Commander Nereda crossed her arms as she watched the helm work out the navigational plot which would take the Pastak to the edge of Federation territory in the very late 24th century near Romulan space. As they smoothly transitioned from warp into impulse she stepped back to the center of the bridge.
“Contact!” the officer at the tactical station, Lieutenant Rikali, reported. The Ferasan officer’s tail swished as her fingers ran over the controls. “Target matches the configuration sent from our local agent, Commander.”
“Beam it aboard, Lieutenant. Standard level-two protocols,” Nereda said, nodding as she resumed her slow circuit around the center of the bridge. She’d always thought best on her feet and had never lost the habit of pacing. “Fidgeting,” Walker called it. Such a strange-sounding human word, she mused.
“Level-two, aye,” Lieutenant Rikali acknowledged.
Nereda glanced over the temporal plot as her pacing took her by the screen, eyes narrowed as new data appeared in their system. They’d figured the Na’kuhl were seeding operatives in the timelines, sometimes centuries before they would be called to act, and so the Pastak had moved to intercept them. The plot shifted and she scowled at the new report.
The bridge entrance opened and Walker strode onto the deck, coffee in hand, a determined look gleaming in his eye. “Nereda, you’re with me,” he said without slowing as he crossed the bridge and disappeared into his ready room.
“Good morning to you too, sir,” Nereda called after him. “Rikali, you have the bridge. I have a meeting… apparently.”
Rikali flashed a sharp grin. “Aye, ma’am. I have the bridge.”
Following Walker into his ready room, Nereda found her captain contemplating a map of the Alpha and Beta quadrants, the various boundaries of key players and powers overlaid one another across time. Walker sipped his coffee and toggled between a few of the display modes with gestures from his free hand.
“The most recent data pickup went well,” Nereda said as she watched the display flicker across the years, “but they keep dropping more agents off. I think they’re on to us, Ben. They’ve been countering our countermeasures. The data we just picked up confirms they’re out-maneuvering us in 24th century Romulan space.” She crossed her arms and leaned a hip against his desk.
“Which could have dire consequences later,” Walker agreed, eyebrows lowered as he considered the map once more. “Thoughts on a counter?”
“Several, but only one or two I know you’ll approve of,” she replied with an arch look. “You walked in here like a man on a mission. What’s going on?” She tapped the fingers of one hand against the opposite arm.
Walker gestured to the display. “I’ve been looking over the battlefield here. We counter them and then chase to the next sighting, stalking their ships and agents.”
Nereda frowned, but nodded.
“I was flipping through the data and then I saw something. What do you make of this?” he said, changing the display further. He looked back at her with one eyebrow raised in a Human gesture she understood to mean he awaited her input.
Slowly walking around the display, she considered the data before her. There were borders marked in bold lines that changed with the years and simplified markers to indicate major worlds and trade routes used in the related time period. Speckled across the stars were marks where the Pastak had moved to counter or intercept the Na’kuhl ships, chasing them across space and time.
Nereda reached out and began to move the timeline forward, watching the blips of data move with the years. “There are clusters of their operatives but… not all are where I would expect them to be. Especially not these early ones,” she finally said.
“And why is that?”
“They aren’t where I would put a temporal agent. If I were going to destroy the Federation, I wouldn’t have dropped someone here, for example,” she said, tapping a finger on one world. “Far better to drop them off in the Tellun system.”
“Have you thought often of how to dismantle the Federation, Commander?” Walker teased.
“Probably once or twice when I was hip deep in the crew’s annual review time,” she replied with faux sweetness. She winked. “But I’m certain I’ve gone back and stopped myself, Captain.”
Walker chuckled and gestured to the map with his coffee mug. “Why go there, and not in Ubreki where they did leave someone in the 25th century?”
“Because of what happened in Tellun. It’s a more vulnerable spot, temporally speaking.” She paused, as her hand coming to a halt as she reconsidered the map.
“They don’t know Federation history as well as we do,” she realized aloud.
Turning back to the captain she said, “While that might give us an advantage, it also means we might be blind to an opportunity an outsider might see.”
Walker nodded, conceding the point. “True, but, the more they learn, the better they have become at targeting these vulnerable spots. Now, view the plot from our relative perspective.”
Nereda frowned at the map and reconfigured it once more. “More close calls and it gets harder to chase-” Her eyes widened as a sudden thought struck. “They’re learning what we already know!” She turned to Walker with a fierce grin. “If we know where they might strike we can get ahead of them!”
Walker nodded and began to move the map. “We’ve been chasing them and reactive. We need to become proactive, and we happen to know our own history a lot better than they do. We know where our vulnerable points are. Here are some I thought of in the 24th century,” he said, pushing annotated locations onto the map, “Here in the 22nd and here in the 23rd.” The points of light lit up the map, depicting important events across space and time, each of which could create a wave that might rip apart the Federation. “These events haven’t been targeted yet.”
Walking a circle around the map, Nereda moved some of the holographic layers away with a few casual flicks of her wrist. Several icons remained. They glowed in a bold, golden color, displaying the registry of a famous - some would say infamous - starship.
Walker let out a breath. “That ship certainly saw its fair share of… everything.”
“Seventeen temporal violations,” Nereda said archly.
“The Kelvans, M5, the Romulans, the Klingons, rapid aging, first contacts, diplomatic conferences-“
“Tribbles,” Nereda added with an arch look.
Walker grimaced at her over his coffee. “Now there’s a disturbing thought.”
Nereda hummed agreement. “But we’re already covering that incident – it’s hardly unsecured, so probably not the best target.” She shook her head and paced to the other side of the map once more. “The conference?” she suggested, tapping a world as she passed.
“Possible. The plague?” He gestured to another location. “Would be easy for that event to be turned somehow.”
“The Na’kuhl wouldn’t be so desperate as to go for the incident with the Kelvans, would they?”
Walker rubbed a hand across his face. “And here I thought this might make our job easier.”
“Getting ahead of them is still a good idea, sir. We’ll just have to evaluate further before we act. With your permission, I’ll get some analysts on it.”
“That would be excellent, Commander. Please keep me posted.”
Nereda nodded. “And I’ll put some people on the others, too.”
Walker frowned. “Others?”
The Cardassian stopped at his door and grinned back at him. “That one isn’t the only ship named ‘Enterprise’, sir.” With that parting shot, Nereda left.
Walker stood and brought several of the map’s layers back, many more icons in many more colors joining the gold ones. He viewed the enormity of the legacy and the places where he could see vulnerability. “No, it wasn’t,” he mused to himself.
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Star Trek Online