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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 5: M.A.R.S. Revisited and USS Hathaway: Season 1: The Santa Fe Chronicles

Doubts

USS Santa Fe, enroute to Freecloud
February 5th, 2400
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“Captain’s log, supplemental.

 

We’ve received new orders from Starfleet Command that put us on a collision course with our immediate past. A relief mission that threatens to open old wounds. Just what the Doctor didn’t order after the devastating loss of our colleague. If I was still the executive, I’d have told Sebastian not to accept the orders; told him to tell Starfleet where to stick them. But I don’t have that luxury now that I am the Captain. Instead, we must warp towards the cesspit of Freecloud, in search of the Thesis.

 

I’ve been granted access to all materials pertaining to the MARS project, and I have disseminated them among the senior staff. Only those crucial to the mission will be shown the true nature of what the Thesis is working on, with yet another lie told to the crew. We lied to them at Sathea; we told them that the storm had played havoc with our sensors and led to us not detecting the Thesis. Anyone privy to the real state of affairs has been sworn, under the strictest of orders, to secrecy. Now, we face having to lie to them again. Only this time, I’m the one who has to come up with the lie…”

[Bridge, 1900 Hours. USS Santa Fe on approach to Freecloud]

Silence had once again gripped the bridge of the Santa Fe. That seemed to be the new dynamic under the command of the Andorian, and it was a stark contrast to the ship’s atmosphere under the reign of Captain Farrell. It wasn’t that the crew were scared of sh’Elas or anything, quite the opposite. There was a distinct air of respect for the Captain which had only grown since their exploits at Sathea and her subsequent promotion. She had stepped out of the shadows of her predecessor and was becoming a captain in her own right. Part of that process was developing her own command style and new relationships with her crew, a crew that had previously seen her as an executive officer – an enforcer of someone’s will. Now, it was her will that was to be enforced and she was still struggling with that thought, the thought of ‘What would Sebastian do?’

Pacing the bridge of the Santa Fe whilst she wrestled with her most recent decision, the Andorian was in danger of wearing a hole in the grey carpeting. It was a pretty big decision to wrestle with, too. Upon the advice of her executive, she had given the crew the permission to proceed with their plan and, at this very moment, engineers, scientists and operations officers alike were installing the necessary components for their testing, whilst the XO, Dante and the Tactical Chief were working on developing the Santa Fe’s very own version of Blue Alert. It was a questionable decision. It was something that command would probably have something to say about, but it was something she would defend. She had very little time to dwell on it as they approached their destination.

Freecloud; an inhabited planet in the Alpha Doradus system that contained a number of urban areas, including the infamous Stardust City, and hosted such a diverse population that it almost made the Federation Council look positively xenophobic. Spacecraft approaching Freecloud were subjected to aggressive, personalized holographic advertisements projected inside said craft. Dismissal of the advertisements required physical interaction with the holograms. Space traffic was handled by Freecloud Orbital Control. A mecca for businesses of all kinds due to its maximum-security commercial and information services, Freecloud was also a nightmare for authorities. It was a place that Starfleet officers did not openly travel to, and a place where the Captain dreaded to venture. The presence of a Federation starship in orbit, even one as old as the Santa Fe, would attract attention from all the wrong kinds of people. Freecloud was also the last known sighting of the Thesis.

Ever since she had ordered the Santa Fe to the last location of the Thesis, the ship had been running continual scans for any sign of the ship, but there had been no joy as of yet. There had been nothing as of yet. No indication the ship even existed, let alone that it had been in the area. If it wasn’t for the fact that she had been there at Sathea, Tharia might have been forgiven for thinking the ship had never existed. But, here they were; travelling at warp six towards the cesspit of Freecloud.

“Captain?”

Tharia shook her head clear as the voice permeated her thoughts, snapping her head in the direction of its owner. “Hmm?” she asked, raised eyebrows and upright antennae a signal she had been taken by surprise.

“Are you alright, ma’am?” Counsellor Chiera enquired from the executive officer’s seat at the heart of the bridge. The only other senior officer present in the command center, the woman had been watching her new Captain with an abundance of caution. She seemed preoccupied, worried… even lost? And that was never a positive sign in a commanding officer. It was something she had never seen from the always confident Sebastian, but was becoming more prevalent in the Andorian. ‘Perhaps she just isn’t meant to be in the big chair?’ she thought. Lucky for her, the Andorian was not a telepath or she would have been rumbled.

“Fine, Counsellor,” the Andorian lied as her antennae dropped. “Thank you,” she added swiftly, with a smile of reassurance for her troubles.

Rising to her feet, the Betazoid took a few steps until she was stood beside the Andorian and watched the viewscreen. “It’s alright to be worried, to have questions. Nobody pretends command is easy, ma’am,” the Counsellor smiled.

“I never expected command to be easy…” Tharia remarked quietly, turning away and heading into the sanctity of the ready room. Once inside, with the doors shut, the Captain let out a sigh and leant against the bulkhead, her white locks resting on the wall behind her head.

“…I just expected to be fit for it.”

Comments

  • Oh no! I should have known the crew's assessment and recreation of the MARS project was coming up with too many roses. It was time for a few thorns. Highlighting the contrast of leadership styles and atmosphere between Tharia and Sebastian was really clever. It continues the shadow of Sebastian through the series, and it tells us SO MUCH about Tharia as a leader in such an economical bit of storytelling. I admire that ability to say a lot in just a couple of sentences. And then to even reinforce it with Chiera seeing the things Tharia doesn't want her to see was a little heartbreaking. Just like “…I just expected to be fit for it.” You sure know how to sew in a hell of a button to end a scene on.

    April 6, 2022