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

IOTD 018 – The Long Stare

USS Mackenzie
12.28.2400 @ 1200
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William Prentice sat at his station as he maneuvered the Excelsior II class starship through the next search pattern in the sector.  Life onboard the Mackenzie had settled into a rhythm with his department.  He’d found a few friends that had kept him accountable for his adventurous spirit – he’d found his CO disagreeable a few too many times in the last few months. The Mackenzie was feeling like a home to him more each day. Suddenly there was a beep from his console, “Commander, new contact at the edge of the sector, moving slow.”

T’saath stood from the center chair as Chief Kondo reported, “She’s moving at the same speed as us.  She is on an intercept course for us.  Shields and weapons are offline, but there’s some interference…Fowler?”

Sadie was already at work at her console, “We’re getting some feedback loops on our scans and some bouncing back as well.  I’m unable to get a clear reading, Commander.”

The Vulcan XO remained impassive as she stared at the screen.  She spoke quietly, “Helm, all stop.”  Prentice slid his fingers down the impulse engines, and the Mackenzie slowed to a stop.

Fowler spoke up, confused, “The ship has also come to a halt, commander.”

“Long-range sensors?”

Sadie extended the reach on her console and shook her head, “It’s just them and us right now…I’m not picking up anybody else.”

T’saath returned to the center chair and sat down, “Lieutenant Atega, open a channel.”  The whistle sounded, and Presley confirmed the channel was open.  “This is Commander T’saath of the Federation Starship Mackenzie.  Please respond.”

The channel remained silent until =^=This is Captain T’saath of the Arretan ship Hercules.  You will heave to and prepare to be boarded.=^=

The XO frowned and manually terminated the channel as she stood, “Red Alert.  All hands to battle stations.  Captain Harris to the bridge.”  She spoke to Kondo at the front of the bridge, “I need a complete tactical evaluation of that ship.”  He nodded and spun in his chair.  The bridge was unsettled.  The voice on the channel had been that of T’saath – a gravely and irritated version of her perhaps…but still, her voice had carried over the channel.

Harris stepped onto the bridge, the red lights accentuating the seriousness of the situation as the klaxon trilled in the background.  Officers had scrambled when the call had gone out, and he’d resisted the urge to run from his quarters to the bridge.  He stepped up beside his XO, “Report.”  She related to him what had brought them to the sector, the appearance of the ship, and now the alleged identity of the captain.  He stared at her when she shared the suspected identity, “You seem convinced, Commander.”

She raised an eyebrow, “Captain, I am well versed in the alternate universe and mirror universe peoples.  The Island held a good number of them, prisoners.  I know my own voice.  That is T’Saath…a version of me.  I do not recommend you question her abilities or faith in her ability.”

It was Ambrose’s turn to frown, “You think they went and got her…to what…try and convince you to surrender?”

A slight shake of her head, “I think they were concerned about being able to defeat me.”  She reminded him, “The original Arretans were outsmarted.  It appears these have planned to avoid such a defeat.”

Harris nodded to Atega, “Have Gul Hasara brought to the bridge.”  He turned to the screen, “You said they stopped as soon as you stopped.”

“Yes, sir.  I believe my counterpart is attempting to intimidate me as well as give the crew pause.”

De La Fontaine turned in his chair, “Commander, I have the tactical report.”  He tapped the console, and the view screen shifted to display a rundown of the ship, “She’s an old Miranda class, but she’s been upgraded.  There are at least ten phaser arrays strapped onto that hull.  They got three torpedo launchers jerry-rigged somehow.  The power readings are in line with an unusual type of reactor – I’m guessing Jade Dilithium or something crazy.”

Harris nodded, his engineering background kicking in, “Those old ships weren’t built to take or give much.  Are those… armor-plated hull sections?”  He pointed to the saucer and secondary hull sections highlighted in orange.

Kondo affirmed, “Yessir.  They’ve really done some work.  Her shields are the same story – however, they’ve managed to get this all to work together; it’s an engineering miracle.” Harris asked him in the ship was still stationary, and the tactical chief confirmed they remained unmoved.

T’saath had another theory, “Sir, what if this is both a test for me…but also her.”  She pointed out the relevant points on the hull, energizers, and EPS systems, “They sacrificed some stability and reliability to give the ship a sense of power.  My other’s reluctance to take action would be based on the need to verify that whatever they told her was true.  She more than likely did what I would have done – checked every connection, upgrade, and piece they’d touched.”

Ambrose had moved closer to the screen and was studying the rotating schematics and data reports, “She knows this isn’t going to work.”  He glanced back at T’saath, “Could you be talked out of doing it?”

The commander observed, “If it was me, certainly.  I would respond to logic and rational thought.  I would have no choice but to lay down my command.  She is not me, however.  The study of the mirror universe worlds is rampant with genocide, murder, darkness unspeakable, and the worst outcomes for anyone who survived.”  She shook her head, “I do not expect Captain T’saath to surrender.  She was given an order.  And she must do as they ask.”

Her CO wondered, “Then why hasn’t she attacked?”

She met his gaze, “If you were faced with a good chance of your imminent destruction…would you wait until someone else blinked?”

Harris grimly answered, “Yes…I would.”  He moved to the center chair and took his seat. 

The turbolift door whisked open, and Gul Hasara entered, amused.  “Captain, you know how to entertain your guests.  Battle stations and red alert.  What are we shooting at?”

Ambrose gave him a warning look, “Nobody, yet.”  He explained the situation, and the Gul stared at T’saath, who remained standing behind the helm and tactical station at the front of the bridge.  “I was hoping you would have a suggestion on how to approach this differently.”

The Cardassian appreciated the Starfleet captain’s hope, “You met me in a time of peace on the colony.  I had no reason to fight.  I do now.  The time for peace has come to an end.  Be it Palasa or Arretans or Cardassians – someone needs to fire the first shot, Captain Harris.”  He sat down on the seat to the left of the center chair, sat back, and watched.

T’saath tore her eyes from the screen and walked slowly up to her captain, “I don’t think we have a choice in this, captain.  She will sit out there and wait.  We must, as you humans would say, break the ice.”

Harris stared at the screen in silence a moment longer.  The bridge officers watched him carefully.  He spoke loud enough for them to hear, “Kondo, get us a tactical solution that gives us a chance at saving them.  Prentice, lock in an intercept course with evasive maneuvers on standby.”  He returned to his chair and clicked the open channel to engineering, “Chief, we’re probably going to be putting our fists into action.  Prepare for the return blows.”  He softly clicked the channel closed and glanced at Hasara, “For what it’s worth, I wish you weren’t right.”

The Cardassian gave the captain an appreciative nod, “For what it’s worth, I wish I wasn’t either.”

Comments

  • Oh a stand off! Great scene with good tension building. I like the reveal moment with the two T’saath’s, and Harris’s questioning his version as to how the other would react. It worked really well, a great read!

    February 23, 2023