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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 2: Wayward Sons and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

30 – The Hunted, part 1

USS Mackenzie
11.13.2400 @ 0830
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They were nearing the drop-off waypoint.  The yellow lights cast a pallor on the bridge as all eyes remained singularly focused on stations, from tactical to science to engineering to communications.  Harris sat forward in the command chair, his hands steepled deep in thought.  He'd studied the files from Voyager when it came to the Hirogen and the additional background that Task Force 17 had sent when they'd arrived in the Delta Quadrant.  The advice he'd received from his meeting with the CO and XO had given him one solution - have something the Hirogen want.

Which he still hadn't figured out.  He'd thought of technology they could hand over without too much trouble.  Where others might be thankful for something to improve their life, the Hirogen didn't care about any of that.  They thrived on the hunt as nomads of a scattered kingdom, hungry for the blood of their prey.

Atega was monitoring every band of communication the computer could pick up.  She had learned early in her academy days that once forgotten or abandoned technology had a habit of returning to use in the strangest of places.  There was nothing.  She kept scanning. Usually, there was something, anything out here.  Presley turned to face the captain, “Sir, I'm not detecting any kind of signals….at all.  It's completely silent out there.”

Sadie reported similar results from science, “I'm detecting plenty of debris in the immediate area and beyond, but there's nothing active within short range.  We're working on long range now.”  The board looked uncomfortably clear, and she was worried about what was keeping it so quiet.

Ambrose tapped at his armchair console, “My wondering is if there's more than one drop-off point.  The Devore Imperium is a pretty vast part of the Delta Quadrant.”

Cardamon was working on his PADD when he suddenly looked up and turned to Harris, “Captain…we need to leave this space.  Immediately.”

“Context?”

The Voth shuddered, “Do not ask how I know this…or how I am able to do this…but the Hirogen are coming.  And we need to find a place to hide. Quickly, Captain.”  

His stubborn insistence broke through the CO's usual questioning nature, who turned to the helm, “Lieutenant Prentice - find us somewhere to hide.”

William quickly tapped at the console and scanned the area, “There's a nebula just at the edge of this sector.  Sensors won't pick us up.”  Harris nodded at him, and the Mackenzie slid through space until it slipped into the bright blue nebula, vanishing from sight.  Prentice took his time and rotated the ship, so they were facing where they had just left.  “We're in position.”

Harris turned back to his Voth passenger, “You need to tell me how this works.  Now.”

Cardamon sighed, “In our early days, after we separated from our space-faring brothers…we stumbled into Hirogen territory.  It was so long ago all we have are the legends as they were told from father to son.  Thousands of years, probably.  My ancestors developed an early warning sensation whenever the Hirogen was near.  It saved us..and eventually, we were able to flee the hunting grounds forever.  It has been a long time…but we were taught in our schools about this,” he spoke a guttural Voth word and seized his PADD to search for the right word.  “Ah, yes.  Evolution.  Survival of the fittest.”  He went silent for a moment and then looked hard at his new friend, “I have had a thought.  It is not a good thought….but would help you.” Ambrose gestured for him to continue.  “You said they told you to bring something that the Hirogen wants.”  Cardamon looked to the screen, “They want prey.  They want the hunt.” He turned back to Harris, “The Voth that I come from are warriors who seek a glorious battle…a fight soaked in the blood of the enemy."

Prentice turned in his chair to face the two, “Is that…legal?  I mean…how are we going to get your Voth to the Hirogen?  We can't lie…can we?"  The bridge was silent as the question hung in the air, waiting for an answer.

Kondo had been listening and feeling frustration building up in his chest.  He countered, “There is no law in the Delta Quadrant.  It's a collection of tyrants, pirates, bounty hunters, and killers.  Nobody we've encountered has been interested in our version of the law.  They are the law.  We are the law.  The law depends on who holds the biggest phaser or disruptor or…well, you get my meaning.”

Cardamon gestured to the security chief, “He gets it!  You cannot hope to use diplomacy here, Captain.  You will have to lie, cheat, and steal your way to whatever it is that you need.”

Harris had a question, “Are there any good aliens in the Delta Quadrant?”

The Voth replied dryly, “They are either dead…or doing a very good job of staying hidden, out of sight and away from everybody else.  They exist, Captain…but they are not interested in making themselves too known.”

There were light chuckles around the bridge, and Harris smiled, “We'll have to change how we approach this, then.  Cardamon, how do we get the Voth Warriors in play?”

He sat back on his chair, “I believe I have an idea.  You are not going to like it.”

Ambrose was curious, “Why?”

“You're going to have to lie.  A lot.  And try and kill me.”

“You were right.  I am not going to like this.  I don't have any better ideas, so let's hear this idea.”