Fireflash Lead, 472 Parsecs from Raktok, July Y184
        "I have the other flotilla on long-range scans," Jorel said.
        Killik switched his primary screen to that view and started doing math. "We have time to get there," he said, more to himself than anyone else.
        "Tollek, I need that circuit to Nighthawk Lead," he said. When the technician had made the connection, Killik opened the channel.
        "Nighthawk Lead, this is Fireflash Lead," he said.
        "Nighthawk Lead Comms," came the answer, indicating that the technician, not Krelt, was answering.
        "I need Actual," Killik said.
        "Actual is engaged," the technician said, "what is your message for him?"
        "Tell him I am five minutes out, and recommend that he wait so we can attack together," Killik said.
        "Nighthawk Actual says he will destroy the monster before you can get here, but you should continue closing and record the battle for later study."
        "He wants all the glory," Khurgan said.
        "I don't want his glory; I want that thing dead," Killik replied. "We'd have a lot better chance together. Tollek, tell the other boats to stay in formation. Goren, see if you can squeeze some more speed out of this boat."
        Killik looked at the scans again, and pulled up a datafile, then reopened the channel. "Nighthawk Lead, this is Fireflash Lead. Recommend that your first pass launch only drones. Do not fire weapons."
        "Fireflash Lead, this is Nighthawk Lead Comms," came an angry voice. "Nighthawk Lead Actual did not ask you for advice. He says to tell you that this is a time for an immediate attack, not timid thinking. You are to observe silently and learn something."
        "Nighthawk Lead Comms," Killik shot back, "please confirm that you are not planning to fire during the first pass."
        "Fireflash Lead," came the reply, "observe silently and learn how Klingons destroy an enemy."
        "Explain," Khurgan asked Killik. "I am not familiar with this 'Eel' creature."
        "Eels only strike if hit by direct-fire weapons," Killik explained. "These boats can stand two Eel strikes, probably not three. He needs to do as much damage as he can with drones before provoking an Eel strike."
        "He knows that, surely," Khurgan said.
        "Even I know that," Jorel said, "surely a Klingon boat commander knows it."
        You have a university degree in science, Killik thought.
        "Better to not provoke him," Khurgan said. "He thinks you're trying to claim a share of his victory."
        "Perhaps," Killik said. His fingers flew over his panel, planning his own attack should Krelt fail. "Goren, minor course change. I want to reach this point, where the Eel will be when we get there. I need to get between it and the Bristok colony."
Goren made the change in course.
        "Fireflash Lead to Fireflash All," Killik said. "Nighthawk is making their attack. If they fail to kill this thing, we will have to. Eels are biological life forms, not starships, and they don't die in the same ways. If we have to attack, follow my orders without question. There is a way to do this, and we will do it that way. First pass will be head on, drones only, no shields, no direct-fire weapons. If you cannot follow my orders without question, then tell me now. Acknowledge."
        "All Fireflash units will comply with your orders," Tollek reported. "The colonial governor is broadcasting demands for immediate attacks. The man is in a total state of panic."
        "He should be," Jorel said, "that thing can destroy his entire colony before anyone else can get here."
        He must not have an escape ship, Killik laughed to himself. "What else is in range?" Killik asked.
        "Nothing can get there in time," Majol responded. "Navigation is showing a police ship 30 minutes out, and a patrol frigate an hour away. Both are heading here, but there is nothing closer than that."
        "Krelt is going in," Jorel reported. "His shields are up full."
        "That means he's going to fire," Khurgan said.
        Killik watched on his screen as Krelt and the six gunboats of Nighthawk flotilla, technically the 723d DSF Gunboat Flotilla, roared into the attack. Krelt launched his shuttle on the way in, along with a full wave of twelve drones, plus a couple of snappers. Killik watched with a sick feeling as Krelt's boats all fired phasers, and all but the scout and the single G1D fired overloaded disruptors.
        The Eel went into a blinding flash of furious attacks, moving at speeds impossible to calculate. No one was entirely sure if an Eel on a strike-frenzy was moving, or discharging some kind of energy burst, but the result was the same. The shields that had prevented any disruptor feedback damage did nothing to stop the Eel's strikes, and all six boats took some damage before they roared past the monster.
        The shuttle fired its small phaser, and the Eel destroyed the tiny craft without any apparent effort. An instant later, there was a flash as the Eel overran the mine that Krelt had laid during his approach.
        "Fool," Jorel said, "waste of a shuttle and crew."
        "Nighthawk Lead, Fireflash Lead," Killik spoke into his microphone, not realizing how loud his voice had become, "make your next pass with drones only. He won't strike you if you only use drones." There was no reply.
        "He's turning to attack again," Jorel said. "His shields are still up. I think his disruptors are armed."
       "He's making a mistake," Killik said as Krelt's boats caught up to the Eel and unleashed another round of drones, snappers, phasers, and disruptors. Again, the Eel went into a frenzy, attacking all six gunboats, then returned to its course toward Bristok colony.
        "Lots of damage," Jorel reported. "TwoŠ three of his boats are completely disabled. Heavy damage to the others. The drone boat cannot move but has launched a drone."
        There was another flash of energy as the Eel struck a third time.
        "The lead boat fired its disruptor and phasers again," Jorel reported. "The scout and the other boat fired. Now, all three are disabled, unable to move."
        "Fireflash Lead, this is Nighthawk Lead Actual," came a voice in his headphones. "Modify course to link up with my boat and take me aboard. I am taking command of your flotilla."
        "Unable to comply," Killik replied as his bridge crew made derisive comments about Krelt's order. "I only have enough time to get in between the Eel and Bristok colony and make my own attack."
        "Negative, Killik," came Krelt's voice in his earphones. "Pick me up. I am in command here."
        "My flotilla is not in your chain of command," Killik replied. "Circumstances of battle compel me to make the attack I feel is most effective. If you have advice, I hear your words."
        "Repeat my attack plan and the monster will die," Krelt ordered. "Anything else won't work, so do not over-think this."
        "Proceeding to attack," Killik replied, closing the channel.
        "You aren't going to follow his plan?" Khurgan asked.
        "No, I'm not," Killik said. "That's not how you kill an Eel. You have to break his energy field, then shock him into an energy crash, sort of a heart attack or stroke."
        "We're nearly in position," Goren said.
        "Tollek, if he calls again, tell him I am engaged," Killik ordered. "If he says anything important, tell me when we finish a firing pass."
        "Fireflash All, this is Fireflash Lead," Killik gave his orders. "Follow me. Drones and snappers only, maximum launch rate. No shields, no phasers, no disruptors. The Eel will not attack us if we do not fire phasers or disruptors. Launch at optimal point, expect no orders until we pass over him, then we'll execute a tight turn to port. Be sure to charge phasers but do not fire them. All boats acknowledge."
        One by one the boats checked in, some of them clearly doubting the orders.
        "Killik, this is Engals," came the voice of the ESS sergeant in the rear hull.
         "Yes, Sergeant," Killik said, wondering what the security sergeant wanted.
        "I have reviewed your plan," he said. "It seems correct."
        Killik grunted, wondering if the ESS man actually understood the datafile on an Eel - or if he just figured that Killik would ignore him if he tried to interfere. One way or the other, Killik knew, he's not going to relieve me of command and order us to pick up Krelt.
        "Your confidence is appreciated, Sergeant," Killik replied.
        "Commence," Killik ordered. The six boats completed their turn and headed directly into the path of the Eel, launching drones at point-blank range. Killik ordered the one mine he had on board to be dropped at a point close enough that the Eel would hit it. Of the twelve drones and two snappers launched, there were eleven hits as the Eel's energy field destroyed three drones.
        "Shuttle, launch and head for Nighthawk Four," Killik said. "That boat reports heavy casualties and failing life support. Evacuate as many as you can and take them to one of the other boats, but do not go to Nighthawk Lead, and ignore any orders to do so. Make multiple trips as needed."
        "Understood," said the shuttle pilot, clearly pleased that Killik did not send him on a suicide attack.
        "Fireflash All this is Fireflash Lead," Killik said. "Follow me. We're going to catch the Eel, launch drones, and then match his speed and stay within a killikam of him. No shields, no phasers, no disruptors."
        "Lead, Two. Permission to fire phasers," came a voice in his earphones.
        "Negative, Two" Killik said, making sure the entire flotilla could hear him. "If you fire phasers, the Eel will strike you. We'll do that after we use all of our drones, but only in measured amounts to trigger an energy crash. I will give you the honor of firing first, but do not fire until I command it."
        "Lead, Two understands and complies," came the voice.
        The boats caught up to the Eel, still moving at its top speed toward Bristok Colony, and launched more drones and snappers. The energy field destroyed two, but most of them hit.
        "Lieutenant, the governor of Bristok Colony is calling," Tollek said. "He's furious that you're not firing weapons at the Eel and demands that you accept Krelt's orders. What do I tell him?"
        "Tell him that we will kill the Eel my way and not Krelt's," Killik said, "and tell him he would know that if he had bothered to look up 'Eel' in his database. Don't let him interrupt me again." Tollek said he would comply.
        "Fireflash All, this is Lead," Killik said. "Maintain station on the Eel. Continue launching drones. Do not - repeat do not - fire phasers or disruptors at this time. We will, momentarily, but not until the drone racks are empty."
        Another wave of drones was launched, and this time only nine of them struck the Eel.
        "Two, this is Lead, raise minimum shields and overload your disruptor, but do not fire until ordered," Killik said. "When I do tell you to fire, use your battery, not your capacitors, to fire that phaser. When you fire, the Eel will attack and your boat will take damage, so drop your packs immediately after you fire." He then gave the same orders to Khurgan for their own boat. He made it a point to use plain language instead of the battle tongue, as he had time and could afford no mistakes. If a boat fired when it wasn't supposed to, it could mean the failure of the entire attack.
        Moments later, the fourth wave struck. All of the drone racks were now empty. There were some anti-drones left, and one snapper, but none of those were worth launching.
        "His energy field is broken," Jorel said.
        "Two, Lead, fire," Killik said, having already told Khurgan to take that as the order to fire the G1L's own weapons. The Eel reacted quickly, damaging both boats.
        "Engines down sixteen percent," the damage control engineer reported from the rear hull. "Anti-drone disabled, reserve power battery disabled, minor hull buckling."
        "Jorel?" Killik asked.
        "Energy spiked but did not crash," she reported.
        "Nobody said it would work the first time," Killik shrugged.