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Old September 29 2014, 08:42 AM   #1
Bry_Sinclair
Commodore
 
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Location: Tactical withdrawl along the Klingon border
Star Trek: Four Years War - The Fall of Archanis

I hadn't planned on writing any more until after my little holiday, but when I woke up this morning, this idea was already bubbling away, so I just had to get it down.

* * * * *

Star Trek: Four Years War
The Fall of Archanis
Brydon J. Sinclair



Terrified screams were drowned out by the shriek of disruptors, the shattering of glass, and the roar of explosions that engulfed the city. Archanis IV was under attack—no; Archanis IV was being slaughtered.

Matthew Lochley ran through the chaos. He’d been at work when the bombardment from orbit had started, a project manager on the new research complex being built in the city. It had been a day like any other; white clouds filled the sky as they had done all week, cool, clean sea air ruffled his hair as he stood at the top of the skeletal frame, which was to be the new science centre, looking out over the colony that was held up as a gleaming example of what the Federation stood for. He had been meeting with the construction foreman, architect, and their client, going over a few slight changes to the blueprints, when there had been a sudden surge of heat, as a sickly-green beam of light cut through the cloud cover and into one of the city plazas. The four of them had watched as the destructive energy sliced through the streets and buildings, causing explosions and fires in its wake. As soon as it stopped, another beam gouged into the city ten blocks away from the first, then another and another, until soon it was raining disruptors.

The four of them had stood, dumbfounded for a long moment, unable or unwilling to take in just what it was they were seeing, until one pulse blast hit just down the street, making the unfinished building shake. Spurred on, they all headed for the ground level, all having families they needed to get to.

In the streets, people scampered and scurried about, fear replacing reason, panic taking over from common sense. No one knew where to go or what to do. As Lochley bolted past the colonists and rubble that littered the street, he heard snippets of conversations, some were trying to keep it together, others asking who could it be that was attacking them. He knew. It was easy to distinguish Klingon weapons fire. He had left Starfleet so he would never again know its unrelenting ferocity. The thought of leaving Sam and the kids behind was too much to take.

Five years. Five years out of uniform, enjoying the peaceful family life on Archanis IV, his homeworld, and now it was all about to be lost to the Klingons! Anger spurred him onwards faster.

He may not have been a lieutenant commander anymore, but he still had connections, so once he got his family they could head for the spaceport and from there he should be able to find someone he knew to help them escape—even if it meant he had to reactivate his commission he would. He would do anything to protect those he loved the most.

Reaching their building, there was a steady throng of people trying to escape out onto the street, huddling together or scattering in all different directions. He scanned their faces but didn’t see Sam, Olivia or Jason, just the shell-shocked faces of neighbours. Once he found his family he would help those that he could. As he neared the entrance, he started shouting for them, his authoritative voice boomed through the crowd.

He spotted the Rand’s from the floor below; the eldest, Janice, was best friends with Olivia. “Kathy!” he called as he drew nearer. She saw him, tears of relief streamed down her face as she hugged her two daughters. He reached them and placed a strong hand on her shoulder. “Kathy, have you seen Sam?”

Whilst everyone else around them was freaking out, Katherine Rand was doing an excellent job of keep herself together, as her children clung to her and wept. Despite that, what he was saying didn’t seem to register for a moment.

“Kathy, please! Sam and the kids, have you seen them?”

She shook her head. “No, I’ve not. Oh god, Matt, I didn’t think—”

“It’s alright, you’ve got your own family to think about.”

Another explosion nearby made the ground quake, making the colonists more frenzied. He and Kathy looked towards where the explosion had come from.

“Where do we go, Matt? Nowhere will be safe.”

He looked around quickly, then drew close to her so as to whisper in her ear. “Head to the spaceport, bay five, it’s the Starfleet dock,” he told her, his voice calm but firm, as he reached into his pocket and pulled out his old Starfleet ID card—a good luck charm he always kept with him. “Show them this and tell them alpha-nine-one-sierra-four—it’s my old authorisation code, they should have it on the system.”

“Alpha-nine-one-sierra-four,” she repeated.

“Keep it to yourself and get there as fast as you can, people are panicked now, but they’ll soon start for the port.”

“Thank you, Matt, thank you.”

“Stay safe,” he told them, turning away and heading against the flow of people and into the apartment building. He kept calling out for his family, forcing himself past those trying to get out. He scanned the faces, most of who barely seemed to register him as anything more than an obstacle that was in their path to safety.

All the lower floors had been emptied quickly, so the higher he went the more people he encountered trying to escape. Some would ultimately choose to stay in their homes, doors locked and hiding under a sturdy piece of furniture, than battle it out on the street for somewhere to shelter from the weapon blasts. Sam would’ve gotten the kids ready to travel whilst keeping them calm, packed a few emergency provisions, and tried to contact him. But his communicator hadn’t made a sound or vibration. When the attack had first began he had tried calling home, but all he’d gotten was static. Either the Klingons were jamming them or the system was clogged up with everyone trying to contact others.

As he climbed up the steps, he spotted a few people stumble, so he helped them back on their feet, so they could continue, without any word of gratitude. Understandable, none of them had been under attack before, none of them knew what to expect or where to go. The colony had procedures for natural disasters, but nothing like a full-scale assault by a bloodthirsty empire.

Lochley was still seven floors below the one he needed to get to, when he’d spotted a pulse of jade energy heading for them through the stairwell’s full-length windows. “Everyone down!” he commanded just seconds before it smashed into the building. He had just managed to throw himself onto the steps when the building rocked under the force of the disruptor blast. For a brief second he thought the whole thing would collapse, though it groaned and trembled for long seconds after the impact, it remained standing.

The screams grew louder as the hysterical evacuation intensified. They quelled the groans of pain from those who’d injured themselves on the stairs—of which Lochley was one. Gripping the banister, he hauled himself onto his feet, clutching his ribcage, hoping it was just bruised and not broken. Family members carried and supported their injured down with them. Lochley had to take it a little easier, as every jostle and poke against his torso sent waves of nauseous, dizzying pain through him.

It wasn’t long before the crowd thinned out until he was left alone. Four more floors, he told himself wheezing. Dust was heavy in their air, making the difficult task of breathing that must harder. Through the haze he heard soft sobbing.

“Whose there?” he asked, wafting the dust from his watering eyes. No one answered. “Is someone hurt? It’s alright, I live here. My name is Matt Lochley, apartment 20A.”

“M…Mister Matt,” a soft voice whimpered.

There was only one person that called him that, his next door neighbour’s daughter. “Traga, is that you?” he asked as he hopefully moved towards the Tellarite girl.

“Y…yes. Please, yo…you have to help my father.”

He zeroed in on her and soon found the skinny adolescent, kneeling by the prone form of her rotund father, who was pinned beneath a chunk of rubble. Her face was covered in dust, except the trails of her cheeks where tears streamed down. He rested a supportive hand on her shoulder before leaning in and checking him for a pulse he knew he wouldn’t find.

Looking back at her he shook his head. “I’m sorry, Traga, your father is dead.”

She slumped back and howled. He looked at the girl then his eyes slipped to the stairs, he was so close to home. If Traga and her father had made it here, then Sam and the kids could be very near. Perhaps they’d even managed to slip by when he’d been distracted by a stab of pain.

“Traga, have you seen Sam or Olivia or Jason?”

Though she was a couple years older than ten-year-old Olivia, she was tutoring Jason in computer science—he wasn’t falling behind, if anything he was rocketing ahead, she had offered to teach him some more advanced skills that she had learnt, an offer he had pestered his parents for two days about before they’d finally relented and agreed.

Grief stricken, the Tellarite didn’t hear him. He was too close not to keep going, once he’d checked their home, he could grab Traga and get out of the building, but he had to know if they were still up there or not.

“I’ve got to see if they’re at home or if they made it out. Stay here and wait for me, ok?” Again she showed no response. “Ok?” he said sternly.

Slowly she looked up at him and nodded.

Groaning, he got to his feet and took a step towards the stairs. Another nearby impact shook the building again before it fell silent. He paused and looked at the walls and ceiling. From the section that had crushed Traga’s father radiated a spider’s web of cracks, from which small puffs of dust escaped. The apartment block trembled again. A few chips fell loose. The once solid walls creaked.

The stairwell ahead of him collapsed in on itself, taking more of the ceiling, walls and windows with it. Acting on instinct and adrenaline, he yanked Traga’s arm down the flight steps, cushioning her fall, then pinning her underneath him as a sheet of dust covered them. His ribs were in agony, his lungs burned and eyes watered heavily. Beneath him, Traga coughed.

Slowly, he rolled off of her and looked up at where they had been moments ago. It was buried in rubble and debris. Her father’s body was now encased in a makeshift crypt and any chance he had to check his home was gone. Despair threatened to seize control of him.

No, they’re alive. They have to be, a tiny voice in the back of his mind fought to keep hope alive. Sam knew his old Starfleet authorisation code and knew that would be where they would go to escape the colony, Matt just had to hope that they had gotten out in time and were now making their way there.

Unable to keep from wincing, he got to his feet and helped Traga stand up. He needed to get her to safety, to check the spaceport and see if Sam, Olivia and Jason were there—if they weren’t, he wasn’t leaving the colony without them.

“Come on, we have to get out of here, the building isn’t stable anymore.”

Traga merely nodded.

They hurried down the stairs as best they could, around the debris and bodies that had fallen on the stairs. Once out onto the street, he could still hear distant screams of the panicked, the blasts from the orbital bombardment, the destruction and collapse of buildings, the engulfing flames. The combination of smoke and energy from the disruptors had turned the sky dark and murky, whilst the taste of burning ozone stung his tongue.

He was about to turn towards the direction of the spaceport, when he heard the whine of transporters. It wasn’t the comforting hum of Starfleet however, but sounded sharper and grating. Taking Traga’s hand, he pulled her into an alley just seconds before the Klingon ground troops fully materialised. Peeking out around the corner, he counted twenty in this one street alone, all holding disruptor rifles, whilst bladed weapons were strapped to their backs, waists and thighs. He dreaded to think how many others were beaming into the city, or just where they were targeting.

Ducking back into the alley, Lockely looked at the frightened adolescent Tellarite beside him and then up at the blackening sky. Archanis had well and truly fallen.

* * * * *

END
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Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; September 29 2014 at 05:17 PM.
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Old September 30 2014, 01:29 AM   #2
DarKush
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Re: Star Trek: Four Years War - The Fall of Archanis

I like how you chose to focus on the victims in this piece, whose stories are sometimes forgotten in war tales. And by zeroing in on one man's ultimately futile quest for his family it magnifies the tragedy. You also do a good job of describing the chaos and desperation.
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Old September 30 2014, 02:55 PM   #3
TheLoneRedshirt
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Re: Star Trek: Four Years War - The Fall of Archanis

Excellent job of capturing the panic, the confusion and the anguish of the slaughter at Archanis IV. Like DarKush, I liked how you focused on the perspective of the civilians, particularly the former Starfleet Officer who desperately seeks his family.
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