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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 14 – Echoes of the Past

EOTP 011 – Into the Lion’s Den

USS Mackenzie - Planet 782241
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The New Atlantic runabout warmed up as Peter Crawford sat in the right-hand seat, loading in the mission parameters.  He’d heard from Riandri that the meeting had gone well, and she was headed his way.  He slipped a paper photo of Carolyn out and taped it to the wall of the Runabout.  Old habits died hard.

Riandri slowly made her way through the MacKenzie as her mind replayed the reunion with Carolyn over and over again. It pained her to have to leave the ship and Carolyn as much now as it did all those years ago even though she knew she would be back as soon as the away mission was over. She was so zoned out she walked right past the shuttle bay and right into an ensign. Shaken from her thoughts, she looked around, “Oh, I am sorry, Ensign. I was lost in my own thoughts. Where is the shuttle bay by chance?”

Several minutes later, the hatch to the runabout opened, and Riandri stepped in, “Sorry I’m late, Captain Crawford. I got turned around. We all set to go?” Riandri looked at the co-pilot seat and couldn’t help but smile at the sight of the photo.

He tapped at the console, and the engines began to rumble, “Ready and able, Commander Nalam.”  He gave her a sideways glance as she slipped into her  chair, “I’ve never been much for rank and prestige.”  Another tap as the shuttle bay crew confirmed their departure, “Let’s see what’s out there, Ri.”

She smiled at that, “That is very true. I always liked that about you, Peter.” 

She felt the runabout shift slightly as it was eased out of the bay, the expansive void of space before them. “I assume the ship hasn’t been seen leaving the system since the last check?” She said as she began to pull up the most recent sensory data and the planetary data. 

Peter tapped at his console as the runabout moved into open space, and he set the course, “Our passive scans haven’t shown anything.”  He rechecked the coordinates and tapped the warp engines into gear.  The stars were soon streaming past the cockpit window as he directed the sensors to scan, “The New Maquis think they’re smarter than us or the Cardassians.  That’s not the problem…the problem is they’ve had lots of time to gather fresh recruits from the colonies and beyond.  Plenty of folks out there with a grudge against either party.”  The countdown on the console showed they were a few minutes away from their drop-out destination, “I don’t know if this is going to be Maqui, True Way, or Pandora – intelligence data out here isn’t always a sure thing.  If we run into Pandora, are you going to be able to help me bring her in?”

Riandri nodded in agreement and understanding as Peter spoke about the New Maquis.  At his last question, she turned and looked at Peter for a moment as she mulled over his words, “This Pandora, she was part of the incursion during the war we encountered on Earth, you said, right?” She glanced at her console as the most recent reports were pulled up before she spoke again. “I will do what is needed to ensure she doesn’t harm Carolyn,” she said coldly. Without a hint of emotion, she continued, “Be that bringing her in or putting her down.” 

Peter chewed on her response.  It was challenging for him to answer the question – his emotions were a part of the equation.  Pandora had shown herself capable of terrible acts and had little thought of the impact of her decisions.  She was a sociopath, through and through.  She’d escaped prison by the chance involvement of the Changelings.  The risk of her escaping a second time would be ridiculously low.  And yet…he still pondered about the chances of a second reign of chaos and murder.  The balance of justice and his daughter’s safety were balanced precariously in his mind as the runabout dropped from warp a distance from the system.  “A long time ago, I thought the solution for her was justice…and the system.”  He paused as he adjusted the power levels and the ship’s signature, “I’m more inclined to agree with your thinking these days.”  Crawford glanced at the sensors, “Looks like the transport ship is in orbit above the planet.  No life signs.”  He glanced at her, “Any recent warp signatures?”

Riandri tapped a few commands into her console as she went through the sensor logs. “Hmm…looks like there might be a faint one but it is a couple of days old at least. My guess is they are on the planet. I am getting some interference, but I think there is a power source in the southern hemisphere.”

He tapped at the arm of his chair, “Do we board the transport?  Or do we head down the planet?”  He thought the answer through in his head, eyeing the image of the ship on the console.  There was a risk in either decision.  The security team in the back of the runabout would follow them either way.

Riandri let out a sigh and leaned back in her chair, “Either is a gamble. If it were me I would have rigged the ship with a transporter scrambler or to explode if an unauthorized beam-in occurred.” She trailed off and thought it through a bit more, “But given the way they operate, well how I assume they operate, not every one of their ships would have the correct codes so I think that is unlikely. That said they may have an alarm that will notify them if the ship is boarded. It may be best to have part of the security team secure the ship at the same time we move on the power source and whoever is down there?” She turned and looked over at Peter, “That work for you?”

Crawford nodded, “That ship is too tempting of a target.  Let’s see what we can see on the planet.”  He turned them towards a moon, “That’ll give us cover as we transport down.”  The runabout surged forward.