Part of USS Ulysses: Wings of Salvation and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

CH3 – Whether To Laugh or to Cry

Observation Lounge, Deck 1
May, 2400
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Early morning starts tended to be a lot more bearable when one’s starship was in dock, since no one really cared or monitored where anyone was – even CO’s had been known to wander off, or even indulge in the odd lie in from time to time when there was nowhere for the ship to go. But when orders had been received, taking such liberties was no longer an option. That was certainly the case at the start of play on the twentieth day of the Temeraire’s layover at Starbase Bravo. Captain sh’Elas had been up since the break of day as she contemplated the disturbing information and detailed events that had learned about the night before. She had been advised to tell only a select number of her crew about the ship’s impending mission, and leave the rest to find out after their departure, but last night’s goings-on simply didn’t sit well with her. So, as advised, she had called her senior staff to their first briefing together at zero-seven-thirty; she, of course, would be fashionably late as she was taking her time to come up with the exact words to share with her people. For now, they would just have to wait for her to arrive.

Observation Lounge, Deck One

Henry Mitchell, eager to please on his first official duty shift entered the briefing room and stopped in his tracks. For a pocket battleship, some of her rooms were really quite elegant, and this observation lounge was one of them. Circular in shape, the room was dominated by two large features on the port and starboard walls. On the left, possibly the largest interactive display other than a viewscreen he had ever seen, and on the right, a large collection of gold gilded starships, ships that he presumed were this fine vessel’s lineage. In the center of the room, an almost rectangular table filled the void, with a single chair directly facing the screen (no doubt for the vessel’s commanding officer), and eight other chairs spread evenly on both sides. On the backs of each chair

He made a quick pit stop at the replicator to get a coffee. The one (or was it three?) that he had at breakfast already seemed to be wearing off, so he made sure to order something stronger. Turning back to the table, he was almost ecstatic to find that the table top was equipped with a brand new holographic projector which would make briefings interesting for sure. Then he noticed the real surprise, and a very nice touch. Roughly half way up the backrest of each chair, on a gold plaque and in a traditional Starfleet font, black letters signalled the seats desired occupant. He ran his fingers across the headrests of several chairs as he rounded the table until he spied his own name. “Lieutenant Henry Mitchell, Chief Flight Operations Officer,” he read quietly, a smile adorning his freshly shaved face. “Chief. Damn, that sounds good,” he spoke proudly as he pulled out the chair and took his seat, waiting for the others to arrive.

Lieutenant Linn Mora made sure he was not the first to enter, but was still early. He entered with his coffee and two PADDs. One for taking notes and the second for referencing ship information as needed. He was doing his best to not let his enthusiasm show too much. He took a seat at the end of the table. “Good morning Lieutenant,” the Bolian smiled at Mitchell as he sat directly opposite him.

“Hi there,” Mitchell grinned, opening his mouth to introduce himself but stopping when the doors parted again.

Doctor Zinn walked into the briefing room and took his seat around the table. “Morning boys,” he said as he adjusted his final seating position. “So, early morning briefing must mean something fun, right? Maybe an internship competition?”

“It had better be more than another month of sitting here,” Lieutenant Akaria Okan groused as she entered the Briefing Room hot on the heels of the Chief Medical Officer. She carried a cup of herbal tea, mango and pineapple infused with ginseng root, and took the seat opposite Lieutenant Mora. Sleep had eluded the Risian for most of the night, giving way to a more cantankerous than normal Chief Science Officer.

There was a familiar, if slightly more intense, aura to the observation lounge as the ship’s Bajoran Tactical Operations chief made her way inside. She was a few moments behind the good doctor and scientist, though not enough to be on their heels. Noli had to wait for the door to ‘swish’ open and permit her entrance, where she stepped inside then paused to smile politely at everyone. “Good morning,” she said as she moved to the table. Sitting next to the Doctor, she set her mug of tea on the table after taking a sip.

“Oh my god, it’s Blondie,” Henry thought to himself as he watched the beautiful tactician take a seat across the table from him. Long, flowing blonde locks; bright red lips; gorgeous, green eyes. Christ, she was looking at him now. Was he staring? Frak, he was. She was going to think him rude, wasn’t she? Damn it, he’d blown it before he had even learnt her name.

Striding through the doors into the briefing room, large PADD and stylus in hand, Vasoch noted those who had arrived before him, and gave them each a nod as he made his way to the seat directly to the right-hand side of the captain, where he’d be able to see everyone while giving the captain his full attention. Once he’d taken his seat, he activated his PADD and brought up the note-taking function, ensuring the stylus he was grasping in his left hand had fully linked up, and then sat back, an alert, and curious look on his face. He was intrigued as to how the gathering crew would take the news that had been shared with him the night before.

“Be careful what you wish for. You may just get it,” the Bolian advised from his position on the left side of the table, sounding somewhat wiser than the behaviour he had demonstrated the evening before had suggested.

Just as the Ops Chief finished his sentence, Lieutenant Prida Rala entered; the Bajoran-Cardassian (or Bajassian as she had been named by the troublesome trio the night before), walked in and took her seat at the table, greeting a number of the personnel present in silence.

Finally, after what no doubt seemed like an eternity to those that were awaiting her arrival, the starboard doors to the observation lounge parted and the commander of the ship entered the room. It did not escape the notice of her staff, however, that she was not alone. A tall, elegant looking brunette with pointed ears followed closely behind. Whilst sh’Elas looked weary and anxious, her Vulcan companion looked bright-eyed and bushy tailed. A complete contrast of ever there was one.

Tharia made her way swiftly to her seat at the head of the table without pomp or fanfare, and gestured for the Vulcan to take the seat on her right, directly opposite Gor. “Let’s go around the departments for a brief update before we get into the details of why we are here at this ungodly hour. Who wants to begin?” she queried, looking out at the gathered group.

As was standard for a ship in spacedock undergoing repairs, the status reports were rather dull. Nothing was really happening with the crew, although it appeared they were finally gelling together after the success of the previous night’s movie shenanigans. One notable success came from Prida, with the Bajassian reporting that all trace of the MARS system had been removed, and all affected systems were running as normal. 

With the status updates out of the way, Tharia finally opted to address the proverbial elephant in the room.

“Everyone, I’d like you all to welcome a late addition to the staff. Some of you will know her from time aboard the Santa Fe, but for those that don’t,” she held out a hand and smiled towards the woman on her left, “this is Lieutenant Commander T’Prynn, our new Strategic Operations Officer.”

Among the murmurs of greeting, and the ‘nice to see you agains’, the ship’s science lead made a mental note of the fact that a relatively small ship had been assigned an officer who would usually be serving on a much larger command-type vessel. It was a sign, to the Risian at least, that something major was at hand. Nothing could prepare her for just how major.

For the next twenty minutes, sh’Elas and T’Prynn, ably supported by Commander Gor, led the briefing on the events from the night before. No detail was spared as they relayed all of the information that had been shared with them by Commodore Ekwueme.

Wide-eyed expressions of disbelief and audible gasps from most around the table were noted by the captain as she awaited the first comment, the first question. For now, she let the major news sink in.

“Frak me,” Doctor Zinn eventually broke the ice with his preferred obscenity of choice, “Romulans never do things by halves, do they?” his rhetorical question accompanied by a shake of the ahead as he collapsed back into his chair.

“Right,” Noli chimed in, her stance the polar opposite of the physician as she placed her arms on the surface of the table and leant forward. “Let me get this straight in my head. The Romulans assassinate their Senate leaders. Those who survive, flee to the Federation and request our assistance. In the meantime, dozens of worlds claim their independence and strike out on their own, seeking allegiances where possible but utterly denouncing the Star Navy in the process?” she queried, looking down the table towards the Vulcan strategist for confirmation.

A curt nod of the Vulcan’s head gave her the confirmation she needed. 

“And Starfleet Intelligence never saw this coming? It took them completely by surprise?” Noli questioned the Captain next, looking towards the Andorian for answers.

“Apparently so, Lieutenant,” Tharia shrugged.

Noli threw herself back in her chair. “Frak me indeed,” she shook her head, the tone of derision making some around the table chuckle.

“They are supposed to be an intelligence unit,” Lieutenant Mora spoke up next, “you would like to think they had the resources to pre-empt this. You’d expect them to see this coming,” he spoke.

“I could have seen it with my eyes closed,” Prida shook her head in disbelief.

“I could have seen it from Risa…” Akaria Okan smirked, shaking her head in utter disbelief, sparking further laughter around the table. It wasn’t just any kind of laughter though. You know the sort, right? The sort where if you don’t laugh, you’ll probably cry? Yeah, that was what was happening here, such was the ridiculous lack of intelligence and the shock of what had occurred under their very noses.

“We depart for Starbase Twenty-Three in two hours. Take your stations and begin departure preparations,” the Captain ordered her people, but stopping them in their tracks as some started to stand up. “If your people ask what our mission is, tell them nothing. We’ll tell them closer to the time,” the Andorian pushed herself up from her seat and looked at the XO. “Commander Gor; contact the ships of our task group and let them know we’re looking forward to seeing them at Starbase Twenty-Three. The rest of you, I’ll see you on the bridge for departure in just under two hours. Dismissed.” And with that, she headed for the port side door which led to the nearest turbo lift.

As the briefing room emptied, it was certain that events were about to transpire that meant today would be a day that would live in the memory of all on the Temeraire…

Comments

  • Leave it to the Temeraire crew to take a dig at Starfleet Intelligence, ha! I'm so curious to see how each of the fourth fleet's crews react to the events in Romulan space and you didn't disappoint. I'm enjoying the easy camaraderie building among this blended crew, no doubt buoyed by the captain's efforts in earlier chapters. Their wry criticism of how the Romulan intrigue escaped the notice of intelligence really shows that the crew that's dismayed together will stay together. Funny stuff. I'm enjoying all of the new starship sets and settling in commentary, as the crew grows accustomed to their Inquiry-class starship.

    May 31, 2022