Part of SS Vondem Rose: Tequila Mockingchair

Well shit.

SS Martian Thorn
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“Everyone just shut the fuck up,” Lewis said with clear frustration in his voice.

The bridge of the Martian Thorn wasn’t that big, but take it down to the minimum number of people required and it could feel downright empty. It was a delicate mix, which Revin found herself merely an observer in. What had prompted Lewis’s outburst was her fiancé merely whispering into one of Gaeda’s crewmember’s ears asking for an update.

With a glare from Gaeda, Sidda’s expression turned very sheepish before she slunk back over to where Revin was seated. Before a word could be uttered, Revin lifted a finger to her lips, then offered that hand for her love to hold once she sat down. She mouthed ‘love you’ to Sidda, punctuated with a smile, before nodding her head at the display behind her. She’d pulled up some useful information earlier and with the quiet ‘thank you’ from Sidda knew she’d done right by her.

“Two hundred meters,” Lewis announced. He had said landing the Thorn on the hull of a super-freighter wasn’t going to be difficult, but had revised his own estimate of either the task at hand or his own skill. The difficulty had arisen in the ship’s extremely large impulse engines and the exhaust they produced, or some such that went over her head. All she knew was that Lewis had asked for quiet while attempting this manoeuvre had his expletive ladened demand just now was his first.

“One hundred meters.” The Thorn rocked slightly as it continued to close. “Just the navigational deflectors interfacing,” Lewis informed. At this point, an alarm started to rise from Lewis’ own console, quickly silenced halfway through its first word.

“Twenty…fifteen…ten…five…”

She turned to grip the edge of the console she sat at properly with both hands, waiting for a jolt, a resounding clang, something to indicate they’d set down. Instead, there was a gentle little vibration that went through the ship. If she hadn’t clenched her eyes closed, feeling the ship through her hands and feet, she doubt she’d even have noticed it. And highly unlike anyone but an engineer in tune with their ship would either.

“Touch down.”

“Mr Chin,” Gaeda spoke as he stood and patted the man on the shoulder. “That was a thing of beauty.” Gaeda nodded as he looked down at the nav console, the spun on the rest of the bridge. “Secure the engines, ensure the cloak is working properly and someone make sure those clamps are damn well secure.”

As minutes passed, then hours, the only interruption to the drudgery of riding on the back of a slow freighter barely doing half impulse was the moment when an ageing Federation ship, the USS Sumner Bay, swung by the Denali, conducted a perfunctory scan of the ship then departed on its patrol once more. While the scan was done one could have heard a pin drop on the bridge as if the crew aboard being quiet would somehow help.

More hours passed and finally, boredom had won out as Revin found herself cycling through sensor readings, monitoring the passive sensors, self-teaching herself how to operate the Klingon computers of the Martian Thorn. She found a few settings that she kept flicking through before an idea hit her and attention fell complete on just one of the sensor readouts – ambient tachyon emissions.

“Shouldn’t that number be higher?” she asked, reaching over to tap Sidda on the arm, pointing at the reading.

“What should be higher love?” the Orion asked back, not looking up from something she was reading on a padd.

“The tachyon readings. If we’re near a tachyon sensor net, shouldn’t there be some scattering that would result in an increased count above background?”

“Stands to reason,” Sidda answered, still distracted.

“So why are the local readings standard galactic ambient then?”

“What are you talking about?” Sidda finally set her padd down and turned to look at Revin’s console, blinking a few times, confusion taking over her face. Seconds passed before she brought up the same exact readings on the console in front of her as well, then leaned over to kiss Revin’s cheek before jumping to her feet and going to whisper in Gaeda’s ear.

Soon enough both were standing behind her, Sidda’s hands coming to rest on her shoulders. “See Gaeda, no tachyon emissions. No active sensor emissions at all.”

“No security at all?” Gaeda’s tone conveyed his disbelief well enough. “That’s…just…”

“It’s a quiet backwater depot,” Sidda answered. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s been shut down just to save on maintenance. After all, who’s going to steal from a depot this far inside Federation space? You’d have to be mad.”

“That’s not a sterling statement about your mental health you realise,” Gaeda countered.

“And yet you’re here as well.”

“Jesús,” the man muttered. “We’ll ride the Denali till we’re past the net anyway, just in case, but I’ve got to admit, I’m feeling a lot less worried about this madcap idea.” He looked the screen over once more then patted Revin’s shoulder lightly. “Nice work Revin.”

“Thank you,” she responded, then looked up, craning her head back, to smile at Sidda. “You can thank me later.”

“Oh, that’s for sure.” But for now, Sidda settled for planting a kiss on Revin’s forehead. “When did you learn how to operate a sensor system?”

“Just followed the prompts.” She tapped a few keys and brought up a series of system tooltips. “And I listen to everything. Hanging around people working, you learn a lot. And Orelia likes to show me how things work. Orin too.” Not that she’d ever want to manage a ship’s weapons in a battle, but she felt confident enough to at least fire a torpedo dead ahead.

“Well then clever girl, mind keeping an eye on sensors till we’re clear? I’ll go make some drinks for everyone.”

“Did I hear drinks?” Gaeda shouted from across the bridge. “Coffee, black, two sugars.”

“Same with milk,” another voice.

“Raktijino while you’re at it,” Lewis chipped in.

Revin smiled and chuckled. “Tea please, love. Honey if you find any, otherwise sugar will do.”

With a squeeze of her shoulders and then with a single raised finger directed to the rest of the bridge crew, Sidda departed.

It was hours later, and many cups of coffee or tea, that the Martian Thorn eventually detached from the hull of the Denali. Another wee jolt as navigational screens conflicted, then the bird-of-prey righted itself on thrusters alone before gliding off towards the nearest collection of wrecked starships.

“What’s that?” Gaeda asked with a pointed finger at the viewscreen and someone dutifully zoomed in on the offending object – a shuttlecraft making its way through the collection of ships which seemed to get denser as the field went on.

“Shuttle. Two life-signs, moving at a sedate pace, though with how dense those ships are packed as they go along, probably a bordering on a touch reckless,” Lewis commented.

“Well keep an eye out for them, but let’s orbit the field and see if we can’t find the Sidda’s prize for her.”

Two hours later on the bridge, the day drawing to a close for most and it was all punctuated with a single expletive from the helm.

“Shit.”

On the viewscreen the zoomed-in wreckage of a Manticore-class starship was visible, seemingly buried in a mass of other starships, as if Starfleet was protecting it from sight under the bodies of its brethren. The angle was so unique to see it that one would have to be inside the fleet yard to even see it. But the ships around it were dense enough to keep the Thorn from getting any closer.

“Well shit,” Gaeda followed up, then looked over to Revin. “You want to tell her, or should I?”

“Can we tell her in the morning?”

“I shall leave that decision with you Revin,” he said. “But everyone going on this crazy excursion should get some shuteye. Lewis, find us somewhere to park but where we can watch Endeavour will you?”

“On it.”

With the Endeavour where it was, their only choice would be to spacewalk. She’d only practised on the holodeck herself, to see if she could figure out Sidda’s confessed fear, but to no avail. It was calming to her, peaceful even. But the here and now was evident to her – find her fiancé, get her to sleep, because a night of her fretting wouldn’t do anyone any good.