USS Watership – Bridge – 1500
“…those are the latest reports, Lieutenant.” The science officer handed her the PADD and retreated back to the turbolift. Lieutenant Keira Mitsak glanced over the newest pieces of information and felt a frown form. The sensors had had plenty of time to be tuned up, supercharged, tinkered with, and expanded in every way they knew possible. Something had changed from the readings they were getting back from the nebula and the rifts in the last hour or so. Something had shifted, but the science teams were at a loss as to theorize what had changed to bring about the readings. She puzzled over them, for a moment, before returning to her project of sending a hailing frequency at the points they had identified several days ago as stable and small rifts. The communications team had taken over much of the repeated hailing procedure. Still, she continued to monitor anything that came from the nebula or activated in the nebula as a reaction to their hailing frequencies.
“Lieutenant Mitsak, we are getting telemetry data from our hailing frequency!” The communications chief Lieutenant Garrett spun in his chair as he alerted her, “Someone is picking up the channel and engaging with it!”
FO Hoyt had left the center chair and was now standing behind Keira as the science chief worked to confirm. She tapped the console one last time and turned to Alex, “Confirmed. We’ve got someone on the other end.”
Hoyt tapped her communications badge, “Captain Crawford to the bridge. Operations, sound yellow alert. Let our guests know they are needed on the bridge.” The klaxons rang throughout the ship as the lighting shifted to a soft yellow glow. The CO entered the bridge seconds later as the FO stepped away from the center chair.
Crawford took a few slow breaths. They had been waiting for this moment, a chance to speak to the Heracles. They might get some answers. He turned at the sound of the turbolift, and his old crew stepped onto the bridge.
Rebecca stepped off the turbolift with her husband Milo at her side. She didn’t demand a report knowing the others would want to know, and it seemed silly to make Peter repeat himself when she could simply wait.
Mitsak spotted the Vice-Admiral entering the bridge. She quickly snagged a PADD, uploaded the current situation report, and handed it to her, “Admiral – here’s where we’re. That PADD also has a live link to the sensors so you can see what they’re reading.” She gave the woman a nod and returned to her station, hands working the console.
Rebecca barely looked over it before handing it to Milo and moving to Stand behind the science station to read the data as it came in.
Cheon and Seong had followed Rebecca and Milo onto the bridge when the ship had shifted from standard running lights to ‘yellow alert’. They knew something was going on and needed answers, even if the answers were not the ones they wanted.
…on the Heracles
Cody sat in the center seat while Vausees’ was down in the brig with the crew of the Pike.
“Commander, I am detecting another anomaly forming,” the operations officer, Jonton, stated. Just then, the main viewscreen shifted from the Klingon Armada to Crawford and the bridge crew of the Watership.
“This is Commander Bettencourt, First Officer of the Federation ship Heracles. Captain Crawford, how have you established a connection to us?”
Peter stood from his chair. The screen opened to reveal the bridge of the USS Heracles, “Our science chief worked out a way to avoid opening rifts by transmitting through a range of stable and smaller rifts.” He nearly frowned at the absence of the Heracles captain but held his poke face for the moment. “We’ve been trying to reach you for the last few days since our last conversation.” He then allowed the frown to cross his face, “Where is your captain?”
“I am not at liberty to say, for the moment, Captain,” Cody said as he saw the expression change on Peter’s face. “All I can say is that a situation required her attention.”
Peter didn’t react to his evasion but made a mental note. There were still plenty of questions to be asked. “How did you end up on the other side, Commander Bettencourt? The rifts in the nebula are to blame, but it’s still unsettling that you ended up on that side and trapped as you are.” He didn’t mention the Pike for the moment. The Heracles was aware of who they were looking for. Still, the Heracles was also one of theirs, apparently, and needed to come home.
Rebecca stepped away from the science station and stood next to Peter. “Commander Bettencourt, I am Admiral Rebecca Talon, authorization code: Delta-931-blue. I cannot promise how long this connection will remain. It may be seconds, hours, days, or even permanent. As such, I am ordering you to fulfill Captain Crawford’s request and produce Captain Vausees.” She was still out of uniform, not wanting to mess up the chain of command on this ship. And the truth was, she was on her way out the door. Regulated to flying a desk in a support role, she was no longer making the crucial decisions. She just signed off on requisitions and plans to make starships more efficient. She was an administrator, and if she was being candid with herself, a pretty poor one as well, but rank did have its privileges. One of them was being able to order around surly or uncooperative junior officers.
Cody remained undeterred by the order, “Sorry, Admiral Talon, but the Captain and I; have orders. From Admiral Korlin to no deviate from our mission parameters. Unfortunately, since we were sucked into this timeline, those orders changed,” Cody stated as he off-screen tapped out a message to the brig, ‘requesting Captain Vax to the bridge.’. “Now, as for why we are stuck. Well, we have not seen any rifts on this side of the one that pulled us in. But we have determined that if we create one on this side of the rift. There is a 98% chance that this timeline and our own timeline will cease to exist.” He stated in an as-of-matter-of-fact tone, knowing that the percentages were incomplete but showed a 98% chance of failure with what information they had. Both from what they had gathered and what J’telas had given them after she was exiled.
Crawford wondered what kind of insanity Korlin had dreamed of that somehow caused the Heracles to end up in another reality and unable to come home. He had known the man from a distance and had resisted every good-natured bone in his body that urged him to try and get to know the Admiral. The man made him want to walk out of whatever room he was in, and for Crawford, that was something. He liked everybody, generally. At the moment, he was starting to dislike the first officer of the Heracles. There was something running underneath every encounter with the Heracles – a tension he couldn’t identify. Something was up, and they had been less than candid, considering they were trapped in another reality. Had he been in Talon’s shoes, he might have cut the channel and let them stew for a while. He glanced up, his thoughts broken by the return of the CO of the Heracles.
A hiss could be heard as a very irritated Vausees appeared on the bridge. “Why in the hell was I pulled from my interrogation?” she asked before noticing Captain Crawford on the screen.
“Us,” Rebecca said tartly. “I don’t know what kind of insubordinate command you are running there, Captain, but I’m tempted to bring you all up on charges.”
“Are you really going to say that you wouldn’t be doing what I am doing if the roles were reversed? We are trying to make sure that no Romulan Agents make it back to our timeline by disobeying an order. Come now, Admiral, I have read your dossier. You disobeyed quite a few orders during your time as a Captain. You were told quite a few times not to do something, and you did it anyway,” Vausees stated as she tried to buy some time for Zazzrac to perform the tests on the entire crew of the Pike.
Crawford shook his head to himself. These two women seemed to hate each other no matter what was happening. He deferred to Admiral Talon as she was still the ranking officer on board the Watership, even out of uniform.
Rebecca sighed, not taking the bait, “Very well. Transmit your sensor logs on the anomaly, and we’ll get our science teams to develop a way for you to come home. In the meantime, have you been able to locate the Zebulon Pike?”
“Raven Class with a skeleton crew, built by Ethan and Trinity. Of course. It’s in my main hanger, and as the regulations state, certain procedures are to occur when a ship’s log is red-flagged as dangerous. Luckily, I didn’t have to research the procedure up as one of their own crew gave it to me,” Vausees stated in a tone that meant she was serious.
“Dangerous how?” Rebecca asked suspiciously.
“I think you had better see for yourself. I’ll transmit the logs to you,” Vausees stated and turned to Jonton. “Seems that the Romulans here have almost perfected the art of disguise.”
Mitsak frowned and turned in her station. The Heracles captain suggested it was not impossible. Still, the latest research had shown issues with efficacy over a more extended time. That constant dosing was required to ensure any kind of disguise functioned without too much DNA or genome fracturing. She yielded to the Vice Admiral.
“Understood. Is this a threat to us in this timeline?” Rebecca asked. “The Prime Directive still applies.”
“It would violate our timeline and since the Romulans have chaos going on within their own territories I think that if one agent made it back to our timeline it could become a catalase for something far more dangerous than the Tal’Shiar,” Vausees said before she turned to her ops officers again. “Commander Jonton, give them what they want,” she ordered her ops officer. In the background, you see a nod from a man, and moments later, a soft chime comes in.
Crawford nodded wordlessly and stepped back behind Talon so she could ask further regarding the Pike and the status of their friends.
“Please, Admiral, let me know what you find on your end,” Vausees stated as she nodded to someone off-screen and the connection closed.
The viewscreen switched back to the nebula with Rebecca and Peter standing side-by-side. At that moment, it was like old times. “That could have gone better,” she said evenly.
Crawford chuckled with a muttered, “That’s going to be the motto for this mission.” He glanced at her, “You know this Captain Vausees?”
“No, I have never met her before in my life. That Bettencourt did rub me the wrong way, though. We’re trying to help them, and they are ignoring direct orders. From an Admiral, no less. I really should bring them up on charges, but I won’t. I don’t have the energy or desire to go beyond a bluff; a court-martial isn’t my style. I’ve got one foot out the door, and I’m retiring on Milo’s ranch. I’ll spend the rest of my days enjoying sunsets and feeding hungry cowboys. Liv and Aimee can have the family hacienda in Santa Fe. I think nearly fifty years in Starfleet is long enough.”
Cheon walked back onto the bridge with a smile on his face. “Actually, you have,” he paused as he breathed, “when we first met. She was one of the passengers that were sent away before Wolf-359. She and her parents were on board heading to earth.” He stated as he walked over to Lieutenant Mitsak and handed her a PADD. “These might help our friends and loved ones.”
Peter gave her a look, “I had a bet going on with some of our old friends how long it’d take before you threw that desk out the window, Rebecca.” He gestured to the chair, “Taking over this ship in January was like a shot of adrenaline to me…I can’t imagine my life not being out here in the stars in that chair.” Crawford kicked at the ground, “You were meant for a starship, Rebecca. Have you ever read James T. Kirk’s memoirs?”
Rebecca shook her head, “Non-fiction isn’t really my thing. Meant for a starship or not, I am at the twilight of my career. I have no intention of being like my grandmother and serving into my 90s. She finally left Starfleet to help raise me when my mom was killed aboard the USS Montana during the Cardassian Border Wars. I think she, grandma, regretted not taking more time for family. I raised my girls and helped Milo raise Ethan the best I could, but I know that I put Starfleet ahead of them at times. It’s why I took the promotion to Admiral in the first place. I don’t regret giving up the center seat, but I miss it.”
Cheon stood with them and was reminiscing on their time together when he heard the comment from Rebecca. “As much as I love the seat myself. If you ever want to take the Denver for a cruise or mission, all you need to do is give me a call.”
Peter gave her a knowing nod, “I often struggled with being out of the command chair. I hated it,” he stated. Peter paused and then looked her in the eyes, “…it reminded me of the crew of the Denver. All those adventures…all those missions together. There’s something about what happens to us out here…we find the brightness in the darkness of space.” He shrugged, “Kirk was an admiral. He found his way back to the chair. My advice, Rebecca? Find your way back to a chair.” He smiled wryly, “Just so we’re clear…as long as it’s not my chair.”
“I don’t want your chair, Pete,” she said; with a smile. “And that would have been good advice ten years ago. Now, I’m ready for some sun and waking up next to Milo every morning. I want to play with the grandkids. Bake cookies and celebrate holidays. Though, I don’t think Liv or Aimee are ever going to give me them. I guess Ethan’s kiddos will have to do,” she said; with a smirk. “You know I left Starfleet once before. Right after Wolf-359. I couldn’t take all the death… and then; the Dominion came along. Caused a war with the Klingons, and Starfleet pulled me back in.” She shrugged, “Never say never.”