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Part of USS Denver: Mission 5: A Day Late and a Dollar Short

The dimming light of dusk

USS Denver - Intelligence Office
September 5, 2374
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Riandri sat in her office as she finished the most recent briefing message from Star Fleet Intelligence on the disposition of Federation and allied forces and the known Dominion forces. She couldn’t help but shake her head at, what she felt, were some poor assumptions. 

She was not sold on the idea that Betazed was too far from supply lines for the Dominion to be threatened. Since the federation and Klingons had recaptured DS9 the front lines had remained fairly static but part of her nagged at her that the Dominion would do something risky. With that, she tapped the commands to call her Star Fleet intelligence contact. 

“…and what evidence do we have that they view Betazed as to great a risk?” Riandri said, the agitation in her voice clear. “They have been sitting quietly for too long! We…”

Rebecca stopped abruptly at the entrance to Riandri’s office,  “Should I come back?”

Riandri looked up from the console and shook her head, “No, one sec.” She took a deep breath and looked back at the console, “I need to go, can we pick this up later?”

The male voice over the speaker sounded tired, “Of course Lieutenant Nalam, I understand your concern.” With that, the comlink was shut off.

Leaning back in her chair she brushed several locks of hair out of her face and looked at Rebecca, “Sorry Captain. What can I help you with?” Her eyes widened for a moment and she turned back to her console, “Shit did we have a meeting?”

“No, we did not,” Rebecca said simply. “I just wanted an intelligence update on the area before we get to Starbase 75.  I’m guessing by your conversation you don’t have anything,  but your gut tells you otherwise.”

Riandri sighed in frustration and gestured to the chair, “Seat?”

Rebecca nodded and took the offered seat.

“I do have the official intel. Currently, SFI does not believe that Betazed is in danger and that the fleet should continue with its current training manoeuvres. The thought is that the system is too far from supply lines for the Dominion to be threatened,” Riandri said unhappily. “There is solid logic to that, the Dominion would have to reach to get here…But,” Riandri continued, “It is what I would do. Things have been static for too long.”

Riandri shook her head, “I am likely imagining things, Captain. I do not have access to all the data.”

“Why not?” Rebecca demanded. “You are my intelligence officer. I can’t make informed decisions on information I don’t have.”

Riandri shrugged but her annoyance was clear, “Compartmentalization of intelligence is pretty standard. Shipboard intelligence officers do not have access to all data as the risk of capture is higher. We get what is approved and the overview.” She pushed back from the desk and stood up bringing up the most recent intel briefing on the large screen. “We have the dispositions of forces and expectation actions but not every bit of data the analysts use.”

“Bring up a map of the area.” When Riandri pulled up the navigational chart on the wall monitor Rebecca stood and walked closer to the display for closer inspection. “Let’s assume you are correct.  I agree with you on the premise that the Dominion has bigger plans than continuing their border skirmishes. A major offensive is in the works, but Betazed? Minos Korva or using Romulan space they could attack Bolaras, Melstoxx, or Regulas.”

She stood in long silence occasionally zooming in on various sectors of space. “There,” She pointed to a section of space along the border, “the Kelondra Sector.  The area is riddled with sub-space distortions making long-range sensors susceptible to sensor ghosts. Scan sensitivity is tuned way down. The Dominion could stage hundreds of warships in the McCallister Nebula and by the time they showed up on sensors they’d only be about twenty minutes from Betazed at warp 8.”

Riandri nodded, glad she wasn’t the only one to see it. “That is my concern. It is a glaring gap in our coverage. Strategically Betazed isn’t high on the list but it would strike a blow to the ‘hears and minds’ of the federation showing that nowhere is safe.” 

“It’s still too far from their supply lines,  but not unreasonably so, and once they gain control of the sector they can supply it from Setlik III, which fell to the Dominion two months ago. Control of Betazed allows the Dominion to threaten Vulcan, Andor, Tellar, and Alpha Centauri,” Rebecca continued giving her tactical analysis of the situation. If I were Weyoun and that Female Changeling, Betazed is where I’d attack.”

Frowning Riandri nodded, “Command thinks otherwise it seems. Though at least these training exercises will keep the fleet on alert.”

“Yeah… that’s what it’ll do,” Rebecca said distracted staring at the map. “You get me that intell Ms. Nalam. At this point, I think we agree.  This is a matter of when not if.”

Riandri nodded, “I have already made a special request for the intell they are basing this on. I will hear back in the next 36 hours.”

“Also get me a full report.  I’ll add my tactical analysis and forward it to the SFI as well.  Maybe both of our names will add some weight to the danger.”

“I will get that written right away, you will have the report by the end of my shift and the data as soon as I get it,” Riandri said but paused as a dark shadow crossed her face as turned her head to look at the old photo of James on her desk “I hope I, we, are wrong. I have had enough of this war, the death and destruction. We need to find a way to win and soon.”

“It may,” Rebecca said with a heavy sigh. “The Federation has put peace feelers to the Dominion.  We have to decide what that looks like. I for one do not want to live under Dominion rule.  We have a ship…” She trailed off not wanting actually to say the words.

 “I feel the same but peace will only happen if we defeat the Dominion, enslavement and death I fear is the only other outcome.” Riandri looked back at Rebecca, “It won’t come to that but if it does we are with you Captain.”

“It might,” Rebecca said. “We should accept that as a possibility. This war isn’t going well. Barring a major turn in our fortunes the Federation will be forced the sue for peace. I have a side mission for you. This has to be handled with the utmost discretion.  You weren’t even supposed to know about the peace feelers. But, if it should come to that I want to know the crew’s position if the Federation surrenders.  I’m prepared to point the Denver at the Delta Quadrant and fly as far and as fast away as it will go, and in five or six years we can establish a colony far from this. I can’t make that call for everyone,  but to make a viable colony we’ll need about 500 crew to remain onboard.”

Riandri nodded in understanding, “I will look into this right away.”

Rebecca smiled, “Thank you. Let me know what you find out.” With that, she stood and left the office leaving Riandri to wonder about the future of the federation.