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Imperial Romulan Forward Logistical Base 37: Syrcanis Belt, Romulan Star Empire

Stardate: 54526.3

"Citizens!" The Tal Shiar political officer said holding a PADD in his hand and speaking into a microphone. His voice echoed above the chaotic cacophony sounding along the length of the cavernous harbor deck. The pressurized compartment was larger than the size of most towns across the Star Empire. "I read you now a letter written by a Romulan mother to her last surviving son now serving on the Cardassian border:

Samiyo, my child, though my heart aches that you must fight so far away from home and family, I know that it is for our motherland! Your older brothers shed their green blood in the valiant struggle against the Dominion. Now, it is time for you to match their sacrifice in service of our noble and proud nation! Victory! This is the cry of our Romulan race! Victory! This is the cry of our people!

The ten thousand workers running back and forth through stacked pallets of heavy ordnance and pressurized tanks of warp coolant mostly ignored him. It was not out of lack of patriotism. It was because it was far too easy to get maimed or killed doing this kind of dangerous work. However, the brave officers and sailors of the Imperial Navy relied on them to do it. Without fuel or ammunition, the fleet was useless. Without the fleet, the ordnance workers were useless. Everyone knew their jobs and their purpose.

The chief ordnance sub-commander in charge of the north wing hadn't slept in three days. Stubble covered his chin and his eyes were green and bloodshot. However, he had a job to do. Forty-eight hours before, deuterium tankers and ammunition tenders arrived carrying every bit of the reserve left in the Imperial Romulan fleet's stockpiles. Yesterday, the fleet arrived. At first, he had only expected one or perhaps two Battle Wings. No, this was the entire fleet left in Romulan space. It was then he knew that this alert was for real. His superiors had trusted this base with the care of the whole Romulan military and he would not let them down even if it killed him.

"Sir!" a centurion in a grease covered uniform screamed from a two platforms away. "We have completed purging Bay 12 and all loading crews report ready. However, the pressure in the deuterium lines is down more than half! We don't enough fuel to get the pumps back to peak efficiency!"

"I don't care if we have to electrolyze our drinking water to make more hydrogen!" The sub-commander shouted back. "These men and women might be going into action in service to the motherland. When they do, it will be with full tanks! Am I understood?"

"Yes Sir!" the centurion shouted back.

"Get the crews to attention and then bring the Taronok in! We're running behind. We have less than two days to get through all those ships out there!"

"Yes Sir!" the centurion shouted back.

Klaxons suddenly sounded across the area. The centurion's voice boomed through a set of loudspeakers.

"Attention! Attention! Hazardous operations are commencing in Bay 12. Force fields are activating and bay is depressurizing. All non-essential personnel clear levels four and five immediately. Loading crews at the ready! Imperial Romulan Warbird Taronok is now entering Bay 12…"

Team leaders shouted at a mixture of Romulan lower enlisted crewman and slaves conscripted from nearby planets for this surge operation. Eight hundred individuals ran forward and took positions next to pre-staged hoverpallets of explosives, crates of lubrication containers, and pre-sorted bins of urgently needed repair parts. As the sub-commander watched, he was torn on the inside. Though he was grateful to the High Command on Romulus for ensuring that the fleet was receiving a full combat load of supplies prior to staging on the Neutral Zone, he was also terrified. State secret or not, this was everything they had. There would be no reserves left if quick victory wasn't achieved.

More klaxons sounded.

The two bay doors made of green polyduranium were each over a square kilometer in size. They slowly separated and raw sunlight from the vacuum of space suddenly surrounded the waiting personnel. Holding station a hundred meters outside was one of the sights that the sub-commander truly felt was one of the most beautiful in the galaxy: the fearsome visage of a D'Deridex warbird.

Mooring tractor beams activated and began pulling the behemoth into the drydock. A D'Deridex was twice the size of a Federation Galaxy class starship. The beak-like head section entered through the bay doors. The sub-commander marveled as the sunlight glistened off the fifty-meter wide, platinum plated figurehead crowning the warship's forecastle. It was the glorious symbol of their empire…his empire. The screaming raptor clutched the twin planets Romulus and Remus in her talons. Above her outstretched wings in Romulan script was the motto of the State:

"IMPERIUM ETHH D'DERIDEXIUM"

"EMPIRE AND MILITARY MIGHT"

For the hundredth time in as many hours, the sight of the Taronok entering his bay made him quietly promise to himself, "I will not fail my country. Not now, not ever."

The warbird slowly calm to a halt as the mooring beams engaged. Then, two heavy deuterium fuel lines hanging from articulated booms extended and attached to ports on the warbird's belly.

"Hard dock complete. Fueling lines attached!" the centurion yelled.

"Commence deuterium transfer, 5000 liters per minute," the sub-commander replied taking a place next to a force field where he could monitor the whole operation from above. "Watch for blow back. With the pressure this low, it could cause some of the fuel to spontaneously vaporize in the holding tanks. One mistake and the entire system could go up in flames!"

"Aye Sir!" the centurion replied.

"Loading crews!" the sub-commander said turning to another team of centurions. "Extend service tunnels and begin ordnance upload."

"Aye Sir!" the team leaders replied in unison. The sub-commander's haggard face betrayed no emotion but inside he was so proud of his men and women. They had rehearsed for battle operations like this constantly for over two years. Now, they were executing this dangerous dance flawlessly.

Six extendable gantries extended from the sides of the bay and attached themselves to airlocks at the various access points across the warbird's hull. The airlocks on both sides of the tunnels unsealed and twenty sailors from the Taronok rushed out towards the loading docks. They started screaming orders to the shore crews which hoverpallet went to which hold.

A junior petty officer wearing a red reflective vest over his gray tunic approached one of the team leaders.

"I need four pallets of MK VIII plasma torpedoes in Forward Hold Alpha One! Follow me!"

"Roger!" one of the ordnance team leaders replied. "Slaves!" he shouted at a group of miserable looking individuals standing next to his station. "Get on the hoverpallets and follow the petty officer!"

"Yes Master!" the laborers from six different species shouted as they began pushing the heavy metal tubes towards one of the access tunnels.

"Hey, You sub-Romulan moron!" the team leader shouted at one of the slaves pushing on the black casings. "Be careful when you push that anti-grav unit! That's a pallet of plasma torpedoes, not stem bolts!"

"Yes Master," the yellow-eyed Gralluscan replied humbly from underneath a grey hood. He complied and kept moving towards the Taronok's hold. The team leader ignored him and went back to supervising another loading group.

As Rellas passed through the tunnel, he held back a smile. Twenty other bays just like this one held warbirds receiving their supplies. He looked out towards space knowing that fifty other ships were staged like Argor Fowls in a row awaiting their turn for upload. It seemed that Trallian wasn't exaggerating. This target was better than anything in his wildest dreams…


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