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Military Demarcation Line: Border of Republic of Cardassia/Cardassian State

Stardate: 54525.6

The doors to the Pershing's wardroom parted and a harried looking Annabeth entered. Daredevil was about to call the room to attention, but the captain silently motioned for everyone to stay seated. Annabeth walked over and took a seat at the head of the table. The rest of the senior staff shifted in their chairs and waited for the verdict from Starfleet Command.

"So what's the damage?" Katie said nervously putting everyone else's thoughts into words.

"Effective immediately, all Federation starships operating in Republic of Cardassia space are now limited to Sectors 2340 through 2355," Annabeth said rubbing her eyes. "We are not allowed to approach within one light year of Cardassia Prime without Republican Guard or Klingon Defense Force escort and we cannot action against any non-Federation flagged vessel without express written permission of the Republic of Cardassia Liason Officer with Assistance Force Joint Command…"

Scharr's antennae flipped backward.

"So, why the hell are we still here? The Andorian said annoyed. "It sounds like we can't leave the immediate vicinity of the MDL anyways with those sector restrictions?"

"Admiral Murphy told me that both Starfleet Command and President Bacco don't want us to just turn tail and run," Annabeth explained. "It would look we were simply abandoning Cardassia…"

"Aren't we thought?" Daredevil asked. "Whether it's a year from now or tomorrow morning, that's exactly how this feels."

"How we feel is irrelevant, Dee," Phil said. "We just do what we're told."

"That's right," Annabeth agreed. "However, the second and more important reason we can't just head back to the Fed is the chaos it would cause in the security plan. We provide almost half the ships guarding the MDL against invasion. If those disappear, who knows what the Romulus Pact will do?"

"Logically, they would immediately attack," T'les said plainly. "It is the only course of action that makes sense for them."

"Are we so sure about that?" Katan asked. "Maybe President Bacco is right. Maybe if we pull out of Cardassia we actually can negotiate a real peace with the Romulans."

"It's true," Adamson said. "We haven't actually had a war with them in over 200 years. If we can convince them just to move back behind the Neutral Zone like things were before…"

"I think that cat is out of the bag," Katie said shaking her head. "Romulans prey on weakness and indecisiveness. All the intel we get indicates that they'll push the Cardassian State to fight."

"It doesn't matter," Annabeth said holding up a hand. "The Romulus Pact will do whatever it's going to do. They may attack tomorrow. They may agree to sue for peace. They're in a tough state as well. They still have an energy crisis, a slave revolt, and a failing economy to deal with. All we can do right now is follow our orders." She turned to Phil. "Set course 348 Mark 079. Admiral Murphy has ordered us to the Raxos Nebula for the time being. In a few days, we'll get a new patrol schedule which we will carry out to the best of our ability."

"Aye Ma'am," Phil acknowledged.

"Number One," Annabeth said turning to Daredevil. "I want a plan for random alert drills on my desk by 1800 tonight. I want this crew prepared for whatever happens and not getting complacent with thoughts of going home early."

"Yes Captain," the Trill replied.

"Just because the XO is spear-heading this, don't wait for her to come to you with a plan," Annabeth said looking down the length of the table. "You're in charge of your individual sections. Check, re-check, and double-check them. One of a million things could happen in the next week. However, one will not be the USS Pershing being caught with its britches down. We will be ready no matter what. Am I understood?"

"Yes Captain!" her officers replied in unison.

"Good," Annabeth said. "You all have been outstanding. I'm proud to serve with each and every one of you. We're going to do more than just survive this. We're going to set the standard for the rest of the fleet."

"Hooyah," the staff replied.

"Alright, Ladies and Gents," Annabeth rose to her feet. The other immediately jumped up as well. "Let's get it done. Dismissed."


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