Part of USS Sarek: Lies I Loved and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Lies I Loved – Prologue

Warbird Vishatha // Delta Quadrant
December 2400
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The tunnel of stars spinning on the viewscreen appeared to shatter apart when the Romulan warbird dove out of warp speed.  The swirling glow was replaced by a sensor image of the warbird’s present location.

Rising from her throne, Commander Cokitha took slow and measured steps toward the hologram.  The dim illumination on the bridge signalled that the Romulan Free State vessel under her command had remained cloaked with invisibility.  Dominating the viewscreen was the image of a sickly moon, growing larger as the warbird Vishatha entered its orbit.  Cokitha could identify only subtle contrasts between the moon’s green waters and grey land masses. She reached a hand out to the hologram, causing the image of the moon to distort over the contours of her fingers.  After listening for computerised chirps from the control panels behind her, she cocked her head to the left.

Without looking at any of her subordinates, Cokitha demanded, “Precisely where is the source of the distress beacon?”

Centurion Tahlee cleared his throat.  He shifted his weight from one boot to the other, where he stood behind a freestanding sensor console.  Tahlee kept his eyes on the down, studying the sensor feedback.

A-hem, there is no sign of the distress beacon, nor any transmissions from the moon’s surface, commander,” Tahlee replied, in cautious and clipped tones.  “However, these are the coordinates we received in the mess–“

Cokitha rapped the heel of her boot against the deck twice.

“Continue your scans,” Cokitha ordered in a tone so condescending she wouldn’t have even attempted it on her four-year-old child.  She nodded at the viewscreen.  “The message.  Again.”

The stellar bodies on the viewscreen flashed out and were instantly replaced by a video distress call Cokitha understood to have been sent from that moon, only days or weeks earlier.  The video recording showed a Romulan woman of indeterminate age leaning against a rock formation in an underground cavern.  Framed by a frizzy nebula of dark hair, the Romulan’s heart-shaped face filled the screen, but it was her dark brown eyes that captured Cokitha’s attention.  Those eyes smouldered with a dark desire.

To all Romulan vessels within the range of my voice, I order you to converge upon the encoded coordinates for star system DQ-358.  This is Science Minister Flavia ir-Llantrisant and I’ve led an archaeological team of five to their ruination,” said the recording of Flavia.  

She spoke emphatically, even a little breathlessly.  At times, subspace interference crackled a digital trill through her prolonged vowels.  At no point did the archaeological team of five become visible behind Flavia throughout the distress call.

Flavia declared, “We have been marooned here by the USS Sarek!  The Federation calls this moon Burleigh Minor and we’ve been stranded in a cave system beneath her skin.  The great Captain Taes judged our quest for knowledge to be immoral.  Unacceptable.  She has abandoned us, buried alive!”

Wincing slightly, Flavia’s eye-line drifted as she looked at something beyond the visual sensor-range of her communicator.  Flavia’s enunciation thus far has been reminiscent of how Cokitha had seen Flavia proselytise from the USS Sarek’s bridge, some three months earlier.  As she went on, Flavia spoke more quickly, emphasizing her words with greater urgency.

There was a cave-in two days ago,” said the recording of Flavia.  “Three members of my landing party were injured.  I don’t know if the cave-in was caused by tectonic instability or if Starfleet continued their mining, despite our presence in the caves.  We lost our escape route to the surface and one of the deflector units that protected us from the solar radiation was destroyed.  If anyone can hear me now, it’s only because I stacked all of the adaptive amplifiers from a set of transporter pattern enhancers and spooled them into my communicator with every copper-yttrium 2153 hardline from the enhancers.

Flavia smirked tragically.  “…Otherwise, I’m only amusing myself as my own dramaturge.

Continuing, Flavia said, “Although this moon can nearly support life, there is no life to be found.  We have scanned the cavern system for organic sources of sustenance, but there is no substantive flora, animals or arthropods.  The only living beings to walk these cursed lands before us also came here aboard starships.

We find ourselves in subzero temperatures at night.  Our sensors tell us there are no vermin on this moon and yet we can hear movement in the dark, beyond our encampment.  We’ve been forced to tear apart the buried, alien starship we were excavating for study.  Its hull has proven valuable as a shelter when it grows cold.  If we heat the rocks with our disruptors, we can just about keep the interior warm enough to sleep.  Of course, the power cells in our disruptors can’t last more than a few days.

To survive, we pulled the bio-neural gel packs from the trans-sonic drills Starfleet abandoned when they left us here.  We boiled the bio-neural gel for hydration and protein.  It tasted like fermented lehe’jhme.”

All at once, the jagged edge of distress in Flavia’s voice went away.  The age lines at the corners of her eyes smoothed away.  She took a deep breath.  Flavia appeared calm, looking directly into her communicator’s visual sensor.  Suddenly, her expression became poised.

Our tricorders have located a source of water precisely four kilometres away from our current encampment,” Flavia said, enunciating her words very carefully.  “That is well beyond the reach of our deflector units.  If we receive no aid, we may have to risk the solar radiation in search of the water.  If you’re hearing this, our lives depend on your very kindness.  Please.  Set course for our coordinates and rescue us with all haste.”

When the recorded distress call ended, Flavia’s composed expression flashed off the viewscreen.  An exterior view of the moon returned to the holographic display and Cokitha turned her back to it.

To her centurion, Cokitha asked, “What life signs can you detect on the surface of the moon?”

Tahlee tightened his jaw as he looked down upon his sensor interface.  He tapped at the input contacts on the panel and he tapped them again.  He looked up, looking Cokitha in the eyes.  He swallowed hard before he spoke.

Warily, Tahlee said, “None, commander.” 

Comments

  • Wow! Bio-neural sustenance! Instant suspense here. Is the archeology team dead? Did someone else get there before Cokitha? What motivated Taes to maroon them? As usual with your writing it's packed full of gorgeous prose. Things that stood out to me were referring to the Romulan command chair as a "throne", the smoothed wrinkle lines around Flavia's eyes, a "nebula" of frizzy hair. So much metaphor and imagery to unpack that all pieces together into a very entertaining piece. Also, "At no point did the archaeological team of five become visible behind Flavia throughout the distress call." Could this be a clue as to what's happened? I must know more! The tight structure of your writing, dropping us right in the middle of the action, points to something that's been well planned out. I'm left with no doubt that this is going to be a punchy one to read!

    November 1, 2022
  • Yes the fury of Commander Cokitha continues. Her passion has not changed since the Jaxartes mission and I do appreciate that! But the post does dig out more questions then it answers them, even for the good ole Commander Cokitha. Like Mek said, why maroon them, what was their intend and what was so important about this moon. The Romulan attitude was well reflected in this post! Look forward to more :D

    November 1, 2022
  • Now this is a great beginning and one filled with such mystery and intrigue. I feel the Romulan aspect of the Sarak's crew may suffer the most and this will create further tension among the crew. I am hungry to read more!

    November 2, 2022
  • Alrighty, it's SAREK time. Aw yeeeah, is this an opening where we'll afterwards skip to a scene saying TWO MONTHS EARLIER or the like? Exciting. I'm loving all the little clues in here alongside Flavia's exposition. She's of course an unreliable narrator, so did this happen the way she said? *Why* does she think this happened like this? And there are tiny details where I'm wondering if that's a clue, a red herring, or just my hyperactive imagination. Has she even been marooned here, or did she think so and then left? A mystery! Love it.

    November 3, 2022
  • An opening like no other, this is what we’ve all come to expect from such an accomplished writer. We’re straight in to drama without all the preamble that comes before it, and I’m hooked already. Questions abound as we are left wondering how much is twisted truth and how much is outright Romulan lies. What DID Taes and her crew do, and why? And how will this impact on the Romulan contingent? The only mini improvement I’d make is that there is no Sootrah Yuulik. There must always be room for such an iconic character 🤣. I jest, of course! A perfect start and I can’t wait for more.

    November 3, 2022
  • As always the stories for the Sarek never disappoint. I never know what to expect. I read this and had to take a second take until I noticed it was December 2400 and post BD. That alone got me excited for what was to come as the story unfolded and make me wonder what the whole story will be. I am curious as to why and how they were left there, is it a ruse? Can't wait to see how it unfolds. The use of the bio-neural gel for sustenance is great - never would have thought about that -may need to use ot at some point for a possible story I have been planning! As always a great story and I am curious how all this will tie together and what could this alien ship be...

    November 9, 2022
  • Unknown Author

    What could have happened to Flavia? Why aren't they there? So many questions and so few answers that Cokitha wanted five minutes ago. Makes me wonder what is going to happen next, great job of getting the reader wondering and wanting more right off the bat! Loving it!

    November 11, 2022
  • Oooh, Romulan intrigue right off the bat! I’m always a sucker for any story that begins with Romulans. And what a beginning this has been! Starting in media res like this feels like it’s straight from the TV screen before the first commercial. So many mysteries to dig into, and after such a strong opening, I know the answers won’t disappoint!

    December 6, 2022