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

IOTD 0024 – The Mysterious Mystery

USS Mackenzie
12.28.22 @ 1745
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“Away team is secured, sir.” Atega reported from the communications station and Harris gave a nod to the tactical officer to raise the shields.

“Prentice, break orbit and put some distance between us and C21.  Time to arrival?”  The yellow lights blinked mutely as the Mackenzie pushed away from the planet and started a slow retreat back into open space.  The tactical officer reported the Cardassian ship was thirty seconds away.  The turbolift door opened, and Gul Hasara walked onto the bridge. He sat roughly in the left chair and turned to Harris.

“My contacts are running silent on this matter, Captain.  I’m not sure if this ship is part of the larger Cardassian fleet or something else.  Their lack of reply suggests something untoward.”

Harris took his seat and waited.  It didn’t take long.  The away team crew streamed onto the bridge and replaced the junior officers.  Kondo confirmed, “Cardassian Galor class ship entering sector.  They’ve set an intercept course for the planet.”

Ambrose frowned, “Not us?”  

Kondo shook his head as he centered the sensors, “They’re scanning the planet pretty intensely.”

Harris turned in his chair to Atega, “Open a channel.”  The whistle sounded and he spoke to the Cardassian ship, “This is Captain Ambrose Harris of the Federation starship Mackenzie.  Please respond.”  He signaled the channel closed.

T’saath spoke up from the station she was manning, “Records indicate the ship is possibly the Garras, but there are several ship markers that are making identification challenging.”  She returned to her console, “The warp signature is verified but the impulse systems don’t match and the entire weapons system isn’t matching.”  Another tap of the console, “This ship is the Garras…but it is also the Haset, the Polsa, and the Brasi.”  She put the schematics on the screen, “Each ship has been welded to the chassis of the Garras.”

Hasara cleared his throat, “That is not a ship of our fleet, captain.  I do not know who that is, but it is not us.”

“Prentice, back us away a little more.  Kondo – what can you read on their weapon’s system?”

The chief tactical officer turned to his CO, “It’s a lot more than a usual Galor cruiser – they’ve done some work to enhance the energy weapons and torpedo systems.  At the moment, their shields are up, but weapons are not charged.”

Harris sat back in his chair, “Mighty peculiar.  Atega – send a message with our sensor records of the ship to Task Force Command.  Prentice…,”

Suddenly Kondo reported, “Galor class cruiser is changing course and pulling out of the system…they are going to warp speed.  Tracking course.”

Ambrose turned to Hasara, “Gul, I need you to work with Chief Kondo.  Those ships have a history you can track…whatever that was isn’t normal for….well, anything.”  The Cardassian gave a nod as he walked to speak with the tactical chief.  Harris stepped over to where Fowler sat, her hands flying across the console, “Where are they going?”

She pointed to the display, “They’re headed to our other possible planet that had Jade Dilithium, and pretty fast – warp 8.”  She leaned back in her chair, “What if they’re picking up what was left behind?  What if…they need more supplies back at the operational planet base?”

Harris muttered, “So we’d have to stop them from resupplying the Arratans.” He turned to T’saath, “Thoughts, Commander?”

She worked her own console, displaying the Galor class cruiser’s path, “It would, as humans would say, put a monkey wrench in their plans.  It suggests whatever reproduction plan they have in place – it is not enough.  They’re taking a risk coming to the old farms.  It’s logical to intercept them…and detain them as a measure of sector security.”

Ambrose raised his eyebrows, “I can’t argue with sector security, and I doubt Starfleet will either.  Prentice, plot an intercept course after the Cardassian ship, maximum warp.  Chief Kondo, set Red Alert and sound battle stations.”  The klaxon echoed throughout the ship as the computer announced ‘Red Alert.  All hands to battle stations.  Red Alert’.  The volume of the klaxon dropped in volume to ring in the background as the ruby-filtered light signaled the alert status as well.  The Mackenzie took a running start and chased after its target, hungry for answers.

Harris returned to the center chair as the crew shifted positions.  He asked Kondo, “Time to intercept?”

The tactical chief tapped his console, “Three minutes, sir.  We’re moving faster than they are.  Phasers are charged, and torpedoes are loaded.  Working on a tactical solution.”

Hasara remained standing next to De La Fontaine, his own data device in his hands, “Those ships you mentioned – they’ve gone missing over the last year.  Every three months, to be exact.  Very precise planning.  This was before you discovered the site.”

Ambrose sighed, annoyed.  “Which means there was a plan…or something was in motion before the theft occurred at The Island.  Four Cardassian ships don’t just go missing.  What’s their history?”

The Gul raised his eyebrows, “I am starting to believe your interpretation of events, Captain.  Each of those ships was involved in intelligence operations – they had equipment that is not standard on most Galor class starships.”

“Such as?”

Hasara grumbled, “You’re not going to accept ‘non-standard equipment,’ are you?”

“The hell I am, Gul.  If I’m right, the Arratans have possession of some pretty high-end technology on that ship…a ship we are about to intercept.”

The Cardassian grimaced and tapped at his device and handed the report to Chief Kondo as he spoke, “They were equipped with the latest phaser technology – we were testing the magnitude and frequency in order to…punch through certain shield harmonics.”

Ambrose guessed, “Starfleet frequencies were at the top of that list.”  

The Gul gave a half-hearted nod, “We never imagined someone getting control of one of those ships…or all four.  However – if they were only able to piece together one ship from four – luck may be on our side.”

The CO of the Mackenzie pressed, “Luck has nothing to do with it.  Your people just fought and died hard enough to prevent this from being worse.  What else?”  He was staring holes in the head of the Cardassian.

Another sigh, “The ships were also being tested with torpedoes similar in power to your quantum versions.  Only…these ones were being designed to disable any electronic systems at the site of impact.”  The bridge crew had gone silent at his last point, and he shrugged, “We are not a subtle people.”

Harris agreed, “I won’t disagree with you there.  You’re going to help us disable this ship.  And you’re going to do it now, Gul.  Whatever it takes, you need to find a way to stop this ship.”  The Cardassian gave a resigned wave of surrender with his hands as he returned to his discussions with Chief Kondo.

T’saath returned to the right-hand chair and glanced at her captain.  He was furious, and his hands were gripped tightly on the arms of the center chair.  “Captain…,”

He turned to face her and let out a sigh of recognition, “I’m not doing the best at the moment, am I?”

She raised an eyebrow, “You’re exhibiting significant emotional turmoil and displeasure.  This will impact your decision-making when we intercept the Cardassian vessel.”

He bowed his head and grimaced, “Sometimes I wish we didn’t have to deal with people trying to kill us.  It would really make this job significantly easier.”  He leaned back in the chair, “Job security, I suppose.”

The Vulcan raised her eyebrows, “That…is a logical argument, Captain.”  She leaned in, “I must ask…will you be able to continue being in command?”

Harris chuckled quietly and appreciated her somewhat surprised expression, “Your concern is noted and appreciated.  If I let this push me out of this chair…I got bigger problems, Commander.”

Kondo announced, “We are arriving at the intercept location. The Cardassian ship is approaching the planet to conduct her scans.”

Harris turned and motioned to Atega to open a channel, “This is Captain Ambrose Harris of the Federation starship Mackenzie.  You are ordered to heave to and prepare to be boarded for inspection.”  He shrugged at everyone’s glance as the channel closed, “Procedures.  Chief Kondo?”

A check of his console, “They are not altering their course.”

Hasara had moved to the console next to Fowler, “Captain, I think we can disable the ship – it’s going to take time to observe her power distribution and activity.”

Ambrose glowered at the Gul, “I take that to mean we have to take some fire in order for that to happen?”  

The Cardassian nodded, “I understand this wasn’t the resolution we were looking for in this situation.”

Harris turned his chair to face forward, “Understatement of the year, Gul Hasara.  Mr. Kondo target that ship and fire.  Mr. Prentice, fill up our dance card if you please.  Let’s give the Gul and Fowler the time they need.”

The Mackenzie thundered forward as the weapons fire let loose, and the Cardassian ship spun around and returned fire.  The battle had begun.