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Part of USS Dvorak (Archive): Exes and XOs

Exes and XOs

USS Sarek
Late August 2400
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“Am I in the right compartment?” Commander Elbon Jakkelb asked to anybody and nobody in particular.  He squeezed the PADD in his hand more tightly.  

The captain’s ready room aboard USS Sarek was easily four times as wide as Taes’ ready room back on USS Dvorak.  Even with that extra space, the compartment felt crowded with six other officers in gold and crimson-shouldered uniforms making renovations.  Unlike the rest of the ship, there were entire bulkheads and deck plates missing from this compartment.  It may have been imagined, but the exposed Jeffries tubes and maintenance hatchways seemed to give the compartment that new starship smell all over again.  At first, Elbon was surprised that engineers were still in the process of constructing the ready room, but he was all the more surprised when he noticed the engineers were taking the desk and deck plates out of the ready room.

Only as Elbon stepped further into the compartment did he see Captain Taes herself was one of the officers loosening a wall plate with a sonic driver.  She glanced back over her shoulder and made eye contact with him at the same time.  Straightening her posture to her full height, Taes handed her tool over to the engineer beside her.  Once her hands were free, she turned to approach Elbon.

“Commander Elbon,” Taes said, “I see you’ve accepted my invitation.”  She tilted her head to the right.  “Please excuse the disruption while I redecorate.”

Elbon felt his chest rising up as he said, “I never imagined you would be walking away from the USS Dvorak so soon.”  It wasn’t until that moment that Elbon noticed a sting of rejection in his core.  He had practically grown up on Dvorak.  That ship represented the vast majority of his Starfleet career.

“I had no desire to leave her,” Taes said.  “I could have imagined Dvorak becoming my home.  This mission aboard the USS Sarek, it’s a rare thing.  Diplomacy through science.  They need me here.”

“They do,” Elbon said, feeling less defensive.  He nodded at Taes and then he took a jump-step to the left, avoiding a couple of engineers carrying the desk into the corridor.

Taes followed Elbon’s lead.  “I had hoped you would join me,” she said through a wistful wince. “But this is good, this is better.  I have it on good authority you’re the Task Force’s first choice to become the USS Dvorak‘s captain.”

His face scrunching up in a puzzled expression, Elbon said, “Taes, I’m here.  I’m right here.  I didn’t join Starfleet for the glory.  I serve my duty to help where I can.  Given this mission with the Romulans, I’m going to be needed.  You’re going to need me.  You can’t run a starship this size like you ran a mid-starship or a starbase science department.”

As critical as Elbon’s words may have been, Taes’ eyes lit up like winter sunrise at his decision.  Almost as soon as her pleased expression came, clouds cast shade over her eyes.  Taes cleared her throat.

“Kellin has accepted my offer to serve as Sarek‘s Chief Security Officer,” Taes said.  “I plan to name him as my second officer…”  She trailed off, letting implications hang between them, given the stated goal of Elbon’s shore leave.

Elbon proffered his PADD to Taes.  “Kellin and I are no longer married.  We eloped the week we met but never lived as a married couple.  We, uh, didn’t know how to start now.”

Taes asked, “Will that make it harder for you to work with him aboard Sarek?”

Elbon shrugged.  “Kellin and I are divorced.  But we’re going to try dating each other.  For the first time.”

 


 

Looking up from her menu PADD, Sootrah Yuulik caught sight of security boy, Kellin Rayco, plodding into the Sarek‘s Grayson Lounge on his comically long legs.  The aimless meandering between tables reminded Yuulik of the similarly haphazard way Kellin would construct sentences when speaking.   She took an awfully long second to assess if he had seen her yet.  Deciding that she hadn’t caught his eye, Yuulik buried her face in her PADD.  Seated in a banquette, Yuulik angled her body away from the lounge, facing a viewport instead.

For all her efforts to render herself inconspicuous, Kellin sat at Yuulik’s banquette.  He sighed when he sat down; it sounded like the noise her seventy-two-year-old father would make when resting his weary legs.  Kellin didn’t say anything.  He just sat there and he breathed.

“This is weird,” Yuulik said.

“Please don’t say anything,” Kellin replied.  “I just want to sit here.”

“Okay,” Yuulik said.  Forfeiting the banquette, Yuulik rose to her feet and tossed her PADD on the table between them.  She shifted her weight and rose a foot to walk away.

“I only said,” Kellin interjected, “don’t say anything.  You can sit here too.”

Yuulik boggled at him and he didn’t say anything more.  He didn’t look at her.  Kellin just stared into the middle distance.

“Okay,” Yuulik said.  She sat down again and she reclaimed her menu PADD.  Kellin still didn’t look at her, but he smiled faintly.  Having inhabited Kellin’s body for a couple of days, Yuulik easily recognised that smile wasn’t any of the ones that came naturally to Kellin.

Yuulik didn’t say anything more.  She looked to her PADD and she considered her order.

 


 

A symphony of voices and alert chimes welcomed Captain Taes’ arrival.  Not only were there officers positioned at every console around the bridge, but it also sounded like half of them were in contact with their teams all over the USS Sarek.  When Taes had been lost in her indecision regarding the offer to take command, the empty ship had offered her little more than funereal beauty.  Now that it was fully staffed with junior officers on their first tour, scientists from the Romulan Free State, and her hand-picked senior staff from the USS Dvorak, the bridge felt like the first day of an interiority festival.

With a lightness in her step, Taes moved with intention to the tactical console, mounted on the arch that encircled the command platform.  Seated at tactical was Lieutenant Kellin Rayco, Chief Security Officer.  Normally, he towered over Taes, but at this moment, he was hunched over his console, clearly fascinated by diagnostic results.

“Lieutenant Rayco,” Taes said, “Contact Deep Space 17’s control tower and request permission to depart.”

“Aye, captain,” Kellin replied.

Kellin shot Taes an excited look as if she were serving him supper an hour early.  Taes didn’t slow down.  She patted Kellin on the shoulder as she walked on by towards the engineering hub.

“Lieutenant Nune,” Taes said to her chief engineer, “clear all moorings and lines to the starbase.”

Seated at one of the aft-facing consoles at engineering, Lieutenant Leander Nune looked up at Taes.  She thought she saw something unfathomable behind his eyes as black as pitch, and it thrilled Taes every time.  Taes didn’t slow down.  She looked ahead and she descended the ramp to the flight control well.

“Aye, captain,” Nune said.

“We have permission to depart, captain,” Kellin reported.

“All moorings and lines have been cleared,” Nune added soon after.

Taes walked the strip of deck between the flight control console and the forward viewport as if it were a runway.  Lieutenant Junior Grade Annikafiore Szerda was seated upright at the CONN, her uniform adorned with the anti-grav exoframe that allowed her Elaysian physiology a full range of motion in M-class standard gravity.  She saluted the captain.

“Lieutenant Szerda,” Taes said to her chief flight control officer, “Take us out at one-quarter impulse.”

“One quarter impulse, captain,” Szerda replied as she swiped her hands over the LCARS panel.

As Taes moved to ascend the ramp to the science hub, Ensign Cellar Door approached Taes at speed.  The exocomp yeoman revved up his anti-grav feet and spiralled through the air across Taes’ path of travel.  From his micro-replicator nose, Cellar had replicated a small claw attachment, with which he proffered a PADD to Taes.

“I hate to sour your vibe, captain,” Ensign Cellar Door said, “However, the commodore says these signatures cannot wait.”

“Far be it from me to make the commodore wait,” Taes replied.  She snatched the PADD out of Cellar’s claw.  Taes didn’t slow down.  She ducked beneath where the exocomp was levitating and she finished her stride up the ramp.  Taes had signed the blinking documents by the time she reached the science hub.

“Our mission,” Taes said to Lieutenant Sootrah Yuulik, assistant chief science officer, “is to return to the colony on Tenope and mediate between the colonists and the sentient clay you found native to the planet.”

Deferring to her Chief Science Officer, Flavia, Taes said, “Before we can begin, your team will need to devise a reliable method of communication with the clay.”

“Yes, captain,” Flavia and Yuulik both said, but Yuulik screamed the words louder.

Waiting for Taes on the command platform, Commander Elbon Jakkelb sat in the executive officer’s chair, while Chief Medical Officer Pimpinellifolia was seated at the mission specialist chair for this momentous occasion.  Taes ascended the stairs to take her own seat: the captain’s chair.

Taes said, “CONN, set course for the planet Tenope, warp six.”  –Although she gave the order to Szerda, Taes’ gaze had shifted to the Romulan, Doctor Flavia–  “If Starfleet can learn to live and work among the Romulan Free State, those colonists can find common ground with sentient clay…”

Through the viewport, Deep Space 17 looked as if it were floating out of view, as the Sarek turned towards open space and the Typhon Expanse.

“Let’s find out,” Taes said.

A moment later, the Sarek lurched into warp, filling the viewport with a kaleidoscope of streaming stars and unknowable adventure.