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The Gray Area

Posted on Fri Aug 9th, 2019 @ 6:02am by Makeba Brown & Ensign Hoa Nhi Nguyen & Captain Ir'dama
Edited on on Mon Aug 12th, 2019 @ 1:31am

Mission: Episode 7 - Home Again
Location: Vulcan Restaurant - Lower Promenade Deck 6 Central Core - Empok Nor
Timeline: MD007 1100 hrs

The last week had been interesting to say the least. Makeba Brown spent the beginning of the week rotting in her cell in the Brig of the Pioneer. There she sat staring at the wall, with the only company being the crewman who brought her meals. On day three it seemed that either the Captain or Commander O Flannagain had a heart, and allowed Makeba to leave the brig for her quarters. I didn't want these quarters, and now I can't wait to get to them. That brig was driving me crazy. I frakking hate that Commander and how smug he is when he is right. Makeba thought as she was escorted to her quarters.

It is now day seven and she had not had any visitors, but she kept busy with various entertainment that the computer offered. The sound of the door chime startled her. "Come on in... But be careful I am a very dangerous criminal." She said, her voice dripped of sarcasm.

Nhi stepped in to the room. "That is probably why they send me. Hello, I am Ensign Hoa Nhi Nguyen, I will be your escort of the day." Smiling she held out a hand to the woman.

"Makeba Brown, however, your XO thinks that is my stage name. You can call me Keebs if you wish, most people do." She said while taking the hand. "Well Ensign I am sure you have been briefed on how very dangerous I am. But they are trying to kill me with kindness. So I think we should get to it, and perhaps get to know each other along the way. After all we are going to have a day out together. Let's start with how the hell to I blow this pop stand." Makeba felt that pleasantries would at least get the Ensign's guard down. Once her guard was down, Keebs would knock her out and escape. She was done with O Flannagain, Malbrooke and their games.

Nhi shrugged, "I haven't met the XO yet, but since we are on shore leave, that would explain that. And I would love to get to know you better, sure. But, yes, I did read your personnel record. You have been quite the busy bee, ma'am Keebs, if I can say that." She then went right to business. "Today I will take you to Empok Nor. Is there something particular you like to visit while we're there?"

"Drop the ma'am I left the pips on the desk when I joined the Maquis. I would kill for a nice bowl of plomek soup. I used to know this Vulcan back in the Badlands he would make a soup that would curl your toes..." Makeba's voice trailed off as an idea occurred to her. "...Say I don't want to call you Ensign all god damned day. So what is it that your friends call you?"

"My friends call me Nhi, at the academy they called me Nicky, it's just what you find easy. I can understand the pronunciation of my name may be hard," Nhi replied.

"All right Nhi... lead on get me off this thing and to a nice Vulcan restaurant. Plomek soup here we come." Makeba replied with a smile.

Nhi didn't object and reached out her arm indicating Makeba should go first. She wasn't born yesterday. Even though she looked gullible.

They made their way to the station and made their way to the indicated restaurant. "Is this what you were looking for, Keebs?" She asked as they arrived.

Ir'dama noted more arrivals to the cafe as a matter of course, then was perfectly prepared to ignore them, like the rest. This pair, however was odder than was the norm of Empok Nor and she took a moment to look them over. A young. Perhaps very young Ensign. Human by the looks of her, likely with a security detachment was accompanying a face that looked vaguely familiar.

The captain didn't know the dark skinned female...probably human, but she'd seen a holo of her recently. The fact that she couldn't remember right off bothered her and she sat her tea mug down while she worked through it.

After a moment, she remembered. It had been part of Lieutenant Tremble's reports off the Pioneer. The dark skinned woman, her name was Brown, had been a Maquis.

Now Ir'dama was interested and she kept her eyes on the two, picking up her mug again.

Makeba inhaled deeply through her nose the smell of Plomek soup and other Vulcan delicacies filled her nostrils. She had not eaten real food of any kind in some time. She ordered a platter of Farr-kahli and Plomek soup. "Well Nhi your turn, I can't wait to sit and eat this." She said as she scanned the cafe looking for a table and found none.

As Nhi was getting her food Makeba spotted a table with a single Vulcan female in a Marine uniform. She made her way over to the table and noticed the rank on the collar immediately. "Captain do you mind if me and my friend join you." Keebs thought it best to not reveal that her friend was there to make sure that she did not step out of line.

Ir'dama was a bit surprised to see them approach her table, but nodded graciously. "Of course. Please find seats. I am Ir'dama and it seems you enjoy Vulcan cuisine?" She asked as the two females joined her table.

Makeba sat down "I am Makeba Brown and this is my shadow Ensign Nguyen. I love Vulcan cuisine, there is a flavor to the vegetables that just about no one else can match. An old friend introduced me to to it many years ago." Makeba stared off for a brief moment. Her mind flooded with memories of Svrock and their time in the Maquis. She smiled in an attempt to cover up the pause. "It is nice to see that Starfleet sent some Marines over to class up the joint." She said and then took a spoonful of the soup. Makeba savored that first spoonful it was just delicious, her eyes closed as it slid down warming her to the core.

Ir'dama's eyebrow went up and she had an amused look on her face as she commented. "I do not think the Cardassians, nor the majority of civilian traffic think we are, classing up the joint, as you say. It is much easier to be blinded to the wall you're about to slam into if there isn't someone there yelling, Look out."

Her features returned to impassive as she said, "According to my father, the key to getting the flavor correct is the optimal use of heat, spicing and concentration. But then, he says the same thing with a variant to the spices about most things." She smiled again at the thought of her father and said as she turned to the Ensign, "And no need to try and resemble that shadow, Ms. Nguyn. Have you ever sampled Vulcan fare?"

She looked to the soup in front of her and she nodded. "I have, at the academy, once. I didn't care much for it, but as a human of Asian descent, my taste buts are used to a different pallet I think. But it's not bad," She explained.

"That is a thing that can take time to do. Appreciate other foods that can vary so different to what one is used to." Glancing at Makeba, A'dama continued, "It can take time for things to become palatable."

Makeba was unsure if it was the food or the conversation, but she could swear that this Vulcan was showing emotion and even smiling. That too reminded her of Svrock, he had shunned the typical Vulcan way of suppressing emotions. It was Makeba's turn to raise an eyebrow. She new that most times when a Vulcan spoke there was a hidden meaning. "Indeed it can take years for anything to become palatable. So what brings an entire battalion of Marines out this far?"

A'dama tilted her head and told Makeba. "The Federations' desire to make peace palatable and dependable in this region. Trouble may come, but The Brigade will unsure those who do ultimately regret it. The cycle must be broken or this area will never be safe. The Cardassians are trying to change, despite themselves. We are here to show the Federation's faith that that can happen."

Then the Vulcan quirked a smile, "Or as the General puts it, a big enough guard dog will make anyone think twice."

The idea that a few Marines would drive the Maquis away left a horrible taste in Makeba's mouth and she could not hold herself back after spooning some soup into her mouth. "With all due respect if you think some brainless, phaser fodder in green is going to scare off the Maquis you are insane. The Maquis will not stop until they have their colonies back in their hands. Starfleet can send it's guard dogs all it wants..." Her ire was up.

"Brainless phaser fodder, we may be," Ir'dama said, staring at the human, "But we always accomplish the goals set to us. And we have less gray, moral ground then do so called freedom fighters. For instance, now the Maquis are working with the Cardassians to overthrow the rightful government. A government who might be more willing to negotiate than previous administrations."

She paused then, debating and said, "And, it is very hard to see why your fellow Maquis would follow Admiral Leyton and his brand of right is beyond me. Or do you buy into his thinking, Brown?"

Nhi was just eating her soup as she was listening to the other two women talking. She didn't feel like she had anything useful to add in this matter.

Makeba ate her soup, a little forcefully she had to take the anger out somewhere. But at the mention of working with the Cardassians, and Leyton Makeba dropped her spoon forcefully into the bowl, a resounding clang was heard as the spoon and bowl collided. "My brothers and sisters would never, work with those spoon-headed killers. And as for Leyton, he is a war criminal that last I heard was doing time in New Zealand. I think you need to check your information again. What proof do you have to back this up?" She spoke through gritted teeth.

Keebs turned to her guard a woman she thought she developed a repertoire with for support. "Come on Ensign surely you don't believe this???"

Nhi took another sip from her soup and thought about that a moment. And then shrugged. "Well, to be fully honest, I have read a lot of reports. I am not on the ups and about. And I do believe the captain is more in the know than I am. So yes, I do believe her."

Ir'dama didn't take her eyes off Makeba. "He is no longer on Earth and his whereabouts aren't currently known, but he's been sighted a few places. Namely the outskirts of Orion space and the same ships are reported to be in Breen controlled space. Or last seen there. His actions are, we believe, responsible for the Pioneer's shields failing so miserably during their encounter over Cardassia Prime. Only certain individuals would know her harmonics and still have reach enough ... contacts enough, apparently, to be a threat."

"The Federation can't allow that. And you shouldn't want that either, Brown."

Makeba's leg started to bounce and the spoon tapped in the bowl of soup. Both were things she did when deep in thought or in doubt. "The last time Leyton showed his face he wanted an all out war. He wanted to prove that the Federation was mighty and not just a group of explorers. None of what he stood for is anything like what the New Maquis wants. Tell me in your hypothetical world where all of this is happening. Why would any Maquis follow him?" Her voice was quieter and not as confrontational. These two were on the right track but Makeba was not ready to declare defeat yet.

Ir'dama gestured around them and said quietly, "Intel suggests somewhere maybe here. And Soon. Pitting the Cardassians against themselves...where the Federation has dedicated considerable resources to helping the recognized government keep power and stabilize the region. We've had Federation ships taken and used to make attacks on the Cardassian home word along side Maquis fighters. And those were fighting in collusion with members and assets from Obsidian order remnants. We may not know where they'll strike next, but odds are they'll be fairly spectacular and we'll be pressed to stop them."

She looked directly into Makeba's eyes then, "We could use your help. The Maquis you knew aren't the ones working with the Obsidian order and Leyton."

"The Order... What do you or anyone know about the Order? The Obsidian Order died with the old Cardassia. That is all except that Starfleet Captain. Even if and I mean a big IF they were back, there would be no way any Maquis would side with the Obsidian Order. I mean this was the organization that simply committed genocide the last time the Maquis were around." Makeba replied there was a lot of doubt in her voice, however the tone of her voice had calmed as what she was being told was making sense.

Ir'damas lips quirked. "The Order is dead? Tell that to Lieutenant Tremble, who spent a cheerful hour or two with a nasty customer, we've identified by the name of Razuul who is linked with one Gul Prenar. Perhaps you recognized that name? That was when the Pioneer engaged Maquis forces around Cardassia Prime and telemetry shows several beings, likely old guard Order members, beamed onto those ships before they disengaged and left."

She saw the doubt in Brown's eyes and continued her quiet, even, but relentless driving home of the point, much as she'd seen Sobel do several times. "It's not so large a leap of logic to decide that the Obsidian Order members would do anything to regain power for themselves and that Maquis members, perhaps misguided or duped by Leyton, might throw in their lot together."

"After all, if it involves killing Cardassians, the old saying can apply: The Enemy of my Enemy, is my friend. But then, there's always a justification, isn't there?"

Ir'dama was Vulcan. She was young and obviously had embraced the FMC's officer corp lifestyle rather than the stoicism of her heritage. Her last words were said with a faint tone of contempt.

Makeba shifted her eyes from Nhi to Ir'dama. She realized she was stuck between two bookends. The Ensign was young, fresh faced and ready to change the galaxy. The Captain was tempered with experience, jaded by the times. Was Makeba closer to the Captain than she originally thought? "You know that even if you are right, once Leyton is put down the New Maquis will still be there to demand their lands. But the question is if you are right how do we unravel this whole thing?" The Obsidian Order would explain everything that Makeba had heard about people being brainwashed etc...

"We? Ir'dama queried, then said, "Thats a good start, Makeba. We've already started. What are you going to do? Reports are you have been offered a chance to help...I believe you were offered a posting on the Pioneer?" She made a wry face, "And you can speak to Mr. Tremble..he fell into the hands of the order on Cardassia Prime. Perhaps he'd have further insight after speaking to you."

That was what Quinn was offering wasn't it, a position, a return to the fleet. But he was a pompous ass, but she had dealt with his kind in the past. "With all due respect Captain I am a wanted felon by both Starfleet and the Federation. They would be quicker to lock me up than reinstate my commission. Despite what Commander O Flannagain and Captain Malbroooke would have anyone believe."

Ir'dama's eyebrow rose as Brown spoke. Then she asked, "What if their deal was endorsed by General Sobel?"

Makeba was just about to walk away with Nhi. But the that question caused her to stop dead in her tracks. That might do it but the question was would she take the job. She could picture O Flannagain's smug face now. "A General, a Captain, and a Commander that should get some people to look the other way. But the three of them would have to have some very powerful friends. Also, the job would have to be something worth sinking my teeth into..." Her voice trailed off as she looked at Nguyen. "What do you think Shadow?" She said with a smile.

Nhi shrugged. "I would take it. I wouldn't believe a General and a Captain wouldn't get this far without friends. I don't know the commander that well. And seeing what is going on here lately it at least worth the think over."

A Joint Post By

Makeba Brown
Maquis Tactical Officer

Captain Ir'Dama
Aide De Camp, 258th Starfleet Marine Expeditionary Brigade
Empok Nor

Ensign Hoa Nhi Nguyen
Security Officer, USS Pioneer


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