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Part of USS Nestus: Lonely Lights

Bright little lights (Prt 2)

Starbase Bravo - Room 6557
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“…Kobol Alpha. Kobol Beta. Dynax. Train 5335. Cepal… Cepal…”

David glanced over his shoulder toward his large Bolian minder, who was amid muted whispers with a dark haired Orion woman by the only door to the room, their quiet mutterings distracting his memory. The giant blue bulk was leaning over the small keypad that would give David his escape from this dull grey cell of a room; painfully absent of any colour save the turquoise and emerald heads locked in collusion over in the corner. His only solace lay in the small block of transparent aluminium slotted between the bulkheads, barely bigger than a padd it granted him at least a small window onto the cosmos; a window he had gravitated toward in the third hour of his unexpected incarceration. There he had begun to name the stars, a meditative practice his supervisor Tolan had encouraged him to use during his time with the Vulcan science expedition. The young Ensign hadn’t realised just how noisy the world (or even his own mind) was when he was younger and the sudden stoic silence of a Vulcan starship flying through the vast emptiness of interstellar space had caused David to exhibit a great deal of anxious energy, sometimes to his physical detriment. Thankfully, rather than pass it off as a Human fault, his mentor had taught David to focus his energy into learning and meditation.

“Look to the stars David. Those bright little lights will be a constant for you, name them and know them. Only then will you be able to understand them better.” he had said as he guided fragile young human to the observation deck. “Channel your energy to the mastery of this moment and it will give a path to the next.” As the hyperventilating boy began to list off the stars his breathing slowed, his twitchiness ceased and his shoulders relaxed. To this day David is sure he heard Tolan smile.

So, here in this drab, oppressive and worryingly empty room David had begun to name the stars through his little window, to channel his energy into what he knew. He knew that when he woke up this morning he hadn’t expected to discover evidence of Isolytic explosions in the Di’van system, at the heart of disputed Romulan territory. He knew that when he had reported this to his superior he had been quickly whisked away by a security officer to these lower decks. He knew a holding room when he saw one. He knew that despite the teal colouring of their uniforms his roommates were most definitely not science officers. Finally, he knew that despite their muted conference both of the officers in the corner were maintaining a steady watch on them, like two heads of the hydra, ready to strike.

“Hydra. That’s it. Cepalhydra.” he muttered, slowly returning his head to the window. Behind him a swish of familiar doors sounded ominously muted.

“Mr. Mitchell. I’m very sorry to have kept you waiting, I trust you haven’t been too uncomfortable?” a voice spoke from behind. Slick, practiced, untrustworthy. It flowed with ease across the room and bounced with a juxtaposing politeness against David’s ears, almost deafening after straining to eavesdrop on his multicoloured guardians. He looked round the room with feigned comfort.

“Oh yes. Plushy.” he remarked as his eyes took in the newest entrant. Tall and skinny with oiled back white-blonde hair, his face was chiselled as if from stone. Long sharp lines edged his face down to a pointed chin as if he had been cut out of paper, every edge seemed capable of cutting glass or slicing skin. Bright blue eyes sat lightly in their sockets, perched atop a thin bird like nose and threadbare lips, like a rubber band stretched to its breaking point, they seemed twisted and clamped shut even at rest. Like the other two he wore the traditional teal of the sciences department and 3 pips graced his neck, two gold, one black; Lieutenant Commander.

“Maybe a little more respect, David.” he silently scolded himself.

“Excellent” the man said, “we aim to please.” His lips and practiced smile barely parting despite a voice that cut through the air, almost as sharp as his cheekbones.

“My name is Lt. Commander Maine. You’ve already met Specialists Ole and Hermira.” he motioned to the Bolian and then the Orion. Both of whom David now saw had a small square of metal where their pips would be. Hermira, the Orion he could buy as a science specialist, but the giant brute of a Bolian looked like he would struggle to spell string theory, let alone explain it.

Clearly his eye lingered a little too long as the Bolian uttered “Chemistry.” in a firm but rehearsed way. “Explosive Chemistry”. His smile widened into a grin as he glanced at the woman, revealing a large scar that spanned across his cheek and down to his chin. David had not noticed it at first due to the mottled pattern of his skin but it was old and deep, long ago healed. She turned to return his smile, revealing a large blotch of scar tissue across her neck and cheek. Faint, and difficult to distinguish against her dark green skin but David was taught to spot the needle in the haystack and he had seen healed burn patients before.

LtCom Maine didn’t flinch. “We represent a group of people tasked with monitoring and managing dangerous anomalies.”

“I don’t remember ever hearing of a Science Council department that locked people away so they could manage… anomalies.” David interrupted, his tongue tripped on the last word as his mind caught him, could he the anomaly? He hadn’t thought that he was the one in danger.

“I never said the Science Council. It’s all above board I assure you” Maine said, waiving his hands dismissively. “But the blue shoulders mean we don’t make anyone nervous whilst we work.” his head tilting in mock camaraderie. “This morning you brought to your supervisor’s attention evidence of an isolytic explosion within Romulan space. You presented to her a theory that for some reason an isolytic explosion had occurred on the third planet causing its destruction. You noted the most likely cause was an energy or weapons test gone wrong.”

David sat silently, he had indeed hypothesised that it could be a failed weapons test. No-one this side of the galaxy was stupid enough to use isolytic reactions as an energy source, the most logical explanation was someone trying to create isoltyic weapons which either failed and destroyed the experiment or more worryingly succeeded and was being test fired.

“That’s what Theo believed as well.” Maine said, his hands offering a padd toward David.

Taking the padd in hand, David was silent as he began scrolling through the notes, all in Theo’s voice, outlining a series of similar cases in surrounding uninhabited systems. Starting with comets and asteroids, then small moons and then a few weeks ago up to a small planetoid. Di’van was the 7th clear incident of a stellar body disappearing overnight, leaving evidence of isolytic subspace weapons. He read the log entries and reports whilst Maine watched silently.

Eventually David licked his lips and spoke. “Somethings not right. Subspace tears are attracted to warp drives, that’s the danger. They race across space towards the nearest subspace field, ripping open space behind them. All these explosions seem static and contained.”

“Theo also said that.” Maine said, his thin lips and shallow eyes betraying nothing.

“I don’t understand. What does this have to do with Theo. Or me for that matter.” David sighed, even his Vulcan taught patience was beginning to wear thin with this cut-out man who reeked of secret police, spies and deeds better left in the dark. “We find things, we report things and then captains go off and solve things.”

“That’s not entirely true David. There are plenty of us who do the groundwork so they can look good. For every hero there’s hundreds of unnamed people moving in the background. Theo was one of those people, working hard to discover a dangerous threat, one that he took us the call to stop. And like Theo, by discovering this you’ve accidently become part of a trusted few.” Maine paused, but not long enough for David to block his ears defensively. “A rogue group has managed to secure what appears to be a Tal Shiar experiment to produce controlled Isolytic weaponry. When the Hobus incident occurred the Tal Shiar and now the Romulan Free State lost track of a great deal of things. Unfortunately being the Tal Shiar rather than simply lossing a ship or a stock of torpedoes they seem to have lost a large lab filled with everything you could need to make subspace weapons.”

David’s jaw felt like it was about to fall into his lap as his mind took a step ahead of Maine’s bony lips.

“Theo was dispatched with a small team of my colleagues to investigate and secure the possible threat. It seemed like a good way to add an expert and manage the flow of classified information.” Maine paused, for a second a pained expression passed across his face. “We lost contact with them when they entered the system.”

“Dead?” David quietly muttered.

“Unknown. But you will get the chance to find out.” Maine sighed “I need a new physicist and you already know top secret information. Welcome to Theta Squad Mr. Mitchell.” Maine offerd out a slim, sleek, cold hand. When David didn’t pick it up he continued, “we leave within the hour from India 4-2. Until then Ole will be staying with you. To keep you safe.” Maine didn’t even hang around for an answer and was gone through the same silent door, followed by the Orion. Leaving David alone, with just a silent Bolian and his anxiety to keep him company, his body felt like it was about to burst, questions raced through his mind and his leg twitched with the desperate energy to run.

With a small shudder he turned back to the window and began his routine.

“…Kobol Alpha. Kobol Beta. Dynax. Train 5335. Theo… oh Theo…”

Comments

  • Oh wow, this is absolutely not where I expected this to go - and I dig it! It touches on those less-savory elements of The Federation's dealings in the galaxy, but doesn't outright descend into overt conspiracies. There's a sense of this being a grittier side of the Trek verse, but still one grounded in the sort of storytelling we'd see in DS9 or TNG. Ultimately, this is a question of "how can this power be put back in its box now that someone's used it", surrounded of course by a host of questions about who is using the weapon, and also who this "group tasked with monitoring dangerous anomalies" could possibly be. It seems like David might have gotten himself a bit over his head, here. There's a really nice flow to this, as there was with the last, building up the story, pacing it out, and filling in everyday details at the same time. We get character insight into David, a hefty dose of plot, and a nice helping of Trek-science as well. Keep it coming!

    June 11, 2022
  • Ah, the proverbial "pandora's box", is the vibe and mood that I got off of this chapter. So much grit and darkness in this story that one could actually feel the anxiety coming off David as he waited in the room with the other two. I like how you incorporated a Vulcan meditation into the story and how it helps, slightly, David with his anxiety. Your details in the description of how Maine looks were incredible. I enjoyed that very much as it made it easier to see the Lieutenant Commander. Even the missed scars on the Bolian and the Orion were tasteful. I look forward to seeing how David progresses in the next story as this one was most unexpected but definitely fresh.

    June 12, 2022