Part of USS Temeraire: Season 1 Episode 3: Whispers in the Dark

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USS Santa Fe, Gamma Quadrant, Ohnia System
0400 Hours, August 2nd, 2399
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Traipsing along the corridor of deck seven, steaming mug of Vulcan tea in her hand, the executive officer of the Santa Fe was sure she must have been hallucinating when she had received the summons to report to the mess hall at zero-four-hundred. Still, upon entering the mess facility, she was proven wrong. Stopping in her tracks and mid yawn, the Andorian was surprised to see several of the senior staff huddled around one of the larger tables. Lieutenant Noli sat nursing a raktajino, Zinn had his trademark Rigellian beets soup (the smell was atrocious), and the Counsellor was slowly sipping her way through a hot chocolate.

“So it wasn’t a hallucination, then?” sh’Elas frowned, dragging herself over the table and a chair that was suddenly, and very chivalrously, made vacant by the Chief Medical Officer.

“I thought it was a bad joke…” Vittoria looked up angrily from her chocolate beverage before staring back at its contents.

Javorian entered the room, padd in hand, the only real tell that he wasn’t his normal stoic self, ready for anything, was the fact that his eyes and face were still a bit puffy from sleep. Otherwise, he looked like it was any other day and he was getting ready to start his shift. Overhearing Vittoria’s comment just as he stepped into the room he gave her a knowing look, one that said he commiserated but wasn’t going to comment. Finding a seat he pulled it out, perched on the end of it, and sat his padd down on the table before him to await the captain’s arrival.

Unlike the rest of the Santa Fe’s officers, Commander T’Prynn arrived looking in pristine condition. Her brown hair scraped back in a long ponytail, her make-up perfect and her uniform looking like it had been freshly pressed. She had, of course, been on watch until summoned by the Captain, and thus, was the only one present that was required to be in uniform. Standing at the back of the group, with whom she was yet to properly gel, the Vulcan grasped her hands behind her back and waited for the Captain to arrive.

Dante looked like he’d literally just woken up. Bleary-eyed, short-cropped hair and beard both far from the normal level of neatness he kept them in, and he had the biggest cup of all of them in his hands, the cloyingly sweet scent of his heavily sweetened, and well-creamed coffee wafting before him. He was dressed in his uniform pants, and the uniform shirt, but his jacket was nowhere to be found, and he didn’t offer any sort of explanation as he located an empty chair, sank into with a weary sigh, and gave the whole room a bit of an upward nod of his head by way of greeting before taking a long swallow of his coffee, and then leaning back with his head hanging over the back of his chair.

Lastly, and mere seconds before the Captain, Lieutenants Udal and Prida wandered into the mess hall. They had rendezvoused at engineering for some systems analysis before making their way to the mess facility and were deep in conversation as they approached the gathered group. Udal waved as they reached the table and pulled out some chairs simultaneously.

Almost as if he had been waiting in the shadows until everyone else had arrived, Sebastian strolled into the mess facility and right up to the waiting crew. “Thank you all for coming at this late hour,” he smiled, nodding in thanks to a murmuring of “you’re welcome” from the bunch. “We don’t have much time, so I’ll get straight to it,” he began, folding his arms across his chest. “A few hours ago, I received new orders from Admiral Ryan. Just before midday today, we will rendezvous with the USS Scimitar, one of the Runabouts from New Bajor, and we will transport our patient to them. The crew there will pick up on our investigation. We have been ordered to then proceed to the Rhakar system and await further instruction,” he told.

Zinn knew what was coming the moment the Terran used the phrase new orders. A better man, a more professional man would have waited to speak to the Captain in private. Zinn was neither, not anymore. The Captain had barely finished speaking when he forcefully shot back, “You have got to be kidding. To move her now would be dangerous and counterproductive.”

“That’s why we aren’t going to do it,” Farrell smiled slyly, his gaze on the bald Deltan. “We have less than eight hours to find as much information as we can about what happened to that woman, to start a significant treatment plan for her, and get her involved in our investigation…”

“Forgive me Captain,” Tharia interjected as she sat forward on her chair, “but it would appear that we need to make Starfleet realise that whilst we are but a lowly frigate, we are the ones they sent out here for this very purpose. To remove us from the equation is folly.”

“There’s folly and there’s foolhardiness on one side, and there’s daring and calculation on the other.”

Almost as one, the senior staff turned their attention to the stoic looking Vulcan. Realising she had their attention trained on her, the Vulcan shifted her stance and elaborated further. “A quote, from a Sir Edward Pellew I believe. The meaning of which is simple; any action taken could be interpreted to be correct or incorrect depending upon the results. We must ensure that our actions fall on the side of daring and calculation,” the Vulcan remarked.

Dante gave the Vulcan woman a measured look, and then broke out in a wide smile. “Damn right,” he said, nodding and looking at the rest of the people gathered around the table. He agreed with her sentiment exactly. The orders were garbage, but they still had to be careful, and they had to make sure they achieved the goal in such a way that reproach would embarrass command no matter how badly they disregarded those garbage, yet direct, orders.

Watching as his team nodded in agreement with the Vulcan and her Flight division colleague, the Captain couldn’t help but feel a great sense of pride in these people. Here they were, dragged out of bed in the small hours, essentially being asked to reject their orders in the pursuit of something their Captain felt was right and just.

“Very well then,” he smiled, “I need you all to scour every piece of data, every sensor reading, every report and every log. We need evidence or we need a lead; we need something tangible to take to Starfleet,” Seb pleaded.

A collective nod from those under his command saw the Captain move on.

“We’ll meet in the observation lounge no later than eleven hundred hours. Dismissed.”

A murmuring emanated from the bridge crew as they began to disperse, Farrell and th’Zorati standing ceremony as the room was vacated. Time was precious, and time was against them. Hopefully the search would turn something up…