## Unknown Office - USS Charon ##
A once gleaming white dress uniform now bore the hallmarks of abuse and conflict. Torn, caked with smears of grime, dirt, dust, and damp throughout with sweat, the ivory uniform still remained in stark contrast to the dark uniforms surrounding it. Even the slow steady drip of blood upon its collar did little to mute its ostentation presence. Its bearer had not fared better.
"Who are you", a Romulan soldier shouted.
Cold, intense, green eyes returned the soldier's menacing gaze speaking volumes without the need to utter a sound.
"Commander Ian Lamont. Service Number 1177-197-1152390."
The response triggered the Romulan to land another painful backhand across the ambassador's face. "Liar! Starfleet naval dress does not conform to your attire! I grow tired of asking human! What is your position and where were you and your fellow crewmen headed?"
Lamont spat clearing his mouth of the metallic iron flavor of his own blood. Separated from Athalla and Keirianh he had no one to rely upon to rescue him from the horrors he now faced. He was now utterly alone and at the mercy of his ruthless Romulan captors.
"My position is sitting. As for our heading and destination it was up…well that is before you and your men so nicely liberated me from the inside of the turboshaft."
Lamont's eyes opened and he found himself on the floor his face and head ringing in pain having been knocked backwards by an increasingly angry and violent interrogator. Arms lifted him from the floor and harshly pushed him back into the chair at the center of someone's office. A hand gripped his jaw and chin with painful force as the soldier pulled Lamont's face to within millimeters of his own. Foul breath stung Lamont's nose despite it dripping profusely with blood after being broken in the latest assault upon his body.
"You humans disgust me. If it wasn't for your wretched kind the Romulan Empire would dominate the galaxy. Where is your pathetic Federation? Where is your Starfleet cavalry? Not coming are they? No? Let me tell you why. Starfleet fears the Empire. That is why they hide behind electronic sensor nets and construct dozens of listening posts along the Neutral Zone. They fear what we are capable of and I sense you fear us as well. Don't look so surprised Commander! I can see it in your eyes growing second by second. No one to rescue you. No escape."
The soldier produced a large menacing blade which he slowly pressed against Lamont's face.
"Where is your humor now Commander?"
Lamont was unprepared for this. He had been through Starfleet training an eternity ago, yet he was no longer a soldier. He wore the uniform not of the military, but of a diplomat. Fighting, tactics, killing were no longer the tools he employed not that he had ever been much good with them. How did he cope with this situation? He had no leverage, no bargaining chips, nothing to negotiate with!
The Romulan slowly lowered his blade running its tip along Lamont's chin, jaw and neck and down toward his heart which was rapidly beating with an uncontrollable nervousness. Cold droplets of sweat oozed from every pore of Lamont's body as he struggled both with lingering pain and an intensifying anxiety of which he seemed unable to control.
"You fear us as well Commander. So tell me who you really are and where your friends are headed before I am forced to become angry."
"I'm the ship's head chef", Lamont shouted barely able to utter his words without stammering. His tongue had suddenly become drier than the hottest desert wasteland and felt as if it had turned to lead. His entire body was reacting to the concentrated stress that was upon him with the weight and pressure of a mountain of rock. "I..I was just following some other crewmen who were below decks to escape the fires. I..I ha.ve no idea what is go..ing on. Why..why else would I be in white?"
The soldier snarled and with a swift motion plunged just the tip of the blade into Lamont's shoulder causing the Ambassador to cry out like a baby screaming for its mother. The soldier smiled at the response and ever so slightly twisted the blade maintaining a firm downward pressure. The steel of the weapon slowly sank into Lamont's arm eliciting several more screams from the human whose body convulsed and shook in pain and anguish.
"Vaed'rae", a powerful voice boomed at the entrance to the office. The soldiers present all snapped to attention save for the one soldier who was having fun playing with his latest human toy. "What is going on here? I gave orders for this deck to be cleared of all personnel, but now I find you and your men here wasting time with this useless havam!"
"Wait a moment", the Romulan officer replied pushing two other soldiers out of his way. "Tr'Velick, you've captured a Starfleet diplomat. How extraordinary."
"Yes sir I was just about to inform you…"
The officer drew his disruptor and fired without hesitation. The soldier's eyes bulged with surprise and shock before he toppled over dead at Lamont's feet.
"Let that be a warning to you all", the officer shouted. "Disobey your orders and you will suffer a similar fate. I have no tolerance for fools." Reaching forward the officer grabbed Lamont's blood soaked face and lifted it upwards. There was still a powerful spark in the human's green eyes. Reaching over to the hilt of the blade still protruding from Lamont's shoulder the officer took hold of its hilt and withdrew it in a clean, fluid motion as Lamont again cried out in agony.
"Well Ambassador", the officer stated tossing the blood soaked blade to the floor near the Romulan soldier's corpse, "you appear to be in a poor position for a negotiation. However, what is done is done. So? What shall we talk about? Your friends perhaps? Are they responsible for setting fire to the hangar decks below? Quite the blaze raging beneath us. Yes quite a bold ploy indeed however futile. You must realize by know that your ship is lost. We control everything aboard and have secured all but a few annoying members of your crew who will soon be captured and executed for their defiance. However you ambassador…?
"Lamont sir. He said his name was Ian Lamont."
"Lamont, you can bring the killing to an end. That is what you people do is it not? The peacemakers are as detestable in the Empire as they are within the Federation. Yet you serve a purpose. Your purpose Ambassador is to help end this needless conflict. I want you to appeal to your fellow crewmen and urge them to surrender. I will personally vouch for their safety if you will help to end the pain and suffering. This continuing rebellion is futile. Your ship is firmly in Romulan hands and at our mercy and it is only a matter of time before we hunt your colleagues down and execute them for their continued resistance.
The Romulan officer tossed a Starfleet comm. badge at the beaten and bloodied diplomat who had been reduced to a shivering mass of flesh. How pathetic, the officer mused.
"Go on Ambassador. Address the ship. That badge is keyed into the ship's intercom. You can personally help to return peace and order to the Charon and ensure the safety of the crew. The time for fighting is at an end."
"What..what good is your personal assurance", Lamont weakly replied as blood dripped between stained fingers that clutched the wounded flesh of his shoulder. His uniform bore a dark red patch that was slowly devouring the white of the fabric.
"Unlike the Klingons we Romulans are honorable people. I apologize for my soldier's harsh actions Ambassador. Had he known of your rank and stature I assure you things would have been quite handled differently. He was a fool and earned a fool's reward. The officer kicked the dead soldier at his feet to emphasize his point.
"We are both officers Ambassador and I swear that if you help I shall reciprocate. Is that not how negotiations work? You offer something in return for something else –correct?"
The officer pushed Lamont and his chair to a nearby desk and slid the communicator before the Ambassador.
"Make a plea with your people to end the violence. There is no longer a need for bloodshed."
Lamont wearily stared at the Romulan soldiers around him and the lone communicator pin on the desk. His consciousness was dealing with the overwhelming pain that was tearing at the nerves in his shoulder like a vicious animal. He had little spare mental bandwidth remaining to evaluate the implications of addressing the crew or gauging the sincerity of the Romulan officer. There were too many variables to consider and at the moment he had been robbed of his greatest asset; the ability to clearly think.
If he refused the Romulan it would only serve to fuel the officer's ire. He could choose to be defiant, but the end result could cost him his life. If he complied would he be viewed as a traitor to his ship even if his intent was to end the killing? There would be those aboard who would not understand.
He found himself trapped between duty and honor of which he fiercely adhered and that of his obligations to broker and maintain peace. However in this moment the two ideas were in direct opposition to one another. If he complied he would be betray the crew yet if he refused he could forfeit his life. Either outcome was unacceptable. He could live and be shamed or potentially die in quiet defiance.
But wait.. If he complied there was no guarantee he would be spared. What if he was being used?
His shoulder screamed with pain sapping his ability to properly evaluate the subtle nuances of a pivotal situation and decision. He had only moment to make a decision, one which could be his last.
"Well Mr. Lamont? The longer you delay the more of your crew will be harmed. Make the call! Do it for your crew."
Prodded by the relentless Romulan officer, Lamont slowly reached forward and grasped the comm badge. As his fingers closed around its cool, gold surface he silently pondered his options again and again unable to come to an equitable solution. Was this truly his own "no win" scenario?
Pulling the communicator forward he noticed its surface stuck to his fingers with trace amounts of some unknown substance. He rotated the badge and noticed its edges were smudged with a dark residue. Suddenly the decision before him crystalized into the hardest diamond impermeable to all other facts, inputs, or thoughts. He made his decision and willfully accepted its consequences with the giddiness of a young man drunk on the powerful effects of passion, lust, and love abandoning all reason and logic. His thumb and forefinger rubbed the badge and its fouled surface as his eyes were opened to certain truths. New realities unfolded before him in that moment and both the uniformed officer and diplomat within him were witnesses.
He fingers pressed the badge activating the ship's intercom. Seconds later the ambassador's cool, subdued voice echoed throughout the Charon…
[ To Be Continued… ]
Ambassador Ian Lamont