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Battle of Anchorage

Posted on Sunday November 27th, 2016 @ 11:59pm by Major Zeleny Novacek

Mission: Enemies Closer
Location: FOB Anchorage, Anchorage
Timeline: 8 Months ago...

"Alright, I'll tell you what happened here, Mister Novacek. It began, well, it began on a Monday."

Marine Captain Shaan pushed back the flap of the domed thermal insulating temporary field shelter he called home for the past few months. The pink skins usually called them “tents,” but regardless of name they were a far cry from the subterranean cities of Shaan’s native Andoria. Forward Operating Base Anchorage pretty much defied all sense and logic of arctic habitation.

A sudden gust of frigid air caught the flap and ripped it from Shaan’s grasp simultaneously blowing the hood of his arctic outerwear over his head and goggles, obscuring his vision as he futilely groped to find purchase on the billowing flap with his free hand, his other occupied with a self-warming mug of a vile beverage the men insisted on calling “coffee.” When his frustration finally got the better of him, Shaan threw his mug into a snowdrift at his feet and ripped back his hood and caught the flap, sealing the shelter closed behind him.

“Mondays,” Shaan bemoaned as his antennae drooped close to his scalp for warmth while he dug his mug out of the hole it melted through the snow drift and the comingled pool of coffee and meltwater. He slung the last bastions of liquid clinging to the mug off with a heavy swing, taking some pleasure in watching the fluid freeze into black ice crystals. He then trudged forward through the snow covered base, following a line of glow pikes planted two meters down into the ice beneath the base to aid in visibility. They glowed with a deep blue light that afforded no warmth.

Shaan and his team originally arrived aboard USS Densetsu. The ship’s engineers had just enough time to fabricate a power plant, communications and sensor arrays, but little else. The Marines to be stationed on Anchorage built much of the base’s architecture out of gabions packed with ice, forming primitive walls along the perimeter and occasional rows dividing the shelters on the base to mitigate damage in case of artillery attack or orbital bombardment. The most prominent feature though was the makeshift ice airstrip, where a couple runabouts and a dozen Peregrine-class fighters were serviced and operated from.

The wind seemed to pick up in intensity and Shaan pulled his furry hood tight over his head, protecting his sensitive antennae. It wasn’t the temperature that bothered him so much as the icy wind chill. Nearby a couple Marines stood at the flagpole, unfolding the flag of the Federation, same as they did every morning. But morning was a subjective term. Anchorage had a significant axial tilt, and at this latitude, at this time of year, the sun vanished beneath the horizon leaving only a persistent dark blue twilight. Even so, Shaan could still see dark clouds gathering towards the Southeast.

Shaan arrived at the largest shelter on the base, the only semi-permanent structure, housing the base’s power station, communications arrays, and control center. The large dome shaped structure was covered in ice and snow, and the men had taken to calling it the “igloo.” Terrans and their funny names, Shaan had thought derisively at first. But it wasn’t long before he had taken to the term himself. The entrance was an airlock and past the inner door stood Lance Corporal Builta.

“Good morning, captain!” She said cheerfully. She was always cheerful while everyone else was miserable. Who did she think she was being so damn cheerful all the damn time?

“That’s yet to be seen,” Shaan groused and shrugged out of his outerwear, revealing his duty fatigues. “I need more coffee,” he tossed the empty mug to the marine. “Any activity?”

“Nothing from the sentry satellites and no distress calls. The next scheduled convoy isn’t due past this area for another three days,” she reminded him.

“It’s been too quiet lately.” Shaan commented.

“That’s good, right? Maybe the vaadwaur have given up, gone home, left us in peace?” Builta said as she walked to a nearby table set up with a small device dedicated to mixing the caffeinated slop. FOB Anchorage didn’t have any replicators; the base’s company was dependent on a supply of perishables, which explained Shaan’s limited selection for morning beverages.

Shaan shook his head, partly in disagreement to Builta’s assessment and partly in his continuing incredulity of the corporal’s boundless optimism. “Don’t count on it,” he said as she handed him a refreshed mug. “We’ve managed to repel and dissuade attacks, but we’ve never really beaten them in a confrontation, they like to turn and run by the time we get there." His eyes narrowed as he looked distantly past the opposite wall. "They’re just biding their time. Count on it.”

Builta actually frowned. “Yes, sir.”

Past the airlock foyer was the command center proper, just a few consoles and a map table. Shaan’s night watch staff seemed awfully relaxed for coming off an 8 hour shift. Shaan swiped a PADD out from beneath a pair of boots propped up on the table thereby knocking them off. The marine who wore those boots jolted upright from his reclined position with a start.

"Oh god! You scared the sh--"

“Have you got a weather report for me, Davidson?” Shaan asked as he perused the contents of the PADD casually.

The languid marine stretched and yawned. “In my dreams I saw white sandy beaches, clear skies with a bright and shining sun, a balmy 37 degrees, and winds at a casual northeasterly.”

“Very funny, numbnuts.” Shaan said and thwacked the enlisted man in the back of the head with the PADD.

“Ain’t far from the truth,” Davidson said adjusting his crotch. Then with a sigh he turned to his station and continued his report. “Temperature: minus 10.1 degrees centigrade – uh, that’s our high for today by the way. Atmospheric pressure is 96.3 kilopascals and falling, and the wind is coming from the southeast at 38.1 kph and rising.”

“I saw some clouds on my way in.”

“Right. Chance of precipitation: 100%. We’re going to get snowed in. Again. Hey, anyone up for taking a runabout to the tropics for a camping trip? I’m just dying to check out those geothermal vents the survey team found last week.”

“You’ll get a vacation when you've earn one, corporal,” Shaan growled. “But at your rate you better not hold your breath. I need an eye on the sky in case of trouble, and no one here can do it with as much sarcasm as you.” Shaan circled around the map table, taking it upon himself to get updated on the goings on over the night.

“Ah, captain! That’s what we have you for! Besides, you wouldn’t like the tropics much; you’re much more at home here anyway!”

Shaan cast a weary glance towards the marine. The commanding officer’s antennae twitched betraying his annoyance. “Oh, whatever would I do without your acerbic wit to comfort me?”

Anchorage was an ocean planet, a water world. Originally Shaan had imagined island chains with countless hundreds of kilometers of pristine white sandy beaches, like on Pacifica. As it turned out, those beaches were black basalt flows from active sea mount volcanoes. Building a temporary base atop that was a very bad idea. Densetsu didn't have enough time to do a proper planetary survey before returning to the Alpha Quadrant, so the decision had been made to instead establish the FOB atop the northern polar ice cap. And someone, not Shaan, felt it was incredibly good fortune to have an andorian on hand to lead the expedition. An undermanned expedition at that.

“Hail the survey team,” Shaan ordered. A team from the Federation Geological Survey was also stationed at FOB Anchorage, their job was to map and catalog the island chains and sea floor for suitable locations for an eventual permanent installation.

A moment later the image of a relatively attractive pink skin female appeared on a monitor. Behind her was the flight cabin of a runabout. “Go ahead, Anchorage,” she replied.

“Dr. Mallar, we wanted to warn you about an impending snow storm at base. You may want to extend your current excursion for another day or so before you return.”

She briefly glanced over her shoulder towards her team. “To be honest I don’t think anyone would mind. We just spotted an atoll that may be an extinct volcano. That'll give us the time to run some tests and confirm it. If that’s the case I think we have the most promising location for the new base so far.”

FOB Anchorage’s purpose was to provide rapid response deployments against hostile threats against Federation shipping through the sector. Normally a patrolling starship or two would be enough to secure the region but with the recent ‘event’ in Romulan space, Starfleet redeployed much of its fleet to mitigate the fallout there. So FOB Anchorage became the stop-gap plan: base a squadron of fighters and company of marines here to counter any raider activity until a better equipped facility could be built.

“Then make every effort to be sure, doctor. We need to be ready to move as soon as the construction battalion arrives. Anchorage is too important to the security of this sector to commit time and resources on maybes and ifs.”

The pink skin female scowled. “I’ll let you know, Mallar out.”

Davidson whistled slowly. “Damn, she gives us good news and you turn around and kill all the joy.”

“I’ll celebrate when the base is actually built and we can get out of this hellhole.” Shaan said dismissively.

"Well, what do you know? Hell did freeze over after all."

"Shut it." There was a reason Shaan assigned Davidson to the night shift. Shaan overheard Builta greet a new group of people at the airlock with her cheery sing-song manner. The next shift had arrived. “About damn time,” Shaan muttered. The rest of the staff secured their consoles and gathered their materials and exchanged places with the incoming group.

“Mondays,” Shaan decried again.

"That's when I think our fortunes began taking a turn for the worse. Of course, we couldn't know at the time just how bad it would get."

The storm finally passed after three days, a new carpet of thick snow smoothed the contours of the base, a few more days and they all would have been buried alive. Marine Captain Shaan stood atop the ice field air strip, taking stock of the situation. Marines were hard at work with shovels digging the Peregrine-class fighters from their snowdrifts. The vehicles had to be cleared and inspected before Shaan could authorize the next patrol, and a shipping convoy was due today, so the Anchorage personnel had their work cut out for them.

Overhead shimmering hues of blue and green danced across the sky. Usually only the high energy particles ejected by a solar flare caused the auroras to show this brilliantly, but none had been forecasted today. However stars don’t always behave entirely predictably to begin with. An unfortunate side effect of the planet’s magnetic field capturing those high energy particles and shunting them down nearly on top of the FOB was that it wreaked havoc with telemetry from the orbiting sentry satellites. They lost contact with three of them all together, which made it that much more important to get the fighters back into the air as soon as possible.

He heard the whine of a runabout’s engines, drawing him from his reverie. The Federation Geological Survey team turned back to base as soon as the storm had passed. After a few moments the runabout touched down on a cleared patch of ice. The hatch opened and the team disembarked, huddling their shoulders and pulling their hoods tight around their heads.

“Captain,” the pink skin team leader said as she came into earshot.

“Dr. Mallar,” Shaan replied. “I hope you made the most of your extended excursion.”

“Indeed, we have a lot of data to still consider. The atoll wasn’t quite as extinct as we hoped, but I still think it’s a viable location. Heavy geothermal venting will be an excellent local power source—“

“Igloo to Shaan,” Davidson’s voice chirped over Shaan’s combadge, uncharacteristically somber, and that instantly worried Shaan.

“Excuse me, doctor.” Shaan opened the channel with a tap to his combadge. “Shaan here, go ahead Davidson.”

“We still can’t establish contact with three of our sentry satellites.”

“Well, that’s to be expected,” Shaan replied. "The aurora is still quite intense."

“Yeah, but I’ve been reviewing the other satellite’s sensor logs and I don’t think our aurora problem was caused by a solar flare. There was a sudden and large burst of verteron, tetryon, and neutrino particles.”

“That’s impossible, a wormhole would have to open up right over our heads for—“

“What’s that?” Mallar interrupted, pointing towards the south.

Dark specks against the luminous sky crested the horizon in a V-formation. Shaan had never seen birds on Anchorage before and it was highly unlikely he was seeing any now. “Get your team to the Igloo, doctor!” Shaan turned back towards the air field. “Davidson, sound the alert!” He called into his combadge. The blue guide lights planted throughout the FOB began to strobe as an audible alarm rose over the base.

Inside the medical tent, Hospital Corpsman Third Class Simon Bell was in the middle of treating a Marine who had slipped on a patch of ice and sprained his ankle. Then he heard the alarms begin to blare. Finishing his treatment, he ran over to the weapons locker and removed his body armor and a spare for his patient and tossed one over to the Marine, a Corporal who already had his weapon in hand and was already sprinting to his assigned position.

Simon took a little longer, just as he was snapping his hood closed over his helmet and picking up his rifle, a loud crack rang out and caused him to fly back into the medical instruments behind him. He looked up from his compromised position, his vision wavering and his ears blocking out all sound except a loud ringing. He weakly picked himself up and attempted to stagger through the massive hole in his tent. This sudden burst of motion made his vision fuzzy, then it cleared. Making his way over to Captain Shaan, he hunched over behind one of the small tritanium walls that served as their barricade.

"What the hell is happening, sir? It's like they just came outta nowhere!"

"That's exactly what happened," Shaan snarled as alien attack craft roared past overhead, the drone of their engines were overlaid with staccatos of rapid particle weapons fires strafing the base. The V had broken into two wings that attacked in succession, as the second wave passed there was the briefest of lulls. "We need to get our fighters airborne, some of them are still half-buried. Shaan to Igloo!" He called into his combadge. "Activate the shield perimeter!"

There was no response.

"Igloo! Respond! Davidson? Malloy? Gunny? Frak!" Shaan smashed his fist against the barricade in frustration. The attack craft had come back around, and dropping in behind them were two larger craft. "Dropships!?"

The attack craft raked the base again, shelters and gabions vanished among plumes of water vapor and ice. Snow exploded by bolts of particle weapons fire. The dropships came down hard over the airfield. It was then that he realized the attack craft were taking special care not to attack the airfield and the snowed-in Peregrines.

"Shaan to all fireteams!" He called out over his combadge as he peeked over his cover, gaining a momentary situation of the battlefield. "Converge on airfield, repel all hostiles! Alpha, move up to point zero-four-seven and approach from left flank. Echo, from the right. Gamma, secure a path for our pilots, Beta, Delta, and Foxtrot teams draw their fire! No engagement restrictions!" Shaan glanced back to Bell. "Doc, I need you up front."

Simon cursed under his breath and looked at the ships that were beginning to discharge their troops who had their weapons raised and pointed in all directions. As they hit the ground, Simon started to fire. Explosions rocked the ground and the shrill whine of phaser fire pierced the frosty air. Simon went prone on the ground and crawled behind a frozen snowbank. Pulling himself up into a hunched position, he leaned his arms around the embankment and fired blindly. Hearing a slight thump of a phaser striking armor, Simon was strangely satisfied.

Turning to a small fireteam of Marines who were inside of a small foxhole, Simon tried to yell over the explosions and weapons fire.

"Move Up! Let's go!" Simon screamed, his voice lost over the whistling wind.

Squads of alien invaders took the field and raced towards the nearest cover available to them -- the Peregrines.

Shaan moved up while keeping a crouching position, he rounded a gabion wall just moments before a wide blue-white particle beam sizzled overhead. He instinctively ducked back behind cover. Fireteam Delta moved up beside him, phaser rifles in hand. Enemy fire intensified in their direction. There wasn't much of any cover left between the gabion and the airfield.

"Smoke grenades?" Shaan asked, but each member of the fireteam shook their heads negative. They had scrambled to gather their gear, none had thought to grab non-lethal weaponry. Then remembering the thick clouds of vapor left in the wake of the attack craft's weapons strikes, Shaan gave a new order. "Photon grenades!" He gestured to three positions, creating a slanting line towards the nearest Peregrines.

Fireteam Delta pulled their grenades, depressed the arming trigger, then hefting them towards the positions Shaan indicated. Moments later the grenades explodes, vaporizing ice and snow into clouds of water vapor that was already rapidly freezing but still obscuring the hostile's line of sight. "Move, move, move!"

They moved up, phasers firing into the obscuring cloud. That's when he heard the engines of the first peregrine fighters come to life. Those filthy bastards were stealing the peregrines! Shaan's fireteam came under heavy fire as the enemy zeroed in on their approach. Shaan and his marines collapsed onto a pile of discarded snow from earlier attempts to dig the peregrines out.

Simon was hunched in the center of the formation of Marines, energy weapons discharge and whizzing about his ears. Through the harsh breeze, he heard a scream ring out- one of unspeakable pain and suffering.

"Corpsman Up!" At this command, Simon ran toward it's source, a Marine Private who had been hit in the chest with a particle beam. Simon recognized him as Halloran, who Simon remembered running foul of Captain Shaan on his first day. Kneeling down and ripping open his medical satchel, he began examining the gaping and blackened chest wound that was dripping dark crimson blood into the snow. Halloran reached up and grabbed Simon by the shoulders. Reaching into the satchel, Simon found his medical tricorder. Flipping the device open Simon watched Halloran's vitals gradually slow and knew that he only had a few moments left to live. Simon took a blue vial and inserted it into a hypospray and dosed the private with a battlefield cocktail of painkillers and coagulants, he needed to stop the bleeding and held a dermal regenerator over the wound, but the cellular damage was so severe it was slow to respond to treatment.

As the hypospray dose kicked in, Halloran's screaming decreased to a loud stutter. "D-d-don't let me die, doc. Please don't let me die."

Simon leaned him down onto the ice, thinking of what to say. Then something came to him. "You look like crap but you'll live, Halloran. I promise." as Simon finished his sentence, Halloran's vitals began to fluctuate then dissipate slowly. Simon pulled a quick vial of adrenaline and snapped it into his hypospray. Dialing in a dose, Simon injected HAlloran and watched his eyes go wide and inhale sharply. "You don't have my permission to die yet, Private, so stay awake!

Halloran nodded weakly at this and smiled. Simon exhaled, the bleeding began to stop, and he was glad he didn't have to put another friend in a body bag. At that same moment, his perception of the world around him came back as weapons fire slowed and the roar of enemy aircraft engines retreated. Then he heard nothing but painful moans of the wounded. Opening a channel to Captain Shaan, he spoke. "Are we all clear out here, sir?"

Blue blood mixed with snow and ice froze to the side of Shaan's face, staining and matting his white hair and beard. With one unobstructed eye he aimed his final hammer blow atop the head of an equally disoriented Vaadwaur soldier Shaan had managed to close to melee range with. With the ensuing bash, the Vaadwaur's eyes rolled back and he fell limp to the ground.

The hostiles retreated to their dropships. The remaining marines advanced but the dropship's shields shrugged off the feeble phaser strikes. The hostiles must have planted explosives on the runabouts, they exploded as a final insult, tearing the vessels in half and unleashing a concussive blast that swept across the icy airfield, knocking everyone over. As the last Peregrine, hijacked by the enemy, burst from its encasing snowdrift and ascended skyward, Shaan heaved a heavy kick into the side of the fallen Vaadwaur soldier at his feet. The soldier's ribs snapping, Shaan sang a litany of Andorian curses the universal translator elected not to process for PO3 Bell.

Lance Corporal Ra'zhinda spoke in her thick Caitian accent, "They took all the Perrregrrrines."

"Worse than that," Shaan breathed heavily, "There's a Federation shipping convoy due through this system today. They'll use the Peregrines to get close and attack. If the Igloo's comms are down, we have no way to warn them." He kicked the unconscious Vaadwaur again, blood began to run from his mouth.

Simon shook his head and pointed to a junior corpsman. "You! Get over to the boss!" kneeling down to check on another patient, this one a Private who had severe facial burns and who wasn't going to make it. Pulling out a black marker, he marked a black X on his forehead and gave him a small shot of Anaprex to at least make his final moments somewhat less painful.

Turning to Captain Shaan, Simon shook his head. "He's gone, sir. What the hell are we going to do? We're out of contact without a way to warn the convoy to turn back."

Shaan stood speechless. What would they do? What could they do? They were stranded here now and no way to warn anyone about what's happened or alert them to their situation. He felt so utterly helpless.

With no response from the Captain, Simon simply walked off as the shell shock set in. All the noise becoming mute and his vision becoming blurry and unfocused.

"So that's it, the Battle of Anchorage. A rabble of alien soldiers led by Vaadwaur officers launch a precision assault on our base, stole our Peregrines, and left the rest of us to die slowly. Igloo was damaged, no comms, very little power, and what food we had was rationed until exhaustion. Thinking back on it, even now, makes my blood boil. I'm responsible for losing the Peregrines, for the lives lost here, and for the lives taken by those thieves. If you want to find them and stop them, then I'm with you all the way, Mister Novacek."


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