From the Ashes
“Boss, there’s a lot of movement at the perimeter, they could be trying to get in!”, the terrorists’ technician Shahq shouted while working his console in Ops-15.
“Defensive positions, now!”, Deimos ordered quickly.
The terrorists sprinted out into the hallway and took cover behind the door frame, their weapons trained at the heavy door which connected the room to the next corridor. The emergency bulkhead at the end of the corridor opened and more than a dozen OMEGA operators filed inside in two rows, walking swiftly next to the walls. They stopped in the middle of the corridor and kneeled down, ready to fire. A small troop now emerged behind them carrying a door-sized metal frame, studded with explosive charges. They attached it to the massive door blocking the entry and retreated. The frame charge detonated and cut a huge smoldering hole right through the door. The OMEGAS stormed ahead, firing stun grenades before rounding the corner. There they were met by disruptor fire from the terrorists. The men fired back, hitting several of the hostage takers who fell while their comrades retreated. The OMEGAs tossed more stun grenades now directly into Ops-15 before they advanced once more and spread out to both sides, continuously exchanging fire with the remaining terrorists when Commander Pierce emerged from a back corner and threw a grenade right between the tightly packed group of hostages. The grenade went off and the surroundings collapsed, revealing the yellow-lined emitter grid of the station’s holodeck. Yet another assault simulation which had failed.
“That sucked, boys!”, Pierce barked at his men.
Lieutenant Koos approached him, flipped up the face section of his combat helmet, while breathing heavily.
“It was better than the previous four.”
“You still need to cut at least eight seconds, Lieutenant.”
“I don’t think we can do it any faster, Skipper. The approach through the corridor just takes too long. We need to find another way.”
Meanwhile in the real Ops-15, still held by Phobos and his terrorists, the situation was getting dire. It was Day Six of the siege.
In the midst of the group of hostages one of the female officers, wounded during the initial attack by Phobos’ men, was getting worse. Her forehead was sweaty and her breathing became weaker. Gracie Jones, Ensign Hona and two other hostages were huddled next to the sickly woman.
“She is not well. She needs treatment as soon as possible”, a female science officer explained while checking the woman’s pulse.
Jones got up and walked towards the edge of the force field. She yelled to one of the Gorn guards:
“I need to speak to your leader. We have a medical emergency with one of the hostages.”
Deimos walked out of the next room.
“What is going on? I told you to keep quiet.”
“This woman needs treatment, her condition is deteriorating. We must get her to the medical bay”, Gracie Jones pleaded.
Now Phobos also emerged from the office.
“None of you is going to leave, for whatever reason. There will be no exceptions”, he declared.
“If you don’t do something, she will certainly die”, Jones stated.
“People die, Commander, especially in war. We have had our share of casualties, you shall have yours”, he answered and was about to turn away, when Jones shouted:
“If you show compassion, my leaders will be more likely to consider your demands. The Federation is not going to yield to ruthless terrorists. You want to liberate your homeworlds, don’t you? Then show them that you can be civilized and merciful. You have already killed people when you boarded us. If you let this woman die, you only give them more reason to reject you.”
“We can not let her leave and we can not bring a doctor down here either”, Phobos rejected her proposal.
“What about a hologram?”, Jones asked.
“A hologram?”, Phobos wondered.
“This station is equipped with an Emergency Medical Hologram. It can be projected into this room and treat her, this way at least we can get her stabilized. Please!”
Phobos went over to his technician Shahq who was sitting at his computer station.
“What do you think? Would it be a risk?”, the Nausicaan inquired with a low voice.
Shahq responded, unsure:
“I don’t know, Boss. I heard these holograms can be quite annoying, but it shouldn’t be able to do much more than medical assistance. A real officer could gather intelligence on us or try to sabotage our defenses. A hologram seems to be the safest bet.”
“Very well. You are going to make sure they don’t double-cross us”, Phobos instructed.
He walked back to Jones.
“I accept your request.”
“Then please allow me to talk to my people. We need to tell them what sort of instruments the EMH needs to bring with”, Gracie Jones explained.
“No, have it use a med-kit from here”, Phobos’s brother Deimos countered.
“It won’t work. We have already been using the tools from the med-kit on her”, Jones told him.
“Is this EMH using holographic tools as well?”, Phobos asked.
“No, but we can replicate them with the unit over there”, Jones replied and indicated a built-in replicator on a nearby bulkhead.
The attacker’s second-in-command stepped up to Phobos and grabbed his arm.
“This could be a trick, brother!”, he warned.
“I am aware of the risks, Deimos. Open a channel to the station’s commander.”
Deimos did not react, he just kept looking at him.
“You heard what I said!”, Phobos grunted.
“Yes, brother”, Deimos answered and lowered his head in compliance.
He turned around and gave a hand signal to one of his men.
“Admiral Gryz here”, the station commander answered the hail.
“Admiral, we have a woman who is in need of medical attention. We have a nurse here, she said the woman has severe symptoms of Medical Case#671, Subsection 4. We are not at liberty to evacuate her from this room, but I have negotiated with Phobos and he will allow our EMH to be transferred here temporarily for treatment. Would you please make the necessary arrangements?”, Gracie Jones requested.
“Yes, of course. Please extend my gratitude to Phobos for his leniency. Is there anything more that you require?”, Gryz inquired.
“We need to replicate the medical tools, the unit needs to be unlocked for production of medical supplies. I believe a Level III Trauma case should suffice.”
“I understand. It will be done in a few minutes.”
“Thank you, Admiral”, Jones said and the channel was closed again.
In the station’s Main Ops the commanding officer was invigorated by the message.
“Did you get all that?”
“Yes, Sir. But I don’t understand it. What the hell was she talking about? Medical Case#671, Subsection 4? A Level III Trauma case?”, the Security Chief Ferguson wondered.
“I am not sure”, Gryz replied.
“Maybe I should contact the medical bay, let one of the doctors make sense of this?”, Ferguson suggested.
“I don’t think it was about a medical procedure”, the Admiral said and shook his head while pacing around.
“It could have been a message. Maybe she wants us to give her something without them knowing about it. A Level III trauma case…”, Admiral Gryz thought out loud.
“There is a Level III repair kit”, Chief Engineer van Schuyler mentioned.
“What kind of tools does it contain?”, Admiral Gryz inquired.
Van Schuyler closed her eyes, trying to remember:
“Uh, well, a coil spanner, a decoupler, a plasma torch, a laser welder, hyperspanner, an expander… an expander?!”, she shouted with a surprised look.
“It can be used to manipulate force fields!”, Ferguson added, catching up on her thought.
“We have to assume they are being held behind a force field. If someone can access the distribution relay you would be able to reverse the polarity of the field”, van Schuyler interrupted excitedly.
“They could use it and try to escape?”, the Admiral suggested.
“No way. Even if they got the force field out of the way, they would be shot before they could reach an exit”, Chief of Security Ferguson assessed.
“What about this weird number?”, he asked.
“Could you use the expander to set the frequency of the force field?”, the Admiral inquired.
“Yes, it’s not quite the proper tool, but possible”, van Schuyler confirmed.
“671.4 MHz”, Gryz said with a smile.
A short time later the station commander hailed the terrorists:
“Ops-15, this is Admiral Gryz. We are ready here.”
“Acknowledged, holographic emitters are activated, proceed with the transfer”, Shahq answered the hail from his console.
The emitters in the room’s ceiling activated and began projecting the image of the Emergency Medical Hologram into the middle of the room. It had the looks of a plain middle-aged man wearing the blue medical uniform.
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency”, it exclaimed before realizing it was standing directly in front of Deimos, staring at the chest of the tall Nausicaan.
It raised its head cautiously and found him looking down with a devilish glare.
“What are you looking at me? Your patient is over there!”, Deimos snorted.
“And don’t even think about gathering information on us, understood?”, the Nausicaan added.
The EMH shook its head condescendingly and replied:
“Hardly, spying is not part of my program. I’m a doctor, not an operative.”
The EMH moved over and, being only a hologram, effortlessly walked through the force field sealing off the area where the hostages were being held. It knelt down next to the wounded woman. The EMH gave her a brief examination before it got up again and walked towards the replicator unit.
“There is liquid in her lungs and her burns are in progressed stages of gangrene. I need to operate. It would be better to perform surgery in the medical bay, but I suppose this is out of the question”, it explained while giving the terrorists a cynical look.
“Computer, medical trauma kit.”
Within the blink of an eye the replicator made a small suitcase materialize. The EMH picked it up and faced the terrorists again.
“I have to take this over there. Please drop the force field”, it requested.
“One moment, inspect the case first”, Deimos told one of his Gorn guards.
The EMH impatiently opened the case and presented its contents for inspection. The Gorn clumsily took out a few of the medical instruments, looked at them, trying not to show that he had no idea what they were designed to do.
“Put that thing back in there. These are sensitive medical instruments. You are going to break them with those scaled paws of yours!”, the EMH snapped before shutting the suitcase in the Gorn’s face who looked quite irritated at the hologram’s behavior.
“That’s enough, drop the force field”, Phobos ordered,
“Let’s get this over with.”
Shahq nodded and pushed a button on his console which created a small opening in the force field large enough for the EMH to carry the medical kit through. It squatted down by the injured woman’s side and opened the case and began removing the medical tools. After the first procedures were finished it reached for another instrument and picked up a fork-shaped device. The EMH stared at it quizzically and mumbled to itself: “What is this doing in there?”
Gracie Jones snatched it out of the EMH’s hand unnoticed by the terrorists and whispered:
“I take that. Thanks Doctor. Please go on.”
Jones crawled over to the wall and sat down next to Ensign Hona. With the device in her hand behind her back she reached over and covertly handed it to him.
He tried to feel what it was before asking:
“What is that?”
“You wanted to do something about our situation. Here’s your chance, Ensign. It’s an expander. There is a small hatch next to you. If I am correct, they are running the force field through a relay inside the hatch. Try to use the expander to reverse the polarity and set it to 671.4 MHz.”
The young man understood and with a weak grin he responded:
After a few more unsuccessful exercise runs on Starbase 56’s holodeck the OMEGA officers Commander Pierce and Lieutenant Koos returned to the station’s Main Ops where they found the senior officers all gathered around a viewscreen.
“Excuse me, Admiral, but we need your assistance again”, Commander Pierce interrupted them.
“Right on cue, gentlemen. I was going to send for you anyway. There has been a development”, Admiral Gryz responded.
Pierce and Koos looked at each other quickly before coming closer with curious looks.
“They requested medical assistance, they wanted us to send over the Emergency Medical Hologram along with some tools. The ranking officer among the hostages gave us some cryptic messages. We believe she is trying to manipulate the force field they are being held in and she also gave us a frequency. It could be the basis for a successful rescue attempt”, the Chief Engineer briefed them.
“Manipulate the force field? You mean for an escape?”, Lieutenant Koos asked.
“No. But if they can manage to revert its polarity and set it to a specific frequency, the hostages inside would be impervious to the terrorists’ weapons. At the same time we would need to produce a broad band dampening field, excluding the specific frequency. Their particle weapons would be useless while the force field would be the only thing left running and protect the hostages”, Chief of Security Ferguson explained.
“Alright, but it’s still not checkmate. They have their plasma grenades and they can still overload those reactors”, Commander Pierce countered, looking sceptical.
There was silence for a moment.
“Maybe we should just shut down everything”, Chief Engineer van Schuyler suggested.
“The entire station?”, Gryz asked.
“Yes, a total blackout. It would cut power to all computer functions they have control over for at least twenty seconds before redundant systems would kick in and if we trigger a feedback surge in the plasma relay system at the right place the fusion generators should be affected, the conduits would rupture but the reactors would be neutralized. If we are really lucky, all functions should come back on in default mode, removing whatever overrides they might have made by now.”
“If you cut the power, wouldn’t this also remove the force field?”, Lieutenant Koos inquired.
“We don’t know if they feed power to the force field through the station’s systems or their own portable devices. But they would be fools not to facilitate it through the emitters which are already in place. Jones would not have asked for the tool if she didn’t see an opportunity to use it.”
“How long do you need to prepare all of this?”, Pierce asked.
“Not more than an hour”, the Chief Engineer replied.
Commander Pierce and his subordinate Lieutenant Koos exchanged looks again, the latter nodded appreciatively.
“Alright, let’s give it a try. And Lieutenant, see if you can find a better way in.”