We are S.E.N.T.I.N.E.L.
The Excelsior-class ship sat still in space, the faint outline of Bajor XIV behind her. In 2399 such a sight was fairly uncommon, most Excelsior-class ships having been decommissioned years ago, but Commodore Elisabeth Basmanoff had pulled rank (multiple times) and kept the ship in active service.
With Bajor’s admittance into the Federation many years back, it wasn’t odd to see a Federation ship in the system. What was odd were the three Cardassian Galor-class ships off her port bow. Deep Space Nine had made an urgent call to any ship in range: The Defiant was in the Gamma Quadrant and there were three Cardassian ships enroute to the station and not responding to hails. As the closest ship, the Inverness found herself in quite the pickle.
The Commodore was an imposing woman, despite her rather average stature. She was old, displeased with being stuck in the same position for over a decade, cranky, had a small superiority complex and had more than a few bones to pick with Starfleet Command. All in all, not the most pleasant person to work with. She stood from the center command chair and strode forward, hands behind her back.
“Mr. Terkin, status of the Cardassian ships.” Her crisp British voice cut through the quiet of the bridge.
The Bolian tapped at his console. Having served with Basmanoff for 3 years, he knew exactly what she wanted and how fast she wanted it. “All three ships have their shields up but weapons are offline.”
“Open a channel,” came the concise order. The trill of the comm channel opening was all the cue the British woman needed to speak. “I am Commodore Elisabeth Banmanoff of the United Federation of Planets. You have violated Federation space. Explain yourself. Immediately.”
Diplomat was certainly not on the Commodore’s resume.
The viewscreen came to life and the image of a Cardassian Gul appeared. Basmanoff never understood why Cardassians angled their communication systems on their ships in an attempt to look more imposing; it simply made them look ridiculous.
“I am Gul Lenek of the Obsidian Order ship Tokem.” The open declaration of belonging to the Obsidian Order caused Elisabeth to seethe; the Federation had no intelligence that the Obsidian Order had been re-established and that was unacceptable. None of the emotion made it to her face, though.
“That’s wonderful to know, Gul. It does not answer my question.”
The Cardassian shifted in his seat, clearly annoyed. “I come bearing a message from the Detapa Council and to return prisoners to the Federation. Does that answer your question, Commodore?”
Basmanoff immediately tensed and shared a glance with her executive officer. “It does. We were unaware the Cardassian government was holding Federation citizens hostage; had we been aware of this we would have taken action much sooner.”
“They were not prisoners of the Cardassian government, they were prisoners of the Central Command.” Basmanoff exchanged another look with her XO; the fact that the Gul insisted on separating the Central Command from the government was troubling, to say the least. The Gul continued. “And be grateful that you did not attempt to retrieve them before now. It would not have gone well for your Federation.”
Elisabeth openly rolled her eyes at that. She had no time to deal with the typical pompous threats of a stuck up Gul. If he was telling the truth, she needed to get the prisoners and this supposed message and get the hell back to Deep Space Nine. “I have precious little time to banter back and forth with you, Gul. Shall we complete this transaction?”
The Gul opened his mouth to speak but the transmission immediately cut out. She shot Terkin a fiery look. “What the hell happened Lieutenant?”
Accustomed to the women’s fire, the man simply continued on. “All communications are being blocked.” A sharp beep interrupted him. “Two Keldon-class ships are approaching at high warp. Their weapons are hot and their shields are up.”
“Red alert!” barked Basmanoff, returning to her seat as the bridge was bathed in the blood red of the emergency lights. “Weapons to full, route non-essential power to shields. Send a single to the Hyperion and advise them we need them after all.” She knew the Sovereign-class ship was over 40 minutes away at high warp but an old Excelsior-class ship was no match for five Cardassian vessels. While the Inverness would hold them off as long as they could, she had little doubt that they would march on to Bajor or Deep Space Nine.
She watched on the viewscreen as the Keldon-class ships dropped out of warp on top of the Galor-class ships. Bracing for the first shot at any moment, the bridge crew watched in stunned silence as the Keldon-class ship opened fire on the lead Galor-class ship, nearly destroying it in one shot.
“What in the everloving hell is going on out here?” muttered her XO.
Basmanoff snapped her fingers at her tactical officer. “Scan those ships as much as you can; that’s more firepower than a Keldon typically carries.”
“We are being hailed by the lead Keldon-class ship.” Reported Terkin.
She nodded, currently caught in a rare moment where she was finding herself unable to form words.
“This is Legate Geslin of the Cardassian Central Command. This is an internal Cardassian Union matter. You will leave this space immediately or be destroyed. There are no prisoners to transfer and the so called Cardassian government has no message to deliver to you. The Central Command will safeguard Cardassia and her borders and will no longer tolerate your meddling. ” The Gul leaned forward. “Any Federation or allied ships that enter our space or come within 2 lightyears of our borders will be destroyed. The Central Command will see to the safety of the Cardassian people, no matter the cost.”
The transmission simply cut out after that.
Basmanoff stood, tugging at her uniform. “Well, he seems like a pleasant person. Unfortunately, he is also a person that vastly outguns us. Helm, set course for DS9 at full impulse and signal the Hyperion to meet us there.” She turned to her XO. “And get me Fleet Admirals Clancy and Ramar. Now.”
In the end, this short but odd encounter with the Cardassian Union changed the course of Starfleet’s mission in the Bajor sector. A slow tension had been building for many years as bits and pieces of information from the Cardassian Union had leaked out that indicated civil unrest had been brewing between the military and Detapa Council but this confirmed it: the Cardassian Union was at war with itself as the Central Command and Detapa Council struggled for power in and out of the public eye.
As a result, Fleet Admiral Clancy in conjunction with Fleet Admiral Ramar ordered the full mobilization and fortification of the 4th Fleet’s Task Force 72 and placed the newly promoted Rear Admiral Elisabeth Basmanoff at the helm with a new focus: the protection of the southern Alpha Quadrant and intelligence activities to assess the full scope of the political situation in the Cardassian Union.
War is coming, of that there is no doubt, and it’s up to Task Force 72 to be the Federation’s sentinel and stop whatever is coming in its tracks.
This is the first step in updating Task Force 72’s canon and bringing it into 2399. We will be focusing heavily on the Cardassian Union, but there is still plenty of unexplored space to discover and the Gavarian Corridor is very much still in play. As you may note, the Alrakis Pact and Inconnu Expanse are no more. With the new map introduced in Picard and Bravo Fleet’s increased focus on canon Trek elements, they simply didn’t fit into 72 any longer. With the opening of Task Force 9, Task Force 72 is now focused on the southern Alpha Quadrant. We are, in essence, in Deep Space Nine’s playground now and for the time being, this is where the Task Force storyline will stay. The Cardassian Union is experiencing civil unrest as the Central Command and Detapa Council battle for control of the Union with the Detapa Council reinstating the Obsidian Order under their full control to counter the military’s influence. It’s up to 72 to suss out the lesser of two evils and covertly support that lesser without either side knowing we were involved. We are very excited to develop this further with everyone. Keep an eye out on the RSB forums in the Starbase 72 thread as the TFSS works towards releasing more exciting elements to our new canon!
Task Force Updates
As many are aware, 72 has undergone a staff shift after Billy departed the TFCO role due to time constraints. Rippy and I simply moved up a position each and, as always, are around to answer any questions or concerns you have, just reach out to us on Discord or email. We’re quite excited to be leading 72 into this new era and you can expect more communication and more presence as we move forward.
Rippy has been hard at work working on some new TF72 level competitions. These are a great way to win awards and help climb the ranks, so keep an eye out for more info on those soon!
Our very own TFXO has opened a new game focusing on the ongoing strife in the Cardassian Union. Commander Joseph Ng, an esteemed diplomat, will lead the Norway class vessel as it engages in intelligence and diplomatic efforts along the Cardassian border.
The Sagan is a Nova Class ship set in the Gavarian Corridor, home to Romulan colonies struggling to survive in troubled times as the Cardassian Union gets bolder and bolder in its efforts to expand. The Sagan will scout the Corridor and do its best to keep the peace.