"The Last Stand"

Author: Ensign Dinara Tyran
Date: December 22, 2384
Location: USS Ronin / Aooga

The moment had now arrived. The Kelvans had finally breached the Briar Patch and were now closing on the *Ronin's* position, which it was holding over the planet Aooga. After spending more time with the Oo-oo-ah, Pike had found out the name of their planet. In their language at least.

Chief Talsmin looked up from his ops console and delivered the news to the crew on the bridge. The Kelvans were only minutes away. There had still been no word from the planet from Tyran, Kira or Benton, so the crew could only assume that they had failed in their mission.

Pike stood and tugged down his tunic. He had now assumed command of the *Ronin* after the loss of Captain Evans. Without prolonging it, he simply said, "All hands, battle stations."

The bridge plunged into darkness and the red alert klaxon began wailing. Seconds later, reports began coming in from the bridge crew. The *Ronin* began shuddering as Kelvan planets came into range. The view on the viewscreen shifted to that of the planets, which launched thousands upon thousands of Kelvan fighters toward the *Ronin*.

The fighters quickly traversed the space between the *Ronin* and the Planets and began opening fire. The *Ronin* sprung into life and began taking out the fighters, slowly, one by one; although, the fighters were inflicting massive damage aboard the *Ronin*, even with the armor deployed... there were just too many.

Pike stood to take up position at the second tactical console, but as he did, the ship rocked violently and a huge explosion was heard throughout the ship.

"Sir, they just hit engineering!" shouted Talsmin. "We're heading for a warp core breach."

"Pike to engineering. Engineering?"

"Sir, there's no one down there... The entire compartment is a vacuum," Talsmin informed.

The ship rocked again, this time the bridge took the damage. Consoles exploded, sending crew members sprawling across the deck. Beams and bulkheads swung down from the ceiling narrowly avoiding the dazed crew.

"All hands, evacuate ship!" coughed Pike as he pulled himself up. The bridge crew began pulling themselves up too and quickly headed for the turbolifts. Pike made sure he was the last to leave. A last look around the bridge and he joined the rest of the crew in the escape pods.

Dinara pushed open the hatch of her escape pod. She clambered out and helped out the three crewmen that were with her. She looked about to get her bearings. They had landed in the clearing just outside of the Iconian complex with many of the other escape pods.

It was night time, but instead of stars, the swirling nebulae of the Briar Patch left a red-orange glow in the night sky. Under different circumstances, Dinara may have thought it beautiful. As she continued gazing into the night sky, she could easily see the huge mass of the Kelvan Planet which was now so near. She ripped her gaze away for a moment and headed over to where most of the crew were assembling. Admiral Pike was with them, so she figured it was the best place to be. As she got there, there was a colossal explosion, she turned round and saw in the atmosphere a blinding flash of light. She didn't need to ask what it was... the *Ronin* was gone.

"The Kelvans will be here any moment," announced Pike with no hesitation. "Your orders are simple. Fight. One way or another, this will be over soon."

There was no one way or another though, the Kelvans would win, that was for sure.

"The gateway!" shouted someone amongst the crowd. "We could escape through the gateway!" A large cheer went up from the crowd and a great deal of the crew headed for the complex intent on escaping through the gateway.

Dinara, began to walk after them when Pike placed his hand on her shoulder. "There's no stopping them now. If you go through that gateway, they will get you sooner or later. You are only delaying the inevitable."

Dinara, nodded in agreement and stepped back. The entire senior staff (what was left of it) were left standing at Pike's side, as well as a few other loyal officers. Lieutenant's O'Neal and Makori returned with weapons from the escape pods and placed them on the floor.

As the crew picked up their weapons, a Kelvan fighter screamed past over head, dropping a torpedo nearby. "Scatter!" yelled Pike as Kelvans began materializing on the surface. "O'Neal! Take snipers and get on the roof!" yelled Pike again.

O'Neal nodded, and grabbed Dinara and Tricia by the shoulders. "Come on, you two are now snipers," he said as they ran into the complex.

There were now at least fifty Kelvans on the surface with more arriving. In their natural form, they were too strong for the *Ronin's* crew to fight. As Dinara got to the roof, the three officers crouched down and crawled to the edge. Dinara looked through the scope on her rifle and turned away again at the horror. Officers lay strewn about the field, some ripped in half, others with limbs missing as the Kelvans advanced over them, crushing their bodies underneath their huge mass.

She took a deep breath and looked back, firing a shot and connecting with a Kelvan about to lash out at Lieutenant Wang.

*This is a great mess he's come back to,* she thought as she blasted another Kelvan.

Many of the crew had deserted and had run into the woods, but the ones that remained had split into two groups trying to contain the Kelvans between them. At the head of one group was Commander Bentara. This was also the group under attack most. Dinara watched, paralyzed in fear as a Kelvan lashed out a tentacle at Karissa. As it lunged toward her, Dr. Hancock dove into the air, pushing Karissa out of the way. The tentacle caught him instead. It picked him up into the air and held him above the Kelvans head. The Kelvan brought another one of its tentacles into the air, and ripped him apart.

O'Neal stood up in a fit of rage and fired a shot at the Kelvan, hitting it square in the eye. It's limp body fell to the ground, and another Kelvan took it's place. O'Neal killed this one too, and the next. Karissa, had recovered and was pulling her group back. As they ran, another tentacle lashed out. Talsmin fell to the ground and was dragged back in by the tentacle. He was brought into a large crowd of Kelvans. Dinara couldn't see Talsmin anymore, but as an arm and a leg were thrown out over the tops of the Kelvans she was glad she couldn't see him anymore.

"Dinara, shoot!" shouted O'Neal.

"I... I..."

"Dammit, blast these bastards!"

She looked back into the scope, Karissa had now been caught by a Kelvan's tentacle. She ripped off the tentacle herself, but another grabbed her as she fell to the ground. She took her rifle, and shot the Kelvan in the eye. She fell to the ground and would have run, but another tentacle lashed out and picked her up. It threw her at least fifty feet across the field toward the complex.

Dinara stood now and fired a few shots toward the Kelvan group, her anger growing. Her shots were now finding their mark more effectively. She saw crew members being picked up in the tentacles, and shot the tentacles off.

The fighter did another fly-by and dropped more torpedoes onto the battle field. Dinara couldn't see what was going on through the smoke, but she knew the torpedoes had found their mark with the *Ronin's* crew and not the Kelvans. As the smoke cleared, new craters and new bodies filled the field. Dinara continued firing. She caught sight of Ming cradling Ciara's burned lifeless body as she lay slumped just outside a crater of the latest torpedo bombardment. Then before Dinara could do anything, a blow from a Kelvan knocked Ming's head clear off.

"I have to get down there," she said.

"And do what, Ensign?" asked O'Neal. "You're better off up here," he growled.

"No," she said, as she ran for the stairs.

A massive explosion sent her crashing to the floor. She pulled herself up and looked back; the entire roof where she was just standing was gone; blown away by another torpedo hit. She crawled to the edge, and looked over. Tricia and Sean were both dead. She fought back her tears as she rushed down the stairs.

As she neared the entrance to the complex, she met with Pike, Piper, Makori and Ensign Holmes retreating into the complex.

"Counselor, we have to fall back," said Shara.

"What about the others?" Dinara asked.

"There *are* no others." said Pike grimly. Dinara slumped uselessly to the ground, and buried her face in her hands. "Help her up," said Pike as he laid down fire toward the doorway. The unbearable screaming of a Kelvan was heard from outside as Pike's fire hit it's mark.

Danni and Shara picked up Dinara and dragged her into the complex. Pike and Piper fired a few last shots, and ran after them. It wasn't long before they all entered the all to familiar gate room.

"I guess there's nothing left to do now but to go through," said Danni.

Pike stood there, deep in thought for a moment. "Let's go," he said after what seemed like an eternity.

"Not so fast!" came a voice from behind them. Pike turned and was greeted by a phaser pointed in his face.

"You!" he said.

"That's right," smiled Captain t'Danna. "I wasn't blown to bits on your ship like you assumed. I'm here to complete my mission."

"And what would that be?" asked Pike.

"To assassinate you."

"Don't be ridiculous," snarled Shara. "The Galaxy is lost, nothing matters anymore. Who gives a damn about your mission!"

"I do, it is a matter of honor." she replied.

"Don't be so foolish!" snapped Shara as she reached for t'Danna's phaser. t'Danna panicked and shot Shara. She fell limply to the floor. Pike then made a move for t'Danna's phaser, but she jumped back and shot Pike too. He clutched his stomach and fell to the floor.

Jamie, Danni and Dinara, stood there looking over the Admiral's body when something inside Jamie snapped. She screamed and kicked the phaser clean out of t'Danna's hand. She then gave her another kick to the face and then another to the face. t'Danna fell to the floor. Piper took her rifle and shot her.

Jamie collapsed to the floor in tears. "He's... gone...," she whimpered. Dinara crouched down and put her arm around Jamie's shoulder.

Before Dinara could say anything reassuring, a Kelvan rounded the corner and lashed out a tentacle. It grabbed Danni, and slammed her with such force against the window of the decontamination room, that she was killed instantly. Dinara and Jamie crouched in the middle of the room as the Kelvan slithered slowly up to them. It looked down on them and blinked its eye once. Dinara felt a brief sharp pain in the back of her neck, and everything went black.