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The Changing Face of Evil [2408-2410]

A New Enemy and A New Threat [2408-2409]
Foreign Entanglement [2409]
Federation Retaliation [2409-2410]
”Saturn Ascends” [2410]

A New Enemy and A New Threat

In late 2408, the USS Ronald Reagan was running a standard patrol of the Draconais system. When it failed to report in, a Federation scout ship was dispatched; what was found was deemed so startling that it was kept secret from the general population. According to the sensor logs from the Reagan, a Cardassian ship like nothing that had ever been seen by the Alpha Quadrant before de-cloaked and fired a single shot. The entire saucer section, as well as most of the connection strut and forward drive section had been completely destroyed. The flag ship of the fourth fleet, captained by one of the most powerful men in Starfleet, had been destroyed without warning in a single shot.

In response to the Reagan crisis, a meeting of some of Starfleet’s top brass was called in order to discuss the incident and what Starfleet’s response should be. Several members of Star Fleet Intelligence at that point revealed that there had been up to now unsubstantiated rumors of a Cardassian vessel beyond anything the Federation had ever encountered. More disturbingly, many speculated that the vessel which destroyed the Reagan was not, in fact, fully operational. Limited to pure speculation, it was decided that revealing this information would accomplish nothing short of inducing wide spread panic.

The Cardassian Union Gained a Powerful Ally in 2408

In late 2408, another message from Fita Gul Venok was transmitted across Federation Space. The Gorn Confederation had severed all ties to the Federation, and signed a joint defense agreement with the Cardassian Military. Gorn vessels were already en route to the Cardassian front. The Gorn Fleet had opened a new front, and launched attacks on several Federation outposts, destroying two, and severally damaging another four. A fleet of Cardassian ships quickly moved into Gorn space to help defend their new ally.

The Gorn Co-Axial Warp Core

By Starfleet estimations, the Gorn fleet had a sum total of 120 warships as well as a larger number of non-military vessels, but the Gorn gave the Cardassians an unforeseen advantage. The Gorn Confederation had been developing an advanced Co-axial warp drive. If the Gorn were successful in developing this technology with the Cardassians, the implications would be no less than dire. It was not known how close the Gorn were to completing their new drive system, or how easily it could, or would, be integrated into the Cardassian fleet, but just the thought of the technology greatly troubled the Federation. Cardassian war ships would be able to outrun even the fastest ships in the Federation fleet. Even ships with Quantum Slip Stream Drive would seem to be at a stand still compared to the new Cardassian-Gorn drive system.

The Reagan event made it clear that Starfleet could not afford to stay on the defensive. The top brass estimated that for every Cardassian ship that was destroyed, two Federation ships were lost. The decision was made that the third and eighth fleets would make a push into Cardassian-occupied Nev’talc. The resulting invasion was disastrous. Of the over 350 ships deployed only 180 made it to Nev’talc. The Cardassians offered strong resistance to the Federation advance right up to the planet itself where mines and orbital defenses then took their toll. The assault force that landed on Nev’talc was only 7,000 strong, of the estimated 20,000 needed to take the planet. General O’Neil, a revered military commander, ordered the ships that made it through begin a perpetual bombing campaign, decimating Cardassian forces on the southern continent. As the first ground troops landed, little resistance was encountered giving false hope of an easy victory. It was shortly discovered that the Cardassians had at least three full centurion divisions stationed at the northern polar region numbering over 12,000. With his orbital support gone, General O’Neil gave the order to secure the captured area, and wait for Federation reinforcements. Concerns on the planet continued to mount as a Glory-class super dreadnaught was detected entering into a high polar orbit.

The Federation also launched a massive advance on Chin'toka in the hopes of gaining a foothold from which they could strike the D’arsy ship yards. The Federation fifth and sixth fleets arrived to find Chin'toka deserted. Unsure of what the Cardassians had up their sleeve, Admiral Howard ordered the fleets to take up defensive positions around the system, and await further orders. Twelve hours passed, and the Cardassians had offered no resistance to the Federation advance. As the Admiral prepared to order Federation forces to land on the planet, three Dreadnaught missiles entered the area. Federation casualties were light, but the effect was immediate: the fleet had scattered. A Cardassian force of 220 vessels warped in, and began to lay siege to the scattered Federation vessels. Admiral Howard ordered the remaining Federation forces into full retreat, and pulled back to the Agathon Resupply depot.
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Foreign Entanglement

In late 2408, the Romulan representative in the Federation Senate issued a formal protest with the Federation Government claiming that a Federation vessel attacked several Romulan craft, abducting members of the ships crew, and severally damaging the vessels. The Federation Senate ordered Fleet Admiral Picard to launch a full investigation into the issue. The Romulans detailed a series of three attacks, all located in or around the Centaur Nebula. Picard ordered that all Federation vessels in range of the Centaur Nebula return to Earth immediately. The Federation had a total of 13 vessels in the area during the each of the attacks. The Romulan sensor logs noted the Federation vessel was a modified Sovereign-class vessel of some kind. The Federation concluded the attacking vessel was a Mahan-class vessel. The Federation operated three Mahan-class vessels, the Tiberius, the Lincoln, and the newly commissioned USS Madrid. None of those ships were in the area at the time of the attack, and the Federation could not find any other vessels which would account for the Romulan crews’ description. When word of this matter broke, the Klingon representative also logged formal protest with the senate, claiming that several vessels with predominantly Klingon crews had come under attack as well, and that several Klingon citizens had been taken by a vessel matching the description provided by the Romulans. This story was echoed by several other members of the senate, however no additional information on the attacking ship could be acquired. The matter was left open in case any further information became available, but the Federation had exhausted all leads in the matter. The Romulan senator was not satisfied with what he saw as a lack of effort on Starfleet’s behalf, and once again formally protested the inaction.

The USS Tiger Claw, a Section 31 Star ship

In late 2408, the USS Vendetta was dispatched to the Centaur Nebula to deploy a highly advanced sensor probe that would observe the creation of a star system over the next hundred years. While in the nebula, the Vendetta received a distress call from an unknown Federation vessel in a nearby system. The Vendetta discovered the Federation carrier USS Tiger Claw, presumed to have been lost during the Borg War, engaging a group of Romulan Venator-class vessels. The Vendetta was unable to make contact with the Romulan vessels, and assisted the Tiger Claw in defending itself against what appeared to be Romulan aggressors. The Vendetta successfully held off the Romulans while the Tiger Claw launched its fighter complement, and powered its phaser system. After the Romulan vessels were driven off, Admiral Lane, the commander of the Tiger Claw, ordered several members of the Vendetta to transfer to the Tiger Claw. The crew of the Vendetta quickly determined that the Tiger Claw was not what it appeared to be. The vessel was, in fact, under the direct control of Section 31. Furthermore, it appeared that the Tiger Claw had been the previously unidentified Federation vessel conducting raids against the Romulan and Klingon ships. When this information was brought to light, Admiral Lane ordered the Vendetta Commanding Officer be placed in confinement, and then ordered the Vendetta to begin transferring all cargo and ship resources to the Tiger Claw.

The crew of the Vendetta successfully recovered Commander Biessman from the Tiger Claw. Operating on information provided by one of the Romulans the Tiger Claw had abducted, the Vendetta left the Centaur Nebula heading for Romulus. The Tiger Claw itself was destroyed by the Vendetta crew when they retrieved Commander Biessman.

The USS Iowa is destroyed by Romulan Forces

While at warp to Romulus, the Vendetta was ordered by the USS Nimitz to reverse course and return to earth. When the Vendetta failed to comply, the Nimitz dropped behind the Vendetta and maintained an aggressive stance. It quickly became clear that the Nimitz, like the Tiger Claw was under Section 31 control. The Nimitz’s warp engines were disabled and the Vendetta continued towards Romulus. Upon their arrival, the Vendetta once again came under attack by Federation vessels under Section 31 control. A small task group lead by the USS Iowa engaged the Vendetta and several Romulan vessels in combat in orbit of Romulus. The Vendetta was forced to destroy several starships including the Iowa herself before the remainder of the group fled for Federation space.

Romulan Separatist Forces

The crew of the Vendetta discovered that the faction of Romulans who had left the Federation in 2403 had arrived to find their home world in turmoil. Famine had ravaged the planet, the Borg had decimated the capitol and surrounding cities, but there were still thousands of Romulans fighting to stay alive. Disgusted by the Federation’s seeming unwillingness to aid in the recovery of their home world, and further alienated by the action of Section 31, the Romulans had sought to establish a new and independent Romulan Empire. The Romulans had made tremendous progress in rebuilding their home, and had begun constructing a new defense force, should the Borg once again return.

The Romulan people were initially skeptical about working with a Federation crew. Many still felt betrayed by the Federation and the Vulcans, and were unprepared to move so quickly towards reunification. The strongest voice for cooperation proved to be Admiral Tebok, who had led the Romulan Fleet out of the Federation. The Admiral believed that if this new Romulan society was to survive, it would need to work with its neighbors, not against them. Admiral Tebok’s words ultimately swayed the Romulan Senate, and planning began on how to address the Section 31 threat. The decision was made to attempt to capture the head of Section 31. Admiral Venture was stationed onboard Outpost Midway, which was only 5 light years from the edge of Romulan Space. The Vendetta would disable the power network aboard the station, which a team of Federation and Romulan officers would then enter and capture the Admiral. Unfortunately, a Section 31 vessel was in the area, and the Vendetta came under attack when it approached. With Section 31 alerted to their operations, the Romulans decided they needed to take more drastic measures, and Admiral Venture was assassinated.

The Federation led a series of investigations into the very nature of Section 31. In these inquiries, known as the Section 31 hearings, a large number of admirals and captains were charged with illegal activities carried out in the name of the Federation. In coordination with the Romulan Tal’shiar and Federation Internal Security, Starfleet made over 300 arrests, court-marshalling 80 people including two admirals, stripping 90 officers of rank, in addition to a variety of other punishments. Several officers who proved vital to the trial were given pardons. One of these officers, Kiro Kramer, was killed after revealing several key Federation officials to be Section 31 officers. In an effort to prevent the Section 31 hearings from turning into a witch hunt, the Federation has put a temporary suspension on the inquiries until additional solid evidence arises. The Romulan and Klingon representatives were both satisfied with the progress the Federation had made in dealing with Section 31, and the abduction of non human crew members and civilians has been effectively stopped.

While the Federation dealt Section 31 a crushing blow, it is doubtful that the organization was completely destroyed. The Federation extended an olive branch to the Romulan people, sending Federation vessels to assist in the rebuilding of their world. Even with these steps in the right direction, the Romulan government concluded that it was still unsure about what its new relationship with the Federation would be.
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Federation Retaliation
Task Group Gamma Masses at Re-Supply Depot Nixon

While the Federation Senate had dealt with the Section 31 crisis, Starfleet was hard at work planning a full scale offensive into the occupied terretories. The Federation wanted to strengthen its ground forces on Nev’talc, and ordered Task Group Gamma to escort ten transports and 2 modified Defiant-class vessels to Nev’talc, in order to help secure the planet. The assault force would consist of 40 ships, including 4 Galaxy-class vessels refit for heavy planetary bombardment. Once the planet was secured, the landing craft would enter the combat zone, and begin transferring personnel to the surface.

The USS Picon One of the modified Defiant Class Vessels

The invasion was nearly scrapped when the Cardassians sent out a broad scale sub-space transmission indicating that they were aware of the plan to attack Nev’talc. Furthermore, they had a large number of survivors from the evacuation ships they had destroyed, who they planned to execute if a single Federation vessel entered their space. Even with the element of surprise lost, the Federation was determined to secure the planet. Task Group Gamma pushed forward towards Nev’talc led by Fleet Captain Stephanopoulos, unsure of the Cardassian force in place.

The USS Relentless Pushes into the Occupied Territories

In order to draw Cardassian attention away from the Nev’talc campaign, the Federation would have the Aurora take elements of the third and fourth fleet into the Cardassian controlled Da’har system to attack the shipyards in that area. The decoy action, dubbed Operation: First Strike, successfully drew in a large Cardassian fleet, pulling in Cardassian resources from all over the sector. The Federation also launched a series of hit and run maneuvers led by the USS Relentless, in conjunction with Klingon and Son’a forces, along the Nexor Belt and into the Occupied Territories.

TF Gamma arrived at Nev’talc 40 ships strong expecting firm Cardassian resistance. Instead, the ships made it through the mine field the Cardassians had established without firing a single shot. At 0900 hours, Fleet Captain Stephanopoulos ordered a full advance on the planet. The Cardassians conjured less resistance at the planet than initially expected. A force of only 30 Galors stood between the Federation forces and the planet. Task Force Gamma swung into action, easily overpowering the first wave of the Cardassian defense force; however, the second wave would unveil a frightening new Cardassian weapon. When two Cardassian Keldon-class vessels engaged the Alliance, they deployed a new type of craft which took the Federation forces completely off guard.

The Cardassian Bio Fighter Engages with Devastating results

These new cardassian fighters took the Federation forces nearly completely of guard easily overwhelming the conventional federation fighters taking part in the battle. Starfleet lacked any effective fighter counter measures, and the Cardassian vessels easily out gunned and out maneuvered the fighter wings on the scene. The Cardassian fighters were effective even against the larger Federation Capital ships, armed with Photonic Missiles, and powerful dual compression arrays, their presence almost immediately shifted the momentum of the battle. The Federation task force lost two vessels, but after nearly an hour of fighting, they managed to drive the remaining Cardassian vessels and fighters from orbit and the transports were ordered to begin landing marine forces on the planet.

The USS Constantine is destroyed by the Cardassian Glory Class

Once the transports disappeared into the planet’s atmosphere one of the vessels in the task force detected elevating neutrino emissions from the polar region. Upon investigation, a Glory-class super dreadnaught de-cloaked, turning the tide of the battle completely. Within minutes, the Alliance, as well as several of the other Task Group’s command ships had been destroyed. The Glory-class then turned its fire towards the planet, and destroyed five of the ten marine transports. Captain Blake took command of the Task Group from the USS Hayes and ordered the entire unit to fall back to the USS Devestator for repairs. Of the forty ships which departed, only thirteen returned, most with severe damage. Despite the tremendous losses in orbit, the mission was at least a partial success. The Federation had once again landed supplies and personnel on a Cardassian-held world.

Federation Forces conduct Raids into the Occupied Territories

The decoy operation taking place had met with far greater success. The Aurora destroyed ten of the twelve Cardassian ship yards in the Da’har sector, crippling Cardassian starship production in that region. With minimal losses, the Aurora continued its push into the Ve’throk sector where it met up with the ninth and tenth fleets. From there, the Federation forces conducted raids in both the Occupied Territories and the area surrounding Cardassia, before falling back to the Andreas sector for repairs and rearmament. The USS Relentless succeeded in disrupting Cardassian activity in the Occupied Territories, disabling several orbital processing facilities, as well as destroying a Cardassian logistical center.

For the nearly 7,000 marines stranded on the planet of Nev’talc, the situation was far graver then any Starfleet admirals had anticipated. Nev’talc was in its spring season during the first landing, providing ground troops with easy mobility, and access to the planet’s wildlife, but when the Cardassians cut off the planet, things went from bad to worse. As the summer season ended, the troops fell victim to the harsh climate of the planet even during the early fall season. It would be another two weeks before supplies and reinforcements would arrive in the form of Task Group Gamma. The arrival of reinforcements, in turn led to an increase in Cardassian activity.

The Alpha site faced the problems of an increasingly inhospitable planet. Snow and drastically low temperatures continued to plague the marine forces, causing both technical failures in equipment, as well as severe cases of frostbite. The cargo drop from Task Force Gamma included several industrial heaters, as well as CO2 generators to increase the planet’s temperature, however the marines stationed on Nev’talc had far bigger problems than bitter temperatures. The Cardassians would not be content to simply leave the Federation marines be. Once the Federation reinforcements hit the ground, the Cardassians began an almost immediate attack on the primary Federation base on the planet. For weeks, the Cardassians laid siege to the Federation forces from the safety of their polar base. These attacks had a devastating effect on the Federation force in the area. Facing massive losses, the marines on the planet initiated a plan to board the super fortresses and take them down from the inside. The plan was executed successfully, and in addition to averting a disaster, the Federation also gained valuable intelligence.

The Cardassian Super Fortress Aerial Centurion Delivery Craft

The Nev’talc campaign continued for nearly a month with no clear advancement by either side. The stale mate was abruptly shattered by the advance of two Cardassian carriers carrying 8 pathogenic missiles. A plan was set into motion to capture both Cardassian carriers before the missiles could be discharged. A force of nearly 250 men stormed the Cardassian vessel, taking the first carrier. The second carrier was disabled by infiltration specialists. With both Carriers under Federation control the Cardassians had been dealt a crushing blow. Federation forces now had a way to reach the Cardassian base of operations and deliver troops, equipment, and weapons in rapid succession. As the bulk of the Federation presence on Nev’talc moved seemingly on a crash course towards the Cardassian installation, a far larger battle was taking place in orbit.

With the first attempt to gain control of the planet having been botched, the Federation decided to push into Cardassian-held Nev’talc with overwhelming force. The USS Devestator was deployed with the full force of the third and eight fleets to engage the Cardassian forces in orbit of Nev’talc. No less then 800 Federation ships and fighters would be in play at any one time. With this overwhelming force the Federation hoped to effectively curb the growth of the Cardassian sphere of influence.

The Federation was met with stern resistance from the Cardassians on all fronts. On Nev’talc, one of the marines had managed to disable the Cardassian base’s targeting system, leaving the Cardassians at a severe disadvantage; however Cardassian ground and air forces both took their toll on the Federation troops. Within the first twenty minutes of the battle at the pole, the second Cardassian Carrier had been destroyed, with the Cardassians launching carriers of their own. In orbit the Federation had better luck, crippling nearly a third of the Cardassian fleet using their own mines against them. The remaining Cardassian ships, however, proved to be greater in number and in strength than originally anticipated. The Cardassians also employed their new Bio fighters with devastating results.

A Federation Defiant Class meets its end

With nearly 30% of the engagement force crippled, it seemed as though the Federation had failed once again to capture Nev’talc. However, in the midst of the battle, the Cardassian forces began a full retreat back into their own space. It was discovered that the Cardassians had been conducting secretive mining operations in the polar region, however it was not entirely clear what the Cardassians had recovered from deep beneath the planet’s crust.
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”Saturn Ascends”

With no clear Cardassian presence in the area, a small holding fleet was left behind to await the arrived the Aurora and the construction of a forward bases while the bulk of the fleet returned to earth. Those returning home from the Nev’talc Campaign were hailed by both Starfleet and the general population as heros; however the quick Cardassian retreat left many feeling unsettled and raised a number of questions. Those returning home for shore leave were given a hero’s welcome, with ticker tape parades throughout many of the major cities, and a restored confidence of a Federation victory seemed to be everywhere. The war was for a time very far away. With no major Cardassian engagements and no sign of retaliation there was almost a sense that the war was over.

Many admirals were quite certain that the lull in Cardassian activity did not represent a major shift in the momentum of the conflict. There was a split amongst the admiralty on how to deal with this new situation. Many supported a full push into Cardassian space, in an attempt to reclaim vast sections of the Occupied Territories. Others supported a massive campaign to completely rebuild the Federation fleet before launching any offensive back into the Occupied Territories. A third moderate group wanted to determine exactly what the Cardassians were planning. The Federation planned to dispatch a single ship to perform advanced reconnaissance far behind enemy lines. Before the selected vessel could be dispatched, a massive sub-space anomaly appeared near Gamma Tauri. Prior to the event, a number of the colonies in the surrounding area had been evacuated by a secretive group known as Kimira Industries. Initial fears of a Cardassian super weapon were quickly put to rest when a brief message originating from the anomaly called for the assistance of the USS Vendetta, revealing a massive incident on a secretive research complex.

The USS Relentless heads towards Cardassian Space

It was decided that the USS Relentless would take the place of the Vendetta in exploring further into Cardassian space. The Relentless was to scout the Panora, Sheva, Rakai, Goralis, and Olmerak systems over a two week period. The Relentless discovered that the Cardassians were disassembling many of their forward bases and facilities. On the eighth day the Relentless encountered a massive Cardassian base in the Rakai system composed of upwards of 16 ground stations, two up-rated Nor-class stations, and a large number of O.D.P.s. Once their sweeps were complete, the Relentless returned to Federation space to report to Starfleet command.

The Cardassian Base at Rakai 4

While the Relentless’s findings seemed to support the Federation’s belief in the Cardassian’s development of some kind of massive weapons system the intelligence reports collected by the Relentless were immediately called into question. During its time in Cardassian space, the Relentless encountered a Glory-class super dreadnaught, and after a brief engagement managed to evade the vessel. The Glory-class did, however, tag the Relentless with a small transmitter, which revealed the starship’s position even when cloaked. In addition, the Federation’s listening satellite network had picked up a number of communications regarding an unknown factor, proceeding to RI-!. This was a known Cardassian code indicated vessel movement towards a given location. It appeared that the Cardassians had fed the Relentless false intelligence.

The Kimira Anomaly, dubbed the Cloud by Starfleet

While the Federation struggled to obtain credible intelligence related to the Cardassian Union a completely unpredicted set of events unfolded. Immediately after a massive subspace anomaly appeared, a distress call was dispatched to the USS Vendetta, calling for immediate assistance. Despite the objections of Kimira Industries, the Vendetta entered the anomaly. It was quickly discovered that the massive anomaly was not an accident, but rather a manmade sub space distortion, created by an extremely powerful weapon. Kimira Industries planned to use this weapon to end the war with the Cardassian Union and in the process obliterate the Cardassian people to prevent them from ever waging war again. Unwilling to stand complacent in the face of genocide, the crew devised a plan to disable the Kimira weapon.

As the Federation crew launched a raid on the Kimira facility several Cardassian and Romulan vessels entered orbit of the mysterious planet, and began a massive battle. The Kimiran forces defending the planet were quickly overwhelmed, and Alex Rosewater, the head of Kimira Industries, ordered that the weapon be used to destroy the hostile vessels. A massive subspace distortion field enveloped the enemy vessels, tearing them apart molecule by molecule. The crew of the Vendetta successfully disabled the Kimira weapon by extracting its power core, an ancient device dating back billions of years. While this was an important victory, it came at a terrible price. As the Federation forces prepared to extract the device, a group of Cardassian centurions transported down, capturing the device. During the Cardassian raid, Captain Biessman was thrown onto the device by one of the assaulting centurions, and was subsequently vaporized. The crew of the Vendetta returned to the Aurora defeated and demoralized.

The USS Broadsword engages a partially Assimilated Freighter

As the crew of the Vendetta dealt with the Kimira threat, the USS Broadsword made a startling and disturbing discovery. While on patrol, the Broadsword encountered a Cardassian freighter which had veered into Federation space. The Cardassian freighter had somehow been equipped with advanced weaponry, and emitted a large amount of Gamma radiation, one of the known markers of the Borg’s Graviton torpedo. Commander Tarig-Coran ordered the vessel disabled, and sent a boarding party to investigate the freighter. Once the team beamed over contact was immediately lost, and the ship engaged a dampening field to prevent the extraction of the Federation forces.

A Member of the Boarding Party is Assimilated

The boarding party made several alarming discoveries. The Cardassians appeared to have been transporting vast amounts of Borg technology onboard the freighter to an unknown location when one of the drones came back online and began to assimilate the crew. The Borg quickly overran the small crew and began to modify the Cardassian vessel. One of these modifications included the partial construction of a vinculum. Fortunately, the Starfleet forces successfully escaped the freighter and destroyed it before the vinculum could be completed.

The crew of the Broadsword tracked the origin of the Borg technology back to Anarius III, a colony world which had been take during the Borg War. The Cardassians had been operating a small research instillation in the occupied territories, where they monitored a population of 3,000 Borg drones. The Cardassians had taken the precaution of using a subspace jamming array to prevent the drones from reaching the collective, but when the freighter transferred several drones aboard, one of them was accidentally brought online. The Broadsword destroyed the Cardassian outpost, and laid waste to the surface of the planet. The Broadsword was then called back to the USS Aurora for an emergency meeting.

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