Canopus Station
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Home Again, Home Again.

Posted on Sat Aug 17th, 2019 @ 4:52pm by Captain Benjamin Ingram Dr & Lieutenant Commander Mara Ricci & Lieutenant Commander Meilin Jiang & Lu'kat

Mission: S1E4: Upon A Darkening Tide
Location: Canopus Station, Carpathia System
Timeline: MD1 900AM

When the USS Resolute dropped out of warp, shields up and weapons charged, it did so to little fanfare save a Space Traffic Control routing instruction putting them on a long course up and over the systems ecliptic. This was rationalised due to the fact enemy combatants from the recent action, the alien bird-like Reka, had fled into the Unicorn B asteroid belt and had...vanished.

Not cloaked, the STC controller pointed out, but just very good hide and seek players.

As they approached the wide-open maw of Canopus Station's primary docking hub, passing through into the cavernous space beyond, the welcoming soft blue lights of home washed over them. On the far side of the hub was the knobbly, cludged together container forest of Cargo Reef, lights twinkling like a post-apocalyptic fairy dell. They even flew over one of the active dry dock bays, the protective scaffold leaning over the shrouded form of a Ronin class heavy cruiser.

Or what was left of one at any rate.

With a quiet thunk, and the toll of the ships bell marking their arrival, the little Norway class light cruiser came to rest in its docking berth.

And then the waiting began. Permission to come aboard was dismissed. Calls to the Office Of the Station Administration were put on hold, though given Ingram was the administrator this surprised nobody.

“Do you suppose something is actually going wrong?” Francis asked, sounding slightly uneasy. She had never worked with Ingram before and wasn’t familiar with his quirks.

“Probably something minor,” replied Mara, voice bored; she had worked with Ingram and knew him well enough to predict a weird procedure in the making. “Like he found a rat on board and wants to personally check our ship before we are allowed off to make sure nobody is smuggling rats onto the station.”

"That starship looks extremely damaged," Meilin said in reference to the Ronin class vessel in drydock. "I doubt rats were the culprit. Perhaps Gastarox had reinforcements?"

"Ma'am?" an Ops tech said, frowning at his controls. "We've just had the pier side reaction mass and deuterium lines hooked up and beginning to fill our tanks. Station Control are gassing us up."

"Because idle hands are made for the devil's work."

Ingram stepped off the bridge turbolift, and surely it was a trick of the Resolutes air recyclers that a chilly breeze seemed to follow him in. He began to walk around the bridge railing dividing the Ops and Engineering stations from the Conn and Command.

"I read the reports you tight beamed back ahead of your arrival. Nicely wrought as bargains go, I'm sure the Ferengi Alliance will be quite pleased to learn we might have a new market for them to invest in," Ingram said dryly. "But now that we are returned, and our guests and samples delivered to the Station, we have work for you that is of the utmost importance."

He got the command chair and eyed Ritter.

"Tell me, Wolfgang, have you ever tried to land a Norway class on a desert world?" he asked. "I've read the manual, seems easy enough. But we are to be transporting down five of our Class Four industrial replicators, the ones that can make a shuttle housing in a single pass. Transporters won't do, so it's a mail drop. And..."

he looked around the bridge.

"Whilst we are delivering the CFI replicators, we will also be aiding the colonists in any meaningful way that we can. Hand out water, building lean too's, anything that can repair some of the damage being shot out of orbit by a Starfleet phaser can do to a first impression."

“See? I told you,” said Mara, dispassionately turning back to the engineering station. “Minor.”

“But important,” added Francis from her place at the helm.

“Yes,” agreed Mara.

"So nice of you, Captain Ingram, to wait for us to return," Meilin intoned ever so graciously, "that we might assist in rendering such noble and necessary aid to those who so desperately need it."

"Indeed, but then again I am of the mind that a mess made should always be cleaned up by those who made it," Ingram looked to his wrist where he had a flexi wrapped around it. With a few taps on the lightweight computer, he tossed an image to the main screen. On it was a sun-washed hologram of a bulk cargo container, its walls cut open to provide windows and ventilation. On on its rust red-painted flanks, burned into the metal were two symbols. One was a circle with a cross within it, with a five-line bisecting the right upper quadrant. The other was a stylised F with a backwards-facing L.

"The first is the Mark Of The Navigator, a Rish symbol of good luck and fair fortune. The other, according to Starfleet Intelligence, is the symbol for a group calling itself 'The Freedom's Legion'," he shook his head. "Rabble rousers from the fringe colonies who see every slight and misfortune bestowed on them by fate as somehow the responsibility of the core worlds. If a sandstorm wipes out the crops of Gedi Prime, then it must be the fault of a Vulcan or an Andorian. I am not keen to have such elements mixing within the colony of Landersfell."

Meilin recognized the Mark of the Navigator immediately, as she had refreshed herself with Starfleet's database entries on the Rish after her dealings with Captain Bossa down in the Cargo Reef section of the station. The second emblem, however, drew her with its mystery. "Like the Maquis, then, except their ire is against the Federation itself rather than a foreign power." Her hand stretched out as if to stroke the holographic image even from a distance. "Fascinating..." She looked to Ingram. "How is this of our own making? These... legionnaires... must have arrived with the new influx of ships since there was no sign before then and we had no such intelligence upon first arrival." Her sly critique of Ingram's slight against them all turned to a logical conclusion. "That means we may have sympathizers of this Freedom's Legion among Starfleet personnel."

"A question worthy of an answer, and one I charge you with Commander Jiang. And please remember that of the 4000 awake colonists, there are over 6000 thousand more still to be thawed from cryostasis. Many of them were put under in the Alpha Quadrant, and the Acheron Colony Corporation who was the funding body of the colony barge wanted to get away from Federation space. It might well be they packed their cryocrypt's with nothing but Freedom Legion sympathisers," Ingram said. "You can see why handing over industrial replicators capable of making a fusion reactor that can be turned into a fusion bomb gives me...pause."

“I could reprogram them,” Mara offered. “I can’t make it impossible to make a fusion bomb, but I can make it incredibly difficult by removing all memory of some of the key parts, meaning they’d have to reconstruct them from scratch if they wanted to make it. It would only take an hour or so.”

"And why would we do such a thing?" Ingram asked. "Why, surely you are not accusing our dependants of attempting to make such things? No, I think we will leave the replicators memory intact. Though a logging file, discreetly monitoring what is made, would not be beyond the question. We must play a subtle game Chief Ricci. Least we provide them with the ammunition to prove their point that Starfleet is not their friend."

“Clever,” admitted Mara. “So has the tracking device been installed, or do I get a more interesting job that sitting here monitoring engineering?”

"You'll be liaising with their engineering crews in installing the replicators. I would think a logging programming would be better installed now whilst they are in our custody than when you have colonists looking over your shoulder. Also when you meet them, take a measure of them. I'd be interested in your opinion."

Lu'kat appeared not from a turbolift, but from a dark and unattended corner of the bridge. How he had gotten there without anyone noticing was a mystery. Suffice it to say he had been there a while, and had heard the entire conversation between the Captain and the Bridge crew of the USS Resolute. Having been made aware of the Freedom's Legion's presence in Landersfell, fresh suspicions about the reasons for Lu'kat's re-newed exile to this far-away place arose within his mind. Lu'kat had had his own dealings with the Order of Twelve in the past, this experience could be utilised in an encounter with the Legion. What was Legate Dracys really up to? Lu'kat wondered...

As he saw eyebrows rise in confusion and alarm at his unexpected presence, he frowned back at them: "Well don't look at me, anyone can fool internal sensors, but someone should have noticed a Cardassian in Cardassian uniform walking out of the Turbolift the moment I set foot in here. Shame on you."

He paused for a brief moment. Long enough for everyone to realise that he was right, but not long enough for them to retort, because he directed himself to the Captain: "Captain Ingram, thank you for the invitation to join you in this mission to the planet."

Meilin fought the impulse to roll her eyes at the Cardassian. As a declared VIP guest of the captain, his presence was at Ingram's pleasure, but like many Cardassians, this one reflected his culture's penchant for subterfuge and projecting superiority. Better to indulge his petty display of vanity than counter it. Wu wei, a guiding principle of the Tao, yielded to rather than resisted the flow of life, lest one stand in the way of fools and trip alongside them. She did share an amused smile with Lu'kat as if he had told a joke.

"Thank you for alluding to the idea that I somehow had a choice," Ingram replied with a thin and threadbare smile. "But as the Long Jump Project could not exist without the material assistance of the Cardassian Union, our agreement does give you a certain freedom of movement. To that end. Mister Theylan our Chief of Security will assign you an escort. For your own safety naturally."

"Our Union guest may accompany me in my investigation," Meilin offered, her face still aglow with a knowing look of glee. She phrased her next words very carefully, leveraging her service jacket against her personal ideologies. "I am fully trained in Tactical and Security protocols with up-to-date phaser qualification."

Mara- who had not bothered to hide her eye roll- now ducked her head to the Engineering console under the pretext of requesting a replacement from Engineering and also an assistant to meet her in the cargo bay to make modifications to the industrial replicators. Hearing Meilin "deal" with a Cardassian was surely the highlight of her week.

"Then we have an accord. Lu'kat and Commander Meilin will spearhead the investigation into the less than reputable sections of the colony. I and Chief Ricci will meet with the colony Coordinator and work on any infrastructure issues they might be facing, as well as deliver the CFI Replicators. Any problems can be relayed back to Commander Ritter," Ingram proposed. "A simple enough plan."

He kept what he thought would happen to said simple plan to himself.


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