Office of Legate Parn, Cardassian Defence Fleet Headquarters
Lakat City, Cardassia Prime
Stardate: 53072.9 (January 27th, 2376)
Illang Parn sat at his desk looking over the latest orders that had come through from the Provisional Government. It had to be the tenth time he had read them, but each time he did he still couldn’t believe what he was reading. This new democratic government they had would be the ruin of Cardassia, of that he was sure. He—and many other military officers—had objected to the idea the First Minister devised, about giving Starfleet freedom to roam over the Cardassian controlled sectors, supposedly to provide aid. That wasn’t what his people needed; they needed to stand on their own, to restore Cardassia through hard work and loyalty, not begging for scraps off the Federation table.
Now, after re-reading Lang’s latest orders, he was convinced the woman was insane. It was bad enough to give Empok Nor
to Starfleet, but now…he could barely bring himself to even think it, let alone say it—which would make his next meeting awkward.
He flexed his shoulders and stretched out his bulk of body, trying to make himself as comfortable as possible for what was to come. He tapped the signal on his terminal, which would alert his aide that he was ready. A moment later the enunciator sounded, even though he knew who it was and that she had been waiting for ten minutes already, he always liked his meetings to go the same way, so that he always had control.
“Enter,” he called.
The doors parted and a Cardassian woman, in full military uniform, entered. Her stride was purposeful, her posture commanding, her face set hard and chin lifted slightly, giving her an air of arrogance—in short, she was the model Cardassian soldier. She moved straight to his desk and stopped, body stiff and eyes locked above his head.
Parn only had one seat in his office, all those that came to see him needed to stand. He’d discovered long ago, that if forced to stand for long periods many people cut to the chase quicker, or agreed with what he wanted.
“Gahn,” he said by way of greeting to Gahn Kreiva Jarak.
“Legate,” she replied formally, with a slight nod of her head. He noted that her features were quite striking, especially her large grey eyes, which seemed to take in everything around her, her face framed by the short cut of her hair—despite the contemporary fashion among many women to have it long. Had he been thirty years younger, he would have been more than a little interested in pursuing her, but as it was, he didn’t have the energy or virility he once used to.
“You’ve heard of the First Minister’s proposal to Starfleet.” It wasn’t a question. She gave another slight nod. “There are currently engineering teams at work on Empok Nor
, readying the station to act as their base of operation whilst they are here—however long that might be.”
was on patrol in the region when their ship first arrived,” she stated. “We monitored their progress over the first two days. They were timid and cautious.”
He scoffed. “How they’ll be able to help dozens of worlds when they can’t even get a base operational is beyond me, but it has been decreed that we must afford them every opportunity to help. However, the First Minister has decided that this must be a joint venture.”
“We are already rebuilding on Cardassia and several other worlds, what more can we do with our resources at present?”
“This is more than simple materials, Gahn. The First Minister wants Cardassians involved in every part of the operation, which means attaching a contingent of officers to Empok Nor
. We have decided that we want you to lead up that group.”
“Me?!” Jarak balked, her finely crafted veneer finally cracking. “Legate, I must protest!”
He held up his hand and fixed her with a piercing stare, which forced her to quieten down, though did nothing to diminish her anger and resentment. Good,
he mused, we’ll need that
“I argued with this whole idea, but was told that it is going ahead in spite of the objections of the military. So we must at least try and ensure that we get the right people in place onboard, or else before you know it we’ll all be wearing their uniforms.”
“Surely there must be others, Legate. I am in an important position on the Zeldral
, I had hoped that this meeting was to inform me that I would be receiving a command of my own. But now you tell me I must go and work on the same facility as dozens of Starfleeters? It turns my stomach.”
“There are other candidates, Gahn, but seeing your reaction here tells me that you are exactly who we need in place. Whoever was to be assigned would need to show those Starfleet people, that we are not to be pushed around or coddled. We have our pride and will not simple bend to their will. Something tells me, that you will do that far more effectively than most, which is just what we need onboard.
“Though,” he continued after a moment’s pause, “if it is a command of your own you want, I’m sure that could be arranged as we finish off new ships. But that won’t be for around a year.”
She placed her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed. “So if I serve with them for a year, you will guarantee me my own ship, is that what you’re saying, Legate.”
“If you serve onboard Empok Nor
and report back to me on all their activities and operations, then I will ensure that the first new ship completed will be yours—along with your promotion to Gul.”
Jarak looked to mull it over, but he knew he had her—she just didn’t want to appear too desperate for the opportunity he was offering. He doubted that the Starfleet crew would be onboard for as long as a year, but she didn’t need to know that—not until the time was right. Parn sat back, hands resting comfortably on his belly as he watched her.
She took longer than he’d expected her too, but after a few minutes she looked him straight in the eye. “When do we depart?”
“You will need to be on the station in two weeks. Until then, you’d best ready yourself for what is ahead.”
She gave a curt bow, before turning on her heel and strutting out of his office. Once the doors closed behind her he smiled. There was a brief moment of stillness before his terminal chirped and he activated it. A figure in shadow appeared, only their eyes were visible, but they were enough; cold and hard, they made even Parn uneasy.
“Will she do as we want?”
the distorted voice asked.
Parn looked back at the door. “She’s a patriot. She will do what is right for Cardassia, which is right for us.” He looked back at the screen again. “If she doesn’t then it won’t be too hard to remove her—which may work just as well for destabilising the Outreach Project.”
“Agreed. We will have Proxy in place onboard as well, to monitor her and the others.”
“Excellent. I will begin drafting in the other assignees as well.”
“We will continue to monitor.”
With that the channel closed.
* * * * *
Rear Admiral J’Nae’s Quarters, U.S.S. Chok’obo
Sydney Spaceport, Australia, Earth
Stardate: 53075.1 (January 28th, 2376)
J’Nae found her cabin onboard the Chok’obo
was surprising comfortable, though she suspected (correctly) that not all the others were quite as nice. It had a separate bedroom and private bathroom, as well as a small living space with a desk from which she could work—all she really needed for short trips. She and her staff had arrived earlier that morning, stowed their belongings, gotten to know the ship a little better and made themselves comfortable. For this, their maiden voyage, there was a crew of twelve as well as J’Nae and five who were accompanying her, however the ship felt far from cramped.
On her monitor was the latest news from Cardassia. They were assigning a small contingent of forty-six officers and non-coms to the station, to work alongside the Starfleet crew. It was a proposal J’Nae was unsure on, as there was a lot of bad blood between both, which would lead to a great deal of friction and conflict. The Cardassians had pointed out that Starfleet had a similar arrangement on DS9
, which J’Nae couldn’t argue with—but Starfleet and the Bajorans hadn’t spent decades mistrusting or battling one another.
“Bridge to J’Nae,”
came the voice of Tokell.
“All pre-flight systems checks are complete. We are ready to depart.”
She smiled. “On my way.”
Leaving her stateroom behind, she strolled through the corridor, headed forward. It didn’t surprise her that she didn’t meet anyone, those not on shift were either sleeping or making use of the crew lounge, the compact gym, or carrying out some out-of-hours tasks they needed to get done. With her staff onboard, she had split them between the shifts as well, with Tokell, Tregakt and Gray all taking watch on the Bridge. Her new Intelligence Officer was proving to be just as mysterious and unforthcoming as she’d expected from officers in that particular discipline. She hadn’t been able to discern if there was anything more to his name, other than Gray—or if that was even a real name or an alias he used for security purposes.
Entering the Bridge, she found the simple layout to be practical and efficient. The viewscreen at the front as usual and a MSD filling the aft bulkhead, there were two banks on consoles on either side (tactical/communications to port, operations/engineering to starboard), whilst the horseshoe-shaped Conn was situated just before the viewscreen, then in the middle, on a raised step, was a command chair. Tokell had vacated it before she’d entered and now stood to the right side. She slipped into it and got comfortable, finding the seat reassuringly familiar.
Also on the Bridge were: Lieutenant Sanuye at the conn, Chief Nkova at tactical along with the usual operator Petty Officer Anders, whilst at ops was Petty Officer Zhey. Unfortunately there hadn’t been time to get to know the crew, having just met them all a few hours ago, but it would take them the better part of a fortnight to get there, so she would no doubt get to know them well before they arrived.
“Has our departure been cleared?”
“Yes sir,” Nkova told her not looking away from his console.
“Very good. Lieutenant, power the atmospheric thrusters and take us up, slow and steady.”
“Aye Admiral,” the conn officer replied then began manipulating the controls. A low hum reverberated through the hull as the ship slowly rose up off the landing pad, then above the spaceport. With a nudge of the RCS thrusters, the Chok’obo
swept over the city before starting to climb into the atmosphere. It didn’t take them long to reach orbit then approach Spacedock One, where they would be meeting with the rest of their little convoy.
“Incoming signal from the Mercury
, sir,” announced Anders .
“Put them through.”
The viewscreen switched from a view of the immense orbital base to that of a Naduri male, his expression serene whilst the cranial bone carving showed that he was Mak’a continent on their homeworld (Nadura had three large landmasses, though united they were all proud of their own history and accomplishments, so each carved the exposed bone plate at the backs of their skulls to show which continent they were from—Mak’a, Da’dae and Krad’ak). She of course had read up on the profiles of those that would be accompanying them, so knew the Commander to be Dulahn.
,” she greeted him in the traditional manner of one from his homeland. The greeting seemed to surprise him, though he quickly recovered and gave her a slight bow.
“You honour me, Admiral.”
“I’m merely showing my appreciation for the escort, Commander. Besides, I rarely get to practice my Naduri,” she admitted with a smile. “What’s our status?”
Hellespont are both secure and awaiting clearance to depart the station.”
“Understood. We’ll be moving out in alpha formation, full impulse until we clear the system then going to warp five.”
It didn’t take long for the other two ships to depart Spacedock and join them. As they move into position, J’Nae couldn’t help but smile to herself. She wasn’t sure if just four ships could be classed as a convoy, especially since none of them were over two hundred meters in length. It was an odd collection, with the Chok’obo
at the front, the Mercury
taking up the rear, the Oberth-Class U.S.S. Cochrane
to starboard carrying the new crewmembers for the station, and lastly the Mediterranean-Class supply ship Hellespont
to port which was filled with new equipment and hardware (as well as two Danube-Class runabouts). Aside from the Cochrane
all the ships would have their part to play in the Project, all of which would be needed to ensure it was a success. Once she arrived on the station, the pressure would be on to get things going and justify the resources that the Federation and Starfleet had committed to the mission. She would be responsible for twenty starships, a station and almost four and a half thousand officers and crew onboard them.
“Admiral,” Anders’ voice brought her back to the here and now, “all ships have signalled they are ready to proceed.”
“Thank you Mr Anders. Lieutenant Sanuye,” she sat a little straighter as she ordered, “take us out.”
* * * * *
Lower Pylon One, Empok Nor
Stardate: 53104.9 (February 8th, 2376)
Captain sh’Ranni had known that the station would be chaotic when they arrived, after all the S.C.E. team had only been at work for two weeks, but stepping into the docking bay airlock of the pylon she was stunned to see barrels, crates and containers of various shapes and sizes stacked up in the corridor, each showing signs that aside from dust being disturbed on the surface, none had been touched. If it’s like this here, what’s it like in the rest of the station?
she asked herself.
had been carrying sixty-nine of her new crewmembers, mostly security guards, several operational and logistical staff, and a few administrative personnel. She had taken some time to chat with them on the journey to the station, whilst reading up on the daily updates they were sent. From the looks of things they had taken three days just to check the station out completely and disarm forty-three separate booby-traps, including one hooked up to the main reactor. They had since progressed carefully, bringing systems online one at a time and running full diagnostics, so as to watch out for any more surprises. It had been a long slog and they still weren’t finished—it was not a job she envied, but now she would have her own hard work to do in amongst theirs.
Stepping through the airlock she found a petite lieutenant waiting for them, her large almond shaped eyes were tired, but her jet black hair was neat though her uniform was a little messy and had the sleeves rolled up. Sh’Ranni led the way out onto the station, with Kelly right behind her.
“Captain sh’Ranni, welcome to the Outreach station, I’ve been asked to show you up to Ops.”
“Thank you, Lieutenant?”
“Yamada, sir, Senior Diagnostics Officer with the S.C.E.”
She gave a nod and then looked back at all the clutter. Yamada saw her and must’ve picked up on her not so stellar first impression of the facility.
“We’ve been focusing on the primary systems, whilst our security teams are continuing to run sweeps on the base, to make sure that we’ve got anything that could be potentially dangerous. There hasn’t been time to get any of this cleared away. Our QM is currently checking out all the containers, looking to see if there is anything of use that’s been left behind.”
“Well now the reinforcements have arrived, we can make a start on shifting some of this,” sh’Ranni noted.
“If you’ll follow me, please,” said Yamada.
She led sh’Ranni and Kelly into the turbolift and ordered it to Ops. The carriage complied, though not without a few groans and the occasional grinding of metal. Sh’Ranni was surprised at just how run down the station was. From what she recalled on the history of the base it had only been abandoned in 2372, but by the looks of things, before that it hadn’t been well looked after. She took the time to mentally go through what she’d read up on from the reports, when she suddenly realised something.
“Lieutenant, there wouldn’t happen to be another Yamada onboard would there?”
The young engineer gave her a quizzical look and shook her head. “No sir, I’m the only one.”
“So you’re the one who discovered that explosive on the reactor.”
Yamada blushed slightly and looked away for a moment. “I was merely doing my job, sir.”
“And doing it exceptionally well, Lieutenant. As I read, if you hadn’t insisted on a full visual inspection of the core, then it never would have been found and would have blown the instant the reactor was fired up.”
“It’s in the nature of diagnosticians to be thorough, Captain. Any of the others would have caught it.”
Sh’Ranni was about to say more on the matter, but could see that the young lieutenant didn’t like the attention—to her it was just what was expected of her, but sh’Ranni had to wonder how many others would do a full check on a reactor this size themselves. It took a special kind of person to make a call like that and then follow through, especially with time being so tight that delays would cause havoc further down the line.
She couldn’t help but eye up the younger woman in a new light. I do still need someone as Chief Engineer,
The lift juddered then started to slow. The computer chirped. “Power drop detected in turbolift shaft nine, diverting to nearest exit. Disembark and use alternative route.”
Yamada muttered something under her breath then tapped her combadge. “Yamada to Qetzak. Shaft nine is acting up again, we need to run a check on the full system.”
“Understood Lieutenant, I’ll get started on it. You’re not stuck are you?”
The lift stopped and the doors opened into a corridor. “Negative, but we’ve not even made it to the Promenade. Get started, I’ll join you shortly. Yamada out.” She led them out into the hallway, took a second to orientate herself then gestured for them to come with her. “We’ve been having intermittent power failures throughout the entire turbolift network. Cardassian protocols don’t have a redundant backup, so they either take you to the nearest available exit or stop. We’ve had a few people trapped, though only for a few minutes.”
“This place must be half a nightmare and half a dream for engineers.”
“You could say that, though there are days when most of us are cursing this place and whoever designed it.”
Yamada led them through the darkened corridors; the lighting level was defiantly lower than she was used to, but its source was also far more covered with grills and panels than in Starfleet ships. It made the whole place feel like a haunted house than a space station. They passed through an airlock and then stepped onto what was meant to be the main commercial zone for the station. The Promenade was deserted. If anything, sh’Ranni found it to be more unsettling than the corridors. Onboard the Exeter
, she had stopped over at DS9
on three separate occasions. Their Promenade was bustling with life and activity, with people eating, shopping, talking, laughing. To step into an identical location that was just so still was unnatural.
Fortunately they didn’t hang about. Yamada took them straight into another turbolift and ordered it upwards once again.
“I’m surprised there wasn’t any tumbleweed,” commented Kelly after the doors had closed.
“With nothing on it, most of the crew are avoiding the Promenade. I have heard that some traders have already been asking about the shops and stores.”
“Makes sense,” admitted Kelly. “The right kinds of businesses would flourish out here, it just takes a few budding entrepreneurs to make a start and others will follow.”
When they arrived in Ops (sh’Ranni doubted she would ever get used to the open turbolift), they found J’Nae and her staff already present, along with a couple others from the S.C.E. crew all gathered around the table in the middle of the Operations Centre.
“Sorry we’re late, turbolift problems,” sh’Ranni explained.
“That’s quite alright,” said J’Nae. “Captain sh’Ranni, Commander Kelly, this is Commander Lynch and Lieutenant Commander Ga-Horahvan, S.C.E. They were just explaining the current situation to us.” She looked back at the two men. “Please continue.”
“Thank you, Admiral,” Lynch said with a respectful nod. “As I was saying, due to the salvage operations of DS9
, as well as the scavenging of countless others, there are systems and sections we simply can’t restore until we get replacements. Unfortunately, due to the complexity of those mission components they can’t be replicated whole, they have to be constructed. But we don’t have the replicator patterns to even begin. We will need to contact the Cardassians and ask for replacement parts, but if they’ll have any to hand is another matter.”
“Can’t they just be replaced with Starfleet tech?” Kelly asked.
Lynch shook his head. “If it were that easy then the likes of Deep Space 9
would never have needed to run a salvage mission here. Cardassian technology is very intricate, for us to adapt or even build something new to fit, would be too time consuming—time we simply don’t have.”
J’Nae looked over at a Human/Ktarian woman in a gold uniform. “Nona, get a full list from the Commander about what parts are needed, then link in with a Cardassian supply depot, see if they have anything we’re looking for.”
“I’ve got a few contacts within the Cardassian supply network; I should be able to get what we need.”
“Good.” She looked back at the table, on which was shown the latest status reports. “Captain, this is you’re station now. My people will help out any way they can—we all have developed some good links within Cardassia, so make the most of them.”
Sh’Ranni stepped forward. “Believe me, I will, Admiral.” She looked at Lynch. “Commander, I have every confidence in your people. I’ll leave you to prioritise what systems to work on first, though expect daily reports on the work.”
“Of course, Captain. We’ll work around the missing sections as much as possible, though we will have to get them prepped as well for when we do get the parts.”
“At your discretion, Commander. Though I would like a liaison between your teams and myself,” she informed him. Before he could make any suggestions, she looked up at the woman who had tried to make herself as unnoticeable as possible for the meeting. “I’d like that to be Lieutenant Yamada.”
Lynch looked over at Yamada and then back to sh’Ranni. He noticed the set look on her face and guessed (correctly) that he’d never change her mind, so he conceded. “I’ll make sure she’s available to you, sir.”
“Good. Can I ask who is heading up Security right now?”
“That would be Master Chief Ibari,” interjected Ga-Horahvan. “He’s been on the station since day one and hasn’t left.”
“Thank you. We need to start getting this place organised, which will mean clearing away all those containers and general debris. I’ll have some of security reassigned to assist with that, once the quartermaster has gone through everything—for all we know, one of those crates could hold some of the parts we need.
“I’m sure at times like these; a Captain should give a stirring and motivational speech. All I can think of is, let’s get to it.”
* * * * *