By Jack Elmlinger
Tattok looked over the information in front of him again. It had been days since he deployed the Veritas to look into this matter and according to his sources, the information was reliable. Carrie Buchanan, Lissea San, and any other Starfleet officers that had been found to be replaced by True Way operatives were to be found on the second planet of the Suilon system.
Of course, the Roylan wondered if sending the flagship of the 11th Fleet on such a vital assignment was the right course of action. Should I have sent one of the others? he asked himself. Maybe one of the Defiants?
Such thoughts were easily dismissed from his mind as the door chimes to his office rang. “Enter,” he said, deactivating his monitor.
The office doors swished open and Commander Amber Stone walked inside. In her hands, she carried a stack of padds. More paperwork for him to review and to apply his thumbprint for signing off on them. When he joined Starfleet, the diminutive admiral didn’t think that he would be at the end of his career, sitting behind a desk and filling out paperwork.
“I’m sorry to disturb you, Admiral. I have the personnel files for the Naxovah crew along with the Cardassian files that you requested from Legate Sanar.” The brunette woman had a warm smile on her face as always as she set the padds in order on his desk. After she did that, she walked over to the replicator on the far side of the room to get Tattok his afternoon tea. The cup on his desk had gone cold with all of the work that he had been signing off on.
“Thank you, Commander,” Tattok said with a nod of his head.
“Can I ask a question, sir?” Stone asked, bringing him a fresh cup of piping hot oolaberry tea.
“Yes?” He looked up from the padd that he snatched off of his desk with a raised eyebrow.
“What are the Cardassian files for?”
“Ah… the Cardassian files…” Tattok said, looked at her. “You're aware of the arrangement with the Detapa Council, right?”
Stone thought for a moment before answering. “The liaisons for our ships?”
“Correct. Well, these files are recommendations for those positions.”
“Well, I guess Wayne wins our little bet.”
“Bet? Is there gambling in my office?”
“Oh, no, sir,” the admin assistant assured him. “The master chief and I just had a little bet about what the Cardassian files were for. He thought it was for the liaison project and I thought that you were looking at these people for some war crimes commission or something.”
“War crimes commission?”
“Yeah… for the Cardassians who collaborated with the Dominion during the war.”
Tattok frowned at this. “Such a commission isn't happening. It especially wouldn't happen on my watch, Commander.”
“Oh, well, I guess I owe Wayne dinner the next time that we’re—”
“Communications to Admiral Tattok,” came over the admiral’s commbadge.
“This is Tattok.”
“Admiral, this is Lieutenant Hill,” the duty officer in the embassy’s communications center said. “We’re receiving a transmission from Commodore Markham on the Veritas, sir.”
“Patch it through here, quickly, Lieutenant!” Tattok shouted, leaned forward in his chair. He looked at Stone who nodded and quickly vacated his office. She understood that this must be a priority call from the fleet’s second-in-command.
On his monitor, the logo of the United Federation of Planets appeared and it was replaced by the auburn-haired Commodore Valerie Markham. Her façade showed her fatigue but the smile on her face showed that something good had been discovered on their reconnaissance mission.
“Admiral, your hunch was right,” Markham said. “Suilon Two was being used as a POW camp for our people. In fact, my crew and I discovered that it was left over from the war. Apparently, the—”
“Interesting,” Tattok whispered to himself, scratching his chin as he listened to her report.
“—and Evek were former associates and he believed in the same philosophies as the True Way. When the war ended, Gul Surdak broke off communications with his government and threw his lot in with Evek.”
“And our people were recovered?”
“We were able to recover Commander San but I’m afraid that Captain Buchanan didn’t survive her imprisonment, sir,” the commodore said, her smile disappearing and her eyes looking downcast. “Commander Haywood and his team were able to recover seventeen people out of the twenty-nine who were replaced by Cardassian agents.”
“You should bring them to Cardassia. Their testimonies must be shown them to the Detapa Council.”
Markham nodded. “Sir, we should be more worried with getting them healthy first. My chief medical officer had to put Commander San on suicide watch. Apparently she and Captain Buchanan were very close.”
“They were married,” Tattok said, sadly. In the brief time that they had served with him, the Roylan envied their relationship on a personal level. He had been married once and sadly he had lost her to the Borg at the Battle of Wolf 359. Still, he carried his memories of Telaan with him wherever he went because Roylans mated for life. When she had died… the best part of him had died with her.
“Then you should take them to Sanctuary.”
“Aye, Admiral. Any other orders?”
“I'd recommend a heightened state of security around the survivors, Valerie,” the admiral told her, using her first name. He didn’t usually call the officers under his command by their first name so it was definitely a sign that he was mellowing with age. “In some disasters, there's always the chance of a double agent being present among them.”
“You suspect that Evek and Surdak turned one of our people?”
“I've seen it before.”
Markham nodded again, agreeing with his advice. “I’ll have Chief Senda see that the survivors are confined to quarters until Counselor Brandon can evaluate their mental status. We’re still picking up the pieces down on the planet.”
“Do you require any assistance?”
“I’d ask if you could send the Apgar our way but I think we’ll be able to muddle through until we reach Sanctuary,” Markham said, sitting back in her chair.
“Good work, Commodore. My complements to you and your crew.”
“Thank you, Admiral.”
“I hope to receive your paperwork soon.”
“As soon as I can get to it,” Valerie said sheepishly. “It’s been difficult these last few days.”
“Understood, Commodore. Good. I'll see you when I can, and I wish you a good voyage home.”
“Thank you, Admiral Tattok. Veritas out.”
The monitor went dark and Tattok sat back in his chair. Setting his padd down on the desktop, he sighed, thinking about Carrie Buchanan. Her loss wasn’t something that he was prepared for. The emotions and feelings that he had kept hidden away for the last few weeks, they came back to him and he didn’t expect them. He dropped his head into his hands and sighed.
There was joy in that their people had been recovered. But there was regret as well, for the fact that they couldn’t all be saved.