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M3: Let Loose the Beast of War

The USS Mariner is requested back to Federation space to help out on an important mission at the Klingon/Romulan borders.

1) Come back Home

Ready Room
2401 - August

For the past few days, the USS Tokyo has been on standby, eagerly awaiting the arrival of their new companion to embark on their adventure in the Delta Quadrant. However, the Tokyo has not yet arrived, and all attempts at communication have gone unanswered in the vast expanse of space. "Any news?" Sazra inquired as she noticed K'Nala entering the room. Sazra had already reported the Tokyo's failure to rendezvous to Starfleet in the sector but had not received any further instructions on what to do next.

The Caitian stood at attention before her Captain desk and shook her head “None ma'am…Starfleet wants to have a conversation about something and an incoming transmission is coming from Starbase 86” K'Nala saw over her shoulder Silina entering and looked back “It concerrrns the attention of yourrr command team it seemed, So I invited Commander Ruslanovna to join us” 

Seeing Silina give a nod to Sazra and now standing next to K'Nala, Sazra nodded slowly in response to the report. She then sat back in her chair as she noticed the blinking light appear. "Let's see if they found my squad's ship," Sazra muttered as she pressed the button, establishing a holographic connection. The figure of Captain Ryoko Takato hologram materialized in the room.

"You certainly make me wait, Captain Kobahl..." Ryoko grumbled.

Sazra glanced at K'Nala, who shrugged slightly before turning back to Ryoko. "My apologies, Captain. Communication systems here in the Delta Quadrant are... not the best, and far from functional when it comes to timing. What can I do for you today?" Sazra redirected her attention to her Task Force Commanding Officer, wondering about the purpose of the communication. Perhaps it was related to their missing ship?

"Right..." Ryoko responded with a shrug to the comment about delayed communication, but she was not in the mood to entertain that topic. "I'll get straight to the point. You are to take the wormhole, which is in a day or two, back to the Beta Quadrant and have your ship docked at Starbase 86."

The command team appeared a bit confused at the sudden change of orders. "I thought Starfleet didn't want us in the Beta Quadrant or near any Federation facility for that matter," Silina stated with bitterness in her voice. She had not forgotten what had happened before when they had to deal with the whole Lost Fleet situation.

“Plus we arrre still missing a ship forrr squadron…” K'Nala pointed out as Sazra stayed quiet letting her command team take the word in this for now.

Taking a deep breath, Ryoko began, "Starfleet Command... internal issues are ongoing, but they are getting resolved as we speak. Yet, I am facing a new problem that collides with the old problem I am dealing with. Captain Kobahl might remember this, but we are experiencing resource and personnel problems, making dispatching ships into the field rather challenging." Ryoko shrugged at her own explanation. "You may not have heard the news yet, but the Klingon Empire is reviving its inner warrior spirit and has decided to go on a rampage... I mean, they are returning to their roots and have decided to expand their territories again. They have not targeted Federation borders, but they are aiming their attention to the Romulans."

"Sounds like a headache," Sazra calmly remarked, wondering why Ryoko was approaching them to return.

Giving a brief nod in Sara's direction, Ryoko continued, "Meanwhile, the Cardassian Union is also facing problems with the True Way and the so-called New Maquis, who are fighting against the Cardassians... again." Ryoko's facial expression revealed her frustration with the situation. "So, the Fourth Fleet Command wants Task Force 86 to reinforce the borders more intensify, and I need every ship to do so... including yours."

K'Nala raised her hand carefully “Ma'am the Marinerrr is not a ship meant for frontal engagement, I don't see us hold out long against the Klingons particularrr…” 

"I'm not going to assign the Mariner to border patrol; however, I will be sending you all to a new colony beyond our borders. The emerging colony, named Mogotis, lies between the Klingon Empire and the Romulan Republic space and appears to be a target for the Klingons. They are currently facing issues with Klingon ships entering their space, with some even daring to attack their cargo ships and plunder them."

Taking a deep breath, Sazra shrugged slightly. "That's essentially the same as border patrol for us, ma'am," she remarked, feeling reserved about the subject at hand. No matter how well you dress up the situation, if it's a mess, it's still a mess. Sazra needed more details on this matter.

"Yes and no," came a brief reaction from Ryoko. "The Mariner is to dock at Starbase 86 to receive medical supplies that will aid Mogotis in their struggle. We will send you there as diplomatic envoys, but your orders are to avoid any conflict with the Klingon Empire. If possible, try to diplomatically persuade the Klingons to peacefully leave Mogotis space."

Silina blinked for a second. "Wait, you want to send us there to deliver supplies and resolve this problem diplomatically? You just mentioned that the Klingons are there like blood-lusting dogs craving for war. They will not listen to our peace talks... Do we even have protected status with this colony?" Silina shrugged and noticed Sazra's glare. "...Sir," she quickly added. 

Taking a moment to respond, Ryoko eventually shrugged. "I know what I am asking of you, but we can't ignore a plea for help. Get in there, deliver their supplies, and if possible, neutralize the situation peacefully. Starfleet is not in a position to engage in a full-scale war with them." Ryoko was careful in formulating her words.

Nodding to her superior officer, Sazra bluntly stated, "The Mariner will report to Starbase Bravo as soon as possible, sir. But you have not answered my second officer's question regarding the Tokyo?"

"The Tokyo is currently... M.I.A. We have no idea where they are, and the last known location provides little to no clues. Some crew members of the ship were found in shuttles traveling back. However, earlier conversations with them indicate they have no idea where the ship went..." Ryoko shrugged at the idea. "We suspect that the command crew might have gone rogue, so I am assigning a different ship to investigate and track them down. This is no longer your concern, and I apologize for being unable to provide the support you require."

It was quite a shock for the Mariner command team to hear that their new ship, which was supposed to join them on their adventures, had gone missing and potentially gone rogue. K'Nala wanted to ask more about it, but she noticed Sazra raising her hand slightly in her direction. "Thank you, Captain. We will focus on the given mission."

Ryoko nodded. "Good, Takato out." The hologram disappeared.

"Rogue... in a time like this is not something Starfleet can use," Silina eventually stated after the room fell quiet.

"I have read the profile on Captain Yoon-Jung; she and her crew endured quite a lot during their last mission with the Borg. While it doesn't justify their disappearance, we do not know their reasoning. Let Starfleet investigate this. Lieutenant, set a course for the wormhole... I'd rather not be late," Sazra directed her words towards K'Nala.

"Yes, ma'am," K'Nala snapped to attention and left the Ready Room.

Silina looked over her shoulder as K'Nala left. "Are you sure about this mission?" she asked Sazra, turning back to her.

Shaking her head, Sazra replied, "No, but it seems the pieces are being set on the battlefield. Let's see what is going on out there... Captain Takato must have a good reason to send a ship like ours. Get some more information on this colony... Mogotis." Silina nodded to Sazra and left the Ready Room as well.

As her First officer left the room, Sazra tapped on her personal computer and it brought up the last known information on the USS Tokyo. “Where are you? Or better said…where are going towards Captain Yoon-Jung?” Sazra narrowed her eyes as she felt the Mariner jump to warp to get back into the mission that was assigned to them. 

2) Act as a Symbol

Starbase 86 - Operational Center
2401 - August

Starbase 86, the pinnacle of trading, defense, and societal diversity. Ships come and go for their repairs, resupply, and any trading they might see value in. The Triangle is, after all, a booming location to find the latest buyers from the Romulan Republic or the independent warlords. Some Klingons show their face on the base to get a good mining deal. But business is going well on the Starfleet base. Operations eyes are focused on the borders as Task Force 86 ships perform their duties from this base. 

Looking outside the window to the docked ships, a small old Niagara-class passes the eye view. "I wonder how much Adrián would be foaming from his mouth if he knew that there is a classic Niagara docked at SB86," Sazra had her arms crossed, looking at the passing Niagara-class that was on its way to get to a docking port.

"Foaming would be an understatement when it comes to the Commanderrr" K'Nala pointed bluntly out standing beside Sazra. It took her a slight second to realize what she had said. "I apologize, ma'am, I was disrespectful about the Commander ...hobby." 

Sazra smiled and looked at K'Nala. "It is okay to be blunt about someone on occasion, Lieutenant. Commander Valerio is no exception to that." She looked back at the ship. “He would be fanboying hardcore if he knew, that is for sure.”

"Is that a Niagara-class? Does Adrián know?" Silina approached the two from behind and looked at the class docking now. "I believe we would be stuck at SB86 until they leave." Silina shrugged, knowing all too well her good friend's obsession.

Giving a quick nod to that statement, Sazra turned to Silina. “So let's not tell him. Are they ready?”

Looking at the Niagara again before looking at Sazra, "They are ready; recent developments have been hectic. Which will affect our mission for sure." Silina started to walk in the direction of the operation center."

"You mean the Klingon's sudden change of aggression, Commanderrr?" K'Nala followed her senior command staff. "I have seen reporrrts that Starfleet ships can't interferrre with any Klingon aggression acts." 

Giving a brief nod, "The Klingons have been pulling raids over their borders at Romulan independent worlds. Starfleet can little do something about it. We act, giving the Empire a reason to declare war on us. Something we can't use right now, seeing the condition we are in after dealing with the Dominion, Founders, and the Borg." Sazra counted with her fingers the things they had endured in the last few months. 

"You mean ourrr resources?" K'Nala blinked at the given information and saw her Captain nod in her direction.

"Ahh, Captain Kobahl, my sincere apologies for taking some time to meet with you." A young lieutenant commander in a yellow-collar uniform walked to the small group. "I am Lieutenant Commander Alixion. I am one of the strategic operations officers here." The man looked Human with Bajoran features. 

Giving the nod in the commander's direction and following him to an available operations table, Sazra quickly stated, placing her hands behind her back, "That is okay, given the situation. “This is Commander Ruslanovna, my First Officer, and Lieutenant K'Nala, my Officer of the Watch on the Mariner.”

"It's a pleasure to meet you, but you are right. The situation has been ...complicated," Alixion pointed out, bringing up the Triangle area map. Traffic here has increased with refugees from independent planets that were raided by the Klingon Empire since the newly appointed Chancellor Toral declared aggression.

Dots of more north of the Triangle appeared, "But most of the raids happened to Romulan planets. Yet the House of Korath is making daring raids, closing in on more neutral areas and moving in our direction. Which brings us to this..." He taps a few times as a zoom-in happened to a system and showed a planet with a moon: "Mogotis, a jungle class planet that got recently into the early stadium of second-phase colonization. The House of Korath has been pushing their luck and jumping in and out of the system. Enough to make the colonists nervous, and they are asking for a Starfleet present asap." 

Giving away a shrug on the information, "Meaning we will be there for symbolic reasons?" Silina crossed her arms looking at Alixion.

For a moment, Alixion didn't know how to respond. "Well, Commander, it is a fragile situation, and this is where you guys come in." With a tap, the Pathfinder form appeared in orbit of the colony. You are to load up supplies from here and bring them to the colony. Stay there for a few days to make a statement to the Klingons. Then come back to Starbase 86."

"If we arrre send in for showing muscle, is a biggerrr ship not better? The Marinerrr is not meant to do such a thing. We are no match for a well-armed Klingon ship." K'Nala stated while looking closer at the colony data.

"That was a good observation there, Lieutenant. Tell me what you want to achieve by sending a science ship there." Sazra needed to get the bigger picture of the mission. As K'Nala bluntly stated, it was a valid question; there was little to no reason to send a science vessel there, but Sazra could think of one reason.

Alixion shrugged and looked at the planet's holographic display. “We are out of resources, and Starfleet Operations and Fourth Fleet Command deem the specific operations in Delta Quadrant a lower priority at this time. We all have to face the music. Mariner is part of Task Force 86, and our primary duty is the protection of our borders. But in your case, another objective can be checked off: developing and maintaining relationships with local governments and communities.”

Narrowing her eyes, Sazra looked at the colony display and shrugged with slight irritation. She was right to think that Starfleet would use that card "When are they up there gonna stop wasting material...." She mutters and looks at Alixion. “We shall perform as requested.”

Giving a nod in Sazra's direction, the young commander looked at them. "I have to state that any violent interaction or actions against any Klingon ships is prohibited. Respond only if you need to defend yourself," Alixion pointed out.

Silina nodded in his direction. "Understood, thank you for your time." With that stated, the command group left Alixion behind to resume his duties. "This is not gonna be fun..." Silina finally said that when leaving the Operation Center, 

"That is an understatement," Sazra shrugged and looked at Silina. "Get the supplies on our ship and deal with any change of guard." Looking at K'Nala, "Get the ship navigation plotted and get Security updated on our situation. Follow Miki's advice, but keep the strict order of hostility in the back of your mind." 

They both nodded as they continued their walk back to their ship. 

3) A simple repair

USS Mariner - Labs
2401 - August

The ship was en route to Mogotis with the supplies they received from Starbase 86. Everyone was getting the ship ready for whatever was going to happen next. The command team had given out the orders for battle ready and kept the ship on high alert because they might be entering a hostile situation quite soon. But overall, the crew was in good spirits as they had enough fate in each other and the command team to pull through this diplomatic issue. 

Stretching out, Adrián was happy that the final administrative work was done and could now focus on being a chief engineering officer. He also filled the second officer position for a long time, but K’Nala stepped up to get trained for this position. Now, he was standing in the science labs, helping out with some replacement requests for panels that broke down. 

“Get the conduit replaced, Ensign. It’s the cause of the panel being funky,” Adrián pointed out, placing his arms over each other. He saw the ensign nod in his direction, starting to replace the conduit as he crossed his arms. “Watch out that you …” A spark comes from the panel as he shrugs. “Don’t touch the regulator while replacing it. You should know the basics Ensign.” 

“Yes sir, sorry sir! I will pay more attention to it.” The Ensign shrugged a bit as he quickly resumed his duty. 

Nodding with a sigh, Adrián knows that these training moments are vital for onboard operations, but that doesn’t mean he is enjoying them. 

“Do not be too harsh on the boy; he is still learning,” a voice said from Adrián’s side, startling him a bit, seeing Suto standing there. “Did I surprise you, Commander?”

She looked surprised briefly at her direction but not by her sudden standing there. Adrián was captivated by Suto’s beauty as he snapped out of it and looked at the Ensign. “What the…” He mutters to himself and looks back at her. I… need to be harsh. These are basic repairs, and when it matters, my team needs to be ready to do the task without fault and minimize error.” 

Suto looked at him for a few seconds until she broke her silence, seeing that Adrián was getting uncomfortable. “Are you well, Commander? Do you need medical aid?” 

Looking back at Suto, a bit confused, “What do you mean?” Adrián didn’t know quite what Suto was aiming at.

“Your cheeks are getting red. Are you experiencing any discomfort? Do you have a fever? I can use my tricorder to check if you like.” Suto was already grabbing the tricorder to get it ready for a scan.

Blinking a few times, he saw a slight blush on his cheeks as he looked at the panel’s reflection on the wall. He sighed, shrugged simultaneously, and placed his hand in Suto’s direction. “No need Lieutenant. I feel perfectly fine. It’s…just hot here,” Adrián tried to get out of the topic, feeling embarrassed. “You know…working on placing heavy panels does heat the body, so it’s normal.” 

“But Commander, I have taken most of the equipment here,” the Ensign replied with a smirk in Adrián’s direction.

Adrián narrows his eyes. “Yes, that is why you are sweating like a pig. You should get a shower after this task, Ensign. Representing your department is quite important.” He smoothly counters the Ensign. 

Giving a brief nod, admitting his defeat, the Ensign resumes his duties on the panel.

“Commander,” Suto kept quiet in this interaction until now, “I would like to thank you for repairing these panels. I know you have been quite occupied with your work. I hope I can provide service to you in any other scientific regard.” 

Giving a nod in her direction, she said, “You…are welcome. But you do not need to do any service of such sort. It is, after all, my duty to provide engineering assistance.” Adrián looked back at the Ensign, who was grinning. Why did he feel a bit awkward? This conversation felt like a flirt. When he thought that, he looked briefly at Suto, who was looking at the panel, and looked back when Suto noticed him looking at her. 

“Well, Commander, thank you for doing this. I will not keep you up any longer.” She gave a brief nod in his direction, and with a short glare, she returned to her duties and walked away.

Looking over his shoulder as Suto walked away, she had quite the move and suddenly heard the Ensign talk, looking back in his direction.

“I think she might like you, Commander. Maybe you should accept her request for aid in scientific matters.” The Ensign smiled in his direction. “She is a good-looking woman, sir.”

Rolling his eyes, he clicked against his teeth. “Get back to work, Ensign. ” Adrián ordered him as he saw the young man get back to work and then stood to activate the panel, seeing it come back to life. “Good, get ready to leave.” He turned around and walked to Suto. Taking a deep breath, he said, “Lieutenant Scott?”

Suto looked up from her PADD in his direction. “Commander Valerio, what can I do for you?” 

He points over his shoulder. “We finished the repairs on the panels; I just wanted to report that.” Adrian awkwardly nods, scratching behind his ear as he looks toward the Ensign, who looks back at him with expectations. Adrián shrugs and looks back at Suto. “Additionally, I was wondering if you…are interested in a dinner?” 

Looking surprised and confused at the same time at Adrián, she thought for a second, “I am thankful for your services, Commander, but I am in no position to go …out on a dinner for you. This would be impossible scientifically as we have slight compatibility.”

Gasping for air in surprise, Adrián said, “Right… yeah…sure… understand.” Adrián felt instant discomfort and nodded in her direction, “I better get going. I don’t want to keep you from your work.” He tried to recover from this embarrassing moment. Clapping his hands together and turning to walk back to the Ensign, “Good day, Lieutenant.” When he reached the Ensign, he gave a stern look. “Not a word…” He exits the lab with the Ensign following him.

Suto looked at Adrián leaving the lab and blinked a bit. But looking back at the PADD, she came to a halt in her thinking process as she wondered why her heart was going fast. Suto wondered why this was happening as she started to leave. “I will be at sickbay for a moment; if anything is urgent, please ask Lieutenant Bruno.” Not waiting for an answer, Suto left the sickbay. 

4) A Chemical Reaction

USS Mariner - Labs
2401 - August

Returning from the sickbay, Suto looked puzzled, tapping her lip with her finger while holding her elbow with her other arm. She stopped at her desk and sat down. Not knowing what had happened to her, she felt a sudden rush of unknown discomfort in her body. Was it comfort? 

“Suto, are you okay?” 

A familiar voice came from Suto’s side. Her concentration broke, and she looked at the voice and saw Vaikan standing there. “I don’t know,” 

“You feel unwell? Is that the reason you went to sickbay?” Vaikan narrowed her eyes a bit, trying to figure out what was wrong with her friend. “You do not seem unwell; I do not see you in any kind of distress.” 

Was she looking back to her front in distress? Mmm, no, that was the feeling she was having. She learned to control her emotions as they were part of her DNA, well, half of it. Suto took a deep breath. “I do not know. Sickbay stated they only saw an elevation of heart rate, which can cause discomfort.” Rubbing her chin a bit, she said, “Yet the cause is unknown?” 

“Placing her hands behind her back, Vaikan thinks briefly. “It might be the cause of stress. Did you meditate today?” 

Giving a slight nod, Suto said, “I did. I got a regular interval of twice a day to do meditation. It is the best moment for me to get scientific solutions or a direction to look into.” Suto crossed her arms and leaned back in her chair. “I do not experience stress or have no experience with it.” 

“Stress can be the direct cause of your heart rate spiking up. When did this happen? If we look scientifically at it, it needs to have a cause. So logically speaking, if something happened at the moment of your heart spike, that would be the cause of it?” Vaikan pointed out. 

The theory did have merit: Every reaction is caused by an action. She thinks for a brief moment, thinking back to the moment when her heart started to beat faster. 

“Additionally, I was wondering if you…are interested in a dinner?” 

The words of Commander Valerio shot in her head, and she placed her hand on her chest, feeling the same heartbeat taking a spike. Suto blinked, a bit confused. “It raised again when I thought of my interaction with Commander Valerio.”

“Commander Valerio?” Vaikan raised an eyebrow as she looked at her side to the panel that had been fixed. “They were here earlier, no? Did something off-set you by what he said?” 

Suto lowered her hand and shook her head slightly. “No, not really. It was a normal question. He was asking if I was interested in a dinner with him. Logically, I declined him as there would be no material or subject to discuss.” Suto looked at Vaikan’s “Science and Engineering topics are quite different.” 

“Right, that might sound logical,” Vaikan replied, trying to piece the puzzles together. But it might also indicate that he wishes to get to know you better. He showed interest in you.”

“Interest in me?” Suto looked confused. “As an academic and prime in my field, I guess anyone would be interested in conversing with me. Now I feel I am bragging.” Suto shrugged, a bit confused about the whole ordeal. “If he had a scientific question, why not just ask? I mean a dinner is not needed for that question to be answered|  

With a sigh, Vaikan tried to choose her words more carefully: “There is a difference between work-related interest and personal one, Suto. We are friends, that is personal related interest. It might be possible that Commander Valerio showed a personal interest in you.” 

Shaking her head as if she denies it. “I do not think so. It wouldn’t make any sense. We are friends because we have spent time together in the academy, on assignments, and have a similar interest field. But what interest would be in alignment with Commander Valerio and me? I know little about engineering.” 

Vaikan took a deep breath. “Suto, he showed interest in you. It is possible that he finds you attractive and interested. For someone who has brains, you do not tend to see your own favorable assets.” Vaikan looked briefly at Suto’s chest and then back at her. “You have always been obsessive about your work, ignoring the obvious flirts and attention from men around you.” 

Feeling a slight blush coming up, Suto placed her arms over her chest to cover it a bit and looked at her desk. “It is not like I do it on purpose; my body is of its own making.” She placed her hand on her chest. “But why does my heart beat faster?” 

“It might be a chemical reaction of your body to him,” Vaikan pointed out. “You might be unknowingly interested in him as well.” Take a moment to think, “Did you have this reaction to any other person who showed interest?” 

Lowering her arms a bit and placing them on the desk, Suto said, “No one showed interest in me?” She couldn’t remember anyone who had shown interest in her before. 

She raised her brow again. “David, Samual, Tatjana, T’Lain, Rain, Amber…did you really not notice their advantages?” Vaikan wanted to smack herself in the forehead, but her inner Vulcan heritage prevented that. 

Looking confused at Vaikan, “Wait, they were interested in me?” Suto never realized that they showed that interest in her. “Am I that blind? Is my passion for my work overshadowing compassion?” 

Vaikan shrugs. “You only found out about that right now? Suto, if I know anyone who is obsessed with their work, it is you. You are a prime role model or even the definition of being addicted to your work. You should reconsider Commander Valario’s offer; it could be healthy for you.” 

“How? I already rejected his offer.” Suto looked a bit sad at Vaikan.

“What do scientists do when their results do not give the promised results? Or worse, reject the parameters of the injected criteria?” Vaikan needed to level with Suto.

Rubbing her head, she said, “You change the factors? The parameters of the research that could bare fruit. Why?” Suto tried to understand the direction of what her friend was trying to tell her.

“Maybe you should then try to change the parameters of this offer. Yes, you rejected him, but you can always counteroffer his offer. Are you interested in him? Maybe you should approach it in your own way.” Vaikan smiled softly to Suko. “If you like this man, you should at least try. It is not often that I see you struggle or be flustered about something.” 

Suto took a deep breath and nodded softly, “Right, it might be something. But what if it’s not? What if I misunderstood his interpretation? What if I do not feel anything for him? Or am I interested in him?” A lot of questions boiled up for her.

“That is what scientists do, Suto. They answer the questions they are pondering.” Vaikan pats her on the shoulder and walks away to resume her work. “Good luck, Lieutenant.” 

“I…” Wanting to continue the discussion, Suto needed help dealing with this experience. Was she too late to find out? How would she approach the commander now? What if…Suto looked puzzled behind her desk, trying to figure out what to do next about the situation. 

5) 2 minutes and 45 seconds (Part 1)

Deck 5
September 2401

The Mariner had arrived at Mogotis, and the command team was already in contact with the independent colony. Task Force 86 had given them a rather mundane task: They had to go over the borders and get the supplies to the colony. They also had to fend off any daring Klingons that tried to raid the colony, which was still in its early development. In Domam, this was going to be a boring mission.

“What is with that look?” Aakif spoke up; the ship’s Master-at-Arms was walking beside his friend and boss. They were doing the routine armory checks. The people had no love when it came to weapons, peace talks only brings you so far as Aakif thought. 

The black pupils looked at his side to Aakif as he had his hands on his back while walking. “Well, everything is going to check out in the armory. I go back to the department office, do my routine reports, and then give them to Miki to check on. Then I take over Miki’s shift, and so the day passes by.” Domam shrugged, feeling disappointed by hearing his own schedule. 

“Don’t tell me that you are bored. The Mariner had its fair deal lately, we deserve to get a break” Aakif pointed out while shaking his head. The memory of the Lost Fleet was still digging in the back of his mind. While the ship never shot once, it had to deal with a mutiny while transporting the Dominion representatives to stop the insane war. 

He shrugs for a second. “Well, we had a fair share of adventures in Delta Quadrant; that ghost station with that weird creature took us by surprise,” Domam pointed out. “But the recall back to Federation space seems….off. I mean, I would not guess the Klingons daring into Federation space.” Domam didn’t reply to Aakif’s accusation of boredom but danced around it. “Now I do admit that the idea of a civil war that will unleash all targs of hell in the empire would get us busy and be a welcoming gift,” he smiled a bit in Aakif’s direction.

Shaking his head as they turned the corner, “They got names for people like you, war junkies” Aakif looked at his PADD. “Again, if the empire would go into a civil war, the chances would increase that we got minor house trying to…” He makes quotes in the air, “Proof themselves.”

Smirking the accusation of being a war junky, “Aakif, my boy, you got some sense of humor.” Domam nods to some security officers who pass them. “Then again, the empire or minor houses are not that stupid to cross that red line. If they do, the great houses will be put back in place. While they would never apologize, they know the price of interfering with the Federation.”

Aakif sighs. “Well, think about it this way: if there is a perfect moment to attack us, it would be now. We have suffered greatly during the Lost Fleet event, the Frontier Day crisis, and even at the return from the Borg that still confuses the hell out of me.” Aakif makes some gestures with his hand. “One moment they are here, another they are gone…” He blinks a few times.

Domam knew that what Aakif was saying was very close to the truth. They were dealing with a fragile moment in time. The Federation was on high alert after everything that happened. While he didn’t agree with Task Force 86’s pullback of Mariner, he could understand the given situation. As he wanted to speak, a loud bang and heavy pull to the right as Domam and Aakif smashed against the right wall. “What the…” 

“What is going on? Did we hit something?” Aakif tries to get back on his feet as another slam to the front comes, and some officers fall backward. The lights turn red. “What are they doing up there?” Aakif grabs himself from the floor.

The voice of their Miko is heard over the ship-wide communication: “Red Alert, Red Alert, everyone to battle stations….” The communication cut off.

Looking at each other, Domam nodded as they sprinted through the hallways with Aakif on his heels, “GET TO YOUR STATIONS NOW!” He yelled as he ran. He saw crew members confused and wounded already. Whatever this was, what was going on….he was needed in his department. Another hit slammed him to the side, and another followed as he got roughed up to swing to the other side. “What the hell is going on?” 

“I don’t know, but whatever it is, it’s freaking big!” Aakif knew K’Nala longer than today and knew her flying skills were the best he had ever seen. It would indicate a significant event if she could not evade these fire impacts.

The two saw the turbo-lift as a few more hits pushed them from side to side until they heard the familiar voice of their Captain: “BRACE, BRACE, BRACE! HOLD ON!” Domam pulled an Ensign to him and pushed her against the wall as Aakif grabbed another officer and held the side. Waiting and looking around slowly as the red lights blinked in the hallway, silent as if it took forever what would happen. 

Then, out of nowhere, a slam rocked and cracked the whole ship from above. Domam and the Ensign flew off the ground as they hit the ceiling. Then slammed onto the ground. Domam could hear some bones crack from the heavy impact that his body had to endure. “Arggg” He managed to get out of himself. He gasped for air as he felt something piercing his lungs. Not knowing that the cracked bone pierced his lung. 

Another slam followed quickly after. Sparks were seen all through the hallways. As Aakif looked into the hallway, he saw the deck in front of him collapse. “What the…” He pulled the officer back as the shockwave of the impact pushed him back onto the floor.

Then there was silence…..sparks of broken consoles, growling pains, pleads for help from under the collapsed ceiling. Aakif gasped for air and tasted the familiar metal taste of his blood. He taps with his finger on his mouth, a bleeding lip, nothing severe. He looked around. “Domam? DOMAM,” he raised his voice as he saw his friend on the ground gasping for air and rushed for him. “Shit…we need to get you to sickbay and fast” 

Whatever happened to Mariner, it happened very quickly.

 

6) 2 minutes and 45 seconds (Part 2)

USS Mariner - Bridge
September 2401

Mariner was lively as the ship was in orbit of Mogotis, and a female Romulan was on the screen at the Mariner Bridge; she smiled softly, “Thank you so much for responding to our call. We are glad that we can build on the Federation for their ongoing support in this matter,” she stated, nodding to a fellow Romulan who had passed her a note.

“The honor is ours; our presence here is, however, temporary, as we need to return. But we hope the supplies we deliver today will be enough for your colony to develop further. Did the Romulan Republic contact you to aid you in this colonization project?” Sazra leaned back in her chair.

The woman shook her head slightly. “Not yet, but we have sent messages regarding this colony project. We do hope that they will respond soon and be able to provide the needed defense against the aggression of the Klingons. These savages are going back to their primal nature, conquest and suppressing those that they can and steal their resources.” The woman shrugged. “But I hope the Republic will respond soon so they can relieve you from your protective duties.” 

Protective duties were not how Sazra would describe the situation; she remembered the words of Captain Takato quite clearly. Not to interfere or provoke the Klingons in any attack. This would unpack itself quite nasty for the Federation if they would. Sazra knew this would be a delegated matter to deal with. She smiled in the direction of the screen. “Understood, we will keep in contact about anything that is happening. Mariner out.” With that, the woman nodded as the screen returned to the starport view. 

“She is assuming quite a bit, Captain,” Asipa said, shrugging from her seat.

“The Federation’s presence in this neutral zone area puts everyone on the edge. With the Starfleet here, the Klingons might think twice about attacking this colony. On the flip side…” Miki shrugged at his other conclusion.

Sazra shrugged. “It can also be a perfect situation drafted for minor houses to prove themselves. Take on a Starfleet vessel and bring honor to your house.” Sazra saw Miki look, knowing exactly what he was thinking. “However, the reports state that the raids used old bird of prey’s, so that would be a suicide against a modern Pathfinder class ship.” 

“Don’t underestimate their ship tactics. They are quite willing and cunning to achieve their goal of getting a free ticket to their halls,” Miki pointed out bluntly. It is in Klingon’s nature to fight for what they believe in and die trying to achieve it. 

Blinking at the interaction, he sighed. “Captain, the first batch of cargo has been transported to the surface,” Drata reported. “We should be done within a few hours. I recommend patrolling through the system to get our bearings on the surroundings. I think Lieutenant Miki will be happy if we do that.” Drata gives Miki a wink, and he rolls his big eyes at it.

Giving a nod, “Sounds like a plan, Lieutenant Taritt. Get that transporting done. K’Nala works with Lieutenant Miki on a patrol route. Communications, keep that line with Mogotis open in case they need something from us.” Sazra gave out her orders as if it were second nature to her. She had been in this chair for years now, and even though she had changed ship a few times, she hated to admit to it but enjoyed the ride. 

A unified “Aye” came from all the officers on the bridge as Sazra looked at some data on her PADD. An offer was made to her that she was considering. Time changed, and even though this ship had been her home for the last year, it felt that she had been on travel for years. This offer would change everything’s dynamic. Looking upwards and letting the idea sink in to settle down with Silina would be comforting. Until her thoughts were interrupted by someone.

2 minutes and 46 seconds…

“Captain….” Drata’s voice echoed behind her as she looked in his direction. “Captain?” 

“What’s wrong, Lieutenant?” Sazra saw him looking at the screen of his panel with confusion.

He taps on the console and shrugs. “I don’t know, it’s Mogotis…” 

“On screen,” Sazra saw the view change to the beautiful planet; nothing wrong was seen, “It looks normal to me?” She looked over her shoulder at Drata.

Shaking his head, “It’s not on the surface….I notice an anomaly below it. A build-up of something?” Drata looked at the screen, getting the data. “I can’t seem to pinpoint it, but it’s definitely coming from below the surface, and it is rising….quickly” 

The bridge crew looked at the screen. Sazra turned her head to the screen. The beautiful sight of the planet was on the screen as purple pulses were visible in orbit; she narrowed her eyes and leaned forward. Suddenly, the surface broke apart, and the bridge crew saw the colony getting ripped apart by an unknown force. Sazra pupils went bigger “EVASIVE MANEUVERS!” 

K’Nala didn’t wait for a second, as the planet’s debris was on an intercept course with the Mariner. With quick moves and using the full ability of the engines at her disposal, K’Nala did her best to avoid getting hit by the large junks of planetary pieces. The bridge crew did their best to keep themselves at their station, but the difficult and complex moves that the Mariner had to perform made it almost impossible. Debris hit the shields of the Mariner, shaking the crew from left to right. 

“Get us out of here!” Sazra orders, having difficulty holding onto her chair, “Miki, full power to shields!” 

“I am trying, Captain. Therrre are too many objects!” K’Nala complains, sliding her hand from left to right, from up to down, as the Mariner squeezes through tight spots. They were too near the space event that was taking place.

1 Minute and 4 seconds…

Make changes to the alert to red and press the communication “Red Alert, Red Alert, everyone to battle stations….” But without a warning, Miki gets shoved away from his console and slams into the back panel, falling onto the ground. The ride was taking its first wounded, but getting out there alive was priority one, and Sazra couldn’t focus on the wounded right now. 

“K’Nala, get us out of here…you can do it, girl!” Sazra held onto her chair as another debris hit the shields and slammed into the hull.

Looking panicky at the controls, K’Nala says, “No…No, no, no, don’t do this to me….engines are not responding…” Meanwhile, the last debris that hit the Mariner severely hits the right engine as it starts to leak warp fuel into space. The Mariner gets caught in a gravitational pull from the space event. “We’re getting dragged into the event horizon….” Then another alert goes off, and K’Nala looks at it and gasps, “Captain, huge planetarrry debris incoming!” 

Seeing the data and path of the debris, “Drata shields fully to the top of the Mariner now!” She tapped her communication to shipwide “BRACE, BRACE, BRACE! HOLD ON!The bridge crew gets into a position of holding on to whatever is possible and awaits the incoming doom. The beeping sound kept everyone on the edge of the bridge. Meanwhile, outside, the large planetary debris gets closer to the Mariner as the shields blink brightly blue, showing the best ability of their shields. Then, the debris hit the ship with a loud bang as it broke off into pieces. 

The bridge crew is thrown through the bridge as the impact hits them. Panels spark brightly, and a few explode, and part of the bridge ceiling collapses because of the impact’s pressure. Darkness hits the bridge, and the only sound that can be heard is the cracking metal. The Mariner, severely damaged, half out of power, its engine damaged, dragged into the ripped open space that thorns Mogotis into pieces. Disappearing into the unknown…

7) Reality is not kind

USS Mariner - Engineering
September 2401

Sparking consoles, panels, and relays were lighting up the dimmed Engineering. Groaning sounds of pain and confusion as the flickering red light illuminated the area. In a matter of a few minutes, the situation changed from a calming mission to a living hell. A piece of wall was pushed aside as Varujan coughed from behind it. His cybernetic arm played in his favor, or he wouldn't be able to move the debris. His vision was blurry at best as it slowly recovered from what the damage was around him. His eyes looked up at the red shimmering lights going on and off as it became clear by the second. He let his head rest briefly on the back of the wall where he had been slammed into when the event, whatever it was, happened. 

“Anyone status report, name, and injury!” A familiar voice rose from the eerie silence. 

Ensign Kaasar, wrist broken, deep cut on arm.” 

Lieutenant Claov, iron pin in my foot, but functional.

“Ensign Cho cut on the side of my jaw, but I survived.” 

Varujan looked at his side and saw Keeyiro on her feet. The young ensign had been assigned to Engineering for a learning curve of experiencing life in the ship's beating heart. He shrugged. “Lieutenant Istrati got no visible damage as my cybernetic arm was able to protect against the collapsing ceiling.” He pushed himself off the ground and looked around, seeing the severity of the damage more clearly; whatever hit them was a bad hit, and his eyes stopped at Valerio, who was not looking great. “Chief, you need medical attention… Ensign Cho, get the medical kit." 

Leaning against the console, Adrián looked in the direction of his assistant Varujan and felt the blood slowly seeping past his back where his uniform was ripped partly. He had bravely shielded a young Ensign from the incoming debris and took the heavy beating for it. He nodded and looked at the console. “Get me a status update now….Claov focuses on the wounded, gets in contact with medical and requests support from them. Istrati got that report for me.” He was breathing heavily, knowing that the puncture on his back had reached his lung.

The young Asian Ensign stopped at Adrián's side and opened the medical kit, starting the work on the Chief's back. “This is going to sting a bit…” Hearing Adrián growl, even Keeyiro did not fully understand the situation in the last fifteen minutes. 

“The damage report is pouring in. The warp engine is severely damaged, and there is no response from the right warpcell. Collapsed decks from two to seven. The upper decks got hit badly, and the bridge… unresponsive. Communication is down, getting static." Varujan shrugged at the information. They were dead in the water, and it was unclear how much more damage was lurking about. 

The trill shrugged from his console, working with one hand. “Confirmed communications are down, trying to bypass and restore what relays are not damaged using those as hubs.” Kaasar was conflicted and emotional, trying to ignore the groans of other officers on the ground in pain. He didn't want to know the status of the rest of the ship. 

That was not the news Adrián hoped for as he felt the pain slowly fading and his breathing recovering, “That will do, Ensign. Help Lieutenant Claov with the wounded,” Giving a brief nod to Keeyiro and seeing his console jumpstart now on “Istrati, help Ensign Kaasar and get an additional contact to all engineering officers to give a brief status update on their section. Further orders will go down the pipe, but stabilizing the Mariner is priority right now” His mind went to the bridge, was Sazra alright? Seeing the data pouring in, the bridge was in the given area of the impact. 

“Aye, sir,” Varujan replied, walking to Kaasar and giving the required assistance with communications. It was more of a complex puzzle than he would have expected. The damage had surged throughout the ship and taken a lot down, more than he was willing to admit. 

It felt like an eternity, but Adrián finally heard the report that the communication was reaching out to the desired parties, not everyone, but it was a beginning. The damage reports were floating into his console, and the ship was much worse than he had hoped. “Nothing beats Damascus damage….” Adrián mutters as he is reminded of the severity and damage that had taken a toll on the former Grissom-class ship.

“Communications with Medical is active, their systems are barely operational, and wounded are pouring in there,” Ensign Kaasar confirmed the incoming transmission. “They request that only the severely wounded be sent to the sickbay. Everyone with light injuries should use the medical kit as best as possible” 

Varujan followed up, “Our Officers are reporting in. They are sending in the reports of their section and confirming that Mariner is in a rough spot.” 

Giving a nod to his right hand, Adrián said, “Let's focus on getting a priority list on the go. Focus on what needs fixing first. Has anyone got any message from the bridge yet or any of the command team?” Adrián felt like he was asking the forbidden question in the given situation.

Ensign Kaasar shook his head. “The diverted relays have not reached the bridge yet. The command has not sent any word to us or to sickbay.” The young Trill's voice was filled with worry. 

A quietness hit the room, cracking metal sounds and sparking from the console that broke down. “If we….lost the command team. That would mean…” Varujan broke the silence as he looked at Adrián who was leaning on the console staring at it “…you would be the next in command sir” 

Chilling ice went down his spine; Sazra, Silina, K'Nala….if they were truly gone, the reality was right there. He would have to assume command. Adrián sighed. “Yes, I am well aware of the weight of the situation. But let us focus on the now and worry about the rest as we go on. We are engineers….not medics. Ensign Cho, Kaasar, transport the severely injured to sickbay….get me a path there. Lieutenant Istrati, help me get this priority list out so our engineers can get to work”

8) The Pressure of Reality

USS Mariner - Bridge
September 2401

Slowly opening her eyes, bright light emitted from every corner, but the shapes were familiar, yet strange. Sazra slowly rose and noticed herself sitting on the ground. She pressed her hand against the side of her head, feeling that piercing pain of a headache crawling up and coming to flourish to become the migraine she rather avoided. Taking a deep breath, she looked around slowly, seeing the bridge in its natural perfect state but covered with a light blue-white crystallized layer. Certain spots had crystals growing but strangely different colors: purple, red, or orange. 

Taking a deep breath, Sazra carefully muttered, “Is this death?” She was trying to get up from the floor but noticed she was stuck. Her eyes looked down to the floor, seeing the crystal floor growing slowly onto her skin. She took a deep breath and gave a brief facial expression of acceptance. If this was it, she wondered what was waiting for her at the other side, or was this the other side? What would happen next was a better question.

Brace Brace Brace…” 

Sazra could hear the echoes of her voice that made her look around.

All energy to shields above the Mariner, Captain!” 

Her head turned in the direction of where Miki would have stood. Her eyes diverted slowly downwards, and she saw the crystal crawling up her skin, the cold wave reaching her fingertips. 

It's too big. I can't avoid it.” 

The pity and sad voice of K'Nala echoed from the navigation console. Sazra shrugged at the echo and knew damn well that K'Nala had done everything she could have done to prevent the ship from getting hit. It was a wild ride, and they would have been ripped apart if it had not been for her pilot skills. Sazra smiled softly, grateful as she could feel the cold, numbing feeling crawling up her legs as the crystal form grew up her leg. 

Taking a deep breath once again as she closed her eyes, now fully accepting and feeling the growth of coldness crawling faster up over her whole body. 

Captain,” the familiar voice of K'Nala sounded and echoed in the light blue and bright bridge. “Captain!” It became louder. "Come back to us!” That was not a particular sentence Sazra remembered as one of her final moments on the bridge. Come back to where? Was this not death? The afterlife? Sazra wondered if Kobahl was with her right now.

“Please…Wake up!” The voice echoed through the bridge. The crystal color started to change from light blue to darker red, and cracks were shown. That was Asipa? Why was she crying out to me? Sazra opened her eyes, seeing the blurry sight as the crystal had covered her face, but the cracks expanded. “Asipa?” 

With another bang, the bridge shook as pieces of crystal started to drop, and suddenly, everything went black. There was a loud gasp of air as Sazra opened her eyes, seeing the broken ceiling and flickering lights. A wet, dripping feeling fell upon her cheek as her vision improved, seeing Asipa holding her head with tears rolling down her cheek. “Captain!” 

A sharp pain came from her chest as Sazra growled lowly in pain. Her eyes diverted down to the source of the pain, seeing K'Nala in a CPR position with her paws over her chest. “What….” Sazra coughs and feels her ribs painfully there in place.

K'Nala quickly took her hands away and checked Sazra. “Stay calm, Captain. Good to have you still with us. Your hearrrt stopped beating for a few seconds, and we had to perforrrm CPR on you to get yourrr hearrrt beating again”. K'Nala would never forget the cracking sounds of her Captain's ribs, as they were marked into her memory for the rest of her life. 

“Status….report.” Sazra gets pushed slowly up with the help of Asipa, only gasping for some air, seeing the bridge's condition much worse than she had wished for. The screen was broken, and some consoles were offline, sparking as the lights flickered. The front of the bridge had a collapsed ceiling, and there were quite some serious wounds. 

Drata looked up from treating one of the crewmen. “We are alive somehow.” He didn't want to sound sarcastic, but the realization of his final moments was still sinking its fangs into him. Drata looked at his injured Captain. “I have no possible way to conclude the ship's condition right now, but I could gather that we are running emergency power, systems are down, and that also counts for communications. Miki is trying to get a clear path as the turbo-lift is down, so using the old fashion tubes” 

“As the Lieutenant said, systems are down. That also counts for navigational systems. I did my best, Captain… I am sorry,” K'Nala said with tears forming in her eyes.

Looking at the young Caitian reminded Sazra of her own insecurities. She placed her hand on her furry cheek. “You did good. Help Drata with the wounded. Asipa, get communications back online. We need to know what the status is of the rest of the ship.” Sazra blinks, noticing that Asipa is refusing to move. She holds her grip tied on Sazra. “Asipa?” 

“No…you heard what Drata said, systems down, you just had a heart attack….your heart stopped, and we almost lost you, Captain.” Asipa's emotions were seen in the big Ferengi eyes. “You need to lean on us to do the job. You need to rest and get medical attention as fast as Miki gets a way out.” 

There was little argument about that fact; Sazra looked around, and some officers who could function looked worried at her and briefly nodded. “Okay, those that can help, help Miki find a path out of the bridge.” Then, the realization dawned on her, Silina was still on the middle decks during this whole ordeal. Sazra wanted to get up,  wanted to find her loved one, wanted to make sure that she was still alive. But her body didn't permit her to move, to work, to look as the pressure of reality sank in that her body had endured quite a bit on such short notice. “Damn…” 

9) Pick Your Poison

Unknown Location
September 2401

A gasp of air, a heavy breath out, a pain emitting from somewhere that is surging through her body. Silina's blurry vision became clear, her hands grabbing to the source of her pain. Her hands slid over the metal piece that had impaled her as her eyes looked down at it, seeing the blood bubbles floating around. Gravity was not working in this section? It made sense now that her wound was not hurting as much as gravity would be at her disadvantage. She tried to remember what had happened, but her canvas memories were painted blank.

Silina tried to move, but the pain made her groan and look up. It was only then that she noticed a female body floating there. “Scott…” She remembered slightly that Lieutenant Scott and herself were here to gather samples. “Scott…” She struggled to talk as her muscles reacted to her speaking, even in its smallest way. The situation was dire, and she didn't know what had happened or the condition of the rest of the ship and the crew. But right now, her concern was the floating body of the Chief Science Officer “SCOTT,” she managed to get out.

The body slowly reacted and moved slightly as a gasp of air came from it. Suto opened her eyes and rubbed them, feeling the pressure of a headache pounding her head. “Ahh, I seem to suffer from a beginning stadium of cephalalgia,” Suto muttered as she pressed her finger on her template, rubbing it. It was only then that she noticed that there were fluids on it; she looked at her finger and saw the dark red color of her blood on it. “Ahh, it seems I have sustained damage from whatever happened.” She looked downwards, hearing her name again, and saw Silina pinned and in worse condition. “Ah, Commander, you seem in distress.” 

Looking dryly up at Scott, “What made you say that…” Silina coughs and growls from the pain, “The blood or the metal piece in my body?” She added sarcastically, “Get the medical kit….I believe it is …” She looked around, still unsure where she was. Had she lost too much blood as it is?  She felt light in her head and took another deep breath. "It's somewhere here, Scott."

Suto carefully looked around. “I believe the warp cell doesn't have one…” She pushed herself to the side to grab a grip and tried to climb to find the requested item. 

“The warp cell…right, we went there to collect your samples from there,” Silina concluded the missing parts of her memories. “It 's right there,” Pointed weakly in the direction of a cabin that was mounted on the wall. “You can access it,” She mentioned weakly.

Opening the pointed cabin, she blinked and saw the medical gear in it. She grabbed it and pushed herself toward the wounded Commander. “Ma'am, here you go…” She reached out the medical kit toward Silina.

Looking back at her, “You …don't know how to use that?” Silina was confused for a moment.

“I am a scientist, Commander. I didn't learn medical skills, as they seem …irrelevant to my learning process of becoming who I am today. I am no doctor, but I can conclude by visual that you do require medical attention, Commander.” Suto blinked, still reaching out with the medical kit to Silina.

Feeling the urge to roll her eyes, she grabbed the kit and softly nodded to herself. “You will need first aid stat after this, Lieutenant.” Silina started the diagnosis on herself as she looked at Suto. “Go figure out what our current condition is, Lieutenant. We kind of need more medical attention, you know.” She sighs and continues her first aid, trying to figure out how to do this on herself. 

Suto blinked a few times and nodded, “That does make sense, Commander.” She pushed herself off and searched for any given explanation of their current situation. The entrance was blocked, and the lights were red. The panel was not very functional and showed that it was unable to open. Suto shrugged as she looked at another barely functional panel and tapped carefully and patiently on it. “Getting shipwide information….we are currently in warp cell two, oh…” 

Her eyes rose from the tricorder when Suto replied, “Oh?” Silina's head turned to the side.

“It seems that our engine, where we are currently located, is splintered from the main ship.” Suto looked at the panel, where a clear indication of red showed the separation of the long warp cell. Then, she directed her attention to the Commander. “It seems that communications are also down.” 

How could Scott be so calm? They were stranded and separated from their crew, and her medical sense of emergency was also not helping. “Must be the Vulcan part…” she muttered to herself and shook her head slightly, flabbergasted by the response.

“Excuse me?” Suto responded and looked back at the panel, tapping on it.

“Nothing….are you able to fix the communications or at least send some sort of SOS to the rest of the ship?” Silina felt what would be following up and focused her energy on her body to stop the bleeding to a certain degree. 

Shaking slowly, she said, “No, ma'am, I am a scientist, not an engineer. However, I can try to figure out where we are…the camera seems to be working.” Suto managed to get the cameras functional and operational and saw large pieces of debris and parts of the Mariner hull. The ship was in good condition and was barely holding together. “The Mariner looks quite beaten up, so we must stick around here for now. Until you feel better, do you feel better?” Suto looked at Silina.

Rolling her eyes again at the non-engineering part, Silina meanwhile managed to pull out the metal piece, seal the wound, and minimize her bleeding. But she was far from out of the woods. This needed a trained medical opinion and treatment. But for now, it would have to do. “I am …for now, okay, but I require medical attention. Can you figure out where we are?” 

Taking a deep breath and looking at the screen would be difficult, as most scanning equipment was in the main part of the Mariner, not here. But she could briefly observe what she saw and use her knowledge. The area's gold-brown glow, the violent storms visible in the distance, and the parts that were flying gave her no direct answer to the question that the Commander desired. Suto eyes, however, stopped at the formation of a circle-shaped wormhole that appeared but as quickly also disappeared; it made her blink and look away as she thought.

“Well?” Silina asked as she took a breather from the pain that she managed to sedate for now. She looked at Suto, who was lost in her thoughts. “Scott, talk to me…” 

She raised a finger and looked at the Commander. “It seems we got some characteristic features; it doesn't point me to identify as to where we are or what we had to deal with. Because I lack a sensor, my visual observation currently is that we are dealing with a subspace that is highly violent and full of drifting obstacles." Suto thinks for a moment and looks again at the camera feed. “But what I believe is that it is somehow a travel pathway?” 

“Travel pathway?” Silina repeated with a slight blink of her eyes, looking puzzled at her Chief Science, “So we got dragged into an anomaly that captured us in a violent location where the ship is currently disabled, and we are cut off from the main ship?” To sum up, their current problem. 

“That is a crude way to explain it, but a correct one,” Suto confirmed the Commander's thoughts on their situation. “Oh, and it seems that we are losing life support on this part of the compartment; the system states we have, but only 8 hours until our oxygen is depleted. So, Commander, I urge you to devise an engineering solution to get out of here and back to the ship.” Suto calmly stated and continued, “That is, if they don't have the same problem, if so, then we have a bigger problem.” 

Looking confused at Scott “A true scientist heh…now I have seen everything.” Silina knew this would lie on her shoulders now and moved carefully to Suto's position, seeing the data with her own eyes. “I bet we can make it over there…if only we had an EVA suit.” 

“Actually, that would be a suicide run for both of us. Even with the EVA suit, we would be exposed to harsh conditions. I don't know if that would be worth the risk,” Suto shrugs a bit.

Looking at Scott, she said, “It's either that or we die without any oxygen. As we humans would say, pick your poison.” She pushed herself from the panel and went deeper into the engine to find anything that could help them return to their ship. 

10) Out of reach

USS Mariner - Various locations
September 2401

The grim sight of scouting deck by deck left a bitter taste of defeat for Aakif. Whatever they had encountered severely damaged the ship, and they had to seal off some decks that had collapsed or been breached by the vacuum of space. A pathway was cleared from the sickbay to the engineering and sickbay to the bridge. Yes, it was a relief to hear that the command structure and the bridge were still in one piece, at least somewhat. 

In his journey through the decks, he was joined by nurse Petty Officer Kawaigno and trained in engineering with Ensign Cho. Both saw the horrors of either the pouring wounded into sickbay with half-functional operational systems and equipment, and the other saw the broken-down engineering that barely held together if they had to endure. Taking a few calm breaths, Aakif pulls up a piece of a ceiling from an officer buried below it. “Hurry up…” he muttered; on any given day, this would have been a piece of cake, but he had been thrown around himself and been doing this for the last couple of hours.

Keeyiro pulled the injured and painfully moaning officer from below the rubble into a more safe area. “Done. You can lower it, Chief,” She replied hastily so that Aakif could lower the ceiling, and so he did. With a thud, the ceiling dropped to the floor.

A tricorder beeping sound came from the injured officer's side. “Stay still. We need to get you checked.” Theetika looked at the incoming data as she made a full body scan. She grabbed a yellow-colored tag from her belt and stuck it onto the officer's chest. “Chief, call the transport team to escort this one to cargo bay three.” The cargo bay was transformed from an empty cargo hold into a full medical triage location. Those without immediate danger, observation, or minor injuries would go there. 

Taking a deep breath, Aakif nodded and tapped the com badge; the internal communication had been recovered, but it was still sketchy at best, and not every deck was in range yet. “Chief al-Jalali to cargo bay three, we got another one at deck five, starboard side. We are moving to deck six.” 

Understood…..team 6 is on route for pick-up. Cargo bay three out.” A brief and statically sounded reply came in.

Aakif nodded to the confirmation and looked at the other two. “Are we good to go? Deck six still needs checking.” He motioned to a Jefferson Tube. He saw a nod from Keeyiro and Theetika as he walked to the tube's entrance and opened it manually.

Looking down at the officer, “A team is going to pick you up; stay still and do not move.” With that said, Theetika gave the officer a slight sedative. “This will ease the pain for now.” It was ethically unheard of to leave. A person of medical requirement behind. Theetika had no choice but to continue searching for wounded in this rumble area and bits of pieces she barely recognized.

“Are you okay, Doc?" Keeyiro looked at Theetika, whose concentration had drained, and then back at her.

Giving a slight nod, waiting for the tube to be opened, “I am okay, still shaking up. And it's a nurse, not a doctor…I don't have that degree,” Theetika pointed out as she placed her tricorder on her belt. “The ship has seen quite a stir, and we still have no answers about what happened.” 

Crawling into the tube and climbing down making sure everything is secure and safe “Looks good here, deck seems to be in one piece” Announced Keeyiro with a shrug, she understood why she was going first as the assigned engineer, but her roots are intelligence. She gets out of the tube and stretches, starting to look around. “This deck is a mess also, but seems to be hit more badly?” She grabbed her tricorder set up expressly for engineering duties and started to make scans.

Aakif got into the deck a second and looked around, concluding the same, but he did not see any bodies. “To your question, nurse.” He had to hold the urge to say doc; it was common for him to call any medical-trained doctor. “If this was done from the perspective of an attack, we would have been boarded already, taken into custody, and sent off to some remote slave market where we hang in cages on display for other people's entertainment.” He walked onto the deck further and saw some blocked areas. 

“That is awfully detailed, Chief. Are you speaking out of experience?" Theetika teases as she scans the area with her tricorder for any life forms.

He noticed Keeyiro smirking at that comment and rolling his eyes. “It is a plausible situation that could happen to us. But to entertain your imaginary mind. I have no experience of such an event,” Aakif counters the accusation.  “Then again, we are still missing people like the First Officer and the Chief Science…” He stopped and looked at the flickering blue light in the distance. “Ensign Cho, what is there?” He pointed in the direction of the force field.

Keeyiro turned her attention to the pointed area and shrugged. “No clue…” Her mind raced with potential sections on this deck; the lightbulb hit her. “No…” Her eyes refocused on the force field as she rushed to the field and saw the external sight of the dark red and yellow clouds that were electrified and …a broken warp cell that was barely holding onto the ship, “Shit…”

The other two arrived at the area and saw, to their horror, the brute force of their engine being pulled almost off the ship. “Who is going to deliver the news to Commander Valerio?” Aakif spoke.

“Worry not about the commander. I am more worried about the Captain,” Keeyiro reasonably pointed out as she aimed at the warp cell side windows. "I think I found your missing person, the First Officer.” Her finger aimed at one of the side windows of the warp cell where Commander Ruslanovna was, what it seemed like, talking. 

11) A Chilly Jump

Deck 6 - Starboard Emergency Airlock 17-C4
September 2401

Starboard Warp Cell

Leaning against the hull, her head felt the coldness of the steel, and she could hear its cracking sounds. The situation was dire. Both Suto and Silina were trapped in the broken piece of the warp cell, hanging with a few plates onto the Mariner. The problem was briefly upheld higher when the static and difficult-to-understand communication from the other side came that they found them. Silina's condition had worsened, even as a doctor herself. There was only so much she could do to stop the bleeding, but this became an internal concern, and she knew that the bleeding didn't stop in her. 

The situation didn't make it easier, knowing that the transporting system was still down and could take hours to get functional. The shuttle bays were also out of commission for hours. This warp cell had one EVA suit. Silina's eyes were locked onto it as it lay before her.

“Time is running out, Commander. Your latest scan of your body shows….” Suto was no expert in the medical field and had little care for it. But she also knew the Commander would most likely fill in the blanks herself. “We should make use of the suit and jump across.” She points at the sealed door. 

Her eyes shifted in the direction of Suto, narrowed weakly. “How do you think that would work? We got one suit, not two.” Silina knew the direction she was going to go and shrugged. “ Get in that suit, Lieutenant, you jump…” 

Looking at the door and the harsh conditions outside, she looked back at the weakened Commander. “That would mean death for you, Commander. You heard Ensign Cho. This is the only option, and you are more in medical need than I am. So, I urge you to get in that suit, and I will help you cross the line.” She looked outside again, some worry flickering in her eyes.

Why was this prodigy child of science so concerned about the well-being of her? She refused to help Silina with any medical procedures. Then again, Silina did notice a gagging sound. Blood disgusted Suto, most likely? “How can you get safely to the other side?” 

Suto thought for a second and calculated the risk: “About 29%? We are dealing with the harsh conditions of space, vacuum, and cold, and then there is the element of surprise that you got tachyon particles that can make anyone's day a living hell…or shorten it.” She looked back at Silina, who was barely able to keep her eyes open. “I think it is time for you to go…” 

Trying to resist Suto's suggestion, “I….I am not leaving you behind, Lieutenant. You got what….air for an hour?” Silina noticed Suto putting the suit's pants on her, “I can't … leave you.” 

“It is not logical to put yourself at risk if the situation doesn't ask for it. I am in perfect health and condition and only have minor injuries. Now please stop resisting and accept the help." Suto shrugged a bit. “I know I am into a social butterfly, as most humanoids say. I am ….I can't blood that well and was unable to help you.” She closes the belt and places the shoes on Silina's feet. “So I do apologize.” 

She placed the upper piece on Silina as Suto gagged at the blood she saw and looked away while placing her boss into the suit.

Breathing heavily and feeling parts of her body going cold, she knew that the bleeding was taking a toll on her. “Fine, how do you get out, Lieutenant?” Silina managed to get out of her. As she magnet-locked her wrist into the suit, she saw Suto stand up and search in nearby cabinets. “What are you doing?”

Scuffling through the cabinets, Suto was looking for something, “I am using the parameters of the situation in my favor. But it is not favorable in its current condition. I have about 16% survival if I stay here. I have about 2% if I go out there.” She pulls out materials that Suto deemed as not worth her time. “That would mean I need something to boost those statistic measures.” She pulled out a few blankets, an engineer mask, an engineering jacket, and some isolation tape. 

“So…that will solve the issue?” Silina shrugged at what she was seeing.

Puzzled at the items, Suto slowly nodded. “It would increase my odds.” She looked at Silina, seeing her condition getting worse by the second. “This is what they would call take a leap of faith.” She pressed the commbadge “Scott to team near. Airlock 17-C4. We are going to attempt an airlock breach. Get ready to receive. Scott out" Starting to bind cloths of blankets around her vital areas and taping it with isolation tape. She placed the mask on her face and put on the jacket, taping the wrist to a close.

Silina looked at the crafty scientist, “You sure …about this?”

Looking at the areas she closed and warmed up with blankets, she looked through the mask at Silina. “Vital areas are protected. It should give me time to make the jump. I will need to hold my breath, and you need to hold onto me.” She helped Silina to her feet as she clicked the helmet close from Silina's suit.

“What are you going to do…” Silina looked puzzled as she was guided to the sealed door. 

Suto took a deep breath, placing Silina in front of her with the door behind her. “The airlock is about eighteen meters from us away. When I override the door locks, it will open, and all the air in this area will be pushed outside. It will create a force to push both of us in the line toward the open area with the force field. Now, the tricky part is that I don't know the trajectory and how long I can hold my breath.” 

Wanting to reject the idea was too much of a risk for Suto. But Suto was already dialing in the code: “Ready or not, here we go.” She pressed the panel's final codes as a countdown went off. She held onto Silina's EVA suit and took a few deep breaths before covering her face in the ripped blanket. She could feel Silina's arms going around her and holding onto her.

With a sudden click, the door opens, and an immense force of air pushes out as the two get pushed into the harsh and cold space in the direction of the ship's shimmering blue field. Twisting and turning, the two had barely any control over what was happening. Suto felt the coldness hit her, creeping up her exposed skin. But she held onto the suit, eyes closed and her breath in. It felt like an eternity; she was losing her breath due to the intense shaking.

Deck 6 - Starboard Emergency Airlock 17-C4

A little bit earlier, the team was looking at each other, trying to think of a way to get the two out of there. “Shuttle bays are out of commission for a few days, the transport system is a liability without proper checking, and it's not a first concern.” Adrián was relieved that Sazra and the rest of the bridge were okay, but he was less relieved when he heard the predicament Silina and Lieutenant Scott had been put into. 

“I just communicated that to Lieutenant Scott; she sounded not that happy about the given situation,” Keeyiro stated with a shrug, scratching the back of her head. “I honestly don't have any ideas to get them here…" She was interrupted by the sudden communication. 

Scott to team near. Airlock 17-C4. We are going to attempt an airlock breach. Get ready to receive. Scott out

The team looked at each other. Did they genuinely hear that message? Adrián rushed to the force field, seeing the activity going on in the warp cell. “Is she out of her mind?! There is only one suit in that compartment…” Seeing Silina getting helped into the suit, “Nurse, how long does one survive in space…given situation?” He looked at her.

Theetika shrugged. “Given the situation, minus 250 or more Celsius out there. No one will survive that for a long exposure of time.” 

Rolling his eyes, Adrián sees them getting ready “Fuck mee…. Aakif helped me, Nurse, get ready to receive someone in freezing conditions. Ensign Cho, get me a carry team down here, stat." Aakif stood quickly at the side. Theetika stood at the ready, not amused by the given plan. Ensign Cho started to communicate with a transport team for emergency pickup. 

The air explosion was seen from the other side, seeing the two bodies being launched from the compartment, “INCOMING.” Adrián raised his voice, tracking with his eyes the two unstable projectiles of bodies. Seeing the slow-down of the two, seeing them getting closer and getting too slow to get to them. Taking a deep breath, “Aakif, hold my arm, counterweight!” 

Slowly, Suto looked up and opened her eyes, looking at Silina's helmet. She felt so cold that she needed to breathe as it slowly escaped her lungs. Feeling her consciousness fading, she suddenly felt a tug on her feet and dragged through the force field that allowed for a quick entrée. 

“Get the Commander to sickbay stat!” A voice yelled the orders.

“Commander your arm…” 

A familiar voice came by that might be linked to that nurse Suto knew. She felt a sudden lift from the floor as if she were being carried. Her eyes opened slowly as she saw snips of Adrián's worried face: “Commander….” She was confused. Suto didn't understand why this man was carrying her. Ah, yes, the transporter was down, but then again, a triage team should pick her up and not like this.

“Don't worry, Lieutenant, we will get you to the sickbay. That was the stupidest thing I ever saw anyone do, but….also the bravest,” Adrián spoke, not looking down at the frozen-up Suto, who had difficulty breathing. 

12) Facts, Medical Facts

USS Mariner - Sickbay
September 2401

The sickbay, the chaos, had landed on the shoulders of the medical personnel once again. The situation of the Mariner was, in many ways, similar to the situation of the USS Damascus back in Delta Quadrant during Operations Blood Dilithium. An estimate of the ship's total damage was still an unknown factor, but data didn't lie about the numbers of crew injuries or deaths. The sickbay was the place no crew member wanted to be; it was the final destination for those tagged for severity or life-threatening injuries. 

Iron, the smell of iron, was now a familiar smell for Kossaal; the Andorian was working on some medical supplies to distract his mind from his patients' groaning and whining pains. He understood their suffering, and he treated their suffering, but if one person approached him with an iron splinter in his finger, he would lose it. It was his job, of course, but simultaneously, he was overwhelmed the last few hours with extreme cases. Not to count the fact that not all his medical equipment was working. He glared over his shoulder, seeing engineers who had time and were not wounded to focus on the medical equipment to get it back working. 

Kossaal shrugged and rubbed his head to the eerie headache bugging him. The cause could be anything from the damage he had received from the hefty flight to the lack of sleep. Who needs sleep at times like these? He noticed Adrián walking into the sickbay, which made him raise an eyebrow. “Commander, is there a need for your presence here?” He was not in the mood to have more people or engineers in his sickbay, and in his fair opinion, Mister Valerio had to focus on other things for sure.

“Ah, doctor, no, I am not here for myself or my engineers that you borrowed,” He snaps back and raises his hand. “I am unaware of the urgency to get things going here, but your attitude makes any person unwelcome.” Adrián could see the dire situation of the sickbay and felt nausea from the overwhelming iron smell as he saw the doctor reach out with a pill.

“It's against nausea. The sickbay is not for the weak stomach.” Kossaal stated, “I repeat my question, what can I do for you, Commander?” 

Adrián took the pill and swallowed it. A few seconds later, he could feel his stomach calming down. He looked at the doctor. “Status report of the crew.” He shrugged a bit. “Captain wants to have a briefing soon, and this data is needed,” he added.

Letting out a deep breath, “Nurse, give me the status PADD.” Kossaal looked at Theetika, who walked to him with the PADD. “Thank you.” He looked at the list; it was quite the numbers. “A few examples of these are”

Ensign Velara

  • Injury: Severe Burns
  • Cause: Plasma conduit explosion

Lieutenant Threx

  • Injury: Severe chemical exposure
  • Cause: Leak from one science lab

Crewman Zora

  • Injury: Fractured ribs, severe burns
  • Cause: Structural collapse near the engineering

Ensign Jaxa 

  • Injury: Fractured skull, severe burns
  • Cause: Structural collapse in maintenance bay

Kossaal stopped and looked up at Mister Valerio. “I can continue for a good thirty minutes, but the numbers are there, and I barely have time as it is to be your reader.” He shrugged. “Of the one-hundred and twenty crew members in service of this ship. We lost eighteen people. We have eleven critical here. Furthermore, we got about forty-four in the severity of injuries, and the rest can operate.” 

“That brings our active operating crew to forty-seven…shit,” Adrián scratched his head and flinched as he noticed Theetika behind him. “What …”

She got out the tricorder and started working on the cuts on his back. “Stand still; we require you to be functional and operate, Commander. These cuts won't do.” Theetika ignored any other response and worked on his back. She was also showing fatigue. 

Letting out another sigh, “But I presume the Captain wants to know the status of her senior staff who are out of commission.” “Commander Ruslanovna has been pierced by metal debris during the crash-land, or whatever you wish to call it. She managed to hold most of the bleeding back but not the internal bleeding. I have induced her into an artificial coma so her body can, with some help, recover. She is under careful watch.” Kossaal looked over his shoulder to the isolated biobed where Suto was lying and narrowed his eyes. “Lieutenant Scott will be out of commission for a while.”

Adrián eyes looked at Suto, and every fiber in his body wanted to move in her direction. But he couldn't; it would be weird. Why did he feel so protective over her? He liked her, sure, but the feelings were not mutual. “Why is that?” He finally manages to get out.

“A series of bad choices," Theetika replied, continuing her work. “The Lieutenant has frostbite from the exposure to space temperature; she has received a dose of radiation while in space without any protection. The lack of protection caused her to have decompression sickness that will linger for a while in her system." 

“Not only that,” Kossaal continued, “She held her breath.” Looking back at Mister Valerio, who looked puzzled, “Medical 101, do not hold your breath in space. I don't know if it's 101, but the academy should teach about that.” Kossaal crossed his arms over each other. “She suffered barotrauma, which means that her lungs were damaged from holding her breath in vacuum space, and she had over a total of one hundred seventy-six small ruptures in her lungs. Additionally, she got hypoxia.” 

Looking puzzled at Theetika, Adrián had no idea what that meant.

“It means she lacked oxygen that blacked her out and got her some damage to her brain, but it's fixable; it just takes … time” 

Adrián looked back at Suto. “How long have they both been out?” 

“Commander Ruslanovna will be stuck here for at least four days. But knowing her, make that three, as she is too stubborn to sit down and rest.” Kossaal rolled his eyes, thinking how a golden match she was to the Captain as she had the same principle. “Lieutenant Scott will be out for seven to eight days.” He shrugs. “But she does need medical advantage equipment to fix her lungs.” 

“Right,” he shrugged. I will….” he puzzled in his mind and looked around the sickbay, seeing the wounded. I will get you more engineers to fix this up.” Adrián shrugged but nodded to Theetika, who finished with his back and walked to the exit. “Thanks, Doc, for the info.” He raised the PADD and walked out. 

They both looked at him, leaving. “He seemed troubled, distracted?” Theetika concluded, a bit confused.

“I wonder why the Captain sent him instead of Lieutenant K'Nala; maybe we got bigger problems than a shortage of personnel, power, and functional systems.” Kossaal shrugged and shook his head, turning back to the sickbay as he heard people crying for painkillers “Back to work” 

13)Give it to me…

USS Mariner - Ready Room
September 2401

The ready room was one big mess. There was no other way of saying it politely. There are chairs on the ground, and some trinkets and PADDs are next to them. Even the plant was not spared from the brutality of this event, which had crashed down on this ship. Kneeling as a shattered photo frame was picked up, Sazra dusted the broken glass a bit. Seeing the old crew of the Jaxartes. The crew was young, naive, and very inexperienced in what they would see, feel, and hear. 

Sazra shrugged, wondering if she could travel back and tell her younger self, what would she tell her? Be careful? Don't trust anyone? It would basically change who she is now. She had seen stars of unknown constructs, met alien life, mind melt with a large entity with every risk included, and much more. There was nothing she could have told herself to be more prepared for what was ahead of her. But it made her wonder about her current situation, stranded in the unknown, once again faced with danger. She looked outside and saw the dark red and purple clouds in constant motion, with lighting coming across them. The sound of a crippled chime broke her stare. “Enter,” she stated, standing up and leaning against the desk.

“Captain”

Both K'Nala and Dacio stated at the same time that their uniforms were dirty and ripped. On any given day, Sazra would have corrected them that clean clothing was the image of every Starfleet officer, but the situation didn't call for such a lecture. She was a mess herself, as Sazra looked briefly at her uniform and shrugged out of irritation. “Report…” she said in an annoyance tone. She saw Adrián silently joining them and giving her a nod. 

K'Nala looked nervously toward Adrián, who gave her a reassuring nod. She took a deep breath and looked at the PADD he had given her, “We took a severe blow to the capacity of ourrr crew. Doctor Th'shrithel is doing quite the miracle work.  As of this reporrrt eighteen people have been lost. We got eleven in critical condition. About forrrty-fourrr in severe condition. That …”

“Forty-seven are on active duty, shit,” Sazra interrupted K'Nala's report and rubbed her template, letting the information sink in. It was quite a blow to the operational standards of this ship. It had an impact on all fronts. “What is the ETA for getting our crew back in full health?”

The young Caitian shrugged, “The doctorrr is doing what he can but to his words. It depends on when he has a full working sickbay at his disposal…”  

“Commander Ruslanovna is currently out of commission for at least three days; the doc stated that she managed to close the outside wounds, but she got critical due to her inside bleeding.” Adrián added to K'Nala's report and saw Sazra's posture slightly change, hearing this news: “Lieutenant Scott…” For some reason, he had problems with this report himself and shrugged. “She will be out of commission longer, as she was exposed to the elements of space. Doc said she is lucky to be still alive.”

Every fiber in Sazra body wanted to rush out of this room and get to Silina side, she wanted to throw the rank and uniform aside and be at her loved one. But she knew that Silina would give her a lecture. Taking a deep breath and staying calm. “Mariner?” she stated. 

This was the spotlight for Adrián, a light he would rather stay out of. He shrugged and crossed his arms. “Hull breaches here and there; sections that are hit badly are closed off by force fields, like collapsed ceilings and blown plasma conduits. To my surprise, the warp core is relatively intact, however priority must go to the right warp cell. Reports state that the engine is barely hanging onto the ship; I need to go outside and patch her up as best as possible; thrusters would be possible, but that's about it. Warp will be a big no, not in her fragile state.”

This is more bad news to add to the mountain of problems that Sazra already had to process. Well, let's add more. She looked at Dacio, “Report, Lieutenant." The relatively quiet science officer stayed in the back of this conversation.

He looked up when hearing the request and nodded to his Captain. “Well….with the remnants of the science department, I had to my arsenal. It took me a good ten hours to compile the given information.” He looked at the PADD that he had in his hands. Dacio disliked being vague, but he did not have much information to go on. “We tried to figure out what happened, why, and how. But with the given material we had, it will take longer even to get a certain answer on these questions.” 

Dacio shrugged at his lack of ability to explain more. “I can say the following: the readings from before and during the event are not connected. It is a natural event that occurred, that is for sure, but the readings of the gravity intensity and the amount of tachyon particles are very difficult to explain,” he said, tapping his PADD. “But there is one possibility, it is far-fetched and very unlikely because….well, to cut short, it is the possibility that we got dragged into a wormhole of some kind….when crossing this information with the system, we got underspace”

The room got quiet as the reflection of another lighting entered the ready room, “Underspace?” K'Nala's expression said it all; she was confused. “What is that?”

“It is a network of subspace corridors that is mostly under the control of the Turei Alliance,” Sazra explained briefly, tapping her lip, thinking of the given information. It was quite the riddle, and she agreed with Dacio that the likelihood that this was the underspace was slim.

Shaking her head, she said, “Wait, Turei? That's Delta Quadrant.” She looked from Adrián to Sazra, looking even more confused than before. “We were in Beta Quadrant.”

Nodding to that conclusion, he said, “That is the problem we are having right now to confirm. We need sensors to investigate where we are. But if the criteria and parameters meet up, we are most likely still in the underspace.” He looked briefly over his shoulder at the dangerous and hazardous space. "I need more sensors and working scientific equipment to conclude our situation."

It became quiet momentarily as they saw Sazra tapping her lip with her finger and then looking up at them. “Commander Valerio, get two teams ready to prioritize both ship's internal systems, such as sensors and medical. The other team focuses on the warp cell. Get this ship moving again, but be careful out there.” She looked at K'Nala. “Help sickbay by finding personnel with minimal medical knowledge, and assign those with engineering skills to the engineering to report to Lieutenant Taritt.” Security was less important in the given situation, Sazra thought.

Looking at Dacio, she said, “Continue your work with the available science officers and figure out where we are and how to get out. Ask K'Nala for a navigational point reference if needed. We must know what is out there and if it harms us.” With that, she pushed herself off the desk and walked to the door, as Sazra wanted to leave.

“Captain,” K'Nala spoke, looking in her direction.

Sazra stopped in her tracks but didn't turn around. "What, Lieutenant? 

“You can't help herrr,” K'Nala stated bluntly, knowing exactly where the Captain was rushing over to. “The crrrew requires you; the ship requirrres you right now. The doctorrr has full control over Commanderrr Ruslanovna's situation. You would be a burden to herrr if you just stay at herrr side and do nothing.” These were harsh words that caught Adrián off guard, surprised by the bold approach from the young woman. 

It was indeed a heavy sting that hit Sazra in her back, but despite wanting to yell at the officer, wanting to put her back in her place. Sazra just sighed and knew that K'Nala was right about the given situation. Automatically, she wanted to go to Silina, ensuring she was alright, to be at her side when she woke up. “Three days…” Sazra muttered and nodded softly “I will be heading to the shuttle bay or a functional one that is” She didn't turn around and just spoke “I will try to find a working shuttle and give Lieutenant Bruno a chance to get outside and get some real feed information. I work better at science as it is my starting point, the roots of my Starfleet career.” 

Knowing very well that her speech was a ruse to cover up her true initial attempt, she changed her mind on the spot to focus on the needs of the many. “Get to work, dismissed.” With that said, Sazra moved out of the room leaving the three officers behind. 

Adrián pats K'Nala's shoulder. “You are on the right track of becoming a fine command staff, but also on her bad side.” He winked at her as they left the ready room to resume their duties. 

14) Stepping Outside

USS Mariner - Airlock 14C
September 2401

Clicking the wristlocks to close, Adrián looked at the status of his EVA suit and nodded to himself. His attention diverted to his side, seeing Adham, a relatively young scientist officer who K'Nala asked to help out with the engineering team in repairs. Yet he didn't seem very motivated to go outside in such a hostile space, but he drew the short end as he had EVA training on his record as outstanding. Adham's engineering skills, as medium as they might be, would be a welcoming addition to this challenging task. “Are you okay, Ensign?” 

He looked nervously up as he clicked the footlock of his boot towards Adrián. “Ye….Yes, sir, it is both terrifying and amazing…more terrifying, honestly. Commander” Adham was not thrilled to go outside the spaceship, but instead stayed inside and helped the science team connect the dots as to where they were in the underspace or how it could even happen. But on the flip side, it was unique to go outside and witness the brute force of the underspace. 

He gave a brief nod in his direction, “Just stay calm and focus on the task at hand, as that will take some hours to finish.” Adrián was not looking forward to the daunting task. But it was not like he had a choice, as most of his engineering team was either occupied or in sickbay. 

“When will Lieutenant Istrati relieve us?” 

A young voice came from Adrián's side as he looked in the direction, seeing Ensign Cho getting the helmet on and checking her gear. “Lieutenant Istrati will relieve us when the internal power system is back up, and sickbay is not sending me a message every….” A ping came as Adrián shrugged, looking at the device on his arm from sickbay. “Focus on the task, Ensign; we will work overtime until the Lieutenant can relieve us.” He placed the helmet on his head and locked it. “Comm check, Adrián”

“Adam, comm check received.” 

“Keeyiro, comm check received.” 

Adrián realizes he was on a name basis in the comm check and shrugs a bit as he nods to them both. “Remember, the underspace is very dangerous and very unpredictable. Have your magnetic boots on always and get your rope hooked.” He raises his hook and sees them both nodding. As he walks into the airlock with the rest of the team and gear, he places the gear with a magnetic lock on a floating workbench, small and compact but suitable for transporting tools and material. “Ensign bin Suhail, start the decompression process,” Adrián orders as he checks the tools. 

Walking to the panel, Adham presses the buttons and panel to start the decompression process. The air gets sucked out of the room as a green light appears. “Decompression process complete, Commander. We are good to go outside.” He walks to the door and releases the seal as it hisses open. 

“Magnetic boats on!” Adrián ordered as he tapped his arm panel. The boots clicked onto the floor, and the thud sounds of the other boots clicking onto the ground confirmed his decision to start this difficult task. Slowly moving into the space, he noticed the rough space they were in. As Adham said earlier, it was amazing and yet terrifying to witness these powers. His eyes scanned the chaotic space, seeing debris of the planet ripped apart by the brute strength of this capture, which brought them here. But also metal frames from their ship, older derelict ships most likely lured into the spiderweb of chaos. His eyes stared at a metal frame that floated there as if nothing had happened. 

“Commander," A voice came from behind Adrián. “We have to keep moving; the radiation meters are already hitting our EVA,” Keeyiro concluded as she moved ahead with the floating workbench to the almost broken-off warp cell, followed by Adham.

Looking in their direction, Adrián started to follow them and could only now see the immense damage the Mariner had endured. He looked at his arm and saw the meter of radiation slowly rising. “Gives us about four to five hours; after that, we will be experiencing radiation poisoning,” he added and shrugged. His eyes diverted to the engine, and he inspected it as he walked to it.

The team stopped close to the metal framework where the warp cell was still attached. As Adrián points at various key points, “We have to make sure the structural integrity is stabilized, meaning we have to focus on cracks, ripples that are a threat to further damage. We weld those locations, and when Captain Kobahl has restored one of the shuttle bays, we will receive some drone assistance.” 

“How many drones do we have?” Adham asked a valid and concerning question. If they had to do the welding themselves, it would take days before the ship could move again.

He turned his attention to the young scientist. “No ETA is given, as I have not yet heard news from the Captain about the condition of the shuttle bay. I only know that the bay is a mess and needs configuration on what is still usable. I hope we can use all the drones stored there, but don't pin your hopes on that.” He locks the workbench on the area and grabs the welding gear.

Keeyiro grabs the welding toolkit and walks to the first designated area. She dives a bit, seeing a small rock passing over her head. “We better stay alert; this space is quite occupied.” She kneels at the first spot and grabs the stuff, using the computer guiding system to analyze and support her in welding it correctly. 

The surrounding space was in constant movement; large debris was floating around, and at the far end, a flash of it disappeared. Adham could only conclude that this was genuinely underspace. His eyes looked around as he kneeled slowly down with his welding kit at his designated location. However, Adham's eyes stopped at a large piece of rock where he could see fragments of houses. “The colony….” He muttered to himself as a red glimmer reflected in his eyes. He looked in that direction, and his pupils widened. “Commander,” He pointed in the direction. 

Looking in the direction of Adham, Adrián's eyes followed the direction of where he was pointing. He slowly stood up and gasped at the sight he saw in front of him. He tapped his comm badge. “Commander Valerio to Captain Kobahl….we have an issue. There is a Mat'Ha class ship at drift near our location. The Klingon ship is quite battered up as I see a lot of damage and nearly no energy.” 

15) The Stakes are High

USS Mariner - Science Observation Lab
September 2401

The observation lab was a mess and the least damaged across the ship. That was a win by itself. However, the power the lab was receiving, and the sensor data were minimal as it was diverted to sickbay and engineering, which needed more. Yet this room would be vital to navigating and recording everything they could about the underspace. Dacio rushed with Vaikan into the room. “Work on the sensor data and try to squeeze every power you can that Taritt allows to get a better view of what we are dealing with, where we are, and how the hell it could happen.” 

The Vulcan gave a brief nod while walking toward one of the operational consoles and started to enter her parameters and inquiry request. “Mister Tharek, what are you doing there?" She had noticed the coridanite sitting on the ground, looking at a projecting view of the outside.

Dacio looked over at the other console, seeing Tharek mesmerized by what he was looking at. “Chief Petty Officer Tharek? Are you okay?” 

His concentration was broken, and he looked at his side, seeing Dacio, and then at the other side, seeing Vaikan standing there. “Oh, well….yes, I am. I didn't notice you guys entered. What is the condition of the ship? I have had trouble with the sensor logs and was….well, looking at that." He pointed at the projected live feed of the underspace.

Looking at the projection, Dacio nodded. “The ship is in bad condition; Commander Valerio is doing his best to get power systems back and our engine operational again. Lieutenant Scott will be ….” He looked at Vaikan, who had stopped and looked in his direction, “…out of commission for at least a week. Her injuries are significant, but she is stable and placed under surveillance by the medical team.” 

As she had learned from her years of training at Vulcan, Vaikan did not show any emotions. Instead, she redirected her attention to the console while her mind was distracted by her worries for her friend. She had heard about the incident and what her friend had done. It had shocked her at first, but she managed to process it and focus on the task at hand: surviving. 

“That, that is good news,” Tharek stated as he stood up. Now, they could see that he had some dry blood on his uniform from an old wound. I mean, we are getting power to the sensors. The data I could gather only referenced this place as something unlikely…”

“Underspace,” Dacio finished his sentence as his eyes focused on Tharek's wrist, which had dry blood. He figured that he would have shown it if Tharek was still in pain. Looking back at Tharek, “I have already made a cross-reference in our system, and the criteria meet up with Underspace. Voyager first had to deal with it; after that, we had some ships in the Delta Quadrant that also had to deal with it.” 

Vaikan hums a bit at the given information while looking at the data. “But we were at Beta Quadrant?” she concludes. “How is it possible that a phenomenon such as Underspace is appearing here?” 

Leaning against the console, Dacio let his head hang for a second. “That I don't know or can explain yet. The Underspace itself is a big mystery, as the Turei kept most information to themselves when they proclaimed to be the guardians of this space.” Dacio looked at the projector. “This should, by all accounts, not have happened. Petty Officer checks the database for any phenomena that are aligned with this to have happened before.” 

With a brief nod, Vaikan started the database search. “I should be able to get it within 30 to 45 minutes.” She gave herself a deadline, so there was a goal. 

Tapping his chin as Tharek had his other arm under him, looking at the projector, he said, “If this is Underspace, then the world of astrometric and stellar cartography will be changed forever. The Turei, or whoever they might be, have no say in what we do with this opportunity. They control and safeguard Delta Quadrant.” Looking at Dacio, “This could be the beginning of a new era of exploration for us.”

The endless possibilities were indeed there. The sudden appearance was daunting and amazing, even with its violent nature. Dacio couldn't deny the sweet taste of scientific exploration that this opportunity could present. But the sudden appearance could also mean something else. “This ….theoretic, of course….” He started looking at them both. “If this appeared near the Romulan and Klingon borders, out of nowhere. What would it mean if such an expansion from Delta Quadrant to hear?” 

They both went quiet as Tharek and Vaikan exchanged looks. “Well, from a scientific point of view and the nature of the Underspace, it would be unlikely there will be one root,” Vaikan stated, looking back at Dacio. “It would mean that the Underspace has expanded and potentially reached more locations than the one we got sucked into.” 

Giving a brief nod to the conclusion, Tharek followed up, “That would mean that this appearance in Beta Quadrant is not just there, but the likelihood that it appears in the different quadrant is significantly relatively high. Do other species have access to and use this network as they see fit?” 

It was still a zero-factor theory, and nothing was proven yet. But Dacio couldn't deny that it was a worry that gave him a chill down his spine. The idea that the Klingon Empire was in a civil war, the Cardassians, or even the Borg, had potential access to such tech was more terrifying than he wanted to admit. He broke off his stare from the projection. “Chief Petty Officer, start mapping this corridor. Petty Officer, get me those scan results and cross-reference them. I will focus on processing the data for the navigational system so that our helmsman can get us out of here when the time comes.” He saw the two nodding at him and started their task. 

16) Clean Deck, Clean Mind

USS Mariner - Shuttlebay
September 2401

The shuttlebay was a complete mess. The impact of the rough travel had thrown most equipment around, and certain parts of the bay collapsed, damaging a few shuttles currently unavailable for the crew to use. A few people, including the Captain, were there to estimate the situation. 

Throwing a name board bent to the side, Sazra shrugged while looking around in a squat position. “It is a mess….kinda expected,” She muttered, looking at the damage. “Report,” She stood up, looking at the other officers. She brought into this mess. Both Asipa and Aakif were available to help out. Asipa would logically be helping on the bridge, but that was now more of a headache for the engineering teams, so she would be in the way. Aakif had been running around, so a rest would do him good.

Looking over his shoulder toward his captain, “Sumatra, Java is not going to work….they are buried either in metal frames or damage to severe.” Aakif shrugged at the damage that he was seeing. “Komodo is available if needed.” He saw the Type 12 shuttle having little to no scrap on it and would function perfectly if needed. “It needs a check-up just to be sure.”

“Flores is also out of commission,” Asipa added. “The impact pushed the shuttle on its side; I presume the clams didn't hold her. But the Merapi is available and seems to have no damage,” Asipa concluded her report, walking back to the captain. “What would you want to do next, Captain?” 

The reports were not great, but one shuttle and a runabout working was better than nothing. Sazra took a deep breath. “Chief, help me with the drone system. Commander Valerio requires them for outside operations. I have not yet been able to scan the system for its condition.” Seeing Aakif nod and walk toward the drone system, Sazra looked back at Lieutenant, “Could you check the shuttlebay doors and their safety? I need to know if it's operational.” With Asipa nodding and walking toward the shuttlebay doors, Sazra walked to Aakif, who was already doing a check.

“The system seems to be generating errors, but we can work around that,” Aakif concluded while tapping the console and investigating the system reports. “Captain, should I go fix the panels….?" 

Shaking her head, Sazra smiled at him. “No, I will do that. I think I have a tad more engineering experience than you do. Just point me in the direction of what needs to be done and where." Sazra stood there looking at the panel. “I will go to section 35-A-104,” she said, pointing at the bleeping root block, walking to the Jefferies Tube, and opening the hatch. She crawled into it and disappeared from view.

Aakif could appreciate the captain's gesture of getting her hands dirty, but she seemed distracted. He looked at the panel, seeing her on it moving in that direction, and placed the mapping of the tubes next to the drone system. “ It should be the right panel. Open that, and you should see a blue cable that needs to be relocated.” He spoke after establishing a private link. 

Jefferies Tube

Crawling through it brought up some old memories of her time as Captain of the Jaxartes. That ship always had an issue in the beginning. Sazra smiled as she saw the panel that Aakif mentioned and opened it up. Some sparks came from the console behind it. “Well, found the problem…” She shrugged, slowly removing the broken panel and seeing the cables. “Where does it need to go…” 

To the side, marked number 1453

She took the blue cable out of the broken circuit board and put it in the port labeled with the designated number “In…how does it look?” Sazra leaned back and waited for a confirmation on the panel's functionality. 

“Give me a brief second……. The reroute complete next is 37-A-131. It should be further on to your left. So, Captain, what made you a Captain? I mean, we have to fill in the silence, right?

She continued her crawl through the tubes, and she smiled. “Scientific interest honestly….due to my grade, I got elected for the Raven Reach Program; it was meant for the brightest students that excel in their field to go out there and prove their thesis. I just didn't read the small letters.” Sazra remembers her day arriving at Deep Space 17. 

“Oh, that program got stopped recently, right? If I were an officer, I would also be interested. But what did you expect from it?”

Arriving at her new destination, she opened the panel and saw the broken parts, nodding, “What do I need to do here?” 

Remove the card and place it in input 478-C, then reboot it.” 

I started to remove it and try to find the input: “I honestly expected a large scientific starship to help with my ambition. However, the station operation commander gave me a bare Raven-class ship. Its entire bridge was empty, so we had to reinstall everything.” She clicked it into the board and tapped a few buttons as Sazra sat back, seeing the system getting rebooted. The RRP was an excellent opportunity, and I was able to prove my thesis. But I never expected it to jumpstart me into a command seat for the long term." 

You regret becoming a Captain?” 

Seeing the bar fill up as it was loading, Sazra thought briefly, “Not really. I might make different choices in certain situations that would involve not being a total headache for me. But at the same time….it formed me who I am today. I don't know what lies ahead of me….just looking at the present.” Sazra saw the bleep of the system coming alive and smiled. “How does it look?”

It is looking good. The drone system needs a reboot.” 

Crawling back out of the tube and into the shuttle bay. Sazra stretches, walking back to Aakif. “Well?” 

“Still rebooting, sir…” Aakif looked at the system as it started to come alive. “Do you have any plans for the future? Are you staying with us?” 

Sazra looked at him as if the question was a rather personal one. This pathfinder had given her the chance to explore the unknown. “Perhaps, but you never know what the future brings, right?” Sazra gets a chirp from her comm badge as she taps it.

Commander Valerio to Captain Kobahl….we have an issue. There is a Mat'Ha class ship at drift near our location. The Klingon ship is quite battered, as I see a lot of damage and nearly no energy.

A Mat'Ha? Sazra blinked and looked at Asipa. “Any indication of movement, or are they trying to fix it?” 

Not that I can see from this distance….but I presume that they were cloaked when the event happened.” 

That would make sense. Even a cloak ship would be in serious trouble; perhaps they were there to investigate their operation. Sazra momentarily thought, “Asipa, get to the bridge and see if communications systems work for external use. See if you can get an emergency broadcast from them. Aakif, I will help you get the Merapi going. Is the drone system active?” 

Aakif nodded in her direction as Asipa took her leave. “Alright, Commander, you got the drone system. Work on your task, and I will work on the Klingon problem as soon as I get more insight." 

Understood, Valerio out

With that the communication from the outside broke off as Sazra followed Aakif to the Merapi to get her ready for launch “If we get this runabout ready, we might be able to know more from what is happening outside” Sazra concluded as she started to clean the runabout. 

17) Many options, but only one true path

USS Mariner - Sickbay
September 2401

The sickbay became more operational as its systems became more active after they got power and repairs were needed. The EMH was also activated to assist the medical staff in their hectic, buzzing workplace. Sazra rushed to the sickbay to return to, walking in a more reserved way to the room where Silina was lying. She entered and saw Adrián, who had pulled off two 8-hour shifts, and K'Nala, who had been constantly working in the lower decks to get everything sorted. But there she was, Silina smiling in her direction, that same smile that made Sazra skip a beat when she saw it. She wanted to kiss her so badly, happy to see her finally, but others were in the room, and she stayed professional as best as possible. “Commander, it is good to see you back with the living,” she spoke out, stopping at Silina's biobed and placing her hand on Silina's leg, looking at her. 

Giving the nod with a smile to Sazra, “Of course, Captain, I couldn't leave you behind after everything that had happened. I am ready to return to work and get this ship back on its feet. Just point me in the direction that needs me the most,” Silina said, fired up to get back to work. 

“Hold it right there; the doctor said you need to stay in bed until your vitals are in a safe zone. So no work until then.” Sazra lightly tapped Silina on the leg and noticed Adrián staring over his shoulder at another location. Her eyes followed the direction, seeing her Chief Science Officer still in a coma. She took a deep breath. “Commander Valerio, what is her status?” 

Adrián's focus broke, and he looked back at Sazra, crossing his arms. “Stable medical equipment got fixed in time, but she needs to get out of her and potentially get to a hospital for her severe injury. Doc was talking about sending her and some others to Caelum Station.” 

Caelum Station? Sazra was surprised by that statement, knowing how bad things were if she needed to go there. Taking a deep breath, she nodded. “Let's hope Lieutenant Scott will pull through; I heard she did a selfish deed to get our First Officer back to us.” Sazra looked at Silina, knowing the facial expression of her girlfriend all too well; she was feeling guilty. “Don't worry, she is in good care. Now….we have an issue:" Looking at K'Nala.

“Ah yes, the initial scans of the Klingon vessel are shady at best.” K'Nala regained her professionalism and returned to work mode when asked for a status update. “We are dealing with the ship called IKS Vornak, a Mat'Ha class that is in service of the house of Noggrrra" She continued, crossing her arms. “It's a minorrr that has influences throughout the Klingon-Federation borderrrs. What I could get of information on them was that they have long-terrrm conflict with the House of D'Chok that also patrols these borderrrs.”

Tapping her finger on Silina's leg, Sazra thought about the information. “Meaning two things, they are either behind the raids on that …former colony,” Realizing that the colony was now gone as it was ripped apart, “Or they were there to observe the House of D'Chok actions on the raid.” 

“It would seem dishonorable if a Klingon would do raids on a colony that can't protect itself,” Adrián added. “The Noggra may be there to uphold the honor of the Klingons. But they could have contacted us when we arrived at the location.” Adrián shrugged. “Their cloaking device must have been busted when pulled through the wormhole.” There were a lot of question marks on his theory, but in his mind, it sounded correct.

Taking a deep breath, “We have another concern as well. The Klingons know about underspace” Silina stated, seeing Sazra's surprised look. “K'Nala told me,” And saw Sazra nodding in understanding, “If it is true that the Klingons have discovered it, by either the Vornak being here or from the outside in the neutral zone. They could use this connection hub for other goals.”

“The science team arrre trying to find out if it is trrrue orrr not. But what has been stated so farrr is that the underspace has been expanded into Beta Quadrant. This would potentially mean that it appearrred in different quadrants as well” The Caitian took a deep breath in concern “From a navigational point of view that would peek a lot of interest to shorten the trrrip from one point to anotherrr.” 

“Meaning that the Klingons have free rein to plunder any of the other worlds that are in their reach,” Adrián concluded with a shrug, “No one would be able to pin it on them if no one sees it coming” He blinks for a second as he realized something looking at Sazra, whose facial expression stated pretty much what he was thinking “If these underspace gates appear in different locations throughout different quadrants….that means that other government and species have access to it as well” 

Nodding briefly at that assumption, “It is a wild guess right now, but the indication of such is more traumatic than possible. The Klingons see it as a golden chance to start their conquest. The scattered Romulans will see it as an opportunity to do more spying or sabotage, as they did at Mars.” Sazra shrugged, rubbing her template. “The Cardassians are a wildcard in this; they have been changing a lot and at the same time also not; I believe the last report I read on them was that they have two generations facing each other.” 

The room became quiet as Silina took a deep breath. “Let's not forget about the Borg; getting them back in Federation space for a third time is not on my bucket list. Especially if they can suddenly appear within Federation space without warning,” Silina pointed painfully out. “On the flip side, we might be able to meet new species, new governments that we have not seen before; a golden era of exploration might be breaking.” 

“That depends on if the found species is not hostile in the firrrst place. I agrrree with Commanderrr Ruslanovna that this would be a golden age of exploration. But with a warning label on it, read the smallerrr letterrrs first” K'Nala shrugged with the idea of what these underspace corridors would lead them towards. It was an exciting idea, but terrifying also. 

Crossing her arms, Sazra shrugged “Lets focus on the now, let the science team do their work on getting us back home. The ship is still not functional?” She looked at Adrián.

He looked surprised. “I am working with 1/5 of my engineers to reattach the warp cell to our ship. It is a miracle that we are even able to do so. I can give you a prognosis no sooner than 24 hours. We are working around the clock with shifts of two teams to get things going outside there. The doc is checking our radiation levels just to be sure.” Adrián knew this would be taking long, “But he also told me more of my engineers can work, I will let them do the ship repairs for now and if they are up for it, they can jump in an EVA suit.” 

Putting a finger on his lip, he said, “That does remind me. Not many of the engineering crew have had EVA training before, something we might have to look into when we are back in Federation space.” Adrián noticed it when he was looking for folks to join him for the outside repairs. 

That made Silina blink. “That is kinda a must. I can do paperwork from my bed if the Captain allows it.” She winked at Sazra, who gave a teasing nod. “Just send it to me, and I will try to do operational reassignment work from my perspective.” 

“What will we do about the Klingons?” K'Nala looked at them all.

“The only true path that we as Starfleet can do, the Merapi is ready for launch. K'Nala, get the Hazard Team ready for the go.” Sazra shrugged a bit, thinking about it. “We offer our assistance where possible, but we need to treat this card carefully as they are unpredictable and have no idea their status. Get Miki, L'Iera, Cho, and Asipa for this trip”. 

Shaking his head “No can do, I need Cho for the repairs” Adrián pointed out that Cho was quite helpful and one of the few people that had EVA training “It might be better to take Palema, I heard she was helping out in the cargo bay with the light wounded. She is a diplomat and might be the best to deal with the Klingons, no?" Adrián had to pitch in someone else.

Giving him a nod, “Good call, Lieutenant. Switch Cho with Palema. Get them ready to launch the Merapi and warn them about the potential hostility of the Klingons. They are very on their guard right now, as their situation is not much better than ours. Let's get to work.”

Everyone left the room. Sazra stood there and looked at Silina, giving her a soft kiss on the forehead. “I am sorry I couldn't get to you sooner. K'Nala put me in my place to focus on the ship and crew first. How are you holding up?” 

Silina smiled at her kiss and leaned back on the pillow. “I am doing fine, K'Nala, speaking up against you. She is growing up faster than I can blink. Go to work, hun. I will not go anywhere." Silina rubs Sazra's hand. With doubt in Sazra's eyes, she nodded as she wanted to leave but got pulled back by Silina. Then a soft kiss on her lips “Go..” Silina smiled, letting go of Sazra's hand. Sazra smiled and nodded, leaving the room. 

17.5) Maelstrom of madness

USS Mariner - Ready Room
September 2401

The ready room was still a mess after everything that had happened to the Mariner. Sazra had no chance to sit down in her office and clean it a bit. She had a meeting in this room to coordinate the operations to repair the ship, attend to the wounded, and figure out what had happened. Sazra picked up a replica of Damascus's plaque and looked at it briefly, remembering her adventures in the Delta Quadrant with the Crystal Entity. Taking a deep breath as she had a moment to herself.

"Captain's log supplemental. 

It has been a pretty hectic week. No….hectic is an underestimated value of what is. It is pure madness. Over a week ago, we left Starbase 86 to cross the borders into the neutral zone between the Romulan Republic and the Klingon Empire. Our destination was the new colony of Mogotis, a refugee colony as remnants of the old Romulan Empire. They request aid in the form of supplies and potentially do something against the Klingon raiders. 

We arrived, dropped the supplies, and were about to investigate a nearby asteroid field. But then, within a matter of minutes, we saw Mogotis being destroyed by the terrifying natural force of what we now believe was the formation of a new underspace wormhole. The force and gravity pull held us, and the pieces of the former colony flying around us didn't make it easier. Lieutenant K'Nala is commended for her skilled piloting, and I think we all owe our lives to her. 

Moments later, we found ourselves in the hostile space of underspace. At that time, we had no idea it was that place. As sensors were down, the upper decks had been damaged severely, and we even lost a part of that hull. Our right warp cell was almost cut off from the main structure of the ship. The current count of the crew is also no … great. Medical has given me a recent update on the numbers, and we lost 22 people, 5 are still in critical condition, 28 are in severe condition, and the rest are operational or doing their bit.

I was forced to be creative with the people I had. Operations are helping out at Engineering, Science is helping out in the capacity they can miss with Medical, and Engineering is a full house right now. Progress is made; the warp engine is almost secured to the main structure, yet Commander Valerio has reasonably pointed out that it is patch-up work and advised against using warp anytime soon. 

Additionally, we have a Klingon ship at the port; I have ordered Lieutenant Miki to prepare an away team and get to the ship to provide potential aid. While the Klingons are stubborn, their ship is in no condition to do anything. We might be looking at dragging their ship out of this place. 

This place, yeah…. It's a wild card, for sure. With Lieutenant Scott out after saving Commander Ruslanovna, she got injured severely in the transit back to our ship. Meaning, I was to rely on Lieutenant Bruno to get me some answers. They concluded that we are currently in the underspace, but the how and why are still unclear. Because underspace is a thing of Delta Quadrant, how it was able to form here leaves a lot of question marks. We were not pulled to another location because we were in some hub transit location. The hub functions as a knot, rooting branches in different directions for the underspace. Thus, the gravity pull is lower; this is very theoretical based, so nothing is set in stone.

For now, this is my update on the situation. 

End log"

The computer bleeps as Sazra shrugs, knowing what kind of situation they are in and yet not out of danger. She looked outside, seeing the hostile area. “Science can be scary….but why am I so damn fascinated about it” It was in her scientific background that she wanted to explore this rather than limp back. But it was not allowed this time. 

18) A wounded dog

Merapi - Bridge
June 2401

The team was heading to the IKS Vornak, which was still drifting in hostile space, which was known as under space. Miki took a deep breath, feeling the runabout shaking as he noticed the Mariner signal getting further away on the scanner, narrowing his eyes. “We have to expect the worst with the Vornak. The ship has been adrift for a long time and has not tried to repair its damage.” 

Getting the medical gear in her bag sorted, L'iera was trying to calm her nerves. For the last couple of days, she had been rushing from one side of the ship to the other to help those who needed help. Now, she was assigned to the away team to check out the ship stranded with them in this awful and violent space. Taking a deep breath, “Medical supplies look good. My knowledge of Klingon physically is shady at best.” 

Looking over his shoulder, Miki could see the young Deltan woman in slight distress over the situation they were heading into. He looked back at the console, tapping lightly on it as scans gave away the damage to the ship. “Shady will do for now. The rest of the medical staff has no experience in dealing with medical issues regarding the Klingons. No worries; I have your back,” he dryly spoke, trying to express some form of comfort. 

Asipa moved her hands over the console as she piloted the Merapi through the hostile space where they found themselves. She took a deep breath. “I can speak Klingon, but hopefully, the translators will work properly.” She didn't look at the rest of her team, but she would say that L'iera's feelings were mutual in this situation. 

The Merapi moved closer to its target, the Vornak. “Getting data on the ship's status…” Miki stated, looking it over. The Warp core is busted, there is no power to the engines, and the ship is functioning on emergency power. I read about…forty-seven lives." The data made Miki eyes narrow.

“That is about one-hundred-three lives gone,” Palema stated, leaning back in her chair and crossing her arms. She had been more in the background during most missions and helping out the medical staff during this crisis. But the captain found it a good idea to send her, the diplomat, to this ship. “The Mat'ha class knows to have about one-hundred-fifty crew members. They took a severe hit.” 

Miki gave a firm nod to Palema's observation. “You remembered that info quite well.” Miki shrugged a bit at his comment. “But given the situation, I'm not really surprised.” His big, glazed eyes looked over his shoulder at the Romulan.

Nodding in Miki's direction, “As a republic officer, I had my dealings with them,” Palema concluded with a shrug, noticing the ship coming closer. “Bird of Prey, Mat'ha…you know it…these people glorify everything for honor and even try to justify it with their honor on the line.” Palema taps her chin, thinking, “I will do my best to discover their true intention at the planet.”

“Would that not put the Klingons on edge?” L'iera pointed out fairly and with a tone of concern. 

“It would,” a brief reply from Miki said. “That is why I urge you to be diligent about the matter and focus on showing that we are in good fate.” Seeing the ship coming closer, he tapped the comm. “This is Lieutenant Miki of the USS Merapi. We are from the USS Mariner. We have noticed you are on long-range scanners and are in the same predicament. We are here to offer assistance.” Taking a deep breath, waiting for any sign of life. 

The Merapi comes to a halt before the broken-down Klingon vessel, small particles hitting the ship's shielding as it floats there, waiting for something. “No response…” Asipa is keeping an eye on the communication system. “Try again?” 

When Miki wanted to try again, a reply came in. 

“tlhIngan SuvwI' 'e' vIchaw'meH DuHbe' 'e' vInID.”

Looking at Palema “Well?” Miki asked, wondering about their reply.

“They ID themselves, saw us coming….appreciate the help,” Palema concluded as she puzzled a bit. “Right, Lieutenant?” She looked at Asipa, who was staring at the console, and gave a slight nod in acknowledgment.

Asipa taps onto the console, “Trying to fix the translator here,” Tapping a few databases to see what works.

Tapping the console again, Miki resumed, “What is the current status of your ship and crew? We have a medical officer ready to provide medical support where needed. If I know the ship's status, I can relay it to my ship, and the Captain can send additional engineering support.” 

Asipa looked at the screen as a static view appeared, seeing a bruised Klingon. “This is Soghla' Yiclahl D'ghag. I am the ship's Chief Security Officer. Our command team is dead, and we lost more than ⅔ of our crew. The engine is showing no intention to start up, as our head engineer is dead as well.” 

“I am sorry for your loss,” Miki said, looking at the screen. I am the Chief Security Officer, and this might be a presumption, but….why are you accepting our help so quickly?” Miki knew honor and pride were above all with these people, and it didn't make much sense to him that Yiclahl would accept their offer so readily. He saw the Klingon's demeanor change a bit in awkwardness.

“Because the Soghla' has no choice…” Palema concluded from her observation, “You are at least a Klingon with some common sense to interject your situation as being fatal?” 

He shrugged as Yiclahl looked at the Romulan. “You speak the truth, Romulan; without any experienced engineer on this ship, we will not last for another week in this place.” Yiclahl seemed oblivious to where he was as he clenched his fist in frustration.

The body language showed that Yiclahl was desperate, and Palema gave a nod in Miki's direction as she looked back at Yiclahl. “We are here to aid you. This is the Starfleet principle and the order of the Captain. Provide the information and direct us to a port where we can dock. We are open to assist you in this matter.” She saw Yiclahl nod as the channel closed.

“Information received, docking the ship now” Asipa said a bit nervously. Moving the Merapi in position. 

Looking at Palema “Well?” Miki stated, getting up from his chair. “Are they really that desperate?”

“They are….plus it shows that the Chief has no idea where they are, and the bruises, scans, and everything line up,” Palema concluded. “But it is always good to be on your guard.” Palema followed Miki with her eyes as he gets ready for the docking process.

“I am always ready when it comes to these people.” Miki looked at the port as he tapped on the door console, getting it ready for emergency docking. 

19) Into the Lions Den

Vornak - Engineering
September 2401

The Vornak was in worse condition than was seen on the initial scans. The best way to describe it was that it was thrown to a black hole and pulled back at the last second. The sheer amount of gravity pull was enough to crack the hull, and the throw around with the amount of g-force like a rag doll was enough to break down the warp core. Leaning back from the console, Adrián shrugged as he saw the data coming by; the words translating from Klingon to readable common were happening before him. 

“How does it look!" A Klingon man stood there with his arms crossed over each other, and he looked with narrowed eyes at the Starfleet engineer.

Lifting his PADD up and looking at the Klingon, “Bad….” He stood up as Adrián looked at the core. “This thing is busted beyond repairs….even with the right materials, it will be a big no-no on the flying part.” He shrugged. “Or you want to risk a core breach, to be direct…you guys were very lucky that it shut down and not blow up.”

The Klingon growls a bit, cussing as he walks away momentarily.

“What did he say?” Adrián looked at his side to Asipa, who had spent the day here and saw her look at the walking-away Klingon.

“Something about a pig's mother….. is spiked….oh, you don't want to know that,” Asipa shrugs, hearing that last cuss, and looks back at Adrián. “You really can't fix it?”

Scratching behind his ear as he looked at the busted warp core, he said, “I wish I could, but this thing won't move a bunch, and I am almost 70% certain that it will have a core meltdown the moment we try to start it up. The stability readings are off the chart with this thing.” Adrián was fascinated by alien technology and felt blessed by Sazra's approval to go here, but he felt a bit down knowing that he couldn't fix it. 

Appearing from the core's backside, Keeyiro shrugs while holding the scanner in her hand. “This thing is truly the new definition of busted. I got so many micro-cracks in this glass, it is not even funny to joke about it." Keeyiro walks over to the main platform. “If we leave, we must get a plan B in motion.” 

A heavy sigh came from Adrián, “Well f*ck…” He muttered, not wanting to execute plan B in the given situation. He looked at the grumpy Klingon. Not only that, but he could feel his pain to a certain degree as he saw the Damascus and now the Mariner in the same painful broken pieces as well. But those two ships could be patched up to an acceptable flying level. “Could you perhaps get me Soghla' D'ghag?” 

The Klingon growled, but he gave a soft nod in his direction and walked away from the engineering. It only took ten minutes to get the senior officer of this ship to the engineering, as Yiclahl came to a stop at the three. “You requested my presence?” he said in a harsh voice, as he had more things to deal with.

Pointing at the core behind him, Adrián shrugged a bit. “After doing a system check, initial scanning, and such….I concluded that this thing will not be operational anymore and needs to be replaced at the nearest shipyard.” 

“That….is outrageous unfortunate.” Yiclahl was unhappy about the news, let alone having Starfleet point it out to him. But he had to rely on them at the price of his honor as a warrior of the Klingon Empire. He looked at the three." You seem to have more you wish to say about the matter?" 

“Well…” Lowering his hand, he looked at both Keeyiro and Asipa and nodded, then back at Yiclahl. “We have a solution to get you out of here. The Mariner is not warp-able, as the right warp cell will break by its pressure if we jump, but we can use thrusters and minimal speed to move. My assistant, Lieutenant Istrati, has restored the tractor beam system, and we are willing to pull you along to the exit.” 

Another Klingon steps forward, raising his fist. “That is a total disgrace!” 

Keeyiro rolled her eyes. “Better than starving to death in this place, and I would know what to pick." 

“What did you say, little girl!” The Klingon gets more angry by the second.

Adrián stopped Keeyiro, and Yiclahl stopped his Klingon officer. “Stop it, Ensign Cho. It is an offer we are giving them.” Adrián looked at Yiclahl. “Your choice…” 

Letting out a long breath, Yiclahl shrugged but nodded. “Starfleet is right. We have much more honor to earn in the Empire if we are alive and die in a more honorable way than starving from the lack of food.” He managed to let his fellow officer see reason. “Make the offer to your Captain; we accept the help to get out of this place. Our communication systems are active, so when we are back in normal space, our communication goes to the Empire to request aid. I advise you to leave when that happens.” 

Asipa let out a sigh of relief. “I will let Captain Kobahl know about the acceptance of our offer.” With that, the Ferengi left to return to the Merapi. 

Yiclahl looked over his shoulder, seeing the Ferengi go, and then he looked back at the other two. “We will not forget this act of bravery and honor, Starfleet. If the time arises, we shall aid you. You have my word." Yiclahl nodded respectfully and left the engineering.

“Is the Klingon word not like…the highest thing they give?” Keeyiro looked at the leaving Klingons.

Looking at the same view of the Klingons leaving the engineering as he looked back at the core, “That it is…it might be good in the given situation to have some Klingons in the Empire having a favor with us. When trouble might boil, who knows when we need it?” Adrián smiled softly. “Let us get Ensign L'iera and go back to the Mariner

20) The Pull

USS Mariner - Bridge
September 2401

The bridge was half functional, and the essential parts operated at capacity. It required it to function in the needs of the ship systems. Non-essential panels and consoles were still down, broken, or just destroyed. Lights were darker yellow as the yellow alert never went off, aside from the silent alert. K'Nala entered the bridge and looked around. It was a shock that she still had not been able to process it or had the time to do so. Being in this condition, the ship she served for so long, was heartbreaking.

“Lieutenant?” 

A voice came that broke K'Nala's daydreaming and looked in the direction of the captain “Sorrry Captain, just….the ship.” 

Sazra was leaning in her chair as she looked at her helmsman. She softly nodded and looked around the bridge herself. “I know, let's get her home.” Sazra was with her mind elsewhere; she would rather want to be with Silina, who forbade her to be at the sickbay too many times. Sazra rubbed her template, “Stubborn woman…” She mutters to herself.

“Captain? Did you say something?" K'Nala, who had sat down at her console, looked at Sazra and swore she had heard her say something. 

Shaking her head, “No, let's get this thing on the road…" Sazra tapped the communication for shipwide. “This is Captain Kobahl speaking. We are going to start up the engines, take the IKS Vornak, and go back home. We have overstayed in this underspace for way too long. Who knows, we might return to it in the future. But for now, say your goodbyes and battle stations, everyone. It is going to be a rough ride.” With that, she tapped the console.

“K'Nala and Taritt work with each other regarding output on engineering capacity, Bruno send all essential data of the astrometric to K'Nala. We are flying short range here, so you will be our eyes out there,” Sazra orders, looking at Asipa. “Lieutenant, keep short lines with the Vornak and alert them when we put our tractor beam on them. Don't want to speak them.” Looking at her right side, “Miki, all power goes to shielding. Pull energy from phasers if necessary, but keep some torpedoes in the gutter.” 

Everyone acknowledges with a synchronized “Aye.” 

But before K'Nala could get the engines back up, Tharek, who was in the corner focused on long-range scans, spoke up, “Halt! I got a ping.” He shared the information with Miki as he tried to get more locked information. “Interception in a minute” 

Sazra looked at the Chief Petty Officer and then at Miki. “Who are we dealing with?” 

Miki analyses the information on his console and runs it with the known registration of ships: “Scans indicate…..Cardassian. Signature…Keldon-class….Is this course correct?” He looked at Tharek, who was glued to his console.

“It is, they are passing us by….” Tharek looked at the data as the Keldon came closer. 

“Cardassians? What the hell are they doing here?” Sazra had not changed position in his chair. “Threat?” Her mind was racing with whatever possible scenario would pan out here. Why were they here? What happened while they were trapped in an underspace? 

He ran his hand over the console to get an estimation of what the ship was doing. “It is weird…but I would advise taking it as a threat…they seem to ignore all the rumble and debris out there and fly through it as if it is nothing….wait it is coming to a halt?” 

“Because it can't go further,” Dacio confirmed on his console. “I feared as much that this could happen,” He muttered, tapping on the cracked glass console. He noticed the questionable eyes of the bridge crew. “See the underspace as a pipeline; when it created this junction, it appeared in an area that was not natural to begin with, inside the planet.” He slides his finger up on the screen, and a junction and scans of the area come to the screen. “Underspace is in constant motion. I have noticed that certain debris is pushed away and moved to a different section.” 

Sazra looked at the scans. “So the Cardassians can't pass. Are we safe then?” 

“Depends on that definition….because the entrée we need to go out is at the other side…of this mess.” Dacio shrugged, “We basically need to unclog this drainage.”

Tapping on his console, Tharek tilted his head sideways. “I don't think we have to….the Cardassians are deploying something.” He made an initial low scan that would go under the masking of the interference, “Yeah….it is an explosion, and they are setting it up." 

Grumbling under her voice, “Asipa, alert the Klingons that this ride will become more hectic and put all efforts into shielding if they can.” Sazra took a deep breath. “K'Nala, we are in your safe hands. I believe in you.” 

Taking a deep breath and hearing her captain's encouraging words made her demeanor more solid and confident. She started the engines as the blue lights started to flicker and slowly turned on the left warp cell as the right one stayed off. The Mariner systems went up, “Moving forwarrrd to Vornak.” The ship started to move slowly forward as the cracking metal sounds were heard all across the ship.

“Ship is holding, shields at 37%, tractor beam powering up,” Drata confirmed as he tapped on his console. “Commander Valerio is pushing the engines as much as they can," He reported. “I need to get closer to the Vornak to get the lock on the ship.” 

Giving a soft nod but not breaking her focus on the interface, she said, “Working on it.” K'Nala's breathing slowed as she fell into a trance, trying to guide the Mariner through the debris and remnants of the planet. “Almost,” She muttered, seeing the Vornak on her sensors. The Cardassians didn't notice the movement of the Mariner through the debris on the other side and continued the deployment.

“Is this what they call ill-luck timing?” Miki said, looking at the sensor data of the Cardassians planting the explosion.

“Whatever it is, the walking distance just became a rocket ready to ignite,” Sazra replied, not breaking her eyes from the screen. Seeing her ship being moved through the debris, small bumps of debris hit the hull but were deflected by the shields.

Drata kept all the data in check: “Shields holding at 37%, no 38%, we're getting more power.” He saw the Klingon ship coming closer. Lieutenant Asipa, alert them. 

Raising his hand, Miki shook his head. “Wait.” He was looking at the console. “We time this correctly; the Cardassians will not notice us. The explosion goes off; we punch it to get out of here…while getting out, we lock on them.” 

Giving an approval nod, “Sounds good, K'Nala. Be ready for the detonation. Asipa informs the Klingons of our plan.” Sazra gave out the orders, but her mind was still racing about why these Cardassians were here. But her priority was to quickly get her crew and the Klingons out of this underspace." The bridge became quiet, looking as the Cardassian ship started to back away from the blockage.  

“Get ready,” Miki said as everyone tensed up and focused on their assigned duties. Then, a big explosion was visible as the Cardassians disappeared, racing away from the junction. Now!” A funnel started to form at the explosion's location, and debris started to pour through it. 

The Mariner boosted forward with all its power and made a sharp turn into the funnel. A blue beam reached out to the Vornak, which was being pulled by the Mariner out of its solid location. “Got the Vornak! Shields at 34%." Drata reported trying his best to keep a hold on the ship. 

“Hold on!” K'Nala yelled as she navigated the ship through the speeding-up debris surrounding the two ships. “I can't respond as quickly due to the weight!” 

Another hit, the bridge shook violently. “24%, K'Nala is right. The Vornak is too much for us!" Drata stated.

Sazra narrowed her eyes. “Shit..” She muttered, “Drata, inform all outer hull crew to go deeper into the ship's designated area! Shields all to the front!” Another shake, but Sazra held her seat. “Get Valerio to give us more power! He can complain afterward! We are not letting them GO!” 

The ship dances around the heavy debris with the Klingon ship on its back. The shields were diverted to the front as most of it hit there, enforcing the hull plating on the weaker parts. The Mariner moved through it with chaotic movement. “Exit point in view!” K'Nala yelled as she held onto the console while her hand went over the panel. “Come on” 

What felt like an eternity was not more than eight minutes of utter chaos; the two ships pushed through it. “Shields at 13%, 12%, 10%,” Drata yelled, trying to magically get more power from anywhere. “7%!” The Mariner was violently hit by debris as it pushed through the exit point of underspace. They originally came through with the guidance of Tharek and Dacio. 

As if space itself had spit them out after a bad meal, the Mariner and Vornak flew to their original location, coming slowly to a halt. “Status report!” Sazra said as the blue shimmer of the tractor beam disconnected from the Vornak

“2%, Captain, shields had 2%, engines are still operational, but they took a hit. Hull plating enforcement had helped in designated locations. No crew deaths were reported; some were injured,” Drata reported.

“We are getting a communication message from the Klingons. They are thankful for the sacrifice that we made during this trip and for not letting go in the heat of the moment. They shall remember this honor and will spread the word of our bravery. But they do warn us to start leaving the area, as the Klingon Empire has been contacted for support.” Asipa concluded her message by looking at the Captain while trying to catch her breath. 

Giving a firm nod, “K'Nala, get us out of here….best possible speed….Asipa started contacting Starfleet for support.” Sazra leaned, exhausted from this trip, back in her chair. The ship started moving away from the Klingons and toward the Federation borders, leaving behind a large shattered planet once a colony for Romulan refugees. Their mission was simple: deliver the supplies, calm down the colonists, fend off the Klingons diplomatically, and return. Sazra or anyone on the ship had not expected to be sucked into the aperture and live to tell the tale. 

21) The End and Beginning – Part 1

Starbase 86 - Medical Bay
September 2401

“The conclusion is simple, Captain: your body cannot tolerate high stress. It is why your heart collapsed during an extremely stressful situation.” Doctor Solara Fowat looked at the PADD in her hands where the details were shown. It had been a few days already since the Mariner had been pulled back to the docks of Starbase 86. “I cannot provide any cure, and given your history with your mission in Beta and Delta quadrant, I added this underspace….I don’t foresee you being able to handle another stressful event”. 

Rubbing her template, Sazra let the news sink in while sitting on the biobed. “So what are you saying, Doc….?” 

“She is saying that the Captain’s job is too much for you; it is affecting your health,” Silina answered her Captain’s question, not her girlfriend’s. She had a faint idea of what was rushing through her head: “Are there no other ways? Heart replacement operation?” 

Solara looked at the Commander and shook her head. “The stress built up over the last few years, and pick your poison of what the cause could or would be. But it affected her whole nerve system.” Solara had never dealt with this kind of situation. She could have done something if taken care of in the early stadium. “I could give you a reference to Caelum Station. They deal with rare cases such as these:” 

A brief nod came from Silina. “That would be wonderful, doctor. Thank you” 

“But I also have to inform you this condition is also recorded in your records; most likely, Starfleet will also have questions about your future.” Solara nodded to them both. “I will let you take in the information. If you have questions, please do give me a call or swing by.” That said, she left the two behind to resume her duties. 

There was a brief quietness as Silina just let her hand rest on Sazra’s shoulder, trying to find the right words to comfort her love. “We will find a way, no worries, Saz,” a nickname she started to refer to Sazra; in return, she got herself the nickname Sil. 

A lot had happened during her career, from a corrupt Captain to a mutiny onboard her ship. But never in her mind would have crossed it that her own body would mark its end in such a swift and harsh moment as this. Sazra felt like the world around her was slowing down; she could hear her breathing slowly going in and out. But in a way, she came to terms with it, feeling Sil’s guidance out of the Medical Bay. They kept quiet until they were walking outside near the port view. Sazra stopped and looked at the ships passing by.

“Are you okay?” Silina asked, looking at Sazra with some concern. She had heard the devastating news and wanted to support Sazra as best as possible. 

Leaning on the railing, she saw the large Sovereign-Class ship fly past the window. “I ….I think I will.” She looked at Sil and softly smiled, seeing Sil’s light blue eyes. “I think I will resign my place in Starfleet. I have seen and endured a lot, and after long whining of you as both my pillar of support and sometimes personal doctor, I can’t ignore this advice. It will kill me if I endure such a stressful situation again.” 

Silina wanted to yell, to scream, to hit something out of frustration to see Sazra give up. But she knew that this was the right and true answer to the situation that was presented to them. Tears started to form in her eyes, and she hugged Sazra out of nowhere. Silina knew quite well that this was Sazra’s life. She loved exploring the unknown to find the scientific answers the galaxy had hidden. Now, it was taken away by this simple and rare disease. 

Feeling her girlfriend’s warmth, Sazra closed her eyes briefly, taking in the comfort of Sil’s arms around her. She placed her hands on Sil’s middle. “It is okay. I am actually at peace with this.”

“Why you’re giving up so quickly?” Silina asked, not releasing her from her grip. 

The question hit a painful part of her, but Sazra took a deep breath. “Ever since they brought me back to life on the bridge, it kept nagging. Even Doctor Th’shrithel said something was off, but he couldn’t fully diagnose me due to the situation. Many scenarios went through my head, and this was one of them.” Sazra took a step back and wiped a tear away from Silina. “Thank you for your everlasting support. I will personally go to the Task Force Command Office to resign.” She chuckles at it a bit. “This time, she can’t refuse me.” 

Silina looked at her and softly nodded, remembering the hostile yet failed mutiny attempt. Sazra felt responsible for the whole ordeal and wanted to step down to calm the crisis down. But with the losses that were taken during the Lost Fleet, it got rejected. After that, the entire situation settled down: Frontier Day happened, the Borg situation happened, and then this underspace case. “What if they can’t let you go? We still need seasoned command officers like yourself.” 

“Then you will need to step up your game, Sil.” Sazra gave her a teasing look. “They can’t rely on me anymore…I am, in a sense, broken.” Sazra hated to call herself this, but after the confirmation from her doctor, girlfriend, and now the station doctor, it was nothing but the truth. “So don’t be surprised that you or even Adrián will be asked to do a command path. Starfleet needs a strong leader, and we have proven that over the past nine years.” 

Taken back by the comment, Silina shrugged it off, leaning on the railing. “I know that the possibility exists, but I’d rather stay at your side.” She looked at Sazra with a glance in her eye. “You are my home, after.” She smiled. Softly in her direction.