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‘The line must be drawn here! This far, no further!’ Competition.
[Bridge, USS Bellerophon]
[Immediately following the Second Battle of Chin’toka]
The bridge of the Bellerophon was far busier than the small Intrepid-class ship’s crew normally experienced aboard the vessel. Even the visit from Admiral Ross, and their subsequent journey to Romulus didn’t see the ship’s crew being worked so hard. It was a direct reflection of the man who had been put in charge of the ship after Adm. Ross had returned the vessel to Federation space. Captain Nathan Cowell was sitting in the couch like chair that was meant for the Commanding Officer, something he wasn’t entirely used to. His last vessel, the USS Nobel, had a much more traditional bridge set up, but was also an older model, and far less specialized ship than the one he was currently aboard.
“How much longer before we reach the rendezvous point for the retreating fleet?” Cowell asked impatiently of his Conn Officer.
“Ten minutes, Captain,” came the somewhat exasperated response from the woman seated at the console. The lack of patience exhibited was completely ignored by the old man seated behind her, given that is was probably the seventh time he’d asked in the last twenty odd minutes. Time was moving far too slow for his liking, and his own well of patience had long run dry after they’d intercepted the distress calls from the fleet in the Chin’toka system.
“Bridge to Sickbay, is everyone ready down there?” Cowell stabbed the comm command on his armrest to make yet another inquiry, though this time it was to someone other than his bridge staff.
“Yes, Captain, we’re ready and waiting,” a voice belonging the Chief Medical Officer aboard the ship replied to the question.
“Bridge to Engineering, how’s everything look in your neck of the woods?” the old man didn’t even acknowledge the reply from Sickbay before moving on.
“We’ve done everything we can down here to get ready for the rescue operation, Captain. Every system that can be operating at peak capacity is doing so as of this moment. We’ll try and keep the efficiency drop to a minimum, but there’s only going to be so much we can do once things start to happen,” the Chief Engineer responded to Cowell’s query.
Cowell stabbed the comm control again to cut off the link, his head turning to the woman behind the tactical console, “Any signs of pursuit from the Dominion fleet?”
“A few fighter craft are still performing harassment raids on the retreating vessels, but none of the larger ships appear to be leaving the Chin’toka system currently,” the woman responded in a rather mechanical tone, which was rather fitting since she was Vulcan.
“Captain, we’re dropping out of warp,” the Conn officer announced, her voice betraying the nervousness that their situation was inspiring.
Cowell straightened up in his chair, “Begin the rescue operation.”
The USS Bellerophon, as well as dozens of other vessels, dropped out of warp just in front of the retreating allied ships, a sight that gave a great many of the people who had the luxury of seeing it happen a fair amount of hope. The newly arrived vessels began the work of transporting the survivors from the vessels that were being towed by tractor beam, offloading medical supplies, and supporting those vessels that were still fighting off small pursuit ships. It took several hours, but the vessels managed to grab everyone who had managed to survive in the intervening hours since their rather disheartening defeat.
Though the Bellerophon crew themselves weren’t suffering much in the way of lost morale, those they had brought aboard certainly were. His ship had managed to rescue several ships’ crew before reaching their emergency capacity, and each and every one of them was grappling with their defeat. It was one of the few times Cowell didn’t object to having a counselor around, a sentiment that he almost never allowed himself to feel.
Currently, there were several Captains sitting in his briefing room, all of them in dower moods after their rescue. Among the people gathered were Klingons and Romulans, neither of which looked overly keen on being in the same room as one another, but such sentiments paled in comparison with the events they had just suffered through.
“Where will you be taking us?” one of the Romulan Commanders asked after a long and uncomfortable silence.
“We’re heading to Starbase 211. Once there, you will be turned over to a Romulan vessel and redeployed at the discretion of your government. The same could be said of the Klingons as well, as there are several ships from the Empire at Starbase 211 as well,” Cowell remarked.
“How can you not share this miserable mood, Captain Cowell?” one of the Starfleet Captains asked, seeming to have taken offense to the fact that Nathan’s tone was far from depressed.
“Because I’ve found enough wars to have seen crippling defeats like this, Captain,” the old man said with a grunt, “Yes, you got your asses handed to you by the Dominion… and we lost a lot of good men and women… on every side of this alliance. But this doesn’t mark the end of this fight, ladies and gentlemen… not by a long shot. If I were a betting man, I’d say we’re going to have the time we need to lick our wounds and come back into this fight swinging.”
“How can you be so certain of this?” another Romulan asked with a frown.
“Certain? Who said I was certain?” Nathan chuckled and shook his head, “Nothing of the sort. I just know war well enough to know that when a side wins this big, they get cocky, they get sloppy, they lose sight of things… And anyway, do you really think the Dominion is as cohesive as the Alliance is? I sure don’t. I have a hunch their methods and tactics of ‘control’ are going to come back to bit them… and hard.”
“I pay you’re right, Captain… for all our sakes.”
The Line Must Be Drawn Here! This Far, No Further
Personal log, stardate 54973.4
I can’t believe what happened today! The USS Voyager is finally back in Federation space! Can you believe it? After over years, they’re back, and we had a front row view of it all, well that and the Borg sphere, but…ok, let me start over.
Earlier today, we were heading back to the Sol System for an overhaul and some shore leave. I was manning my station at tactical and we were less than an hour away when we received a priority transmission from Admiral Paris. A Borg transwarp aperture had appeared less than a light-year from Earth and all available ships were ordered to form a defensive perimeter.
The captain immediately ordered everyone to battle stations and brought the ship to maximum warp. I brought up the shields and weapons array. I won’t lie, I was a little nervous. In ten years as an officer, I had never encountered the Borg. Some of my friends from the Academy had died in battle against them, and I was proud of all of them, but now I was about to have my first Borg battle.
When we came out of warp, we stopped in formation along with over a dozen other ships. As the names of the ships came up on one of my tactical displays, I recognized several familiar ones. Ariel, George, Leyton…they were out there as well, and we were all going into battle together.
As the captain was giving me permission to open fire on whatever came out of the vortex, Admiral Paris’ voice came over the open comms giving us orders to use all necessary force. He was cut off by someone else saying that there was a vessel coming through. On the viewscreen, a spherical object emerged from the light of the vortex. I immediately got a lock with our weapons and started firing phasers and photons.
Our weapons weren’t doing much damage to it. The first volley of fire from the fleet only brought the sphere’s shields down to 94 percent. But fortunately, there was something we weren’t expecting. The sphere suddenly started exploding. An order came to cease fire, and as it finally blew up completely, something flew out from the explosion. I zeroed in on it with the viewscreen, and what we saw made everyone cheer: and Intrepid-class ship with the registry NCC-74656! Voyager! They must have been inside the sphere when we were shooting at it!
No one knows how or why, but I’m sure we’ll all eventually find out. I won’t lie, when I got assigned to a Galaxy-class starship, I never thought I’d be jealous to not be on an Intrepid, but seeing Voyager in the middle of our escort fleet back to Earth makes me kind of wish I was on one of those little ships.
Well, I should get changed. The captain is hosting a small party to celebrate the return of Voyager. I can only imagine how many “welcome home” parties are going to be hosted. This might be the best time to be back on Earth! Who knows, maybe I’ll even find a girlfriend.
…ok, maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself. But then again, it couldn’t hurt to dress up for this party…whatever. Alright, time to go. Computer, save log.
The Line Must Be Drawn Here! This Far, No Further!
Supplemental Personal Log: Lieutenant Commander Peter Blair, Executive Officer, U.S.S. London
Year of Recording: 2375
Sound of sighing
What the fuck?
San Francisco is currently on fire. The Breen decided to announce their intention of joining the Dominion by launching a sneak attack on Earth. Starfleet Headquarters and the Golden Gate Bridge both suffered heavy damage in the attack. Watching San Francisco burn was horrific.
10.1 seconds of silence
I still haven’t heard from Tom……I hope he’s okay.
8.9 seconds of silence
To make matters worse, a few hours ago - I can't believe it's only been a few hours - we received word that the Dominion, with the help of their new Breen allies had broken through our lines in two places in the Chin’toka system. We moved quickly the mobilise a force to repel their advance. The fight for Chin’toka less than a year ago had been costly, I lost a lot of friends. A lot more lives had been lost in the months since with the Dominion’s constant attempts to force us out. We weren’t about to roll over and allow all those people to have died for nothing.
We still had some unrepaired damage from a skirmish with a squadron of Jem’Hadar Attack Ships near Kalandra a few days before, but it was nothing major, nothing that was going to keep us from pushing the Dominion back. Captain zh’Rada was determined that we wouldn’t be missing this one.
I sensed the usual mix of fear and resolve in the crew leading up to the battle. If anything, the crew’s resolve was stronger today than I’ve seen it in a long time, particularly among the human crewmembers. The Breen had struck a blow against our home and we were damn sure that they and their new Dominion masters were going to pay dearly for that and for this attempt to retake Chin’toka.
The battle started well enough. We got a few good shots off at one of the Jem’Hadar Battlecruisers and even managed to destroy one of the Breen warships, which was particularly satisfying.
Then it happened.
Another nearby Breen ship fired some sort of unknown energy weapon. It managed to penetrate the shields and struck the hull directly. Within seconds, all power had been drained from our primary systems. Engines, shields, weapons, life support…they were all disabled. We were adrift and defenceless. Using conventional weapons, the Breen and Dominion were able to inflict critical damage to the London.
25.3 seconds of silence
Sound of sniffing
Captain zh’Rada ordered all hands to abandon ship. The last time I saw her, she was sitting in her chair cursing the Dominion. I’m pretty sure she’s dead. Faulkner’s dead too. His console exploded when the Breen’s new energy weapon struck. I checked for a pulse but there wasn’t one. I have no idea how many of my crew survived. Starfleet is still working on getting a full account of survivors.
Of the 312 Federation Alliance ships that moved to push back the Dominion, 311 were destroyed. Only one, a Klingon Bird-of-Prey managed to survive. I’d love to know how they managed it. I doubt I’ll have much chance to think about it. It won’t be long until I receive new orders. This war isn’t over yet.
But how much longer can we hold out?
This morning, it looked as if we had a chance of defeating the Dominion. But the tide has turned against us. Maybe this was inevitable. Maybe we should have heeded the warnings of those in the Gamma Quadrant. Maybe we were foolish for thinking that we could succeed where so many others had failed, that we could successfully defy the Dominion.
It doesn't matter. We had to try whether it was foolish or not. Our way of life, our very freedom is at stake. We had no choice but to defend our freedom against people who would impose their idea of order upon us. Someone once said that “nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty”. Freedom is worth having and must be defended with every fibre of our being, even if it means our defeat and obliteration. We had to try.
We have to succeed.
They say that the night is darkest just before the dawn. Well things look pretty damn dark right now, but while we might be down, we are definitely not out yet. We must continue the fight and ensure that dawn breaks over the Alpha Quadrant. We owe it to future generations. We owe it to those we’ve lost.
Computer, end log.
The Line Must Be Drawn Here! This Far, No Further!
Personal Log: Ensign Peter Callaghan, Medical Officer, USS Maine
When I woke up this morning I didn't plan for this day, never in a thousand years would I have expected what took place to have happened. But, let me back this up, and start when the ship entered the Sol system. The Maine had been scheduled for a refit and resupply, nothing out of the ordinary. We've been out in deep space for a while now, almost 3 years. Trust me, everyone was ready for some shoreleave. I had been working down in Sickbay, when the ship went to Red Alert. We didn't know much, but the rumors from the bridge mentioned a Borg ship that had been sited near Earth.
The Borg, can you believe it.
Doctor Teller came in, shouting and calling out orders. Within moments, we had triage set up, the waiting room cleared, and all current patients discharged. Doctor Teller is always serious and hard but I've never seen that urgency, ever. The look spoke volumes, it was fear. We are all Officers, we've all been trained to handle situations but there was something about the Borg. They were a no win situation, and we all knew it.
I got to be honest, I was a wreck. It is amazing how in certain situations, one can easily forget all their training. I am certain for a brief moment I forgot my own name. It wasn't till Lieutenant Porter slapped a phaser in my hand that the reality hit. I dropped the phaser on the ground, at first, but I'm sure no one saw it. This was Sickbay, we're a place of healing, hope; a safe place. I picked up the phaser and looked at it.
What was going on? We were a small ship, we were not equipped to combat the Borg. But nevertheless, like it or not; here we were. I just stood there holding that phaser trying to convince myself it wasn't happening. Well, that is until Teller came by and threatened to use the phaser on me if I didn't get to work. He's a real motivational type...
I don't know how long the fighting went on, but it seemed like forever. Then as quickly as it started, it stopped. We just sat there in Sickbay waiting. Had the Borg boarded? Had the sphere been destroyed? It wasn't till Teller came out of his office screaming, that we figured out what happened. I thought he'd lost it, but he when mentioned Voyager everyone just stood there. Janeway and her crew have returned.
I've never felt so relieved, that is till Porter told me he expects to see me in Security for weapons training after my shift. Apparently he had noticed my little slip. Things will definitely be a bit different I think. I wish I could have been on the bridge when they came out of the middle of the sphere. I hear it was a site to see.
Well, I got to change. Porter isn't letting me off that easy. Hopefully, I will be able to attend the party on Earth. Computer, save log
The Line Must Be Drawn Here! This Far, No Further!
Personal log, stardate 4733.1, Lieutenant (junior grade) Lloyd Nolan, junior engineering officer, recording.
In my very first week on board the Enterprise I saw the Federation on the brink of war as we stared down six Klingon cruisers near Organia. In the year since then, we’ve nearly been destroyed by an ancient spacefaring planet killer, stopped dead in space by the hand of a Greek god, and attacked by a giant space amoeba. When Starfleet Command ordered us to Starbase 6 to be fitted with an experimental computer for the purpose of testing it, I thought we’d finally gotten a mundane assignment that would allow us to decompress. When the word was passed that most of the crew would rotate off the ship for the duration of the exercise, I had high hopes to be in the lucky number, but no such luck. I have lived to regret that.
Of course, I had heard of Richard Daystrom, and transtator technology and duotronics were part of our training at Starfleet Academy. But the level on which he was thinking…I can’t even imagine. Geniuses, right? At the end of the mission, however, I remember seeing him escorted to transporter room three by a couple of sickbay orderlies when we arrived back at Starbase 6 after the wargames. After the carnage. He was mumbling. I couldn’t make out what he was saying, but he definitely did not live up to the self-assured and confident reputation so many had ascribed to him. I’d have pitied him in that moment if I weren’t still angry.
I haven’t talked about this with anyone since it happened. When the rest of the crew rotated back on board Enterprise after we returned to Starbase 6, they started hearing rumors about what happened. They all knew I was on duty in engineering during the exercise. They kept asking what I’d seen. I just shrugged off their questions, but they didn’t stop. It got to the point that I started taking meals in my quarters. I haven’t eaten in the mess in at least two days.
Yes, I was on duty in engineering after the M-5 had destroyed an automated ore freighter. I can’t remember the name of the ship. Doesn’t matter. That was the first red flag. But no one had been hurt. Not yet.
I was on the upper level in main engineering when Daystrom, Captain Kirk, Scotty, and Mr. Spock came in. Ali Harper, another engineer who’d been asked to stay on board for the exercise, was down on the main floor. I had stepped into a storage locker to put a spanner away, but I heard a heated discussion between the captain and Daystrom. Harper climbed up the ladder, saw I was in the spanner locker and asked me for a trident scanner. I got it for him. What happened next was…well, there’s not enough Saurian brandy in the galaxy to erase that memory.
Ali Harper and I transferred aboard the Enterprise about the same time. He was just out of the academy, but he had experienced the same twelve months I had, and as a result, he had gotten his space legs in a hurry. He was up for promotion too. I’d been helping him study for it. He wanted it so badly. You could tell by the way he performed his duties, double-checking everything he did, cleaning up after a few of the lazier officers who left their spanners laying about. We all knew Scotty would never abide that, and Ali could have let them get in trouble, but he didn’t. I also think he felt a little ashamed of himself. A few of his close friends at Starfleet Academy had already made lieutenant junior grade, and he was still an ensign. He didn’t say it out loud, but I could tell it irked him. Being on the Enterprise, though, was the kick in the butt that he needed.
So…with the trident scanner I had just handed to him, Harper went to the aft bulkhead to disconnect the M-5 from the ship’s power supply. He hadn’t even turned on the scanner when a beam shot out of the computer. And then Ali was gone. Vaporized in an angry flash of orange light. I thought of all those other things that had happened in the past twelve months: the planet killer, Apollo’s hand, the space amoeba, and none of those things wrenched my gut as much as seeing Ali Harper incinerated out of existence.
Before the rest of the crew came back onboard at the Starbase, Doctor McCoy tried to recover any remains from the decking, but there were none to be found. It was as if Ali had died in a transporter accident. As senior officers go, Doctor McCoy is perhaps the most approachable, other than Scotty. This clearly was not the first time he’d been in this situation. The Enterprise is famous for its dangerous missions. I told McCoy I hated that there were no remains to send to Harper’s family, and asked if he’d speak to Captain Kirk about allowing me to send a letter to Ali’s parents along with Kirk’s own condolences and the official death certificate. He said he’d see what he could do. I’m going ahead and drafting one anyway.
In time I may start opening up to my crewmates, because I don’t think I can bear not talking about what I saw. There’s a shrink on board. She doubles as a dentist. That’s just life out here in the cosmos. You take what you can get.
In the meantime, I do my job. Every so often, I glance over at that spot on the deck in engineering where Ali Harper’s too-short life came to an abrupt and unfair end. And I pray to the Great Bird of the Galaxy to take that memory away. And to take away my anger.
But I know that’s not how it works.
Beyond the Next Star
Captain Jonathan Archer left the antechamber where T’Pol was and walked down the long ramp that led to the desk at the center of the arena where the other delegates awaited. The crowd rose to their feet and started to cheer as the savior of Earth and Starfleet came into view. Although he never liked giving big speeches, Archer did his best to present the image of the best in Starfleet and humanity. He was nervous to make this speech, knowing that what he said today would shape the future of Earth, the quadrant, and even the galaxy.
When he got to the table, he shook hands with the delegates. It took a couple minutes for the applause to die down, but once it did, Archer took a deep breath and started his speech.
“Welcome, one and all: friends, guests, fellow delegates…and everyone looking to the future.” More applause. Somehow, Jonathan felt that this was going to happen quite a bit during his speech. “Today marks what will be a historic day, not just for Earth, or Vulcan, Andoria, or Tellar, but for the entire quadrant and beyond.”
“For as long as Humans have looked up to the stars, we have wondered if we were alone in the universe. That question was answered less than one hundred years ago. Earth was still recovering from a devastating world war, our governments were in shambles, and life was rough. But thanks to the efforts of Doctor Zefram Cochrane, his team, and the first light-speed trip by a human, we made first contact with the Vulcans. From that moment on, Humanity realized that there was much more to the universe than just them.”
“Gradually, Humanity came together in way that has never been seen on this planet before. And thanks to all the guidance from the Vulcans, things such as homelessness, poverty, and hunger went away.” During a pause for applause, Archer realized how much his attitude towards the Vulcans had changed over the years. “However, the question we must ask ourselves is ‘are we ready?’. Are we ready to put aside our differences, our prejudices, our preconceptions…and work together towards a common goal?”
“In the past two hundred and fifty years, Earth has seen three global wars, each one worse than the previous one. Over forty million dead in World War I, twice that in World War II, then nine-fold in World War III. Each time a war ended, we thought that we had learned from our mistakes. At the end of the Second World War, an American general said the following: ‘We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.’”
Archer paused again to let those words resonate throughout the hall. “Preserve in peace what we won in war…those words have so much meaning for some of the delegates up here with me. The Vulcan an Andorian people have long known animosity against one another. For years, they spied on each other, planned for war, and spilled blood on the battlefields. But today, both worlds stand together, united in friendship, knowing that their enemies are no longer each other, but rather those who would oppress the safety and freedom of others.”
“Today, we declare to our enemies, and to all those who hear our words, that this coalition will be living proof that anything is possible. As long as we stand together, side by side, our futures will only grow brighter and stronger. Together, we…are…strong!”
The crowd rose to their feet and applauded Captain Archer’s speech. The delegates were also applauding, showing their support for his speech. As he stepped away from the podium and to his seat among the delegates, he looked at the smiles on all the delegates’ faces. Even Soval had a slight smile, basically the Vulcan equivalent of a Denobulan smile.
With the exception of the few people from the far future that were secretly listening to the speech, no one in the arena could ever imagine what was to come from this day.
Captain Archer took one last glance at his notes, then took a deep breath. Looking up, he took in the faces of the eager crowd and the other representatives at the table with him, and smiled.
"Friends...we are gathered here on a momentous and historic occasion. I am joined by representatives from Vulcan, Andoria, and Tellar, and we come together before you not as commanders on the bridges of starships, not as warriors on the field of battle, not as enemies holding each other at gunpoint...but in peace, sitting together at the table of brotherhood. In the wake of pain and suffering and war, we come together to join hands. Ten years ago, when I took command of the starship Enterprise, never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined that I would end up here. I know that each and every one of my fellow delegates feels the same.
"The people of Earth are no strangers to suffering and hardship: the Eugenics Wars...9/11...World War III...and, of course, the Xindi attack. But in the wake of those events, we learned that there is power in unity! There is hope and strength in cooperation! Little by little, each time we were kicked into the dirt we rebuilt, until we came to shine brightly like we do today. We owe much of our success to Zefram Cochrane, for without him--and after him, the Vulcans--none of us would be here to stand witness to this triumphant moment." Pausing, Archer reached out, took the hands of the delegates around him, and lifted them into the air. "From this moment on, let it be known to our enemies that we no longer stand alone. We join hands together in strength to make this moment an official declaration of alliance! Let all those who would oppose us beware: from this moment on, we stand...united!"