Starbase 72 - Minos Korva System
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An Ancient Traveller Needs Direction

Posted on Sat Jun 9th, 2018 @ 3:03pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell

Mission: Task Force Operations

Less than forty-eight hours since the news had broke of the signing of the Gavarian Exploration Agreement and Deep Space Ten was abuzz with activity. The transformation in less than two days was staggering; a wasteland for months with no real purpose, the station had come alive when the negotiations had begun and now, with the agreement in place, it was as if new life had been breathed into a lifeless creature.

On one of the stations upper pylons, the starship Ulysses sat elegantly, just as she had for nearly six months during her refit and shore leave but even she wasn't immune from the sudden buzz of activity. Once they had received the incredible amount of flash traffic and communications sent their way, followed by countless data updates and LCARS database files relating to the signing of the agreement, the crew were sent in to a frenzy. Captain Drayton had discussed the signing of the agreement with the former commander of the Ulysses, Admiral Vasoch Gor, and it became apparent that orders would soon be incoming but the Tellarite had urged the Captain to preempt them by cancelling shore leave and preparing for a probable departure in the not too distant future. Several hours after their communication, the Captain had received further updates and advice to contact Admiral O'Connell on Starbase Seventy-Two in the Minos Korva system. Why he was to contact someone tens of light-years away he had no idea, but he decided to act on the advice.

Drayton had requested a secure uplink be created with the station and had taken up residence in his ready room whilst he waited. With a rapidly rotating Starfleet Command symbol on his computer screen, the Captain sat in the chair behind his desk, arms folded across his chest and deep in thought.

On Starbase Seventy-Two, all those dozens of lightyears away, Zachary O'Connell had just returned from the signing of the Gavarian Exploration Agreement. There was much to do, even though he did what he could using the facilities provided by the Sovereign-class USS Delphinus which had ferried him too and from the Nor-class Deep Space 10 that overlooked the mouth of the corridor.

The Federation Council had already ratified the agreement that had been signed, and he'd been given orders to quickly establish a Federation presence in the corridor. Organizing a Task Group to enter the corridor, however, was proving to be difficult. In the year following the disbanding of Forty-Seven, all of the knowledgable assets hadn't been just reassigned, they'd been committed to their new positions. Then there was the matter of Captain Nathan Hunter, an expert on the corridor, who'd sold his soul to the Consortium. Zachary knew of that one personally, having spent the duration of that crisis in the Gamma Quadrant with Task Force Nine.

But those details were unimportant. All that mattered now was establishing a presence. Fortification would come in time. Zachary had just stepped into his office complex when his yeoman alerted him to the incoming transmission from Deep Space Ten. "Already?" muttered Zachary as he stepped behind his private doors. He replicated a cup of oolong tea before sitting at the desk to accept the call. "Captain Drayton," he greeted.

"Admiral," Drayton acknowledged the senior officer with a nod as he turned his chair so he faced the screen dead on. "I want to congratulate you sir. Negotiating access to the Corridor again can't have been easy. I'm sorry I missed you at the station," the Captain remarked. He'd not met the Admiral or been invited to any of the official, or unofficial functions during the Admiral's stay at Deep Space Ten.

"Don't be sorry," Zachary said, waving away the apology. "The trip was a whirlwind, honestly. I'm lucky to just have met with the new station commander. As for the agreement itself, well, it's just nice to not have torpedoes and disruptors blazing in the corner."

"Things should never have been allowed to come to blows in the first place," Drayton spoke in a scathing indictment of the previous Starfleet regime to have run operations in the Corridor, despite not having been in command himself. Moving on swiftly, the Captain informed the Admiral of the reason for his call. "So, Rear Admiral Gor suggested I contact you sir. He put us on standby notice for launch now our refit is done and dusted and seemed to think you might have some idea of our new orders?" the commander of the Ulysses suggested with a raised eyebrow and a slight smile. He hoped he could guess what his orders would be.

Zachary was certainly aware of the Galaxy-class ship and its location. News of the refit's completion hadn't yet reached his Chief of Operations, hence why Zachary hadn't given Captain Drayton much thought. "Thoughts of policing the border of the First Federation seem like a good shakedown mission for the Ulysses?" Zachary offered, brandishing his best poker face.

"Sure," Colby shrugged as he relaxed a little in his chair. "I've probably antagonized every species out there apart from them at some point in time. Might as well go for a clean sweep..." he smirked.

"Perfect," Zachary said, not showing his surprise, nor his understanding that Drayton was playing along. "I'll have your orders transferred to you within the hour."

"Wicked," Drayton smiled to coin a phrase from his nephew, "a pleasure doing business with you," he added with a slight laugh before quickly adding, "please don't make me go there..." Not that he could say it in front of the Admiral but that First Federation lot were really weird!

Zachary hadn't heard that last bit as the screen blanked out the heartbeat before Captain Drayton submitted his plea. He did not expect the Ulysses to take his bluff, but Zachary knew enough about Captain Drayton to know that this conversation wasn't over.

Seconds later and the incoming transmission logo flashed across the screen on the Admiral's desk once again.

Maintaining his poker face, the Admiral accepted the incoming call. "Captain Drayton. To what do I owe this sudden pleasure?"

Drayton raised an eyebrow and shook his head. "I suddenly realised that Starfleet wasn't going to subject Ulysses to such a significant refit just to exile us to the First Federation," the Captain remarked with a newfound sense of certainty in his voice.

"So, you don't think the First Federation isn't about to cause any trouble?" Zachary asked, his tone deadpanning. "You are, of course, correct. Galaxies aren't meant to be gallivanting around inside Federation space, especially with all of the action on our borders."

"So, dare I hazard a guess that you are sending us into a certain stretch of unclaimed territory about forty lightyears in length?" the Captain queried with a smile.

Zachary grunted. "You know, Captain, ambiguity doesn't suit you. Yes, I am looking to send a Task Group into the Gavarian Corridor as soon as possible. Us being exiled from it for a year has done more than throw our charts out of date. We need to assess the temperature in the corridor immediately, in addition to restoring our presence there by both ship and base."

"By base?" Drayton queried with a quizzical expression. "Where are you thinking of setting up camp this time?"

"As part of the agreement," answered the Admiral, "we've been allowed to resume operations under a pre-war status. Wherever we had a base before the war, we're going to post our flag once more."

"We'll be returning to Olympus Base on Aquorat then?" the Captain sought confirmation of their return there, with more than a hint of personal interest in the former Romulan stronghold.

The Admiral nodded. "Consider it a high priority. However, we don't want to rush in too fast. The Romulans and Cardasssians were all too eager to see us vacate the corridor. We move too fast, and we might inspire unwanted pushback."

"Understood Admiral," Drayton nodded in both understanding and agreement. "What are your orders sir?"

"Enter the Corridor, Captain. Explore, protect, defend. Boldly go where no one has gone before." Zachary smirked. "I'll prepare a few objectives and send them your way shortly."

"Wow, with a mission like that anyone would think we were the Enterprise," Drayton grinned as he nodded in confirmation again. "We'll keep you updated," Cole informed, waiting to see if there was anything else from the Admiral before hanging up.

"See that you do, Captain. And good luck." With that, Admiral O'Connell terminated the communication from his end once more.

Alone again in his ready room, Drayton slowly rose from his chair, heading over to the "window of contemplation" to do just that; contemplate the new mission for the Ulysses. Exciting for sure, but the potential for drama was significant.

So much for a pleasure cruise...


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