## Hangar Deck ##
Lamont begrudgingly followed the ragtag group of enlisted personnel and officers down a corridor away from the hangar bay which had been carefully crafted into a modern Pandora’s Box yearning to be opened. He was beyond preventing those around him from unleashing its horrors yet despite his own harsh objections there was still hope. In the midst of chaos there were always possibilities.
A lone dark figure emerged from the hangar like a specter and made its way down the hall joining up with the small group of men and women.
“Ok”, Lt. Athalla said between heavy breaths. “I’ve triggered the fighters. Engine startup procedures take 30 seconds. Once the engines are warm the computer will exhaust their drive plasma directly into the hangar. I’d say we have about 60 seconds before the plasma concentrations are high enough to detonate the torpedoes. Bridger? Where’s Bridger? Are you ready?”
“Just say when sir. This tricorder should trigger several of the torps and ignite the plasma, fighters, and fuel supplies on deck. It’s gonna be one hell of a light show.”
“Thirty five seconds Mr. Athalla”, Keirianh stated calmly keeping a wary eye on the Ambassador who seemed unusually tense.
“Lamont it is highly probable that our actions will attract significant attention. I suggest you do your best to remain close at all times.” Pulling the phaser from the Ambassador’s hand the mercenary checked its settings and made an adjustment before handing the weapon back to the nervous diplomat. “Your weapon is set to kill Ambassador. I hope you can cope with that fact. Stun settings will not kill my people and will only agitate them further. They are unlikely to show any mercy and must be stopped at all costs. Do you understand?”
Lamont snatched the weapon away and nodded. “I can defend my ship”, he snapped. “I just don’t have to enjoy it like everyone else.”
“Twenty seconds”, a crewman shouted out as the group waited in nervous anticipation.
“Okay, remember the plan. We all split up and cause as much confusion as possible. Move quickly and stick to maintenance areas and crawlspaces. Take out any targets of opportunity, but do not get cocky. Plan on meeting at junction 117-A Section 39. We’ll regroup and plan our next move then. “ With no forthcoming questions Athalla moved toward the mercenary.
“Tell me something Keirianh”, Athalla asked checking his own weapon. “Why help us? It would be so easy to betray us and go back to your people.”
The mercenary glanced at the Starfleet pilot with a look of mild amusement dancing within his eyes. “Lieutenant, it has been a long time since I have experienced this level of enjoyment. You humans are far more resourceful and entertaining than I ever imagined. However, I turned my back on my people for reasons not too dissimilar to events unfolding here aboard your ship. Some Romulans have become irrational, power hungry, filled with dishonorable motives and insatiable desires which cut against Mnhei'sahe. They deserve nothing except the cold hand of death.”
Athalla nodded. He had no idea wha meanhaysahe was, but it seemed to be important to the mercenary turned ally.
“How’s the ambassador”, Leon asked glancing down the hall for any sign of movement.
“He is unprepared for what awaits however his spirit is strong. He will learn.”
“Well he picked a hell of a time for training”, Leon quipped.
“Lieutenant we’re ready”, Bridger shouted from the small crowd.
“Alright its time. We’ll see you at the meeting point. Good luck.” Athalla took the tricorder as the crew dispersed down the hallways eventually disappearing leaving only Lamont and Keirianh present.
“Well gentlemen, any last words?”
“Angels and ministers of grace defend us”, Lamont gruffly answered still highly irritated at being publically overruled and humiliated in front of the crew.
Athalla turned to the mercenary. “What would you have me say pilot?” Relenting Aev offered a short statement. “May the Elements guide and protect us.”
“Amen father”, Athalla stated with a wry grin. “I never was much for speeches. Ambassador, hold on to your medals I suspect we are in for a ride.”
“Yee-haw” Lamont stated with a sarcastic lack of enthusiasm.
Athalla took a deep breath and depressed the button on the tricorder. Several seconds passed. He pressed the button again. Nothing. “Damn it Bridger! I thought…”
An earsplitting explosion echoed through the deck swallowing Athalla’s words as the doors to hell itself were thrown wide open in the center of the Charon’s hangar deck. Torpedoes detonated one after the other their energies igniting the vast plumes of superheated plasmas that had been leaking onto the deck. Two fighters engulfed in gas were instantly ripped apart and nearly vaporized in the intense violence of the explosions which erupted across the hangar like popcorn kernels bursting over heat.
Plumes of superheated gases vaporized metal as a shuttle and another fighter were consumed by the hellish firestorm that had been unleashed. Emergency klaxons rang out across the ship as every deck rattled and shook from the ferocity and magnitude of the explosions. A horrific moaning soon wafted from the hangar screeching and crying out as metal deformed, warped, and twisted against the massive inferno and heat that licked its surfaces. The shiny deck plates that once bore the proud Starfleet insignia buckled, broke, and collapsed into the storage deck below. Molten metal poured like water into the massive sinkhole appearing in the hangar as billowing clouds of black acrid smoke, flame, and sparks filled the cavernous room. Hellish heat and flame consumed everything it touched fueled by a vindictive hatred for all life.
## Meanwhile ##
Fires had erupted around the three men as EPS junctions exploded, bulkheads bubbled, and power systems failed. Smoke slowly filled the halls which were bathed in bright red emergency lighting. Grabbing the Ambassador, Leon Athalla shouted for them to move. Running only a few meters the deck beneath them shook again. Lamont staggered against a wall only to see the bulkhead they had been crouching near bulge and then explode sticking like an guillotine blade into the opposite wall. Suddenly a wall of flame surged from a nearby T-junction behind them forcing all three men to burst into a mad dash. A turboshaft and its ladders were the only escape from the inferno consuming the deck and everything on it.
Vile, thick smoke burned Lamont’s eyes and throat causing him to cough and gasp for breath in the steadily deteriorating environment. Computer consoles all around them shattered and exploded like fragmentation grenades sending dark plastic projectiles in all directions. Lamont winced as the plastic fragments tore at his
Electrical systems overloaded. Fire suppression systems strained against the waves of fire and heat, but only managed to keep some of the fire at bay, not stop it. Bulkheads and entire walls slowly began to melt, buckle, and deform due to the intensity of the fires which were being fed by a core of micro-torpedoes, fuel, and micro-warp cores all carefully sabotaged to produce unprecedented destruction.
Athalla and Keirianh reached a turbolift and quickly attempted to pry its doors apart. The two men struggled while Lamont coughing and wheezing fell to a knee and ripped open the door’s emergency release. Several pumps from the hydraulic release lever gave the pilot and mercenary the room they needed to pry open the doors and grab the rungs of the ladder that would carry them to another deck and away from the immediate danger of the fire.
Lamont wasted little time, bringing up the rear, as he clamored up the ladder behind Athalla and Keirianh. After climbing up three decks the team stopped for a brief moment to rest.
“Lt. Athalla”, Lamont shouted upwards. “We may not agree on several things, but you sure know how to start a fire. I am glad you are on our side.”
“Well I always was told I was a bit of a showoff. By the way Lamont…” Suddenly the turbolift doors near the ladder opened as Lamont’s eyes grew wide with fear and surprise. “LAMONT LOOK OUT”, Athalla shouted. Powerful arms and hands grabbed the Ambassador and ripped him from his grasp upon the ladder. The ambassador disappeared without a sound only to be replaced by green disruptor beams attempting to dislodge Athalla and Keirianh from their positions higher up the turboshaft.
“BASTARDS”, Athalla shouted firing his weapon downward at the lift door opening. His aim rang true striking one Romulan in the chest. The soldier fell forward and with a deafening scream fell into the shaft and disappeared into its dark depths below.
“ATHALLA”, Keirianh shouted. “We cannot stay here! Start climbing!”
“But what about Lamont!”
“He’s on his own! There isn’t anything we can do for him now. We are outnumbered and cannot mount an effective rescue attempt stuck on this ladder. We must withdraw and reevaluate the situation.”
“I will not leave him. They’ll tear him to shreds!”
Another green disruptor beam sailed past the men showering them with burning sparks.
“He is stronger than you know. In any case he is beyond our help for now. We must retreat!”
Athalla gauged the situation and reluctantly agreed with the mercenary. His heart heavy at his inability to defend a colleague, Athalla quickly scrambled up the ladder with the mercenary in close pursuit. They would have to regroup and fight another time. Hopefully, by some miracle the Ambassador could escape or was still alive if and when this messy affair concluded. Lamont was quite adept at escaping from the brig and seemed to have the backbone to stand up to the captain who made even the most seasoned officer quiver and cower. Perhaps he would pull through. In any case his fate was no longer tied to theirs. For now Athalla had to focus on fighting the Romulan soldiers that had infested the Charon.
Perhaps Lamont’s silver tongue would for once provide him with the weapon he needed to escape. Only time would tell…
[ To Be Continued… ]
Lt. Leon Athalla
Combat Fighter Pilot
Ambassador Ian Lamont
(NPCs APB Tav)