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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 3 – Island of the Damned (IOTD)

IOTD 006 – Return to Dozaria

USS Mackenzie / Dozaria Prime
12.26.2400 @ 1600
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“I’m reading some pretty heavy ship traffic in and around Dozaria Prime, sir.”  Will was at the helm and sent the data to the console in the captain’s chair.  “It’s all Cardassian Union ships.  Three Galor class ships and what looks like three troop transport ships of some kind.”  He turned back to Harris, “It looks like an evacuation, sir.”

Ambrose glanced at the data on his console, “I’d agree, Prentice.  Let’s make it a casual approach.”

Will gave the captain a curious look before he turned back to the helm controls, “Flying casual, aye, sir.”  The Mackenzie slowed to impulse power as Dozaria Prime came into view.

Harris stood from his chair, “Atega, open a channel to the lead ship.”  There was a beep, and the traditional sound of a hailing frequency whistled over the bridge, “This is Captain Ambrose Harris of the Federation Starship Mackenzie…I’m here to meet with Gul Hasara.”  The channel remained open, and he glanced to the communications station where Presley Atega was listening intently to her earpiece as she adjusted her console just such and shook her head.  Nothing so far.  Ambrose tried again, “I’m here to meet with Gul Hasara about some…odd things happening here in the Thomar Expanse.”

The image of a Cardassian captain appeared on the screen, his eyes searching the bridge before he spoke, =^= I know who you are, Captain.  Gul Hasara is expecting you at the settlement on the planet.  You and one other are allowed.”  The channel cut abruptly.

Harris turned to the bridge, “That was…interesting.  Atega, you’re with me.  Commander T’saath, you have the CONN.”

 

The transporter beam faded, and Atega gave him a sidelong glance, “Captain…why did you bring me?”  She adjusted the protective away team cloak and gear she had been given to combat the dusty world around them.

He met her eyes, “You have a great ear for language, intonation, and more.  You’ve learned to read body language.  I want you to observe everyone we encounter.”

She nodded to the tall Cardassian lumbering their way, “Even the Gul?”

Harris chuckled, “Good luck with that.  That man is probably a stone-cold killer.  You’d have better luck reading the dust under our feet.”  Hasara was not only lumbering, but he was limping as he grew closer.  The scars on his face were fresh, and there were signs he’d seen the sharp end of something recently.  His eyes, however, remained as grey and unsettling as usual.

“Captain Harris.  When we last met, you were but a Commander Harris.  Congratulations.  The Excelsior II class is striking.  What do the humans say…it looks good on you.”  He gestured down the path, “Come, join me in my office.  We have much to discuss.

They walked through the emptying streets and entered the main administrative building.  A table with water was set up, and the group found their seats.  “Looks like you’re leaving,” Harris observed.  “Didn’t think you’d want to go back to the Union.”

Hasara gave him a tired look, “It was not an easy choice, but it was a simple one.  Continue to face whatever it is that was released from the depths far beyond Ultima Thule…or return to something resembling safety behind our borders.”  He motioned to his face, “We’ve encountered them…or it…or whatever it is.  We did not fare well.  Out of three ships sent, only one of our ships returned, and it has been put as far away as possible.  We were forced to remove the warp core, the batteries, and everything else. Something was trying to take control of the ship.  Without power, it’s useless.  Our scientists are currently examining her, but they do not expect to find much.  She’ll be scuttled.  The risk is too great to integrate her back into the fleet.”

Harris asked, “What did you observe?”  Hasara described much of what they had experienced, but there was something new.  “You heard it speak to you?”

The Gul gave him a long look, “I do not enjoy repeating myself, Captain.”

“Fair enough.  What did it say to you?”

The Cardassian pulled out a PADD-like device and set it on the table, “You may have the recording…it is in Vulcan.  I have translated it.”  He tapped a key on the device and read, “The Island has been forsaken.  It has been sullied.  The Arretans must be returned.  They must be placed.  The Island has remained forever.  It will remain forever.”

Harris glanced at Atega, who was pulling up the information on her PADD.  He turned his attention back to the Gul, “What did you find out about…all of that?”

A quiet shake of the head, “We did not wish to know more.  Our encounters with this…thing…have convinced us to retreat from the sector.  Whatever it is seeking is not within our possession.  It scans the ships.  We made the mistake of engaging it in combat.  It hasn’t pursued us – but it is searching, seeking…something.  This planet is uncomfortably close to the edge of our space.  I do not wish to risk my people’s safety with an unpredictable…thing out there.”

Atega let out a low whistle and handed the PADD over to her CO, who grimaced as he read.  Hasara looked at him questioningly.  Harris explained, “They’re an ancient species with unique abilities and characteristics – much of what we’ve seen from this connects.”

The Gul asked, “Why is it in Vulcan?”

Ambrose chuckled, “Well, that’s the interesting part.  There’s evidence that the Arretans were descendants of Vulcans…which would explain the use of the language.”  He shook his head, “There’s no reference to The Island and the Arretans or even the Vulcans.  The reports from the Palasa Group….”

Hasara spat on the floor, “Syndicate.”

“…syndicate or group or whatever they are…the reports said one of their explorative ships had come upon a temple of some kind.”  He wondered, “It is entirely possible they disturbed a Vulcan Temple with Arretan artifacts.”

Presley spoke up, “Sir, I think it’s something more than that.  In this message, the syntax doesn’t focus on the ‘The Arretans’ as objects.  It delineates them as living things.  Like you would say, ‘someone must be returned.’  They’re saying that about The Arretans.”

Harris sat back in the chair, “You’re suggesting that the Palasa idiots didn’t just steal artifacts or trinkets.  They stole…actual Arretans?  From what is probably an ancient Vulcan Temple.”

She grimaced, “There is a very low amount of information available.  The Temple could refer not to just some isolated place on the planet.  It could refer….”

Ambrose finished it for her, “To the entire planet…or even the system if we really wanted to get imaginative.”  He let out a long sigh, “Gul Hasara, you’ve given us more information than I think we really wanted to have.” The Cardassian chuckled darkly and frowned as his communicator beeped.  He stood and moved off to speak to whoever had called him.  Harris turned to Atega, “I remember watching old Earth movies about stuff like this.  The adventure was always so exciting…I mean, you knew the heroes would win in the end.  This… doesn’t feel like something we’re going to have an easy time earning our victory.”

Her eyes went a little wider, “You think we’re going to need some help?”

Gul Hasara returned, looking more annoyed than usual.  “I was about to say I was glad for our reunion and that it was good to see you again so I could return to helping my people home.”  He growled, “However, it appears the Cardassian Union has decided an observer is required.  Your Starfleet has agreed – apparently only because we are known to each other.”

Harris stood, sharing in the Gul’s annoyance, “Either the Cardassians think I need a minder or The Federation thinks I need a guide.”

Hasara grumbled with a surly growl, “Or both.  Definitely both.”  He spat at the ground, “I despise bureaucrats.  I will gather my things from the ship and meet you on yours.  I assume you’ll handle the quarter assignments?”  

Harris gave a nod, and a wave as the Cardassian stomped off, still limping.  He turned to Atega, who was speechless.  He shrugged, “We’ve had a Romulan, a Voth, and now a Cardassian.  My money’s on a Klingon next.”  She couldn’t help herself.  She laughed.  He lightly punched her in the shoulder, “Your sense of humor’s intact.  That’s good, Atega.  We’re going to need that.  Let’s get back to the Mack and give them the good news.  The Commander is going to be thrilled.”

She laughed and covered her mouth as they walked to the transport point.