Starbase 72 - Minos Korva System
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The Cost of Attrition

Posted on Sun Feb 3rd, 2019 @ 10:19pm by Admiral Zachary O'Connell

Mission: Alrakis Updates
Location: Starbase 72
Timeline: May 26, 2389

“The latest reports, sir,” Petty Officer Tanika announced with a resigned tone, handing a sizable isolinear chip to Admiral O’Connell. Tanika was Betazoid, but today was one of those days where she didn’t need her biological attributes to sense the Admiral’s disturbed nature. She’d served with him long enough to know when he was troubled and stressed. Task Force 72 was considerably larger than his XO stint with Gamma Quadrant’s Task Force 9, so much so that padds themselves no longer sufficed as reports, lest she resorted to an antigrav cart to deliver and retrieve them.

O’Connell feigned a sigh as he accepted the chip. Tanika immediately took that as her queue to depart. Rather than watch his yeoman leave, Zachary’s eyes wandered above the entrance where a display had been mounted to provide a countdown to the Alrakis’ deadline.

Eight days.

They had eight days to vacate the Expanse. Zachary slumped in his chair in despair. He was nowhere close to making that deadline. Under no circumstances had he allowed the entire Task Force to focus on one region of space. From the Gavarian Corridor to the Cardassian border to all of the openness of space between the Federation and the Ratarians and everything in the middle, Task Force 72 had a lot of ground to cover, and he was short on resources. Vidal Fleet Yards, recently activated in the Ivaldi system, was months away from producing usable assets and border cutters, and the new Starfleet Academy Campus on Bajor was still well into its first year, and nowhere in position to start staffing ships throughout the quadrant.

Assets had to be left in patrol venues, like Roosevelt Station, and numerous starships like the USS Kitsune, who quietly watched the Breen, Ferengi and Tzenkethi borders, hoping to gather new information. Other assets, like Deep Space 12, were close enough to provide support, but had to be focused on their own Area of Responsibilities. In DS12’s case, it was following up on rumors that the Order of 12 were still very much alive and active. Of course, he couldn’t believe every rumor he’d heard about the Union. If they were, then Zachary could only begin to speculate what Cardassia could do in response to the formation of the Pact. All he knew it was a matter of “when” for the Breen to go after the systems they lost to the Union in 2388.

Ridiculous rumors, however, like Cardassians allying with the mythical Species 8472 only served to fan the flames of other fires within the Federation in this sector. The untraceable Freedom’s Legion didn’t help the situation, forcing Starbase 72 to tighten its security around the Long Jump Catapult. Exploring the Messier 4 would prove to be next to impossible if the well-publicized “secret” project were to ever be compromised, as well as any attempt to bring home the crew of the USS Traveller. The Legion certainly kept everyone busy, especially Law Enforcement Team 72, who had to clean up the mess left behind on the SS Hermes where the Legion had made their first public appearance.

Dissent had sparked up from Federation member worlds as well, including the former Lagashi Republic which had joined the Federation just a few years ago. The Lagashi had a long history with the Breen, often losing many of its citizens to Breen slavery, only to finally achieve true independence through Federation intervention. However, the Lagashi had a history with cybernetic enhancements and experimentation, both of which the Federation frowned upon. It seemed that the Lagashi were starting to find that they were more in tune with the Alrakis Pact. All Zachary could do was hope they’d soon find the error of their ways, and that 72’s Ambassadors could show them the light.

Bajor was another planet troubled by strife. A Cardassian war criminal by the name of Breloc Tejar had recently turned up on Bajor, sparking protests and demonstrations, threatening to tear apart the peace and advancements the planet had made since the Occupation. The Nogura, a ship much needed elsewhere, wound up on courier duty for Trill ambassadors while Bajor’s government was uprooted and a special election was put in the works to settle the open leadership positions. Still, all of it seemed suspicious, something Zachary hoped to see for himself on an upcoming visit to the planet.

Before he could do that, Admiral O’Connell had to deal with the number eight. In eight days, the Alrakis Pact would have to address the deadline it had given the Federation to vacate the Inconnu Expanse. Zachary and Commander del Carlo had pulled assets from everywhere they could, including pulling older ships like the USS Ark Royal out of the mothballs to aid with the efforts. The USS Magellan had yet to return from the Expanse itself, having been troubled by uncharted gravimetric distortions centered around Deep Space 7’s debris. Hazard Team 14, which had previously visited the station’s graveyard and helped uncover that it was destroyed at the hands of the Ravagers, had gone missing, forcing O’Connell to accept the probability that they would never return, much like a Marine Special Operations team that Starbase 72 had lost contact with in a region where it was rumored that the Breen slave trade freely operated.

And there were still other ships in the expanse, and the pictures they had relayed back were less than favorable. The Pandora discovered the aptly named “Paradise Outpost” where life was anything but (much like Nimbus III, the planet of intergalactic peace), and the Hope uncovered a wormhole near Tshuud with no indication of where it exited. On the other side of the Expanse, in the Carnwennan corridor, the USS Standing Bear had just arrived at the Athegan Station at the mouth of the Athegan Rift to follow up on a promise made by the Federation.

Exploration. Protection. Humanitarian Aid. There were so many reasons to not abandon the Expanse, aside from the time it would still take to pull out. Admiral O’Connell absolutely did not want to follow through with it. He’d fought in the Dominion War, and then again against the Consortium. He did not wish to be involved in a third conflict, but he couldn’t stand idly by while others suffered.

Alas, his hands were tied. So, he sighed and tried to rack his tired brain for alternatives as he inserted the oversized chip into the reader tray beside his fancy new holographic terminal. His screen flickered into existence with a folder of reports. On top of that, however, was a priority one message that had arrived just a few moments ago.

Zachary sighed again, ignoring the headers and sender information as he opened the message. As he started to read, he began to sit up in his chair and widen his eyes with each word that he read. The message had been sent by Starfleet Command. It seemed that the Breen, Tzenkethi and Talarians had agreed to meet representatives from Palais de la Concorde to discuss options concerning the Inconnu Expanse. Admiral O’Connell, along with the starships Galavant and Licamm from Starbase 72’s pool of resources, were to rendezvous with the USS St. John Talbot and proceed to the Neethia system where the negotiations would be held.

“About damn time,” he muttered. Grateful for one shining ray of sun, he tapped his desktop controls to summon the base’s commander, Commodore Meemexi Chai. There was much to be done, and less than eight days to do it all in.

 

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