CODA II

Free For All At Toulagai

CHAPTER 1

"Diplomacy is the art of saying "Nice doggie" until you can find a rock."

- Will Rogers – Earth (Human)

Captain Karmes sighed as he shifted his weight in the command chair. The bridge of the heavy cruiser USS Hood was, as always, functioning smoothly. The tactical plot on the main view screen showed the destroyer USS Samurai and that Dosadi light cruiser he'd been...'escorting'...the ISS Alisar. He'd had just about all the guff he was gonna take from that overgrown fur-ball, orders or no orders.

Five minutes ago, the Alisar had hailed the Hood and informed Karmes that there was a major fleet action occurring in Federation space. Then, without so much as a 'please', he'd demanded that the Federation ships follow his vessel and provide assistance to his embattled countrymen (or would that be countrykitties?, Karmes thought to himself). Karmes didn't have any choice but to stay with the Alisar as she accelerated to her maximum speed. Starfleet couldn't very well leave the Alisar wandering about unescorted – allies or no. But he'd been sorely tempted.

As they raced towards the altercation, his communications officer had been able to tell him some of the basics from intercepts: That idiot Gorn Admiral T'Skay had evidently been making a few 'dead cat' jokes at an Embassy party in the Federation sector of Toulagai. The Dosadi ambassador, showing typical control had immediately attacked him. Things had degenerated from there. The Gorn, 8' tall and looking like a tyrannosaur with bug-eyes were also Federation allies as well as being friendly with the Klingons and Hydrans. Trying to defuse this situation was going to take some delicacy. As he was trying to puzzle out what to do, his thoughts were interrupted by his comm officer again.

"Sir, incoming message from Admiral Noguchi at Starbase 6."

"On the main screen, Lieutenant." This should be good, he thought. Noguchi was a very professional officer and usually good for some extra information about missions. There was an initial burst of interference and then Admiral Noguchi's face appeared. He was clearly NOT happy. "Captain Karmes," he began without any of the usual pleasantries,

"You and the Samurai are to immediately accompany the ISS Alisar to the starbase at Toulagai. Once there, you are to engage the following ships of the Klingon Imperial Fleet: The battleship Reaver, the light cruiser Devisor, and the corvettes Deceit and Assassin."

Karmes wondered why so much Klingon heavy metal was at Toulagai. Things had been fairly peaceful between the Federation and the Klingons lately, but that was still a lot of firepower. And now he was going to be shooting at them – except a heavy cruiser and a destroyer weren't much of a match for a battleship, a light cruiser, and two corvettes!

Noguchi was still talking. "Be advised that also present are the following units of the Royal Hydran Navy: the carrier Kingdom, the light cruiser Succession, and the heavy frigates Horval and Hydrus. Gorn Fleet elements engaged are the heavy cruiser Tyrannus, destroyer Tooth, and the corvettes Honor and Confederacy.

The above units are engaged against the following ships of the Dosadi Romulon Assault Fleet: The assault carrier Delos, the command destroyer Shagrat, heavy destroyer Dosin, and their escorting corvettes, Nareth and Lavet Cair.

You will proceed to Toulagai at best possible speed and engage ONLY the Klingon elements. You are NOT under ANY circumstances to fire at any Hydran, Gorn, or Dosadi ships. If possible, place yourself to protect ships of these peoples and anyone firing at them, including the Dosadi."

Karmes' jaw was hanging open. Stunned, he asked "What the hell happened?"

Noguchi looked upset. "That isn't any of your concern, Captain. You are to use all available speed. I needn't remind you how critical these alliances are to the Federation. Do not do anything, no matter how tiny to upset them And most especially no jokes."

Johnson, the Hood's navigator asked, "Jokes?"

Noguchi pounced, "Yes! JOKES! Humor! Don't even crack a SMILE!"

"Uh..yes, sir. Understood, sir."

"Noguchi out." and he cut the connection, vanishing without even waiting for a reply.

At Toulagai, the four fleets had already squared off. Admirals Kremble, T'Skay, and Drake of the Hydran, Gorn, and Klingon fleets respectively, had assembled their battle plans. They were in three sections, line abreast some 750,000 km away from the maneuvering Dosadi ships and closing fast. Admiral T'Skay spoke with the Hydran commander, "If we can just keep that Klingon in line with us, the Dosadi don't stand a chance. We've got them out-gunned almost 3:1."

Kremble stood up. She asked, "Why does the Klingon worry you?"

T'Skay made a face. And when what looks like a bad-tempered dinosaur makes a face, it definitely has an impact. "He's an inexperienced political appointee that hasn't the foggiest idea what he's doing. He's got no experience even with a single ship, much less a fleet action. And those Dosadi are so damn tricky..."

Fleet Captain Nolin was also giving his final orders. His staff was sitting around him in the tight hexagonal bridge of the assault carrier Delos. These ships are fast, heavily armed, and dangerous. However, the Delos was the third the Dosadi had built – and the only one surviving. Because they were so dangerous, they tended to attract a lot of unhealthy attention from enemy forces. He issued his initial orders, "The carrier force will break right at 045 mark 315 and launch the initial fighter strike at 300,000 km. Immediately after launch, we'll pivot right to 090 mark 045 and launch the assault with Red Wing and half of White Wing. Keep the other half in reserve. Shagrat and Dosin will accelerate to .8C and move left at 270 mark 0. After 50,000 km, spin right 180 degrees in the plane and cross past us – try to get the Gorn to follow you. Then, cut left to 000 in the plane and charge the Klingon battle group. We'll signal weapons release. That Klingon's inexperienced and we can press him until he breaks. If we can get the Gorns to cut across their formation and the Klingons to cut across them, the confusion should let us break them all into tiny little pieces."

Like most fleet actions, the initial maneuvering was uneventful. Crews at this level were simply too skilled to fall for simple feints. But like an intricate game of tri-dimensional chess, there were layers within layers and traps within traps. What looked simple could often turn out to have a nasty surprise hidden within it. The Gorn, following their battle plan didn't bother chasing the two destroyers, but cut straight towards the carrier. LCDR Delac, the Green Wing commander sat in his F-14 Tomcat waiting for launch. As usual, there was a lot of chatter about who was gonna blow up what. No matter the species, nor the time-period fighter pilots were all alike. If anything, space fighter pilots were even more egotistical and crazed than their ancient planet-bound ancestors. The tiny ships were tough, fast, and maneuverable, but one solid hit from a starship's regular weapons battery would turn them into nothing more than an elegant spray of sub-atomic particles. The Dosadi were well known as aggressive and highly skilled pilots – and in this battle they had a definite edge in fighters. The Hydran Sting fighters weren't up to the same level as the Dosadis' Federation-supplied Tomcats, Hornets, and Thunderbolts, and their pilots were considerably less experienced.

Finally the launch order came through and the tiny fighters were fired out of their launch tubes much like a torpedo, the acceleration unnoticeable as the little ships' gravity compensators kept the pilot from being turned into jam from the g forces. As he began scanning the enemy fleets he heard someone curse over the open channel, "Eleth! You can see them from HERE!" He checked his scopes to be sure that the second half of his squadron was deploying properly and ignored the young pilot's comment. His silence would be more eloquent than any rebuke.

The three flights spread into a sort of pincer, His group as the lower with the other half of Green Wing making the upper portion. three F-18 Hornets of White Wing and six A-10 Thunderbolts of Red Wing were coming straight up the middle. As they closed to within 80,000 km, they could easily see the bulk behind the big Klingon battleship. It made an easy target. The destroyer group and the other half of Green Wing fired their missiles and torpedoes and continued to close the distance. Delac held his group's fire until they were within 20,000 km and added their own weapons to the spray of death headed for the battleship. "Break!" he called and all the fighters spun in place and powered their way back to their carrier.

Watching on his sensors, he couldn't believe his eyes. The Klingons, with enough anti-drone power to stop a drone wave from every ship his fleet possessed were breaking formation! They were cutting across the heart of the enemy fleet – AWAY from his ship!