It didn’t take a scientist to notice something was afoot at Starbase 72. Nobody knew what was going on, but the entire base was buzzing with talk of a major fleet action and secrets being kept by the admiralty.
Yanrel Vex, the Trill Starfleet commander, did little to mask his own curiosity and confusion. He had been assigned to lead a small expedition, being placed himself in command of an Arrow-class runabout alongside Lieutenant Commander Harrington
His orders were to head to a nearby planet, Koruku III, and assist with a dark-ages level society dwelling there. The assignment wasn’t to study them from a distance and avoid all interference with their cultural development. Quite the opposite, in fact.
Against all policy regarding the Prime Directive, Vex and his crew were to be the ones responsible for not only making contact with the local populace but to actively force their evacuation from one of their outlying, wooded villages, an assignment that bothered him to no end.
As a xenoanthropologist, the natural evolution of a society was one of his greatest fascinations. Now he was being ordered, from the admiralty down, to not only contaminate this culture’s societal growth, but to actively engage and harass these people.
Worst of all was the lack of reasoning why. “Those are your orders, Vex.” was the best he could get out of any of his senior officers.
This whole thing didn’t sit right with Vex at all. He couldn’t get a word out of anyone regarding what was going on, and he and his fellow officers all showed upon their face the same discontent for what they were being asked to do. Divert civilians without so much as an explanation as to why, converge on dangerous locations across the sector against all better judgement, and interfere with matters of the Prime Directive that could irreversibly alter the future of a civilization as they knew it.
With no small measure of discontent, Vex strode into the docking bay reserved for Arrow and Orion-class runabouts. Trying as he always did to maintain his graceful composure, he could do little to mask the concern and unhappiness across his countenance.
To say that the mission at hand was a little out of the ordinary would have been an understatement. Neil had only just arrived on the station, pending a new assignment, when the emergency notice came in. He had transferred here at the XO of the Oberon, and now he was assigned to an Arrow-class runabout to a Commander Vex. There was no mission description and no details of his assignment. He honestly wasn’t sure why he was here, or what he was doing.
He however wasn’t stupid, there had been chatter all over the station. Brass shuffling off into offices and remaining under lock and key. Docking ships who’s Captains had been recalled. And now on top of it all, odd assignments coming out of the blue. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that something was going on. Neil turned to look at the newest arrival to the runabout. He stood up facing the trill, “Commander Vex?” he asked, already knowing the answer.
He extended a hand, “Neil Harrington, I was told to report to you for an emergency assignment.”
“Ah,’ Vex replied, not forgetting his manners and returning his usual slight smile to his face, ‘a pleasure, Commander Harrington. Yes indeed, it seems we’re heading for a planet called Koruku III. The people there live in a pre-warp society approximately equivalent to the dark ages on your homeworld. We’ve been ordered to, uh… relocate said locals there, forcibly if needed.”
He paused for a moment before turning to face the runabout.
“Candidly, Mr Harrington, I do not like this in the slightest. This mission goes against everything I thought I had come to understand Starfleet to be. I am to assume you know little, if anything, as to the reasoning behind this mission? If so then you know as much as I. My orders are my orders, as are yours, but I personally aim to do as little as humanly possible to contaminate this culture with notions of aliens and spacecraft. If we can emerge from this mission with some small tether of the Prime Directive intact, then it would not have all been for naught, wouldn’t you agree?” He asked, as several more members of the expedition boarded the runabout, the USS Trent.
Neil took it all in as he attempted to process it. “The Diplomat in me would agree with your assessment. Starfleet has made non-interference a foundation of our core. The fact that they are shoving that aside, in the name of an emergency, is a bit disconcerting.” He looked at the Commander, “and given their level of technology, little contamination would be a goal.” Neil didn’t have to tell the man that to these people, they could appear almost godlike. Neil wasn’t sure he wanted a statue, or a religion, built in his honor. The Lieutenant Commander noticed the arrival of their team.
Looking over the ranks, he could see the team building. For the most part it was Junior Officers who appeared to be just as confused as him. No doubt they had just received their orders and were lost. Looking at the team, they had the standard gold uniforms. Neil would only assume they were Security Officers. He couldn’t help but wonder just how much of a threat these people could be. He wasn’t sure they needed a whole team of Security Officers, but who was he to question Starfleet in their infinite wisdom.
“Well we’ll certainly think of something, of that I’m sure.” Vex replied, occasionally drifting his gaze to the security officers as he spoke before addressing the Commander again.
“Well then, shall we be off?” he asked.
Neil gestured further into the craft, towards the helm area. As their pilot took his seat near the front of the runabout. He really wanted to say, let’s go violate the prime directive but knew that would be going a bit too far. “I’ll start looking into Koruku III, and see what I can pull from the Diplomatic Corps and Science Departments. Possibly see if I can come up with something,” he paused, “if your permission, Commander?”
“Of course,’ Yanrel gestured towards Harrington, ‘if we can find a way to get out of this situation without destroying a culture, I’d like to find any way of doing so.”
Vex settled into his own seat and waited for everyone else to come aboard.
“Ensign Cho, was it? Take us out, if you would.”
With all systems engaged, the Arrow-class runabout rose from the ground and, after some maneuvering, shot out like it’s eponymous form from the runabout docking bay.
“Set a course for Koruku III ensign, maximum warp.”
“Course laid in, sir. We should be arriving in the next three hours or so.” ensign Cho responded.
With that command acknowledged, the runabout’s two small warp nacelles began to hum and glow as the Trent repositioned itself to match it’s new flight trajectory. With a flash of light and pulsing blast, the runabout began it’s faster-than-light journey at an impressive speed of Warp 8.
“Three hours ought to give us all the time we need to figure out a solution. I’m open to ideas if anyone has any?” Yanrel asked, with more than a little of his frustration and anger permeating through his voice.
“Sir?’ a voice arose from the crew of nine around him. ‘With all due respect, why don’t we just head in there disguised as locals and begin convincing people to evacuate? That ought to be fine without us risking being discovered.”
“There is a reason we’ve been assigned to an Arrow-class, lieutenant. Time is of the utmost essence here-”
At that, one of the crew interrupted.
“-But why is it of the essence, sir!?” a voice cried out, clearly disgruntled.
At that, Yanrel returned an equally frustrated shrug, an exaggerated expression on his face as he did so.
“Believe me, ensign, I would tell you if I knew. I’ve been left as much in the dark about all this as any of you have. All I know is that Starfleet needs us to complete this mission and fast, and I am placing my trust in the admiralty to be sure to be asking this of us for good reason.” He added.
At this, one of the crewmen snorted. Vex chose to ignore them.
“Any other suggestions? We need something effective, something quick, and preferably something as non-invasive as possible.”
Neil’s fingers danced over the console as he pulled up information from several various sources. “While I share everyone’s concern for these people, and ensuring that we protect these people. The outcome is rather delicate. If we don’t find a way to move them carefully, then Starfleet I am sure will send a team in here and they will do it first.” Neil started to add more but something caught his attention.
He turned to the Officer, “you know a disguise might work, but not in the sense you were thinking. This ship is equipped with phasers, deflectors, holo technology, you name it we have it. Perhaps we could use that to our advantage, instead of moving them…” he was more thinking out loud, “we need to create a reason for them to move themselves. That would limit our interaction but still achieve the same outcome.”
Yanrel thought over this course of action for a moment. It was true that the Trent was well-equipped and that such an illusion could potentially be possible, and this certainly seemed to be the best course of action with regards to relocating the villagers as non-invasively as possible. The question was simply making it happen.
“I don’t believe we’re equipped to create any kind of holographic image.” he responded, tapping his cheek as he thought.
“However, perhaps we won’t need anything so complex. If we could catch the villagers under the cover of nightfall…” he trailed off.
“Harrington, pull up everything you can on the religious and mythological beliefs and legends of the people of Koruku III. Lieutenant Vasquez, see if it could be possible to modify the phaser array to emit a short-range automated wide-beam pulse. Hopefully with a few light tricks and some carefully timed phaser bursts, we can create a convincing enough illusion to scare the people out of town.”
Vasquez nodded affirmatively, and immediately began tapping away at her console to make the necessary modifications.
Neil looked at their Commander, he still honestly wasn’t sure about this. He’d worn this uniform long enough to know that everything they were being ordered to do went against everything he’d been trained to do. He wasn’t sure if this action would be hailed as a success, or wind up in a Jag Trial. For the moment though, this was the best course of action. “Aye, Commander,” he simply replied, as he gave a reassuring nod to the others in the room.
“You all have your orders,” he stated, “let’s get to work.”