Monday, January 3, 2011

[USS Charon] SD241101.02 - Plot Prelude "Crossroads" Part I

[Neutral Zone]

The ambience of the star speckled darkness was disturbed by single flash of light- from the center of the flash an elongated object emerged.  As it slowed the long grey object soon pulled together and coalesced into a Sovereign class starship.  For the next ten minutes it sat silently in the darkness- the blue and red glows of its nacelles decorating the metallic hull. 

Suddenly, in the blanket of darkness, a heavy ripple distorted the starfield as a three D'Kazanka Romulan cruisers decloaked.  The first ship moved its beak towards the Sovereign's forward hull while the other two twisted and dove towards opposite sides of the ship effectively surrounding it.

[USS Warrior, Bridge]

"Well, it seems our escorts have arrived."  Captain Isaiah Pope  smiled nervously at the Romulan ships dominating his view screen.  The grey haired ebony Captain sat up as his tactical officer announced that they were being hailed.  He turned his head and looked at the Admiral seated next to him "well Admiral- do you want to take this call or should I?"

Enor withheld a sigh.  He still couldn't fathom why Starfleet kept insisting on sending this scientist on such important excursions.  Give me a lab and I'll be happy- I promise.  He let his grim expression fade into a half-hearted smile as he nodded to Pope.  "All right.  I'll do you this favor Captain- but you owe me."  He took a deep breath and stood up taking a few steps forward "on screen."

The warbird was replaced by a Romulan bridge - the utilitarian dimness Enor always found extra depressing greeted him.  Stepping into the screen was a Romulan Riov who dismissively nodded his head at the Admiral "Jolan'tru Federation ship.  We have been ordered to escort you to Romulus.  Please keep your shields and weapons disarmed to prevent any misunderstandings.  That is all."  With that the screen cut back to the view of the starfield.

"Well, that was unusually brief."  Pope commented from his chair.

Enor twisted around "short and to the point.  By the way- where the hell is the Ambassador?  I haven't seen him since we picked him up from Vulcan."

"In his quarters I imagine."  Pope answered wearing a rather weary expression as he looked over to his helmsman "Lieutenant Paolo, set a course to follow our escorts and match speeds.  Make sure there are no misunderstandings."

"No misunderstandings?"  Enor chuckled and considered the irony after the Vulcan incident.  Looking at Pope he pointed at the turbolift "I am going to take a page from the Ambassador's book and retire to my quarters.  Contact me once we arrive at Romulus.  Sitting on the bridge of this ship is too nostalgic for my tastes."

"Regret taking those bars, eh?"  Pope grinned and stood up to escort the Admiral to the lift but his tactical officer interrupted him.

"Sir, we are receiving a message from Earth.  It's the General.  He would like to speak with you."

"Ah, I see."  Pope looked at Enor and waved at the lift "well I'm sure you know your way around Admiral.  I have to take this message.  I'll have my second inform you when we arrive."

"Good."  Enor nodded his head and headed towards the lift.

Several hours later...

[Romulus, Federation Embassy]

Ambassador Lanril Po scurried across the grounds of the Embassy with several aids trailing behind him as the shuttle containing the Admiral landed in the front courtyard.  He arrived just in time to see the shuttle's rear hatch lower.  He let out a relieved breath as two security escorts stepped out followed by the Admiral wearing his dress whites.  "Admiral Enor!  What a pleasure!"

"Hello Ambassador Po."  Enor smiled and looked around.  The Federation embassy was a quaint five story building that lined the edges of the waterway that separated the city Romulans referred to as Ra'tleihfi and the Capital they called I'Ramnau.  A large retaining wall encompassed the rear of the ten acre facility bordered the shore while three security walls covered the rest.  "Where is the envoy?"

"Ah, he arrived just before you!  He requested a room inside the Embassy.  I found one for him and had a few of my aids escort him.  He said he would join us shortly and to continue on with the banquet until his arrival.  In either case I'm glad you're here.  The Romulan Praetor just arrived and I've been having a hard time with her- she certainly is not as personable as her predecessor."  Po pressed his palm against Enor's shoulder blade as he urged him towards the building.

"Ambassador...Amb..."  Enor paused as he stepped into the building and was surprised to find the interior teeming with people.  There were at least a dozen or so Romulans dressed formally along with a few Klingons, Cardassians, Tholians, and Lyrans plus Federation species scattered about the mix.  "Did you invite every diplomat on Romulus?"  He tried not to groan "I am not a diplomat Ambassador..."

"No, you are a military officer."  Jole twisted around to find an older Romulan woman grinning at him.  He squinted recognizing her face...Cretak "Praetor.  It is an honor to finally meet you."

"I wish I could say the same Admiral- but it seems your government is adamant about the Empire accepting responsibility for something it neither condoned nor endorsed.  If you think your presence here will intimidating, you are mistaken."  She smiled, it was a sharp smile that made Enor's head hurt.

"See, I tried to tell them that."  Enor smiled sarcastically as Po stood next to him.  The aids apparently having scattered to the wind "in either case this is not a time for that discussion.  We will have plenty of time when we begin our negotiations.  In the mean time the Ambassador here has created quite a nice party.  Why don't you enjoy some Federation hospitality?  Might warm you up a littl..."  A buzzing sound caught his attention and twisted his head up to look out the windows "what is that?"

Lanril shuffled and looked over.  "I'm not sure?  Perhaps there is an issue with one of the cooling units?  I will go check-" 

A shrill scream caused everyone to twist their heads towards the entrance but it was too late.  A massive fireball incinerated everything nearby as it conflagrated and pushed its way through the entire compound blowing out windows and doors with great fury. 

Blackness engulfed Enor's vision as the fireball threw him into a collapsing pillar.  When he awoke he found his torso pinned beneath the concrete pillar.  Soot, ash, and blood covered his forehead.  With his arm he rubbed the grit from his eyes and looked up to find billowing black smoke flowing across the ceiling and pouring out the massive windows.  He choked and coughed.  Hearing nearby footsteps he lifted his bloody hand "I'm stuck here." 

An unfamiliar Romulan figure crouched over him "Admiral, it seems you survived.  Unfortunately you have something we want." 

Enor's eyes widened as the figure reached down and wrapped fingers around his neck.  He barely had time to react when the figure squeezed tightly.  Enor struggled to pry the hand away but the effort was simply futile.  He reached up and grabbed the figure's collar tightly and glared into their eyes angrily.

It took a minute but the Admiral finally stopped struggling and his hand fell to the floor limp.

[To be continued]