Literary Challenge #48 : The Long Road
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Join Date: Jul 2012
08-22-2013, 12:01 AM
I had taken the elevator down from Ops after delivering a manifest for the DS9 engineering team. That manifest described the work that would be needed to get the Limburg in something of a ready state for the voyage back to the Utopia Planetia shipyards. But I wasn't done, not by a long shot.
I wanted a word with the commanding officer of Taskforce Badlands, and I wanted it rather badly.
Office of vice admiral Tommi Aguchi, Deep Space 9
Aguchi had two guards outside his office. I was surprised to see they were wearing MACO gear. I couldn't imagine why this admiral would need that kind of security in a part of the station that was essentially Starfleet country.
I was pretty sure he wasn't as vital as say Admiral Quinn or Admiral T'nae. And yet the presence of those same guards alerted me to something I had suspected since my little foray into the Badlands at the head of the task force with the same name.
In the extensive written report that I wanted to deliver personally I had stated that the mission was a waste of resources that could have been better used elsewhere. I also had some pretty compelling reasons to use that argument.
I didn't use the door chime. I knocked, rather old fashioned, but I figured that Aguchi wouldn't expect me back this soon anyway.
"Who is it?" even his voice sounded a little too cheerful to my liking.
"Admiral Torvan to see you." I answered. Apparently his secretary was out.
I found the following silence to be very very telling.
I found Aguchi at his desk, staring intensely at a padd. This time, his office wasn't all that lavish. But then, this was DS9 and not Earth. I dismissed the stare as fake. I also knew he kept in shape as required He had a rather sporty body but, I was sure he only did the mandatory level workout. The only other thing I found odd about Aguchi was the fact that he didn't sport any graying hair, despite the stress that a promotion to flag rank usually carried.
"Back so soon, Admiral Torvan?"
I didn't answer. Instead I tossed the padd containing my report on his desk.
Aguchi didn't react at first. He looked at the padd as if it was something dirty. "What is this?"
"My report on the mission of Taskforce Badlands, or what's left of it."
Slowly Aguchi picked up the pad and started to read. Not a few moments later he put down it again.
" I do not need to read any more. You have failed the mission I gave you."
"There was only one outcome for that mission. Failure."
"I myself do not know the meaning of that word." Aguchi snorted.
"Maybe you should learn it, admiral." I really found it hard to control my emotions. Not when I knew that the Limburg and the Watson, the only functional ships, were filled to the brim with survivors of three Ambassador class starships. It was meant to be a test project for a new universal sensor pallet, that could fit in all the currently on the line starships. The pallet was also supposed to alert a helmsman to dangerous spatial occurences.
We had the proof the pallet had failed at least once. This caused the destruction of the USS Larson, due to a plasma wave they couldn't evade, or so the few survivors said.
The second Ambassador, USS Union, suffered a worse fate. From one of the buoys that we had been able to find, and, in accordance with the test plan, they had proceeded to scan one of those erratic plasma funnels that dotted the Badlands. Then, a small remnant of Alpha Jem Hadar had shown up.....
It was the destruction of the USS Waterloo, the third Ambassador, that was giving me nightmares. In the general neighborhood of the Union, the Waterloo had turned tail and ran. With a maneuvering capability worse then a Galaxy class, it only took one asteroid through the starboard nacelle to set some bad things in motion.
Most of the survivors we picked up were from the Waterloo. Fortunately, DS9 had a cargo bay ready to act as a triage area. It eased some of the overcrowding and some of the operational difficulties as well.
The admiral stayed motionless as I recounted all the details. "What about the sensor pallet on your ship?"
I didn't want to relive the details. But I forced myself to do it. "I'll answer in the form of some questions. How do you think I know about the Larson? How do you think I know about the Union? And how do you think Captain Castle and I found the Waterloo survivors?"
I congratulated myself for not shouting the last question.
"Ah, so the project was a success!"
I sighed. "My Chief science officer managed to get a 12 percent increase in resolution out of the pallet, after disabling certain thresholds. We forwarded those results to Captain Castle on the Watson. It eased our search considerably." I didn't bother telling him that the duty CSO was a liberated Borg.
Now Aguchi was smiling. "So you haven't failed the mission, at all." He sounded pleased.
I still wasn't. Losing 3 starships in what was in essence a sensor test looked an awful lot like waste to me. I told the admiral this.
"My dearest admiral Torvan, to make an omelet, you have to break some eggs. Even in the great black."
I didn't feel like responding. I just wanted to be out of there. But I couldn't leave, not just yet.
I had to know that Aguchi hadn't won this round and, that there wouldn't be a next time or next round either. It was a plan even Captain Castle's wife fancied.. There was now a chime at the door. I figured it would be her.
It was the admiral's secretary instead. I didn't recognize him. Yet he too was surprised to see me.
“Admiral Torvan, I don't recall you having an appointment with the admiral for at least another week?”
The secretary was a Bolian and held the rank of Lieutenant-Commander. Other then that, I had no clue to his name whatsoever. “Lieutenant-commander, unfortunately something came up that forced me to contact the admiral a little earlier then I anticipated.”
“Oh dear. I'm sorry I wasn't at my post, admiral.”Aguchi didn't respond. I seemed to be sole focus of his attention.
I did feel a little edgy when the secretary was directed towards his desk by Aguchi. In this way he would be out of my sight, behind me. And since I didn't trust the admiral any more then anyone else that was part of his staff that could be a little..problematic.
Before I could dwell any further on the situation, the secretary reported that there was an incoming communication from Admiral Quinn. I frowned. Although I was sure the report had reached Starfleet Command, I figured they would have something better to do. In this case, Aguchi agreed with me. He also told the secretary to tell that he was in deliberation with me.
Not moments later, the secretary was back, and whispered something in Aguchi's ear. First, I watched him turn pale. Then I watched him reach for the desk terminal, with a trembling hand. Not moments later the face of Admiral Jorel Quinn appeared on screen.
“ Good evening, Aguchi. And good evening to you as well, admiral Torvan.” I gave a brief nod, acknowledging the presence of the chief of operations of Starfleet.
“ Admiral Quinn, always a pleasure.” Aguchi began but Quinn cut him short. “Not this time, Aguchi, Not this time.”
I saw him frown.
“ A report has reached my desk. A very very bad report.” Quinn's tone wasn't really upsetting, yet. There was however a certain dangerous edge to his tone. I knew that tone. It was the tone of someone who didn't suffer fools lightly. “And its about your performance as the commander of Task Force Badlands.”
Aguchi now seemed to stoically wait on what else was coming thus he said nothing.
Admiral Quinn went on in the meantime “ This was a disastrous mission! You never ever should have ordered this to begin with. A simple sensor test that cost us 3 starships and their crews. That price is way too high! Way too high! With our resources spread this thin these are losses we can ill afford. You will answer for this, Aguchi.”
There was a pause as Quinn studied a padd “ Taskforce Badlands is standing down pending a command review. The surviving ships and crews will be released to other duties. Maybe if we wipe the name, we'll wipe the shame.”
I almost felt like a Klingon that had been mentioned in an opera about doing something with honor.
Quinn wasn't finished though “One final thing. I've stated before that we need stuff that works now. Not stuff that worked 30 years ago. Therefore, you are hereby relieved of command, pending an inquest into your actions. This inquest is to be carried out by the Fleet Investigative division.”
Admiral Quinn hadn't really finished talking when the door chimed again.I knew this had to be the fleet investigators. Again I was in for a surprise as Jed Castle, the captain of the Watson, was the first through the door. I recognized the officer that followed him immediately.
Commander Jo Beckett, deputy commander DS9 division of fleet investigation, and, if the rumor mill was correct, the sometime lover of captain Jed Castle. She had a security detail of her own in tail. Beckett headed straight for the now former admiral.
“ Admiral Tommi Aguchi, I have a warrant for your detainment.”
One of the security detail members followed Beckett and produced a set of handcuffs. With these the admiral was soon bound and escorted out. Also, I didn't fail to catch the little signals between the captain and the commander. So much for the rumor mill.
I exhaled the breath I hadn't realized I had been holding in.
With Aguchi now under review, the chances of me having to deal with him again would be slim. Although I knew there would be others along with other challenges that would cross my path on the long road. I could only hope it would be less bloody.....
Last edited by rextorvan36; 08-25-2013 at