“Something more?” Captain Fontana sat at the head of the table as Harris stood at the screen giving his report. The Chief Science officer sat, her PADD at the ready.
“The Gul is concerned about whatever is pushing the syndicate around or pushing them to bolder action. Our engineering teams are halfway done with the replicator system repair. Chief Katsumi is doing some additional training with the colonists to help them keep it online.”
The Captain asked, “You said they’d stay out of our way, Commander…you still hold to that theory?”
Harris looked to the display and then to his captain. “The more we learn about this syndicate, the less I like being out here alone. Given how Hasara talked about them…we may need to be ready for something.”
Ensign Fowler spoke up, “Captain, I’ve been reviewing the reports that Starfleet received that got us out here in the first place. Whoever they are, they fight dirty and rough. Enough ships were boarded, and fatalities were recorded that some trading operations stopped sending ships out here. That may be why the colony is seeing more attention paid to them recently.”
Fontana was quiet as he looked to the screen by Harris and then back to Fowler, “What’s tactical’s evaluation of their ships?”
Sadie tapped at her PADD, “What little we know is..well, limited. Given the power surges we saw on the ships we encountered, they’re not lightweight. Put enough of them in the mix, and they’d push us around a little.” She paused for a moment, considering her next point.”
“You have more, Ensign Fowler?”
Another pause as her mouth worked out the words, and she was free, “This crosses into theory, sir…but if they’ve been here awhile…they’ve got to have either more of those ships…or bigger ships somewhere. In the academy, the prevailing warning was the old school pirates would cut and run, but there’s new breeds of bad out there looking to carve out pieces.”
Harris confirmed, “Especially out here. The scraps they’ve been fighting over are suddenly drying up, and now they’re hungry. Bad place to be.”
The CO sighed, “This situation doesn’t seem to be improving. If nothing else, it just seems to be getting more complex.”
Ambrose tapped at the screen, “It’s a feature of this section of space, Captain.” The screen readout showed the mission information from their Task Force, 47. Harris read it as it displayed, “Starships of TF47 are charged with bringing back key early intelligence about the Thomar Expanse. Through scientific surveys of nearby phenomena, observation of foreign military movements, or negotiation for information from local sources, these reports will shape the future of the Federation’s involvement.” He returned to his seat, “The Gul was making a joke when he said The Federation had been on his doorstep more than anyone. This section of space has largely been left to the Breen, the Cardassians, and the Tzenkethi.”
Fontana shook his head as he read further on the PADD, “I am starting to wonder why I’m here, Commander Harris. Putting a medical officer in charge of a complex situation in a complicated piece of space seems like a terrible idea.” He gave a nod to Fowler, “My apologies, Ensign. You are dismissed.” Sadie stood and walked quickly out of the room. Geronimo sighed deeply, “You know a lot about this sector, Commander.”
Harris shrugged, “Part of my job as commanding officer was making sure I knew as much as I could about everything I could find about where we were being sent. I never wanted to be on the bridge and not be able to give my officer’s the confidence that I had read into the situation we were facing.” He sat back in the chair, “I’m not perfect, Captain…but I rely on my crew’s knowledge and suggestions. They’ve been used to being asked what they think, or even what they might know.” He glanced at the captain.
Another sigh from the CO, “You’re doing a damn fine job of dancing around suggesting that I don’t listen to my crew, Commander.” He held up a hand as his XO sat up to reply, “After talking to the crew about Patton, I had some time to think. I’m not the greatest at reflection…maybe it’s why she used me as her pawn in this mess. Your suggestion stands on good merit.” He chuckled as he leaned forward to take a sip from his glass, “I don’t think I’ve had this much feedback on my job performance in years.”
Ambrose remained silent. He wasn’t sure what their next step was, but he knew he had some ideas. He took a moment to consider his words carefully, “We could ask for help from other Starfleet vessels coming into the sector, sir. Part of the review and report on Task Force 47’s mission in the area is that more ships from Raven class on up are expected to be assigned or requested here.”
Fontana raised both eyebrows, “You think the Edinburgh needs help?” He caught a strong stare from Harris, “Fair enough. I read the reports on her last few dustups. She’s scrappy, but she’s no Excelsior II or Sovereign class.” He caught himself about to sigh and instead stood, “Well, we have to do something. Have communications signal any and all Starfleet vessels in the area to meet up with us at…” he snapped his fingers, “…have the helm plot us a course to Deep Space 47 at maximum warp. Update the station on our read and observation of the situation.”
Harris stood, “Thank you for hearing me out, Captain.” It was a rare compliment to the CO who had driven him to self-sacrifice his career.
The CO grunted, “Don’t thank me yet, Commander Harris…our plate is going to get more full the longer we stay here poking and prodding the darkness around us.” Harris gave him a nod and left the briefing room.
Things were going to get…interesting.