The Listening Post
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Table Of Contents


Mission 23 : THE LISTENING POST

 

The contents of the Ship Logs are considered to be a "compilation" under the provisions of Title 17, U.S. Code (known as the Copyright Act): that is, "A work formed by the collection and assembling of preexisting materials or of data that is selected, coordinated or arranged in such a way that the resulting work as a whole constitutes an original work of authorship." As such, it is the property of the ship’s Captain; however, automatic transfer of ownership to STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET is effected upon publication of this mission by the ship’s Captain ipso facto.

As outlined in Circular 1 (Copyrighted Basics, Library of Congress, Washington DC, USGPO 1989-262-309/12), "copyrighted in each separate contribution to a periodical or other collective work is distinct from the copyright in the collective work as a whole and vests initially with the author of the contribution."

This mission may not be reproduced in any form without the express, written authorization of STARSHIPS OF THE THIRD FLEET.

Prologue

"Have you heard of Barido IV?" Was the question posed by the Admiral Daniel Evans. More of a way of opening the conversation than it was a true query.

Everyone had heard of that star system, Lawrence thought. Dead planets, one which had supported a thriving civilization a millennia ago... but no more. Now there was nothing but desolation. A ghostly planetary system, one which had often been cited in academy lectures... It was so long ago.

"Wasn't it used as a prime example of planetary degradation caused by radioactive soil, the result of a dirty war?" TE answered with a question.

Evans had frequently opened his conversations with Lawrence in this manner. It was almost as if he wanted someone to talk with rather than just another captain to issue orders to. "Yes," the admiral continued, "It's something which may be on the front burner soon. We're still downloading information from Starfleet about a very large solar flare in the system. You may get some updates in the near future, but that's not my business with you today."

"Today, we have a problem of much greater concern, one which could easily become the problem in the Third Quadrant. As you know from previous updates, something of great importance is occurring within the Romulan Star Empire. Quarterly confrontational incidents with them have dropped to the smallest number in the last thirty years. Every time this has occurred in the past, we have learned that they were being occupied by enemies on other frontiers or they were preparing for a major incursion into the Federation. Either way, we must be informed. Without answers, we have no way of developing options."

Sensing another set of orders coming up for another tour along the 'Zone,' Lawrence responded by pushing a request for something better.

"Admiral, I know my crew is 'chomping at the bits' for a chance to do something out of the ordinary. I'd hate to see us waste all our work on a tour of picket duty along the RNZ.

"Hold your horses, TE, that's not the direction I was heading. If you'd listen for a change instead of thinking ahead in all our conversations, we might make some progress. Contrary to treaty agreements, we established a covert listening post on Vecca III in the RNZ (Romulan Neutral Zone) eight months ago. We staffed it with Starfleet's best. What little communication they have been able to send out is very disheartening. An operative recently extracted from the project indicated the possibility that the post had been discovered or at the least, the Romulans had become suspicious. We have to get them out... soon. Both the unit and the information they possess is of utmost importance to the Federation. I must tell you now, TE,.. there is nothing higher on the OPS Board than this mission. It must be accomplished immediately... it must be accomplished covertly... it must be done successfully... or don't come back. It's that important."

Having impressed Lawrence with the urgency of the operation, and the need for haste, Admiral Evans followed with the few details he had available and wished her and the PHOENIX godspeed. His countenance faded from the screen and was immediately replaced by The Third Fleet's logo.

Captain Lawrence sat for some minutes staring at the screen which had now gone blank. A sentence seemed to be burned into her memory... It must be accomplished immediately... it must be accomplished covertly... it must be done successfully... or don't come back! He knew what "or don't come back" meant. The Admiral had used that phrase before... it meant exactly what it said. She hoped to hell this didn't turn into a suicide mission. Pushing back from her desk, Lawrence hit her comm. panel and spoke, "Bridge... Lawrence."

A response came promptly from her First Officer, "Captain... Bridge... Commander Stryker?"

"Commander, Make all preparations for getting underway. Alert Navigation to the Vecca System. Officer's Call in fifteen minutes. We have a new mission!"