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Part of USS Atlantis: Mission 6: Turbulent Waters and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

And we insisted things would be okay.

USS Atlantis, Highcroft
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“Hey Chuck, you mind?”

He stopped, completely stopped, brain freezing at an interruption. Then turned to face the other occupant in the cab, a young man half his age, sitting with his rifle across his lap, window down and looking like he had committed some gross crime. His glare must have spooked the man, who then pointed at his fingers on the steering wheel, which jogged his own memory. He’d been absent minded drumming his fingers, a nervous tick.

“Fine,” he finally said through his teeth, then reached forward to comm the old-style radio on the dash. “Anyone got eyes on them?”

The radio crackled, then cleared. “Mayor’s vehicle just pulled into the site. All the workers are stopping and milling around.” Another pause, then the voice continued. “Confirm Starfleet. Two of them. Can’t make ranks but one is red.”

He couldn’t help but smack the steering wheel in triumph. “Yes!” Another smack, then he was turning the engine back on. “Fire up that jammer Sammy,” he said to the young man, who started flicking switches on the center console, bringing an old piece of technology sitting in the back of the truck to life.

“That thing really gonna work?” the young man asked.

“Better, or this will be awfully embarrassing.” He gunned the engine, driving the truck forward with the other three in the group. A total of ten men to make this work. “Get that scanner thing out of the glovebox. We’ll need to check for other transmitters too while we say our piece. Can’t have them just beaming out from under us because of the bitch’s lies.”

“I hear that,” Sammy said as he pulled out a tricorder just as old as the jammer, both surplus from wars goneby that found their way eventually into the hands of true defenders of freedom.

“Foreman Debrovnik,” the large man said with a handshake to match, leaving Tikva shaking her hand afterwards. “Sorry, forget my own strength.” The man’s mindglow reaffirmed his words and she just smiled as way of acceptance. “My crew. We’re all done with the foundation and just about done with the first tower segment. We’ll be hovering the main truss into place within the hour to prepare for the upper section tomorrow morning.”

When they’d arrived, introduction had gone by rapid fire, as Mayor Drummond, Arthur, had started, leaving Debroknik last to introduce himself while his people stopped work while visitors were on site, for safety and with the sun nearing its zenith lunch too.

“I’m not sure if we have that long Foreman, but I’m sure we can stay long enough for your men to have some lunch and Lieutenant Maxwell to have a poke around, as engineers are wont to do.”

The large man chuckled, a hearty thing to give Rrr a run for his earthen money. “Served ten years in the fleet. Engineers are second only in curiosity to blue shirts. And second only to boldness after helm officers. Eh?” He chuckled like he knew that joke was funny, unaware of her own career choices.

But she took it in the good-natured manner it was intended and gave a few chuckles before stopping as the sound of ground cars, actual ground cars, screeching to a halt in a cloud of dirt and dust. A collection of men poured out, all obviously armed though she didn’t recognise the weapons. It wasn’t even a conscious action as her hand came up to her comm badge, slapping it, command halted in her throat as the little device gave a rather unhappy chirp. Again, another unhappy chirp.

Third times a charm?

She heard Maxwell doing the same with his commbadge, that unhappy little chirp the most annoying thing in the universe right now.

And we insisted things would be okay.

They still are.

One of the men held his weapon pointed straight up and a single loud bark washed over the site. Workers oblivious to the goings on by way of boisterous conversations and the all-important lunch suddenly fell quiet, heads turning. Everyone went quiet in fact.

“Ladies and gentlemen, there is no need for anyone to get hurt,” another man said, walking forward from the skirmish line the others were forming, though one man fell into step with what looked like a tricorder from another era. “We’re just here to deliver a message and stop this obvious watch tower from being built.”

“Maxwell,” she hissed through her teeth.

“Must have a subspace jammer on one of their trucks,” he replied equally quietly.

“What is the meaning of this?” Arthur said as he stepped forward, his plain suit actually a sensible choice here as it didn’t pick up the dirt in the air as easily as perhaps a finer garment would have. “Who are you people?”

“The folks who are going to get your collaborative regime overthrown old man,” the talkative one said as he brought his long arm to bare on the mayor. “But I’ve got orders not to harm anyone…much.”

“No other transmitters boss,” the young man said as he finished his scans. “But that one’s got cybernetic limbs,” he said, pointing to her.

“Now wait a minute,” Arthur continued, stepping forward again and only stopping when more guns were levelled on him. “You haven’t answered my first question.”

The older man, the boss, rolled his eyes and casually brought his gun back on Arthur and pulled the trigger of the old style slugthrower, the projectile piercing the old man’s leg and sending him to the ground. “Shut up traitor.” Then his gun turned on the workers, as did his compatriots as they had all taken a few steps forward. “Stay where you are or your blood gets spilt as well.” After a few moments of nothing happening, he waved the young man near him over. “Change of plan.”

“But Gav said…”

“Fuck Gavin, I’m here, I’m in charge. Drop the spare radio, the fleeters can call us on it. We’re taking these two with us. They have to listen to us if we happen to have their Captain,” he said, looking at Tikva with a look she didn’t like and a mental state she really didn’t like. “And get the power drainer. I don’t trust cybernetics.”

“Lieutenant, we’re receiving a hail from the mayor’s office and the Brunswick Police Department.”

Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr looked up from where they’d been sitting next to Gabrielle going over the latest sensor readings from the probes. “One or two hails?” they asked, pushing themselves to their feet and walking towards the center of the bridge.

“Two, but perfectly timed,” Ensign Taru replied.

“Well put them through, together I suppose,” they continued, straightening their posture and clasping hands behind themselves. At two hundred twelve centimeters they made an imposing visage, but it was slightly lost over comms. The real effect had to be personal.

The viewscreen snapped up both hails at once, the mayor’s chief of staff on the left, the police chief on the right, if uniforms for the locals could be remembered correctly. “Ladies, I’m Lieutenant Rrr’mmm’bal’rrr, how can I be of assistance?”

“We’re hailing to inform you of a situation we have developing planetside that involves Starfleet,” the police chief started. Her nameplate read Dredd and her visage suited it. “The tower site outside of town was attacked five minutes ago by a group who’ve called themselves the Highcroft Liberation Front. They’ve kidnapped your people, shot the mayor and left their manifesto and list of demands, as well as a radio communicator.”

Rrr glanced over their shoulder to both Gabrielle and Chh’tkk’va, both taking the unspoken commands to start looking, before turning attention back to the viewscreen. “Did you say radio communicator ma’am?”

“I did. They also shot the mayor with a projectile rifle. Initial reports indicate they attacked with a portable jammer, though I suspect subspace only.”

Rrr internally winced. Standard equipment circumvented or defeated by someone willing to go more primitive to do their job. Course radio was limited whereas subspace could beam a message through a planet. It was all trade-offs. “We’re returning to Highcroft orbit right now,” which seeing as they’d only been underway for an hour at impulse, they weren’t far off. Quicker if he took a risk at a short warp hop. “I’d like a copy of that manifesto and list of demands to forward to my commanding officer.”

“On it’s way to you now Lieutenant. I want to apologise; we never saw this coming.”

“Neither did we,” the mayor’s aide said. “Lieutenant, until the deputy mayor gets in, I’m running operations here. We’d…we’d like your people’s help on this. I know Angie will agree once she’s in the office.”

“We’ll be in orbit in five minutes,” his decision made. “Lieutenant Ch’tkk’va will be coming down with a security team to assist.” With nods all around, the comm channel was cut leaving the bridge in silence for a moment. “Get me Commander MacIntrye and Gantzmann. Helm, get us to Highcroft orbit and please don’t warp us into the planet.”