Part of USS Endeavour: Rise Like Lions and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Rise Like Lions – 6

CIC, USS Endeavour
June 2400
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Chief Engineer’s log, stardate 77441.25. Agarath’s exactly the kind of mess we thought it would be. An uprising doesn’t do any industrial system’s infrastructure any good – there’s damage, there’s neglect, there’s a whole lot of facilities you can’t just push the “off” switch on. There are living facilities with low power, faulty air filters, malfunctioning supply systems. Defence platforms which need bringing on-line, old Star Navy ships which need repairing – and crewing, thankfully that’s not my job. Oh, and all of this has to get done in about a week, because then a strike force is going to show up and all hell will break loose.

‘You might have, what, a score of ships,’ said Cortez, gesturing to the display of what could boldly be called the Agarath Guard’s manifest. ‘But do you have the crew for them?’

Commander Relekor gave an easy smile, as if manpower was something he could charm into being. ‘I will once Foreman Korsk kicks his labourers into shape and they report for basic training.’

In a week? Cortez banished that question. This wasn’t her job. She stepped around the central ring in Endeavour’s CIC and waggled her PADD at the holo-projection. ‘We gotta prioritise. I’ve only got so many engineers.’

Relekor shrugged. ‘What’s more important than getting the flotilla online?’

‘Defence platforms,’ said Dathan, terse even by her standards. ‘Stopping the zenite mining shafts from collapsing. Making sure the air filtration systems on Habitat Hub D on the Husk are functioning -’

‘Strategic concerns.’ Relekor opened his hands, shoulders relaxing. ‘This meeting is about solutions, not planning, yes? Your captain is discussing all of those prioritisation issues with Governor Hiran?’

‘My captain listens to me,’ said Cortez, and made herself sound apologetic because a fight wouldn’t help. ‘If I say the priority list needs changing, it’ll change.’

‘I was hoping,’ he sighed, ‘we could make some progress before he meets with Zaviss.’ At the blank looks, he shook his head. ‘She was – is? – the governor’s wife. He fled. She didn’t. A selection of the high-ranking civilians stayed with her. She’s the closest thing to a leader those sympathetic to the old… administration… have. But they have guards and they have facilities and resources, and Hiran is intent on keeping them a part of our new happy family if they’re to stay in Agarath.’

‘And she’ll want something else?’ Cortez’s eyes raised. ‘For me to fix the energy fence ringing in her ponies, that sort of thing?’

Relekor chuckled. ‘That sort of thing. So I was hoping, Commander, you could at least assign some people to my ships and have them spoken for before she comes asking.’

Cortez leaned on the display and scrubbed her face with her hands. She was already tired of this. ‘Automated platforms, especially in and around the asteroid belt, are a better choice for defence. I don’t know what happened with your little defection, but you didn’t bring enough officers, Commander.’

‘Turning my back on the Star Navy to throw my lot in with a band of renegade commandos and a labourers’ uprising was not the most popular thing I could have done,’ Relekor allowed – then shrugged like it was no big deal. ‘I know how keeping the uniform would have ended. Blood on my hands, and we wouldn’t even have peace and order at the end of it. Not all my colleagues had such foresight.’

‘So your wisdom on the future aside,’ Cortez drawled, ‘let’s think of what we can do for you now.’ She jabbed her stylus at the display. ‘I’m going to decommission three of those Malem-class warbirds.’

Relekor made a pained noise. ‘The automated platforms protect the asteroid belt; if I’m going to protect the outer reaches, I need ships -’

‘Automated platforms at the outer facilities will protect those – yes, only temporarily.’ She lifted a hand. ‘Easy there, tiger. The good news is coming. Because if I decommission those warbirds, I’ve got enough spare parts to get this baby back online.’

His breath caught as she changed the view. ‘The Valdore.’

‘Give you a flagship, Commander. Fewer, tougher ships is the way to go here – with this online and Endeavour, automated defence systems can protect anywhere long enough for one of us to get there and give them a hand.’

But Dathan was frowning. ‘There are only two Malems to decommission, Commander.’

Cortez turned, head tilting. ‘One from the battle, two in the refit station…’

‘One in the refit station.’ Dathan looked up from her panel and shrugged. ‘One was already ripped apart. Apparently for repairs to the station.’

‘Then I guess we’ll make do.’ With a sigh, Cortez looked at Relekor and managed a smile. ‘A minor setback. I’ll have my assistant, Lieutenant Adupon, crawling all over this.’

Relekor grinned. ‘You sound regretful. Have you had much chance to examine fine Romulan engineering before?’

‘I was hoping for the opportunity,’ Cortez admitted. ‘But someone has to oversee the technological needs of an entire system.’

Dathan made a small noise, and Cortez couldn’t help but look suspicious. ‘The supervisor at the zenite facilities has raised his priority level. No way of knowing if he’s just anxious.’

‘Oh, for -’ She tried to not swear. These people had been through enough, they deserved a little anxiety. ‘I can’t spare Chief Lann right now, he’s dealing with keeping the habitat dome on the Husk online. Do we have anyone with experience of this kind of equipment we can spare?’

‘I don’t…’ Dathan sounded like she was about to profess ignorance of the engineering team, then an apprehensive look entered her eyes. ‘…Commander Graelin is apparently qualified.’

Graelin?’ Cortez made a face. ‘…I’ll get Karana to manage sending him off to deal with former labourers. He’ll probably be rude as hell about it.’

‘If there is one thing for which the people of Agarath have a high tolerance,’ Relekor said wryly, ‘it’s rudeness. It’s the least of offences against them.’

Cortez hesitated at the them, then decided she didn’t want to stick her nose in. She could get Graelin sent off, get Adupon sent off, and look at what was next for the billion needs of Agarath’s survival – both in fending off an oncoming strike force, and in surviving long enough to see them arrive. ‘Then Commander Graelin will do fine.’

When she brought this to Valance in her office a half-hour later, the XO looked like this was what would finally make her abandon professional propriety in private. ‘You want me to send Petrias Graelin to manage a situation in a zenite mine. Is this because I broke that wine glass?’

‘Now that you mention it, I should use that as fodder against you,’ Cortez mused. ‘But no. The mine needs some small refitting of its systems and mostly it needs adjustments to its shift pattern, as a whole bunch of labourers have left or, uh, died. I can send a couple of specialists with him, but this needs someone with a bit more management know-how with these kinds of facilities. Graelin’s records say he’s helped on these kinds of projects before on relief missions.’

‘I’m going to send Lindgren with him,’ said Valance after a moment’s thought, ‘to – blast it.’

Cortez raised her eyebrows. ‘Remembered they’re sleeping together so she can’t be the diplomat?’

‘No, she can be the diplomat.’ Valance rubbed her temples. ‘I trust her. We do need someone dealing with the outer planets facilities, after all. Agarath doesn’t want to shut them down.’

‘Most of them need constant supervision even if they’re operating at minimum capacity; you can’t just switch half of these systems off,’ Cortez sighed. ‘Look on the bright side, it keeps Graelin off the ship while you hold down the fort?’

‘This whole system is a fort.’

Cortez winced. ‘That was me trying to gently sidle up to the fact you seem to have restricted yourself to the ship and let the captain do the running around.’

‘You mean, because I’m a Klingon?’ Valance shook her head. ‘I’m not agonising over this, Isa. It’s an exercise in self-flagellation. I’m most useful here, and Rourke can take point on discussions and getting his hands dirty with the people.’

‘And Hale.’ Cortez waggled her eyebrows.

‘Enough of that.’ Valance did a bad job of smothering a smirk. ‘You can’t make up gossip, Isa, just because you’re the one who plays poker with Hale.’

‘That makes me an excellent person to make up gossip. People assume I have the inside track instead of just trying to enjoy myself.’

‘You realise,’ said Valance as Cortez headed back for the door, ‘you cause trouble with inventing gossip and you’re not the one who has to deal with the fallout if the captain hears and is terribly embarrassed?’

‘You say that like it’s a bad thing.’

Chief Engineer’s log, supplemental: It could be worse. I could have to deal with politics. Off or on the ship.

Comments

  • I love Isa! She's so happy being an engineer. Have a problem, find a solution, make it someone else's problem to manage said 'solution'. And she doesn't let the fact that that person will be her girlfriend get in the way either. And now she's adding trouble-maker in chief to her list of activities. There is no way I am sure this can come back to bite her. I'm liking where this is going, with the time crunch and completely sensible decisions around managing resources. I can't wait to read what new and interesting problems crop up and how they either help or hinder the crew in their attempts. Also the framing of a personal log at the start and end - love it. Something to steal!

    June 5, 2022