Chapter Seven

Captain's Log
Stardate 59078.56

We have entered orbit of the Reezen home world after responding to their distress call concerning the possible environmental disaster from the crashing of a freighter laden with radioactive material.

But here's where things take an odd turn. The away team, lead by Major Scott, quickly solved the issue only to discover that the radiation was in fact a hoax, a clever use of the freighter's sensors that managed to fool even our sensors into thinking the ship was saturated with theta radiation. When this was discovered, the ship's engines began to overload necessitating the quick retrieval of the away team and destruction of the freighter.

Something doesn't seem right about this. Not at all.

A diplomatic representative of the Reezen people will be coming aboard to discuss the situation. Major Scott will be greeting him in my stead as I will be in sickbay attending to personal family matters.

I am noting the actions of Marion Andrews, Lieutenant Junior Grade, Chief Flight Operations Officer, USS Endalla. She showed quick thinking and supreme skill leading to the safe recovery of the away team and positive mission outcome. I am attaching mission data as well as all relevant logs.

End Log.

"Laura, you really need to calm down. You accepted this posting because I was going. You knew you were going to be called on to start diplomatic talks with new cultures." Kestrel said to her sister.

"I know, I know." Laura said walking out of the bathroom wearing a robe, then taking the towel off that she had wrapped around her head. "It's just I've never… what?" she asked, having noticed that her sister was staring at her, trying to keep a straight face and not laugh.

"It's nothing… ok, fine, short hair? Really? When did that happen?" Kestrel said, chuckling then getting a wet towel thrown in her face.

"Look, just because we're twins doesn't mean that we have to have matching hair styles." Laura spat out quickly. "And you're not helping!" she added.

"Look, ok, I'm sorry about the hair thing. You'll be fine. You're damn good at your job! Hell, you've brokered trade deals between people who would rather be ripping each other's throats out." She said, trying her best to be reassuring. "Look on the bright side; I took most of the work out of it." Kestrel added with a wry smile.

"Really? What did you do? I don't see another trained first contact specialist in the room."

"I only helped avert an ecological disaster that would have spelled certain doom for millions. They should love me." Kestrel pointed out as sarcastically as she could.

"Fine, thanks for the pep talk, now get out, I gotta get dressed, and don't you have to go be a grease monkey somewhere?"

* * *

"So, big day." Akira said, standing next to James in the Transporter room.

"Why are you here, Aki, you don't need to be here…" James said, rolling his eyes.

"What do they look like I wonder?" Aki postulated with a playful smug tone.

"You know, for a Starfleet Officer, you sure don't act like one…"

"I know for a fact that you're a fantasy novel fan. What if they look like Dwarves, like from that famous novel, what was it called?"

"Lord of the Rings." James replied, rolling his eyes yet again.

"Yeah, that one, just think about it, short stout little men, sporting a beard that makes a Tellerite want to be polite."

"The minister has signaled he's ready." The transporter chief noted, James turned to him and gave him a nod, and he worked his controls to activate the device.

"You have my Axe…" Akira said, imitating a deep male voice.

"Oh, for the love of…" James began to say, turning to where Akira was standing, but only found the doors to the transporter room closing. "Defense Minister Shack, welcome aboard the Endalla." James said, doing his best to fight off the frustration on his face while shaking the man's hand as he stepped off the Transporter pad. "I'm Major Scott, first officer. I apologize that Captain Reynolds couldn't greet you himself, he's currently attending to family matters that couldn't be avoided."

"That is quite alright Major, among my people, family is very important. Now, I must say that device you used to bring me up here, what did you call it?" he asked.


"Yes, that's it, very fascinating technology. Very… exhilarating." Shack continued.

"A person never forgets their first trip through a transporter. I still remember my first trip from when I was a small boy." James said, remember the experience, it gave him goose bumps just thinking about it. "If you'll follow me, I'll take us up to the observation lounge."

"You have a very impressive vessel, Major. From what I saw from our sensor scan… it looks very formidable." Shack noted walking with James.

"The Endalla is one of Starfleet's newest deep space exploration vessels, in fact she's only been out of dry-dock for a little over a month." James explained.

"Exploration? Our scans showed powerful weaponry." Shack said with a curious tone to his voice.

"Starfleet's primary mandate is peaceful exploration and to meet new races, such as yourselves, but we are a military organization, and should the situation require it, we are prepared to defend ourselves and others."

"I think I like you Major Scott. You're not a government official; they would have danced around that issue. You were frank with me, and that's something I miss from my time in the service." Shack noted, crossing his arms behind his back. "Major, may I ask a question?" he asked, pausing for a moment to smile at the irony of what he just asked. Both he and James laughed at the same time, and James motioned to him to continue. "I have noticed the different colors of your uniforms, what do they signify?"

"Different departments, specialties. Red is for Flight Control, Tactical Operations and Command; Gold is for Operations, Ship Security, and Engineering; Teal is for Sciences and Medical."

"And your uniform? What is your word for it… green?" Shack inquired.

"I'm a member of the Starfleet Marine Corps. Remember when I said that Starfleet is a Military Organization? Well, we're the tip of the spear. We serve as the heavy combat arm of Starfleet as fighter pilots, such as myself, and infantry combat operations. When all diplomatic options have been exhausted, we're called upon to defend the Federation."

"So, you're not a naval officer, but a soldier." Shack noted. "What prompted you to take this posting; it seems like a drastic change."

"Well… at first I was given a choice, either take this posting or face a discharge, which is a story for another time, but now that I've had time to think about it, I think I agreed to take it because I honestly wanted a change. When I lost my brother last year, I started to realize that I've seen so much death and destruction, and wrought just as much of it personally, and that I was sickened with myself, and I wanted to contribute to something that didn't cause someone to suffer."

"That's very noble of you. Among my people, you would be commended." Shack said, as the turbolift doors opened onto the access hallway rear of the bridge leading to the Observation Lounge. When they entered, they were greeted by Captain Reynolds having a conversation with the Endalla's chief diplomatic officer, Lieutenant Laura Stevenson, but what caught James' attention was his larger than life grin.

"Captain, last time I saw a smile like that was on my brother's face. Nine months later my parents had to add a new name to our yearly Christmas card." James noted. Jonathan just crossed his arms and continued smiling.

"Congratulations sir." James said, shaking his Captain's hand.

"I'm sorry, but have I missed something?" Shack said. James' eyes widened as he realized that he had forgotten his guest for a moment.

"I apologize, Minister Shack, this is Captain Reynolds." James quickly said, Shack nodding in acceptance while shaking the captain's hand.

"My wife and I just received some pleasant news; she's expecting our second child." Jon explained.

"Captain, that is wonderful. Atrast nal tunsha." Shack said, placing his fist on his chest and bowing his head.

"This is Lieutenant Stevenson, our chief diplomatic officer." James introduced.

"Pleasure to meet you, Minister." She said giving her head a nod.

"Thank you, now, if you'll have a seat, we can discuss this morning's incident." Jon said, gesturing to a seat to his right at the head of the conference table.

* * *

"There was no radiation? How can that be?" Shack asked, obviously confused.

"As far as our chief engineer can figure out is that they modified ship's sensors to give off false readings, then hooked the sensor grid to the impulse reactor and cranked up the power." James explained.

"Do you have any idea who would perpetrate this kind of hoax?" Jonathan asked.

"There can only be one group with the resources to pull anything like this off." Shack said, taking a deep breath, wishing he was wrong. "Twenty cycles ago, when I was General in the defense force, I helped start a revolution. The government in power was a brutal dictatorship under the guise of a monarchy. We were facing a severe drought in our farming sector for the third cycle in a row and things were looking very bad, but the Regent refused to relax his isolationist policies so we could bring in much needed food to avert a famine." He explained. "After we removed him from power and exiled him and his followers from the main land, we installed a democracy; I resigned my commission afterwards and vowed never to seek high office to quell any concerns that there would be a military controlled government. We've known nothing but prosperity ever since."

"Exiled?" Laura asked.

"All of our people live on the largest landmass on our planet. There is a smaller continent in the southern ocean and smaller groups of islands, but no one lives there because it is difficult, but not impossible to grow food because of the frequency of severe hurricanes. The alternative to exile would have been mass executions, which would have changed nothing." Shack explained further.

"Over the last twenty years, they have been trying to overthrow the government, calling the bombings and assassination attempts a continuation of the so called 'war' that we started when we removed him from power."

"I'm sorry, minister, but who is 'he'?" Laura asked.

"My apologies. As I told Major Scott before we met, family is very important to our people. When a member of one's family is exiled, it is tradition to excise everything about them from our lives, including mentioning their name. Regent Shackaza is my brother. He's been leading a so called 'Government in exile' for the last twenty cycles, but they're nothing more than petty terrorists."

"Do you suspect that they could do anything again like they did today?" Asked the Captain.

"I don't believe so, today's incident is the first time they've used such a tactic, and where they got the resources for this venture, I don't know, but I will be speaking with my intelligence director as to why we didn't know in advance. Rest assured Captain, even our Flag-Ship pales in comparison with the Endalla. I don't think your ship is in any danger, nor do I think they will try something like this again, at least not in the foreseeable future."

Jonathan began to say something when he noticed an ensign in sciences blue walk in and give Laura a padd, who quickly looked it over, and gave an impressed whistle.

"What is it?" he asked.

"The geology department just completed scans of this systems asteroid belt. It shows abnormally large Topaline deposits."

"What's special about our asteroid belt?" Shack inquired.

"Topaline is an element widely used in our life support systems. We just recently suffered a massive invasion by a species known as the Borg, which left many planets devastated and uninhabitable. There is a high demand for the mineral for the construction of refugee habitats." Laura explained.

"We normally don't have any mineral interest in our asteroid belt due to its low volume of heavy metals that we use in our ship construction, I would have to confer with our Trade Minister, but I think we can come to an agreement. You helped us in our time of need, the least we can do is assist you in yours." Shack said.