Desperate Measures (Part II)

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<p>MISSION 09</p> <p>Mission 28</p> <p>Desperate Measures (Part II) </p> <p>Prologue</p> <p>Tennison, scan the vicinity for any shuttles or escape pods that could have come from the Odyssey, Lex ordered, leaping into action instinctively. Davis, sweep the area for any trace of a ship that may have rendezvoused with the Odyssey earlier warp plasma residue, ion trails anything, especially something that might indicate that a cloaked Romulan vessel was here.</p> <p>Aye, sir, the two bridge officers replied in unison as they went to work.</p> <p>Captain, Sheridan volunteered over the still active comm channel, the Odysseys records show that all shuttles and escape pods are accounted for wherever Henriksen is, he obviously had some other means of transportation.Understood, Commander, Lex replied pensively. Kate, secure the Odyssey and transport Commander Eloquin back to the Argus. Im sending Arkin over with some additional security personnel I want you to search that ship from stem to stern; search every compartment, bulkhead and conduit, until you can say with utter certainty that shes empty.</p> <p>Right away, sir. Sheridan out.Lieutenant, Lex said, turning to Arkin, assemble a security team and rendezvous with Commander Sheridan on the Odyssey.</p> <p>Yes, sir, the young Bajoran replied enthusiastically, eager to help.</p> <p>No signs that any ships have been in the vicinity recently, Captain, Davis responded.</p> <p>Keep scanning, Lex ordered. There must be some clue to whats going on out there. Henriksen cant have disappeared into thin air. He paused suddenly, a theory beginning to form at the back of his mind except it wasnt quite a theory, but more of a suspicion and once again, there was only one man who could tell Lex what he needed to know. But right now, that man was being uncharacteristically quiet.</p> <p>Admiral Morrison, Lex said eventually. Could I see you in my ready room for a moment?</p> <p>You know where Henriksen is, dont you, sir? Lex asked once they were alone. Morrisons silence was all the confirmation Lex needed at this point. Admiral, I understand theres a need for secrecy when it comes to intelligence work. I recognise that like any other covert organisation, Starfleet Intelligence has to maintain a degree of deniability when it comes to some of its more clandestine operations. I am also aware of the fact that despite my rank and security clearance, you may not think that I can be trusted with all that you know.</p> <p>But youd better understand this Henriksen has given us the slip; we dont know where he is, where hes going, or how hes getting there. At this stage you have a simple choice level with me so that I can complete my mission, or allow Henriksen to make it all the way to Romulan space. So whats it going to be keep your secrets or stop Henriksen because you sure as hell cant do both?</p> <p>Lex paused, locking eyes with the admiral, waiting to see how he responded. Once again, Lex knew that Morrison didnt have to tell Lex a thing, and if he felt really vindictive, he could possibly even charge Lex with insubordination. But Lex was sure that at this point, Morrisons desperation would win out; it may have been the end of Lexs career if Henriksen succeeded in defecting, but Morrison had made it clear that there was much more than one mans career at stake here.</p> <p>Deniability must be maintained, Morrison replied eventually in his usual gruff tone, and so you never heard any of this from me. But you are right, theres no time for mistrust if were to stand any chance of catching Henriksen now.</p> <p>Tell your people to scan the area for a cloaked ship not that itll do them any good, but its probably worth a try.</p> <p>What ship? Lex asked, his suspicions partially answered. The Romulans would be taking quite a risk venturing this far from their border.</p> <p>Its not a Warbird were looking for, Morrison confirmed grimly. Its the prize I was telling you about earlier the one that could tip the whole balance of power if it falls into Romulan hands.</p> <p>Its the USS Victory, isnt it? Lex asked solemnly.</p> <p>Yes, Morrison replied gravely. Complete with its fully functional interphase cloaking device.</p> <p>ACT ONE</p> <p>I dont believe you people! Lex cursed as his frustration grew to unmanageably levels. Ive been tracking Henriksen and the Odyssey across this sector for days now, and you never thought it might be helpful for me to know he had a cloaked ship at his disposal?</p> <p>I had my orders, just as you had yours, Morrison countered. A Starfleet officer has to recognise that some information must be restricted on a need-to-know basis. It was felt that in this case, for you to stop him successfully, you did not need to know what Henriksen had been doing prior to his defection.</p> <p>I think information concerning his motives, his methods, his opportunities and his contact with the Romulans may have proved insightful when it came to anticipating his next moves.</p> <p>That is your opinion it was not ours.</p> <p>And just who is this ours you speak of? Youre an admiral in Starfleet Intelligence a law unto yourself it seems.</p> <p>We all answer to someone, Captain.</p> <p>So what about the Victory then? I saw the records for myself the records that show the Victory was deemed unsalvageable upon its return from the Delta Quadrant.</p> <p>The Victory was severely damaged by the time she returned to Earth but she was salvageable, Morrison confirmed. However, the Brhaim interphase cloaking device that you helped capture and fit into the Victory had become completely fused into the ships warp systems. At that stage it became clear we had somewhat of a dilemma on our hands.</p> <p>Should we destroy the cloak completely, hand it over to Starfleet Science for study, or leave it in the Victory for future use?</p> <p>What about the Treaty of Algeron? Lex asked. It strictly forbids the development or use of cloaking technology by the Federation.</p> <p>Times have changed since the treaty was signed over sixty years ago, Morrison retorted dismissively. The first Defiant-class ship was equipped with a cloaking device by the Romulans, under their strict observation to begin with. But shortly after it was installed, the Defiants crew were allowed to use it without Romulan supervision, and it was left solely in Starfleets care.</p> <p>Originally, it was reserved purely for use in the Gamma Quadrant; but again, Starfleet soon sanctioned Captain Siskos decision to use it when necessary in the Alpha Quadrant even though this was still strictly speaking a violation of the Treaty of Algeron. Now, the new Defiants been fitted with another Romulan cloaking device, even though the Dominion War is over so clearly even the Romulans recognise there has been a relaxing of the terms of the treaty.</p> <p>And lets not forget the emergency justification. Captain Picard and Captain Kirk, two of the most decorated and respected officers in Starfleets history, have both attached cloaking devices illegally to their ships in times of crisis. Are we saying that they are criminals under treaty law?</p> <p>So maybe some captains have been forced to bend the rules in the past, Lex conceded reluctantly, but thats not the same as making a premeditated decision to breach the treaty.</p> <p>How have you come so far, being so nave? Morrison asked rhetorically. It was agreed by all parties that ignoring the interphase cloak brought back from the Delta Quadrant would be like cutting off our nose to spite our face. On the other hand, the general consensus was that to study, experiment and reproduce the cloak would be a step too far clearly breaching the core principle of the Treaty of Algeron, that the Federation would not develop cloaking technology.</p> <p>So Starfleet Command agreed to hand the Victory, with its cloaking device, over to you at Starfleet Intelligence? Lex guessed, filling in the blanks.</p> <p>They felt that allowing us to make the most of a piece of recovered alien technology was an acceptable compromise, Morrison said with a slight smile.</p> <p>So why the cover story?</p> <p>Like any government, the Federation Council occasionally authorises things in the interests of Federation security that it would rather not admit to publicly. Despite the relaxing attitudes on both sides concerning the treaty, it was felt it would be wise not to rub the new cloak in the Romulans faces, especially if a return to the cold war days was imminent. After all, theyve been trying for years to perfect interphase cloaking devices, but without success.</p> <p>But now if they can get their hands on the Victory, theyll have a template from which they could construct a whole fleet of interphase cloaked warships Lex concluded.</p> <p>Now you see why its so important that we stop Henriksen from meeting with his contact at the border.</p> <p>Lex paused for a moment, letting everything sink in. Hed been present when theyd first fitted the cloak into the Victory last year; now he tried to remember the teething troubles theyd had back then, hoping to find a weakness that could be exploited now.</p> <p>You said the cloak couldnt be removed from the Victory because it had become permanently fused into the warp systems after it was damaged by the Brhaim? Lex asked.</p> <p>Thats right.</p> <p>When it was first installed, the cloak used all available power from the warp core, which meant that its warp drive was inoperable.</p> <p>Of course, Morrison said triumphantly, finally guessing what Lex was hinting at. We were never able to remove the cloak from the Victorys warp core that was the whole reason why we had to leave it in there.</p> <p>And with all warp power being diverted to the cloaking device, the Victory has no warp drive, Lex continued.</p> <p>Thats right she only has impulse engines, Morrison confirmed. To travel at warp, she has to be transported aboard the Odyssey.</p> <p>Which means that she must have launched from the Odyssey recently, while Eloquin was giving us the run-around, concluded Lex. The Victory cant have travelled far on impulse drive alone theres still a chance we could catch her before the border!</p> <p>Theres a chance, Morrison agreed, but its a slim one. Theres a hell of a lot of space that Henriksen could be hiding in, and we have no way of detecting the Victory while its cloaked.</p> <p>A slim chance is a lot more than we had a moment ago, Admiral, Lex replied defiantly. Just trust me to do the job I was given, and I promise you well find Henriksen before he reaches the border.</p> <p>As you wish, Captain Ill leave this in your hands. But Im sure I dont have to remind you whats at stake.</p> <p>No, sir you dont, Lex replied, stressing the fact that he hadnt failed to notice that Morrison had felt the need to remind him again.</p> <p>***</p> <p>Captains Log, Supplemental, Security Classification Alpha:Its been four hours since we caught up with the Odyssey, only to find that Commander Eloquin had been alone, acting as a decoy. Commander Sheridan and Lieutenants TKare and Arkin assisted Captain Jeffersons personnel with a thorough search of the Odyssey, but this only confirmed that Eloquin had been alone.With the security teams back aboard the Argus, weve set a course for the region of space where the Odyssey came closest to the Romulan border, as this seemed the most likely departure point for the Victory and the best place from which to start our search. Captain Jefferson, Ensign Lon and a team of engineers from the Odyssey and Argus have remained aboard the Odyssey to conduct repairs and return the ship to Starbase 251. Meanwhile, Lieutenant Commander Liral and her security personnel have remained with us to assist in the hunt for Henriksen.Ive assigned Lieutenant Commander Tennison and Lieutenant Dulmis to head up a team to figure out a way to penetrate the Victorys interphase cloak, if and when we can discover their approximate location. In the meantime, it falls to me to try and help Admiral Morrison get some useable information from Commander Eloquin, currently residing in the Argus brig.Interrogation is not something I relish, and I cant help but remember that the last time I was questioning someone in the brig, it was Voltrat, the Brhaim prisoner, on the eve of the attack to recapture the Argus. But as irritating as Admiral Morrison is, he is right about whats at stake here. We cant let Henriksen hand over the Federations secrets to the Romulans and we certainly cant let them get a hold of the interphase cloak. So question Eloquin I must I only hope that this isnt an omen that events are about to follow the same disastrous pattern as before.</p> <p>Commander, Im ordering you to tell us where Henriksen is heading! Morrison repeated angrily. This little mutiny is over for you but if you co-operate now, it could make all the difference when it comes to pleading in mitigation for your crimes. However, if you continue to take this attitude with me, I promise that you will be an old woman by the time you are released from the penal colony!</p> <p>Eloquin stood impassively on the other side of the force-field, respectfully standing to attention, but saying nothing.</p> <p>Commander, you have nothing left to gain by remaining silent, Lex urged. I understand that you feel a degree of loyalty toward Henriksen and the others, but at this stage, theres really nothing they can do for you. Are you really willing to throw everything away, all that youve earned during your time in Starfleet, just to help them save their own hides?</p> <p>Captain, Admiral, Eloquin said finally, I have nothing but respect for the both of you, but I will happily face the consequences of my actions alone. No one forced me to help Commander Henriksen, I chose to do so for my own reasons but Im afraid that nothing you say now will make me knowingly endanger the lives of my friends.</p> <p>May I remind you that your friends are about to betray the Federation to the Romulans just to line their own pockets? Morrison replied contemptuously. Commander Henriksen, Lieutenant Campbell and Lieutenant Wong will go down in history as some of the greatest traitors the Federation has ever known.</p> <p>Admiral, you of all people should know that thats not true, Eloquin retorted, before falling silent again.</p> <p>What do you mean by that? Lex asked, worried that once again the admiral was holding out on him.</p> <p>I just mean that Admiral Morrison should have learnt by now to trust Henriksens judgment, Eloquin replied. Henriksen would no more betray the Federation that you would.</p> <p>Then explain to me why he felt he had to hijack a Starfleet vessel, abandon its crew at Starbase 88 and flee for the Romulan border? Morrison asked rhetorically.</p> <p>We did what had to be done, Eloquin responded boldly.</p> <p>Well see if your court martial panel takes the same view, Morrison spat. One last time, Commander where is the Victory heading? Eloquin stood her ground, holding the admirals gaze, but still saying nothing. Very well, Miss Eloquin, if thats the way you want it so be it.</p> <p>With that he turned away from the cell and left the brig, signalling for Lex to follow.</p> <p>Well see if s...</p>


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