The Winona, followed by New York, Alexander, and Formosa, burst through the clouds and meandered towards the outlined landing area. Slowly but surely, they all landed in a large circle, and T’saath disembarked first. They had picked up on sensors a small group of vehicles heading their way. She motioned to the crews to unpack their containers and supplies, sorting them out in the center of the circle of shuttles and runabouts. They were nearly done when the rumble and roar of the large trucks crested the ridge and tore through the grass, spitting debris behind the large wheels. Creaking to a stop, darkly uniformed men jumped out. They were all armed with rifles in their hands and energy pistols on their belts. The leader stepped forward, “You will be inspected and searched by order of The Cabal. Do not resist.” The Starfleet officers glanced to T’saath, who indicated to do as they were told. The leader pulled out a clipboard, as did the others, who began to walk around glancing at officers and supplies alike. “I am Tark Kura, Chief of Protection for this colonial county.” He indicted to T’saath, “You are a Vulcan, yes?” She nodded. “We have a strict rule against telepaths or empaths on our planet. You will need to leave.”
She raised her eyebrows slightly, “I was under the impression that this world hosted various species and types of aliens.”
He scoffed at her loudly, “Maybe five years ago, Vulcan. We discovered interlopers among us who were planning to betray us. So we pushed them out…and did what was needed.” He moved on, leaving T’saath in a perplexed state. He inspected and scanned Kondo, Reid, Prentice, and Fowler without too much trouble. Kura then arrived at three medical officers, “Two of these are Betazoid. They will need to leave and be replaced.”
Reid glanced at the two apologetically, “Who’s idea was it to…expel the telepaths and empaths?”
He made a note on his clipboard, “It was made in coordination with a member of our leadership group. He exposed the traitors using his technology, and he helped us see the need to clean our house.”
Jordan felt the hair on the back of her neck rise, “Who is this…member of leadership?”
“His name is Pantheon, and he is part of our people. He comes from The Devore Imperium…and he is very wise.”
T’saath turned to face the Chief of Protection, her eyebrows fully raised, “Would you allow us a brief moment to speak alone?” She caught the eyes of the senior command team as she said it, and the message was clear.
He sighed, “Very well. We still need to complete the inspection. You have ten minutes.” He motioned to his team, and they moved off to stand by their trucks.
The group quickly gathered, and Prentice spoke up, his eyes wide, “I vote we head home and bring the Mackenzie back. This isn’t a good thing. The Devore are awful.”
Kondo cautioned him, “As far as we know, there is only one Devore here. While he’s convinced them of the situation, I don’t think he was being honest about the traitors. It sounds like there wasn’t any kind of trial – they just ran them out of town.”
Fowler added darkly, “Or worse. He did say, ‘do what was needed.’ I don’t know about you, but that sounds suspicious, like…well, murder.”
Jordan stepped forward, her eyes looking at each of them, “Look, we’re here. I think we do as they ask – we can send them back to the Mack and give a first-hand report to the Captain. These people do need our help, and we’d be a sorry group if we refused just because they offended our sensibilities.”
Sadie grumbled, “Doctor Reid makes a good argument. I think we go with her plan. Sorry, Commander.”
T’saath’s brows had furrowed, “It is the logical choice. Let them complete their inspections.” She turned to Kura and his group, waving them over. The inspections and questions continued apace. In the end, a total of five of their officers were ordered off the planet. They took the shuttle Alexander into orbit to report with Tir on Slidell.
Reid turned her attention back to the inspection team, “Where would you like us to go first?”
What in the everloving hell is going on, Calog? This is…madness! Tir was inconsolable in his head as the Chief Operations Officer took the reports from the other shuttle’s occupants.
He repeated the question, “You said they have a member of the Devore Imperium down there? That’s… unnerving. If he’s been there for five years, it suggests he came through the wormhole with an intention…or even a mission.”
The ensign echoed his feelings, =^=They looked at us as if we were diseased. They kept their distance. Five years is a long time for someone’s story to be believed – even if it lacks any element of truth.=^=
“Very well, ensign. I’ll let Captain Harris know you’re coming. Have T’Saath transport over. Slidell out.” He turned in his seat to the gathered officers behind him, “I’m assigning you five to replace them. Get your gear together, and I’ll transport you down.” Moments later, they were lost in the white light of the transporter.
Within moments, T’saath appeared on the transporter pad, “Lieutenant Tir.” He greeted her similarly.
Calog. The Devore Imperium are bad people. Tir had settled into a corner of his head and was sitting in a chair as she listed out all the horrible things that had occurred during their time in the Delta Quadrant. You can’t be telling me you think this is going to be any different?
T’saath slid into the chair beside him, “What is Tir saying?” She caught his glance, “Vulcans are observers, Lieutenant. You have a tell when she is speaking with you.”
He leaned back in his chair, amused, “She thinks it will be more of the same. I think it will be a disaster…but probably a different kind of catastrophe. Whoever this Devore is, he’s been here in the Alpha Quadrant for five years – there’s no way he’s been able to keep communication with them…unless he communicated through the wormhole when it opened.” He tapped at his console as he opened the secure priority channel. The face of his captain appeared momentarily.
=^=Tir! T’Saath! What’s this about a shuttle headed back?=^= Calog and T’Saath explained from the start, and Harris patiently listened until the end in which he expressed his shock, =^=I’m tempted to get the Mackenzie underway to you. I don’t like this.=^=
Calog understood, “I know…and usually I’d be the first one to say release the hounds…but it’s a tenuous situation. We’ve got enough of their trust for them to take us to one of the cities to see what we can do to help. I’ve got locks on the crew and will monitor them every step of the way.”
The Vulcan XO affirmed, “It is the best logical choice in the middle of an illogical situation.”
Tir added, “You’ll be my first call if things go wrong, sir.” Harris thanked them and closed the channel. Calog turned to his XO, ”What’s first, Commander?” She gave him the responsibility of maintaining a lock on the crew while she worked the sensors. They needed answers.