The Heavy Command Carrier Ab'Qaff had happened upon a hornet's nest as it smashed through a pirate base deep within the Triangle Zone, the no-man's land where Klingon, Federation and Romulan space intersected. It was cleaning up an area that had been preying upon Klingon convoys, only to discover an advanced shipyard, cranking out the newest in Starfleet technology, the Kirov Class Attack Carrier. While the Ab'Qaff and its battle group of four heavy cruisers and two frigates had caught the first ship before its shield generators were online, the second launched six fighters from within its protective dock envelope. Then it unleashed a plasma torpedo at the Vorcha Class G'monn. The G'monn's shields absorbed the first blast, but a barrage of photon torpedoes from the Valkyrie fighters finished the shields and crumpled the G'monn's hull like a piece of paper. The explosion was a sad testament to the glory that could have been the G'monn. After that, the Kirov burst forth from the dock, and targetted the Ab'Qaff. Its flight of fighters slipped between the Kirov and the Ab'Qaff and began to harrass the Klingon ship as more Federation fighters launched. But the Ab'Qaff was more nimble than it looked, and it swiveled on its axis and smashed into a flight of fighters.
"Where in the name of the Fek'lhr is Sompek?" Kapact demanded as the Ab'Qaff dove faster than the inertial dampers could compensate.
"The Etlh has been caught in a Tholian web!" QasQa shouted, not lifting her head from the tactical display.
"How many Tholians are involved?" He asked.
"None," QasQa answered, dumbfounded. "They are Federation destroyers! Two of them!"
"What?" Kapact asked as he moved to look at the display. "These pirate dogs have no honor." Kapact swore softly, and wished his son a good death, or a surprising victory. Then he saw an alarm at the edge of the display. He tapped the icon to reveal a blue delta with a red outline. Another Federation-based pirate ship inbound. "Computer, identify inbound target!" The blue delta symbol wavered briefly as sensors focused on it. As the specs of the intruder were revealed, Kapact ignored the diving and plunging deck beneath. "Federation Sovereign Class Dreadnought," he muttered. Then another blue delta appeared behind the first. "Two of them."
"Range," QasQa announced, "100,000 kellicams. They are coming in at battle speed." Another alert joined the cacaphony. "Ablative armor is at ten percent. Microfractures appearing in the hull."
"Ghuy'Cha!" Kapact swore. They were being overwhelmed. "Order the DuranQo and the Qap'kuS to maneuver between us and the Kirov," Kapact ordered. "Emergency powers to thrusters." He stared hard at the Kirov, willing it to break apart. "Prepare boarding parties. Tell them to target the Kirov's warp core."
"My lord," QasQa spoke quietly, "the Kirov has three warp cores."
"We only need to destroy one of them."
The Ab'Qaff shuddered again, and Kapact saw the DuranQo, a Feklhr Class Heavy Cruiser, and the Qap'kuS, an Etlh class Heavy Cruiser slip 'below' them. Then the image on the viewscreen rotated 180 degrees. "Shuttlebay, launch four ECM shuttles. Have them initiate a conical EM pulse at the Kirov. As soon as the deck is cleared, launch two scatterpacks. Order them to target the lead Sovereign and fire at 50,000 kellicams. Maximum dispersal."
As the Ab'Qaff fought for survival, Captain Sompek on the IKS Etlh felt the noose of a Tholian web tighten around his neck. He could handle the two cruisers as they circled and dove around the trapped Klingon battlecruiser, though he had never seen a non-Tholian ship equipped with web-emitters. Four disruptors each to fore and aft would have destroyed the enemy craft before they completed the energy net that now pulsed and spat charges randomly. But the Federation destroyers had launched unmanned multiple independently targeting vehicles that swept over the Etlh in a dizzying swarm, occupying the ship's countermeasures so that it couldn't target the main ships and survive.
But Sompek also knew that his father was in trouble. Intermittent sensor readings showed a massive Kirov Class Attack Carrier pounding away at the Ab'Qaff, and he'd also detected two Sovereign Class dreadnoughts at extreme range. He didn't know if he was going to escape the trap he was in, or if his father would survive the assault. But then, one was never guaranteed when death would come, or from whom the blade would fall. But you can always die well. Sompek would, and he would give these honorless petaQ a bad death, or he was not the son of Kapact.
A deep vibration began in his heart, and slowly spread, traveling through his veins to coarse through his body, suffusing every muscle with the barely controlled energy of a giant serpent about to strike. It found its way into his throat, and a deep, deadly hum brought every other sound on the bridge to silence. His crew knew the sound, and had learned to take note. One way or another, the battle would be over soon. It was a funeral dirge, straight out of the barge of the dead. When it ended, there were always dead to clear away. Whether those dead were Klingon or not, or even enemy or crew, they never knew. But they always relished sharing the experience.
The Etlh began to spin, and eight disruptors flashed seemingly at random. In minutes, the unmanned ships were destroyed, and no damage had gotten through to the ship. Then it turned it's dorsal spine, with its eight independently tracking micro-torpedoes to one of the destroyers maintaining the web. Sompek knew that no weapons could penetrate the energy web, but he also knew that the longer the web stood, the more unstable it became. The only problem was the power cost of firing all eight torpedoes at once. And of course, any explosive damage contained by the web would be reflected back on anything in the web. And that was the Etlh. As he eyed the destroyer, visible on the viewscreen between arcing and sputtering lines of contained energy, he allowed the humming to get louder. His eyes narrowed as the dorsal spine lined up with the destroyer. Silently, to himself, he mumbled the last refrain from the ballad of House Ab'Qaff. "For if my line should die, it dies with it's name on the enemy's tongue. It dies with its teeth at the enemy's throat. For just as mere life is not victory, mere death is not defeat. And in the next life, I will kill the foe a thousand times..." The crew would not know that he expected death now. They must not, because if they did, they would already be dead. Instead, his lips bared, and he allowed a feral grin. "Fire," he ordered. When the explosion cleared, the destroyers were smoldering ruins, and the last sparks and discharges of the web were lighting the wrecks from within. Only at that point did he finish the ballad, out loud. "Laughing, undefeated."
"The Etlh is clear of the Tholian web!" QasQa said breathlessly. Then her eyes darkened. "But the lead Sovereign has locked weapons on it."
Kapact saw the massive dreadnought turn to intercept the Etlh, and a chill ran down his spine. "Contact Krom. Tell him we need assistance."