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

Clandestine Rendezvous

Ichedat System
Mission Day 4 - 1300 Hours
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The Volga-class runabout hurled towards the Ichedat system at maximum warp, a team of Starfleet officers turned covert operators sitting shoulder-to-shoulder in the cramped passenger hold. Adorned in dirty streetwear with backpacks and duffels meant to blend in with the day laborers of Nasera City’s industrial center, they sat in silence with a mix of nerves and determination. Over the uncomfortable eleven hour flight, they’d had plenty of time to think about the difficult task that lay ahead.

Commander Lewis hovered behind the cockpit. In the pilot’s jumpseat sat Ensign Elyssia Rel, the last minute addition to the team, while in the copilot’s jumpseat sat a Midshipman, the only member of the crew in a regular Starfleet uniform. He would be the one to bring the runabout back to the USS Polaris after the rest of the team disembarked.

“Bring us out of warp on the dark side of the moon, close as you can to the surface,” instructed Commander Lewis. “Without crashing us straight into the lunar moonscape, of course.” He’d selected the Ichedat system for the rendezvous because it was uninteresting and uninhabited, off the beaten path of common shipping lines. That didn’t mean the former spook’s guard was down though. No reason to tip their hand before they were even on the ground.

“No pressure,” Ensign Elyssia Rel laughed lightly. She then turned her focus completely to the task at hand. Her fingers flew nimbly across the controls, making micro-adjustments to ensure they’d decelerate from one thousand times the speed of light to a near stop with kilometer-grade precision.

A few moments later, the streaking stars were replaced by a dark lunar surface as the ship emerged from warp right into the lower exosphere of Ichedat II’s sole moon. Commander Lewis peered over the pilot’s jumpseat, nodding contentedly. Hard to see in the darkness, the moon completely eclipsing the Class IV star at the center of the system, but it appeared they were only fifteen or twenty kilometers above the moon’s craterous landscape. To any passing ship, they would completely blend with the surface below.

“Bring non-essential systems offline and begin low energy scans,” the Commander ordered swiftly, his eyes looking out warily as if searching for threats that might lurk beyond.

The copilot worked the controls of the sensor array, being extra diligent with the Chief Intelligence Officer of the USS Polaris breathing down his back

“Sir,” the Midshipman reported after a minute or so had passed, “we are detecting only a single ship within the system, a small Ferengi cargo ship broadcasting ident as the Lucre.” Counter to their stealthy approach, the Lucre needed to appear like a completely normal merchant vessel if anyone spotted it, which meant universal ident on and systems running at regular power emission levels.

“Ensign Rel, bring us up slowly and head for the Lucre at one quarter impulse.”

The runabout pulled up from its low orbit and crept towards an orange dot in the distance. As they neared, the beat up exterior of the Ferengi merchant vessel came into view.

Lieutenant Commander Brock Jordan rose from his seat in the passenger hold to come alongside Commander Lewis for a better view. “They couldn’t bother to give it a wash before we picked it up, huh boss?” he chuckled. “That piece of junk looks like she’s seen better days.”

“That piece of junk has gotten us out of more than a few bad spots over the years,” offered Commander Lewis, thinking back to one particularly rough op they’d run in Tzenkethi space. “I tell myself the battered hull gives it character.” Slowly, the runabout came alongside the Lucre and began docking procedures.

Lieutenant Commander Jordan spun on his heels to face the team in the rear hold. “Saddle up folks,” he ordered. “Let’s get this show on the road.” Gordon grabbed his backpack and headed for the docking port, the rest of the team following behind. Ensign Rel climbed out of her jumpseat, grabbed a duffel from under the control station, and followed them out.

Commander Lewis was the last to depart. “Godspeed to you and the Polaris,” he offered the Midshipman before leaving the cockpit, noting the look of grave concern on the young man’s face. He recognized that look, the same one soldiers had received from their families for thousands of years as they went off to war. The young flight controller had done little more than routine patrol duty before joining the Polaris, and now he was watching his fellow crew members head into a Dominion stronghold. “We’ll see you on the other side.”

A few moments later, the Commander climbed through the docking port into the familiar musky hallways of the Lucre. His team had already gone ahead to get situated for the journey, but waiting there at the entry were two old friends. 

“Grok! T’Aer!” Lewis said with a smile. “Good to see you both again. It’s been a while.”

“Three hundred and twenty seven days, to be exa…,” T’Aer stated with her usual precision.

“My friend, my friend,” Grok said, cutting her off as he leapt forward to give his boss a bear hug. “It has been far too long! But glad you thought of us for your little adventure.” The Ferengi had a lobe-to-lobe grin on his face.

“Always a good excuse to get the band back together,” Lewis replied, using a metaphor that looked lost on both of his alien colleagues. As long as the three of them had worked together, some humor still just didn’t translate.

“Our Vulcan friend here,” Grok teased as he glanced over at T’Aer. “She tries to play it cool, but ever since the Lost Fleet reappeared, I know she’s been chomping at the bit to put a Jem’Hadar or two in her crosshairs.”

“A Vorta would be more strategically rewarding,” T’Aer corrected condescendingly. “But I’ll take a few Jem’Hadar trophies while we are at it.” While her composure was always fairly stoic, Lewis swore he could see the slightest hint of a smile and sense the slightest tinge of sarcasm. T’Aer toed the line of Kolinahr more than most, a consequence of the sort of work she’d done with Sebold Logistics over the years.

“Our cover story in order?” Lewis asked as the three of them began walking down the corridor towards the bridge.

Grok handed him a PADD. “The Lucre is scheduled to deliver fifty tonnes of Diranium, twenty palettes of Boridium, sixteen palettes of Pergium, and four crates of 10 mil Polaron lattices to Nasera Municipal Spaceport in two days time.”

“We’re helping them build armor, mines, power cells, and rifles?”

“The Dominion is not exactly shopping for the materials to build pleasure baths and hospitals,” grinned the Ferengi. “We are selling goods in demand to willing buyers at the fair market place, plus of course a little markup for our coffers, since, you know, war is hard on business.” Commander Lewis chuckled. Leave it to a Ferengi to turn a profit on a cover story.

“What time does our flightplan have us getting in?”

“1930 hours tomorrow. An hour after sunset.”

Commander Lewis nodded. Good timing on arrival, the cover of darkness to more easily slip away, but still early enough that there’d be a crowd to disappear into.

“I know how you roll, my old friend,” Grok laughed. “I’ve also arranged for a large suite above a musky tavern half a click from the spaceport, as an enterprising Ferengi merchant like myself needs plenty of space to kick up his feet after a long flight.” 

Lewis gave him a stare. 

“For our safe house, you dunce,” Grok clarified, as if it wasn’t apparent. “And you lot, your cover story is that you’re a bunch of destitutes I conscripted at Freecloud to carry all my goods. These hands,” he said, raising his calloused, veiny appendages, with their pointy, chipped nails, “they’re just too lathered up in Risan oil to lift anything themselves. And T’Aer, she’s my secretary.” The Ferengi winked at the Vulcan.

Lewis was glad to see that even a Dominion invasion couldn’t quell the Ferengi’s sense of humor. T’Aer, for her part, didn’t react in the slightest. After years working along Grok, she knew not to feed into his energy. Any reaction, and he’d just keep going.

As they neared the bridge, the double doors slid open to reveal an unexpected passenger. Commander Lewis recognized the blue skin, white hair and antennae immediately.

“Ryssehl! I didn’t expect you to find you here. Thought you’d join us on our little soiree?” Lewis remarked as they stepped through the threshold. It was a happy surprise. Ryssehl Th’zathol had been his second-in-command at Sebold Logistics, the man he’d entrusted the operation with when he returned to Starfleet. The Andorian was a master of explosives, a slippery sleuth who could bypass any security system, and a solid shooter to cover your back.

“Now, now, Mr. Commander,” Ryssehl laughed, emphasizing Lewis’ rank as if to mock him for putting the pips back on. “You didn’t really expect me to let you three have all the fun, now did you? I hear we might need to make something go boom.” His eyes lit up at the thought.

“You always did have a thing for explosives.”

“Yes, and I brought a few special treats for our Dominion friends. Picked them up off a Cardassian arms dealer.” The poetic justice was not lost on him. It would add to the enjoyment of blowing some Jem’Hadar to pieces. Hopefully a Vorta too.

Right then, Lieutenant Commander Brock Jordan stepped onto the bridge.

“Ah, Lieutenant Commander, let me introduce you to our colleagues for this trip,” Commander Lewis offered, gesturing at the merry band of three. “Ryssehl is a master demolitionist, and my replacement – an upgrade, most would say – at Sebold Logistics. T’Aer is the best shot this side of the Delta Quadrant. And Grok is our boss, or so he says.” He shot a sarcastic look poking fun at the Ferengi. “Folks, this is Lieutenant Commander Jordan, ACIO on the Polaris and our number two for this mission.”

“It is a pleasure to meet each of you,” Lieutenant Commander Jordan offered kindly as he shook hands with the three contractors that would be joining their team. “The Commander here speaks so highly about each of you, and sometimes over a bottle of ale, he avails us with old stories of all the trouble you lot got up to together. Looking forward to adding this to the list.”

“How’s the team doing?” Lewis asked of the Lieutenant Commander as everyone took their places, Grok at the helm, T’Aer at navigation, and Ryssehl and Gordon flanking him on either side.

“Everyone’s settled in below deck. Won’t lie and say there aren’t some nerves, but everyone seems ready for the task at hand,” reported Lieutenant Commander Jordan. “And Shafir, she’s already fast asleep. Nothing phases that woman.”

“Good for her.” Commander Lewis was unsurprised. Senior Shafir had spent five years with his private outfit after Starfleet unceremoniously spit her out, only returning to Starfleet with Lewis when he threw in with Fleet Admiral Reyes. Shafir was young, but she was a veteran of conflict more than any of the other officers he’d brought along. What she’d gone through with the Consortium, the choices she had to make to maintain her cover, it was something that even he would have struggled with. “Everyone should try to get some sleep while they can. Once we arrive, the opportunities to do so will be sparing at best.”

From the pilot’s jumpseat he’d climbed into while the Starfleet officers talked, Grok interrupted: “Runabout is disengaging docking clamps.”

Commander Lewis looked forward as the Volga-class runabout peeled away. Then he took a quick glance around the bridge, enjoying the nostalgia of his old team back together again. It was like old times, except, instead of being backed up by a team of former Maquis and Fenris Rangers hardened by their time on the violent frontier, this time they had a dozen or so young Starfleet officers below deck to back them up. Lewis still worried how they’d hold up when they came face-to-face with the inevitable terrors waiting for them on Nasera, but having T’Aer, Grok and Ryssehl along would help.

It was time. Lewis gave the order: “Let’s get this show on the road. Set course for Nasera II, and engage.”

Comments

  • They got their ride, a beat up ship that has character. Love it! Of course going in with style into the mission. I do wonder what kind of troubles they will see while being undercover, it makes a person excited to know that trouble lurks in the dark.

    May 7, 2023
  • I can't wait to read more about the infiltration team and how they get about it. The four of them seem to be a rowdy bunch with a good back story that I would love to read about. Now, they are off their adventures are only beginning, this is riding on them to get this done so the Polaris can come in and do their part. I expect even though a lot of them are rough exteriors I am sure the nerves are still trying to make an appearance. Great job and can't wait to see how all this plays out.

    May 8, 2023
  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Ayala Shafir

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

  • Elyssia Rel

    Flight Control Officer
    Hazard Team Operator

  • T'Aer

    Private Contractor
    Sebold Logistics

  • Grok

    Private Contractor
    Sebold Logistics

  • Brock Jordan

    Deceased; Formerly
    Assistant Chief Intelligence Officer
    Hazard Team Deputy Lead

  • Ryssehl Th'zathol

    Deceased; Formerly
    Private Contractor & CEO
    Sebold Logistics