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Part of USS Olympic: Mission 1 – Uneasy Alliance and USS Mackenzie: The Mackenzie Squadron – The Uneasy Alliance

15 – An Uneasy Olympic

USS Olympic
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“You can’t use the word ‘refugees,’ Commander Hargraves.”

The chief diplomatic officer had to catch his words before they exploded from his mouth.  He shifted in his seat and counted to five instead.  “What word would you prefer I use?”

The senior diplomatic officer on his screen replied, “Something around these people choosing to leave their homes – they could stay and rebuild if they wanted.”

Charlie couldn’t stop himself this time, “What the hell are you on about, Stanislav?  The capital just got wiped off the face of the planet.  Three thousand people died!  That doesn’t fit within the ‘refugee’ definition?”  He was infuriated and found himself unable to speak.

“We continue to classify this situation as nothing more than a border skirmish with Breen….”

Hargraves lost it, “You’ve gotta be shitting me, Jeremy.  We’ve known each other long enough to know when to turn on the lies and when to be truthful about what’s really going on.”  He looked into his old friend’s eyes and wondered what had happened to the once promising first officer.  How far had he fallen?

“Well, with that language, I think our time has come to an end.  Good day, commander.”  The channel slammed shut.  Charlie fell back in his chair, flummoxed.

 

Peter Crawford sat next to the biobed that held his first officer and chief medical officer.  Dread’s chart read like she’d entered the ring with an Odyssey class.  And crawled out.  The morning report from the surface where he’d stayed overnight wasn’t improving. 3.489 was the latest fatality update.  The search and rescue operations were still working through the mountains of rubble while the shuttle and runabout teams worked to control the fires.  The goal of putting them out remained a moving target.

“You look like hell warmed over, Pete.”  Helena had opened her eyes and squinted at the bright lights of the Olympic’s sprawling sickbay and then at her CO.  She groaned as the pain surged.  “How bad was it?”

He read from the PADD, “Patient presented with all ribs broken, significant concussion, severe fractures to both legs, multiple vertebrae fractures, minor to major damage to the spinal cord, and multiple internal injuries leading to bleeding.”  He tapped at the PADD, ‘That’s just the major points.  There’s plenty more about burns, skin abrasions, bruising…I may be hell warmed over, Helena…but you’ve been through it.” 

She allowed a thin smile as an attending sidled up to her with hyposprays.  “Hey, Sergio.” 

He granted her a big smile, “Heya Cap.” Sergio Clemente was an older doctor serving on the Olympic for many years.  He had been one of the few she’d elected to retain.  “You must be feeling better.  You called me ‘bastardo’ last night when we stabilized you.”

Her eyes went wide.  She was sometimes known for her irascible manner, but she usually knew when to reign it in.  “I’m sorry, Sergio…it must have been bad.”

“We lost you twice on the table, Cap.  Between the blood loss and the internals…an old school meat grinder comes to mind.”  He injected her softly with each, his gentle care drawing an impressed look from Crawford.  Tapping at the bed sensors, Clemente nodded approvingly at the results, “Your ribs are healed, and the internal injuries are coming along nicely.  The spinal column will need one more operation and treatment this afternoon…you should be back on your feet by tomorrow.”  He accepted her hand, reaching out to his, “I am glad you are still with us, Cap.”

Her eyes flitted with water.  She’d had her share of near-death experiences through her years of service, but nearly dying twice in one sitting was a new record for her.  Dread managed a “Me too, Sergio, me too.”  He squeezed her hand and left to continue his rounds.  She wiped her eyes, “He’s good at what he does.”

Peter agreed, “He’s handling the Interim Chief gig well enough…but I know he’ll be glad to have you back in the morning.  Hell, I’ll be glad to have you back in the morning.”  He sat back in his chair, “I’ve seen some shit, Helena…but this is…is something more.  So much death.  So much violence.”

Dread turned her head to face him, “Language, Peter.”  He rolled his eyes, and she chuckled, wincing at the pain.  They sat in silence, the ambient sounds of sickbay keeping time in the orchestra of healing that played on around them.  She sighed, “No matter how hard it gets…or how much pain it brings…I’ve never wondered if it was worth it…even now…I’m more convinced I’m in the right place doing the right things.”

He felt the same, “Amen to that.”  She gave him an odd look, and he shrugged, “Seemed like the right word for the….”  

His badge interrupted him with the voice of his communications chief, Atega, “Captain Crawford to the bridge!”  Her voice was unusually rigid.  Dread waved him off.  She needed the rest.

 

Crawford stepped onto the bridge, and Calog Tir left the center chair for his station as the CO spoke, “Report?”

Fowler turned in her chair, “We picked up a starship inbound about an hour ago.  We attempted to hail her with no response.  She’s a civilian Olympic class who recently joined Task Group 514’s humanitarian operations.  Records show her name as SS Dahl with a Captain Thomas Dahl.”

Pete spun to face Fowler, “So…what’s the issue?  Their communication system might be out.”

She replied, “Perhaps…but sensors show she’s been at warp five for the last twelve hours…and no deviation in course.  She came out of Dominion-controlled space…she dropped out of warp about four hours from us..and she’s headed straight for us.  More precisely,”  she tapped at the console, and the view screen showed the exact course progression map, “…The SS Dahl is on an intercept course for Janoor III.”

Pete stared at the screen as the bridge crew did the same.  He asked, “Catari, how much damage would that do?”

Athena had already been working on it when Fowler had made the discovery.  She reported, “She is a smaller vessel than the battlecruiser, but any impact to the remaining cities would be catastrophic.  I added an additional scenario involving a warp core breach on the planet in addition to the impact.  Intense radiation, long-term effects, damage to the ecosystem, and severe ecological impacts would be expected.”

Crawford wasn’t surprised the young tactical and security officer had gamed it out.  The Dominion’s motto was ‘Victory is Life.’  They had shown their true colors with the first attack.  “Do they think we won’t attack it?”

Catari answered, “Given my evaluations of Dominion tactics they are aware of the Mackenzie’s situation and our limited tactical ability.  They will undoubtedly have the ship’s shields programmed to raise once it arrives in the area.  The damage reports from the Mackenzie are clear – she cannot fight.  The planet’s phaser banks are not enough to stop the ship.”

Pete turned in his chair to face the viewscreen.  The question hung in the air.  What could they do?  He asked, “Are her shields up now?”  Catari answered they were not.  He turned to her and held eye contact, “Could we do it?”

She was following on his wavelength, “It is not impossible.  We would need to have the shuttle enter the shuttle bay to ensure the ability to escape….or have the shuttle keep pace for emergency transport.”

Lieutenant Tir was lost, “What are we talking about, captain?”

Crawford chuckled, “We’re talking about taking the SS Dahl and bringing her down from the inside before she has a chance to inflict more violence on Janoor III.”

Calog wondered after he had a moment to process the plan, “What if it’s a trap?  They take a few of us with them.”  He had lost enough so far.  He wasn’t sure he could anymore.

The CO understood, “What if it isn’t?  We run the risk of more death with a planet full of survivors and Starfleet crew.  Risk is our business…and we have to hope there’s a reward in the end.”  The silence on the bridge was his answer.  No one had an alternate solution.  He ordered, “Catari – assemble your team.  The clock is ticking.”