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Handing over the reins

Posted on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 @ 9:23pm by Rear Admiral Varal & Civilian Haqtaj Matlh

Mission: Into The Scorpion's Nest. Season 2, Episode 5
Location: USS Illustrious - Observation Lounge

As the dust settled a battered and bruised group of officers were called to a council of war, the convening officer was the very much alive, Admiral Devuor. Sedgwick had welcomed a delegation aboard from the newly arrived Federation Task Force, Admiral Varal flanked by three other Captains.

The terrible events aboard the Genesis and later the Citak had revealed the reach of parasites to not only gain power but to wield it in such a way to reap a terrible toll on a number of starships, the battered Magellan finally arriving as well. As a matter of courtesy Will had extended the invite to the Klingon Ambassador to DS7, still to arrive he ensured she was afforded full diplomatic courtesy, or at least the best they could under the circumstances.

Haqtaj arrived flanked by two large Klingons. All wore combat armour and carried weapons openly. They had been assured that the issues had all been resoled, but there was no reason to take extra risks. When they arrived and saw Admiral DeVour, Haqtaj threw her arms open wide and strode over to embrace her.

"Beverly, I had feared you were lost when we saw your ship stricken so. I am pleased you survived to fight again. Thank you for inviting me to this meeting. The Klingon Council recognises that this is an Internal Federation matter, but many of my people are in danger on DS7. I must say there are many in council that are unhappy that so great a risk could be allowed to happen. I have given them my personal assurances that everything that can be done to contain the menace is already being done."

She took her seat at the far end of the table, the two Klingons flanking her every move.

Beverly held her ground against the Ambassador but her words brought back the memories of those that had died while under her command, the one's she had called Friend for so long... So many were now gone that the only friends she had left were Varal, Mason, Haqtaj and Ulonova.
"Thank you Ambassador but we still have a sizeable amount of work still to do."

Having been dispatched from Sickbay with no lasting damage Mason arrived in the Observation lounge with Virgil at her side. She eyed the gathered officers and passed a smile to the familiar faces before taking her seat

Lieutenant Commander Virgil regarded the multitude of officers gathered, and felt far more alienated than his current commanding officer, now Commander Mason, appeared to be. The whole ordeal had been very intensive, even for him, and wishing to keep his current injury as a reminder of the parasites' danger and power, he hadn't yet been treated by any doctors. He was pleased to be amongst apparent friends, however.

As the lounge became rather crowded Albright and T'Rena were the last to arrive from the Magellan, Vince clutching a PADD which he immediately offered to Admiral Varal who nodded in thanks before checking the contents of the tablet, it was as he feared, DS7 had become a hive of activity, no doubt a veritable number of officers had been compromised.

Turning to DeVuor he took her to one side before speaking in a hushed tone, "I trust you are well old friend?" his concern seemingly genuine, "before the Magellan arrived I had them access the remote sensor net near DS7, it would appear there are several starships in the system and have been for over a week now, we may have to draw them away before we can inset any sort of strike team."

"Thank you for the concern Varal but I am fine... or I will be!"
She took the briefest of moments to pat the Vulcan on the shoulder, the only form of physical contact she would allow between herself and her companion knowing full well that physical contact between Vulcans only took pace at the time of total emotional loss of control. "I have been informed about the same also with DS7. I'm wondering if a head on strike will be enough as we can send in a strike team, heavily armed in the middle of the chaos!"

"With DS7's weapons upgrade I doubt we have sufficient forces to retake the station by a direct assault however the probability of breaching their shields to insert a team has a greater chance of success, the fleet is yours, I will support whatever action you decide to take." Although they had only known each other for a short time in both their lives they had developed a connection, a connection he would miss if it were to be severed prematurely.

"I still want your opinion my old friend...", for the first time in several days a smile crossed her now more weathered face. "Certainly beats the days back in the Antares Division."

"Indeed, we certainly live in fascinating times, as for my opinion, I would suggest you ask for the Ambassadors assistance, split our fleet in two, one section to draw off the picket the other to breach a shield vector before the team is sent in and the fleet withdraws. I would estimate casualties as high as thirty percent however, the operation would be costly to say the least." Almost oblivious to Beverley's emotional state Varal ran the permutations in his mind, casualties were no doubt going to be high but there were few other options.

It was a frightening figure to observe let alone be witness too. Thirty percent of a task force as large as the one she had prepared for this would mean casualties numbering in the thousands. Still, some things needed to be done for the greater good, the good of the people of the federation.
"Lets get this meeting on the road shall we!"

Ensuring he left the two seats normally used by himself and Traven for the two Admirals he cleared his throat calmly before speaking loud enough to cut through the din of chatter from the assembled group, "Now that everyone has arrived could I ask you all to please take your seats." A calm descending over the room within a matter of moments, all taking their seats as DeVuor and Varal returned to the table.

Beverly came to stand at the head of the table, Captain Sedgwick to her right and Varal to her left and looking down the table at a collection of officers, some she knew well like Mason who had been thrust into Command of the most advanced ship she now had at her disposal to the captain and first officer of the Magellan, in her book an unknown element but one that so far seemed to be playing on the same page as she.
"As you are all aware by now the Federation is under threat from a force of unknown origin. What you don't know is that this has been thwarted once before by a single ship. If they can do this single handed then we can do this as a single cohesive group. Varal, if you would!", she slipped down into her seat allowing Varal to call up the classified files she had 'Liberated' from Starfleet Command. The files that had been sealed away so many years ago after then Captain Picard had saved the Federation.

Standing from his chair he activated the the holo arrays, a pair of table mounted projectors that showed the spinning form of a multi limbed creature, "this is our foe, they are a parasitic lifeform which attaches itself to a hosts nervous system, their origin is unknown." The audible gasp completing unphasing Varal as he moved to the larger viewer, "from analysis of the data gathered by Admiral DeVuor we have confirmed the parasites that had taken control of Captain Daro and Lieutenant Brenari were indeed of this species, those of you have read the after action report will be aware of the increased physical strength and resilience this imbues the host with, therefore any person encountering one of these hosts should exercise extreme caution."

Mason exchanged a glance to Virgil glad that they'd both survived the ordeal alive.

The Xenexian noticed the glance, but did not return it, as he recalled reading the reports about the incident. Unlike many present, he had been in Starfleet at the time.

Allowing the information to settle with his audience he took a moment before continuing, "after reviewing ship movements, crew transfers and the testimony of several officers we have deduced that the central hub of activity is old an old Cardassian station under Federation control, Deep Space 7, we believe the leader of this brood or queen if you will, has taken control of one of the officers aboard the station, our task will be to retake control of it, however any direct assault will likely result in failure therefore both Admiral Devuor and myself have agreed that a covert team should be placed aboard the station with the sole intention of eliminating this queen."

Feeling a knot tightening in her gut Mason felt her breast heave at the news that the place she considered home was the enemy stronghold, and she as Security Chief had no knowledge. Sure she had gut feeling something was ill but no evidence to back it up.

"I believe I know the officer in question,"she spoke, "Or at least can narrow down the search. Judging from the information available the parasite infects the person with the most influence it can and then work down hierarchy to best achieve its needs. I have noted from several days before being transferred to the Citak the odd behaviour of both Captain Zor and Commander Ulonova Deep Space Seven's Commander and First Officer." She gave Beverly a sorrowful look, "These are the both the highest ranking officers aboard and each have carried out tasks that oppose their character previous to this threat."

All eyes turned to the woman as she spoke, everyone's eyes snapping back to Varal as he continued to speak, "they would be logical choices for possession, our priority will be to detain them both, the team will be drafted at a later time however several DS7 crew members will be required to identify potential targets, the rest of us will be required to get them onto the station, the fleet will be split into two task forces, task force one will breach the stations defences while task force two will be needed to hold off the vessels in close proximity, assignments will be made shortly, questions?"

"Based on these reports," Commander Virgil said, directly addressing the admiral, "how can we expect to detain the queen? I know these people are some of your friends, but surely it would be wiser to destroy both, so we can be sure we haven't failed?"

Now DeVuor spoke up once again, her mind full of the captured video images from the first encounter with these beings. It hadn't ended well... Truth be told it was one of the more horrific things she had seen in her life.
"Commander Remmeck was the original host to the Hive Queen. Unfortunately the only way to subdue her was to kill the host", a collective gasp filled the room at the mention of an execution. "Believe me, we have no way of reclaiming the Queen's host, but we need to make damned sure we have the right one before we go killing them. Any host to a subordinate parasite will return to normal once the Queen has been taken care off."

"And you want to risk more lives by attempting to subdue them?" Virgil asked incredulously. He raised his hands in defeat. "You're the commanding officers, but if the need arises, I don't think any of us should put their lives beyond others'."

Shocked at Virgil's outspoken comment Mason nudged him under the table to silence him and looked up to Beverly to apologies only to find her smirking.

Beverly couldn't help but smile at the brash young Lieutenant Commander that was now openly challenging her. "I'm not saying that you should Commander. What I am saying is that we need either Ulonova or Romano back alive as they may be able to give us some insight into the thoughts of these beings. If you are posed with no option but to kill the attackers then so be it. Deadly force is authorized in a situation were you have no other choice".
Her eyes came back to scan the room, but she had already made a mental note to watch this officers career. She had a funny feeling he would be an exceptional officer not unlike Commander Mason. She also had a funny feeling that he may need her help in the future, not unlike Commander Mason.

A satisfactory an answer as any, Virgil thought to himself. For an admiral, anyway.

Ensuring neither had further input Varal once again addressed the officers, "if there are no further questions, you are all dismissed." With the shock of the events that had just unfolded there seemed to be very little talk amongst the officers as they departed, Sedgwick ushering out the last of the other Captains, "Ambassador, may we talk?" interrupted Varal as Malth was about to leave, "in private if possible" he said taking stock of her bodyguards.

Haqtaj had remained silent throughout the briefing. Truth be told this was an internal Federation matter and she could not be directly involved. However, there was still the matter of a direct attack on her person, and the Klingons who now call DS7 home.

At the summons from Varal she stopped, waiting for the others to file out of the room. She followed his gaze to her two aides. "Of course you may talk. HoD Ro' here is the most decorated captain in House Matlh Fleet, and my Uncle. Sogh May'bel is his Chief warrior and our cousin. You may speak freely in front of both of them. I trust them with my life, and their input may be invaluable."

She relaxed into a smile, "Especially since I suspect the 'covert insertion' you mention is likely to make use of Ro' and his ship."

With a slight bow and nod he acknowledged the two aides who were more than just advisers, "that indeed is our hope, the use of a cloaked vessel would greatly increase the chances of success, as would the involvement of any of your people who know the people of Deep Space 7." As the five stood at one end of the room their discussions seem to be almost informal compared to the briefing having just broken up.

"Offically we cannot ask for help from the Klingon government, but as a friend I am asking if you may be heading in that direction?"
This was the first time that Beverly came into the informal discussion, her arms folded across her chest.

She relaxed into a smile, "Especially since I suspect the 'covert insertion' you mention is likely to make use of Ro' and his ship."

With a slight bow and nod he acknowledged the two aides who were more than just advisers, "that indeed is our hope, the use of a cloaked vessel would greatly increase the chances of success, as would the involvement of any of your people who know the people of Deep Space 7." As the five stood at one end of the room their discussions seem to be almost informal compared to the briefing having just broken up.

"Offically we cannot ask for help from the Klingon government, but as a friend I am asking if you may be heading in that direction?"
This was the first time that Beverly came into the informal discussion, her arms folded across her chest.

"One does not simply walk into MoH'dor," Ro' muttered.

Haqtaj was careful in her response, "I have said before. Officially this is an internal Federation matter, and the Klingon Government would be reluctant to intervene. However, just as the Federation helped Gowron during the civil war by blockading the Roumlan support, I believe there are ways we can aid you indirectly."

"Firstly, I do need to return to my embassy. The FHew has permission to travel through Federation Space as a support vessel for me and the Ulysses Fleet. It would be perfectly acceptable for the FHew to fly right up to DS7 and transport me aboard. Naturally, I will be happy to take anyone else who is going in that direction, anyway. As for the station, Ro' and his crew have been there before a few times, and Vartog and I have lived there as long as anyone. "

"Then there is a matter of an attack on my person by a member of Starfleet intelligence. This is a serious offence, and I need to acertain whether this was an iscolated threat by a disgruntled individual, or a renewd aggression by a disident faction within the Federation. You will remember the first Khitomer talks involved a Human assasin disguised as a Klingon. I will naturally want to take the matter up directly with commander Zor."

"Lastly, and most seriously from my perspective, there are Klingons on DS7. If you are going to stage any sort of assault, they need to be given orders. I do not think we will be able to evacuate them in time, and I am reluctant to order them to attack humans on the station, or damage any vital systems. What do you suggest we do about them?"

"I would like to have you accompany the team that boards DS7 Ambassador", Beverly smiled devilishly as the plan was starting to fall into place. "I need you there to organise your people and if they so choose help us to retake their current home!"

Haqtaj looked seriously at the two command officers, "We need to be absolutley clear about this. It could lead to very serious complications and it is a precedent I am not very happy about. Are you saying you want me to instruct my people to fire upon Federation citizens?"

"I would only ask your people to fire upon an invading body. In other words if they are fired upon then return fire"
It was more than a dangerous game that she was playing with the Ambassador, but in the same spoke of the wheel it needed to be done otherwise Beverly and her allies would never be able to retake the station.

Haqtaj shook her head, "How very Federation of you. But I want you to think for a moment. If one of your un-contaminated ensigns saw Romano firing at a Klingon and that Klingon firing back, would he not fire on the Klingon as well? Would my people not then begin firing much more indiscriminately? Soon you would have a Humans and Klingons fighting that had nothing to do with the infestation. If you give this order, and I do understand the need, I will need it in writing, and... forgive me... I WILL need to check the back of your neck again."

The last bit was said with a smile, then she added, "It would also help if you could tell us exactly Who you want targeted."

Ro' spoke, "My suggestion would be two waves. The first goes in with phasers on stun and hit everyone they can. Anyone who is still standing after the first assault can be considered a threat and the second, killing wave, can fire with a decreased risk of collateral injuries, and minimising friendly return fire."

"You'll have it Ambassador", softly spoken yet one of the heaviest on her heart as she gave the Ambassador the go for firing at her own people but it was something that needed to be done. "We need accomplished warriors or this isn't going to work and casualties are inevitable in war... That I will have to answer for when the time comes!"

It was hard for her to tell what had been harder on her in the last few days. Watching her friends lay down their live in front of her or giving an order that could mean the death of more good men and women.
"Lets get the fleet mobilized!", her words now directed at Varal.

"Yes Admiral" Varal nodding to DeVuor then Malth before moving to the starboard exit, the fleet was still to be split but the heavy cruisers would need to go for the station, her shields the biggest hurdle to the entire endeavour.


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