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Trio of Trouble

Posted on Fri Aug 16th, 2019 @ 10:50pm by Captain Osegan Trenna & Ensign Geoff Martinsen & Lieutenant Commander Arthur Talbot & Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder & Ensign Atyhle sh'Paveress & Staff Warrant Officer Bryan Itajime
Edited on on Thu Sep 12th, 2019 @ 10:41pm

Mission: Light is Dark
Location: Bridge
Timeline: Mission Day 5 at 1945

"Shit."

It was all Trenna could muster at first. Like many of her Federation Standard curse words, she'd learned it once she'd joined Starfleet. Humans had a way with swearing; it was second nature to them. Maybe it was the religious nature of most Bajorans, but such language wasn't as common among her own people. Growing up on freighters though, she'd learned such language in nearly a dozen tongues.

"Dammit," Artie muttered, surprised just as well. "Shields up! Red alert!" he instinctively called out. "Standby weapons. Someone tell the Jirdegee to do the same, and be sure to share with them everything we have on the Glurone weapons."

Ensign sh'Paveress had assumed the Operations console while Lieutenant Hessen had departed the bridge. She nodded to the Executive Officer, and allowed her blue fingers to dance along the console. "The Jirdegee stands ready," she reported. "And they have all of our sensor records from our first battle with the Glurone. I'm also working on some shield modulations that might give us some protection against their weapons."

"Those ships are not familiar," Shipmaster said. "The Primate-General does not have vessels like that in his armada."

Turning to the Qlo'ka, Trenna questioned him. "But they are Glurone ships?"

Shipmaster studied the image on the large viewer. "They appear to be. A different Primate-General's, perhaps."

Not knowing the Glurone organizational structure was problematic, Trenna decided. Are the Primate-Generals like Starfleet Admirals, all belonging to the same overarching organization but each having their own set of responsibilities? Were they like Klingon House Fleets, with each Primate-General commanding a smaller, essentially private set of troops? Perhaps something else entirely.

"Do multiple Primate-Generals often work together?"

"When the needs of the Primacy make it necessary," Shipmaster replied. "It is not uncommon for a Primate-General to undertake their own agendas. That is when things go poorly for Qlo'ka."

"Which means our new friends might not be so friendly," Artie muttered. "Do all Primate-Generals stock the same weapons?" he asked, wondering if what little data they had would still be useful.

He turned his head to look at Commander Artie Talbot. "Not always. Each Primate-General can be suzerain of multiple colonies and planets. Each of those tributary planets provide different technology. Most Glurone weaponry was created by Qlo'ka though."

Artie stepped away from the group and stood over sh'Paveress' shoulder. "Captain, we're picking up increased weapons signatures on the new arrivals. There do not appear to be any communications with the original Glurone vessel."

"Open a channel," she ordered.

The Andorian shen nodded and entered the appropriate sequence of commands. "Channel opened to all three new arrivals."

"This is Captain Osegan Trenna of the USS Altai. We are finishing our business here and will be leaving shortly."

She stood there, in the space between her chair and Ensign Martinsen at the helm, waiting for a response. When several minutes of silence passed, she turned to look at the Andorian. "Are they receiving?"

Atyhle performed a quick diagnostic of the transceiver, and checked the readouts from the forward sensor array. "Confirmed, Captain. They are receiving us."

"Just ignoring us then," she said quietly. "Shipmaster, is there any way to tell which Primate-General those ships might belong to?"

"Without talking to them? It would be difficult for Altai. Zynd'ra might be able to find a match in it's datastores, however."

"Give me a channel to the Zynd'ra, Ensign," Trenna said, beginning to pace the distance between the helm and her own chair. "Commander Batchelder, I hope you're working on something. If this comes to shooting, we're not going to fair well. Any insight you can share with Mister Itajime on weaknesses to target on those ships would be great."

Atyhle nodded to the Captain. With a fell swoop, she muted the open channel to the Glurone ships and initiated a new transmission, this time directed at the Zynd'ra. "Channel open, Captain."

Trenna looked at Shipmaster. "Talk to them."

Accepting Captain Osegan Trenna's offer, Shipmaster began talking to the Zynd'ra crew. Whatever language the Qlo'ka captain was speaking, the universal translator didn't know how to translate it. The UT hadn't had any problems with the Qlo'ka language before, so this was unusual.

The Qlo'ka communicated back and forth for several minutes before Shipmaster turned to look at Trenna. "Those ships carry weapons of Qlo'ka manufacture. They were made for Primate-General Frayn. Frayn is not known to be an ally of Primate-General Denar, who employs Zynd'ra's crew."

"Are they adversarial?" Osegan asked.

Another brief untranslatable exchange occurred.

"Not as such. They are not known to be allies, but Zynd'ra has no records of them being enemies either," Shipmaster explained.

"If they aren't allies or enemies, then why are they here?" The question was posed to no one in particular.

"Is it common in Glurone culture for one Primate-General to cross another Primate-General and then to be punished accordingly?" Artie asked aloud, wondering if this would be something like an ancient Hatfield and McCoys situation. "Either way, maybe we should just back away and let them resolve their issue lest we, the Jirdigee, and the Zynd'ra and our hundreds of Qlo'ka get caught in the middle."

"Primacy factions clash sometimes, yes," Shipmaster replied. "As I said though, Frayn and Denar are not known to be enemies."

"That doesn't mean they aren't," Trenna pointed out. "Or that something hasn't changed recently."

An alert rang out from Tactical.

"Another ship!" Itajime announced.

All attention shifted to the viewscreen as another vessel popped into existence.

"Primate-General Denar's personal ship," Shipmaster stated.

"Captain," Artie cautioned from the rear of the bridge. "We really should consider getting out of here. They're probably waiting for us to do something. If they won't answer hails, they'll either let us go or try and stop us."

More untranslated chatter came over the comm system, reminding Trenna that the channel was still open with Zynd'ra.

"Primate-Gneral Denar's ship is communicating with the ships from Primate-General Frayn's flotilla," Shipmaster relayed from his crew. "He is telling them to stand down, that Zynd'ra is under his protection. That this ship, Altai, is now his property by right of Glurone law."

Property? thought Artie. With the way events had been unfolding today, he was surprised that he was still be surprised at every turn. "You've got to be kidding," he muttered to himself.

"I think you're right, Commander," Trenna said. "Martinsen, get us out of here. Notify Jirdigee. Zynd'ra, follow us."

Geoff wasted no time in getting them moving. Despite the Klingon saying, today was decidedly not a good day to die. "Problem, Captain," he called out as the ship came to a halt. "They've got us in some sort of tractor beam."

"Attention USS Altai," a voice said, coming from over the comm system. "On behalf of the Glurone Primacy, I order you to stand down and prepare to be boarded. You will not be injured. Unless you refuse to comply. Refusal will be met with swift corrective action."

"Commander Batchelder," Artie said quickly, "analysis of the tractor beam? Can we free ourselves if we need to?"

Dancing his fingers across the console, he replied, “Yup.” The ship lurched to port briefly. “Resonance Feedback Pulse. Let these shits try to tractor my ship again. They might as well be using First Federation era tech.”

"Captain, we can't comply. There's no telling what will happen to the Altai, the Jirdigee, or ourselves if we allow them to board."

"Agreed," Osegan responded. "Let's get out of here Ensign."

Martinsen shook his head. "Gonna need some more help, Commander Batchelder. Something is preventing us from going to warp. Some sort of warp dampening field."

"That technology was likely obtained from the Wa-Ny-Ad Republic," Shipmaster offered. "They are a reclusive people. A Qlo'ka merchant vessel encountered them over a hundred years ago. We do not have current relations with them."

No one cares about that right now, Trenna thought.

"See what you can do, Batchelder. Shipmaster, give the Commander any help you can."

Jon leveled an icy stare at the Qlo'ka Shipmaster, and said, in an unnaturally calm voice, "I need every scrap of data you and your people have on that technology so I can figure out a way to reverse engineer it. Because if I can't do it peacefully, I'm going to do it with phasers and quantum torpedoes. This first contact mission has already gone tits up, and there's no point in continuing diplomacy with aggressors. I don't think you want to see what happens when a Federation ship of the line brings the full brunt of its weaponry to bear. So talk to whoever you need to, and get me all the data you have. You have 2 minutes."

"You are angry with me, Lieutenant Commander Jonathan Batchelder," Shipmaster stated. "I am regretful that there have been casualties for Altai's crew. Their sacrifice has likely saved mine own life. And that of countless Qlo'ka."

"I don't need your platitudes, and I sure as shit don't need your apologies. I need your DATA!" Batchelder grumbled. "So if the next thing out of your mouth isn't how and when I'm gonna get it, just shut up."

Shipmaster looked at the engineer. He opened his mouth and then closed it again, quickly, realizing that anything he was about to say might further anger the man. And he didn't want to be physically assaulted.

"They're moving," Itajime announced.

Trenna looked at the viewscreen. The three ships belonging to Primate-General Frayn turned and began moving away. "I'm not sure if that's good or not," she said frankly.

"I know we don't have much experience with the Glurone," Artie suggested, "but I don't think they're the type to give up so easily." He then looked over to the Operations station. "Ensign, all power to the aft shields and weapons. Let's be ready in case someone decides to come for a strafing run."

Ensign sh'Paveress nodded as her slender fingers danced across the console. "Done, Commander."

"Good instincts, Commander," Itajime said as he watched the trio of ships turn back. "They're increasing speed and their weapons are hot."

Before anyone on Altai could do anything, the three ships had opened fire on Primate-General Denar's ship. It took heavy damage.

"What the hell!" Trenna shouted. It had been clear that Frayn and Denar were at odds, but to see it play out like this, with the Altai as a witness, was unexpected. "Get us out of here! We don't know if there are more of Denar's ships hiding out here."

Geoff got the ship underway. When Denar's ship had been attacked, the warp dampening field had dissipated, so he programmed a quick warp jump to put some distance between them and the warring Glurone. As he was about to engage, the ship rocked.

"Wow," Osegan said, looking at the viewscreen. Frayn's ships had destroyed Denar's flagship.

Artie stood in silence. He'd been shocked by the turn of events just like everyone else, but he was trying to make sense of it all. "Seems like Denar was either acting selfishly or there's some sort of other internal spat going on. Are they following us?"

sh'Paveress shook her head. "They don't seem to be. I'm detecting heavy scans of Denar's wreckage."

"Hold on a second, Ensign," Trenna ordered. "Hail Frayn's ships." She looked at Artie. "They haven't been hostile to us. Maybe we can talk to them."

Artie fought back a sigh. Anything was possible, but Artie was finding it hard to trust anyone not wearing a Starfleet uniform today. "Let's hope so," he said, echoing the Captain's sentiments. "Ops, open a channel to Frayn's ships."

The familiar hailing tones were heard over the bridge's concealed speakers. "Channel open," sh'Paveress announced, though the confirmation was unnecessary.

"Glurone vessels, this is Captain Osegan on the USS Altai. We are finishing up our assistance to the Qlo'ka ship and then we will leave."

"The Qlo'ka ship was working for Denar," a voice stated plainly over the comm.

"They were," she replied. "Not willingly, however. Denar has been holding Qlo'ka hostage, blackmailing the Zynd'ra's crew to work for him."

"Denar is gone. Primate-General Frayn has assumed control of Denar's armada. Primate-General Frayn has no use for the Qlo'ka and their mission."

Trenna looked at Shipmaster. "They are free to go then?"

The channel was silent.

"They are supplanting Denar," Shipmaster said, his voice weak. "This is bad for Qlo'ka."

Artie frowned. There was nothing more that could be done here, and he certainly would not dare to suggest inviting Frayn over for dinner. “Captain, while I sympathize with Shipmaster here, we have an opportunity to leave. If we remain, we risk the Zynd’ra, her crew, and the remainder of the Qlo’ka we rescued.”

The comm channel popped back to life. "The Qlo'ka are released from their contract," the Glurone voice announced. "Altai, you can escort the Qlo'ka back to their planet. Our ships will shift and follow. There might be those in Denar's fleet who will try to enforce his contract with the Qlo'ka."

Trenna looked at Shipmaster. As best as she could tell, he looked concerned. "What guarantees can you give me regarding the safety of the Qlo'ka? They've seen enough violence meted out by Glurone hands."

"And they have been preserved from numerous others by those same Glurone hands, Captain. Primate-General Frayn has no plans for the Qlo'ka beyond making sure they return home safely. Not all Glurone are like Denar."

"Stand by," she said before motioning for sh'Paveress to mute the channel. She also signaled for Talbot and Batchelder over. "Thoughts?"

A frown commanded Artie’s face during the exchange. He had several opinions, but none of them would be helpful in this circumstance. “I don’t like the idea of an escort, Captain. But, given Shipmaster’s concern about us arriving in an unwelcome manner, having the Glurone at our side might help ease that concern.”

He then shot a look to Batchelder. “And yes, Commander. I can’t believe I suggested it either.”

Jon shrugged, and said, “There’s no way we come out of this with our hands clean. We might as well have them escort us. It’s not like we could take them in a line by line battle anyway. I’m with Commander Talbot on this one.”

"And what do you think, Shipmaster?" she asked, turning towards the Qlo'ka man.

"Qlo'ka have not had bad experiences with Primate-General Frayn that I know of. It is possible that he is one that will not treat us as others have," he answered.

She could tell that Shipmaster's response was tepid. And she didn't blame him at all. Her own people had been brutalized by the Cardassians. Even though she hadn't grown up under the Occupation, she'd lost her father to it and had seen what her homeworld was like in the aftermath of Cardassian withdrawal. She still struggled to trust Cardassians.

"I understand your concern, Shipmaster," she explained. "My people, the Bajorans, were once subjugated by a species called the Cardassians. The Cardassians used the Bajorans as slaves, extracting natural resources from my homeworld. Eventually, the Cardassians left and Bajor was free. Bajor joined the Federation and for the first time in generations, Bajorans were free to enjoy life. The Cardassians have, in recent years, been casual allies of the Federation. This had been difficult for most Bajorans who know Cardassians as butchers and slave-drivers. As the people responsible for the deaths of so many of my people. Despite this, I know that not all Cardassians are bad. Like any other species, there are both good and bad Cardassians. The same is true for the Glurone, I suspect."

Shipmaster studied Osegan. "Your people have suffered," he said quietly. "On behalf of Qlo'ka, I share sadness for that."

He looked around the room before standing tall and confidently in front of the Bajoran Captain. "I am willing to have hope and faith in these Glurone. If we are to become free of the treatment inflicted by some, we will need all the friends we can get."

Trenna smiled. "We call that bravery, Shipmaster. It's a good trait to have."

"Put me back on," she said to the Andorian Ops Officer.

The Andorran tapped a single button, which was acknowledged by a familiar chirp. She then nodded to the Captain, indicating she was good to talk.

"We accept," she said once the channel was active again.

"As do I," Shipmaster intoned. "On behalf of the crew of Zynd'ra and our loved ones, I thank you for your assistance."

The Glurone didn't respond to the show of appreciation. "Our ships will shift and follow you to Pharqlo," was all that was said before the channel was closed.

"Signal the Jirdegee and Zynd'ra," she instructed. "Ensign Martinsen, lay in a course to Pharqlo, best possible speed for the group."

sh’Paveress wasted no time in contacting the other ships. The Jirdegee’s message came back quickly, and it took a few moments for the Zynd’ra to respond. “Both ships have acknowledged,” she reported. “The Zynd’ra is requesting the return of Shipmaster, and the Captain of the Jirdegee would like to speak with you, Captain, to be apprised of the situation.”

Artie sighed. “There’s much to tell him, and not so much at the same time,” he told Osegan. “I imagine our trip to Pharqlo will be quite illuminating.”

I can't wait to explain all of this," she thought.

"They're going to love reading this mission report back at Command too, I imagine," she said. "We made contact with two new species and may have made an enemy of one of them. Just another day in the Fleet."

 

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