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Finally after so long... I can finally present to you...

The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony

1) Starfleet Intelligence, Earth.

In a windowless room, away from prying eyes, two individuals dwell in the darkness. The few consoles in the room and the single holoprojector in the middle of the room provided the faint illumination within the room.

Right now the holoprojector was displaying a three dimensional map of space. This was no ordinary star-chart though. It was a map of the Badlands dated forty years ago. The dozen or so red dots blinked on the star chart scattered throughout the Badlands, each a secret hiding spot of the Maquis, a resistance movement now long dead.

“I never expected to deal with this again, not after forty years,” one of the individuals  spoke, clearly a male human, “the Cardassian Union, as promised under our information exchange, handed over this after some debate within the Council.”

“It seems to be obsolete,” another voice replied, this one a female, “this map is over thirty years old. Are you sure that we got the right map?”

“It cannot be any further from the truth,” the first voice replied, “I was informed the Depata Council determined, through the audit and searches, that this is the only star chart of the Badlands made around the time of the Dominion War. Dating analysis strongly suggests that it was used in the final all-out assault against the Maquis.”

“One step taken on a path that ended in disaster - for the Cardassian Union,” the second voice remarked, “Did Councillor Garak flip when he learnt that you were Maquis?”

“He nearly did – only to quickly offer his sympathies for what happened,” the first voice replied, as he revealed himself in the pale light of the holoprojector. His face was wrinkled by age, but the Native American Tattoo on his upper forehead was present as ever, “If only he knew how many of my friends were lost that time...”

“Elim Garak is a reasonable and sympathetic Cardassian,” The female voice remarked, “I am certain he understands your pain, as with many other Cardassians like him who found themselves amidst the ruins of their own homeworld after the Dominion War. You should know better having visited them, Chakotay.”

“That I did,” Chakotay remarked, “The same cannot be said for the True Way though. As though it is not enough that some may had been part of the massacre of the Maquis, Starfleet Intelligence has gotten word that they are using the very same tactics and possibly the same bases we used in the Badlands.”

“How ironic,” the female voice could only sigh, “The True Way are using the very things that you and your band of rebels once had. I suppose you take that an insult to your friends' memories?”

“Personal vendettas are the last thing on my mind, now that I head this outfit,” Chakotay conceded, “I am more concerned about the Cardassians themselves – those who we are trying to trust. If we cannot convince them that we can defend them, who knows that they will do. We risk them going back to their old ways...”

“Once a people tastes and understands freedom, it is hard to convince them to give it up,” the female voice finally revealed herself. Her hair was white as snow and her face was just as worn as her counterpart, but one can still see the stern look that yet was able to leave room for a smile, “I don't have the level of pessimism you have for Cardassia. But I do admit that they would be hard-pressed to continue the reforms that they had perused for the last thirty years.”

“Hard-pressed is not what I see,” Chakotay said, “the Detapa Council is about to hold fresh elections, and the incumbents are not too confident on holding onto their seats. Kathryn, if they lose this...”

“Those who are opposing them will try to open negotiations with the True Way,” replied the famed Admiral Kathryn Janeway, “We cannot have that Admiral Chakotay, not after what they have done.”

“That is why we are discussing this,” Admiral Chakotay agreed, “No one would think that Gul Madred would launch such a daring assault on the convey. If Captain Kurland did not arrive in time...”

“Who knew that he was after that cargo?” Admiral Janeway said, “It baffles everyone how he knew that convoy and its cargo in the first place. A mole in Cardassia?” both Admirals were simply rolled their eyes, “Whatever the case, something needs to be done.”

“What everyone needs,” Admiral Chakotay said, “is a victory over the True Way. They are not going to make this easy however...”

”Let me guess,” Admiral Janeway said, “They would be likely be in the Badlands, and in those old Maquis bases...”

“Since that brutal attack on the convoy, Captain Kurland imposed an embargo on all shipping coming near the Badlands,” Admiral Chakotay remarked, “We've got no choice but to let the True Way slip in and out, but at least we can minimize the attacks and raids. This is why he had asked for additional ships - to help him seal off the Badlands, at least to civilian shipping.”

“We simply do not have enough ships for that,” Admiral Janeway pointed out, “Between the Klingons and the Borg, Starfleet is being stretched thin. If only we can convince the Federation Council that the Klingons have a point or two concerning the Undine... we need more evidence to prove it...”

“I think no amount of evidence will convince the Council.” Admiral Chakotay convincingly said, “It may take a threat bigger than either the Federation, the Klingon Empire or both combined to stop this petty war, and by then we may have weakened ourselves beyond any hope to respond to it.”

“We can only hope that it does not come to that,”Admiral Janeway said, “Regardless, as you said we need to deal with the True Way all the same. It is a good thing that we have some Klingon War veterans rotated out from the Klingon Front to Bajor.”

“What do you expect them to do?” Admiral Chakotay asked, “asking them to chase the True Way may be a futile task. I have no doubt that our ships can beat them one-on-one. After all, most of their equipment date back to the Dominion War. The problem is that the True Way may know this all too well - They would rather sneak away and hide before striking at weaker targets once our patrols have passed.”

“Why not we do what the Cardassians did when they wiped out the Maquis?” Janeway suggested, “Why not strike their bases in the Badlands? After all, they only of knew of them because they attacked them in the first place.”

Admiral Chakotay gave it a thought, “We cannot simply send a fleet into the Badlands, much less attack every known base there. You and I know too well how bad the Badlands is, not to mention how much resources we have.”

“Maybe if we attacked just one base...” Admiral Janeway suggested, poring over the star chart, “Just one place that we suspect with certainty that would force them to at least... stop and think twice...”

Admiral Chakotay had already thought of such a location. He simply fingered a base that was on the edge of the Badlands. It was also the closest base to the old Cardassian border.

“This is the base that was closest to Gul Madred's attack,” Chakotay reported, “It also has extensive maintenance facilities. Some good enough to maintain a warship,” he began to recall his old memories, “I had been there once. The Maquis used to to refurbish a number of ships there.”

“You suspect that the True Way would operate from there?”

“It's the closest base to the Cardassian side, and it happens to allow access to the most lucrative trade routes in the area,” After a few taps, a series of trade routes were displayed on the holo-projector, with a dozen very close to the base in question, “Only a fool would pass them up.”

“I would not send any ship into the Badlands if I can help,” Admiral Chakotay said, “It may be 40 years since, but we still need to modify our ships to navigate that part of space. And that is after we learnt much from the Dominion's technologies.”

“Did you inform our Cardassian counterparts on this?”

“Not yet,” Admiral Chakotay replied, “aside from the obvious reasons, I do not want to put anyone though this unprepared. Not that I do not trust them, but if there is indeed a leak within the government we should not take that risk – at least not yet.”

“A fair point,” Admiral Janeway remarked, “We seem to need to do this within Starfleet... at least for now. What's your plan?”

“The most obvious: we send someone there and if we can, we eliminate whatever the True Way has there. I wish I can deal with this personally...”

“That's why we have starship captains and we are admirals. We just need to tell them what to do. Besides, you have Starfleet Intelligence to attend to.”

“A fair point, Kathryn.”

“Whatever ship is going there,” Admiral Janeway said, ”It's going to need to be outfitted to deal with the Badlands. It got to be a tough one too – The Badlands is not any better then my last time there.”

“I can attest that it has not since I was a Maquis rebel,” Admiral Chakotay replied, “In any case, we need not worry about the outfit: Captain Kukland would not hesitate to slot it for the next round of refits for ships docking at DS9.”

“Do you have a captain in mind for this mission?” Admiral Janeway asked, “I take we do not want someone who someone too aggressive.”

“Agreed, someone who who would not attack the True Way without them attacking first,” Admiral Chakotay mulled as he picked up a PADD, “Of course, it would be fair game from there.”

“I doubt we have plenty of captains with that sort of quality,” Admiral Janeway said, “ I do know we got lots of Klingon War veterans assigned to the Bajor Sector to take a good rest – from the Klingons that is.”

“I am inclined to agree with you on that,” Admiral Chakotay said, “As it stands, I cannot find the captain that fits the needs of this mission.”

“You mean you cannot find anyone to fit the requirements for the mission?” Admiral Janeway asked, “Considering that we have some Veterans I am surprised that we cannot find someone suitable.”

“Well, We may not have a Captain to seem to fit the bill, but we happen to have a more junior officer that may have - 'the right stuff' for the mission.”

“How so? And who is is this officer?”

“He got the right sort of aggression. The sort we need for the mission, He's a Commander in rank though, a Ferengi...”

Admiral Janeway's eyebrows rose with surprise. Admiral Janeway accepted the PADD that Admiral Chakotay gave her.

“He is currently running a heavy cruiser. Stargazer Class,” Admiral Janeway quickly noticed that it looked like it was put together from spare parts of different ships, as Admiral Chakotay continued, “It was cobbled together due to the current strains from our conflicts. In fact, he requested for this particular ship.”

“When did he start commanding that vessel?”

“He took command when he was transferred to Bajor. Klingon War veteran,” Admiral Chakotay explained, and as one thought it was enough to convince Admiral Janeway that Chakotay found his man, “Capable tactical officer. The Klingons sing of his skills, and the True Way hates his guts.”

“When can he report for duty?” Admiral Janeway asked.

“Immediately.”

“Do it,” Admiral Janeway said, in the manner that Admiral Chakotay remembered from all those years ago aboard the USS Voyager, “He may be our only chance against the True Way for the moment. Although...” as she walked to the door, “I hope we do not need it, I will have a Plan B in place – just in case.”

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The first chapter introducing the Old officers on the USS Voyager. Don't worry... We will be right back.

Tune in for the next episode!!!