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

06 – Uneasy Discovery

Runabout New York / USS Mackenzie
03.05.2401
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“Dropping from warp speed.  Switching to impulse and activating passive operations.”  William Prentice was at the controls of the New Atlantic runabout with his old friend Kondo at his side, holding down the tactical and operations console.  Behind them sat Oleg Hertz and Paula Judon from Janoor III, who had been selected to witness whatever it was that would be found.  Oleg was the Secretary of Staff to the irascible governor, and Judon was the Secretary of Planet Security.  While the first was open to the possibility of the Dominion’s return, the second had voiced her skepticism since boarding the runabout.  Kondo had had to gently, then forcefully tell her to keep her thoughts to herself for the remainder of the trip.  She’d taken to staring sullenly out the window, her arms tightly crossed over her chest.

De La Fontaine kept one eye on the space ahead of them and the other on the sensor readings filtering through the tactical picture.  “Passive sensors are picking up multiple signals ahead – up to forty.”  He activated the screens they had installed in the passenger cabin, “Sensor readings will be on the right screen, and video feed will be on the left.”  He turned to Prentice, “Let’s slip in behind that gas giant.  No indication they’ve picked us up.”

Will slowly pushed the New York towards the planet, keeping his eyes on the distance part of space where the signals from Fowler’s scan had originated.  They’d studied the Dominion War at the academy and spent much of their flight control lessons on how they fought differently.  Watching the videos of the attacks and the interviews with survivors had left an indelible impact on them as cadets.  He felt the unease that he had experienced over those days in the classroom returning.  The Dominion wasn’t just the boogyman those outside of the Fourth Fleet were making them out to be – they were the reason the boogyman had been invented.  He slowed them as they took refuge behind the planet.  Kondo went to work, “There are a few short-range sensor buoys in the area.  Attempting to connect…” he worked the console and clicked his tongue, “One’s been damaged…but the other one…there we go.”

The screens filled with the sensor data from the buoy, detailing the number of contacts closer to fifty Jem’Hadar Fighters.  Hertz and Judon sat forward in their seats, eyes now glued to the two screens as Kondo narrated what he was finding, “You see the number of fighters there – computer is 95% sure those are Dominion forces.  Looking to see what else we can see here…” The sensor buoy continued to feed back information. The runabout’s computer beeped as it updated its interpretation, and De La Fontaine reported, “Looks like a Jem’Hadar Battlecruiser at the far end.”  He tapped at his console, “She’s had a few upgrades since she landed here.  Her power readings are a little higher than we’ve seen in a ship from that time.”  Another glance at the readouts, “I think the Breen’s been helping them…which isn’t great news.”

Judon stood up, frustrated.  “These are just sensor reports!  I need to see them to verify these lies you’re spreading.  These mean nothing!”  She hustled up to the archway to the cockpit, “You can either get us close enough to see them, or you can take us back to Janoor III.  I will not be fooled by Fourth Fleet Propaganda.”

Kondo quietly stood and pointed her back to the cabin as Charlie, the diplomatic officer, came up from the back, exasperated, “Secretary Judon, it is very dangerous to get close to Dominion forces.  They are…”

She snapped as she stomped back to her seat, “…are a myth!  A ghost to scare us into the arms of the Fourth Fleet and surrender our rights, our planet…and our people.”  Judon sat down in a huff and crossed her arms, staring at the diplomatic officer, fuming.

Hargraves blinked twice and stepped into the cockpit, “You’re not going to like my suggestion.”  He didn’t like it himself if he was honest.  “They have to see it.”  He cringed as he said it.  Getting closer to the Dominion forces was a dangerous game, especially in a runabout.

Prentice shook his head, “You’d made this suggestion a year ago, I’d have said hell yes, let’s get after it.”  He glanced at Kondo, “I’m more interested in living to see tomorrow these days.”  There was an unsettling tension in the cockpit, and it was the reality that he spoke about next that was causing it, “But…I think Charlie’s right.  We’re going to spin our warp drives up over and over without them giving us the OK to get help from the Cardassians.”  He accepted the annoyed look from the chief tactical officer, “I know, I know…but other options do we have?  We’ve got the Oly and the Mack, but we still need the Galor fleet and their people.”

Kondo didn’t like it.  He hated it, really.  The problem was he didn’t have an answer to Will’s question.  They needed proof, and Janoor III wouldn’t take a scan or even a photo for an answer.  “Damn it.  Will, get me a course that skirts the fleet as much as possible but gets us our visual.  Charlie, get everyone secured back there – if they see us, we’re going to be making a bumpy exit.”  The diplomatic officer vanished into the back, barking orders.  Prentice confirmed he had a course plotted.  De Le Fontaine complained, “I hate it, but here we go.”

The New York kicked on it’s impulse engines and swung around the gas giant, steaming in the direction of the fighters.  Kondo tuned the cameras toward the grouping and attempted to zoom in. They would need to get closer.  “They haven’t seen us yet…Prentice, let’s get closer for a better picture.”  Will made a face as he adjusted their course, slowly growing closer to the Dominion forces.  A second later and the video cleared up, “Secretaries, you can see on your video screens the fifty or so Jem’Hadar Fighters.”

There was an argument and then a shout, and then Judon stormed into the cockpit for the second time that day, “Where are they?  That video is not convincing.”  She gestured to the cockpit window ahead, “I want to see them there.”

Kondo wished he had been born a Vulcan.  That way, he’d have enough patience and control not to restrain the secretary and bind her mouth shut. He turned to her, “Madam Secretary, I don’t think…”

She jumped ahead and mashed her hands over Prentice’s console.  He was too shocked to react, and suddenly the New York went to full impulse and careening towards the fleet of fighters which grew bigger in the window, until Judon stepped back in shock.  Prentice got back control of his console and plotted a retreat course as the fighters suddenly took notice of the runabout and moved to intercept, firing weapons as they went.  Kondo spoke firmly, “I hope you are happy, Secretary Judon.  They know we’re here, thanks to you.  Charlie, secure her. Now.”  The klaxons began to ring as the shields were impacted by the polaron beams.  Kondo tapped the mediocre weapons controls on the New Atlantic while his friend careened the runabout towards open space.

Hargraves slammed Judon in her seat, strapping her in, “You’ve got your evidence, secretary.  Now pray we live through this to tell everyone about it.”  Her face had gone ashen white, and her hands shook under the restraints.  She appeared as if she was a fish, desperately asphyxiating out of the water she was used to swimming in.  Judon couldn’t find the words as the images of the fighters turning towards the runabout, weapons glowing and then firing with a vengeance.  The diplomatic officer stood over her, unmoving.  She realized she wasn’t going to be getting back home alone.

In the cockpit, Will growled, furious.  The shots from the fighters were growing more contentious as he evaded the shots and the runabout was taking her fair share of the abuse.  “Shields are at 75%. I’ve signaled the Mackenzie we’ve made a mess of things.  Getting us out of here…now.”  He dodged another blast, and the ship shook from a torpedo impact before the warp engines kicked in and carried them home.

 

The red alert klaxons sounded on the Mackenzie’s bridge as the crew responded to the ‘battlestations’ call from Captain Wren Walton.  Her face was steely as she stood before her chair, hands balled in ever-tightening fists of fury.  What little Reede had been able to parse infuriated her.  She was counting to ten, and she was breathing in and out, and she was still seeing red.  A foolproof plan to spy on the Dominion now had the potential to blow up into a full-on battle.

Her XO sat at the tactical station.  She could feel the heat from Wren, as could most of the bridge crew.  She tracked the shuttle, “Shuttle has departed the area – reporting shields at 60% with mild damage to systems.  They’re transmitting data, video, and signed affidavits from the two secretaries.”

Walton chewed on her bottom lip before she asked, “Are they being followed?”  At this moment, she felt the true weight of the responsibility of command – not only was she responsible for the Janoor III people, but the Olympic was a prime target for the Jem’Hadar.  She’d done her research – there were very few scruples among the Dominion, and war crimes were just an average Tuesday for them.  If the enemy was two hours away, Crawford would need to get as many from the planet as he could…and run.

Park played with the science and tactical sensors at the same time, searching the space around the runabout.  She sat up, startled, and checked again.  There was nothing in the area.  No signals like the Olympic crew had detected.  Just the patterns of fighters on patrol on the far edge of the map.  She reported this to her captain, and Wren stared at her momentarily in disbelief.  The XO checked again.  Nothing.

“That is…damned peculiar.  What is their game?  ‘Victory is life’ seems like they’d want to run right over us.  Reede, get me, Captain Crawford.”  Oscar spun in his chair and went to work. A moment later, he confirmed he had the CO of the Olympic.  He was feeling useful at comms.  He hoped that continued.

Crawford’s worried visage filled the screen, “Talk to me, Wren.”  She explained what they were seeing, and he sat back in his chair, thinking.  “Well, this is the Lost Fleet…so that fact that they’re not following is weird.  Let’s see…” he looked at his PADD, “The New York’s report had fifty fighters and a Battlecruiser…that’s not much of an invasion force.  That’s more of a ‘hold the system’ force.  I don’t think we’ve seen the ships and soldiers they’ve got planned for Janoor III.  That might just be part of the invasion fleet.  I’d recommend staying at red alert until we’re sure.”

Wren couldn’t argue with his logic.  She’d been wondering how much would eventually avalanche down the mountain of the Lost Fleet towards them.  She had part of her answer. “We’ll keep an eye out, Pete.  Mackenzie out.”  The channel closed, and she turned to her XO, “Tell me we’re still in the clear.”

Park had been studying the sensors while the conversation continued, “Nothing on long-range sensors…something interesting, captain.”  She worked the console, and the screen displayed a feed from the sensor buoy that the New York had gotten their initial intelligence.  “They’re holding the connection and will drop an additional transmitter or two on their way back.”

Walton smiled for the first time in an hour, “We just got some serious luck tossed our way.”  They both watched the screen as the ships’ movement returned to the normal cycle the Olympic had originally identified.  “That’s really good.”  She returned to her chair, but before she sat down, she spoke to Reede, “Send a message to the governor.  Inform him we’ll have his evidence along with his people…and this time…he’s coming to us.  Work with the diplomatic team to make what I just said less…,” she struggled for the word.

Reede offered meekly, “Threatening, captain?”

She laughed, startling him but earning a smile after the fact, “That’s the one.  I’ve got a Gul to harass.  Park, you have the CONN.”

The XO stood and moved to the center chair, “I have the CONN.”  The door closed behind her CO, and she wondered if there was a slim chance they’d complete their mission without too much trouble.  She amended that in her head.  Just enough trouble, perhaps. 

Comments

  • Another great chapter from the Mack! Judon is some piece of work! Has me at the edge of my seat when she pulled that little stunt, but thankfully they got away safely! I also really enjoy the bogeyman reference, good to show how terrifying the Dominion truly can be. Wonder why they didn’t follow, looking forward to the next chapter!

    May 15, 2023
  • Is Judon insane or completely stupid? I wanted to toss her out the nearest air lock. Good to see Pete finally.

    May 15, 2023