From the Ashes
In the office next to Ops-15 Phobos was joined by his brother.
“It is time, brother”, Deimos announced.
“Then let’s make the call and keep your fingers crossed they have made the right decision”, Phobos replied with mild excitement.
The Nausicaan brothers along with their mixed-race band of warriors gathered around them were standing in front of the large viewscreen where the Situation Room at Starfleet Headquarters now appeared. President Okeg and Fleet Admiral Quinn along with a few other dignitaries greeted them.
Phobos, with a pleased smile addressed them:
“President Okeg, a pleasure you could join us today. I did not expect you. I assume your appearance is due to important news you have to give to us and the people on board this station.”
President Okeg carefully worded his reply:
“Indeed. The Federation Council and I have discussed this matter at length and very thoroughly and it has not been an easy decision. But there are times when sacrifices have to be made, times when lives are at stake. It is our goal to protect the lives of our people and to prevent more bloodshed. The Federation is prepared to grant your request. We are going to withdraw our ships from all Klingon-held territories and set free the members of your species we have in our custody. In exchange we ask you to release the hostages and to relinquish complete control over Starbase 56 back to Starfleet.”
“What about the Klingons? They have to release our homeworlds as well?”, Deimos angrily reminded his brother.
Phobos gestured to him to keep his cool.
“My brother is correct. The Klingons are part of the deal. If they don’t agree to withdraw until the end of the ultimatum, we will destroy this station.”
“The Federation government is still negotiating with Chancellor J’mpok”, Okeg assured.
“You better hurry, you got three hours left.”
Phobos frustratedly ended the communication.
He walked back into the office, anger and disappointment showing in his face. Deimos followed him.
“We have to show them that we mean business, brother”, his second-in-command told Phobos.
But the terrorist leader waved off the suggestion in resignation.
“I won’t let you kill anymore of them. It’s no use. Even if the Federation keeps their end of the bargain, the Klingons won’t budge. If they haven’t until now, they never will!”
Deimos, more eager, pressed him:
“Then let’s light a fire under their asses. We still have thruster control. Move the station into a lower orbit.”
“Get Jones back in here”, Phobos said instead.
“Why do you want to talk to her again?”, Deimos demanded.
“I have my reasons. Now stop questioning me and bring her!”
Deimos bared his teeth in frustration, but relented and walked over to the hostages.
“Open up”, he ordered.
The technician pressed a combination on his console and a portion of the force field dropped.
“Get up, my brother seeks your company!”, Deimos grunted to Jones.
“I have nothing to say to him. And I don’t care to hear another one of his speeches”, was her defiant response.
Deimos impatiently grabbed her by the hair and yanked Jones to her feet. She screamed and lashed about wildly, trying to fight off the huge Nausicaan. Ensign Hona suddenly came flying at them, the impact made Deimos let go of Jones. Two of the Gorn guards rushed the Ensign and clubbed him to the ground with their rifles. Hona groaned with pain.
In a corner of the station’s Main Ops where OMEGA officers had set up their command and surveillance equipment the events in Ops-15 were immediately registered.
“There is movement. They dragged out one hostage and are beating up another one”, an OMEGA surveillance technician reported, his screen showing the struggle of the hostages through the exographic sensors which pierced through the walls like x-ray beams.
Deimos, frothing with anger, signalled his men to hold the hostage in front of him. They picked up Ensign Hona who, dazed and with a bloody gash on his forehead, was now approached by Deimos, ready to bite his face off. The Nausicaan unsheathed his enormous dagger and set the blade at the man’s throat. Meanwhile Phobos had reappeared in the doorframe and gave his brother a disapproving look. Deimos gazed at him shortly, undetermined, before putting his blade away and grunting at Hona:
“Don’t try to be a hero again.”
Deimos struck him in the abdomen with a mighty blow. Hona slumped down and fell to the ground. At that moment the tool that had been smuggled in and which Hona had used to manipulate the force field fell out of his pocket and slithered across the room’s floor.
“What is that?”, Phobos demanded to know.
His technician Shahq walked over, picked it up and inspected it quickly.
“Not sure what this does, but it’s definitely some sort of tool”, Shahq asserted.
“I thought you had everyone searched. How could he still have this on him?”, Phobos barked at the Gorn guards.
“We searched all of them. He must have got it somewhere else”, one of the Gorn said in defense and shrugged.
“He could have sabotaged our defenses. I have to run a diagnostic on my program to see if everything is still in place”, Shahq explained and went over to his station in a hurry.
“They discovered the sabotage, Sir”, another OMEGA technician who had been listening in with the acoustic devices reported to Commander Pierce in Main Ops.
Deimos, furious to the breaking point, looked expectantly at his brother, but Phobos averted his gaze and turned away. Deimos grabbed the disruptor pistol holstered to his leg and pointed it at Hona’s head. He gave Jones who was on the ground next to him one final determined look before he pulled the trigger and a fierce particle beam impaled Ensign Hona’s head and killed him instantly. The other hostages who were watching only meters away shrieked in horror, others began to cry and to whimper.
Deimos put his gun away and walked over to his brother. Phobos, not facing him, disgusted, but grim and desperate spoke with a low voice:
“Engage the thrusters. Towards the planet.”
“Yes, brother”, Deimos affirmed.
“Shots fired. One hostage is down”, the OMEGA technicians reported in Main Ops. Admiral Gryz and Commander Pierce exchanged looks, both men biting their lips.
“Get me General H’Roren and the President on the line”, the Admiral instructed one of the duty officers before he gave Pierce a destitute look and said:
“Commander, you better get your men ready.”
The OMEGA commander nodded and smacked his deputy Lieutenant Koos on the shoulder who now headed out to the adjacent room where the OMEGA commandos were gathered.
“Saddle up, boys, time to smoke the bastards!”, the Lieutenant blithely announced.
The men murmured their approval in a display of a bitter but cheerful professionalism and went to get their gear.
The station’s Chief of Security Ferguson, who had been silently observing the preceding moments, followed Lieutenant Koos into the next room. Ferguson was wandering among the group of OMEGA operators who were making preparations for the assault. The actions of these hardened men were swift and efficient, benefitting from many years of experience and thousands of training hours. They were putting on black combat suits, fastening ablative armor panels, checking their helmet-mounted targeting sights, loading up their carrier vests with different types of grenades, explosives as well as a wide array of breaching equipment and readying their phaser rifles.
“What are these?”, Lt. Commander Ferguson asked after he had picked up one of the fist-sized cylinders stacked on a shelf.
“They are Mark-V stun grenades, Sir”, Lieutenant Koos answered while not taking his eyes off his highly modified pulse rifle, making it combat-ready.
“I’ve heard of similar devices being used centuries ago. I had no idea Starfleet had them at their disposal”, Ferguson conveyed while carefully inspecting the grenade.
“Not exactly. Our quartermaster manufactured them to our specifications. They aren’t used by anyone else”, the Lieutenant laconically replied.
“How do they work?”, the Security Chief wondered.
The OMEGA officer, almost finished with his preparations, walked over to him, took the grenade from Ferguson’s hands and packed it in one of his belt pouches.
“They are designed to incapacitate humanoids, they are most effective in close quarters. They contain a miniature photonic warhead, its detonation will knock you off your feet up to five meters away. They also emit a bright flash of light and a hypersonic sound that overloads the optic and acoustic nerves, respectively, rendering you unconscious immediately”, Koos explained.
“And this one?”, Ferguson asked, referring to an elongated cylinder with a peculiar tip, similar to a cattle prod, which was strapped to the Lieutenant’s leg.
“It’s a stun baton, we use it in hand-to-hand scenarios to subdue opponents. They can emit a painful neural shock on contact.”
“Very impressive. We sure could have used them when these guys got here”, Ferguson sighed.
Lieutenant Koos turned around and grabbed his rifle while saying:
“Have a talk with Commander Pierce. Maybe he is willing to leave you some spares when we are done here.”
Ferguson noted that the man finished preparing his weapon by pushing the setting slider to ‘Kill’. Ferguson frowned and asked:
“Do you mind telling me what you are doing? I don’t recall that your superiors gave orders to kill the terrorists.”
Mildly annoyed by Ferguson’s comment, the Lieutenant got in his face and said:
“We are under the direct command of the Head of Starfleet Security. General H’Roren is well aware of our rules of engagement, Sir. An assault like this is extremely difficult and we are here to make sure that no innocent lives are lost. It takes only seconds for them to open fire on the hostages or blow those fusion generators. And they have proven themselves to be well prepared and willing to kill. They might be wearing absorbent armor like us and all attackers are members of species known for their resilience. A hit with our weapons on stun might not be sufficient to put them out of action. We can not allow ourselves the luxury of not taking them out with the first shot. If this was still an option, your men could handle it and we wouldn’t be here. We are no diplomats, we clean up the mess when the diplomats have failed. Excuse me.”
He left the room and joined his comrades heading out for the assault.
In the meantime the station’s commanding officer, Admiral Gryz and OMEGA leader Pierce were conferring over subspace communications with General H’Roren, who had returned to his ship after the initial visit.
“Have you been able to establish contact with them?”, the General asked.
“Negative. They muted our calls from the beginning and now apparently Phobos and his deputy are having an argument. More importantly though, they have started to move the station closer to the planet. At the current rate we will start disintegrating in the atmosphere in less than two hours”, Admiral Gryz replied.
“I see. I have already discussed such a scenario with the President and he authorized me to give the go-ahead for an assault. Time is of the essence. Commander Pierce, I hereby grant you operational control, Admiral, please give him your full cooperation.”
Gryz and Pierce nodded.
“Good luck. H’Roren out.”
Commander Pierce walked over to his command console while tapping his combadge.
“All stations, this is Olympus. I have control, I repeat: I have control. Finish your deployment in four mikes. Olympus out”, he ordered.
In the empty corridors of Deck 15 Lieutenant Koos, casually swinging his helmet in his hand, wordless and confident, was leading his OMEGA teams along small observational checkpoints manned by the station’s security officers. More than forty heavily armed men were on their way to force Phobos’ men out of their stronghold.
“Oscar-Zero-One to Olympus, engage the woofers, we are taking up positions”, Lieutenant Koos requested over comms.
At a junction one group of about twenty operators turned right and disappeared in a dark hallway. After rounding a corner another group parted and formed two columns on both sides of the large bulkhead which was still sealing off the access corridor that led to Ops-15. Two men placed a large frame charge on the massive door, preparing the breach. Koos and the remaining OMEGAs walked into the adjoining section where the point man removed a wall panel and crawled into a narrow maintenance space, the rest followed him in, with Lieutenant Koos being the last to climb inside. It was a tight squeeze for the men, having to contort in order to move between bundles of plasma pipes and tritanium beams. At the end of the room the Lieutenant’s team placed another frame charge on the sidewall before they moved out of the blast radius.
“Olympus, Oscar-Zero-One, we are in position”, the Lieutenant calmly communicated.
“Roger. Foxtrot-Alpha and Bravo, what’s your status?”, Commander Pierce inquired from his command post in Main Ops.
On the outer hull of the starbase, attached to strong cables two further OMEGAs in black EV suits were silently walking weightlessly towards their destination: the outer windows belonging to the office of Ops-15, where Phobos was still residing. The two operators approached the pair of windows from above, swung to the sides and took their positions at the corners, right next to the window’s supporting frame. They peered inside while unslinging their high-powered phaser rifles. Against the black background of space they could not be seen by the terrorists from the inside.
“Foxtrot-Alpha to Olympus, we have visibility, over”, the troop’s leader radioed.
“Understood. Attention all stations, we are in position. Stand by”, Pierce instructed before turning to the station’s Chief Engineer who was standing ready at a console:
“Commander van Schuyler, your call.”
“We are ready”, the woman assured.
The Chief Engineer took a final look at her commanding officer, Admiral Gryz, who gave an approving nod.
“Engaging assault program”, she said while typing a command on her console.
“I am setting up the dampening field”, she explained and checked the readout on the display:
“Plasma surge is building up, prepared for full shutdown in approximately two minutes”, van Schuyler announced.
“All stations, two minutes. Repeat, two minutes”, Commander Pierce updated his teams.
“Oscar-Zero-One understood”, Koos replied into his communicator. He put on his helmet, engaged the targeting system which illuminated the area around his eyes in a green light, then he turned to his men and held up two fingers indicating the time until the assault would begin. His team members all mirrored the gesture.
Inside Ops-15 Gracie Jones, who had been in shock for a few minutes after the sudden death of Ensign Hona at the hands of Deimos, had taken a moment kneeling by the side of the deceased young officer, but now composed herself again and walked into the office where Phobos had just returned to. She faced him, standing in front of the office desk, her back to the windows, looking at him, sad and scorned.
“Now another one is dead. He was practically a child. Please stop this before it goes out of hand!”, Jones told him.
“Olympus, Foxtrot-Alpha, we have a problem. One of the hostages just entered the office. Repeat, one hostage is separated”, one of the two OMEGA snipers who were holding position outside the window reported.
In Main Ops all the assembled officers reacted to this new revelation:
“What’s going on? Who is it?”, Admiral Gryz demanded to know.
“It’s Jones, Sir. She is talking to Phobos again”, the OMEGA sniper radioed.
“I already triggered the plasma surge, she has to get out of there within the next ninety seconds”, the Chief Engineer shouted.
“Can you abort, Commander?”, the Admiral asked.
“The buildup is getting stronger, if I shut it down now I have to release excess plasma through the vents, or the entire plasma grid will blow in our faces, they will know what we are planning”, van Schuyler declared.
“If she stays with them, they could kill her before my men can get to her. Or she could be caught in the crossfire”, Pierce reminded the Admiral.
“If we abort we ruin our only chance of a surprise attack”, Chief of Security Ferguson said.
“Foxtrot, do you have a clear shot?”, the OMEGA leader wanted to know.
Both members of the Foxtrot team were still hanging upside down next to the window with their rifles aimed inside. Foxtrot-Alpha was trying to get Phobos in his gunsight. But Jones was standing between him and the terrorist leader.
“Negative, Olympus, the hostage is partly blocking the line of fire.”
Inside the office Phobos eventually reacted to Gracie Jones’ presence. Deimos had joined them again as well.
“Why did he have the tool?”, the second-in-command asked, “She tricked us. That hologram must have brought it along. We should kill her too”, he demanded accusingly.
Phobos glanced at him and replied:
“You have killed enough for today, little brother. Now get out!”
But Deimos had enough of his brother’s belittlement.
“I have killed enough? I only got started! ‘Patience, brother’, that’s what you keep saying. I am out of patience! We will kill them and everyone on this station. Only then it will be enough for a day!”
“Don’t you see that you can’t win this? And now you want to crash this station in the planet’s atmosphere? How much blood needs to be spilled?”, Jones reminded Phobos.
“We can not abandon the struggle. We warned you not to mess up, this young man did not have to die, he could have chosen to live by doing what he was asked to”, the Nausicaan leader tried to reason.
“The 2IC is losing it. He might start shooting them without his brother’s orders”, one of the OMEGA surveillance technicians reported to his superior Commander Pierce.
“It’s getting too dangerous, we have to go in now”, the latter exclaimed.
Admiral Gryz nodded and gazed over to his Chief Engineer.
“Plasma surge ready in twenty seconds”, she answered.
“All stations, stand by”, Pierce ordered.
“Come on, lady, move!”, Foxtrot-Alpha murmured to himself, with Jones still blocking the line of sight to Phobos.
“Alright, we tried to sabotage your force field. We are trying to stay alive, just like your struggle for freedom. Ensign Hona acted on my orders. Your brother is right. You should kill me. I am the ranking officer. I am responsible. Do it, right now”, Gracie Jones told Phobos.
She reached over the table, grabbed his hand and moved it towards his combat belt where a disruptor pistol was strapped on. Strangely, Phobos did not stop her. He let her guide his hand, the weapon was pulled out and placed on the table between them.
“Either you shoot me or you can end all this. I can’t do anything about the violence and oppression against your brothers, as you can see, neither can you. My government has turned both of us down. We have to solve this problem now. Just you and me. You and I can stop the killing here”, Jones implored her opponent while staring him down.
“Ready”, Chief Engineer van Schuyler said with a shaky voice.
She pushed a button which triggered the shutdown. All computer consoles, monitors and lighting were deactivated. The entire station went off the air and was plunged into darkness.
Phobos, his brother Deimos and the rest of their men as well as Jones and the hostages were startled by the sudden loss of power and tried to get their bearings for a moment.
“All stations, execute!”, was the order by Commander Pierce.
Huddled together with his team, Lieutenant Koos gave a quick signal and his breacher lit the frame charge with his remote. In a split second the device went off, its plasma seared through the bulkhead and plunged a three meter wide hole in one of the walls of Ops-15. The detached piece of metal flew inside with tremendous force and crushed one of the Gorn terrorists.
Through the wide gap in the room’s wall a swarm of stun grenades now came flying, they bounced off the walls and the floor in all directions before igniting in a bright flash and with an incredible bang, which rendered most of the terrorists in the middle of the room as well as the hostages behind their force field unconscious.
Gracie Jones and Phobos, momentarily frozen from the shock of the breaching charge, now both reacted by trying to get hold of Phobos’ sidearm which was still laying on the office desk between them. They were struggling and wrestling, with Jones holding her ground against the much larger Nausicaan who was hindered because he was still sitting in the chair with his legs trapped under the table. Deimos, who had been standing in the door and just outside the effective range of the stun grenades, but still dazzled and confused, spotted the fight a few meters away and reached for his own disruptor, he aimed at Jones, but when he squeezed the trigger nothing happened - the dampening field had done its job well.
Meanwhile on the outside the Foxtrot team waited anxiously for an opportunity to fire at the terrorist leader, still engaged in a tug-of-war with Jones. Foxtrot-Beta now saw Deimos pull out his dagger. He took aim quickly and his shot penetrated the window and hit Deimos in the chest with deadly precision. The miniature hull breach created by the shot from outside created a high pitched hissing from the decompressing atmosphere for a few seconds before an emergency force field sprang into place sealing the hole.
A second assault team had set off their breaching charge simultaneously at the emergency bulkhead in the main corridor and were now joining in the assault. OMEGA commandos were aggressively pouring into Ops-15 from two sides with overwhelming force. One Nausicaan and one Orion terrorist, who had found cover from the stun grenades fired by the other team found themselves face to face with one dozen of the imposing OMEGA soldiers. The Nausicaan tried to raise his rifle, but was dropped by deadly phaser fire from the team’s point man. The Orion raised his hands in surrender. Three OMEGAs tackled him against the wall, a fourth put him out of action with his stun baton.
OMEGAs were advancing into the room from all directions now. Shahq, the technician, together with the last remaining Gorn had taken refuge behind the main workstation. The Gorn removed a plasma grenade from his bandelier, activated the trigger, peered over the edge and swung his arm to throw the weapon in the direction of the assault force, but at the moment his hand was about to let go, a shot by one of the OMEGAs shattered his forearm, making him scream in pain. The grenade sailed through the air in the direction of the hostages, but ricocheted when it impacted the force field. It exploded and its hot plasma showered one of the OMEGAs, burning him slightly. Members of the assault force from the corridor now outflanked the hiding position of Shahq, approached him from the side and pummeled him with their stun batons.
Gracie Jones, finally out of strength, lost hold of Phobos’ weapon and the latter managed to get up and dispatched her with a bone-crushing headbutt. He turned away from her and jumped over the table towards the door leading to Ops-15, ready to make his final stand against the assault force. He picked up a plasma grenade and with his finger on the trigger made a step for the door, when Lieutenant Koos appeared in the door frame and killed him with a double tap from his phaser rifle. Phobos fell over and hit the floor. At the moment of death the grenade went off, its plasma flame engulfing Phobos’ corps and setting half the room ablaze, including Gracie Jones who was laying only a few meters away. Lieutenant Koos sprinted to her and dragged her out of the flames. More OMEGAs rushed in and put out the fire with portable extinguishers.
“Get them out, go, go, go!”, Koos ordered his men while pointing at the hostages.
About a dozen OMEGAs now began evacuating the hostages, who were still out cold, carrying them out through the corridor.
Lieutenant Koos took off his helmet and knelt down next to Gracie Jones, who was horribly burned on the whole left side of her body, the heat had caused her uniform to partially melt into her skin. She had her eyes wide open staring at him while weakly groaning from pain.
“Olympus, this is Oscar-Zero-One. Target secured, I repeat: target secured. One hostage is badly wounded. Dispatch medical team immediately”, the Lieutenant spoke into his combadge.
Commander Pierce replied from Main Ops:
“Understood. They are on their way.
All stations, this is Olympus, all targets secured, begin evacuation.”
Koos gently took Jones’ hand and squeezed it tightly.
“You’ll be fine, Ma’am. Just hang in there. It’s over now.”