The cloaked Alterran scout ship sat 1,100 dekmas away from the Romulan shipyard, observing the five-pronged station and over 400 docked warships as it floated in deep space, far from any star system. The massive station was the same one originally discovered by Sheppard and Mike Stevenson back before the war had started…and as far as they knew the enemy wasn't aware that their base had been located.
That would change in a few minutes, however, but right now the scout ship was waiting for the return of the five puddle jumpers that had quietly been redecorating the enemy's hull with cloaked packages…the first of which just passed into detection range on the ship's navigational system.
It appeared as little more than an outline, identifying itself through the cloaking fields of both ships by means of a specialized comm signal that most civilizations couldn't track, and even the Alterran sensors had to be precisely calibrated to pick up the all but invisible signal, which was necessary to keep cloaked ships from running into each other…or in this case to allow the cloaked jumpers to find and land onboard the scout ship.
One by one they returned, with Sheppard's jumper being the last. Once making sure everyone had returned safely, he ordered the pilot of the scout ship to leave the area via a short hyperspace jump to rendezvous with his command ship.
Looking out the forward viewscreen from the bridge, Sheppard couldn't help but smile as the bluish/white blur of hyperspace faded and the distant sight of his Columnar popped into view. It was a truly magnificent warship, made all the more intimidating from an external view of the monster as the scout ship angled towards the aft of the giant cylinder, headed for the primary hangar bay.
The Skywalker literally swallowed up the scout ship as it set down on the huge internal deck and powered down. Its part in this operation was over, but the mission had barely yet begun.
Using an internal set of rings, Sheppard and the others transferred into the Columnar's interior, then dispatched to their various stations. Ronon accompanied Sheppard to the bridge, which looked like an oversized school bus…long, narrow, and with seated crew in a rows along either side.
Sheppard walked down the open area between them, receiving nods of readiness as he headed for the command chair at the end of the long hallway. He deftly jumped into the organic looking device and powered it up with an almost unconscious thought, reclining backwards slightly as a holographic tactical diagram floated in the air to the right of his chair, detailing the ship's location and nothing else, for the moment.
Directly in front of him the wall altered from a blank bulkhead into a visual display of the space, wrapping around the edges of the command nook to afford him a better view of the area from the Columnar's viewpoint, though there were many visual angles he could select, but Sheppard preferred to look out as if it were a giant window, regardless of the fact that he had full sensors available through the mental uplink into the ship's systems.
Ronon, dressed in full Lantean body armor, walked up beside the Captain's chair and crossed his arms over his chest, waiting and watching the empty view of the stars.
"If anyone's not ready, now's the time to say so," Sheppard said to the bridge crew, each seated in a smaller version of the control chair.
To Sheppard's left a holographic avatar of the ship's computer, in the visage of Luke Skywalker, manifested itself. "All systems are battle ready. Troops are standing by for deployment at your command."
Sheppard did a quick double check of the weapons systems, mentally confirming that the primary weapon had a full capacitor charge standing by. They were about to kick the bee hive and needed to take out as many ships as possible in the first minute of battle.
"Here we go," Sheppard announced, sending the Alterran behemoth into hyperspace.
The Columnar disappeared into the massive hyperspace window…then reappeared through another twelve seconds later just off the Romulan station, whose shields were already up, having detected the last couple seconds of their approach through hyperspace despite the tracking countermeasures. The Columnar was just too big to completely hide, given that the station was designed using Lantean technology.
Sheppard immediately began opening the weapon pods as he flew a circuitous course around the perimeter of the fork-like station in order to align the ship down the length of one of the 5 prongs. Meanwhile sensor readings of activity within the station began to skyrocket as defense systems began to come online, along with a handful of ships beginning to power up.
"Blow 'em," Sheppard told the ship.
Luke waved a hand as if gesturing towards the view of the station and a number of tiny explosions manifested themselves on the hull…along with the fall of the station's shields protecting both it and the ships berthed inside.
"Now you die," Ronon declared.
With a target lock, Sheppard focused on weapons control and fired off a partial blast from the Columnar's primary weapon, located in the center of the ship's flat bow. The yellow/green streak of destructive energy impacted the side of the nearest docked ship on the outside pylon, cored completely through the ship and exited out the other side…directly into the ship beside it, as well as the next 26 down the row before the energy was fully absorbed, sparing the remaining 16 ships in that line.
Ronon thumped a fist against his armor in approval as Sheppard repositioned the ship to target the row on top of the same pylon and fired again, this time with a larger charge that ripped through the entire row, with a little left over to exit the other side past the station harmlessly into space.
By now several weapons batteries on the station were returning fire with spurts of intense yellow energy, but nothing that could get past the Skywalker's shields. A few of the docked Romulan ships began to disengage from their berths and drift out away from the prongs to engage the Columnar. Once in the clear, the bridge crew targeted them with the plasma cannons, making sure not to hit the station. Sheppard had given specific orders to leave it intact. It was the ships that they needed to destroy.
"Lorne, clip those batteries," Sheppard said, simultaneously shifting pesqua weapon control over to his station."
"My pleasure," the Lantean said, sitting in the chair just behind Sheppard on the left. With the ship's help, all the weapons batteries on the station were immediately highlighted, making it easy for Lorne to pick out the ones he wanted, firing a single pesqua at each.
The large iris-like doors covering the dorsal pesqua bay opened and a tiny cloud of fireflies raced out and in towards the station…but before they could hit the hull several auxiliary weapon systems came online and shot them out of the sky with super fast, pinpoint silver strikes.
"What are those?" Lorne asked.
"Anti-pesqua weapon system," the ship's computer said, slightly perturbed. "Apparently an add-on since our last reconnaissance of the station."
"Alright, guess we're doing this the old fashioned way," Lorne said, mentally grabbing three of the forward plasma cannons as the Skywalker gave him weapons priority over the other gunners. He zoomed in on one of the tagged batteries and fired a ranging plasma shot, seeing it miss high and blow a small piece of the hull out into space.
"Lorne…" Sheppard growled.
"Sorry," he said, readjusting his aim. His next shot hit true and the battery went dead.
"Shoot the small ones," Sheppard said, firing off another partial main blast, "then use the pesqua."
As he spoke the ship put up targeting coordinates for the anti-pesqua batteries scattered across the hull as the rest of the ship's plasma cannons began firing rapidly at the increasing number of Romulan ships disengaging from the station.
"Good call," Lorne acknowledged, shifting his aim and taking out one of the distant batteries on the first shot. Sheppard wasn't making it easy keeping them so far away from the station, but then again he probably needed the larger attack angle to hit so many ships simultaneously.
Another minute later and he had all the anti-pesqua batteries in view knocked out.
"Skim the hull…and take out the others," Sheppard said as he had to concentrate to release an orange lightning blast into three Romulan ships, two of whose shields went down and became easy pickings for his plasma cannon gunners.
Lorne smiled, catching his suggestion even before Sheppard sent a brief telepathic image of what he wanted him to do. The Lantean reacquired pesqua control and focused on the battery tags on the far side of the station…then released two pesqua for each.
The tiny swarm flew up and out of the massive ship and zipped down toward the station in nearly a straight line, having to veer slightly around some floating debris, until they nearly hit the station, then curved sharply and traveled around the hull barely two meters in altitude and beneath the line of fire of the defense turrets.
Lorne watched one of them through the mental interface as it slammed into the turret and popped out the other side…then swung back around and hit it again, boring through the material as if it wasn't even there using the broadcast energy being emitted from the Skywalker to burn through the device, after which Lorne retargeted the nearest main batteries and redirected the pesqua over to them.
"Nice work," Sheppard noted as the station's defenses went down in a handful of seconds. "Now send some after the docked ships with their shields still down…we're getting too many to handle."
"On it," Lorne said, launching a much larger swarm that wrapped itself around several of the pylons that Sheppard hadn't gotten to with the main weapon yet as the space around them was filled with green energy orbs coming from the Romulan ships and splashing against the Columnar's shields, so much so that the forward view from the Captain's chair was almost completely obscured.
"We can take it," Sheppard said, answering Ronon's unspoken question. "For a while," he amended as he fired off his last partial blast, taking out 13 ships still docked in a row, but with many gaps in between them as more than a third of the enemy fleet was now in space and hammering away at them with a vengeance.
The Skywalker fired off another lox blast from the ventral starboard pillar, then Sheppard took control of all four from the ship's computer and started targeting clumps of ships as he flew the Columnar across the prongs and further into the battle so the ship could make better use of its aft plasma turrets, many of which had yet to fire a shot. As they moved inside the swarm of Romulan ships the return fire from the Skywalker increased, as did its kill rate now that all its weapon systems were engaged.
Lorne's swarm of drones eventually died out, mostly from collisions with explosive ship components and a few from lucky shots by the Romulan ships, with the Columnar's pesqua power flow never abating. With all the weapon systems combined the potentia was being drained rapidly…but then again that was the point of the technology. Massive power over a short period of time, and the Romulans weren't going to last long enough to risk them running it dry.
Nor were they going to get through their shields, though they had managed to cut more than half their strength away, even with the impressive recharge rate that had the generators literally sucking energy out of the potentia faster than all of the secondary weapon systems combined. That shield stat began to increase again shortly enough, as the power flow began to surpass the damage inflicted as the Romulan fleet thinned.
When it was evident that they weren't going to be able to defend the station the remaining Romulan ships didn't turn and flee…instead they turned toward the Columnar and tried to ram it en mass.
Fortunately the Alterrans had prepared for this tactic when they designed the Columnar, and several dozen tractor beams activated to stop or deflect the incoming ships with only two getting so far as to hit the shields, with those being glancing impacts that didn't breach the protective energy shield…though they did chop away at the shield strength. The Romulans should have tried that tactic first, for then they might have stood a small chance, but they weren't going to get a second opportunity to try. Within 20 minutes of the first shot being fired all of the Romulan ships had been destroyed and the Skywalker hadn't taken so much as a single hit to the hull.
"And that's how we do that," Sheppard said as the last ship exploded, leaving the space around the station so cluttered it looked like they were in an asteroid field. He hopped out of the Captain's chair and headed aft, clapping Ronon on the shoulder.