Ice Queen, that's what they called her. At least, quietly behind her back. Apparently it was both in respect and possibly insult. Which she found odd, because her obvious tall blue Andorian origin clearly displayed she came from that pristine ice moon. And queen in most languages meant "leader", or that's how she perceived it. So hardly insulting. Fitting, rather. The Vulcans considered their blue-skinned Andorian neighbours to be suspicious, volatile, aggressive and illogical. But she knew she had "mellowed" enough, a human term, to rise through the ranks all the way to the ultimate rank of Fleet Admiral.
She looked down from the open conference room she used as an office, overlooking the busy concourse of the fleet's starbase. It was brighly lit with the large transparent aluminium dome above showing the hundreds of visible stars and nebulae that made her choose a career in science, so long ago. But instead of scientific discoveries, she was "discovering" a desk. At least it was a large one.
Down below Starfleet officers were still coming and going, resembling a typical town's square like one would find among the many old and new civilizations she once visited and studied. At least here the local "townsfolk" didn't have to watch and avoid ice-bores burning through the ice ceiling - or anyone's skin – as on her own homeworld.
She scowled; whenever she thought of Andorian ice-bores it was a bad omen.
She walked back to the far side of the large table and waved to the stocky officer standing outside her glass office, all the glass reminded her of the ice of Home. The visitor hadn't moved, just stood there, intently watching for her reaction. He knew what the report said before it reached her, reading its contents just moments ago himself. He saw it made her blue antennae twitch, a subtle sign her Andorian cold blood was boiling with anger.
The short, bulky Tellarite marched in, almost the exact opposite in physique and temperament to hers.
"You made a decision", he pointed to the Padd in front of her. Not a question, an observation.
"Yes. This is within our mandate, our area. Action will be taken."
"You will inform the Federation council". A blunt statement.
The Tellarite's beady eyes peered back at the tall Andorian. "Not wise."
"As Admiral commanding a Numbered Fleet, I have a duty to protect the Federation's citizens and civilians. Period."
The Tellarite performed something that could be considered a shrug or a snort.
"They will not like this," another observation. "Agreed then, action must be taken. Your orders." Tellarites, always to the point.
She could move this up the chain of command, perhaps ask for advice from her fellow fleet leader Admiral Sargon. But she knew he had his hands full with the latest tribble infestation at the Delta starbase. And this was adressed to her, asking for her help. No, ultimately the decision was hers to make, and the outcome hers to deal with.
"We'll need ships to investigate this, quietly. With captains who can handle this, quietly." Her long blue fingers slid the Padd across the table where the Tellarite caught it by slamming it with his bulky hand. As if crushing a glow worm. He tugged his shirt, looking back up to her.
"You have them. Send them." He pocketed the Padd and without a word turned and marched off.
She watched him walk down, crossing the hall where he disappeared entering the transporter room. He would be boarding the D'Kora Marauder that visited the station on a regular basis and besides providing supplies and lucrative merchandise, also provided convenient off-the-record passage.
She understood the need for secrecy in general, but generally did not like it one bit. That's not what her fleet stood for.
When the 44th Fleet founded Starbase 817 it quickly became a hub of activity in the sector before it even fully completed. This station was proof of what made the 44th "Mighty". When the need arose teams were formed and missions were completed quickly and effectively. The officers in this fleet could switch from fighting Borg cubes to provisioning projects to creating exotic weapons and consoles, all the while still exploring space for new life, and new civilizations.
This station had completed all goals brilliantly, met every expectation and more. Even found the time - and considerable libations - to create a large bar and deejay offering distractions. A small crowd enjoyed some sort of celebration there now. Those latinum traders again probably. Or perhaps the Romulan delegation letting loose. Morn was there (or "a" Morn probably, one couldn't tell) with the station's counselor keeping an eye on things, always observing.
The federation was the only organization she ever heard of that invested so heavily in amenities and services to make its residents and work-force so comfortable, even for non-Federation civilians. Spending resources like that would never occur at the Andorian Imperial Guard. Or the Romulan Flotilla for that matter. Maybe at the Klingon starbase, but whatever happened there, stayed there.
It was one of the Federation's core missions besides exploration. To defend its people, all its residents, to keep them safe, secure, looked after. The revolutionary replicator technology meant there were ample provisions for everyone and all basic necessities were met for all sentient life, from member worlds or not. For the Federation considered all life equal. And without the need to compete for resources, energy and intellect could be devoted to exploring the wonders hidden among the stars instead.
But the contents of this recent report said something entirely different. She needed to be sure, investigate. Before cracking the ice, so to speak.
"Computer, fleet-wide message to the 44th Fleet, Delta Fleet and Assault Squadron, and inform the Armada-..." the computer beeped twice in response.
"No, wait." She hesitated. "Just 44th, eyes only." Better not attract too much attention to this, for now.
"From: Admiral Ardala Vrann. To: all 44th ships near the southern Beta Quadrant not engaged in current operations to report to Fleet headquarters, for a... special assignment".
This was special alright. Investigating a fellow Federation member and probably breaking half a dozen Federation rules, even perhaps the Prime Directive, was bound to have 'special' consequences.
She followed the curved walkway down, acknowledging the guards with a nod, into the starbase's operations room, which was efficient but small compared to the duties it had to perform. It was more of a nexus from where one could call up the resources of the lower decks which housed the large dedicated engineer, science and tactical departments.
Even after the recent armed conflicts, various Borg and Tholian incursions, cold and hot wars, Eden thankfully never became a true battlestation, far from it.
The first commanding officer, Admiral Webster, once called Starbase 817 a future hub for "research, resources and relaxation", or just "Eden" for short.
A lot had changed since its founding, in a good way to be sure. The whole 44th fleet dedicated itself and after Eden completed, it rapidly expanded even further with its own mine, embassy, alien spire and research labs spread out all over the Alpha, Beta and now Delta quadrant. Two sister starbases, one Klingon, both with their own outposts provided a tremendous amount of additional resources, unique officers, powerful fleet ships and advanced equipment they never even dreamed of during Eden's founding. Almost a single Federation all by itself, a tremendous enterprise.
And rumors were that another installation would be added soon.
If the original founders only knew. She knew there was a Padd floating around the command deck with Doctor Latinumbar's research on neurologic synaptic decay still on it, never finished. He and his away team were still considered MIA after contact was lost at Zorkom III. That particular Padd was left there as a token of respect for the admiral who once recruited her.
So much history here.
And that was what made the decision for her. She would uphold the founding principles of not just the Federation, but also of the Mighty 44th. The 44th was one of the oldest, most respected fleets out there, and it had never let the Federation's (and hers!) principles down, so she wouldn't either.
She would guard the information presented to her and only share it with the captains she was going to send onto the thin ice, as Andorians would say.
The officer of the watch turned and came to attention. "Yes admiral ?"
"Commander, I need a full survey of all known space activity around the Ba'aja sector including stellar radiation activity and any other phenomena that could interfere with sensors."
The captain turned and replaced the hologram showing the starbase status with one showing several planetary systems, projecting animated circles and lines all vying for attention.
"Nothing out of the ordinary ma'am, minor flare activity from the local star there. Nothing special for the last ten cycles. Known regular civilian traffic, some passing comet fragments that are being tracked by Stellar Navigation, space dust. The ocassional True Way incursion, nothing we can't handle. Anything special you wish to know ?"
The admiral looked at the map, there was nothing she would find from here, she knew she needed someone to actually be present and investigate. There was no substitute for actual boots in the snow.
"Not right now, I have recalled a few ships. When they arrive have them provisioned or repaired if needed, all services. Clear the docks if you need to."
"Yes ma'am, which ships?"
"We'll know soon enough". She knew her fleet - good ships, good captains. They would come.
"Have their captains report to my office when they arrive."
"Yes ma'am. And I'll have an updated sector activity report on your desk before they do".
"Good man." She turned and left.
As he saw her leave the officer of the watch knew he had to clear the board; it was going to be one of those days. He wasn't sure, but he thought he saw her antennae twitch.
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The Mighty 44th. Boldly bashing Borgs to bits since 2010.