Part of SS Vondem Rose: In a Mirror, Lightly

“Ugh. My ship. Mine.”

SS Vondem Rose, USS Vondem, Velorum Nebula
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One advantage of the Rose, over the old Vondem Thorn, was that she came with a proper conference room. Though Sidda was pretty certain it had some distinctly Klingon title like Planning Chamber or War Room. Maybe even just Officer Fight Club. Either way, it meant she had a dedicated space finally to talk with her crew that wasn’t just the bridge with everyone at their stations.

A dedicated space that she had, at great personal expense, had tastefully decorated and more a bit more comfortable than the single large standing table and wall monitor that the Klingon’s had fitted. A richly coloured wooden table took center stage, the wood actually grown and sourced from Vondem itself. Comfortable chairs for all, fitted with automatic sensors to conform to however sat in them, save for her own of course. It would only conform to two people aboard ship and be rather uncomfortable to all others.

Carpets had been laid as well, though dark purple in colour were strictly utilitarian in nature. The look, not the feel, of extravagance. Why waste on something someone was likely to spill someone on eventually? A few trophies of past accomplishments finally had places to be displayed, chief amongst them a hardcopy she’d had made of her authorisation by a Starfleet officer as a legitimate salvage operator and a now rather empty bottle of alcohol he had sent her.

She’d have to get a hold of Rourke at some point and ask him about it. Maybe send him a few of her favourite drinks in reply as a way of thanks. More so if he could tell her how to procure some more for herself. Terrans spirits just weren’t really part of her knowledge base.

All of this aside, she was settling herself into her own chair, with Gaeda at the far end of the table, resplendent in a new leather jacket he’d bought himself. Something rakish, he’d said when he first thought of the idea a few weeks ago and to which she had to admit suited him. Especially as a commander of a bird of prey.

“Okay, I just want it to be known that I have never been so happy to get a cargo off my ship as all of that maple syrup. Twenty-five thousand litres of syrup. Ugh…” There was a chorus of chuckles around the table, then a conspiratorial look from Gaeda, who reached down beside his chair, lifting a single bottle up and setting it on the table, label towards her.

“I didn’t steal it, I bought it off of Mr Rol,” he said, stopping a complaint in its tracks. “Said I needed a memento. Orelia, would you?” The bottle was passed and Gaeda just locked eyes with Sidda as the only other orion woman in the room stood, collected the bottle and added it to the trophy wall.

“Fuck you,” Sidda said jovially. “All of you actually. Who knew about this?” Most hands around the table went up. “Ugh. My ship. Mine.”

“Our trophy wall,” Orelia quipped.

“You know what, for that Orelia, I’ve got news for you. I’ve settled on a new XO for the Rose. Congratulations.” Sidda waited for the round of congrats, the mock acceptance speech, then settled the assembled members of her crews. Vondem Rose and Martian Thorn were essentially one crew, people swapping between cramped Thorn and comfortable Rose, but the command staffs were starting to settle, occasionally swapping, but something permanent at the top had to be arranged at the top. “Oh and Gaeda, I’m taking Trid for this run. That okay?”

“Sure thing boss. She’s been crawling up the walls anyway. I’ll take that new kid, Gor was it?” He nodded happily when she nodded in the affirmative. “Give him some experience, show him the ropes.”

“Sounds good. Right…the new information all that syrup bought us points us to a Colonel Rint Gor’vel. Apparently, he’s taken up residence on a lovely little estate on Delta Velorum. So, we’re all going to go and pay him a visit and see if we can’t dissuade him of this notion of putting bounties on my fiancee.” Nods of understanding met Sidda, a few confused faces, but they accepted the mission. “Gaeda, Thorn rides shotgun on this. Anything big comes up, Rose handles it, you go and get me Gor’vel.”

“Sounds like a plan boss.”

****

That meeting was now days in the past, with both ships travelling along at warp seven under cloak. It was risky with the age of Thorn’s cloak combined with Romulan familiarity with such devices, but Sidda’s thinking was that two vessels running this fast under cloak in tight formation would convince any ship that did see them to either pointedly not see them or at least ask for clarification at which point they’d be away. Was it smart? Only circumstances would tell.

“Trid, go ahead and drop us to warp five,” was Sidda’s only concession to the looming Velorum Nebula. Speed, cloaks and nebulas would not mix well as she’d been informed by her engineers and on this, she was inclined to agree with them.

“Warp five aye.”

“Uh, Cap,” a young romulan man spoke up from the klingon’s concession to Operations and Communications, “you might want to hear this.” He didn’t wait for a ‘go ahead’ or a response before pushing a button and filling the bridge with static.

“May…day… this… …aut,” the static was intolerable, but the computer voice could be heard and was recognisable for a good number of people on the bridge as the preferred voice of ship’s computers across all of Starfleet. “…dis…all for…S V…. Ves…suf…a com…tems fail… life…is…batt…wer…any…ves…can…der…tance…do so…age…rep.”

“Can you clean that up any Teloc?” Sidda asked as she stood up and wondered over to his station to look over his shoulder, not that anything he’d do would be something she’d be familiar with. “Get me some more of that message?”

“I wish ma’am, but it’s very faint and kinda washed out by the Velorum Pulsar. In fact, I think it might be because of the pulsar we can even pick the call up?” He shrugged, tried some other magic with his console and commands that Sidda had no idea about, then gave up. “It’s damn weak. I don’t think anyone else is going to hear this unless someone else is running around out here.”

“Trid, all stop,” Sidda snapped, then turned back and sat herself down. “Teloc, get me Gaeda.” Only a few moments passed. “Gaeda, looks like some Starfleet nut has broken down in the nebula. Bad too. Go on ahead, we’ll see what the do-gooders were up to sneaking around a Romulan nebula.”

“You sure boss?”

“Yes. I don’t want him disappearing. If you don’t hear from me, get in and grab him then head for…Point Bravo. We’ll meet you there.” She cut the circuit herself and then sat back. “Trid, take us into the nebula. Teloc, get me some co-ordinates. Let’s go see if we can’t nab ourselves a few more Starfleet favours.”

****

***Tamarillo to Kyban Rookery
***Vondem Rose is operating within Republic territory
***Unknown Starfleet emergency beacon detected within Velorum Nebula
***VR Actual has ordered ship to intercept
***Please confirm if SI operation and if asset rescue is required
***No reply will be considered as a negative

****

“No luck XO,” Lieutenant R’tin said defeatedly as the console in front of him chirped. “There’s not enough juice in the batteries to maintain the containment fields until the warp core is self-sustaining. We’re going to just have to wait till the fusion reactors come online.”

“Yah, I thought you were going to say that.” Orelia glared at the cold warp core that dominated Engineering, attempting to force her will upon the inanimate object such that it would spring to life and never refuse her simple demands every again. “I’ve kept your team long enough, go give your sister’s team the extra hand. I want those reactors repaired and online within the day.”

“I’m not the one that said it would take two days,” he said defensively.

“No, but the batteries will fail in four days, so let’s not test their stated load values, shall we?”

A panting sound at the forced open door to Engineering drew everyone’s attention as petty officer rested there, catching their breath. “Pardon ma’am,” he said between breaths, “But Lieutenant Munroe says you could come quick. Someone’s found us…”

The petty officer was left in the wake of Orelia and R’tin both bounding past him, to the left and straight along the corridor heading straight an outer compartment. Without power the Vondem was blind and the only way to know if something was out there was good old-fashioned eyeballs. Spaced around the ship crewmen sat, watching the nebula, ready to send runners if need be, to shout down vacant turbolift shafts and carry messages around the ship.

And it paid off seemingly.

The space was a small observation area, the intersection of various corridors near the outer hull so given way to making a semi-social space in the lower decks. Lieutenant Munroe was standing there with a pair of binoculars in hand, watching something in the haze of the nebula beyond the window. “Christ Mack, if you haven’t got the XO…” he started, the stopped when he turned to face those approaching and see the target of his summons.

Quick to hand over the binoculars, he pointed Orelia in the right direction and let her scan the distance for a moment to see the object he had detected.

“Klingons? Here in Republic space?”

“Purple Klingons too. Never seen a purple D7 before.”

****

“Only took a day boss, but there she is. Federation Elysion-class. I’m picking up only minor power signatures. Looks like main and secondaries are out.”

Sidda mulled it over. The distress message hadn’t gotten any clearer and looking at the state of the ship before her, it wasn’t the nebula that was the cause of the problems, but the sender themselves.

“That ship got a name?” she asked.

“Transponder is dead,” Teloc replied. “Hails aren’t getting a response either.”

“Trid, move us around and let’s get a read of their registration. Orelia, tell Bones to get a few of her people ready. Cousin dearest,” she said looking to Orin now, “I’m going over, think you can find a few people to come with?”

The large man nodded, signed to her and then left the bridge to go assemble his boarding party.

“What the?” Trid blurted out as the Vondem Rose moved around the crippled ship, keeping distance as Sidda had ordered. On the view screen, coming into view for all to see was the ship’s charred upper hull and proudly emblazoned upon it the ship’s name and registry.

USS Vondem
NCC-82053