Know Your Enemy...
Episode 1: Hell is a four letter word
Timeline: during return home
Her people had been attacked, a rogue faction had actually had the balls to walk into her back yard and slap her in the face by capturing and torturing two of her best. For those keeping score at home, the Wolf Queen was PISSED, and now more determined than ever to find out who these people were and send them a receipt for their efforts, paying with an interest rate reserved for oil barons of the past. She stood alone in her office, waiting for Gray and Shadow to appear before her, fuming as she planned the agonizing demise of these audacious little shits who dared to flout her in this manner.
"So, what kind of mood do you think Her Majesty's gonna be in, Gray?" Taam Sor'el laughed, it was a question requiring no answer, they both knew she was mad enough to bite through a warp nacelle.
"Really Taam? You know she's mad enough to bite through neutronium and I don't blame her. This took balls."
"Yep." Taam nodded, "Least we made one Hell of a mess, that'll take some of the burn out for her." He knew that to be true, if there was one thing the Queen hated worse than anything it was when someone stole one on them and didn't answer for it, least this time they could report a trail of dead attackers and a destroyed installation to her, "Guess we better ring her up, huh?"
"I think that would be a wise idea Taam. Don't want her getting pissed at us and yes we made one Hell of a mess." Gary replied, he was thinking this took not only balls but logistics as well. Someone knew when they were leaving and where they were going.
At this point Taam could basically read Gary's mind, "Almost like there was someone with information who sold us out, isn't it?"
Gary nodded, "You know me too well. It's exactly like that Taam. Now the question is to find out who it was and settle the score."
"After we make them talk." Taam replied, facing Gary and saying, "I've talked to the Queen. I've turned over control of the line to my VP, I'm getting back in the game. When I leave from here, I'm shipping out as CO of the Atlantis-C, coming right back to this area on a recon mission."
Gary whistled, "The Atlantis? Good for you Taam. You need to be back in the center seat And yes we settle with them after they talk. You.." Gary pointed his finger at Taam. "Don't go taking any risks. we're not sure who we can trust."
"Nobody outside of the pack, like the Queen always says." Taam replied, "Speaking of which, we better dial her up, the longer we keep her waiting, the madder she's going to be."
Gary shook his head, "No, there's a leak somewhere." He sighed "Dial her up. Lets talk."
Taam nodded, dialing the secret comm code that would link them to the Wolf Queen. She appeared between them, holographically, within seconds, "Your Majesty." Taam began.
"Good evening, guys." The Queen sighed, Kerri Tate noticeably absent, "Somebody want to tell me what the Hell just happened?"
"We got our asses handed to us." Gary got straight to the point. "Someone knew about this trip Admiral."
"And it had to be one of our own." Taam added, "There's a Judas right here on Elysium, Admiral."
"That's just wonderful." Zhukov sighed, this was bad enough, worse without Kerri available, "What did you learn?"
"Learn? Gary repeated "The Romulans still want my head or at least the faction that had us does. But we made them pay. We destroyed the installation and killed as many as we could."
"Didn't catch any names did you, boys?" The Ambassador asked, even a minor officer, hell, a gaishan would lead to something, to someone.
"Riov Mishka Valdran. That was the psychotic bitch who had and tortured us." Gary replied. "She's dead next time I see her." He promised.
"Valdran." Zhukov noted the name; it was familiar, but not overly so, ~Damn it all, Kerri would know. I'm going to gut Grogan for this...~ "I'll run the name, get back to you with what turns up. Captain Sor'el, are you ready to assume your new assignment?"
"I am, Admiral." Taam nodded, "Thanks for getting me back in. Not to mention a ship of my own, a ship I'm familiar with."
"Yes, well, I'm putting my forces into the field, spreading a net." She stated, "Giving myself more resources to find this Valdran and whoever's behind her since we know it's not the Romulan government. Now to close it on her, that's the thing."
"We'll catch everyone who had a hand in this Admiral." Gary promised her. "Um, where's Kerri?" He asked not seeing her.
"I guess you haven't heard, why would you have?" Zhukov shook her head sadly, "Her brother broke out, she's taking a few days off, mandatory. I want her to think about things before she does anything rash."
"That killer is out? How the hell did that happen? I thought he was locked up?" Gary questioned.
"He was. Then some damned fool decided we should transfer him to Rura Penthe." Zhukov replied angrily, "He broke out on the way, left three survivors we've been forbidden to speak to and a damn media circus we can't get away from."
"Survivors? From Aubrey Tate?" Taam replied in disbelief, that guy didn't leave survivors, ever, "Something stinks here, Boss."
"Perhaps a connection between him getting out and us being ambushed? The same hand behind it?" Gary questioned.
"Possible." Zhukov mulled it over; whoever did this would no doubt have reaped substantial benefits from keeping her sidelined during this disaster, "And whoever it is likes the idea of him being on the loose. They sent Marisol Lopez here. Four days in the wrong direction at maximum warp. What's more is she knows it."
"Then it wasn't just Gray. Or even the combination of us." Taam said, "Whoever this is is targeting the pack as a whole..."
She'd smelled Grogan from the beginning, but this wasn't his style, he was far to lilylivered to pull something like this just to gain political points, "Then we're back to square one, my prime suspect just got cleared."
"Maybe someone in a high place or close to Grogan." Gary knew of the Admiral's distrust of the man and didn't blame him. He was a sneak and a coward.
"Gray might be on to something, boss." Taam agreed, "Since we all know Grogan doesn't have the balls to do his own dirty work. Or the brains to do it without getting caught."
Zhukov nodded, as usual, her boys had analyzed the situation perfectly, "So it has to be someone with a lot to gain by Grogan's election, someone who can make a puppet of that fool without him knowing."
"Yes." Gary agreed. "The power behind the throne. Someone Grogan already has close ties to. maybe works with."
"Grogan's prideful, so whoever this is is hiding right under his nose." Taam continued, "He truly believes his own bullshit, so the idea that anyone could make him their puppet would burn him alive. Whoever this is, he thinks they're harmless, just a loyal soldier, maybe even a friend."
"Then we find out everything about Grogan's friends." The Queen ordered, ~That shouldn't take long.~
"Sounds like a plan Admiral. This will give us a start on how to proceed."
"Right." She replied, instructing them, "Watch your asses and if it's not one of our own, don't trust them without checking them. Until we know our enemy, we've even got to suspect our friends. I'll let you know anything I find out. Zhukov out." With that, she vanished from their sight, leaving them to carry out her orders and make the enemy pay.
Gary turned to Taam. his right hand outstretched. "be careful out there Taam. Don't trust anyone. Keep your friends close and your enemies closer. If you need me just give me a holler and I'll come running."
"Be careful yourself." Taam replied, "And don't give up on your girl, or any of your people here. You'll find out that anger fades and the loyalty remains. This is temporary, trust me."
"It's not me giving up on them Taam. They gave up on me. They hold me responsible for what happened on that planet. But thanks for the pep talk." Gary told his friend.
"Like I said, only temporary." Taam repeated, he'd been in this situation before in his nearly decade longer life, it was never forever, "You're going to be fine, you just have to get out there and get back into the game. Trust me."
Gary nodded. "Taam you and the Queen and Kerri are about the only people I do trust."
"Then trust me now, stay open to them, things will be fine." Taam said assuredly, though a nagging part in the back of his mind did want to know where the Hell he got off giving relationship advice, especially to a man who had done marriage successfully, "Worst case scenario if it's as bad as you think you can come to be XO on Atlantis."
Gary shook his head. "Thanks Taam but if things go south. I think I'll ask the Queen if I can come back and work for her."
"Like we ever stopped." Taam laughed, the only way one left the service of Her Majesty the Queen was in a flag draped torpedo, "Anyway, I best get a move on. I'm around if you need me, Gray."
"How right you are. Sure thing Taam. Again take care of yourself.." Gary replied to his friend.