Episode 5: The Adversary (Joint Mission)
Location: Nogura Ready Room
Timeline: MD120, 1145 Hours
Sitting on the sofa in his brand new ready room, Captain th’Zorati was busy reading through some of the latest political developments in the home quadrants with a glass of iced tea, finding the latest stories quite intriguing indeed. Nogura was on its way to Altor and, with a few hours until they got there, the Captain had an unexpected opportunity to indulge in his hobby. Most interesting of all was the developments with the Romulans. The Imperial Senate of the Romulan Star Empire had declared it was withdrawing all Romulan support immediately from the joint operations of the interstellar station Astrofori One in the Menthar Sector. It was a fascinating project, aimed at providing Federation and Romulan scientists with a base to study the Menthar Nebula which had been showing confusing readings of late.
But as tensions continued to rise between the Federation and the Romulan Star Empire in the fallout of the Romulans’ failed invasion of Duronis II, the Romulans had retaliated against sanctions imposed by the Federation Council by announcing their sudden withdrawal from Astrofori One. Despite recent joint projects and the Gavarian Exploration Agreement, no one could claim the two empires were friendly. There were still considerable tensions and things they disagreed on.
Taking a sip of his iced tea, the Andorian read on. “The Romulan people are very demanding of where our resources are spent,” reported Senator Mavok, who Thalek knew from recent debrief was currently one of the most powerful individuals on the influential Continuing Committee. “We no longer see the expenditure of such resources into this project as a fruitful one.” That would no doubt be frustrating for everyone in the science community
As one of the major powers operating the station, the loss of Romulan support put into question the sustainability of the station, both operationally and defensively. In a further blow to what was once hailed by the Federation Secretary of the Exterior as the biggest project since the War, and a major part of former President Nan Bacco’s legacy when it was launched earlier in the decade, the Krazzle Republic (surprisingly another major player in the project) had indicated that they too would no longer support the massive station once the Romulans left. It was all incredibly fascinating for the Andorian. He had very little interest in the science side of the project but the political and strategic ramifications were great.
Reading on, Thalek was further surprised. There had been no official comment from the current Federation President or any of the other members of the Federation Council yet, but at least Starfleet officials had been quick to downplay the significance of the Romulans’ departure. The quote from Admiral Gor was very intriguing.
“The Starfleet contingent, along with our Trigati Republic partners, are prepared to take over all major station operational duties if necessary,” Rear Admiral Vasoch Gor, the Tellarite commander for Starfleet operations in the Menthar Sector, had clearly laid out a message of intent for the Romulans; pull out if you want, but we will carry on regardless. An admirable stance that the Andorian hoped Starfleet would follow through with.
As always, there were detractors. Political opponents of President Bezar, however, had apparently expressed severe doubt on the viability of the station and the Federation’s continued presence in the Menthar sector, without the support of both the Romulans and the Krazzle. Isolated from most other Federation installations, Astrofori One had relied on the combined logistical support of all powers to keep it running.
The Federation presence in the Menthar Sector had begun originally with a lone Federation starship, the USS Mercury, which was granted access to the area from the Krazzle Republic in late 2387. Starfleet’s exploration of the region grew with larger starships, culminating in the launch of both Astrofori One and the Invicta Expedition, one of four major expeditionary task forces launched in 2387 by President Bacco. The Invicta Expedition comprised five vessels that set out on a three-year mission in the Menthar Sector from 2387 to 2390. Although initial plans included the possibility of additional multi-year missions, the Bezar administration had apparently decided not to renew the expeditionary task forces to instead redirect Starfleet forces to other areas deemed more urgent. Invitation itself, now reportedly seemed destined for a new project in the Gavarian Corridor, hundreds of light years from Menthar.
Finishing his iced tea, the Captain concluded his reading and put the PADD on his desk before returning to the sofa, leaning on the back of it as he stared out into space, contemplating the ramifications of what he had read, but also thankful that he was now in the Gamma Quadrant, thousands of light years away.
Soon, the door chime to his quarters interrupted his tranquil surroundings and his train of thought, drawing his attention to the opposite side of his office. “Enter!” he called out.
Within seconds, a worried looking Bajoran in command red entered the office, carrying a data PADD. “Sir, we have a problem,” Commander Garen, the ships new Strategic Operations Officer declared, passing the PADD to his superior Officer.
Thalek gestured for the Bajoran to sit on the sofa as he read the data storage devices contents. It was a message, an update, from Starfleet Intelligence. At first, it seemed pretty standard, just a usual update. The addendum at the end caused Thalek’s expression to change and his antennae to bow in a way that could only mean one thing; there was a serious problem indeed. “Inform the helm to change course for the Wormhole, warp eight. Find Neprem, quietly, and have her join me in the Brig,” the Captain instructed as he rose to his seat and made a beeline for the door, still carrying the PADD. He then stopped and looked back at the Bajoran in tow. “Inform Admiral Hanson we’ll be delaying his visit to Altor and I’ll brief him later,” the Captain concluded his orders as they crossed the threshold to the bridge and the Andorian made for the aft turbo lift. As he disappeared inside, he heard the Bajoran give the helm their new orders, but once the lift doors closed and he had directed it to deck 5, he cursed (loudly) in Andorian. Why was nothing ever simple for the men and women of the Nogura?