Blake: I wrote the damn handbook about why it can't be in the Shoals. Even Samal Frazier had an issue with it being on the Thunder-A
, for the same reason we
can't have it here
. Not to mention, it was equipped with a cloaking device last year
. Besides, we've been ordered to send it back to Embassy at our earliest convenience -- I can't risk losing it directly, or putting it on display for anyone. Not even Rahman would be able to pull my ass out from that fire.
Parker: I understand that, Captain. But the Shadows’ an asset, one made for situations just like this. We’re not in enemy space…yet. We’re on our side of the border. No one knows its here, and once we conclude this mission, you can send it on its way.
oO Ideally, we won't be in enemy space at all. Oo
Blake: I appreciate the thought. Our teams will remain with the type tens. Rahman and Ukinix already took the Ferdinand, so we're down on firepower. But I won't compromise my morals by using the Embassy's shuttlecraft.
Her answered had frustrated Parker, who was pursing his lips.
Parker: As you wish, Captain…
Kelrod: It's understandable. Things on the Shoals are agitated enough as to add us violating Colonial policies.
If only it'd just been about Coalition policies, though. The cloaking device violated Federation policies -- and the Coalition was still part of the Federation. Sure, this piece of space was next to an undocumented border: they knew Tholian space ended somewhere on this side of the Shoals, but with no open communication with the Tholian Assembly, no one knew where exactly they felt their territory ended. But the use of the Embassy's Shadow was as equally unacceptable here, nearby Coalition territory, as it was in the deepest parts of the Federation.
Blake: Dismissed. Organise with your teams. We arrive soon.
She'd moved past them to the door of the ready room--
Parker: One more thing, Captain…
She had no idea why she'd stopped. Rahman would have told him what "dismissed" meant, and Carrero would have just kept walking. But for some reason, Blake had been compelled to stand there. She might have called herself a glutton for punishment.
Blake's eyes glowered at the door.
Parker: I believe we are sailing into a trap, and a pretty obvious one.
oO No toss, Kcolrehs. Oo
But it was only one possibility, of many. It could have simply been the station was a Tholian observation post, meant to be pointed inward to their own space. The Tholians were isolationists, dictators over their own people. They'd shut down their representation at Astrofori One, after all: maybe they needed to keep an eye on their own space, and a stabilising thruster on the station had malfunctioned, causing its movement here. Not everything needed to be a slight against the Shoals.
Thankfully, she wasn't alone in her myriad of assumptions.
Kelrod: I guess we all know that there's a possibility of that, but we can't rule out other explanations, like some sort of failure or foreign interference.
Parker: Some station just happens to drift across our border from Tholian space. This same station is capable of supporting humanoid life, albeit barely. This isn’t the first time the Tholians have tried to bait Starfleet.
Kelrod: Yes it seems a strange coincidence. But I'll wait 'till we're near and can scan it more properly.
Parker: The Tholians have one impediment to controlling this area of space. The Veritas. Take us out over some presumed grievance, there’s nothing in this sector that would keep them from grabbing it, holding it, and reinforcing it before another starship or starships could get here. Your Colonial Marshals will be soiling themselves the second they find out we have been neutralized. Just something to consider, Captain while you’re setting this high moral tone of yours…
Blake's head turned slowly to Parker, eyes dark. She could have responded with so many counters, accusations that Parker knew nothing about the area, demands get back into his place. He referred to her new homeland and its people as incompetent, unrelenting in his narrative that they were "weak" because of the regulations they placed down for them to follow. That Veritas, despite seven years in the region -- plus time tacked on in Limbo -- operating under these regulations had never had a major issue, was working "with one hand behind their back and their eyes sealed shut". Blake was tired of it, and was fast on the track of relieving him of duty pending re-assignment to Esperance -- let Zhou knock some sense into him.
But that'd be taking the easy way out, wouldn't it.
Kelrod: Enough Parker. That's out of the line! :: Kelrod turned to the Lieutenant Commander :: There are more things that keep Tholians from getting in the Shoals, they took a beating in the Gamma Camelopardalis system by an AI called Sentinel, there's a Klingon presence in the Shoals and I doubt they want to risk bringing the KDF attention. There's also the fact that, given the political situation of the Coalition, Tholians wouldn't risk invading the zone, as that will bring more Starfleet presence to the zone, not to mention on DSX on the other side of Tholian Territory that has gained strategic importance since the destruction of Astrofori one.
Silence permeated the ready room as Blake's eyes looked at Parker and Kelrod. She gestured to the silver rank pips on the chest of the maroon panels on her duty uniform, and addressed both men equally, her voice quiet and her gaze sharp.
Blake: See this colour, and these pips? They mean that when I say "dismissed", you should translate it as "get out of my sight".
Kelrod: Aye captain. Let's go...
Parker: Understood…by your leave, Captain…
The two scurried out of the ready room, Blake following them only so far as the Bridge.
Tbc . . .
LtCmdr Sky Blake