Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 11: No Justice, No Peace and USS Hathaway: Season 3: Prometheus Squadron

CH4: Strategem

Various
Stardate 24011.7 (Jan 7th, 2401); 2100 Hours
0 likes 597 views

Beyond a hull composed of duranium and tritanium alloys, beyond deck plating and computerised systems, beyond the beating heart of life itself, the raw, ethereal power of the universe reigned supreme. Here, a vast region of space known for its spectacular celestial phenomena surrounded and enveloped anything and everything that dared to enter its labyrinth of nebula gases, plasma fields and temporal distortions. For this was the Typhon Expanse; the new hunting ground for the biological and technological marvels of Prometheus Squadron.

Swirling vapours, energy vortices and nebulous clouds lit up the bridge of the Squadron flagship through the holographic view screen to the fore of the bridge. Standing in awe of the sight before her, the mistress of Prometheus was content in her reverie. Beneath her feet, the United Federation of Planets logo emblazoned upon the deck playing served as a constant reminder of all they stood for, all they hoped for. Peace, prosperity and progress. And scientific exploration, of course.

Whilst her host had only seen a half century’s worth of galactic events, they had seen a great deal in that time. The Cardassian Border wars; the Second Federation-Klingon conflict; the Dominion War; the Synth attack on Mars and the Romulan Supernova. Not to mention two Borg invasions. And that was all before the end of the 2380s. Since then there had been the incredibly dangerous Century Storm, the further collapse of Romulan society, and the more recent Blood Dilithium crisis. Imagine everything the Nazir symbiont had endured in the centuries it had lived. But no matter where it went, what it experienced and what it saw, everything paled in comparison to the majesty and wonder of the Typhon Expanse.

And now it was time to see it up close and personal.

“Alright Mister Rawlings,” the spotted woman spoke in her normal, hushed tone, “take us in, half impulse power.”

“Aye, Captain. Half impulse.”

Tapping the headrest behind the flight controller, the Captain gave her thanks for his timely compliance and then spun on her heels, headed for the sanctuary of her command chair. The stillness, the calm, the concentration; all was shattered by the sudden beeping from the tactical station at the exact moment the Captain lowered her petite frame into the command chair. She didn’t need to request a report from the tactician, as Noli was already ascertaining the situation.

“We’ve got a Romulan Valdore-type warbird decloaking,” Commander Noli revealed, tapping her controls swiftly, “she’s transmitting Free State transponder signals.”

“She’s on a parallel course to us,” the ship’s second officer called from the CONN, “approximately five light years from us.”

“That puts her safely on the other side of the Federation border,” Bachmann added from his station behind the Captain’s chair.

“And that means we have nothing to worry about,” the Captain intervened, throwing up a hand to silence the voices. “Recent diplomatic overtures have made the Typhon frontier neutral space for all exploration endeavours. We will continue as planned,” she advised them all and sat back in the comfort of her chair.

“They’ll report our presence to their commanders,” Bachmann started up again, leaning over his station to give his opinion to the CO. “We are not a science ship or even an exploration ship. We are a ship of war, and they’ll know this. They’ll see our presence as an escalation of tension.”

Turning in her chair slightly, the Captain, even a clear foot shorter than the intimidating XO, glared at the Terran. “What tension? There is no tension. We’re all coexisting happily and we’ve nothing to worry about. We’re supporting the manoeuvres of our exploration teams and using our advanced systems to do what we can to further Starfleet’s interests,” she scowled at him. “We will proceed as ordered,” the emphasis on their orders was enough to signal the end of their conversation.

Slumping back in his chair, the XO defiantly folded his arms across his chest and stared forward at the view screen. “As you wish, Captain.”

Captain’s log, supplemental.

 

Prometheus has been traversing the Typhon Expanse for the last three hours. We’ve been informed that Intrepid’s arrival in the expanse has been delayed, meaning we are alone. For a ship of our kind, that would not normally be an issue, but today we have an unexpected guest tracking our every move. A Valdore-class warbird continues to follow us, but so far, communications have gone unanswered.

 

I’ve spent the last few hours deflecting the concerns of my senior staff, but with each passing minute, with each unanswered hail, I find myself slowly coming around to their way of thinking. Despite recent improvements in relations, maybe they are still a threat? Or maybe the fact they are operating outside of their cloak suggests we should not be worried. I have summoned Lieutenant Tuca for a strategy meeting with the command team, in the hopes of determining our next course of action. For now, we are alone.

 

I… am alone.

Leading the way into her ready room, the Captain gestured for her guests to take a seat on the long sofa bench beneath her office’s window. Pulling up one of the additional chairs from in front of her desk and taking a seat, she faced her team.

Bachmann, Noli and Rawlings had been joined by a grey-skinned, blue-eyed, pointy-eared being in the red of command and wearing two golden pips on his uniform. Lieutenant Tuca, an Alzek male from a world deep in the Beta Quadrant, had been on the ship a matter of hours, but already seemed to know more about their mission than everyone else in the room, including Nazir herself. His species were master strategists, much like the more familiar Zakdorn, so his input here was more than necessary.

“So,” the Captain sighed, leaning her elbows upon her knees and rubbing her hands together, “the situation has changed. We now have a Romulan vessel seemingly following our every move. They’re not responding to our communications and I’m concerned about the impact their presence might have on our mission.”

Her explanation was keenly listened to by the strategist from Alzek, the creature nodding in all the right places until the Captain concluded her update. The Alzek people were not known for verbosity, in fact, brevity was far more likely. “Ignore them,” he told. But upon seeing their confused expressions, he elaborated. “They have no impact on our mission. Starfleet suspects they already know about the Lendorian system to which we travel. If they openly accompany us, then that likely confirms our suspicions. Either way, the terms of recent negotiations mean they have every right to operate here, and without any explanation as to why.” His words were blunt, to the point and what the Captain wanted from a strategist.

“So, your strategy is to just carry on as normal, and imagine there isn’t a Romulan warbird shadowing our every move?” Bachmann spat, shaking his head.

“Indeed,” Tuca nodded. “We have no right to question them. If they choose to communicate, that is different. As for the particulars of our mission,” the grey-skinned critter smiled, “I can elaborate further, should you desire it, Captain?”

Nazir nodded.

“Last visited by a Starfleet vessel almost 10 years ago, the Lendorian system is sparsely populated and has only three planets. They refused to use anything but verbal communication, and away teams were prohibited from visiting the surface. The interaction lasted a matter of hours before the starship in question was ordered to leave,” the Alzek revealed, but there was a look on his face that suggested there was more to what he had to say. He turned to Commander Noli. “This interaction is why you are here Commander.”

Everyone turned to Noli, who looked just as confused as the rest of them. “Why me? I’ve never been here before…”

“No,” Tuca shook his head, “but Captain sh’Elas had. The starship involved in first contact was the Ulysses, and sh’Elas was the First Officer.”

Nazir puffed out her cheeks, leaning backwards in her chair. Rawlings and Noli shared confused expressions, whilst Bachmann, remained unmoved.

“I don’t understand what that has to do with me,” Noli shrugged, “I wasn’t there, I wasn’t anywhere near the Ulysses at that point.”

“No, but you are your colleagues served with the Captain,” the strategist looked seriously at her, “you all knew her better than anyone else. We need to ascertain if what happened to her was related to something that happened here. You, Lieutenant Prida and the Counsellor have been granted total access to the Ulysses logs from the mission. We need you to use your knowledge of the Captain, and go through those logs carefully. If there is anything that seems suspicious, we need to know.”

“Hang on,” Nazir put her hands up to halt proceedings, “we don’t even know if this is the right system or planet, let alone people.”

“Intelligence we have received from multiple sources with more of a history with this system matches descriptions with the description of the Captain’s assailant,” Tuca told, but this time, there was something else about him.

“That’s it? That’s your reasoning? Some sketchy intelligence suggests these natives look like the one who attacked my Captain, and you decide that is enough to send us all the way out here?” Noli was seething at the seeming lack of intelligence behind the suggestion. Her words and her demeanour elicited a peculiar smile from Bachmann.

“Not entirely,” Tuca shook his head and let out a sigh. “If it turns out the intelligence is correct, then we may have located a very powerful species on our border, one potentially hostile. If the intelligence is false, and this planet is not the homeworld of the Captain’s attacker, then our search must go on.”

Noli smirked whilst darting to her feet, hands on her hips. “So this isn’t about the Captain at all? It’s all about finding the next big threat to the galaxy. Forgive me, but I thought for a moment there that the Captain’s life actually meant something. Clearly, I was wrong,” she hissed. To say that the Bajoran was angry would have been a massive understatement. She was apoplectic at the insinuation that her friend’s life had meant nothing after all. Even though she knew deep down that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one, that didn’t stop her from feeling the need for justice.

A short while later, she was sat at one of the window tables in the unmanned mess facility on deck two, silently downing her beverage of choice. It was clear to her that the initial excitement of coming aboard the Prometheus had long since evaporated. This was not her ship; this wasn’t her crew. Oh, how she longed for days gone by.

She was pulled from her tired, angry state by the sound of the mess facilities doors parting and granting someone entrance. Craning her neck, she soon made out the figure and rolled her eyes as she turned back to the window.

Replicating himself a beverage, the ship’s executive officer took a steaming cup of coffee and walked the few steps towards the Chief Tactical Officer. Pulling out one of the chairs around the table, he took a seat without even being welcomed by the Bajoran.

Offering a sinister smile to the considerably younger woman, the man got comfortable.

“We need to talk…”