“I don’t know if I am happy about it or not to receive full access to the reports coming out of that sector.” The Chief Engineer was tapping his finger on the table, looking at the PADD with the latest reports. Shaking his head, “The USS Valhalla is trying to reach Arkan II” He taps on the PADD. “Here, USS Alita is en route to Sevury to liberate it. There are even talks of rebooting the mothballed ships at Yadev II. Are we that desperate?” Adrian shrugged and placed the PADD down and put it offline.
Taking a deep breath as Silina stood at the window looking outside, enjoying the stars passing by “A war of attrition is a tactic that the Dominion is no stranger to. The death toll and the wounded keep rising with every report. If the crew knew about these reports, then we have different problems at hand than only dealing with the founders or Gamma Quadrant in general”
Rising her finger to that, Sazra didn’t look away from her briefing report. “And that is the very thing we are fighting for right now. Silina is right. We fight to keep that morale in one piece. If they find out what we are truly doing, we might face an uprising as no one on this ship has faced the Dominion or what they can do. They will act on fear or if we have to believe the Fourth Fleet even worse…”
“But we are lying to them. How will we ever get their trust after they know what we did?” Adrian bluntly pointed out the concerning issue that was on the table. “I believe the saying was something along the line. The Captain is as strong as its crew that supports him or her?”
Lowering her finger, Sazra looked at Adrian. “We are straightforward with them when they get to know about it. This is a classified mission that is above their access. Stakes are taken into account. Our success is of utmost importance, and that brings me to something of a risk that we need to take” Sazra leans back “Palema”
Looking over her shoulder to them, Silina saw the questionable eyes of Adrian “Lieutenant Palema, assigned to our ship as the Diplomatic Officer. She has a long-standing record in diplomatic missions for the Romulan Republic and has been in service for Starfleet only a few years as an exchange program to strengthen our bond with the Republic.” Silina turned around, finally taking her seat at the table “I see the dilemma at hand”
“I don’t? Do we not trust her because she is Romulan?” Adrian looked confused at them both.
“It is not that we do not trust her. We have to tell her about the diplomatic talks with the Dominion. She needs to know about it to be prepared, and I am not going solo into that conversation” Sazra defended herself. “I need an experienced diplomat at my side, but that means we need to lay the cards on the table and be honest with her”
Leaning back, letting the idea sink in, Adrian eventually nodded to it. Followed-up by Silina, that agree with it as only mere minutes later, the senior staff arrived at the Conference Room. They all took their spots, some new, some old.
“Welcome all, let us start with the briefing of our mission.” Sazra spoke, “A few days ago you might have noticed on the news that skirmishes are going on in Deneb” Taking a deep breath. “That is a lie, a cover-up, a ruse” Sazra waited for a second to see the reaction from her staff before continuing. “In the Dominion War, a large fleet, known in the myths of our history books, disappeared without a trace. We called it the Lost Fleet. They have returned”
Everyone looked at each other, concerned by this news “Why is Starfleet Command making fake news about?” Rami broke the muttering in the room and looked at Sazra curiously.
“We don’t know. The only thing we know is that the Fourth Fleet has ordered its available ships to relocate towards strategic locations in the Deneb system and surrounding areas. The Dominion have taken out various key locations and raided our colonies, outpost, and ships” Adrian spoke in the direction of Rami.
Before Rami could respond, a 3D video was shown from the projector in the middle of the room. It showed the combat experience of the USS Caliburn as everyone looked with big worried eyes at it as the video stopped showing the Dominion ships. “The Dominion” Sazra looked concerned at the image “Starfleet Command is currently shoving it off the table as something minor, but we are dealing here with a full invasion force that has no sense of time delaying. They think we are still in war with them”
“What does that mean for us?” Kossaal looked at his Captain. The Andorian was no stranger to battles, but this was a different level altogether.
Rami growls and sits back in his chair “It means war doctor”
“What, but we are going to Deep Space 9? That is the otherrr direction of Deneb?” K’Nala was confused about their course now.
“Keen observe there. That is why we have Lieutenant Palema here” With a soft smile, Silina looked at K’Nala and then at Palema. “We are going to the Gamma Quadrant to get some allies there to support our efforts at Deneb.” Silina took a deep breath and looked at Sazra.
The Romulan looked into the room when her name was mentioned and saw the eyes looking back at her. “I have been assigned to the Mariner to give diplomatic aid in their operations. If that means we have to go to Gamma Quadrant for it and gain their support, I shall do my best to succeed” She was pretty straightforward with the answer. “Keep in mind, if my reports are right, we know barely anything about the Gamma Quadrant’s current state of affairs”
Giving a slight nod to Palema, “That is one of the concerns that we need to appeal to your experience Lieutenant” Sazra spoke. “I also have no information on Gamma Quadrant itself, so I want medical to stand ready for whatever is going to come at us”
Kossaal nodded to that while writing it down “The medical staff of both the old Damascus and the new Mariner is well experience in any medical situation. I would make sure of that, Captain” But at the same time, he had his concerns if the medical team being ready for battle or war-level injuries.
“Good, I need tactical to prepare for any battle, be it space or ground battles. I rather am prepared then be unexpectedly surprised by whatever lies there. Lieutenant Shew get that Hazard Team set up, I expect a report asap” Sazra was giving out orders as quickly as possible without breaking character. She needed to remain calm, she saw the worried eyes, the concerns, and the questions troubling her staff.
“Yes, sir, I get Lieutenant Miki on immediately. He is experienced in these operations and takes the lead in it” Rami was quite firm in his response, feeling his blood boil. “What about the Dominion in Gamma Quadrant?” He gave the question that no one dared to ask.
Both Adrian and Silina looked at Sazra as she took a deep breath. “We have a treaty with them. For now, they are not to be bothered by our mission. We can’t risk becoming a sandwich from both sides.” Sazra answered quickly and decisively.
It was a good enough answer for Rami to back off from the topic. Silina nodded. “We stay on course to Deep Space 9. They are the gatekeepers of the Bajoran gate, and there we have to do something that will put pressure on you all” She sat back, looking at everyone. “We have to bluff our way into that gate….because Starfleet Command has not approved of this mission at any stadium. This is a Fourth Fleet exclusive mission in the dire hope we can break that balance in this conflict with the Lost Fleet”
Palema shrugs. “I can help with that. I don’t desire to use my skills in such a matter, but seeing our condition. I am more willing to be used in this situation”
Giving a smile at Palema “That is good to know, thank you. Dismissed, and keep me updated for now. Lieutenant Palema, could you stay for a moment” Sazra requested as the rest of the officers left the Conference Room, leaving only Adrian, Sazra, Silina, and Palema behind. Sazra waited for the door to be closed and let out a big sigh. “Well let us get the last hurdle out of the way”
“What do you mean, Captain?” Standing there confused, Palema wondered why she needed to stay behind.
“It means that the briefing was not completely accurate,” Adrian spoke out of turn, looking at the Lieutenant. “We are actually going to have you prepare for something more…refined than what we just told the senior staff”
Silina nodded and now looked at Palema “We need you to do all research on the Dominion, the diplomatic affairs we had with them, the interactions, and their cultural behavior. We need to stand in their favor when we meet them face to face”.
Looking a bit shocked at this revealing information, “What do you mean, we are going to the Dominion?” Palema didn’t enjoy this at all, it was dealing with a whole new level of a dominant force. A force that knew only violence.
“To put it simply, Lieutenant, to stop the Dominion, we require a Dominion to order them. Other forces will be seen as potential traitors. We require them to say it. If we succeed, they will stop,” Sazra stated. “But we are dealing with a top-secret level of clearance for this mission. Only the command crew knows, and now you also,” Sazra shrugs. “We are asking you to keep this vital information to yourself, play along with our theater, and when the time comes, deal together with the Dominion to convince them that they are the only ones that can stop their people”
It was a lot to take in, she needed to do a lot of research, and a lot of time would go into it, would she be able to learn enough before they would arrive? Palema looked back at them, and a certain level of anxiety was present in her facial expression. But she nodded to them “I will do my best and keep my lips sealed. Am I dismissed?”
Giving a soft nod to her, Sazra saw Palema leave the room. “I hope I made the right choice to trust her with this….let’s get to work” Sazra ordered.