Stargazer is ordered to dock in XSB9’s main internal bay. The opening to the bay isn’t much larger than the Amazon herself. On the way in it’s fairly obvious that the main bay has been cleared out to make room. All the normal repairs are occurring in open space around the station. Several Murphs, tugs and tenders are in the area. Travel pods, repair pods and shuttles scurry from ship to ship and ship to station, making repairs and ferrying parts. The only other ship left in the bay is a freighter. The HUF Silverstone, Capt. Heaf Harga’s ship – the gentleman Stargazer rescued a few weeks ago.
Survivors from USS Kurzweil are moved to USS Vision (NCC 1530). The Miranda class commando transport has been redirected to XSB9 to treat the wounded and debrief the survivors – she is loitering in with the Murphs and other ships in the area, her crew is station side. Vision also brought one other gift: Commodore Drake. Drake has come to debrief the Stargazer command crew.
Drake has several messages to deliver. First, he wants to (begrudgingly) congratulate the crew on their endeavors. Second, he wants to convey Admiral Cho’s compliments, Admiral Cho is quite proud of the accomplishments of her experimental crew and relished reading the reports from Capt. Folla on the Harga Affair and the Kurzweil Trap. Third, and most importantly, Admiral Cho has placed the Stargazer and her crew fully under the command of Drake. With this being the case, and with Stargazer being reassigned as an ambassadorial transport, the current crew will be reassigned to other ships and a full and normal crew will be assigned to Stargazer.
Drake dismisses the crew after any questions, reminding them that the officers are to report to the bridge at 700 hours, when they will be introduced to Ambassador Rata. Otherwise, the crew and officers have liberty on the station until assignments have been finalized.
That evening, Spanners invites the bridge officers to a drink at Dock 13. He’d invite DuCane, but he’s currently in surgery aboard Vision. As they are drinking, they are approached by Capt. Harga, who is very happy to see them! He has a PADD awaiting Capt. Folla’s approval. The PADD contains the bill for a new weapon for Stargazer, a large energy weapon to be placed in a ventral turret. The turret currently houses an obsolete sensor array. The OMB is paying for the gun’s transport and installation as a thank you to the valiant crew that freed them from such corruption. Dr. Andrews sends her compliments. She has named the weapon The Harga Cannon. As she predicted, it will have a low rate of fire, but it should be fairly accurate and it will deliver more punch than a salvo of torpedoes.
Capt. Harga introduces the ensigns to Urrok Zor, the bar owner and entertainer. Zor seems somewhat impressed that a crew comprised of ensigns is out this far with full permissions from Starfleet. He remarks on how interesting the last few days have been with not one but two Starfleet crews aboard the station, including a Commodore and now a Ferengi ambassador. Interesting times, indeed. Zor seems very curious about any good gossip the crew might be willing to part with – he promises to return anything good he might hear.
Almost immediately there is a spark between the large, green, chiseled singer and our Ensign Baristani …
At 500 hours the next morning, orders arrive for the officers to be on the Stargazer bridge at 700 hours. They are to appear in their dress uniforms, accent color befitting their branch. Uniforms should be to inspection spec. There is a further standing order that all Stargazer crew will henceforth wear the standard duty uniform for starship officers & crew with accent color befitting their branch. The Ensigns are looking less like an experiment.
700 hours, Stargazer bridge. The crew is assembled awaiting inspection. Before the turbo lift doors even open, a voice is heard screaming: “This Is An OUTRAGE!”
The doors slide open and out steps Drake and Ambassador Gint Rata, they are both quite irritated. The ambassador is dressed in a shiny red robe with enough latinum accents to buy a small moon.
“I will have your stripes,” the Ambassador bellows, “I’ll have your pips and whatever other insignia you wear framed on my office wall! I will have your uniform glued to the front of this ship! And I will have your hide tanned and I will use it as a rug in the pen where my children keep their pets! Do you understand what this ship represents?!”
“I do, but …” sputtered the Commodore.
“But nothing! This ship attacked our ship! Killed the whole crew! This ship has strained relations between our peoples for 20 years! And now you want me to travel in it?”
“Admiral Cho feels that we can turn this symbol of hostility into a symbol of peace.”
“She’s either an idiot or an insane prankster and I don’t appreciate being the butt of her joke, huuu-man!”
The Commodore gestures weakly to the officers “May I introduce you to the current crew of your ship?”
“‘The current crew?’”
“Yes. We are assigning a veteran, experienced crew for this important mission.”
“More experienced, you say? This is the same crew that was involved in that dust up in the Harga system, correct?” The Commodore nods. “They seem experienced to me. Granted I don’t approve of unionization of any sort, but I highly disapprove of getting caught skimming off the top! If you are going to embezzle from the store, make sure they find someone else’s hand in the till – 78th Rule of Acquisition!”
“Never-the-less, these ensigns will be reassigned.”
“I see. Please excuse us, Commodore.” Drake appears stunned. “You heard me – shoo!” When Drake is gone, the Ambassador turns to the officers. “So. What do you think of that guy?”
The ensuing conversation was perfectly professional on the part of the ensigns. The Ambassador sees through most of this, sees the dislike and distrust in their eyes. He also notes that while being professional, the crew is also honest – a trait he appreciates. The Ambassador reveals this is not the first time Drake has bad mouthed the crew and that he doesn’t care for the Commodore or Starfleet in general. The Ambassador further probed the ensigns on their feelings toward Ferengi. Once again, the crew was cool and professional. When done, the Ambassador called for Drake to come escort him.
The next morning, word comes down that the current crew of Stargazer would not be reassigned, they had been specially requested … by the Ambassador.
Rear Admiral Daniel Boyd, Star Fleet Intelligence, approaches Ensign Landon Dorgo while he is on Xendi Starbase 9. He has a proposition. Not an assignment, that would create an evidence chain; a proposition.
The Admiral’s proposal goes something like this: There is a certain amount of chatter that a certain freighter is passing near Xendi Starbase 9 on its way to Ferengi Alliance space. Not much is known about the freighter. But much is rumored. What is known is the name of the freighter; The Kine Uthra Klul. That is all that is sure at this point. Rumors have it that the ship is carrying a large amount of high value goods. A king’s ransom. Some are saying drugs, some say weapons. All say it’s illegal and heading for a Ferengi black market auction.
Admiral Boyd’s proposal is that the crew of the Stargazer find all information possible on the Kine Uthra Klul while remaining covert. Until Starfleet Intelligence has a better picture of what is going on with this freighter, no further action can be taken. In the case the crew is found out, Starfleet will declare the Ensigns went rogue – it would certainly be plausible. Ensign Dorgo is to report his findings to Admiral Boyd directly.
Not long after Ensign Dorgo’s encounter with Rear Admiral Boyd, Dorgo has encounters with both Karn Zax and Drew Tarred. Both mercenaries relate that attempts have been made to hire them for escort duty for a freighter. However, in both cases, the pay was exceptionally low. Coincidence?
After much research, the crew discover that the Kine Uthra Klul is indeed in the area. The ship belongs to the Orion Syndicate and has a long history. It had a rendezvous with a Ferengi Murph. From there it was easy to trace the old freighter’s exhaust trail. In the research, it was revealed that the freighter was heading to Triple Quasar Point. Ensign Baristani was able to find the closest three quasars and run a line from each to a remote star system. The system was merely a star with a large asteroid field, however scans showed a lot of impulse drive activity, including some debris with more clues. While examining the area, a Klingon Bird of Prey, The Arm of Kraytok, decloaked in the field. Apparently, they were hunting for the freighter as well.
Stargazer eventually finds Kine Uthra Klul and forces it out of warp. No sooner does the old hauler drop into normal space than two Klingon Birds of Prey and a Klingon D7 battle cruiser, all from House Duras, decloak and prepare to defend the freighter. In the next moment, four more Birds of Prey, this time from House Kraytok, drop their cloaks in opposition to the first Klingons. Weapons begin firing all around. Stargazer’s first shot is with the Harga cannon, which utterly obliterates the D7. Stargazer, using the freighter as cover, takes more shots at the remaining Klingons, the Klingons also continue to fire on each other. Soon, the numbers on all sides are less. The Bird of Prey Honored Blade of Kraytok takes a great deal of damage and bugs out. Stargazer mops up The Arm of Kraytok as well as the remaining Birds of Prey, leaving only the freighter.
An away team boards the freighter to find thousands of forced sleep tubes. Thousands of slaves are being transported to market – a king’s ransom indeed. Stargazer took the ship in tow and returned to XSB9, where the slaves were processed and freed.