Part of USS Sarek: Storm in a Teacup and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

Pay Close Attention

USS Nestus
January 2400
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Captain’s Log, Stardate 77040.4

 

I tell them to repeat it to themselves, like a mantra: This is the worst days of their lives. This is the worst day of their lives. This is the worst day of their lives.

 

Always remember that.

 

When they speak to the survivors, they should smile at them (if such gestures are comforting in their respective cultures). They should be considerate in their choice of words; always respect their personal sovereignty. Above all, be kind.

 

We’ve been at warp for more than a day and I still can’t feel in my skin if our mission is a kindness, or a burden, to those survivors.

 

USS Nestus has been assigned a remora mission, following USS Gheryzan to the planet Haven. Gheryzan is ferrying more than eight thousand survivors from what was once a lunar colony on Eldflaugar. Like much of the Paulson Nebula, Eldflaugar is enflamed with wide-spread ion storms. The Gheryzan has escaped those storms and engaged a resettlement operation on Haven. It remains… unclear if the resettlement will be temporary.

 

Nestus is down to skeleton staff to make room for a new anthropology team from Starbase Bravo. A baker’s dozen of science officers and counselors will conduct an anthropological study into disaster management through the eyes of the colonists. By interviewing the Eldflaugar survivors on Haven, we can examine the present-day roles of Starfleet, the Federation, and our citizens, in the middle of disasters like the Century Storm.

 

Interviewing survivors only days after they’ve lost everything can be grim work. Yet, there can be value to the discomfort if the science team on Starbase Bravo can leverage this research to influence Federation disaster management policy.  Perhaps these small steps we take today will save more lives, will bring more comfort, tomorrow.  Starfleet technology is shiny and bright, but we could be better at leaning into the natural resiliency of our people.  Without examining these questions, we risk losing the ancestral knowledge of survival from our myriad homeworlds.

 

This will be my first mission with Lieutenant Yuulik as chief science officer. Her leadership style can be called bracing, at best. I wasn’t prepared for her manner of condescension. As I spend more time with her, I  find it strangely… comforting; she reminds me of my cadet uniform and my grandmother’s cooking. Kellin Rayco, my chief security officer, has been by my side for every one of my five flights aboard this ship; every one since I first took command of the Nestus. Rayco’s counsel will be most welcome if we encounter challenges among the survivors.

 

 

Kellin Rayco cleared his throat. Amid the white noise of the life support system, it sounded like thunder. Aside from Annikafiore Szerda at conn, Kellin was working alone on the main bridge. Szerda couldn’t remember the last time either of them had said something. Like every ship of the compact Raven-class, the flight control console was a sizeable dashboard that wrapped around Szerda’s chair in the shape of a horseshoe. She took a last look at the holographic planes of flight controls ahead of her and then she risked a sidelong glance over her shoulder.

Several paces behind Szerda’s shoulder, Kellin was hunched over the tactical console that was either too short for him, or he was simply too tall for everything. With a little crooked smile on his lips, Kellin was already looking at Szerda, apparently waiting for her to turn around. As soon as he met her eyes, Kellin asked, “How did you do that, ensign?”

Boggling at him very mildly, Szerda expressed her confusion with a shake of her head.  In her Elaysian lilt, she asked, “What did I do, lieutenant?” Now that he had her attention, she swiveled her chair to face him.

The way Kellin’s eyes lit up, Szerda could imagine what he looked like as a child opening presents on Christmas morning — or whatever holiday he would have celebrated on Trill. Emoting with all the verve of a sports announcer, Kellin said, “That ion storm overtook us! Came out of no-where.  We couldn’t out-run it. Captain Taes told me to trust you. Honestly? I was too busy looking for my last will and testament, but you flew us clear of the storm.”

Szerda didn’t immediately react. She wasn’t known for being the most expressive. Some people could read her wrong. She gambled on Kellin not being one of them, when she wryly asked, “Were tears shed? When you had to decide who would get all those tank tops? When you die?”

“Oceans of tears,” Kellin said, riffing with her. Szerda could imagine this wasn’t the first time Kellin had been the butt of a feeble joke. “I almost got dumped,” he said, deadpan for what might have been the first time since Szerda had met him.

“Come closer, lieutenant,” Szerda said, and she beckoned him with a flick of her wrist. “Let me show you.” Szerda raised her hands like an orchestral conductor, while Kellin lumbered to move by her side. As soon as she could feel his golden retriever eyes on her, she hissed, “Pay close attention.”

Stabbing her hands into the holographic flight controls, Szerda used several fingers on her left hand to initiate programmed calculations, while her right hand spun a couple of dials. On the viewscreen ahead of them, the gentle streaks of warp-distorted stars began to spin like a pinwheel. Szerda grabbed hold of a holographic lever, which she punched through the air like a right hook, and continued calculations with her left hand. As the stars changed directions on the viewscreen again, she bumped up three holo-sliders with the heel of her left hand, causing another dizzying spin on the viewscreen.

His jaw agape, Kellin scoffed and he said, “My primary boyfriend claims to be a flight control officer. He’s never used his hands quite like–”

A digital chirp from the communications system interrupted Szerda’s lesson. “Taes to bridge,” said the disembodied voice of their commanding officer. Through the comm system, she practically sounded like she was the one standing over both their shoulders. “Status report?”

Without missing a beat, Szerda affected her formal timbre when she responded, “Course correction complete, Captain Taes. We continue en route to Haven.” She had completed the adjustments to the controls only moments before she said the words. As the Nestus returned to a stable flight path, the stars on the viewscreen resumed their gentle streaks.

The captain’s hesitation was mostly imperceptible over the communications channel. A slight hitch in the ‘th’ sound when she spoke. Nearly immediately, Taes said, “Thank you, Ensign Szerda. That will be all.

By the time the comm channel chirped closed, Kellin had found his way back to the tactical console that was set into the bulkhead. He straightened his uniform and he stood up taller. Szerda returned her gaze to the viewscreen. Without looking back at him, Szerda was the one to clear her throat this time. Most days, she worked as an operations officer aboard the Nestus‘ berth, Starbase Seventy-Two. This flight to Haven would be Szerda’s first mission as flight controller and operations manager of the Nestus; perhaps her only mission. Perhaps her only chance. Crews aboard a little Raven weren’t known for their longevity, not even when the ship’s name sounded like a nest.

Szerda asked, “Lieutenant, have you crewed with Captain Taes before?”

“I have,” Kellin said, affecting his playful tone from before. “Do you suppose she has hairbrushes to bequeath in her will?” he asked. A Dad-joke about a Deltan. Szerda ignored it.

“I’ve seen the Captain on the starbase, you know.  In the arboretum, she lunches there a lot.  I think she studies there?” Szerda said, meandering through a jumble of different thoughts. “She always waves at me, but I never thought to stop. Couldn’t think of anything to say, really. She, umm…” Szerda cleared her throat again, but this time it was for real. Szerda’s voice rang crisply, when she asked, “Is it true she’s from that colony on Nivoch?”

Over her shoulder, she could hear the LCARS telltalles of the tactical station being logged out, the holographic controls winking out. She could hear the footsteps of Kellin retreating to the access corridor at the aft of the bridge. “You have the conn, ensign,” he said. “And I’m sure Nivoch is none of your business.”