The early morning ground slowly to the briefing hour. Uhura finished her preparations and the designated crew members began to assemble for the meeting. The room began to buzz with conversation, activity and excitement.
Admiral Nogura arrived accompanied by the man from Parks and Recreation. The last one to arrive was Dizchard, Exalted of Orion. He came in aloof and silent and gave a hostile glance at the assembled crew and sat without a greeting or word to anyone.
Jim eyed Dizchard speculatively, but he also chose not to speak to the Orion. Two can play that game, he thought grimly. He stood at the front of the room to begin the briefing. "Thank you all for being so prompt. We'll begin by bringing everyone up to date on the current status off the hostage crisis. Admiral Nogura?"
As the Admiral brought everyone up to date on the last couple of days, Jim's eyes contemplated the Orion. He could see Dizchard's shocked face at the amount of information his command crew had gathered; that in fact, everything that Dizchard had kept from them was known to them and that Nogura was unfolding it all before his eyes.
To Jim, Dizchard looked deeply shocked and the captain was gratified to discover that they had shaken the Ambassador.
Nogura finished and Jim stood to introduce the Parks and Recreation director.
"This is Mr. Alli Rashid, director of Alcatraz Park, he will give us all the information about the layout of Alcatraz," he explained. "Hard copies of the Alcatraz map for everyone, please Uhura. Mr. Rashid, thank you for coming; we appreciate your coöperation."
"Captain Kirk, I'm happy to help in any way I can." Mr. Rashid looked deeply troubled. He was a slight thin man, obviously nervous about his role in the proceedings, but also obviously willing to do his part to help.
"Holo on, please," he said to Uhura, and smiled a shy thanks to her. The hologram image of Alcatraz Island appeared in the center of the room. "As you can see," said Mr. Rashid, "Alcatraz Park is located just inside the Golden Gate. It's 22 acres of mostly solid rock, and was indeed called The Rock, when it was a prison. The coördinates are in your hard copies as well.
37°49′36″N 122°25′24″W / 37.82667°N 122.423333°W / 37.82667; -122.423333:
It has a varied and rich history which I will not trouble you with now. The only original building still standing is the 214 foot light house built in 1934 old calendar. It's closed to the public because of its extreme age and the fragility of its structure. The Park itself is composed of three buildings constructed in a U shape, plus a play ground area, walks, gardens, and a large parking lot. The main offices are located in the horizontal part of the U, which faces the southern part of the Island. The buildings were constructed of thermo-concrete with a façade of antique stone. The stone is quite old, salvaged about 150 years ago when the old prison ruins were leveled to build the Park. The Park is closed to visitors this year, it's being completely renovated to celebrate its sesquicentennial at the end of next year. It is a very extensive project, plumbing, electricity, flooring, windows, doors, paint; all will be replaced or restored."
Sarek spoke, "How is it then sir that the Orions are on the premises?"
Mr. Rashid looked uncomfortable as he answered. "Well, sir, what happened is this: phase I reconstruction is complete, that is the playground area, the walks, the garden, the parking lot and grounds. However, phase II is waiting for the architect who is presently on Luna on a project. The men you tell me are Orions, are known to me as representatives of a company that produces docu-dramas, Galaxy Films, Inc. They asked for, and obtained permission to film the history of Alcatraz Island, (so I thought), from its beginnings as a prison to the present day children's park. They went through all the proper channels and obtained all the necessary permits to occupy the offices and film for ten days. It grieves me deeply that our lovely children's park is being used for what you have described to me, and that I was, in a way, responsible for aiding in this horror." And indeed, Mr. Rashid looked so distressed that Dr. McCoy and others hastened to reassure him that the fault was not his.
"Please continue, Mr. Rashid," said Sarek patiently.
"Yes, of course, sir, your pardon. To continue: the buildings are all three stories high and there is a partially buried basement level. They could not dig too deep because of the bed rock. Each building is rather utilitarian, they are all constructed the same, with high ceilings and exterior doors at the entrances and exits, very high narrow windows and interior doors leading to the main hall; in fact, though it pains me to say this, the facilities are perfectly suited to hold and hide the kidnapping victims. Please look at your maps for details of the interiors of the building and the rooms in relation to the grounds. I have also given you blueprints. These are self-explanatory, I believe." He turned to Jim. "Captain, I believe that concludes my part of the presentation and I will try to answer any questions you may have." Mr. Rashid sat down wiping his forehead with clear relief that his part of the briefing was over.
"Thank you, Mr. Rashid. That was very comprehensive. Any questions? No, then let's continue. Look at your maps and the hologram and Mr. Scott will pin point the location of our people. Mr. Scott?"
"Aye, Captain. We now have the exact location of our people and the transporter coördinates also. If you will look at your map you will see that they are being held on the west side of the U, at the lower end where it meets the horizontal portion." He nodded to Uhura. "Enlarge it please, lass." The projection grew, and Scotty pointed with his stylus. "Here 'tis the exact room where they are. I need the blueprints now, lass." The hologram changed to show the interior blueprints of the building. "Look at your blueprints. You can see in that corner there are two main rooms and a small bathroom, probably these were used as offices at one time," he looked at Mr. Rashid who nodded. "This is where the hostages are being held. My scanners show the rooms are shielded, though the shields dropped periodically for very brief periods, probably for beaming in meals and such. The captain and I agree that we kenna' take a chance on beaming them out during such a brief period, t'would be verrry dangerous." Scotty looked at Kyle who nodded in agreement and who stood up to continue.
Kyle's British accent sounded more pronounced than usual. "We will have to destroy the shields to beam out the hostage in complete safety. We can't take a chance that the shields could come back up as they are transported out. You all know how dangerous that would be." Their faced showed that they remembered every horror sorry about transporter accidents that they had very heard.
"Beaming out will only take place after I receive the signal that the shielding device is destroyed. The hostages will then be beamed up directly to the Enterprise where Dr. M'Benga and Nurse Chapel will be waiting for them. Hopefully there won't be a need for their services, but you never know," added Kyle somberly as he sat down.
Captain Kirk stood. "Ambassador Sarek already briefed you on the Council voting procedures yesterday. He also explained that the Orions will let him to speak to Spock and Amanda for a few minutes. After we talk to Amanda and Spock, the Ambassador will have to go directly to the Council chambers for preliminary meetings."
Jim turned to Janice Rand, "Yeoman Rand, you will go with the Ambassador to the Council floor. We'll keep in contact with you via communicator. You'll brief the Ambassador on the rescue operations and report to him immediately when the hostages are free."
"The team will consist of the following: Commander Scott, Lieutenant Sulu, Ensign Chekov, Lieutenant Riley, Ensign Bridges, Dr. McCoy, and myself. Admiral Nogura will be on stand by with backup from Star Fleet Security if needed. However, if possible, we want to avoid using outside people to preserve secrecy about the kidnapping. Lieutenant Kyle will man the transporter; Lieutenant Uhura will be at communications, Nurse Chapel and Dr. M'Benga on medical detail, and Yeoman Rand on the council floor with the Ambassador and Dizchard."
At the sound of his name, the Orion looked momentarily startled. He had been totally ignored until that mention so he had remained silent throughout the entire briefing. Not one of the crew had addressed him or even acknowledged him in any way.
"Just what is my function at these proceedings, Captain," he asked coldly.
"You'll know soon enough, Dizchard." Jim went on, "everyone has their assignments for tomorrow. The rescue team will beam into the Park area, proceed to the Orion headquarters, surprise and subdue them, destroy the shields, report to Kyle, and he will beam them out to the ship. We will take the Orions into custody until Star Fleet takes over."
"If that's all there is to it," McCoy said sarcastically, "it shouldn't take long at all."
"That's the idea, Bones," said Jim deadpan, "it shouldn't take more than a few minutes." He turned to Sulu who had been unusually silent, "Lieutenant Sulu will show us the site he has selected as the best for us to beam into without being seen."
Sulu stood and looked at his friends. He saw that all of them looked as eager and anxious to get on with the rescue mission as he did.
"After many recon passes over the Park, and after surveying the traffic patterns around it, Riley and I think we can beam in with no problem. There has even been enough activity around the Park air space for us to go in with shuttles, but transporting in will be quicker and quieter." He turned to Uhura. "Map on please, Nyota." Sulu pointed to the hologram display with his stylus. "We will beam in here, directly outside the exterior southern door of the west wing. During recon, I've only been able to spot one guard and he patrols sporadically. I'll take care of him," he grinned. "The door will, of course, be locked, but Mr. Rashid has provided us with the access code to open it."
"Nyota, I need the blueprints now." The display changed to show the blueprint diagrams of the Park buildings. "Mr. Scott has pinpointed the exact location of the Orion's headquarters." He pointed. "Here are the two rooms upstairs that seem to house the equipment and where most of the warriors seem to assemble. We will beam in, go upstairs, and hopefully find the Orions fully engrossed with watching the Council telecast. Complete surprise is our best weapon. Mr. Scott's primary task is to disable the equipment and then signal Kyle to beam out the hostages. The rest of us will have our hands full…of Orion warriors."
"Remember they'll all be armed to the teeth, I don't want to spend the rest of my leave patching you people up," grumbled McCoy.
"Don't worry, doctor, I for one, don't want to see the inside of your sick bay either," said Riley.
Jim went on, "Admiral Nogura will be at Fleet headquarters quietly disclosing the fact to Admirals Castillo and Tao that we are totally demoralized by the kidnapping and that Sarek's vote will be against admission. The I.A. clerk will dutifully report this to Retz and we hope that will lull any suspicions he might have."
"Medical has a few things to add. Nurse Chapel?"
Christine Chapel looked at her friends soberly. Since the kidnapping her concern for Mr. Spock's safety had been paramount. Her worry notwithstanding, she had continued to do her job with her usual efficiency and serenity. Now, she was concerned for her crew mates and she looked at them with worry in her blue eyes. "I would like to remind you of what I said yesterday. Orion disrupters are set on Kill. Also they have those knives that can be thrown as well as used in hand to hand combat. They are exceptionally well-trained and tough and their weapons are used to kill and not injure. Be very sure that you stun, kill, and disarm every warrior."
Dizchard shifted uneasily in his chair and spoke for the first time. "Captain, the Orion code, like the Draconian, is written in blood. Retz' group has sworn to die rather than join the Federation. You must be ready to kill if necessary."
"Exalted, we are ready to fight and if necessary to kill, but we hope it won't come to that. However, my people are also exceptionally well-trained and will do what they must."
"They will need all of their skills with the warriors. Orions have always known the faces of death and war, Captain. They are not familiar with the faces of restraint and compassion. It is my hope, Kirk, that once we are part of the Federation, this will change." Dizchard's bright blue eyes were very somber as he said those words. He had discovered during the briefing that these people were honorable and loyal warrior in their own right. His people could learn much from them. He felt ashamed and humbled at how he had misjudged them. It was not a feeling to which he was accustomed and he didn't care for it, but there it was.
"I would like for you to stay after the briefing for a short time, Ambassador," said the captain. "All of you are dismissed until 0900 tomorrow when we will assemble for the telecast from the hostages. Try to get a good night's sleep, I recommend a hot milk and rum night-cap." Jim glanced wickedly at McCoy.
McCoy ignored the glance. "Captain, I'd like for you and the crew to schedule a workout for this afternoon and for tomorrow morning. Everyone has been off duty for a few days and they need to sharpen their hand to hand combat skills."
"So ordered. See to it, please Nurse Chapel. Dismissed everyone."
"Mr. Rashid, your knowledge and your coöperation have been invaluable. Please remember that absolute secrecy is essential. Don't discuss this with anyone," said Jim.
"Captain, of course you can count on my total discretion. If possible, would you let me know of your success of which I have no doubt?" asked the little man."
"We'll let you know sir. And thank you."
The crew filed out noisily, their boots pounding on the floor, and left a silent Sarek, Nogura, McCoy and Kirk. Then Jim spoke. "Dizchard, the question has been raised about how Tarz could be of help during the rescue mission. We feel it's up to you to suggest possibilities and for you to decide if we can trust him to help us."
Out of the corner of his eye, Jim noticed that Cedar had crept in from the kitchen to listen.
"As to trust, Captain, I have no doubt of that. His honor is pledged to my service. However, I think there is little he can do except perhaps to help you during the fighting which is certain to occur. His wounds prevent him from optimum performance, but he has the element of surprise on his side. Retz does not suspect him; for many months, almost two years now, I have taken many steps to make sure this is so. I have laid false trails, disavowed him to all of Orion, cast him from my clan, all this to make sure of his safety. I may as well tell you now, Captain. Tarz is my son. He was embedded with the Warriors as an agent in deep cover a long time ago. His wounds came as a result of one of Retz' strikes against the Federation. He proved his loyalty to Retz during the strike, but Retz will cut his throat without a moment's hesitation if he suspects any treason to his cause. That is why I could not tell you, the danger to him is very great." Dizchard's eyes were filled with pain. "However if you wish it, I will get word to him about the rescue mission and he will do what he can to help you."
Jim took a deep breath. He had not expected this, and looking at the shocked faces around him he knew no one had. "I'm sorry Ambassador. I know this is very difficult for you and we can understand your reluctance. However, an inside man will be of great help to the rescue team. The element of surprise may throw Retz and his men off for just that fraction of a second that would give us an added edge in fighting."
"I agree," said Admiral Nogura.
"I, too," said Sarek. "It would seem then that both our sons have been in grave danger, Ambassador."
"Very well, Captain. I will get word to Tarz."
"Fine. Gentlemen, that's all for now. We'll meet again tomorrow for the telecast."