“In The Hot Seat – Part III”
by the gentle hum of computers and occasional movement of personnel. The anxiety in the air was palpable as if one could reach out and touch it. During these final moments Lamont finally caught of a glimpse of the incredible personal burdens of command he so often neglected when verbally fencing with the captain. Dealing with ship, crew, and universal catastrophe or success at every turn took a special person who thrived in a high stress, high risk environment. It was not a job for the meek or feint of heart. He finally understood just how irritating he could appear as the weight of what was to come now sat squarely upon his own shoulders. And yet…while neither would admit it to the other Lamont believed they both shared a certain thread of enjoyment in their clashes. Such exchanges kept them both mentally sharp and like a debate team had a certain measure of satisfaction attached when an argument could be won. Yes the relationship between him and the captain was adversarial, but he surmised they both preferred it that way.
“Thirty seconds until we are within firing range of the Endless Sky”, the helm officer called out. “Now matching speed, attitude, and bearing for optimal transport conditions.”
“Continue on course. Tactical, stand by to fire on my command.”
Lamont turned toward the communications officer. “Inform all decks that we are about to engage the enemy. Have security stand by to repel any additional boarding parties primarily in Engineering. Any word on the shuttle bay?”
“Fires have been ninety percent contained although reports are that the hangar decks are a total loss and will require a spacedock for repairs.”
“Very well. All stations standby.”
Perhaps the longest thirty seconds of his life, Commander Ian Lamont expertly hid the fear choking him from within. No longer the diplomat he had been forced by fate to reassume the trappings of naval rank and position at the request of the captain. When at last it seemed he could no longer stand against the tide of emotion welling up from within a voice cut through the tension on the bridge as his fear was replaced with the sudden immediacy of the moment.
“Now entering firing range in 5, 4, 3, 2,…” Ian grit his teeth knowing what was coming.
“One”, the helm officer’s voice sounded.
“All weapons…FIRE”, Lamont shouted his voice surprisingly strong and clear. At that same instant the viewscreen erupted in a flash of green as disruptor beams cut across the void separating the Charon from the Endless Sky.
Lamont clutched the command chair as the Charon bucked like a wild bronco in a Texas rodeo. Alarms sounded creating a deafening roar as voices exploded around him adding to the chaos. Another violent surge rocked the Charon tossing crewmen to their feet. Lamont’s fingers attempted to dig into the cold metal of his chair, but they could not find a stable grip. He watched as crimson beams left the hull of the Charon followed by a half dozen blue and silver globes which raced toward the aft quarter of the Endless Sky. Seconds later the screen exploded in a blinding flash of raw energy before dissipating against the tough Romulan shields.
“TRANSPORTER ROOM”, Lamont shouted over the noise. “DID THE CAPTAIN MAKE IT?!”
A moment passed as he held his breath. “Yes..yes sir, they made it through!”
Without waiting for the officer to finish, Lamont barked another order. “EVASIVE ACTION! Random evasive patterns. Keep us behind the Endless Sky!”
Lamont’s eyes locked with the screen as several torpedoes and a hailstorm of disruptors slid toward the Charon. A second later they hit their target with devastating power. Lamont felt as if a boot had kicked him in the back as the bridge went dark around him. He could hear shouts and screams as his face hit the carpeting where his feet had been just moments before. His heart raced as the world around him seemed to explode. He just wanted to lay there and somehow believe that all of this would just vanish as quickly as it had arrived.
Something inside of him screamed out for him to stand up even in the midst of the chaos. Almost without thinking his body began to pull itself upward as if it had a mind of its own. Training and instinct took over where the mind of the ambassador could not. Dormant, but never erased, training he thought he had forgotten which had been drilled into him at the Academy and in service suddenly awoke and took command.
Red and white emergency lighting snapped on revealing a much different bridge. Clouds of smoke poured from an exploded console near communications and Lamont noticed two crewmen on the ground injured and unmoving. There was little time to see to their needs, the Charon herself was in mortal danger and if she died…so did they.
“INCREASE SPEED”, Lamont shouted retaking his seat trying to regain control of the chaos exploding around him. “AND SOMEONE SHUT OFF THOSE DAMN ALARMS!”
The bridge responded to his commands despite the smoke, fires, and flashing alarms of a wounded ship in need of care. They couldn’t stop to lick their wounds they had to press on no matter the cost.
“Hull breaches on decks three, four, and five – damage control teams responding. We’ve lost communications with deck five. Power fluctuations ship wide. Shields at 62 percent! Internal dampening systems are compensating…heavy casualties on deck three…damage to outer hull is…”
“Tactical! Target their aft quarter as before! We must take down its rear shields! Fire at will!”
Salvos of blue and crimson torpedoes lashed out toward the Endless Sky only to be returned by the Romulan’s own murderous fire. The helmsman, nimble and quick, dodged some of the incoming fire but no skill could compensate for the volume of fire now streaming out behind the Romulan warship.
Deadly green illuminated the bridge once again as the Charon bucked under the stress. Lamont’s teeth rattled against one another as he could hear the structure around him groan in a desperate bid to remain whole. Acrid smoke now stung his eyes and irritated his throat as he waved his hand before him trying to clear his view.
“SIR! Heavy damage to forward saucer section! Starboard nacelle has been hit and is leaking drive plasma! Shields down to 22 percent!”
Lamont bit his lip. He knew from the moment he had taken the captain’s chair that the decision he was about to make could very well come to pass. He had feared it and yet now that the decision had arrived its power had faded, its bite was now just a bark. It had to be done.
“FULL IMPULSE POWER”, he roared from his seat. “WE’RE GOING TO RAM HER! ALL STATIONS BRACE FOR IMPACT!”
The crew did not hesitate, but simply and efficiently carried out the orders that would bring this affair to a rapid conclusion. Only fate would know the outcome.
The Charon’s engines groaned as they propelled the ship closer to the aft sections of the Endless Sky. Lamont could make out the green details of the hull as they approached. Disruptors tore at her saucer which was burned, broken, and streaming with various clouds of gas and burning plasma from the damage she had been forced to endure. Despite the onslaught she persisted, unwilling to die, in the midst of the enemy before her.
Lamont held his breath as he looked on and wondered how he would be judged in the life to come…
Suddenly the rear of the Endless Sky exploded in a cloud of crimson as several of the Charon’s torpedoes at last overwhelmed its shields. Fragments of green metal twisted and deformed before being stripped away by the explosions.
“EVASIVE STARBOARD”, Lamont shouted jumping to his feet. He braced himself as the Charon and millions of tons of metal committed to a final suicide run strained to alter course. The Endless Sky loomed closer and closer filling the entire viewscreen until at last it was replaced by the blackness of space. Lamont was surrounded by a bridge that exploded in cheers, but not before the Charon lunged forward as metal struck metal. The impact threw the ambassador forward like a rag doll.
Once again the lights failed and the sounds of all manner of destruction enveloped him. Pulling himself upwards, Lamont rubbed his carpet burned face before a viewscreen filled with static and an image of the Romulan warship’s aft decks silently burning. The bridge was no better off with three stations on fire, crewmen injured, and clusters of wiring hanging from the ceiling like vines in a thick jungle.
“Starboard warp nacelle struck the edge of the Romulans as we passed by”, someone shouted. “Heavy damage, but we are still in once piece!”
Ian coughed and found the strength to return to the command chair. “Helm, reduce speed and give us some distance! Alter course to get us in back in behind the Romulans! Tactical! Concentrate all phaser and torpedo fire on its ass! I intend to rip that ship a new one with everything we have left!”
“AYE AYE SIR”, came the confident reply.
“Someone get some medics up here to treat the wounded and I want a shipwide damage report! Communications! Do your best to contact the captain!”
“ENGINEERING! Divert all power to the forward shields. We are staying in this fight until that ship has been stopped or has been destroyed!”
Sucking in a breath, Lamont coughed on the smoke filled air around him. Somehow they were all still alive having taken an awful beating. Somehow he had managed to bring the Charon this far without losing her or himself in the chaos of battle. Somewhere he had found the strength to do what he had been unable to do so many years ago in other battles, in another war.
He had found something since his days aboard the Lexington as a young man-something he never thought he could acquire, something he never believed he possessed or could use.
Sitting there, alone in the center of the bridge, Ian Lamont suddenly felt a sense of pride. He had complained about this assignment since setting foot aboard the ship. Now, this was more than just an assignment. This was his ship. He was a part of its diverse crew. He belonged here and despite the danger, pain, and chaos within and around him – Lamont could think of no other place in the universe he would rather be. This was home - and he would do everything in his power to protect it.
Commander Ian Lamont
(Yes..he’s a commander by rank…scary ain’t it!)
Acting Captain, USS Charon