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Part of USS Mariner: M1: Into The Gamma Quadrant and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

25) The Handover

Starbase 86
March 2401 - Beginning of Lost Fleet Arrival
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Starbase 86 – Task Force Command

The regional situation was getting worse by the minute. Task Force 86 was stretch thin with the so-called “skirmishes” of the Breen. The Federation had the guts to deny what was clear as water that the Dominion was knocking at their doorstep once again. The timing of Ryoko leaving was not well met, but her duties obligated her to go to the frontline at Deneb and support the Fourth Fleet in whatever capacity. That would, however, mean that someone else would be tied to the duties of TFCO. Taking a deep breath, Ryoko was standing at the window letting in the quietness before she was interrupted by a person entering the office.

“Captain, Captain Barrington has arrived per the addressed schedule”

A second or two it stayed quiet until she lowered her head slightly looking at another ship jumping into warp “Let him in, but leave the office Petty Officer” Ryoko didn’t turn around to Loid.

“Yes Captain”  With that said, Loud turned around and left the office per the request of his former boss.

Theo Barrington looked up as the petty officer returned to the outer office. It had been a long day, but then transits always were, and worse for taskforce staff in a way, since they were subject to hitching rides on ships going their way. But he didn’t let any of that show on his face as the petty officer announced, “If you would like to follow me, sir.”

Theo inclined his head and unfolded his tall frame from the chair, following as he was led to an office.

“Thank you,” he murmured and stepped through the door to find himself in the presence of Captain Takato.

“Good morning, Theo Barrington,” he said, crossing the distance between them and offering his hand.

The door closed at the petty officer leaving making it possible for Ryoko to finally move and yet only turned her head around to look over her shoulder. “I know who you are Captain Barrington, welcome to Starbase 86” She turned around finally and for a moment she looked at his hand then reached out to shake it “Please take a seat”

“Thank you,” he offered a smile as he folded himself back into the chair. They were always that little bit too low for him, and he felt like his knees were up around his ears, but this was not the time or the place to lounge and get comfortable. “And thank you for the welcome. It’s certainly a change of scenery from the stomping grounds of 47.”

Taking a seat herself her facial expression didn’t change, it stayed professional and calm “Congratulations are in order, this seat will be yours as of”  Ryoko blinks a bit and sits back in the chair “Well after this meeting. I am glad you could make time for me to hand over the current affairs of Task Force 86” She gave a soft smile “It has been a brief moment that I could enjoy it, but Starfleet engine keeps moving”

He nodded. “It certainly does, come hell or high water. Hopefully you’re happy about your new assignment though?”

That made her go quiet for a second and stare at the glass on the table as if she is carefully considering her words. Ryoko eyes finally meet that of Theo “Well, you heard Admiral Ramar about the Deneb situation, my expertise is required at the frontline. What is your opinion about it? I believe you are briefed about it?”

“We’re all being moved to where we can best serve,” he replied. “And yes, I’ve been briefed. Well… with all the information we have at present anyway. Which isn’t a lot. I think we’re in for the fight of our lives, to be honest, and we’re going to need every advantage we’ve got.” He added a smile. “But we have a lot of them, so I have hope.”

Taking a deep breath “I have worked with various Fourth Fleet staff members, Admiral Marshall-Bennet, Commodore Jori, Captain Kohl and so on. I personally find it troubling to know that Starfleet Command is ignoring Admiral Ramar on a serious matter like this and shoves it off as just skirmishes. In this line of work you require to be skeptical of your surroundings and need to be able to make choices on a moment of notice. But to ignore the principles that were learned the hard way over time is in my eyes outright reckless”  

He nodded, leaning back slightly in his chair. “It is exceedingly odd. Which makes me think we are not seeing the whole picture, or not being allowed to see the whole picture. Which I don’t like. Lack of pertinent intell causes issues, and issues get our people dead, fast. A warning to watch their backs might serve our captains well.”

She nodded to that “That is something we both agree on, there is a ….ruse going on within Starfleet Command and I tend to agree with our Fourth Fleet command. But such agreement has led me to a difficult path staying in the position I am in right now. Which brings you here, thread carefully where you step as Starfleet Command might cause issues if you go against their policy”  She tapped the table. “The task force is in good spirit” She looked outside seeing another ship jump to warp “But I am not going to lie, our condition is stretch thin. After the entire blood dilithium operations in delta quadrant, we had pirates wrecking havoc among the borders. And now we have Dominion working most likely with their old allies”  

He inclined his head in acknowledgment of her warning. It was a new world so to speak that they were stepping into and he had long ago learned to watch his step.

“In good spirit works,” he replied. “I’m assuming you have the last round of co reports in the handover packet?” He’d need to review them quickly, working in their contents with what he knew of the situation and then work out a rapid deployment program for the current situation. “Are there any captains I need to watch for particularly?”

The list had come to mind for her. “They are all talent in their own way, but the problem at the moment is that there is a lot of fresh blood that need guidance” She shoves the PADD to his side. “You will find it all in there. So far I know the USS Pandora, USS Valhalla, USS Brontes, USS Alita, USS Mariner and USS…” tapping her finger again to remember the name. “Ahh Resolute are on their way for operational details in Deneb or involved in the lost fleet campaign”  Ryoko smiled softly “Mason is a hand full, fair warning in advance”

“Is he now?” Theo flashed her a blinding smile. “Thanks for the warning. That ship name rings a bell though.” He opened the padd and scanned down the list. “Ah yes. My cousin is assigned to the Resolute.”

Nodding to Theo “They are all good officers, but their field of work doesn’t bring them kind experience. They are marked for life in one way or another”  Ryoko stated with some concern in her voice. She bites her lip for a second and spoke out “Computer seal off the room, let me know if someone is trying to take a crack at it”  The computer bleeped.

Ryoko looked at Theo “Captain, I am going to be blunt, I the situation that Starfleet Command has created in name of Frontier Day, the bigger picture that is not being showed to us by them as you said. Is very troubling, the latest reports at the front are dire and concerning” She rubs her template “I honestly don’t know what to expect there, but I will be leading search and rescue operations there. The ships I just named have specific orders that concern this so-called lost fleet”

He nodded, glad she’d sealed the room. The situation was unusual, so the less loose talk the better. And, as had already come down from on high, the only people they could trust were other members of Fourth Fleet.

“Indeed. I have those orders here as well. I guess command aren’t taking chances, eh?” That they both had a set of said orders was curious. Didn’t command trust them either? Or not all of them?

“Since that announcement of Admiral Ramar and Admiral Beckett I started to ….concern myself of my own staff. Observe their behavior and look at their duties. Normally you trust your fellow officers to do a proper job and get you the person you need”  Ryoko stayed vague and though carefully what words she would use “Just stay vigilant on what occurs here. There are members within the fleet that are taken risk to get this situation in control. I don’t know the details, Admiral Beckett never …shared them with me which is understandable in some degree, and honestly I don’t know if we can trust each other. But I follow the words of command and trust Fourth Fleet senior staff. So just know that what I know is all I got….Captain Kobahl is being sent to the Bajoran gate to travel to the Gamma Quadrant” She knew it was critical as that order was the one with the least words.

“Trust is a hard-earned commodity sometimes, but I don’t think we need to go jumping at shadows,” he said with a smile. “Which is exactly what I’d say if I wanted to gain your trust, isn’t it?” he added with a small chuckle. “But so far, what I see here matches with what I have, so I think we need to trust Fourth Fleet command. Until of course, intel changes, if it changes.”

He looked up from the padd, spearing her with a direct gaze. “I assume that you will be shipping out immediately? Given the speed I was ordered to report here for duty?”

“Sadly yes, the given situation at Deneb is more concerning then anticipated. I don’t…” She shrugs a bit “ know what to expect and I am trained to expect the unexpected. No one expected the Dominion fleet that was wush away by whatever force to be returning and on top of it all being ignored by the very power that is placed to protect us”  Ryoko shrugs and stood up. “You got any other questions?” She gave a small smile, but the concern in her eyes didn’t disappear.

“About a hundred,” he stood as she did, trying not to tower over her. “At least one of those was to ask you if you had dinner plans,” he added with a charming smile. “But other than that, no. You’ve covered everything I need to know. Thank you.”

Giving a smile at that “Computer remove restrictions” The room gets a bit brighter followed-up with a bleep as she moved from her former desk “I take you up on that dinner…”  looking outside “After our duties have concluded Captain. You seem like a charming and intelligent man” She winks at him as at the same moment the door opens, and the petty officer walks in “Yes?”

“Sir the USS Wakaba is ready for launch to bring you to your next assignment” The petty officer spoke.

It made Ryoko almost flinch and looked instead to Theo with the same concerning eyes muttering to him “Trust only the 4th” Her facial expression changed. “It was a pleasure meeting you, I know that task force 86 will be in good hands.”

“Likewise,” he said, offering her his hand again by way of farewell, not looking or concerning himself with the petty officer. But he’d noted Ryoko’s reaction. “And thank you. I wish you well with your next assignment. And… when we’re both in the same place again, I will hold you to that dinner.”

Gave that hand and shook it with that smile on her face then lets go walking to the door. “Lead the way Petty Officer. It’s your last duty to me” Ryoko stated as the petty officer nodded quickly and exited the room. Ryoko gave one more glare at Theo and then exited herself.

Theo watched the door for a moment, pondering the meeting and its revelations. Then he turned and picked up the padd again. It was time to get to work.