A Pact with the Devil
Episode 7: Into The Fire
Timeline: Day 146 at 1335
Nogura was on her way to Starbase 214 with a sense of great urgency and, with Commander Proht in command of the bridge for the first time, the Captain had returned to the ships library on deck 7 to carry out his search into the formation of the Alrakis Pact. The research was nothing he couldn't have done in his ready room, or on the bridge itself, but the change of scenery to somewhere quiet would be more conducive to his success - or so he hoped. To help him in his efforts, he had summoned the XO to join him.
Tara was no stranger to the library. It was a quiet place to help her unwind with a new book after a long, hard day, and she had become a frequent visitor following Meibei’s injuries. Although today she was here on official business, and as she entered she spied the Captain at one of the library access terminals.
“Hey boss,” Tara said casually as she approached Drayton, but then she blushed when she realized this was not the proper way to greet her Commanding Officer. ‘Cool it, Arjin, I’m on duty,’ she silently reminded the mischievous soul that had become a part of her. “Reporting for duty,” she then said to Drayton, trying to regain a sense of proper deportment.
“Hey boss?” Drayton grinned as he turned slowly to look at his first officer and couldn’t help but let out a laugh. “From now on, it is standard procedure for you to greet me like that at all times,” he declared in between laughter as he reached out for a second chair and pulled it closer for her. For the usually prim and proper commander of the Nogura, it was a great change to have someone at his side who was less.. weird… than his previous XO’s on the Ulysses, and that was saying something for a woman who had been ‘forcibly’ joined with a Trill symbiont and was seemingly still getting to grips with the process. He hadn’t told her, but he respected her a lot for not only that, but for the way she had dealt with so many other things in recent months, especially the death of her former friend and the injury to her ‘friend’.
Tara’s blush deepened. “Please tell me you’re joking, Captain,” she said, taking the offered seat. As if it wasn’t bad enough that Meibei liked to ‘ruffle her feathers’, but now the Captain was doing it too? They must be plotting with one another!
“No, I’m deadly serious!” Drayton shook his head, “greet me in any other fashion and I’ll demote you on the spot,” he told seriously before looking to the console he had been working on. “So… I’ve been looking in to the Alrakis Pact, and we have a problem,” he told before looking back to her, “what do you know so far?”
Tara took a deep, deep breath, then let it out slowly. ‘See what you’ve done now?!’ Tara ‘scolded’ her symbiont, to which the only response was Arjin’s laughter in the back of her mind. Refocusing on the matter at hand, Tara answered Drayton with, “It’s a treaty between the Breen, Tzenkethi, Talarian, and the ‘Ravagers’, which is an amalgamation of various races, they’re basically pirates and scavengers roaming the Expanse without any solid leadership. The Pact itself was formed as a means of trying to force Starfleet out of the Expanse, but as I understand it, they are having difficulty working together to achieve this goal because until recently they have been enemies against each other.”
“Yeah, that’s all changed…” Drayton frowned as he pulled up a new record, “seems they’ve been working together a lot easier of late,” the Captain told as he showed her the list of engagements and encounters Starfleet and Cardassian assets had had with the Pact alliance. “Twenty-three in the last two weeks,” he told, “seems like they have got their act together.”
“That’s unsettling,” Tara replied as she looked over this new information. “They were so uncoordinated while setting up the blockade, I was certain that Command was banking on this lack of coordination to be the means of finding resolution. They’re quick learners to be able to mobilize this rapidly.”
“The enemy of my enemy is my friend,” the Captain quoted as he leant back in his chair. “They’ve united behind a common cause - to rid the Expanse of the Federation and to bloody the nose of the Cardassians after the expansion that claimed Breen territories during the war,” he let out a sigh as he rubbed his temple. “It’s amazing what a common goal can do to four very different species,” he added.
“What I’m most confused about is the Talarians; wasn’t there talk of a treaty between Starfleet and the Talarians not too long ago? So why are they against us now?” Tara mused aloud.
“The big instigators here seem to be the Breen,” the Captain mused as he folded his arms and glared at the screen. “According to Starfleet Intel, a Breen delegation approached the Talarians and, Ronzel, the Commander of the Empire, saw an opportunity to project strength and power. Allying with the Breen would enable the Talarians to show their true power and finally demand respect from their enemies, namely us,” he informed before adding again, “my brain hurts.”
“I concur,” Tara replied, pinching the bridge of her nose. “It’s really disappointing, the Talarians are quite lovely people, it’s a shame they’re mixed up in all this. Although I’m sure survival plays a large part; they probably don’t want to set themselves against the Breen and Tzenkethi by siding with Starfleet.”
“Perhaps…” the Captain trailed off, before leaning forward and tapping the screen. The file on display changed to an image of the Talarian border with the Wastelands, the new area of space that the Nogura was headed towards. “No Starfleet here, so how do we explain that build up of Breen and Talarian ships? They were detected by the new Argolis Array just two days ago,” he scowled. He wanted to agree with her, that maybe the Talarian’s had been dragged in to this mess to keep them safe, but why would they be massing on the border of unexplored space, other than to undertake some sort of mission?
“Could it possibly be because of the encounter with this unknown ship with the unusual weapon?” Tara ventured.
Colby lent so far forward this time he banged his head on the work surface and let out a slightly muffled “God, I hope not…”
Tara actually jumped in her seat slightly at the thunk of his head hitting the work surface. “I, erm, wasn’t suggesting collusion, but rather defense? Perhaps they are as concerned about this new weapon as we are? If handled properly, this may actually be an opportunity for cooperation between Starfleet and the Alrakis Pact.”
Colby sat up in his chair and rubbed his head before looking over at the Trill again. “Maybe you’re right,” he smiled, more out of hope than anything. “I want you to get down to Tactical Astrometrics and give the people there a secret mission. I want that border monitored. I want to know the minute those ships move and wherever they go,” he directed.
“Yes, because watching the enemy like we’re paranoid xenophobes is how we make friends,” Tara remarked, then her eyes shot open, wide with surprise at her own words. “I apologize for the snark, that was Arjin’s doing. Uh, but I can request an active uplink with the Argolis Array to ensure that our observations remain discreet,” she said, once again blushing crimson.
“Alright, see to it,” Drayton nodded as he rose to his feet. “I don’t think I like Arjin anymore…” he frowned for a few seconds before a grin took hold again.
Tara managed a chuckle despite being so embarrassed. “Yeah, I’m not liking him so much either,” she remarked, then rose as well. “He’s like a really annoying roommate that I can’t get rid of…” So of course Meibei loved him!
“I’d say you could threaten to flush him out an airlock like I did my annoying roommate, but, well, that would not help me in any way,” he laughed.
“No, that would not be good,” Tara replied with a laugh. “If there’s nothing else, then I will get right on this-” She had to stop herself from saying ‘Captain’, then with a sigh she said, “Boss.”
Drayton let out the biggest grin to date and playfully slapped the woman on the back as he walked past her towards the opposite exit. “See,” he laughed, “I knew it would catch on!”
It was official: Arjin was going die, again, as soon as Tara could figure out how to do it without killing herself!