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

Lies I Loved – 1

Markonian Outpost, Landing Bay 4
November 2400
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Captain’s Log, Stardate 77842.5,

 

When my crew remotely observed a subspace phase pulse in the Delta Quadrant, I thought it little more than a space oddity.  For not the last time, my instincts were wrong.

 

Starfleet’s Delta Exploration Initiative recorded that subspace phase pulse across fourteen sectors of the Gradin Belt.  Dilithium crystals have spontaneously bloomed on planetoids and asteroids located near subspace anomalies in those same sectors.  The DEI weren’t the only ones to take notice.  All of the delta quadrant’s space-faring powers, and freebooters alike, have descended on those sectors to mine these new sources of dilithium.  They’re not alone, as merchants and miners from the Alpha and Beta Quadrant joined them when the Barzan wormhole last opened a month ago.

 

The USS Merevek has determined this dilithium is chemically identical to the ones we use in our warp drive systems, except for the crystals’ blood red colour.  Unexpectedly, the USS Merevek has also reported their telepathic crew members react to the blood dilithium with a range of intruding emotions, from as little as a sense of foreboding to outright aggressive outbursts.

 

After joining the Fourth Fleet at Guardian Station and travelling through the Barzan wormhole, the USS Sarek has been assigned to conduct research on the blood dilithium.  Because my own empathic abilities may eventually prove me a liability, the Sarek has been assigned to task force seventeen’s staging post in the Delta Quadrant: Starfleet’s operations centre in the Markonian Outpost.  As Starfleet is only renting the space from the Kinbori and Shivolian governments, the outpost has limited laboratory facilities available to us. The Sarek will serve as task force seventeen’s mobile research platform, studying the blood dilithium, its origins and the effect it’s having on telepaths.

 

As with all telepathic members of my crew, I have begun wearing a neurocortical monitor at all times to allow sickbay to monitor my vital signs.  I will be voluntarily sequestered to sickbay or the brig if my behaviour becomes… uncontrollable.  I can only guess at how I’ll respond once Lieutenant Sootrah Yuulik returns to the Sarek with some of the first crystals of blood dilithium that have been collected by Starfleet.

 


 

A hush had fallen over the interior of the type-12 shuttlecraft, Ohalovaya.  From her vantage point in the pilot’s seat, Ensign T’Kaal could see all manner of shuttle comings and goings in the Markonian Outpost’s landing bay.  T’Kaal touched the communications monitor on her control panel.  It bleeped back at her softly.  When she saw there were still no new transmissions awaiting her, she continued her wait in silence.

The silence was broken.  T’Kaal could hear Lieutenant Sootrah Yuulik shifting uncomfortably in the co-pilot’s chair.  The Arcadian pushed back against her seat and she quickly tugged at the high collar of her uniform.  In the months Yuulik had served as T’Kaal’s assistant chief science officer, T’Kaal had come to anticipate that would mean Yuulik was experiencing an emotion she wished to impose upon others.  Alternatively, twenty-one percent of the time, that shuffling only meant Yuulik was experiencing indigestion.

“You don’t get promotion points for coming on the courier mission,” Yuulik said.  “You could have stayed behind.”

T’Kaal maintained her gaze on the communication monitor.  She supposed Yuulik was clumsily attempting to convey that she was not overly impressed with T’Kaal’s performance as a science officer and also that she was concerned for T’Kaal’s safety.

Affecting her most naturally Vulcan timbre, T’Kaal pointedly asked, “Lieutenant, are you positing I should have stayed behind on the USS Sarek or on Deep Space Seventeen?”

Before setting course for the Barzan wormhole, Captain Taes had invited any crew members with all manner of telepathic abilities to stay behind on DS17 while the Sarek would be studying the dangerous blood dilithium in the delta quadrant.  T’Kaal was not aware of any crew who had accepted Taes’ offer.  In fact, Taes had restrained from making it an order for any of them.

“Either,” Yuulik said.  “Both.  You saw that sensor recording from the Merevek crew.  Blood dilithium can perfectly regulate matter/antimatter reactions, and yet it perfectly dysregulates telepaths.”

T’Kaal met Yuulik’s eyes because she knew Yuulik would require that to understand T’Kaal was confident about what she was about to say.

“Your concern is unnecessary,” T’Kaal said.  “I have studied every report from the USS Merevek and I have spoken with one of their Vulcan crew members.  Based on my learnings, I am now prepared.”  T’Kaal also touched the neurocortical monitor affixed to her neck, a small silver disc below her pointed right ear.

Yuulik scoffed.  The movement knocked her bulbous head back.  “How can you possibly,” Yuulik spat, “prepare for telepathic intrusion by an inanimate object?”

“Meditation,” T’Kaal said.  Having long ago committed to hiding no secrets, she added, “A crystal can say nothing crueller, nor more disturbing, than my parents have done.”

Yuulik’s facial muscles moved in a way that T’Kaal assumed was intended to communicate emotional concern.

“What if meditation isn’t enough?” Yuulik asked.

As the matter of fact it was, T’Kaal said, “You have permission to stun me and relieve me of duty if it comes to that.  I must admit, I am curious.  Would you take pleasure from that, lieutenant?”

When Yuulik’s facial muscles moved again, T’Kaal did not recognise their arrangement nor their deeper meaning.

“No,” Yuulik replied.

“A lie?” T’Kaal asked immediately.

Yuulik chuckled.  “Crushing my competitors is only satisfying when my weapon is brilliance and logic.”

“Even logic has its limits,” T’Kaal said. Not her meditations nor her lifelong commitments to logic could hide the sardonic edge to her tone.

From behind them, the shuttle’s hatch wheezed open.  The captain’s exocomp yeoman, Ensign Cellar Door, hovered in through the hatchway soon after.  The small synth used a low-power tractor beam projector on his nose to carry a courier case into the shuttlecraft.

Yuulik spun out of her chair and stalked into the aft compartment to meet the floating exocomp.  Reaching for the bulkhead, Yuulik folded down a bench and then patted its flat surface.

“You have it?” Yuulik asked.  The higher pitch of her voice was suggestive of anxious excitement.

Before Cellar could answer, Yuulik tugged the courier case from the pull of Cellar’s tractor beam.  She slammed the case down on the bench and she clawed at the locking mechanisms with her painted nails.  As the case unlocked, Yuulik popped open its lid to reveal a large blood dilithium crystal inside.

“Lieutenant Yuulik, Task Force Commander Mek requested I remind you that discovering the nature of this dilithium is critical to the future of the Gradin Belt and its trillions of inhabitants,” Cellar reported.  T’Kaal thought she heard the synth affecting a deeper grumble to his voice while he repeated Captain Mek’s message.  “We have severely limited amounts of blood dilithium available for study, so the faster you learn, the more lives we can save.”

“Does he…” Yuulik stutteringly asked, “Does he think I’m going to break it?”

T’Kaal watched as Yuulik’s shoulders caved forward and her upper spine took on a hunched curve.  In the months T’Kaal had worked with Yuulik, this reaction of Yuulik’s was a new one.  T’Kaal had only taken notice of such a diminutive posture from Yuulik after Captain Taes had named the Romulan, Flavia, as Chief Science Officer instead of Yuulik.

The lights on Cellar’s exterior casing flickered.  “He did not say that, lieutenant,” Cellar replied quite literally.

T’Kaal suggested, “You may consider meditation for yourself, lieutenant.  You would not want an inanimate object to cause you any distress.”

Yuulik’s fish-like eyes narrowed at T’Kaal in an expression she had read about in literature; she supposed it would have been likened to a glare.

“Observations, ensign,” Yuulik ordered.  “Report.  Do you… feel anything from the blood dilithium?”

Even though Yuulik delivered her request in a timbre T’Kaal supposed was intended to sound demeaning, she quickly back-pedalled away from T’Kaal.  Yuulik’s cringing posture returned, as if Yuulik was expecting T’Kaal to lose control of her emotions and backhand her across the face.

T’Kaal said, “I feel nothing.”

Yuulik retorted, “Don’t lie to me.”

Comments

  • I feel this post is a bit of a tease ;) we slowly learn more about the situation in the DQ and what the Stark was actually be assigned to do. I do notice the careful planning and uncertainty of the crewmembers of what is going on. Love it! Well done!

    November 1, 2022
  • Yes the Sarek is here!! It's like reconnecting with old friends... Or frenemies in the case of Yuulik, who if the reader wasn't familiar with already then they certainly would be after reading these absolute flames. The regulation of dilithium vs disregulation of telepathy contrast really struck a chord with me. In bringing regularity to the physical world, Blood Dilithium brings chaos to the mental. I think that's an absolutely brilliant metaphor for a fuel source, particularly given current climate predicaments we humans find ourselves in today! Thought provoking stuff. And that's not all we get from T'Kaal. She seems to read Yuulik like a book, particularly with that oh-so-pointed question, "Would you take pleasure from that, Lieutenant?" Spicy, simmering, but still subtle enough to get away with. This dialogue is clever and leaps off the screen, and I get the feeling we're about to have some meaty plot exposition with the Blood Dilithium sample. This story has it all!

    November 2, 2022
  • Great work! Loved the line about indigestion! The relationship / rivalry between Yuulik and T’Kaal is interesting, and you weave the situation / information in nicely there. There’s a nice hint to T’Kaal’s past with her parents that makes me want to know more about the character. Nice imagery and word choices and I particularly liked the way the scene is through the filter of T’Kaal’s emotions and expectations. Can’t wait to read more!

    November 2, 2022
  • For a character I initially found hard to like, I have to admit that I do feel for Yuulik in not being named chief science officer. I live for her sass! It's great to see Cellar Door make such a great entrance with the Sarek's first specimen to investigate. I can't wait to see if you develop Cellar Door in this campaign!

    November 2, 2022
  • Omg yesssss, rise up Yuulik hive!!

    November 2, 2022
  • As ever, your captain's logs do a masterful job of moving us through the setting up of the chessboard, with swift and effective exposition, and get us right to the action. As Vonnegut advises: Start as close to the end as possible! The monitor for all telepaths makes a lot of sense, but while it's a sensible precaution, gosh, doesn't this mission just encourage a gentle invasion of the privacy of all telepaths? I already feel sorry for T'Kaal working with Yuulik, but a Vulcan is probably the best candidate. You know, outside of blood dilithium as a problem and all! And aahhhhh it's Cellar Door, what a beautiful name, the most perfect in all of phonetics. Yuulik remains a delight - testing and challenging anyone and everyone, even a subordinate; trying to identify any limitation or weakness, but her reaction to Mek's message is what flicks my interest most of all. Apprehension? Desire for her superiors to think well of her? OFFENCE at her superiors thinking ill of her? It's a chink in the armour I find intriguing. Looking forward to her ongoing poor life choices!

    November 3, 2022
  • Hell yeah, I got my wish! The indomitable Sootrah Yuulik is back and at her sassy best. I am loving the back and forth of Yuulik and T’Kaal, two talented scientists with different motivations. I can’t wait to see how the investigation of BD impacts both characters. As a user of the odd Captain’s Log in my own writing, yours continue to set the standard for plot movement and exposition. I still have a thing or two to learn. I fear, though, that Cellar Door might just be the character I never knew I needed in my life. Wonder how one gets their hands on such a mechanical being…

    November 3, 2022
  • “A crystal can say nothing crueller, nor more disturbing, than my parents have done.” - That is how you set up future conflict! Man I can't wait to some juicy delivery on that one! I agree that this felt like a tease, but a welcome one! It's short and sweet, well written, grabs my attention and has me immediately moving on to the next chapter. I love how Yuulik has remained that 'go getter' wanting to just keep going with her snatching of the case and wanting to get eyes on the prize straight away. She didn't need to, but she -needed- too!

    November 4, 2022
  • Wow, the bickering back and forth between Yuulik and T'Kaal, and really anyone she could get her sights on. The Mention of Flavia getting Chief Science Officer over Yuulik, now I am finding out a little bit more where this Flavia is coming from since your prologue chapter. Which makes me want more insight into that! I love the entrance of Celler Door that was totally awesome and can't wait to see more of the exocomp yeoman!

    November 11, 2022