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

13 – An Uneasy Arrival

USS Mackenzie
03.07.2401
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“The fighter group is growing…but they’re still staying put.  Reports are that they’re taking additional ground.”  Kondo De La Fontaine walked Captain Walton and the XO through the morning report.  Not much had changed overnight, and he was left wondering what the Jem’Hadar were planning.  “We’ve had additional traffic of Fourth Fleet ships passing through the sector and system.  Their reports are attached.”  Wren glanced through the details quickly before the tactical chief finished with his last item, “The Thomas Jefferson reached out earlier – they’re passing through on their way to an assignment.  Wanted to ask about getting some medical assistance.”

Park glanced at her PADD, “Task Force 514 finally decided to show up.”  A tap of the screen, “Intrepid class who recently had a refit expanded sickbay.”  She glanced at her captain, “Seems an odd request, Wren.”  Another tap, “Her CO is Captain Laurence Basta.”

Walton chewed on her bottom lip.  The name rang a bell or two.  Her PADD was out, and she dug through her files from her previous position.  It took a few minutes before she scoffed, “Oh, hell. Basta, the Bastard.”  She skimmed through the reports and commentary she had recorded ten years previous and handed it to Park, “Ten years ago, I worked with him as an Operations Chief.  He wasn’t great at his job…and it took me a full year to get him to see the light.  He’d washed out of two programs before I got a hold of him.”

Seoyeon whistled low as she read, “You were his last chance.  It looks like he turned it around.  What the official record shows, he’s earned that center chair.  You ever talk to him since?”  This appearance from the past of her CO was suddenly interesting.  Park had been through Walton’s program herself, and her success was still to be decided.

Wren shook her head, “Nothing.  Ten years is a long time.”

Kondo suggested, “It could just be a coincidence that he’s coming our way.”  He chuckled at Park and Wren’s look of disbelief and surrendered, “Yea, yea.  It’s a little weird he’s coming out this far.  As they get closer, I’ll work up a tactical scan and sensor report.  We’ve got about two hours before they arrive.”  

Wren thanked him as he left and turned back to Park, “Let’s stay on our toes.”

 

Basta stood in the empty meeting room.  An escort group of security officers had met him in the transporter room and walked him silently down a corridor, around a corner, and straight into a random conference room.  He had walked around the room twice, wondering.  He soon gave up and sat in one of the chairs.  A few minutes later, the door opened, and Wren Walton walked in, carrying a PADD with a commander at her heels.  He stood to greet her.  “Captain Walton.  It’s good to see you.”  She gave a curt nod and slid into the seat across from him, joined by the still-nameless commander.  “Your XO?”  He nodded to the placid-faced woman.

Wren set her PADD on the table, “Commander Park Seoyeon.  She’s also my chief science officer.”  A pause, “You asked for this meeting in a random conference room.  That was a helluva list of scanning requirements for the room and confirmed sensor reports about our status.  What is going on, captain?”

He shifted in his seat, “What were the nicknames you gave me?”

She frowned, “I’m not sure why….”

He interrupted, “Captain Walton, I’m on a limited schedule, and I need to make sure you are who you say you are.  What were the nicknames you gave me?”

The frown remained, but she recited them all, “The Bastard, The Butcher, The Butt, The Burr, The Brand…and The Bugger.”  She leaned in, “What is the point of all this, Basta?  I haven’t seen you in ten years, and suddenly…here you are.”

A sigh from him, “You trust your XO?  She seem like she’s the real thing?”  He turned his stare to Park, waiting for an answer.

Seoyeon asked Walton and Basta, “What the hell does that mean?”  She moved to stand, “Wren, I’m done with this idiot.”  Walton gently held her arm, and the XO sunk back into the chair.

“She is who she says she is.”  She was trying to figure out what emotional state Basta was in, and she watched him for a moment before realizing, “You’re worried…or scared.  What’s got you shaken up?”

A long sigh, “We found a changeling aboard our ship late last night.  Impersonating an engineering crewman.  Our warp core had been having issues with integrity – it was slowing us down on our patrol route.  The chief had been saying it was sabotage long before I turned the corner on the idea…and well, we found him.  Took five phasers and a shipwide search to take him down.”  He tossed a PADD onto the table, “We did a full workup…but you’ve got the Mack and the Oly…and there’s a lot better technology to do an investigation than we have on the Jeff.” Wren sat back, shocked.  A Changeling?  On a Starfleet vessel.  Basta answered the question she had on her face, “And yes, we scan and check for them normally.  As you’ll see in our report – this is a very different kind of Changeling.  I’ve told nobody about this outside of my senior staff.  We’re all a little too freaked out at the moment.”

Park read through the report, “Simulated organs?  Goddamn Dominion.”

Wren took the PADD from her and shook her head, “I don’t know if this is Dominion.  I’ve read Peter’s prep work and the historical data he pulled for us.  This isn’t anywhere near the Changelings of the Dominion War.  Not even the Breen could pull off something like this without some kind of massive shift in their scientific community.”  She turned to Basta, “How long can you stay here?”

He calculated, “The Task Group command team will start to ask if I’m here for longer than a day or maybe two.  Our reports to them indicated we needed additional medical assistance due to an attack from Dominion forces.  There was an attack, but it was pirates.”

Wren chuckled, “You lied!  Damn, Basta.”

Laurence shrugged, “I’ve come a long way in ten years, captain.  I know when to bend the rules this time around.”  It felt good to be sitting across from his old mentor.  She’d worked incredibly hard to get him back on a path all those years ago.  He felt like he was reaching the potential she’d seen him back then.

She stood from the table, and he did the same as she warned, “Captain Crawford is our Dominion War Veteran.  I’m going to have to read him into this.”  She wasn’t sure of anything at the moment, but Crawford was as reliable as anyone.

Basta nodded, “You do what you think is right, captain.  I’m just trying to find answers.  One changeling is a thing….”

She finished it for him, “But if you or we find more…this suddenly gets bigger.”  He nodded, and she sighed, “Goddamn Changelings.”

Comments

  • Great chapter! The more I read Captain Walton, the more I love her haha, she is definitely my favorite character that I've read during this entire fleet action event! I loved the way she had the rude nicknames for Basta, and the best part was he already knew them and wanted her to repeat them to prove her identity, great stuff! Now a changeling thrown into the mix to what is already a very complicated and tense mission and situation, looking forward to how the crew responds and deals with this new threat!

    May 23, 2023