Chapter 6, part 1
Nog had his eyes shut as he remained in limbo. He had used the transporter hundreds of times, but the site-to-site transporter was different, his molecules felt a lot more in limbo than usual. This strange tingling sensation crackled all over his skin. Finally his feet found ground, and feeling that his body was in one piece, Nog opened his eyes.
“Chief how did you get here?” said Paulson in surprise.
Nog quickly looked around, he had made it to the security office. “Beamed over.”
He glanced at the limited view of the Promenade from the office doors and saw phaser fire coming from both sides. “How bad is it on the Promenade?”
Paulson looked at Nog very grimly. “We've got them pinned down for the time being, and this office and the Infirmary are out of the firing line so far.”
“Good,” said Nog, while he placed the toolbox upon the office’s desk. “Because I've got work to do here.”
“What sort of work?” asked Paulson as he vacated the chair to let Nog work from behind the desk.
“Ops is in lock down mode after the Romulans captured it,” explained Nog, “and I need to reroute the main systems to this office. Once I've done that, you can open fire on the Romulan ships. Hopefully their shields will be down because they presume the command centre is theirs. The ships will take serious damage, so much damage that they will have to raise their shields.”
“Meaning the Romulans are stuck on this station,” said Paulson, who didn’t sound pleased at the prospect.
“Not necessarily,” Nog countered, pushing the chair away and crouching down. “They may be promptly beamed off because their ships would have to resume their attack this station. If they inflict too much damage they risk the lives of their soldiers...”
“That's if they don't simply sacrifice their soldiers...” said Paulson rather morosely.
“Well I hope not...” said Nog.
Getting to work, Nog removed all three panels to access the interior of every console on the desk. Next he opened his toolbox and quickly thought out how to reroute the command and weapons functions to the consoles before him.
“How long will this take?” said Paulson impatiently, while he stood behind a bulkhead, embedded into the wall, and glanced nervously at what was happening outside.
“An hour, perhaps a little longer...”
“One hour?” exclaimed Paulson, his voice laced with a little fear. “How on earth are we going to hold out for one hour?”
“Well that's your problem,” said Nog impatiently. “You are the chief of security, so defend the key areas of this station!”
“Easy for you to say!” retorted Paulson. “Can't you complete your task any quicker?”
“Any quicker and I risk crashing the entire station's computer! Now please no more distractions! I have to concentrate! Just keep the Romulans out of this office, that's all I ask for!”
The office doors opened and Nog assumed that Paulson had left to direct the defence of the Promenade. Soon all the external sounds of phaser fire were blotted out from Nog’s attention as he focused on the problem at hand. Now which access relay should he pick without causing a cascade failure in the console’s processing systems?
“ETA to DS9?” asked Ezri.
“Just less than one hour,” said Max, “about 59 minutes.”
“The station will never last that long...” Kira commented, staring transfixedly at a screen on her console.
“It might do,” said Ezri a little optimistically. “I have every confidence in commander Felpes ability to defend the station.”
The bridge lapsed into silence as everyone focused on their tasks. Despite Ezri’s reassurances, the mood remained downcast, and a certain amount of worry lingered in the air, gradually lowering morale as the minutes past by.
“Captain, we may have a problem...” said the female Vulcan lieutenant at the science station.
“Would care to elaborate?” asked Ezri a touch impatiently.
“I am detecting subspace disturbances in sector 2745, about two light years from DS9,” the officer reported, staring at the readings in a dispassionate manner. “These disturbances aren't stationary, they are heading towards DS9.”
“What is the nature of these disturbances in subspace?”
The Vulcan quickly inputted some more commands to the console she was working on as she studied the results. “They are altering the higher frequency subspacial harmonics, there is only one cause for this.”
“Cloaked Romulan ships...” muttered Ezri, and her brow further wrinkled in concern. “Can you detect how many Romulan ships there are?”
“Checking...” said the Vulcan. “I would say about 175, but it is hard to get an accurate reading because the subspace disturbances are closely grouped together.”
While the Vulcan may have sounded rather calm about the number of Romulan ships, everyone else was not. The unease intensified, even Ezri looked a little unsettled.
“175 ships...” repeated Ezri. “They must be Romulan reinforcements. Mr Holo, send a message out to all starbases in this sector, plus the ones surrounding this sector, tell them that the Romulans have 175 cloaked ships heading towards DS9, and additional Starfleet ships are urgently needed to prevent the Romulans capturing DS9.”
Kira cricked her neck around to glance at Ezri very seriously. “Do we continue our course and approach towards DS9?”
“We do,” said Ezri firmly.
Kira’s pivoted her chair a quarter of the way around as she regarded Ezri dubiously. “Even with the Starfleet reinforcements, we will still be outnumbered four to one!”
This did nothing to deter Ezri, she simply glanced back at Kira with a very steady expression. “We stand a better chance of winning if we can force the Romulans to retreat from DS9, and then prepare both the Starfleet ships and the station for the next wave of Romulan ships.”
Conditions in Quark’s bar had deteriorated substantially, a fire fight was raging outside of the bar, and occasionally a phaser beam penetrated the bar, though fortunately it didn’t hit any of the children. Now many of the children were crying, and some openly sobbing with the battle raging outside on the Promenade.
Mia though remained tight lipped hugging her brother with all her willpower. Deru was shaking from fear but Mia remained calm. She had to be strong for Deru, and she glanced outwards, over the dabo table she and Deru were hiding behind.
Five security guards were close to the interior part of the entrance, valiantly holding off the Romulans. Even Quark fought with them using his Ferengi phaser pistol to repel the enemy.
As long as the guards could hold the position then Mia felt somewhat certain that the Romulans wouldn’t be able to set foot in the bar. With her own eyes she saw a green disruptor beam hit a Bajoran guard squarely in the chest. The man fell to the floor, moaning in agony.
She didn’t know what she was doing, or what prompted her to do it, but Mia got to her feet. “Stay there,” she said in a clear, almost harsh, voice to her brother.
Keeping low, Mia raced over to where Raris was positioned, by the right side of the entrance. Once next to Raris, she crouched down behind him, and then carefully leaned over grabbing the injured guard’s Bajoran phaser pistol.
The guard didn’t seem to notice, ignoring the fallen man, Mia kept herself behind Raris. One part of her was scared senseless, however she felt this powerful urge to do something to protect not only Deru but the rest of the children. She was not going to stand by and let the Romulans take the bar.
Briefly she looked down at the phaser held in her hand, it was obviously set to kill, and Mia knew she only had to do two things: aim, and pull the trigger.
At that moment, Raris looked behind him, his eyes widening in surprise upon seeing Mia. “What are you doing here Mia?”
“Helping you to defend this bar.”
“Are you out of your mind, do you even know how-”
A phaser beam narrowly missed Raris’ left arm, Mia though spotted the Romulan who fired that shot, and standing up, she raised her disruptor. Through the small sights, she could see the upper half of the Romulan’s body. Without even thinking, Mia pulled the trigger, and to her surprise the dull-yellow phaser beam hit the Romulan’s right arm.
Instinctively, Mia moved some paces away, hiding behind a bulkhead, all the while trying to focus on the situation. She had just injured a sentient being, really injured one, but she tried to ignore the guilt.
“Like mother, like daughter,” said Raris, sounding somewhat impressed.
“Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it,” replied Mia calmly.
She was surprised by the seriousness and maturity of her voice; no longer did she feel like a child anymore.
“Cover my position,” said Raris.
At once Raris ran over to behind the bar’s counter, before diving beneath it.
Mia crouched down. Moving a few steps, she took up Raris’ position. She fired some more shots, all of which missed. Concentrate!
she sternly told herself. Right then she spotted a Romulan moving just out of the cover provided by a bulkhead. Mia aimed and fired, the beam hit the Romulan against the side of his head, causing the head to partially explode releasing green goo and bodily matter.
It was a horrible sight, instantly Mia knew she had killed that man. Her hands trembled a little, when a green disruptor beam flew over her head she came to her senses. Once back in cover Mia focused on the task at hand, feeling more determined than ever. She wasn’t going to let emotions get in her way, she wanted to defend the bar not only for the children, but to make sure she didn’t let Raris or any of the other guards down…
Megan stood in front of the engineering console with her back turned against it. She calmly watched Retal and two Romulan technicians futilely attempt to take over computer control of Ops. She could wait all day like this, and by then the Starfleet reinforcements would have arrived. However Megan wondered what the Romulans might do if they had to beam back off the station. Would the Romulans shoot her and every crew member in Ops dead?
There was still some hope for the station, the Romulans still hadn’t managed to control the central core, and they encountered heavy resistance on the Promenade. Megan heard this from reports given to Feldrek. One thing Megan didn’t understand was why the Romulans continued their attempts to capture the station when Starfleet reinforcements would be arriving shortly. Surely the Romulans were outnumbered…
But then a sickening feel came to Megan’s gut; unless the Romulans had reinforcements of their own coming... Then all the resistance on DS9, the incoming Starfleet vessels, this whole struggle would be in vain…
“Centurion Retal, have you made any progress with overriding the lockdown?” asked Feldrek for what must have been the nth time.
“None sir,” replied Retal from the engineering pit. “This job is going to take serious time, if I had the command codes, it would considerably shorten the time...”
Upon hearing this Feldrek turned his gaze to Megan, and walked towards her. “I ask you again commander, give me the command codes...”
“No,” said Megan simply, staring right back into those ice cold eyes of Feldrek’s.
Feldrek then nodded to two soldiers who were next to him. Without delay, the two Romulans grabbed hold of Megan.
“Give her a good beating,” ordered Feldrek, “perhaps afterwards she will talk.”
While one Romulan soldier tightly wrapped his hands around Megan’s bust, restraining her arms, the second Romulan soldier advanced forwards.
Megan started struggling against the soldier restraining her, trying to kick him in the shins. However her own shins were kicked by the second soldier’s boots, a gasp of pain escaped from her mouth and her defences lowered. It was a big mistake because she then felt one powerful blow against her left cheek.
Some minutes later, the blows caused Megan’s cheeks and jaw to swell, while one of her eyes puffed up. Blood trickled from her left eye, mouth and nose, while her chest had seized up from pain.
The Romulan attacking her then desisted, as his companion restraining her let go. For one moment Megan felt so dazed she almost fell over, but she slowly got her bearings.
“Do you feel like talking now?” asked Feldrek.
Megan glared right back at Feldrek, and into his arrogant, twisted little face. “You won't get anything from me.”
“No, you're right,” said Feldrek rather thoughtfully. “It is clear you have become accustomed to brutality and torture...”
Feldrek casually strolled over, coming to a stop by the railing next to the engineering pit. He then pointed at one of the crew members. “Him,” said Feldrek.
One of Retal’s technicians dragged the young black-haired ensign away. Upon reaching the ladder, two Romulan soldiers literally lifted the ensign right up, grabbing onto his hands.
Megan recognised the ensign, he was Robert Swelder, early twenties, pale skin, a bit handsome and fresh from the Starfleet Academy.
Swelder started to struggle, pretty quickly one of the soldiers carrying Swelder gunbutted him. All of Swelder's squirming ceased as the blow winded him.
“Are you going to beat him senseless or torture him?” asked Megan rather coldly to Feldrek.
Feldrek looked outraged by that question. “My people could never descend to the level of the Cardassians and inflict such barbarous cruelty!”
He then addressed the Romulan soldiers holding Swelder. “Kill him.”
“Wait!” said Megan desperately, she attempted to move forwards but was restrained by a Romulan soldier.
In a horrified manner, Megan was forced to watch as one Romulan kicked Swelder to the ground.
Lying on his back, Swelder looked up at the two Romulans in terror. Seconds later, the Romulans fired several rounds each at Swelder, directly at his torso.
“Nooo!” screamed Megan.
She watched as Swelder -- who was still alive -- placed a shaking hand against one of the dozen or so wounds to his chest and abdomen. His grey tunic became soaked in blood, the worst part for Megan though was seeing those shocked eyes turn in her direction.
Megan felt even more terrible as she watched the life ebb from Swelder, and his blood slowly ooze out from behind his back. “Damn you Feldrek!” she raged, sounding wild and pained. “You killed that officer, and I won't cooperate with you if you're going to kill my crew!”
Feldrek seemed to take a little satisfaction seeing Megan so distressed. “No you killed that ensign by your refusal to cooperate with me.”
“I will not betray Starfleet and the defenders of this station!” shouted Megan, as she was torn between protecting the crew members in Ops and protecting the entire station. “If you want to get at that information, then go ahead torture me. But you will not kill anyone else in Ops!”
“You will comply...” said Feldrek through clenched teeth.
“No I won't!” retorted Megan. “You can kill everyone on this station, because I am not giving to you the access codes. Don't you get it? You'll never have this station!”
At that moment Retal stuck her head above the engineering pit and addressed her commander. “Commander Feldrek, the computer stations in this room have been completely locked down. It is going to take me at least two days just to get even limited access!”
“We do not have that sort of time!” hissed Feldrek.
Retal though remained unfazed by Feldrek’s impatience. “It is the best estimate I can give you sir.”
The anger grew on Feldrek’s face, making it all the more twisted. “Tell me the access codes or everyone of your crew members dies!” he said to Megan.
“Burn in hell!” said Megan seethingly.
“Nog hurry up!” said Paulson, who sounded very pressurised. “The Romulans are getting closer to our position!”
“I'm nearly there...” Nog said, he lay down on his back, his head staring into the interior of the console’s components. “Come on computer, you can accept this. You will accept these codes!”
He worked at a feverish rate, as he felt the pressure and responsibility thrust upon his shoulders, though he was accustomed to this sort of pressure. It had been like this every time in Apocalypse, and in some ways Apocalypse had improved certain aspects of him as a person. For one thing he coped far better with the situation, whereas he could tell Paulson was struggling to keep calm.
No matter how composed Nog kept himself, time was definitely running out fast. Nog configured some more relay ports, hoping that the ports would activate and accept the newly rerouted command and operation functions.
“Finally!” exclaimed Nog, when he heard the faint hum of the relay ports taking in micro amounts of plasma energy.
Nog got back up to his feet, careful to not bang his head against the bottom of the console. “Check your console Paulson, is it now reconfigured to fire this station's armaments?”
Paulson dashed over behind the desk to cautiously input some commands. “It is!” he said eagerly.
“Then give those point-eared villains hell!” said Nog loudly.