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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 8: The Breaking Point and USS Hathaway: Season 2: Ulysses, the Great Wanderer

CH2: Problems at Home and Abroad

Ready Room, Deck 1
June 28th, 2400
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Overlooking the beautiful cliffs and waterfalls of Bajor’s capital, the Starfleet Command Annex was the headquarters for all of the Starfleet operations on the planet, including Starfleet Tactical. The ornate and ancient building, often the ending point for traditional grand parades during Bajoran celebrations, was a hive of activity despite the extreme weather warning in place for the rising temperature across the planet. Up in the rafters of the building, in one of the smaller offices and trying to stay cool, Commodore Sebastian Farrell was watching the world go by when the door chime rang out and drew his attention.

Turning from the window, he looked towards the door and pressed a button on his desk. “Enter,” he called out.

Upon the parting of the doors, the Commodore’s adjutant practically sprinted into the room and pressed some of the controls on his superior’s wall display. “You’re going to want to see this,” Hanson suggested, perching on the edge of the desk and folding his arms across his chest.

Farrell let out a substantial tut as the screen changed to reflect the Federation News Service logo, superimposed over what appeared to be an image of Ashalla itself. “Not this lot again. How is it these people know stuff before we do?! What is it this time? Border dispute? Trade negotiations gone wrong?” he asked of his deputy, only to be ‘shushed’ and urged to look at the screen.

A woman, quite clearly a more elderly Bajoran, appeared on the screen. “We’re bringing you breaking news, live from the Ashalla Spaceport here on Bajor,” the broadcaster reported, standing outside the largest civilian spaceport on the beautiful world of Bajor. “A matter of hours ago, a Federation security official was killed aboard the Federation transport ‘Osirian’, bound for the penal colony on Tantalus Five,” she informed her audience, her phrasing instantly causing the Commodore’s expression to change. “The perpetrator, a convict identified just moments ago as one ‘Noam Dar’, escaped confinement aboard the maximum security transport and was making his escape from the craft when he was intercepted by security officers,” the woman revealed.

Reaching down to his desk, the Commodore pressed a button and opened an instant communications channel. He didn’t even wait for acknowledgement from the officer on the other end of the channel, simply issuing his instructions instead. “Get me the commander of the Osirian on a secure channel,” he instructed sternly, before terminating the channel and continuing with the news brief.

“According to our sources, the victim, Lieutenant Liao Shun, a Terran of Chinese descent and aged only twenty-five, was shot at close range on maximum stun when trying to apprehend the prisoner. He was pronounced dead at the scene by medical officers,” shaking his head slowly the Commodore inaudibly cursed. What a frakking awful way to go.

“Noam Dar, a Bajoran male arrested earlier this year on piracy and kidnapping charges, proceeded to take another officer hostage and made his escape via the cargo transporter,” the woman revealed, causing Hanson to exchange glances with the Commodore. The screen then changed to a man in civilian clothing. “Liao Shun was an outstanding young man who had a very promising career ahead of him”, spoke the man, a news ticker at the bottom of the screen identifying him as Security Director Jarkad, the Benzite head of security for the correctional facility on Tantalus V where Shun had served. “His death will not go unanswered or unpunished. We will track down Noam Dar and bring him to justice.”

Sebastian had seen enough, terminating the report on the screen and collapsing into his chair, the Captain standing before him. “Noam Dar has disappeared and is now believed to be at large. We have reason to believe he has somehow bartered transport from here, at the Ashalla Spaceport,” Hanson reported, sitting when directed by the Commodore.

“And what can you tell me about him?” Seb queried, reaching out to his console and beginning his own search.

“Noam was recently sentenced by the Starfleet Judge Advocate General’s Office to twenty years imprisonment without possibility of parole on thirty counts of interstellar piracy, five counts of kidnapping and one count of torturing a Federation official,” the list of crimes were shocking, but not as shocking as his now apparent move into murder. “According to the trial notes, he was described as a,” Hanson paused and looked at his own notes briefly, “a credible and present danger to society and the most narcissistic individual his prosecutor had ever met.”

Both officers were deep in conversation when a third, a much younger officer, appeared. “I’ve got the commander of the Osirian for you, sir. A Lieutenant Commander Shiv Pateen,” the woman advised her commanding officer.

“Thank you Lieutenant,” Seb nodded and was about to wave the yeoman away when he had a sort of epiphany. “Find out who the reporter in that broadcast is, and get her here. Her boss, and her boss’ boss too,” he ordered, eager to get to the bottom of how the News Service seemed to be getting the inside track on matters.

“As you wish,” Lieutenant Jardin nodded, the tiniest of respectful bows followed and then she was gone.

Once the Commodore and his immediate subordinate were alone, Farrell gave a loud sigh. “Where the hell do we begin with this?” he mused, shaking his head slowly, steepling his fingers under his chin as he gave the situation great consideration.

Hanson gave off an awkward looking smile, one that caused the Commodore to look somewhat taken aback. It was a very odd time to be smiling. “We may just have a way in…”

[USS Ulysses, in orbit of Trill…]

Two weeks. Two long weeks. In the grand scheme of recent events, two weeks seemed like a lifetime. Ulysses and her crew had been involved in numerous events within Romulan space for that period of time, but with the ship travelling to the Badlands for her new mission, the crew of Ulysses had found themselves with a lot of off time. Two weeks of down time provided the crew with ample time for bonding, getting to know one another, and ensuring that the technological marvel they now called home was ready for their mission into the Thomar Expanse.

For the recently installed Captain of the Ulysses, it was just like being at home again. A child of the Galaxy lineage, having spent nineteen years aboard different vessels of the family group, the Andorian had jumped at the chance to command such a prestigious posting when Starfleet Command approached her. Her new ship bore many similarities to that of the Santa Fe, which was understandable given their shared lineage, and these similarities meant she found it far easier to assimilate to her surroundings than she had on the much newer Temeraire. The presence of so many of her colleagues helped too, of course. It was always easier to settle in when one was surrounded with people they knew they could trust. And today, that trust would be needed.

Sat in the comfort of her ready room, buried deep in post-mission paperwork, she was forced to look up upon the parting of her doors and the sudden, unannounced appearance of her Tellarite executive.

“Captain, we have a problem…” Vasoch declared, not waiting for the invitation to sit before pulling out a seat opposite the Andorian. “A Starfleet security officer has been killed on a Federation prisoner transport near Bajor. According to reports, a prisoner escaped confinement from the maximum security cells, attacked the officer, and fled to the Ashalla spaceport,” the Tellarite revealed, his words causing the Captain to cease her activity.

“This is our problem, why?” she enquired, sitting back in her chair and defensively folding her arms across her chest, instantly regretting the question.

Vasoch took a deep breath before unleashing the bombshell upon the woman. “The prisoner is Lieutenant Prida’s older brother…”

If she had been privileged enough to be present at the meeting between the command authority, their Bajoran counterpart from tactical would have been impressed with the amount and severity of the expletives that came from the Andorian’s mouth, enough to make even the hard snouted XO blush. Once the anger subsided and she put her hands on her hips, now stood behind her desk and glaring down at the XO, the Captain found herself shaking her head. “Why is it that every time we get close to doing something akin to our actual mission, something else comes up and ruins our plans?!”

Vasoch shrugged his shoulders and ruffled his beard. “What would life be without the unexpected?” he asked her somewhat rhetorically before moving on to an actual question. “How would you like to proceed with this?”

Tharia’s hands dropped to her side as her thoughts finally fell to her friend and the predicament they now faced. “Why don’t you contact command, see what else you can find out, and I’ll speak with Prida,” the Captain puffed out her cheeks and let out a sigh.

Rising to his feet, Vasoch gave a nod of acknowledgement to the Captain’s request. He turned to exit, but stopped short of crossing the exit to the bridge. “Do you still want to see Lieutenant Noli?” he queried.

Nodding her head, the Andorian’s newly cut silver fringe bobbed in front of her face. “I guess now is as good a time as any, especially if this news is going to call an abrupt end to our shoreleave, as I suspect it will,” Tharia agreed. Send her in on your way out, would you?”

With a nod from the XO, the blue-skinned mistress of the Ulysses returned to her seat, the anger subsiding enough that she could, for now, focus on a matter of significance.

When the chime from the door rang out, the Captain looked across and beckoned for the Tactical Chief to enter. Within seconds, the Bajoran in operations gold was stood before her commanding officer, eager to find out the purpose of her summons.

“I’ve been highly impressed with you of late, Lieutenant…” the Captain told the younger woman, gesturing for her to take a seat opposite.

“Ummm… thank you ma’am,” Noli smiled graciously, if not a little unnerved at the niceties being sent her way.

“So much so in fact,” Tharia paused as she reached into the drawer of her desk and pulled out a small box, “that Starfleet have granted me permission to appoint a new second officer to replace Commander T’Prynn.” Standing, the Captain made her way around the table and smiled at her colleague and close ally. She presented the box to the Bajoran and opened it in such a way that anyone entering at that exact moment would have been forgiven for thinking the woman in red had just proposed marriage. But instead of a diamond ring, a small, silver pip that was hollowed out slightly in the middle sat on the fabric cushion inside.

Noli rose to her feet slowly, her eyes never leavinging the contents of the box, but the smile on her face told the Captain all she needed to know – the pip probably meant more than any other piece of jewellery could at this point. “Congratulations, Lieutenant Commander Noli,” the Andorian grinned, removing the pip from the box and placing the empty vessel upon the desktop.

As the Captain reached out and placed the pip upon the blonde bombshell’s collar, the Bajoran couldn’t contain her excitement a moment longer. “Thank you so much, Captain. I know I have big shoes to fill, but I’ll do my absolute best for this ship and our crew,” Noli looked her superior dead in the eye, eager to get across her commitment to the cause. It worked, of course.

“If I had a shred of doubt in your ability or your commitment to this ship and her crew, we would not be having this conversation,” the Andorian advised the younger woman. “You are very deserving of this promotion, Commander. I look forward to working with you more closely as part of the command authority,” Tharia concluded as she rounded the table again and stood in front of her chair.

“Computer,” she spoke, waiting for the customary beep of acknowledgement before continuing. “Enter Lieutenant Noli Auru’s promotion to Lieutenant Commander and Second Officer in the ship’s log. Effective immediately,” she ordered.

“Working…” the female voice of the computer retorted quickly, before continuing, “log amended.”

Now that the Bajoran’s promotion was formalised at last, the Captain could fill her in on recent events. “Find Commander Gor and get him to fill you in on what’s transpired this morning,” she advised as a means of dismissal, but as she returned to the comfort of her chair, the Andorian stopped the Bajoran in her tracks. “Be prepared to recall the crew. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be shipping out before the end of the day.”

If they even made it to the next hour still in orbit of Trill they would be incredibly lucky.