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

Lies I Loved – 9

USS Sarek saucer section, Bridge & Cybernetics Lab
November 2400
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Chief Science Officer Flavia drummed her fingers on the edge of her LCARS console.  There was a peculiar syncopated pattern to the rhythm.  Then she cracked her knuckles and tapped a command into her holographic interface.  Flavia hopped up from her chair and she descended the stairs to position herself in front of the viewscreen.  She raised her voice to be heard over the low rumble of conversation from every corner of the bridge.

“Hailing the USS Palm Springs,” Flavia said in a lyrical manner.  “And hailing frequencies are now… open.”

Through the transparent viewscreen, the California-class USS Palm Springs had been visible in its orbit around Burleigh Minor, ahead of the USS Sarek.  Moments later, the Gallamite Captain Tommoso appeared on the viewscreen.

Ahhhh, Captain Taes,” Tommoso asked, “Do you have a status update for me?

From the centre chair, Taes smiled wanly at her fellow captain.  She tilted her head, deeply, to the left.  Sitting beside her, Kellin could hear that Taes’ breathing had become more shallow since Flavia’s unexpected behaviour.  Despite that, every other indicator of Taes’ body language spoke of tranquillity and control.

“I wish I did, captain,” Taes said.  From the back of her throat, there was an edge of a question towards Flavia, but Taes kept her gaze on Tommoso.  “Commander Elbon has arrived at Kadi III and is currently engaged in negotiations.”

In her most condescending tone, Flavia said, “Very interesting.”

One of the turbolifts behind the command chairs hissed open.  A hint of gleaming body armour flashed in Kellin’s peripheral vision, taking hold of his full attention.  Five Romulan scientists filed out of the turbolift.  Instead of the artfully-quilted jumpsuits they usually wore around the ship, they were clad in tactical gear.  Although none of them were armed, their usual outfits were augmented with body armour, shoulder lamps, and climbing gear.

Far more confidently, Flavia said, “Captain Tommoso, I must say I heard you when you spoke of the dire importance of our mission.  Solving the mysteries of blood dilithium could change the shape of the galaxy to come.  Aligned with that, the first remnants of civilization we’ve discovered beneath the surface of Burleigh Minor are unprecedented in our understanding of the cultures in the Gradin Belt.”

Flavia glanced back over her shoulder to check on Taes’ reaction.  But only for a brief moment.

“For these reasons,” Flavia said, “the Romulan Free State will be resuming the archaeological dig on Burleigh Minor.  We will transport any bodily remains to another safe location where they can be studied at our leisure.  In twenty-four hours or less, this will free up the dig site for your crew to resume their mining.”

Buoyantly, the image of Tommoso on the screen said, “Thank you, Flavia.

Dead serious, Flavia said, “Call me Mistress Flavia.”

Tommoso sputtered at her with a cantankerous expression of confusion.

“Didn’t you hear Captain Taes?” Kellin asked Flavia rhetorically.  “Negotiations have hardly begun.  The Kadi have made no agreements to allow us to touch the remains of their people.”  On the command platform, Kellin rose to his full height.  If Flavia could march around like she owned the bridge, Kellin had a haughty timbre to show her too.

Kellin asked, “Whose starship do you think this is?”

Highly amused, Flavia said, “You know, I think this is a Federation starship.  But I’ll tell you a secret.  Do you know what this is not? Federation territory.”

Kellin’s forehead furrowed as he scrambled to understand the end point of Flavia’s circular logic.  Seated beside him, Taes only rubbed her temples with the pads of her fingertips.

Flavia took one step towards him.  “The treaty between the Free State and the Federation is very clear, commander.  When we’re not in Federation space, the scope of my autonomy is much broader.  I’m not in your Starfleet.  I have not participated in your officer exchange program.  I am a rightful representative of the Romulan Free State’s science ministry.”

Sounding defeated, Taes concluded, “And we cannot restrain any of her movements beyond the outer hull of this starship.”

It was the first time Kellin had seen anything but a sour pout or a menacing grin on Flavia’s face.  For once, she didn’t look like she was performing.  Nodding at Taes, Flavia smiled at her in self-satisfaction.  Flavia clearly savoured that moment and then she took to a quick step, crossing the ramp to the aft of the bridge.

“Captains Tommoso and Taes: I will dutifully keep you both apprised of my progress,” Flavia said.  To the Romulan scientists awaiting her, Flavia added, “Landing party: you’re with me!”

As she passed behind the command arch, Flavia turned back for a heartbeat.  “Captain, be a dear, and prepare the transporter room for my arrival, will you?”

With an unmistakable sardonic edge, Taes replied, “Yes, Mistress.”

 


 

It happened very gradually that Ensign T’Kaal had started to tune out every third word Ensign Dolan was saying.  Whenever Dolan spoke about his research, he was prone to belabour his description of every point, as if his conclusion wasn’t plainly obvious from the first sentence.  It had happened so gradually, T’Kaal didn’t notice when the shift in the room came very suddenly.  She looked up from her PADD and every eye was looking at her.

T’Kaal was seated at the large circular work table in the cybernetics lab.  Four science officers were sitting on either side of her, staring at her expectantly.  Seated on the other side of the table, a hologram of Ensign Dolan was attending the meeting virtually, representing the geology lab on the USS Sarek‘s stardrive section.  Standing further beyond the table was a holographic transmission of Lieutenant Gailwon, Chief Science Officer aboard their task force’s flagship, the USS Discovery.

Go on, ensign,” Gailwon said, looking directly at T’Kaal.

The four other science officers sitting with T’Kaal were more senior in rank than her, and yet they had elected her to represent the science department aboard the Sarek‘s saucer section.  Chief Science Officer Flavia had abandoned the blood dilithium research to return to the surface of Burleigh Minor early that morning.  Given her absence, it would be a lesson in leadership, they had all said, but T’Kaal had observed each of them shying away from public speaking in the past.  As a born and raised Vulcan, T’Kaal’s mastery of emotional control meant she could crush any stage freight in a matter of picoseconds.

T’Kaal reported, “Ensign Laola has been restrained in sickbay.  Lieutenant Szerda observed her attempting to sabotage the plasma coolant system.  Laola made an attempt to strike Szerda, claiming Szerda had locked her children in a dungeon.  To our knowledge, neither Laola nor Szerda are mothers.  Based on our progress with Nune, we have prepared new interview questions for Laola to understand how her telepathic abilities may be impacted by the blood di–“

The holographic transmission of Dolan was abruptly shoved to the left.  Pushing in beside him was a hologram of Lieutenant Sootrah Yuulik.  Using a cane to assist her walking, Yuulik lumbered forward awkwardly, colliding with the edge of whatever table Dolan was sitting at on the stardrive section.  Yuulik put a hand on Dolan’s shoulder to steady herself and then she rose her cane and smacked it on the LCARS tabletop.

Nune is off-limits!  He is only permitted security and medical personnel as visitors,” Yuulik declared.  She waggled a warning finger at T’Kaal.  “You better do the same with Laola, ensign.

The hologram of Gailwon gasped at the state of Yuulik.  She asked, “Oh my gods, Yuulik, what happened to you?

Yuulik replied, “Doctor Nelli kept all the competent doctors on the saucer section is what happened.  The butchers here were taking too long with me, so I told them I’d come back later.

Yuulik shook her head in naked frustration.  She took a heavy breath.  T’Kaal thought she heard a rattling sound from Yuulik’s chest, even over the subspace comms.  

Finally, Yuulik said, “I’m– I’m– I’m sorry I’m late.  What did I miss?

Emotionally expressive, even for a Bolian, Gailwon shot Yuulik a questioning look.

No, I mean,” Gailwon asked, “what happened to you?

What did I miss, lieutenant?” Yuulik asked, pointedly repeating herself.  

Yuulik gripped her cane in what T’Kaal could only interpret as a threatening manner, despite the fact Gailwon and the Discovery were fully in another sector as Yuulik.  T’Kaal wondered –for less than a second– if Yuulik might try to throw the cane at Gailwon anyway.  Gailwon cleared her throat in reply.  A strong emotion appeared to cross Gailwon’s face, but T’Kaal couldn’t quite identify it.  Gailwon swallowed hard and then she relented.

We’re comparing notes on our research and development,” Gailwon reported.  “There’s no sense in our crews retreading the same hypotheses twice.  Discovery has just finished a loop around the spatial anomaly at the heart of a Class T cluster and we’ve mapped another border of Chaotic Space.  There’s been no further sign of the subspace phase pulses we believe bloomed the blood dilithium in the first place.

Before you arrived,” Dolan added, “we were sharing our attempts to communicate with blood dilithium or at least identify whatever signals the crystals are exchanging with telepaths.

Yuulik asked, “Did you share Nune’s theories for a subspace trumpet or a modified resonance burst?

No, lieutenant,” Dolan replied matter-of-factly; “You just said he’s off-limits.

Do it,” Yuulik ordered.  “His plans are all on file.  He’s dangerous but one of his deranged ideas might spark another idea that sparks another idea that actually works.

The holographic transmission of Yuulik braced her palms against the tabletop and she leaned in heavily.

Yuulik said, “I want to know everything that blood dilithium is saying to the telepaths.  I need to know.  We can’t trust Nune.  I think he’s been lying to me.  I need to talk to the blood dilithium myself!  Starfleet doctors are capable of reconstructing damaged brains with cybernetic augmentations.  So build me a mechanical Betazoid paracortex!  Make me a telepath!”

Comments

  • I kind of feel that Kellin is going to come to the rescue here and try and sort out Sarak's Romulan issue here! Is Taes overwhelmed here? There are a lot of unanswered questions here that make this story so exciting to want to know what will happen next. Will we see a bit more that explains the prologue or are you teasing us and pointing us in the wrong direction? My thoughts about Yuulik have completely changed...she's nuts! A cybernetically augmented paracortex is sooo Trek! I love it! Almost I feel Nune is being placed in the 'bad guy' category at the moment due to the BD - are we ever going to see him reclaim his good guy persona? I want to say yes, but I've got another feeling you're going to make us wait until the end! Great stuff!

    November 13, 2022
  • I didn't see that coming with Flavia (though technically I could after all she's from the Free State), Will Taes find a way to stop them from disturbing the remains before they are able to finish negotiations? I agree with MJ about Kellin possibly coming to the rescue here. I also agree that Yuulik is a bit crazy, and I can't wait to see what comes of all this will Nune come out of this without his reputation being tarnished? Though I am wondering how did Yuulik get away from Nune's attacks? That detail being left out makes me wonder! Now onto reading more and finding out what happens next in this saga.

    November 19, 2022
  • Oh man! Yuulik is a mad scientist, plain and simple. Maybe she's the real villain here? Building on the mysteries previously presented this is just another beautiful addition to what we've got already. I am intrigued by the Taes/Falvia situation, especially since the prelude, so this latest run-in is a neat glimpse into that future problem. Why do I feel Flavia's strutting about how Starfleet can't stop her will bite her? After all, the reverse is not being obligated to help either.

    November 22, 2022