Canopus Station
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The Best of Defences

Posted on Sun Jan 24th, 2021 @ 5:50pm by Commodore Theodore Grissom & Major Tatiana Skobelova & Lieutenant Commander Amie Cerys

Mission: S2:3: Snow Drift
Location: SFMCS Normandy, Canopus Station Parking Swarm.
Timeline: MD 1 12.35

The Starfleet Marine Corp Starship Normandy was like a parody of a regular Starfleet vessel. It had corridors, bulkheads, and even the air recyclers had that slight pine scent. But under that, staining everything, was a hint of gun oil and ozone.

Designed and built as a child of the Dominion War and Borg Invasions, the Overlord class was unique. A saucer section, with two nacelles, set flush to either shoulder, with a narrow engineering section slung underneath. Attached to this narrow power unit was a pair of pontoons nearly twice as long and half as wide as the saucer section.

Each pod was a long hanger bay and munitions warehouse, holding enough war-fighting gear and the machinery needed to make more of it. That made the Overlord class Planetary Assault Ship the ideal platform to wage war on the enemies of the Federation without needing a long logistics supply line.

Not to mention the impressive array of weapons, which were many and manifold.

All of this and more had been showcased to Amie as the shuttle that had carried her from Canopus had docked in the port side pontoon. Next to the modified Arrow class Runabouts, the Marines used, nicknamed Javelins, the dinky little shuttle was a soap bubble. A sparrow nesting amid falcons.

From the hanger deck, a Starfleet ensign had met her and then escorted her out of the pontoon, and on towards the command deck. The Marines might be the owners of the Normandy, but an experienced Starfleet crew manned the bridge stations and engineering spaces. Each to their own.

The Command Deck was in the heart of the saucer section, an armoured pip within the apple of a starship. Heavy blast doors opened past the turbolift doors, revealing a low ceiling festooned with hardened glass display panes. No fancy holographic interfaces, just hardened and reliable technology.

"Ah, Commander Cerys! Good to have you back with us," Commodore Grissom said, calling her over to the centre of the room where he stood beside a plotting table. "I was just telling Major Skobelova about your mission back to the Beacon star system. That was some damn fine intel you brought back. Some of it mysterious as all hell, especially that Bob critter."

Having enjoyed the information and the slight tour, Amie was glad to reach the command deck, though it really wasn't like anything she'd seen before. Years of field work kept her off ships for quite some time. She smiled at the Commodore and couldn't help but chuckle at what was said. "It was a strange thing indeed, Commodore. Bob honestly was the least strange thing of that mission. I've dug around in what we brought back but half of it still doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Then again, I'm not a scientist."

"Fortunately I brought a whole gaggle of them from the Milky Way. Smart folk to a one, but they speak a language I can't even figure. That massive hole in the solar winds of Beacons stars, the place that 'Wandering World' was that Bob came from? That's got them all twitterpated," Grissom waved off further comment. "Not that we're to concern ourselves with that. Leave the science and exploring to the explorers. No, what I brought you here for is this."

The plot table's surface shimmered, and an aerial photo appeared. A four-sided step pyramid of black stone, surrounded by the acid rain-soaked corpses of wheeled vehicles. The ground around it looked dead, dedicated. 'Xilos: Landing Site, Concordance Temple'.

"The Concordance,' Commodore Grissom said. "What would you both say to going out and pokin'em with a stick?"

The marines at Canopus Station had been drilling and training very hard, but they had not been tested. Tatiana was a bit unsure the marines could handle what Grissom might ask of them. She considered Lieutenant Colonel Sytex to be a more competent officer than herself, and he was lost his fight with the fungus. Now Tatiana would led an essentially force of green marines against a foe that overpowered a better unit. And she didn't know much about the Concordance. If they were Klingon or Jem'hadar, Tatiana could focus their training better. On the other hand, Starfleet wouldn't learn anything by doing nothing.

"We weren't brought all this way out to be eye candy. We're ready to have a go at them." Major Skobelova confidently replied.

Amie watched the display again and tilted her head. "How long has it been since anyone was down there? I mean, the area around there is, well, dead." She glanced to Skobelova, "I don't think any of us are here to be eye candy. Though, sometimes marines can seem that way." She couldn't help but smirk, "Sorry, couldn't help it."

"I'm glad you are both ready to work," Grissom said. "And you are right. Xilos is a world dead, it's a miracle the Xilosian refugee's survived as long as they did. But it one of only two data points we have on the Concordance. The world they destroyed, and this 'Sleepers Bazaar' place where they recruit new soldiers."

A map of Messier 4 appeared, simplified into a disk. A blue star on the edge glowed brightly, whereas two stars spaced equidistant between it and the core of M4 were a bright red.

"So we know that the Concordance were active in this area of the cluster about five years back," ghostly white lines began to twirl and snake between the two bloody stars. "Now these are from the Canopus Station main array. Subspace distortion waves caused by warp drives. As you can see those ripples are weak, almost transitory. My techs tell me that that means the vessels making the transits are going at warp 4 as a maximum."

A host of blinking red stars began to spread out, like a disease.

"Concordance Space," Grissom muttered. "The convergence points of those ripples could be supply hubs, colonies, shipyards...who knows. Now, a covert recon I image would be on outlying target correct?"

"That sounds about right. Can't make it obvious..." Amie rubbed her forehead and moved the image around a little . "So many things could be there. Hell, it could be all of them."

"We can send down a team? Something akin to an away team but with a bit more firepower. The rest of the strike force can be waiting in low orbit. If the team comes under any form of significant attack, we can land the strike force." Tatiana advised Grissom.

"Tempting but, no. Right now we have no idea what we're dealing with, so sending in the whole Task Force isn't on the table. What I imagined would be the best outcome would be a recon in force. The USS Necromancer a Steamrunner class heavy cruiser. Using its inbuilt QSD it can jump into the Oort Cloud of the target system, and deliver a covert observation team into the system. Things go sideways the 'Mancer can preform a micro-jump and be in low orbit with all the gunports open," Grissom commented. "We're not looking to pick a fight, but we are lookin' to find out if the fight is something we're able to stand up to. This is a civilisation that was able to strip mine an entire planet in under two years in a hostile environment they themselves created. Then of course there's the biohazard aspect of things. Sytek and his Marines were ruck humpers to a one, best of the best, and why they got the Canopus assignment. The Concordance got'em hook line and sinker without a shot getting fired. All because a suit leaked. I'll want a science geek with'ya to take samples of the air, water, soils, anything that can give us an edge or an idea of how to combat this infection."

Tatiana was a bit taken aback that Starfleet would name a ship the Necromancer. The staff officer must have been laughing himself silly when he got that past the title panel. Putting that aside, this mission might be a bit easier on her marines. Grissom only wanted a small recon team, for now.

"I can assemble a small team for the scouting team. They will watch after the eggheads when they do their science magic." Tatiana offered.

"Never a doubt in my mind," Grissom said. "Commander? What about Intel? What do they want to this little outing?"

Amie looked at Grissom. "I haven't been given specifics. Anything and everything I can gather I'd assume, but given I'm also chief Intel for Canopus? Sort of up to me."

"Agreed. I want this mission underway on an expedited schedule," Grissom said as an aide came up to his side, whispered a message into his ear. The Commodore looked at the aide with a confused look on his face. "Comet's with stardrives...never a dull moment on this posting."

He turned back to his Marine and Intel officers.

"I've just had word that three comets on a trans solar orbit have begun to 'break' into the orbit of the outermost gas giants. And whilst that is indeed something of a peculiar, if not Messier 4-esque way to start the day I do not consider this to be OBE," he said. He then looked at Amie. "That's Marine slang for 'Overcome By Events'. The Concordance recon is where important, and I'm sure the egg heads of Canopus and the Task Force can handle some dirty ice burning hydrogen. The Necromancer ships out at 1800 FST, that gives you five hours to get your gear together."

"Comets with...stardrives? How is that not something we should be looking into as well? I have a tiny bit of science interest in me. But," Amie said with a soft sigh, "Five hours it is. I'll be ready."

"Glad to hear it," Grissom said with a grin. "I look forward to your return and bid you both good hunting."


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