Part of USS Xenius: From Romulus with Love and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

Where Were You When the Empire Fell?

USS Xenius
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Prologue

 

Captain’s Personal Log: It took a lot of favors and a nice chunk of latinum to a Ferengi shipyard superintendent, but I finally found a ship for Rey. She needs something to keep her occupied on her off hours. Something that is uniquely hers. The Xenius is a Raven class vessel that needs a lot of love, but if anyone can restore the ship to her former glory, it’s my girl.

***

“How did you like the tour?”

Rey rolled over in the bed and held her lover. “Are you talking about the ship or last night?”

Charlotte laughed. “The ship, of course.”

“It’s everything I’ve ever wanted. It’s amazing.”

“Now who’s talking about what?” Fawkes took her fiancée in her arms. She smiled. They kissed. “I’m teasing and I’m glad you like it.” The two settled back into the bed for a few precious minutes; a morning romp that equated to a long goodbye. Complete opposites, the Captain and the cadet was a romance that went against all the regs and logic, but somehow worked.

“I need to get to class,” Rey said, tossing off the covers. The cadet picked up her clothes; a smirk splashed across her face as she raced her lover to the shower. “Oh shit. That’s right. It doesn’t work.”

“Does anything work around here?”

“The warp core, but some of the EPS conduits need repair. That shouldn’t be a problem.” Rey said as she dressed. “The giant hole in the PTC is another thing. How did you get this thing to the base anyway?”

“The tractor beam on the Leda. I got a lecture on personal use of federation property, but it was only a slap on the wrist.” Fawkes wiped the grime off the bathroom mirror as she tied her brown hair into a ponytail then ran her tongue across her teeth. “Blech … does the replicator work?”

“Not in here. I think the one in the mess does.”

“I’ll have to brush my teeth on the Leda then.” Fawkes stepped into her trousers and began to look for the rest of her clothes. “Where is my shirt?”

“I ripped it, remember.”

“Oh, right. Give it to me anyway. I’ll tell everyone I fought a Gorn or something.”

Rey tossed the uniform top across the room. “It’s only ripped on the collar.”

Once dressed, Charlotte pulled Rey into another kiss. “So … I will be gone for a bit, but not to worry. It’s a simple mission, cataloging asteroids, comets, quasars and the like. Nothing exciting.”

“Zzzzzz …”

“Very funny.” Fawkes straightened the hem of her top. The rip was noticeable, but she could change quickly on the Leda. “I may be gone for a while, though.”

Rey stopped in front of the door as it swished open. “Where are you going?” She met Charlotte eye to eye momentarily, but quickly looked away.

“The Velorum Sector. That’s all I know at the moment.” Fawkes brought her fiancée into a hug. “Have fun with the ship. I can’t wait to see it when I get back.” It was Fawkes’ turn to not look Rey in the eye.

“Why do you do this? Every time you go on a long mission, you wait until the last second to tell me.”

“Because I know we’re going to fight about it and I don’t want that to mar our time together.”

Rey thought for a moment, though not about what Charlotte just said. “The Velorum Sector. That’s Romulan territory, right?”

Fawkes nodded. “It is and it contains a variety of fascinating spatial phenomena. We’ll stick close to the safe areas.”

Rey scowled. “Don’t lie to me.”

“Rey. The Leda is heading into the Velorum Sector to study spatial phenomena and Starfleet probably wants someone to keep an eye on things. From a distance. That’s the truth.”

***

PART ONE

 

Where were you when the Empire Fell?

 

With the final test graded, Evelyn turned her attention to a problem that had been nagging her all day. A snowglobe, given to her by her mother, looked out of place no matter where she put it in her office.

All her PADDs were arranged according to size and stacked neatly next to her computer. A picture frame with a photo of her mother sat on the edge of the desk. The thin blue lining around the frame balanced well with the blue of the computer and console. Beside the frame was the globe, a depiction of Rockport, Massachusetts, her hometown. She placed it on the shelf next to the African violet. The balance and color schemes were way off. Ev chewed on her nails.

With the globe in hand, Ev checked the time. Her 1700 hour meeting was 33 minutes late. For the time being, Sommers placed the snowglobe in a drawer in her desk. Ev would feel guilty about it, but she had other duties.

“Computer. Please locate Cadet Rey Ford.”

“Cadet Ford is on board the Xenius in Sector Lima-Violet, deck 632, docking bay D24.”

“Thank you.”

Sommers shut down her computer and pushed away from her desk. As she stood, her eye caught the drawer that now housed the snowglobe. Quickly, Ev grabbed the decoration and placed it back on her desk. She didn’t ever expect her mother to drop in unexpectedly, but it made the LT feel better about herself. Something would have to be done with the globe, however.

What if I painted it blue?

***Rey stared at the makeshift patch in the power transfer conduit. Made with a thin piece of tritanium and nanopolymer, it was a temporary fix, but the ship was space worthy. “That’ll have to do for now.”

“Why not replicate a piece of PTC shielding?”

“They won’t let me near the docking replicator after I programmed it to make a shuttle.”

Mira quirked an eyebrow, but left the subject of the shuttle alone. “I could replicate one for you. The shielding, not a shuttle.”

“I don’t want to get you into trouble either.” Rey said and made another adjustment to the patch.

“You’re saying you don’t trust me?”

Rey grumbled under her breath. It wasn’t a no.

“Are you certain your patch will hold?” asked Mira. “Also, the PTC warning light is on.”

“Eh, that light’s always on and I did the same thing on my old ship when one of the EPS conduits failed. It should hold.”

“Should?”

Rey rolled her eyes as she moved to the warp core console. “It will hold until I can get a new PTC. Luckily, an old friend of mine has one we can swipe.”

“Swipe?”

“I mean borrow.”

Mira looked at the patch, still uncertain of its viability. “Borrow implies we will use the PTC for a certain allotted time before it is returned.”

Ford peered at her friend from around the core. “Steal off a derelict ship. Okay?”

Mira nodded. “Understood.”

“And I thought I was literal.” Rey initiated the warp core sequence and stood back to watch the tower light up. “This will take some time to charge up.”

“I may be Romulan, but –”

“But you’re pretending to be a Vulcan for your mum. I know you told me like a dozen times.”

A scowl touched Mira’s face as she retorted. “And I will say it again until you realize it is not a pretense.”

“Did you just scowl?”

“No.”

Mira looked away.

Rey laughed.

“I like you Mira. You’re the only friend I have because nobody likes me and nobody trusts you. And I can give you shit and you’re okay with it because of logic.” She laughed to herself as she watched the core.

Mira tested the tritanium with her finger again. “I still have doubts, but you are the engineer. I will trust you.”

Rey smiled from around the core again. “Thanks. Just a few more minutes and we can test it out. Just don’t stand too close.”

“If the PTC fails, proximity will not matter,” said Mira. “The PTC warning light is still on, by the way.”

Again, Rey rolled her eyes. “I told you. It’s always on.” She slowly began to mix the matter and antimatter when her combadge chimed.

“Cadet Ford? This is Lt. Sommers. I believe we had a meeting.”

“Shit.” Rey tapped her combadge. “Yeah, sorry. I just got busy with the ship. Shit … sorry, I didn’t mean to swear.”

“Rey, we need to talk. May I come aboard?”

Sommers waited on the dock for a response, taking note of the Xenius. In its present condition, from the exterior, the vessel was in dire need of restoration. The name and registration number were faded. The hull, more of a dark, dingy brown than the normal light gray, bore several scorch marks from a previous battle. In all, the vessel looked like it belonged in a scrap yard, not a space dock.

“Uhhh … just a sec,” replied the Cadet. She was still initiating the core. “I’m in engineering, deck two. Can’t really stop what I’m doing right now. Come on.”

Lt. Sommers made her way through the docking port. She was peeved that Rey missed her appointment, but gratified the girl had found an outlet. Once on the XeniusEvelyn noted the state of the interior. More scorch marks littered the hallways. Conduits from dead corridor lights stuck out. As she walked toward the turbolift, Sommers noted the carpet had been removed in the hall. The LT entered the lift and the lights flickered. She wondered if she should use the jefferies tube to get around.

“A few more minutes,” said Rey as the warp core began to shine. “Then we can pump the plasma to the nassels and see what happens.”

Mira stepped away from the PTC to watch the core shimmer to life, but said nothing.

“You moved out of the way. Good.”

“No. I … I wanted to watch you work. That is all.”

“You may make a Vulcan yet,” said Rey, a smile in her voice. “You’re not a very good liar.”

Mira remained silent.

The door to engineering swished open. Lt. Sommers stood in the doorway uncertain if she wanted to proceed. Tools were strewn on the floor across from the warp core. A piece of the bulkhead looked to be caved in. Lights flickered on several consoles. “You’re not going anywhere are you?” she asked, a cautious shake in her voce.

“No. I’m just testing out a patch I made in the power transfer conduit.”

Ev stopped in her tracks. “Testing?”

“It’ll hold,” said Rey. The matter/antimatter mixture was at 95%.

“The odds are good,” added Mira. “I am Ensign Mira. Cadet Ford asked me for assistance in refitting her ship.”

“Her ship?” asked Sommers.

“Yeah. My ship.” Rey smiled, but kept her eye on the matter/antimatter mixture. It was at 97%. “Char — my fiancée got it for me. Something to keep me occupied on off hours. Sorry I missed the meeting, and almost there.”

“That’s not the point you need to — why is the PTC warning light on?”

“98%!” shouted Rey.

“There was a large hole in the PTC,” began Mira. “Cadet Ford is testing a makeshift patch of tritanium and nanopolymer. It has an 87% chance of success.”

“99%!” Rey’s face was covered in the glow of the warp core as it began to come online. She beamed when the matter and antimatter came together. “100%. Now I just have to inject the plasma into the PTC and –”

“I’m sorry, Rey.” Sommers interjected and began to power down the core.

“What are you doing?” Ford shouted.

“At the very least, saving your career. I’ll replicate your PTC shielding if you need it. We’ll install it properly.”

The cadet stood away from the core, her hands balled into fists, her nostrils flared. “Just because you’re so damned OCD –”

“That will be all, Cadet!” Sommers shouted.

Mira’s combadge chimed. She took the call elsewhere while the other two bickered.

“It would have worked.” Rey countered.

“That’s not the point. It’s protocol. We follow strict guidelines for a purpose.” The LT looked over the console to ensure everything had been shut down. “The PTC warning light is on. Did you know that?”

“Yes. It’s always on.” Rey marched to the console and tapped the light. It flickered twice but still shined. “Happy now?”

Evelyn’s attention was called to the light on the console. “That shouldn’t — how do you stand it?”

Ford threw up her arms. “I’m just a mess, I guess,”

“Ex-excuse me,” Mira interrupted. “That was a friend from Vashti. The news just came down. The Romulan Star Empire has reached its final collapse. It’s gone.” Mira stood rigid, one hand balled into a fist tapping her hip. Logically, the fall of the empire was irrelevant. What required attention was the mass relief effort that lay ahead. Yet, part of her Romulan blood boiled. “Such a waste,” she whispered.

“Mira, I’m so sorry.” Sommers approached the Romulan, but kept her distance. Her combadge chimed a second later. She moved to the side to answer.

Rey gave her friend a nod. “Yeah. That sucks. Did you still have family there?”

“I did,” Mira said blankly. “But that is irrelevant. What matters is the relief effort. Millions are at risk. I wonder if Starfleet will do anything this time around.”

“They will,” announced LT Sommers. “I just spoke to Commander Stoddard, an old friend. The base is on full alert. All available ships are to go to the Velorum Sector and offer any assistance we can.”

“The Velorum Sector?” asked Rey.

“Yes, why?” Sommers acknowledged.

“Then that’s where I’m going,” Rey spat. “Get me that fucking shield now.”

Comments

  • The adventure of the Xenius are off to such an entertaining start! With a murder of ravens taking flight across Bravo Fleet, there’s a multitude of possibilities to consider, and I’m so amused that you chose to make the Xenius a broke down junker! The list of broken systems, even the SONIC SHOWER, tickled me, even more so when it led to the final confrontation between Rey and Sommers. I'm left slightly unsatisfied never knowing if Rey would have been right about her PTC patch, but it was also probably for the best. The true joy of this post was the characters. With their quick patter of dialogue —-throwing words and arguments like a tennis match back and forth—- I feel like I’ve learned so much about the main characters already. “Fought a gorn” made me laugh. And gems like “I can give you shit, and you’re okay with it because of logic” really stuck with me. THAT’s real friendship. Can't wait to see what the all find in Velorum!

    June 10, 2022
  • A great start to the adventures of the Xenius. The brief but detailed character development early on between Rey and her fiancée, her friend and her superior officer was engaging enough to keep me invested into their future interactions. Going against Starfleet regulation and having a taboo relationship between a Cadet and a senior officer was a spicy choice. Mira is a shining example of a true friend and the kind of person I'd also trust with my life much like Rey seems to. I also have to agree with Andreus Kohl's assessment that I too felt robbed in knowing if that PTC patch would hold. Can't wait to see what other jerry-rigged designs Rey comes up with the get the ship space worthy.

    June 11, 2022
  • Ah, Engineering in its purest form, a jerry rig. Too bad the mean old Sommers turned it off just before the plasma injection... That part had me going. I love how you have created a character that is almost too realistic from her attitude to a risque romance with a Captain. I hope that everything is going to be okay with Rey's fiance. I guess we'll find out in a future chapter and I can't wait. Looking forward to your next chapter. Keep up the great work.

    June 12, 2022