***This is a long one, but it’s almost the last one.***
"Jeff," said Shawn, "are there any ships within range?"
"Affirmative, Captain. There are nine Starfleet vessels within a ten-minute range of the specified coordinates. The next nearest vessel would take an hour to arrive."
"Hail one of them, Jeff."
A few seconds later the face of a Vulcan appeared on the viewscreen and said, "I am Captain S’klar of the U.S.S. Comanche."
"And I’m Captain Shawn Thornburg of the U.S.S. Tomcat. Captain, I need your help."
"How may I be of assistance?"
"There is a dangerous threat to Earth, and I’m about to intercept it. You’re just ten minutes away from the projected coordinates. Can I enlist the aid of you and the ships with you?"
"What is the nature of the threat and why has it not been broadcast on official channels?" questioned S’klar.
"It’s internal and we don’t exactly know whom to trust. I’ll explain later, but I need you to help now. Here’s a briefing of recent events." He nodded to Jeff, who sent an information package.
"We have received the transmission, Captain. We will meet you at the coordinates. S’klar out."
At the moment S’klar disappeared from the viewscreen, Jeff said, "Captain, we’re being hailed by the Enchanter."
"On screen." When Mark’s face appeared, Shawn said, "We’ve enlisted some help, Mark."
"Good," he replied, "but I want you to know the exact specifications of our enemies. I’m going to transmit our own specifications so you have an idea of what you’re up against. We have some weapons you won’t be able to withstand, so don’t expect to last long in this battle. I don’t know how many ships Epsilon will have dispatched to intercept the Suundel, but a safe guess is at least ten. They tend toward overkill."
"I see. We’ll do what we can. Thank you. I’ll transmit these specifications to the nine ships we just contacted. They’ll be a big help."
"Good luck, Shawn." Mark disappeared from the screen. Shawn turned to Jeff again and had him send the new information to the December and Captain S’klar, then he went to his chair and began reviewing it himself.
A few minutes later the December hailed them and Admiral Uhrlaub said, "Shawn, these are some hefty weapons. Our current defenses will be no match for this combination."
"You’re telling me, Rudy. Any ideas?"
"Go find Ensign Santos. He has something to show you."
". . . acknowledged." The Admiral disappeared from the viewscreen and Shawn looked up and said, "Ensign Santos, what is your position?"
His voice came back, "I’m in deflector control, Captain. I’m finishing up the last few modifications to the deflector dish."
"Oh? How much longer will you be?"
"Just another minute. I need to finalize one last test."
"Join me on the bridge when that is accomplished."
Shawn turned to Chester and asked, "What is he doing? You approved it, right?"
Chuck just smiled and replied, "I think you’ll like it, Shawn."
"We’ll see." The Captain continued to look over the specifications, still amazed at the amount of technologies they’d stolen. Mark’s ship alone incorporated Borg, Dominion, Breen, Romulan, a few Delta-quadrant species, and some illegal modifications of current Federation technology, including a phase cloaking device. After a few minutes, though, he was interrupted by Mick Santos’ presence on the bridge. He stood and said, "I’m told, Mick, that you have some news for me."
"Yes, sir. I installed the basic technologies behind five new weapons. They can be deployed using current methods. Three of them are torpedo-based and the other two are deployed from the deflector dish."
"The basic technologies? Give me a summary of what these new weapons will do."
"Well, when I was at the Academy I was commended for ingenuity in the field of weapons development, you remember. The five weapons I just installed were some of my ‘pet projects’, and they could be implemented with little alteration to the systems most Federation vessels have. And they were the only ones I had time to implement in the short time since you gave me the inital report on the Suundel. The torpedo-based weapons simply require some moderate tweaking of the tracking systems and payload of our quantum torpedoes: one type can track anything that leaves a subspace trail; another will lock on to a certain set of emissions; and the third is simply an increase in payload. The two weapons that use the deflector dish are essentially new types of beam weapons, one of which has the capacity to phase through almost any shield by continuously adapting to shield modulations until it finds the right one. I call that one the modulation beam."
"That sounds impressive. Are these field tested?"
"All but one. The modulation beam has only been simulated."
"Well, I suppose this is as good a time to test it out as any. If it works you’ll be commended again, and possibly promoted. That weapon alone could give us an advantage few other ships have."
"Oh, thank you, Captain. Hopefully they’ll work," he replied with a nervous laugh. "The December is already outfitted with these weapons, and it would only take about ten minutes per modification for any other ships to apply them. A whole team would have them done in no time."
"Jeff, send the modifications to Captain Gerding and Captain S’Klar. They may be able to implement them." He sighed. "All we can do now is wait."
"They’re waiting for something," thought Captain Gerding, "but I don’t know what. They should have attacked already." He turned to Jason and said, "Hail Captain Martinez." When Cal’s face appeared on the viewscreen, Mark said, "How are those weapon modifications coming along?"
"They’re just coming online now, Mark," replied Cal, looking at his chair display.
"Good. We’ll be prepared for the attack then. What do you think is taking so long? They should have sent a group to intercept the Suundel already."
"The best I can come up with is that they’re trying to figure out where we are. The Suundel battlecruisers have switched from their subspace cloak to their typical cloak, so they’re completely undetectable by any means we have, and since we’ve switched off anything that would help the rest of Epsilon detect us, we’re completely hidden as well. I’m willing to bet that they’ll attack the very second the Tomcat and December drop out of warp at our coordinates."
"Agreed. Our shields have been extended over the Suundel battlecruisers, so they’ll be well protected when the attack comes. Do you have enough power to extend our shields over anyone else?"
"I’d say we’re already stretching it too much. My shields are extended over two of the battlecruisers, and so are the Sol’s. You only have to worry about one battlecruiser, though."
"Yes, we’ll be able to extend our shields over one more vessel without losing effectiveness. Is the Sol ready with her weapon modifications?"
"Affirmative, and Captain Wilson reports that the Indiana has intercepted the Suundel scout ship and is applying the weapon modifications as we speak. He’ll be here shortly."
"Excellent, Cal. Be ready for anything. Gerding out."
The stage was set, and everyone knew they were probably on their way to their doom.
The inital attack was swift: the Tomcat and December had coordinated their arrival times with the nine ships they enlisted, so both groups dropped from warp at the same time; ten seconds later, ten ships dropped from transwarp (five ships came from one direction, and five ships flanked from the opposite). None of them were cloaked–a show of arrogance that would eventually cost them the battle. The Tomcat fired first, unleashing a volley of the increased-payload torpedoes, all of which impacted, and all of which caused almost no damage to the enemies’ shields. The Enchanter and Sol followed closely by launching a volley of transphasic torpedoes, which proved much more effective and took every shield they hit down by at least fifty percent.
The return volley was more devastating, though, as every single Epsilon ship unleashed an unknown type of torpedo at the same time. Five ships (the Uranide, Brasil, Lancer, Troia, and Apache–all part of S’klar’s group) were crippled because the new torpedoes had no problem cutting right through standard Federation regenerative shields and ablative hull armor. The Enchanter, Sol, Alton, and Suundel vessels were barely affected because their shields were made to counter that type of torpedo; the December was the other vessel the Enchanter extended her shields around, so she was equally unaffected; the Comanche, Viper, Alliance, and Polar (the rest of S’klar’s group) only took a couple of non-critical hits because the Enchanter, Sol, and Alton coordinated several intercept runs.
The Tomcat, however, was on the far side of the group, and was left to fend for herself. But she came out completely unscathed because of the incredible maneuverability of the Agent class, and the quick wits and nerves of steel of the most unlikely of heroes: Ensign Rory Preston. With Ensign Preston at the helm, the Tomcat maneuvered around every single torpedo that came after her, releasing countermeasures for distraction along the way. Then, immediately after those acrobatics came to an end, Captain Thornburg had Ensign Preston position the Tomcat to fire a volley of regular quantum torpedoes. The torpedoes were a distraction, however, so the Tomcat could fire its modulation beam, which impacted and broke through the shields of one of the Epsilon ships, dissolving a hole in its ablative undercoating almost immediately. Captain Thornburg then fired a volley of increased-payload torpedoes that travelled parallel to the beam and broke through the weakened shields, impacting on the bare hull underneath the ablative armor and causing a chain reaction that destroyed the ship from within. The only things left of that ship were the neutronium plates that floated away harmlessly.
About that time, the Suundel battlecruisers fired their planet-destroying weapons, which had been charging since the initial attack. Their beams unleashed punishment unequalled by any Starfleet weapon, and all five of their targets were destroyed with ease.
The rest of the battle went much the same way, with the Enchanter, Sol, and Alton weakening the shields of the remaining four Epsilon ships and everyone else firing Ensign Santos’ weapons while the Suundel readied their next attack. And though the four Epsilon ships put up an amazing fight, bringing down the shields of Gerding’s group, crippling the rest of S’klar’s group and the Suundel ships, and landing several non-critical hits on the Tomcat and December, they were destroyed.
The victors, smoking and beaten, stood silent on the battlefield.