Star Trek Hunter
Episode 19: The Ivonovic Commission
Scene 1: Bird Hunting
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Bird Hunting
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"I'm horrified…" Justice Minerva Irons was in her office. "Some of those…" she rolled her eyes. "Some of those adorable creatures had survived? I just destroyed their planet!" She looked down at her desk, eyes widened slightly. "90 years in Star Fleet - I never destroyed a planet before…" She massaged her neck and grimaced.

"Their species was extinct, your honor," said Ensign Tolon Reeves. "The five gamorlans we saw were clones. Dasare got it from Krull's mind. Apparently the romulans created clones for experimentation from samples the gamorlan had left behind. They failed to get them to reproduce so since their initial specimens had gotten old, they were planning to create more clones for research. It seems Krull beat that much information out of the romulan he was interrogating before we showed up."

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The U.S.S. Hunter was following an extensive search pattern, well out of sensor range from the Gamorlan system, but jumping to direct points between the Gamorlan system and various nearby systems, seeking any evidence of a klingon warp trail. And finding only romulan warp trails. An increasing number of them.

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"I should have anticipated the klingons would be there," Irons said. She grimaced and squeezed the back of her head. "David told me Krull only played at being the big dumb warrior. In David's opinion, Krull was the best covert operative the klingons ever had. Who knows how long Krull was aware that Pomm was running Pivin? I should have caught on sooner. It was no coincidence Krull was in that orion cage. His ship might have been there all the while. It was probably klingon intelligence who tipped us off that Pomm was up for sale at that auction. I wouldn't be surprised if that bird of prey followed Pomm to Cun Ling, followed us from there to Vulcan and then intercepted and decrypted Pivin's signals. And now the klingons have what we were trying to deny to the romulans." Irons grimaced again and massaged her neck.

"Along with one of the romulans' top researchers and Mlady, who is probably the one person who can drag all of that researcher's secrets out of her," observed Lt. Tauk.

At the mention of Mlady's name, Dr. Tali Shae took an audible breath. Her antennae were twitching almost rhythmically.

"I'm more concerned about the klingons having Mlady," said Irons.

"Remember that Pep beamed over to that bird of prey," said Tauk. "A bird of prey usually has a crew of 24. We know they lost Krull. Even if they have another warrior of that quality, with both Pep and Mlady on board, they probably have their hands full."

"You honestly think Pep could overpower an entire klingon crew?" asked Ensign Tolon, only to find everyone looking at him. He raised his eyebrows, shrugged, scratched his moustache. "Okay, yeah, come to think of it, so do I…"

"If David were in control of that bird of prey, he would have found a way to communicate with us," said Irons.

"I have Anana on that," T'Lon replied. "She has the specifications for a G-type bird of prey. Even if Pep can't get control of it, if we get within 1.5 light years of where that bird has been in the past 12 hours, we should be able to trace it."

"That is quite an achievement." Irons observed. "But out here, outside of the Gamorlan system, that is a very tiny needle in an enormous haystack."

"I think we're looking at this the wrong way," said Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth Dolphin. "Thyssi said that bird of prey was de-cloaking and re-cloaking and the klingons were having trouble controlling its flight path. It sounds to me like that ship had problems before Pep beamed himself over to it. Pep may well have gotten control over it, but if it was badly damaged, he might not have been able to get very far. He would look for the nearest breathable atmosphere."

"That would be a problem," said 2nd Lt. T'Lon. "After we destroyed Gamorlan, there was no breathable atmosphere anywhere within 100 light years. So if that bird of prey was so badly damaged, he wouldn't have had many options."

"Not necessarily true," Dolphin replied. "Let's do a thought experiment. Damaged bird of prey but let's assume they got that cloaking device working. Thyssi said the bird disappeared just after Pep beamed over and it hasn't been seen since. So Pep and Mlady have to overcome about 30 klingons. Even assuming everything goes their way, that's going to take at least 30 minutes. We would have left the star system well before then. So there was only one source of breathable atmosphere within 100 light years for a broken down bird of prey…"

Irons, Tauk, Tolon and T'Lon looked at one another and said it together:

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"The Fero!"

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Dolphin nodded. "As much damage as that romulan battlegod took, Pep could have landed inside it. They could have flown right into that damaged wing section - from the telemetry we collected there must have been nearly 50 compartments open to space that were easily big enough to park a bird of prey in. If the cloaking device was still working, it could sit right there - the romulans could be standing right next to that klingon ship and look right through it. They wouldn't know it was there unless they bumped into it."

"Then what?" asked Tauk.

"Get whatever they need to fix a broken down klingon ship and get out before the romulans find them," Dolphin replied. "That would include atmosphere, maybe food, water, tools, replacement parts, fuel… If it were me, I would sit tight, make sure I have a thorough shopping list, clearly identify where to find everything that I need, make sure the transporters are working and beam the whole lot into cargo in one go - hopefully timing it so that as soon as I hop off of the Fero, we're close to something big that I can hide on - asteroid, moon, dust cloud, junk yard…"

"Okay," said Tolon, "You just jumped up a few rungs on my list of whom I would prefer to be stuck on a derelict bird of prey with."

"And up a rung on my list of people I want hunting a derelict bird of prey," said Irons. "So instead of trying to track a klingon bird of prey, you think we should take this, the smallest of federation ships, with phaser cannons that couldn't even tickle a romulan warbird, much less a battlegod, fresh out of photon torpedoes, weeks out of starbase, running low on fuel and supplies, with the entire Romulan Star Empire between us and the federation and the gamma radiation laced Dead Zone at our backs and go hunting a wounded romulan battlegod?"

"Well, when you put it that way…" Dolphin raised his eyebrows.

"So where do we start?" asked Irons, massaging her neck again.

"Where is the nearest repair shop for a wounded romulan battlegod?" Dolphin asked.

Tauk answered. "Saketh. 270 light years away. Food, natural resources, atmosphere, water and most importantly…"

"A highly educated, spacefaring slave labor force," Tolon finished.

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"Well, that was an enlightening discussion," Irons remarked. "I actually need some time to think about this. Now, I need a moment with Tali and Kenneth…"

Lt. Tauk stood up. "Okay, if you have less than three pips on your collar, get out," he said and promptly left. Ensign Tolon and 2nd Lt. T'Lon both smiled as they followed their department director out of the captain's office.

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"Tali," said Irons, "Sam's going to have to do your job for a while. I am temporarily assigning you as Executive Officer until we get David back. Kenneth, until Mlady returns, I am temporarily assigning you as Chief of Operations. Gaia will need to run the Flight Operations Department for you. Treat them as David and Mlady treated you – supervise, don't micro-manage. You will find there is a lot more to do than you realize."

"Minerva…" Tali started.

"I mean it, Tali. Your office is now Sam's office. Your cot is now Sam's cot. Until David returns, you are sleeping in his stateroom. It doubles as an office. Kenneth – you will move out of the Directors Lounge and into the 2nd Officer's stateroom. It also doubles as an office. You will need to turn your office in the shuttlebay over to Gaia."

"And replicate appropriate uniforms for yourselves," Irons continued. "I want to see red piping around those cuffs and collars, not blue or gold."

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