Star Trek: Outreach
And So It Begins…
Office of the First Minister, Cardassia Prime
Stardate: 52992.7 (December 29th, 2375)
Natima Lang stood by the large oval window that looked out over the Capital. There wasn’t a building that hadn’t suffered some kind of damage, whilst a pile of rubble was all that remained of others. Who knew how many bodies were still buried in their former homes or reduced to the dust that blew through the deserted streets. Since the end of the war, the people of Cardassia Prime had become scared and withdrawn. Their industry had been decimated, the economy was non-existent, the pride and self-worth that had once been a defining trait of her people had been crushed.
But they had only themselves to blame. When Gul Dukat had invited the Dominion to Cardassia, there had been little resistance, the people only seeing the strength and power they would attain and not the price they would have to pay. The Dissident Movement had tried to make the people aware of the dangers such a union would bring, but their warnings had fallen on deaf ears…well almost. The Vorta had heard them. They sent the Jem’Hadar to silence their protests, under the guise of planetary security. Lang had watched as comrade and friend Rekelen Zoratt had been gunned down by three Dominion soldiers. But she hadn’t been the only one, six others from the Movement had died that day and the rest had barely been able to get into hiding.
For two and a half years, she had lived on the run, trying to gather support for the Movement and watching as Cardassia was dragged into the bloodiest war the Alpha Quadrant had seen. It was only with the revolt of Legate Damar that they had begun to be heard and taken seriously, with many of the Movement (herself included) taking up arms to help free their world.
But now they were free of the Dominion, their legacy would be felt for generations to come, and she doubted that Cardassia would ever fully recover. Which was why her latest, and perhaps most controversial, proposal was so important if they were to survive and rebuild—she was just glad that the other ministers had listened and agreed with her.
The intercom on her desk chirped. She moved over to it and tapped a control. “Yes?”
“First Minister, the comlink you requested has gone through,”
her aide informed her.
“Thank you. Please transfer the connection to my terminal. Lang out.”
She sat down in her high-backed chair, took a steadying breathe and then activated her screen. The Cardassian emblem appeared briefly, before being replaced by the dark, lined face of a human female, with short salt-and-pepper hair and intense dark eyes, which seemed more than a little surprised to see Lang.
“First Minister Lang, I had not known it was you that was contacting me,”
Fleet Admiral Thema Shanthi stated. “My apologies for keeping you waiting.”
“That is quite alright, Fleet Admiral. I can imagine you are very busy right now, and the delay allowed some time for reflection.”
“What can I do for you, First Minister?”
Shanthi asked, getting to the point. Lang had only spoken with the Commander-in-Chief of Starfleet a couple times over the last few weeks, since she was sworn into office, but Lang had come to like her direct approach—it was needed in this day and age.
“Fleet Admiral, firstly I would like to thank you for all that Starfleet and the Federation is doing for my people—it is much more than we deserve. However, I feel that there is more that could be done to get relief aid and supplies directly to where they are needed.”
“As you know, our fleet was all but destroyed during the war. What ships we have left are damaged and operating with skeleton crews, in short they are not up for the task of redistributing the aid that is sorely needed across our space. I am offering Starfleet to have free and unrestricted access to our space, so as to help my people recover from this atrocity.”
Shanthi’s eyebrows shot upwards in a look of stunned disbelief. Following the end of the War, the old Cardassian Union had been divided up between the Allied Forces of the Federation, Klingon and Romulan Empires, as well as the newly formed Cardassian Republic, with each species responsible for supply support and aid where needed, ensuring security and that the articles of the surrender and treaty were upheld. Whilst the Klingons and Romulans were doing little to help, the Federation was giving more than Lang had ever dreamed—but it still wasn’t enough. Lang’s offer of unlimited access essentially gave the Federation responsibility for half of the former Union.
“That is some offer, First Minister. Has the parliament approved such a decision?”
“Grudgingly,” she admitted. The other ministers hadn’t liked the proposal, but she had been able to secure a fifty-five percent approval—not the greatest of margins but a majority nonetheless.
“I will need to discuss this with the Command and Federation Councils,”
Shanthi informed her, clasping her hands before her and leaning forward. “I will have an answer for you within twenty-four hours.”
“I understand, Fleet Admiral, thank you. I will await your response.”
“I will endeavour to do all I can, First Minister. Shanthi out.”
The Cardassian emblem reappeared. She deactivated her console again and then sat back. The future of her people was now in the hands of others. Natima Lang could only hope that they would make the right choice.
* * * * *
Relief Management Centre, Starfleet Operations
Sydney, Australia, Earth
Stardate: 52998.6 (December 31st, 2375)
With a little more than twelve hours until 2376 began, there were still mountains of PADDs that needed to be sorted, approved, queried and filed. But then again, it was no different from any other day of the last month. Rear Admiral (lower half) Alisana J’Nae was progressing through the stacks, one datapad at a time, in between meetings, subspace conferences, briefings and all the other interruptions that made a long task that much longer. She doubted that she would be out to celebrate at midnight, most likely she would still be in her office. But when she’d been offered the role as Deputy Chief of Relief Operations, she knew that it would be a lot of hard, thankless work—however it was five times harder than anything she could have imagined.
She reached for the teacup on her desk, not taking her eyes from the latest refugee statistics. She lifted the cup to her lips and it was only when she tried to take a sip did she look into the cup, to find it empty. Setting it back in the saucer and laying the PADD next to it, she stood up and stretched the kinks and knots out of her back, groaning as the stiffness that had taken root in her spine was eased. She picked up the cup and saucer, moved to the replicator and ordered a fresh cup of spice root tea with a twist of lemon. As the cup dematerialised and was replaced with a new one, she closed her eyes and rotated her head, neck and shoulders, trying to relax a little. Spending hours sitting still, doing paperwork wasn’t good for her; it was one of the biggest changes she’d had to make since entering the admiralty ten months ago.
With her new cup of tea, she returned to her desk. She avoided looking out her window at Sydney harbour and the Opera House, as it was a view she had found to be intoxicating, one she could easily get lost in if she wasn’t careful. Tonight it would be light up with fireworks as the streets were filled with revellers, celebrating the end of the war as much as the beginning of the New Year.
She had just sat down when the door chimed.
“Enter,” she called, expecting to see one of the facilities admin officers bringing in a new stack of PADDS. So when the doors opened to reveal Admiral Mrrkol, the Director of Starfleet Operations, she was susprised to say the least. Instinctively she rose from behind her desk as the tower Caitian walked into her office.
“Good day, Rear Admiral J’Nae,” he purred.
“And to you, Admiral Mrrkol,” she greeted him, gesturing to one of the empty seat opposite her. “Please have a seat. Can I get you anything?”
Mrrkol shook her head. “No, thank you.” He looked at all the PADDs on her desk with a hint of sympathy as he sat. “How’re things going?”
“Slowly, sir,” she admitted, “but I like a challenge.”
His ears twitched and a vague smile tugged at the corner of his lips. “So I read in your personnel file. You’ve impressed all your former CO’s with your hard work and devotion to duty, which you’ve continued since your promotion. Vice Admiral Perai has told me several times that you’re the best deputy she could have asked for.”
“I just knuckle down and focus on the job at hand—we Centaurians may be a peaceful people, but we’re used to hard work.”
“And you are a credit to you people, Rear Admiral, which is part of the reason I’m here. You’re also organised and meticulous, whilst your background in diplomacy has made you a highly effective liaison between Starfleet and the civilian relief organisations and charities. You know all about the relief work that’s going on and the logistics required to make it run as smoothly as possible.
“It’s because of all that that we have a new assignment for you,” Mrrkol told her.
“Starfleet Command has developed a new programme for our work with in the former Cardassian Union, they’re calling it Project Outreach, and it needs someone on site to take charge. Are you interested?”
* * * * *
S.C.E. Prep Room, U.S.S. Tahv
Stardate: 53042.1 (January 16th, 2376)
Ever since it had been announced on New Year’s Day, the entire fleet had been abuzz with chatter and speculation on Project Outreach. There were those who were obviously against the idea of contributing more Starfleet resources to helping the Cardassians, angry and bitter about family and friends lost, or believing that they deserved whatever they got for selling their souls to the devil. Throughout all the outrage and expletives, Lieutenant Aki Yamada remained quiet. She hadn’t spent any time on the front, but instead had been heavily involved in R&D, helping design and test new weaponry and shielding. Of course she had lost friends—who hadn’t—but she had always just focused on what needed doing and grieved in her own time, this mission would be just the same.
The Miranda-Class U.S.S. Tahv
(named for the inventor of warp drive on Tellar) was one of the few ships assigned to the Starfleet Corps of Engineers, but unlike the newer, smaller Sabre-Class ships, it was intended for more long-term assignments. Her new mission was to go to the Trivas System and secure Empok Nor
, an old Cardassian Station abandoned three years ago, they were then to disarm any booby traps and then start work on bring the base online, as it was to act as the new headquarters for Starfleet operations in the region.
Commander Leland T. Lynch, the S.C.E. Commander onboard, had laid out their mission in the briefing the day before. Four six-man teams would beam in, as they couldn’t risk any of the docking ports in case they’d been rigged with explosives, then split into two smaller groups. The eight teams would then begin locating and disarming and threats they found, starting at the docking ring and working their way in towards the central core. Each smaller team would consist of two engineers and a security guard, all would be armed and caution was the key, this job had to be done right, no matter how long it took.
Yamada had been placed in command of beam-in team three, so after they split up the second group would report in to her and then she would relay their full progress to Lynch. She’d led teams before, both in the field and also on research projects, but this was the first time she was beaming into a situation where they expected danger. She looked at the other S.C.E. personnel on her team: Ensign th’Vahlan was a wizard with sensors, Senior Chief Baxter was a solid all-rounder, Chief Rehein was a structural expert, Petty Officer Wells was excellent with power systems, and lastly Crewman T’Sei was a tactical specialist. They were all checking through their toolkits, as well as the phaser and tricorders on their belts and the SIMs beacons on their wrists. As per orders, they would all be carrying phaser rifles as well—much to Yamada’s dismay. Though given the recent history of the base, the Cardassian soldiers doped with psychotropic drugs, a cult led by Gul Dukat, not to mention the vagrants, raiders and other undesirables that had made use of the base over the last couple of years, she could understand the need for precautions.
She was just finishing up her last checks when two men (one older human-looking and a youthful Tellarite) approached, both with an armful of type-three phaser rifles. She straightened up as they stopped in front of her team.
“Master Chief Andal Ibari and Crewman Rgek lorin Chabor, we’ll be your security escort,” the older male stated. He was handsome, his hair greying at the temples and his cropped beard highlighted with silver, and going by his onyx pupils she assumed Betazoid.
“Lieutenant Aki Yamada,” she said with a nod, then introduced the rest of the team.
As they began distributing the weapons, Ibari asked, “What’s the team division?”
“Rehein and T’Sei are with me, whilst Ensign th’Vahlan will supervise Baxter and Wells.”
He nodded. “Chabor will accompany you, Ensign; I’ll be with you, Lieutenant.”
“Sounds good to me, Master Chief.”
“Bridge to prep. We’re on approach to
Empok Nor. Report to transporter rooms one through four.”
“Understood Captain,” Lynch responded. He looked at the four teams. “Let’s get moving.”
Yamada led her people into transporter room three and stepped up onto the dais. For the first part of the mission, they would be on a double shift, after which the next teams would take over, and so on until they were satisfied that the facility had no more surprises hidden for them. It was only then that the Tahv
would dock and the bulk of the S.C.E. team would get to work on repairing, upgrading and restoring systems. Lynch had told them they had been given a month to get as much done as possible, after that then the stations complement would begin arriving and they would have to work around others, so they would focus was on main systems: power, environmental, weapons and computers. They had a lot of double and triple shifts ahead of them, but the more they could get done whilst alone on the station the better, minor systems could be dealt with when needed.
Once her people were in place, she levelled her rifle and activated her SIMs beacon, ready to face whatever they might face. She looked around at her team and noticed that a few were showing the same nerves she was doing well to hide. Her eyes then locked with Ibari and he gave her a small encouraging smile.
“Standby,” the transporter chief announced.
She faced forward once again, flexed her grip on the rifle and waited.
After a few moments, the Bolian at the controls stated, “Energising.”
It took only eight seconds for them to dematerialise from the Tahv
and rematerialize on Empok Nor
. As soon as she solidified, Yamada had expected to hear klaxons and alerts or an explosion that took out the entire station. The eerie stillness was worse.
The team swept the area with their lights and weapons, but nothing jumped out at them. The corridor was cluttered with crates and containers stacked up, a thick layer of dust was on every surface and the deck was littered with rubbish. There was no movement or sound. Yamada quickly looked down all three paths at the intersection they had been beamed into, the passages to her left and right curved around the rest of the docking ring, whilst the one before her was a connecting bridge to the habitat ring. She looked over her shoulder and noticed a set of double doors, which should be a turbolift shaft that would give them access to the upper and lower pylons.
“So far so good,” Ibari announced, his soft voice echoing down each corridor.
Had she been anywhere else, she may have smiled, but as it was there was something about the desolate station that seemed to suck all the joy out of her. She shuddered before straightening up.
“Let’s get to it. We need to get those doors opened and start sweeping the pylons.”
* * * * *