Part of USS Corax: The Old Machine

Briefs (the inside story)

Aft observation lounge, Deck 2
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While there was no proper briefing room on board the diminutive USS Corax, the aft observation lounge afforded the crew enough space for an informal style all-hands meeting to take place. The captain rather enjoyed the idea. Meetings and briefings tend to be stuffy, overly formal affairs. Of course informal doesn’t mean that it doesn’t need to be taken seriously. He would have to make sure of that.

Lyran and Hallie were the first to arrive, as was expected. While Hallie prepared the displays that would accompany the briefing, the captain studied a PADD on which was displayed the crew manifest, with brief profiles of each cadet. Each seemed more promising and winsome than the next, but then they weren’t assigned to Nova Squad by lottery.

While reading the profiles, he walked to the replicator to grab a drink. “Protein complex LVT-dash-69” he said, and an ornate crystal carafe containing a crimson liquid materialised, a port glass along with it. Putting down the PADDon a table, he reached for the carafe and placed it on one of the tables.

With about five minutes to the meeting, the crew started arriving one by one and took places at the available tables. Among them he recognized Cadets T’Saris, T’han’in and Baker, whom he had met an hour earlier.

All eyes were fixed on Captain Lyran von Thune, who cut an unusual figure with his puffy Hysperian shirt worn with the Captain’s vest uniform, and the sword dangling from his belt. They were not at the end of their surprises, however. When he was satisfied that he had everyone’s attention, he grinned a toothy grin that revealed unusual fanged canines.

Few people had ever seen Hysperians, but it was well known that Hysperia was a quirky human colony with a colourful culture based on ancient human mythology, but this was highly unusual in humans. Some of them were clearly concerned, but none gave voice to these concerns.

If anyone had noticed the young asian woman in the early 24th century leather vest uniform standing only a few paces behind him and to the side, they did not say anything about it either, though she was not to be found anywhere on the ship’s manifest.

“Good day everyone” he said, making eye contact with each cadet at least once. “The most perceptive of you will have by now realised that I am your new captain. My name is Viscount Lyran von Thune, of Hysperia. You are to refer to me as sir, captain or Captain von Thune” he said, taking a short pause. “My Lord will also be accepted, but be aware that it is not a form of address formally recognised by Starfleet” he added jokingly to try to lighten the atmosphere.

In the background, the stranger produced an antique metal lighter and a cigarette, which she proceeded to light. This attracted the attention of the cadets, who looked on, wide-eyed.

The captain was well-aware of what was going on, but decided to ignore their gawking reaction. “Starfleet, in its infinite wisdom, has seen fit to assign us on a milk run” he began. “We are headed to Starbase 72, where we are required to take on board Captain of Engineering Zelensky and his team and bring him back to Devron Fleetyards to act as an advisor in the refits of that classy lady you see out there.” He pointed to an intriguing ship, looming out there.

“This beauty is the only remaining example of the ‘Probert-type’ Ambassador-class prototypes. These babies never made it into full scale production. Starfleet wouldn’t scrap a ship in good working order however, and she was commissioned for duty. Ironically, this rejected prototype is one, if not the last of it’s line and generation.” he explained. “Turns out Captain Zelensky is a bit more than just an engineering genius, but also a bit of a starship historian.”

“Considering the nature of this mission I will be more of an observer, getting involved as little as possible with the running of the ship. I will be on duty throughout the shifts making reports and writing observations for your professors. Your training will be ongoing throughout your time on the USS Corax, but it will be handled by Captain Hallie Leung” he said, before gesturing for the mystery woman to take over.

While she took a moment to prepare, Lyran walked over to the table where he had left the carafe and poured some of the crimson liquid into the elegant port glass. When the light hit the glass in just the right way, its contents took on the colour of blood, something that did not escape the notice of some of the cadets.

“Greetings cadets. I am Captain Hallie Leung, and I will be your instructor during this cruise. You may refer to me as ‘Instructor Hallie Leung’. Pressing a few keys on a holo-display device, a representation of the USS Corax and detailed specifications appeared out of thin air. “The Raven-class are possibly the best-suited ships for Academy training. Designed to be operated by as few as a single person, this will allow us to divide our crew of nine into three shifts, with three crew members and either the Captain or myself on duty at any time” she explained, puffing nonchalantly on her cigarette, which she held in a fashion not too dissimilar to the femme fatales from old 1940’s movies. “When not on active duty, you will be expected to study, familiarise yourselves with shipboard systems. This ship is equipped with a holodeck, but the only programs that will be available will be combat drill simulators, physical training and target practice programs”.

She took a pause for a moment to inhale the smoke from her cigarette. “Because we will be getting guests on board, you will be expected to double bunk from here on to make sure that Captain Zelensky’s team will have sufficient accommodations space. Once we arrive at Starbase 72, you will be expected to assist in loading up their equipment to the cargo bay, otherwise, this is, as the captain said, a milk run”. Pausing for a moment to read the expressions on their faces, she then asked “Any questions?”.

For a moment, there was complete silence, and then Cadet T’Saris spoke up. “I believe I speak in the name of this crew when I say that it is an honour to have been selected for this assignment and that we can be counted on to accomplish the set of objectives laid before us.” The rest of the cadets nodded in agreement. “That said, I feel I am duty-bound to remind everyone of Starfleet’s policy regarding the use of tobacco products in crew areas”.

The crew was already silent before she uttered these words, but now the silence seemed to hang somehow heavier still.

“I would also like to point out that it is highly unlikely that you are who you claim to be, considering Captain Hallie Leung died in combat in the battle of Tyra system 26 years ago” she carried on.

A smile formed on Hallie’s lips, the black lipstick contrasting vividly against her porcelain complexion. This smile was echoed by the captain’s fanged grin as he took a sip of the crimson liquid. He did not however intervene.

“Cadet T’Saris, if you would please stand and join me…” Hallie asked. T’Saris glanced to the captain, who, cup in hand, motionned for her to comply.

T’Saris rose from her chair and squeezed herself between the chairs occupied by the other cadets until she stood perhaps two steps away from Instructor Hallie Leung, and placed herself at attention.

“At ease cadet” Hallie said, her smile turning slightly mischievous.

T’Saris then stood at ease, her arms behind her back.

“Cadet T’Saris, it seems, is the bravest soul among you lot”, she then said with a playfully wicked smile. “I like her spirit” she continued, as she turned to her. “As it turns out, Cadet T’saris was absolutely correct on both counts”.

Hallie closed the gap between them with a confident, feminine gait. She then gave a charged gaze directly into her eyes.

T’Saris, was receiving conflicting signals that she was unsure how to react to. Holding on to her self-control became incredibly difficult, even for her highly disciplined mind.

Hallie raised her right hand, still holding the cigarette, slowly and deliberately and brought it towards T’Saris’ face. The cadet remained completely still, her eyes locked into Hallie’s, which only prompted her smile to widen. As Hallie’s hand motioned to lighty stroke the cadet’s cheek with her thumb (keeping the cigarette well clear of her face), her finger went right through her face, in full view of everyone.

“You better start believing in ghost stories, guys” she then said, turning her face to the cadets. “You’re in one!”

With his glass in hand, Captain von Thune joined Hallie and T’Saris. “A -photonic- ghost story, anyway” he said, taking a sip from his drink. “Captain Leung died before my eyes 26 years ago. Her presence here is explained in AI research journals if you are really interested in reading about it, but the short of it is, an AI somehow evolved on the ship’s computer, and when shipwide holographics were installed as part of the last major refit, it became able to manifest itself using that system. To make sure it was understood properly by the crew, it grafted upon it’s own program a transporter pattern from when Captain Leung was first assigned to the ship as an ensign, her service record, medical records, psychological evaluations, correspondences and so on as available in the ship’s libraries… in all things, short of a true physical form, this is indeed Captain Leung, if only as a true to life replica. She does however have full rights as a sentient being under the Federation Charter, separate from the original Hallie Leung. She cannot, however, hold a Starfleet rank and operates as a provisional officer with the full authority the position she occupies carries. In all things regarding this mission, she is acting under my authority and should be accorded every courtesy due to her position as your training instructor” he explained, moving the glass to his left hand and putting his right hand on Hallie’s fully physically materialised shoulder. “Understood?” he asked the mass of slack jawed cadets.

“Understood, Sir” they said as one.

“For the purpose of this mission, and because of her inquisitive nature and initiative, Cadet T’Saris is promoted in the field to acting ensign, with all of the rights, privileges and responsibilities attached. Understood, acting ensign T’Saris?” he asked, half to make sure she was up to the task, but also to see if he would manage to rattle the vulcan cadet where Hallie had seemingly failed.

For only a fraction of a second, he could swear that he had seen her eye widen upon hearing of her new responsibilities. For a fraction of a second only.

“Understood, sir. Thank you sir” she said in an even tone.

Lyran smiled as he approached T’Saris and removed the cadet’s pips from her uniform, and produced a provisional officer’s pip from the inside pocket of his vest and pinned it to her chest, in the fashion of the new duty uniforms.

He then turned to face everyone. “You’ve heard the orders, you know what to do. Acting ensign T’Saris will draft the shift assignments and quarters arrangements and inform you of you all as soon as possible” he said, taking a look at his new provisional officer. “Until then, carry on as before” he instructed before dismissing everybody.

As the last of the cadets left the observation lounge, Lyran walked up to Hallie. “What do you think of her?” he asked, taking another sip of his drink.

“I’m not usually all-in for the stoic types, but she’s kind of cute, in her vulcan sort of way”, she replied with an impish smile.

Lyran smiled, facepalmed… and finished his drink.

Off

A post featuring:

Captain Lyran von Thune
Commanding officer, USS Corax

Instructor Hallie Leung
USS Corax

Acting ensign T’Saris
USS Corax

A bunch of gobsmacked cadets