“Ensign!” T’Plau shouted over the commotion, trying to grab Conrad’s attention just for a slight second.
“I see it.” He responded as he shoved the small craft into a spin to avoid the cliff edge they were passing over. The shuttlepod was shuddering under the pressure of it finally passing through the Docanan atmosphere and was now on a downward trajectory before it pulled itself apart from the pressures it had just endured. Ensign Conrad was doing his best to keep the craft together so they could find a suitable place to land the ship. After they escaped the blast radius of the mines and miraculously avoided the enemy ships, the four of them had decided to head to the planet and attempt to make contact with the Andorian survivors that had sent a message which Conrad had intercepted. It seemed like the best idea at the time as there was no way they would be able to rendezvous with the Earth-Andorian task force with so many enemy ships near to them. Hennessey had been able to track the origin of the transmission to a nearby mountain range. Conrad had flown them down towards it and they weren’t that far now from their destination. That’s if they made it.
Another explosion pulsated behind Conrad’s right ear, almost deafening him. Commander Stanton reacted by cursing at the craft as he dealt with the small fire that erupted from it. “Hold it together Jack!” The chief engineer commanded.
“I’m trying sir.” Conrad said as he tightened his grip around the joystick in a vain attempt that his grasp would help.
“We have lost sensors!” T’Plau reported as she attempted to get the computer she was sat at to work with no apparent luck.
“Damn it!” Stanton cursed again as he returned to his seat to T’Plau’s left. “I’m redirecting whatever energy we’ve got to thrusters. We need to slow down our descent Jack!”
“I’m on it!” The young pilot said as he kept doing his best to slow them down.
Based on the location of the transmission and our current velocity I would say we are less than a kilometre to the target.” T’Plau added.
“Then set us down Jack.” Stanton ordered before looking over to his shoulder at the communication officer behind him. “Ned, can you try and send a message to the Andorians, see if they’re still listening.”
“I can’t.” Hennessey said, shaking his head. “The communication array is down.”
“The landing gear is not responding either.” Conrad added, “Everyone hang on!”
The shuttlepod flew across the tops of several trees before Conrad aimed its direction into a slight nosedive as he headed them towards a small clearing that would just allow them to land with some room. Like a bird hunting for its prey, the shuttlepod swooped down and hit the ground with a mighty thud. Unlike the bird hunting, the shuttlepod would not be returning to the skies anytime soon as it smashed across the large grass area before crashing into a few bushes and finally wedging itself in between two very large trees.
Ensign Conrad lifted his head up and sighed with relief at knowing they made it down. “We’re down.” He turned around to look at his fellow officers. They too look relieved, even T’Plau, that they had survived that turmoil.
Stanton thumped a few controls, “Looks like the computer is down. I might be able to repair it once we get it back to Challenger.” He looked at everyone else. “You all okay?” He realised he should have checked on them first and was pleased when he received a round of acknowledgements that they were fine. “Okay let’s get out of these EVA suits, into something a bit more comfortable and take what we need to survive out here. There’s no point in us staying here.”
“Agreed.” T’Plau said. “Tactically speaking we are still in enemy occupied territory. I suggest we attempt to find Ensign Conrad’s Andorian friends and stay with them.”
“Sounds like a plan to me.” Stanton agreed.
Soon the landing party were back in their normal uniforms, wearing their field jackets and carrying backpacks with all the gear that would help them survive on the planet until they were rescued.
Hennessey was pulling out the shuttlepod emergency communication device when he noticed that T’Plau had paused where she stood in the middle of the woodlands. She held in her hands her Vulcan designed scanner and she had been tasked in trying to determine the direction they needed to take to find the Andorians. “Something wrong Sub Commander?” The communication officer queried.
T’Plau brought her scanner back down from its position in mid-air and turned to look at the Human man. “The metallic alloy in the rocks and nearby mountains is limiting my scanner’s range. I am unable to scan anything beyond two hundred meters.”
“Frustrating.” Hennessey stated.
“Indeed.” T’Plau countered back with a raised eyebrow, a sign of her possible frustration as she put her scanner back in to the satchel in her belt.
Commander Stanton climbed out of the shuttlepod’s right side door and saw his crewmates all waiting for him. “Have we been able to determine the direction we need to head?”
“If the coordinates that Ensign Hennessey was able to work out are correct then we need to head that way.” Spoke Conrad with his own Starfleet scanner in his hand and pointing in the direction where T’Plau was standing. Where he was gesturing was past the clearing in the woodlands and towards the tip of the mountain. It looked like one of the tallest; thankfully they had landed on the side of it.
“Okay.” Stanton said as he pulled on his rucksack that contained everything he would need for their stay, including his own engineering kit. He wasn’t prepared to leave that one behind. “If the Commodore finds the shuttlepod then I’ve left an encrypted message telling him what we planned to do. Hopefully no-one else will read the message.” Stanton said he knew it was risky that the Malurian or Nausicaan patrols could find the small craft and attempt to access its damaged computer. So, to confuse them he left the message that read: Gone hunting for pink skin. He hoped that Burton or Levesque would make the connection and realise they had gone to find the Andorians based on the racist nickname that most Andorians called Humans. “Let’s get moving then.” He instructed his team.
For the three Starfleet men the hike they were currently on brought back memories of their expedition training they had taken. Ensign Conrad was at the front of the group, sharing his experience. “The instructor was this fierce Scottish woman, I can’t remember her name now, but she pushed us through the Peak District in the harshest British winters. I hated it.”
Chuckling of the recollection, Hennessey spoke up. “Mine was a weekend training session in Yosemite Park.”
“Just a weekend?” Conrad reacted in disbelief at the injustice. “I swear the one-year crash course in officer training is unfair to those of us who have to do the full four years at Starfleet Training Command.”
Stanton, who had been walking at the back alongside T’Plau, laughed at the younger man’s words. “Hennessey may have only done a year’s training Jack but don’t forget he has more performance reviews every year for the next two years then the rest of us who did the full four years.”
“I suppose there’s a silver lining with that.” Conrad remarked, now feeling a bit smug he wasn’t under the same scrutiny as his fellow officer.
“Silver lining?” T’Plau enquired towards Stanton.
“It’s another old Earth idiom.” He explained. “It comes from the saying: ‘every cloud has a silver lining’. It literally means that in any bad situation you will always find some good.”
“An interesting phrase.” She returned before stopping in her tracks and began frowning.
Stanton noticed her paused expression and stopped walking to look at her “Sub Commander?” He asked, wondering if she was okay. The other two ahead also stopped and turned to see what was happening.
“I heard an explosion.” She shared.
“I didn’t hear anything.” Conrad said.
“Vulcans have better hearing than Humans.” Hennessey retorted.
T’Plau looked over her shoulder. “Again, another one.” She stated and winced her eyes into the far distance. “Several in fact.”
“Should we keep going?” Stanton asked.
T’Plau nodded. “I believe that will be the best thing at the moment.”
“Perhaps once we get to the top, we’ll be able to see what is happening?” Conrad offered as the group continued with their hike.
Once they reached a peak the group stopped as T’Plau indicated again she could hear a series of explosions. The ground shook beneath their feet.
“I’m definitely not thinking the Sub Commander has gone crazy.” Conrad quipped as he held on to a nearby boulder.
Stanton squinted his eyes as he saw something in the distance. “There!” He shouted and pointed at whatever it was.
“I see it.” Hennessey said as he shielded his eyes with his left hand just above his eye to cut out the sunlight beaming on them.
“What is-” T’Plau was stopped from asking her question when another explosion nearer to them and all four officers went deadly silent as the large plum of fire and smoke erupted.
“Was that a…” Stanton started.
“…nuclear explosion. Yes, it was Commander.” T’Plau finished. She turned her head one more time as she heard something from behind them as the ground shook again from the nearby explosion. “Commander.” She said calmly as she indicated to get his attention to what was behind them.
Stanton looked over his shoulder and when he realised what the armoury officer was indicating at, he completely turned around. By this time the other two men had done the same thing. “Greetings.” Stanton said, “I’m Commander Michael Stanton from the Earth ship Challenger.”
The four Andorians, three men and one woman, all lowered their weapons that they had aimed at their visitors. The woman stepped forward, obviously the leader of the group, “I’m Commander Anthi of the Imperial Guard.”
Stanton found it hard to believe the group before him were soldiers of the Andorian Empire’s military, especially as none of them were in the typical Imperial Guard uniforms and were all looking dirty and extremely tired. “A pleasure to meet you Commander, we’re part of the joint task force sent by our governments to come and rescue the colony.”
Anthi nodded in acknowledgement that she believed his words. “It’s good to see our message got through.” She looked at one of them men to her right before looking back at them.
“Are you the ones who sent the message about survivors and asking when help would arrive?” T’Plau asked.
“We are.” The man who Anthi had looked at spoke.
“This is Lieutenant Thom, my second-in-command.” Anthi said, introducing him. “This is Zareth and Shon.” She added gesturing towards the other two.
“This is Sub Commander T’Plau,” Stanton returned motioning towards the female officer, “And this is Ensigns Hennessey and Conrad.” He paused, “In fact you owe Ensign Conrad for intercepting your message.”
“The survivors of Docana thank you Ensign Conrad.” Thom said and bowed his head slightly at the pilot.
“You’re welcome.” Conrad said, slightly blushing at the gratitude he received.
“I’m afraid these pleasantries will need to wait.” Anthi commented as she signalled for them to look back at what was happening behind the Starfleet group. “Thermonuclear warheads are being detonated across the planet. We need to get out of here. How far away is your ship?”
“Our shuttlepod was damaged.” T’Plau flatley answered. “If we can find some shelter and re-establish communication contact with our ship than I believe one of our ships will be able to rescue us.”
Anthi took a deep breath in, the news that they wouldn’t be leaving yet obviously disappointed her. “The caves we and the rest of the survivors are hiding in, aren’t too far and will be able to protect us from the nuclear blasts.”
“Good, then please lead the way Commander.” Stanton said, trying to give her a warm friendly smile.
“This way,” She indicated towards the route she and her fellow Andorians had taken. She stopped walking and turned to Stanton and the others, “I forgot to say welcome to Docana.” She then carried on walking with her visitors following her and the others.
Tuesday, April 28th, 2155
“Captain’s, star log April Twenty-Eighth, Twenty-One-Fifty-Five. Operation: Jericho has been a success. How one measures that success is another matter. The Malurians and Nausicaans have been driven off from Docana however the liberation of the planet has come with a high price. The Romulan nuclear attack destroyed the remains of the four main settlements as well as a number of enriched areas of valuable resources that would have made the colony an extreme benefit to the Andorian Empire. Nuclear radiation now blankets over half of the planet, infecting almost anything that is organic and slowly killing it. As such the Andorians are now rushing to find as many survivors as possible to rescue off the planet however their efforts are being met with poor results. We on the other hand are making repairs while searching for our missing crewmates. Commander Levesque believes she has detected the ion trail from Shuttlepod One entering the planet’s atmosphere however we are unable to confirm if it is their trail or not. Meanwhile the Intrepid and Apollo have both left the system with the Apollo being towed by an Andorian cruiser. Chancellor Margeri, to show her gratitude for our help, has agreed for both ships to be taken to the nearest Andorian repair facility to be fixed so they can return to Earth for a full refit. She has also invited Challenger to make a similar stop over, something I am considering once we are warp capable. On another note I’m pleased to say that my temporary appointment to a Commodore has now ended and I am able to return to my regular duties as just a starship captain. If you can call them regular.”
“Make sure you purge that manifold before we begin the start-up routine!” Lieutenant Masuko bellowed from the upper section of main engineering.
Captain Burton had not expected to hear his second engineer have such a loud booming voice, especially with all the noise that currently engulfed engineering as various repairs were being undertaken. He looked up towards where he heard the woman’s voice. “Lieutenant, how are we doing?”
Masuko gave out a sigh at her own personal frustration that she wouldn’t be able to tell the captain any good news. “I’m afraid sir that we’re still having issues with the plasma injectors. I’m sorry.” She said as she almost ran down the flight of stairs towards her superior officer.
“Don’t be sorry Sakura, you’ve done an excellent job in keeping us together in Commander Stanton’s absence. I’m glad you’re back on your feet. Commander Levesque tells me that we’re ahead of schedule with the other repairs.” Burton said, trying to assure her that he wasn’t disappointed with her in any way.
“We are, apart from the warp drive, every other damaged system should be up and running by this evening.” She said with a bit more pride in her voice at their achievement. “Have we been able to find Commander Stanton and the others yet?”
Burton shook his head. “No not yet but we’re not giving up on them yet. At least with the warp drive offline it’s giving time for us to search for them.”
“Well I promise you sir I’m not stalling to give you extra time, but I can if you want me too?” Masuko asked.
“Just carry on Lieutenant.” Burton replied and placed his right hand on her shoulder for assurance. “Keep me posted.” He added as he made his way out of engineering.
“Aye sir!” She said as she watched him leave before returning to her work.
Frustration was starting to overwhelm Commander Levesque now. Her current task of trying to get through the obstructions of not just the nuclear radiation in the atmosphere of Docana but also the natural interference from the planet was making her job in finding their colleagues difficult. She was sat at the head of the table console in the situation room, aft of the main compartment of the bridge, with Ensign Cortez and Petty Officer Nikolai Kastrovich. With the Second Armoury Officer and her Chief Astrophysicist, the First Officer was hoping they would be able to hunt down three Human life-signs and a Vulcan. How wrong she was. The three of them had been working on this for almost an entire day now with only a few breaks in between their work to sleep and eat.
“This isn’t working.” Cortez said out of frustration as she stepped away from the console and began to play with her wedding ring.
Kastrovich, who remained seated on his stool to Levesque’s right, remained posed looking over the information before them. “Dis is starting to annoy me as vell.” He added in his distinct Russian accent.
Levesque placed the tablet she had in her hands down on the table and rubbed her temple. She shared her comrade’s annoyance at how difficult their task was, but she wasn’t prepared to give up. “Maybe we’re looking at this the wrong way?” She said.
“Is there another way to look at it?” Cortez asked as she returned to her own stool next to Kastrovich’s.
“How about you search for the shuttlepod first?” The familiar voice of Captain Burton interjected.
The group looked up and saw their commanding officer, who had just got off from the lift and was now leaning against the wall where the ship’s dedication plaque hanged. “That’s not a bad idea actually sir.” Cortez said. “The search parameters would be more refined than our current ones.”
“And if ve find that first…” Kastrovich began.
“…then we may find our missing crew.” Levesque completed with the Russian’s train of thought. She looked up at Burton and smiled in gratitude. “Thank you, sir.”
“No problems.” He answered as he moved to join the group. “Let me give you a hand, it’ll help stop me from asking Lieutenant Masuko when will the warp core be up and running again!”
Exiting the confines of the decontamination chamber, Private Jenkins gave out a quiet tiresome moan as he followed the rest of his team out.
“You’re all clear of any contaminants.” Ro-fa Ben-Ami announced over the intercom. “But please report to sickbay once you are dressed for a full scan.”
Jenkins walked over to the locker room where a new uniform waited for him as the one he had taken off after returning to the ship was thrown away for possibly being harmful to him and his shipmates. Once he had his undershirt on along with his combat khakis, he left the locker room and strolled to sickbay. As he entered the medical facility, he instantly sat on one of the beds and was met by the Chief Medical Officer.
“Welcome back Private.” Ben-Ami said with a warm smile as she scanned the MACO soldier.
“Thanks.” He said quietly. He was close to exhaustion and was looking to have the rest of the day off. His team had spent almost nine hours on the planet and had almost reached their ten-hour stint when the Captain recalled the entire team, wanting to prevent them from being exposed to any radiation. He looked around the room to see if his boyfriend was on duty and was surprised to see he wasn’t there.
Ben-Ami picked up on the Private’s disappointment. “He’s on one of the Andorian ships helping with the survivors.” She whispered in his ear.
Jenkins smiled at the thought of his other half being selfless and wanting to help others out. “When is he due back?”
The doctor looked over to the wall where a digital-clock readout was located. “In another hour or so.” Ben-Ami answered from her calculations. “Although Shuttlepod Two is in high demand at the moment with Shuttlepod One still missing, so he may be late.”
“Oh okay,” Jenkins said, frowning he couldn’t see Niall. “How come Shuttlepods Three and Four haven’t been used?”
“Engineering is too busy to get them up and running, they’ve had their hands full with repairs and we still aren’t warp operational.” She answered.
Jenkins nodded to show his understanding. “How’s Lieutenant Trommler doing?”
“He’s fine.” She answered, still smiling. “He’s resting in his quarters. You were very quick to pick up on his symptoms.”
“He turned a very unusual shade of grey.” Jenkins stated as Ben-Ami almost finished her scans of him.
“Nonsense Private, you diagnosed his radiation sickness a lot quicker than others would have and knowing what you MACOs are like with your tough stance he would have carried on.” Ben-Ami said as she paused to look at the young soldier. “I’ve told Major Yu how proud she should be of you; I know I certainly am and I’m not the only medical officer on board who thinks that. Your quick reaction to get him transported back on board saved his life. If he had carried on wearing that damaged EVA suit, he would no longer be able to wear that uniform.”
Jenkins blushed at her words of encouragement. “Thanks.” He just said in response.
“I’ll make a Doctor out of you yet!” She said in an attempt to lighten the mood. She then leaned in, “And I won’t repeat what Niall said about how proud he is of his boyfriend.” She added with a cheeky wink and then stood up straight to check the results of the scan.
Jenkins blushed again in embarrassment. His love life was becoming a gossiping point between the crew, he was starting to resent it slightly. “Am I okay?”
Ben-Ami nodded. “You’re perfectly fine but you need to be off your feet for the next eleven hours. Go take a shower, grab something to eat and drink then sleep it off before you’re back on duty.”
Pleased at the good news, Jenkins jumped off his bed. “Thanks Ro-fa.” He said as began heading towards the sickbay doors.
“Oh,” Ben-Ami called out to him. “Major Yu and First Lieutenant al-Fayyad wanted to see you. I believe they’re in the Major’s office.”
Jenkins had stalled in his footsteps as he listened to the doctor’s words. He nodded in thanks for her sharing the message to him and made his way to see his superior officers.
Nervously he tapped the chime to Major Yu’s office and waited for the response on the other side for him to come in. Once it was granted by his leader, Jenkins entered the room once the door opened for him. “I was told to report to you at once by Ro-fa Ben-Ami.” He stated once the door was closed behind him.
Major Yu was sitting at her desk, while First Lieutenant al-Fayyad was sitting on the small grey leather sofa on the opposite wall to her. The Major stood up as Jenkins had walked in. “At ease Private and welcome back.” She said with a smirk.
“Thank you, ma’am.” He answered back as he slightly slouched in the way he stood.
“Now I know you’ve only just returned and I expect to receive a report on what happened on Docana by tomorrow afternoon, in the meantime both the Lieutenant and I,” She said indicating between her and al-Fayyad, “have been discussing your performance and with your reaction to what happened with Second Lieutenant Trommler.”
“Oh?” Jenkins wondered if he had done something wrong with the tone Yu was taking.
“Liam, I said at ease.” Yu reminded him. Once he seemed calmer, she carried on. “We know how hard you’ve been working Liam and we feel we need to recognise that.”
Al-Fayyad spoke up then. “You’re working hard to complete your medical training and your training results are exceptional Private. Staff Sergeant Iyer can’t sing your praises enough and neither can I.”
Once again Jenkins found himself blushing at the encouragement he was receiving. “Thank you.” He said to both women.
“We also know how eager you are to begin your officer’s training Liam.” Yu remarked as she poured herself a cup of coffee and took a sip from it. Jenkins had not noticed that beforehand both women had mugs in their hands. Yu held up an empty mug to him now. “Coffee, tea?” She offered before carrying on with her train of thought.
“No thank you ma’am.” He declined with.
Yu continued, “So we feel that after today’s situation especially how well you took command of your fellow teammates in Trommler’s absence, that it’s only right we award you with the promotion to Corporal.” Yu stepped forward and pulled out the rank chevrons for corporal. “We know it’s a jump above Lance Corporal but we both feel you deserve it.” She handed him the chevrons.
“Umm…thank you so much.” Jenkins said as he took the new rank. “I don’t know what else to say.”
Both MACO women smiled at his reaction. “You can repay us by carrying on with your amazing effort and considering taking the officer’s training under our tutelage.” al-Fayyad returned.
“Officer’s training? But don’t I have to do that back on Earth?” Jenkins asked, surprised he was being given such an opportunity.
Yu shook her head. “No. Regulations allow for a unit, like ours, which is far from headquarters to train its own unit including undertaking officer’s training if authorised.” She took a sip from her coffee. “You’ll be in training for a year and a half but if it’s what you want to do then we’re more than happy to support you Corporal.”
Jenkins smiled at their kindness. “I really do appreciate that.”
“Well go rest and think about the offer. You don’t have to give us an answer yet, we’re both happy to wait for you when you’re ready.” Yu said as she returned to sit in her chair.
“Thank you.” Jenkins said once again.
Yu chuckled, “Liam go take a break, you deserve that at least and we’ll celebrate your promotion tomorrow. I know Captain Burton will want to speak to you at some point too.”
Jenkins just nodded and soon left Yu’s office with a huge grin across his face.
Secondmoon, Fesoan Lor’veln Year 463
Wednesday, April 30th, 2155
Mount Jaq, Docana
Sub Commander T’Plau found herself finally being able to meditate quietly in a secluded area away from the main cavern where the rest of the survivors were hiding in. She had made a few fires around her to keep herself warm but to also use the flames as points of concentration. Their nakedness had been able to help her empty her mind of all thoughts so she could relax. Her and the others had spent almost three days with the Andorians now. In that time, she had been assisting those who needed medical attention, with the limited training she had, as well as assisting Ensign Hennessey and Lieutenant Thom fix the emergency communication beacon. Their efforts on the latter had been futile due to the fact they had been unable to get a communication frequency past the nuclear radiation that now enveloped the planet’s atmosphere. Commander Stanton had volunteered to go and try repair the shuttlepod however the radiation exposure would eventually kill him and anyone else that went out of the caves without an EVA suit on. For now, the caves protected them from the harsh environment that existed beyond.
“Sub Commander.” Stanton whispered from behind her.
She opened one eye at first and to determine she wasn’t hallucinating before opening the other. She slowly turned around to see the engineer standing with a torch in his hand, aiming it towards the ground where she sat. “Commander Stanton.” She said, “Is everything okay?”
He responded with a big grin, “You could say something like that, if you don’t mind placing your meditation on hold for the moment.”
She inclined her head to accept his terms and stood up from the dusty floor. She walked by his side to exit the small dwelling she was using and soon they followed the small path that returned them to main cavern, or the grotto as Ensign Conrad had nicknamed it. T’Plau was surprised to see new additions to their group standing in the centre talking to Ensigns Conrad and Hennessey along with Commander Anthi and Lieutenant Thom. Standing there in Starfleet EVA suits were Captain Burton, Commander Levesque, Major Yu and Ro-fa Ben-Ami along six other MACOs.
“It’s good to see you Sub Commander.” Burton said as he walked towards them with a friendly smile.
“It is agreeable to see you as well sir.” T’Plau responded and looked at the others. “All of you in fact.”
T’Plau looked around the grotto and had noticed a number of others in similar environmental suits, all of them being Andorians were helping the colonists. “How did you find us through all the interference?” She finally asked Captain Burton.
“We isolated the shuttlepod’s hull signature and then once we finally found it on foot, we discovered you were all gone. However, Commander Levesque and I decrypted Commander Stanton’s message about hunting, and we found the intercepted message you took from Commander Anthi. We hypothesised if anyone was hiding from the Malurians and Nausicaans near to the shuttle then it would be in one of the caves. We spent the last day searching every single cave until we refined the search a bit further to ones that would be able to protect you from the radiation and the rest as they say is history.” Burton explained.
T’Plau looked at Stanton who instantly picked up on her wanting to know what the captain meant with that last idiom. He gave her a look that said he would explain later. She looked back at her fellow officers. “I assume then the Malurians and Nausicaans have left Docana.”
“They and the Romulans.” Levesque answered.
“Romulans?” Stanton quizzed. “So, you saw them as well?”
“Oh, we did.” Burton said. “They were the ones who launched the last volley of nuclear warheads at the planet. In fact, apart from two ships, the entire Malurian and Nausicaan invasion force was wiped out by the Romulans.”
“The minefield was Romulan in origin.” T’Plau said.
“We picked up on that fact when they were able to detonate the entire minefield, especially as they were the ones who made them. As I said the bulk of the invasion force was destroyed when that happened.” Burton told.
“So, are we at war Captain?” Commander Anthi now asked. She had remained quiet since T’Plau and Stanton’s arrival.
“Currently I’m not sure what the outcomes are politically but when I spoke with Chancellor Margerit she said the Andorian Parliament will be holding some serious talks to discuss the situation.” He replied. “Prime Minister Samuels said the same would be happening back on Earth.”
“It doesn’t make sense though, why did the Romulans attack the planet?” Conrad queried.
“As we suspected, all along there was no way the Malurian and Nausicaan governments were actually involved in this. In fact, the Malurian government is denying any knowledge of what happened here and if the Vulcan Diplomatic Corp is able to get anything from the Nausicaans I’m sure they’ll say the same thing.” Burton answered.
“Plausible deniability.” Hennessey said.
“No not actually, we’re almost certain those that attacked the colony were mercenaries for hire.” Levesque countered. “Hence why it was a combined Malurian and Nausicaan attack force and not solely one or the other. Their ships were of various sizes, configurations and differed in age. There’s no way their criminal organisations could fund such an operation without a wealthy external sponsor.”
“The Romulans.” Anthi said as she began to put all the pieces together in her mind.
“That’s our belief. The Romulans were able to mine the asteroid field without you seeing them.” Burton described. “Then by sending in the Malurians and Nausicaans they were hoping to divert the focus of your government’s retaliation away from them. Docana is also a rich planet filled with natural resources that would greatly help the Empire once the colony was fully up and running with its own mining facilities.”
“So, I suppose the Romulans paid the Malurians and Nausicaans off by saying they could keep the planet and all of its resources and in return they just had to attack it?” Thom summarised. “And with the minefield in place they may have been able to hold the planet for some time.”
Burton nodded, “That’s what we believe happened. When a bulk of the Andorian fleet was crippled in our initial attempt to breach the asteroid field, we came to the conclusion that was how they planned to fortify their position.”
“Did we lose many ships?” Anthi asked.
“A few I’m afraid.” Burton solemnly said. “However, as I’m sure you’ve been able to work out, we were able to get past it and arrive here to assist those that were left.”
“Well Captain Burton it looks like we owe you and your crew a debt of gratitude for helping us out.” Commander Anthi remarked. “Thank you.”
Smiling at the two Andorians, Burton returned the gesture. “It’s what the Coalition is about, standing shoulder to shoulder in difficult times.”
“Well I don’t know about any of you lot,” Stanton said looking at T’Plau, Conrad and Hennessey, “but I’m more than happy to return to Challenger for a decent meal, a hot shower and a comfortable bed to rest in.” He looked at the Andorian leader, “That’s not to say we haven’t appreciated your hospitality Anthi.”
“You’re more than welcome Michael.” She said with a warm smile to her new Human friend, “However I assume the planet is being completely evacuated?” Anthi asked Burton who just answered with another nod. “Next time you’re on Andoria make sure you all find us,” She said looking at Thom and then back to the Starfleet crew, “And we will treat you to a round of Andorian ale.”
“That sounds like an excellent idea to me.” Conrad said to everyone.
“An Andorian transport is waiting to take us back. Let’s help you gather your gear and get out of here.” Burton ordered his crew.