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Part of USS Dvorak (Archive): Turnabout Imposters

Truth Locked Away Inside Her

USS Dvorak, Ready Room
Stardate 77165.5
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“Captain’s Log, Stardate 77159.3

 

“Our mission is to investigate an attack on Starfleet’s planetary defence system in orbit of Camus Two.  Tactical scans detected a Cardassian Hideki-class attack ship approaching the planet before that ship destroyed three of the sentry pods.  The USS Wakahiru-me has been ordered to divert its patrol through the Camus sector to defend us, in case we find more than one ship of True Way pirates waiting for us.  Our science teams will evaluate if Starfleet’s archaeological excavations have been disturbed by the pirates.  Our engineering team, meanwhile, will repair the planetary defenses that protect the ancient and dangerous technology that was discovered on the planet over a hundred years ago.  

 

“I have been honoured with a promotion to Captain, taking command of the science ship Dvorak, as part of the Fourth Fleet’s deep space operations in Task Force 17.  The Dvorak’s previous commanding officer, retired Captain Aloysius Sefton, has lovingly influenced my decision to keep his Commander Elbon Jakkelb aboard as my first officer.  Elbon knows this ship down to the bolts after overseeing its refit and shakedown cruise.  I will be relying on the bonds he’d built with every member of her crew who will be continuing on these voyages with me.  

 

“For my Chief Science Officer, I’ve tempted Lieutenant Commander Jeffrey Holmgren away from Starbase 310, where we worked together closely for five years.  I can’t think of anyone I trust more to lead our expansive science department, including every scientific discipline for both our crew missions and independent research.  Despite that breadth of capability, our mission module remains configured for our specialty in archaeology and anthropology.  The Springfield-class Dvorak is an older sister to the Galaxy-class starship.  While her systems aren’t on the cutting edge of technological advancement, her scientific capabilities include both planetary and stellar surveys, and she brings with her a classic comfort for exploration that I used to read about, before my time in Starfleet.

 

“As for my senior staff, I assembled the young officers I have been mentoring aboard Starbase 72 and the USS Nestus.  …And Yuulik is here too.  Although they haven’t bonded as a team, and discipline isn’t among their fortes, their ambition and raw talent are unparalleled among the teams I’ve led in the past.  I can work with that.  They can learn the rest, given time.”

*   *   *

Despite USS Dvorak‘s recent refit, the previous captain had maintained all of the classic interior design for the Springfield-class ready room.  Between the salmon-coloured wall panels, the red carpeting, and the woodgrain accents, Taes had hoped this space would remind her how the purpose of her ready room wasn’t for tactical analysis.  This ready room would be a refuge from the bridge; a space for heightened reflection.  Watching her last captain’s log back, this hadn’t been the reflection Taes had in mind.

Displayed on a desktop computer console, the recording of Captain Taes from a couple of days ago said, “I can work with that.  They can learn the rest, given time.”  Captain Taes herself was now seated behind the desk in her new ready room.  Taes touched the display screen with the pads of her fingertips.  She traced the shape of her face, her high cheekbones, her Deltan features, like the bald scalp.  When the captain’s log ended, the screen went blank.  The way the light reflected on the console, Taes could see her current reflection in the shiny black polymer of the display.  It was the youthful face of Ensign Melchor Dolan that looked back at her in the reflection.  Their fateful away mission to evaluate the archaeological dig had left Taes inhabiting the body of Ensign Dolan.

The way those alien eyes looked back at her left Taes feeling unsettled.  The brown of the irises were so much like her own, and yet her nervous system screamed at her to be alert.  Primal instincts within her told her those eyes belonged to another.

That thought was interrupted by the computer chirp that signaled an intraship communication.  “Doctor Nelli to Taes,” said the disembodied voice of Doctor Pimpinellifolia.  Despite how they had identified themselves, Nelli wasn’t speaking in their usual melodic monotone.  All Taes could hear was the baritone voice of Jeffrey Holmgren.

“Taes here,” she replied.  Taes closed her eyes and tilted her head back, fearful of what Doctor Nelli’s news would bring.  Irregardless of any other matter, Taes asked, “How’s Jeffrey doing?”

Nelli responded, “Commander Holmgren remains in a lack of consciousness, Captain.  He is, otherwise, responding well to treatment.  His other vital signs –my vital signs?– have stabilised.”  Nelli’s discomfort at their own transformation even sounded like Jeffrey.  For half a second, Taes wondered at what a study this could feed: how much of themselves remained in their bodies when their minds had been shifted elsewhere?

“Thank you, doctor,” Taes said, quickly moving on to her second thought.  “Please keep me updated if his condition changes, even a little.”  After Taes and Nelli offered each other hollow pleasantries, Taes closed the communications channel.

Taes opened her eyes and she fixed her gaze on her desktop console.  “Computer, play it again,” Taes said sharply.  Although there were still echoes of her Deltan accent in the way she pronounced her words, her voice came out in the soothing tones of Ensign Dolan’s voice.

On the console, Captain Taes appeared again in her red-shouldered uniform, staring directly into the visual sensor.  “Our mission is to investigate an attack on Starfleet’s planetary defence systems in orbit of Camus Two,” said the recording of Captain Taes.

Speaking to the face on the console, Taes said, “This is a simple mission.  You should be able to handle this…”  Her voice remained hard, a tenor used to demand obedience.  She waggled a finger at the recording, asking, “Why did your voice quaver right there?  And that manic glint behind your eyes…?”  

Taes swatted at the desktop console and it tumbled back, falling off the edge of her desk.  Through Dolan’s face, Taes sneered.  “You’re not yourself.”