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Part of USS Mackenzie: Mission 6 – Uneasy Alliance and USS Mackenzie: The Mackenzie Squadron – The Uneasy Alliance

03 – Unusual in the Uneasy

Janoor III
03.05.2401
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Okada wiped the sweat from her face, the grime smearing across her skin.  “Goddamn it.”  She waved a spanner at one of the sullen mechanics, “Did you never think to rework the EPS conduits on these things?”  He shrugged, and she shook the spanner at him again, “I don’t want to think about what you all have been doing to these poor things over the last twenty years.  You try and power this up, and it’s probably going to blow up in your face…or just do nothing.  Never mind the crisscross mess of your tactical sensors!”

Park watched, amused.  She’d read Okada’s file and spent a little time getting to know her.  She liked the chief engineer more and more. She asked, “Chief, what would be an approximate timeline?”

Katsumi growled, “If we go by the book as it should be, we’re talking a month.”  She swallowed her anger for a moment, “If we go to a 24-hour duty schedule and get creative with some of this…I think we can get it done faster.  I’ll need to see the rest of the sites.”  

Park turned to their diplomatic officer, “Charlie, can you see about moving the governor’s secretary on this? We’re going to need to divide and conquer if we have any chance of getting a complete picture of the defense grid.”  Hargraves nodded and called out to the secretary, and headed her way. The woman spoke into her communications device and walked away with Charlie at her side.  

Kondo approached the XO, “Commander Park?  I’ve been doing a review of the handheld defense operations…and it’s not much better.  Old phase pistols, one or two hand phasers, and a whole lot of ancient projectile-based weapons.”

Seoyeon snorted with disgust, “Someone needs to tell Task Group 514 they need to step up their game.”  She gave him a look, “You think it a little odd that Fourth Fleet got punted into their backyard?

De La Fontaine stared forward but acknowledged, “Senior staff’s been unofficially asking the same, commander.  Especially since they’ve been less than helpful…it feels like there’s a sense of denial of the reality going on.”

Park spotted Hargraves coming back, “Keep an eye and ear out, Mr. Kondo.  Something doesn’t feel right.”  He gave her a nod and pretended to walk off, scanning something or another.  The XO eyed the diplomatic officer, who was sans the assistant, “And?”  

“We had to make a few promises on supplies…but she confirmed they could spread out but that someone from the colony would need to accompany each team.  Best I could do.”

The XO smiled, “I’ll take a compromise.  Let’s get to work, folks.” Pulling up the map on her PADD, she began to make assignments.

 


 

Okada peered into the internal computer core on the third torpedo launcher that day.  There were a total of ten of them on the planet, but so far, only one was functional.  She found the data port and hooked up her PADD, frowning more and more as she went.  There was something in the code on this unit that wasn’t like the others.  The other two engineers were working on the power couplings, quietly grousing as they went.  Janoor III hadn’t seen a competent engineer since the occupation, she’d decided.  As much praise as the governor had given the 514, she was starting to wonder how trustworthy the task group actually was given the significant needs she was seeing.  The chief engineer worked to isolate the offending code.

“Chief?”  The crewman called her over, a worried look on his face.  Katsumi put her PADD on pause and ambled over, glancing at the couplings and gasping in shock as the crewman Bartoli shook his head in disbelief, “We think either the Dominion sabotaged these things before they left the planet twenty-five years ago…or….”

She knelt and scanned the unit, “…or there have been some cowboys down here after the fact…and recently.  As bad as their work has been, they’ve been doing work on these things.  They’re shoddy, but this isn’t shoddy.”  She pointed to the crude modifications on the couplings, “If this thing gets powered up, it’s going critical in…what, like 30 seconds?”

Bartoli grimaced, “We thought maybe fifteen given how many feedback loops they built…see there, and there.  We took a look at the code for the system.  I think they played with that too.”

Okada went back and retrieved her PADD and showed him what she’d found.  She was starting to understand there was something greater at work here than just ignorance or indifference on the part of the Janoor III people.  “They did.  You can see they adjusted the power inputs, outputs, and directional conduits…damn.  Someone knew what they were doing here.  We’re going to have to dissemble this thing just to get rid of whatever bugs they planted.  Greg, you better get the rest of your team down here.”  Bartoli nodded and walked off to hail the Mackenzie.

Patrick Kurtz tapped at his tricorder and asked, “Chief…you don’t think someone here did this?”

Okada felt her heart pick up speed as she turned to listen.  Kurtz was a senior cadet on assignment to the Mack and had been studying engineering and intelligence operations.  He’d come to Starfleet later in life and, at the age of 40, was someone she’d grown to count on when she needed a mature perspective.  She wasn’t surprised at the question, but it unsettled her all the same.  “I can’t imagine…given everything we’ve read and heard about what happened here…that someone would try and lower their chances at a good defense.”

The cadet shook his head, “That wasn’t my theory, Chief.  What if somehow…a member of the occupation managed to escape when the planet was liberated…found a way to hide somewhere and hold on for twenty-five years.”  She raised her eyebrows and asked him to continue, “There are plenty of stories in history where the war ended…but it didn’t end for everybody everywhere.  Soldiers stayed hidden, living on to fight for the grand idea of whatever ideology…years later they are found, still fighting their war on their island or mountain…or planet.”

Okada felt a chill walk down her spine, pounding its boots on each vertebrae.  “That would mean we’ve got someone…or someones out there watching us…and ready to take us out.  Oly and Mack both have scanned the planet…nothing unusual.”

Kurtz shrugged, “Plenty of caves around here…and old abandoned ruins that could hide from most scans.  I don’t like thinking about stuff like this much, but it’s hard to ignore what we’re seeing with this site.”

The Chief sighed as Bartoli returned to report, “Team is gathering equipment and on their way.”  He stopped, looking at each of them, “You two look like someone kicked your dog and landed a shuttlecraft on it.” Okada explained what Kurtz had proposed.  Bartoli whistled low in response, “Holy crap.  That’s…not crazy.  I’d start to wonder if we find more sites like this.  Someone could have just snuck down here and done their bit of sabotage and then headed back to the fleet.  I mean…yea, that doesn’t sound like The Dominion.  Victory is life and all that jazz.  Maybe we should get some security folks disguised as engineers to do some perimeter scanning with us as we work?”

Katsumi grumbled, “I’ll make the call.  All I wanted was a peaceful time repairing defense weapons.  Goddamn Dominion.”

Comments

  • Getting more intense! The more that the crew discovers, the larger the problem seems to be. Going to be a huge task to get this planet up to spec before the Dominion shows up. I loved the reaction from Okada, definitely made me chuckle! And the revelation at the end, so interesting! Excited to read chapter 4!

    May 11, 2023
  • And the plot thickens. I wonder if Okada is familiar with Lt. Hiroo Onoda who fought WWII until 1974

    May 14, 2023
  • I'm really enjoying the story so far! (I loved what I took as a reference to the TOS era planet killer a bit back 😆. That thing terrifies me, so I don't blame Reede's reaction). Things are certainly picking up. I like the character interactions, and in particular, Hasara, even though he wasn't present much so far. Curious to know who ducked up the defenses on Janoor.

    May 18, 2023