As a former engineer and member of the Advanced Starship Design Bureau, Commander T’Prynn had a vested interest of sorts in matters that arose around the Federation and the latest developments in starship construction were worrying. The Federation’s strained dilithium market had been hit hard by the loss of several key sources of the precious mineral, following core meltdowns at a number of processing centers around the Federation which led to controversial mining strikes and reduced starship construction.
But as the mining strike continued on Verona III, reports had shown that overproduction at a mid-sized production facility on Nagil IV had led to a core meltdown from equipment which had, over several decades, developed tiny microscopic fissures. These fissures had caused the plant’s generator core to fail, leaving a crater where the plant’s power core once stood. The plant manager at the Nagil Processing Center, Ria Fessed, had naturally denied the plant’s equipment had been responsible for the destruction of the facility but had soon transpired that the last inspection of the Nagil facility had noted the worn state of the reactor. The Nagil Controller’s Office subsequently requested maintenance of the plant facility, and the request was filed with the planetary Corps of Engineers, which had the maintenance slated for next month.
The new Vulcan second officer of Starfleet’s only garrison ship in the Gamma Quadrant found the whole story fascinating. She had visited both Verona and Nagil on many an occasion over the years and knew just how antiquated some of the systems were, so it was of no surprise to her that such a disaster had occurred. She, like many, hoped that it was only a case of coincidence that the plant meltdown had occurred at the same time that failed diplomatic talks in a bid to secure mining rights from the Sarshayet had led to the strained dilithium market taking its toll on trade and starship production across the Federation. The inability to produce new starships was never something to be scoffed at.
The reclusive Sarshayet in Nebula KR27-B were open to becoming members of the Federation as well as offering rights to mine their nebula for much needed dilithium, but negotiations had fallen apart after Federation representatives missed the summit due to malfunctions aboard the USS Apollo-A, which suffered issues with her warp drive.
With the dilithium shortage no doubt continuing further into the year, its effects were beginning to be felt across the Federation. A noticeable decline in trade among the Federation’s member worlds and between the Federation itself and non-aligned, friendly worlds was reported by the Federation Department of Commerce, with some estimates placing the drop at almost forty percent.
In the meantime, member worlds had opened their own negotiations with non-aligned worlds to secure shareholder rights of dilithium mining directly, bypassing the Federation government entirely, a direction which did not bode well for the Federation President’s call for a renewed focus on Federation unity and equal treatment of all members.
T’Prynn was sat in her usual spot in the Runabout Perseus’ aft compartment, shaking her head as she read the latest updates on the whole situation on a PADD in one hand and the updates she had received from Captain Farrell in the other. The Perseus was on her way back to New Bajor and the Santa Fe, the crew of the runabout having ferried a dignitary back to their homeworld. Sending the strategist, along with three other officers, was perhaps overkill, but that was the Captain’s prerogative, and probably showed the importance of the diplomatic talks that had been underway.
Diplomacy; something the Vulcan was never good at. Especially when it came to talking with junior officers. Especially the one approaching from behind. The breathing, the footsteps, they all gave the visitor away.
“Lieutenant Noli,” she spoke in her usual tone of indifference, her eyes never leaving the PADD she was reading, “is it safe to surmise that your presence suggests a problem?” she mused with a raised eyebrow as a rather irate looking Bajoran plonked herself into a seat opposite the Vulcan.
“Actually Commander… yes,” the Tactical Officer frowned in such a way that the accompanying grunt would have been rendered pointless in any ordinary situation.
“Am I to surmise that this is, again, an issue between yourself and Lieutenant Prida?” the Commander queried, her eyes continuously trained on her data PADD.
Nodding, the Bajoran slouched back into her chair. “I want to run a diagnostic of the tactical grid, but she’s tied the computer up in an endless cycle of sensor upgrades and diagnostics,” Noli fumed, “we’re in an unknown, potentially dangerous area of space, and she has essentially taken our weapons grid offline!”
Finally placing her PADD gently upon the tabletop, the Vulcan clasped her hands together and placed them on the table in front of her. The glare she gave the younger officer forced Noli to sit up in her seat, not to mention the change of pigment in her cheeks.
“You don’t care about our petty arguments,” the Bajoran spoke quietly.
“Correct,” the Vulcan retorted in her matter-of-fact way.
“And you think we need to grow up and get over ourselves,” Noli continued.
“And Lieutenant Prida should stop what she is doing and transfer controls to me,” Noli added somewhat cheekily. So cheekily in fact that the Vulcan responded with a customary rise of her left eyebrow. “Worth a try,” Noli huffed as she pushed herself up with the aid of the table and disappeared from the aft compartment, allowing the Vulcan to return to her work.
Picking up the PADD once again, keen to return to the latest updates from the Captain, the Vulcan would have felt dismay at the sounding of the communications array if, well, she had felt anything.
“=/\=Commander T’Prynn, can you come up here, please?” the familiar voice of the Bajoran filled the room.
For the slightest second, almost the blink of an eye, anyone in the room with her would have sworn they had seen a look of irritation on the face of the normally stoic Vulcan, but today the ‘children’ were even pushing her buttons with their bickering.
Leaving the sanctuary of the aft compartment, the Vulcan Commander, in all of her red-uniformed splendour, made her way to the cockpit. Crossing the threshold, she saw a room as quiet as could be, the occupants seemingly staring out into space. As she walked forward, curious about their silence, the Commander finally saw it for herself.
A large, spherical object, damaged and adrift. A sign of darkness. A sign of destruction. A sign of death.
The Borg were in the Gamma.