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Remnants of Anchorage, Part II

Posted on Sunday September 18th, 2016 @ 7:50am by Major Zeleny Novacek & Staff Sergeant Nichol Meyers

Mission: Enemies Closer
Location: Marine Country, USS Exclesior
Timeline: MD 2, 2210 Hours

Marine Country, they called it. Two whole decks of the Excelsior, devoted to the smallest portion of the crew, the Starfleet Marines. Barely two full Platoons, not even a proper Company, the Marines aboard Excelsior had ample space. And the regular crew were more than happy to give the marines all that space, even going out of their way to avoid as much contact with them as possible. It's true, idle marines are troublesome, and rarely enjoyed the off-time luxuries afforded the regular crew. By ancient tradition, marines on tour considered themselves at-war, they trained, they drilled, they prepared, for when all other avenues failed to resolve a conflict, the marines were ready to do whatever must be done. Unfortunately, all that preparation takes its toll, especially on lengthy assignments. Each marine blew off steam in his or her own way. Sometimes productively, sometimes less so.

Today was a less-so day for Staff Sergeant Nichol Meyers. He tossed back a shot of synthol. First Platoon had more than its fair share of problems. Everyone in the fleet did these days. Tempers flared up more frequently, heated arguments lead to scuffles, sometimes all out brawls before Nichol could put the platoon back in its place. The incident aboard Diogara Station dramatically punctuated that point. Unit cohesion, Nichol felt, was breaking down. He poured another drink and gulped it down immediately, drawing back a wincing grimace as the synthol burned.

The marines' mess hall had a self-serve bar that saw frequent use from the company, but true alcohol was forbidden. Can't have drunk marines running around the ship. But the synthol was able to take some of the edge off. The effect wouldn't last long, so Nichol kept pouring drink after drink knowing that no solution would come of it. It was a kind of hell.

The company, such as it is, needed strong leadership. Nichol considered himself a firm leader but he wasn't an officer. An officer was as much a symbol as a role model, someone that could be looked up and expected to embody the esprit-de-corps. Marine officers these days were few and far between. Of course it's easy to blame the Borg for that, but undeniably the fault was more domestic than that.

Starfleet brass were extremely short-sighted, when peace breaks out the marines are always the first department to be downsized, and units are rarely granted reinforcements. Such as Excelsior's company. During the Dominion war, this lounge, these decks, were packed full of able bodied and excited marines. Today it was a completely different place from then, nearly a ghost town.

The situation was even worse now that there were no reinforcements at all. Ever.

Disgusted by his yet-again empty glass, Nichol turned the shotglass over and pushed himself away from the bar counter. He caught a glimpse of a starship outside the viewport, its stark duranium-white hull blackened from weapons fire, a gouge stretched across the saucer and over where the bridge used to be, the twisted and broken "bones" of the starship poked out from the wound. A lightshow of sparks followed the gouge as crews cut away the damaged pieces, like a surgeon excising rotting flesh.

Nichol's commbadge chirped. "Makorin to Staff Sergeant Meyers."

"Meyers here," Nichol responded curtly.

"Sir, you've got a priority call."

Nichol straighten himself up and slapped his cheeks to shake off the mild synthol effects. Priority calls to a mere Staff Sergeant not presently under fire was a rarity, and even then never good news. "Run it through the lounge terminal, private."

Nichol stepped in front of the terminal and after a moment's delay the image of a bearded man appeared on the screen. Meyers didn't immediately recognize the man, nor did he recognize his clothing as belong to any branch of Starfleet or Federation authority. And yet, the eyes seemed familiar somehow, hard and cold and yet quietly smoldering with a restrained fury that threatened to explode into an inferno. He'd seen those eyes before.

Nichol's eyes lit up as he finally recognized the man behind the beard. "Ma-

"No names!" The man growled. "This channel may not be secured."

Nichol nodded and did as he was told. Ordered actually. He fought to suppress a grin, and only partly succeeded. "It's good to hear from you." Nichol finally said.

The bearded man merely nodded. He was in civilian clothing after some style Nichol didn't immediately recognize. The background was indistinct and dark, but the man seemed to be aboard a starship of some kind. Not Starfleet, that was for sure.

"I'm sure you have a lot of questions, unfortunately I can't answer any of them at this time for security reasons. I really shouldn't even be contacting you, but I can't get a call through to Starbase 900."

Nichol frowned, the image of Starbase 900's last moments forcing its way into his conscious thought, sickly green borg weapons fire cutting through the station, the explosions, the streaks of burning bits blasted into space by the concussions, the shattered hull aflame and falling from orbit.

"Staff Sergeant, what's wrong?" The bearded man asked, a subtle amount of concern crept into his expression. "What's happened?"

It was all over Nichol's face. He took in a quick breath and hardened his heart as much as he could. "You haven't heard. I," Nichol started and paused. He thought he had this under control, for the past three weeks he had been the rock, why was he having such a time now he wondered. "Three weeks ago, Borg attack. Starbase 900 is gone."

The bearded man's face paled, but his expression remained stolid. "Camelot?" He asked.

Starbase 900's supporting colony had been bombarded from orbit, the intense radiation from the barrage's fallout would ensure that anyone that survived wouldn't live for long. "Gone. The gateway, gone! The Fleet!" Nichol slammed a fist against the wall and his eyes drifted back towards the starship outside the viewport. "What's left is here at Diogara Station. It's bad. We could really use you. In fact, we need you, sir."

The bearded man was silent for a while, probably trying to processes all that information, understand it's ramifications, plan contingencies, that's how his mind worked, Nichol knew. His next words would be calculated, and tailored to inspire Nichol, because that's what a good leader did.

"I'm sorry," the bearded man merely said. It caught Nichol off guard, he never heard this man apologize before. "I'm sorry I wasn't there. I'm sorry you have to carry this burden. Right now, I can't be there for you and the company. The company looks to you to set the example, staff sergeant. What matters is not what has happened, or how awful it was. What's important is what we do now, and how we carry that through going forward. You're a Starfleet Marine, no matter how hard you get knocked down, you will rise up, again, and again."

Nichol smirked. They were simple words. True words he already felt in his heart, already tried to implement, and already reminded himself of day after day. And yet having them said aloud to him made Nichol feel better. He straightened his posture. "Yes, sir! I think I just needed to hear that, sir."

"Good," the bearded man nodded. "I need you to do something for me. I need to get in touch with a SFI officer named Felix Leighter. He was stationed on Starbase 900. Maybe he made it out, maybe not, but if he's still alive I need to speak with him. Find out what you can, and I'll contact you later."

"Why me, sir? The captain could probably get you what you need more easily."

"Right now, the less he knows the better. Besides, from the sound of things, he undoubtedly has his hands full."

"Yes, sir," Nichol confirmed.

"On more thing, this conversation is confidential. It didn't happen. You read me?"

Nichol snapped to attention. "Sir, yes, sir!" He didn't know what was going on, but Nichol had a part to play and he was used to that style of compartmentalization. The bearded man nodded once more and the transmission was cut.

Starship Invidious hung in space adjacent to Deep Space Relay DSR-D647, an automated Starfleet subspace relay, one of a handful established in the Delta Quadrant.

Zeleny Novacek glanced to his right where Shakira Zidal sat at a workstation in the Communications Room a board Invidious. She held a hand against the base of her skull where her dataport implant was, beneath her long black hair. Her eyes were closed, her mind focused on her task.

"I think I got it all," she said and opened her eyes again. She stretched her arms above her head, her body had held a rigid posture for the entirety of her dive. "Excelsior's firewalls were more substantial than I expected, but I managed to slip through. I had to jump through several systems to do it, I'm reasonably sure I was detected, but they're no match for me." She relaxed and tapped a control. "We now have Excelsior's complete star catalog for the Delta Quadrant."

"Anchorage?" Zeleny asked, that was the only set of coordinates he cared about.

"Let's see," she mused as she ran a query through the computer. "Oh yeah, it's about fifteen lightyears from here."

"Good," Zeleny said, his jaw muscles bunched tightly. "Send them to navigation and have Jaxcen get us underway immediately."

Shak watched Zeleny for a moment. Even though she was focused on infiltrating Excelsior's computer systems, she still overheard the comm conversation Zeleny had with Meyers. "If you want to talk--

"I don't." Zeleny growled. He briskly turned on his heel and left the cabin.


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