“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.
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 2)
Commanding officer's log, USS Starlight Pony. Fludico Meso Sudundus reporting.
The USS Starlight Pony is completing its patrol within the Cardassia Sector. We are returning to Bajor for our scheduled refit. I am happy to report that during our patrol we intercepted True Way vessels on three separate occasions, each ending with their surrender or capture.
Commander Fludicus was in his ready room, quietly studying the latest reports to and from Bajor. He was clearly not in any mood to be disturbed, much less write a report on his patrol. He was more used to fighting the enemy and reporting verbally to his superiors than writing reports.
“Could I just have another attack from the True Way? This is killing me...” Fludicus said to himself.
As though there was an answer to his thoughts, a chime came in. “Lieutenant Commander Mirra to Commander Fludicus,” the voice said.
“Go ahead,” Fludicus replied.
“We have a Priority One transmission from Starfleet Intelligence.”
Fludicus sighed, clearly not amused, “Could you ask them to wait until we arrive at Deep Space Nine? They could debrief us good and proper there.”
“Sir, it comes from the very top. The Head of Starfleet Intelligence itself.”
Fludicus paused, “Who?” Fludicus knew the answer but he needed to confirm his suspicions.
“Admiral Chakotay, sir.”
“Was he the Maquis who became the First Officer aboard the USS Voyager?”
A moment's pause and then, “I quote him sir, 'the One, and the Only.'”
“Patch him through,” Fludicus said, wondering what would attract the celebrated Starfleet officer to him. The screen on his desk flipped out from the surface of the desk, which then displayed an aging human with a Native American tattoo on his upper right forehead.
“Admiral Chakotay,” Fludicus began, “I wish to apologize for the delay. Starfleet Intelligence has been a bane to all aboard the Starlight Pony, not to mention every crew member posted to this part of the Federation.”
“I understand the frustration and the distress the 'sessions' that Starfleet Intelligence has arranged,” Chakotay acknowledged, “Let me assure you that however the officers debriefed you, we seem to have yielded some leads – some that has led me to call you.”
“I – see...” Fludicus hesitated, as though he had something to get off his chest all this while, “Admiral, Let me take this opportunity to say that it's an honour to meet a veteran of the USS Voyager.”
“Thank you Commander,” Chakotay replied, “It has been over 30 years but I must admit that it is comforting to know that Voyager's odyssey across the Delta Quadrant continues to inspire officers such as yourself. On that note, I have been observing you as of late, as well as examining your recent combat and service record, specifically on the recent Klingon War.”
“The Klingons are a formidable opponent,” Fludicus remarked, “worthy adversaries that you can earn their respect. I wish that the Cardassians act the same...”
“True Way raids again?” Fludicus could only nod at the Admiral's query. Chakotay could only shake his head, “I could offer some help: it happens I have experience with their type of guerilla warfare,” Chakotay looked at a PADD before turning back to Fludicus, “You may be aware that I was a Maquis leader before my – appointment aboard Voyager.”
“Well-noted,” Fludicus replied, “I am aware that your last Maquis activity was in the Badlands. As with Voyager. I also gather that you hold a personal grudge with the Cardassians...”
“That was a long time ago...” Chakotay replied, “Besides, those behind the massacres are likely now leading the True Way. Ironic if one thinks about the fact that they have become the very thing that they once called my compatriots.”
“Admiral, despite the similar tactics they use, I can only opine that the difference between the Maquis and the True Way is very clear,” Fludicus inferred, “You and your allies were fighting for your homes and rights due to acts beyond your control. The Cardassians did not hold their side of the bargain, and the Federation was unwilling to help,” Chakotay was very impressed by the Ferengi's analysis, “The True Way though fight for the old regime to be restored, despite the lessons from the Dominion War. Everyone pays attention because they are in the way of the reconstruction. The thing is, no one benefits from restoring the old regime, maybe except those now leading the True Way. And in so doing, the have become the very terrorists that they once called others. Such shameless hypocrisy...”
“Not bad for an analysis. It is a good thing that you have me here regardless,” Chakotay said, “I can impart some of my experience in navigating the Badlands.”
Fludicus could sense that there was something the Admiral was implying, “I gather that your sharing of your experiences does not come cheap.”
“Well-figured,” Admiral Chakotay replied, “Commander, I am actually looking for a commanding officer and his ship to embark on a very dangerous and important mission. As it stands, you are the sole qualifying officer in the sector in my mind for the task.”
“May I know what the mission is, sir?”
“Starfleet Intelligence has been piecing together the whereabouts and dispositions of the True Way rebels for some time. Thanks to the debriefings you, your crew and many others attended, the cooperation of the Cardassian Government, as well as other undisclosed sources, we have managed to come up with several possible leads, one of them we would like you to investigate.”
Fludicus' screen split into half, one half showing the Admiral, the other a star chart, showing a section of the Badlands with a pinging red dot, “This is a location of one of the old Maquis bases. A number of raids have happened nearby, most recently the daring attack by Gul Madred.”
“That raid led to DS9 imposing an embargo on all civilian shipping around the Badlands,” Fludicus mused.
“This is where you come in,” Chakotay continued, “your mission is to get into that part of space, investigate and determine if the Cardassian rebels are using the old Maquis base.”
“I am not much of a recon guy,” Fludicus confessed, “the Klingons have used sneaky tactics numerous times and enough to make me, not to mention my crew to simply attack the first thing we suspect or makes itself hostile to us.”
“Of course, given how the True Way and your ship operate, if you determine it is possible from your assessment, you are authorised to attack and eliminate any True Way targets.”
“That is more of my sort of a mission,” Fludicus said, “When do I start?”
“You are to report to Deep Space Nine first,” Chakotay replied, “Captain Kurland has been briefed and ordered to provide the needed refits for your ship. I will have all the required information for your mission transferred once you report to him.”
“One last thing,” Chakotay added, “This mission is Top Secret. You are not to mention or discuss any details with anyone.”
“Not even my senior crew?”
“You may share these details with your senior crew – once you leave for the Badlands,” Chakotay paused for a moment and then said, “Off the record, I had my share of restricted information during my tenure aboard the Voyager. You noticed gaps in the ship's logs while you were studying in the Academy. I was brought in to look at your... project.”
“I did not realise you are aware of my study at the Academy. It was a part-time programme,” Fludicus replied somewhat surprised, “I could have gotten a better mark had I have explained those gaps.”
“It is not your fault,” Chakotay assured Fludicus, “there are some... things you are not authorised to know... at least not yet. I look forward to you carrying out the mission.”
“I will report directly to you at the first possible opportunity, should there be any developments.”
“Well, then. Good hunting Fludicus. Chakotay out.”
With that the transmission ended, the screen folded back into the table. Fludicus though stopped for a moment, wondering that he had just went through.