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“The alien ship has launched several small squadrons of what may be classified as fighter craft!” Tuvok relayed from his station. “On screen.” Janeway ordered. The ship was so immense in comparison to the small fighter craft that the image on Voyager's viewscreen looked more like a shot of a planet's horizon rather than the docking port of a spacecraft. The strange ships were “H” shaped, with a pod suspended between twin hexagonal wings. They shot away from the goliath alien craft in a ridged, disciplined attack formation. Again, the size of their mother-ship drew gasps from the Starfleet bridge crew as the view screen image pulled back from the alien docking bay… …and continued to pull back… …and back… …and still further back trying to get the whole image of the sphere-shaped object into frame. “It doesn’t look Borg.” Paris offered. “It does not have a Borg signature.” This came from Seven-of-Nine, the strikingly beautiful crewman who had, at one time, been a member of the most dreaded enemy the Federation had ever faced. Standing by Lt. Kim, at an auxiliary terminal, the usually stoic face woman was battling to maintain her composure. In all her time in the Borg Collective, with their vast experience and knowledge, she had never come across any single artificial power that could destroy an entire planet. “What about those fighters?” Paris reminded everyone. “They appear to be one-crewed vessels,” Tuvok reported. “Their power signature is unfamiliar.” “We’re receiving distress calls from almost a dozen ships!” Kim had nearly missed the glowing alerts on his console. “As well as calls for help from Tycho City… the Lunar One Colony… Tranquility base…” “The alien vessels are moving to engage the fleet.” Again, Tuvok reported. “They can’t be in any shape to defend themselves.” Paris glanced over his shoulder at Janeway. “Are we?” Chakotay warned. Janeway worked her jaw tightly, then; “Tom set a course… to intercept the alien vessel. Tuvok, get me an account of all Starfleet ships still able to fight. Harry?” She kept her eyes on the viewscreen. “Open a channel to what’s left of the fleet.” “Bringing us about Captain.” Paris complied. “Six of the ships sent to repel the Borg sphere appear to have escaped the shockwave with minimal to no damage; three Defiant class ships, two Galaxy class and one Prometheus …, thee Prometheus…” “If that ship has the power to destroy an “M”-class planet it won’t have much of a problem with what’s left of the fleet, Captain.” Chakotay pressed. “Channel open, Captain.” “…Three ships showing major systems failures; The USS Yeager, The USS Hood and a Nebula class ship of unknown registry. One ship, another Saber class, is listing…” Janeway stood from her command chair. “Attention all Starfleet personnel…All ships that are able…” “Weapons range in ten minutes, Captain.” Paris said. “No sign of the remaining eight ships. There are however several ships launching from Luna.” Tuvok continued his report. “…this is Captain Kathryn Janeway. I…” “Captain, we’ll never take down a ship that size! We need to recover as many survivors as possible.” Chakotay stood behind her. “…I am taking command of the Fleet. Prepare to commence AND to defend rescue operations!” “The USS Obama and the USS Raider are taking viking positions behind us.” Tuvok placed the view of the two Starfleet ships pulling in behind Voyagers charge onto the main screen.” “Hail the commander of the Obama and the other Galaxy class ships. Order them back to Luna and rescue as many survivors as they can!” Janeway returned to her command chair and checked her tactical display. Lt. Kim relayed her orders and behind Voyager, the Obama pulled away while the USS Raider was joined by another Defiant class ship. “There’s a squadron of Starfleet attack fighters moving to intercept the smaller alien ships.” The view screen changed again at Tuvoks report. The view slid from the strange “H” shaped ships to the incoming Starfleet craft. “They’re going in hot!” Paris’ hands flew over his controls as Voyager raced to engage the enemy. “Where did they come from?” “They are short range fighters.” Tuvok surmised. “There must be a Federation bulk cruiser on the other side of the alien vessel.” “Do we have any idea why the Earth was attacked?” Chakotay was looking from Janeway to Tuvok and back again. “Any idea WHO they are?” The Starfleet Fighters opened fire first. The Phaser beams lanced across space and swept across the Tie-Fighter formation. “Report!” Tarkin watched the opening salvo with apprehension. The Tech hesitated once more as he struggled with the readings his terminal was giving him. “REPORT!” “Sir… the Unidentified ships have fired on the Tie Squadrons…” “I can see that!” “From more than ten times the Tie-Fighter weapons range!” “Ten times? What kind of weapons…” Tarkin felt the unease that had been rising in his stomach well up just that much more. Unknown planet, unknown alien fleet… unknown alien technology… This could be… “Ineffective!” The Tech shouted triumphantly. “Ineffective?” Tarkin walked over and looked over the Techs shoulder. The observation deck seemed a little sturdier suddenly. “Yes Sir. They appear to be firing some kind of…” “Phaser fire shows no effect.” Tuvoks voice was calm and composed as always. Janeway watched as the “H”-winged craft flew through the phaser assault unimpeded. The bright orange colored beams deflected away from the ships leading her to believe that the ships were shielded similarly to their own. “Why haven’t they returned fire?” She asked. The two fighter squads raced headlong toward each other. Again the Starfleet ships fired and again their phaser beams crossed the distance in-between in an instant only to “reflect” harshly off the “H”-wings shields. “Load transphasic torpedoes.” She ordered. Voyagers phaser banks were more powerful than the Starfleet attack fighters… but not much more. And from the size of that ship… “We don’t know if that will work.” Chakotay argued. “We aren’t going to survive this by being conservative.” She barked. “Those torpedoes are in short supply, Captain. We should try and communicate with the alien ship… we should be thinking…about surrender.” Janeway snapped her head up at Chakotay, aghast. “Surrender?” “Captain, they destroyed an entire planet! I don’t think…” “THEY DESTROYED THE EARTH!” She screamed. The bridge was suddenly quiet. “What exactly, Commander, is LEFT to surrender to them?” For another moment the bridge was filled with such a contrasting quiet, as if four billion voices had cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced. Tuvok, undeterred, was still monitoring the battle. “The Starfleet fighters have closed to torpedo range. The alien craft still have not… they are opening fire now.” The “H”-wings spat bright green pulses at the Starfleet ships. So slow moving was the alien fire that the Starfleet ships dodged the opening salvo quiet easily. After a moment Janeway asked, “Tuvok?” “I cannot determine what exactly the alien craft are firing,” he said puzzled. “That looked almost like… projectile fire?” Paris said just as perplexed. “Negative,” Tuvok told them. “The alien barrage exhibits no mass.” “But it is not an energy projection either,” Seven added. “It moves too slowly to be an energy beam.” “Starfleet torpedoes away.” Indeed Tuvok was right Janeway saw the icons light up on her tactical display. She looked up to the view screen and watched the small flashes of light fly from the Starfleet fighters toward the alien “H”-fighters. It was a desperate move, she knew, trying to hit fast moving fighters with slow moving torpedoes. The “H”-wings broke formation and dodged the Starfleet torpedoes just as easily. Then the two opposing squadrons engaged each other at close range. At such close quarters the maneuverability of the alien craft outclassed the Starfleet ships and at this range the slow moving alien weapons fire could not be avoided. The pulses hit with devastating effect. The Starfleet shields flared brightly when hit, but not as bright as the following explosion when the alien fire, undeterred, continued on to rip apart the ship. The “H”-wings destroyed six Starfleet fighters in the first pass alone, then turned to make another run. The bridge once again lapsed into silence as they watched the results. Chakotay turned to Lt. Kim. “Open a hailing channel to the alien vessel…” “Belay that!” Janeway ordered. “Tuvok, why did they wait so long to fire?” “Captain!” Chakotay insisted. “We’re outmatched here. There is no way to defend…” “The alien weapons do not seem to be effective at long range.” Tuvok cut Chakotay off. However, he was not sure that he all together disagreed with the First Officers assessment of the situation. “Yes. The power signature of their pulse bolts dissipates quickly before it even reaches a quarter of our weapons effective range.” Seven supported. “Mr. Paris…” “I’m on it, Captain.” Paris adjusted his heading. “Relay the information to the other ships.” Janeway stated grimly. “The Starfleet fighters have all been destroyed. The alien fighter craft are moving to engage us.” Tuvok adjusted the view screen again, the “H”-wings were flying right at them. “The Obama is hailing us.” “Put them through Lt. Kim.” The view screen changed again and was filled with a Galaxy-class starship bridge. The captain was standing and immediately addressed Janeway. “Captain Janeway, the Lunar colonies are well into evacuations but we’re looking at losing eighty to ninety percent of the populace there. Most of the escape vehicles already launched don’t have warp capability.” The captain of the Obama was a tall dark woman. Her uniform was scorched across her shoulders, evidence that her ship had barely made it through the destruction of their home world. How much time do you need, Captain?” Janeway looked over the Obama's bridge crew. None of their faces reflected any hope. “Captain Janeway, we’ll never be able to get to everyone who is still alive on the Moon, or any of the orbiting satellite stations. Not with that… thing baring done on us.” “What about getting help… more ships… from the rest of the Solar colonies?” she asked. “That’s a possibility. But after seeing the firepower of the alien ship those colonies are already beginning their own evacuations.” The dark woman brushed a lock of her jet black hair out of her eyes. “It seems to only be the one ship but it came out of nowhere, at the same time the stars realigned…” “Realigned?” Janeway asked. “Captain,” Tuvok warned. “Alien fighters are entering weapons range.” “Captain…” Chakotay started but Janeway turned away from him. “We need to hold them off for as long as we can. We need someway to penetrate their shields…” “Captain…” “Their power systems are completely unfamiliar.” Tuvok said. “Many of the readings are off the scale.” “Sensors cannot penetrate the alien hulls.” Seven of Nine was spinning from one terminal to another. “They’re closing fast!” Paris warned. “Captain, there’s no way we can…” “Tom, change course! Keep us out of range of those fighters but take us on an attack run of the alien mother ship. “CAPTAIN!” Chakotay stood. “Tuvok, I want those transphasic torpedoes ready.” “We won’t last an instant against those weapons!” Chakotay was standing. “We need to surrender!” Janeway stood as well and sidestepped Chakotay to address the captain of the Obama. “Save as many as you can, Captain,” she stated. Then she looked to Tom. “I’ll need your best Mr. Paris.” Tom looked down at his controls and thought of his wife B’Ellana Torres, now in sick bay giving birth to their child. “They’ll never touch us.” He said more to himself than to his captain, because it was more of a prayer than a pledge. “Three of the larger ships are making an attack run, Sir.” Tarkin paced back and forth across the command deck. After seeing the results of the fighter skirmish he had relaxed a bit but the puzzle of where exactly they were and how they got here was beginning to weigh on his mind. Without navigation they would be stranded, they could not risk a hyperspace jump without plotted hyperspace lanes. Without recognized star fixes they would be unable to communicate with the rest of the Empire. For the immediate future they would be on their own. “Send out another squadron of Tie-Fighters,” he ordered. “Lord Vader has launched with his escorts and is moving to intercept,” another tech reported. Tarkin regarded the tactical display. The defenses of the enemy fighters had been pitiful. Their larger battleships should prove not be much more of a challenge. They had wiped out a planet and from the reports coming in it was likely the prime planet of this system. Long range sensors detected minor settlements scattered throughout the system but no major planetary habitation. More proof of these aliens inferior technology… however unknown it was to the empire. At least two of the other planets in this system should have been terraformed for mass population but for whatever reason only one had shown signs of habition. He had no knowledge of any system in the galaxy that was like this. Where were they? They would need answers. The destroyed planets moon was closest and settlements had been detected there. It had gone spinning out of orbit of course but raiding it for prisoners and information should not be a problem. They could attend to the rest of the system when they had more answers. And by “attend”, Tarkin was thinking “destroy all evidence”. “Second group of enemy fighters moving to intercept,” Tuvok warned. “A squadron of three…” These were more of the “H”-wing fighters save for the lead ship. It was obviously of the same class of vessel but the wings were convex and the pod a bit larger. The three ships were flying directly for them and would cut them off before they could launch their torpedoes. “You’re being hailed by the Raider, Captain.” Kim called out. “On screen.” Immediately the captain of the USS Raider was on the screen. “Janeway, drop back. We’ll shield you on your way in.” “Will do, Captain.” Janeway answered tightly knowing full well what the Captain of the USS Raider was offering; his ship for their one shot at… what? Revenge? The captain of the Raider clenched his jaw. “I hope those transphasics are as effective against these bastards as they were against the Borg.” The screen cut back to the view of the incoming “H”-wings. Janeway watched as the Raider and the other Dauntless class starship moved into the “viking” defensive positions. They opened up fire on the “H”-wings but their phaser fire was just as pointless as the Starfleet fighters fire had been. The Raider and the… Taurus, Janeway finally saw the designation pop up on her tactical readout, sent even more high powered volleys of phaser fire at the enemy. From the slightly fluctuating color of the beams coming from the Taurus Janeway guessed they were attempting to beat the enemy shields by finding a frequency that would allow the beam to pass through to the ships. But the beams reflected off the enemy shields without any change. The Raider fired off a volley of photon torpedoes which the “H”-wings dipped easily enough. The Taurus fired off a volley themselves, none of which found their target. Janeway was about to order them to save the limited weapons but then she realized what her fellow captains were doing. In order to dodge the torpedoes the enemy ships had to change their attack angle, giving the attacking Starfleet ships a chance to make their attack run without being cut off. The enemy must have sensed this as the next volley of torpedoes was fired on. Not by all the ships, the two escorts dodged off course to avoid them, only the lead ship stayed on course and fired on the torpedoes detonating them and flying easily through the dazzling explosions. The computer targeting systems of the alien ships must be unbelievably fast, Janeway realized to be able to track and hit the torpedoes that well. The goliath station loomed closer, Janeway looked at her tactical readout for somewhere to send the torpedoes if they could make it close enough to fire them. But the ship was SO massive…where could they possibly do any damage? As if reading her mind Tuvok voiced his thoughts on queue. “Targeting one of the firing apertures of their main weapon.” The computer highlighted the lens fixture set around the rim of the concave depression which marked the location of the main weapon. “Will they still be able to fire if we take out one of those… lenses?” she asked. Tuvok raised an eyebrow. “Unknown. We have not been able to analyze the enemy weapon to find any conclusive weaknesses. But at this point I believe the saying; ‘couldn’t hurt’, applies.” Janeway nodded sharply. “Tom?” “I’m on it.” There came a violent explosion just off screen. The view shifted a bit and the Taurus came into view. There were explosions running across half of the ship as the enemy fighters opened up on it. Again the Starfleet shields were completely useless. The green and red pulses not only flew through the shield unimpeded but in some cases, they breached the ship and came out the other side. The enemy fighters flew past and began to turn, once more displaying that remarkable maneuverability. The Raider turned hard trying to keep itself in between Voyager and the turning enemy ships. Red and green pulses flashed again. The Raider fired off another volley of torpedoes and when Voyager lurched from an explosion, Janeway knew that at least one of those had been a quantum torpedo. She turned hard in her chair and looked from Tuvok to Seven of Nine. Both of them monitored the explosion for a moment and then announced together; “No effect.” “We’re coming in range of the target.” Paris declared. The Raider was still behind them now, still maintaining position between them and the enemy ships. “Target the lens.” Janeway ordered. She watched the view of the Raider behind them taking enemy fire. Soon the ship was pin wheeling out of control, ablaze and falling apart. Several escape pods jettisoned, but to what end? Who would be there to pick them up? The ship broke into three large pieces, each spinning… nastily still on fire. Moments, Janeway thought, their deaths had brought them only moments of… The three “H”wings were attempting to fly through the wreckage. Their shields couldn’t be THAT… No! One by one the enemy ships collided with the debris and exploded as they tried to reach Voyager before she could reach the mother ship. It was the first losses the aliens suffered. The three… no only two of the enemy ships had been destroyed. The third ship, the leader, flew through the debris of the fallen Raider with uncanny agility, dipping and turning almost as if it knew where the debris was going to move before it did. These aliens could not be human. Still, the enemy leader was slowed down enough that Voyager was going to be able to launch its transphasic payload. “Weapons fire from the alien vessel.” Tuvok warned. Indeed the same green pulses arced out toward Voyager. So deadly when up close, the slow moving fire, now, could not catch the fast moving ship at this distance. Tom spun the ship through enemy fire as they raced into position to fire. “Target in range.” “Fire, full spread, Tuvok!” Janeway ordered. The transphasic torpedoes flew free. The weapons should not even exist, Janeway knew, a “gift” from her own future self. An alternate future that would be now. Her older self had never mentioned encountering a species with this much power. Nor had she told Janeway of the destruction of their homeworld. “Incoming fire!” Tuvok called out. The alien pilot, the leader of the small squadron of “H”-wings had somehow caught up to them. Bright red fire flashed over Voyager's bow. “TOM!” Janeway called out. She watched his hands fly over the controls as he tried to keep them from being ripped apart by the unstoppable bolts. But the alien pilot was too good and the ship lurched when hit. Once… “We’ve been hit! Shields down!” Janeway watched the transphasic torpedoes pass through the enemy fire on their way toward the target. …twice… “Structural damage to the aft deck!” Enemy fire managed to hit two of the torpedoes, but the out of phase nature of the technology allowed them to keep on moving. …three hits… “Weapons offline!” Janeway saw the first of the transphasic torpedoes hit the alien lens assembly with a satisfying explosion before the last of the enemy pilots pulse blasts actually pierced the bridge… …and everything went black…


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