“Enter.” came a voice from the room behind the doors that separated Traylana from her Captain. It was not uncommon for Treylana to dine with her commanding officer and other department heads. After all, the crew all thought of themselves as a tight knit family having served together for so long. However, in this particular instance, Captain Vehl had told her that there was an important matter that she wanted to discuss which made her slightly apprehensive that evening.
The doors slid open and she could see that she was not the first to arrive. Lieutenant Commander Vo the Chief Science Officer and Lieutenant McDougal the Chief Tactical Officer were already present, seated with the Captain awaiting the remainder of the senior staff to arrive.
“Good evening Th’lora, Vo, William.” She said as she nodded to each of them and stepped into the room and took her place in her usual spot across from the Captain. It had been eleven years that Treylana had been aboard the Hiawatha and still she felt uncomfortable calling her colleagues, especially her Captain by first name even while off duty, but the Captain had a standing order that while dining with the Captain, rank was to be left at the door.
“Treylana, William was just enlightening us about his recent vacation to Earth and his first ever HALO jump.”
Treylana looked at him and smiled. She couldn’t understand why anyone would intentionally jump from a shuttlecraft in low orbit simply for the thrill, but clearly this was an activity that interested him.
“Please…continue.” said Th’lora.
William continued with his vacation narrative while they waited on the remainder of the senior staff.
Chief Engineer Lieutenant Commander Harrison was the last to arrive and as he did Th’lora signaled to the steward that they were ready to begin their meal. The menu for the evening consisted of a pea and mint soup, an arugula salad and a risotto with roasted shrimp.
One by one, dishes emerged from the galley and were placed before each of the waiting officers. Th’lora stood as the last dish was placed before her.
“Now, for the main reason you were all asked to dine with me tonight. As all of you are aware, we have been without a First Officer for a couple of weeks. We have all been saddened by the loss of Commander Eredil. However, as much as we must all take the time we need in order to grieve in our own way, the ship needs a First Officer. I have spent the last several days looking over the service records of each and every one of you. You are all equally qualified for the position and each of you equally deserving of the position. Vo, you are the most senior officer here and were my first choice. Rightfully you would be the most logical choice. However, your expertise in stellar sciences would be more valuable if you remained where you are. Treylana, you came to me as a troubled Trill eleven years ago, looking for someone to look up to. Someone who could mentor you and help you find your path in life, but also someone who could understand what it is to be a joined Trill. You have been my second in command for the past four years and proven that you are more than capable of taking on a challenge. I feel that the time has come for you to take on your greatest challenge yet. Which is why effective immediately, I am naming you First Officer of the Hiawatha. Congratulations.”
Treylana blushed as her colleagues gave her a round of applause. The apprehension she had when she arrived was now gone and instead replaced with a feeling of anxiety. Had she really lived up to the expectations of her Captain to warrant this promotion? She was about to find out.
Looking up to her Captain, she smiled “Thank you Cap…Th’lora. Your guidance during my time on this ship has been invaluable. I hope that I can continue to live up to your expectations as well as the expectations of my crewmates.”
“Well then, if no one has anything else to add, we’ll meet in the briefing room at zero-eight-hundred tomorrow to discuss our next assignment. Until then, let’s eat.”
Treylana had not slept well that night. The thought of being promoted to First Officer was all too exciting. However, with her coffee in hand, she sat at the briefing room table with her colleagues as her Captain began the meeting.
“Our mission is pretty straightforward. We will proceed to Celes Two and pick up some much needed supplies to hold us off until our next maintenance schedule. However, recent subspace communications from the planet report that the inhabitants have recently begun suffering from an unknown virus that is spiraling out of control. Starfleet has asked us to render any assistance while we are there.”
“What do we know about the virus so far?” Treylana asked.
“Only that it began two weeks ago, there are approximately thirteen-thousand inhabitants infected and that there is an infection rate of about sixty percent. The planet administrator’s office says hospitals are becoming overrun and if the virus isn’t controlled soon, people will start dying.”
“Have their labs sent any data collected on the virus?” queried Commander Brant, the ship’s Chief Medical Officer.
“No. We will establish an uplink to their central computer upon arrival and download any data pertaining to this virus.”
Treylana was concerned about exposing any of the crew. “Captain, until we know what we’re dealing with, I recommend we limit exposure to the crew. We take a minimal medical away team via shuttle and use environmental suits. We can’t be certain that the bio-filters will be able to screen out the virus.”
“Agreed.” acknowledged Th’lora “But the away team will also not be able to return to the ship until we are certain the virus is contained or can be decontaminated upon their arrival. Any other questions?”
Chief Engineer Harrison chimed in “Captain, I want to remind you that we only have about ten days worth of deuterium remaining at best. We need to get these supplies as soon as possible or we may not make it to a starbase in time.”
“Your concerns are noted Commander. We’ll do our best to secure those supplies as soon as possible without jeopardizing the safety of the ship. If there are no further questions or comments. Commander Hess, the bridge is yours. Set course for Celes Two, warp eight and I’ll rendezvous with you on the bridge upon arrival. I will be in my ready room.”
Captain Vehl looked at her staff around the table. Not seeing any signs of further inquiry, she dismissed them.
It was a long and uneventful trip to the Celes system. As her Captain made the initial contact with the planet, Treylana assembled her away team consisting of their Chief Medical Officer, a nurse, and two Operations officers to coordinate the gathering of the needed supplies.
Under normal circumstances, a standard shuttle would have served for an away mission. However, the Hiawatha was lucky enough to have a single Danube class runabout in the shuttle bay and given the nature of their task at hand it was logical that they take it instead. Treylana took the helm and one of the Operations officers took the seat next to her. She powered up the craft and as soon as the bay doors were lifted and she was cleared to depart she lifted the vessel off the deck and proceeded on course to the planet.
“Open a channel to the planet.” she ordered.
“Channel open sir.’
“Orbital control. This is Commander Treylana Hess aboard the USS Dakota requesting clearance to land.”
The comm was silent for a few seconds and then a voice replied “This is orbital control. You are cleared to land. Proceed to the designated coordinates to landing pad Charlie.”
“Acknowledged orbital control.”
Treylana proceeded to maneuver the craft into the planet’s atmosphere. There was some mild turbulence, but nothing the crew was unaccustomed to. Everything was going smoothly until they had reached an altitude of about ten kilometers from the surface and there was a sudden jolt and sparks began to fly from a nearby console. “Report!” Treylana exclaimed as she furiously tried to control the descent of the ship.
“We’ve been hit sir! Energy weapon, bearing one-two-eight, mark three-zero. Port nacelle is down. Attempting to compensate by routing additional power to maneuvering thrusters.”
Whoever it was that fired on them clearly did not mean to destroy them. Only a single shot was fired. A surprise attack aimed at crippling the ship. Treylana couldn’t understand. The Federation had peaceful relations with the inhabitants of Celes Two. They were there to provide aid. Who could have fired on them? She was obviously going to have to have words with the Administrator once they landed, which was not going to be long at their current rate of descent. In a mere couple of minutes the Dakota slammed itself onto the designated landing pad, knocking the crew either out of their seats or into the flight consoles.
“Is everyone alright?” Treylana asked after regaining her own composure.
Commander Brant began to scan each of the crew one by one as they collected themselves. “A little shaken up Commander, but we all seem to be in one piece.”
“Excellent. Everyone suit up. You two,” she said pointing to the operations officers “Get started on repairs. The rest of you are with me.”
As soon as they were ready, they exited the runabout. Waiting to greet them at the edge of the landing pad was a welcoming party led by a tall man in a white suit. He slowly advanced upon the away team and introduced himself. “Welcome to Celes Two Commander. I am Eldran, Chief aide to the Administrator.”
“Please spare the pleasantries Mr Eldran. I wish to speak with your Administrator immediately. Our ship was attacked on our way here and I’d like to know why.”
“Yes Commander. Right away. Please follow me.”
They were led into the main building and down a series of corridors until they came to a room with an elegantly crafted tall wooden door. The aide pushed open doors and motioned for the team to enter. The three of them stepped inside and Treylana approached the large executive style desk where another man in white with silver hair stood staring out the window.
“I am Commander Treylana Hess of the USS Hiawatha. I demand to know why my shuttle was fired upon.” Treylana said vehemently.
The Administrator turned to face the three of them. The man bowed his head with exasperation. “I’m sorry Commander. It was not my people that fired upon you. For the last several months a rogue group of approximately two-hundred citizens have protested recent changes to various policies. Three weeks ago there was an explosion at a refinery. The group has officially laid claim to the incident. I can only suspect that they were the ones that fired on your vessel in protest of your arrival.”
“Why didn’t you report this in your communications to Starfleet requesting assistance?”
“We thought the situation was under control. At the very least we believed we had the violence isolated to the industrial district.”
“I see. Well as far as political matters are concerned, we cannot get involved. What further information can you tell us about this virus?”
“We don’t believe it to be an airborne virus. Spread seems to be contained to the city, but until we determine the source of the virus and how it’s transmitted precisely, we’re not excluding the possibility that it may be transmitted through other means.”
“Very well. We’ll get started working with your medical teams to go over the data thus far. We’ll also want to speak to any patients that have contracted the virus and determine its lifecycle.”
“Do what you must Commander. Our facilities are at your disposal.”
Treylana nodded and thanked the Administrator for everything and proceeded to exit the office with Brant and the nurse. Once the door was closed behind them, she tapped her combadge to signal her ship “Hess to Hiawatha, come in.”
“Go ahead Commander.” came the voice of her Captain.
“We’ve established contact with the Administrator. The runabout was attacked on our arrival. The Administrator has made the assumption that a group of rogue citizens are responsible for the attack. They reportedly attacked a refinery in the industrial district three weeks ago. We’ve been given complete authority to proceed with our investigation. So far it is assumed to be an airborne threat.”
“Rogue citizens?” Vehl queried “Terrorists you mean. Are you all right? Could they be responsible for this virus?”
“We’re fine Captain. I won’t rule out the possibility that this virus is related to the attack on the refinery, but until we have more information I cannot make that conclusion as of yet. As for the Dakota, her port nacelle has been damaged, but she’s in one piece. Repairs are underway.”
“You understand what this means Commander. Provide what medical aid you can and try to come up with a cure, but the Prime Directive explicitly prohibits us from interfering in matters of a political nature. Keep me apprised of your findings.”
“Understood Captain. Hess out.”
Treylana looked at Brant “We’d better get started.”