Trekkie combat, Star Trek combat, and Real combat

Written: 2001-09-21
Last updated: 2001-09-26

Scenario 2: Capture Crippled Starship

Mission requirements: An Imperial Star Destroyer has plotted an ill-advised hyperspace jump through an asteroid field. It has been severely damaged, and it is drifting through space, only five minutes at maximum warp from the nearest starbase. Federation units are to scramble immediately, with the goal of capturing the ship and as much of its technology as possible. A secondary mission goal is to capture as many of their engineers and technicians as possible. This is a valuable opportunity, and it must not be squandered.

Intel report: This is an immediate response situation, and no intel is available.

Equipment and Manpower: The USS Ming is at the starbase awaiting repair and resupply. There is no time to load it up with extra troops, so it will depart immediately.

Precedents: The availability of just one starship for even the most critical mission is extremely common in Star Trek, with the most famous example being ST:TMP. The idea of capturing a Star Destroyer by beaming onto its bridge or beaming its crew out (despite the 1 person per second transporter limit from "Descent Part 2", which means that it would take more than ten hours to nab an ISD's crew) is a perennial fan favourite, and in fact, it is so popular with newsgroup Trekkies that many of them describe the capture of an intact Star Destroyer as an inevitability, thus leading to the widespread belief that the Federation would be able to quickly obtain, analyze, and then duplicate all of a Star Destroyer's technology.

Trekkie Fantasy

The star destroyer is crippled, so it will have no shields, no weapons, and most likely, no maneuvering capabilities. The USS Ming scans the ship, locates the bridge crew and all stormtroopers in the vicinity of the bridge, and beams them all into a secured cargo bay. It then beams its own men onto the bridge, where they swiftly seal off the bridge and take control of the ship.

The star destroyer's crew had already activated the self-destruct system, but a Vulcan is able to use the mind-meld to extract the encryption key from the captain, so they unlock the computer and stop the self-destruct. Now that they have control of the computer, they activate the ship's intruder defense system. All escape pods are disabled, all blast doors are closed, all sections are sealed off from one another, and all areas apart from the bridge are flooded with gas.

The ship is captured intact. Virtually all Imperial personnel are captured alive. Starfleet casualties: zero.

Likely DS9 Writers' Solution

The star destroyer is crippled, with no shields, weapons, or maneuvering capabilities. The USS Ming is replaced by the USS Defiant in the scenario because the Defiant must be involved in every major DS9 incident. The Defiant attempts to scan the ship, but its damaged reactor is venting vast amounts of radiation into space. Chief O'Brien complains that the Imperial high-density armour is hard enough to scan through on its own, but the added impediment of the radiation makes it hopeless.

It is at this point that they enter one of their interminable brainstorming sessions. Personalities clash, a nondescript character is introduced for no particular reason other than to consume screen time, and they eventually decide upon a plan. They will maneuver very close to the front face of the bridge tower, where the radiation is less intense and the armour is thinner. Then, they will use a technobabble invention to control the transport beam and compensate for the radiation. Most likely, this technobabble invention will involve "coils", "recalibration", and some kind of exotic particle. It works of course, despite having been jury-rigged on the spot with no detailed design or testing, and they are able to get a clear scan of the bridge from that vantage point. They immediately transport a boarding crew inside, but not before Sisko gets to give his inspirational speech about the importance of this mission and the fact that they are outnumbered, (at which point we should wonder how this can all be happening, since the mission is time-critical), and of course, Worf barks that it will be a glorious battle, worthy of song.

Once they beam into the big ship's bridge, a fierce battle is joined. Phaser, disruptor, and blaster shots fly back and forth, and Worf rips through all opposition with his bat'leth. The battle suddenly shifts into slow motion, with sombre music. We see disjointed shots of Starfleet nondescripts getting hit by blaster fire, and Worf cutting down a black-shirted Imperial officer with his bat'leth. Kira's phaser is knocked from her hand by an officer, but she knocks him out cold with a left cross, only to be hit in the shoulder with a blaster bolt. She crumples to the floor, but Bashir shoots the stormtrooper that hit her. After a respectable duration of further slow-motion action sequences, we cut to Sisko and a handful of other survivors, breathing heavily and standing over the mixed bodies of Starfleet and Imperial personnel.

At this point, the bridge is sealed off and we devolve to the Trekkie fantasy. The star destroyer's crew had already activated the self-destruct system, but a Vulcan is able to use the mind-meld to extract the encryption key from the captain, so they unlock the computer and stop the self-destruct (but not until it counts down to less than 10 seconds). Now that they have control of the computer, they activate the ship's intruder defense system. All escape pods are disabled, all blast doors are closed, all sections are sealed off from one another, and all areas apart from the bridge are flooded with gas.

The ship is captured intact. Tens of thousands of Imperial personnel are captured alive. Starfleet casualties are limited to a few dozen casualties among the boarding crew.

Realistic Mission

The star destroyer is crippled, with no shields or helm control. Its central targeting systems are down and many of its gun turrets are without power. However, the heavy turrets have independent power sources and targeting systems, and some of the smaller guns still have power and can be manually operated. The USS Ming approaches the stricken ship, only to be met with dozens of TIE fighters and defensive gunfire from its remaining turrets. It launches small craft such as fighters, runabouts, or shuttles in order to help it engage the TIE fighters, and it maneuvers out of the firing arc of the big ship's heavy guns while returning fire. The captain of the USS Ming opens a channel and demands that the star destroyer power down its weapons and surrender, but his only answer is more gunfire.

On board the star destroyer, its crew has been destroying equipment, erasing files, and setting explosives ever since the USS Ming was spotted. At that moment, they knew they wouldn't have enough time to repair their hyperdrive, and their plans changed. Now, their duty is to abandon and destroy their vessel, and their defensive fire is only intended to damage and/or delay the USS Ming. Escape pods are already streaming away from the ship.

After taking significant damage, the USS Ming and its support vessels finally manage to cripple or destroy the TIE fighters. Its sensors are blinded by the big ship's dense dura-armour and the radiation venting from its damaged reactor. It has no specialized hull-breaching attack pods or assault vessels, so its only option is to find a way to transport men inside. The bridge tower isn't as thickly armoured as the main hull, so the Ming's captain decides to try a bridge insertion. They repeatedly blast the armour at the back of the bridge tower, eventually opening enough breaches that they can get partial scans of the bridge area. The Ming moves close to minimize the danger from interference, and then it begins the hazardous operation of blindly transporting men inside.

Once inside the bridge area, the boarders face fierce resistance from stormtroopers who have been expecting this sort of incursion. One group has set up a heavy E-web repeating blaster in the main "trunk" leading from the bridge toward the bowels of the ship, and they are sweeping the entire bridge area with a murderous hail of automatic fire. The first five boarding squads suffer 100% fatalities within seconds of arrival. The USS Ming's horrified transport operators realize what's happening from the boarders' comm traffic, so they switch their transport co-ordinates, spreading their men out through the area. Some of them appear behind the E-web, and they manage to gun down its operators and damage the gun itself before being killed. The loss of the heavy weapon removes the defenders' biggest advantage. The stormtroopers begin to fall back. More and more Federation boarding crews appear on the bridge, until the stormtroopers retreat completely, sealing a blast door behind them.

As soon as the blast door closes behind the fleeing stormtroopers, remotely triggered explosive charges blow out the bridge windows. The entire bridge area is depressurized, and all of the boarding crews are blown out into space. Undaunted, space-suited technical staff beam onto the bridge, where they attempt to seize control of its central computer. However, they quickly discover that the bridge computers were almost totally destroyed by the ship's crew before evacuating the bridge. Worse yet, Imperial vessels are not designed like Federation vessels. The bridge is a point of central command and control, but bridge commands can be overridden locally if necessary. There is no automated intruder defense system that they can use to incapacitate the entire ship's crew in one fell swoop, because the Imperial Navy's philosophy of shipboard security is based upon its huge stormtrooper contingents, not a centralized system.

Explosions rumble through the star destroyer, as heavy equipment is being destroyed. The captain of the USS Ming considers the situation. Now that he knows the bridge is worthless, his first priority is the reactor. He imagines that it has already been rigged to overload in some sort of catastrophic manner, and that its operators are only waiting for more of the crew to evacuate.

He maneuvers his ship down to the underside of the star destroyer, and noses into its underside bay where they take damage from the bay guns but eventually destroy them. From this vantage point, he can beam men across a very short distance into the loading areas despite the radiation, with orders to fight their way to the central reactor and keep it from being destroyed. With hundreds or perhaps thousands of armed Imperial defenders in their way, their mission is difficult at best. The defenders here are far more tenacious than they were at the bridge, and the boarders pay in blood for each foot of corridor and each room. Each time they enter a new section, they must cut their way through another blast door and take heavy casualties from another group of well-positioned defenders, who will use anything from heavy support weapons to thermal detonators, nerve gas grenades, and war droids in order to inflict casualties upon the boarders. His marines long gone, the captain of the USS Ming begins to seriously deplete his crew in order to send more men into the fray.

While this has been happening, more and more escape pods have been shooting out from the dying ship. The captain of the star destroyer has been waiting in the reactor control room with a dead man's switch in his hand. He is informed that the escape pods have reached safe distance, and that Federation boarding parties are slowly approaching his position. He sets the overload timer as a backup for his switch, and he orders many of the remaining stormtroopers to board the last few escape pods. He wishes them luck, and as soon as the pods are away, he releases the switch. The entire ship is blown apart by the resulting explosion, and the USS Ming is destroyed along with it.

Obviously, the star destroyer is not captured intact. Recovery teams will sift through the debris field for weeks, looking for usable equipment, but they will find little of value. Large numbers of Imperial personnel are captured alive in their escape pods, but the top-ranking officers all went down with their ship. Worse yet, the USS Ming is destroyed and its entire crew is KIA. Starfleet's only chance for salvaging a small victory from this mission is their hope of extracting useful information from the prisoners.

Continue to Scenario 3