On the bridge of the Enterprise, Annabeth gripped the sides of her chair.
"Cardassian fleet acquired," Laria said reading her sensor scope. "Distance 2.3 million kilometers, bearing 011 Mark 025."
"Phil, maintain full impulse," Annabeth ordered. "Katie, raise shields arm the phasers and photon torpedoes. Battle stations! Sound Red Alert!"
The ship's lighting turned dark crimson as alarms echoed through the vessel.
Down in Main Engineering, Scharr, T'les, and Quinn locked eyes with each other.
"Here's where the fun begins," the old engineer's mate said grinning from ear to ear. Scharr and T'les had to admire how much spirit the elderly man exuded from every pore. It was like he was growing younger right in front of their eyes.
Back on the bridge, Laria took a reading of the disruption field.
"The Cataclysm system is working exactly like we thought it would," Laria confirmed. "However, it looks like they are maxxing it out. I'm reading an enormous power drain in their four sentry ships."
"What exactly does that mean, L?" Annabeth asked.
"It means that their impulse and warp drives are compromised Ma'am," Laria said. "They'll be moving slow as kava syrup in winter. If the Cardassian fleet wants to stay inside the safety bubble, they'll have to reduce their maneuvering to match."
"I suppose that's good for us," Phil said from the helm.
"Shields up and holding, Captain," Katie said from the console next to him. "Phasers armed, torpedo safeties disengaged."
"Nothing sexy, Ladies and Gentlemen," Annabeth said. Let's do our job and get the hell out of the fleet's way."
"That ship is moving towards the lead Nerok cruiser," the sensor operator said looking up from her instruments. "400,000 kilometers and closing."
"It doesn't matter," Sejod snapped at her. "They'll be immobilized long before they'll be within firing range."
However, Varak wasn't quite as confident as his first officer. Something about this seemed wrong. Otherwise, why would they move towards one of the weaker sentry ships first?
"Are we in visual range of the contact?" he asked.
"Yes Sir," his sensor operator replied.
The silhouette of the Enterprise-A appeared. It was completely alone and charging forward at full impulse. Varak climbed to his feet as his eyes grew wide.
"I've never seen a Federation starship like that one before," Sejed said furrowing his brow.
"That's because it is Constitution class…" Varak replied still staring at the screen. "They are over a century old…" The realization hit him all at once. "They've figured it out! Contact the fleet. Destroy that ship! Destroy it now!"
On the Enterprise's viewscreen, they saw the Cardassian fleet began to deploy into combat formation.
"I think the jig is up, Ma'am," Laria said. "The Keldon class ships are arming weapons and moving to intercept us."
"Range to the first sentry ship?" Annabeth asked.
"195,000 kilometers. We're inside the disruption field," Laria replied.
"Well, the lights are still on. Looks like you were right on the money, Laria," Annabeth said. "Katie, lock phasers on the sentry ship."
"Phasers locked, Ma'am," Katie replied through a grin.
"Time for a little blast from the past," Annabeth said leaning back in her chair. "Fire."
Katie pressed the trigger on her console. Two bright red beams shot out from the Big E's forward saucer. They slammed into the front shields of the nearest sentry ship. It lurched violently as its attitude thrusters went off line.
"Severe damage. The shock overloaded their primary power grid. Their forward shields are down to forty percent," Laria reported.
"Status of the disruption field?" Annabeth asked.
"Reduced in strength by ten percent," Laria said quickly cycling through her sensor data.
"Captain!" Katie suddenly screamed. Annabeth looked up at the viewscreen. Two battlecruisers had maneuvered to within range and were preparing to fire their main disruptors.
"Evasive maneuvers! Keep a weapons lock on that sentry ship. We have to bring those emitters down!" Annabeth ordered.
Phil rapidly adjusted the ship's trim. Using the Big E's momentum, he fired maneuvering thrusters laterally causing the entire ship to rotate to port as if it was on the rim of a giant wheel. The two cruisers fired a second too late and their shots barely caught the edges of the Enterprise's shields. The entire vessel shuddered as the lights flickered off and then back on again.
"Damage report?" Annabeth shouted.
"Ventral and dorsal shields down to eighty percent," Katie shouted in reply. Annabeth looked up and saw they were now directly starboard of the sentry ship.
"Photon torpedoes, fire!" the captain yelled.
"On the way!" Katie said as she pushed the firing controls. Two red spheres flew out of the bays straight and true. They slammed into the side of the sentry. Their massive anti-matter warheads ripped straight through its thin hull and it exploded in a huge fireball. The shockwave slammed into the Enterprise's forward shields. The other two Cardassian battlecruisers were hit broadside and drifted violently down and away.
"Forward shield down to sixty percent. Minor damage to the forward saucer," Katie said. "Guess that was a little too close…"
"Dampening field reduced to 75 percent," Laria added. "The other ships are attempting to compensate, but their EPS grids are beginning to overload."
As the debris field cleared Annabeth looked up to see two more battlecruisers closing straight towards them.
"Get those torpedo bays reloaded," she commanded. "Full reverse, Z plus 30 degrees!" The Enterprise reared backwards and at an angle to put distance between them and their attackers. "Fire all phasers!"
Red beams shot forward and sideways out of the saucer. All four Cardassians ships were hit simultaneously. It wasn't enough to damage them, but it stunned them long enough for the Enterprise to maneuver out of their direct firing line.
"Reset firing chambers!" Buster screamed at the crewman frantically pushing the next photon casings down the loading tracks. The harsh noises and dim red lights gave the appearance of something out of Dante's Inferno. The long black cases slid into their tubes and the inner hatches sealed.
"Bridge! Torpedo bay, locked and loaded!" Buster screamed in the intercom.
"Full impulse to the next sentry ship," Annabeth said. Phil threw the ship's nose forward ninety degrees. The Enterprise was now perpendicular to the Cardassian fleet and was shooting downwards straight at the lower sentry ship.
"Time to snap their spine!" Annabeth shouted. "Torpedoes fire!"
Two more glowing torpedoes shot forward and slammed into the tiny vessel. In a manner of seconds, it joined its sister ship as flaming debris.
"The dampening field is fluctuating," Laria said optimistically. "The final two ships can't sustain it without throwing in all their available power. It's reduced in size to only 95,000 kilometers!"
"We're almost there!" Annabeth shouted.
At that moment a massive disruptor blasts slammed into the aft port drive section of the Enterprise from a nearby battlecruiser. Sparks cascaded across the bridge as Laria and Katie were thrown from their chairs. Phil pulled the helm hard over and gunned the engines forward. The Big E shot up and away towards the next sentry ship.
Katie clawed her way back to her console.
"We have a primary hull breach on Deck 14!" she shouted. Secondary hull is holding, but port shields are almost gone."
"Evacuate that section," Annabeth shouted. "Seal emergency bulkheads!"
"Aye, Ma'am," Katie replied.
"Laria!" Annabeth shouted looking back towards the science station. The Bajoran was bleeding from a gash in her forehead but also managed to climb her way back into her seat.
"I'm alright, I'm alright," she said ripping off a piece of her sleeve and holding it to her head.
"Medical to the bridge!" Annabeth shouted into her intercom.
"I'm on my way!" Alex replied back.
"Enterprise is taking fire," Gleeto said from the Pershing's tactical station. "They're damaged. Not sure how bad, but they're still maneuvering. Two Cataclysm ships are destroyed. Field is at less than half its original size."
"Baktag," Tigranian said angrily. He hated feeling this helpless. On edge, he stroked the newly polished Chang bat'leth resting against his chair. Thinking what the General's counsel would be, he keyed his comm system.
"Freedom 6, Blackjack 6. Cobra Squadron is doing no one any good back here. I say we send them forward so they can engage as soon as Pioneer 6 takes down that field."
On the Sulu, Murphy rubbed his chin nervously.
"Concur, Blackjack 6," he replied to Tigranian. "Cobra 6, you are cleared to commit. Get forward and cover Enterprise as best you can but avoid that field until they take it down!"
"Acknowledged, Freedom 6," Bentley replied. "Cobra Squadron this is Cobra 6, TALLY HO, I say again TALLY HO. Jettison external deuterium tanks and push it up."
The eight T-Bats released their heavy external fuel tanks and engaged their after burners in unison. They shot forwards towards the Cardassian fleet at near lightspeed. As they disappeared out of visual range, Tigranian heard Dee's words into the subspace radio.
"Don't worry, Sab, I'm coming…"