Author: Alan Decker
STAR TRAKS: WAYSTATION
By Alan Decker
All things considered, Captain Lisa Beck thought as she walked along the concourse of Starfleet Square Mall, everything on board Waystation looked relatively normal.
Well, everything except the guys walking behind her aiming phaser rifles at her and the rest of the station command crew.
She’d briefly considered the notion that she and her officers had somehow exited their 48 hours lockdown in Ops into a parallel universe, but rejected it out of hand. Parallel universes usually seemed to involve radical changes in decor and wardrobe, none of which she had seen thus far. What she had seen was the residents of Waystation going about their regular daily business as though nothing were amiss.
That and Colonel Martin Lazlo of the Federation Marines being chased down and shot in the back by members of the civilian militia (if that’s what they were) that were now escorting Beck, Commander Walter Morales, Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter, Lieutenant Commander Sean Russell, and Yeoman Tina Jones to see the “Station Administrator,” whoever that was (Beck was under the impression that SHE was the Station Administrator, but evidently someone else had other ideas).
What she hadn’t seen so far was any members of her Starfleet crew. This was more than a little disconcerting. She wanted to act, to take down the their armed escorts and regain control of her station. But before she could do any of that, she knew it would also help to not be on the business end of a phaser rifle.
So she would bide her time and wait to see this so-called Station Administrator. Then she would get her questions answered (if this person wanted to live). Where was her crew? Why was Lazlo chased down and shot? And most importantly…
WHAT THE HELL WAS GOING ON???
It was time to get some answers.
48 HOURS EARLIER -
“Next time, your ass can evacuate itself!”
“It will!” Richard Theroll, head of the Waystation Residents’ Council, shouted, turning back to Captain Beck. He’d been executing a fairly effective storming-out-of-her-office maneuver, but then he just had to respond to her, didn’t he? Now he’d managed to ruin the entire tone of his departure with that ridiculous retort. But then, judging by the look on Beck’s face, she wasn’t all that pleased with her remark either.
“I’ll pretend you didn’t say that, if you’ll do the same for me,” Beck said after a few moments of silent glaring.
“Agreed,” Theroll replied quickly. He turned on his heel and exited the office, cutting his losses.
“Productive meeting?” Craig Porter, the station’s Operations and Science Officer, asked as Theroll headed to the turbolift. Theroll shot Porter a quick glance, trying to decide if he was being mocked or not. Porter was in the Society for Creative Anachronisms group that Theroll headed, so they had something of relationship. Of course, that relationship consisted mostly of sword fights. While Porter was fast, he lacked tactics and, more importantly, long arms. Theroll had bested him every time they had gone up against each other. That could certainly be enough cause for Porter to resent him, but there was nothing definitive in his voice to indicate… Why was he analyzing two words this much? He was just worked up after talking to Beck. That was probably it.
He decided to go with the non-committal grunt and stepped into the turbolift, ordering it to his quarters in the lower saucer. The lift began its descent, giving Theroll time to ruminate on his meeting-gone-wrong. He liked to ruminate. He liked the sound of the word, at any rate. He’d picked it up a couple of weeks ago from a Vulcan who was in his office filing an application to start an agricultural research colony on an uninhabited Class M world a few light years away from the station. It was a good word. Dignified. Theroll had managed to slip it into at least three conversations at work in his day job at the Waystation branch of the Federation Colony Administration Bureau. He should have tried to use it in his talk with Captain Beck. Maybe the presence of such a classy term would have helped prevent their meeting from disintegrating.
Who was he kidding? That meeting was doomed from the moment he walked into Beck’s office. His first mistake was allowing it to be held in Beck’s office at all. She was on her home turf, sitting on her throne, lording over her underlings from her tower of Ops. He should have made her come to him. He was the duly elected head of the Waystation Residents’ Council, after all, and there were 10 civilians for every 1 Starfleet Officer on board. He had the numbers, but she was the one with all the power.
Or so she thought.
And that was really the whole problem, wasn’t it? As long as Beck thought that she had all of the power on Waystation, she could continue ignoring Theroll, the WRC, the Waystation Merchants’ Association, and anyone else she felt like ignoring. Well, if she thought that he was just to let her dictate terms to him, she was very mistaken. It was high time that someone explained to her that Starfleet existed to serve the citizens of the Federation and not vice versa, and that someone was going to be him.
“Computer,” he said determinedly. “Stop this thing and take me back to Ops.”
“Unable to comply,” the computer replied.
“What do you mean unable to comply? Why can’t you comply?”
“Ops is inaccessible due to lockdown.”
“Lockdown? What the hell is a lockdown?” Theroll demanded. The light dawned. “Oh, I get it. Beck knew I’d be back to confront her and took steps to stop me from coming back up there. Just who does Beck think she is?”
“Captain Lisa Beck is the commanding officer of Waystation,” the computer said.
“You would be on her side,” Theroll spat. “Put me through to her office.”
“Unable to comply.”
“I’m not asking you to take me there. Just put a comm through to Beck.”
“Unable to comply.”
“Because of the lockdown?”
“Ohhhh no. She’s not getting away from me that easily. Just who does she think is in charge around here?”
“Waystation command functions have been rerouted to auxiliary control for the duration of the lockdown,” the computer said.
“But Beck isn’t in auxiliary control. I just left her. She’s still in Ops, isn’t she?”
Theroll scratched his chin, thinking this over. “Beck is in Ops?”
“But station command has been transferred to auxiliary control?”
“So auxiliary control is in command of the station?”
“Affirmative,” the computer said again. Was its voice actually starting to sound a bit testy? Theroll pushed the question out of his mind and asked a more important one: What did this mean? Why was the station now being run from auxiliary control if Beck was still in Ops? Was this lockdown due to something serious? Were they in danger? And why was no one telling him anything?
“Computer, can you take me to auxiliary control?”
“Then let’s go.”
It was time to get some answers.
Colonel Martin Lazlo was never quite comfortable with the idea of having an office. On the one hand, he understood that he needed a place to deal with the inevitable administrative crap that came along with his position of authority, and there was the status factor. He had an office, and his underlings didn’t. It was another way of pointing out who was in charge around here…not that there was any doubt. On the other hand, he was a marine at heart and wanted to be in the field with his troops. He didn’t belong in this room behind a desk. He should be on the surface of an alien world, blasting hostiles into tiny little bits using the fantastic arsenal at his disposal. No, he didn’t belong in an office. He belonged on a mission.
Of course, it’d help if he actually had a mission.
He and his company of marines had been stuck on Waystation for months now with almost nothing to do. No colonies were under attack. No aggressive species were attempting to overrun the station. Nothing.
So they had trained and drilled and run simulations. Over and over and over again. The night before he’d even rousted his troops out of bed when they were least expecting it for more drills.
He was doing what he could to keep his people sharp and at combat readiness, but they needed field experience.
Surely there was some galactic crisis somewhere that they could go help resolve with superior firepower.
But, sitting at his desk that morning before he headed off for yet another drill, Lazlo couldn’t find a single hot-spot in the region listed in the daily situation report from headquarters. In seven short years Waystation had gone from the untamed frontier in the middle of nowhere to a domesticated stopover…in the middle of nowhere. There were still threats out there, though. Lazlo was sure of it. The Collectors’ invasion wasn’t that long ago, but the thousands of civilians on the station acted like they were living in the safest place in the galaxy. And the Starfleet types weren’t much better. To hear them tell it, Captain Beck had stopped the Collectors and opened relations with the Multeks single-handedly. With Beck around, they were invulnerable. They had no clue what the reality of the universe was, but Lazlo knew. He knew that he and his marines were the only ones standing between Waystation and defeat at the hands of an alien conqueror race. They had to stay sharp. They had to remain vigilant.
They had to get a mission!
This sitting around was driving him crazy.
“WHAT?” Lazlo bellowed at the source of the interruption, Sergeant Rick Kyle, his executive assistant.
“Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal just commed. Everyone is waiting in the rec deck,” Kyle replied, completely nonplused by Lazlo’s shouting. The man did enough of it that Kyle had long since stopped caring.
“Fine. I’ll be there in a minute,” Lazlo said.
“What are you looking at?” Kyle asked, stepping around the desk uninvited to peer over Lazlo’s shoulder. “Oh. That. Looks like another quiet day in the neighborhood.”
“That not something to be happy about, Kyle,” Lazlo grumbled.
“Sure it is. It means we’re doing our jobs. The Federation is secure. Peace reigns for another day.”
“Blah blah blah,” Lazlo said. “It’s too quiet. That’s dangerous…and just wrong.”
“I’m sure it’s a Starfleet conspiracy to keep you out of action, sir,” Kyle said, rolling his eyes as he strolled back toward the door. Lazlo didn’t pay any attention to his subordinate’s departure. His mind had already latched onto something that Kyle had said.
Starfleet! If Federation Marine HQ didn’t have anything for him, there was always the chance, albeit small, that Starfleet knew of a situation in the region. Or at the very least Beck and her staff may have found some planet in their surveys worth using for maneuvers. This meant he’d have to deal with whatever crap Beck and her staff felt like shoveling his way when he commed them, but maybe, for once, they’d behave like something resembling professionals and just give him the information he wanted.
“Lazlo to Beck,” he said.
“Captain Beck is unavailable at this time,” the computer replied.
“What do you mean she’s unavailable?” Lazlo demanded. “She’s on the station, isn’t she?”
“Captain Beck is in Ops.”
“Then put me through to her!”
“Unable to comply.”
“Why the hell not?”
“Captain Beck is unavailable while Ops is at lockdown status.”
Lazlo practically leapt out of his chair. “Lockdown! Are we under attack? Why aren’t we at red alert? Get me through to somebody up there. Where’s Morales? Where’s Russell?”
“Please limit yourself to a single query.”
“Don’t get smart with me!”
“Unable to comply.”
“ARE WE UNDER ATTACK!”
“Negative,” the computer replied.
“That’s all you had to say. Now where is Commander Morales?”
“Commander Morales is in Ops.”
“Fine. Where is Russell?”
“Lieutenant Commander Russell is in Ops.”
“What about Porter?”
“Lieutenant Commander Porter is in Ops.”
“And they are in lockdown status?” Lazlo asked.
“So how are we supposed to get in touch with them if we need a command decision? Not that I go to Beck for decisions, but you know what I mean.”
“Waystation command functions have been rerouted to auxiliary control for the duration of the lockdown.”
“But Beck isn’t there,” Lazlo said.
“Affirmative,” the computer said. Was it Lazlo’s imagination, or was there and unspoken “Duh!” in the computer’s voice?
Lazlo marched out of his office and into the outer office area where Kyle sat idly surfing the Federnet. “Tell O’Neal to start the drills without me. And then send everyone into the holodeck for combat simulations,” Lazlo ordered Kyle.
Lazlo stormed out into the corridor and toward the turbolift, his mind racing with questions. What was this lockdown of Ops all about? And if Beck was there, who was in auxiliary control running things? Did that person have any business running things or had Beck been usurped? What the hell was going on around here?
It was time to get some answers.
Waystation’s auxiliary control center wasn’t one of those places that many people cared about. It was around in case of an emergency, but no one would consider it to be a highlight of a tour of the station, not that the station tours ever really went there anyway. Still, if anything was ever to happen to Ops (which wasn’t all that improbable considering that Ops was sitting on top of Waystation connected to the upper saucer by only a tube containing the turbolift shaft, a jefferies tube, and a bunch of conduit), auxiliary control would take over from its position of relative safety nestled in the lower saucer.
Richard Theroll was fairly certain that he’d never been to auxiliary control, not that he ever would have had a reason to. However, considering that control of the station now resided in the hands of persons unknown inside this out-of-the-way room, he was starting to feel a bit indignant that Captain Beck had never offered to show him the place. He even went so far as to muster up some additional indignation for a hypothetical scenario in which he asked Beck to see auxiliary control, and she refused to take him. So it never actually happened. But he just knew she would refuse. She was that kind of Starfleet Officer.
Well, he was here now, whether she liked it or not, Theroll thought as he made his approach down the corridor toward the doors of auxiliary control. And whoever was inside had better show the head of the Waystation Resident’s Council the proper respect or…or…or he’d think of some kind of appropriate response. But he was not going to be pushed around by these Starfleet types anymore.
“Get out of my way!” a voice demanded as a strong arm roughly shoved Theroll into the corridor wall. Theroll saw a blue-uniformed Federation Marine stride past him, charging straight toward auxiliary control.
Theroll said the first thing that came to mind. “Stop right there!”
The marine whipped around revealing the face of Colonel Martin Lazlo. And he looked pissed. Theroll resisted the urge to run away as Lazlo stalked over to him. Oh, if only he had a blade on him right now.
“WHAT DID YOU SAY?” Lazlo bellowing in a tone that had reduced more than one marine recruit to a blurbling pile of tears.
“I…I…” Theroll stammered. Quick. Pull yourself together! This man has no authority on this station. Stand up to him. “I told you to stop,” Theroll said, straightening his posture.
“And who the hell are you to tell me anything?”
“Richard Theroll. President of the WRC.”
“What in the hell is the WRC? And why do I care?”
“We are the Waystation Residents’ Council, and you should care quite a bit, considering that you are here to serve and protect us!”
“You’re damn right I protect you civilians,” Lazlo said, putting an incredible amount of disdain into his pronunciation of “civilians.” “But the day I take orders from one of you is the day…it’s a day that isn’t happening! EVER! Now I’ve got things to do. Get lost.”
“You’re running auxiliary control then,” Theroll said.
“Not yet, but I’m going to find out who is,” Lazlo snapped, turning back toward the door. Theroll suddenly rushed past him and hit the door control.
“Get out of the way,” Lazlo ordered, grabbing Theroll and yanking him back. He tried the door control.
Again, nothing happened.
“HEY! YOU IN THERE! OPEN THIS DOOR RIGHT NOW!” Lazlo demanded, shouting at the top of his lungs.
After a few more seconds of nothing, Theroll stepped up and rang the door chime. Shortly after that, the door opened allowing a view of the decidedly underwhelming interior of auxiliary control, an austere grey room with a cluster of consoles and a relatively small viewscreen on one wall.
The door opener was Lieutenant Oliver Mason, not that Theroll or Lazlo had any clue who the junior officer facing them was.
“Who’s in charge here?” Lazlo and Theroll demanded, craning their necks to see who else was present. Theroll recognized a couple members of the Security staff among the four other officers in view, but that was it.
“I am,” Mason said. “May I help you?”
“What the hell is going on?” Lazlo said before Theroll could get a word out. “What the hell is this lockdown?”
“It’s a drill,” Mason explained. “Captain Beck and the command crew will remain in Ops for the next 48 hours without contact with the rest of the station.”
“48 hours!” Theroll exclaimed. “You’re telling me that this entire station is in the hands of a lieutenant for the next two days!”
“Several lieutenants, but yes,” Mason said. “We have it under control.”
Lazlo snorted. “This is ridiculous. There’s no way I’m going to stand by while Beck’s flunkies get us all killed. Move aside.”
“What do you think you’re doing?” Theroll said.
“I’m assuming command,” Lazlo said.
“You most certainly are not!” Theroll exclaimed. “The WRC is not just going to stand by while you carry out some kind of military coup!”
“This isn’t a coup. I am putting someone with command experience and authority in charge of this station instead of these…”
“You’re putting yourself in charge!” Theroll interrupted.
“Who else has my experience and authority?”
“Let’s put it to a vote. My 4000 civilians against your hundred or so marines. Guess who’ll win?”
“Um…actually, I’m going to stay in charge,” Mason said.
“Says who?” Lazlo snapped.
“Fleet Admiral Ra’al.”
“She isn’t here. But I am,” Lazlo said, stepping forward. “Now get out of my…AAAUUGGGGH!” As he reached the open doorway, Lazlo was smacked back by a force field.
“You’re not authorized to be in auxiliary control,” Mason said, struggling to keep a smile from breaking out across his face. “Neither of you are.”
“You can’t keep me out!” Theroll said. He started to step forward, but thought better of it. “I am the President of the Waystation Residents’ Council! You serve us!”
“You’ll have to take that up with Fleet Admiral Ra’al,” Mason said. “If she wants to change her orders, I’ll be right here.” With that, Mason closed the door.
Theroll balled his fists, fuming impotently at the closed door in front of him as a dazed Lazlo wobbly got back on his feet.
“You haven’t heard the end of this!” Theroll shouted.
“Damn right they haven’t,” Lazlo said.
Right then, the seeds of an alliance could have been planted. The WRC and the Federation Marines working together to teach Beck’s subordinates a lesson they would never forget.
Instead, Theroll and Lazlo glared at each other, then marched off down the corridor.
“We’re facing a crisis, ladies and gentlemen,” Colonel Lazlo stated, pacing in front of his gathered troops in the marines’ rec room/training center. Lazlo was completely focused on his speech at that moment, or he might have noticed that the gathering before him was barely remaining standing. Of course, no sleep, drills, and a combat simulation all before lunch tended to wear a person down. Still, a few marines exchanged surprised yet fatigued glances that they’d been addressed as “ladies and gentlemen” rather than Lazlo’s usual endearments of “maggots” and the like.
“A crisis of leadership!” Lazlo continued. “A crisis of order! And this crisis has put the lives of every single man, woman, child, and what have you in jeopardy! Once again, Starfleet has abdicated its responsibilities and left us as the only line of defense against whatever horrors the galaxy has in store. Do any of you know who is in command of this station at this moment? Do you?”
Normally at this point, Lieutenant Stephanie Hodges would have piped up that Captain Beck was in charge. As Beck’s best friend since childhood, she tended to know little bits of trivia like that. Also, she was more than happy to defend Beck against Lazlo’s rantings. On this particular occasion, though, Hodges was discovering that she’d developed the ability to sleep standing up, and, therefore, did not raise her voice in protest.
“A Starfleet lieutenant! That’s who!” Lazlo said when no response to his question came, not that he’d really been inviting one. “And the so-called Command Crew is nowhere to be found. They’re completely cut off for the next two days. Two days! Are we to sit back and just hope for the best during that time? NO! We have a duty to secure and protect Federation interests, but, as of right now, Waystation is incredibly insecure! It’s time to act! Alpha and Bravo teams, you’re with me!”
This last statement was met by a startled chorus of “Wha? Huh?”
“We’ll be securing auxiliary control. Teams Charlie and Delta will secure the upper and lower saucer engineering sections. Echo and Foxtrot will take the station security office and begin patrols of the mall. Civilians are to be assured that the situation is under control.”
“What about Starfleet?” Lieutenant Colonel O’Neal asked.
“They’re not likely to understand the necessity of our actions,” Lazlo replied. “They’re all too blindly loyal to Beck. I want them detained and confined to quarters.” He suddenly pointed at Hodges. “Her, too.”
Hodges didn’t move. Lazlo frowned and stalked over to her. After a few moments of looking her over, he came to a conclusion.
“WAKE UP!” he shouted, sending Hodges tumbling backwards.
“What was that for?” she said.
“My amusement,” Lazlo replied before turning back to O’Neal. “Get her out of here. Everyone else, gear up!”
The marines responded with a decidedly unenthusiastic “Yes, sir,” then headed off to their supply lockers with Lazlo barking orders behind them. O’Neal, meanwhile, locked a firm grip on Hodges’ arm.
“What’s going on?” Hodges demanded.
“You’re being confined to quarters.”
“What’d I miss?”
“Don’t give me that. Something is going on!”
“Nothing that concerns you.”
“But I’m being confined to quarters because of it.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“You might as well have.”
“But I didn’t.”
“Come on. You can tell me.”
“The colonel doesn’t trust you.”
“About what? Does he think I’m going to run off and tell Lisa something…”
O’Neal bit his lip. “Ummmm…”
“No, it isn’t.”
“What doesn’t he want her to know?”
“I’m not talking.”
“It’s bad, isn’t it! If you don’t tell me, I’m going to tell her something’s up and to watch out for Lazlo. That will be more than enough to head him off.”
“You can’t talk to her,” O’Neal said.
“Yeah. She isn’t around.”
“What do you mean she isn’t around?” Hodges asked.
“I mean she’s not around.”
“Well, Walter will…”
“He’s not around either. None of them are.”
“What are you talking about? I saw him an hour ago.”
“They’re not available. Any of them.”
“Any of who? What did Colonel Lazlo do? If he…”
Hodges became dead weight in O’Neal’s grasp and dropped to the deck unconscious.
“I said confine her to quarters, not engage in small talk,” Lazlo said, holstering his phaser as he stood in the doorway.
“Yes, sir,” O’Neal said, scooping up Hodges’ body before taking her out of the training room.
Technically, Theroll was due at work now, but he knew there was no way he could concentrate at the level necessary to handle the details of the colony administration office after what he’d been through this morning. It was bad enough that Beck had left a junior officer in charge of the entire station while she was in some kind of drill that she hadn’t informed anyone in the WRC about, but now that marine was involved in the situation. Station scuttlebutt was (scuttlebutt. Now there was another word that Theroll didn’t work into conversations often enough) that Colonel Lazlo had staged a takeover of Waystation within the first year or two of the place opening. It was well before Theroll’s arrival, but he had no reason to doubt the story. Obviously the takeover failed, and, as far as Theroll was aware, the marines had stayed in their place ever since.
But he had seen the look on Lazlo’s face. The man didn’t like Starfleet and Beck in particular, and he saw this lockdown as his opportunity to take charge again. Theroll just knew it.
That couldn’t happen. Starfleet had its faults, but it was better than the alternative. Life under the Federation Marines would be constant martial law. Someone had to step in, and Theroll knew just the person: President Bradley Dillon.
That plan evaporated less than thirty seconds later when Theroll was informed by a pleasant woman on Bradley’s staff that the president was off the station and would remain so for the next few days. Just as well. President Dillon was one of the issues the WRC had concerns about anyway. His presence on board was a danger and… This wasn’t the time to think about that. There was a more pressing danger to deal with. Lazlo probably wouldn’t wait long to act, so Theroll had to be quick. Starfleet needed to be warned.
He rushed into the station security office in Starfleet Square Mall, where Lieutenant Mike Waits sat at the main desk watching the views from various security cameras around the station flash by on the monitor on the desk console. This wasn’t actually part of Waits’ job description. The computer was capable of processing the views of all of the cameras at the same time, looking for any overt signs of suspicious activity. But, to put it bluntly, Waits was bored, so, to stave off complete mental shut down, he was scrolling through the views. Theroll’s entrance had Waits on his feet in a flash.
“Can I help you, Mister Theroll?” he asked eagerly. Waits was another member of the creative anachronisms group. He didn’t seem all that interested in the pomp and circumstance of Medieval culture. He was basically just there to swing a sword at people. A waste really, but at least Theroll was now dealing with someone he knew as opposed to a Starfleet Officer who wouldn’t be inclined to listen to him.
“You can help us all,” Theroll said.
Waits looked past Theroll for any sign of this “all” he had mentioned. “And how many of you are there today?” he asked, this time far more hesitantly.
“Everyone on the station!” Theroll exclaimed.
“Oh! THAT all of us.
“Yes, that all of us. What did you think I meant?”
“I’m sorry. It’s just…well, you never know with people around here. The other day we had this Bajoran come in here claiming that she was being stalked by a bunch of Cardassian spies. Vole spies. We don’t even have voles on the station, much less ones that have been trained by whatever’s left of the Obsidian Order. I tried to explain…”
“Lieutenant Waits, we don’t have time for this,” Theroll said. “If you don’t do something soon, the Federation Marines are going to take control of this station!
Waits looked ready to charge into action then stopped himself, looking at Theroll skeptically. “Er…what makes you think that they would…I mean…”
“I was there okay!” Theroll snapped. “Colonel Lazlo and I went down to auxiliary control a little bit ago, and he practically threatened that poor officer running things down there. You can comm him and ask him. The officer, I mean. You may think I’m exaggerating, but you didn’t see Lazlo’s face.”
“He makes a lot of faces,” Waits said. “Most of them angry, but he doesn’t try to take over the station.”
“Maybe when Captain Beck is around, but she’s in this lockdown.”
“Yes, but even so Colonel Lazlo wouldn’t…” Waits trailed off uncertain, sat back down at the desk, and started scrolling through the camera views of the Federation Marine complex. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Colonel Lazlo lecturing his troops. Waits moved to activate the audio.
“…Charlie and Delta will secure the upper and lower saucer engineering sections. Echo and Foxtrot will take the station security office and begin patrols of the mall. Civilians are to be assured that the situation is under control.”
“He’s serious!” Waits cried, leaping back up from his seat. “And they’re coming! I’ve gotta go!” He slapped his commbadge as he ran down the corridor leading to the rear of the security complex. “Waits to all officers. We are under attack! I repeat, we are under attack!” He ducked into a room to the left and emerged a few moments later with a phaser rifle. “I know there’s nobody out there! The attackers are in here! Just look out for the marines!”
Waits dashed past Theroll and charged out into the mall as a flood of Starfleet officers flowed in, went back to the room down the corridor, then stormed out after Waits. Theroll smiled to himself. This was how things should be. With Beck in charge, though…well, with Beck in charge, he never would have gotten Security to do anything. As it stood, though, Lieutenant Waits had listened to his concerns and leapt into action with commendable speed. This just proved that Starfleet and the WRC could work together for the common good of Waystation. Now if only it could be like this all the time.
Actually, now that he ruminated about it, this proved that Starfleet could work effectively FOR the WRC. What was Starfleet doing running Waystation anyway? The station had long since stopped being a sparsely-populated distant outpost surrounded by potentially hostile species (no matter what Starfleet and the Federation Marines liked to believe). Waystation had thousands of people on board, most of them civilians. It was a hub for travel and commerce as well as the central administration site for colonies across the region. Keeping it under de facto martial law was senseless, but it was pretty obvious that Starfleet was going to hang onto the governance of the station until someone forced it from them.
Colonel Lazlo and his marines were taking their shot right now.
But Starfleet was about to find out they were looking in the wrong direction.
It was such a simple plan. March down to auxiliary control, take it over, and restore command of the station to a legitimate authority…namely himself. How did it get so screwed up so fast? Actually, the more important question was how did Starfleet find out in the first place? Colonel Lazlo eyed the contingent of armed Starfleet officers positioned at the end of the corridor in front of the door to auxiliary control and considered the problem. Lieutenant Stephanie Hodges was an obvious suspect, but he’d shot her himself. With the stun blast at that setting, she wasn’t liable to be waking up until dinner time. She couldn’t have been the one.
There was that officer inside auxiliary control. Maybe Lazlo rattled him so much that he called for extra support. That made a lot more sense than Hodges magically waking up, overriding the comm lockout Lazlo had slapped on her quarters, and filling Starfleet in. But on the other hand, Beck’s lackey in there had seemed so damn smug when Lazlo was threatening him earlier. Lazlo wasn’t much of a student of psychology except when it came to battle tactics, but he was fairly sure that twit behind the force field felt pretty secure in his surroundings.
“This is Ensign Shust, Waystation Security!” one of the officers at the end of the corridor called out. “We are considering your actions to be hostile and will respond with extreme force if you do not stand down! Do you hear me, Colonel? Stand down!”
“What are you doing?” another officer beside Shust exclaimed, dragging Shust down by the uniform sleeve. “You’re going to antagonize him.”
“He’s got twenty marines over there. He’s antagonizing us!”
“Well, you don’t have to make it worse.”
“Shut up, Jacob.”
“I will not,” Ensign Jacob said defiantly as he stood to address their adversary. “Colonel Lazlo,” he called out. “This really isn’t a course of action that’s going to end well. Why don’t you send your troops back to their quarters, and you can discuss your grievances with the acting commander.”
Lazlo, meanwhile, ignored the prattle and continued to track down the leak. If the maggot inside auxiliary control was really as smug as he appeared, he wouldn’t call for backup. There were other people in there, though. One of them could…
“O’Neal to Lazlo!” Lazlo’s comm barked suddenly.
“What is it?” Lazlo snapped, irritated that his train of thought had been broken.
“We just entered the mall, sir. Starfleet is everywhere! Do we engage?”
The mall, too? How could Starfleet know that unless they’d heard his briefing? Which they could have done if they’d been alerted that he was planning something, which someone in auxiliary control could have checked on through the damn security cameras mounted everywhere. He really needed to have the marines’ deck swept for observation devices. That was his deck and he’d secure it himself. No more Starfleet surveillance.
“Colonel?” Ensign Jacob called.
“Stand down!” Shust shouted.
This surveillance thing was really gnawing at Lazlo. It was time to shut it down at the source: the Security office in the mall. It’d be best to get a first-hand look at the tactical situation there anyway.
“Do we engage?” O’Neal’s voice repeated urgently.
“Take them down!” Lazlo ordered, slapping the comm channel closed.
“What?” the marines and Starfleet officers all exclaimed.
“You heard me. TAKE THEM DOWN!” he bellowed before striding away toward the turbolift.
The marines and Starfleet officers, separated by a mere ten meters of empty corridor, tensed, each waiting for the other to make the first move.
“Aw hell with it,” Shust muttered finally, bringing his phaser rifle, the biggest one the armory had to offer, to bear and pressing the firing control. In an instant, the corridor was flooded with the blasting of energy weapons.
Lazlo left the warzone in front of auxiliary control, took a quiet turbolift ride up the connecting tube to from the lower saucer to the lower mall level in the upper saucer, and emerged into a new warzone. His marines had constructed a makeshift barricade using benches, trashcans, potted plants, and whatever else they could grab and were holding off a scattering of Starfleet officers, each of whom were ensconced behind their own makeshift barriers. Unconcerned about the phaser blasted searing by him, Lazlo strode over to the barricade and leapt inside.
“O’NEAL!” he shouted.
“Yes, sir!” O’Neal replied smartly, jogging over to his commanding officer.
“They were waiting for us, sir. It’s like they knew we were coming.”
“They DID KNOW we were coming!” Lazlo shot back.
“How?” O’Neal asked in shock.
“I’m going to take care of it,” Lazlo said. “You deal with Starfleet.”
“Yes, sir!” O’Neal replied, snapping to attention as Lazlo whipped out his hand phaser and vaulted back over the barricade. Immediately, the Starfleet officers sent a barrage of fire in his direction. He dodged, ducking around the rear of the marines’ enclosing barricade. There wasn’t a single Starfleet officer on this side, which meant…he could just stroll around the circular mall until he came up behind…
Idiots. They were all idiots…on both sides.
Letting out a low growl, Lazlo walked around the mall concourse until he reached the Waystation security office. The completely unguarded Waystation security office, he noted. Suddenly a Nausicaan civilian barreled past him out of the office carrying a phaser rifle. What the hell was a civilian doing with a weapon? Not even Starfleet was that stupid.
He strode inside to get to the bottom of things…
…and found Richard Theroll sitting imperiously at the main security desk as another three civilians carrying phaser rifles rushed out of the Starfleet armory located down the corridor. Upon seeing Lazlo, they stopped and looked at Theroll for some sign of what to do next. Lazlo turned on Theroll and shouted the first question that came to mind.
“Who the hell are you?”
“Excuse me?” Theroll said, taken aback.
“I heard what you said, but…you don’t remember me? I’m Richard Theroll.”
“Is that supposed to mean something to me?”
“We were at auxiliary control together less than an hour ago!”
Lazlo frowned, thinking back. He went down there. Couldn’t get in. Hit a force field. And at some point he yelled at some annoying civilian. Honestly, he really didn’t give a damn who this guy was. He didn’t belong here.
“Get out,” Lazlo ordered.
“You can’t order me around. I’m not one of your marines,” Theroll replied.
“You aren’t Starfleet either. Get out.”
“Starfleet is busy at the moment. I have you to thank for that. Actually, I have you to thank for all of this. I might not have realized what I needed to do if you hadn’t pushed things along.”
“I don’t think you get how interested I’m not in all of this,” Lazlo said, aiming his phaser at Theroll’s face. “GET. OUT. I’m taking charge.”
Three phaser rifles were suddenly pointed at him. “I’ve already taken charge,” Theroll said, trying to not betray his nervousness at the weapon trained on his head. Yes, the marine colonel had three phaser rifles aimed at him, but he could still kill Theroll with one shot. He wouldn’t do that, though, would he? “You’re outnumbered, Colonel. The WRC has taken its rightful place running Waystation. With Starfleet occupied dealing with you, I was able to contact the core members of the WRC, and then they contacted other members, who contacted other members. It’s grassroots activism at it’s best! From this console, I’ve been able to give our members access to all of the station armories. We have control. You just need to accept the new order around here. Surrender now.” Theroll looked over at the three civilians backing him up. “Place the colonel under arrest.”
“We’ll see about that,” Lazlo said. He tensed as if to fire, then dashed out of the office before Theroll and the armed civilians could react. He would take this uppity civ down, but he wasn’t going to get shot in the process. Those morons probably didn’t know how to set their rifles to stun. He’d gather some of his troops and come back in force. Let the civ think he had the advantage for now. It’d make it all the more sweet when Lazlo and his marines…
Lazlo abandoned that particular thought as he spotted several rifle-toting civilians rushing along the upper concourse above him toward the sounds of the raging battle between Starfleet and his marines. It only took him an instant to realize what was about to happen.
He took off at a full run, dashing along the concourse until he could see the backs of the Starfleet officers exchanging fire with his people. The idiots! The complete morons! Didn’t they see what was happening right above them?
The armed civilians were lined up at the upper concourse railing, aiming their rifles downward and…
“UP THERE!” Lazlo screamed, waving his arms frantically. “LOOK UP…”
ZAAAP. ZAP. ZAP. ZAAAAAP.
The civilians opened fire, sending a rain of phaser fire down on both sides of the battle. Neither the Starfleet officers nor the marines realized what was happening until it was too late. The last marine standing (Private Copeland of all people) finally spotted the source of the incoming blasts and managed to get one stray shot off before he was dropped to the deck.
Lazlo watched the event unfold in stunned disbelief.
Then he got the hell out of there. Even with his training, he was not going to take out ten or so people who had the high ground.
He needed to get out of sight and fast. Then he could regroup, gather what forces he had left, and mount a counter-strike. None of that would be happening, though, if this Theroll got his hands on him. Lazlo might not have known his name before, but he knew it now. Oh did he know it now. Theroll was going to pay.
The one piece of luck in Lazlo’s favor at the moment was that he was standing practically right in front of safe harbor: the station infirmary.
He raced inside just as Waystation’s avian Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Diantha, was storming out of her office, her folded wings twitching to express her irritation. “It’s been ten minutes of this!” she shouted at Lazlo, who happened to be the only living soul in sight. “What is going on out there?” She stopped, waiting for a response, then cocked her head to the side, listening. “Ah. Well. I guess they have stopped. Never mind.” She turned to head back to her office, then paused and spun back toward Lazlo. “Did you need something?”
“We’ve got to get out of here,” Lazlo said, grabbing Diantha by the arm and yanking her toward her office.
The doctor ripped her arm back from Lazlo with surprising ease. “Why would I want to get out of here?”
“They’re going to be coming.”
“Didn’t you see what just happened out there?” Lazlo demanded.
“I believe I just explained that I didn’t when I asked you what was going on,” Diantha said. She stepped over to the Infirmary entrance and peered out into the concourse beyond, where pairs of civilians were picking up unconscious marines and Starfleet officers and dragging them toward the nearest turbolift. “Well, pluck me,” she muttered under her breath.
“It’s a mutiny,” Lazlo said, staying out of sight of the entrance. “We were so busy with each other that we didn’t see it coming.”
“Each other? Wait. Your marines were attacking us? You were trying to take over the station?”
“It doesn’t matter now.”
“Get back to my office.”
“Don’t start with me, you…”
“I’ve been spotted,” Diantha snapped. “Get back to my office. There’s a jefferies tube access hatch behind my desk. Get in there now! They’re coming.”
“I told you!” Lazlo said, waving an angry finger at her before running off.
Two armed civilians charged into the Infirmary a moment later. Diantha recognized one of them. She was one of the arboretum caretakers whom Diantha had treated for a rather nasty rash a few days earlier. Evidently the plant she’d been pruning didn’t enjoy the experience and struck back.
“Good morning,” Diantha said, with a stately bow of her head. “May I assist you?”
“You’re going to have to come with us,” the arboretum woman (What was her name again? Nessel? That was it.) said, unable to make eye contact with Diantha.
“And why is that?”
“It’s Mister Theroll’s orders. All Starfleet officers are to be confined to quarters until they accept civilian control of the station.”
“I don’t care who is in control of the station,” Diantha replied, much to the civilians’ surprise.
“I am a doctor. I am here to treat patients. I cannot do that from my quarters. You can tell this Mister Theroll that I will be remaining in the Infirmary. People will still need a doctor, even with him in control.”
“Um…I’ll have to talk to him and get back to you,” Nessel said.
“You do that.”
“It could be a little while, though. He’s busy seizing command of Waystation and putting down the last pockets of Starfleet and marine resistance.”
“That’s fine. I’m not going anywhere.”
“Thanks for your understanding, Doctor. And thanks for taking care of that rash for me! It cleared right up.”
“I’m glad I could help,” Diantha said, with a bow of her head before she turned and headed back to her office. Lazlo was nowhere to be seen and the jefferies tube access hatch behind her desk was properly sealed. At least he’d made his escape quietly without screwing things up for her. The last thing she wanted was to spend the next however long trapped in her quarters. With the matter settled for now, she sat down to work.
“Hey!” Corporal Sheppard shouted down the corridor from her hiding place behind a pile of her stunned comrades. “Are you still over there?”
“Yes!” Ensign Shust shouted from his behind his own barrier of stunned colleagues in front of the entrance to auxiliary control.
“I think we’re the only two still standing.”
“So why don’t we just call it off?”
“No way. You just want me to get out from behind my cover, so you can shoot me.”
“Um…no, I don’t.”
“Yes, you do.”
“I’ll let you take me to dinner.”
“If you come out and let me stun you, you can take me to dinner.”
“Are you asking me out on a date?”
“I’m offering you a date.”
“I can get dates myself, thank you very much.”
“Not with me.”
“I’ve never asked you.”
“And why not? I’m a lot of fun!”
“We just met!”
“Yeah. So don’t you want to get to know me better?” Sheppard asked.
“Not if you’re going to shoot me first!”
“It’s not like it’s going to hurt.”
“I don’t even know what you look like.”
“I’m really cute. And fit. Marine training does wonders for the figure. You should see me.”
“Well, I can’t behind all those bodies.”
“Fine,” Sheppard said, standing up and doing a little twirl to show herself off. “What do you think of…”
Shust sprung up from behind his cover and did a little victory dance as Sheppard collapsed the deck. “Ha! Gotcha!” he cried, pointing at her fallen body. Hmm…she was pretty cute. Once this was all over he’d…
A blast from out of nowhere (at least as far as Shust was concerned) slammed into him, dropping him to the deck beside Sheppard. “Hmmm…cute couple,” Sutrea Gral, a waitress at the Double D Diner, remarked as she stepped over the unconscious pair, food tray in hand as her companion, an armed Double D busboy who had just shot Shust, ducked back out of site around the corner. Sutrea approached the door to auxiliary control and rang the door chime. Lieutenant Mason opened the door a few moments later, the force field still in place to block the entrance. He peered past Sutrea at the carnage in the corridor.
“Is it over?”
“I think so,” Sutrea said. “I was told to bring you folks some lunch, compliments of the Double D. Thank you for defending us from those marines.”
“Just part of the job, ma’am,” Mason said.
“Stop flirting and get us the food!” Lieutenant Laru Hassna shouted from behind him.
“Thank you,” Mason said, deactivating the force field. “We really appreciate the thought.” Sutrea sauntered inside, put the tray of covered plates down on top of a console, then snatched two hand phasers out of her pockets and aimed them at Mason and Laru as her busboy compatriot charged into auxiliary control to cover the other couple of Starfleet officers present.
“Nobody move!” Sutrea said.
“Does this mean you didn’t really bring food?” Mason asked.
“Of course I did. It’s on the tray.”
“Oh. Okay then.”
“We’re in auxiliary control,” Sutrea’s voice said over the comm. “What do you want us to do now?”
Theroll froze in his chair in the Waystation security office. They got in? He figured they would eventually, but not this soon. He didn’t actually know what they should do next. They really had complete control of the station now. All of it. Including all of those consoles in auxiliary control that ran things that he didn’t understand. “Er…tell whoever was running things down there that they’re running things for us now.”
“You don’t want us to put them in their quarters?”
“No. We’ll make use of their expertise, but stay there to guard them.”
“I’ve got a shift at the diner in a little while.”
“We’ll send someone to relieve you.”
The comm channel closed, and Theroll immediately started laughing. He’d done it. Waystation was now being run by the WRC. The whole place was his! Now it was time to show everyone that a civilian government could run Waystation just as well as Starfleet. In fact, with him in charge, it would be better!
There was a slight tapping behind Diantha coming from the general direction of the jefferies tube hatch in the wall of her office. Unfortunately, there was really only one explanation for that. After checking to make sure that no one out in the Infirmary was watching her at the moment, she casually reached back and opened the hatch a crack.
“Let me back in,” Colonel Lazlo demanded.
“I can’t do that,” Diantha said. “Go back to your own deck or something.”
“That’s what I was trying to do, but I can’t. I don’t have the access to open any of the hatches.”
“Hmmm…perhaps Starfleet revoked your security clearance when you started your takeover attempt. I can’t imagine why.”
“Are you going to let me in or not?”
“Doctor,” Lazlo growled.
“In exchange for allowing me to remain at my post, armed guards, if that’s what you want to call a gardener and a jewelry salesman with guns, are stalking around the Infirmary.” She craned her neck and spotted Nessel and her co-guard. “Okay, so they’re not so much stalking as sitting on the floor playing cards, but my point stands.”
“So what am I supposed to do?” Lazlo demanded.
“Sit tight. I’ll see about getting you something to eat.”
“Hey now! You can’t…” Diantha shoved the hatch shut before Lazlo could finish his objection.
Station night was falling, and all the Starfleet officers and marines were nestled snugly in their quarters. Theroll knew that he couldn’t hold them captive forever, and really he didn’t want to. Surely after a few days they’d realize there was no use fighting against the established order. Once a little time had passed, Theroll would contact the Federation Council and explain the change of government to them as well. Starfleet would complain, and Federation Marine HQ would grumble a bit, but there would be no reason for the Federation to hand Waystation back over to them. Not when things were running so smoothly.
“Here you go,” Diantha said, quickly shoving a plate of food into the jefferies tube hatch.
“What the hell is this?” Lazlo snapped.
“I know it’s breakfast! You said you were going to get me food hours ago! I had to sleep in here!”
“I wasn’t able to get back to you sooner. The guards took me to my quarters for the night then brought me back this morning.”
“That’s it. I’m getting out of here.”
“What will that accomplish?” Diantha asked.
“I can’t just sit here.”
“Just what do you think you’re going to do? Single-handedly retake the station? The WRC has a fairly firm grip on things now. They have weapons. They have auxiliary control. And most of the people on board, who are civilians mind you, don’t care. No one’s been hurt. Other than the lack of Starfleet and marine officers in the corridors and the mall, things are running just like they always have. Beyond that, they know you’re still around somewhere, and they’re looking for you. You need to stay out of sight.”
“For how long? Somebody has to do something about it, and it sure as hell doesn’t seem like you’re going to be that somebody. What about it, Starfleet? What’s your big plan?” Lazlo demanded.
“Um…we’re working on it.”
“Yeah right,” Lazlo muttered, shoving a bit of toast into his mouth as Diantha closed the hatch.
Some resistance to his new government wasn’t all that surprising. Theroll had even expected it…but from the Starfleet crew and the marines. Not from any of the civilian population. But here he was, staring down two civilian resisters as he sat in the newly-created reception hall of the equally-newly-created Waystation Center of Governance located in an empty storefront of the mall’s upper concourse.
“We will not betray Captain Beck,” Ih’mad said, exchanging a glance with Baughb beside him. The other Andorian nodded his agreement.
“It’s not a betrayal,” Theroll explained. “She’s not running the station anymore. I am. It’s happened before. Admiral Fonn…”
“Admiral Fonn was selected by Starfleet,” Ih’mad said.
“And Captain Beck was really running the place anyway,” Baughb said. “This isn’t anything like that! Starfleet didn’t send you, and we didn’t elect you.”
“Yes, you did. I’m President of the WRC! You elected me to that post,” Theroll said.
“But that didn’t include running the station,” Ih’mad snapped.
“Well, now it does.”
“If I had my flamethrower…”
“Ih’mad,” Baughb said, putting a hand on his friend and mentor’s arm to calm him as he kept a wary eye on the two men with phaser rifles flanking Theroll. Baughb seemed to remember them from Sandwich or What? but he wasn’t certain.
“I will never accept your leadership,” Ih’mad said firmly. “And neither will Baughb! Even if the rest of the Waystation Business Association joins you, we never will!”
Theroll fought back the surge of anger flooding his system. How dare they show him such outright defiance after everything he’d done for this station. His was the better way! Couldn’t they see that?
But they would in time. Until then…
“Confine them both to their quarters,” Theroll ordered. “And put a watch on their employees. If any of them set foot near Ih’mad or Baughb’s quarters, they are to be arrested and confined as well.”
“Captain Beck will not stand for this,” Ih’mad said as two more civilian guards grabbed him and led him toward the door.
“It’s out of her hands,” Theroll called after the two Andorians. He then turned to Krilik, the proprietor of the Klingon formal wear shop who was quickly becoming his closest aide. “Have we found Colonel Lazlo yet?”
“No,” Krilik growled. “The Starfleet people claim they can’t detect him and none of us can prove otherwise.”
“And you’re sure we didn’t confine him to quarters already and not realize it? There are a lot of marines.”
“Well, he’s staying out the way at least. As long as that keeps up, I don’t really care where he is.”
“Good morning, Colonel,” Dr. Diantha said as she passed another plate into the hatch behind her desk.
“You’ve left me in here for almost two days, and that’s all you have to say to me!” Lazlo hissed.
“Is there something else I should say?”
“Let’s start with WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON OUT THERE?”
“Keep your voice down!” Diantha snapped, looking quickly toward the door to make sure the civilians guarding her hadn’t heard.
“So nothing’s changed.”
“No,” Diantha said. “But Captain Beck and the rest of the command crew should be out of lockdown any time now.”
“Then she’s going to walk right into Theroll’s clutches!”
“You know what I mean! Somebody has to warn her!”
“We can’t,” Diantha said. “No one can get through until the lockdown is over. And even then…”
The hatch suddenly slammed open as Lazlo hit it with both boots. Before Diantha could react, the marine leapt out and shoved her aside, chair and all.
“Colonel, no!” she cried, but he was already out of her office, dashing past the two civilian guards, who were deep into their morning card game. They scrambled to their feet, fumbling for their phaser rifles as they called for backup.
Lazlo wasn’t concerned about that as he ran out into the mall proper. He didn’t plan to be there long enough for backup to be a factor. He just needed to made it to the nearest turbolift.
The Klingon and two humans running out of the security office, which happened to be just on the other side of the nearest turbolift, made him change his mind. He quickly altered course, running back past the two incompetent morons who were “guarding” the Infirmary, and took off down the mall concourse. With his marine training and level of fitness, he would easily out run these civies.
“Stop!” his pursuers all called repeatedly, their voices merging into a loud din that he was doing his best to ignore in favor of focusing on escape. Phaser blasts suddenly began wildly searing past him, slamming haphazardly into the walls, the decorative plants, and early morning mall patrons.
They were shooting at him? With all these people around? Were they crazy? With aim as bad as that, they were liable to…
Lazlo’s biting slam of their ability was abruptly cut off as a phaser blast slammed him instead.
BACK TO NOW -
“Didn’t something used to be here?” Captain Beck muttered to Yeoman Jones as they were ushered into a storefront on the mall’s upper concourse. Rather than holding a store, though, this location was now advertised as containing “The Waystation Center of Governance.”
“The Sale of the Centauri was due to move in a couple of weeks,” Jones replied. “I don’t think they’re going to be very happy about this.”
“They’re not going to be happy?” Beck asked.
“Well…yeah…I mean we’re not happy either, but I thought that was kind of a given considering…” She moved her head toward the armed guards walking behind them.
“I’ll give you that,” Beck said. The command crew was led past a series of cubicles into a large open area at the head of which was a long table where sat…
“Theroll,” Beck spat.
“It’s okay, Captain,” Theroll said, gesturing for her and her officers to sit in a group of chairs laid out in a semi-circle in front of his table. “I understand that you’re going to be resistant to this at first.”
“Resistant? To a mutiny? Gee, I can’t imagine why I’d be resistant to that!” she shot back, ignoring the proffered chair as Morales, Jones, and Porter stood beside her. Russell, who was about to sit down, stopped in mid-squat and rushed back over to his colleagues. “Where are my people?” she demanded.
“They’re fine,” Theroll replied. “No one has been hurt.”
“WHERE ARE THEY?”
“In their quarters…mostly. A few have been allowed to continue their duties when those duties are critical to the functioning of the station.”
“So Ih’mad’s waiters aren’t running engineering,” Porter said relieved.
“Actually, they’re also confined to quarters,” Theroll said. “They are having difficulties adjusting to the changes in the station’s command structure. I have to tell you, Captain, that I really don’t understand their problem. They’re all civilians. You’d think they’d be happy to see a civilian government established on Waystation. But, hopefully, once they’ve had some time to ruminate, they will come around. The same goes for Starfleet and the marines. You’ll all see that this just isn’t a big deal.”
“Seems pretty big to me. You took over my damn station!” Beck shouted.
“That’s your problem, Captain,” Theroll said, launching into the speech he’d been rehearsing for the inevitable moment when he’d have to explain himself to Waystation’s commanding officer…well, former commanding officer at any rate. “You see this place as your station and yours alone. Thousands of citizens of the United Federation of Planets live here, and they expect to live under Federation law, not Beck’s law. The military is used to unquestioned obedience and absolute authority. You do not consider the effects your decisions have on the ordinary citizens. This isn’t the dangerous frontier it used to be, and, as such, it’s time for Starfleet to step aside and let the people govern themselves. As the rightfully-elected President of the Waystation Residents’ Council, I speak for the people. I AM the people. I will lead them. And I will protect them from threats to their well-being.”
As if on cue, a Nausicaan lumbered in with Colonel Lazlo thrown over her shoulder and dumped the marine on the floor between Theroll and Beck’s group. Lazlo groaned and tried to get to his feet, but immediately collapsed back to the deck. Morales and Russell quickly moved to help Lazlo up.
“This is how I deal with threats, Captain,” Theroll said before turning his attention to the marine. “Colonel Lazlo, you have been found guilty of attempting to overthrow the established government of Waystation.”
“Established government? Starfleet was the established government!” Beck protested.
“Yes. That is the government he was attempting to overthrow.”
“So you’re punishing him for doing the exact same thing you did.”
“He was attempting to create a military dictatorship. I merely sped up the transition to the next natural form of government on this station. Now, Colonel, I have found you guilty of the charges I have just levied against you…”
“No…trial?” Lazlo said weakly.
“I tried you before you got here,” Theroll snapped. “And don’t interrupt me while I’m handing down the sentence!”
“You call this Federation law?” Beck said, stepping forward. “You can’t try a suspect in absentia! You can’t serve as judge and jury unless the accused agrees! You think he was going to set up a dictatorship? What do you call this?”
“THE WAY THINGS SHOULD BE!” Theroll thundered. “Look around, Beck. I have the people. I have the weapons. I have the STATION! Do you really want to challenge me?”
“Yes,” Beck said simply.
“Fine!” Theroll said, shoving the table forward and jumping up from his chair. “Bring me my swords!” he commanded.
“Huh?” Beck said.
“You wanted to challenge me, and I’m accepting,” Theroll said. “We’ll settle this as people of honor.”
“Oh Great Bird. Is this something Klingon?” Beck said.
“S.C.A.,” Porter said.
“Theroll runs the Society for Creative Anachronisms group on board.”
“Oh yeah. The sword fighting thing you do.”
“It’s more about chivalry and…yeah, it’s the sword fighting thing,” Porter said. “Don’t agree to this, Captain. Theroll’s the best swordsman in our group. You’ll be fighting on his terms.”
“Porter’s right,” Morales said. “I’ve been in this kind of situation before. It doesn’t end well.”
“I have, too,” Beck said. “I know exactly what I’m getting into.”
“You’re not sending me in for you again this time, are you?” Russell asked concerned.
“Come on, Sean. Theroll’s got to be easier than that Andorian woman was,” Porter said.
“You stay out of this!” Russell snapped.
“Are you ready, Beck?” Theroll said as a Bolian delivered a long black case to Theroll. He sat it on the table and opened it, revealing two long sabers nestled in red velvet lining. “Choose your weapon.”
“Is he serious?” Beck asked.
“Yes, he’s serious,” Porter replied. “If you want, I could…”
“No. I’ve got it,” Beck said, striding forward and grabbing a sword at random from the case. It was a sharp piece of metal with a handle. What was the point in being choosey?
“Damn you! You took Dulcinea! She won’t help you, though!” Theroll cried, yanking the other sword from the case and brandishing it at Beck.
On the other hand…
“Focus on your parries, and don’t over-extend yourself on the thrusts!” Porter called out as Beck raised her blade to face Theroll.
“Have at you!” Theroll cried, lunging forward.
Beck smacked his sword aside with hers and smashed him in the face with her left fist. Stunned, Theroll dropped his sword and grabbed his nose. Beck used the opening to toss her sword aside and follow-up with a solid right to the stomach that doubled Theroll over, then she dropped him the rest of the way to the deck with the patented Starfleet double-fisted slam to the back of his head. It was all over in about three seconds.
“Kill…her,” Theroll groaned to the civilians watching the proceedings. “Kill…”
“Nobody is killing anyone!” Beck said. “You got me?” The civilians present exchanged glances then nodded with a few “Yes, ma’am”s thrown into the mix. There was a sudden commotion at the entrance to the Center of Governance, followed by lots of shouting and demands for people to get down. Moments later, Lieutenant Waits and Dr. Diantha stormed into the room carrying phaser rifles and backed up by ten more Starfleet officers.
“Captain!” Diantha exclaimed. “We’re here to…” She trailed off as she surveyed the scene. “Oh.”
“We took care of it,” Beck said. “But thanks for coming. You might want to check on Colonel Lazlo, though.”
“I’m fine,” Lazlo said as Diantha went for the medical tricorder in her pack. “It was just a stun blast.”
“If you listened to me, you would not have been hit at all.”
“You really had a plan?”
“We’re here, aren’t we? Too late, as it turns out, but we were here.”
“Lieutenant Mason’s team should have retaken auxiliary control by now as well,” Waits reported.
“Oooh. I hope I didn’t comm him at a bad time,” Beck said.
“What do you want us to do with Theroll?” Russell asked.
“Put him in the brig for now,” Beck said. “I’m sure we’ll come up with something appropriate for him. In the meantime, let’s go get that breakfast we had scheduled.”
“If it’s all right with you, Captain, I think I’m just going to go back to my quarters,” Morales said.
“Yeah. I want a shower,” Russell said.
“I have to study for tonight,” Jones said.
“I’d better check on the core systems,” Porter said.
“Oh. Well…another time then,” Beck said.
“I have not eaten yet,” Diantha said. “And the Colonel should eat to help shake off the last effects of the stun blast.”
“Yeah. Okay,” Beck said distractedly as she watched her officers go.
“Don’t sound so excited about it,” Lazlo said.
“Sorry,” Beck said, snapping her attention back to Diantha and Lazlo. “Breakfast would be nice. Wait. I’m not sorry. You tried to take over my station? Again?”
“On second thought, I’ll pass on breakfast,” Lazlo said, returning Beck’s glare.
“Oh no. We’re going to have a nice long talk over pancakes,” Beck said. “Coming, Doctor?”
“I wouldn’t miss it,” Diantha replied.
“Madre de Dios,” Lazlo muttered as he was led off toward the food court.
“Captain’s Log. Stardate 57864.7. I’ve had to think about this one. Can I reprimand civilian Waystation residents…lots of civilian Waystation residents for supporting Theroll? I talked to Krilik and Ih’mad about the whole thing, and they both said that the station was descending into chaos until Theroll took action. Honestly, if I was in their shoes and saw Starfleet and the marines fighting for control of the station, I don’t know that I wouldn’t have joined Theroll, too. Hell, I know I would have. I can’t blame them. I can, however, blame the lockdown. Springing a situation like this on us without giving us the opportunity to prepare the station created the circumstances that led to this incident. It wasn’t a realistic drill, and I hope the responsible party will keep that in mind the next time she decides to hurt my entire station to get back at me.
“I can also blame Richard Theroll. Maybe he had a noble goal in there at first, but it was quickly swallowed up by his own lust for power. Do I even need to point out that this is why you don’t put a raging egomaniac in a position of authority? I was ready to have him booted off the station and shipped to the closest rehabilitation facility on the first available transport. After considering my request, Starfleet and Federation Legal Affairs decided to do absolutely nothing.
“Yes, I said absolutely nothing. Evidently Theroll is the only one who knows how to run some ‘vital’ report at the Waystation Colony Administration Office, so they just HAVE to have him around. Mutiny? Who cares? We need our report. Unbelievable.
“At least we’re getting back to standard operations around here. The command crew has had some time to rest, clean up, and try to forget that the lockdown ever happened. We can also catch up on what we missed during those two days…well, other than the marine insurrection which was quickly followed by the civilian insurrection. But back to what we missed. I, for example, learned that the Federation Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has filed a grievance against me for, and I’m quoting now, ‘my egregious wholesale slaughter of innocent snigglesnooshes.’ I’ll give you innocent, you…
“No. It doesn’t matter. I don’t care. The important thing is that we’re getting back to normal. It’s been a rough few days, but we’re finally getting back to normal.”
Porter had breakfast in the food court as usual.
So did Russell…
All at separate tables.
Porter used his fork to shove a bit of egg around his plate and sighed. Oh yeah. Things were normal as normal could be.