Out of the Frying Pan...
Episode 4: Fires of Arcadia
Location: Diplomatic Center, Starbase Arcadia
Timeline: Immediately after "Powder Keg"
Bits of stone ricocheted around the stage, sent flying by the rain of phaser fire. Charlotte knew their makeshift shelter wouldn't hold forever. She needed to get herself and the President out of here. Several of the presidential security staff had gone down in the initial assault. The others, now realizing Charlotte wasn't a threat but an ally, turned to her as if for instruction. That suited her fine. These men likely hadn't faced much violence. Presidential Security had been an honor more than an assignment for some time.
Making eye contact, Charlotte gestured to them. "We need to get her out of here! Can you tell how many are up there?"
One of the men, a Kreetassan, stuck his head out for a moment. "At least a dozen. Maybe more."
"Shit." Charlotte cursed, before turning to her companion. "Sorry, Madam President."
The Vulcan merely nodded, with an eyebrow raised. "Under the circumstances, it is...understandable. Shit would appear to be an adequate description."
Charlotte pointed at the Kreetassan. "You, I'm putting you in charge. We need to get President T'Rau to safety. The only place on the station that qualifies is the USS Artemis. She's docked at Diplomatic Bay 14, just a short distance away on this pier." A phaser bolt pierced the rock, missing her by mere inches.
The Kreetassan nodded, but didn't move yet. "We can't get her out of here under this kind of fire."
"I know," Charlotte said, unzipping her dress uniform jacket for more mobility. She retrieved a small package courtesy of Lieutenant Lindholm. Opening it, she retrieved the phaser inside, setting it to kill. She didn't have time to waste worrying about the gunmen above. She knew they were Starfleet officers manipulated by the parasites. But at the moment, she couldn't worry about them. She didn't even know if the parasites could be removed. Right now, she needed to worry about those she knew could be saved. "I'm going to try to clear a path out of here. I need you to lay down cover fire so I can get to an exit."
"Will do," the man nodded.
"Alright. I'm going in 3...2...1..."
The security personnel opened fire, shooting sporadically at the higher balcony. Charlotte made a break for the exit, firing her phaser at the gunmen and then at the glass doorway leading out of the main chamber. She ducked through the doorway as phaser fire followed her closely. Damn! The exit doors were locked. She'd need someone with better splicing skills than her own if they wanted to escape in a timely fashion.
Peeking around the doorway, Charlotte fired at the upper tier while trying to get a glimpse of the Artemis crew.
Chris and Summer had abandoned their long since destroyed table and were ducked into an alcove. Chris fired at the upper tier, before ducking back into the alcove. "Maralen is up there, likely pinned down," he said to Summer. He gestured to the stairway a short distance away. It led upstairs to the opposite side of the tier from where Maralen headed up. "I'm going to lay down some cover for you. That staircase leads up to the opposite side." He met her gaze. "I'm officially lifting my No Kill order."
Smiling she kissed his cheek. "For luck. I will see you back at the Artemis," she said and then taking a breath, she fired several shots at the attackers and ran for the staircase.
Chris fired his phaser as rapidly as it allowed, giving Summer cover to get to the staircase. "Be careful, Summer," he said under his breath. He looked a ways to his left, seeing Charlotte pinned in the alcove. They made eye contact and Charlotte gestured him over. Combining their efforts to give him cover, he dove between shelters to reach her doorway.
Maralen would have hissed had he not been deeply ensconsed in the Cold Precision. Instead, his eyes took in his opponents quickly and assessed their stance, arrangement and seeming ability. The door was not going to last much longer, but he would make use of it as long as he could. Once more, there was a pause -- he had heard phaser fire from below; perhaps they had paused to assess the danger that presented. He poked his head out again and fired off three shots, but was caught by a shot from one of his opponents who had been waiting for him to do just that. The shot grazed his arm, burning a path along it and removing the fur. He ducked back immediately and examined the damage in a wholly clinical and detached way. Not bad enough to stop him, he assessed -- it would require minor repair when they returned to the Defiant, but notthing to worry over this time -- returning his attention to the hallway.
The infected crew were losing numbers, but there were still plenty of them left. And with them tanking hits that would have otherwise killed the host, they weren't going down quickly. Their weapons fire peppered the doorway Maralen had taken shelter behind, but their attention completely avoided the opposite approach.
Summer came up the stairs and began to lay down covering fire on those firing at the Defiant's XO. She took down two but there was still more.
Maralen heard shots coming from the same direction as his attackers, but these sounded like his phaser, which meant that they were not his attackers but likely someone on his side. He assumed nothing, though, as he peeked around the edge of what remained of the door to get a quick look at the hallway.
Behind those shooting at him, or rather who had been shooting at him, he saw Summer Gallagher. A small smile played over his lips, but it did not reach his eyes. It was as cold as the rest of his demeanor. They had turned -- some of them had anyway -- to address the new threat, and he took advantage of it. Ducking out long enough to fire several well-aimed shots, he felled three more of them before ducking back behind the door's remains.
Captain James slid behind the doorframe, narrowly avoiding some phaser fire. The combined efforts of Summer and Maralen had drawn fire away from the ground level. "Sorry that took so long," he said, rising to his feet.
"It's ok. But I need you to override this door lock. Hacking isn't my strong suit." Charlotte ducked behind the wall as a bolt came so close she smelled he ozone coming off it. "We need to get these people out of here."
"On it," Chris said. His fingers worked quickly, trying to override the door. A moment later, there was a satisfying click, followed by a much less satisfying thud. The door latch had been tripped, but the door shorted out before opening more than a crack. "Damn it! I'm going to need you to cover me."
"I'll do my best," Charlotte replied, firing as rapidly as possible and exposing her self to fire. She hoped to draw the attention to herself and away from him.
Chris had only managed to get it open a bit further when suddenly, the Kreetassan appeared. The man threw his weight into it, pushing the door a bit wider. Together, the two men made it large enough to squeeze a person through. The guard gestured toward his companions. "Come through here. Hurry!"
The presidential guard expertly navigated their entrusted cargo through the door, shielding the elder Vulcan with their lives. As soon as she was through, the other living guests began to stream out.
Charlotte reached out and grabbed Chris's sleeve. "Chris, you need to get these people to the Artemis. We can handle it here."
Chris's eyes darted to the upper balcony. He opened his mouth to protest, but Charlotte cut him off. "You need to trust her. And me. We'll get her back to you safely. But these people need you. You need to get the President to Artemis and get her off this station."
Chris didn't like the idea, but he knew she was right. If the president or any of these dignitaries was infected, the entire Federation could be at risk. He didn't like escaping on his ship and leaving Summer and the others to their fate. But that's what leadership demanded sometimes. Making those hard calls. "Damn it," he said, hitting the door. "Fine. But stay safe. All of you."
Charlotte simply nodded. "We will." A phaser bolt pierced through the wall nearly striking each of them. Charlotte waved him toward the door. "Now go!"
The man ran through, guiding the throng of people toward Artemis's access tube. A moment later, an upper tier window broke above Charlotte and phaser fire assailed the exposed crowd. She set her phaser to an even higher setting and fired up through the ceiling. "I've had enough of you guys."
Summer called out to Maralen. "Lieutenant! How about we deal with these guys before your captain brings this level down on top of herself!" She took out another shooter.
Maralen called back from behind the wall now -- the door had become so much scrap by then. "I agree. How many do you make?" He then spun out, fired four shots that took four more down before spinning back into the room.
Summer ducked her head out, took a quick look. "20 or so!" She called back. "Maybe we should try to bring down the doorway!" Summer called back
Maralen did some mental calculations. While it was a good idea, they had heard her say it too. Would they really stand where these two could execute that plan? The advantage he and Summer had was that they had the others in a pincer move. "Agreed." he called back, his tones still very cold and clipped, demonstrating the Cold Precision. Having said as much, he paused a moment, then called again, "Now!" As he said it, he spun out, hoping that she would synchronize with his movements, and fired at the support structure above their assailants' heads.
Summer did as he did, her phaser spitting bolts out and wreaking the structure as they hit.
The heavy support structure crumbled, but for a moment it hung. The infect officers seemed to look up in a bit of confusion, before resuming their assault. But after the brief pause, the structure gave way altogether, bringing a sizable chunk of the building's ceiling down with it. The chunks of marble crushed the group of remaining men underneath it as if they were little more than toys.
Charlotte fired one last time, but heard a strange rumbling noise which grew to a roar. In a split second, she saw the ceiling above her, which she'd been riddling with holes, begin to creak. "Oh shit."
With a running leap, she threw herself out from underneath the compromised ceiling, just as the whole section crashed to the ground. Marble and crossbeams spilled onto the floor, with a fwe limbs sticking out here and there. With one final rumble, the diplomatic haul fell quiet, only the occasional groans of the wounded.
Charlotte looked up at where the section of the upper tier had once been. In its place, a small hole in the dome structure had formed, allowing the artificial sunlight to pass through. Maralen and Summer were visible peaking through each doorway. "Well...that was quite something."
Summer stood and dusted off her uniform. "Well that will keep them busy digging through. Lets get out of here, huh?"
"Agreed," Charlotte said. She paused for a moment when her communicator chirped. A vaguely feminine garble of sounds emitted, but was entirely indecipherable. "Sounds like there's comms interference. I think we need to try and regroup with the crew. We stand a better chance as a group. A few of them are supposed to be over on the Promenade Pier. If we can make the run to the rail system, we can get over there without going to the Command Tower.”