Part of USS Challenger: Return to the Gamma Quadrant

Some Things Trump Hate

Coltar IV
Stardate 77031.7
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Taking a sip from his champagne flute, Tom scanned the reception room from his vantage point by the food table. The crowd was a mix of personnel from the Challenger, members of Coltar’s government and assorted invited guests. After the crew’s work in solving the temporal differential, Tom had managed to convince Governor Wells to award the Freedom of Coltar to the Challenger’s crew instead of singling him out.

His gaze fell upon his parents having an animated conversation with Commanders Bennett and Miller. Judging by the uncontrollable laughter coming from his officers, his parents were regalling them with stories from Tom’s youth. He groaned inwardly, wondering which embarrassing story they were being told.

The last few days since the Century Storm passed had allowed Tom to spend time with his family and begin reconnecting with them. While he and his father could now be in the same room without it devolving into a shouting match, even able to hold civil conversations, they were still awkward around each other. They’d been estranged for longer than not and it would take time for them to rebuild their relationship. All those years of hurt didn’t disappear overnight.

With a sigh, Tom started towards his parents in the hopes that he could prevent the most embarrassing stories being told but was stopped in his tracks by a sight he didn’t expect to see; Kailir and Mitchell huddled together in what looked like a deep conversation. His embarrassment was quickly forgotten and he began making his way through the crowd towards his two officers.

“What are you two conspiring about?” Tom asked jokingly as he approached them, a lopsided grin on his face.

“Nothing.” Kailir replied quickly, too quickly. 

Tom had only been joking, or at least half joking, but now he was convinced that the pair of them were up to something. She quickly excused herself, leaving the two friends alone. “What was that about?”

“What do you mean?” Mitchell asked innocently.

Tom wasn’t buying his friend’s act. “You know what I mean. The way you two stopped talking the moment I came over here. What’s going on?”

“Like Kailir said, it’s nothing.” Mitchell’s reply was more casual than Kailir’s was but Tom had known him too long. There was something his best friend was keeping from him.

Tom shook his head. “I’m not buying it, AJ.” He told his friend. “Tejara hates you. She’d rather chew her own arm off than have a conversation with you.”

“Some things trump hate, Tom.” Mitchell replied cryptically. 

Tom opened his mouth to reply but stopped when he noticed something over his shoulder catching AJ’s eye. Looking round he watched as Governor Wells strode purposefully towards Lieutenant Commander Jackson. “Uh-oh.”

***

“Is that so?” Chris asked, his attempt to feign interest less than convincing. The mayor of Coltar’s second largest town had been droning on for five minutes about something, though exactly what Chris wasn’t sure. These sorts of formal social gatherings, where he was expected to schmooze, were not his strong suit. He was an engineer, at home in an engine room or jeffries tube, not glad hand with politicians and civic leaders.

Movement out of the corner of his eye caught Chris’ attention. He immediately regretted glancing in that direction when he saw Governor Wells and her Chief of Staff bearing down on him. He’d given Governor Wells his word that he would get them a new fusion reactor but try as he had since the ion storm had passed, he’d made no headway and it seemed that his day of reckoning had arrived.

“Mayor West. Would you mind if I borrowed Commander Jackson for a few minutes?” Wells asked smoothly. 

West bowed his head politely. “Of course not, Governor.” Mayor West moved off leaving Chris at the mercy of the Governor.

“Commander Jackson, we haven’t had a chance to talk.” Wells began in a light, friendly tone. Chris knew that wasn’t going to last. “I believe you said that you would help us to secure a new fusion reactor once the ion storm passed.”

Jackson shifted his weight from one foot to the other, his eyes darting briefly to Forsyth before meeting Governor Wells’ gaze. Her smile was easy and friendly but her gaze was intense, waiting for Chris to reply. “About that Governor…I…I mean…I-”

“A California-class starship will arrive on Friday.” Captain Forrester’s voice came from behind him and moments later the captain appeared beside him. “Onboard will be a detachment from the Corps of Engineers who will begin construction on two brand new fusion reactors.”

The Governor and her Chief of Staff were visibly shocked and while he tried to cover his own, Chris was equally as shocked. “That’s wonderful news, Captain.” Wells gushed, a genuine smile lighting her features. “I don’t know how to thank you. Coltar is in your debt.” 

“No, no. Not me.” Forrester replied, shaking his head.. ‘It’s Commander Jackson you have to thank for this.”

Wells reached out and grabbed Chris’ hand, shaking it enthusiastically, placing her other hand over his. “Thank you, Commander. I’ll admit that I had my doubts when you made that promise but you came through for me, you came through for the people of Coltar. Thank you, thank you, thank you.”

“Yes, ma’am.” Chris couldn’t think of any other way to reply. He felt uncomfortable accepting the Governor’s profuse thanks because he’d had nothing to do with securing the reactors. Wells and Forsyth moved off, buzzing with excitement at the possibilities that those new reactors presented. Chris watched them go, confusion etched on his face. “How-”

Forrester smiled. “I called in a favour,” he paused briefly before correcting himself, “well, a few favours,” he paused again, “actually a lot of favours.” The captain pinned him with a pointed look. “You owe me…big.” The chirp of Forrester’s commbadge drew his attention away. “Forrester here.”

Sir, Commodore Vega is on subspace for you.” The voice of Lieutenant Hendricks, the officer of the watch, announced.

That could mean only one thing, new orders. Forrester excused himself and walked off to a quiet corner of the room.

***

Captain Forrester, how soon can the Challenger be ready to get underway.” The voice of Commodore Vega filtered through the commbadge.

Tom’s eyes slowly scanned the room. He watched for a few seconds as his crew enjoyed themselves. He would allow them tonight. “We can be ready to go first thing in the morning.”

“Very well.” Came the Commodore’s reply a moment later. “You’ll leave first thing in the morning for Deep Space Nine.” She paused for a moment. “The Challenger’s going back to the Gamma Quadrant.”

Comments

  • A great and happy ending to this story. I really enjoyed the character development explored throughout the story with Captain Forrester. My money is on Forrester being surprised by a former love interest set up by Kailir and AJ before they reach the Gamma Quadrant!

    April 6, 2022