A Long Overdue Reunion
A New Age
Location: Office of the Task Force Commanding Officer
Timeline: Mission Day 1 at 0730
It seemed like a lifetime ago that she'd last worked directly with Lauren Archer. Back in those dark day, Allison Reyes was a young Lieutenant working as part of Commander Frank DeVoe's covert intelligence unit, while then-Commodore Archer oversaw their operations as Director of Starfleet Intelligence's Special Operation Bureau. After the war, Reyes had changed course, but she and Archer had crossed paths from time to time, most recently when Archer had replaced her on the Fourth Fleet's Command Council after the end of the Consortium crisis.
"Lauren, it's great to see you again," Admiral Reyes offered, extending her hand as she stepped through the doorway into the office of the Task Force 9 Commanding Officer.
Lauren had always been impressed by Reyes' dedication and skill at the job. The day Allison Reyes had left the Special Operations Bureau was truly one where great talent was lost, but it had never prevented Lauren from keeping up with the young officer's meteoric rise - even exceeding her own at times. "Allison," Lauren replied with a smile. "It truly is great to see you again." She added as she shook Allison's hand: "Albeit a bit out of the way of your usual hunting grounds."
"My usual hunting grounds?" Admiral Reyes chuckled with an amused expression. "Sometimes I and the Office of Personnel Management collectively wonder what exactly my hunting grounds are." Indeed, since Reyes had departed the Special Operations Bureau, she'd ascended through the ranks of Intelligence's Technical Analysis Bureau, then jumped to Starfleet R&D, leadership of the Fourth Fleet, and even, for a while, research groups at the Daystrom Institute. "I do miss it sometimes, the old work we did," Reyes added, recalling that crazy time when she'd participated in covert operations sabotaging Dominion security equipment, raiding Cardassian research facilities, and supporting the Cardassian Liberation Front. "How about you?"
Lauren smiled. "I never really left them, I got this assignment due to the need for an Intelligence-based reform and much of the work here has been in the shadows so far. The Consortium and now this new threat as well, neither really lend themselves to the more cowboy approach our friends in the Beta Quadrant tend to maintain," she replied as she motioned for Reyes to sit in one of the chairs while she herself sat down in the one opposite it to reinforce this was more a meeting of friends than anything else. "That said, I do miss when the authorization for covert mission was tied to less red tape like during the war. You should see the mess I had to go through just to get surveillance in place on the Gamma Quadrant Independence Party."
"Red tape is frustrating, but I understand its place," Admiral Reyes replied as she took a seat. "The things we did during the Dominion War, they were necessary for that dark time, but it's best we don't have cowboys running amok everywhere." Indeed, during her time in leadership of the Fourth Fleet, she'd had to clean up quite a few messes. The tragedy on Algorab had been a particularly complicated one, courtesy of a peace-time intelligence special operations experiment gone awry. While she'd certainly sanctioned a few more intelligence operations over the years, they had to be undertaken delicately. "Those old covert ops though, they do make for great story time though, don't they?"
"Back in the Alpha quadrant you are perfectly correct. Things need structure there. The Gamma Quadrant is however very much a war zone still. We have the Karemma and Dosi actively undermining our security. We have some kind of new threat running organized strikes on our ships and planets. We have outright insurrectionists on our colonies and to top it all the damn press is on our every move. Oh yeah, and then we still get to deal with that damned Consortium. There are moments I wish I could just declare martial law and get some real work done." Lauren replied. "Plus, the stories really are great." she added with a smile.
"Yeah, well I figured, besides catching up on old stories, that it might be good to stop by since I'll be traipsing around in your backyard," Admiral Reyes then offered, getting down to business. "The researchers of the Advanced Science, Technology & Research Activity and the diplomats of the newly-sanctioned Gamma Quadrant Mission-at-Large are en route, and word just reached me last night that we've got our first mission born of the information coming out of the Reliquary."
"Yes, Starfleet Command has made me aware of the deployment of an external force to conduct these operations. I'll be honest with you. I have filed formal protest as I do believe that any Gamma Quadrant operations should fall under the Task Force 9 chain of command and not Starfleet Command. You being in charge however does ease my concerns," Lauren answered.
"I'm not here to step on any toes, Lauren. I promise you everything we do will be carefully coordinated with you and your staff," replied Reyes comfortingly. She could understand Archer's frustrations of having a somewhat autonomous unit operating in her backyard, but Reyes also understood why Starfleet Command had made the decision it had. The Consortium had been a messy situation, and Task Force 9 still had a lot on its plate operationally that didn't line up with the USS Khonsu's intended purpose. "But if it's any comfort, our mandate is to mostly stay way outside of your operational theatre in parts unknown."
"Haven't you read Bernstein's work, Allison?" Lauren replied with a smile. "Apparently the boogeyman is outside our theatre in parts unknown, and we should expand our mandate there," she added jokingly, referring to recent stories pointing to some kind of central group behind the attacks. "But I appreciate that, as long as I get anything you send back to Earth, we'll figure it out."
Reyes laughed. She'd seen the articles. Some real wacky theories out there. But they were right that the attacks didn't fit with any of the usual suspects. "Of course we'll send everything we find your way," replied Reyes. "After all, those desk jockeys back at Starfleet Command probably don't even read half the shit we send them, and will probably never be affected by any of it, while there will come a time someday where some of it might be directly relevant."
Lauren smiled. "Perfect, then that does ease my own concerns as well as those of some of my staff members."