Past - Part 2 "Guardian Angel" (Flashback)
Episode 4 - Truth, Justice, and the Federation Way
[Previously in Past - Part 1 "Bad Memories"]
. . . . . .
Jackson shrugged nonchalantly. "All I've done is do the job that was put in front of me. I have had successes. I have had missteps. All along the way, I've done my best. At the same time, I've always had a competent group of operators with me, either leading me, or following me. Most of my operational success stems from their dedication and loyalty."
"I think you should give yourself more credit, Captain." said Nola as she picked up one of the last pieces of the shortbread and dipped it into the stew, but before she could continue, they were interrupted by a young Andorian woman in civilian garb.
"I'm so sorry to bother you," she apologized to the two officers. Then turning to the Marine, she asked, somewhat nervously, "Captain Jack Werner?"
Werner looked at the young woman and nodded. "Yes ma'am."
The woman's eyes lit up, but then she quickly reminded herself that Jack Werner might be a common name among humans. "Did you by any chance serve on the Yorktown about eight years ago when the ship responded to a distress call from Ardola, Captain?"
Sitting up a little straighter, Jack nodded again. "Yes, Ma'am, I am. How may I help you?"
"Oh, my," the girl could barely contain her elation. Looking back, she waved excitedly at a younger human girl sitting nervously a few tables away. "Teresa, it's him!"
. . . . . .
::8 Years Ago, Ardola::
The city was a war zone. The once glorious skyscrapers made of shining steel and glass, that inhabited the capital city of Desmondia, located on the northern continent of Ardola. Ardola was the fourth of seven moons, in orbit of Ilicom Prime, which, in turn, was the fourth in a system of ten, which surrounded a blue giant star. Ardola was not currently a member of the United Federation of Planets, however, it was a protectorate, meaning that while the local government would enforce their own laws, on time of crisis, Starfleet could be called upon to lend whatever aid considered adequate.
Contact had been lost with Ardola after a large meteor had struck its southern pole, the impact causing widespread destruction on the medium-sized moon's surface. As Ardola was out in the neutral area of space near the Federation and Tholian borders, it had taken nearly a week for the USS Yorktown to reach orbit. Upon doing so, attempts were made to make contact with the sitting government. After several failed attempts, the captain of the Yorktown decided to send in a small recon unit.
Upon landing the shuttles carrying the recon team down on the surface, Second Lieutenant Jackson Werner, led his Marines (Third Platoon, named Sinful Sappers ) toward where the Federation embassy was supposed to be. Though it had been more than a week since the meteor strike, the atmosphere was still heavily polluted, making beaming impossible. The pollution also severely interfered with communications with the Yorktown, so, Jackson and his Marines were on their own. A communication schedule had been set up, to ensure that reinforcements would be sent, should the recon team get into trouble.
Moving quickly and quietly through the rubble, Jackson and his platoon made decent time in getting to their destination. Unfortunately, the small embassy had been completely destroyed in the calamity. However, after a more thorough search of the grounds, several bodies were found, not killed by the disaster, but by small arms fire. This changed things for Jackson. Clearly, someone was attempting to take advantage of the disaster. He sent a runner back to the shuttles with orders that both should lift off and return to the Yorktown. This was for two reasons. One, to protect them from local attack, and two to inform the captain and bring more Marines down.
An hour later, the platoon came across a small food store that was still standing. Upon entering, they saw tbat most of the shelves had been picked clean. Tbey continued their search of the building, until they happened upon a pair of young girls, trying to fill their small packs with a few canned items. Before Jackson could talk to them, the girls scattered, running and attempting to evade the Marines. Finally, they were cornered. Jacksom stepped forward and both removing his helmet and kneeling, to look less threatening, he spoke. "You're safe, I promise, you have nothing to fear from either me or my Marines. My name's Jackson. What're yours?"
The older of the two girls, an Andorian, shielded the younger human girl behind her. Her antennas twitched as she quietly studied the man before her.
"Talas." the girl finally said, but her voice was so low that it was almost unintelligible.
Just then the pair of doors behind the Marines were broken down and several Ardolan soldiers burst in, their rifles trained on Jackson and his men. As the Marines turned and responded in kind, the girls took the opportunity and scurried off toward the open ventilation shaft a few feet behind them. The younger girl dropped her pack of canned food just as they were about to jump down the shaft. She turned to retrieve it, but was held back by Talas
"Leave it, Sam." Talas shouted and dragged her friend down the shaft with her.
The Ardolans ignored the girls and kept their rifles trained on the Marines.
"Identify yourself." one of them demanded.
The instant the doors burst open, Jackson's squad spun around and trained their weapons on the intruders, but held their fire, awaiting his orders. Each Marine had the ingrained training to stay steady and not become distracted by nerves or doubts. They knew that their actions had consequences, and that they would have to live with those consequences. However, they also knew, in fact, believed beyond all doubt, that Jackson would lead them honest and true.
Jackson grimaced as he bit back the anger he was feeling toward the intruders. Slowly, he stood and turned to face the person who had spoken. "Second Lieutenant Jackson Werner, Starfleet Marine Corps, attached to the starship, USS Yorktown. And you are...?" Though his stance seemed relaxed, he had no doubt that should the need arise, he could draw his phaser and put down the man he was facing before he could react. The group Jackson and his Marines faced stank of very poor training, and even worse discipline.
"Constable Zon, Ardolan Gaurd." said the man, "What is Starfleet doing here?"
Jackson frowned slightly, as he glanced carefully at each of the opposing guardsmen. "How about you and your men lower your weapons? Then my Marines will lower theirs, and we can talk easily?"
Zon considered it for a moment before signaling his men to lower their weapons.
"Again, Lieutenant Jackson, what is Starfleet doing here?" he asked. There was a hint of impatience in his voice.
"Actually, my family name comes second with my species," Jackson responded before continuing. "So, I would be addressed as Lieutenant Werner." His tone was polite, as he knew that not all races identified themselves the same way. "As for your question, Starfleet recieved a distress call from our embassy here, on your world, just prior to the meteor strike. The closest starship, the USS Yorktown, was sent immediatly, to begin the process of aiding in the recovery process of your once beautiful world. More starships are on their way. If you could please escort me and my men to your current leadership, we can begin the recovery process."
Zon sneered. "Your Federation has too many conflicting customs, too many peoples who are nothing alike, Vulcans, Andorians, Humans, Betazoids. It's hard to keep track of who puts what names first. All that confusion sows chaos, and I'd rather you keep all that chaos to yourself and off Ardolan soil. We don't need the Federation, Lieutenant. Ardola can take care of itself." Zon paused as something came through his earpiece. Turning his attention back to the Marine, he said, "You have until sunset to gather your dead and whatever else you need from your embassy and then leave. If our patrol finds you after sunset, you will be treated as hostiles and will be dealt with accordingly." At that, the Ardolan signaled his men to withdraw from the food store.
Jackson bristled slightly at the threat, however, he kept it to himself. Now was not the time to get into a pissing match. After the Ardolans left, he looked at his men. "Mitchelson and G'Noth, go find a perch to give us overwatch from." The sniper team nodded and headed out. They had passed a high rise a few blocks back that would serve their purposes beautifully. Jackson then turned to his communications tech. "Thomson, find out what frequency the Ardolans are using. I want to know what they're saying to each other." The young corporal nodded, then opened up her tactical PADD and began scouring the airwaves, trying to find any signals.
Looking over at the rest of his unit, Jackson issued orders for them to begin a radiating search for their people from the embassy, using the store as the focal point. Once everyone began their jobs, he turned and looked in the direction that the children had fled. The whole situation was putting a bad taste in his mouth. He worried that things were only going to get worse before they got better. If they ever did get better.
Followed by a team of security officers, Commander Teya made her way through the rubble and to the food store where the Marines had set up camp. Once inside the Benzite located the Marine platoon leader in the back room.
"Report, Lieutenant Werner."
Hearing the voice of the ship's Executive Officer, Jackson, who had been leaning over a map of the area, which had been laid out on a table, located in the rear storeroom, stood up straight, spun around, snapped to attention and saluted. "Ma'am!" Once the salute was returned, the Marine informed the Benzite everything that had happened thus far, from running across the terrified children, to facing off with a group of locals. Afterwards, he also informed Get a about how he had distributed his Marines, including the snipers perched up in the nearby high rise. "Thus far, we haven't located any of our people, Ma'am. However, I feel that we are getting close."
Teya nodded as the Marine spoke. Once he was finished, she said, "To be very honest with you, Jackson, I have no idea what's going on. Most of the meteors were supposed to fly pass Ardola with a few possibly burning up in the atmosphere before they ever reached the ground. There was no indication that they would cause so much damage. Otherwise Starfleet would have dispatched a ship to deal with them."
"But more important, judging from the data reported back by all the landings teams, yours included, all of the major points of impact from the meteors are either right on top of our diplomatic compounds or near them. You should have seen what's left of our consulate on the eastern continent, the damage to the embassy here looks like bruises in comparison. It's almost like someone aimed those meteors at them."
"Oh, and did I mention that the Yorktown is facing down five Ardolan vessels in orbit as we speak? No one has fired their phasers yet, but the situation is tense. The El'nar Ascendant and the Bunker Hill are on their way, but they won't arrive till 2030 hours tonight in the earliest. We can take on the Ardolan ships in a firefight, but the captain would rather not resort to that unless it's absolutely necessary. Right now our priority is to retrieve and evacuate as many Federation citizens as possible, and then find out exactly what's going."
Jackson couldn't believe what he was hearing. Somehow, the meteors had been deliberately aimed at the planet?! Why would someone do That? And now the locals were threatening not only the away teams that were on the surface, trying to help, but the ship in orbit as well? The Marine shook his head slowly, feeling a little disgusted by the news.
"Our sensors detected a concentration of life signs in the hills to the north-east of the city, but the interference from the mineral deposit there means we couldn't tell who they were and how many there were. So you will take a small team there and investigate. I'll take the rest of your men back to the embassy and establish a base of operations there. It might be half destroyed, but the embassy is still technically Federation territory. Hopefully that will deter the Ardolans. If not, we will make our stand there. Captain Lans has no intention of leaving Ardola until every Federation citizen has been accounted for and secured."
Gesturing at the few crates her team had brought with them, she said, "I brought you some extra toys in case you need them."
Jackson moved over to the three crates in question and looked inside, smiling slightly as he saw their contents.
[To be continued in Part 3]
Lieutenant Jackson Werner
Marine Command Officer
USS Yorktown NCC-26076
USS Yorktown NCC-26076
Constable Zon Morin
(NPC - Roger/Oliver)