Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 5 – Answering the Call (ATC)

ATC 015 – Lawyers, Guns and Money, Part 2

R332 / House of Pora
02.05.2401 @ 1000
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The three officers from the Mackenzie were escorted through the cavernous hallways of the justice center for the large colony where the away team was being held.  Harris leading, T’Penga in the middle, and Woodward bringing up the rear.

T’Penga looked all around. She wanted to take everything or at least as much as she could. You never knew if you needed to know the layout for a quick escape. She also tried to get a feel for the guards that were around and how they were armed. The justice center may have been cavernous, but they were well appointed. She could tell that the Devore spared no expense when they set this place up. As such, she imagined that the security system would be equally as well appointed. “It seems that our crew members are being kept deep within the complex.”

The man leading them ignored their conversation as they walked.  Harris wondered what it would take to free his people from the Devore leader.

The further they walked through the justice center, the more T’Penga did not like it. Logic dictated that the farther they went, the least likely it would be to leave. Their weapons and scanning devices had been taken. She would have to assume that there would be a field that prevented transport as well. T’Penga began to wonder if it was time to put the needs of the many ahead of the needs of the few.

They neared the door, and the leader turned to them, “Captain Harris will come alone to meet with Leader Pantheon.

Ambrose frowned, “That wasn’t the original agreement.”

A shrug and, “The agreement has been changed.  This is the only way you get your people back.”

Woodward shook her lead, “I don’t like this, Captain.”

He agreed, “I don’t either.”  Harris turned to the newest of their crew.

“Well, then, the three of us are in agreement.” T’Penga turned to the guard. “Tell me, is Leader Pantheon in there alone and unarmed?”

The man huffed, “He is with his lieutenants as is the practice of our people.  They are armed at all times. They have no reason to use force unless a proportional response is needed.”

The Mackenzie CO sighed, “Look, if this is how we check a box to get our people home, let me see what he says.”

Juliet grumbled something about she still didn’t like it.

T’Penga cocked a typical Vulcan eyebrow in response. “Sir, the ship needs its Captain. The good of the many does outweigh the good of the few or the one. Perhaps it is time for you to leave.” She knew that he would not and would proceed into the room. However, she had to make it known that he shouldn’t go on.

Ambrose gave her a nod of thanks, “Your counsel is wise, lieutenant….but we need to get our people back.” He followed the man through the door into a throne room-looking chamber, jumping when the door lumbered and slammed shut behind him.  An elevated throne sat at the far end, and he could make out that Pantheon the Devore indeed sat on it.  A smattering of House of Pora authorities stood around and turned at the sound of his entrance.  He walked carefully, keeping his eyes forward and on the powerful figure ahead.  He was directed to a mark on the gnarled cement to stand, and he greeted the Devore from there, “Good morning, Pantheon.”

The Devore spat at the ground, “Captain Ambrose Harris of the Federation Starship Mackenzie.  I am surprised you accepted the invite without your escort.”

Harris stared at the man, wondering if his Chief Counselor had been right.  What had he walked into?  “I had hoped it would help our discussion regarding our crew.”

Pantheon chuckled darkly, “Oh, it was never about your crew, Captain Harris.  It was about you.”  He gestured to the gathered group, and someone stepped out and handed Ambrose a thick folder with tabs marking sections.  “You are charged under Devore Imperium Law according to the infractions you committed while in our space.  The penalty for such actions is death.”

Ambrose felt the blood drain from his face as the reality of what was happening dawned.  “That was in the Delta Quadrant.”

A shrug, “This colony has aligned with the Devore Imperium and, as such, has signed a charter to become the first Devore Imperium Colony here.  The laws of the Delta Quadrant now apply here and now to you.”

He looked through the pages and found the events of their experience in the Delta Quadrant clearly outlined, detailed, and explained regarding Devore Law.  “This cannot stand.  It won’t stand.”

Pantheon stood from the throne and vaunted the steps until he stood feet from Harris, “It doesn’t matter, Captain Harris.  Your fate was decided the moment your crew answered our call.  We knew where you had been reassigned and how much closer you became to the Devore’s long reach.  I’ve been promised a bounty upon completing this act of justice…and I will return home to a hero’s welcome.”  He sneered, “You will die today, and there is nothing you or your crew can do about it.”

Ambrose shook his head, “I never imagined I’d have to face the unfair and unconscionable justice of the Devore.  I thought I had put enough distance between us ever to have to worry about you again.”  He wished for a phaser or something to fight with for the first time in his command life.  The irony of this did not escape him.  His badge had been confiscated before entering the room.  “What will happen to the crew?”

Pantheon chuckled, “They will be released, returned to the shuttle, and allowed to leave.  They can never return to this place, or we will kill them.”  He gestured to a table filled with energy weapons, swords, and other implements of execution.  “Shall we choose the method?”

Harris glanced at the table, his stomach sinking under the tsunami of fear and terror.  He was going to die.  He stumbled forward and examined each weapon, his eyes filling with tears.  He pointed to the lethal disrupter on the end of the table, “That one.”  He wanted it to be quick.  He didn’t want to suffer…or for the crew to find him in a state that would scar them deeper than he knew they would be.

The Devore motioned for a guard to step over, “Charge the weapon and make it ready for use.”  He guided Harris back to the center circle in front of his throne.  “Stand here, please.”

Ambrose looked to the gathering, “Can you do nothing?  Can you not see…this?”

Pantheon laughed, “These are my most trusted lieutenants.  If the rest of them were here, you might have had a chance, Captain Harris…these are the true believers.  You cannot hope to dissuade them.  If I were feeling charitable, I would suggest you try.  But it would be foolish of you to have false hope.  There is no hope here.”  There was a smattering of laughter from the gathered figures, and Harris felt his last protest die in his throat.  The Devore would have their chunk of flesh.  His.

The guard handed the now humming weapon to Pantheon, who admired it, “What a classic.  One of the few older weapons still in use.”  He aimed the gun at Harris, “Any last words?”

Ambrose balled his hands into fists, “You will live to regret this.”

A last shrug from Pantheon, “I very much doubt it.”  He raised the weapon.

And fired.

Woodward paced and paced.  She wasn’t happy and had voiced her concerns to the guards outside the door, who had duly ignored her and the pacing.

T’Penga stood stoically with her hands behind her back, and she watched the Counselor pace. This was not logical to take the Captain in for a talk while they waited outside with no further instructions. “Counselor, in your professional opinion, is this normal given the situation?” Very often, Vulcans missed the point, and this was something that was not lost on T’Penga hence her question.

Juliet grumbled, “It’s just…doesn’t feel right.  So many things about this don’t make sense.”  She moved to speak but was interrupted by a loud guttural scream, a blast of a disrupter, and the sound of a body hitting the ground. Two more disrupter shots echoed before she tapped her badge, “Woodward to Mackensie – emergency security operation Tornado Tag!”

Her sharpened Vulcan hearing allowed T’Penga to ascertain exactly who produced that scream. She knew that what was about to happen would be futile; the Captain was already dead. And yet the Vulcan sidestepped one of the guards and deftly placed her hand at the base of his neck in the rear. The guard’s eyes closed, and he slumped to the floor, another victim of the Vulcan neck pinch. In the next moment, T’Penga would repeat the motion on the other guard at the opposite side of the door.

In seconds the lobby was filled with Starfleet Security officers, armed and looking to Woodward for orders.  “Take the door!” The other guards stared open-mouthed at the sudden action and dropped their weapons in shock as the gathered security group went to work on the door.  It took them ten seconds, and the door splintered and fell as the Starfleet contingent stormed the room.

T’Penga had been handed a phaser by one of the Starfleet Security Officers. She ran into the room with them and fired twice in quick succession. Two shots and two guards dropped into a stun. T’Penga could see the Captain on the ground with Pantheon standing over him. She made her way directly to them without hesitation. 

Pantheon looked up in shock, the disrupter in his hands, standing over the prone body of Ambrose Harris.  The sound of other transporters shimmering echoed from the lobby as more security, operations, and medical teams responded to the call.  Woodward saw the body of her CO and felt regret wash over her in the moment.  She pointed to Pantheon as the security officers swarmed the room, the loyal lieutenants putting their hands up and dropping weapons.  Pantheon was cuffed and restrained in seconds and led to where Woodward stood, her face filled with Fury, “You killed him.”

The once-confident Devore looked at the loyal lieutenants in shock, “How dare you betray me!  HOW DARE YOU!”

Security went to work cuffing all fifteen who hung their heads in shame and shock.  Woodward felt her counselor training going out the window as she stared at the body of her captain and then stared into the eyes of the panicked Devore, “You’re going to learn what justice means, Devore.  Get him out of here.” She knelt beside Harris, scanning him with a medical tricorder.   Juliet sighed as the screen verified it.  Captain Ambrose Harris was dead.

T’Penga did not have to look at the tricorder to confirm what she knew before she entered the room. “Lieutenant, we must finish the mission and get our crew. With their leader in our custody, the Devore Colony could go either way. They could capitulate and allow us to retrieve our people, or they could fight. There will be time to mourn when the mission is completed.”

Woodward scowled but didn’t speak right away.  She knew the assistant chief science officer was right but it didn’t help with the roiling emotions that pushed and pulled at her in the moment.  A few deep breaths and she called an operations officer over, “Ensure Captain Harris is secured and guarded from here on out at all times with an honor guard.”  The man nodded, and she turned to a security officer, “What’s the word on our people?”  He explained that one of the lieutenants had cracked and was guiding a security team to where the crew had been stashed.  She thanked him, her emotions still crashing beneath the nearly calm surface she was fighting to maintain.  She flagged down one of the team leaders, “Get the other lieutenants together.  Keep them in cuffs.  Let’s take them to the town center…gather the people.  They’re going to have to make a choice.  God help them if they make the wrong one.”  She motioned for T’Penga to follow, and they walked out of the room.