Chapter 6: Liberty
The Jem'Hadar warship that had just decloaked had really pounded the Oklahoma. Its primary saucer section was missing its front half and the secondary hull had been breached by the Jem'Hadar's last laser bolt. The enemy warship was much bigger than a raider. It was a battleship, nearly twice the size of the Gryphon, imposing in size and even more dangerous.
"Targeting Jem'Hadar ship sir!" yelled Urban as the ship rocked from a torpedo hit.
Seals looked ahead gripping the arm rests on his captain's chair. "Fire a full spread of quantum torpedoes and follow up with a volley from all forward phaser banks!"
Urban nodded as his fingers played over his control panel. The Gryphon let loose with three quantum torpedoes. Luminous blue objects shot forth from the torpedo tubes, streaking for the Jem'Hadar battleship. They slammed home into the bridge of the ship sending up a large explosion.
"Bow shields down to 10% on the Jem'Hadar ship, sir," said VanEseltine as he read his sensor report.
Bright red flashes of ember spit forth from the phaser banks on the Gryphon, splattering intense heat bolts across the shields of the enemy ship. The Jem'Hadar ship turned so the bridge was no longer a target and returned fire with an intense white beam shot from their port side. The beam cut deep into the Gryphon's starboard shield.
"Damage report!" yelled Seals.
Lt(jg) Anderson had been knocked to the floor by the impact of the enemy beam. She pulled herself up into her chair and looked at her monitor. "Starboard shields down to 30%. Sensors show we never have encountered a beam of that power!"
Commander Johnson keyed commands at her console, swinging the Gryphon around at full impulse power to avoid another shot from the Jem'Hadar warship. Her fingers seemed to be moving at light's speed as she continued evasive actions to avoid the Jem'Hadar's weapons.
Seals was pleased with the way his crew was performing under battle. He looked around at the faces of his crew seeing stern looks and anger, but no fear showed. He was happy for that. "Fire at will!"
Urban keyed more controls and three more torpedoes shot forth. This time the flying objects glowed with intense green light--plasma torpedoes. They found their mark, blowing a large hole in the shields of the enemy ship.
"Shields breached on Jem'Hadar ship, sir," said VanEseltine, looking at his captain.
"Light 'em up!" yelled Seals with a clenched fist.
Aboard the Oklahoma, phaser fire erupted down the corridor against the hasty position held by the Marines from the Gryphon as the Jem'Hadar pressed their offensive. The Marines fought valiantly and poured fire upon the advancing Jem'Hadar ending the lives of the undaunted foes.
Peering around the side of the small barricade the Marines had built from whatever was handy, Lt. Colonel Smith fired a long burst from his automatic compression phaser rifle. The beams tore deep into a Jem'Hadar warrior who had advanced close to the makeshift barrier. "OK. Captain McBride, I'm taking half the squad and falling back to Engineering. We'll set up an ambush for them there. Hold them off for another three minutes and then fall back past us. When the Jem'Hadar pass our position, I'll signal you and we'll catch them in a vice lock. You got all that, marine?"
McBride wiped some sweat off his head and nodded. "Yes, sir. We'll hold them off and then come charging toward you. I think there's about twenty of them left, and I don't think we can expect any reinforcements because of the shields being up on both ships."
Smith nodded. "You're right. I would have already called in for another two squads, but the beauty of it is they can't get any reinforcements either. Time's a wastin'. Semper Fi." Smith then tapped five Marines on the shoulder and they followed him, double-timing it down the corridor out of view from the rest of the squad.
McBride turned and saw that two of the Marines had been hit. They were leaning against the bulkhead clutching wounds, blood seeping through their combat armor. Not expecting a massive firefight, they were clad with lightweight combat armor designed for speed--not abuse. McBride moved up to the front and lay prone next to one of the barrels they used as cover. "Rothrock, toss me two photon grenades. Set them at power three; don't want to breach the hull."
First Lt. Rothrock reached into his ammo bag and pulled out two photon grenades. He carefully adjusted the settings on the silver ball-shaped objects as directed and lobbed them to McBride. McBride released the safeties and threw them at the oncoming Jem'Hadar troops. The resulting explosion in the midst of the enemy troops sent shrapnel flying through the corridor and flooded the immediate area with high-intensity photon radiation. The Jem'Hadar warriors fanned out, seeking cover. Their advance was temporarily halted.
"OK. Marines, fall back toward Engineering. We'll meet up with the Colonel and wipe these monsters out and hopefully see if anyone is alive. Corpsman, take care of the wounded and follow us up," yelled McBride. He watched his squad fire and withdraw, slowing the remaining Jem'Hadar.
Smith and his unit lay waiting in Engineering. They had propped open the sliding doors and hid in adjacent rooms and nooks, waiting for the Jem'Hadar to run past them as they pursued McBride's group. Smith planned to lay on a rear ambush and, hopefully, keep his men from more harm.
Lt. Higdon and Commander Hovey worked feverishly on the Gryphon's new Minos computer system. The system was collecting all of the data on the attack: patterns of the Jem'Hadar warship and sensor data on the Jem'Hadar's weapon beams and torpedoes. Analyzing this data, the computer was also adjusting shield harmonics to match the weapons' frequencies, increasing shield capacity.
Up on the bridge, the crew was performing admirably. Urban fired three more torpedoes and the Jem'Hadar ship erupted into a large ball of fire. Slowly dimming embers of its remains scattered through space. A loud cheer came from the crew; they had dispatched their first foe.
Seals stood and smiled, looking at his crew. "Good work, all. Beam those Marines back over here, Chief."
"Yes, sir," said Urban as he prepared to contact the Marines
The ambush plan worked well. The Jem'Hadar passed by Smith's group as expected, placing themselves into a deadly crossfire from the Marines. After the last Jem'Hadar fell, Smith and his comrades heard a muffled scream for help. Smith ran over to a closed hatch as another Marine opened it warily. Phaser rifle ready, Smith peered in and saw a Starfleet crew member there, wounded but conscious.
"Who are you?" asked Smith.
The man with glasses and beard stood up. "I'm crewman Salaba. I'm the Oklahoma's Recreation Officer. During the attack I was knocked unconscious. Is anyone else alive?"
Smith shook his head. "No, I'm afraid not. You come with us to the Gryphon. We'll take care of you."
Salaba smiled weakly. "Thanks."
McBride spoke up. "Colonel, they are ready to beam us over now."
"Very well. Tell 'em were ready . . . plus one more," said Smith.
The Marines and the Starfleet crewman beamed over and were immediately
hustled off to Sickbay. As he sat in Sickbay seeing to his wounded men, Smith
wondered when Liberty would come and how it would be. This was not his idea of
|• Honor Among Warriors: The
Gryphon Story, © 1997 by William D. Smith, is reproduced from
the June 1997 issue of Gryphon Trek
Gazette with permission.|
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