Part of USS Polaris: Infiltrate and Liberate Nasera (The Lost Fleet – Part 1) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

The Team Assembles

Hazard Team Briefing Room, USS Polaris
Mission Day 3 - 1100 Hours
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Except for the few that would join them en route, the team that would infiltrate Nasera II gathered in the Hazard Team Briefing Center, a room much too large for the small team Commander Lewis had assembled. He’d intentionally kept it small. He only wanted those who would not be liabilities, those who were already tested, those who would not crack under pressure. He’d also dropped from consideration anyone from Security, Tactical or Strategic Operations. He didn’t want to leave the Polaris short when it went into battle. When the list was whittled down, it left him with only a skeleton squad.

“For the assault wing to have any chance at retaking Nasera II, it will be essential to disrupt its fixed defenses prior to their arrival,” explained Commander Lewis. “Starfleet Intelligence believes, with a high degree of confidence, that the Dominion has control of the planetary defense platforms, as well as an old orbital station. These are our two primary objectives. Unless they’re disabled, the liberation mission will fail.” The stakes were clear. If Starfleet had rallied its full might, it could probably have overwhelmed both the Dominion fleet and the stationary defenses, but the assault wing would be only a half dozen capital ships and supporting vessels, which was not near enough to handle both. Remove the formidable stationary defenses from the equation, and the odds improved significantly.

The screen behind the Chief Intelligence Officer came to life, displaying a large industrial urban area. “This is Nasera City, population eight million, currently living under the subjugation of the Dominion. Our first target is this facility,” he explained, highlighting a large complex in the city center. “This is the control center for the planetary defense network. Destroy it, sabotage it, or take it over. The choice is ours, and we’ll figure it out once we get on the ground and gather some intel. But the one thing I can guarantee is that it will be well guarded, as it is why the Dominion has assumed they don’t need a larger fleet of ships to hold Nasera.”

Chief Petty Officer Ayala Shafir, a data systems specialist from Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity, made a note to contact the Corps of Engineers to get schematics for the digital systems and communication protocols they’d used when they constructed the planetary defenses as a deterrent against any interest the Breen might have in the nearby system. She’d also pull the construction plans for the control center itself, in case they lent any information about vulnerabilities they could exploit to get inside, ideally without having to shoot their way through.

The first question came from Petty Officer Jason Atwood, with a classic Texas drawl that had become his trademark on the team: “An’ what can ya tell us ’bout the secon’ objective? The orbital station?” Growing up a rancher in the southwest before joining Starfleet after his uncle was killed in the First Contact Day Massacre, Atwood was a sport shooter in his youth. At Starfleet, he’d struggled with regulations and process to the point that, thirteen years after enlisting, he’d only reached Petty Officer 2nd Class. But that didn’t take into account his skill with the rifle, which was the reason he had been picked for this team.

Commander Lewis motioned with his hand to pan the display out. As the world of Nasera II came into full view, an orbital station was highlighted above. “This is our second target, an aging orbital facility in geosynchronous orbit above Nasera City. Intelligence has determined the Dominion converted into a large-scale weapons platform, one that can be directed either at incoming forces or turned to decimate Nasera City if they’re going to lose the planet. They have no intention of ever letting us retake the industrial capabilities of Nasera,” he explained, thinking back to how the Dominion had turned their weapons on the Cardassians as the tides turned against them. That strategy could play out again here if they didn’t stop it. “Your guess is as good as mine as to how we’re going to get up there.”

A couple people glanced around the room, surprised by the lack of a plan. They knew the leader of the Hazard Team to almost always have one, if not several, and his admission of no such plan was more than a little concerning.

“Let me be very clear with you all,” Lewis said, leveling with his small team. “Intelligence is beyond spotty on Nasera. We have no idea how entrenched the enemy is, what state our citizens are in, or if there’s any support waiting for us down there. The first step will be to get on the ground and build out a situational understanding. After that, everything will depend on what we learn.”

Lieutenant Commander Jordan raised his hand. He was one of Lewis’ closest confidants on the ship, the man Lewis had partnered to build out the Intelligence department he wanted to see for the Polaris. The detail-oriented Assistant Chief Intelligence Officer had no hesitation over what was to come. It was what they’d trained for. He just had a question about the logistics. “We can’t exactly just ride in on a Starfleet runabout. How are we inserting?” 

Commander Lewis made a swiping motion in front of the screen, transitioning it from the image of the planet to one of a Ferengi freighter that had seen better days. “Nasera lies close to the Ferengi border, and the Ferengi have been delivering the supplies the Dominion needs to operate Nasera’s industrial plants and factories,” Lewis explained, the distaste evident in his tone. He hated war profiteers. “Because, to quote the thirty fourth Rule of Acquisition, ‘war is good for business’. Since the Ferengi ships are thus still a regular sight in the system, we have a way in.”

From where he sat, Crewman Nam Jae-Sun nodded. Prior to signing up with Starfleet at the launch of the Osiris Initiative, Nam had done time with the Fenris Rangers, where they had occasionally paid the Ferengi large sums for special services. If you came with enough latinum, the Ferengi would do just about anything for you. “Ferengi services don’t come cheap. How much is this going to cost us?”

“Not a cent,” smiled Commander Lewis. “You see, no matter how much we paid, it would be just as likely that those slimy bastards would double cross us to double up on their profit.” Now the team looked lost. “But you see, nothing is less interesting than another boring Ferengi supply ship, so during my time outside the Fleet, I came into the possession of one.”

Dr. Lisa Hall, the head of ASTRA’s Cultural and Psychological Research unit, chuckled softly. The old Commander always had a surprise up his sleeve. What a strange path he’d taken, an Intelligence officer in Starfleet, then the runner of a private outfit that did things Starfleet could not, and now back in Starfleet, standing here proposing using the very private outfit he’d left when he renewed his commission. As unconventional as it was, it made sense. All the benefits of Ferengi camouflage, without all the risk of Ferengi greed.

“Two members of my old outfit, Sebold Logistics, are currently en route with the Lucre, a small Ferengi freighter,” Lewis explained. “She may look beat up, but she’s a dependable little boat that has gotten us through a few tough spots over the years. Joining us will be Grok, a Ferengi pilot and master of deceit who turned his back on the Rules of Acquisition for greater thrills, and T’Aer, a ruthlessly-accurate sniper, the best I’ve ever known.” Grok was a necessity in case the Dominion hailed them on approach, and T’Aer was a luxury he felt warranted due to the firefight they were certainly walking into. Neither had so much as blinked when he’d called on them.

“So pretend we’re a bunch of big lobbed traders, get on the ground, gather some intel, blow some shit up, and clear the way for the Polaris?” summarized Lieutenant J.G. Jace Morgan with his arms crossed, looking remarkably content with the plan. He was an Operations Officer by trade, but he’d spent years in the borderlands, tinkering with alien technology, and there was little that phased him. “Sounds simple enough.”

Commander Lewis looked around the room for any more questions. But there were no more, only a group of highly motivated men and women, officers and crew, all ready to get on with it. He’d spent the last two years training them for something like this, and now it was time to execute.

“The quartermaster has prepared your loadouts for this mission, including attire suitable to blend with the civilian population,” explained Lieutenant Commander Jordan, who would serve as the number two on the mission. “Pick up your gear and get prepped. We leave from Shuttlebay 1 at 0200.”

Commander Lewis then brought the briefing to a close: “Our mission will not be easy, but it will pave the way for the liberation of Nasera. Millions of Federation colonists on Nasera, and the crews of the Fourth Fleet preparing for the counter-assault, depend on our success.” He didn’t say the other bit, that if they failed, their colleagues would very possibly all end up dead because Fleet Admiral Reyes would still launch the counter-assault, even if the planetary defense systems were still operational. It wasn’t in her character to let millions of Federation citizens suffer, no matter the cost.

The small team funneled out of the briefing room, leaving Commander Lewis and Lieutenant Commander Jordan standing there alone.

“You ready Brock?” the Commander asked. Twenty years Lewis’ junior, Brock Jordan had never locked horns with the Jem’Hadar, but he’d cut his teeth working intelligence in Klingon and Romulan territory, and he’d stood by Lewis’ side loyally for the last two years.

“Of course boss,” he assured his role model. “We’ll get it done.”

Lewis nodded. Of course they would. The Lieutenant Commander took his leave, and after a few moments alone in quiet contemplation, the Commander did the same.

As Commander Lewis stepped out of the Hazard Team Briefing Room, a voice caught him by surprise: “I want in Commander. You don’t have even a dozen shooters there to take on an entire Jem’Hadar legion. I know you could use another.”

Commander Lewis turned to see Ensign Elyssia Rel, a petite Flight Control Officer who’d joined the Hazard Team as soon as she came aboard a couple months ago. Not for a moment had Lewis considered her for this mission. They already had a seasoned pilot meeting them en route, and Rel was too green, only a year out of the Academy. She had taken like a natural to his Hazard Team training program, but she was no cold-blooded veteran. “Ensign, I appreciate the offer, but I’m not going to put you through what waits for us down there.”

“If by what awaits us, you mean stepping over the bodies of dead Jem’Hadar as we liberate the hurting people of Nasera, count me in,” she replied with a zealous hunger in her eyes that stood in stark contrast to her soft features.

The battle-hardened Commander gave her a quizzical stare, sizing up where this young Ensign was coming from. Only her Trill spots gave any clue.

“You stand there looking at me, and you see an innocent Flight Control Officer, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, fresh out of the Academy,” Rel said, channeling the thoughts of her symbiont through her. “What you don’t see is the lives I lived before. I fought the enemy we now prepare to face. I was captured by them, tortured by them, and escaped from them. Then I came back for more, and I paid the ultimate price. Commander, I died in a lifepod fleeing the Chin’toka system as they watched. The same monsters that are now putting our colonists on Nasera through literal hell. I’m ready to go again… although this time I’d rather them be in the body bags.” She gave a little smile at that last bit.

The Trill experience fascinated Commander Lewis, and the story she told caught him completely off-guard. He had not recalled this experience from her file, but then again, Trill were not always clear about their symbionts in official records. The conviction emanating from her entire being though was very clear.

“Why do you think a first year flight control officer can hit a perfect score in your marksman course?” Ensign Rel probed further. “Did you really think I just instinctively took to phaser marksmanship, hand-to-hand combat, squad formations, field simulations, and everything else we drill?”

It was true. The Ensign never missed a step when they cleared rooms, only lost hand-to-hand when she sparred their best, and had not once slipped her cover in an infiltration exercise. And, from her symbiont’s experiences, she certainly had the motivation. When everything looked most dire, your motivations were all you had to hold onto. It was hard to argue with someone who’s prior host had literally died at the hands of the beasts they were about to face. 

“You could use me on this mission.”

“Alright Ensign,” conceded Commander Lewis, against his better judgment. “Swing by the quartermaster and get your gear. Meet at Shuttlebay 1 at 0200.”

Commander Lewis watched the Trill Ensign hustle off with purpose. As long as she was good to her word, he could really use another pair of hands on the team. For a ship as large as the Polaris, the pickings had been mighty slim. This was not the same Starfleet it had been in the seventies.

Comments

  • Alright the brawl is happening, Lewis is preparing the team for the assault and states the stakes of it. It feels like reading a boxing match being prepared with the fine details of the mission itself. It is always relaxing to read these kinds of details beforehand so you can get an overall idea of what is happening. Looking forward for more!

    May 6, 2023
  • I enjoyed this story with Lewis gathering his team and preparing them for the upcoming assault which I can't wait to see go down. Also, I enjoyed the part where the young Ensign wanted to join in and while Lewis was very hesitant, the past life of the symbiont basically made him change his mind and allow her to go. It's an interesting turn, someone so young has the memories and experiences of facing the Dominion in a past life. Can't wait to read what comes next from the Polaris crew!

    May 7, 2023
  • I appreciate the clarity in the storytelling here. These kinds of missions can be hard to wrap one's head around from prose alone, but you're describing the situation and the stakes in a manner that's easy to follow and compelling to boot. What's exciting is that I'm picking up hints that the story is about to head nowhere like I would expect: For example, I'm intrigued by the strategy to select an infiltration team without depriving Polaris of any tactical or security officers. (Also, wow, a reincarnated casualty of Chin’toka coming back for revenge as a first year flight controller is pretty damn metal.)

    May 7, 2023
  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Lisa Hall, Ph.D.

    ASTRA Lead, Cultural & Psychological Research
    Chief Counseling Officer

  • Ayala Shafir

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Computational Systems
    Intelligence Specialist & Hazard Team Operator

  • Elyssia Rel

    Flight Control Officer
    Hazard Team Operator

  • Brock Jordan

    Deceased; Formerly
    Assistant Chief Intelligence Officer
    Hazard Team Deputy Lead

  • Jace Morgan

    Deceased; Formerly
    Operations Officer
    Hazard Team Member