Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 4: Stormbreaker (A Perfect Storm) and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

The stars shine ever onward, even as this life fades

USS Santa Fe, enroute to Sol System
January 7th, 2400
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Standing at the door to the captain’s quarters, Nisha Kedam fiddled with the new, hollow pip that was present on her dress uniform’s teal collar. Hollow was the right word. She didn’t feel as if she had earned the recognition, or the pip, but had inherited it instead. It wasn’t how the young Cardassian had anticipated earning her promotion, but her friends had told her to accept it with the same grace and dignity her predecessor had always shown. Commander Travis’ death had left a gaping chasm in the science department, a hole that the captain had been quick to fill buy promoting her to the department head position, with the rank of Lieutenant Junior Grade. She had questioned her suitability every second of the seventeen hours, thirty-six minutes and… fourteen seconds since he had shared the news of her promotion with her. Something told her that it would be a long while before she would work up to the notion that she had earned the extra hollow pip. However, right now, the science team needed a leader, and the captain needed a scientific advisor. She would play that role to the best of her ability (even if Ensign Caplan had quietly cursed her out several times for achieving the position that he so obviously coveted).

Farrell had requested that the young ensign, sorry, lieutenant, be the one to get him when it was time for their friend’s funeral service, and so she stood outside, performing that solemn duty to the letter. Motionless, reflective.

Eventually, the door to the captain’s private abode opened, and the significantly taller man appeared, looking utterly resplendent in his pristine, maroon-coloured dress uniform. Every metallic item glistened in the deck lighting; every inch the statesman that the Santa Fe crew deserved.

A simple nod of acknowledgement between the two served as the captain’s signal that he was ready to proceed, the two officers’ beginning their silent march down the corridor towards the turbo lift.

“It looks good on you Nisha,” Farrell whispered as he clasped his hands behind his back, “Javorian would be proud of you.”

Kedam let out the quietest of sighs, welling up in the process. For her, nothing more needed to be said.

[SHUTTLEBAY]

Draped over the torpedo casing in the centre of the docking bay, the Federation flag adorned the fallen comrade’s coffin, a single wreath placed lovingly in front. In a mark of respect that underlined the measure of the man that was to be laid to rest, over three dozen people had filled the shuttlebay to pay their respects to one of the most well-liked members of the ship’s complement. Seated either side of the coffin, the gathering fell silent as the captain rose to his feet, accompanied by the traditional boatswain’s whistle that signalled the crew to join him on theirs.

Sebastian simply stared at the coffin before him, lost for a moment as flashes of memories played at the forefront of his mind like a highlight reel of his friendship with Javorian, so lost that he was drawn from his dazed state by gentle touch of his executive officer. Supported physically by the pain medication and the expert care of Doctor Zinn, Tharia was in a much better place following the trauma she herself had sustained. She was able to be there to support her commanding officer and friend. Sliding her left hand gently into his, she gave it a squeeze and smiled at him reassuringly when he looked over at her with watering eyes.

Taking an extra second or two to compose himself, the captain eventually stepped forward from his chair and stood beside the Federation flag that meant so much to his friend. The crew…this noble, selfless, persevering crew, were all lined up to hear his eulogy towards the late science officer. His friend. He looked out at the sea of faces and cleared his throat.

“Friends and colleagues. We are gathered here on this day to pay our final respects to a man who, bravely and heroically, and without a second thought to his own safety, gave his life to safeguard another. Commander Javorian Travis was a man of the utmost integrity; he was a man who worshipped the Federation, even in the dark days of years gone by, and always believed that the galaxy could, and would, be a better place.” Farrell stopped for a moment, blinking several times to stem the small tears welling up in his eyes. “Today, the galaxy seems a little darker thanks to this tremendous loss, but we can take heart from the knowledge that Javorian Travis leaves us all a little better off than before we knew him. A friend and colleague who believed in each and every one of us, Javorian gave us the courage and conviction to serve our crew, and this ship, to the best of our abilities.”

Sebastian looked around the crew, his gaze falling upon each and every member there assembled for the slightest of moments. “Sometimes, we are alone in this darkness called space. We feel like we have no allies, we can feel like there is no way of getting home, but the one thing Javorian always reminded me was that no matter what we face, we always have each other. Our friend taught us to depend on each other and to work as one, as a whole, to see ourselves to each day, to each tomorrow. And now,” Sebastian said, pausing again, voice cracking and dropping almost to a whisper, “now we give his body to the stars, the stars he yearned to reach all his life. The stars shine ever onward, even as this life fades.”

Once more, the boatswain’s whistle signalled the gathering to come to attention in respect of their fallen brethren. They watched over the torpedo while six of their security officer colleagues slowly took ownership of the torpedo casing, and brought it to the edge of the shuttlebay. As they walked, the familiar tolling of the shuttlebay warning klaxon disturbed the silence, the view of the vastness of space now before them. Slowly, but surely, the six officers propelled the coffin through the forcefield that protected them from the heavens, and pushed it into the vast openness of space. 

And at the heart of the gathered crew, Captain Sebastian Farrell watched on in silence, tears rolling down his dark cheeks. Sometimes, one would try to think of all manner of convoluted words and statements to describe one’s feelings, but today only one would suffice; sad. Sebastian Farrell was sad at the loss of his colleague, and his best friend.

And he would be sad for a very long time.

[SOMETIME LATER…]

Several weeks had passed since the tragic death of Commander Travis, and Starfleet’s investigation into the presence of the Klingons on Sathea still rumbled on. Well, more like stumbled along really. With evidence limited and new leads few and far between, the investigation didn’t really seem to be going anywhere in a hurry. So much so, the branches of Intelligence, Tactical and Starfleet Command itself were facing uneasy questions about their lack of progress from all quarters, but none more so than the newest Deputy Director of Starfleet Security for the Beta Antares sector.

For Commodore Sebastian Farrell, the sands of time never stopped, and whilst he had moved on from the Beta Quadrant and the site of the tragedy that had befallen him, he had to ensure that Starfleet got the answers Javorian’s family needed. For now though, he had people working on that task. He, himself had other matters to attend to.

Day thirty of his term in post had started like many others had so far. He been part of his superior’s morning briefing on the investigation and had been subjected to a constant stream of updates from the heads of every Starfleet Branch that were liaising with his office. Shipyards across the Federation were churning out starships to replace those lost over a decade ago during the attack on Mars, and security officers were high on the recruitment list. Starfleet Medical had been forced to call in their brightest minds to deal with an outbreak of Kamaraazite Flu on Castal One, whilst Starfleet Science continued their development of holographic technology at a great pace. The biggest update had come from the Judge Advocate General’s office. A case had begun against the executive officer of the starship Ajani, an Intrepid-class starship that had been operating along the Cardassian border. During the ship’s mission, the XO had disobeyed the Captain’s orders and had, apparently, detained a Cardassian vessel, which had prompted a diplomatic incident.

Now he sat at his desk with his feet up, enjoying a break from the constant stream of meetings with a well-earned cup of coffee whilst catching up on some of the Federation News Service streams from the past few days. Whilst he got updates on the most urgent matters around the Federation, he found the FNS to be a great way to get updates on other issues that didn’t always come across his desk. He had been watching a broadcast about mining issues on Dorvan II when another particular broadcast had caught his attention. A new, tell-all memoir by a decorated Starfleet veteran had apparently been making waves for its unflinching criticism of Federation and Starfleet leadership during the Dominion War.

“What the hell, he’s only two decades out of date…” Farrell shrugged as he got comfortable and listened to the broadcast.

“The memoir by retired Starfleet Captain Ignacio Fierro, entitled The Sacrifice of Angels: A Captain’s Account of the Dominion War, features Fierro’s recollections of serving in the greatest war in Federation history. Laden with unapologetic descriptions and strong language, it is not for the faint of heart.“

“Yet Fierro’s book is hardly the first raw retelling of one veteran’s memories of the war. What has brought attention to the book instead is that several times throughout the memoir, Fierro blatantly claims that military strategists and field commanders he served under were grossly incompetent, and in some cases, even corrupt.”

That caught the Commodore’s attention, causing him to sit up in his chair and plant his feet firmly on the floor again. Corruption claims, even from over twenty years ago, was not something Starfleet, or the Office of Starfleet Security needed on their plate right now.

“It was then I realized they had no understanding of what was truly happening on the front lines,” the author spoke as he appeared on the screen. “To them, they were just faceless names on casualty reports. How else to explain the callousness with which they sent us to our deaths, outnumbered and outgunned?”

Slamming his hand on the comm panel on his desk, the Commodore was fuming. “=/\=Sovaal, get in here!” he beckoned.

“Captain Fierro served with distinction for nearly four decades in Starfleet. Graduating third in his class at the academy, Fierro began his career as an engineer before eventually moving into command. By the time the Dominion War broke out in 2373, he was captain of the USS Emerald, which fought in multiple engagements with the Dominion, including several of the largest and costliest battles such as the Battle of Tyra, in which only fourteen Federation ships out of 112 survived. After the war, Fierro remained in the service, teaching at the academy until his retirement in 2384.”

“Starfleet Command had no comment on the memoir, which is due out next week from the New Berlin Press.”

“Frak me…” the Commodore fumed, slamming his cup on the desk just as the doors opened and his Adjutant, Commander Sovaal, entered along with another officer. “Why the hell didn’t we know about this?” Sebastian asked angrily, not even acknowledging the Captain who had entered at first.

“Respectfully, sir, we have bigger fish to fry than baseless claims from a retired officer,” Captain Hanson from Starfleet Operations responded as he placed a PADD on the Commodore’s desk and slid it over. “We have a situation developing near FreeCloud,” the Captain told his superior.

Waving away his Adjutant who had not said a word so far, Sebastian picked up the PADD and offered a seat to the Captain. “That bloody plamet becomes more of a nuisance with each passing day. We should just send in Starfleet Security and shut the whole place down… What is it now? Gambling issues?”

“A missing starship,” Mitchell Hanson retorted with a shake of his head.

That certainly caught the Commodore’s attention, signalling for his subordinate to tell him more.

“One of our newer starships, the Thesis, was on assignment near Freecloud testing an experimental defense system when long range sensors detected irregularities in her warp field,” Hanson revealed, reaching over and pressing a button on his senior officer’s PADD, flipping it to the next page. “We monitored the ship for as long as we could, but sensors last had her on a trajectory of 256 mark 321, heading out towards Cardassian space and the Wastelands beyond. That was thirty-six hours ago, and we’ve heard nothing since.”

A lost starship, not just any starship but one of their newer Inquiry-class ships, was never a good thing. “Contact the Santa Fe. I know Captain sh’Elas is in the region and she’ll be ready for a challenge after a month of border patrols. They have a history with the Thesis so they’ll be best placed to deal with it,” Farrell didn’t need to hear or read anything further. A lost starship on any day was a cause for concern, but it being on a trajectory for Cardassian space was more than a worry.

Hanson nodded respectfully to his superior and departed, leaving the Commodore to his cold tea and news reports, just in time for a new headline to flash across the screen.

“Starfleet Planetary Defense Laser Misfires in Par’tha Expanse, Dozens of Casualties Reported.”

Today was turning into the day from hell. He let out a sigh and reached for his comm panel again. “=/\=Sovaal, get me Admiral Novu on the line. Yesterday please, thank you!”

The stars did, indeed, shine ever onward. He simply found himself wishing they would shine in less problematic ways every once in a while.

Comments

  • Reading the funeral scenes, the lushness of the writing really jumped out at me. The way you described the scenes gave me a heavy feeling, imagining what Farrell feels. For a second there, I nearly choked up. "Hollow was the right word" indeed!! All that, plus the mystery of the Thesis should mean intrigue to come!

    March 17, 2022