A wave of his hand was all the signal Mac needed to give for the comm channel to be cut. He hoped that would suffice for an answer for Koteb and if it didn’t, well, Atlantis had a few more choice responses soon to come. “Time?”
“Two minutes for them to make weapons range at this point,” Gantzmann said.
He spent a precious five seconds thinking before his hand jammed on the Engineering comm button on the centre seat’s arm rest. “Bridge to Velan, you said you could hijack that defence grid?”
“Yes…” came a cautious reply over the comms. “But I’m going to need a few minutes just to get ready to try.”
“Faster would be better,” he stated as he lifted his finger. “T’Val, bring up about to face the enemy ships. Gantzmann, we’re not joking around with three ships.” He stopped himself for just a moment, running through one last mental checklist to see if he was good with his next decision. “Load quantum torpedoes on all launchers.”
“Aye air,” she said without hesitation. “Quantum torpedoes, all launchers.”
“Incoming hail from one of the Romulan ships sir,” Michaels spoke up. “A Sub-Commander Grel of the Admiral Ketterac.”
“More gloating? Put him through.”
The man that appeared on screen however was not in the standard uniform of the Imperial Star Navy, but that of the Republic Navy, which seemed a curious choice for a ship that was currently lining up to attack his own. “Commander, I’ll explain later, but we’ve got your back. We’ll handle the Rator’s Pride, you handle Implacable.” And with that, the channel went dead.
Before he could voice any sort of a question to his bridge staff the viewscreen exploded in conflict as two D’deridex-class warbirds started firing on Atlantis, though one quickly veered off its attack as it came under withering fire from the Valdore-class ship that it had likely very good reasons to assume was an ally. “We’ll take it for now! T’Val, evasive manoeuvres, your choice, just don’t let both of those ships get lines on us.”
Atlantis rocked as more fire splashed across her shields and it was soon joined by the cycling and discharging of phaser arrays, punctuated with the whomp of launched torpedoes as Atlantis started to dance.
Marik Kavos, soon to be the military commander of all of Daloon, had not gone to the Assembly this morning because he planned on marching in there this afternoon. The word had been given, his people were right now taking control of the planetary defence centre elsewhere in the city, which meant it was his privilege, his honour, to do his part of the plan.
His people, his Citizen’s Guard, had made their way into Tama Flats all morning in dribs and drabs, organising themselves a few blocks from the Assembly. Somewhere out of immediate sight where it wouldn’t be noticed that they were donning their uniform jackets, removing their limited supply of weapons from vehicles of crates already delivered. But now they were armed, now they were ready to march!
“Men and Women of the Empire!” he shouted as he stepped up on an empty crate, gaining the attention of his loyalists. “In that building that has been foolishly called the People’s Assembly, a meeting takes place to make traitors of this entire world!” Cheers of agreement met him. “In that building old and tired men, or youth with no spine and experience, discuss how they want to turn our beautiful world away from the Empire!” Jeers this time. “We all fought for the Empire! We know what loyalty looks like! We march to remove those fools from their offices! We march to show the weak of Daloon what strength looks like! We march under the Raptor’s Wing! For the Romulan people!”
“For the Romulan people!” was shouted back at him and the people went forth.
Soon, oh so very soon it would all be over! Daloon would be free of disloyalty and answer Rator’s call once more!
The ship shook once more and Velan nearly fell over, if not for the two people busily helping him get the EV suit on as quick as they could. Clicks, twists, ratcheting of seals, all the needed steps, but none of the slow methodical checks and double-checks. There just wasn’t time really.
“Damage control teams to deck five, section twelve,” Rrr’s voice came over the shipwide. Wherever they were right now, Velan knew they’d be doing their best to keep his ship in one piece.
“I’d really appreciate,” he muttered as one of the transporter room techs lowered his helmet over his head, “if they’d stop putting holes in my pretty new ship.”
“You and me both sir,” the operator said with a smile, then checked an indicator on the outside of the helmet. “Green seals all over.”
The other tech stepped back, picked up an awkward-looking device and handed it over, followed a moment later by an engineering toolkit before they both stepped off the transporter padd. “Transporter room five to Bridge, Chief Velan is ready but we’re going to need a gap in the shields to beam him out.”
“Standby,” came Mac’s voice.
“T’Val, swing us around on one three eight mark eight seven,” Mac said with a glance at a screen, having given up the centre seat and moved around to give Adelinde a hand with weapons control. He had needed something, anything else to do besides riding a seat in combat and from here he could at least see everything and move around quickly as need be. “Get us between the Implacable and platform seventeen.”
“Aye sir,” the Vulcan helmswoman said, throwing Atlantis through a turn that the last ship to bear the name would have made without a problem, but which this one did with just the slightest complaint from the inertial dampeners. Sovereigns weren’t the same nimble little ships as Argonauts, but far more manoeuvrable than the lumbering D’deridex that T’Val was running rings around.
“See it?” he asked Adelinde and her reply was a lowering of the ship’s ventral shields. “Transporter room, now!” he shouted as she finished her action.
One moment Velan was standing in a transporter room, red lights pulsing, klaxon’s blaring, Rrr’s voice discharging from the shipwide as more damage control teams had to report to somewhere aboard the ship. The next he was in the serene peace of space, standing on the green-plated outer hull of a defence platform, far from the fight he could see in the distance. No sirens, no lights, no rocking ship, just a nice stable existence, removed from all that chaos.
He didn’t take a moment to enjoy any of it. His eyes immediately searched the hull, looking for the access panel he wanted, needed, so desperately. A single warbird and he’d have said Atlantis would win hands down, two D’deridex-class ships he’d wager it came down to the crew, but three ships were too many. He had to work fast to avoid Daloon becoming another Narendra III. The cover wasn’t lifted and set down carefully, but frisbee’d off into the bright disc of Daloon, doomed to burn up sooner rather than later, but orbital trash wasn’t a concern right now.
The device he’d made wasn’t even properly finished, but more a ‘can I do it’ project he’d worked on. A high bandwidth comm system from a ground scanner array, the salvaged brains from a desktop computer that had come to Engineering for repair and a portable power supply. It had passed an initial bench test, but would it work long-term?
Only one way to find out.
Dragged into place he looked carefully at the contraption and then the open access panel. It took him a moment to locate what he was looking for – exposed steel. Then another to find a bit on his device before taping the two pieces of metal together, hoping for just the barest bit of vacuum welding to hold it in place while he worked. It held and he sighed in relief, then grabbed his tool kit and went to work connecting it to the platform’s controls.
“Velan, I’d really like those platforms now,” Mac’s voice came over the helmet’s speakers.
“I know, I know,” he muttered. “Give me two minutes.”
“I’d love to, but both of these warbirds are picking on us right now.” Mac must have been delirious he thought. Both? That meant two, where was the third? He stopped momentarily to look up, to make sure he wasn’t about to be vaporised by the third.
“Oh,” he said, spotting the newer of the warbirds strafing one of the older ships. “I see.”
“My scanner says one hundred fifty,” Ch’tkk’va said as they scuttled up besides Cah. The foyer of the People’s Assembly had a large opening with no doors, relying on a very faint atmospheric field to maintain the climate inside the building. While it gave the building a welcoming presence to those climbing the handful of stairs from street level, it did make the defence of the building somewhat more challenging with no external doors to close and barricade, not that anyone ever thought a mass charge like this would ever take place.
They had the advantage of pillars and behind them a mezzanine for covering fire, but the Assembly Guard was a grand total of twenty men and women, versus a much larger attacking force. Disruptors were ranging from both sides as the attackers progressed up the avenue outside, keeping more to the Assembly’s side of the street and away from Government House’s front gate. Another shot whirred past the first defenders, blasting chunks of marble off the rear wall.
“Someone clearly has a weapon set to ‘make problems go away’,” Cah said. Hand signals went between him and a few of his people as they started to fall back. They knew the building, even Ch’tkk’va could see how the foyer could be a killing zone if the attackers would be so obliging as to walk in, assuming enough of the defenders would still be around. “Call your ship, start beaming everyone out. Transporter inhibitor frequency is two eight nine point seven three terahertz.”
They nodded, tapping at their commbadge. “Ch’tkk’va to Atlantis, we need immediate evacuation of the entire People’s Assembly.”
“Little busy here Lieutenant,” Samantha Michaels answered. “We’re under attack from two Romulan warbirds. Standby.” And the channel went dead.
“Did she say two warbirds?” Cah asked incredulously. “Seriously, could this day get any worse?”
“Any minute now Starfleet will start sending down their stormtroopers!” Kavos bellowed as he marched behind his own people towards the Assembly. He wasn’t at the front, but close enough they could hear him as he shouted. “Our fear and concerns will be vindicated for all of Daloon to see! But we are stronger than they are! Better than their weak amalgamation of desperate peoples for we are Romulan!”
Just then a single orange lance of light launched from the darkness of the Assembly’s entrance, knocking one of his brave men off their feet. Then a second, before another volley of the defender’s disruptors. “See! See! Starfleet is already inside the Assembly! They’ve already got their security forces on our world!”
He was playing it up because he had his own newsfeeds to populate after all. The people of Daloon needed to see, to witness the story he’d been arranging, to fear what he told them to fear! Oh, sure, he knew it was just the Federation captain’s own security people likely lending a hand, but it played well, at least to him. Some editing after this would likely make it better to stir the Romulan people across the Empire to action.
“Velan to Atlantis. Michaels, you’re going to get a request for new hardware setup, just say yes, accept all auto settings and then switch the hardware to autofire.”
Samantha looked over her shoulder to Commander MacIntyre, who just nodded at her emphatically, before waiting for the warned about prompt on her Operations screen. The prompt that came up on her screen didn’t display correctly, some sort of somewhat conflict most likely, before enough for her to accept the request, to answer the challenge for her command codes, then just push through the follow-on screens.
“Chief, there’s a lot of options I’m seeing here,” she stated, dealing with screens she’d never seen before in her life, options she wasn’t reading in-depth in order to clear them.
“You’re setting up a planetary defence system Lieutenant, just accept the default settings, agree to all the documentation and turn it on,” came Velan’s rather calm tone over the comms.
“You want me to accept without reading the terms?” she asked back.
“Lieutenant!” came a shout in unison from both Velan and MacIntyre.
“PDS switching to automatic now,” she said in response.”
“Rator’s Pride reports they’ve lost all aft weapons. Sub-Commander Fulmek is suggesting cloak and retreat while we can.”
Koteb pounded his fist on his armrest, the gloom of the bridge at battlestations not helped by the gas leak in some overhead life support conduit, or the small fire at a console that was being dealt with. “Damn you Grel! I knew I should have had him shot for not beaming over when I demanded it!”
“Tell Fulmek to bring his ship around and ram Grel out of the sky if he has to! Helm, bring us back around on that Starfleet ship. I want all weapons to target their bridge as soon as you can and fire without mercy!” he shouted at his crew, who were finally starting to act without questioning orders. Fear seemed like the right motivator. He’d remember that once he installed himself as governor of his birth world.
“Sir, something’s happening with the planetary defences,” his ops officer spoke up. “They’re coming back online!”
“Kavos finally does something right! Signal them to obliterate both enemy ships immediately!” he shouted.
There was no warning from anyone on his bridge before the first disruptor bank opened fire on his wounded ship. Implacable was right in the middle of the PDS platforms, right where they’d wanted to catch Atlantis. Fire wracked at them from all directions, withering the shields away in seconds with the help of the Starfleet ship, conspicuously untouched by the platforms. There was a shout of warning when the first torpedo was fired. His own XO shouted to abandon ship when the shields collapsed and the port nacelle was ripped from his ship.
“So, this is how Kavos betrays me huh?” he said out loud to no one. “Kill me, then them?” Alarms blared all around him, his ship dying and broken and the only thing he could see was that damnable Starfleet ship dead ahead, its tractor beam latching onto his ship. “Any second now,” he said, watching, waiting for those platforms to fire upon that hated ship.
“Ground vehicles coming up the street!” Someone shouted behind Kavos, but he wasn’t concerned. He was standing in the foyer of the Assembly. His men, trained by him, selected by him, had pushed the defenders back, seizing the entrance into the building. Enough were outside on the grounds to prevent Representatives from escaping, ready to retreat inside as soon as he had the hostages. Soon Koteb would secure orbit and start sending down troops to deal with the pitiful garrison forces. All he had to do was capture the representatives, wait, and then they could start cleaning house.
As he headed for the stairs on the left that led up a floor, his troops giving him space, he couldn’t help but notice not a single defender laying dead on the ground. None had given their lives in defence of this building. Green blood smeared the floor in places, handprints on the walls, obviously there were injuries, but as a unit kept hindering themselves, making themselves weak by caring for their injured.
“Sir,” an uhlan saluted him at the top of the stairs. “All the defenders retreated into the Assembly Hall and they’ve barred the doors.”
“And? Why haven’t you blown the doors and marched in there?” he demanded, not stopping and forcing the man, only a few years younger than him anyway to follow.
“They said they were willing to negotiate a surrender directly with you.”
He stopped, smiling like a fool he knew, but he couldn’t help it. Someone finally recognising his greatness. “Hail Commander Koteb, tell me we have the Representatives. He can handle the Magistrate himself. We’ve done it!” he clapped the man on the arm and kept walking. He passed more of his men, all of them repositioning to either defend the foyer as he’d have expected the Assembly Guard to do, or to cover the main door that he was about to knock on himself.
After a few exchanged words with his immediate inferiors, he approached the door to the Assembly and knocked three times. No response. Three more times. Again no response. But then he heard it – the whine of a transporter! He snarled and put his shoulder into the door, which instead of resisting gave way under his charge, parting to let him enter into the totally empty Hall.
There wasn’t a soul present, no representatives, no Starfleet captain, no Assembly Guard! No one but some incessant chirping! It repeated itself, a series of two chirps in quick succession. His men poured in behind him, expecting to need to put down the guards but as equally stunned as him to find an empty room.
It only took a minute for someone to find the chirping and bring him the Starfleet communicator causing it. The small silver and brushed steel device fit in his palm, so much smaller than the communicator he had in his service days, or the handheld civilian model on his belt today. It chirped again, demanding his attention and he tapped at it.
“Uhlan Marik Kavos,” that woman’s voice issued from the device, that Captain Theodoras who’d been ‘invited’ to sweet talk his world into the Federation, no matter what she said about Daloon picking its own fate, “I was wondering if you’d like to discuss the terms of your surrender? I understand Commander Frent of the Daloon Garrison will be with you shortly.” And to punctuate her statement he could hear the sound of swooping shuttles flying overheard, of increasing weapons fire approaching his position.
There was no backup, no support from the Empire, not even from Koteb. Once again the Navy had failed him. Once again the universe had conspired to prevent him from reaching his greatness.