nominal control of everything but the Federation and Klingons had about a thousand Marines and warriors scattered in all the facilities making sure no one in the previous Dominion-allied regime attempted anything. Securing the system were three Starfleet vessels, the Justice, and two Steamrunner-class ships, the Hummingbird and Kraken.

“Any idea when Starfleet will redeploy or reassign us?” Curtis asks without taking his eyes away from his station.

“That's easy,” Captain Sallem said, “as soon as the allies stabilize the Cardassian homeworld including making sure the new government has control of most its territory. The Klingons, Romulans, and us want the Cardassians to stay a major player in galactic affairs. With the Breen still a mystery and the possibility the Dominion might sneak back through the Bajoran wormhole, no one wants a lot of fragmented space and disgruntled former Cardassian military types without something to do. No one is stupid enough to cut them all loose, while there will be exceptions it's far better to embrace as many of our former enemies as possible. Were we to completely wash away the old regime and try to rebuild Cardassian society would be playing occupier for decades. At least the way the allies and the Cardassian provisional government are trying to work it, our stay will be considerably shorter than if we try the alternative, ”

“So in other words,” the Lieutenant said, “we're here until they tell us not to be, which could be awhile.”

“That about covers it.” The captain said grinning.

“Captain,” The Vulcan tactical officer, Ensign T'roe said suddenly breaking the easy going mood of the bridge crew, “incoming transmission to all Starfleet vessels from the central civilian habitat, it's Gul Burrid and General Kartan.”

Ubaid Sallem frowned, Gul Burrid, a Cardassian captain in the resistance was also the provisional leader of all the system's civilian habitats and had told Starfleet that he wanted to keep some distance between him and the occupying forces to avoid looking like a puppet. If he was making a system wide call to Starfleet ships something quite bad was about to happen. Given that Burrid was making the announcement with Kartan, the Klingon commander of all the marines and warriors stationed on the facilities only made the situation worse.

As soon as Gul Burrid signaled the beginning of his transmission, Ensign T'roe switched the main viewer over to him. “To all Starfleet vessels, my security detail stopped an attempt to disable all the facility defenses in the Mandith system. The culprits were captured and after a search of their quarters and property we have determined they were agents for insurgents tied to the old Dominion-controlled regime. While the facility defenses are under our control and still functional in twenty-four hours three Keldon-class battleships and three Galor-class cruisers will arrive in an attempt to steal weapons supplies and even as many of the fifty unmanned and powered down warships currently in the Mandith system. General Kartan has already signaled the joint allied commands stationed around Cardassia Prime and informed them of our immediate need for massive reinforcements. Until they arrive we are on our own, but this system must not fall to the insurgents. As provisional director of the Mandith system I am prepared to enable the general self-destruct of all system wide facilities. Given the nature of how the shipyards, factories, and civilian habitats are constructed it would mean the deaths of over sixty-two thousand Cardassian civilians.”

Gul Burrid fell silent for several seconds and just looked at the camera. Showing Cardassians have a talent for understatement he added one last part. “This war has caused enough deaths, I'd rather avoid detonating the power cores and adding that number to the butcher's bill.”

General Kartan then took over looking severely grim in the face of yet another battle and what it meant if the insurgents gained access to the weapons and unmanned ships. “Captain Sallem, given the tactical superiority of your ship you are in overall command defending the space around the established facilities. I'll lead the marines and warriors and try to slow the insurgents down once they transport over to their intended targets. None of my warriors mind dying captain, but I rather not take any civilians with me and the other under my command. You know even going at maximum warp we'll have to hold the system for close to three hours before we can expect relief.”

“Understood general,” Sallem said, “we'll make it work.”

The viewscreen then went blank and the bridge of the Justice was quiet. It was Lieutenant Joshua Curtis who finally broke the silence. “If the insurgents get even ten of those unmanned ships they could restart the war.”

“That's their entire plan.” Captain Sallem said as he pushed a button on his command chair. “All hands this is the captain go to red alert and battle stations.”

Sallem caught Commander Mya Farias looking at him, while showing visible concern was out of the question he knew her well enough to know what was going through her head. Given the three Cardassian battleships and three heavy cruisers on their way to the Mandith star system the ships Starfleet had on hand didn't stand a chance.

***




Commander Connor Douglas stepped back from working on a field-deployable replicator and looked up to see what seemed a never ending line of Cardassian survivors patiently waiting for their small daily ration of food and water.

“Here's the problem Ensign Hasegawa,” he said handing the junior officer the burnt out transitional relay, “all the toxins in the source material are overloading replicator's ability to break them down. They buildup in the phase coils until the transitional relays overload. Might want to have the ship send down a couple of dozen extras and immediately have the old ones rebuilt.”

“Aye sir,” the young officer said before rushing off to the local Tactical Operation Center to have Douglas' orders implemented.

All around Connor hundreds of Starfleet personnel and Federation Marines were scrambling to feed and keep order in an attempt to prevent anymore death. A battalion of the Starfleet Corp of Engineers were stretched thin clearing rubble and building medical stations and temporary housing for Cardassian survivors. Medical personnel were either treating the injured or making the dying comfortable in their last few moments. It was utter chaos on a scale that defied the imagination of most civilized beings. And that was just in Connor's area of responsibility, some places on the planet were far worse.

It was noontime in the city of Pogar, at least what was left of it after the Jem'Hadar had followed the orders of their Changeling masters and began to lay waste to the Cardassian homeworld once the planet-wide resistance became so widespread and open that their control was in real jeopardy.






Most of Pogar was in ruins with smoke still rising from many of the hundreds of burnt and shattered high rise buildings. What was worse for the survivors though was that the Jem'Hadar troops had paid special attention to the city's power, medical, water, and waste reprocessing facilities making sure they were utterly destroyed. For a city with a prewar population of over fifteen million the destruction of the supporting civil infrastructure amounted to an attempt at genocide. Throw in the all the hazardous chemicals released from the fires and Pogar was the epitome of an Apocalyptic wasteland. The environmental situation was so bad Starfleet Command had issued orders for all planet-side personnel to wear hazard suits as well as breathing filters.

The terms of surrender forced all Dominion and Breen forces off Cardassia immediately, not that they wanted to stay around, they were on the verge of being massacred by an enraged population. On the other hand that left it to the allies to pick up the shattered pieces. Jem'Hardar forces were still in the process of leaving when relief and reconstructions teams began to be deployed. Despite the best efforts of everyone it was taking all the resources Starfleet, the Klingons, and even the Romulans could muster to stop the slide to utter collapse.

Connor had seen holographic displays of what the city looked like years before during that all too short a peaceful period between the end of the First Cardassian War and the start of the Dominion conflict. It had been a sparkling jewel situated by the Krill ocean, a place of sophisticated arts and sciences. Now most of its surviving population had been reduced to just this side of savagery with former enemies doing everything in their power to save them.

The formal surrender of both the Dominion and Cardassian forces may have ended the devastating armed conflict that engulfed much of the galaxy. But to Connor it was clear that like in all previous conflicts the innocent were going to have to pay the price for the few who started the war. A bit of bile rose up in Connor's stomach as he remembered reading about how his own species had once justified war because of all the technological progress it brought never once thinking of all the innocent men, women, and children it killed in the process.

A chirp from his combadge forced Connor back to the present. “Connor here,” he said after tapping the device located on the left side of his uniform.

“Commander,” the voice said coming tiny speaker, “ this is Chief Huang at the TOC, priority incoming message from Captain Thrawn for your eyes and ear only.”

“Acknowledged chief, I'm on my way.” Douglas answered breaking into a run wondering what in the name of the Great Bird of the Galaxy had gone wrong now.

Connor arrived at the perimeter of the TOC ten minutes later but was forced to wait as a marine sentry did the required security scan before letting him inside. The prefab building was one of the first things constructed on site as the recovery efforts quickly ramped up. Insider were over two dozen Starfleet and marine personnel coordinating efforts in the area surrounding Pogar city. From the moment it had become fully operational, it had immediately went to a full twenty-seven hour Cardassia day work schedule with all indication the pace would only get worse before things even hinted at getting better.


While Starfleet personnel from the lowest enlisted to the most senior admiral on site would have bristled at being called a military occupation force with the Cardassians considered a defeated enemy, commonsense still required that certain operations be classified. One of those operations included high-level communications that had to be received in a secure environment.

After being cleared to enter the TOC, Connor proceeded to the second floor of the building and entered a small room. To Connor, all the skulduggery was taking vital moments away from him receiving the message but he had to figure that if the odorous organic waste had hit the air recirculation and filtration device Captain Thrawn would have had him beam over to his current location.

The small room was actually a type of holodeck and within seconds an entirely different location coalesced around Connor. The image that took shape was of a large office dominated by an impressively carved table with his Andorian captain the lone person sitting at it. Behind him were several windows showing another shattered city. Connor immediately recognized it as the Cardassian capital where his captain was assisting diplomatic negotiations in establishing a new government for their former enemy.

“Captain Thrawn,” Connor said, “I'm afraid this has to be extremely bad news to pull me away from relief efforts but I'm at a loss as to why you didn't have the Saratoga just beam me to you.”

“You're correct Connor,” Thrawn said, “but this situation requires I talk with you personally, if you can call a holo-conference such a thing. First thing, the Federation State Department has offering me the position of ambassador to Cardassia and I have accepted. Of course given the current situation, this means I will be relinquishing my command of the Saratoga immediately. Secondly, I have recommended to Starfleet Command that they promote you to the rank of captain and that, naturally, you assume command of our ship. You have been with her from the moment she first left dry dock and through the long repair and refit after the Battle of the Tyra System. You have shed enough blood on the Saratoga's decks that you might as well consider it a blood relation.”

Connor held up his hand,”What do you mean current situation captain?” He asked feeling as if Thrawn was about to reveal the real reason the formal ceremonies associated with a major change in command were going to be skipped.

“The Cardassian in charge of the Mandith system, a little over seven lightyears away from here, has learned that rogue elements of the previous regime are en route and are going to to try and seize the fifty deactivated warships currently sitting in dry dock. If they capture even a small number of those warships and can establish an independent government, it will throw our section of the galaxy back into chaos. It is believed they will arrive in about twenty-four standard hours and given the distance from here to Mandith our forces will have to hold the system for at least three hours before reinforcements can arrive. Starfleet is now organizing a relief force and it will leave within minutes. Your first mission as captain of the Saratoga will be as part of that armada.”

Thrawn hesitated for a second before he continued and Connor knew this last piece of news would be the worst. “Connor, there are only three starships holding the system, two Steamrunner-class starships and the USS Justice.”

Connor tried to ignore the news that is former fiance and former best friend were about to engage in a near hopeless battle. But Thrawn had served around humans long enough to see the look of shock and concern on his friend's face.

“I know my duty as a Starfleet officer, Captain Thrawn,” Connor said. “And I'll make sure the Saratoga and her crew live up to those standards.”


The meeting with Thrawn ended abruptly without the two men saying any other words. Time and circumstance just wouldn't allow that luxury. Connor just left the small holographic conference room and exited the building. Standing outside of the TOC, Connor Douglas gave himself a moment to organize his thoughts. He had joined Starfleet to explore strange new worlds and seek out new civilizations, not prattle about playing the same game that almost drove humans extinct back on Earth. It was there he made a promise to himself, that after this last battle he would do everything possible to see his ship returned to that mission.

Saratoga,” Connor said after tapping his combadge, “this is Captain Douglas, beam me up to Transporter Room One and prepare all hands for emergency departure.”

USS Saratoga

What Cardassians look like.

5 comments:

Pixel Peeper said...

Your story makes me want to go back and watch all the Star Trek episodes again. I watched them as a teenager and forgot so much of it. I know at one point all the episodes were on Amazon Prime. I should check again...

Not directly related to your post, but I'm curious - have you seen the movie The Martian yet?

Marja said...

My husband would love this He is a star trek fan and starships. I do love holograms. I have seen a few. You have such an imagination just amazing

Beach Bum said...

Pixel: I haven't had a chance to go see "The Martian" yet. I'm going to attempt to sneak out of the house and go sometime Saturday.

Marja: Thanks! I hope he is doing well.

The Bug said...

Another nail-biter here - when do we get the next installment? ;)

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