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

Reunion

Velorum Sector
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Captain’s Log: The distress signal from the Reman ship turned out to be a trap. The Leda is currently surrounded by three Romulan Warbirds and a captured Reman vessel. Commander Di’thea, the apparent leader of the small fleet, has advised me to surrender the ship. As that is impossible, I’ve agreed to meet with her on board the captured Reman ship. Commander Mas has been vocal in his opposition to the plan.

“The distress signal was sent?”

“Aye, Captain.” The Klingon slowed his stride to match the Captain’s pace. “Unfortunately, our comms were jammed after the signal was sent.”

“So, we have no idea if anyone is coming,” Fawkes stated. She turned the corner in the corridor, headed for the shuttlebay. “Tighten security. I don’t want people at each other’s throats, but the Romulans set this trap for a reason. They may have targeted us.”

Mas turned an eye to his commander. “We were expected?”

“We were. Starfleet orders. We were to rendezvous with the Reman vessel and issue any humanitarian aid necessary.”

Angered, Mas took in a deep breath. He exhaled slowly as the two reached their destination. “Why was I not informed, Captain?”

Fawkes stopped as the bay doors opened. She respected the klingon and stared him straight in the eyes. “Starfleet knew the Romulan Empire would fall. They wanted to be ahead of the fallout for once. It was not my choice to keep you in the dark, but I’m glad I did.”

“Ma’am?”

“Deception is not your strong suit, but honor is, and that is what I need from you as the ship’s commander. Listen to the crew. Allow yourself to learn from them, but fight like a Klingon.”

Mas stood in the doorway, conflicted by his Captain’s mistrust, but honored by her words.

“Thank you for your honesty, Captain. If I may, please allow me to reply in kind.”

“By all means.”

Both watched as the shuttle was turned on the pad.

“It is my duty to inform you that the Captain is being an idiot. At the very least allow security to accompany you.”

“Out of the question. I’ve given Di’thea my word and I will honor it.” Fawkes smiled simply as the shuttle was readied for her departure. “As I said, I’m counting on you to see the Leda through any rough weather, Commander. Take good care of her.”Mas clutched his d’k tahg. Fawkes spun toward her first officer, ready for another tête-à-tête. Instead, Mas presented her with the weapon. She gently pushed it away.

“Thank you, but no. Any weapon I take will be confiscated as soon as I’m aboard that Reman vessel. I won’t allow you to lose such a valued artifact.”

The Klingon held the dagger in his hands. He was furious with his friend, but respected the nature of her sacrifice. With vigar, he placed the d’k tahg back into his sheath then stood straight and strong.

“Kapla!”

“Kapla to you as well, Commander.”

****

The Xenius continued to rattle and shake at its maximum cruising speed of warp six. Even Cadet Ford, who had violated numerous Starfleet regulations, knew not to push the Raven class vessel to the maximum for any sustained period. For that much, Lt. Sommers was grateful.

At the helm while Ensign Mira attempted to repair the damage done by Ford, the Lieutenant attempted to focus her attention on the problems at hand. Unfortunately, the view screen blinked out every few minutes which forced the LT to enact repairs. At warp, a viewscreen was not a priority and the Xenius did have a course heading, though an undesired one. For the time being it was more of a nuisance and a distraction for the young Lieutenant.

The screen went dark. Ev sighed and rerouted the systems again. The warp effect appeared as the screen became active again. Sommers sighed in relief. She commed the Ensing down in engineering.  

“Progress on our course correction, Ensign?”

“None,” replied Mira. “Each time I feel I have made progress I’m greeted with another stumbling block. For instance, if we were to drop out of warp before we reached our destination, the EPS is rigged to stop distribution of power to a variety of components, including shields.”

“Life support?”

“Negative. Life support seems to be one of the few systems unaffected by Rey’s tampering.”

The screen went out again. Sommers kicked the base of the helm console out of frustration. “Shit, shit, shit.”

“The screen again, Lieutenant?” asked the Romulan.

“Yes, Mira. I’m sorry. I must have left the comm on. It won’t happen again.”

“Have you contacted the Pasteur about our inevitable delay in the delivery of their supplies?”

“Shit.”

“I take that as a no.”

“I’m sorry. So much has gone wrong and I’m just not cut out for this and — shit.”

“The screen?”

“Hold on.”

Sommers rerouted power to the screen again. Soon, she would run out of options and the ship would be blind. Even so, Mira was right. Within the hour, the Xenius would officially be late with their rendezvous with the Pasteur.

****

Confined to quarters. Rey paced back and forth between her bed and the small round dining table nestled in the corner. Each time, she passed through the doorway. Her hand caressed the scarred molding. Once, the cadet allowed her fingers to trace the fractured molding. She felt every peak and valley in the wound of the wood until it smoothed out. Was it a phaser blast that missed? Had someone ducked behind the doorway just in time? She didn’t know the ship’s history.

Main systems and primary functionality were given priority when Ford began her personal refit of the Xenius. Decor was down the list for the Raven class vessel’s refit. The cadet had contemplated allowing some scars to remain. Rey liked the idea her ship had been through a rough life. She could relate.

Within the carpet was a small blood stain. A large section melted into the fibers like watercolors. The rest of the stain was sharp edged where the blood pooled and clotted over time. Another war wound Rey thought to leave in, though earlier Charlotte objected. For the first time since she first set eyes on the ship, Ford knelt down by the blood stain to contemplate as to whom it might belong. It was a dark reddish brown which meant there was a high probability the blood was human. As there was no spray or splatter pattern, Rey could only guess the blood seeped from a deep wound. With only one puddle, she wondered if the victim used a hypospray to heal their affliction. Ford shrugged and stood. She went to lay down.

The bed was fitted with fine sheets, probably silk or some synthetic version. Charlotte procured them. The bed itself was sturdy enough, but like so much of the ship, was latticed with nicks and scratches. She turned over and allowed her fingers to run over a deep, etched dent. Like the mar on the door, the scratch on the bed was comforting.

As she rose again, Ford felt her chain shift around her neck. She plucked it out from under her shirt. On the chain was the engagement ring Fawkes had given her a few months back. The diamond and sapphire bauble glimmered in the light. Its shine was in stark contrast to the rest of the ship and prompted Ford to examine the glittering gems.

An oval diamond was the center stone. Each facet cast a reflection, some smooth as air. Others were hazy or near white from the light. Two sapphires, both diamond shaped, which Rey found ironic, cast a deep blue hue she had only seen over the deepest oceans. There were no flaws on the ring, which, as much as it meant to Ford, made it feel like a fantasy. Life was messy and wonderful, like her ship, like her love for Charlotte.

****

Captain’s log: To buy time for reinforcements to arrive, I’ve agreed to rendezvous with Commander Di’thea, currently aboard a captured Reman vessel. The Commander has asked for the Leda’s unconditional surrender, however this meeting gives me confidence that all is not lost. We must have something she wants besides a dead crew and a dead hull. Once on board the Reman ship, I hope a diplomatic solution can be found.

As the shuttlecraft moved closer to the Reman vessel she was flanked by two Romulan fighters, though they presented no immediate threat. Instead they were the shuttle’s escorts. Captain Fawkes followed all provided instructions to the letter and docked safely with the enemy ship.

Stepping out of the shuttle and into the Reman shuttlebay, Fawkes was immediately surrounded by four Romulan security guards; their weapons drawn. Without direction, she offered compliance and raised both hands. “No weapons,” she said plainly. The Romulans scanned her anyway.

“I find no signs of weapons.”

The Sublieutenant nodded, then approached Fawkes. “You will follow us to meet with Commander Di’thea. Any deviation from our path and you will be executed. Any hostile actions or attempts at escape and you will be executed. Any disrespect to any officer of rank and you will be executed. Do you understand?”

Fawkes nodded once.

“Do you understand?” repeated the Sublieutenant.

“I understand.”

Captain Fawkes was escorted, not to Di’thea, but to a small interrogation room where she was questioned by Sub-Commander Tocuth. All his questions were nonspecific, a precursor to Fawkes’ interrogation by the Commander. Charlotte responded only with her name, rank and service number.

“And finally, please tell me the crew compliment of the Leda. She’s a Luna class, correct? Our estimates are between 250 and 300.”

Fawkes, her arms folder over her chest, sighed heavily. “Charlotte Irene Rose Fawkes, Captain. Service number …”

The Sub-Commander waved her off. “Thank you for your … cooperation. You will be escorted to the Commander shortly.”

****

Lt. Sommers stood in front of the door to Rey’s quarters. Before her was the most difficult decision of her career. She chimed the door once. There was no response. Sommers unlocked the door. Her hand hovered over her phaser as she entered.

“Rey?”

The cadet lay on the bed, a ring in her hand. She was chewing on a strand of her hair.

Sommers, hand still over her phaser, stepped further into the quarters. She picked at her nails. “Rey. You have to turn the ship around. The Pasteur is expecting our supplies.”

“No.”

“That was an order, Cadet. Not a request.”

“I don’t care.”

“Rey … I haven’t reported this yet, but I will unless you release control.” Sommers’ tone was hard edged, deliberate. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? Attempted mutiny, striking a superior officer, interference with a humanitarian crisis. You’re facing a court martial and possible life in a penal colony.”

“I told you I don’t care!” Rey shouted.

“Captain Fawkes will care.”

Ford jumped up, stuffed the ring back under her shirt and glared at Evelyn. The LT stood her ground, hands behind her back.

“She lied to me. Charlotte has never lied to me unless it’s for some Starfleet bullshit.”

“To protect you, Rey,” Sommers countered as she moved closer to Ford. “If you don’t release this ship, I will report this incident. You will be court martialed. You will go to prison, possibly for the rest of your life.”

“I know, Ev, but you don’t understand. Before her, my life was shit.” Rey hung her head and chewed on a lock of hair. “You’re a good person and I’m sorry.”

“Me too.” Evelyn wanted to reach out and hug the poor girl, but she had a duty to perform. “You’re confined to quarters. When we reach the Leda, I’ll turn you over to Captain Fawkes. She’ll escort you back to Stabase Four.”

Ford nodded as she moved back toward her bed. It was a cruel irony that her fiancée would be forced to hand her over to the authorities.

The doors swished open. Evelyn stood still, sure of her duty, but unsure of her feelings. Then Mira broke in.

“Lt. Sommers. I’ve picked up a distress message from the USS Leda.”

“Pipe it down here.”

Rey ran to the comm panel in her room.

“Commander Mas of the USS Leda. We are surrounded by Romulans. Request –”

“It cuts off there, Lieutenant.”

“Meet me on the bridge, Mira.” Ev shot a look at Rey who was coming along. “This doesn’t let you off the hook, Rey.”

The cadet clung to the ring under her shirt.

“I know. Let’s get move.”

****

The Romulan Commander’s office was homeier than Charlotte expected. There were no flowers or ruffles, but a grand painting of Romulus hung behind the desk. A bookshelf with volumes of history and art lined a corner nook. A photo of a Romulan family sat on the desk. Beside it sat a closed folio. Fawkes was no less guarded and gave the two guards at the door a tiled glance. She had no illusions that her life was likely forfeit.

The door swished open.

“Leave us,” ordered the Commander.

Both guards, though puzzled, acknowledged the order and left.

“I am Commander Di’thea. You are Captain Fawkes?”

“I am.”

Charlotte began to rise, but Di’thea shook her head. “Please, remain seated.” She opened the folio and handed it to Fawkes along with a pen. “I like the feel of writing.”

“As do I,” Fawkes said and took the folio. “A formal surrender?” Char eyed the Commander, a faded smile on her lips. “You know I can’t sign this.”

“Then your ship will be destroyed and you will be executed, after a thorough mind probe.”

“You could, but for whom?” Fawkes asked. “Your Empire is gone. We both know it.”

Di’thea jumped from her chair, fury in her eyes. Her palms pounded on the desk. “The Empire lives! You know nothing.”

“No, Di’thea. It’s gone. That’s why we’re here. To help you.”

“To help us?” Di’thea laughed. “The way you helped us when Romulus was dying? Help us? After you betrayed millions of Romulans and left them to die?”

Fawkes stood from the sofa, tempted to look away in shame, but she stood her ground. “A grave mistake that will stain the Federation forever, but not mine and I’m here to clean up that fucking mess. Now, kill me or tell me what the hell you want.”

“You have a fire that I admire. Fine. I want a member of your crew. Her name is Mira.”

Charlotte eyed the photo on the Commander’s desk. The child in the photo looked familiar. “I’m sorry. I don’t know a Mira. Even if I did, no one in my crew is expendable.”

“Don’t lie to me. We know she was assigned to you months ago. Please hand her over or I swear …”

“She’s not on board. You should know that. I’m sure you scanned our ship.”

The Commander slowly sunk into her chair; a look of defeat spread upon her features. “We did. I was hoping –” Di’thea shook her head. She smiled sadly. “You may record a message for your crew and any loved ones before your execution.”

Charlotte slowly nodded. “Thank you.”

“The guards will escort you back to –”

“Commander!” Sub-Commander Tocuth’s voice blared over the coms. “Another ship is coming into range.”

“Another starship?” demanded Di’thea.

“Unsure. It’s a smaller craft … a raven class vessel, if our information is correct. It’s hailing us now.”

“Let me hear it.”

Evelyn’s voice came through the comms.

“… is Lt. Sommers, commander of the USS Xenius. We’ve come to render aid to anyone in need within the Velorum sector. May I ask why the Leda seemed to be surrounded?”

Fawkes said nothing when the identity of the ship was revealed. She stood ready, watching the commander’s every move. If she could just catch her off guard.

The Commander tapped the comm panel. “Blow them out of the sky.”

Another voice came over the comms. It was Mira.

“You’ll kill me too, mother.”

“Belay that order!” screamed the Di’thea.

The Reman vessel shook. Fawkes moved in. She grabbed the Commander’s disruptor.

“Beam the Romulan up!” Di’thea ordered.

“The ship’s shields are up. We could disable the ship, but –”

“But what?” The Romulan Commander glared at Fawkes. The Captain put her back to the wall beside the door, the disruptor still aimed at Di’thea.

“But the ship is old. You’re just as likely to destroy it as you are to disable it.”

The Reman ship took another hit. The ship careened starboard. Fawkes slipped. Di’thea fell. The disruptor hit the floor. Both women fought for the weapon, but the Romulan was the stronger. As she rose, the Commander held the weapon on Fawkes.

“Commander!” shouted Tocuth from the comms. “The Xenius. It’s on a collision course. The Federation starship has also begun to the fire on the warbirds.”

The Commander stared at Fawkes. “They’re bluffing.”

Charlotte shook her head.

“What madman would do this?”

“My fiancée.”

Mira’s voice, calm and calculating, came over communications.

“Two minutes and 15 seconds until the Xenius reaches the point of no return.”

“Which will it be, Commander?” asked Fawkes. “Your victory or your daughter?”

Di’thea closed her eyes and tossed the disruptor to the floor. “Stand down. All ships. Stand down.”

Charlotte tapped her combadge. “Mas. Stand down.” She picked up the disruptor and handed it to the Commander. “Beam me out of here.”

****

Captain’s personal log: The Leda is on course to rendezvous with the Pasteur. They will get their supplies a day late. Ensign Mira and her mother have challenging times ahead. Commander Mas performed his duty admirably and kept the ship together. Lt. Sommers should be commended for putting up with Rey. Seriously, I plan to put her and Mira in for commendations. As for Rey, I’m not sure what, if anything, I can do. Once we delivered the supplies, I asked the helm to take us home, slowly.  

Comments

  • The action is non-stop and just what I enjoy seeing from a new ship in the fleet. The twist with their attackers' commander being Mira's mother was an interesting piece to the puzzle. And as always, I fully appreciate the quick-witted dialogue "What madman would do this? -My fiancée." Always enjoy finding my way to your posts when I'm looking for something to read :)

    August 6, 2022