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

Lies I Loved – 2

USS Sarek, Holodeck 2
November 2400
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As the heavy doors to the holodeck heaved apart, the noise of overlapping conversations wafted into the corridor, along with atmospheric up-tempo music.  There was something vaguely familiar about the melody.  He recalled Kellin begging him to listen to this song and others produced by the same Trill trance artists.  Overtop it all, a red alert klaxon was singing out in the holodeck, but the pitch and the tempo had been modified to complement the music.

The brushed copper deck plates and bleeding-edge technology of the USS Sarek quickly faded into memory with each step Commander Elbon Jakkelb took into the holodeck.  What Elbon found inside were glossy white bulkheads, high ceilings and dramatic architectural angles.  The holodeck program was practically a memory itself: Elbon found himself in the brig of a Constitution-class starship of the 2260s.  As Sarek‘s executive officer, Elbon had chosen to dress the part in thigh-hugging black trousers and a green wraparound tunic.  The wrap had a particularly deep V to show off just how many mornings he still spent in the gym.  The Bajoran had even adorned himself with the traditional earring that was worn on the Bajor of this era, with wooden accents threaded through the metal chains.

Elbon squinted through the flare of the flashing red alert lights. Feeling disoriented, disconnected, he hardly recognised half the crew members who were dancing or talking in small groupings.  Elbon thought he spotted most of the senior staff in their period uniforms; even their Romulan Liaison Officer Flavia was dressed in a blue mini-dress that was common for Starfleet science officers of that time period.  Given the number of red shirts milling about, he supposed many of the others were junior security officers who reported to Kellin Rayco.  As executive officer to a crew of nine hundred, there were plenty of names and faces Elbon still needed to learn.

Searching deeper in the brig deck, Elbon offered polite nods to anyone who looked his way.  He kept those interactions brief by maintaining a grim demeanour and never slowing his pace.  He didn’t want to invite conversation until he found the man of the hour for himself.  Of course, if Elbon was going to find Kellin  anywhere, he was going to find Kellin dancing in the middle of five athletic security officers, and Leander Nune too.  Kellin was head and shoulders taller than the others and the way that crimson tunic hugged his shoulders, he looked like he had the strength to open the Celestial Temple with his bare hands.  Kellin’s eyes were closed and he swayed with the music as if the entire universe had fallen away for him.

Elbon’s eyes remained open.  He was not oblivious to the number of times Nune’s flailing hands swept across Kellin’s chest and thighs.  Six.  The number was six.  Watching it all, Elbon prayed to the Prophets for the strength to tamp down any embers of jealousy he felt in his chest.  Most importantly, Elbon and Kellin were divorced now, after all.  But that wasn’t the only ember.  Nune had the perfect complexion of a young man born in utopia.  Where Elbon’s face told the tale of years he’d spent climbing life uphill, Nune was still blessed with the flush of youth.  The only thing that looked out of place between Nune’s dark eyes and dark beard was the neurocortical monitor affixed to his neck, keeping watch over the way his Betazoid paracortex was responding to the blood dilithium being studied in the main science lab for the past few days.

Stepping into the holding cell where Kellin was dancing with the others, Elbon could smell a musk of sweat in the air.  He stood waiting for Kellin to take notice of him.  With his arms folded behind his back, Elbon suspected he looked like a sole guard tower, unmoved by the wind, in a forest full of swaying trees.  He cleared his throat and he leaned closer to Kellin.

“May I cut in?” Elbon asked.

Kellin opened his eyes.  The blissed-out expression on his face was replaced with an easy smile.  Elbon felt a hand grip his arm.  At first, he hoped it was Kellin’s, but he quickly noticed the angle was wrong.

Suddenly, Elbon was being tugged out of the cell by that strange hand.  He spun around to find the hand belonged to Captain Taes.  Playing along with the other party guests, Taes was dressed in a gold command tunic with exaggerated shoulder pads that looked painfully fashionable on her.  Like Nune, Taes also wore a neurocortical monitor on her neck, just beneath her right ear.  For the captain especially, someone in sickbay was monitoring her vital signs at all times, at this very moment.  There was still so much they didn’t know about blood dilithium and its impact on telepaths and empaths.

“You’re late!” Taes hissed at him.

“I’m sorry!” Elbon replied.

“Do you have it?” Taes asked seriously.

With a little sleight of hand, Elbon revealed the small jewelry box, clutched in the palm of his left hand.  Without warning, he tossed it at Taes and she snatched it out of the air.  The tension that was visible in Taes’ shoulders melted away and she fixed Elbon with a knowing smirk.

“May the Prophets forgive us if we’re wrong for this,” Taes said.  

Taes popped an eyebrow at Elbon and then she pivoted on her heel.  She marched to the free-standing guard console and then she tapped a couple of commands on the jewel button interface.  The red alert lights and klaxons went out and, not long after, the music faded to silence.  The overhead lighting rose in intensity.  Captain Taes struck a regal posture, folding her hands behind her back.  She waited until she held the eyes of her crew.  When she spoke, her voice was amplified through the brig’s comms system.

“It’s no secret every one of you has come here tonight to celebrate Lieutenant Kellin Rayco,” Taes declared.  “Aboard Starbase Seventy-Two, I met Kellin as a precocious young lieutenant, who believed he had learned everything he needed to know about security in the junior ranks.  Kellin was the one who convinced me my science teams were at risk without a permanent security presence in the crew.  Flying around the Demilitarized Zone in the USS Nestus, Kellin not only kept my crew safe, but he was also a deft hand at herding my A&A officers like the squawking najfrons they were.”

One such archaeology and anthropology officer, Sootrah Yuulik, interjected shoutily, “More like he followed the captain around like a baby najfron, am I right?”

Elbon looked around to see where Yuulik was lurking, but all he saw was Kellin laughing at the silly jab.

Glowing with delight, Taes ignored Yuulik when she continued: “Later, as my chief security officer aboard USS Dvorak, Kellin demonstrated he could lead a security department without being a drill sergeant.  His officers strive for excellence because Kellin’s example and empowerment had earned their loyalty.  Serving on my crew, Kellin discovered there were still more security challenges he had to learn.  …Such as when your captain lands in the wrong body, or when your captain steals the captain’s yacht to disobey fleet orders.  All the classics.”

Those references to past adventures didn’t quite get the raucous laughter that Taes had hoped for.  She was so accustomed to leading scientists, Elbon suspected she hadn’t spent enough of her command training on bettering her comedic timing.

“And now,” Taes concluded, “In your first months as the USS Sarek‘s chief security officer, and my second officer too, you’ve demonstrated that you really have learned everything the junior ranks are going to teach you.  Kellin Rayco, it is my honour to promote you to the rank of lieutenant commander with all the rights and privileges thereto.  I couldn’t be prouder of you!”

As Kellin closed the distance between himself and Taes, Taes fumbled with the jewellery box.  She hardly managed to pinch the hollow rank pip from out of the box when Kellin engulfed her in a bear hug and kissed her forehead.

Yuulik sounded impatient at the cathartic moment between Kellin and Taes, when she started chanting, “Speech!  Speech!  Speech!”

Not long after, Kellin stepped back from Taes and rolled his shoulders back.  He turned to stand beside Taes at the console, looking out at the crowd.  When Elbon felt Kellin’s gaze fall upon him, it seemed he held Kellin’s eyes longer than the others.

Kellin opened his mouth to speak, but he was interrupted by a boatswain’s whistle sounding out from the communication nodes overhead.

Bridge to Captain Taes,” said Lieutenant Jurij’s disembodied voice over the Sarek’s comm system, “you have an incoming transmission from Task Force 17’s Deputy Commander, Captain Kohl.  New orders.

Elbon watched a pained wince cross Taes’ features.  This was Kellin’s special day and Taes had confided in Elbon how much it meant to her.  He saw her hesitate, as she rolled her bald head back and sighed through her nose.  She left poor Jurij waiting for a few heartbeats too long.  A second later, Elbon saw that familiar resolute expression harden in Taes’ eyes.

“On my way,” Taes said.  After closing the comm channel, Taes ordered, “Computer: arch.”

The holodeck’s arch coalesced over the hatchway out of the brig deck.  Without looking back, Taes marched towards the doors, which opened wide as Taes approached.  

“Senior staff,” Taes said, “You’re with me.”

Kellin’s first step towards the holodeck’s exit was an excited skip.  As out of place as it looked mixed in with the rank stripes on his cuffs, Kellin pinned the new pip to the collar of his red tunic.  Elbon could predict the sentimental value the pip held already because of the hard work it represented, and because it was Taes who had granted it to him.  Elbon quickened his pace to come shoulder-to-shoulder with Kellin, as they approached the open doorway.  Elbon looked at Kellin and Kellin looked back at him.

“I’m proud of you too, bunny,” Elbon whispered and he kissed Kellin on the lips.

Elbon saw Taes watching him, waiting for him, in the corridor.  She raised a questioning eyebrow at Elbon, which brought Elbon to a halt.  He received her questioning expression.  Elbon felt plummeting dread in the pit of of stomach, worrying if he had crossed a line by kissing his very own ex-husband.  As Elbon trailed behind Kellin, Leander Nune brushed past him, cutting into the corridor first.  Elbon felt the momentary impact like a body check: the Betazoid engineer was compact in frame, but Nune was more than solid enough.

“Lieutenant?” Elbon asked.  That single word conveyed his open-ended question about Leander Nune’s conduct.

Leander Nune’s response was similarly concise.  He shrugged at Elbon and he offered an apologetic frown.  There was an emptiness behind his dark eyes, though, as if he couldn’t possibly imagine why Elbon had had a problem with being shoved.

Excitedly, Nune explained, “New orders!”

Comments

  • A lotttt was happening right there, but that is understandable with so many old feelings, new feelings exciting feeling spreading through the post. You could read from every sentence what the characters were thinking and experience. Elbon being jealous and teasing his ex that way, love it well done!

    November 3, 2022
  • Okay, a TOS-themed club night is INCREDIBLE. It's retro night on the USS Sarek, woo! My heart goes out to Elbon, though - counting the number of times Nune touches Kellin, the jealousy being far more complex than simply their relationship but the perfection of Nune himself. It's a great cocktail of emotions that's a very relatable reaction. As for the rest - the term 'painfully fashionable' with Taes's shoulder pads inspires almost a visceral reaction even in the reader ("How dare you look that good wearing that!"). I love Yuulik making a jab at Kellin during the speech and KELLIN LAUGHING - how far their dynamic has come with two ridiculously mismatched individuals. And Taes's jokes not QUITE landing properly is the perfect tiny detail showing us she's still got more to learn. But yaaay Kellin, the boy deserves it, and of course the celebration gets interrupted - that's what these moments are for. Overall a great chapter for reminding us of the major dynamics for these characters, and, I feel, setting them up for the story ahead! Great stuff!

    November 3, 2022
  • What an interesting way to stage a promotion scene! The wonderfully retro setting of the TOS era makes for the perfect backdrop for the start of Kellin’s new era after his much deserved promotion. There was, of course, the tug of the heart strings for poor Elbon though. I really felt for him in this scene. He was so proud and wanted to share the moment with his ex-husband, but the dastardly Nune keeps getting in the way. And just when it looks like they might get the chance to celebrate together properly, they’re all dragged away for new orders. A fabulous story that shows life still goes on aboard a starship, even in the midst of a Quadrant-wide event. Taes, ever eager to please and show her respect, needs to work on her comedic timing. An excellent touch to be sure. Oh, and I got my Yuulik fix, too! Naturally, her appearance comes at the cost of Kellin, but I love his reaction to her jibe. Excellent work. Must have more!

    November 3, 2022
  • Oh where to start with this one. The scene setting was excellent, and I really liked the way you lead us through that with Elbon’s character. I was practically walking in there with him! It was great. Wonderful details on Elbon and Kellin’s past there, without being overdone. That definitely left me wanting more. Then there was the wonderful little moment with the bear hug. That I wasn’t expecting but highlights the closeness of the crew. I also particularly liked Taes’ struggle there to give Kellin his moment but ultimately duty won out. I could SEE that moment so clearly. Well done. Great writing!

    November 4, 2022
  • Ah retro TOS! I love it! The detail about each part from the tunics, to the jewel displays and the intercom whistle, where just great little nuggets to make this scene enjoyable. I'm loving Elbon's jealousy coming through with how many times he notices June touching Kellin and that obvious kiss at the end marking his territory! However Yuulik is once again my favourite loveable rogue who has to interrupt a nice movement with her chanting!

    November 5, 2022
  • I have to agree with the others as to the retro TOS feel, absolutely love it. I also enjoyed the promotion ceremony and the chant from Yuulik about a speech! It's funny that it got interrupted by new orders coming into the captain. Was a bit surprised by the kiss between the exes, does this mean that they will get back together, or was it just an innocent kiss as congratulations on his promotion? Can't wait to see what happens next!

    November 13, 2022