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The Star Sailors' Story
Chapter 5
"Cry 'havoc!' And let slip the dogs of war!" Chang (Klingon) aboard a Bird of Prey near Camp Khitomer

Corin got up from watching the maneuvering fleets in the holo-display and checked to be sure that the tools, parts, lubricants, coolants and other consumables were ready. The tune being piped in from the bridge was a slower song more suitable to waiting, but with a slowly increasing tempo. He smiled to himself; Whoever was in charge of the music today was matching song to events well.

All appeared to be in order. Med-kits, fire-fighting tools, emergency seals and patch-kits all in their quick-release housings. The sensors controlling the air-tight doors and last-ditch isolation fields were clear and their panels' self-tests indicated they were operating properly. In the event of a hull-breech too big for the smaller patches, the entire launch bay could be isolated and sealed off from the rest of the ship in a few seconds. You did not want to get caught on the wrong side of the door as the air would get rather thin very quickly.

Hearing the whhhooooof of fighters being fired out of their launchers, he turned back and rejoined his Team at the holo-display. LCDR Delac's fighter was in the lead of Green Wing, taking the lower portion of a pincer type formation. They could hear some chatter over the com circuits as the wings began targeting the Klingon fleet in the center of the enemy formation. When most of the other fighters launched their missiles, Delac and half of Green Wing held their fire and accelerated along with the seeking weapons. As the fighters closed with the Klingon vessels, Delac's three birds suddenly fired everything they had, performed a skew-flip turn and began applying a massive delta-vee to change their vector back to the carrier.

“On your feet! Get reloads up from the storage racks now and get ready to re-arm and recharge.” Corin ordered. “I want them ready to launch again in two minutes from when they hit the deck. You hear me now? TWO minutes.”

As crewmen scrambled to get what was needed, the dots representing the Klingon vessels began scattering across the paths of the Gorns and Hydrans. A young weaponeer named S'Thor called out, “Look! They're running!” Heads turned across the bay as the enemy formation dissolved into chaos. The bay doors on each end of the deck slid open and fighters began to recover, flying into the large space at high speed, from both fore and aft.

A cheer went up from the teams as weapons began to impact across the enemy fleets. The high-pitched sounds of phasers and torpedoes firing had become a normal background noise as had the occasional vibration from the impact of enemy weapons. Delac's Tomcat was the last into the bay, skidding across the deck as he backed the power and the retarding fields grabbed hold of the ship. As Wing Commander, he would expect to be the first ready to launch again and Corin's team raced to get the fighter into the bay even as crew were prepping weapons mounts and connecting power and coolant cables. Even while his bird was being pushed into the bay, Delac leapt out of the cockpit and grabbed Corin “Did you SEE? Did you SEE?” The two of them laughed aloud as more Green Wing pilots ran up and joined in.

FOUR enemy ships out of action for several minutes at least and the enemy formation scattering to the skies! A spectacular result for what was, in reality, a fairly small strike. Corin disengaged from the celebrating pilots and returned to working on Delac's Tomcat. S'Thor was struggling to get one of the Countach anti-ship missiles hung on its launch rail. Corin yelled to a pair of kits, “You two! Lend a hand! MOVE!” and watched as the two, obviously brother and sister from their identical markings jumped to work, their small hands helping connect up the mount.

Checking the power couplings and charge rates for the F-14's phaser and shield capacitors, Corin made some small adjustments and ordered another kit to clean the canopy. They were still working on the bird as Delac clambered back into the cockpit and the tug began to push her nose back into the launch tube. Glancing up at the status board, he smiled to see that Nollos had Lt. Tam's Hornet in the tube first. She was hard to beat that woman, hard to beat...

Wilkes got his attention, “Corin, they're closing awfully fast.” and he pointed at the battle display. The Gorn fleet had gone to flank speed and was making course directly for the Delos, coming in from behind. The sound of occasional weapon impacts on the Delos's shields was getting more frequent. Silently, they watched as the heavy destroyer Dosin arced up above the Dosadi formation, rolled onto her back and charged straight into the heart of the Gorn ships, weapons blazing, filling space with phasers, torpedoes, and disruptor bolts in all directions. In seconds, one of the Gorn corvettes was falling away, obviously out of control and the destroyer Tooth had felt some of her wrath as well.

But the Dosin was clearly out of the fight. S'Thor stood silently by. Corin spoke softly, “Aren't your parents aboard the Dosin?”

“Yes, sir. Mother is a phaser Crew Leader and a father is a Master Torpedoman.”

Seeing that the Gorn heavy cruiser Tyrannus had executed an emergency stop to reinforce shields against the Dosin's attack, Corin said, “They bought us the time we needed, S'Thor. Let's make it count, right?”
~~~~~

Being rattled about in the command chair aboard the Succession, Captain Lord Rince Del exclaimed, “God's TEETH!” Ensign Yoshida made no reply as she continued to force the light cruiser into maneuvers that stressed her hull and engines to the limits of their design “ and beyond. The Chief Engineer's loud complaints were getting no traction with the captain as the ship rolled, slid, skid, spiraled, and surged past Klingons, wild weasel shuttlecraft, plasma torpedoes, fighters, missiles, phasers and disruptor bolts. The artificial gravity struggled to maintain normal levels and vectors and people rocked in their seats or staggered across the deck in time to the groaning of the hull.

Captain Rince had long since decided to keep Yoshida in the helm position for this fight. Not a single shot fired at “ or even near “ the Succession had struck home. The woman was clearly a virtuoso at the helm with a sense of what the enemy were doing, seemingly before they even knew themselves. “Engineering shut UP! If you cannot meet my requirements I assure you that I can find someone who will. Now attend to your duties and be silent!” and he slammed his hand on the control panel, cutting the circuit. “Weapons! Continue harassing fire at the carrier. Helm, get us out of this mess and away from those damn Klingons!”

Mindful of the Admiral's orders to keep her ship in close with the Hydran carrier, Yoshida slid the cruiser around the bigger ship, almost as though she were in orbit around it, taking station where she could continue to provide fire support but was out of the path of the scattering Klingons and the remaining seeking weapons the Dosadi had loosed upon them.

Below decks in the Marine command post, which doubled as damage control, Colonel Jons was bracing himself against the gravity's surges. “Lieutenant, if enemy fire doesn't damage us, I believe that the helmsman might!”

The lieutenant laughed, “Either way, we're ready sir. My company is at battle stations in full equipment ready to fight or fix as required.” The two of them studied the repeater-display of the tactical situation available from the bridge. The Gorn formation was scattering for their lives, one corvette out of action, a destroyer clearly damaged and a cloud of missiles streaking towards the heavy cruiser and the other corvette. A Dosadi heavy destroyer was curving slowly down and away from the Gorn, badly damaged. The Klingons were motionless and taking fire from three Dosadi Thunderbolt fighters. Their corvettes milling about aimlessly.

Suddenly, three new symbols winked into the display. “What the devil?” Jons asked, leaning forward to get a better view of the display. “Oh, there's going to be hell to pay.” A Federation heavy cruiser and destroyer, the USS Hood, and USS Samurai, and a Dosadi light cruiser, the ISS Alisar had dropped out of warp near the Klingons and were already changing course to intercept them.

“Lieutenant, I don't believe we're going to get much help from the Klingons.”

“Doesn't look to me like they were much help anyway, sir.”

“Indeed. However, that was the center of our line, and the Gorn on the opposite flank have been routed. The Admiral may have bitten off more than she can chew...”

The display continued to get more complex as their sister ship, the heavy frigate Hydrus launched a plasma shotgun made up of eight type-F plasma torpedoes and the Delos launched all eighteen of her fighters. Seconds later, the Kingdom launched her own fighters. Again, space was full of twisting ships, beam weapons, missiles and plasma torpedoes.
~~~~~

The Delos' weapons were firing continually. The whine of the phasers, the thunk of missile launchers, the odd sounds of the photon torpedo and disruptor launchers firing, all intermixed with the ringing sounds of enemy weapons impacting on her shields. The gravity was surging in both direction and intensity as energy demands from weapons, shields, and engines argued it out in the ship's computers.

Corin steadied himself against a hull former and shouted to his team, “Make sure your tools are secure! It's going to get rough.” Crewmen bent to pull netting across their kits as the music from the bridge swelled to a crescendo. “YES! We got a frigate!!” A cheer went up and the Dosadi again began singing as the symbol indicating the enemy frigate began to spin slowly away from the Hydran fleet.

Wilkes was checking his crew, making sure everyone was hydrating, that their tools were secure, that they had what they needed to recharge and rearm the Tomcat when Delac returned. He had just decided that they were ready when weapons began to leak through the Delos' shielding, the sound of explosions echoing through the big hangar bay and vibrating through the deck plates.

A sudden shower of sparks and coolant doused him from above while the force of the impact drove him to his knees. Terrified, he tried to clear his eyes from the blue fluid and beat out the glowing embers that had landed on his red shirt. One of the kits was down, a heavy chunk of ceiling half-covering his small furry body and one of his crew was screaming in pain, obviously badly burned. There was a high-pitched shriek of atmosphere leaking from a hull-breech and he didn't know what to do! There was blood on the deck and people shouting, the screaming sound of a coolant leak and a strobe-light effect from flickering lights and arcing short circuits and the weird sound of Dosadi music behind it all.

Struggling to his feet, looking for where to run he saw Corin. The big cat's tail had been broken about half way down but he was grabbing a patch-kit from the wall recess and yelling orders. Wilkes had no idea what he was saying or who he was issuing orders to. How could he be so calm?! Time seemed to slow down for the young human.

He wondered what was going on. It was as though he had all the time in the world. Glancing at the holo-display, he saw the six Hornets from White Wing were engaged in a swirling dogfight with all eighteen of the Stings from the Hydran carrier while Delac's Green Wing was adding pot-shots at the fighters and attacking the Kingdom herself. The Lavet Cair was shooting her up as well. The Nareth had reduced the Gorn destroyer Tooth to a smoking ruin and the Shagrat had shot the Tyrannus up pretty badly.

He looked around the damaged bay in the strobing arc-light glare “ Everyone was moving in slow motion. He really wanted to get the hell out of there before the entire bay blew out. He looked again at Corin. He was close to the air-tight door, he could leave if he wanted to. The door was going to close. Why wasn't he leaving? It looked like he was yelling at M'Ralin, the other Crew Leader. Leader. And something clicked in Wilkes' sub-conscious.

Time snapped back to normal as he raced further into the bay, slapping controls to de-energize the bay circuits and yelling orders to his crew to recover the wounded. Now, instead of time moving slowly it seemed like everything was happening faster than it was possible. As he tried to lift the heavy panel off of the limp kit he knew he was too late. The air-tight door had started closing to isolate the bay and protect the ship and they were on the wrong side, he didn't have time. If he ran now, he could make it.

Instead, he bent his back again, giving one last effort to try to get the chunk of hull off from the little male. He thought to himself, “God dammit, if I'm gonna die, at least I'm gonna die trying!!” The plate lifted, but there was no way he could get the kit “ and he saw Corin's mate, Nollos had run into the fire, helping to recover the wounded. She grabbed the kit and he dropped the plate, the two of them laughing and racing for the door. As they got there, Corin urging them on, the hull took another hit and blew out, the hurricane force winds caused by venting atmosphere starting to drag them back. Corin grabbed both of them with one hand each and S'Thos grabbed Corin, the door inexorably lowering on the struggling group.

He and Nollos both had one of the kit's arms, and Corin had one each of theirs. Despairing, Wilkes looked into Corin's strained and anguished face “ It simply wasn't possible to pull three people against the force of the air blowing out. He could save one of them, and the kit, but not both. “It's always the guy in the red shirt.” Wilkes thought to himself, a bitter and oft-voiced complaint brought about by the far higher casualty rates suffered by Star Fleet's services branch. And with a desolate cry, Corin and Nollos let go of each other at the same moment, his free hand sweeping down, now with enough strength to haul Wilkes and the kit out of the bay as the door closed, sealing the breech.

~~~~~

Colonel Jons was furious. His battalion was being shot to shit and he was stuck on this cruiser, not where the troops who needed him were! Watching the Horval and Hydrus being cut to ribbons he knew that his Marines were being killed “ The little ships had no real protected spaces and as damage controlmen they were no doubt in the thick of things. He desperately wanted a status report from the platoon aboard each ship, but knew better than to interrupt their leaders during a battle. They would send word when they could.

On the bridge, Captain Rince gave rapid fire orders, “Helm! Close with that corvette! NOW! Weapons “ fire the missiles at the ship, phasers at those double-damned fighters! They're slaughtering our Stings!!” Yoshida rolled the Succession around the back side and under the Kingdom and Captain Rince stood half out of his chair, “HELM! I said...” and as the cruiser continued it's tight orbit around the massive carrier, it came up and under the Lavet Cair, her missile launchers firing immediately and her phaser crews attempting to engage the twisting Hornets,to little effect.

The Captain sat back down, straightened his uniform and said, “My apologies Helm. Well done.” as he watched the Dosadi corvette begin trying to limp away from his ships, clearly out of the fight, the burning holes from his missile impacts glowing across her warp engines. Noting three Tomcats rolling in on the Kingdom he continued, “Weapons, what have we got left? We need to get those fighters off the Kingdom!”

“Nothing, sir. We're recharging everything. Between engaging the Delos, the Lavet Cair, and the fighters we're completely discharged. Hydrus and Horval are out of it and the Kingdom's reporting they're out of battery power, all weapons discharged, shields badly damaged and beginning to take damage throughout the ship.”

“Damn it to hell! What about the Gorn? Or the Klingons?”

“The Gorn are scattered, sir, all they've got left is the Tyrannus, and she's shot up. The Klingons are fighting for their lives, both corvettes out of action, the Devisor's damaged, and the Reaver's lost her entire forward shielding. They're fully engaged with the Federation vessels and the Alisar.”

Looking at the Dosadi fleet in his battle-sphere, he shook his head, “How in the hell do they DO that?”


Admiral Kremble signaled a moment later, “Captain, we are disengaging. Prepare for an immediate warp 4 jump at 315 mark 270 on my signal. Take the Hydrus under tow. We will take the Horval.”

“Yes, Admiral. What about the Gorn?”

“This really wasn't our fight anyway, Captain. There will be another day. Our duty is to preserve our vessels and our crews. On my mark, Captain.”

He stood and bowed, “Understood, Admiral.”

Colonel Jons would count the dead. He knew them all, by face, by name, by family. Of his battalion of six hundred Marines, he had lost nearly a third. He would spend much of the voyage back to the Sword Worlds preparing the funeral ceremony for his troopers. They had done their duty and done it well. The reports he had in hand indicated that without their valor, both frigates would have been destroyed and the Kingdom would likely have been crippled.

Right at that moment, there were very few creatures in God's universe he hated more than the Dosadi. He would have his revenge one day. For each and every troop they had murdered.
~~~~~

Shaking, in pain, exhausted, and in shock, Wilkes looked at his Team Leader. The big cat was looking forlornly at the air-tight door sealing off the destroyed launch bay. “Why?” he asked, his voice breaking.

After a moment, Corin looked at him and managed a sad little smile. “Why what, Ensign?”

A medical team raced up and began treating the injured team, one of the medics administering a hypo to the critically injured kit with a loud hiss.

“Why ME? She was your mate!”

Corin flicked an ear back and cocked his head. “Yes? What does that matter?”

“Why did you save me? I'm not your mate! I'm not even a Dosadi! I'm nothing to you!!” he was almost crying.

“You really don't understand us at all yet, do you Wilkes? She was my mate, but my responsibility was to you. She knew that, as did I. There was no choice in the matter. She and I are Team Leaders. Our team is our first responsibility. Had I saved her, and allowed you to die, I would have dishonored us both so badly our only choice would be to kill ourselves in shame. Honor means doing what is right “ always “ even if doing so costs you everything you have or even dreamed of having.

“I would not be the man she loved nor she the woman that I loved had we both not known that basic truth before we were even weaned.”

“But...” Wilkes tried to digest this. After a few moments he hung his head and said, “I hate those bastards.”

Genuinely surprised, Corin asked, “Who? Why?”

Wilkes looked at him, now almost angry, “The Gorn! The Hydrans! They’re the ones who did this!! We'll get them back.”

“Get them back? For what? This was a clean fight and we all fought well and with honor. There was no treachery, no dishonor...what is there to hate them for?”

“They killed Nollos!”

“And many others. And we killed many of theirs. Star Sailors with mates and children and mothers and fathers who loved them dear. They fought hard, and they fought well. We just fought better today. We'll tell the tales and remember the dead of both sides and light incense for them to honor their sacrifices.

“There will be other mates, and other fights. Those of us who live now must live on for those who died. I will mourn Nollos in my own way, in my own time.”

Wilkes was dumbfounded. A medic was treating his burns while another was waving a medi-scanner over Corin's tail. “You did well, Wilkes. I think, perhaps, you understand more than you know. Why did you go back into the bay after the first torpedo hit?”

Wilkes thought. “I guess because I saw you. You were so damn calm. Yelling orders and putting the patch-kit on the hole in the hull. And I couldn't leave the kit, I guess.”

Corin watched him for a second. “You are on the right path there, Wilkes.” He stood and offered his hand to the young man, “We've still got work to do. We've lounged here long enough.”

Fighters, most of them damaged to some degree were flying into the bay, smoke, coolant, and energy scattering across the deck as the pilots struggled to recover safely. Wilkes tried to focus on his work as the fleet returned to orbit over Toulagai.


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