‘The prettiest of mirror images, as transient as any moment, shows the eternal beauty of your soul.’
On that particular morning, whilst sitting at the dresser in her quarters and staring into the mirror somewhat blankly, Prida felt anything but pretty, and felt her soul had been cracked in two. She had spent much of the night sobbing, trying to make sense of the startling revelation that the Captain had dumped on her. Her brother, a man she had grown up with on Bajor as an orphan of the wars, had turned into a killer, and was going to spend the rest of his days either on the run, or in prison for his crimes. That part was perfectly acceptable, she understood the need for justice, for punishment, but just what had led him to commit such a heinous crime?
It was a question that had occupied her all night, and continued to occupy her as she conducted her morning routine and prepared to leave her quarters for her duty shift. She’d been excused from duty by the XO late last night, but she still wanted to get back to work. What could she do, other than sit around moping and wondering what the hell had gone on inside that once beautiful mind of her adopted sibling.
She’d not been able to get in touch with her parents, and that was probably a good thing in hindsight. She wouldn’t have to put up with her mother’s incessant blaming of herself, or her father’s blasé attitude towards her brother. She’d have to get in touch with them eventually, of course, but for now she could at least think on whatever she was going to say – not that that was always a positive thing when it came to talking to her parents.
Clipping the gold jacket of her uniform closed, she pulled on the hem and composed herself, a large sigh her last act before heading for the door. Once the door parted, she let out a loud exclamation of ‘Frak me!’ when greeted with the sight of a large stone figure directly in her line of sight. A figure that started to move.
Standing around outside of the Chief’s quarters, Lieutenant Udal was practically hopping from side to side as excitement grew inside of him, all the while holding the stone figure close to his chest. The excitement grew to such a crescendo that he almost lurched forward and slammed the statue into the face of the Chief Engineer as she tried to get past him. “Have you forgotten, Chief?” the Orion asked in his deeper voice, peering around the figure at the confused look on the Bajassian’s face.
For a silent moment, Prida considered his question, and why he was stood outside of her quarters carrying the ‘Bust of Ulysses’, only for it to dawn on her that today was the day that they had agreed to show the item to the Captain, and push for its relocation to a more prominent location. To say she was not in the mood for something so trivial was an understatement, but for the rest of the crew, the Bust was a statement of the ship’s greatness, and an omen. “No, not forgotten,” the half-truth leaving her lips before she could stop herself, “just a lot on my mind today. Come on, let’s get this done,” she nodded towards the turbo lift at the end of the corridor and left the sanctuary of her quarters, the Orion following close behind, the Bust clutched in both his hands.
“Don’t worry,” he called after her as he hobbled down the corridor in pursuit, weaving from side to side, stumbling as he went, “it’s not heavy or anything…”
As it always was with the ship underway and headed to a new destination, the bridge was a hive of activity, alive with the sounds of people freely going about their business. Among them, and huddled around the tactical station embedded within the Arch that surrounded the command pit, three officers were deep in conversation when the turbo lift doors behind them opened up, causing quite a stir.
“What the hell is that?!”
Their attention drawn from their work at the tactical station, Captain sh’Elas, Commander Gor and newly-minted Lieutenant Commander Noli looked up and towards the commotion caused by the young Lieutenant at the CONN.
Emerging from the turbo lift and carrying a massive stone carving, the beefcake known as Udal stumbled to the rail and perched the object on its edge. “That?” he frowned, “That is Lieutenant Prida, obviously…” the Orion countered, a playful glint in his eyes.
For the first time, Prida seemed to relax a little and swatted her subordinate on the arm as she came to a halt by the tactical rail.
“Did you see that?” Udal feigned mock disgust, “she struck a junior officer!”
Commander Gor, by far the sternest of all and the disciplinarian on the ship, folded his arms across his chest, raising an eyebrow at the taller, more athletically built Orion. “I saw nothing,” the XO told with a shrug of his shoulders. Less than ninety days ago, when the crews had first come together, the mere suggestion of the Tellarite being playful and joining in with banter would have earned anyone a rebuke for even the thought of such a thing. Now, he freely engaged in such activities, and on the bridge in front of everyone else. It was a sign of how far not only he had come, but his relationship with those around him.
“I think the good Lieutenant meant this,” Commander Noli smiled, rounding the command team and standing beside the Orion, running her hands over the soft stone carving. “Where did you find it?” she queried of no one in particular.
“It’s been in engineering,” Prida answered, looking from the object to the senior staff and back again several times. “An ornate bust of the ancient Greek hero, Ulysses. Legend has it that he was a legendary Greek king of Ithaca,” she told before elaborating further. “It was a gift to the engineering team from a previous commanding officer and they believe it serves as a source of inspiration and is a good omen for many on the crew.
Whilst she was talking, Udal used his uniform sleeve to polish the object a little. When the Bajassian had finished, the Orion added a little more. “It’s a reminder of the perseverance and resilience he showed during his decade-long journey to Greece, and the statue reminds all aboard that anything is possible if you don’t give up or give in. But the statue also reminds people of how valiant, mighty and intelligent Ulysses was, following his crucial intervention in the Trojan War,” he rattled off the well rehearsed line, much to the amusement of everyone who stood glaring at him whilst he talked. “Apparently…” he added somewhat sheepishly.
“A fascinating story,” the Captain finally chimed in, “but why is it here?”
“Depending on who you talk to, the statue is a source of inspiration, of strength. But should the statue ever fall, should it be damaged, or gods forbid be broken, it is believed that a terrible fate will befall the crew,” Prida responded, “but it’s an offering from the engineering team to the bridge crew. They feel that such an object deserves a more prominent home on the ship,” she concluded.
“But he’s rather ugly…” Henry remarked, joining the growing crowd at the tactical rail as they gave the object a closer inspection.
“Some might say the same about you, Henry…” Counsellor Chiera countered swiftly, eliciting howls of laughter from many on the bridge, much to the helmsman’s mock disgust.
“He may not be the most handsome man I’ve ever come across,” the Risian science chief, Lieutenant Okan, interjected, “but according to my scans, carbon dating would put this particular object at some nine hundred years of age,” she revealed, closing the flap on her tricorder and placing the device on her belt. “It isn’t Ancient Greek in age, but is is definitely a piece of history, Captain.”
With that little snippet of information from the scientist, placing the object in Earth’s sixteenth century at the time of its creation, suddenly everyone seemed to be taking the object far more seriously. “Replicate some sort of plinth for it,” the Captain nodded slowly and pointed to an area at the front of the bridge, “…and we’ll put it there, where we can all see it. Make sure it is secured in place. Gods forbid it gets damaged and brings us all bad luck…”
“Will do. Thank you, Captain…” Prida nodded, looking at her Orion counterpart who was almost ecstatic, probably at the thought that he wouldn’t have to carry the incredibly heavy bust back to engineering.
The two engineers were about to head off when the Captain reached out and placed a hand on Prida’s arm, stopping the Bajassian in her tracks. “Can I have a word?” the Captain asked, nodding her head to the aft of the bridge.
A curt nod to the commanding officer and the two were descending a few steps into the Strategic Operations suite at the back of the bridge, leaving Gor and Noli to continue with their work. Lowering her voice, the Captain led the younger officer to one of the displays. “A short while ago we intercepted some communications referencing your brother,” the Captain revealed as she activated the display. “According to Starfleet Intelligence, Noam was spotted boarding a craft at the Ashalla Spaceport on Bajor, with his hostage, and is headed here,” the Captain pointed to a spot on the map provided by stellar cartography.
“The Kabrel system?” Prida looked a little confused, “It doesn’t ring any bells,” she folded her arms across her chest as she regarded the map.
“It’s a binary star system, with three planets, all uninhabited. It’s probably a perfect hiding place if you think no one is going to be looking for you there,” the Andorian mused. “Starfleet won’t like it, but I’m taking us to Kabrel. Henry has already diverted us, and we’ll be there in a few hours. We don’t want to get there too soon, show up on their sensors and cause Noam to flee. We’re going to apprehend him and get to the bottom of this,” Tharia told her engineer, a reassuring hand placed on the youngsters shoulder.
“I appreciate that, Captain, but I don’t want you getting in to trouble because of my family issues…” Prida looked even more concerned now, knowing that the Captain had diverted the ship and crew from its original mission.
“Leave Starfleet to me,” Tharia smirked. “Make sure you’re up here when we arrive. I may need you to try and talk him down,” her face now reflected the serious nature of their new mission again.
“Of course Captain,” Prida nodded slowly. “Can I ask, ma’am, is everyone aware of who we’re looking for?” the Bajassian queried, a little concerned that her family’s dirty laundry may have been aired in public for all to see. The Captain’s response put her at ease.
“I’ve not told anyone,” Tharia shook her head. “Commander Gor brought the information to me initially, so he knew already, but unless you have told anyone, all the crew know is we are hunting a fugitive. And that’s how it will stay until such a time as you are ready,” the Andorian elborated, much to the visible relief of the engineer.
“Thank you ma’am,” the yellow-uniformed woman smiled appreciatively, accompanying the Captain up the stairs once again and to the tactical Arch.
With the Captain returning to her conversation with the XO and the newly appointed second officer, Prida took a moment to compose herself, before joining up with Udal to secure the bust in its new home. A welcome distraction from what was to come, and something with meaning to her, and her new family. At least she could rely on them to come to her aide when the time came.