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

Lies I Loved – 10

USS Sarek saucer section, Bridge
November 2400
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“You have the CONN, commander.”

When Captain Taes excused herself from the saucer section’s bridge, Lieutenant Commander Kellin Rayco accepted her order with a nod.  While she withdrew to her ready room, Kellin remained seated in the executive officer’s chair and he kept his questions to himself. A couple of minutes later, when Yeoman Cellar Door made a fuss of joining the captain, Kellin afforded him none of that same consideration.  Kellin asked Cellar to join him in the observation lounge and he didn’t explain why.  Acting first officer’s prerogative was on his side.  

Attempting his best impersonation of Taes, Kellin used the power of silence as a tool.  As soon as the double doors to the lounge isolated Kellin and the exocomp yeoman from the rest of the bridge, Kellin walked slowly to the replicator.  Ignoring Cellar, Kellin ordered himself an iced coffee.  With every step, Kellin reflected on the many times Taes had left him in agonising silence until Kellin usually relented and told Taes everything that was on his mind.  In all the time it took Kellin to retrieve his beverage and meander back to the conference table, Cellar remained silent too.  Floated over the table on his anti-gravs, Cellar stared at Kellin, offering nothing.  Even the small running lights on his outer casing were blinking more slowly than usual.

Kellin extended the pregnant pause even further.  He turned to stare out the tall observation windows, taking in the view of the stars and a sliver of Burleigh Minor.  It was all the more odd for the mission pod and stardrive section to be missing from this vantage point.  Kellin slurped at his coffee through the straw, but then he couldn’t take it anymore.  The self-inflicted silence was eating away at him, as if Taes were waiting for him to spill all his secrets.

“Is Captain Taes okay?” Kellin blurted out to Cellar.

“Commander, when you were promoted to second officer,” Cellar tentatively replied, “Captain Taes ordered me to never lie to you, even when I know I can do so with ease.”

That sounded like a non sequitur to Kellin’s befuddled ears.  He took a step back from the exocomp and he took another slurp of iced coffee.  Kellin shook his head.

“Thank you?” Kellin said.

Cellar continued to say, “When Captain Taes retired to her ready room, I heard her murmur something under her breath.  I’m not sure if she understands the power of my acoustic relays.”

With some small compassion, Kellin said, “You’ve only worked with Taes for a couple of months.  I’m sure she’s still learning all your… skill sets.”  He hesitated only because he couldn’t be sure of the exact functioning of an acoustic relay.

Cellar made a sound like a damaged combadge and then he replied, “I know I shouldn’t blame just how recently the Federation lifted the synth ban, buuuuut–“

“What did she say, ensign?” Kellin interjected.

“She said the bridge crew were crowding her,” Cellar finally answered.

Kellin shook his head.  “What did she mean?”

“How could I know, commander?  I was eavesdropping after all,” Cellar said.  “Unless my memory banks deceive me, I did notice Lieutenants Jurij and Szerda ask Taes to assist them with interpreting readings on their consoles at least seven times in a two-hour period.”

Given the division of crew between the two Sarek hulls, and additional officers reporting to sickbay due to strange blood dilithium feelings, the bridge crew was stretched thin.  Taes had named Annikafiore Szerda the interim operations manager, but the USS Sarek was a far more complicated vessel than when Szerda filled that role aboard the Raven-class Nestus for her.  Kellin could imagine why Szerda might need assistance managing the competing systems when Sarek wasn’t at its peak efficiency as a saucer section only.  Lieutenant Jurij, on the other hand, was an old pro.  His struggles with the tactical controls was–

“That’s weird,” Kellin said.

***

“Any sign of Devore warp signatures, lieutenant?” Kellin asked.  

Having left behind the observation lounge and his coffee, Kellin joined Lieutenant Jurij at the bridge’s tactical console.  The Edosian assistant chief of security, Jurij, manipulated the LCARS interface with his hand-toes as if he were performing a dance.  Between the harmonious movement of Jurij’s three hands, Kellin observed a skilled officer who knew every gestural shortcut available to LCARS.  The sensor readings from the tactical scanners expanded to display their current input in greater detail.

“No, sir,” Jurij said perfunctorily.

“Any new sightings from task force command?” Kellin asked.

“Not in this sector, commander,” Jurij said.  “USS Sojourner staved off a Devore scout that demanded to inspect their ship.  Reports have it Captain Tarken didn’t fire on them once.”

A wistful smile came to Kellin.  “I worked with Tarken at Kunhri Three.  She fed a lot of starving Remans when the Romulan Star Empire fell.” Kellin took on a jocular tone when he said, “If she can turn back the Devore Imperium with her steely gaze, maybe I chose the wrong mentor.”

“Huh,” was all Jurij said, sounding discomfited.

Moving on, Kellin said softly, “We’re not armed like a Pathfinder-class, especially in the absence of our torpedo launcher in the mission pod.  Too much of our crew has some degree of telepathic or empathic abilities.  The Devore Imperium’s hatred for telepaths appears to be motivated by little more than violent dominance.  There’s no reasoning with them.  We can’t allow any of our crew to be taken.  We’ve got our escape route to the Markonian Outpost plotted.  If you catch even a glance of something vaguely Devore-shaped, we jump to warp immediately.”

Jurij nodded his snout at the transparent viewscreen, through which the orb of Burleigh Minor was visible too.  He added, “We jump to warp after we beam up Flavia and her science team, commander.”

Kellin braced a palm against the arch and he leaned closer to Jurij, conspiratorially.  Kellin looked around the bridge to make sure no one was watching, especially not his gossipy friend Szerda.  He confirmed Szerda’s eyes were on her console.  Kellin looked to Jurij and he waited until he had Jurij’s yellow eyes staring back at him.

“Have you had any luck,” Kellin whispered, “decoding that communique you picked up from the surface of Burleigh Minor nine hours ago?  You know, the one that’s only being transmitted on Romulan subspace frequencies?”

“Not even the computing power of our computer sciences lab can crack a Romulan progressive encryption lock,” Jurij replied, “and the terms of our treaty with the Romulan Free State would not permit us to make the attempt, sir.”

“Huh,” was all Kellin said in return, sounding discomfited.

Comments

  • What does Kellin have up his sleeve, does he plan on leaving Flavia and her team on the planet if Devore comes into the picture? Though, I am pretty sure that will have a negative consequence for the Free State and more tensions between the two powers. I enjoyed the small talk between Kellin and Cellar Door as well as it seemed that Kellin was interested in what was going on with the Captain. Great work!

    November 19, 2022
  • Cellar Doors lights blinking left with a quick question - was he pulling the scifi trope of AI's slowing down their subjective experience in order to wait out the silent treatment? If so, props, if not, props anyway because waiting Kellan out is a power play. Also totally spaced on the Sarek having an Edosian on staff and loving it! I love Jurji's correction to Kellan about beaming up Flavia's team if they have to leave in a hurry. Someone's remembering they're Starfleet and can't just leave people behind, as much as so many would want to.

    November 22, 2022