Things were not going well though Tralle, the Vorta who acted as the Dominion representative in this sector. It had been going so well before. The Dominion had been beating the Federation in virtually every battle in this war. Now, in what amounted to a few weeks, every had gone to ruin for the Dominion. He had been cloned to act as an administrator for the Changelings but he certainly did not know how to deal with recent events.
The whole situation seemed to start with a Cardassian patrol being ambushed and destroyed on the edge of what the humans called 'The Badlands'. The loss of a handful of Cardassian ship was insignificant but it began an alarming pattern. Changeling spies within the Federation had discovered that a new captain had come back from that battle but nothing was know about her. It was like they had no records of her existing. He wondered if this new captain had anything to do with the present situation.
Then there was the Federations retaking of Tylar. The loss of ships there and all indications had been than any Federation attacks would be crushed. He had no idea what could have gone wrong. The Jem-Hadar that had been commander of the systems forces had been one of his best.
Now, the losses of convoys were on the way to crippling his forces. The supply on White, the drug used by the Jem-Hadar, was so low that he had to ration it and he was afraid he would have to cut rations of the drug even further. If he lost control over his Jem-Hadar, they would lose the sector. He was almost as sort in general supplies and ordnance as he was in the drug. The only reason he was getting some supplies through was due to the fact that he had detached two thirds of his light attack ships to perform convoy escort and to hunt the raiders. The extra maintenance and ordnance expended by these escorts and hunting parties were drawing heavily on his remaining supplies. He could not afford to not operate the groups because then virtually no supplies would get though then. The pirates were Maquis vessels that had gotten cloaking devices from somewhere. His information had come from the examination of the wreckage of the small number of pirate vessels that his forces had managed to destroy. One problem was that the Maquis had managed to capture a couple of convoys virtually intact before convoy escorts were introduced. As a result, the Marquis were well equipped. Even worse though was the tactics that they used. The Maquis did not attack convoys the way that he would expect the Klingons would attack convoys. He had initially thought that it had been Klingon light forces attacking his supply vessels and had expected them to revert to attacking his escort vessels once the convoys were properly escorted. Instead, the Maquis raiders did their best to leave the escorts alone and simply attack the supply vessels. He had to admit that the tactic was the smartest for the Maquis forces. The Maquis vessels were badly outclassed by the Jem-Hadar light attack ships and would take crippling losses if the attempted to fight.
With the lack of supplies and the large number of warships that he had been forced to detach, he would have a hard time dealing with Federation raids in many sectors. His mind kept going in circles thinking about it. He could not help it.
He looked up from his desk to a Jem-Hadar officer who just entered his office. The Jem-Hadar reported, "We have just detected a large force coming this way. Course indicates a straight line course from where we think the staging area for the Federation's Twelfth Fleet. The number of ships makes it seem likely that it is all the ships that they have available assuming a number are down for repairs. The Jem-Hadar handed the Vorta a data pad as he spoke.
Tralle looked at the data pad. The Dominion still had a sizeable force advantage against the Federation forces heading towards the system although they could severely hurt him. Still, he could win this battle and it would give him victory in this system. Without having to be prepared for a major battle, he could use more of his forces to protect convoys and hunt down the remaining Maquis pirates. If the Federation had attacked some of his less defended systems, he might have been forced to pull more ships from him main forces and an attack like this could have gone badly but the Federation fleet against him simply was not large enough to defeat him in battle.
One danger was that engaging them near his supply facilities might endanger them so it would be best if his ships engaged away from the facilities. He stood up from his desk and said quietly to the Jem-Hadar, "Have all ships put on alert, we are going out to greet them."
This was going to be the largest battle Captain Gwendolyn Ross had ever fought in outside of a simulator. If she won or lost, there would be casualties. Both the training and the battle plan was hers. In the weeks proceeding this moment, she had done everything she could to reduce the Federations casualties in the next few hours. She had drilled them remorselessly on using their ship’s phasers against photon torpedoes. None of the ships had the Avenger's level of success but all ships were scoring at least 35% and the flagship was closing on a hit ratio of 50%. In addition to training the other captains and their crews to use their phasers for point defense, she had been also training them to use their ships maneuverability more effectively. She was training them to make random dodges as well as to spin their vessels so that both the forward and after torpedo launchers could be fired on the same bearing. While not all Federation class carried rear firing torpedo launchers, averaging out the number of rear torpedo launchers still added over fifty percent to the number of torpedoes that could be fired at one time. If a large number of the light attack ships had been detached for convoy duty, this should give the Twelfth Fleet about an equal number of torpedo tubes on capital ships useable in the initial engagement.
That was without fighters, With the fighters, the amount of torpedoes that could be fired would be several times greater than that. Of course, it would only be the first volley but it should still be quite impressive. At first, she had considered using the fighters in a parallel attack to her capital ships. They could then strike with surprise from a totally unexpected direction. She decided to go for a more conservative plan instead. The Twelfth fleet would instead tow the fighters behind them using tractor beams. The tractor beams would be harder to detect than the drive fields of the fighters. As soon as the Dominion forces got within Torpedo range, all of the fighters would pull to the sides and front of the capital ships. At that point, all capital ships and fighters of the Twelfth fleet would open fire simultaneously with torpedo launchers. Her tactic on the first volley was to target the vessels with the most torpedo launchers yet the least protected. She had targetted all of her first volley on the Cardassian ships that made up almost a third of the Dominion fleet ahead of the Twelfth Fleet in this sector. She planned to make the Jem-Hadar attack ships, being small and relatively lightly armored, but carrying a lot of firepower the target for her later volleys. If her battle plan worked out properly, by the time the two forces reached beam weapon range, the Twelfth Fleet would have a decisive advantage over the Dominion forces arrayed against her.
Tralle decided he would accompany the Jem-Hadar flag ship. If the Federation attempted to use their fighters to get the Cardassian ships to leave formation to chase them like in a previous battle, he figured he would be the most able to keep their ships with the main strike force. He had learned his lesson about interfering in battle and planned to allow the Jem-Hadar fleet commander to make any necessary tactical decisions.
The Jem-Hadar commander hoped that the Vorta would be smart enough to leave him alone in the battle. He had been under several who had attempted to dictate battle tactics to disastrous results. The Federation forces were acting quite strangely and had never seen anything quite like it. Their main tactic of acceleration to quarter impulse speed seemed normal enough although foolish. The speed the ships were going, they would be unable to disengage from his forces and would end up at energy weapon range before the could stop and turn around. The rest he did not understand. It looked like the ships warp fields and shields were oscillating and he was having trouble targeting the ships. In addition, the ships were moving side to side. He supposed that was to make them harder to hit.
The Jem-Hadar commander stated to the Vorta "Sir, my plan is to concentrate on the center vessels which are most of the larger vessel. While they are the toughest, they most likely carry the flag officers and destroying them is most like to create confusion in the other fleet. It might actually cause each ship to operate independently. Some will try and attack while others would try and escape enabling us to destroy their forces in detail." Trelle nodded his agreement to the commander. The truth was that the attack was already programmed into the vessels computer and it was far too late for the Vorta to do anything about it.
At the moment the Jem-Hadar commander was telling the Vorta his battle plan, the Federation fleet prepared to spring its trap. Captain Ross looked at her Executive Officer make some minor changes to the programming of the attack but for the most part they were spectators, just like the Jem-Hadar and Vorta were, at this point. The attack parameters for the Torpedo strike were already programmed into the vessels computers and were be executed in about ten seconds when the two forces got within range of each other.
As the ten second mark was reached, the fighters activated their drives and pulled forward of the Capital ships both to help defend the larger vessels and to be able to fire their torpedoes without the cruisers and frigates being in the way. On computer control, the Avenger first fired its rear launchers and then as the ship spun back around, its forward launchers a second later. All of the other ships and fighters of the Twelfth fleet fired like clockwork and the largest volley of torpedoes ever launched headed for the Dominion fleet. The Dominion force fired just a few seconds later but the number of missiles was pitiful in comparison. As well, they were not fired virtually simultaneously and would be much easier targets to hit.
The Jem-Hadar fleet commander watched the new development with surprise. There was nothing her could do now. He turned to look at the Trelle to see if the Vorta had any new orders but the Vorta was simply staring at the tactical screen. Well, at least he was not interfering.
As the fleet commander watched, the Federation force fired a second volley. This one was composed of less torpedoes but still about fifty percent more than might be expected for the ships he saw on his sensors. Obviously the first volley was mostly fired from fighters but he needed to figure out why the second volley was still so heavy. He thought about the oscillating fields were the answer. Spinning a ship might cause something very similar to this and would allow both forward and rear launchers to be used. If he was able to beat the Federation force, he would see about adapting it for his own ships.
Just as he though about how the Federation force was firing so many torpedoes, the Dominion force were hit by the massive first volley of Torpedoes. The Jem-Hadar commander had not thought that they would be virtually all targeted at the weaker Cardassian ships or he may have attempted to protect them by putting the heavier armored Jem-Hadar battle cruisers between the torpedoes and the lighter ships. It likely would not have mattered anyway. Half of the Cardassian ships were destroyed outright or crippled. Virtually all of the other Cardassian vessels were badly damage. Two Cardassian captains panicked and attempted to maneuver out of the formation and make a run for it.
The Dominion torpedoes reached the Federation forces only a few seconds later but the Federation was far more ready and there was also a far smaller total number of torpedoes fired at the Federation ship. Still, a large number of torpedoes were targeted on a comparatively small number of vessels and chances are some of the Torpedoes would get through. Almost half of the torpedoes fired against the Twelfth Fleet were unable to look onto targets. A combination of the strange warp fields and radical maneuvers confused the missiles. The Avenger was near the middle of the fleet and while not one of the larger vessels was targeted with twelve torpedoes. Fighters destroyed three of the missiles before they reach the Avenger and four more missiles were confused by the ship’s maneuvers. Five remained targeted and while the phaser banks were able to take out four more torpedoes, one struck the Avenger. The shield was weakened bu held. The Bright Star was the very center of the formation and was targeted more than any other vessel. It had multiple hits and actually had its shields breached.
As the two forces closed, the Federation force decelerated. This would enable them to remain within missile range longer and allow them to keep beam range once reached. A fast pass between the two groups would probably allow the Dominion force to escape with comparatively minor damage. The two groups slowly advanced to beam weapon range and the numerical superiority shifted to the Federation forces as the ranges shrank. The Dominion commander simply did not have enough speed to accelerate fast enough to escape the Federation ships. The follow up torpedo volley, while much smaller than initial volley, struck the Jem-Hadar light attack vessels. The next few volleys destroyed many of the remaining Cardassian vessels and then shifted to the Jem-Hadar capital ships. While few were outright destroyed, many were badly damaged. The number of missiles fired back at the Federation fleet diminished as ranges decreased but still the Federation vessels were hit and took damage. Few were severely damaged. The combination of radical maneuvering and using phasers as point defense had greatly reduced the effectiveness of the Dominion torpedoes. There were exceptions though, the Bright Star had received multiple more hits being the center of the formation and lost her forward torpedo launchers and one of her phaser arrays. The Avenger had taken a bit of light damage although it was limited to hull damage. Wearing vacuum survival suits enabled most of the crew in those sections to survive where if they had not worn them, they would have died.
Captain Ross watched as the Avenger got within range of a Jem-Hadar battlecruiser. The battlecruiser fired a moment before the Avenger and the frigate received three more hits. Another inflicted more light hull damage but the other were more serious. One inflicted damage on one of her warp drive supports and the other wiped out one of her port phaser banks. It was the Avengers turn to fire back and she was supported by three destroyers and a cruiser. While individually weaker, the Jem-Hadar vessel was not designed to fight all five vessels at the same time. The shields quickly went down and hull plates collapsed and weapons were wiped away. One of the Avenger's mega-phasers clawed deep within the battlecruisers hull striking at the anti-mater reactor. Suddenly the Flagship, along with the Jem-Hadar commander and the Vorta, became a bright flash as massive amounts of matter and anti-matter joined.
[ Star Trek is copyright © Paramount Pictures ]This story is covered under the free use clause of the Copyright Laws. While the story is designed to entertain, it is also written to educate as well criticize certain aspects of Star Trek.
By Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).
Copyright © 2003, Kitsune. All rights reserved.