The Dogs of War - Part 3 "For Old Time's Sake"
Episode 3 - The Future That Was
Timeline: Late 2416 (Alpha)
[Previously in The Dogs of War - Part 2 "Game Plan"]
. . . . . .
For several moments Oliver didn't ask another question as he carefully studied the relative positions of his forces and the ones Bolanus had mobilized to stop him from reaching Earth. Then he broke the silence.
"Tell the Fleet to change course. We will intercept the 2nd Fleet at the P'Rex Nebula."
Turning to his chief of staff, Oliver explained. "As you said, Captain, we would be at a serious disadvantage once they rendezvous at the Raxon System, but we outnumber each of them by a comfortable margin, and there's quite some distance between them, so we'll neutralize them one by one before they can assemble into a single force."
. . . . . .
::Bridge, USS Bunker Hill - B, 5th Fleet, On Route to Earth::
Captain Phaelo Krage was not all too happy about her latest assignment. Now, of course, being the flagship of an entire fleet brought prestige and bragging rights, but she resented the fact that they had renamed her ship and even given her a new registry number, all for the off chance that Lee might be persuaded of his error by the mere sight of a ship that looked like and bore the name of his first command. Lee was a cold hearted bastard. He would not care.
“Captain,” The tactical officer on duty interrupted her train of thoughts. “We are receiving distress calls from the 2nd Fleet. They have made contact with the 7th.”
Krage frowned. This was not supposed to happened. They were supposed to rendezvous at the Raxon system before confronting Lee. “Krage to General Adlerstein, your presence is required on the bridge.”
Minutes later, Major General Adlerstein, Commander of the Fifth Fleet, strode onto the bridge. He immediately took a seat next to Captain Krage, as this may have been his fleet, but it was her ship, and protocol ruled the day.
"What have you got Captain?" the old German flag officer inquired.
"Not good news, I'm afraid." Krage answered honestly. "Lee has just ambushed the 2nd Fleet at the P'Rex Nebula. Admiral Rodriguez is outnumbered and overwhelmed. The 11th has changed its course, but they won't make it there in time. And we are even farther away. Your orders, sir?"
"I know of Rodriguez; he's a stubborn man who will try to the last, so we know that he won't just lie down and give up. Set a direct course for the P'Rex Nebula, best possible speed, fly the girl apart if you have to, but we've got to at least try and relieve him and join up with the 11th." Adlerstein ordered, his orders giving no indication of the inner turmoil he felt at possibly opening fire on his old Skipper.
"Aye aye, General." Krage acknowledged her order with a perfunctory nod and proceeded to relay the order to the rest of the fleet.
::5 Hours Later::Sickbay, USS Themyscira, 7th Fleet, Caldran System::
Oliver winced as Lieutenant Commander T'Lor applied medication to the deep laceration on his upper left arm. It hurt terribly, but not as much as the sight of the floating debris that surrounded the Themyscira and the rest of the 7th Fleet. He had done all he could to rescue the survivors after the battle, but there was not much he could do.
It was bad enough that Admiral Rodriguez went down with his ship, but at least part of the 2nd Fleet retreated to safety. But Ngah, that damned Klingon, why did she have to fight to the last man? Why did the 11th have to fight to the last ship?! He had left openings for his Academy roommate to retreat, but she kept fighting, and fighting, until her flagship, the USS Surak, was the last of the 11th to remain. He pleaded with her. He begged her. Yet she still would not retreat. Instead, she cut through the lines and made straight for the Themyscira.
When the Surak finally succumbed to a barrage of fire, the explosion blinded the view screen and nearly took out the Themyscira's starboard nacelle. At that moment, his heart sank deep into the abyss. Only a sense of duty to the Federation kept him from abandoning the entire endeavor. Or is it just blind obstinacy?
He never got to answer that question as he saw his chief of staff walking through the sickbay doors.
"Sir," Said Captain Thorin Trell with a hint of concern in his voice. "Long range sensors have picked up the 5th Fleet on an intersecting course."
Oliver collected his composure and forced anguish into that dark corner where it could only whisper.
"Under one hour."
"We are at 60% strength, but half of the ships have suffered damage, and some quite severely. That leaves our effective strength at 42%."
Oliver let out a quiet sigh, but then with a renewed determination he said, "Send the wounded to the rear, and reform the fleet. We have another battle to fight."
Trell hesitated for a second. "The men are exhausted, sir. In the last five hours we have fought two major engagements, almost without a break."
"I Know." Oliver nodded. "But I don't think General Bolanus would agree to an intermission. One hour is all we have. If we have that much at all."
"Aye, aye, sir."
::52 Minutes Later::
Oliver impatiently tapped the armrest with his fingers as he waited for the approach of what he hoped to be the last obstacle on his way to Earth. Long range sensors had confirm that the 5th Fleet was at full strength as opposed to the half strength Nami's intel had suggested. But no matter. He must push forward. He must end the coup and Bolanus reign of terror on Earth.
"The 5th Fleet has just dropped out of warp." Reported the Themyscira's V.I. "And we are being hailed. It's the . . . Bunker Hill, sir."
Oliver's heart skipped a beat at the name Bunker Hill, but Commander Fatima Karim beat him to the question. "How's that possible?" Asked the ship's executive officer.
The V.I. tilted her head as she confirmed with the V.I. of the other ship. "She was the USS New York, NCC-69401, renamed the USS Bunker Hill, NCC 70424-B just 8 days ago."
"On screen." Ordered Oliver, his voice filled with anticipation, bewilderment, and a slight tinge of dread.
It felt surreal, but there she was, the new Bunker Hill, a mirror image of her predecessor. Oliver was left speechless for a moment until Captain Tegran Daeli, the Themyscira’s commanding officer reminded him. "Sir, we are still being hailed."
Oliver took a deep breath. "Put it through."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the view screen flickered only to show another familiar face.
Aboard the new Bunker Hill, Adlerstein stood from his chair and approached the view screen, as if to get closer to his old Skipper.
"Hello, Admiral. It's been a long time. I'm sorry we could not meet under better circumstances."
Having overcome the incredulity at the latest turn of event, Oliver noted the rank insignia on his former marine CO's collar. "Indeed, General, but I'm afraid the circumstances have already chosen us."
Hans' heart was not in it as he spoke the words he knew he had to say, and the words he hoped would not lead to more bloodshed.
"I...respectfully request that you lower your shields and allow our personnel to board your vessels. Your wounded will receive the best care we can provide, and we will try to salvage those ships that we can. I will personally guarantee your safety and those of your men; you will be treated with honor and dignity. Let us end this senseless warfare, sir. Please, enough Starfleet lives have been lost today...please Skipper."
Hans might have been a flag officer now, the same as Lee, but while the tone he used with General Bolanus was one of near reverence, awe at the legendary figure of the man, the deference and respect Hans spoke of towards Lee was another animal altogether. His tone was one of almost familial loyalty, the kind that is not forged through legends, but of constant trust and loyal working relationship over decades of missions and countless risk of both life and honor for each other.
Captain Krage shot a sideways glance at the Marine, clearly not approving of his very deferential tone towards the rebel Admiral. If it had been her, she would have not even greeted the traitor, but opened fire immediately upon acquisition.
Oliver stood up from his seat and approached the view screen. With a doleful determination in his voice the old man answered, "You know I cannot comply with that request, just as I cannot allow General Bolanus to continue to trample on every principle the Federation stands for. You do what you must, Hans, but for old time's sake, can we talk in private for one last time? Just a few minutes."
Hans heart sank as he heard the determination in his old Skipper's voice; this might end in bloodshed, and there might be nothing he could do about it.
"Of course, Admiral. Patch the channel through to the Ready Room, and secure the bloody thing please." He said to Captain Krage, who still looked like the whole "diplomacy" thing sickened her, and now frankly looked insulted that the image of Oliver Lee would be in her Ready Room.
[To be continued in The Dogs of War - Part 4 "Boldly They Rode . . . and Well"]
Admiral Oliver A. Lee
Commander, Kalandra Sector
Major General Johannes Adlerstein
Commander, 5th Fleet
Starfleet Marine Corps
Captain Phaelo Krage
CO, USS Bunker Hill - B
(NPC - Oliver/Johannes)