Consecutusque cohortis ad Rubiconem flumen, qui provinciae eius finis erat, paulum constitit, ac reputans quantum moliretur, conversus ad proximos: "Etiam nunc," inquit, "regredi possumus; quod si ponticulum transierimus, omnia armis agenda erunt." - Suetonius.
[ch'Rihan, Galae Command, Planetary Operations Center]
As the evening sun slid beyond the deep turquoise of the apnex sea coating I'Ramnau in the early night's shadow a loud whir broke the rhythmic chirping of panels and tapping of fingers in the operations center. EnArrain tr'Ulrhi slid a pale olive hand across his console and pressed his finger against the pulsating emblem on the edge of his digital star chart. A box of data appeared and he studied the readouts quietly before looking up "Rekkhai, we have an issue."
The evening commander, Ael'Riov tr'Janaka, who was an unusually short and stout fellow by Romulan standards slid out of his chair and hobbled over to tr'Ulrhi. "What is the issue?" He asked as he stopped behind the EnArrain and gazed over his shoulder at the screen. tr'Janaka's lips tightened as he read the data readout and he immediately pressed his wrist communicator cutting off tr'Ulrhi's response. "EnRiov tr'Relek we have a situation. Deep space scanners have detected over sixty foreign warp signatures headed towards Constantus. From readings they are likely Cardassian and Tholian."
"Send the Hwi'Galae (first fleet) to intercept immediately." tr'Relek's voice echoed back through the communicator causing everyone in the room to look at Janaka in stunned silence.
Even the normally compliant Ael'Riov felt some reservation about the order "Rekkhai...but that would leave the hearth worlds vulner..."
"YOU HAVE YOUR ORDER!" tr'Relek snapped back and Janaka flinched seemingly startled by the force of the EnRiov's words.
"Understood." Janaka replied evenly as if he didn't notice tr'Relek's angry tone. "EnArrain tr'Ulrhi issue the command."
[Ra'tleihfi two hours later...]
"Do you like it?"
The raven-haired woman smiled elegantly at her server as she tilted the tall wine glass causing it's violet liquid content to move precariously towards the edge but before the liquid had a chance to escape she quickly dammed it with her lips and took a slow casual sip. Her sparkling emerald eyes closed for a moment as she savored the flavor and then she gently set the glass back onto the table. "Good as always Nnherin, but that is why I come here." She smirked.
"Thank you Praetor t'Ahaefvthe, you do me great honor with your patronage." Nnherin bowed his head. "Is there anything else you will require?"
"No, thank you but I will be fine for the moment." Arrenhe looked out over the city. The sky had long become a deep obsidian sheet but the lights dotting the city's skyward towers glowed in the distance like amber stars. She always enjoyed sitting and just watching the city from this rooftop hideaway. Having come here for meals for several years now it always proved a relaxing venue. Over the street below decorative lamps were strewn in celebration of the harvest festival. Dozens of people were milling about visiting the street side stalls and enjoying the cool night.
"Very well. Call me if you need anything Praetor." Nnherin dipped his head again and headed back into the restaurant.
Arrenhe sighed and relaxed her posture letting the plush seat cushions pull her in. She took another sip of the sweet wine and continued to watch the active scenery. A flicker of light in the distance caught her eye and she tensed. The city lights were now like sparking stars as they flickered unevenly and then suddenly a wave of blackness seemed to cascade over the entire city. Her eyes were blinded by the sudden darkness and below her she could hear a cacophony of startled shouts and angry cursing. A blackout? As her eyes adjusted to the darkness she discovered the faint glow of stars above her- except these stars were moving like a swarm of angry gnats.
"PRAETOR." Arrenhe heard Nnherin's exasperated voice behind her as the entire city was suddenly bathed in a dim blue light. She stood up and stared towards the Senate complex in I-Ramnau where a bright dome of transpicuous beryl was cascading down. Glowing pulses of energy highlighted the hexa-pattern of the Senate's protective force field. Arrenhe gasped and stared awestruck having never seen the ancient technology in use before. Suddenly, from above, a bright yellow beam seared through the atmosphere and hit the dome creating a white-hot flare of blinding energy. Those moving stars were now raining fire down upon them and screams bellowed from the streets as the crowds began to run in panic.
The first shockwave reached her like a clap of deafening thunder that shook windowsill and bone alike and was almost instantly followed by a hot wind causing her hair and robes to flutter wildly. Adrenaline took hold of her and she tightly wrapped her fingers around the roof's railing. Behind her Nnerhin tugged at her robes but her mind was blank with shock. Now more violent energy poured out from the sky like a rainbow of death- hues of green, red, and orange coated the Senate complex in a dome of fire that glowed as hot as Eisn.
"Elements-" Arrenhe whimpered as she watched the fiery chaos that was griping the city. How long would the old shield last under such a barrage? She drew in a deep breath to calm herself. Above her she heard a roaring sound that resembled the shrill shrieks of a hundred mogai. What she found instead when she looked up were the fiery blue contrails of afterburners. Dozens of Galae fighters hurtled overhead in several column shaped formations towards the epicenter of the calamity. As they neared I'Ramnau the fighters veered upwards and charged towards the angry stars.
All Arrenhe could do was watch helplessly.
[To be continued]
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu