Warren replayed the official conversation he and Al Rashid had been a part of back on Star Station India. The initial shock of not seeing Mokeke there to greet them had not worn off before the questions started. It was going to be a lot tougher than he had anticipated. Logs were scrutinized, official statements were read aloud for clarification, explanation, and discussion.
“As I stated in my report, sir….”
It was funny what he remembered about that marathon of meetings. There were three senior officers present, two male and one female. She had very humanoid features, but a name that was distinctly non-Human. Warren did not recognize any of them personally or by reputation, but he could not help but notice that their formal claret-coloured jackets sagged heavily under the weight of decorations for campaigns or achievements earned long ago. The lights were too bright, intrusive almost, and that plant in the urn in the corner was probably artificial. Words just washed over him in a torrent of questions.
And yet after all that, he was still here. In the commander’s chair of Minerva. Other members of his crew had been less fortunate. The Starfleet doctor who had escaped Torak’s clutches had instead accepted a medical posting somewhere warm and tropical. Lucky man. Minerva’s previous Chief Engineer had been removed for failing to adhere to standard operating procedures and now Taggart somebody was the new man busying away in engineering.
Indeed, there would be those voices out there who would shout that for the axe to fall on so many junior heads was unfair. Warren should have answered for the events of Torak with his career… Warren didn’t feel that he did anything wrong. It’s not like they had destroyed his ship. He had done the best he could have given the circumstances. If his detractors thought they could do better, they were certainly welcome to sit in this seat and try for themselves. How many could shoulder burden of command? The brass seemed to agree with him on that point.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom though, Warren had made the point of requesting that al Rashid stay on as his first officer. They seemed to work well together, and family connections to the Admiralty was a plus. Where was ‘Mike’ Falkenburg these days? Oh yeah, detached to assist some research project that he found exciting to return soon enough.
Warren shifted in his chair. The bridge was quiet at this hour, just Warren, a helmsman, a science petty officer of undetermined age, and a communications technician. Warren didn’t recognize the talkie from his time as the head of that department aboard ship. The talkie wasn’t currently present, having requested to leave his post to address an urgent biological function. Warren agreed wholeheartedly, even agreeing to cover his post should anything go beep.
It had been a while since Warren had been the voice of the ship, but at least he remembered to press the right button.
“This is the Federation starship Minerva, please pass your message.”
“Minerva, this is the freighter Norac Aros; we have passed navigational beacon NR-1-4470G and it is offline. You should probably send someone out to fix it.”
“Thanks for letting us know, Norac Aros, send us the coordinates and we’ll look into it.”
“Acknowledged Starfleet. Norac Aros out.”
The turbolift door swooshed open, depositing Khaled al Rashid on the bridge. The first officer looked puzzled, seeing his captain seated at the communications station.
“Is it Boxing Day already, sir?” al Rashid asked with a smile.
When Warren heard his first officer’s remark, he smirked.
“Just holding the down the fort for a few minutes. Speaking of holidays, I’ve been approached by several crewmembers about holding a Latino heritage celebration on the rec deck. Being way out here, they’ll miss it this year… I hear that Special Services throws a great party. Sound like fun?”
“Suppose we’ve got the live musicians to pull it off?” Just as the first officer finished asking his question, one of communications monitors flashed, indicating an incoming data transmission.
“Well, Special Services Division is full of people with unusual skills. If I recall, Commander Mokeke said there was even a jazz trio in weapons control.”
Warren turned to the monitors and the beeping continued.
“Helm, here are the beacon coordinates from the Norac Aros. Plot an intercept course, Warp 2.”
“Broken nav beacon needs fixed. Shouldn’t take too long.” Warren added for al Rashid’s benefit.
“Yeah,” al Rashid replied. “I’m guessing we’ll need to bring it on board for repair. I’ll let the deck chief know.” He paused before adding, “And then I’ll start auditioning bands for the festival.” In another moment the turbolift doors swished open and closed and the exec was gone.