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Part of USS Edinburgh: Mission 1 – What Burns in the Darkness and Bravo Fleet: Sundered Wings

The Trail of Blood

USS Edinburgh
May 16, 2400
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USS Edinburgh – Ready Room – 1430

“Where is this trail leading us?” Commander Harris sat at his desk in his ready room while the others sat scattered on the long couch underneath the windows of the Ready Room.

Thasaz spoke first, “It will lead us into Romulan space commander, specifically back into the Velorum Sector.  This is not an accidental map left behind…this is an intentional path we are meant to follow.”

The tactical chief offered, “The New Orleans isn’t a Galaxy-class by any stretch, but she can hold her own for a little while.”

Reid shook her head, “I don’t think we want to dust off our gloves with just a few days under our belt.  Most of our crew are still finding their way around.  I’ve gotten lost three times…today!  Nothing against our damage control and repair teams, Chief…”  

Okada glanced from the PADD she was patiently working on as she listened, “No offense taken, Doctor.  I will freely admit that even with the drills we’ve been running…if we hit anything aside from a shuttle or a scout…response time isn’t going to light the world on fire.  Might light us on fire.  File that under ‘do not want’. Best we just avoid all fires in general…sir.”  She returned to her PADD.

The CO sat forward at his desk and looked at his Romulan Science Chief, “Where…exactly do you think they’re taking us?”

She stood and tapped the console on the coffee table, activating a holoprojector, “We think they’re pointing us here…” She circled a desert planet in a system of asteroids and space debris, “…it’s not a great ambush location which Mr. Kondo can explain.  The last survey on record in this system says we can transport down with minimal environmental suits if needed, but I’m not sure how much I believe that.”  She sat down and Kondo stood.

“There’s not a lot of places you can hide or prepare some kind of attack.  The sun is unique in that it affects most cloaked ships with interference.  So that’s something.”  He returned to his seat as Harris contemplated.

“I think it’s worth the risk to at least see what it is they want us to see.”  He looked to each member of his command team who nodded.  

Reid was the last and she sighed as she gave her assent, “Let’s not make too much of a bumpy ride.  My nurses and orderlies won’t fair well in a game of pinball.”

Harris stood from his desk, “Then we’re agreed.  Doc, get Prentice to set for maximum warp to our new target.  Remain at red alert.  Thasaz?”  The rest of the crew left, leaving them alone.  He looked at her and gestured to the couch where they sat.  “How are you doing?”

“I suppose you wish to hear the truth, Commander Harris?”

Ambrose sat back against the couch, “Truth grants us freedom to be who we are and will be.”  He shrugged as she raised her eyebrows, “It’s a saying in my family…based on an old quote from an ancient time on Earth.  Yes, the truth will do.”

“What happens to me once I find the justice for my dead friends?  What do I do with an empty purpose?”

Harris gave her a curious look, stood, and ordered a drink from the replicator.  He looked to her and she waved him off.  He returned to the couch and asked, “You’ve been sitting in and on this for a bit, haven’t you?”

Thasaz played with her hands, nervously fidgeting, “For all these years, I have had purpose..meaning.  That station brought me joy and a community of believers in the ways of experimentation and determination…not war, blood, and bones.” Spitting out those last words she stood and stabbed at the replicator, returning with a Shirley Temple.  Taking a sip she sighed, “We Romulans are a messy people…and yes…you would protest humans are…but we…,”  She thought for a moment longer, “Some of us desire to bleed others as instinct.  That the blood of our blood would give us a sense of…power.  That if we can control it, beat it within an inch of its life…it can be ours.”  She sipped again before finishing with, “I went to that station to get away from the darkness that sits inside my people, Commander Harris…and I’m back in the damned mess again.”

He leaned forward and met her near tears eyes, “Hear me now, Chief Thasaz.  As long as I draw breath and wear this uniform, you will never have to face the possibility of going back.  You have done the good and strong thing to stand with us.  We’ll get justice…but we’re not going to stop until we find a way to bring some sense of peace in the trails we travel.”  

She gave him a nod, “Thank you, Commander.  I will do what I can to meet such lofty goals.”  

Harris was about to respond when his badge beeped, =^=Commander Harris to the bridge=^=

He headed for the door, his science chief behind him.  The bridge was unusually tense and Harris was sure he was about to find out why as he made his way to the center of The Castle and asked, “Report?”

It was Prentice at helm who responded, “As soon as we dropped out of warp, sensors detected a Romulan signal in the sector…it was leaving at a high rate of speed.  We’re following its course as best as we can but…”

Thasaz jumped in to continue, “Sensors are picking up a Raven Class ship on the surface of that planet, sir.  The storm and interference in the system are affecting our sensors but at least three life signs are being detected intermittently.”

Harris now understood the tension.  Their missing crew, or at least some of them were within reach.  Still standing he tapped the console on his center chair, “Harris to Chief – what can we send down from our shuttle bays that’ll manage the planet and the interference?”

=^=We’ve got shuttles, but I got us on better. They gave us a New Atlantic Runabout…we can rig it up with the medical module…=^=

He interrupted her, “Get it ready.  Doc and Chief Kondo are on their way.”  His security chief stood at the mention of his name and headed for the turbolift.  Things were moving quickly so he tapped his communications badge, “Harris to Doc, we found the ship and some crew.  Kondo will meet you in the shuttle bay and Chief is going to the runabout ready for medical operations.”  A click was her response and he turned his attention back to the screen.  “Lieutenant Thasaz, shift over to the tactical station in case I need you.  Mr. Prentice, get us into standard orbit of that planet.  Maintain red alert.”

The red lights on the walls continued to flash as The Castle remained bathed in a blinking ruby glaze. They were so very close to finding their crew.