The briefing room was silent. Full but silent.
Raan sat at the head of the table and looked around at his senior staff.
“And that’s as much of the situation as we know at the moment. Details are sparse and being updated as and when we get new information. Which means that we and the Resolute will need to be highly adaptable during this period and react according to on the ground intel, often rapidly. Questions?”
There was more silence as his team digested everything he’d laid out. He had to admit, it was a lot. A new form of dilithium, a whole different quadrant.
Bennett was the first to speak up, his voice rough like he’d been on a four-day bender. “We’re a Rhode Island class. We’re not set up for long range missions away from support, or heavy science shi… heavily scientific missions. So what gives?”
“Indeed we’re not.” Raan nodded, not at all perturbed by the engineer’s terse manner.
He’d cleaned himself up from his attempt at coffee wipeout. The bushy beard was clipped back, as was the hair and he was in uniform. Given that was Bennett trying, Raan wasn’t going to push for a sir or anything daft on top of it.
“Which is why we’ll be running short exploratory missions into smaller areas where there’s a heavy Devore Imperium presence. We’re small, fast and pack enough of a punch that we can get ourselves out of most kinds of trouble. If we find anything, even the sniff of anything, then we’ll pass that back up the chain for a ship with better scientific capabilities to check out. Consider us…” he paused for a moment to think of a term. “Putting marks on a map, building up a picture of what the fleet is facing.”
Burton shifted in his seat, clearing his throat.
“We also have the issue of Blood Dilithium’s effects on our telepathic crew members,” he said, as he and Raan had discussed before the main briefing. He cut a glance to Armstrong, sat in the corner. “We don’t have many but one of our priorities will be their welfare during the mission. Should they wish to join us of course.”
The confusion was palpable in the room as attention shifted to Raan. He inclined his head to confirm that Burton’s comment was correct.
“Since we know very little about the ongoing effects of this new form of dilithium, then members of the crew with any telepathic ability will be offered the chance to remain at TFHQ for the duration of this mission. Counsellor Armstrong?” he said, the expression on the young woman’s face catching his attention.
“Sir,” she said, sitting forward, the movement neat and precise. It hadn’t escaped his notice that she’d read through all the briefing notes carefully. “Thank you for the offer, but given I’ve only just arrived, I certainly do not intend to sit this one out. We are Starfleet officers, we all knew the risks when we joined up.”
He smiled, approval at her manner rolling through him. But it was tempered with a concern for her and other members of his crew. Men and women who looked to him to make the hard calls and keep them safe. It would be very easy for him not to think much on the effects this new dilithium had. His species was as telepathic as a bulkhead, so he had to put himself in her shoes, and that of every other telepath aboard. For a moment a wave of protectiveness rose, the need to put her and the others in a little box where this new threat couldn’t hurt them, or order them off the ship so they couldn’t be hurt.
But that was not his call to make. Any of the crew could be injured or worse in conflicts in the DQ. What right did he have to take that decision away from them… to refuse them the chance to serve and shine?
“Very well. However, all telepaths aboard will need to wear monitoring equipment so that sickbay can monitor their readings in real time. Any adverse effects must be reported immediately.”
The counselor nodded. “I’ll go through the records of the affected crew and make sure we have baselines recorded. And I’ll notify their team leaders to keep an eye on them, just in case.”
“Excellent, thank you.”
Bennett leaned forward again, a light in the blue eyes under craggy brows. “So… Devore Imperium? Are we looking at a boarding situation?”
“Possibly, yes.” Raan knew where this was going. “No, you cannot rig booby-traps. I do not want anything in my engineering bay to explode. Understand?”
Bennett’s face split into a broad grin. “Absolutely, sir. Yes, sir. Nothing exploding, sir.”
Raan ignored him, hands on the table as he looked around at the rest of the senior staff.
“If there’s nothing else then. Let’s lock and load, and get ourselves to that wormhole. The delta quadrant awaits.”