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]
"Dozens of foreign warp signatures detected entering Eisn system!"
"WHAT?!" Ael'Riov tr'Janaka cried and jumped up. "How did we not detect them earlier?!"
"Unknown- our sensors may have been tampered with...?"
The Ael'Riov groaned out loud and slid trembling fingers into his uniform's coat pocket to hide his fear from the others as klaxons began to roar. Feeling the tension beginning to well up in his throat like a burning supernova he hesitated as the main viewer switched to the Eisn system grid map. On the screen dozens of blinking regalia representing vessels of the Cardassian Union, Tholian Assembly, and the cursed Commonwealth were heading straight for Romulus like a swarm of hungry locusts. What a damned mess!
"Telemetry data suggests that they will be entering orbit just above the Capital, Ael'Riov!"
"Planetary defense fighters launching and distress signal initiated but they are jamming us. Unable to communicate with orbiting vessels or defensive satellites. Orders?"
Everything was becoming a slow motion nightmare- a giant blur of events. The Ael'Riov could feel his heart pounding in his chest like a mad drummer beating away haphazardly.
The shout reached him and things suddenly rubber banded furiously to the present and tr'Janaka found his eyes fixated on the screen as the enemy ships were now nearly in orbit. What do I do? His thoughts raced furiously as he stared at the blinking regalia. One thing at a time, he reminded himself. "Contact tr'Relek and inform him of our situation. Activate the Senate complex's shielding. The senate is in session tonight- that may be their target. We must protect the senate!"
"Rekkhai- the shielding has only been tested once. If we activate it we may throw the Capital into darkness."
"JUST DO IT!" tr'Janaka screamed and collapsed backwards into his chair. "Find a way to break the jamming signal and contact the hwi'galae and order them back." Even if they did manage to break through the signal and reach them it would take over an hour for them to return. How much damage will be done in that time?
Suddenly blackness consumed the operations center but was quickly replaced by the dullness of emergency lighting.
"The Senate's defensive force field has been activated. Based on power consumption and local power grid stress we have forty-five minutes before it collapses."
Forty-five minutes? Was that enough time?
[Ch'Rihan, Galae Fortress]
"It is good that you are back Shiarrael. All these fools that are running about like thrai pups without a sense of direction are driving me to madness." EnRiov t'Hnea smiled as she traced the edges of her ceramic tea cup with a finger while in thought. "I trust that your journey was uneventful?"
"As ever." Shiarrael smirked and studied the tea cup in her own hands. She looked at t'Hnea and shook her head "you must be growing old to be drinking something so weak. Tea is a drink for Vulcans. Romulans should consume something with a little more fire- like an aged bottle of rhennish." It was playful jest but Shiarrael knew deep inside how she missed sharing a glass of tea with at least a few of her distant pointy eared cousins.
"Your love for fire is why you have been burned so many times Shiarrael." t'Hnea grinned and sipped her drink. "But without it you would be as cold as the darkest reaches of space so I do not fault you for your passion. Even so, I will remind you to be cautious. There are many here who would love to see-" the blare of a klaxon cut off t'Hnea and startled both of them.
"What is this?" Shiarrael murmured her irritation aloud and pressed her wrist communicator only to hear static return. "Strange." She looked at t'Hnea "can you get anything?" The EnRiov pressed her own communicator and found the same static that had emanated from Shiarrael's. Both women stood up and exited the office. As they did blackness swept through the halls of the Galae fortress only to be replaced by the weak emergency lighting run by the facilities generators.
Several people were darting down the main hallway towards the third story lounge where tall observation windows faced the dazzling Senate complex. Shiarrael and t'Hnea follow them and found a large crowd standing in front of those windows bathed in beryl light. Hundreds of confused and worried whispers echoed through the cavernous room.
Outside of the fortress the senate complex was covered by a bright glowing energy shield. Shiarrael barely had time to think about it when a white-hot light blinded them. As she covered her eyes the windows blew in sending everyone off their feet and across the lounge. Hitting the ground hard Shiarrael could hear people, glass, and metal dancing across the floor in front of and behind her.
Opening her eyes a short minute later Shiarrael found everything to be a dark blur and could only hear a deep ringing sound in her ears. Slowly and carefully she began to reorient herself. As her vision returned she noticed t'Hnea next to her equally dazed. As she tried to stand up she felt the burning sting of embedded glass in her palms. With a deep breath she forced herself up and then picked at the emerald stained shards glinting inside her flesh. Fortunately it seemed that her hands had protected her face from the brunt of the carnage and her uniform although a bit singed and tattered had done the same for her body. When she finished pulling the shards out of her palms Shiarrael reached out and pulled t'Hnea to her feet and was relieved the find the EnRiov no worse for wear. Beneath them the floor continuously rattled as explosions ravaged at the Senate's shielding just outside the fortress. It was obvious they were being attacked but by who and what?
Shiarrael pressed her wrist communicator again and although she couldn't hear the static through the tinnitus she could tell from the small readout screen that it was not connecting her. What now? She needed to get to her ship but wouldn't be able to beam up in this mess. "I need to get to the Hhveir Ri'hwathech." She spoke at t'Hnea but the EnRiov was apparently having hearing issues also as she cupped a bloody hand behind her ear. "M-Y S-H-I-P!" Shiarrael reiterated and t'Hnea nodded her head slowly in understanding. She then pointed at the wall. Shiarrael turned and studied the blood and soot stains wondering what t'Hnea was getting at when she noticed the sign and arrow pointing south that said 'Landing Pads.' Shiarrael grinned and nodded at her head at t'Hnea. Hopefully there were at least a few bombers parked there. She gave the EnRiov a farewell nod and hurriedly navigated her way through the debris and bodies towards the landing pads.
"Acquire Targets. Tight formations!" tr'Ihhilan shouted while he eyed the sensor readouts as the column of fighters he led like a flock of birds poured out of the atmosphere of ch'Rihan and into the cold void of space. Unfortunately this void was now filled with dozens of enemy ships firing haphazardly at the capital. The veteran pilot let out a silent prayer to the elements as telemetry data poured onto his screen in the form of a long line of scrolling text.
"Tholian ships are breaking away and targeting us!"
tr'Ihhilan looked up to see several of the Tholian ships twisting away from the planet and veering towards his fighters "keep your formations! Squadrons one through five prepare to split and break for attack. Your targets will be the Tholian vessels. Squadrons six through ten hold steady and prepare to attack the Cardassian ships." In front of them space began to ripple wildly as several Romulan ships began decloaking. A wave of relief hit him but it was only momentary as a beam of hot emerald seared past his bird.
"EnArrain Commonwealth ships have decloaked! Squadron one is directly..."
The transmission faded to static as several bright orange fireballs illuminated the cockpit controls faint a hue of red. tr'Ihhilan uttered several curses as he watched two of his squadrons being reduced to atoms "evasive maneuvers! Everyone break away and split up!"
"It's too late!"
[To be continued]
Captain Shiarrael t'Rehu