Future Past - Part 7 "Cry Havoc" (Flashback)
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
Location: Caldran System
Timeline: 2419, A Future That Was
::Bridge, USS Bunker Hill - B, 5th Fleet, En-Route to the Raxon System::
Captain Phaelo Krage was not all too happy about her latest assignment. Now, of course, being the CO of 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 happen. They were supposed to rendezvous at the Raxon system before confronting Lee. “Krage to General Adlerstein, your presence is required on the bridge.”
Moments 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 general officer inquired.
"Not good news, I'm afraid." Answered Krage. "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.
"Yes, sir." 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 kept him from abandoning the entire endeavor. Or was 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 intersepting course."
Oliver collected his composure and forced his anguish into that dark corner where it could only whisper.
"Under one hour."
"Most of the ships have suffered damage, and many 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 AI. "We are being hailed. It's the . . . Bunker Hill, sir."
Oliver's heart skipped a beat at the name of Bunker Hill, but Commander Fatima Karim beat him to the question. "How's that possible?" asked the ship's executive officer.
Themie tilted her head as she confirmed with the AI of the other ship. "She was the USS New York, NCC-69401, renamed the USS Bunker Hill, NCC 70424-B just eight 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 Kell Tobin, 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.
::Bridge, USS Bunker Hill, 5th Fleet::
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 events, 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 that 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 general officer now, 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 with towards Lee was another animal altogether. His tone was one of almost familial loyalty, the kind that is not forged through legends, but constant trust as well as loyal working relationship over decades of missions and countless risks 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 traitor. If it had been up to her, she would have not even greeted Lee, 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 a moment? 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.
Without waiting for her to respond, Hans walked briskly to the ready room on the port side of the vessel, and strode into the room, where the image of Admiral Lee greeted him. Reflexively, Adlerstein came to rigid attention, his heels clicking together, the knees that had been used and abused by nearly thirty years of service and hard physical training protesting slightly. His salute was immaculate, for while the ones he had given Bolanus were crisp, the ones he felt he owed his old Skipper would have made the guards at the Memorial Tomb on Earth look like rank amateurs.
"Sir." the German said.
Oliver returned the salute in kind, but without the same vigor and precision as the Marine had, partly due to sheer exhaustion - both physical and mental - partly out of the desire not to let what’s possibly the last conversation with his old friend be asphyxiated by rigid formality.
Stepping toward Hans, the old man embraced the Marine’s right arm with both of his hands. It was not entirely real, but he would take it nonetheless.
“It’s so good to see you again, Hans. It has been too long.”
Hans knew that this image was not really that of Oliver Lee, Admiral of Starfleet, but rather a hologram, and the sensation of pressure he felt was simply photons held in place by force fields. Yet it felt for all the world like Lee to the old German, and his tears began to well as he fought back tears of both joy at the reunion and sorrow that it might be the last time they may ever see each other.
He squeezed Lee’s hand back with equal vigor. When they broke, Hans replied “Yes, Admiral, over four years. I guess you must’ve heard that Bolanus actually apologized to me for stalling my career all those years ago, and then made me a Major General on the spot.” the German said, absent-mindedly touching the stars on his collar, enclosed in the same way that Lee’s pips were.
“I want you to know, sir, I did not give up anything I knew of you or your movement in return for these, on my word of honor.” the German said, afraid that was exactly what his old colleague thought.
With a wave of his hand, Oliver dismissed the Marine’s concern. “You are an honorable man, Hans. I have never doubted that, and I will not start now, but I have to say, the news of your return to service was not expected. Your promotion was long overdue, of course. It’s just that intel from Earth is not easy to come back these days. I have Captain Ishikawa on the ground with the resistance, but unfortunately her access to intel often has to come at considerable danger and cost to the resistance fighters.”
“Speaking of Earth, sir, I was able to see your daughter. She says hello and that she loves and misses you.” Adlerstein said to his former skipper.
That was when Oliver remembered that he hadn’t spoken to Terri in . . . what was it, more than a year? Even the last time they spoke, it was only because the girl happened to be at Theo’s when he called his former chief of science, and the brief moment they shared over subspace was awkward at best. And now she’s hiding with the resistance, hunted by Bolanus’ regime, and yet every time he contacted Nami for updates, he never asked to speak with Terri. He didn’t even ask about her. Was he really such a terrible father?
“How is Terri?”
The Marine could see worry in his old friend's eyes.
“She’s fine, sir; she wasn’t captured or some such. She came to see me after I was promoted. She . . .” Hans' eyes teared up.
“She . . . hates me, sir. She accused me of betraying you and her, and that I was dead to her as far as she was concerned.” the old German Marine, who had seen so much death and destruction and horror in nearly thirty years of service, now had a tear fall down his face as he thought of a young lady whom he had come to regard as a niece say those hurtful, hate-filled words to him.
With a sigh, Oliver reassured his friend, “Terri can be hotheaded sometimes . . . whom am I kidding, she’s always hotheaded, even more so than her mother.” Tangential as it was, the mention of Korra struck a chord in his heart, but he quickly resumed the conversation. “Terri always says things that she regrets later, especially when she’s upset. You shouldn’t worry too much about it. She has always looked up to you. She’ll understand one day.”
“I hope you are right, sir. I don’t think I could live with myself if I saw her eyes filled with such disappointment and venom again.” Hans said, drying his eye. “Sir, I beg of you, I plead, don’t force us to fight. I cannot let you proceed to Earth, not as a threat, sir. If you would like, you can accompany me aboard this ship. I will order Captain Krage to surrender her chair to you, Admiral; the Bunker Hill can be yours again. Together, we can return to Earth, sit down with Bolanus, and end this slaughter.” Adlerstein said, his voice almost breaking as he pleaded not to fight his old Skipper. “If this is not acceptable to you, sir, then name your terms, and on my honor as a Marine, I will do everything in my power to accommodate them.”
Instead of answering his old friend immediately, Oliver glanced around him and took in the surrounding.
It looked so much like his old ready room. The paint job was nearly the same, and so was the carpeting. Even the furniture hadn’t changed all that much. Yet, it was palpably different: the upgraded holographic tactical display, the new ceiling panels, the missing storage unit where he kept all his treasured berries, and of course, a plate of fresh muffins that was always on his desk. He hadn’t baked any muffins since Michaela . . .
With a shake of his head, he turned his attention back to Hans.
“Captain Krage has earned the command of her ship, just as you have earned those stars on your collar. Even without regard for protocols, I would not take her seat, out of respect if nothing else.”
After a brief pause, he continued with a tint of melancholy in his voice.
“But more important, I have already talked to General Bolanus. Several times in fact. It was not easy to convince President N’Verix to offer the General and his followers amnesty in exchange for him to step down and restore the legitimate government to its seat. But he refused every time. I begged him. He still refused. Now I’m under order from the President herself to bring him in, dead or alive. Alive is my priority.”
Hams could take it no longer, discipline finally broke down as the tears flowed more freely now. His worst nightmare was coming true before his eyes, and it broke his heart to its core.
“Sir, please! I have . . . killed . . . for nearly thirty years I have killed those who the Federation deemed enemies: pirates, thugs, murderers, declared foreign enemies. I hated it every time, like a piece of my soul was gone with each life snuffed out, but I did it because it was my duty. But what you are asking me to do is fire upon our own, sir! Those men over there and in here, these are our own, sir! Some of these men and women are the sons and daughters of men, good men we served with. I refuse to be the instrument of their death!” The German yelled, slamming his hand down upon the desk with such force that his hand stung.
“Please, skipper, don’t make me do this.”
The sight of the Marine breaking down in front of him wrenched Oliver’s heart like nothing ever had. Hans was right about everything he just said. He would know.
“Don’t you think I know that?!” Despair began to resurface in the old man voice. “In the last 5 hours, I was forced to destroy almost two entire fleets of men and women wearing this same uniform. Hundreds of ships. Tens of thousands of lives. All perished before my eyes. Don’t you think I would . . .”
Before he could finish his sentence, the Bunker Hill shook violently under the impact of heavy fire.
“No.” His eyes opened wide in horror.
“No!” Adlerstein screamed. The German saw the image of the Admiral flicker and fade before he all but sprinted out of the ready room, finding the bridge now with red alert sirens screaming and the sounds of battle filling the view screen.
“Who gave the damned order to fire!?” Hans demanded, venom filling his voice.
“No one, sir! The Wellington just opened fire on Lee’s ship!” Krage stated
“Get him on comms, now!” Adlerstein ordered.
“It’s no good, sir!” the communication officer replied. “He’s cut his comms and is attacking.”
“Raise the Themyscira, request a cease fire!” Hans desperately ordered.
“It’s too late, sir; they are refusing all hails.”
The Bunker Hill shook as she registered phaser hits. Krage’s voice cut through with deadly precision. “Weapons, target their life support systems, let’s end this before . . ."
Adlerstein all but shouted her down.
“Belay that order!” he said, jabbing his finger at the tactical officer behind him. “We are not killing our own! You will target engines and weapons only, understood?!”
The officer looked to Krage momentarily before nodding.
“Yes, sir.” he said.
::Bridge, USS Themyscira, 7th Fleet::
Oliver stumbled onto the bridge and barely held onto a railing before the ship convulsed again under fire. “Report!” He shouted desperately, struggling to get to his seat next to Captain Tobin.
“The Wellington fired on us without warning, sir. Then the rest of the 5th Fleet just followed suite. We had no choice but to return fire.”
“It was a trap.” Commander Fatima Karim concluded bitterly. “Those sons of . . .”
Oliver did not wait for the Themyscira’s executive office to finish. “It can’t be! Hail the Bunker Hill. Now!”
A brief, but anxious moment passed before the ship’s AI reported, “They have cut all communication, sir.”
“No, it can’t be.” Oliver obstinately repeated to himself before steadfast resolve returned to his voice. “Defensive formation Lee-Sigma-7. Hold the line. Do not let them break through to the rear. And continue hailing the Bunker Hill.”
“It’s . . .” Tobin barely began his sentence when a conduit panel exploded overhead, raining sparks and debris down the ship’s bridge staff, and almost simultaneously the bridge went dark.
As the emergency lights kicked, Oliver surveyed the bridge amidst the smoke and sparks: several bridge crew down on the floor, some struggling to get back to their stations, others lying motionless.
Tobin struggled back to his feet. “It’s too late, sir. The fleets have already engaged. There’s no time for formation.”
Just as the Trill captain finished speaking, the tactical station behind him exploded and the resulting force threw the officer on duty back against the wall. The impact shattered the master system display and dislodged the dedication plaque next to it, sending it crashing down onto the deck.
“Ensign K’Tor has been incapacitated.” Calmly reported Themie as the cohesion of her holographic projection was disrupted momentarily by a falling conduit tube. “Assuming control of tactical.”
Falling back into his chair, Oliver buckled in and watched hopelessly as the battle dissolved into chaos. He had been too distracted by the sudden presence of the Bunker Hill and of Hans on its bridge to take the necessary precaution against unexpected assault. There was now no room for tactics or strategy. There was only bloodshed.
[To be continued in Part 8 . . . . . .]
Admiral Oliver A. Lee
Commander, Kalandra Sector
Major General Johannes "Hans" Adlerstein
Commander, 5th Fleet
Captain Phaelo Krage
CO, USS Bunker Hill - B
(NPC - Oliver/Hans)
Captain Kell Tobin
CO, USS Themyscira
(NPC - Oliver)
Commander Fatima Karim
XO, USS Themyscira
(NPC - Oliver)