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Part of USS Cupertino: Uncharted Dimensions and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Experiences (Pt.1)

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It was a few moments ago that Doctor Nichelle Trova, Ensign Scarlean, and their two accompanying nurses, had arrived on the Zantett, the Cardassian vessel the Cupertino had encountered in the Underspace. The first thing they noticed was a harsh difference in the settings of the environmental controls – the Zantett was uncomfortably warm and humid, giving Nichelle an almost immediate headache, which wasn’t exactly alleviated by the comparatively dim, orange-tinted lighting. 

It took the Doctor a moment to adjust her senses to this new environment. She had (thankfully) never been on a Cardassian ship before, and it struck her that their galactic neighbours were so different from her own people. Sometimes, she found, when you travelled many of the different systems that called the Federation their home (or the other way around), you encountered repeating patterns. A certain colour palette, architectural concepts, or even some of the inhabitants customs – which wasn’t a surprise. Ideas were shared across the galaxy, trade routes opened, and while cultural identity was something to be preserved, it was also something that was allowed to breathe and develop. 

The Cardassians were apart from that. Before the Dominion War and the preceding events, the Obsidian Order had punished anyone questioning Cardassian values or poisoning their culture with outside influences. And it seemed that after the War, this refusal to connect came from the people themselves. 

“Doctor Trova.”, said a voice that pulled Nichelle away from her musings. The speaker was, surprisingly, a Cardassian woman of progressed age. Her black hair had long turned grey, but her bright blue eyes were just as attentive as Nichelle imagined they had been when the woman was young. “I am Doctor Duran, it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

No handshake, which Nichelle was glad about. Not only because it was a very human gesture she didn’t feel at home with, but also because she did absolutely not want to touch that Cardassian. 

“Yes.”, she stated simply. “This is Doctor Scarlean, we are here to assist wherever you need us.” 

“Nice to meet you, Doctor Duran.”, said Scarlean, offering a bright smile the other Doctor didn’t exactly return, but didn’t seem to disapprove of either. Suddenly Nichelle was glad to have picked the Ensign as her support. 

Doctor Duran gave a short nod. “I will show you to our sickbay. Please, follow me.” 

The female Cardassian led the way, and Nichelle followed cautiously, having Scarlean follow behind her. That set-up made her feel most safe, though her expression would never reveal any kind of concern regarding her current situation. She barely noticed the Cardassian guards stepped back to let them through, exchanging glances, and then taking another step away from the Doctors. In particular the Bajoran one.

 


Catherine Vargas had expected the Cardassian vessel to different to any Starfleet ship she had served on, and she certainly wasn’t disappointed. The warmth that greeted her, combined with the somewhat more beige lighting was actually quite pleasant. Which, she reflected, wasn’t a surprise. Thanks to a few cosmetic adjustments after a looong process of navigating Starfleet’s rules and guidelines to get them approved, she might no longer look half Cardassian, but she most certainly still was. 

It was something that didn’t bother her, but something she also chose not to think about. According to the records she could find, her conception had been the result of a brief affair between a young Starfleet officer serving as Diplomatic Attaché, and a Cardassian in charge of making sure the negotiation between Starfleet and Cardassia failed. She never found out if he had succeeded, and if the affair was the disruption he had aimed for, or if he had only engaged in it when plotting murder had become tedious. She had however decided that she really didn’t want to know. And it wasn’t like she could ask him. Her father likely never learned of her existence, and her mother opted to have her adopted.

Cat had opened for the cosmetic procedure because she didn’t like the questions, and the theories regarding the nature of that brief union between her mother and father. Looking human made most people concentrate on her work as Engineer and Starfleet Officer, where she was perfectly fine with questions and rumours as to why she was so amazing at it. 

She offered Hina a small nod and then approached one of the young men waiting to greet her. 

“Hey. I’m Lieutenant Catherine Vargas, Acting Chief Engineer of the Cupertino. You can call me Cat, though, it’s easier.”, she smiled, and that seemed to catch the man off-guard. 

“Like the feline?”, he inquired.

“Pretty much.”, Catherine nodded. “Oh, this is Lieutenant Morishita, acting First Officer. No cute nickname.” 

Once more, the Cardassian seemed a little confused, and opened his mouth to ask a follow-up question, the closed it again. Instead, he offered a nod. “I am Glinn Talor, these are Rakah and Mork.” 

“Mark?”

“Mork.”

“Oh.” 

Mork seemed unimpressed, but Talor smirked. “We had to shut down our warp core, which right now is our biggest concern. We tried to restart it but… there was a slight errors in our Chief Enginner’s calculation.”

“Is he okay?”, asked Catherine, a little worried. 

Tolor flinched for a moment, but quickly regained his swagger. “Let’s say he has truly become one with the ship.”

“Oh. Ouch.”, sighed Catherine, and tried really hard not to imagine what exactly might have happened to the poor man. She was very much not wanting to … accidentally inhale him. Eww. 

 


Aboard the Cupertino, Ashli Sydin was glad to see what negotiations with the Cardassians were going well, but not too well. Captain Nassar, despite her background as Engineer and underwhelming performance as Captain thus far, was a surprisingly capable Diplomat – which was something that didn’t fit into Sydin’s plans at all. 

Of course she didn’t want there to be any conflict with the Gul, especially since they had two away teams assisting the Cardassians at the moment, but if the Captain managed to build rapport with the other ship on her own, what would she possibly need Sydin for? 

The Diplomatic Officer would never openly admit it, but being unnecessary and not given an opportunity to prove her worth was one of the things she feared most. Her career path had been an uphill battle, and in a heavily political setting, there wasn’t such a thing as rest. You either keep climbing up, or start falling down. 

And so Sydin had given a lot of very valuable pointers to Nassar, and a few that were counterproductive. The little phrases and behaviours that kept conversations cordial and productive, but nothing more than that. But it paid off. After a somewhat exhausting call with Gul Dan (who Nassar, to her credit, hadn’t called “Danny” to his face just yet) Sydin was called into the Captain’s ready room. 

“I think this went well.”, Sydin smiled as she took the offered seat, and reached for the cup of coffee that had been prepared for her. Hot, no milk, no sugar. 

“You think so? I think it could have gone better.”, signed Nassar and sipped from her own cup of ambition. 

Sydin considered her next words carefully. “If you like, I could take a lead in correspondence with the Cardassians. I believe you are handling them quite well, but also believe that I have a few more insights that could be helpful. And they would be too much to teach you within the next few hours.”

“I am the Captain.”, Nassar reminded. “Don’t you think he would see it as offensive if it was you heading those talks?” 

Nassar was, most likely, remembering what Sydin had said about sending Nichelle Trova, their CMO, to the vessel as to not offend them with someone ‘lesser’. 

“I do not think he would be offended.”, she considered earnestly. “I think your ongoing involvement would have to be made clear, but it is not unreasonable that you have other matters to deal with. We have already sent our First Officer, which means that he knows you have to handle whatever comes up here.”

Nassar considered this, but seemed unconvinced. Or at least not entirely happy with it. 

“I will have to rely on your judgment, Lieutenant.”, she decided eventually. “But I expect to be kept in the loop. And as much as I appreciate working together with the Cardassians, our views and agendas are still very different from each other. I want our away teams back unharmed, and lend the Cardassians the aid they currently need. I would not be opposed to working together in order to get out of here, but I don’t want to expect too much.”

Sydin nodded. “It’s a very fragile peace, yes.” 

“Then…”, Nassar nodded. “It’s decided. Feel free to use my office – it’s not like I had the time to get set up there anyway, and I will remain on the bridge. Keep me updated on any developments.”

“Of course, sir.”

Sydin smiled. Finally an opportunity to prove that she was probably not the nicest person, but excellent at her job and deserving of a spot on the bridge and amongst the senior officers rather than being forgotten about until a diplomatic disaster arose. 

 

Comments

  • The uncomfortable vibes that comes off the away team is dripping off this post so much, its so tasteful and I love it. Especially the inhale part made me laugh. You doing an amazing job to portray the discomfort of them. Of course Sydin is continue her plot of no good, I wonder to what end? Great post!

    July 10, 2024