Captain Bradly J. Edwards sat down on his bed in his quarters. For a moment, he simply admired the view through the windows of the ice planet called Kalorian 3, a planet recently discovered, and recently won over from the Dominion.

Edwards had gotten little rest lately, due to the Dominion War keeping the Khitomer crew busy. They were serving aboard a state of the art ship, and required to be part of the war at almost all times. Even one ship, such as the Khitomer, might be the deciding factor…

Edwards smiled as he eyed the bottle of very old Whisky he kept in his room. It was a reminder to him that he no longer had a drinking problem, something he DID have for a good portion of his career. It always reminded him that he was capable of overcoming the odds…

He then took off his boots, the feeling of fresh air on his feet soothing. Then he rested his head on his pillow and made sure he didn’t think of anything so as to immediately fall asleep.

“Bridge to Captain Edwards,” Commander Robert Radisson, the ship’s chief of security and chief tactical officer, suddenly said over the comm system.

Edwards sighed and rolled his eyes behind closed lids. He tapped his comm badge, which he noted he had forgotten to remove in his haste to sleep. “Edwards here, go ahead Commander.”

“Captain, we are receiving a priority one call from Starfleet HQ,” Radisson reported.

Edwards sighed. “Put it through down here.”

Edwards sighed again, then stood up from his bed. He rubbed his eyes, realizing too late that it would merely make them itch more-so than they all ready did.

He stumbled across his quarters to a console and sat down quickly. He lazily keyed in the command to open the channel. “Authorization Edwards 2 2 Beta 7,” he stated.

Admiral John Weston’s familiar face immediately appeared on the screen. “Catch you at a bad time, Captain?” he asked.

Edwards blinked the sleep from his eyes, smiled, and said, “Of course not, sir.” The smile was only a show, for something was wrong. Weston was never this nice to Edwards…

“Well, waking you was with good reason,” Weston said, immediately getting to the point. “We are re-assigning the Khitomer.”

Suddenly, all sleep left Captain Edwards. “Sir?” he asked.

Weston sighed before saying, “I can’t give you the details over subspace, the mission’s too tricky. Certain people might intercept the transmission.”

Edwards nodded. “Understood.”

“Report to Earth at maximum possible speed,” Weston ordered. “Starfleet out.”

The transmission abruptly ended. Edwards frowned, wondering why Weston was so quick to close the channel, but decided to go ahead and do as he was told.

But he couldn’t stop thinking about one thing: Weston was being friendly to him. Why, Edwards didn’t know. He sighed and decided to just go with it.

“Edwards to bridge,” he said, opening a comm channel.

“Radisson here, sir,” Radisson replied.

“Set a course for Earth, maximum warp,” Edwards said. “If I’m not awake by the time we get there, tell doctor Woods that I’m fine and am merely catching up on some sleep.”

He heard a short laugh from Radisson. “Aye, sir,” he replied.

Edwards thought for a moment, wondering what’s more important than the Khitomer being part of the war effort.

He shrugged, then went to his bed, ready for another attempt at sleep…

“I’m simply saying that if we increased power to the repeating photon launcher, it would actually decrease the overheating problem,” Radisson stated.

“And I’m simply saying that it would INCREASE the overheating problem,” Dk'myr'chi stated in his stern voice. Radisson was starting to get on his nerves.

“But…” Radisson began.

“Who’s the engineer here?!” Dk'myr'chi shouted.

Radisson was taken back by the harshness of Dk'myr'chi, but he didn’t care. Dk'myr'chi knew what he was doing, Radisson did not!


“NO buts, Radisson,” Dk'myr'chi said harshly. He scowled at Radisson, then said, “I’ve got work to do. If You’ll excuse me.”

Radisson glared at Dk'myr'chi, but then submitted, and allowed Dk'myr'chi to enter Engineering.

“Approaching Starbase 12,” Ensign Krod Zetan, the ship’s helmsman, stated.

Edwards stood from the command chair and approached the view screen. “Hail them.”

Admiral Weston’s face appeared on the view screen promptly. This surprised Edwards, for he didn’t expect to be welcomed by the Admiral so early in their arrival.

“Good to see you, Captain,” Weston said. Again, he was being oddly friendly to Edwards. Edwards even noticed some discomfort around the bridge as people saw this as well.

“And you, Admiral,” Edwards lied. “Shall we put into space dock or go into orbit around Earth?”

“Space dock, ” Weston stated right away. “We’ll be rearming your ship and repairing any thing that needs to be repaired. You, on the other hand, must report to my office in 30 minutes, along with your first officer.”

Edwards nodded and replied, “Understood.”

“Weston out.

The view screen changed to show the Starbase. Edwards wondered what was going on. He expected immediate relocation to their new assignment, not repairs. He thought that this was most likely due to the mission being very dangerous.

He stood and headed towards the turbolift. As he went, he said, “Have Commander Hobson meet me in transporter room one, you have the bridge Radisson.”

They materialized into what appeared to be an extremely well kept Starbase. Despite what Edwards had seen in other Starbases, due to lack of supplies, this Starbase, meant for top brass as it was, was well kept.

Edwards and his First Officer, Commander Christopher Hobson, stepped off the transporter pad to be immediately greeted by Admiral Weston.

“No time for pleasantries,” Weston said, almost acting like his old self. “It shouldn’t take longer than an hour to fully arm and repair the Khitomer.”

Edwards was surprised when he heard this. The Khitomer was in need of extreme repairs. It had taken a beating recently, and has had no time for repairs. He had expected at least a day.

“Follow me,” Weston said, all ready marching out of the transporter room. Edwards found that he and Hobson had to almost jog to keep up with Weston’s brisk pace. This obviously was an urgent mission.

Then again, Edwards thought, this is probably just the Admiral’s normal pace. He almost chuckled out loud at that thought, but kept himself in check.

It didn’t take them long to travel through the Starbase to Weston’s office. When they entered, a woman with the rank of rear admiral was waiting for them.

As Weston gestured to her, he said, “Gentlemen, this is Rear-admiral Cherise Shivar, recently promoted and for now is serving under me.”

Edwards nodded to the Admiral, then sat down in a chair in front of Weston’s desk, followed by Hobson. Admiral Shivar remained standing while Weston sat in his own chair.

“Now, right down to business,” Weston said.

Edwards grinned and replied, “That’s what I like about you, Admiral, always going straight to the point!”

Weston frowned, and Edwards realized that the Admiral was in no mood for any jokes. Edwards felt his grin immediately fade. Again, more like his usual self.

“We have reports of a hidden Jem Hadar base near the Romulan Neutral Zone in the Piorian Nebula, near the Piorian Asteroid field,” Weston began. “It hasn’t been confirmed at all…until one day previous to my contacting you.”

Edwards took this in slowly, realizing what it could mean. “Production base?” he asked. He looked over to see Commander Hobson as shocked as he was.

Weston nodded. This meant that the Jem Hadar was creating new ships constantly now and could attack both the Romulans and the Federation from where they least expected.

“An influx of supply ships for about 2 hours was enough to allow us to detect the ship movements,” Admiral Shivar stated in a cold sounding voice. Just like Weston usually is, Edwards jokingly thought. “We don’t know how the ships are getting there, but it’s up to you to find out, and to stop them.”

Edwards was at a loss for words, and found himself able to only nod.

“The USS Pinta, an Intrepid class vessel, will be accompanying you on this mission,” Weston stated. “And the USS Dragon is patrolling the Neutral Zone, so call upon her if the need arises.”

Edwards nodded again. “Good luck,” Weston finished.

“Look at that!” Dk'myr'chi exclaimed to his aid, Lieutenant DePaul. He gestured towards the screen they were observing in engineering. “It looks like a damn bee hive!”

Engineers and technicians were swarming around the Khitomer, repairing her at a record rate. It wouldn’t take much longer than 40 minutes more to finish repairing and reloading the Khitomer.

“Senior Officers report to briefing room,” Edwards’s voice came over the intercom.

Dk'myr'chi kept his gaze for a moment longer, then abandoned DePaul to watch in similar awe.

“To put it simply,” Edwards began, “We are destroying a Jem Hadar ship construction base strategically positioned in the Piorian Nebula.”

As he had expected, Radisson knew where that was. His face that of surprise, he remarked, “That’s near the Romulan Neutral Zone!”

Edwards nodded. “They are some how delivering supplies to that base, but they no doubt are also getting minerals from the near by asteroid field.

“We are leaving as soon as repairs and reloading is finished,” Edwards stated. “We are also getting six Tri-Cobalt devices to help us destroy the base, and modifications are being made to one of the aft torpedo launchers to be able to launch them.”

“I should oversee those modifications, to make sure they don’t interfere with other systems,” Dk'myr'chi stated.

Edwards shook his head. “No offense, Dimitri, but they have the best working as fast as they can on that,” Edwards stated. “You’d just get in the way.” Edwards motioned towards the observation windows. The technicians could be seen still swarming around the Khitomer. “As you can see, I mean no offense by that.”

Dk'myr'chi nodded.

Edwards stood, prepared to leave. “We leave dock in one hour,” he stated. “You have that much time to prepare for battle.”

“A quick question!” Radisson suddenly said quickly before Edwards dismissed them.

Edwards sat back down and replied, “And that is?”

He smiled sheepishly for some reason before saying, “Doesn’t Admiral Weston hate you, sir?”

Edwards frowned, his mind still dwelling on that fact. “I thought so too. There’s something strange about that…” He shrugged and said, “But we’ll have to deal with that later. Let’s get to work on our new mission.”

With that, he stood and left the briefing room, it becoming a place of much conversation as people began to discuss department preparations.

“The Khitomer is on its way,” she stated quietly to her commanding officer. “It’s heading blindly into our trap.”

Her CO smiled an evil grin, bringing satisfaction to her. “Very well,” he said. “And the USS Dragon?”

She smiled. “The Khitomer will no doubt request its help right away,” she said casually, looking out the window at the sovereign class starship approaching the Starbase. She knew it was the Enterprise, coming in for new orders of her own that were top secret. “It will be destroyed along with the Khitomer and the Pinta.”

He smiled. “Good job,” he said with satisfaction. “Section 31 will eliminate two problems with one might blow.” He looked at her, content filling his face. “The Dragon, and the Pinta.”

“Do we need to inform The One,” she asked.

Her CO shook his head. “He already knows…”

“Contact the USS Dragon and have her meet us there,” Edwards stated. The Section 31 officer smiled. Edwards was doing exactly as they had hoped he would…They were getting the Dragon involved. It wouldn’t be long…

Captain Denise Bratar looked in awe as she stared at the Guardian class starship Khitomer on the main view screen. Though it looked just like a Sovereign class starship, it was much more.

She knew very well how many photon torpedo launchers it had, how many phaser banks… It mocked the heavily modified galaxy-class USS Dragon. The Dragon had gone through a refit not too long ago…at least, that’s what it seemed like to Bratar. Two additional nacelles were added to the ship to increase warp efficiency, as bioneural gel packs were integrated into the computer system.

The Dragon had the most recent phasers equipped and it’s forward torpedo bay was now capable of firing quantum torpedoes. Despite that and more, the Dragon was nothing compared to the Khitomer.

‘Hanging’ in space next to the Khitomer was the Intrepid class USS Pinta, a name Bratar thought was as bad as her own last name. It just didn’t fit an Intrepid class vessel. Despite their size, the Intrepid class starships could really pack a punch.

But then, it was an exploration vessel, and the Pinta was one of the vessels to first land on the Americas, according to history.

“Ma’am, the Khitomer’s hailing us,” Lieutenant R’Sharn, a hotheaded Andorian ops officer, stated.

Bratar stood and ordered, “On screen.”

Captain Bradly Edwards appeared on the view screen, similarly standing. “I’m Captain Edwards of the USS Khitomer,” he said simply and calmly.

Bratar nodded, glad to finally meet a captain that was already becoming famous in Starfleet. “I’m Captain Denise Bratar of the USS Dragon. It’s a pleasure to meet you, Captain.”

Edwards raised and eye brow and said, “Really?” He let out a short laugh. “In all truth, despite my becoming some what ‘known’ in the Federation, I’m not used to having people honored to meet me.”

Bratar gave somewhat of a cocky grin and said, “Trade places?”

Edwards smiled wryly. “I think I’ll pass,” he said, giving mock hesitation in his voice. Bratar already liked his personality.

However, there was always a time to get serious. She put on a serious face and asked, “Starfleet Command told me to give you full cooperation in this mission, but didn’t tell me what the mission was about.”

Edwards smiled and gave the reply, “They are somewhat infamous for doing that.”

Bratar nodded and said, “Indeed they are!”

“Anyway,” Edwards continued, “I’ll send you our orders in a moment. Read them, then meet me in our briefing room in twenty minutes with your first officer.”

Bratar nodded in reply, then said, “Dragon out.”

As the view screen flickered out, R’Sharn immediately stated, “Receiving the data.”

Bratar headed for her ready room and ordered, “Put it through to my ready room, you have the bridge, Sarah.” Lieutenant Commander Sarah Fariea, who was the ship’s consellor, took her place in the center seat.

She went through her ready room doors at a brisk pace, anxious to see any action. The Dragon had been on a monotonous patrol duty along the Romulan Neutral Zone ever since she discovered information on Section 31… She knew they had a hand to do with it, and knew that there was some one watching her on the ship.

She sat down in her rather comfortable chair and activated the desk computer. It first showed the Federation emblem, then changed to the orders.

It was a particularly interesting mission that would no doubt have plenty of action. She already had a plan of what the Dragon could do forming in her head.

When she finished, she immediately stood and tapped her comm badge. “Bratar to Harriman.”

She left her ready room and headed for the nearest turbo lift. Just as she reached it, Commander Chris Harriman’s familiar voice replied, “Go ahead.”

“Meet me in transporter room 1,” she ordered as the turbolift doors opened.

“On my way.”

She deactivated her comm badge, then stated, “Transporter room 1.”

The lift moved, but seemed to immediately stopped, and opened on to deck 4. She walked the very short distance to the transporter room and entered to find Harriman already there.

She stepped on to the transporter pad, Harriman following. “Beam us to the Khitomer,” she ordered.

“Ready,” the transporter operator immediately replied.


For a few seconds, the transporter room disappeared in a bright white light, but was then replaced by the transporter room of the USS Khitomer.

A Lieutenant Commander was waiting for them. He stepped forward and stated, “I’m Lieutenant Commander Radisson, security officer. If you’ll follow me,” he finished, gesturing towards the exit.

Bratar nodded then stepped down from the pad to follow Radisson, Harriman right behind her.

They stepped out of the room into a corridor that looked almost just like a Sovereign class starship’s corridors.

It wasn’t exactly all that impressive to most people, but to Bratar, who’d served on lesser ships since the Sovereign class starship came out, thought it was magnificent. She knew she was standing on a state-of-the-art battle ship that could withstand several Jem Hadar warships on her own!

They entered a turbo lift, and Radisson stated, “Bridge.” Again, the ride was short, and the doors opened on to a bridge completely different from the Dragon’s, or any other galaxy class starship.

It looked as if the conn and the helm were connected and manned by one person, just like on an Intrepid class starship, or so she had read. She frowned at that, because the only reason that was done to the Intrepid class was because it was a smaller ship, and mostly because it was just a test to see how well it had done. Apparently it was working, if it was used on an advanced battle ship.

They crossed the bridge to the briefing room’s door. Radisson stood beside the door and said, “Captains and First officers only, so I can’t enter.”

Bratar nodded and said, “Thank you.”

The door to the briefing room opened and Captain Bratar, followed by her first officer, entered. Edwards stood and shook Bratar’s hand. “It’s good to meet you in person,” he said.

Bratar nodded and said in her soft voice, “It’s good to meet you, too, Captain.” She motioned to her first officer and said, “This is my first officer, Commander Chris Harriman.”

Edwards nodded to him and said, “I heard what had happened to your father…I’m sorry.”

Harriman nodded and replied, “Thank you, sir.” He frowned. “Did you know him?”

Edwards nodded and stated, “As a matter of fact, I served with him when he was still a Captain.” Harriman nodded. Edwards knew he looked dreary as he said, “He was a good man.”

Harriman only nodded again in reply.

Edwards then motioned to Hobson and said, “This is my first officer, Commander Chris Hobson.” He then motioned to the Captain and first officer of the Pinta and said, “And this is Captain Michael Piller and Commander Sherry Marsc of the Pinta.”

Bratar and Harriman nodded to them, then took their places on the other side of the table from where the Pinta officers were. Edwards sat at the head of the table while Hobson remained standing near the screen.

“So, how shall we plan this out?” Edwards asked.

“Definitely have to be stealthy about it,” Bratar volunteered quickly.

“Agreed,” Piller stated. “We are three ships against a heavily armed station, supported by plenty of ships and fighters. The Pinta doesn’t even have any fighters.”

Edwards nodded, understanding the situation well. The Dragon had only about five fighters, and didn’t really have the best pilots for them. “The Khitomer’s got the best fighters and pilots out of the three of us, so we should rule out any possibility of using them as a real viable option.”

“Yes,” Piller stated. “We’ll really just have to use our ships and nothing more.”

Edwards nodded again, and stated, “The Khitomer’s aft torpedo launcher was equipped to fire Tri-Cobalt devices, so we should probably get those fired off as soon as we can take the station’s shields down…maybe even take the shields down with one of them.”

“How many of those do you have?” Bratar asked.

“Six,” Edwards stated.

“Then we should have enough to spare for the shields,” Bratar stated.

Edwards nodded. They would indeed, which meant the Khitomer would have to show its tail end to the base when the battle first began. It wasn’t really that bad, it was just the idea…

“So put simply, all we should have to do is take out the support craft and let the Khitomer do all of the work,” Piller stated.

Edwards shrugged and replied, “Looks that way.”

“Then we have a plan,” Bratar said with enthusiasm.

Edwards stood, every one else following suite. “Then inform the rest of your senior officers and prepare for battle.”

The other ship’s officers nodded and filed out of the room.

Edwards sighed as he moved to the observation windows looking out upon the ship’s hull and space.

“Something wrong, sir?” Hobson asked. Edwards smiled, for Hobson always seemed to be there to lend an ear to his Captain.

“We’re going in blindly,” Edwards stated simply. He paused for a moment, then continued, “For all we could know, they have Tri-Cobalt devices their selves and could launch them right back at us.”

He saw Hobson’s reflection nod. “It’s dangerous.” He frowned. “Isn’t that why they assigned us to this mission?”

Edwards smiled. He replied quietly, “Yes, perhaps that is the reason…”

Edwards continued to stare out at the stars. It was something he had seen every day, but as always, it wasn’t the same when they were going into battle. It made space seem…ominous…frightening…empty…

He sighed before saying, “Assemble the senior staff again.”

Hobson nodded and left Edwards to his thoughts…at least, for the moment.

The Khitomer was coming, and he knew it. Scerioun had been informed by a group called Section 31 that indeed the Khitomer was coming to this base. And so, Scerioun awaited impatiently. He had already deployed the fleet in the nebula… The Khitomer wouldn’t stand a chance against the 40 battle ships he had placed here.

He smiled with anticipation at the thought of completing his mission in one fatal blow. The Founders would indeed be pleased. It would be a day long remembered.

Suddenly, an alarm sounded, one of proximity. He knew what it meant… The Khitomer was approaching.

“Still no signs of them having detected us,” Radisson stated.

Edwards frowned. “But we’re close enough…”

Radisson shook his head before saying, “Since we got the base onto sensors, it’s seemed like it’s all ways had its weapons powered up.”

Edwards looked forward to the view screen. “Then they either have detected us, or they merely always have the weapons powered up so that they would be ready in case of an attack.”

“Maybe, but then which one of the two is it,” Hobson asked from his chair next to the command chair.

Edwards thought for a moment, wondering which it could be. He then shrugged it off and said, “Prepare to swing a 180.”

“Aye, sir,” Zetan replied.

“Radisson, ready the Tri-Cobalt devices for launch,” Edwards finished.

“Arming Tri-Cobalt devices,” Radisson confirmed. “In range in twenty seconds.”

Edwards watched the tactical display on his armrest anxiously, the twenty seconds seemingly lasting forever. It was moments like this that reminded him of his drinking problem. They would all ways tempt him, but he would all ways resist the urge…and would always prevail.

And today, they would easily emerge victorious. The timer hit zero. “In range!” Radisson said loudly. But Edwards waited for a few moments. They had to stay in range in order for the first device to hit their shields and then fire the rest…

“Engage, helm!” Edwards suddenly ordered. “Fire as soon as possible!”

The Khitomer then began a quick 180 degree turn and fired one Tri-Cobalt device at the base.

“The base’s shields have gone up,” Radisson stated. Edwards smiled, for they had caught the base off guard more so than he would’ve expected.

The base began firing madly at the Tri-Cobalt device, trying to destroy it before it hit its shields.

“Helm, three-quarter impulse, engage,” Edwards ordered, watching intently on the view screen as the device neared the shields.

Amazingly, the device was never hit, despite its slow speed. It impacted on the base’s shields and caused a huge ‘explosion’ in space. The shields glowed a bright green in response to the device, then a red, then a white, then all together vanished.

“Fire!” Edwards shouted, standing in anticipation and excitement.

With that order, 5 more devices launched towards the station, each heading to separate points, but each would have to pass through the large gap in the shields.

More firepower joined in an attempt to irradicate the deadly devices as they neared the base. The purple-hued nebula was stirring and mixing due to the large explosion, and Edwards hoped it wouldn’t cause a volatile mix.

A Tri-Cobalt device was suddenly hit by an energy blast, causing it to be destroyed. Edwards hoped the remaining 4 were enough to irradicate the base.

Luckily, they punched through where the shields were and spread to hit evenly distributed points. The rock-base was engulfed by energy and flame as oxygen exploded out into space.

In a great show of matter and antimatter, the base completely erupted in a bright flash. The shockwave hit the Khitomer, causing it to shake violently.

He managed to remain standing during the intense shaking, but just barely. But when the shaking ceased, more bad news came.

“Jem Hadar battle ships incoming, and lots of them!” Radisson shouted above the noise of a ruptured conduit.

“This is not good!” Bratar shouted, standing up with surprise. “Helm, get us into that battle, now!”

With in seconds, the Dragon and the Pinta came flying out of a dense pocket of matter to see the Khitomer being pounded by Jem Hadar warships.

“Fire all weapons!” Bratar shouted.

With that order, 4 quantum torpedoes launched and hit one warship. Three impacted on its main shell, but the forth hit it’s port nacelle, causing the ship to erupt in a matter/antimatter explosion.

Photon torpedoes from the Pinta launched at another ship, but only managed to damage it. The Khitomer’s phasers finished it of.

“Evasive maneuvers, pattern Delta 32,” Bratar ordered, sitting back down in here chair as the ship rocked from explosions.

Phaser fire began to emit from the Dragon as it began slow evasive maneuvers. Despite the upgrades, the ship still wasn’t very maneuverable. It was, after all, an exploration ship.

The warships concentrated on the Khitomer, trying to weaken its prototype shields.

Scerioun hit the nearest Jem Hadar across the face as he entered the ship’s command bridge, then struggled to stand as the ship was hit by photon torpedoes.

He had barely beamed out of the base before its destruction. “Incompetent!” he shouted. He tore the view screen away from the Jem Hadar that was using it, put it on, and took a look at the ensuing battle.

He immediately saw an Intrepid class vessel as it fired eight Photon torpedoes. The ship shook violently as the Vorta attempted to stand. “Take out that small ship!”

Weapons fire from the ship Scerioun was on immediately left the Khitomer and started pounding the Intrepid class starship. The ship veered off it’s strafing course on Scerioun’s ship and fired its phasers along the way.

Scerioun’s ship shook violently again, threatening to throw the Vorta from his feet in an embarrassing moment. He became even more furious at this, and ordered, “Increase power to the weapons! SWAT THE FLY OUT OF MY FACE!”

A bright purple energy blast punched through the Intrepid class ship’s shields and impacted on its port nacelle. It immediately began venting plasma.

He then realized that he was loosing his temper, and tried to calm himself down. He took in a deep breath, a trick he had learned seemed to work for Humans. Despite the oddity of the curious exercise, it seemed to calm his nerves.

Aft torpedoes launched from it and impacted on Scerioun’s ship, causing Scerioun to finally be thrown to the ground.

He jumped up and said, in a now calm, and evil voice, “Eliminate them.”

Edwards watched helplessly as the Pinta was hit again by a barrage of fire from the Jem Hadar ship. They both were out of range of the Khitomer’s weapons, and from the looks of it, the Khitomer wouldn’t catch up in time.

He felt as helpless as he did when ships were destroyed during the Khitomer’s first mission. He had been helpless to save them then, and he was helpless now.

Escape pods began flying from the Pinta, but were each destroyed by the warship. That’s when Edwards knew he was definitely too late.

The Khitomer shook violently, but it was nothing as Edwards watched helplessly. The Pinta exploded in space.

Luckily, the warship was closer to the Pinta then it should have been, and so took damage.

“Shields are all ready down to 50 percent!” Radisson shouted.

Edwards hung his head low, hating himself for letting the Pinta be destroyed. But he wouldn’t let it happen again.

He looked up with a face of determination. “Set a course for the asteroid field, full impulse!”

“Aye, sir,” Zetan stated.

“Tell the Dragon to follow.”

The Khitomer then left the marginally open area left by the explosion of the base into the dense nebula, heading directly for the asteroid field that might be it’s only savior.

“Shields down to 47 percent,” the Dragon’s tactical officer, Lieutenant Perry Trenton, stated in an alarmed voice.

“Try to increase power to impulse engines!” Bratar shouted.

Harriman’s heart was beating wildly, an experience he hadn’t felt since he was on the Enterprise.

They were nearing the asteroid field, and he knew how limited the Dragon’s maneuvering capability was.

He stood up and went to the helm. “I’ll take it from here, ensign,” he stated.

The ensign immediately stood, and Harriman sat down, continuing the evasive patter the ensign had started.

He began working the controls with relative ease. He could out maneuver any one with anything, and merely hoped he could do the same in the asteroid field.

“When we start getting into the asteroid field,” Bratar began, “use phasers and tractor beams to get rid of anything Commander Harriman might not be able to avoid.”

“Yes ma’am,” Both Trenton and R’Sharn replied at the same time.

Harriman knew the Dragon wasn’t capable of fast drastic maneuvers. He’d have to work the controls, coercing the large ship to do things it was never designed to do.

He actually envied the helmsman of the Khitomer, for he or she was in control of a very fast and maneuverable starship.

Even as he passed that thought through his head, the Khitomer flew past the Dragon, continuing it’s crazy maneuvers.

“Hold back,” Edwards said when he noticed they had passed the Dragon. “We want to protect them, not leave them for dead.”

Zetan nodded and replied, “Aye, Sir.”

Edwards sighed for probably the tenth time this battle. It was turning out to be much more difficult then they had projected. They knew the station would’ve been protected, but they had expected the warships and fighters to be in it’s bay, not out in the nebula, obviously ready to strike the Khitomer and company.

Fear was building up in him, and Radisson stating that shields were down to 40 percent didn’t help. Even with the Khitomer’s advanced Octahedron shielding, she was still losing shields fast.

Edwards nodded in approval as the Dragon came on to the forward view screen again, for the ship had taken a beating and still had 38 percent of its shields left. The Helmsman, Tactical officer, and the engineer had to be great at what they did to allow the Dragon to last so long.

The bridge shook violently again, and this time Bratar had to strain to remain in the command chair.

“Shields are down to 34 percent!” Trenton yelled above the sound of emergency generators.

Bratar was already getting a headache. Somehow, the upgrade crew had forgotten to upgrade the emergency generators, and they were very loud.

“We’re nearing the asteroid field,” Harriman stated.

Bratar opened a channel to engineering and said, “Bridge to engineering, we need more shields!” She realized she had a very alarmed voice.

“I can see that!” Commander Carrey Briean replied over the comm channel. “But the truth of the matter is that we’re in a galaxy class starship, and I’m very limited on what I can do!”

Bratar smiled, despite the current situation. Briean had come aboard the Dragon when it’s upgrade and repairs had been finished. She had come from an Intrepid class starship, and was still not used to being on a starship that was starting to be called ‘an old ship.’

“I realize that, Commander, but we need more shields!” Bratar shouted in reply.

She could easily hear Briean sigh before she bit back, “I’ll see what I can do!”

“I’ll take it, bridge out!”

Again, Harriman struggled to keep himself in his seat and keep them on course while not being pounded. It was indeed a tough job, but once they entered the asteroid field, they should be relatively safe…he hoped.

Speak of the devil, he thought. “Entering the asteroid field!”

With those words, large ‘rocks’ began flying past the Dragon as she began an even more wild set of maneuvers, at Harriman’s commands. It was a tough job, maneuvering through the asteroid field…and they had barley entered it.

He saw on aft sensors the Khitomer was now taking on its own course, away from the Dragon. Harriman smiled as the Jem Hadar ships split up, almost equally.

Eight photon torpedoes then took out one of the ships from the Dragon’s aft launcher.

He cursed as he suddenly noticed he had diverted his attention for too long, and began a maneuver that hopefully would move them out of the way of a small asteroid. He held his breath as he noticed it wasn’t working.

Luckily, a tractor beam hit it, pushing it out of the Dragon’s way. Harriman sighed with relief and stated, “Thanks, R’Sharn.”

“You owe me one,” she replied harshly. If he didn’t know her better, he would’ve sworn she meant it… But this Andorian, despite her bad attitude, did have a sense of humor.

This time he kept his eyes on the situation ahead of them. None too soon did he see a possible savior. Ahead of them was a large asteroid, larger than the others, even almost the size of a small moon. It was surrounded by other asteroids, which would constantly pound it, or reflect off of it, in pieces, but still even more full asteroids were orbiting it.

He set a course for it, avoiding asteroids as they were getting ever deeper into the field. R’Sharn found herself busy by now, no doubt, having to tractor asteroids out of their way left and right.

Again, torpedoes fired aft and damaged the port nacelle of a warship. Harriman looked down at aft sensors for a brief moment, and was satisfied to see the ship careen into an asteroid, taking out another warship with it in the antimatter explosion.

The asteroid was huge, and was looming larger on the view screen.

“Commander, that IS a huge asteroid that we’re heading for,” Bratar’s voice cut through the noise of the emergency generators.

“Exactly,” Harriman replied.

Small debris hit the Dragon’s shields and slightly knocked them off course, but Harriman corrected the change. Though it had messed up his original trajectory, he could easily compensate the old dinosaur’s course.

They were nearing the asteroid now. It was only about a hundred thousand kilometers away, but they were now entering the area of dense asteroids orbiting it. And it only made Harriman’s job harder.

Phaser blasts now began lancing out to destroy moving asteroids that might impact against the Dragon’s shields. Tractor beams were becoming a constant.

The Dragon shook from a stray weapons blast from one of the Jem Hadar ships…the first since they had entered the asteroid field.

Again, aft sensors showed photon torpedoes destroying yet another ship, while an asteroid destroyed a second. Indeed the field was working.

“That’s all the power I can give you,” Briean stated over the comm system.

“Shield’s are up to 40 percent,” Trenton stated in awe.

“I’ll burn out the power relays if I attempt to feed more power into the shields, so that’s all your getting,” Briean finished.

“Good enough!” Bratar shouted in reply.

And then, the field partially cleared. They left the orbital altitude that most of the asteroids were in. Now all Chris had to worry about was missing asteroids that were falling towards the larger asteroid looming ahead.

He glanced at aft sensors to see only eight Jem Hadar warships were following. However, something he found curious, was the sight of a warship, possibly the same that had destroyed the Pinta, was leaving the asteroid field.

He diverted his attention back to the task at hand, intent on carrying out his plan…

“Genius,” Edwards stated as he checked the tactical display on his console. The Dragon was not only flying close to the asteroid, it was using the asteroid to speed itself up. The smaller Jem Hadar warships were finding it hard to keep up and avoid falling asteroids.

The Khitomer shook violently, bring Edwards back to the situation at hand. Ten Jem Hadar warships were still on the Khitomer’s tail.

“General course direction 2-1-3 mark 5,” Edwards ordered.

“Altering general course,” Zetan replied.

“Watch those large asteroids,” Hobson added.

“Don’t worry, commander,” Zetan said in a voice of annoyance.

He looked back at the sensor readings of the Dragon’s situation to find the Dragon was not on sensors. The Jem Hadar warships were, but the Dragon was no where to be seen. He looked for the horrible signs of an antimatter explosion, but found none.

“Any one see what happened to the Dragon?” he asked, curious.

“They headed into a large…‘hole,’” Hobson replied.

As the warships neared what Edwards guessed was the ‘hole’ the Dragon was in, he wondered what was going on…

He was immediately answered. The moment the warships were over the hole, Quantum and Photon torpedoes flew out of the asteroid, followed by phasers. They all found targets, destroying all but one final warship.

However, the warship didn’t last long enough to brag. A large asteroid impacted on its starboard side, taking out most of the ship. What was left was destroyed by the resulting antimatter explosion.

“Six enemy ships left,” Radisson stated. The Khitomer shook from what seemed to be a shallow shock wave. Edwards knew what that meant even before Radisson corrected himself. “Correction, four left,” Radisson stated.

Edwards smiled at the fact. The Khitomer WAS down to twenty one percent of shields, but four would be no problem.

They passed near a large asteroid, and to Edward’s surprise, a tractor beam lanced out at the asteroid. It edged the large asteroid into movement. Inertia as well as other forces caused the asteroid to accelerate.

Edwards’ smile deepened as the asteroid smashed into the remaining warships. The asteroid was torn apart by the resulting explosion, causing debris and an energy shockwave to hit the Khitomer’s shields.

But the damage was minimal, especially compared to what she had just gone through.

“Damage report,” Hobson was quick to ask.

“Minor hull buckling all across the board,” Dk'myr'chi stated over an open comm channel. “Shields down to fifteen percent. Warp core fluctuating, but we should have that fixed soon enough. Warp field emitters damaged, so it’ll be some time before we can go to warp. Two phaser banks out of commission.”

All in all, not bad at all, Edwards thought. “Casualties?” he asked.

“None…yet,” Commander Susan Woods, the ship’s chief medical officer, replied from sick bay. “Fifty two injuries, some critical.”

Edwards decided not to press the matter, knowing she had her hands full. “Have the Dragon rendezvous with us outside of the asteroid field. Get us out of this death trap.”

“Aye, sir,” Zetan replied.

Breathing a huge sigh of relief, Harriman stood up from the helm, allowing the ensign to take over again. They were emerging from the asteroid field.

He was heavily perspiring, and so he wiped his brow with his left arm. He looked at the arm to see it soaked. He hadn’t realized he had been concentrating that much, but he was glad he had. That concentration was probably what allowed him to finish the job.

“Again, I must say that was ingenious,” Bratar stated enthusiastically, patting him on the back. Harriman looked at her and smiled. “Now go get some rest,” she finished.

Harriman shook his head and replied, “I’m fine, I just need a moment to collect my wits.” He realized his voice sounded strained, but he genuinely thought that it was all he needed. It wasn’t as if he had exerted any physical energy.

“Are you sure?” Bratar asked.

Harriman only nodded in reply and then headed to his seat beside the command chair. He sat down quickly and slouched in the chair.

Bratar eyed him from her position near the helm, and then stated, “On second thought, go to your quarters and take a shower.”

Harriman grinned as his only reply and stood up. He wearily headed towards the nearest turbolift.

DePaul shook her head again. “The deflector grid is still off line,” she said in reply to the procedure Dk'myr'chi had just performed.

“What?” Dk'myr'chi asked as he came out from under the bulkhead, managing not to hit his head again, and stood up beside DePaul. He glared at the console they were looking at, seemingly willing it to suddenly explode.

“From what I can tell,” DePaul began, “the deflector dish itself is damaged.”

Some one bumped into Dk'myr'chi, causing him to hit his stomach on the console. In a strained voice, he cursed in some language unknown to DePaul.

He glared at the engineer that continued, unhindered by Dk'myr'chi’s curses, away towards another part of engineering. Engineering was, for lack of a more appropriate term, a mess.

Every engineer in the ship was probably working in engineering right now, still trying to locate the source of power failures and other such glitches caused by the battle. Power conduits were being pulled from every accessible panel, as each had shorted out. The power conduits that were all overloaded were the shields. They had channeled too much power into the shields, but it had saved them.

“To hell with this,” Dk'myr'chi suddenly stated. He grabbed DePaul by the arm and started dragging her along with him as he stormed out of engineering. “Come on, Lieutenant,” he stated angrily. “We’re going for a walk.”

When Dk'myr'chi had told DePaul they were going for a walk, she had thought he meant through the ship to relieve stress. However, that idea was soon extinguished.

“Decompression complete,” the computer suddenly stated.

They were hard to actually do precise work in, but the pressure suite she wore was obviously needed. The force field that protected DePaul and Dk'myr'chi from being sucked out into space deactivated.

DePaul checked the little console on her right leg to make sure she had activated her magnetic boots. Of course, it said the same thing it had said the other five times she checked it in the last thirty seconds. They were on.

She wasn’t comfortable doing this. She wasn’t one who exactly enjoyed walking in the vacuum of space.

“Let’s go,” Dk'myr'chi stated, already beginning to walk out of the small decompression compartment. She was quick to follow.

Immediately, she felt herself lose all of her breath. She paused, staring at the sight for a moment. Coming up along side the Khitomer was the Dragon. Seeing that ship like this was amazing. Out in the open of space, with out seeing it through screens. The ship was tall, much taller than the Khitomer. It wasn’t that far off in length, either.

The only thing that spoiled the view was the fact that she was upside down.

She looked down at her feet to see she was right next to a window. Someone was at the window, smiling. They waved at her, causing her to smile and wave back.

"Lieutenant!" Dk'myr'chi’s voice suddenly shouted over the comm link. “Let’s move!”

Startled by the harshness in his voice, DePaul stuttered, but managed to reply, “Uh, right. Umm, sorry, sir.”

She looked up to see she had indeed fallen a ways behind, and started to walk again at an accelerated pace. When she finally caught up, she settled back into her normal space. They were approaching the deflector dish now, the saucer section almost entirely behind them.

The entire time, she simply stared at the Dragon that was stationed next to the Khitomer. The galaxy class, though not as state of the art as the Sovereign, was a beautiful sight.

Then, the Dragon was concealed as they entered the ‘alcove’ that the deflector dish was stationed in. She sighed a sigh of disappointment, and then trained her eyes at the dish.

They finally reached the dish platform and walked the steep curve onto the ‘platform’ which the dish was on. They wasted no time in reaching the dish.

Immediately, Dk'myr'chi pulled out a tricorder and began scanning the dish. “Looks like the power relays are damaged…” he exclaimed.

DePaul pulled out her tricorder and began scanning the dish over. She confirmed what he saw. “Looks like they were overloaded.”

“Take some time to repair,” Dk'myr'chi commented quietly.

“Not as much time as it will the warp systems,” DePaul replied, closing her tricorder and storing it. “Uh, you do know that we could’ve found out about this from simply doing a power feed back scan.”

Dk'myr'chi turned around, equally storing his tricorder. When he faced her, she saw something she rarely saw on his face. He was smiling!

“But then we wouldn’t have been able to take this little stroll out of that damned engineering,” Dk'myr'chi replied. “Frankly, I needed to get out of that hell hole.”

DePaul let out a little laugh. She motioned towards where the Dragon would be and said, “It was well worth the view.”

Dk'myr'chi’s smile deepened, but then he sighed and his face became long again. “But it seems we must return once again.”

DePaul nodded, then began leading the way back, anxious to see the Dragon again.

Bratar opened her eyes with a start, surprised she had allowed her self to almost doze off. It was her door chime that had awakened her.

She stood and stated, “Come in.”

She glanced at the door as it opened while she headed for the replicator. She was glad to see that it was Commander Harriman.

“Mister Harriman, come in please,” she stated, stopping at the replicator. “Let me guess, Earl Gray?” she asked.

“Of course,” Harriman replied.

“One cup of Earl Gray and a coffee,” she told the computer. Two mugs appeared from the replicator. She took the mugs and began to walk away when she stopped in mid-stride. In her mug was the coffee, as was the tea in Harriman’s. However, the tea wasn’t liquid, it was still in its solid leaf form.

She frowned, took a sip from her coffee to make sure she wasn’t imaging things, and then shook her head.

“What’s wrong?” Chris asked. In reply, she went back to the replicator and placed the tea back.

“Computer!” she stated harshly. “How about a cup of Earl Gray that has water in it?”

She heard Chris give out a small laugh as the replicator replaced the mug with another. She took the mug and looked in it.

She sighed in defeat when she saw it. She looked at Harriman and stated, “You know, this thing is really angering me. You tell it to add water, and it does that. But it keeps the Earl Gray in its solid form, simply doing what I said, adding water in it.”

Harriman smiled in reply, then said, “That’s all right, I’m not that thirsty anyway.”

She placed the mug of Earl Gray back in the replicator and hit a command into the computer. As she walked away from the replicator, she shook her hand, trying to forget the pain she had caused herself by jamming her finger on the console.

She sat down in her chair again and placed her mug on the table. She sat back and smiled at Harriman. “You piloted the ship well back there,” she stated.

Harriman cocked his head to the side, shrugging the comment off. “I’m sure you of all people know my reputation as being one of the best pilots Starfleet has to offer,” he replied matter-of-factly.

She raised her eyebrows in response and said, “Indeed.” She leaned forward against the desk and added, “It’s almost too bad I promoted you to first officer.”

Harriman let out another small laugh. “So long as it brings me closer to the rank of Captain, fine by me.”

Bratar returned the smile and said, “Trust me, you’ll make Captain soon. Which I believe would make you one of the youngest captains.”

Harriman frowned. “You’re not recommending me for promotion all ready, are you? I JUST made commander!”

“Don’t flatter yourself,” Bratar replied sarcastically. “However, I’m DEFINITELY commending you.”

“Well, being the person I am, it’s common place these days,” Harriman in turn replied sarcastically. “You know, what with being commended once a day on my last ship, and all.”

Bratar rolled her eyes. Before she could say any thing else, her comm badge beeped. She tapped it and said, “Bratar here.”

“Captain, I think you better come out to the bridge,” the ship’s science officer, Lieutenant Commander Charley McKariant, replied over the comm channel.

Bratar looked at Harriman, curious but alert. As they both stood, she stated, “On our way.” They entered the bridge, Bratar’s coffee forgotten.

“Report,” she stated as she stopped in front of her command chair. She was looking at the science station at the back of the bridge.

“I’m picking up an unusual amount of Neutrino emissions,” McKariant stated in a confused voice from the science station.

Harriman was immediately at his side, examining the readings. Bratar noticed she could barely stand, as she was still very tired. She sat down, awaiting a report.

“There’s no other known, natural phenomenon other than a wormhole that produces such an effect,” McKariant finished, looking at Harriman.

“Source?” Harriman was quick to ask.

McKariant entered in a few commands before reporting, “About a quarter of a light year from the nebula. Looks like we were lucky enough that the emissions weren’t entirely blocked by the nebula.”

“Are you saying there’s a wormhole nearby?” Bratar asked, all signs of sleep suddenly leaving her.

“Yes,” McKariant replied.

Bratar knew this could only mean one thing. “Red alert, all hands to battle stations!” she suddenly cried out. The alert klaxon briefly sounded, but was then shut off.

As Harriman moved to the command area to sit in his own chair, Bratar ordered, “Hail the Khitomer.”

A moment later, Radisson’s face appeared on the view screen. “Go ahead, Dragon,” he said.

“Commander, we’re reading neutrino emissions coming from about a quarter of a light year from the nebula,” Bratar was quick to point out.

Radisson nodded and replied, “We were just about to hail you about that.”

“The only known natural source of neutrino emissions are wormholes,” Harriman was quick to add.

“Yes, we know,” Edwards’ voice suddenly said. Radisson stood up from the command chair, allowing Edwards to sit in the command chair. “Starfleet wasn’t sure how they were getting supplies to this base, but I guess we just found out.”

“I’m reading five Jem Hadar cargo transports heading for the nebula,” Radisson stated from his position at tactical. “Escorted by ten fighters,” he then added.

Edwards thought about it for a moment, then stated, “We’ll launch our fighters to assist you in destroying that convoy.”

Bratar nodded and replied, “Gotcha. Dragon out.

The screen changed back to the view of the nebula. “Have they detected us yet?” Hobson asked, who had also just arrived with Edwards.

“No, the nebula seems to be interfering with their sensors,” Radisson stated.

Edwards opened a comm channel to the fighter bay and ordered, “Edwards to fighter bay…”

“…Scramble all fighters and launch!”

Commander Zack Toyle didn’t have to be told twice. He hit the scramble button, surprised that they were going to see some action after all.

An alarm suddenly sounded through out the bay. He grabbed his own flight helmet then headed out to his fighter. A couple of the other pilots had been in the small rec. room just outside of the bay, and were already slipping into their uniforms.

All Toyle had to do was zip up his flight suite, for he had kept it on. He climbed into his fighter and sat down in the cockpit. He closed the cockpit and began the pre-flight sequence.

The fighter’s powerful engines roared to life, no doubt making it very hard to hear any thing else in the fighter bay. Not long after, the other 11 fighters in turn roared to life.

After a few minutes, all was primed and ready. Toyle disengaged the magnetic locks and punched the throttle to full. His fighter shot out of the bay, causing Toyle to be pressed back against his seat momentarily.

After the inertial dampers had just stopped all G forces, Toyle slowed the fighter down, allowing the rest of the Phoenix squadron to launch.

Finally, they were all present and in formation. He put the throttle to full and headed for the USS Dragon, which his orders on the console said he was supposed to aid.

He knew the Khitomer itself could not aid due to the fact that a lot of key systems were still under repair. It was only five cargo ships escorted by ten fighters. With the combination of the five fighters from the Dragon, he was sure they would have no trouble at all dealing with the small convoy.

They were quick to catch up to the slower USS Dragon, and then fell into formation around the Galaxy class starship. He stared intently at his sensor readings, waiting impatiently as the kilometers between them and the convoy to become almost zero.

About seventy kilometers out, five fighters from the Dragon joined in the formation. Toyle noted they were of a very old design, though in actuality, they weren’t THAT old. Fighters hadn’t even been conceived of until the Dominion started to harass the Federation. The Dragon’s fighters were one of the original designs.

They would suffice in a battle such as this, though. It was seventeen fighters against ten. Numbers alone meant that the battle would be easy.

All of the fighters from the convoy broke off their escort and headed to intercept the Federation group. Toyle smiled as he targeted the lead fighter, knowing that very same fighter was targeting his fighter. He painted the target and armed torpedoes.

He waited as the distance closed rapidly. Finally, they were in range. He fired a set of torpedoes and then broke off when seeing the other fighter had done the same. He allowed the stronger shields of the Dragon to take the small energy weapons impact.

He then reacquired his target and began chasing after it. He noted one of his own fighters was helping him, even though he didn’t really need it.

As if anticipating what Toyle had planned, the other Phoenix fighter edged to port. Toyle fired towards the starboard side of the fighter, which caused the Jem Hadar fighter to veer off…right into the other fighter’s torpedoes.

Every single torpedo impacted on the fighter, causing an immediate release of matter and antimatter. The explosion was short and unremarkable.

Toyle decided not to go though the debris and veered off, searching for another target. He immediately acquired one…who was heading straight at him.

“Good,” he commented. “I prefer it this way…head to head.”

Neither was firing, wanting to play chicken. However, Toyle had something else in mind. The space between the two fighters closed quickly. Right when one might have veered off, Toyle fired…fired two photon torpedoes.

He then veered off, knowing he’d barely miss the enemy fighter. However, his craft shook hard and was flung through space. The energy blast from the torpedoes hitting the Jem Hadar was what had done the damage.

G forces pulled him to the back of his seat, not allowing him to reach for the controls. However, inertial dampers finally kicked in, and Toyle immediately took control of the fighter.

He looked at sensors to see that there weren’t any fighters left. So he instead set course for the five cargo ships, the squadron of fighters following. He noted that the Dragon was already engaged with the cargo ships, and had already destroyed one of them.

The battle was unremarkable from there on out. The cargo ships were easily dispatched. Toyle was about to set course back for the Khitomer when he noticed the Khitomer was coming to join them. So he just waited, letting the warship come to him.

“I think I’ve found the wormhole,” McKariant stated triumphantly. “About five hundred kilometers off of our starboard bow.”

Bratar replied, “Mark it and keep a sensor lock on it.”

The battle had gone very well. No fighters were lost, and only one of the Khitomer’s fighters had been damaged when it went head on with a Jem Hadar fighter.

Harriman wondered, however, what lie ahead of them. As soon as the Khitomer had caught up to the Dragon, he had no doubt that Bratar would scan the wormhole, which would hopefully locate the base that was supplying the now destroyed nebula base.

As he expected, when the Khitomer came up along side the Dragon, Bratar ordered, “Scan the wormhole. Let’s see if we can figure out where it leads.”

R’Sharn began tapping commands into her console and was examining the data. Not only was her head moving around, looking at different read outs on the console, but so was her antenna.

Finally, she became fixated on one particular sensor read out. Harriman stood up and strolled over to her console. He began looking at the readout she was reading, but was cut short.

“I think I figured it out,” she stated triumphantly. She turned around in her chair to look at Bratar, glancing at Harriman along the way. “But I’m not sure how it’s possible.”

Harriman frowned, knowing Bratar equally frowned. “Where does it lead to?” Harriman asked, impatient.

R’Sharn glared at him momentarily, then finished, “It appears to end in the Bad Lands.”

This brought an even deeper frown to Harriman’s face. The Bad Lands were much too unstable to support the opening of a wormhole. The eddies alone would tear it apart.

Harriman, along with Bratar, turned to look at McKariant. He was already deep in thought. But that soon ended.

His thoughts were interrupted by a chime on McKariant’s board. He looked at it then frowned.

“Uh, there’s something wrong with that wormhole,” he stated.

“What do you mean?” Bratar asked, confused.

“Well, a wormhole’s path is never straight. It is also never perfect.”

“And your point?” Chris asked after a moment’s hesitation.

McKariant looked at him, horror on his face. “This wormhole is artificial…”

Harriman felt his eyes widen at that fact. He played the situation through his mind, trying to figure it out. Before he had a chance to, Bratar asked, “How do you know?”

McKariant frowned, thinking simply by stating a wormhole’s natural properties would’ve hinted to the two. “Simply, this wormhole is, for lack of a better term, perfect. Straight, and completely symmetrical.”

“So that’s how it was created in the Badlands,” Harriman stated quietly. “There’s been a lot of reports of open pockets in the Badlands where there’s no distortion at all. They could have created it there…”

“The question is, though, how did they create this wormhole?” Trenton asked almost under his breath.

Bratar visibly thought about it for a moment, then began, “Well, Captain Picard and the Enterprise once had to stop them from creating an artificial wormhole when the Defiant mined the Bajoran Wormhole.”

Finishing her thought, Harriman said, “So why wouldn’t they have another device for creating wormholes some where else?”

“Exactly,” Bratar stated. She stood up, tense, and ordered, “Send a stealth probe through that wormhole, Ensign.”

“Aye, Captain,” R’Sharn replied. “Preparing probe.” A moment later, she confirmed what every one saw on the view screen. “Probe launched.”

They watched as it approached the wormhole. When the wormhole opened, it confirmed what McKariant had stated. It was a perfect circle, something that is rarely created in nature.

In a surprised tone, R’Sharn stated, “Ma’am…the probe’s already on the other side!”

“How is that possible?” Bratar asked, looking with Harriman back to McKariant.

He casually shrugged his shoulders and stated, “As I said, perfect.” He examined the readings and stated, “As we suspected, the wormhole leads into an open pocket in the Bad Lands. There’s noting around the area, so I’m taking the probe to what appears to be another open area.”

“Can you give us a visual?” Bratar asked.

Immediately, a scene of the badlands appeared on the main view screen. The orangish hue of the badlands was frightening to any who had ventured into the badlands. The area was rather clear, and there weren’t any eddies anywhere to be seen.

“We’re going to need a relay probe if we want to keep in contact with the stealth probe,” McKariant said.

“Send one through,” Bratar ordered.

Immediately, sensors confirmed the launch of another probe. In less than a minute, it appeared in front of the stealth probe. It took up a stationary position before the stealth probe began to move towards the cluster of gasses ahead.

In an instant, it was inside the distortion. The view began to show evidence of disruption, but then the disruptions cleared as the relay probe began doing its job.

Ominously, a large shape began to take shape in the gasses and dust. Its shape was symmetrical, but still odd. No on could discern what it was…until the stealth probe broke through the gasses and entered another open space.

The probe came to an immediate stop so as not to be detected. Everyone on the bridge stared in awe at the huge structure. The large structure could only be described as huge. Hundreds of Jem Hadar fighters were swarming about.

“Get as much sensor data as you can on that area,” Bratar ordered, breathless. “We’ve got our work cut out for us.”

As she stood, she ordered, “Let me know as soon as we’ve collected as much data as we can.” She began walking towards her ready room. As she did so, she finished, “Charley, try and find a way to collapse that wormhole. Let me know as soon as you find a solution.”

“Yes, Ma’am,” McKariant replied as the doors closed behind Bratar.

“This is not good,” Admiral Weston stated on Edwards’s desk laptop.

On the other side of the split screen, Captain Bratar sighed as she slumped in her chair. “We’re definitely too small of a force to deal with them,” she added.

Weston was looking at something off screen, tapping in commands into something. Edwards waited patiently for the Admiral to say something, as did Bratar.

Finally, he looked back up at the two captains. “We’ll mobilize the 7th fleet, or at least a good portion of it, near the Kartian system. That’ll put us with in five sectors of the badlands.” He sighed before continuing with, “I’m afraid the USS Liberator won’t be able to join you, it’s got an important mission of its own to complete. However, the USS Argus will. It’ll be in command of the fleet.”

Both Edwards and Bratar nodded in unison. “Captain Bratar, I want you to go back on your patrol of the Neutral Zone,” Weston started. Bratar started to protest, but was cut off. “Captain Edwards, we’ll send you a time of attack. Keep monitoring that base with your probe. Once the attack starts, go through the wormhole and join the assault.”

Edwards nodded again, but Bratar finally had a chance to cut in. “Admiral, we’re going to need all the force we can give in this battle,” Bratar stated. “Keeping the Dragon out might be what makes us lose this battle.”

Weston started to say something, then stopped himself. He thought about it for a moment, then smiled, something he doesn’t often do. “Agreed,” he said to both Edwards and Bratar’s surprise. “Proceed along with the Khitomer, Weston out.”

The view of Bratar then filled the rest of the screen. “Guess we should prepare,” Edwards said, finally saying something. Bratar nodded, then closed the channel.

Edwards opened a ship wide channel, knowing the time was growing near.

“All hands, this is the Captain,” he began. “We’re about to go into a battle that will decide the very fate of this war…the very fate of this galaxy. Should we lose this battle, it would mean that the Dominion would forever hold an upper hand on this war.

“Now, the 7th fleet is for sure going to lose a lot of ships. But no matter what, even if it means sacrificing ourselves, we must prevail. I’m not about to let it come to that, though. Let’s do everything in our power to defeat this foe, and come back with out casualties.

“The Dominion may have superior force, superior number, superior technology.” Edwards paused, letting that sink in for a moment. Finally, he finished, “But that is no match against the spirit of the Federation! Now lets win this battle!”

That last sentence he shouted enthusiastically. It was something he usually didn’t do, but he knew the crew needed their spirits lifted.

The bridge crew gave off a short cheer, and then set to work with a little more enthusiasm than before.

“Sir, the Dragon reports that the battle has begun,” Zetan reported from the helm.

Edwards smiled as he stood up from the command chair. “So, it begins,” he stated quietly.

“Sir?” Hobson asked.

“Nothing,” Edwards quickly amended, shaking his head. He looked out at the view screen and ordered, “Helm……take us in.”

With in minutes, the wormhole opened up to receive them. The entire trip to the wormhole, Edwards was on edge. Would Starfleet win this battle? If so, how many ships would they lose? Either way, the fate of the galaxy did indeed hang on their shoulders…

“Entering the wormhole,” Zetan pointed out. An alarm sounded, causing Zetan to look around his board. “Uh…it looks like…”

Zetan stammered with his words. The mere fact that Zetan was stammering was strange. Edwards was about to ask him to finish, but he did. “There’s some temporal variances occurring directly at the event horizon,” he finished. “I don’t know what’s going on, but the temporal variances are causing some strange reactions in the surrounding area of the ship.”

“Why didn’t the probe detect this?” Edwards asked himself quietly.

“Unknown,” Zetan replied, though Edwards hadn’t even asked him.

Suddenly, Edwards guessed the temporal disturbances hit the bridge. It actually must have been on the bridge for a few moments, at the rate it appeared to be moving. He couldn’t really see it, but Zetan’s moves suddenly slowed dramatically. His left index finger was slowly making its way to some command button.

Suddenly, he sped back up and hit the button. And just as suddenly, Edwards became dizzy. The entire deck seemed to leap up at him. Then, it went away. Far away… The deck then proceeded to tip and turn this way and that. Edwards was on the verge of collapse when it all suddenly stopped.

Stricken, Edwards stared at the screen, though what was on the screen didn’t register for a moment. He looked to his right to see Hobson equally stricken, and then indeed noticed the entire bridge was the same, except the people in the back, who were still being hit by the distortion, though that soon ended.

Those officers who were standing collapsed as the distortion passed away from them. After a minute of stricken silence, Radisson said, “Reports coming in from all decks. Chronometers are the front of the ship say its 14:50, while chronometers at the back say its 15:01.”

“For now, reset all chronometers to the bridge’s,” Hobson ordered, filling in for Edwards’s lapse.

“Aye,” Radisson complied. Edwards simply continued to stare at the front view screen. Then he noticed Zetan was doing the same.

“Ensign Zetan!” he suddenly shouted. “Watch out for that spatial eddie!”

Zetan reacted with lighting speed, changing course. The ship shook violently for a minute as the badlands suddenly lurched, further causing dizziness in Edwards. When things settled, Radisson reported minimal damage.

“Please tell me the computer recorded everything,” Edwards asked hopefully.

“It did,” some one commented. He was too relieved and happy at hearing that, that he didn’t pay attention to who had said it.

Then he remembered the battle and the trailing Galaxy class ship. “How’s the Dragon?” he asked.

“She made it all right, but almost ran into the same eddie we did,” Radisson reported.

“Then lets get to that battle,” Edwards ordered.

With in moments, the Khitomer broke through the matter blocking the wormhole’s open space into the battle area. As Edwards had described events many a time before, the Khitomer just stepped into hell.

“The USS Khitomer and the USS Dragon have entered the battlefield,” Lieutenant Commander Data informed Captain Picard. Moments later, the bridge of the Sovereign-class USS Enterprise lurched to one side.

“Battle status,” Picard requested as he held onto his armrest.

“All ships are still in the fight,” Lieutenant Daniels, the Chief Tactical Officer, replied. “We’ve destroyed half of the Jem Hadar ships, but only because we got the jump on them in the first place. Other wise, we’re in a sort of tie with the Jem Hadar.”

“The Khitomer and the Dragon have entered the battle,” Data added.

“Then let’s hope they are enough to break this ‘tie’,” Picard commented. The ship lurched yet again, equally causing Picard to hold on for dear life…yet again.

“Shields at seventy-five percent,” Daniels reported.

“Picard to engineering,” Picard said as he opened a channel. “Geordi, we’ve barely begun the battle. We need to keep those shields up!”

“I’m doing the best I can, Captain!” Lieutenant-Commander LaForge replied over the comm system. “The fact that we just got out of another battle with the Dominion four hours ago doesn’t help! I think I can get shields back up in the eighties in ten minutes, if we don’t get beaten down too much harder.”

“You have four minutes, Picard out,” Picard replied. He had always pushed LaForge to the limits, but each time, he came through. In tradition with most of the long line of Enterprise engineers, LaForge was a miracle worker. In fact, if it hadn’t been for LaForge’s engineering ability, the Enterprise-D would’ve been destroyed long before the Veridian 3 incident…and no doubt, the Enterprise-E would have been destroyed by now.

“Captain, I believe I have found a weakness in the Dominion base’s shields,” Data said, never diverting his attention from his console.

Picard stood from his chair. He pulled at the bottom of his tunic to straighten it as he walked to Data’s console. “Where?” he asked as he examined the readout.

“Shield grid 5,” Data replied. “Directly between two shield generators.”

“Have half of the fleet concentrate on that section,” Picard ordered, heading back to his command chair.

“Aye, sir,” Data replied.

“Both port nacelles have just gone off line!” R’Sharn shouted above an exploding panel.

“Engineering to bridge!” Briean shouted over an open comm channel. “We’re taking too much damage! We need to retreat!”

“Negative!” Bratar shouted in reply. “We have to hold out as long as possible! Do some of that engineering stuff you used to do!”

“How the hell can I on this old thing?” Briean replied.

“Its called ingenuity!” Bratar replied. “I recruited you because you supposedly had a lot of it!”

There was a long silence over the comm. Bratar wondered if she had been too harsh, and so made a mental note to apologize to Briean after the battle…if they survived it.

“I’ll see what I can do!”

Bratar then closed the channel to concentrate on the battle again. The Dominion were down to ten battle ships, and twenty-two fighters, though that was changing fast. Most of the fleet was concentrating on a weakened section of the Dominion shields now, but about half of the fleet was faring very horribly. The Dragon was among that half…

For the umpteenth time of the day, the Dragon’s bridge lurched underneath Bratar.

“We just lost starboard shields!” Trenton shouted above another exploding panel. The bridge was quickly becoming a mess…

“Reroute auxiliary power to those shields,” Bratar replied calmly.

“Relay circuits have been fried,” R’Sharn immediately replied. The ship lurched again, causing R’Sharn to add, “And so are the auxiliary circuits!”

Just then, the ship was hit again, and the view screen blew out, throwing glass on the entire bridge crew. Bits of the viewscreen dug into Bratar’s face as she closed her eyes and mouth. In her entire career, she had never felt anything like this. It felt like thousands of tiny needles were pricking into her skin, causing an infinite amount of pain.

She finally was able to open here eyes, though the process was painful. R’Sharn and the helmsman were unconcious on their consoles. Almost as if on reflex, Harriman pushed the helmsman’s limp body to the ground and took the helm.

Bratar then took the place of R’Sharn at ops, knowing that there wasn’t time to wait for a replacement. She saw that much of the ship was starting to lose power. The Jem Hadar ships were completely destroyed, but the huge Dominion base was still attempting to hit the Dragon. Harriman was keeping it at bay, but barely. And it wouldn’t be long before they lost power to the impulse engines…

“Sir, the Dragon is losing main power,” Radisson reported.

“Then let’s get to her and protect her,” Edwards replied, urgency giving his voice an edge. On the view screen, the Khitomer suddenly turned away from the looming Dominion station and headed for the Dragon.

The Dragon was still some how avoiding most of the blasts from the station, but was still taking on a beating. Three of the Dragon’s nacelles were off line completely, the forth flashing on and off, trying to maintain power. However, a torpedo from the station hit the nacelle, causing it to start leaking plasma. Finally, the nacelle was taken off line, stopping the plasma leak.

“Quantum torpedoes, full spread,” Edwards ordered. “Hell, use all of our weapons. Let’s get their attention away from the Dragon.”

As the Khitomer approached the crippled Dragon, it began firing all of its weapons. The first to fire were several Quantum torpedoes from the repeating launcher. In a long, close procession, the torpedoes impacted on the shields, causing them to flare to life.

Following those were two torpedo nets, which, of course, could not wrap around the shields, as the station was far too big. However, they made an impact.

Following those came phaser fire and an ion blast from the ion cannon. To Edwards’ surprise, the shields dropped, allowing the phaser blasts to hit home.

“Target their weapons emitters!” Edwards was quick to command.

The phaser fire from the Khitomer, which had been randomly placed at first, all changed to hit designated targets. Within minutes, the station could no longer fire at the Dragon or the Khitomer.

“The entire station’s shields have collapsed,” Radisson stated. “I think it was because maintaining such a huge area of shielding works better with more than ten shield generators,” he finished in an amused tone.

“Captain, look!” Hobson shouted, pointing out something on the tactical display on Edwards’ armrest.

Edwards looked to see that a fighter was heading straight into one of the empty fighter bays. From the looks of the readings, the ship’s warp core was on a build up to detonation. The moment it entered the bay, it finally went critical.

On the view screen, which had changed to show the fighter’s course, a large, bright explosion proceeded following the core overload. When the explosion died down, a huge chunk of the station was blown out.

As every one recovered from the shock of that sacrifice, Radisson reported in an awe-stricken voice, “Sir, that fighter just gave us a clear fire to the engineering section of the Do…”

“Another fighter’s going on a suicide run!” Hobson inturrupted.

“This is Captain Lex to the fleet,” the Commanding officer of the USS Argus said over a comm channel. “When that fighter hits, it’s going to cause one hell of an explosion! So I’m ordering every ship to evacuate. And to that fighter making the suicide run…thank you for your sacrifice…”

Edwards smiled at that last sentence, then ordered, “Helm, get us out of here.”

“Sir, I’m not sure the Dragon will be able to make it!” Radisson reported. “She’s moving pretty slow!”

On the view screen, what Radisson had said was true. As the Khitomer sped away from the station, the Dragon was limping back. Edwards was about to order the Khitomer to turn around, but before he could finish the thought, the two top nacelles sprang to life.

“Engineering to bridge, I’ve got two nacelles online!” Briean shouted over the comm system.

Harriman felt his heart leap into his throat as the panel on his console for warp control came to life. “Chris, get us the hell out of here, now!”

Chris keyed in a command for the nacelles to give off a quick burst. Just as he entered in the final command, the station detonated. His last thought before he lost conciousness was of confirming that the Dragon had leapt into warp at the last minute…





Captain’s log, Stardate 55721.4

The Khitomer has been undergoing repairs for the past two days at Starbase 213, along side the heavily crippled Dragon. I’ve taken the liberty of getting to know Commander Chris Harriman these past couple of days, as I had known his father. I am finding him to be quite the command officer material. I am, therefore, making a special note that I believe he will be ready for command with in the next five years…

“So then he decided to finally join us, him being the only one who hadn’t fallen off of the boat,” Harriman said, half laughing. “Finally, when we were all in the water, we started laughing at the entire matter.”

Edwards laughed at the event Harriman had just described. For the first time in months, he was having a good time…

They currently were at a bar in Starbase 213 enjoying a couple of drinks and listening to music. It was a time for the distraught officers to relax…

Edwards thought about it, then finally decided to say it. “Well, one thing is for sure. I think you’ve definitely inherited your great grandfather’s command ability. He was, after all, the commanding officer of the Enterprise-B.”

Harriman smiled slightly at the comment. “Actually, my great grandfather wasn’t much of a commanding officer at all, when he took command of the Enterprise. He didn’t want to take any risks…”

“I don’t blame him,” Edwards replied, remembering his first command.

An eerie silence fell upon the two officers as they stared out the observation window. Finally, Harriman lifted his mug in the air.

“To our continued adventures in space,” he said, smiling.

Edwards stared at the glass, the words making an impact on him. A sense of friendship with the young First Officer befell upon him. Few people so young understood the meaning of commanding a starship. Yet, here was someone who should’ve still been at the rank of Lieutenant Commander for his age, understanding better than even Edwards.

Edwards smiled back, then raised his glass. “To the adventure,” he echoed.

The two friends took a drink from their mugs, then continued to stare out the window.

Star Trek Dragon graphics and written material copyright Jon Wasik. Star Trek is a registered trademark
of Paramount Pictures, a Viacom company. No copyright infringement intended.