Captain's Quarters, CA Agincourt, between K3 and K4
       "What is it?" Captain Skarn asked, shaking the sleep from his head. He reached for the light switch.
       "Major Klingon attack on K4, Sir," came the voice of the night watch communications officer. "At least a dozen ships including a dreadnought."
       "Sound Red alert," Skarn ordered. "Are there any Klingon ships near us?"
       "Tracking a squadron of frigates coming across the border," came the voice of Lieutenant Ferelless, the Rigellian assistant navigator who had the night watch on the bridge. "Nothing else so far. They are headed our way."
       "On my way," Skarn said, pulling on his pants and boots. He grabbed his tunic and headed for the door, reaching the bridge in only a minute.
       The ship's computer knew that during a red alert, the turbolift car carrying the captain had priority. As soon as he exited the doors and reached his command chair, another car took its place and Commander McClair came onto the bridge with most of the primary crew.
       "Any more Klingons?" Skarn asked.
       "Not near us," Lieutenant Ferelless said.
       "K4 is under heavy attack, but K3 reports no Klingons in sight," the night watch communications officer said as he relinquished the chair to the head of his department. "K6 reported that it was getting pounded and that Texas had blown up, then dropped off the network. It's probably gone. K5 has also been attacked but is still fighting. Kongo asked for a report and said they were engaged. There are a lot of unconfirmed reports of raiders behind us."
       "Very well," Skarn said. "Let's go kill a frigate or two while the situation develops. Helm, head for those frigates. Weapons, load photons and arm phasers. Science, I do not need any surprises today, so keep your eyes open. I have the battle, you need to watch the war."

Bridge, Battle Station K7, Klingon Border
       "Commodore, we need you on the bridge," the technician said into the intercom.
       "What is it?" came the voice of the battle station's commanding officer, Commodore Thomas. "I can hear the red alert klaxon from here. Did Commander Tolarek do that?"
       "Yes, Sir, I did," came the voice of Commander Tolarek, who had the early morning shift. "Maxwell can fill you in."
       "Flash message from Hood," Maxwell, the technician, said. "They reported two minutes ago being approached by three Klingon cruisers. Then the flash message just said ŒRubicon' which is today's codeword for an attack by the Klingons. Now, we cannot contact Hood at all."
       "I'll be there in five," Commodore Thomas said. "Scramble the fighters and tell the ships to go to red alert."
       "Already done," Tolarek said.
       Minutes later, the commodore burst onto the bridge. "SitRep!" he snapped as he practically jumped into the command chair.
         "Big paint in the Neutral Zone," Tolarek said. "Seven ships, all F5s except for one E4."
       "Is that all?" Commodore Thomas asked.
       "Negative," Legikal, the sensor technician replied. "We have three cruisers coming here at high speed from the Hood's last reported position."
       "The fighters have formed up on Donitz, as have the Peacemaker and the Peacekeeper," Tolarek said. "I do not recommend sending the fighters out to flank them."
       "Concur," Commodore Thomas answered, "too big a force for that." The commodore was doing what Tolarek had already done, adding up the combat power in his head. The three cruisers combined had almost twice the battle station's combat power, but that didn't count the frigate, the fighters, or the two police cutters, which tripled the combat power for the Federation. Seven frigates probably meant a squadron of three, a jeep carrier and its escort, a scout, and minehunter, which maybe doubled the combat power of the cruisers alone.
       "What are the Klingons thinking?" he wondered out loud. "They didn't bring a big enough force if they want to take us down."
       "Maybe there are more to come," Tolarek theorized. "Maybe they just want to tie us down while raiders go past us."
       "Could be they just want to fire a salute in honor of Patakin's birthday," Commodore Thomas said, not really believing that the Klingons knew the birthday of the base's chief surgeon.
       "Heavy jamming," said Legikal. "They're using some kind of jammer drones, and that scout frigate at the back is pumping out all of the electrons it can.
        "Keep the fighters tucked in," the Commodore ordered. "Tell the ships to stay inside the minefield, but let them move up to the inner edge and try to get overload shots."
       "Very well," Tolarek said. "The ships are taking long-range phaser shots at the jammer drones."
       "Got one!" Legikal said, her voice hitting a high note.
       "All ships, target the F5 it was protecting," Tolarek ordered. The F5 took two photon hits and stopped. The other ships kept coming forward, maneuvering erratically, toward the outer edge of the minefield.
       "Have some of the fighters launch drones at one of the cruisers when the Klingons stop jinking," the Commodore said. Moments later, six of the 12 F-8 fighters launched one of their two drones. A moment later, each launched its second drone.
       "Ghostlight Bravo, land to re-arm," Tolarek ordered.
       "Drones are clearing the minefield," Legikal said. The fighters had, under orders from the base, sent their drones through a segment of the minefield that had no mines set for targets that small. If the Klingons tried to exploit the gap with their own drones, the command-controlled mines would be detonated. None of the Federation drones hit the Klingon cruiser, however. All three Klingon cruisers spat tiny high-speed interceptor weapons that killed nine of them, and phasers got the rest.
       "They're looking for the edge of the minefield," Tolarek said. Before he finished speaking the words, a salvo from two of the Klingon cruisers destroyed the battle station's multi-role shuttle, which had been providing jamming support for the base.
       "Klingons are targeting the Donitz," noted Tolarek. "I think it's about time for the scatter-packs."
       "All ships, launch scatter-packs," Commodore Thomas ordered. "You too, Hazara," he said to the weapons officer.
       "Klingons are firing at the shuttles," Legikal reported. "Two of them blew up before they could release. The other two were triggered by the damage before they got into position. Some of our own drones are going to set off a few of our own mines."
       "We'll do that better next time," Tolarek said.
       "Donitz has taken heavy damage," Legikal reported.
       "I'm having trouble getting hits with all that jamming," Hazara reported. "Can I target that scout?"
       "It's too far way," Tolarek said. "He'd just turn a new shield every time you can hit him."
        "Ghostlight Alpha," Commodore Thomas said, "launch all drones at the F5 scout. It's that ship hovering back there at the rear of the formation. Your scanners should pick it out."
       "That frigate picked off five of the drones," Legikal said. The commodore and commander watched as the rest of the drones rocketed toward the scout. Seven drones hitting one shield would easily punch through and wreck the frigate.
       "Explosion," Legikal said.
       "Where?" Tolarek asked. Everyone hoped that the Klingon scout had been blown up."
       "About 20,000 this side of the scout," Legikal said. "Some kind of small mine killed all of the drones."
       "Target the F5!" Commodore Thomas ordered, suspecting that the F5 had dropped its forward shield to transport a small mine in the path of the drones. The phaser-4s lashed out, but given the distance and the jamming, only superficial damage was done to the scout.
       "Klingons have dropped side shields," Legikal said. "I am reading transporters. They're dropping mines into the gap we used to pass the drones out."
       "They don't want us using drones," Tolarek said.
        "It would be an unfriendly act," Thomas chuckled.
       "Klingons are launching more jammer drones and pulling back," Legikal said.
       "It's over," Tolarek said.
       "Ghostlight Alpha," Commodore Thomas said, "land and rearm. Hot cycle, stay in your cockpits."
       The Klingons had not withdrawn, but were circling the base outside of effective range. "What are they doing?" Tolarek asked.
        "All ships, load more scatter-packs," Commodore Thomas said. "They just wasted their first shot, and I'm going to be ready for the second round." Tense moments passed.
       "Ghostlight Squadron, launch when rearmed."
        "What will they do next?" Tolarek asked.
        "I am not waiting to find out," Commodore Thomas said. "All ships, launch scatter-packs. Target the three cruisers." Klingon disruptors picked off one of the shuttles, but the other three released their drones and were tractored back to safety. The Klingons, not even bothering to fire, simply moved beyond the control range of the drones and watched them go inert.
       "Klingons have resumed firing at Donitz," Legikal said.
       "The Klingons are seriously scanning the minefield," Hazara said. "I can see their active scans on my screen. At least the last round of jammer drones has burned out."
       "That F5 is moving up to the minefield," Tolarek said.
       "He's getting all the jamming they can pump out," Hazara said. "I cannot get any kind of decent shot at him."
       "Ghostlight," Commodore Thomas said, "target the F5 I am designating. It's a minesweeper."
       "Fighters!" Legikal said. "Launching from one of the F5s."
       "Wow," Hazara said. "That F5M just tripped a mine, and took the blast on a flank shield. I have never seen a real explosion of a heavy mine before." The Federation officers all thought that the F5M was finished, but it was not. The little ship fought like a demon, destroying drones with phasers, anti-drones, and its own drones. Other Klingon ships protected it, and the F5M used a transporter to lay a small mine through the down shield. None of the drones hit the ship.
       "All ships report they are out of drones," Tolarek said.
       "Arrange to transport them some of ours," Thomas ordered.
       "More disruptor fire at the Donitz," Legikal said. The battle went on. The next round of disruptor fire, however, changed targets and blew apart the Ghostlight Squadron, damaging several and killing one outright.
       "That minesweeper is going to the bank and cashing checks," Hazara said. "He's bagged four of our mines so far, and he's over halfway through the field. WOW, he just tagged a chain mine and that triggered a whole series that blew up out of range of the Klingons. The minefield is going to be gone before those cruisers can fire two more volleys."
       "All units, target the minesweeper, fire everything, launch everything!" Commodore Thomas said. It was, everyone knew, the key to the battle. If the Klingons could get through the minefield, their disruptors would be far more effective at close range. The minefield had kept them from using overloads, at least so far. "Use the sensors to break the lock-ons of any Klingon drones targeted on our drones. Reverse the jamming and put everything into counter-jamming. Get me some hits."
       "Klingons are targeting Donitz," Legikal said. "They report shield penetration and damage, loss of a photon tube and two phasers. They need to pull back for repairs."
       "Big problem," Hazara said, "the minefield is breached!"
       The Klingons began to flood through the gap in the minefield, their weapons blazing. The Klingon fighters launched a mass of drones and then circled back to their carrier. Every Klingon ship launched drones, some targeted on the base, some on ships, and some on the fighters of the Ghostlight Squadron.
       "Target cruiser, fire!" Thomas ordered. The volley staggered the cruiser, but did not stop it. The Klingon captain turned a fresh shield toward the base and kept coming.
       "Mass Klingon volley has targeted Peacemaker," Legikal said.
       "Peacemaker reports she is out of action," Maxwell said.
       "Push her away with tractors," Thomas said. The hulk of the police cutter exploded just as it was pushed beyond lethal range. Some of the crew escaped to the battle station.
       "Donitz, Peacekeeper, break out and escape!" Thomas ordered, but it was too late. Klingon drones knocked down the rear shield of the police cutter, and a disruptor salvo left her a dead hulk drifting in space. Donitz took more damage and reported herself as combat ineffective.
       The Klingon cruisers and the combat frigates, now inside the minefield and well inside overload range, then fired a mass volley at the battle station, breaking a shield and causing internal damage. The F5M began to back away.
       "Ghostlight Squadron, attack!" Commodore Thomas ordered, knowing full well he had just ordered them to die. If they could distract the Klingons for one weapons cycle, the base's rotation would bring new shields and weapons to bear. It worked, as much as it could, as most of the fighters were swept from space.
       The Klingons then fired another massive volley, breaching a second shield on the battle station. The last of the Federation fighters were dogfighting with Klingon fighters when their leader saw the battle station fire its last salvo and go dark.
       Commodore Thomas died in hand-to-hand combat with a Klingon Marine, who was half his age and considered bayonet practice a sport. The Federation commander never really had any chance of survival, let alone victory.