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Old October 11 2013, 11:43 AM   #49
Rear Admiral
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Location: Deep Space 9
Re: Refugee Crisis: Border Cutter Silverfin - "Bright New Day"

Thanks for the kind words gentlemen, it was always Kes' fate to give her all to get her people away from the danagers of the DQ--a more fitting send off than what she got in the series, IMO

Now, on with the story. Things are heating up and will be coming to a head very soon.

* * * * *

Gymnasium, U.S.S. Silverfin NCC-4470
Routine Patrol, Beloti Sector, Alpha Quadrant

Susanna Leijten breathed deep, wiping sweat from her brow as she ran at a steady pace. As part of her morning routine she was nearing the end of her five kilometre run, which came after her circuit on the various weights equipment the gym was stocked with. Starfleet had strict fitness requirements that every officer and crewman had to abide by, which included time spent working out in some manner, but for Border Dogs it was even more important—due to the hard physical labour they could often face on assignments—so Leijten had worked out a routine with Doctor Mbeki the first week she’d arrived onboard the Silverfin and stuck to it. Even after eight years onboard she still did the same circuit, which kept her in trim shape—probably better than when she was a cadet (a thought that always made her smirk).

The running machine she had chosen looked across the mats, where Syva was running her morning martial arts class which was open to all onboard, regardless of department or rank—the morning class was for beginners/intermediates whilst the evening one was for advanced levels. Leijten was constantly astounded by the Vulcan’s stamina, able to run two classes, between which was a full eight-hour shift, outside of which she would work with the beta and gamma shift security guards for additional training, but somehow always managed to looked rested and centred. Before she had met the Chief of the Boat, Leijten had always thought that she pushed herself, but compared to Syva she was a rank amateur.

As she watched, Petty Officer Edris came to the front and stood opposite Syva. The young Trill was well over thirty centimetres taller and at least twenty-five kilos of muscle heavier than the wiry Vulcan, some may have seen the pairing as a little unfair. Eight seconds into their spar and Edris landed with a resounding thud on the padded deck. Leijten winced for the poor man. She’d been on the receiving end of Syva’s drops, so she knew what it felt like—fortunately she didn’t have quite as much mass as Edris though.

The running machine beeped, signifying the end of her selected distance, and then started to slow down. She slowed to a walk and let her breathing and heart rate get back to normal. Once it stopped she would head to her quarters, shower and change, then it was off to the ward room for breakfast, before she got to the Bridge.

“Bridge to Leijten,” called Lieutenant Frixa, the watch officer on duty.

“Leijten, go ahead.”

“Sir, you are receiving a priority one transmission from Rear Admiral T’Rona.”

Leijten stopped the treadmill and hopped off, heading for the exit. “Patch it to my quarters. Anything on sensors?”

“Nothing sir. All clear as far as we can tell.”

“Keep an eye on them. Leijten out.”

Speeding up to a trot, she darted into the nearest turbolift and went down a level. Her quarters were located at the front of deck three, giving her a great view of space, and fortunately the designers had been on the ball when they’d built the Silverfin, as there was a turbolift stop just a few meters from her door. Less than ninety seconds had passed by the time she reached her desktop terminal, on which the Border Service crest was flashing.

“Computer, open comlink, Leijten-four-two-alpha-tango.”

Immediately the image of Rear Admiral T’Rona appeared, her appearance immaculate (unlike Leijten who was a little flushed and sweaty) with her customary air of detachment and calm about her that could be both reassuring and unsettling.

“Admiral?” she said by way of greeting, with a questioning tone. She had served under T’Rona for long enough to know that priority one transmissions always meant something bad was going down, and that the Silverfin was about to be dropped right in the middle of it.

“Captain Leijten, an hour ago one of our listening posts picked up an energy wave in unclaimed space. Preliminary analysis shows it to be similar to the displacement wave that abducted the starship Voyager. They have since monitored a fleet of thirty ships appearing where the wave dissipated. Using Voyager’s records, they were able to identify several Kazon destroyers, though the profiles of the others are unknown.”

Since contact had been re-established with the missing starship, currently traversing the Delta Quadrant, their journey had been well covered by both Starfleet and the Federation News Service. She’d only been able to have a quick glance through some of the reports and briefings—they had amassed terraquads of data in just seven years which was broadcast back in burst transmissions when conditions allowed—but she did recall something on the Kazon, enough to know that what they were dealing with could get very bad, very quickly.

“You are to intercept the fleet, conduct a threat assessment and attempt to make contact. If their intentions are hostile, you are to fall back and await reinforcements. I am sending you the position of the fleet and all the telemetry the outpost has gathered so far. The Silverfin is the closest cutter we have, but you’re still almost sixty hours away. I am also dispatching the Lobo and the Kukui, but they are at least ten hours behind you.”

“What is the fleet doing?”

“Nothing so far. They are holding their position, they aren’t making any attempts at communication either. We are at present unable to ascertain their intentions.”

“Any Talarian interest?”

“The outpost did detect a frigate leaving its assigned patrol route just after the wave dispersed. It is unclear if they called in reinforcements. They will reach the fleet in fifty-four-point-nine-seven hours.”

“Understood Admiral. I’ll report in once we intercept.”

“Good luck, Captain. T’Rona out.”

The screen reverted to the Border Service logo with a small window displaying the position of the fleet. She quickly routed that information to the conn.

“Leijten to Bridge. I’ve sent you a new heading. Get us on it, warp nine.”

“Acknowledged,” Frixa complied promptly.

“I’ll be up in ten minutes. Leijten out.”

Taking a moment to let out a long breathe, her mind was already racing. Six months ago the Squadron had taken a thrashing from the Talarians, two cutters destroyed and two others requiring a massive amount of repair work. That incident had seen their numbers swell by five new ships and steeled their resolve, they knew what the Talarians were capable of; but now they had a new threat on the horizon, one that had come all the way from the Delta Quadrant.

“Leijten to Amorin, can you meet me on the Bridge in ten.”

“I’ll see you there, Captain,” her XO confirmed without question.

She headed into the sonic shower for a few short minutes, then stepped out and pulled on a clean uniform. Tying her hair back in a quick braid, she headed out the door and back into the turbolift. When she emerged onto the Bridge, she wasn’t surprised to find Amorin already there standing with Frixa in the middle of the deck talking quietly. The towering Benzenite straightened when he saw her enter and she motioned him over to the MSD at the aft bulkhead, which was unmanned. Before he reached her she brought up the sensor readings the listening outpost had logged.

“Frixa was saying we’re heading into unclaimed space,” he stated, the question obvious from his gravelly tone.

“An alien fleet of thirty ships has just appeared out there. Using what records we’ve got it looks like they’ve come from the Delta Quadrant.”

“I take it we’re not dealing with friendlies.”

She shook her head. “It doesn’t look like it. We’re to conduct a threat assessment and attempt communication. The Little Cousins also know about them, they have a frigate en route as we speak.”

“Just the one?” he sounded puzzled and rightly so. A single frigate, even with their new weaponry, wasn’t a match for thirty ships—unless they were doing the same as the Silverfin, investigating the situation for a larger force to deal with.

“We’re getting backup as well, but they’re ten hours behind us. The problem is even at warp nine we’re still going to get there about five hours after the Talarians.”

Amorin glanced at the sensor display, which included the last position report of the alien fleet, the frigate and the Silverfin, which clearly showed the cutter was two and half days away. They could get up to warp nine-point-three, but could only sustain that speed for twelve hours (which was even pushing the safety protocols) after which they needed to shut down their warp drive and put the warp coils through a cool down procedure. Even behind the breather mask and goggles that covered much of his face, she could tell Amorin was scowling, the engineer in him trying to work out a way to get more speed out of their warp drive. Unfortunately he didn’t seem to come up with some miraculous solution, as he shook his bulbous head and looked back at her.

“The best we can hope for is to kick it up to maximum when we’re twelve hours out, then just hope the new coils can take it.”

It had been the installation of new warp coils and power transfer conduits that had kept the Silverfin from being able to do their part during the Incursion, they had been benched for over two weeks due to the complexity and sheer scale of the work that needed to be done. Now it looked as though they would be putting their new hardware through a proper shakedown.

Leijten nodded. “Agreed. I’ll start pulling together all the tactical and intelligence information I can on the Kazon, we can start to devise defensive countermeasures if it comes to that. I want you to supervise a full diagnostic of the warp assembly, make sure it can hold up, and then keep an eye on it. We can start running readiness drills once I’ve briefed the rest of the senior staff.”

Amorin bowed his head. “I’ll go get started now.” With that, he headed for the turbolift.

Leijten glanced at Lieutenant JG Ngrahthik at ops. “Set up a secure telemetry link with Star Station Freedom and route it to my ready room.”

“Aye sir,” the young Ktarian complied and set to work.

“Frixa, the Bridge is yours. Keep me appraised if anything appears on sensors.”

“I always do, Captain,” the Denobulan said with a faint smile.

Leijten couldn’t help but smile, despite the situation. She had a good crew, all of who knew just what needed to be done, sometimes even before she issued an order. Heading into her ready room on the starboard side of deck one, she had a lot of work ahead of her, which she wanted to get through before the rest of alpha shift came on in just over an hour.

* * * * *

Bridge, Ocampa Evacuation Transport
Neutral Space, Argaya Sector, Alpha Quadrant

Their journey had been rough, but fortunately damage and casualties were light. Even before they had left Ocampa, it had been decided that once they arrived wherever Kes was sending them, the flotilla would remain together. Though in truth the decision had been forced upon them rather than decided by themselves; there were few who knew how to properly work the ships they were now onboard, and the behemoth transport that was carrying over half their population was limited to impulse—and none of the others could manage a warp tow.

So the thirty ships sat still in space, waiting. Daggin’s own sense of nervousness was compounded with the feelings of so many others in close proximity, as all those who had been living in the subterranean city for years had never set foot on a space-faring ship, let alone been out among the stars, especially stars that were totally alien to them. He was doing his best to reassure the people, trying to project an air of calm though finding it difficult to maintain for too long. They were all coming to him asking what they would do next, where they would go, and countless other questions that he simply had no answer for.

All he could do was give them empty platitudes about how everything would be alright, that they would soon find help, and that they would soon be back on a planet that they could call home. But that would only placate them for so long until they wanted something more substantial.

He had faith in Kes and what she had done for them all...her gift to the Ocampa. A small smile tugged at his lips as he felt his eyes moisten at the memory; the familiar presence in his mind, so much like the girl he had known, but tinged with sadness and loss. Though he hadn’t spoken to Tanis about his last conversation with Kes, Daggin knew that she had given too much to get them away from the dangers of their home region. He knew that she was gone.

Blinking back tears, he knew that he couldn’t show how he felt with so many others around him. Just prior to their departure, he had been named the transport’s ‘captain’ and so was seated in the middle of the long, narrow bridge. All of the fourteen other chairs were occupied though, aside from two, all those seated were staring out at the blackness of space. The two who were at the sensor and communications stations were from the city station and knew how to operate the controls. They were in contact with the rest of the flotilla, getting status reports and updates from each ship, whilst also watching to see if there was anyone approaching their position. Fortunately all was quiet.

Daggin could only wonder how long that would remain so.

He was so engrossed in his own thoughts he never heard the entry hatch open or the soft footfalls of someone approach. It was only when he sensed the welcome presence did he glance back and see Linnis walking towards him. Her eyes were fixed on the large windows that sloped upwards and above his head. He couldn’t help but notice how they picked up all the tiny points of starlight.

“It’s breathtaking,” she gasped when she stopped next to him.

Still looking at her soft face, he agreed, “Most certainly.”

She glanced at him and smiled softly, before blushing and looking away coyly. He looked away as well, feeling guilty. She was young, with her whole life ahead of her—possibly far longer than just nine years if Tanis’ people began utilising their technology on the other Ocampa—and he was old enough to be her grandfather.

When she rested a hand on his forearm he felt his heart skip a beat and looked at it for a moment, before following up her arm, to her shoulder and then to her face. Her expression had hardened slightly, her expression worried and her eyes pleading.

*Daggin,* she sent telepathically, *are we safe here?*

*I wish I knew, Linnis,* he admitted—he didn’t want to lie to her. *I hope so.*

She held his look for a moment, then glanced back out the windows, though her look was no longer one of awe but of trepidation—a feeling he shared and more.

* * * * *
Commander Austin Harris, First Officer, Deep Space Nine (by FltCpt. Bossco)
8.01 - Darkest Before Dawn (Chapter 8 added, 12/09/2015)
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