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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 7: Sundered Wings (Wings of Salvation) and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

CH7 – Dependents

Briefing Room, Deck 1
May, 2400
1 likes 1076 views

“I can understand them pairing us with Neptune, maybe even Dvorak to an extent, but two Ravens?”

Shrugging her shoulders as she walked alongside her new right hand, the Andorian mistress of the Temeraire couldn’t help but agree with Gor’s thoughts. It had been explained to her, of course, but she still struggled to believe that of all the assets available to the Fourth fleet, this ragtag group was the best that could be assembled for such a mission.

“Command wants Dvorak to focus on the relief efforts, whilst the crews of the Daradax and Thyanis are to concentrate on other matters. Anything they take on is one less responsibility for ourselves and Neptune,” she countered as they headed for the turbo lift to the bridge.

Making a note on the data PADD that he was carrying, the Temeraire’s executive gave off his own little shrug. “Maybe so,” he spoke plainly, “but we’re going to be the ones defending the planet and these little mosquito ships if the Romulans come a calling,” the Tellarite remarked, standing aside briefly to grant the Captain entrance to the turbo lift first.

Nodding in thanks for the gesture, Tharia entered the lift and directed it to deck one once the XO had boarded. As it moved, she stood with her hands clasped together behind her back, and watched him making notes. “Those mosquito ships have a valuable job to do, which will enable us to carry out the directives we have been assigned. If we need to defend them, we defend them, but I’d wager my winnings from this morning’s bet that we won’t even see a Romulan the entire time we’re there,” she grinned, making reference to the sweepstake that had been running among the crew.

Glaring across at her, the Tellarite finally lowered his data PADD. “She had the baby?” he asked, baring his teeth in anger.

Tharia took great joy in smiling and nodding in confirmation. “Yep! Zinn told me that Ensign Cherowitz gave birth right before Alpha shift came on duty,” she then lowered her antennae and looked across at him somewhat accusatively. “You’re the ship’s XO. How can you not know this?”

Vasoch growled as he turned his body to face the door, a move that drew a silent chuckle from the Andorian. “I… was… busy…” he fumed. She knew full well that he was busy since she had tasked him with doing some additional light reading.

Tharia gently slapped the XO on the back as she moved past him once the lift arrived at their destination. “You may not have any gold pressed latinum this time, Commander, but at least you’ve had chance to do some light reading,” she mocked him playfully as she moved onto the bridge.

Following her with a face like thunder, and with a proverbial rain cloud hanging over his head, the XO growled at an advancing Ensign, who quickly scurried in a different direction. “Report!” he beckoned towards the command chair, drawing the attention of its occupier.

Rising to her feet at maximum warp, Lieutenant Akaria Okan spun on her heels and looked at the advancing XO and the Captain. ‘Damn it! No hogtied Tellarite being beaten by furry little teddies,’ she cursed inwardly at the sight (and sound) of the XO’s presence. “All is as it was, sir. We’re at warp, headed for the border. Security’s been there the entire time,” she nodded towards the briefing room entrance at the forefront of the bridge. “Not even moved to pee,” she smiled.

Whilst Gor didn’t find the Risian funny in the slightest, Tharia appreciated the woman’s wit. “Maybe get Noli to replace them whilst we’re inside, huh?” Taking a deep breath, the Captain looked at the two officers, and then the door to the room. Only three people on the crew knew what awaited them there, and two of them were here, in the form of herself and Vasoch. Now, they had to confront what awaited them.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

The journey to Kunhri had, eventually, been pleasant enough. It had proven appropriate to remain in isolation for the majority of the trip, remaining in his assigned quarters and only leaving when it was time for him to leave the ship. In this way, he avoided any risk of conflict. He had learned this the hard way and his now expertly repaired broken cheekbone had been an excellent teacher. He had passed the time reading, exploring the seemingly infinite library he had been granted access to.

Now standing in what he assumed to be some sort of meeting room, he gazed out into space, familiar stars gazing back at him. Somewhere inside, an anxiety that had been festering since he had first spoken to a human at the start of his journey had now built to a constant feeling of unease. He had done the right thing, hadn’t he? Hadn’t they all? He turned when the door opened and gave a tight lipped smile. He forced his body to relax and took a step forward. “Captain sh’Elas, I presume?”

“Yes,” the Andorian looked a little uneasy as she took a step inside, followed incredibly closely by the Tellarite XO, he diminutive bodyguard in this particular moment. “Welcome aboard the Temeraire, Kasik. This is my first officer, Commander Vasoch Gor,” the Andorian made the introductions before stepping around the outside of the room somewhat cautiously. It was not every day that a Reman occupied a Starfleet briefing room, after all.

Commander Gor gave the newcomer a respectful nod, however, he too was on edge. The last recorded time a Reman had been aboard a Starfleet vessel had been when a boarding party had tried to kidnap Picard from the Enterprise in ’79. But now, aboard a Starfleet vessel as an official ‘observer’? Never had he thought he would see the day. He decided to remain silent for the moment.

“I wasn’t expecting such a vessel to so hospitable be,” Kasik replied smoothly, doing his best to maintain an air of professional courtesy, “but then I’m not entirely sure what I expected, given that just a few weeks ago, a Reman on a Starfleet vessel would have been less likely than a Reman praetor,” he remarked, a toothy grin of sorts as he regarded both cautiously. He wasn’t stupid, far from it in fact. He could see their discomfort as plain as the antenna on her head, or the beard on his face. But, he was there as more of a diplomat, and he wanted first contact to go smoothly. He knew that the situation had been as unthinkable to them as it was him, so he wasn’t going to make it any harder than it had to be. “It is well to make your introduction, Commander Gor.”

Gor inwardly winced at the fragmented Terran, but then reminded himself that this was probably the first time their visitor had even had to speak Terran for a prolonged period. It wasn’t, he imagined, likely to be a language frequently used in the refineries of Kunhri. “Welcome aboard the Temeraire. If you have any problems or queries whilst here, please don’t hesitate to contact me,” Gor said in a professional tone. He knew he had no right to distrust the man, but at the same time, he had done nothing to earn his trust either.

“I’m sorry you’ve been kept relatively restricted,” the Captain began as she pulled out a chair at the table, and offered their guest one at the side opposite the XO, “we’ve not yet told the majority of our crew about our mission, so for them to see a Reman wandering the halls would, perhaps, cause an incident we would regret. That is in no one’s interests,” she advised the Reman as she got comfortable in her chair. She, perhaps, wasn’t as against their guest’s presence as some of the other crew would be, but she certainly understood their likely positions on the matter.

“Compared to what my people have suffered on Kunhri, this is relative paradise,” Kasik replied flatly as he took the offered seat. He’d been in the refineries on his homeplanet for many a year, with his first trip offworld the one that had taken him to Starbase 23. Now, he was on his way home again, but not in shackles. No, he was a free man. “I hope that, in time, we will earn your trust, Captain, and you will see that we can be reasonable people,” he told, the most emphatic that he had been so far.

“Well,” the Captain paused for a minute as she contemplated the Reman’s words, “I’m sure we need to earn the trust of the Reman people as well, and that can begin here, today, with our frank and open discussions,” she smiled as she looked across at the XO for backup.

“Indeed. These are the moments that will help us forge a new path together as allies,” the Tellarite tried his best to reassure their guest, despite his own misgivings. “We’ve been tasked with doing our utmost to assist you, and your people, in forging a new path forward together. It is our intention to help in every way possible.”

“And we thank you for your help, Commander. I know that our peoples have not always seen eye to eye,” the bald-headed brute began through his malformed teeth and gravelly voice, “but we know that we cannot decide our own destiny without the help of Starfleet. If we try, the Romulans will be back. It’s only a matter of time.”

Tharia actually felt sorry for the man, who looked utterly forlorn at the prospect of the Romulans returning to his world. She had always had the benefit of freedom which the Federation so happily provided, so she couldn’t even try to understand how it must have felt for Kasik. She could only do her best to ensure he understood their mission, and their goals.

“I can assure you, Kasik, that our task group will not leave Kunhri until your planet is safe, secure and on that path you so very much deserve,” the Andorian smiled, her antennae dipping in respect as she sat forward and activated the holoprojector in the middle. “As per our remit after discussions between Starfleet and the provisional government on Psi Velorum, a number of Starfleet vessels will arrive in your system over the course of the next few days, with ourselves and Neptune arriving first. It will be our job to secure the system and provide defence during the relief efforts. We’ve drafted plans for a tachyon detection grid to be placed at the outer edge of the Kunhri system, which Starfleet will resource, install and teach your people to run. This system will detect the presence of any cloaked vessels trying to reach the planets in your system, and will act as an early warning mechanism,” the Andorian revealed as she tapped at her controls.

In the center of the table, the projection changed to show dozens of sensor relays placed around the system and the net they would project. Resembling something akin to the work of the Enterprise-D during the Klingon civil war, the net would ensure that anything entering the system under cloak would (at least in theory) be detected. The fact that it consisted entirely of satellites meant it was stationary, and not relying on starships that would potentially be called away at a moments notice, leaving a hole in the net.

“If we tie it into your planet’s defence grid, there is no reason why planetary defences couldn’t be activated immediately upon the detection of any such vessel,” Gor told, sitting forward himself, “and that would allow you to defend yourself far easier than anything else we can offer you. Not to mention, it would prevent your defences having to be online for any extended period without reason, thus not wasting any of your energy stores.”

Kasik smiled the toothiest grin he could. “I understand you have been given permission to assist with the production of other planetary defences, such as orbital weapons platforms? Can these be tied into the same system?” he enquired with the utmost curiosity.

“We’re not going to provide Starfleet weapons, but the government on Psi Velorum have assured us that they have managed to secure a number of orbital platforms and shield grids which should be on their way to your world,” Tharia nodded in confirmation, “Our engineers will assist your people to install and maintain these, too. In short, we will not leave Kunhri until I am satisfied that your planet, and your people, are safe from any threat that may come your way.”

Kasik nodded enthusiastically. “We appreciate your efforts, Captain. But what about our other needs? The refineries? The food?” he asked, eager for word that help would be coming in that form too.

“Different vessels from the task group will be there to assist in every way we can. I believe that the starship Dvorak will be tasked with supporting the populace with food production, whilst the Thyanis and Daradax will be working to assist your teams on getting the refineries working again. It will be the job of Temeraire and Neptune to ensure your planet is secure, and your people know how to defend it,” Tharia concluded as she deactivated the holoprojector, sitting back in her chair and regarding the Reman once again. “With the presence of so many Starfleet vessels, I don’t believe you’ll have anything to worry about from a Romulan perspective. My greatest concern is the growing number of protests across the system,” Tharia remarked, reaching forward to activate the main viewer. The same news stories that had blitzed the screen filled it once more as Kasik’s attention was drawn to it.

“Hhakh veruuls,” he cursed in his home language, causing the two officers to glance at him uncomfortably. His stance, his whole demeanour had changed with the visuals on display. Shaking, he waved a pointed finger in the direction of the screen. “Those… those… those fools… they are a minority who can’t see the benefit Starfleet’s help will bring to our people,” he fumed, “but they offer no alternatives! They would rather see our people in the gutter than accept your help.”

What was a brief feeling of concern swiftly changed to one of sadness. She could see that the Reman was hurting, that he was desperate for the plight of his people to be over, and these protests were clearly getting in the way of such an endeavour. “Until we feel there is any risk to Starfleet personnel, I am happy to continue as planned,” she advised their guest, “but the minute I feel that there is any danger to my people, or those of the other starships, I will, reluctantly, have no choice but to pull our forces out,” Tharia told him, deactivating the screen to hopefully defuse the tension somewhat.

“Even so,” the Tellarite Commander interjected as he looked between sh’Elas and their visitor, “this is an agreement put in place to ensure that the stepping stones for such endeavours are created,” he reminded them both. “We’ll do everything in our power to assist your people, Kasik.”

Standing from her seat, signalling her desire to call the meeting to a close, the Andorian offered a hand to their guest. “Glad to have you with us, Kasik. Commander Gor will assist you in getting settled. Should you need anything, please let him know,” she told with a smile. “And I do sincerely hope we can provide the support your people need,” she added.

Taking the offered hand, Kasik gave only a loose gripped handshake. “I hope my time aboard your ship is highly productive. I do believe our cultures can find common ground, even if there are certain issues to overcome,” he said with a polite smile before releasing the hand of the captain. “Though for now I require nothing more than quarters, and access to one of your replicators. I have heard much of the unique dishes those in your Federation enjoy. It would be a crime not to indulge just once, wouldn’t it?” he asked, a toothy grin signalling the happiness he felt at the idea of finally trying some Federation cuisine.

“I’m sure that can be arranged for you, Kasik. Let’s go and see what we can do,” the stout Tellarite said in a polite manner, holding out a hand and gesturing for the entrance to the bridge.

Tharia followed close behind and watched with interest as the Commander and their Reman guest exited the observation lounge together, deep in conversation. Once they entered the bridge, the Andorian stopped just a few feet from the doorway and watched the XO lead their guest (and the security entourage) to the aft turbo lift. Once the doors closed, the Captain smiled and turned back to her chair, only to be greeted by a sea of confused, anxious faces.

Stopped dead in her tracks, the blue-skinned, white-haired commander of the ship inhaled deeply and puffed out her chest. “I guess you all saw that then?” she asked, folding her arms across her chest, and stating the plainly obvious.

“Uh-huh,” Akaria remarked, wide-eyed and more than a little confused.

Taking over from the Risian, the Captain stood in front of her command chair and addressed the elephant in the room. “Mister Kasik is a guest on our vessel, and an unofficial observer from the new government on Kunhri III. He’ll be with us whilst we work on securing the system,” she advised them, before her tone dropped and became even more serious (if that was at all possible). “I want you all to make sure your people know to extend him every courtesy whilst he is here. His people need our help, and we’re going to give it to them,” she concluded, slipping effortlessly into the comfort of her command chair and focusing on the stars streaming past them on the viewscreen, rather than the muted reaction from her people.

She couldn’t blame them for being curious about the sudden appearance of a Reman on their ship, she’d had her own reservations when she had been told that he would beam aboard at Starbase 23, but she sure as hell would blame them if he was made to feel anything less than welcome. She had been tasked with not only assisting the locals, but winning over the hearts and minds of the dissenters, which was never going to happen if the first person they came across was made to feel like the Federation was anything but willing to help.

The success of their mission would depend on people like Kasik, and depend on him she would.

Comments

  • Well, I feel like I have to comment on the 'Mosquito Ships' though compared to the Temeraire, Neptune and even the Dvorak I guess that is a fair comparison. I very much enjoyed the XO's response to the birth of the baby and then losing the pool with his temper showing through. The addition of the Reman observer is a nice touch and something that would likely happen - I am sure it will give the crew and the Temeraire some exciting avenues to follow further on in the story.

    June 1, 2022
  • The slow build-up to the arrival of the Temeraire, I think, has given a lot of opportunities to establish the crew, in particular Captain Tharia. Getting to see the characters in various contexts, especially here as they now deal with the sudden arrival of their Reman guest, has further made more interesting possibilities to take place further on in this story. I'm still intrigued to see how the entire crew react to actually dealing with the Remans who oppose Starfleet's presence in a more face-to-face situation. Will they find it too much of a challenge to deal with such strong feelings or will they be able to turn opinion around to further help matters? Kasik seems to be an intriguing character too, I get the sense that maybe he isn't as genuine as he leads everyone on to believe or maybe he is the real McCoy and wants the best for his people. I feel he may struggle the most in dealing with what awaits the crew. I think I can sum up my thoughts so far with this quote: "It's all the drama, Mick. I just love it!"

    June 1, 2022
  • I liked reading about Tharia’s first fledging steps at diplomacy with the Remans. We know so little about them as audience-members and their place in the galaxy is so tied to the Romulans. It’s a clever move to ease into defining that relationship between Kunhri and Starfleet in such a personal one-on-one interaction. Kasik’s sense of awe of a Federation starship seems so natural, given the vast difference in quality of life between Reman workforce and Starfleet. It’s hard to imagine what common ground they’ll find — perhaps it will be that shared love of new cuisine. All the same, I appreciated Tharia’s honesty in maintaining the safety of her own crew. She could have promised Kasik the world, but she was truthful in Starfleet’s intentions to do better than during the supernova, but that assistance is never fully unconditional. It’s a fine line, and you trod it well through how you wrote the characterization. With all the secrecy, though, I’m curious how the crew of the Tem will react to discovering a Reman on board! …Of course, as the writer of the “maybe” useful Dvorak, I appreciate the world-building and interconnections you’re drawing between our separate, but parallel, missions through the FA. I’m looking forward to returning the favour for sure.

    June 2, 2022