CHAPTER FOUR – FIRST BLOOD
The small flotilla of Federation ships slowed to a crawl outside of the Parnock system. They were technically in unclaimed space, nestled between Federation and Klingon space, but the commander of the task force, Rear Admiral J.T. Neilson, assumed the Vulcans were now planning on making a territorial claim.
That is your right once you are a sovereign entity.
Neilson sighed from his seat at the CONN on the bridge of the Nebula class U.S.S. Coronado. The heavy ship was escorted by three Saber class frigates, two Steamrunner class torpedo boats, and two Intrepid class cruisers. Neilson hoped none of them would be necessary.
J.T.'s plan was to arrive at the first colony, show dominance, transport down his ground forces who would assume control, then move on. All without firing a shot. Regardless of the politics behind what the Vulcans were doing, he knew quite a few of them and did not have any interest in harming them.
They were good people and good friends in his mind.
“We're approaching the colony, Admiral,” the helm officer stated.
Neilson nodded and stood. He took out his PADD with his carefully worded, legalese on it. “Open a channel.”
The communications system chirped. Neilson cleared his throat. “Vulcan colony of Parnock. This is Admiral J.T. Neilson of the U.S.S. Coronado. This system is found to be in violation of United Federation of Planets resolution 77280G and I, acting under the legal authority of the President of the Federation, am here to reassert Federation control.”
J.T. paused for a moment, hoping for a reply. When he heard nothing, he continued, a little more directly. “We will be deploying security forces. Please have your civilians stay indoors and away from windows, and have your police and military forces place their weapons on the ground if they do not wish to be-”
“ADMIRAL!” tactical yelled, activating red alert.
J.T. looked up from the PADD to see multiple Vulcan warships come from the shadow of the planet. Neilson finished with the legal bullshit and tossed the PADD onto the deck before he retook his seat. “BACK US UP.”
“Where did they come from?!” The Coronado's XO asked.
“They must have been using the electron storm as a sensor deflector,” ops replied.
“They are powering up weapons,” tactical reported.
“Six D'Kyr cruisers, six Sh'Ran...” tactical trailed off. “It's not going to be easy.”
“Demand their surrender,” Neilson ordered.
Twelve blasts of Vulcan phasers told the Coronado exactly what the Vulcans thought of the Starfleet offer. “Offensive pattern echo-five!” Neilson ordered. The straightforward dominant tone in his voice was now replaced by a more upset, defensive one.
The Nebula class ship continued to back off slowly as the smaller, more nimble ships began to strafe the large Vulcan cruisers. It was an effective tactic at first. The Vulcan ships had no chance of hitting the fast-moving, mosquito-like targets, all the while the Starfleet battleship unloaded volley after volley of quantum torpedoes.
But of course, these are Vulcans Neilson was dealing with and logic prevailed. They soon began to ignore the smaller ships and focused all their fire on the Coronado, assuming that once they took out the capital ship, the remaining ships would either leave or be useless.
“SHIELDS AT 30 PERCENT AND FAILING!” engineering screamed.
“We need to get out of here,” Neilson acknowledged. “Full retreat, any direction. All ships.”
The order was quickly passed on to the other ships. The smaller escorts made a couple of quick passes, in an attempt to ensure their Admiral is able to escape, before warping off themselves.
Once the Coronado was out of the fight and warping into an unknown direction, Neilson turned to engineering. “Damage?”
“Bad,” the chief engineer said. “I don't even know how we got into warp.”
“Sheer grace of God,” the bloodied XO stated as medics began to look him over.
“The Vulcan ships are not pursuing,” someone managed to gasp in relief.
“Good,” Neilson sighed. “Change course for Starbase 8-0-2. Have the rest of the fleet meet us there.”
Tactical bit her lip. “Admiral... I don't know what happened, but apparently, the Koyomi did not make it out... She's gone.”
Neilson stood despite the objection of a medic examining him. “WHAT?”
“I have the New Salem for you.”
Neilson nodded and slowly sat back down. The U.S.S. New Salem’s captain, Chiro Abraham, shook his head. “Sir, they must have gotten off a lucky shot or something and nailed her warp engines because she was right with me. Right after we saw you go, we were going. Then… It was just me…”
Neilson slammed his fist into his armrest. “Alright. There is nothing we can do about it now. Just meet up at 8-0-2. We’ll figure out what we’re doing from there.”
Abraham nodded and closed the channel. Neilson sat in his chair, grumbling to himself, as he watched the stars streak by on the main viewer. He was barely able to survive the assault with the fleet he had before. Now there was no way he would be able to do it lacking one of his Intrepid class ships.
He had no choice. He was going to have to call and ask for a bigger task force. This, he of course realized, meant that there would be a lot more blood spilled, and it wouldn’t just be the blood of the military.
Starfleet Command's new building really wasn't too different from their old building. It was on San Francisco Bay, and it was really, really, really, big. So big in fact that if you wanted to be on time, you essentially had to transport everywhere.
If it weren’t for the fact that food was so nutritionally balanced, it would stand to believe that everyone in the 24th century would be very obese. That is unless you transported the fat off.
Regardless, Starfleet Chief of Staff Fleet Admiral Kevin James was in a hurry and did not really care that much about his weight at his age. He quickly showed a transporter operator his ID badge and asked to be transported to “Area Zero”, a dark area, used only in wartime.
James materialized in front of a group of waiting lower-ranked admirals and generals from the LDF. Most of the admirals wore black, Starfleet Intelligence collars – causing James a little concern. He hated it when people were around that knew more than him, and likely would only tell him what they thought he needed to know.
“Admiral,” the highest-ranking one acknowledged. James haphazardly saluted him, and the group all walked to a large, lighted table where they took their seats.
“So, what happened?” James asked.
“There was apparently a Vulcan ambush,” an admiral in red replied.
“You said there were no ships there,” another red-suited Admiral grumbled, turning to one of the SI admirals.
“There weren't,” he barked back.
“There sure as hell was!” a fourth, the admiral in charge of the fleet that contained the Coronado and her squadron. “I lost a ship, and the Coronado was seriously damaged.”
“We monitored that system till a day before the assault,” the SI admiral continued to grumble. “They moved those assets in between the time we left and the time your ships arrived.”
“Vulcan ships cannot move that fast,” the fourth argued.
“Then they were on the way,” SI snapped. “They knew you were coming.”
“How's that?” James asked.
The SI admiral shrugged.
“Are you actually Starfleet INTELLIGENCE?” the first admiral asked.
The SI admiral ignored him. James, wanting to avoid a civil war in the war room, changed the subject. “Regardless of what happened, things have changed. The president is furious, as is the Assembly and the Council.”
The second admiral laughed. “You mean the suits are actually going to do something?”
James nodded. “Indeed. Operation Reclamation.” James put the operation on the overhead viewer for all to see. “First, we need every single starship, whether on assignment or not, whether warship or not, to return to a rally point, ASAP.”
The second admiral nodded. “I can get to work on that.”
“Good. Second-” James turned to one of the LDF generals. “How many ground forces do you have available?”
The green-suited General thought about it for a moment, before turning to James. “If you count the forces we have protecting Earth, probably about two million.”
“Excellent. Between the LDF, the Marines, and ship based security forces, we should have no issues,” James stated.
“Issues?” one asked.
“Isn't using EVERY ship and EVERY soldier for that overkill?” The SI admiral asked.
“You'll forgive me if I don't trust your assessment on their current military status,” James grumbled.
“As you shouldn't. He's wrong,” a man from the darkness stated. The entire room turned as a man and a woman stepped out of the shadows, both were dressed in civilian clothes, with long trench coats. The man had dark red hair and a mustache, his hair, shoulder-length and pulled back into a ponytail. Underneath his coat, he appeared to be wearing a casual suit.
The woman had dark hair that went down to the small of her back and hung loose. Underneath her coat, she was wearing a loose skirt that cut off above her knees and a white hooded sweatshirt.
Several of the admirals reached for either their phasers or their communicators to call for security, but both James and the SI admiral waved them off.
“Uh-yeah,” SI mumbled. “Meet Section 31.”
The admirals looked at the pair rather worriedly until one of them finally asked; “Those two?”
The male laughed. “No. Not just us two. You can call me JC, and this is my associate, NK.” This JC is, of course, not to be confused with our JC, who is safe in his bed aboard the Salvation, dreaming of some perverted anime, I am certain. However, if you have read Moon Trek 2 – Section 31, then you will be familiar with this JC! Now, back to the story, already in progress.
NK flashed a fake smile at the group before speaking. “The Vulcans aren't anywhere near the levels of the 2100s when it comes to fleet capacity, but they have well exceeded the ship numbers they had just two years ago.”
James shook his head. “Where are they building these ships?”
“We don't know,” JC admitted.
“So how many ships are we looking at if we assault Vulcan?” SI asked.
“Assaulting Vulcan is a mistake,” NK stated.
“Are their defenses that strong?” James gasped.
“It's got nothing to do with their defenses,” NK replied. “Starfleet cannot 'reclaim' Vulcan. Vulcan must come back to the Federation on its own. Using force will simply drive Vulcan further away and occupation will most certainly destroy any kind of alliance between our worlds.”
“The status quo will eventually return,” One of the admirals argued. “Once the majority of the population realizes that the reclamation-”
“You don't understand,” JC interrupted. “The majority of the population right now doesn't agree with the secession. However, if Starfleet and the Federation occupy Vulcan, they will begin to believe the lies and propaganda they are being fed from those who have caused this mess.”
NK moved to the table and pointed at the Vulcan colony that was unsuccessfully assaulted. “Nihan,” referring to the SI admiral, “was right about one thing. The colony was essentially undefended prior to the plans being made to assault it. However, once the Federation task force was in route, we intercepted a communication from the Vulcan Ministry of Intelligence to the Ministry of Defense warning them, and then another, we assume, dispatching the ships.”
JC walked up as well. “The encryption was heavy, and we were only able to actually figure out what the message said after the assault, otherwise we would have contacted SI in hopes of aborting the attack and saving the Starfleet ships.”
“Why did you detect this, and we didn't?” James barked.
NK smirked. “Because you don't have ships orbiting Vulcan and we do.”
JC shook his head at NK and moved closer to James. “Admiral, I've done a lot of things over the years to try and help keep the Federation in one piece but none, I believe, has ever been more important than this. Do not order the assault on Vulcan. Regardless of who is the victor of the battle, any chance of a Vulcan-Federation cooperative relationship will be gone. Forever.”
James sighed. “I don't have much choice,” he pointed at his directive from the Federation Assembly.
“How long did they give you?” JC asked.
“Please use all of that time.”
James leaned back and sighed. “What exactly can you do in seven days?”
JC laughed and shook his head. “I can't do anything.” He pointed at himself and then at NK. “Neither of us can do squat. But much like your fleet operates in many different parts with many different cogs, so does ours.”
NK looked to a screen that showed ship positions throughout Federation space. “Please make sure that you do execute everything as if your assault will be necessary in seven days. We cannot have them suspecting that we are on to them. As well, do not mention our discussions to anyone outside of this room.”
NK turned back to the admirals and generals. “There would have to be... Repercussions.”
The group all nodded in understanding. Not a single one of them needed to have the Section 31 definition of 'repercussions' clarified. However, James did want to get some more information about what 31 knew. He realized the dangers of knowing too much, but he also hated the concept of knowing too little.
“Who is 'they'?”
JC shrugged. “They are the Vulcan and Federation co-conspirators who have put into play the series of events that have led us to the brink of war.”
“Federation?” one of the admirals scoffed. “That's nuts. Why would anyone in the Federation want to force Vulcan out, then allow us to go to war with them just to pull them back in?”
“If you want proof of Federation involvement, look no further than the most recent incident,” NK replied. “The Vulcan ships not only had to be at the colony BEFORE the task force arrived, but they had to make sure they brought enough ships to handle the size and compliment of our ships.
“They couldn't have gotten there by the time they saw them on long-range and the Klingons reported no Vulcan ships using their space. So obviously the ships were able to make a longer trip through unclaimed space, running silently.”
JC nodded. “There is also the incident with the Sisko's recovery ships being ambushed. At the time we thought it might have just been a coincidence, but now we believe someone informed their contact on Vulcan that they were off to recover the Sisko.”
“So, you think the Sisko was part of this too?” James asked.
“We do,” JC nodded. “The head of the Chii shipyard disappeared shortly after the Sisko did, and then ended up dying in that so-called ‘landing thruster malfunction’. As well, the Sisko incident coincided with the beginning of these events.” JC pulled out a cigarette from his coat and lit it. He took a deep drag and exhaled, annoying the others in the room, including his partner. “I'm not a believer in coincidence, Admiral. Everything happens because someone made it happen and there is a reason behind it.”
“I suppose,” James sighed. “I just wish we could get those guys back. We sure could use the Sisko and that special operations team of his right now.”
“Mmhm,” JC smoked.
Captain's log; Stardate 61217.3. We have, surprisingly, made it through Federation space without hitting a single tachyon mine or any kind of goofy spatial anomaly that would otherwise cause us to lose our cloak and end up being blown out of the sky by our own people.
Though I don't know if that would really happen. Admiral Larson told me that he's seeing Federation ships from every sector heading towards Earth. The last time I saw that there was a Borg cube on its way.
The fleet was decimated.
Ranma was a little reluctant to think about the battle of Wolf 3-5-9. He was a lieutenant in security on one of the ships that was destroyed. It was one of the closest calls to death he had ever actually had to face, boarding a lifeboat only a few seconds before the warp core breached and the ship exploded.
He had lost his captain in that battle. Captain Walker being the only other one he's lost since. He hoped that he would not have to put his crew through the pain of losing their captain, and not just for the obvious, self-serving reasons either.
Larson is working on trying to figure out what is going on. Ranma continued with the log. Until then we can just monitor and hope that it is nothing that will force us to adjust our plans too heavily.
For now, we have arrived in the Vulcan system. Once the NEO teams are ready, we will insert them at the prison, collect the H-V-T, and beam out. Bless the Romulans for having a transporter system that works while cloaked.
Ranma ended the log and looked at his clock. 07:19. Seemed like morning time to him, but he realized that what time it was in San Francisco wasn't what time it was at a Vulcan jail.
The captain stood and walked out of his temporary office and onto the bridge of the Salvation. “What's the status in orbit? How likely are we to get detected?”
Minako shook her head. “I'm not seeing any tachyon mines or a net and if we hold a high orbit, say 1000 kilometers, we should be safe from collisions.”
Ranma turned to the ship’s new helmsman, Ensign Ikuhara. “Ensign, you heard the lady. Plot us over the coordinates, 1,000-kilometer geosynchronous orbit.”
“Yes sir,” the young officer complied. Ranma felt almost disappointed when the ship did not lurch, slam to a stop, or otherwise 'Ryouga' and instead smoothly coasted to where it was supposed to.
Ranma chuckled to himself at the thought, then returned his focus on the task at hand. “Put the prison on screen.”
The area of the planet where the jail was appeared on the main viewer. Ranma was happy to see that indeed the prison was on the dark side of the day/night terminator. However, that was the only thing about it that made him happy.
“Magnify,” Ranma ordered.
Minako complied and magnified the image. “That place is fucking huge,” Makoto said, reading everyone's mind.
Ranma tapped his communicator. He was certain that the blueprints they were given did not match what he was seeing on the screen. “Saotome to Hino. Can you come up here?”
“On my way,” Rei replied. A few moments passed before Rei popped out of the turbolift. She was dressed in the NEO black assault suit, her face also covered in black camouflage paint. She looked at the main viewer.
“What's that?” she asked.
Rei looked at Ranma with a look that spoke more than she needed to. Rei quickly pulled a PADD out of her vest and began to look at it as Larson came onto the bridge.
“What's the hold-up?” Larson asked.
“The hold-up, sir,” Rei snapped, refusing to restrain the irritation that she felt, “is that we've been running simulations and planning for a prison that doesn't exist.”
Rei pointed at the Vulcan prison.
Larson looked at Rei for a moment. He did not even bother looking at the screen. “And?”
Ranma also blinked.
“What the hell do you expect me to do about it?” Larson asked. “I'm sorry I don't have a library full of complete and up-to-date blueprints of Vulcan prisons. And I am also sorry that the Interior Ministry didn't keep us in the loop when they renovated this jail.”
“Deal with it,” Larson said, quite bluntly. “And if this is the worst thing that happens today, then I think you've had a pretty good day.”
“Yes sir,” Rei said, tossing her useless PADD to the nearest officer – which happened to be Makoto – and headed back into the turbolift.
Larson turned to Ranma. “Do you have an issue as well?”
Ranma knew when it was time to pick fights and when it was not, and this was certainly a time not to. He shook his head no and turned to watch the prison on the main viewer as Larson hijacked Ranma's office.
Rei was still pouting when she returned to transporter room one. It was not necessarily because Larson had scolded her (even though that had something to do with it), but more because he was right.
She had realized that her quick reaction force had become too dependent on running simulations and doing things one way for one scenario and one way for another. They needed to make sure that they had the ability to be able to adapt. That was something she was certainly going to work on with them once they got back.
But first, she needed to make sure they got back.
“Okay everyone, slight change,” Rei said to the group. All four NEO teams were suited up in the transporter room. Rei rubbed her temples, a headache starting to form. “First off, your maps are likely useless as the building appears to be fully renovated.”
“That sucks,” Kio grumbled.
“Chief?” Rei looked at her, ready to belt out a Larsonesque speech of her own on her underling.
“Just saying 'that sucks', Commander,” Kio admitted. “But we'll deal with it.”
Rei eyed Kio for a moment. She really hated to admit it, but Kio reminded her a lot of herself in her younger days.
The senior officer nodded. “Yeah, we'll all have to deal with it. It's a lot bigger too, but it's likely a safe guess that the prisoners who are scheduled to be executed will be kept in the most secure areas – which are, of course, the inner areas.”
The leader of Delta team, Lt. George Carson, pointed to small tripods each of his team had attached to their backs.
“We'll beam down first and set up these phased transport inhibitors about 200 kilometers around the perimeter. This will keep them being able to beam reinforcements in, while still allowing us to beam in and out, using our enhancers.”
Rei nodded and looked at her PADD. “Okay, we have three hours of darkness left. Obviously, it's a jail, so while the prisoners are likely asleep, the guards are not, and they will surely lock the place down tight once it's breached.” Rei picked up her rifle as Delta team got onto the transport pad. “Delta, once you've got the inhibitors down, move inward and find us a good door to use.”
Lt. Carson nodded. Soon thereafter he, Lt. Troy Beckham, and the team's two snipers Ensign Aileen Nelson and Private Jessica Shelby had been disassembled by the Romulan transporters.
Rei looked to the rest of the group. “Time to wait for the invitation now.”
“You know what, if anything, will probably kill us?” Nelson whispered as the group slowly moved through the desert brush towards the first marker.
“What's that?” Carson asked.
“Scorpions,” Nelson responded. “Vulcan has some of the deadliest scorpions in the quadrant.”
“Glad I didn't wear my sandals,” Shelby smirked.
The group shared a quiet laugh as they set up the first transport inhibitor.
“I don't see any life signs within a hundred clicks of here,” Beckham reported. “They likely don't patrol this far out, so it's unlikely they will find this.”
Carson nodded. “Let's go ahead and toss some brush on it, just in case.”
Beckham nodded quickly and picked up some dead desert plants. As he did, a snake, that was hiding underneath hissed at him, then snapped at him, narrowly missing his arm, before slithering off quickly in the opposite direction.
“Nice,” Carson chuckled.
“You laugh,” Beckham growled as he dumped the plants on the inhibitor, “but that little bastard probably would have put me flat on my back.”
The group quickly called for transport to their next location and repeated the task, this time mindful of snakes and spiders and other desert animal life. After about fifteen minutes, all inhibitors were in place and the Vulcans were now unable to transport in or out of the prison.
“It's time for the ladies to do their thing,” Carson smiled as he ducked behind some bushes.
Both Nelson and Shelby looked around with their infrared binoculars. They both quickly ascertained what was going to be the order in which they would need to take down what guards to get the assault teams inside.
“If we come in from this angle,” Nelson said, pointing towards a door that was guarded by three security officers. “We only have to deal with a single guard tower.”
Shelby nodded. “Don't forget the cameras too.”
“You go high, I go low?”
The two women pulled out their sniper rifles, positioned themselves on the ground, and like methodical machines began to fire. The rifles themselves barely made a sound, each gun designed to dampen the sonic boom of the projectile; to reduce the recoil and allow the next round to enter the chamber quickly and efficiently.
One by one the bullets ripped through their targets. Simultaneously, a small 5mm hole in the glass of the tower appeared and one of the guards stationed there dropped to the floor. Meanwhile, one of the guards by the door the NEO team planned on using flipped over backward, dying before he could hit the ground. Seconds later, a second hole in the glass and the second guard in the tower was down. Another guard by the door was also shot dead. The third guard began to come out of the state of shock he was in and started to go for his communicator.
The communicator explodes into a million pieces as Shelby changes her targeting. The guard turns to run but is hit in the back of the head by Nelson. A few seconds later, both cameras that can see the entrance shatter.
“The invitation is open,” Carson relays to Rei on board the Salvation after verifying there were no other guards nearby.
The rest of the NEO teams beam in and move towards the doorway. The NEO’s explosives team begins to rig the door, but Kio waves them off and pulls the keycard from one of the dead Vulcan guards.
She slides the card across a panel. It beeps and the door unlocks.
“No point in bringing too much attention to ourselves, eh?”
“Good thinking, Chief,” Rei acknowledges, grabbing a keycard from another dead guard. “Remember, our only objective is to obtain the H-V-T.”
Kio nods and takes her team left, while Rei and her team go right.
It took all of five minutes for the NEO teams to be discovered by the Vulcan guards. Rei's team was discovered first and was engaged in a heavy firefight near what appeared to be a cafeteria.
“You know, Commander,” Shelton called to Rei between shots, “our projectile ammo would go right through those tables they are using as shields.”
Rei groaned. “I know. But our goal is not to kill everyone. The Vulcans are not our enemy.”
“Do they know that?” Parker asked.
Rei tossed a stun grenade at the ever-growing group of Vulcan guards, knocking several of them out. “On the bright side, if they are down here fighting us, hopefully Bravo team is moving freely and can get to the H-V-T.”
Kio and her team were in fact moving through the corridors unmolested. However, the alert sound let them know that the Vulcan security forces did indeed know that they were there.
They also found massive frustration in the fact that they had no clue where they were going, as the new jail layout was nothing like the old layout. As well, there was not a single 'you are here' sign or map to be found.
Yuki and company stopped and turned to a cell where a rather irate Vulcan prisoner was standing. He looked to the group. “What's all the commotion about? I'm trying to sleep.”
“It's nothing. Go back to sleep,” Yuki ordered.
The Vulcan looked Yuki and the others over. “You don't look like a Vulcan. Are you supposed to be here?”
“I don't have to answer questions from a felon,” Yuki snapped.
The Vulcan laughed. “I like you. Help me escape.”
Yuki blinked. “Escape?”
“Yeah,” the Vulcan nodded. “I can totally make it worth your while.”
“Can you tell me where the death penalty prisoners are kept?”
“Yeah,” he again nodded.
Yuki pulled out her key and deactivated the force field. “Okay, where?”
“I'll show you.”
Yuki pointed her gun at the Vulcan. “No, tell me. Then I'll let you go.”
The Vulcan, not a big fan of having a gun barrel a half meter from his nose, capitulated. “Okay, no problem. Second level, Gamma block. There's only like two or three people there though.”
Yuki nodded. “Okay, thanks.” She lowered her gun, allowing the Vulcan to walk past her. Once he was about a meter away though, she shot him in the back.
“Oh, not cool!” he groaned as he dropped to the deck. Mike and Anthony quickly drug the Vulcan back into his cell and Kio reactivated the force-field.
“I thought you were actually going to let him go there for a minute,” Anthony grinned.
“I thought about it,” Kio smiled as they started walking. “I assume he's in jail for having emotions, but you never know. He might be in jail for having emotions and killing seventy people as well.”
The group walked to a turbolift and accessed it, taking it up one level. Once there, they noticed that the place was much darker. The cells were not contained by force fields, but by actual doors.
And there was security there to greet them.
The security guards were apparently surprised to see the second group of interlopers and were quickly dispatched by Yuki and her group. Corporal Xiang, Bravo's explosives expert looked at the writing on one of the doors and shook his head.
“Chief, I think we are in the right area. My Vulcan is a little rusty, but I am fairly sure that says 'maximum security wing'.”
Kio nodded and swiped the panel with her card. It buzzed at her. “Shit. This dipshit doesn't have access.”
“Maybe one of these guys do?” Mike pondered, grabbing a security card off one of the stunned guards they had just fought. Mike quickly handed it to Kio, who swiped it. Again, the door buzzed.
“Dammit!” Kio hissed.
“Well...” Xiang smiled. “I am fairly certain my card has access.”
Kio grinned and had the group take up defensive positions around Xiang as he slathered the locking mechanism with plastic explosives.
“Alpha to Bravo. SitRep?” Rei called over the radio.
“We think we have found where the H-V-T is being held. We're about to... obtain access... momentarily,” Kio replied.
“How has the resistance been?”
“Well, so far, light,” Kio bit her finger lightly. “But we're about to make a fuck-ton of noise, so that might change.”
Rei paused for a moment. “Understood. We're dealing with a lot of folks right now, so we can't help you. Salvation is also reporting a lot of transports inbound with likely reinforcements, so we need to hurry.”
“Roger,” Kio answered, ending the conversation. She turned to Xiang. “Corporal?”
The explosives detonated and the doors lock blew into a million pieces, forcing the door to slide two-thirds of the way open. Yuki looked at it as alarm klaxons began to sound.
The group squeezed through. Xiang looked at the writing on one of the cell doors. “I can tell you for certain that this Vulcan character is gamma.”
Yuki smiled. “Okay. Let's start looking!”
The group quickly began looking in the window of each of the cells. Halfway through their search, however, they got interrupted by a dozen Vulcan guards who came rushing in, guns drawn.
“HALT!” one yelled. “You're trapped!”
The NEO team took cover and opened fire.
“Dammit, we can't search if we're pinned down,” Kio grumbled.
Anthony nodded. “Then let's unpin ourselves.”
Mike nodded in agreement. Kio smiled. “Okay.”
Xiang flung out a stun grenade, causing the forward-moving group of Vulcans to scatter. This gave Kio, Mike, and Anthony time to hop up and push forward, doing what they do best, working in the chaos, and systematically dropping every Vulcan security guard.
“We need to speed it up,” Kio acknowledged. “There will be more.”
“Chief!” Xiang yelled from one of the cells.
Kio ran over to Xiang. She looked into the window. She then looked to Xiang.
“That's him,” Xiang said.
Yuki pulled out her PADD. She pulled up the picture of their H-V-T. She agreed. The man sitting in the back of the cell did indeed look like former Vulcan Defense Minister Saanik.
“Chief, I think I found the controls to the cells,” Anthony called out from an elevated platform that contained a large control panel. Xiang, the only one who knew anything that even passed as Vulcan, ran over to assist him.
“Chief... I hear more coming,” Mike called from near the door.
“Tony...” Kio whimpered.
Anthony ignored Kio as he and Xiang worked on the panel. Suddenly, the cell door opened. Both Kio and the medic, Yayo, walked in. Kio looked down at the man who looked more like a starving orphan than he did a high-ranking Vulcan ministry official.
“Defense Minister Saanik?” Kio asked.
The man just looked up at her. “Who...”
“Defense Minister Saanik?” Kio again asked.
The man nodded, but again asked, “Who...”
“I'm here to help you,” Kio replied. She pulled a transport enhancer out of her pocket and attached it to Saanik. She then hit her communicator. “Bravo to Salvation. I am in possession of the H-V-T. Get us the hell out of here.”
“Transporting,” the Salvation's transporter operator stated.
It was just in time too. Bravo team, Saanik included, disappeared just prior to another thirty Vulcan guards moving into the cell block.
Downstairs, Rei smiled. “Rei to all teams, pop the inhibitors, and let's go.”
Alpha team vanished a couple of seconds later. After that, the devices that prevented the Vulcans from beaming in exploded and Charlie team beamed back to the Salvation.