== Deck 9 ==
Lamont slid down a ladder as quietly as possible and onto Deck 9. Somewhere several decks above him he could hear shouting in Federation and Romulan. It seemed some of the crew were resisting despite the Charon being suddenly overrun by Romulan troops without warning. Wiping several beads of sweat from his head and neck with the sleeve of his white uniform jacket, Lamont made his way to the last leg of his journey. The brig was located three junctions down and sat at the end of junction 274-A-12.
Five minutes later after quietly moving down the narrow tunnel, Lamont pressed his ear to the hatch that led into the rear of the brig. It sounded quiet on the other side. He couldn’t hear any movement or talking, but then again there was no telling what was on the other side of the hatch. Pulling his phaser from his jacket pocket, Lamont held it at the ready his finger nervously twitching on the weapon’s trigger. His heart was pounding with such ferocity the ambassador feared the intensity of the sound would give him away.
Taking a deep breath, Lamont pushed upon the hatch which opened with a dull metallic thud. Peering through the opening he had a poor view of anything. The hatch ran into the back of the brig near the power and engineering controls for the forcefield generators. Seeing and hearing nothing but the steady hum of equipment the ambassador slowly slid from his hiding place. He quickly scrambled against the wall pressing his back to it as far as possible his phaser locked against his chest in a white knuckled death grip. He silently exhaled then inhaled deeply taking a quick look around the corner.
Lamont suddenly saw nothing but stars as his head cracked against the floor of the brig. Nearly unconscious the stunned diplomat was dragged by his boots across the brig floor and slung into the center of the room by a large Romulan soldier who had been quietly lying in wait near the hatch opening.
“Here’s another one”, the soldier shouted to two other troops who had secured the ship’s brig. Lamont’s head throbbed in pain his vision nothing but a blur of color as he writhed on the floor like a fish out of water. “This one has an unusual uniform. He must be important to wear such a ridiculous garment.”
A brig security officer stood against the wall his hands upon his head with a Romulan disruptor pointed squarely at his chest. He could do nothing as Romulans had a little fun with the ambassador who was too dazed from being struck in the back to offer much resistance.
After several minutes, Lamont’s vision had mostly cleared though the pain in his shoulders and neck had yet to recede. His attempt at evasion had failed and miserably so. Three Romulans stood guard over him, a security officer, and…
“We’ve secured most of deck 9. Let’s move out. These two should be taken to the cargo bay along with the other prisoners.”
Lamont could barely make out the form of Aev Keirianh still trapped behind his cell’s forcefield. It appeared the Romulan guards were uninterested in dealing with those who were already prisoners.
“COME ON. GET UP”, one of the troops snarled harshly kicking Lamont in the side with the toe of his hardened combat boot.
Lamont coughed several times at the onslaught but managed to shoot the soldier a frigid stare with his cold jade, green eyes. He had to stall them even if that meant enduring additional and harsher abuse.
“Do you have any idea who I am”, Lamont shouted rising to his feet to face the scowling Romulan soldier. “I am Ambassador Ian Lamont representing the United Federation of Planets and am a delegated emissary of the Federation Council. Why have you attacked this ship without provocation? We are within Romulan space under a banner of truce in an effort to foster peace and scientific discovery! Your illegal actions aboard this ship are tantamount to a declaration of war against the Federation! I can assure you that this grievous breach of faith and trust will not go unanswered. Once the council hears of your dastardly and unprovoked actions and transgressions the Empire will pay a high price.”
The soldier growled moving to silence the Ambassador, but another soldier blocked his path stopping the attack. “If he is who he says he is then we should inform the sub commander. He may be of some value.”
“Only some value”, Lamont sarcastically replied. “There isn’t a person aboard of more value! I can communicate directly with the council. No Starfleet, no admirals, no red tape. I have no idea what your intentions are, but I have the authority to negotiate with foreign powers not to mention have the ear of both the council and the Federation president! I demand to speak with your leaders at once!”
“Bring him. I’m sure the sub commander will be very pleased we have captured such an important prisoner”, the soldier sneered in Lamont’s direction.
“So you believe him, but you leave me to rot in this hell hole”, a voice called out in perfect Romulan.
“Be silent before we end your life”, one of the soldiers shouted at the Romulan confined to his cell.
Lamont shot a look at Keirianh. “You’d do well to keep that piece of trash locked up. He’s a killer. A menace to everyone aboard.”
“You humans are all the same”, Aev shouted. “Except for the captain of this vessel. Her treachery knows no bounds. Shiarrael T’Rehu betrayed the Empire and sold her soul to the Federation. She has become their dog and imprisoned me for months! My only crime? Being Romulan!”
“Perhaps if you had not tried to assassinate the captain you would not be trapped in that cell”, Lamont fired back.
“Rehu is a traitorous dog that was allowed to escape by those too foolish to recognize the danger she poses to the Empire. There are those who wish her dead and rightfully so. I was sent to do just that – kill a traitor to the Empire. I was sold out by one of Rehu’s many informants and spies and have been a prisoner for months as the captain will not grant me an honorable death! No matter. The Tal-Shiar will find a way to silence her one way or another.”
“ENOUGH”, one of the soldiers shouted. “You!” He pointed at the security guard. Open the cell!”
Turning toward Keirianh the solider continued. “We will let the sub commander validate your story and identity.” The security guard was forced at gunpoint to disable to forcefield holding the mercenary. Aev Keirianh slowly stepped from his confinement and without warning threw a powerful right hook into the Ambassador’s jaw knocking the man to the ground.
“He’s one of the bastards responsible for my imprisonment. It was the diplomat who convinced the captain to hold me as a bargaining chip against the Empire. Do you have any idea how long I have wanted to do that?”
The Romulan soldiers turned and laughed as Lamont rose to a knee wiping his bloody, swelling lip that had been split by the mercenary’s fist.
“I’ll see you hung for your crimes”, Lamont responded spitting a mass of saliva and blood to the deck. “Justice will be served.”
“He’s actually lecturing us on justice”, Keirianh shouted with a laugh. “Federation justice is a galactic joke.” Aev moved between two of the three Romulan guards who seemed to be enjoying the display. “We shall see whose form of justice wins this contest ambassador. If I were you I wouldn’t put that much faith in Starfleet rushing to your rescue and starting a war. They’ll protest, perhaps bitterly, but in the end the Empire will take what it wants from you and your Federation will simply look the other way and forget.”
Lamont spat again as Aev and the guards laughed at the defeated, ruffled ambassador whose white upper uniform was now spotted with crimson drops of his own blood.
“On the other hand those wielding power should not let their guard down lest a clever adversary attempt to take advantage of them!” The words from Aev’s lips had only just left before he sprang into action with the finesse of a dancer and the efficiency of an expert soldier. Seconds later the guard before him twitched his eyes wide and unmoving and went limp his neck snapped like a twig.
Lamont suddenly leapt from the floor tackling the third soldier at the legs while the security guard leapt at the chance to fight back. The third Romulan fell to the deck as Lamont held fast to thrashing legs which slowly lost their life. He turned just in time to see Aev draw the first soldier’s pistol. In a flash of green light and emerald spray the second soldier looked down at his chest and the gaping hole that now ran through it. A moment later the soldier crumpled to the deck in a heap of flesh. A pool of green blood slowly emerged from beneath a head which bore a frozen expression of shock.
Keirianh moved to the third soldier and fired a final shot through his torso perhaps as a safety precaution before moving to help Lamont from the floor who was still frozen in place by both the horror and speed of what he had just witnessed.
“Stand up Ambassador. Time is short.”
Lamont nodded and stood regaining his composure. Aev shoved the disruptor pistol into Lamont’s hands. “Here. Take this. You will need it if we are to escape.”
“Ambassador”, the nervous security officer shouted from his station his retrieved phaser pointed at the Romulan mercenary. “What do we do with him?”
Lamont looked at the guard and then back at the mercenary. “Do with him? He just saved our bacon lieutenant. Put that damned thing away before you end up dead.”
Lamont shot the lieutenant an agitated glance and the guard finally complied holstering his weapon. Lamont turned his attention to Keirianh who proceeded to strip one of the dead Romulan soldiers of their uniform.
“What the hell are you doing”, Lamont shouted.
“I assume you came here with an escape plan Ambassador?”
Lamont was about to reply but stopped short as he did not have an answer. “Well..”
“As I surmised. The soldier’s clothing will provide us with cover. If you appear to be my prisoners we should be able to move throughout the ship virtually unopposed. Time is of the essence. Crawling through the plumbing of this ship for hours will only delay the inevitable. Right now we hold the element of surprise. I suggest we use it.”
“I am not going out there with a Romulan”, the security lieutenant shouted. “He could simply hand us over and attempt to escape. He’s been trying to kill you Ambassador since he came aboard. What makes him trustworthy now?”
Lamont took a long look at Keirianh before responding. “He has no love for the Empire. I suspect that he, like us, has reasons for not ending up in their custody. For the moment I believe our goals are one and the same.”
“You are more astute than I suspected ambassador”, Keirianh responded pulling on the soldier’s upper armor and fastening it into place. “You are correct. I have reasons to avoid unnecessary entanglements with my people.”
“And to avoid being indentified I suggest we quickly improvise an action plan. It is highly likely the senior staff has already been secured if not killed. The absence of warning suggests the attack caught the bridge crew by surprise even if there is something odd about the tactics being employed by my people. I suspect there is something aboard they want. They want it so badly they are willing to risk war with the Federation by assaulting one of its starships. This is not the work of the Tal-Shiar. They would never act so openly brazen. Some other force is at work however I cannot speculate further without additional information.”
Lamont nodded. “Agreed. We need to find a place to regroup and assess our options.”
Lieutenant Remington glanced at the door. “Sir, it is not safe to stay here. If we are going to make a move it needs to be now.”
Lamont suddenly remembered someone aboard who would likely be immune to capture for the foreseeable future.
“How could I be so dense?” <<Thomas don’t answer that!!!>>
“Savant. The computer. Well not so much the computer… Savant is an autonomous program of sorts. Extremely sophisticated. Heaven only knows where she came from or who wrote her. She is far more charming than the ship’s bland and irritating female interface not to mention a great deal more helpful.” Lamont rushed to the security station which was unresponsive its displays frozen in time. The ship’s computer was likely locked down to prevent Romulan access and no doubt Savant was busy both protecting herself as well as the ship from Romulan invaders.
“I never had much of a head for tactics”, Lamont stated rubbing his head. “Engineering will likely be heavily guarded as will the bridge. All key areas will be watched such as the armory, sickbay, and any areas where they might be keeping prisoners such as Eris deck or the cargo bays. If we could get to auxiliary control we would be in a good position. The Romulans might over look its importance.”
“Unlikely. Though less important than the bridge my people will not leave an area with duplicate controls of the ship’s main systems unprotected. A good idea ambassador, but even if we were there it would not take long for the Gai’shian to locate us once we began utilizing the systems there.”
“Perhaps we should head for the shuttle bay sir”, Remington suggested. “I’m not proposing we steal a shuttle, but we might be able to seek refuge in one of them and use its systems to mask our lifesigns. We could use the shuttle to scan the ship and the area quietly without attracting too much attention. We would also have the benefit of a subspace radio. Perhaps we could raise Starfleet command or one of our listening outposts on the Neutral Zone.”
“Longshot”, Lamont stated. “We’re too far out for live communications and transmitting a high powered communications signal would instantly give away our position. I don’t have the expertise needed to configure a message to piggy back on Romulan carrier waves to avoid detection. At the moment our first priority is to find out what is going on. Only then can we work on a plan of action.”
“Shuttlebay”, Lamont said turning toward the mercenary who had just finished changing his clothing and was indistinguishable from a Romulan soldier.
“Logical if not risky. Gaining access to a shuttle undetected and without drawing attention will not be easy. They may expect some of the crew to try exactly what we are planning even if stealing a shuttle and attempting escape is tantamount to suicide.”
“A risk we will have to take”, Lamont quickly responded. “I don’t see that we have many options and every minute we stay here increases our chance of capture. Assuming our luck holds I’m willing to bet the shuttles are not heavily guarded especially if the flight deck has been cleared and secured.”
“At least with a shuttle we have the means to fight back. Its phasers can clear the deck and it would take hundreds of soldiers to cut through its shields with handheld weapons.”
“Our goal is not to fight Remington”, Lamont barked. “The Romulans would only use captured crewmen as fodder against us until we surrendered. I don’t want that kind of blood on my hands. If our fate is sealed then I..I suppose I’d rather go out with my hands stained green instead of red. No offense Aev.”
The mercenary nodded with a cold, but understanding gaze. “Shall we proceed?”
“If we reach the shuttles we can contact Savant. She’ll know what’s going on. I suppose we are as ready as we can be. Any final thoughts or suggestions?”
Hearing none Lamont swallowed. This just wasn’t his day, or week, month…really his year. Was he really going to put his life in the hands of a Romulan who had tried to kill him – twice?”
“Lets go.” Lamont looked at Remington who after a moment of nervous disapproval shoved his phaser out of sight and placed his hands on his head. Ian did the same as Aev lowered his rifle at the two officers in order to complete the ruse that they were his prisoners. Lamont motioned toward the door as the two men slowly exited the brig their fates in the hands of a dangerous and unpredictable Romulan. Anything could happen now. Only fate knew what lie in store for them or if they would even reach the tentative safety of a shuttlecraft.
[ To Be Continued… ]
Ambassador Ian Lamont
Lt. Remington (NPC)