“According to our sensor scans, the Omega facility is spread out over four subterranean levels with each level roughly three hundred square meters in size. The first level is made up of a shuttle hangar and storage bays. The second level holds science labs and administrative offices. We have located traces of boronite on the third level and the lowest level contains three separate Omega generators which we believe are in the process of synthesizing the molecule as we speak,” explained Wayne Daystrom as he stood at the far bulkhead of Agamemnon
’s observation lounge next to the wall-mounted monitor currently displaying a digital rendering of the facility he was talking about. Pointing at the various levels of the green-gridded diagram, the picture expanded further to show additional details such as the layout and floor plans.
His audience included his own captain, Arden Texx, Terrence Glover, Queen Ket, Security Chief Mer’iab, Beatiar Sh’Fane as well as his counter part from Cuffe
, the Alshain science officer Lieutenant N’Saba and Cuffe
’s head of security, Lieutenant Meldin.
“What’s that structure on top?” asked Maya Donners.
The science officer tapped on the tower to zoom in closer on the spire which stood at least two hundred meters tall and was shaped not unlike a huge flower vase with a broad base which slimmed towards the middle and then bulged out again at the top. “We’re not entirely certain as to the exact function of this device but it appears to be a conduit of some kind. Presumably it channels the Omega molecule for the purpose of an unknown practical application of its power,” he said.
“It’s a Star Portal,” said Ket.
“Come again?” Terrence Glover said.
“It’s how my people first came to be here. We used a similar device over one hundred of your years ago to transphase our Colony to this place. Or at least those who survived the journey.”
“You think your people are trying again?” said Commander Texx and then looked at Donners. “Playing devil’s advocate for a moment, if they were to succeed in beaming themselves into another galaxy it sure solve some of our immediate problems.”
“Nadelphi has been pushing hard for another attempt to transphase the Colony to Xendaru, the mystical realm of the All-Mother. But the Cleric Queen’s influence in the Aggregate is not as it used to be, especially now that Klestra is dead,” said the former Artisan Queen.
“Wait a minute,” said Maya. “The Supreme is dead?”
Ket jerked her head to the side to communicate a positive response. “She was killed by the destruction of the primary Xendaru facility on Apogee.”
Texx and Donners exchanged a surprised look before the captain turned back to their Xenarth refugee. “That’s information you may have wished to share with us sooner.”
Her feelers drooped in an apologetic fashion. “I ask for your forgiveness. I have only learned of this a few short minutes ago while monitoring New Xenarth’s radio frequencies.”
“OK, so the leader of your people was killed,” said Glover. “I think the most important question now is, what happens next and how does it change things?”
“I’m afraid the change will not be for the better. I have no doubt that the Warrior Queen will convince the remaining Aggregate that she should assume power and Samma is much more belligerent than Klestra ever was. She will abandon the Star Portal and instead try her best to utilize the Xendaru particle as a weapon.”
“And we’ve seen how that turned out,” said Mer’iab.
Daystrom cleared his throat. “If their second attempt will be anything like the first, the damage will be far worse. Not only may Iota Crucis itself not survive losing another satellite, subspace may rupture completely in this system, swallowing up every last matter molecule within a light-year and making warp speed impossible, potentially in half the quadrant, perhaps even further.”
The room fell silent for a moment as this doomsday scenario was being digested by the men and women in attendance.
The Andorian Marine was the first to break it. “Do we know how the weapon is deployed?”
When Daystrom didn’t appear to have an immediate answer, the lupine Alshain Science Officer spoke up. Maya had suppressed the urge to shudder as she consider the man who with his wolf-like features looked more like a beast than a man. His azure-colored ocular implants gave him a cold and impassionate expression which stood in contrast to his otherwise wild and feral look. Donners’ discomfort lasted less than a second and until she remembered that she had an avian security chief, an insectoid chief engineer and a Vulcan le-matya
as a pet.
“It must be the Star Portal,” he said as he studied the structure still displayed on the screen. “They must have adapted it so it can harness and release concentrated energy directly from those Omega molecule generators.”
Daystrom nodded along. “That makes sense.”
“Then our first priority is to blow the portal to pieces,” said Glover.
But Mer’iab shook his head. “It’s not an option. We’ve discussed targeted orbital bombardment of the facility to neutralize it but we are now fairly certain that the risks of accidently damaging one of the Omega generators and risking an accident are far to high.”
“Alright,” said Texx. “How about beaming those generators right out of there?”
“We thought about that, too,” said Wayne Daystrom. “Problem is that we cannot get a clear transporter lock on the generators or the molecules themselves due to the strong Omega radiation prevalent within the facility. And to be honest, the risk of something going wrong during transport is not one I’d like to take.”
“Would’ve been too easy,” mumbled Terrence.
Donners fixed his security chief with a pointed look. “I take it you have a plan, Lieutenant.”
The tall avian swiftly rose from his seat and replaced Daystrom by the monitor. “The good news is that we’ve already anticipated the need for a ground assault on two separate facilities. As only one remains it will simplify our mission.”
“What’s the bad news?” Glover wanted to know.
The security chief tapped a few control panels to show a small flotilla of cylindrical-shaped ships approaching the moon. “Our sensors picked up these vessels which we believe to be troop transporters landing at our target location less than an hour ago.”
Terrence looked at Maya. “They send in reinforcements.”
She nodded. “Is a ground assault still feasible?”
The Marine commander responded before Mer’iab had the chance, causing the security chief to frown noticeably. “We think so. We expect about four hundred armed hostile troops guarding the facility by now. We’ll have access to the full security complement of both Agamemnon
, that’s 124 security personnel plus 87 of my Marines.”
“That’s still 2-to-1,” said Maya.
This time the Aurelian managed to beat Sh’Fane to it. “Our people are significantly better equipped. And thanks to Queen Ket we were able to gain valuable intelligence on Xenarth weaponry, equipment and physiology.”
“Perhaps there is another way,” said the Xenarth queen.
Maya gestured for her to continue. If there was a way in which she could avoid putting troops onto the ground, she wanted to hear it.
“I could try and reason with the Aggregate. Make them understand that if they do not voluntarily give up the Xendaru … the Omega molecule, that they would not survive a Starfleet assault to shut it down.”
Silence befell the observation lounge again and judging from the pained expressions on most faces, nobody seemed to be particularly convinced of this plan. But then again none of the assembled officers wanted to be the one to tell the only Xenarth in attendance that they had no other choice but to go to war with her people.
Lieutenant Meldin ultimately was the one to break the bad news. The blue-skinned Benzite slowly shook his head. “We cannot risk warning the Xenarth of the impending assault or we lose the element of surprise.”
Glover nodded, coming to his officer’s defense. “Agreed. There is enough resistance in the facility at the moment already. If we tip them off now, they may send further reinforcements making this option no longer viable.”
Maya could tell that Ket was disappointed by that response, judging by the way her feelers and mandibles twitched slightly, even if she tried an awkward nod to show her understanding.
She knew of nothing else to add and considered the security officers and Marine again. “I still don’t like the odds here. We’ll have about 200 men taking on 400 armed Xenarth. How do we avoid this becoming a blood bath on either side?”
Mer’iab, having expected this question, was quick to field it. “Simple, we don’t take on their entire force at once,” he said and referred back to the display. “The majority of the hostile troops are stationed on the second level. Our targets are the boronite on the third level and the generators on the fourth. The facility is too heavily shielded to beam directly to the third or fourth level.”
“Instead,” continued Sh’Fane. “We will deploy a number of tactical drones to simulate a frontal attack by beaming them directly onto the first level. In the meantime Agamemnon
will carry out a highly orchestrated orbital bombardment sequence which in reality will function as cover for drilling four deep cavities into the surface of the moon at strategic locations at the outer edges of the facility, allowing four teams to penetrate the lower levels from the outside.”
Maya was still not entirely pleased with this plan and while she didn’t put this into words, everyone in the room could tell by her stern expression that her doubts had not yet been alleviated.
Sh’Fane picked up on this first. “Obviously we have to be quick about this. The diversion will not last long and eventually the Xenarth soldiers will realize that we are already inside. Again thanks to Queen Ket’s information and studying her physiology, Doctor Rass has been able to determine phaser frequencies which are more likely to show a result against their hardened exoskeletons. In fact we also found certain weak spots which if targeted will allow us to take down and neutralize any Xenarth solders quickly and efficiently.”
Ket stood from her chair, causing everyone in the room to look her way. Her mandibles were twitching much more noticeably now which Maya interpreted as resentment. Before she could think of offering any words to calm the former Xenarth queen, she spoke up. “If you … if you would excuse me,” she said and quickly headed for the doors.
The officers in the room looked after her.
Mer’iab shot the Marine commander a frosty look. “Well done, Lieutenant. Real tactful.”
The Andorian flushed slightly, clearly embarrassed by this incident. “I’m sorry I didn’t think–“
Donners held up her hand to cut Sh’Fane off, not willing to discuss this matter further now. Instead she turned to look at Daystrom. “We’ve heard the tactical plan of how to get our teams into the facility. What do we do once inside?”
“The boronite is straight forward and we should be able to destroy it with our phasers. As for the Omega generators, our plan is simply to interrupt the main power supply for each generator which should immediately stop the Omega molecule formation process. We should even be able to scan the generators so that we could potentially copy the process the Xenarth have employed to synthesize the molecule ourselves,” the science officer said.
Glover frowned. “Our mission here is to destroy the molecules, Lieutenant, not create our own.”
“I’m aware of this, sir, but we do have an opportunity here to better understand what we are up against. We shouldn’t waste it.”
“I freely admit that there are some orders I openly disagree with,” said Terrence. “But this isn’t one of them. Our mission here is to take out Omega no matter what and I intend to do just that. I’m also concerned of what to do with these generators if they have already created any molecules. Will pulling the plug be enough to destroy them?”
Daystrom looked visibly uncomfortable by that question. “No,” he said after hesitating for a moment. “We’d risk a loss of containment if we were to do that. The result could be catastrophic.”
“Just what I thought,” said Glover with a smirk. “That’s why we have a plan B. A specially designed resonance chamber. We use pattern enhancers to beam the molecules in, activate the chamber and voila. No more molecules.”
The science officer shook his head. “We considered this but building such a chamber would be too time consuming.”
At this N’Saba spoke up. “Expecting this kind of problem, we’ve already started building it on Cuffe
. Commander Rojas, our engineer, is confident the chamber will be up and ready within the hour.”
Daystrom looked as if he wanted to protest but Maya spoke up before he had the chance. “Sounds to me like we have a decent plan in place including a contingency,” she said.
“The only issue left to resolve, sir, is who should lead the assault team,” Mer’iab said. “I believe the obvious choice would be me.”
As expected Sh’Fane took issue with this. “I don’t see how you are the obvious choice at all,” she shot back and then considered the captain. “This is clearly a military operation and as such I should handle this.”
Terrence Glover couldn’t suppress a large grin coming over his lips. “Are these two always like this?” he asked his counterpart.
Maya rubbed her forehead. “You don’t even know the half of it. Wait until you get to have Marines stationed on your ship and ask your security people to play nice with them,” she told a clearly bemused Glover.
Both Mer’iab and Sh’Fane averted their glances.
“A third of the people taking part in this assault are from my team,” said Lieutenant Meldin. “I am more than capable to lead this mission.”
Judging by the looks from both the Marine commander and Agamemnon
’s chief of security, neither one of them liked that suggestion very much.
Glover nodded. “I agree. Lieutenant Meldin is the right man.”
Maya looked over the assembled officers. “That’ll be all for now. I will advise you shortly on who will lead the away team. Captain, Commander, would you mind staying behind for a moment.”
Everyone except for Glover and Texx cleared the room.
“Well that was interesting,” said Glover the moment they had the observation lounge to themselves. “Are you sure they’re not going to turn on each other instead of fighting the Xenarth?”
“We’ll put them into different teams. They’ll be fine,” said the first officer.
Glover grinned. “Separated like school children.”
“If they weren’t as good at what they do I would have them both relieved of duty but I don’t think we can afford to do that considering what we’re up against,” said Maya and stood. “As for who will lead the away team, that’s easy. I’ll do it.”
Both officers shot the woman astonished glances.
“Cap, that’s not a good idea. Putting aside for a moment that it goes against regs, this is a high-risk mission and the chances that you could be injured or worse are simply too great. If you want a command officer on this, I can take the lead.”
“Spoken like a true XO,” said Glover.
Texx aimed an irritated look at the other captain. “You’re not backing me up on this?”
He shrugged. “I don’t want Maya in harm’s way any more than you do but I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘let’s-treat-the-captain-with-kid-gloves’ rule. I’d be a hypocrite if I tried to talk her out of it now.”
“Thanks,” said Amaya.
“I just hope you’re not doing this because you feel you have something to prove. That’d be stupid. It’s your first mission. You don’t have to go and try to get yourself killed to gain the respect of your crew.”
Maya shook her head. “Nothing to do with that,” she said and took her seat again. “The truth is that I’m still struggling with the whole concept of what we are trying to do here. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the dangers of the Omega molecule but sending troops against a sovereign government to destroy their technology stands against everything I believe in. It goes against the oath I swore when I first put on the uniform,” she said and looked up at Glover. “I can’t tell my own people to carry out such a mission and sit back in my comfortable chair pretending it has nothing to do with me. I have to be there for myself as much as for my crew.”