Battle of Deridous IV

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The Battle of Deridous IV was a space and land battle fought between the Zarnac Empire and the United Federation of Planets (with assistance by the Klingon Empire). In mid-2380, a Zarnac task force of fifteen ships launched a massive offensive against the Starfleet garrison on Deridous IV in the hopes of incapacitating them - allowing the Zarnac free reign to anihilate the exiled Forty-ninth House at their leisure. They were forced to withdraw when a allied force of forty-two Starfleet and fifteen Klingon vessels arrived.

Prelude

In late 2379, Starfleet Intelligence (in cooperation with the Klingon Defense Force) implemented an audacious plan to place Lieutenant Commander Drakt on Zarn to gather data on the Empires intentions toward the Alpha Quadrant. Drakt would be captured by Imperial forces after only a few weeks, but not before gaining detailed plans regarding a planned invasion of Deridous IV.

After a few weeks spent recuperating from his injuries on Earth, Drakt was sent to the USS Hyperion-D to serve as acting Executive Officer during Captain Hannah O'Halloran's maternity leave. Unbeknownst to Drakt, this assignment was meant to serve as a test of his command abilities. Once Starfleet Command was satisfied, Drakt was transferred to Camp Lancelot - the Starfleet garrison on Deridous IV. He would have three months to bring the planets defenses up to the point where they could stand against the Zarnac invasion force.

As it turned out, he wouldn't have that much time...

The Battle

Phase One: The Invasion

On stardate 57504.0, a force of fifteen Zarnac warships crossed into Federation space. Despite being hidden behind their barrier field, the fleets commander - Sadoloth Athon - ordered the destruction of a small Federation convoy (consisting of a Nebula class, an Intrepid class, and an anti-matter tanker). With one salvo lobbed at the tanker, both it and the Intrepid were obliterated, with only the Nebula's saucer section surviving. It was destroyed with a second volley. The Zarnac were just over nine days away from their target.

Back on Deridous, it seemed that rivalries would tear the Starfleet forces apart. The local Marine detachment took an immediate disliking to Drakt - who replaced a popular base commander (who happened to be a Marine). This disagreement wasn't helped by Drakts authoritarian management style. Despite this, Drakt still ordered the relocation of an entire regiment of Marines to the planet.

Over the course of the next few days, the local garrison continued to drill in earnest, still thinking they had but a few months to prepare. Others worked tirelessly to find a way to break through the Zarnac barrier field technology. Drakt even went so far as to travel to the Forty-ninth Houses settlement to warn them. After this meeting, he resolved to give his own life to protect them.

The Assault Begins

As the Zarnac task force quietly entered orbit, everything was peaceful on Deridous. Seeing it as the perfect opportunity for a combat drill, Drakt ordered the base and colony to alert - including raising the shields and powering the planetary defense batteries. As it turned out - this proved to be the only stroke of luck for Starfleet in the opening hours of the battle.

In orbit, the still concealed Zarnac positioned their three capital ships - the Sustegaria class battleship IZS Resatalia and Winaria class heavy cruisers Winaria and Trasella - to bombard Camp Lancelot and the Federation colony (Guinevere Township). With the order given by Athon, the three ships began pummeling the base and colony shields with phasers and missiles. At the same time, Zarnac fighters attacked the planets spaceport - destroying nearly all the Starfleet fighters while still on the ground. Destroyers crippled the three civilian freighters in orbit (including the MII Nessie).

Because the shields had been raised, Starfleets forces were able to escape by runabout into the jungles. Drakt remained behind, wiping Camp Lancelots computer. Commodore Michael Brandel - the colony administrator - likewise wiped the colony's main system before ordering the civilian populace not to resist the invaders, and promising that Starfleet would return to rescue them.

The Zarnac wasted no time landing Marines to capture the base and colony. They entered Camp Lancelot without firing a shot, and recieved only token resistance from the colony police. Within hours, the entire planetary population center and the space around the planet were under Zarnac control.

The Resistance

As Brandel marshaled his forces deep within the jungle, the civilian residents of Guinevere launched an underground resistance to the invaders. Some simply followed the principles of non-violent resistance. Others, like Charlie Gibson and Pioneer Metallurgical and Mining Corp security chief Harry Wong, took a more proactive approach. Gibson waited for Zarnac Marines to enter the FNS building - then blew it up. Wong took a similar approach, destroying the lobby of the Pioneer building.

Drakt carried out a similar guerilla war within Camp Lancelot - posing as a simple Marine, he gleaned data on troop deployments while sabotaging the enemy at every turn. He would be captured while transmitting this data to Brandels forces, and subsequently brought aboard the Resatalia for interrogation.

In the jungle, several groups of Starfleet forces found themselves isolated. Brandel and the bulk of the troops had transferred their headquarters to an abandoned farm. Elsewhere, Major Pontowski - the Marine commander - and a small force linked up with civilian pirate tour guide John Teech aboard his river boat, the Queen Anne's Revenge III. Another small group of Marines found themselves under the command of Camp Lancelot's Chief Medical Officer Lieutenant Danielle Hadema.

Aboard the Nessie, the civilian crew (many of them former Starfleet) plotted to fight back against the invaders, but first had to repair their weapons and propulsion systems. By the time they returned the phasers and warp drive to operational condition - intending to fight their way out of the system and run toward Starbase 83 for help - the battle was over.

The most effective resistance in this early stage came on the part of a group of civilian engineers under the command of Pioneer Mining division chief Dr. Jim Stuart. This group was aboard a small base found carved into an asteroid several months prior. Over the time before the invasion, this base was being upgraded to Starfleet standards for use as a docking and defense facility. When a Zarnac ship wandered too close while persuing the civilian Miranda class transport Minerva, it was destroyed by the powerful phaser cannons which had been mounted on the asteroid.

The Zarnac meanwhile - now in virtually uncontested control of the planet - set to work finding out the location of the Forty-ninth House. While Drakt was beaten and tortured on the Resatalia, Gibson was equally brutalized on the surface.

Drakt held out until the bitter end, only breaking when the interrogator brought Drakt's pupil - Rhe'la, Daughter of the Forty-ninth House - into the room and threatened to kill her if Drakt did not give up the data. In an effort to buy some time, Drakt gave false coordinates. As the two were brought back to their cells, they faked an argument, distracting their guards enough to allow them to kill the guards and escape.

Gibson seemed to have equal luck when he escaped and fled to the location of the Forty-ninth's settlement. Unbeknownst to him at the time, he was allowed to escape because Athon knew Gibson would go to warn the exiles.

Rather than making an immediate escape from the Resatalia, Drakt and Rhe'la instead proceeded to a radio room to alert Starfleet. They only just got a message through before being recaptured.

Marshaling Reinforcements

Word of the invasion spread quickly after Drakt's message was recieved at Starbase 83. Vice Admiral Custer - the sector commander - immediately ordered all Starfleet vessels within the vicinity of Deridous IV to proceed at emergency warp to the starbase. By the time these ships set out from Starbase 83, there were forty-one Starfleet vessels (including Custers personnel flagship - the Nebula class USS Aurora) and fifteen Klingon ships. Also, the USS Boyington - on a training cruise in the area - bypassed the base and went directly to Deridous. The Boyington would arrive three hours ahead of the fleet, forcing it to stand virtually alone against the Zarnac.

A Sabre class ship, the USS Winfred S. Hancock, was sent ahead of the fleet to scout, but was quickly destroyed by Zarnac fighters. But not before the ship sent valuable data back to Custer's forces.

Additionally, the 92nd Marine Rapid Reaction Force perfomed an emergency drop on the planet. The survivors performed several rapid strikes on the Zarnac forces in proximity to the colony, acting completely independant of the other forces on the planet.

Pontowski also performed strikes against the invaders, leading his troops in blitzkreig attacks against the occupied colony. They were assisted by the last two surviving Starfleet fighters (both of which were lost in the engagement). At the same time, Brandels forces attacked Camp Lancelot, but quickly withdrew.

Drakt, having been recaptured, was once more beaten for his insolence. He was taken before Athon and shown the true destructive capability of the Zarnac - a mass driver capable of wiping out the Forty-ninth Houses settlement in one shot. The driver was fired once as a show of force, at which time Drakt was thrown back into shackles.

By this point, the Zarnac had learned the location of the settlement. Athon, seeing his chance, ordered the base and colony abandoned and the Marines redeployed against the settlement. As it happened, Mapratel Drant, Eldest Son of the Twenty-forth House - the commander of the Marine forces (who had been the subject of great distrust on Athon's part following his conduct in the Battle of Dayos IV) - made the decision to defect.

The Final Solution

Athon's forces immediately deployed against the settlement, forcing the various Starfleet continegents to race around the planet to defend the exiled Zarnac.

But the Forty-ninth didn't intend to go without a fight. Behind the protection of their barrier field, the warriors turned farmers took out the weapons they never thought they would use again and prepared to fight alongside their saviours from the Federation.

The battle at the settlement was fierce, Starfleet and Zarnac forces firing on each other from behind minimal cover and within point blank range. Casualties were heavy on both sides.

Up on the Resatalia, Drakt and Rhe'la were released by the ships first officer - a member of the Zarnac resistance. While Rhe'la fled to the planet, Drakt plotted revenge against Athon for the atrocities committed on Dayos IV two years previous. After disabling the Resatalia's engineering staff (many of whom were resistance fighters who simply feigned unconsciousness), Drakt called out Athon - threatening to blow the warp core if he didn't face Drakt in single combat.

The two fought it out furiously in a corridor outside engineering, with the tide turning several times. Finally, Drakt gained the upper hand, brutally beating Athon to within an inch of his life. But, just when he had the chance to kill Athon - avenging the deaths of his parents and mentor - Drakt stopped. Declaring;

"No... you aren't worth it. You deserve to suffer in dishonor, knowing you were bested in single combat by a 'rebel', not go join your precious Spirits of Emperors Past. Go home to Zarn. Never darken the Federation's doorstep again, or I WILL finish what I started."

With that, Drakt took his leave of Athon, leaving the Zarnac commander with missing scales and a shattered jaw. Boarding an escape pod, Drakt returned to the planet.

Starfleet's Counteroffensive

By this time, Custer's fleet arrived in the system. In the face of these overwhelming odds (the Zarnac were outnumbered nearly four to one), Athon's subordinate D'jar (the same resistance operative who freed Drakt) surrendered. Custer gave the Zarnac one hour to remove their forces from the planet and leave the system. If they did not comply, they would be anihilated.

Orders quickly filtered down to the Marines. The Zarnac surrendered and - under the watchful eyes of Brandels forces - boarded their drop ships and boosted back to their motherships.

The USS Tripoli (a Defiant class ship modified for use as a Marine troop ship) - under the command of former Camp Lancelot commander Lieutenant Colonel Ethan Roberts delivered news of the fleets arrival and the Zarnac surrender to Brandel and his senior staff. But the question remained - what had become of Drakt? All contact with him had been lost shortly after the fall of Camp Lancelot.

As the Tripoli delivered Camp Lancelots command staff to the base, they found Drakt - naked and wounded - wandering the jungle after his escape pod crashed into a tree. Taking him aboard, the ship resumed its course, setting down at Camp Lancelot a short time later.

Aftermath

Though Starfleet won the battle, it was a phyrric victory at best. The 92nd Marine Rapid Reaction Force (which had dropped in during the battle) suffered nearly one hundred percent casualties. Of the 128 Marines, 100 were killed and 20 were wounded. The local Marine detachment suffered nearly fifty percent casualties, and the 506th Tactical Fighter Wing (the local Starfleet fighter force) was completely wiped out, with only a few of its five hundred personnel surviving the battle. Additionally, dozens of civilians were wounded and hundreds killed, most as a result of errant fire.

It took over a year for Guinevere and Camp Lancelot to be fully rebuilt and for its defense forces to be fully replenished. Drakt was promoted by Brandel after the battle, but was subsequently demoted by Starfleet Command for "mishandling" the invasion. Starfleet permanently increased its presence in the area, deploying more ships to Starbase 83 and keeping at least two ships on permanent patrol within three hours of the Deridous system.

The Federation officially condemned the Zarnac for their invasion, but made no other moves toward retaliation. An attack on the Zarnac Empire was just too imposing a propsition, as it would require most of Starfleets assets and supply lines stretching hundreds of light years.