Dalin Tossak felt the Hideki-class patrol ship roll hard to starboard. The two Miranda-class Star Fleet ships missed on their attack pass and must have been pulling off for another attack run.
Tossak’s ship was an older but sturdy design that had been in use with the Cardassian space fleet for more than 30 years. It was currently protecting a landing party that had beamed down from the troop transport ship to the mining settlement below.
The Federation ships didn’t want the Cardassians here. They claimed the indigenous population on the planet had asked for help, but the Cardassian Union claimed jurisdiction of the planet’s location. The argument was filtering its way through diplomatic channels at the time, but the ships in space were standing toe-to-toe while ambassadors and councils argued.
The planet was ripe with the mineral fistrium, which, in processed form, was used to focus delta waves into harmonics which could be used for ship shielding at hyper-light.
Most space-faring cultures in the Alpha Quadrant used fistrium in the shipyards and ship building. It was not a rare mineral, not like dilithium or latinum, but it was rare enough to make finding a planet with fistrium on or near the surface, a real treasure. Most fistrium had to be mined from hundreds or even thousands of feet below the surface.
Cardassia’s Obsidian Order had known the planet below had vast amounts of the mineral, but had tried to keep that a secret from the military branch for reason’s of its own. They would have kept the secret if some independent prospector hadn’t stumbled across the planet and blabbed about it aboard Deep Space 9.
Word filtered to the Order through one of its operatives on the station and the Order had nothing in the area to protect the planet from the Federation getting a foothold. It had to share the information with the Fleet.
The Fleet dispatched the ship on which Tossak had been assigned as a junior engineer along with a troop transport. The two ships arrived six hours before the two Miranda-class Star Fleet ships.
The Cardassian patrol ship was out gunned, but had superior shielding and maneuverability. The troop transport had beamed down 500 Cardassian troops and warped back to the safety of the home worlds, leaving the patrol ship alone for spatial defense and to keep the Federation from landing troops. As long as they could keep the Star Fleet ships from dropping their shields or sending down landing craft, the troops on the ground had time to dig in and erect defenses.
Dalin Tossak had hoped to make the rank of Glin before this cruise and be promoted to some nice safe desk job on one of the home planets. The promotion had not come through for the junior engineer and he remained assigned to the old patrol ship, maintaining the offensive weaponry.
Tossak hated it. He hated working every day aboard the ship because of Glin Happern. Happern, the chief engineer aboard the patrol ship was an old Cardassian, set in his ways and very insistent that the Cardassian military was as strong as it was because of men like him, who followed the orders of their commanders without question and without straying.
Tossak was of a different generation.
Tossak believed that sometimes individuals had to think for themselves. Not every rule had been written for every situation, but he could never get Glin Happern to believe that.
Four times since Tossak had been assigned this berth, he’d been reprimanded by Happern for “failure to follow standard procedures” when maintaining the two spiral-wave disruptors and one large aft disruptor wave cannon.
Tossak hated the old Cardassian, but right now, he was glad the senior engineer had maintained the ship with such attention to detail. The Miranda ships were maneuvering in concert and the weapons systems aboard those ships were doing a fine job of beating at the Cardassian shields.
“Bring the secondary exciters online,” he heard Happern holler to one of the enlisted on the lower level of the engineering deck. “I want them ready in case we lose the primaries.
“Tossak, scavenge the leakage from the aft ventral shields if you need it, not the fore shields, you idiot. We have to protect the command deck and your weapons are not making a dent on those ships.”
Tossak had hoped the old engineer hadn’t seen him re-routing the over-flow from any of the shields, but he couldn’t slip anything by the old man. He knew if the Cardassians held the day, he might receive another reprimand, but it wouldn’t be for not trying to find a way to improve their chances.
The ship rolled into a port Z-minus turn to get under the onrushing Star Fleet ships. The pilot was doing every thing he could do to keep the smaller Cardassian ship from taking direct hits. He was doing a good job and so far after 20 minutes of action, the small ship had only suffered minor damage.
The problem was the weapons aboard the patrol ship had no chance of penetrating the shields of the Federation ships. The Federation ships would eventually beat down the Cardassians and everyone aboard would die as the ship exploded when the single matter/anti-matter conversion system aboard collapsed.
The time constraint was the two Galor-class ships that would arrive in system within an hour. If the patrol ship could keep the Federation in space and off planet, the Galor-class ships would easily re-buff the Mirandas. The Federation had to get boots on-planet or their intel would suffer. The more boots the better, and with the two battleships less than an hour away, the patrol ship was the only thing standing between the planet and the Federation boots.
The two Miranda ships needed to eliminate the patrol ship in a hurry.
And they were trying desperately.
The patrol ship just needed to survive.
And they were losing.
The second Federation ship fired it ventral banks and caught the Cardassian’s starboard aft shield in recompiling. “Shield five down 65 percent,” someone called out. “Damage to Number Two impulse vent.”
Tossak knew this would limit the pilot’s ability to maneuver. The patrol ship was taking too much damage and doing next to none to the Federation ships. He was beginning to sweat. He wondered how much longer before the Galors would arrive and looked at his chronometer. Too long.
Tossak thought back to his childhood and recalled the fun times he had with his four brothers on their estate. They’d played Vetti and Hoshball for hours. He’d been the youngest, but his three older brothers always included him. The days were long where Tossak grew up and school studies took up most of their days. But in the late afternoon the four would walk together the 20 minutes from the military school to their home. Their father would already be home from the manufacturing plant where he worked and their mother would arrive later in the evening from the lab where she worked.
As childhoods went, there was little drama and few politics.
Something about his childhood struck a chord with Tossak.
He recalled the day his older brother Sossom had used a magnifying glass to focus sunlight onto a crawling insect. The focused light caused the shell to crack and boil the internal organs of the hand-wide insect.
Tossak knew how he could, with only the materials at hand, increase their chances against the Federation ships. The problem would be getting Glin Happern to go along with him. It wasn’t standard procedure and he’d not be easy to convince with the ship in the middle of the battle.
Tossak had to be forceful.
“I know how we can defeat their shields, Glin,” Tossak shouted over the noises. “I need two minutes to reconfigure the emitters and bring our solar sails online.”
“Solar sails? Are you drunk on Kanar?”
“No, Glin. Trust me, I can make this work. It’s our only chance at getting through their shields. We need to stop trying to defeat their harmonics and instead overheat them.”
The old Cardassian paused for a few breaths and looked down the deck at the damage control crew working on other parts of engineering.
“You have 90 seconds Tossak and you can not take anything off line.”
Tossak started reconfiguring the injectors for the conical-wave emitters. He pulled the conduits for the solar panels out off their ports and re-wired them into the emitters. He started the cycle for dropping the solar wings. They weren’t very large and usually hugged the hull. In combat they were useless and usually left in their stored position.
Tossak felt the bump as the panels locked into place just as the pilot lifted the nose of the ship as the Federation started firing. Another hit caused sparks from the ODN conduits and Tossak had to re-configure his re-wiring.
He activated the new system and looked over to the chief engineer. “We need to get from behind the planet. The more sun the better.”
Happern called up to the captain and told him the weapons had been reconfigured, and then nodded to Tossak. “We need to get within six ship lengths for this to work, captain, but it will work.”
The patrol ship had already shown it could out-maneuver either of the Federation ships, but now the pilot was being put to the real test. He could almost hear the captain telling the pilot what he wanted. He was glad he couldn’t hear the pilot’s response.
On the next pass of the leading Federation ship, the patrol ship nosed over looking like it was trying to escape, but as the Miranda closed in, punched its six ventral thrusters and closed on the Federation ship.
A new color of beam came from the patrol ship. It was a bright white and the main screen darkened. The screens on the Star Fleet ship flared blood red and the heat from the beam was disrupting the plating on the bottom side of the main hull. The ship broke off its attack on the patrol ship when 16 square meters of hull erupted into space.
The wing-man, following close behind the first, hadn’t expected the turn of events and was pulling out of formation when the first started venting atmosphere.
The dorsal hull and bridge of the second ship became an easy target for the patrol ship’s improved beam and the captain made use of it while he had the advantage.
The beam was concentrated on the bridge bubble and it was just fortune that kept the bubble from exploding from the heat. The second ship went to full impulse to get out of range.
Both Federation ships had been injured by what they saw as a new, more powerful weapon. They were forced out of the battle area when the captain began a run at their impulse manifolds.
The captain didn’t hear the communicator and Tossak hollering at him that the emitters had burned out on the weapon and it was now useless.
The captain didn’t need to hear the call. The Federation ships were leaving.
Tossak’s weapon, while it only lasted nine seconds in combat, turned the battle in favor of the Cardassians. It was enough.
He’d make sure to tell his brothers. They’d get a kick out of it.