by Travis Anderson
Earth year 2272, en route to Platonius
Lt. Carolyn Palamas had recently returned to Starfleet after an extended family medical leave. She’s reported to the U.S.S. Spiral as a mission specialist assigned to reinitiating contact with the Platonians after the USS Enterprise’s much heralded first contact scenario. Palamas viewed her assignment with a mixture of hope and despair.
Palamas’ medical leave had resulted after Dr. McCoy, the Enterprise’s Chief Medical Officer, had discovered that the alien claiming to be the Greek god Apollo had impregnated her during an afternoon of sheer, blissful passion. But Apollo’s species was unknown to the Federation, unless one lent credence to his claim that his people comprised the mythological Greek Pantheon.
Still, the biochemistry involved could be complex. The myths listed demigods born of couplings between the gods and humans but was that the actual case or pure fiction? It all depended on how much truth one gave Apollo credit for and how far you wanted to trust his word.
Palamas was transferred off of the Enterprise listed as having a “medical emergency”. Captain Kirk never learned of Palamas’ condition since McCoy insisted upon keeping it confidential, but that hardly stopped him from reporting everything to Starfleet Medical.
Starfleet Medical oversaw every step of Palamas’ pregnancy, and they created a secure environment for the birth of her daughter, Calypso. As the child grew older, she drained all available power sources since it fed her developing psionic abilities.
The medical staff isolated Calypso from all external power sources and the child began to weaken. Even when minimal power was restored to her chamber, Calypso’s life signs grew increasingly erratic. Palamas desperately theorized that Calypso required more raw energy sources to thrive. Like her father, she neededworship.
But the simple basic nurturing Calypso received wasn’t enough to sustain her and Calypso Palamas died eighteen months after her birth, almost to the day. Palamas almost resigned from Starfleet as a result. Counselors advised her to take a two year extended leave and reconsider her options.
Palamas finally decided to return to Starfleet because her career offered her the best chances of finding Apollo’s brethren. And with her insight into their culture, she would be assigned to any exchange with them regardless of her infidelity. Her first assignment upon returning to active duty was the cultural exchange with the Platonians. Palamas regarded it as a good place to start in her search.
Palamas studied up on the Platonians while the Spiral undertook its week-long journey from Earth to Platonius. The Archer-class scout had been built after the original Constitution-class had been constructed in 2245. Those ships had already been refitted once before and now, after the success of the Enterprise’sadaptations in dealing with V’Ger, the rest of the twelve ships of the class were undergoing the same updates.
The Archer-class, despite its twelve ship construction run beginning in 2254, would not be undergoing similar design modifications. The ships would be phased out of service as the newly designed Oberth-class science vessels were completed and commissioned.
It was a bitter pill for the dozen active captains of the class. The Miranda-class starships were also being refitted to match the new design philosophy. But all of this history and Starfleet’s intentions weren’t known to Palamas, nor did she even care.
What had caught her interest was that the Platonians were natives of a world called Sahndara. That planet had been destroyed by a supernova. The people who would spawn the Platonians didn’t arrange a mass exodus. Instead they bioengineered thirty-eight “super” beings to carry on their legacy.
Those thirty-eight reached Earth during the late Bronze Age. They easily assimilated into Athenian society and swiftly became enamored with Socrates. But his student, Plato, galvanized the group. Banding together, the interstellar travelers decided to build a society on Plato’s Republic.
When Alexander of Macedonia died and the nascent Greek Empire fragmented under the weight of multiple heirs, the newly christened Platonians left Earth and sought their fortune amongst the stars. They eventually settled on an M-class world and named it Platonius in honor of their chosen role model.
An unexpected development was that the Platonians developed psionic powers from the kironide that laced the ground and the food growing from it. Following Plato’s ideal, the most powerful psionic was the frequently disputed leader. Parmen was the second to rise to the leader’s role.
In an effort to curtail smuggling efforts to get kironide off the planet, Starfleet had towed a support tender into the outer system. Service domes had been erected to form Tender Base 142 on the sixth planet in the system. It was rated Class-L or “marginal”. From there Starfleet operated three interceptor cutters.
The Federation Council had debated assigning a General Quarantine Zone around Platonius but decided against it. Instead, this second attempt to contact the settlers was being made, but kironide tainted foodstuffs could not be exported. A strict measure of controls had to be established over the native food products.
The Spiral reached Platonius and achieved standard orbit. Contacting Parmen, Captain Kay Ferris transported Palamas down with her XO, CMO, and Science Officer. Parmen was much warier of Starfleet this time. It took Commander Darvin nearly an hour to convince Parmen to open up to Palamas’ questions.
“We are interested in two items,” Parmen haughtily declared. “Since the kironide in our food eliminates our ability to fight infection, we require a medical mission be established here on Platonius.”
“And the second matter?” Darvin inquired.
“There will be time enough for that topic,” Parmen decided. “For now, your physician will examine my people for any trace of infections or illnesses”
Darvin’s eyebrows went up even as he adopted a rueful expression. Dr. Soliton stepped in. “It’s no problem, Commander. I wanted to do it anyway.”
Darvin nodded his acquiescence. “If you want to, Mandy.”
Soliton pulled out her medical tricorder and began working her way through the milling crowd. Darvin wondered how Palamas was doing with Parmen’s wife.
Parmen’s wife, Philana, established with Palamas that she had been born on Earth in 32 BCE to members of the thirty-eight survivors that had travelled to Earth as refugees. She also established that those same progenitors were now dead from advanced old age. The remaining Platonians were all their descendents.”
“I married Parmen when I was one hundred and seventeen years old,” Philana shared. “We’ve been together ever since.”
“No infidelity on either side?” Palamas wondered.
Philana laughed. “There are just less than one hundred of us. Secrets are very hard to keep in a group as small as ours.”
Palamas asked, “Isn’t that a problem? That’s well below viability standards for an interstellar colony.”
Dionyd stepped into the conversation at that point and he informed Palamas of the Platonians’ other demand. “Humanity sheltered our thirty-eight forbearers. It’s now time for mankind to do more than that. We require breeding partners so that our gene pool can grow. The human genetic code will be elevated by our engineered greatness and we shall survive as a species. You have much to gain by agreeing.”
After Palamas’ experience with Apollo, her first kneejerk reaction was to scream “no!” at the top of her lungs. However, she maintained her composure and managed to say, “I’ll alert my superiors of what you want and they can push it up to the proper authorities to decide.”
“They’d best choose wisely,” Philana suddenly said with dark intonation.
Darvin’s communicator began to warble and he pulled it off his utility belt and flipped it open. “Darvin here.”
“Joe, there’s a situation brewing and we may have to beam the landing party back to the ship,” Captain Ferris informed him.
“What’s going on?” Darvin asked.
“The interceptors have engaged a ship that just dropped out of warp at the system,” Ferris informed him.
“What kind of ship?” Darvin tensed up. The Spiral was a tough little ship, but she and her crew of fourteen men and women weren’t a combat unit.
“That’s just it. From what we can read from the telemetry coming back from the interceptors, it’s aConstitution-class starship,” Ferris shared.
“So it’s one of ours?” Darvin wondered, “Then why are the interceptors engaging her?”
“She ID’s as the NX-1992 U.S.S. Sentinel. There’s no such registration in the Starfleet rolls,” Ferris revealed. “Wait a minute, Lea is waving at me. The interceptors have been disabled and the mystery ship is headed into the inner system.”
“So we’re engaging them then?” Darvin was a touch angry over the fate of the interceptors.
“The tender base just relayed instructions from Starfleet Command. We’re standing down and staying out of the way. Get your group gathered; we’re transporting you in five minutes,” Ferris stated grimly.
“Aye aye,” Darvin grimaced.
Aboard the Spiral, Darvin got his first glimpse of the mysterious Sentinel. Unlike the traditionally white hulls of modern Starfleet ships, the Sentinel’s hull was the darkest black. It was a virtual hole in the star field behind it. Superficially, it resembled a Constitution-class starship, but it varied in several significant ways.
First off, the warp nacelles were rectangular like the freshly refitted Enterprise’s, but these nacelles were more than twice the size of the Starfleet vessel. It also boasted a modern deflector array but it was housed inside an outer aperture rather than being recessed into the secondary hull like the Enterprise. The ship’s power signature was also unlike anything the Starfleet crew had ever seen before.
The Sentinel approached Platonius but she didn’t slide into orbit. Instead, she squared off with the planet and fired six torpedoes in rapid succession. The Spiral’s sensors revealed that they didn’t contain photon warheads. Instead, the warhead assembly seemed to be an injector array.
As the torpedoes flew over vast tracks of the entire planet, they released an aerosol agent. “My God, they’ve deployed biogenic weapons,” Ferris realized as the reports came at her.
“Why the Platonians?” Darvin wanted to know.
“Because of why we were sent here,” Ferris realized. “The kironide.”
The Sentinel broke away and warped out of the system a good warp factor faster than even the vauntedEnterprise could go. “Let’s check on the interceptor crews and the tender base,” Ferris ordered. “We’ll check for Platonian survivors after the biogenic agent has dissipated.”
Eight hours later, Ferris beamed emergency relief crewmen to the surface. What Dr. Solotin quickly deduced was that the agent had poisoned the kironide that permeated everything on Platonius’ surface. That included the Platonians themselves. Those with the highest concentration in their blood had died horrible deaths. Those that were still alive were beamed aboard the Spiral and treated.
Afterwards, the survivors assembled in the Spiral’s cargo bay. Alexander had put it to a vote and Philana was elected nominal leader of the three dozen remaining Platonians. Philana discussed the fate of her remaining people with Captain Ferris.
“It seems we are refugees just like our ancestors were,” Philana commented.
“The Federation can help you find a new world,” Ferris promised, “but the concern here is that you don’t have enough numbers to attempt to build a viable population group.”
“We can interbreed with humans,” Philana chose to share. “It’s been done in the past, so our genetic code will survive even when we have passed on.”
“I’ll be certain to pass that information on,” Ferris promised. “For now, we’ll be taking you back to Deep Space K-7. Relief agencies will be available to you and transportation to a world of your selection can be arranged.”
“I would request that your Lt. Palamas work with us as our Starfleet liaison,” Philana insisted.
“Lt. Palamas technically isn’t a member of my crew,” Ferris warned her, “but I’ll also pass that request along and we’ll see what Starfleet Command has to say about it.”
“Very well then,” Philana said with all the dignity that she could muster.
Eventually the Platonians chose to settle on Setlik III. Palamas remained on the colony for a decade, serving as the bridge between Platonians and humans. Eventually, after the major blending of the two societies had begun, Palamas moved off to deep space exploration once again. Her quest to find Apollo’s people resumed.
In 2357, Setlik III was the victim of one of the greatest massacres in the history the Border Wars between the Federation and the Cardassian Union. Thousands of settlers had been killed by the Cardassians. This number included one hundred twenty-seven Platonian descendents. The U.S.S. Rutledge was the first Starfleet vessel to respond. Unfortunately, it was far too late for the bulk of the population.
In 2370, Setlik III was ceded into the Demilitarized Zone established between the Federation and the Cardassians. Less than two dozen Platonians descendents were still alive. Most scattered across the Federation. One chose to join the Maquis.
Two years later, the Maquis leadership on Ronara Prime found itself in a disturbing conversation. Ro Laren was meeting with her deputy, Aric Tulley, to discuss the future of the Maquis movement with the advent of the arrival of Michael Eddington from Deep Space Nine. The former Starfleet officer was vying for the position of Maquis Commander and his success seemed all but guaranteed.
Ro was also an AWOL Starfleet officer. Unlike Eddington, who had been Starfleet’s Security Chief aboard the station, Ro had been a lieutenant who had newly returned to the Enterprise-D when she’d been tapped by Admiral Alynna Nechayev to infiltrate the newly-founded Maquis. Ro had successfully inserted herself into the Ronaran cell when she found herself in a crisis of conscience.
Having been a teenage member of the Bajoran Resistance, Ro found herself confronted with a similar movement as an adult. The cell’s leader, an elderly man named Macius, struck her as a paternal figure, just as she idolized Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Macius’ subsequent death at the hands of Cardassian terrorists galvanized Ro’s decision to fully commit to the Maquis.
Some weeks later, the death of Macius’ lieutenant, Santos, propelled Ro into the cell’s leadership. Kalita, the next highest ranking member, had endorsed Ro as a potential brigade commander and her support of Ro carried the day. Sadly for Ro, Kalita had been captured by Starfleet during Tom Riker’s theft of theU.S.S. Defiant.
But it was Aric Tulley’s turn to report to Ro. “Ro, Sisko arrested Kassidy Yates while Eddington was back at DS9, crippling the station and stealing the industrial replicators. Yates has been sent to Starbase 375 to await trial. The Ferengi who runs the bar on Deep Space Nine is already running a pool to guess how long her sentence will be.”
“Quark has always been a crass little toad,” Ro opined. “I guess Kassidy found out which Sisko would choose, her or Starfleet. She should have known that Cal Hudson had already discovered that Sisko couldn’t see past his own uniform.”
“I hate to say it, but Hudson is dead,” Tulley reminded her.
“I remember that every day, Aric.” Ro said tersely. “The power vacuum his death created is causing a lot of delusions of grandeur to manifest themselves. And the Maquis Council is treating Eddington like he can walk on water.”
“So you don’t believe Sveta Korepanova even stands a chance of becoming Maquis Commander?”
“Maybe once upon a time, but not anymore,” Ro sighed. “Eddington duped Starfleet, crippled a deep space station, stole a collection of industrial replicators meant for the Cardassians, and in doing so pulled off the biggest heist Starfleet has seen in decades. The other brigade commanders are utterly smitten by him. Now they’re so besotted with him they’ll blindly follow him anywhere.”
“And that worries you,” Tulley realized the true extant of Ro’s misgivings.
“The biomimetic gel Eddington has been stockpiling worries me,” Ro shared. “He strikes me as someone who fancies himself a great hero and I think our hero will do anything to strike back at the Cardassians.”
“Then you’ll be interested to know Eddington is assembling a flight crew for one of our Ju’day-class raiders,” Tulley informed her.
“One of the new ones?” Ro inquired.
“Exactly. He’s christened it the Jean Valjean,” Tulley stated.
“The Val Jean was Chakotay’s ship,” Ro grated.
“I don’t think he cares,” Tulley retorted.
“Do you have any idea of why Eddington needs a ship and a handpicked crew?” Ro wondered.
“Rumor has it that it involves Klingons,” Tulley shared.
Ro closed her eyes and pinched the ridge on her nose in an effort to keep from groaning. The Klingon Empire had invaded the Cardassian Union some months back. Although they’d stemmed their advance, they’d occupied key worlds and continued to harass strategic positions and raid traffic.
Desperate to mount a response against the Klingons, the Cardassian Guard had abandoned its checkpoints around the DMZ. This had the effect of cutting of material support to the Cardassian paramilitaries in the Zone. But as the Maquis had subsequently discovered, the Cardassian colonists had enough stockpiled weaponry to last for some time and more than enough volunteers to keep the battle raging. The two insurgent forces had waged a nearly unrestricted war ever since.
The Klingons had vocalized support for the Maquis since their founding, yet the High Council had never materialized any actual tangible support. But if the Klingons truly wanted an ally to flank the Cardassians, actualizing that support would yield significant gains.
“Does Eddington think he’s finally making a breakthrough with the Klingons?” Ro had to ask.
Tulley shrugged. “No one knows because Eddington isn’t talking.”
“Yet he’s keeping the rumors alive,” Ro grunted, “and that’s not all he’s doing. He has Maquis assets conducting planetary surveys of Quatal Prime.”
“Why?” Tulley wondered. “That’s a Cardassian colony and it’s been thoroughly mapped.”
“I think that’s the point,” Ro ventured.
“You think he’s planning a strike against Quatal?” Tulley couldn’t believe it. “The entire population is Cardassian. A strike there would be suicide.”
“They’re paranoid about strangers but not that paranoid,” Ro stated. “They allow traders to make deliveries and pick up cargoes. Business is also conducted in person on the surface. Anyone with Eddington’s training knows how to take out the population all at once. What we need to discover is whether or not he’s going to construct the necessary weapons.”
“I’d like to know how you plan on doing that,” Tulley sourly commented.
“Eddington assigned Aellai and her crew to conduct the surveys. She has a transport and is seen as a legitimate trader by both Starfleet and the Cardassian Guard,” Ro reminded Tulley.
“But she’s one of us,” Tulley protested. “Aellai’s trading runs are to procure funds and weapons for the cause.”
“Aellai is one of the last surviving Platonians,” Ro told Tulley. “The Cardassians effectively wiped out her people. I’d say she’s interested in any kind of payback that she can deliver. And her trading routes provide her with exotic wares to allow her to barter her way into the good graces of officials on worlds like Quatal.”
“But we have our own resource as well,” Ro teased Tulley. “He’s even more established in Federation and Cardassian circles”
Tulley snapped his fingers. “Brin Macen!”
“Precisely,” Ro nodded. “Macen is a freelance intelligence gatherer, but he also provides steep discounts to certain Maquis brigade commanders. He’s even worked for free on occasion, such as when Chakotay wanted to meet with Tom Riker.”
“I didn’t know Macen did pro bono work,” Tulley admitted.
“He doesn’t want that fact spread around. His neutrality is his largest selling point,” Ro shared, “and I’m probably not the only Starfleet officer who has infiltrated the Maquis ranks. We’ve learned that Tuvok was a Starfleet security officer who gained Chakotay’s trust presumably to betray him to Captain Janeway of theU.S.S. Voyager. Instead, it worked out where everyone disappeared and no one knows how or why.”
Tulley tried to wrap his head around all these facts. “Do Macen’s Starfleet informants have an idea of how many infiltrators there are inside the Maquis?”
“Macen says his sources give a wide range of between three to twelve officers mixed in with the rest of us. And all of them are being run by Admiral Nechayev. Macen is on good personal terms with Nechayev, but she isn’t sharing anything,” Ro informed him.
“And that’s the same admiral that recruited you,” Tulley put together.
“What about Macen’s business manager?” Tully inquired, “Isn’t he Starfleet?”
“Yes, but before that he spent the last twenty years as the Deputy Director of Operations for Starfleet Intelligence,” Ro confirmed.
Ro took great delight in Tulley’s hanging jaw. “It seems Waters was looking for a retirement project to help him pass the time. Macen said his pitch to have Waters assist him was a soft sell.”
“Holy hell!” Tulley finally exclaimed. “Is Macen nuts?”
“Waters is from Setlik III,” Ro divulged. “The massacre of 2357 and ceding of Setlik to the DMZ didn’t settle well with Waters. He actually ran a few Starfleet Intelligence operations designed to capture Maquis groups into the ground. He was given a choice to either retire or be court martialled. Macen just gave him another opportunity to stay involved.”
Tulley wondered, “But how can he do anything? Macen’s supposed to be neutral.”
“Macen requires operating capital to buy information from Cardassian sources and from nonaligned worlds associating with the Cardassians,” Ro explained. “Even Bajor uses currency instead of the gift credit system the Federation uses, and also exchanges for latinum and other monetary commodities or fiat monies.”
“I seem to recall something about currency in secondary school,” Tulley recalled. “It didn’t make much sense then, either.”
Ro snorted, “That’s because in a lot of ways you’ve lived a cushy life.”
Tulley went cold. “Not after the Cardassians came.”
Ro could have kicked herself. Most of Tulley’s extended family died in the various raids the Cardassians launched at his home colony. After the treaty established the Demilitarized Zone, Tulley and his immediate family found themselves sitting inside of Cardassian territory. The Cardassians wanted to claim Tulley’s lands and they executed his wife and children in order to persuade him to leave.
Tulley did leave and he got as far as Ronara Prime. From there, he drifted into the Maquis’ sphere and had risen through the ranks ever since. Now he was Ro’s second in command and she was about to remind him of it.
“I know it seems your life fell apart after the treaty was signed and the borders shifted, but you’re alive. Your losses will always be with you, but you can do something about it by helping me make sure more innocents don’t suffer at Cardassian hands,” Ro declared. “And to do that you have to start thinking like a leader and not just a foot soldier. You’re no longer just the cell’s chief of security. Now you’re also my deputy, which means if something happens to me, you’ll be in charge. And you’ll need a better plan then ‘let’s die in a blaze of glory.’”
“Okay, I get it,” Tulley sad stiffly.
“Now, I need uninterrupted time to contact Waters and see when Macen will be available,” Ro decided.
U.S.S. Andor and U.S.S. Blackbird designed by Bernrd Schneider.
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