CHAPTER 4

"Spock, I've found that evil usually triumphs... unless good is very, very careful."

- Dr Leonard McCoy, (Human) on Omega IV

"Weapons exchange." somebody remarked. The Loveland's light winked out.

The Nareth rocked as her shields struggled to absorb the phaser fire the Gorn corvette pumped into them. The Blackfoot began to fire every heavy weapon aboard into the Dinen which was already shuddering under the slaps of the Ottowa's plasmatic pulsar device.

The fighter groups were diving on the Blackfoot again, and again her defense officers were equal to the task. But as with the last attack, they simply had nothing left to spare to fend off the fighters themselves. The mighty ship shuddered and groaned as the phasers and torpedoes sliced into her hull from point-blank range.

As the captain of the Loveland began to receive reports of incoming torpedoes to match the pounding his ship was receiving from the Dosadi corvette in front of him, he reached a conclusion. "Abandon ship!" he cried. Thirty seconds later, his ship exploded. His quick action enabled seventy of his crewmen to reach escape pods or transporters in time.

The shuttlecraft containing the crew of the Troy and the Ewa were in a unique position. As they struggled to fly to the battlestation, they were caught between the fires raging between the two fleets. The passengers, already crammed into the tiny craft were thrown against the walls and floor as the pilots dodged phasers, torpedoes, and hellbores. Several times they were nearly run down by Dosadi fighters.

Back in the station's dining hall, the party paused as the thick green beams of the station's phaser cannon lanced out. Marshal Furball finally realized what was up as the lights dimmed from the heavy power consumption and the entire room turned bright green for a moment.

On the receiving end of that firepower, the Eleth rocked hard. Every ship in the Troy's escort group had begun firing their torpedoes at her, and the Phaser IV impacts hadn't helped. The Gorn weapons officers had acquitted themselves well – over 80% of the weapons fired had struck home. Four of her six shields were gone and she had taken minor damage to several systems.

Her fighters, on the other hand, were having a hay-day. Not one of the five ships in front of them was able to use their phasers again so quickly. They had exhausted their supply of Wild Weasels early in the battle, trying vainly to absorb the incoming plasma torpedoes and drones. The Thelet's three Hornets were already diving on the heavy destroyer Ceres and two Type-S plasma torpedoes were closing fast.

As with the Blackfoot, her drone defenses were almost flawless. Only four of the missiles found their mark – and again, the Gatling phasers and photon torpedoes were harder to dodge. When the fighters whipped around and under the ship and raced back towards their carrier, the Ceres was crippled, and her sister ship the Azusa was damaged, her shields collapsed. The heavy frigate Centralia, hit by the Eleth's torpedo fire was crippled beyond use and even the tiny, battered Macon had been reduced to a smoldering ruin.

T'Skay was trying to come up with a winning strategy, but his available firepower was dwindling rapidly. "Sir, another seven inbound shuttlecraft. Transporters have recovered eighty more wounded crewmen. The Centralia, Ceres,and Macon report that they must disengage."

"Wonderful." How many refugees do we have on board now?"

The man checked a screen, "Two hundred on board, four hundred in-bound."

T'Skay sighed. It was no longer possible to hide the battle from the civilians, nor the fact that the Gorn were getting beaten. If the hundreds of wounded crewmen hadn't tipped them off, the phaser cannon fire surely would. "Declare a state of emergency and signal the Confederacy that we are in dire need. Put all Marines at battle stations. Launch our remaining A-10's."

Throughout the giant station, lights dimmed to red and Marines began to sprint freely through the hallways. A squad of twelve ran into the ballroom and began to take up stations at various points throughout the room. There was a smattering of applause as the station's six remaining A-10's launched past the window.

The next ten minutes were not the best in T'Skay's life. The Dorsai lurched into motion, her damage 60% repaired. The Delos task force closed to within 30,000 km of the station, crippling the Blackfoot as they went past her. The only bright spot was the continuous pounding by the station's phaser cannon had forced the heavy cruiser Dinen to turn away, her shields in tatters and light damage scattered across her hull. T'Skay had no idea how they were managing to absorb the hits. In truth, the Dinen's crew had diverted every bit of energy they could spare to reinforce the shields and by clever maneuvering had managed to spread the hits evenly across all six shields and every portion of the heavy cruiser. Her defense against the phaser-IVs would become a standard case study in academies of just about every space-faring species.

T'Skay finished scanning the battle display and asked the Sensory commander, "What's our current status?" The station's lights dimmed and there were muffled explosions and shouts.

"Very poor, sir. The station is now coming under direct fire by the Dosadi ships. Our number six shield has completely folded and all other's are lightly damaged. They are apparently timing their shots and defensive maneuvers and energies with our rotation – far better than I would've thought possible. We simply do not have enough weapons to attack them all and they're taking turns covering for each other. If they weren't coming here to kill me, it would be beautiful.

The Blackfoot is crippled and unable to power weapons or move. A number of direct hits on her engineering section have completely destroyed her warp controls. The Azusa is also crippled. Ottowa was nearly destroyed by those last three Hornets from the Eleth, but her Captain says she can still fight; I'm not sure how, or with what. The battlecruiser Towson is only lightly damaged, but she is in a very poor tactical position with seven Dosadi ships in close proximity, on all sides. Battlecruiser Zion is in the best shape, she's undamaged except her forward shield which is at half strength. She is currently maneuvering against the corvette Turanti.

Wilkes interrupted the story briefly, "It was the Zion that fired the shot that hit our bay a little later."

Jons nodded and continued, "The aide reported 'The Dosadi have sustained no further significant damage.'

T'Skay wasn't one to waste time moping. "Well, it doesn't look like the Navy's gonna be able to fend them off much longer, eh? Stand by to repel boarders." He was at least going to go down fighting.

Gas-tight doors throughout the station slammed shut and fibercoil window shields slid into place. In the ballroom, Marines began to turn tables over, taking cover behind them. Furball looked up as the shields lowered into place, seeing the mass behind the Delos and her running lights. Only Nolin would be insane enough to leave running lights on during a battle. In the age of sensors, the Dosadi still painted their ships a blue-grey for camouflage. In contrast, Federation vessels were a glossy pearl-white with spot-lights on their registration numbers and names.

Strangely, people were still dancing – although many of them were complaining about the tipped over tables and the loss of the view. One woman, a Federation diplomatic functionary spoke to her dancing partner, a short, dashing, violet-skinned humanoid with white hair wearing the uniform of a Colonel in the Sword Worlds Marine Force, "I say, I don't see why they have to dirty up OUR party! Why, these Dosadi won't bother us! We're civilians! See? Even the Dosadi ambassador is still enjoying his dinner!

The colonel glanced at the ambassador, obviously enjoying his meal with a huge smile on his face and the occasional throaty chuckle. He may have been purring. This particular colonel had been aboard the light cruiser Succession during the battle at Toulagai. "Madame, the Dosadi consider civilians to be a particular delicacy. If this station cannot fight them off, you may find yourself being served at THEIR next party."

"Eeek!" Pampered, sheltered her entire life by the power of the Federation Starfleet, the woman had probably never been in danger in her entire life. The very concept shook her to her core.

Shaking his head, Colonel Jons said, "I keep meaning to look that woman up. She had the strangest notions for how things worked in the galaxy. But, to continue..."