"Ok," Annabeth said staring out at a sea of crates and cargo containers the marines had off-loaded from the drop ship. She examined the PADD in her hand and started going down the manifest while pointing to each item.
"That's a thousand rounds of 100mm plasma mortar shells, five hundred Mark 76 hand grenades, twelve thousand Mark III phaser power packs, twenty-thousand Mark V heavy phaser power packs, a pallet of emergency rations, and a five thousand liter blivet of deuterium fuel," she said passing the PADD to Major Nasho. "Please sign on the dotted line and it was a pleasure doing business."
The marine tapped his thumbprint on the screen to indicate transfer of the supplies.
"Sergeant Gann," he said to an NCO standing next to him. "Start moving all this to the AHA. Make sure every single piece is accounted for and it's gets stored dressed right dressed and by the book."
"Yes Sir," Gann said moving towards his men.
"And send a runner down to the motor pool! Tell Chief Watley to send a detail up here and grab this deuterium that's he's been screaming for in his LOGSTAT! He requested it, he can figure out how to move it!"
"Roger that, Sir!" Gann said throwing a thumbs up.
Annabeth placed both her hands in the small of her back and stretched. Standing on the gravel of the landing pad for two hours made her entire body ache.
"You look like you're getting pretty close, Ma'am," Nasho said trying to fill the awkward pause.
"Pretty close," Annabeth said still rubbing her tired muscles.
"Your husband must be pretty excited," Nasho added without a second thought.
Annabeth paused and slowly turned. She glared at him through her sunglasses.
"I don't have a husband," she said furrowing her brow.
"Oh," Nasho said very uncomfortably. "I just figured because of the wedding band…and…" he gestured towards her mid-section, "…and that."
"Oh this," Annabeth said pointing at her belly. "This isn't because of a husband. I used a public toilet seat and didn't wipe it off first. Apparently, that's actually a thing. Guess my mother was right. Who'd have figured?" she said shrugging sarcastically.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean too…" Nasho stammered.
"Look Marine," Annabeth said pulling off her shades. "I don't mean to sound rude, but my personal life is none of your damned business. So, let's keep things on a purely professional level, shall we?"
"Yes Ma'am!" Nasho said while straightening his back respectfully.
Annabeth tapped her comm badge.
"Geist to Hunter."
"Hunter here, go ahead," Alex responded from the camp's aide station.
"We're almost done out here with the supply transfer. How much longer do you need checking out their medical status?"
"Just finished," Alex replied. "They're looking pretty good. The corpsmen are on it, but they don't have a PROFIS Physician."
"They've been here almost a year!" Annabeth said in shock.
"Tell me about it," Nasho muttered. "Keep getting told by command there's a shortage of doctors everywhere."
Annabeth's mind flashed back to the debacle with Alex and the Venture.
"I wish I could say I was surprised by that…" Annabeth replied.
"I've made a couple notes on some additional equipment and supplies they can request," Alex continued. "Even when they get their doc, the aide station will only be a Role II, but as long as someone doesn't need internal surgery, they'll be just fine. I'm going to tell Starfleet Medical they should be proud of what these guys have accomplished."
"We appreciate that, Doctor," Nasho said. "I'll be sure to pass that along to Lieutenant Colonel Hancock."
"Roger," Annabeth said. "We got a few more forms to sign out here and then we'll head in your direction. Geist out."
An alarm echoed through the base operations center. Hancock and Tigranian emerged from the commander's office to the OPS floor.
"Report," Hancock said to a lieutenant seated behind a computer console.
"Long range sensors just detected a Romulan warbird decloaking," the young officer replied. "They're moving a full impulse straight at the border. They'll cross in less than three minutes."
"What do you link, LT?" Hancock asked raising an eyebrow.
"A raptor run?" the lieutenant replied.
"Bingo," Hancock said crossing his arms.
"A raptor run?" Tigranian asked confused.
"It's a common tactic the Romulans have been using the last few months," Hancock said. "We call it, 'the raptor run.' They'll appear and then charge straight at the border like they're going to engage. Then, at the last minute, they turn away. We think they're trying to get us to lock on with active sensors and weapons."
"That way they can see exactly what defenses you have installed here," Tigranian said nodding his head in understanding.
"Roger that," Hancock said without much concern. "Usually, we just keep going on like things are normal. Sometimes, we send them a subspace message warning them not to cross. They never answer back."
Suddenly, a second alarm echoed through the metal room.
"Sir!" the lieutenant shouted, "Romulan warbird is activating all weapons and raising shields. We detect a charged plasma torpedo."
"What?" Hancock said in shock.
"Confirmed, Sir, They're lining up for an attack run. Less than two minutes till they're in weapons range."
"I thought you said they never do this," Tigranian asked.
"They don't!" Hancock replied. "Shit," Hancock muttered while stroking his chin. "Arm the COBS, raise shields, and sound the incoming alarm. Get everyone inside to the bunkers."
The "Counter Orbital Bombardment System" or COBS was a series of four heavy phaser emitters designed to destroy incoming torpedoes and missiles before they could impact the base. Unfortunately, it wouldn't do them much good against disruptors or other directed energy weapons.
"Aye Sir," the lieutenant said pressing the red button that brought the camp to full alert.
Out on the landing pad, Annabeth was still signing paperwork with Nasho when the sound of screeching metal echoed from twenty meters behind them. The looked over to see a five meter long box just outside the blast barriers fly open and a large phaser cannon emerge. It immediately pointed to the sky.
"What the hell is that?" Annabeth said in shock.
"Oh shit…" Nasho said.
Before she could process his statement, ear-splittingly loud alarms echoed across the entire base. A recorded voice shouted from the camp's speakers loudly enough to echo off the buildings.
"INCOMING, INCOMING, INCOMING! ALL PERSONNEL PROCEED TO EMERGENCY BUNKERS. INCOMING, INCOMING, INCOMING! ALL PERSONNEL PROCEED TO EMERGENCY BUNKERS!"
Marines still unloading pallets of ordnance dropped whatever they were carrying and sprinted towards a permacrete structure fifty meters from the gravel pad.
"We gotta go, Ma'am!" Nasho said taking off towards the bunker himself. Annabeth dropped the PADD she was carrying and tried to sprint after him, but her awkward weight threw her off balance. Her boot caught on the gravel just after she began to run and she fell full force on the corner of a crate of plasma mortars. As soon as she hit, she felt something tear inside of her abdomen. The pain was incredible.
She instinctively pulled into the fetal position on the sun-scorched gravel, grabbed her stomach, and screamed through the agony. Nasho heard her cries and turned around.
"Ma'am!" he shouted running back to her. "Ma'am what happened?"
"I fell!" she shouted fighting back tears. "Something's wrong! Something's really wrong! I'm hurt bad."
Nasho reached down and pulled her up into his arms. Without another word he started running full speed off the landing zone. Two other marines emerged from the bunker and ran towards him.
"Sir, you need help?" the lance corporal asked.
"Get your ass into the bunker, Marine!" Nasho screamed back. "I'm heading for the aide station."
"Ten seconds till they cross the border," the marine lieutenant said.
"How long till weapons range?" Hancock asked.
"Eleven seconds," the young officer replied nervously.
"God dammit!" Hancock said fighting the urge to kick the computer console. He couldn't respond until they crossed the border, but by the time they did, they could be staring at a plasma torpedo headed right for them. All the officers had studied their history books and knew what those weapons could do to a surface target. The only thing they could hope for is that the warbird would turn away before it crossed.
"Five, four, three, two…" the lieutenant said when he heard another alert from his computer. He leaned forward and checked his instruments.
"What?" Hancock asked.
"They're holding right inside the border, Sir," the lieutenant said. "Their weapons are still armed and still pointed right at us."
"What are they doing?" Tigranian asked. He had never seen anything like this.
"I don't know…" Hancock said.
"Nasho to OPS!" the sound of the executive officer's voice echoed through the room's speakers.
"This is Titan 6," Hancock said pressing the intercom on the console next to him. "Go ahead Titan 5."
"We got a casualty. I'm on foot headed straight for the aide station. Let Witchdoctor know I'll be there in 30 seconds."
Tigranian and Hancock exchanged glances.
"Titan 5," Hancock replied. "How can we have a casualty? The Romulans haven't fired."
"It's the Pershing's first officer. She fell when we ran for the bunkers. She looks pretty bad. I think it's serious."
Tigranian's eyes grew wide as he slapped his own comm badge.
"Tigranian to Hunter, Alex you still at the aide station?"
"Yes Sir," Alex replied.
"Get ready," he said trying to keep the panic out of his voice. "Annabeth is about twenty seconds from your door and she's hurt."
After a few agonizing seconds of silence, she replied:
"Yes Sir. We'll be ready."