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Part of USS Edinburgh: Mission 1 – What Burns in the Darkness and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

The Negotiator

USS Edinburgh
May 17, 2400
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USS Edinburgh – Ready Room – 0945

Chief of Security and Tactical Kondo De La Fontaine sat on the long couch in the ready room next to Chief Engineer and XO Okada Katsumi as he explained to Commander Harris, “We’d transport them out but as we just discovered…”

Okada picked up from there, “Rexin’s ship design deviates from most D’deridex class ships as he installed a prison unit that prevents any kind of transport lock or transporting.  Even if we get the reinforced door open, no dice.  The other two ship’s commanders have been busy…interrogating members of his crew for answers, among other things.”

Harris looked up from the reports he was reading, eyebrows raised, “Anything we should be worrying about?”

Kondo shrugged, “I don’t know what we could do about it if we needed to, sir.  We’re not in Federation territory, and this is their space.  Their rules.  Unless they step on board the Edinburgh, we’re on the sidelines.”  The security chief shifted in his seat, “There is one more thing, Commander.”  His CO turned his attention to the ensign.  “I am requesting to escort you aboard The Praetor.”

The CO signed off on the reports and stood, adjusting his away team gear, “Your reasoning?”

“I do not completely trust our new Romulan friends.  They assisted us in stopping a madman…but they will now have three D’deridex class ships to our one New Orleans class.  In any away team scenario with the possibility of a threat or possibility of danger to the command team crew or any crew, a security officer is required to be attached..and armed.”

Harris slipped his phaser into its holster and did another check, “I’m not going to argue with you, Mr. Kondo.  You get to come along – my chances of living another day go up exponentially with you around.  No offense, Chief.”  She smiled and shrugged. He continued, “Get your gear and meet us in Transporter Room 1.  Chief?” Okada stood and followed them out of the room.  Harris glanced at Thasaz, “Lieutenant, you have the CONN.”  She moved to the center chair as the group entered the turbolift.

The Praetor – Prison Wing – 1000

Harris walked behind two Romulan officers who were very armed.  Kondo was on his right and Okada on his left.  He could hear shouting from down the corridor and determined that things hadn’t really improved.  He reached the door where the two captains from the Clawed Death and Sharpened Cutlass were standing, arms crossed and furious.  They spotted him walking up and immediately turned on him, The Clawed captain started, “You need to let us do this our way.  Rexin is insane…you cannot reason with him.”

Harris held up his hands, “Look, I’ve got two crewmen in there…and I’d like to get them both home.   If my attempt fails, we yield to you.”

The captain of the Sharpened Cutlass stared at him, “You’re down to one crewman.  The other has been brainwashed by Rexin to believe him completely.”  He attempted an apologetic look, “He had enough time with the boy to destroy whoever he was before.”

Harris held his heart in his stomach and refused to react to the news.  Instead, Ambrose turned to Okada, “This is my Chief of Engineering.  I know you’ve done all that you could to get in there…but I’d like to see if she could shake something loose.”  They shrugged and an officer was told to take her wherever she needed.  He turned to Kondo, “Let’s see what we can do.”  The man’s face remained straight with a slight nod as they stepped up to the door.  There was a button to open the channel into the unit on the wall.  Harris tapped it.  “Ensign Carl?  This is Commander Ambrose Harris…USS Edinburgh.  I’m here to take you and Ensign Kranz home.” The open channel was silent, but he could hear whispered conversations over the channel until a voice spoke.

=^=”You aren’t my commander!  I know what you did to us…what you did to them.  I’m going to expose you, you murderer=^=

Harris raised his eyebrow, “Well.”  He tapped the button, “I understand how you might think that, Ensi…”

There was a screech as the other end interrupted him, =^=I’m not an ensign.  I am Centurion Carl.  And you will not tell me what to think.  I have seen and heard the truth…you lie like they all did when I signed up.  I was fed the false gospel.  You either let us off this ship…or we’ll take you all with us=^=

Kondo leaned in, “Commander…I do not think we can reprogram this man in the time we have left.  The Romulans were lacking in patience before we arrived.  I do not think it will change.”

The CO moved to speak but his communications badge interrupted him, =^=Chief to Commander Harris, I have good news and bad news.”

“Give me the bad.” He pressed his fingers on his nose, feeling the start of a tension headache at the edges of his mind.

=^=This Rexin is a real bastard and he hired a helluva engineer to protect that jail unit from anything and anyone.=^=

The CO glanced at Kondo who shared the same question, “What’s the good news?”

=^=I’ve cut all power to anything in there that he could use to blow us up.=^=

Kondo nodded appreciatively, “I had hoped to avoid death today.  Looks like my track record continues.”

Harris spoke to his engineering chief, “Appreciate it Chief.  Find your way back to the Edinburgh and take the CONN.”  He tapped the wall button once more, “Centurion Carl…what would it take for this to end peaceably?”

The line remained open and silence descended upon the gathered Starfleet and Romulan officers.  A second later the voice of Rexin spoke, =^=You and yours immediate deaths, Commander.=^=

The former Starfleet Ensign spoke up, =^=I will kill you myself, Commander.  You just wait.  I will make you pay.=^=  The channel squelched shut and the CO sighed and stepped away from the gathered Romulans with Kondo.

“Suggestions?”

The security chief was somber, “I knew Ensign Carl in the academy.  He was talented…kind.”  He sighed, “But he was a follower, Commander.  He got himself in trouble a few times for falling in with some foolish cadets…nearly drummed him out.  He stuck around because that’s what he was supposed to do, you see?”  Another somber pause, “I do not think we can save him.  Our only chance is to let the Romulans try and save Ensign Kranz.  Her life still has possibilities.  I do not see redemption in Ensign Carl’s future.  We had time with Saho.  We don’t have time here.”

Harris knew his security and tactical chief was right.  There was only so much you could do.  His heart was heavy from the one loss he’d endured as a commanding officer.  He had desperately wanted to avoid another.  He returned to speak to the two Romulan captains, “Can you promise me the prisoner lives?”  

The Clawed Death captain frowned, “You no longer care about the convert?”

“It’s not that I don’t care…it’s that I have to choose the life that can be saved.  If he dies…please ensure his body is transported to us for care and transfer.”

The Romulan captain nodded, “We will do everything in our power to honor this, Commander Harris.  You’ve earned our respect today.”  He gave the human CO a last look and returned to the group and began ordering them into place.  Kondo and his CO stepped down the corridor and waited.  It didn’t take long.  The door exploded in a fiery curtain, shaking the deck.  Shouts and a barrage of disrupter fire echoed down the corridor as Harris bowed his head.  A moment later the Clawed Death captain returned, “Come with me, Commander.”

The walls of the room were pockmarked with blaster fire and a fire was still burning in the corner.  The bodies of Rexin and Ensign Carl lay beside each other, splayed out.  The captain of the Sharpened Cutless led a shivering sobbing figure to them, “Commander, your ensign.  Alive, as promised.”

Harris turned to Kondo, “Get her to sickbay as fast as you can.  Ensign Kranz…”

She spoke through the sobs, “I know who you are, Commander Harris.  Thank you for saving me…”  She jumped out and hugged him heartily.  He wasn’t sure at first but returned the favor as she openly sobbed into his chest.  Her uniform was bloody, tattered, and sweat-stained…but she was safe.  She trembled in his embrace for a few more moments before pulling back, her eyes still spilling the evidence of her pain, “You did the right thing, sir.  Please don’t think you didn’t try.”  Kondo gently took her hand and escorted her out the formerly secured door.  Harris heard the symphony of the transporter beams a second later.

He turned to the two captains, “You have my personal thanks for what you did here today.”  He extended his hand to each and after hesitating, they each shook his hand.  “I’m not asking this officially…”, he looked around and found they were alone in the corridor at last, “But any information you are able to share with us about Commodore Patra or anything related to him…we would do everything in our power to seek justice for those he’s hurt.”

The Sharpened Cutles captain narrowed his eyes for a moment, “We have yet to finish a full inventory of The Praetor.  Once that is complete…we may find that some databanks have gone…missing.  We will of course investigate but come up empty.”  He stared long and hard at the Starfleet CO, “That is what I see in the near future.”

Harris gave a quiet nod to them both, “There is hope for the galaxy yet if we can accomplish what we did today.  Until we meet again, Captains.”  Harris accepted their slight bows in response and headed out the door and tapped his commbadge, =^=Harris to Portas, Transport me the hell home, now.=^=  He felt immediate relief as his favorite symphony played him home.