Check out our latest Fleet Action!

 

Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 9: Blood Dilithium Part 1 (The Great Escape) and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

CH3: Deal, or no deal? That is the question!

Ready Room, Deck 1
Stardate 240011.18, 1900 Hours
1 likes 750 views

Four days. One hundred and four hours, or six thousand, two hundred and forty minutes. Ulysses had been under the ‘control’ of the Devore Imperium for six thousand, two hundred and forty excruciating minutes, and Tharia had counted every single one. Well, the computer had. From the minute she had entered her quarters four days ago, she’d activated one of her data PADDs and accessed the time interface, modifying it so that it would keep a running clock ticking over until such a time as she paused it. It was her way of making sure that she would remember how long her personnel had been locked down, as each mind numbingly boring day of confinement began to blend into one another. A bit of unexpected shoreleave would normally be championed by the crew, but this was under very different circumstances of course, and unless you happened to live with family members, or were a junior or enlisted crewmate sharing bunks, you would be alone. Just like the Captain. And even though she liked to keep a professional distance from her colleagues, humanoids were just not built for long periods of isolation. And boy was she starting to feel the effects.

Aside from her perception of the passing of time changing, she found herself talking to inanimate objects, hoping for some words of wisdom but receiving nothing but asinine comments back (from herself of course). She’d finished a rather interesting novel about a boy wizard who, it transpired, was something of a ‘chosen one’, locked in an intense battle for supremacy with an abhorrent character that had no nose; she’d started another story about ‘a galaxy far, far away’ and had been surprised by an epic twist revealing the main antagonist to be the father of the hero, resulting in the Andorian becoming far more invested than she perhaps should have been. There was only so much reading one could do before needing a change of pace, however, so she had taken to completing the recorded yoga sessions that Counsellor Chiera had given her some months ago, but exercise wasn’t really her thing these days. And with the consoles on lockdown, the only sustenance the replicators would provide were field rations, meaning her desire to eat comfort food could not be sated. No, she definitely was not the kind of person who benefitted from being cooped up with no place to go.

She was just about to consider starting another yoga session when her antennae twitched, the sound of the force field surrounding her room being lowered piquing their sensitive curiosities. Rising to her feet from the yoga mat that had replaced her coffee table, the Captain reached for the uniform jacket she had slung over the back of her sofa and covered herself up just in time for the door to open.

Stepping back towards the window pane, as far from the door as possible, she watched as two armed guards appeared from the corridor and stood to the side. “The Inspector wants you,” the lead soldier informed, waving his rifle at the exit in a not-so-subtle hint that no would not be an acceptable response.

Pulling on the hem of her jacket, the Andorian took a moment to compose herself, then made her way into the corridor without protest. Six thousand, two hundred and forty-five minutes late, but the inevitable meeting was about to take place.

‘And about time too,’ she smiled, sauntering her way to the turbolift.


“Can I interest you in a beverage, Captain?”

Unaccustomed to sitting on this side of the ready room’s desk, Tharia shifted uncomfortably as she watched the balding man opposite her pour a thick, dark liquid from a beautiful, ornamental glass bottle into two smaller glasses. Smirking, she shook her head. “I see you’ve found my stash of Kanar,” she spoke quietly, her expression one of steadfast resoluteness.

Lifting the glass to his lips and taking a sip of the Alpha Quadrant drink, the senior Devore soldier winced a little. “It’s definitely an acquired taste…” he smiled, placing the glass down gently on the surface between them, using it to push the other glass towards his guest.

“That’s why I was saving it for a special occasion. It’s not something you want to drink too often,” the Andorian advised, pushing the proffered glass back to the center of the desk before relaxing back in her seat.

“And what an occasion this is, Captain!” the balding man exclaimed, leaning back in ‘her’ chair, arms flailing wide. “You and your crew have been liberated, whilst my quest to further the objectives of my people is one step closer,” he explained.

“Liberated?!” the Andorian’s tone was far more acusational than intended as she inched forward, glaring at the man with drooped antennae and more than a twitch behind her eye. “You sit there, in my seat, behind my desk, and you claim I’ve been liberated? You sit in my ready room, on my ship, with my crew imprisoned, and you have the audacity to be so bold you can claim such a thing?!” the exasperation in her voice helped to hold back the trademark Andorian temper that threatened to boil inside her.

“Oh, but I have liberated you, Captain. You and your crew,” the balding man smiled slyly, sitting forward and clasping his hands together on the desktop. “I’ve liberated you from a life of crime, from harbouring and transporting criminals through Devore space,” he added, sounding entirely convinced in what he was saying. So convinced in fact that Tharia caught herself mouthing an obscenity.

“We weren’t in Devore space,” the blue-skinned woman countered, her anger agating for a moment, “and those ‘criminals’ you allude to are members of my crew.”

“Details, details,” the man scoffed, throwing himself backwards a little, “the asteroid field where you and your crew were found is on the edge of our newly expanded territory. And as I’m sure you are more than aware from our previous encounters with your precious Federation, gaharey vessels transporting telepathic criminals are subject to quarantine and detention,” he told calmly.

Shaking her head, the disbelief the Federation officer felt was more than clear for him to see. “We can sit here and quibble over the minutiae of recent events,” a cold, calm tone to her voice showed her volatile emotions further, “but how about we get down to what it is you really want?”

Relaxing again, the smile on the man’s face seemed to irritate his guest perfectly. “I want you to remove the lockout on your ship’s systems and hand control of the ship to me, as reparation for your crimes,” seeing the anger on her face threaten to explode, he held his hands up to placate her. “In return, you and your crew will be returned to the Markonian Outpost your forces call home,” he offered. It was a solution to both their problems, a solution he was more than generous to offer. In his eyes anyway.

And for the split second she actually considered the offer, the Starfleet Captain actually thought it could be a viable way out. Sure, she’d lose her ship, willingly handing it over to an enemy force, and she would have secured the safety of her crew. But then there was the damage they could do with Federation technology, what they could reverse engineer and ultimately create, potentially shifting the balance of power significantly. That was unacceptable to her, and it would be unacceptable to Starfleet.

Then another thought crossed her mind; why not sacrifice her ship, her crew and the Devore captors in order to deprive their enemy of their prize and ensure that no further innocents were harmed by this Inspector and his people? She could do it in a matter of moments, all it would take is a release of the command codes from her quarters, but then the minute she did that, it would unlock the entire ship and risk the Devore soldiers stopping her. It was a risk she couldn’t take, not while she held all the proverbial cards, and was holding them very close to her chest indeed; so close that only seven people out of the near two thousand souls aboard the mighty Ulysses had any idea of ‘Plan B’.

“How about you release my crew, release my ship, and let us go? By now, Starfleet will know we’ve missed our check-in, and rapid response teams will come looking for us,” she warned him, a sly smile creeping across her lips as her inflection of the word ‘will’ projected the exact sense of certainty that she was anticipating.

For the first time, the Inspectors face contorted to show his disapproval, nearly spitting out his words in frustration. “By the time anyone from Starfleet comes looking for you, we’ll be long gone, your crew imprisoned indefinitely as prisoners of the Imperium,” he paused for a moment of dramatic effect, “and your telepathic crew mates will be dead.”

Open-mouthed, the Andorian was almost lost for words at the scaling up of his rhetoric. In everything so far, nothing he had implied suggested anyone was at risk of death. Had she sent her comrades to their doom on a fools errand gone wrong? Their Plan B required Zinn and his colleagues to be alive in order to succeed, but their mission was in jeopardy. She had to come up with some way forward. And fast.

Lucky for her, the Inspector presented an unlikely opportunity.

“I will give you one more day to decide. I’ll even allow you to confer with that… man… that you call an Executive Officer, is it?” the Inspector’s face had returned to the insincere smile of before. “He really is a most unlikeable person,” he added, waving to the guard at the door, signalling for the Captain’s removal.

Rising to her feet, Tharia glared at the Inspector. Reaching out, she took hold of the beverage offered earlier. “Commander Gor is something of… an acquired taste,” she remarked finally, her antennae standing bolt upright atop her head as she raised the glass in a ‘cheers’ type motion. Downing the beverage in one large gulp, she slammed the glass on the desktop and turned on her heels.

Headed for the door, she stopped short of the exit. “Keep my chairs warm, Inspector. I’ll be wanting them back shortly,” she called out, turning her entire body and standing as defiant as she possibly could, “…and I always get what I want.”


A short while later, after Tharia had been unceremoniously dumped back in her quarters, the Andorian had already set to work on a plan for getting exactly what she wanted, just as promised. For her, the show of defiance was more than just bravado in the face of an implacable enemy; it was a warning. A warning that it was time for Plan B to be put in motion at last.

Sitting on her sofa, tapping away at the data PADD that had once contained the novel she was reading, it now contained her own story of wizardry and how she would retake the Ulysses from their oppressors. At that moment, the buzz of the forcefield ceased once again, and the doors parted, but instead of soldiers crossing the threshold, a dishevelled looking figure was pushed inside.

Stumbling into the Captain’s quarters, the Tellarite executive of the ship turned swiftly and growled at the Devore guard before spitting out a word so disgusting that it even drew a gasp from the Andorian just several feet away. The gasp, as audible as it was, drew the Tellarite back into the room, and caused him to look a little sheepish as he took a few steps towards the Captain. He knew, that she knew, that he knew that his word choice was not something she expected from him, but still they chuckled about it after a moment.

Gesturing to the seat opposite her, the Andorian smiled at seeing her Number One. Oh, how times had changed. In less than six months, the unlikely pair had become confidants, had become friends, and now, they would lead the liberation of their ship from the hands of the Devore Imperium.

“Come my friend,” she smiled to her stout colleague, “we have work to do.”

Comments

  • Love the start, the counting of the time really sets the tone of the story. I always enjoy a story that addresses how the characters pass time, if locked in their quarters or when they are free to move about - helps to show their personality. Then moving on the conversation with the Inspector was great, it clearly showed her unhappiness with the situation, well what she wanted to be shown anyway. This Plan B really has me curious. I have some ideas as to what it may be and I cannot wait to see how close or far off I am. Look forward to the next installation!

    November 9, 2022
  • I like how you give us such an intimate perspective, we can watch the wheels turning in Tharia's head: we get to understand how she evaluates a situation and reaches a decision. Although wow, I think I ended up projecting some of my own pandemic social-isolation anxieties on Tharia's experience. A shore leave it was not, lol. You also presented the twisted fascist perspective of the Devore in a truly chilling way. Although, damn, the inspector digging through Tharia's drinks cart sounds even more invasive than taking over the bridge!

    November 11, 2022
  • Calling a Tellarite an acquired taste is def the highlight of this post. It made me laugh so loud that my dog jumped up. This post shows the transition of passing time in captivity so well and the small references of the books made me smile. The audacity that the Devore thinks to get the Galaxy class for free is well played out in the response of Tharia. But it does make me curious, what is this plan b?

    November 12, 2022
  • Pondering self-destruction to deny the enemy the ship is certainly an idea. Not a great one, but one to consider. Always put that plan down the list, way, way down the list. Certainly liked the description of Tellarites being an acquired taste, but I'd hope that's more of an individual-by-individual thing in the modern Federation. Of course, wind one up and they'll likely return to form. Would have been interesting to see more of that. As for the experience of lockdown - that's an experience that way, way too many of us have lived through recently and I think you captured the feel of it perfectly, especially for a 'doer' like Tharia. Nice capturing of that mindset.

    November 13, 2022
  • BLOW UP THE WARP CORE!!! DO IT, DO IT, DO IT!! Aside from the cheeky references to other fanon in this story, this has been an interesting build-up of what may come - but you still haven't given anything away to explain what 'Plan B' is? That I like as I was hoping to see a glimpse, a clue, something but you kept that well hidden...for now!! Tharia isn't your typical Starfleet captain, she's no Picard, no Janeway or no Sisko...she's something else. There's a cunning side to her that I feel will turn out to be the side we want to see to understand more about Plan B! PS - Jean-Luc, blow up the damn ship!

    November 13, 2022