When A.J. Elborough had joined Starfleet, less than five years ago, and graduated the Academy with a specialty in molecular physics and chemistry she had expected to spend the majority of her days sitting in a lab and studying the microscopic details of the smallest particles known to exist. And while this hadn’t sounded particularly exciting to her friends and family, it was exactly that kind of methodical study she aspired to. To learn more about how the universe worked from the safety and comfort of a precisely controlled environment.
Lieutenant Chi Ling Yuen reached the young science officer just in time to push her down onto the floor before the super-charged energy beam could have separated her head from her shoulders.
The following barrage of phaser fire took out the Xenarth solider who had been able to get into the Omega chamber undetected, eight crimson-colored lances immediately causing his unconscious body to clutter to the floor.
“Are you alright?” asked the Chinese security officer after he was certain the threat had been neutralized.
“I … I think so,” she said as she brushed her damp blonde hair which had come loose from her ponytail out of her face. “Thanks.”
“It’s what I’m here for,” he said with a smile.
She couldn’t quite help herself and returned that smile. In truth this wasn’t the first time she had noticed the muscular security officer with the infectious smile. She had seen him on Agamemnon
a few times and even though they had only spoken a few words before this away mission, she had found him immediately likeable. And that smile almost made her forget that she had nearly gotten her head shot off. Almost.
He helped her back onto her feet.
“This … this is not what signed-up for,” she said as she picked up her tricorder which had slipped out of her hand when the shooting had started.
“Ensign, how far along are we with getting this thing shut down?”
Elborough didn’t need to turn to find who had spoken. His high-pitched, nearly screechy voice was quite distinct and truth be told, it gave her a headache. Or rather was making the one she had worse. The imposing security chief didn’t seem to care much, judging by the way he had yelled at her from the moment they had breached the Omega chamber just a few minutes earlier.
She’d barely had the chance to fully investigate the snow-globe like device which stood a good ten meters tall in the middle of the room and pulsated with a steady blue glow.
“I’m … I’m not sure,” she said as she pointed the tricorder at the device.
“Not good enough,” Mer’iab shot back. “We have reports that hostile forces are far more significant than we anticipated and that their main force is heading our way as we speak. We don’t have time for you not being sure.”
Elborough aimed an incredulous look at the avian, her mouth hanging open at the news that they were apparently about to be overrun.
“Ensign,” he repeated after clearly not being happy with her lack of action.
She felt a hand on her shoulder and she turned to find Yuen.
“It’s alright, A.J., we’ll be here to protect you. Just do your job.”
She nodded slowly. Somewhere in the back of her mind she couldn’t stop thinking of handsome Yuen. And also, surprisingly reassuring Yuen. She wondered when he had learned her name. Then she realized how insignificant and inappropriate all those thoughts were given their current situation.
She focused on the Omega generator again before glancing down at the read-outs of her tricorder. Her excitement of learning about this massively powerful particle had long since passed, ever since she had realized that it would be her job to destroy it and that in the process she may very well lose her own life.
“It’s … it’s not yet fully formed,” she said as she analyzed the data. “We can still shut it down by altering the main power flow to the resonance chamber.”
“Find it and pull the plug,” Mer’iab screeched.
She shook her head. “It’s not that simple, sir,” she said. “Just cutting power could cause a massive feedback loop. I need to find the exact frequency and then slowly re-modulate it to reverse the molecular synthesis which will stop the individual atoms to bond with–“
“Ensign, stow the science talk and get it done,” the security chief interrupted.
“Yes, sir,” she said.
Yuen smiled at her. “You’ll be alright.”
She nodded and went to work.
But as much as she tried to focus on what needed to be done, she couldn’t entirely stop overhearing the security chief, Yuen and the rest of the team discussing their seemingly dire situation.
“It’s not good, sir,” said one of the security officers after being prompted for a report by Mer’iab. “All teams are reporting heavy enemy contact. And they clearly know what we’re after. Lansing is reporting that they are striking his position the hardest. He’s already taken casualties. It’s only a matter of time before they’re overrun.”
“Have him regroup here along with Ha’kar’s men. Have them set up emergency triage in this room, we’ve got enough space,” the senior lieutenant said after apparently having consulted a schematic of the facility.”
The officer he had been talking to acknowledged sharply and then set out to carry out his orders.
“It’s not giving us a lot of time,” she heard Yuen say. He was speaking softly and she was grateful for this but the sound traveled easily in the large chamber.
“I know,” he responded.
She heard their footsteps approaching.
“Ensign, have you found that frequency of yours yet,” Mer’iab said before he had even reached her. “We’re running out of time.”
“I think so but ... but I need to run some more tests before I can be sure.”
“What part of running out of time did you not comprehend?”
She shot him a fiery look. “Listen, I can’t work like this, ok. I know we’re in a tough spot and that all these lives depend on my being able to shut this down but honestly that’s not the kind of pressure I need.” She stopped herself to take a deep breath, surprised by the steel and anger in her own voice. The look in the avian’s eyes was making her shudder. “Sir,” she added quickly as if it could excuse her inappropriate outburst.
Before the security chief could put her back into her place, Yuen took a small step forward, subtly putting himself in between the two officers. He gave Elborough a reassuring look. “We have another option, don’t we?” he said and glanced towards two security guards who had taken a seat close by, their sole task to carry transporter pattern enhancers strapped to their backs. “We can beam the molecules onto Cuffe
’s resonance chamber.”
She shook her head. “I just checked in with Commander N’Saba. They’re not ready yet. We try to beam into the resonance chamber now and we risk blowing up the Cuffe
, not to mention half the quadrant.”
“Tell us what you need,” he said.
She aimed a grateful look at the junior lieutenant. “A moment of peace and quiet would probably–“
An entire group of Starfleet security officers and Marines entered the chamber. Their uniforms torn and dirty and most of them were bleeding or badly scratched and bruised. Some had to be carried, some weren’t even conscious anymore.
Yuen quickly gestured toward the far corner were they had set up their temporary triage but the two medics looked as if they were going to be woefully underequipped to deal with number of injuries flooding in.
Mer’iab swiftly found the highest-ranking officer in the group, a stoic Andorian Marine who refused to get treatment before his men had been seen too. “Sergeant, what happened?”
He needed a moment to collect his thoughts. “Our position was overrun, sir. It looks like they threw everything they had at us. We cut them down one after the next but they just kept coming,” he paused for a moment, unwilling to loose himself. “They took us on man-to-man, even unarmed if they had to,” he said and looked the lieutenant square in the eye. “They are vicious fighters, sir. They don’t go down easy.”
“How much time do we have until they get here?” asked Yuen.
“I’m not sure. Ha’kar and his team were covering our retreat. It looked as if they were pushing the Xenarth back again but that won’t last. They’ll try again with larger numbers. And sir, the next time there won’t be any stopping them.”
The avian took the news in stride and gave the Marine a nod. “Have them see to your injuries,” he said. “The sooner you’re fixed up again the sooner you can rejoin the fray.”
The Andorian responded with a curt nod and then joined the rest of his men.
Mer’iab found Elborough again who to his displeasure was watching the injured instead of focusing on the generator and the ominously pulsating super-molecules contained within as they steadily bonded with each other in an effort to become the deadly and dangerous Omega molecule.
“I know, I know,” she barked and then quickly turned away from the agitated Aurelian. “Work faster or we’re all going to die,” she mumbled under her breath. “I got the message.”