Captain's Log, USS Berlin, Captain Joshua Kennedy commanding. Our patrol of the outer sectors has thus far been quiet, but productive...
"Captain, I am getting an urgent message from the Galmeer."
"The Galmeer? We only left a week ago. Put it on."
The screen hissed and scattered, a pale image came though of a flat faced humanoid, its expression unreadable. "Please, all who hear, aid us. Invaders come, we have no weapons. Our surrender they demand. We se..." The image faded out.
"Working on it Captain."
"Mr. Tagrun best speed for Galron."
"Aye, aye sir, best speed for Galron."
The screen flickered back. "...ding troops. Federation, please come to us, we beseech thee, come and save our liberty. Please, a... ...ere, aid... ...ers com..."
"It's breaking up badly Sir. It looks like a deliberate jamming attempt."
Kennedy sat straighter in the center seat. "That was a direct appeal for aid, to us. Damn, no one attacks my first contact and gets away with it. Mr. Yallrith, who could launch such an attack near this sector?"
"Acceptians sir, they are the only power we are aware of. However, I would council against haste in judgment. They are the only ones we are aware of."
"Quite. I don't think a second opinion is required. Mr. Tagrun, what is our ETA?"
"24.451 hours Sir."
"Can you give me more speed?"
"No Sir, not and have any battle reserve."
"Damn. It will have to do, work on it. All hands, prepare your sections for possible battle. We may get to use this ship for its intended purpose after all. Mr. Yallrith, inform Starfleet of the message and our intention to investigate, you have the con." Kennedy strode into his ready room.
Eyes around the bridge watched him. Few looked as eager as he did to try the Berlin under fire.
The crowd strained their collective vision as if to summon the desired sight form the cloudless sky. A few who were more prudent and prepared watched on PADDs and tricorders as the blips made their slow careful decent. At last someone cried out, their vision superior to the rest and all eyes followed the guiding digit to the specks that grew in size as they approached.
The thunder of the massive engines rumbled across the assembled as the specks became ships. Slowly they settled into the great grassy field that had been prepared for them before the shinning town. Lumbering whales of the sky they lowered massive legs and settled to earth with exaggerated care.
No sooner had the massive pillars taken the weight of the leading ship than the ramp lowered from the nose. The crowd surged forward, eager to greet the arrivals. Two groups came carefully down the ramp. Two young men supported an elder. Four others carried the litter of a gravid woman, her abdomen rippling with the efforts of labor. Respectfully they passed their charges to those waiting, not leaving the ramp themselves.
The litter was laid on the grass, and the old one, his legs weak with the effort settled into the grass beside it with a sigh. Brittle hands clutched at the soil, and rummy eyes brimmed with tears as he lifted the soil to his nose.
"Grass! Much my grandam, much she spoke of grass."
Attendants fussed over the gravid woman, she shifted herself slightly, and with a final effort and cry her child slipped from her body, and on to the warm earth. The infant struggled from its sac and cried out. Fluid from its birth soaked the ground around it. The cry was echoed form the assembled crowd, and from the ship within.
Ramps from the other ships lowered. James Timothy Kirk stepped forward, and lifted the child, a blade of grass clutched in its fist.
"Behold, new life, on a new world! Children of the Sixliss, come forth and claim your Home!"
They swarmed down the ramps, women, men, children, young and old alike The crowd mingled with the newcomers, and they rejoiced together.
Kirk and his four-legged companion shielded the new Mother, her child, and the old one from the stream of joyous arrivals. They waited while the attendants aided her in cleaning herself, her child, and feeding it. Quickly the crowd moved past.
Once the crowd was clear Kirk helped the Mother to her feet.
"Can you come Rliss?"
"Yes Kirk Captain." She arranged the over eager child in her arms.
Kirk reached down to the old one who lay as if asleep, his hand clutched into the soil of the new world. He didn't move. Kirk slowly sat down beside him and felt for the touch of a mind.
The USS Berlin approached the edges of the Galrun system. She was as armed and ready as a crew of Starfleet's best could make her.
"I am reading seven ships Captain. I am not reading the Galmeer's navigational buoys."
"Acceptian, six strikers and one of those big mother ships."
Kennedy settled himself in the seat. "Confirm red alert. Let us see what the birds have to say for themselves."
"Aye aye Sir, I am hailing the Acceptian Mothership."
"This the Acceptian Ship Vigilant, First Tercert commanding. What is your business Federation ship?"
"This is Captain Kennedy of the USS Berlin. We have received a distress call from this world and are answering it."
"There is no distress. This system is Acceptian territory. You will..."
"I heard it differently from the people of this planet First Tercert. I will not accept differently until I hear it from the planetary officials, with my own assurance they are not under duress. Oh, and your claims are not accepted."
"You are speaking dangerous words Captain Kennedy."
"I have a valid request for help, and I am not ignoring it. Your ships are the ones I find 'involved'."
"You are making a serious error."
"I don't think so. Move your vessels out of tactical range from Galron until I confirm that no emergency exists with the Galmeer."
Flanders said. "Sir, they cut channel. The Strikers are moving to intercept Sir."
"Well well, they want to dance. Heads up, target the lead ship, wait till they open fire. Warp power to the shields. Mr. Tagrun, once we give them some torpedoes to play with, dance around them and run straight for the Vigilant. We are taking her down first."
Mr. Yallrith looked up. "Captain, I do not advise engua..."
"If an old tub like the Kongo can handle the Vigilant Mr. Yallrith, a Sovereign class frigate can walk all over it."
Tagrun said. "Tactical contact in 10 seconds."
The Berlin and the Strikers passed each other at full impulse. Beams and torpedoes slashed between the ships, each giving and taking her share of hits. Fire erupted from the lead Striker as the Berlin shuddered under the impacts of the Striker's weapons.
Kennedy swung around as the lights came up. "Report!"
"Shields 90%, weapons fully operational, we have 80% warp power, full impulse, minor casualties being reported. One Striker looks to be out of it."
"We can take more of that, they can't. Mr. Flanders, target the Vigilant, full salvo."
First Tercert looked down from the command throne as the Berlin and his Strikers passed one another. He puffed slightly as the Bright Talon reeled from the hits and fell off the chase. The Federation ship didn't look touched. His second watched beside him.
"The quantum torpedoes, we have little defense."
"Then we shall employ offense Second. Actions?"
Sensor second replied. "The Federation ship is closing with Vigilant."
"All weapons that will bear, full power. I will not make Acertor's error."
"Sir!" Said Mr. Yallrith. "I do not consider this course of action prudent."
"You're dismissed dammit. Full impulse, hit her with the works!"
The Berlin closed with the Vigilant, and the same second both fired. Beams and stream of torpedoes flowed from the Berlin as bolts of fire leapt from the side of the Vigilant. The Vigilant's broadside hammered home and the Berlin shook like a rat in the teeth of a terrier.
First Tercert picked himself up from the floor, the command pit was in chaos below him. Alarms and fires everywhere. He looked about for his second and found him with a sliver of the hull through his chest.
"Report!" He screamed to the general chaos about him.
A Bluto staggered from the haze. "We have numerous hull breaches, we have lost warp power and we are losing main command. We hit the enemy, effect unknown."
Tercert looked about smoke was filling the compartment. "Is the enemy a threat?"
"I do not believe so sir!"
"Evacuate main command, order the Strikers to finish it off."
"By your order."
Kennedy dragged himself back to the command seat. "Report!"
Smoke filled the bridge, the crackle of the fire suppression system was loud and the smoke was not clearing.
"Here, sir." Said a small, weak voice.
Kennedy staggered over to find Lieutenant Yallrith staring at the overhead.
Yallrith stared unseeing. "I, do, not, con, sid... pru..."
Captain Kennedy limped around to the tactical station pushing the body of Lieutenant Commander Flanders aside. Most of the panel was ruined, a few lights blinked. He hit the ship wide.
"Any hands, report?"
"Medical, bridge, we have casualties from all over the ship, we can't get to many of them."
"Engineering Sir, we are fighting for power. It's a mess down here."
"Battle Bridge Captain, we are operational, indicators show most of the ship is not."
"What are we facing?"
"Five of the Strikers are coming around for us."
"We have three torpedoes loaded, no phasers, no shields."
"Do they bear?"
"Bridge, engineering, can you give me anything, and now?"
"No sir, no chance of it. The intermix core has shut down. Main reactors are off line as well. I might, summon up a tenth impulse, if the engines are intact enough to not blow up."
Captain Kennedy pounded the panel in front of him in impotent fury. "Mr. Lork, sound abandon ship."
"How long til they get here?"
"Fifteen, twenty minutes at most."
"Evacuation must be complete in fifteen minutes."
"Understood sir I am sending a general distress message and launching the marker buoy."
The intercom sputtered "All hand, all hands abandon ship, abandon ship. Fifteen minutes for abandon ship."
Kennedy moved to the mostly intact secondary sciences station. "Computer?"
"Identify, Captain, Kennedy, Joshua Horatio. Code, Alpha, Charlie, Trafalgar."
"Begin destruct sequence, omega, alpha omega one B."
First Tercert paced from station to station. The fight for the Vigilant had turned in favor of the crew. The Federation warship's torpedoes had wrecked havoc on his pride, but the ship would now survive.
A Third turned from his panel. "Sir, Defender reporting. He wants instruction."
"Put him through."
"First Casor, Sir. The Federation ship is launching lifeboats."
"We will not shoot lifeboats. What is the condition of the Federation ship?"
"Badly damaged First. It is unshielded and shows no sign of working warp drives."
"Let the Federation crew evacuate, then we can examine her at leisure."
"The lifeboats are heading for reentry."
"Well, they can see their friends the Galmeer then, can't they."
"They will not trouble us."
The view in the screen suddenly bobbled.
Tercert's crest popped up. "Casor, Report."
"The Federation ship is exploding and breaking up, we are in no danger."
"Shards. Report accepted. See what you can recover."
The Party was a mix of joy and melancholy. Only the mood of the Sixliss was unaffected by the death of the Elder. Half a day into the affair Teesic tisked over Kirk's distress.
"Captain, very old was he, very old indeed. Alive he wanted to be so to see green grass."
"But to die so soon after arrival."
"Expected it was. Fighting death he has since first you came. Dying he was then. His grandam was last of all of us to see the old world. Stories she told him, and pictures showed him when very young he was. Remembered he did all his life. So memories of the old world, we have on the new. He gave the legacy."
**I can understand this Tim.**
"Yes, miracle it is that this long we have kept him alive."
**He was on full life support until minutes before he was led down the ramp.**
"Did he need it?"
"Some, yes. Requested it he did so to live til now. Saved his short strength it did, long enough."
"There are still things I have to learn."
**You don't understand.**
"No, and I am not going to try today. I will accept your judgment Teesic, and enjoy the party."
"A moment it is that you deserve."
"Could have been any other Starship Captain."
"But it is you."
"Lieutenant Sorbo Sir, I have a live message from Starfleet Command, code one, your eyes only."
"Beam me up Mr. Sorbo."
Kirk sat at his desk. He swung the monitor around. "Tathilan, I'm ready."
The Starfleet logo popped up briefly to be quickly replaced by Admiral Hull.
"Captain Kirk, your location is secure?"
"We have received a distress message from the USS Berlin. The message reported that they were under attack by Acceptian forces in the Galron system while lending requested assistance to the Galmeer."
"Aren't they a new contact."
"Yes, the Berlin's last report was the ship was breaking up and they were abandoning ship."
"What is it you need Sir?"
"We want you to check it out. Your commission as Fleet Captain is confirmed. You have the Hadian present at Newhome?"
"Yes Sir. I am hardly the most senior Captain available."
"You are however the Captain with the most experience handling the Acceptians."
"That experience is precious little looked at objectively Sir."
"But it is precious little more than any other Captain has."
"Understood Sir. I accept the commission."
"The Hadian will be the second element in your fleet. Thus far I can confirm that you will have the Akira class Stuart, two seamrunners, the Maui and the Appalacia, the manta class Questing and her escorts Unity class Xanadu and Fastness. We are sending the Nebula class Endeavor as well, but she might not reach you in time to be of use."
"That's a lot of firepower Sir, you expect shooting?"
"We have already lost the Berlin, we want a sufficient show of force to prevent further shooting."
"What is my mission Sir."
"Stop the invasion, recover the Berlin survivors, and try not to start a war."
"Can I get a hospital ship into the fleet?"
"Good idea, I'll get back to you on that. Begin at once, time is critical."
"Yes Sir. One more thing, Marines. I have a core of 100, who has the closest force, and how fast can it move?"
"You expect to need ground forces?"
"Unknown, but if the Acceptians are invading, they will have ground forces we may need to counter. Better to have them and not need then than need them and not have them."
"Agreed, I will see what can be found. Anything else Commodore?
"No Sir, we will be underway within the hour."
"Good luck Commodore. Hull out."
"Kirk to bridge. Recall all of the crew at once. Contact Hadrian likewise. And I want to speak with Captain Ap Owen as soon as possible. We will be underway within the hour."
"Aye, aye Sir."
Kirk went to the replicator in his ready room. "Rank pip, solid." The requested item appeared. Kirk took it and fastened it in line with the four he normally wore. He checked the adjustment in the head mirror. A shiver of dread ran down his spine at the sight. A fleet command never meant an easy time, and this was fleet command in crisis, his first.
**Penny for your thoughts?**
**Save your money, they are all chaotic.**
**You have everyone pulling behind you Tim. Alone as you feel, you are not alone.**
**And a comfort that is.**
**Captain Ap Owen has requested permission to board.**
**Granted, I'll meet her in my quarters.**
Kirk left the ready room. He felt the looks and questions as he entered the trubolift.
Tercert paced the confines of the fallback command center. It lacked all the grandeur and majesty of the Vigilant's main command center. It was coldly functional, and too close to his inferiors. Second Taggal had survived his wound, it was a miracle, and an unfortunate one. It would be better to have his own choice in the Second seat. Third Mar'trep saluted him.
"I have the full damage report."
"The Vigilant herself is without warp drive, main command is currently uninhabited. The deck apes have confirmed that with the atmosphere fully vented, all fires are out, damage is extensive and hull repairs are underway. The off side warp nacelle is heavily damaged. Engineering is doubtful we can repair it without a dockship. They estimate we will have warp drives within the week, but we will lack any maneuverability, and we will be well below maximum speed. The majority of the remaining damage was to the landtroop quarters. Fortunately the landtroops were not in them. Total casualties for the Vigilant, 432 injured, 57 dead or missing.
The Bright Talon is effectively destroyed. Secondary explosions ripped through the engineering sections and the fuel tanks ignited. She broke her back. Casualties are 172 wounded, 38 killed."
"Third, that is the ship's entire complement."
"The other strikers suffered minor damage a combined 45 casualties and 4 dead."
"A heavy bone bill for a brush with one ship."
"Defender was in contact with the Federation ship?"
"Yes first, the destruction was most complete. Bits of hull and framing were all that was recovered."
"Any of those torpedoes?"
"No First, from the effect of the destruction, it started in her magazines. He also got off a message, unjammed."
"Did Casor happen to note where the lifeboats landed?"
Yes he did."
"Good, as soon as troops can be spared, I want the Federationers found. If that criminal Kennedy is found alive we will make an example of him."
"Captain Ap Owen, good to see you."
"I have a feeling the reason isn't 'good' however."
"No, the quick of it is Kennedy got the Berlin destroyed trying to fight off an Acceptian invasion of the Galmeer. We, and a few other ships are assigned to clean up the mess."
"How bad is the mess?"
"We don't know yet. I hate to keep you on pins and needles but I will not do a full briefing until I can pull everything together, and everyone is present."
"Oh, yes, I'll need your CIC team as well."
"I'll have them beam over before we leave."
"Very good Captain. And Gwen, thanks for being here."
"Commodore... I hope that is temporary Tim, and I could wish for better circumstances."
"Agreed. We have fifteen minutes to departure."
"I have better get back to the Hadrian and get that team to you. Good luck"
"Tathilan, beam Captain Ap Owen from here."
"Captain I really must speak with you. I have been trying to get hold of your for nearly an hour."
"Ambassador, I have been in conference with Commodore Kirk on the Kongo, I am sure this was explained to you."
"Yes, yes, but this is urgent. You can't simply leave me and my staff on this backwater, we have important business to conduct."
"Ambassador, our destination is exactly opposite the direction you wish to go. Urgent orders are taking us elsewhere. There are plenty of ships present than can get your home."
"What could be more urgent than my business? These vessels are not worthy of an Ambassador. I insist you take me with you."
Ap Owen took firm grip of her tongue. "I am quite willing to take you with me Ambassador, however we are likely sailing into harm's way, and you will not get home in any due time. Besides, the Commodore is on the Kongo."
"Commodore? But I wasn't informed of any Commodores in the area."
"A recent promotion Ambassador. Now, you can stay on the Hadrian, and possibly get shot at, request permission to transfer to the Kongo, with the Commodore, and possibly get shot at, or you can arrange for other transportation here, and not get shot at. But you must make your decision quickly, we are leaving in five minutes, no matter where you are.
Continued in part two
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The Above is a work of fiction. All characters are fictional, any resemblance to persons living or dead is coincidental.
Copyright © Garry Stahl: Febuary 2001. All rights reserved, re-print only with permission.