## Main Hangar Bay ##
Lamont looked on from an inconspicuous location as Pilot Leon Athalla, security officer Lt. Remington, and the mercenary Aev Keirianh quickly and quietly stalked their Romulan targets. The three were like watching a silent, well oiled machine each issuing and receiving non-verbal commands and taking up positions as they closed on the three Romulan guards at the rear of the bay.
Hidden behind several crates from differing vantage points the two men took turns evaluating their quarry as Lamont looked on. He abhorred the use of violence to solve problems however this was no ordinary situation calling for unorthodox tactics that included the use of force. Darwinian as it seemed, Lamont was in no position to object. His fate for the moment was inexorably meshed with the three men who had far more combat skill than he.
Gripping his own phaser tightly, Lamont held his breath as Athalla counted down with hand gestures. Reaching the end of the countdown the three men emerged from their concealment and opened fire upon their Romulan targets. Two of the soldiers fell to the deck while the third whirled around firing blindly at his attackers. A third crimson beam struck the soldier in the chest toppling the soldier and sending him backwards several feet. Moments later the crew held hostage quickly took the initiative and secured the Romulan soldiers collecting their weapons.
Lamont slowly emerged from his location after the firing had stopped. Speed and surprise had allowed the trio to overpower the formidable Romulan soldiers. Lt. Athalla handed off seeing to the rescued hangar crew to Lt. Remington before dashing back to the shuttle. After briefly disappearing into the shuttle, Leon leaned out and grabbed the soiled white uniform of the ambassador and dragged him inside. “Don’t just stand there Lamont”, Athalla chided. “We have work to do!”
## Later ##
Lamont slowly navigated a heavy loader forward as Lt. Athalla and several of the rescue hangar crew directed him into position. Drops of sweat ran down his forehead as he carefully moved the loader toward several of the fighters. His cargo consisted of several bright red crates all of which were marked with various warning labels. Dozens of micro-torpedoes were being stacked and concentrated at the center of the hangar. In the past twenty minutes the small group of crewmen had stacked dozens of crates of munitions, fuel components, and other flammable or explosive materials in one location. It was almost like building a bonfire however its intent was far more sinister.
Lamont breathed a sigh of relief as the cargo on the loader was offloaded. He quickly backed away from the growing mound of potential energy being concentrated before him. Crawling down off the loader Ian barely had a moment to breathe before an energetic pilot grabbed his uniform again and dragged him into an impromptu meeting with the rescued hangar crew, the security officer, and the Romulan mercenary.
“Wilkins – what about those torpedoes? We can arm them remotely yes?”
“I disabled the safeties. Bridger should have a tricorder rigged up soon to prime the torps and allow us to detonate them remotely.”
“Good work. I’ve managed to rig up a connection between the fighters. I think I can instruct them to power up their engines and vent their drive plasma into the bay. If we can ignite the plasma build up things should get quite hot for the Romulans.”
“Keirianh, the hangar door?”
The mercenary nodded betraying little emotion. “I have sabotaged the computer inputs to the hangar door including the auxiliary systems. The manual door release controls have been blocked by equipment though it is doubtful the Romulans would know where to look without detailed deck schematics. I highly doubt the hangar door can be opened by Romulan personnel to vent your planned fireball into space lieutenant.”
“Ah, yes sir!”
“The fire suppression systems?”
“Offline. We cut through most of the ODN junctions which feed the suppression systems. We might have a few we missed, but they won’t be able to cope with this.”
Lamont couldn’t help himself. He was standing here listening to his fellow crewmen plotting to blow the hangar deck apart and possibly threaten the Charon itself. It sounded like madness.
“Lt. Athalla”, Lamont interrupted. “I am no military tactician but creating a firestorm here in the hangar cannot be our only option. If the fire grows uncontrollably and without the ability to vent the blaze into space through the hangar door we are endangering the ship and the lives we are trying to save! We cannot do this.”
Athalla’s exuberance faded momentarily at the acerbic diplomat and his unrelenting pacifism. “Ambassador we have been over this. We must divert the Romulan’s attention. This action serves not only as a diversion, but poses a clear and present danger to them. They will be forced to respond or retreat. If they respond their ranks employed to guard the crew and secure our decks will be diminished and thinned leaving them open to attack. If they do nothing they risk losing the Charon.”
“Ambassador your concern is admirable, but we must do this.”
“Unacceptable. This course of action will only inflame the Romulans leading to more fatalities and injuries among the crew. It is a bluff. If it works we might get lucky and be able to hit a few soldiers here and there, but it won’t stop them. They won’t let the Charon leave whether it is on fire or not! They are too heavily committed at this point. If we escape and notify Starfleet the Empire would experience a horrible loss of face on the stage of public affairs. They would never permit such disgrace from occurring. They will destroy the Charon themselves rather than allow it to escape fire or no fire!”
“Exactly”, Athalla replied. “If we do nothing the Romulans win however if we do something we may still lose, but so do the Romulans resulting in stalemate. The balance of power is preserved and Starfleet technology and secrets will not find their way into the hands of the Star Empire!”
“You are playing a dangerous game Athalla and risking the lives of the crew in the process. This cannot be permitted. As the most senior officer present I am ordering you and everyone else to cease this nonsense. We can do better than creating an inferno which may claim lives instead of saving them.”
“Officer? You’re a diplomat!”
“I hold the full rank of commander, lieutenant! I was third officer aboard the USS Lexington during the last war before transferring to the Diplomatic Corps.”
Athalla’s cheerful expression was gone replaced with growing resentment. “Well COMMANDER, you can put me on report then because I am willingly disobeying a direct order from a superior. If we live you can throw the book at me, deal?”
“Athalla I don’t want to pull rank but this cannot be permitted!”
“Ambassador, I suggest you back off”, Athalla responded. “You have no concept of military matters and are in no position to be issuing orders! That’s part of your problem with the captain is that you do not know your place! Now I suggest you shutup and stay out of my way!”
Leon brushed past the ambassador as did the majority of the hangar crew who all shot menacing glances in Lamont’s direction.
Ian stood still boiling with unadulterated anger at being disrespected and so openly disobeyed by an upstart lieutenant. He nearly bit his tongue restraining himself from continuing the debate. He had no desire to incur the crew’s ire yet they were mad if they believed this plan would work.
“Ambassador”, a strong voice stated from behind him.
Lamont turned to see Aev Keirianh standing with a cool expression. “Your dedication to your profession is admirable however now is not the time for debate. They men you address are those of action. Inaction, debate, and evaluation while common place in your world are signs of weakness and frailty in theirs. Words for the moment cannot be our weapons. There are no Romulans to talk with and none are in a position to negotiate. As it stands our hand is weak. We have nothing to bargain with. We have no leverage. What is the trite human expression? Ah yes, fight fire with fire.”
“No ambassador. There is no time for debate. We must move swiftly and strike decisively if we are to have any chance at retaking the ship. If the Romulans succeed in their plans it is doubtful you will ever have the freedom to debate or negotiate again.”
Lamont was reluctant to admit defeat. “Fine. You do whatever it is you feel is required. I will simply remain out of the way. As you said this isn’t my territory. However I want no part in assisting this mad endeavor. I won’t have the blood of the crew on my hands if this so called plan goes awry.”
“You are consistent Ambassador and remain true to your beliefs even in the face of your comrades. It is unusual for politicians whose viewpoints often sway with the fickle demands of the public and those around them to remain steadfast. You have integrity which many in your profession so often lack. Take comfort in the knowledge that despite the harsh words the crew realizes you are doing your duty even if it does conflict with their current goals. I suspect Mr. Athalla harbors no lasting grudge, but with pilots one can never be sure.”
The mercenary quietly walked off leaving Lamont alone.
Was he wrong to oppose Athalla’s plans? Wouldn’t any sane person support his position and find another way? He simply couldn’t see their point of view. It made no sense and he couldn’t support such a thing. He only hoped that this gamble didn’t spur retaliation against the crew. Hopefully something good would come of this madness.
[ To Be Continued… ]
Lt. Leon Athalla
Combat Fighter Pilot
Ambassador Ian Lamont (Commander)