[Arriving at Providence Fleet Yards]
Vakai was just sitting there at the small table in his quarters, eating his breakfast when he heard the chime, indicating that someone was at the door. “Come in.” He said after he swallowed a mouthful of eggs, just to look and see that it was Sivol. “What can I do for you, Doc?”
She smiled, one of the most unusual Vulcan’s he has known, who was carefully practicing control of her emotions. But he also noticed that she only did so around him, he rarely saw her display any emotion to anyone else. This sent signals to him, signals he was familiar with but he never acted on them, thinking maybe she was just friendly because he was Romulan and the Vulcan and Romulan people used to be one whole race.
“I thought maybe I could join you for breakfast.” She said, holding her own tray of what looked like one of the Vulcan soups.
Vakai pointed at the otherside of his table with the open palm of his hand. “Not often I get company for breakfast.”
She smiled once again right as she set the tray down and took her seat. “Well I was curious.”
Vakai took a sip of his coffee as he raised a brow, mimicking what Vulcans normally do. “In what exactly?”
She took one spoonful of her soup, only to swallow it almost immediately as she went to answer. “We are about to embark on a journey towards New Romulus. Where not only I get to meet a very different culture of Romulans, but you also get to see your own kind for…how long has it been?”
Vakai set his cup down with a small sigh. “The only time I saw a Romulan, the first time I saw one, was when I was being evaluated for my command training by the Task Group Commanding Officer on board the USS Nexus, a Cheyenne Class. We were investigating a region of space that had made numerous reports of raids when we encountered a Romulan Free State vessel. The way he dressed made me believe that he was with the Tal’Shiar. And that made me uneasy, because it meant they could have very well been behind the raids. But they weren’t. The reports were all false, as apparently a single Freighter had been frequently and secretly delivering supplies to the Rangers. Food, medicine, even some weapons for self defense. Least that is what I was told and I was forced to trust them because a single message, no trace of where it came from, told the Rangers to trust me.”
Vakai sighed once more as he leaned back into his seat. “If my parents were indeed involved in sending that message, why to the Rangers? And why put me in that position in the first place? Now I have become accountable for anything that Rangers receive and if they use anything against any of the Romulan Governments, Starfleet can review any record, find the record of that mission, and call me in for questioning. My career would be in jeopardy.”
Sivol stared at him as she listened, word for word, soaking it in before closing her eyes and taking a deep breath as she accumulated the words to respond. When she opened her eyes, she seemed quite confident in what she was about to say. “I don’t think your parents would put you in that kind of position on purpose. I believe that, whatever the reason it may be, they wanted Starfleet, not just you, to realize that the Rangers are not all that bad and what is going on along the border, needs to be addressed more appropriately.”
“But that’s the problem, Sivol. Where is the evidence? Where is the proof? If the Tal’Shiar are indeed involved with the issues going on along the border, they know how to cover their asses better than anyone else. They can easily point the blame of it all on one or multiple parties. Rangers, Orions, Pirates, Raiders, you name it.” Vakai told her.
“Exactly!” Sivol replied.
Vakai looked down at his food as he thought for a moment before looking back at her. “However, I did promise them that when I become Captain and acquire my own ship, I will help those colonies along the border. I promised the Rangers that Starfleet will get the bigger picture of it all.”
“That is a hefty promise. What if you don’t find anything, or don’t find what you believe is the truth?” She asked.
“Meaning, if I don’t find proof that Tal’Shiar is involved? Or maybe it’s just the Romulan Free States or the Romulan Star Empire? Or both?” He sighed heavily. “I don’t know then. But I know Starfleet doesn’t give up on things easily, especially when pushed. So I will not give up until I know the truth.”
“Then what if the truth is the Rangers are indeed involved?” She asked.
“Then I will find my parents and ask them why they forced me to put my trust in the Rangers.” Vakai then looked at his food before picking up his tray and stuck it into the replicator, recycling it and the food with it. “Why are you starting to sound like a councilor?”
Sivol shrugged one of her shoulders, mimicking what he normally does. “I took some classes. Plus I wanted to learn more about you, what makes you so passionate. What drives you. Gauge your personality.”
Vakai raised a brow again before sitting back down. “Why?”
She smiled and shook her head. “Isn’t it obvious? Or is it true that they say on Earth that boys really are clueless?”
Sivol nearly chuckled before shaking her head once more. “Nevermind. What are you going to do when we reach New Romulus?”
Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “Not sure, really. From what I read, they really do sound very different from the history of the Romulan Star Empire, and from what we know of the Romulan Free States after the split when Romulus was destroyed. I am ultimately curious.”
Sivol nodded her head. “Why wouldn’t you be? They’re your people. Different governments or not, they are Romulan and you will have a chance to interact with one at a more peaceful level than the last encounter with a Romulan.”
Vakai shrugged again. “I don’t know, it was kind of peaceful, the last encounter.”
“You know what I meant.” She squinted at him with a smirk as she finished off her soul before taking the tray to the replicator and recycled it.
Suddenly there was a different kind of chime indicating that his communicator was activated. “Commander Vakai. Please report to the Bridge.” said some female. Likely the Bridge’s Comm Officer.
“Duty calls.” Vakai said as he stood up.
“Then I best head to sickbay and check in with the Chief Medical for anything that needs to be done. It was a pleasure talking to you, Commander.” She winked before leaving his quarters.
Vakai raised a brow and then shrugged his shoulders before leaving as well, heading straight to a turbolift to take him straight up to the Bridge.
After the Centaur’s supplies were restocked by the station transporting what supplies were needed, the ship flew out to meet with the convoy, that was at this point, right on the edge of the system, all ready to jump to warp. Among the Centaur, there was a Freedom and a Challenger, also escorting the convoy to New Romulus. The two other escorts had been escorting the Convoy since the beginning, Centaur was really just a first time addition due to the rise of raiders attacking the Convoy nearly every time for the past four weeks. This week, it will be different, as the Centaur may be another relic in the Reserve Fleet, she has experience and an experienced crew with an experienced Captain. As for the new Bridge Officers, only time will tell if they can handle a real combat situation.
Vakai stepped onto the bridge to see that the Captain was conversing with someone on the view screen, so he simply eased himself up to the Captain’s side with no intention to interrupt.
“She may be old, Captain. But she still has all her teeth and she will bite if they try to raid again.” Carter told the person on the viewer, likely the leader of the Convoy.
“I just wish Starfleet sent us more than one. Three escorts does not boast confidence in me, my crew or the other freighters.”
Carter smiled. “Trust me, Captain. I run a tight ship here. We may have to diagnose equipment manually but this crew has been doing it for years. And they learned from the crew before them who also learned from the crew before them. So again, this ship may be old, but she purrs like she’s brand-spanking-new. If they do come, they will be in for a hell of a fight.”
“I can only hope that you are right, Captain. We’re ready to go when you are.”
“Copy that. Just pick your speed and the Escort Fleet will match it. Centaur out.” With that last line, the Comms Officer closed the channel with the freighter Captain. Carter then turned his head towards Vakai, and then ‘hmph’ed before looking back at the viewer. “Freighter Captains. Got no faith anymore. Or trust. Questioning my ship. HA! My first Captain kept this baby in tip top shape, so did Captain Reynolds, especially during the Dominion War. I most certainly would not let the tradition die so easily, so this baby can sting just as well and hard as she did back in the day. Questioning my ship. Who does he think he is?”
Vakai shrugged one of his shoulders. “Captain who is likely afraid. After so many raids in the past several weeks, why wouldn’t he be?”
“Heh. Excuses are all I am hearing. Back in the day, you got slapped for making piss poor excuses.”
Vakai raised a brow. “Seriously?”
Carter looked at Vakai and chuckled. “Hell no. Just making shit up. Anyways, I want you to take command during this trip to New Romulus.” Carter said as he stepped away from the center chair.
Again Vakai raised a brow. “Seriously?”
“This is how I was mentored into being a Captain by my first Captain and by Captain Reynolds after the war. So you and your posse will get to deal with the raiders, if they come. I will just be off to the side, evaluating, giving you helpful hints as we go. Besides, I got to see what you can do, Commander. You didn’t think being mentored was going to be easy, did you?”
Vakai stared at him. “Seriously.”
“Is there an echo in here? Or is your record player stuck? Yes I’m serious. I’m the Captain, I can be damn well serious as much as I damn well please. Now sit your ass into that chair, Commander. Or do I have to make it an order?”
Vakai blinked before he approached the chair. “I thought you already did.” He said as he sat down, getting a look from Ryker with a thumbs up.
Carter was about to say something when he saw what Ryker was doing. “Oi! Pay attention son, the convoy is getting away.”
Ryker jumped his attention right back to his station and his fingers darted across his board, locking onto the convoy fleet, getting their heading, their speed, and matching the ship with them before jumping to warp, increase their speed until they were in proper formation and then reduced speed to match theirs. The other two escorts did the same, in a somewhat arrow-formation, Freedom to one side, Challenger to the other.
Carter then looked back at Vakai. “Besides, like I told you before in my office. Starfleet needs more ships active, so they need more Captains. This is the best way to get your feet wet and get that experience you need so that in months time, you get your very own ship.”
Vakai sighed some. “I just did not expect it to be so soon. Months time? Starfleet that desperate?”
“You have a short tension span or something, son? The Seventh Fleet lost almost a hundred ships in the Dominion War, not to mention more ships in several key operations. So we lost a lot of Captains and a lot of experienced crews. It’s like we’re back in the 60’s of the 2200’s, where everyone is racing to become the next Captain of the next Constitution Class. They were the most advanced and the pride of Starfleet back then. Until the Excelsior Class came out twenty years later. Pinnacle of Starfleet Technology, she was. Anyways, even though no one is racing for one single ship, they are racing to be Captains of their own ship. Why aren’t you?” Carter asked.
Vakai looked up at him. “Well…I mean…Not saying I don’t want to be Captain, sir. I just feel that…I would be more comfortable if I had more time to gain more experience, more confidence.”
Carter laughed. “Boy, you have no clue do you?” Carter then looked at Gomo, then at Ryker before back at Vakai. “Your own team may not be on this bridge, but I guarantee you, the ones who are, have full confidence in your abilities. I’ve seen it in their eyes.” Mind him talking about the two on the bridge in third person, not that Carter forgot that they were on the bridge with this kind of discussion, he simply didn’t care if he was heard or not, as he spoke only the truth and none of which meant to be disrespectful or anything. “You led your team into The Triangle with confidence. You and your team attacked a camp and wiped it out with confidence, not to mention, rescued Lieutenant Sivol. Then you and your team went straight to an outpost, got the intel you needed, overloaded it’s reactor and stole a D-Twelve with confidence. Then you and your team took that D-Twelve and fought the D’Ghor, defending a single system, with confidence. Son, you got the confidence in you. Don’t question it. Don’t doubt it. When the time comes, when you become Captain, I know…we know…you will be ready. I’m simply just pushing the process a bit faster by placing you in that chair and putting you in charge of this mission. Understood?”
Vakai nodded his head. “Understood, sir.”
“Good. Because I’m done with motivational speeches for today. Good lord, I need a glass of water. Talked way more today than I have in a year.” He said as he went and left the bridge.
Ryker then turned around to face Vakai and was chuckling. “He’s quite the character, isn’t he?”
Then one of the officers, one of those who have been on board for nearly as long as Carter has. “He wasn’t always like that. The years have been off and on with him, but the war did the most damage, as the Captain lost a lot of friends. Many of whom were in the Seventh Fleet that weren’t among the fourteen vessels that survived. He could retire from Starfleet if he wanted, but he chooses to remain because of the losses Starfleet took. You know he has refused promotion twice now? He could be an Admiral at this point but he chooses to remain as Captain. And he chooses to remain here, as this ship’s Captain. The thought of them retiring this vessel, whenever that may be, haunts him.”
“Why would that haunt him?” Ryker asked.
The officer looked at Ryker. “Because he’s got a lot of fond memories on this ship. It’s really all that is keeping him together. He’s served on no other vessel but this one. We’re his family and he’s welcomed you and your friends into his family. He’s simply a dedicated Starfleet Officer who is doing what he can to help the fleet grow again.”
“Has he ever mentioned about retiring?” Vakai asked.
The officer shrugged. “A few times but each time he adds a few years. Last time he said he’d probably retire when he is seventy years old. But he also said he wouldn’t give up this ship without a fight either. Like I said, a lot of fond memories.”
Vakai thought it over before refocusing his attention to the view screen. “Then let’s make him proud.”
– A little more development with Vakai
– The Centaur had arrived and is now escorting the supply convoy across space to New Romulus
– Learn a little bit about Captain John Carter
– Finally got around to writing and posting this Chapter, for over a week I’ve been burnt out and focusing on other things but felt that it would be best to get this series done so I can move on to the next series where we find out what happens to the Centaur and to Captain Carter. The little piece that was posted in the beginning before Chapter One.
– Stay tuned for the next Chapter! The attack on the Convoy!!