U.S.S. Corsair - NCC-011979
Nebula Class Starship
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
“A Devil In The Details – Part II”
Akina rubbed the bridge of his nose. This was almost too good to be true. “I can’t believe the doctor was there on Astate?”
“I had a feeling someone else had to be overseeing the facility”, Ramius replied. “A marine colonel as a watchdog makes sense, but he’s not a scientist. Ballantine panicked and ran. I suppose he feared Starfleet would scoop him up in time. He got sloppy which gives us a strong clue on where to look next.”
Akina nodded. “I never would have guessed. Why use his real name?”
“I had a thought about that. I suppose he figured his alias could have been compromised. Desperation probably drove him to use his real name. I suspect he figured he had been off the radar for so long it wouldn’t raise any red flags. And he was right, except, you managed to escape the marine execution squad with my help. I’m quite sure he either didn’t know you had fingered him as the facility’s top researcher or he was assured you would be taken care of by the marine colonel.”
Akina nodded and glanced back at the padd as he was filled with almost giddy anticipation. The new lead had filled him with renewed determination.
“It says here that Ballantine booked passage to the Nakadia system. Nakadia…where is that?”
Ramius spun his obsidian computer terminal toward the intelligence captain. Its screen displayed a starchart indicating the location of the Nakadia system.
“Oh wonderful. It’s on the Klingon Romulan border. Lovely. Computer, summary of Nakadia system.”
“The Nakadia system is an area of space that lies between the borders of the Romulan Star Empire and the Klingon Empire. Federation starship have never entered the area and information is limited to data obtained from private individuals, long range sensor scans, probes, and commercial traffic. The area has been contested by both the Romulan and Klingon governments, but is of little tactical, military, or commercial importance. The Nakadia system contains the remnants of a solar system that was decimated eons ago when its star went nova. Large asteroids and the remains of fractured planets make the system extremely hazardous to travel. While rich in mineral and other natural resources the debris field is regarded as too dangerous for safe mining operations. A Klingon mining colony was established twenty five years ago, however it was abandoned after numerous accidents and several deaths. Both the Romulan and Klingon militaries have lost numerous vessels in the system. The area is generally avoided though remains a contested zone despite its unremarkable and dangerous attributes. End summary.”
“Why on earth would Ballantine head to such a dangerous and worthless area of space? There isn’t anything there.”
Ramius stood and moved to his replicator. Ordering a cup of tea he leaned against the wall. “Nothing there that we know of”, Ramius answered as his tea appeared. “What better place to build a secret facility or safehouse than right in the backyard of two sworn enemies along a disputed border? The built one on Astate right under the noses of Starfleet and the Romulans. As the computer said, the Klingons and Romulans avoid the area and so does the general public. It’s a mine field full of rocks, asteroids, and debris all moving at ship crushing speeds. Who would be stupid enough to enter such a place?”
Akina’s expression soured. “Wait a minute Ramius! Just hold on a second. You can’t possibly be thinking of taking the Corsair there? We’d be in violation of treaty if we were spotted. Neither of us needs the attention of a diplomatic incident not to mention the area is a veritable deathtrap.”
Ramius sipped his tea. “I’m not thinking of going there”, he replied.
“Well at least we finally agree on something”, Akina said.
“I’ve already made up my mind to go”, Tav quickly said as a follow up.
Zane’s expression fell flat. “You can’t just waltz across the Romulan and Klingon borders as you please. Even you must realize the dangers in doing so. It’s too risky!”
“Risk is a part of the equation Zane. You have to gamble to win big. If you don’t bet, how can you win?”
“No, no, don’t go using casino metaphors on me. I’m not your average crewman who can be roused by a stirring speech Ramius. We aren’t going. We’ll just have to find another way.”
“Already done that”, Tav said moving to his desk. “Commander Kusinagi, would you join me in my ready room please.”
[ Five Minutes Later]
Commander Sai Kusinagi, the Corsair’s Chief Engineer, stepped into the captain’s ready room. “Sir, you needed to see me?”
“Yes. What is the status of our little engineering project?”
Kusinagi shot a glance at Captain Akina saying nothing.
Ramius nodded. “Go on commander. You’re in good company.”
“Well, we don’t have much of a manual to work from. Most of what we do have is in Romulan and we’ve had to translate it into Federation standard. As far as I can tell we’ve installed it, but we had to replicate a few parts from the diagrams and information you provided. I don’t know sir, it’s a crap shoot if it works. Best I can give you is 50/50 odds. Until we activate it I have no way of knowing if it will work and if it does I can’t say how well or for how long. The computer simulations just aren’t up for the job since we don’t have any test data for comparison or to establish operating baselines. The device was in less than ideal condition.”
Ramius nodded. “I’m sure you have done your best chief. I have every confidence in your ability to make the project work. Do whatever it takes to complete installation. We will need to field test it sooner rather than later. Dismissed.”
Kusinagi nodded and left the ready room.
“What was that nonsense all about”, Akina muttered dropping into a seat. “Romulan diagrams? Translations? What the hell were you two discussing?”
“Nothing more than a way to help even the odds and the playing field Mr. Akina.”
Akina suddenly froze. He needed an aspirin. Ramius was becoming too much of a handful for him today. He had an idea of what was eluded to only was finding it hard to believe. Ramius’s contacts and access to information and equipment was astounding if not disturbing. “Do you mean to tell me you’ve laid your hands on a Romulan cloaking device?”
“Well, cloaking device is such a harsh word these days in Federation circles”, Ramius answered with a grin. “I prefer to call it an objective enhancement module.”
“How the HELL did you manage to acquire something like that? Not only are they damned illegal, but if we get caught using one… Do you have a death wish? If the Romulans catch us with one of their cloaking devices you could very well trigger a serious military reaction not to mention ensure the majority of us will remain in Romulan jail cells on Romulus if not our own graves!”
“Calm yourself”, Ramius answered his jocularity evaporating. “I have a lead that I intend to follow. While the risk is high it is the best and only lead we have acquired in weeks. I refuse to let Ballantine slink away like the snake he is. He’s our link to NeoDyne’s plans and one of the men responsible for my condition. I will find him and I will do so my way. When I do locate the good doctor I can assure you he will be more than happy to cooperate in explaining NeoDyne’s plans and activities.”
“You’re insane, you know that? How did I let myself get conned into this?”
“No Captain, just determined. I’ve seen NeoDyne’s atrocities first hand. I believe you have as well. Ask yourself if you can sleep at night knowing NeoDyne is out there at work doing the unspeakable. Risking my life and the lives of those aboard this ship pales in comparison to the lives already sacrificed on NeoDyne’s blood stained alters. Call it what you will, but I will see justice served. However, fear not. I don’t rush into danger unprepared and without a plan.”
“I’ll say. So when do we begin this personal crusade into the sovereign territory of two races that have a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later?”
“Soon, but not today. We need to make a stop. I have some business to attend to first.”
“Business? What could be more important?”
“You’ll see”, Ramius answered. Without another word, Ramius left the ready room and headed onto the bridge.
“Commander Novada, inform engineering I’ll need all the speed they can muster. Helm set a new course for Starbase 145 and engage at warp nine.”
Akina stepped out of the ready room as the Corsair prepared to change course. “What’s on Starbase 145?”
“A vital mission component”, Ramius replied cryptically. “We cannot continue without a certain component. It is absolutely vital I obtain it otherwise we have no chance of success.”
“I take it that’s as far as you’re elaborating?”
“Affirmative”, Ramius said taking a seat on the bridge. “You’re getting quite good at this Akina. I know why they call you the best.”
“You son of a …”
“What was that Captain?”
“Nothing”, Zane muttered under his breath. “I’ll be in my quarters deciding whether or not to throw myself out an airlock early to save myself from future pain and suffering.”
“Where would the fun in that be”, Ramius answered. “Besides I’m terrible at writing eulogies.”
“There’s an incentive, I suppose”, Akina stated. He turned to commander Novada. “Just keep him away from any black holes or stars Commander. He’s liable to try and fly right into one at the rate he’s going.”
“I’ll keep an eye on him for you sir”, she answered with a smile.
“At least someone around here can. Don’t bother me for a few hours. I think I might need some time to sober up before going along with this insanity.”
Akina waved before leaving the bridge in a sour mood.
“What did you say that put the Captain in such a mood sir”, Novada asked.
“Nothing an intelligence operative of his caliber and experience should be able to handle. He’s either going soft or is adhering to the ironclad and immutable naval handbook and its various rules and regulations etc. etc. It’s a trait he’ll learn to relax with some work and time.”
“Are the rules then of no consequence under your command sir?”
Ramius leaned back and smiled as the Corsair altered course and accelerated to high warp. The high speeds of warp nine were quite noticeable despite the technology in place to reduce inertial and gravitational forces. “I didn’t imply the rules were useless Commander”, Ramius answered. “I merely believe some of them are deserving of a few footnotes from time to time. I tend to write and submit my own addendums and suggestions on various rules to fleet command on occasion. Needless to say many of them do not get adopted.”
“I see sir. You certainly are an interesting role model for the crew at large.”
Ramius laughed. “A role model? Me? Don’t be serious Commander. If we had a ship of people exactly like me we’d all be committed to tiny rubber rooms on some distant world. I perish the thought.”
“So do I”, Novada replied.
“What is that supposed to mean”, Ramius turned to ask his first officer.
Novada just blinked and smiled at the captain.
Ramius sighed. “Helm, ETA to SB145?”
“Twenty nine hours. Fourteen minutes present speed sir.”
“Inform Starbase 145 of our arrival. Have them standing by. I want a priority approach and docking once we’re in range.”
“What are we picking up at starbase sir”, Novada asked.
Ramius grinned. “Insurance”, was his one word reply.
[ To Be Continued ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
Commanding Officer, USS Corsair
Captain Zane Akina
Starfleet Intelligence Operative
Commander Alanis Novada
First Officer, USS Corsair