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

Lies I Loved – 12

USS Sarek saucer section, Bridge
November 2400
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A swirling, sparkling mist of light coalesced before Kellin’s eyes.  As the swirls narrowed into six blinding pillars, those pillars solidified into Flavia and her team of five Romulan scientists materialising on the bridge between the captain’s chair and the conn.  When Kellin blinked the first time, he noticed there was no sign of bruising or blood on any of them.  Flavia had reported they were all injured and their jumpsuits didn’t even look dirty.  When Kellin blinked again, he noticed the pile of bones and armour plates and helmets scattered at their feet.

“No!” Kellin shouted impulsively.

From the open doorway, Captain Taes stumbled onto the bridge, shoving Cellar Door aside.  The floating exocomp went spiralling towards the science hub.  Taes opened her mouth and she shrieked the kind of heart-wrenching sound Kellin could have only predicted if Taes were being stabbed in the chest.

“GRAVE-ROBBER!” Taes bellowed at Flavia.  “How DARE you bring death to my ship?!?”

Science Chief Flavia appeared unmoved by Taes’ display of raw emotion.  The Romulan held her ground in the face of Taes’ disgust.  Flavia’s face was a cold mask; there wasn’t even the typical glint of mischief behind her eyes.  The only reaction Flavia offered was to shrug flippantly when Taes lumbered on uncertain steps toward her.  

“It’s not personal, babes.  It’s science,” Flavia said.  “Knowledge doesn’t have to be pleasant or nice.  Some days it’s about getting there first.  These Kadi were buried in the ground wearing Hirogen armour as if they adopted the Hirogen way!  That’s unheard of!”

Groaning in protest, Taes threw herself to the deck.  She crawled towards Flavia, scrabbling on her hands and knees.  Taes reached out a hand to the nearest of the Kadi remains, but then she recoiled in disgust.

“Calm down, captain,” Flavia said dismissively.  “You’re embarrassing yourself.”

Taes slapped her palms on the deck with a grunt.  She craned her neck back to look up at Flavia, her eyes set on her in deadly earnest.

“You’ve killed me,” Taes riposted, “and now you want me to calm down?!”

Flavia snapped back, “Don’t play me.  No one’s being killed.”

Taes’ voice went quiet when she asked, “Are you absolutely sure of that?”

All eyes on the bridge were drawn to the squawking feedback sound from a speaker.  Doctor Nelli’s amorphous vegetal form descended the ramp from the aft turbolift.  Their four trunk-limbs stalked toward Taes at a confident stride.  Nelli tapped the side of their vocoder again to increase the volume louder than Flavia and Taes had been shouting at one another.

“Captain Taes, you are now relieved from duty,” Nelli said.  “By threatening a representative of the Romulan Free State, I am duty-bound to inform the Captain she is under the influence of blood dilithium, which constitutes a danger to the ship.  I judge you to be mentally incapacitated.  Does the Acting Executive Officer concur?”

Kellin’s breath caught in his chest.  He tried to respond, but his throat was too dry.  Forcing himself, Kellin quietly said, “I concur.”

As Nelli approached Taes with a hypospray raised in their vine, Taes spread her arms wide and scooped a pile of bones onto her lap.  Her every movement plainly anguished, Taes shoved the bones under the flight control console.  But she pushed too hard and the bones scattered across the deck.

“By ere’ka,” Taes breathlessly cursed, “we have to hide the bodies.  We have to hide them!  We can’t let the Kadi see!  Helm, set course for Deep Space Seventeen; warp nine.  Take us home!”

Kellin stood from the captain’s chair and he turned his back on Taes.  He couldn’t watch Nelli sedate Taes and take her in a site-to-site transport to sickbay.  From behind him, Flavia spoke up.  All of the panic and fire in her bearing had gone away.  All that was left was the saccharine mockery of how Flavia usually portrayed a Romulan in Starfleet.

“You heard the captain, big boy, we need to hide the bodies,” Flavia said.  “You can transport the remains directly to our laboratory.  You know the Romulan laboratory is shielded from sensors. The Kadi need never know about any of this… messiness.”

“The captain has been relieved of duty,” Kellin said.  He spoke as firmly as he could muster, but he kept his back on Flavia.  He was scared of what she would see in the whites of his eyes.  “Taes’ orders were to leave the Kadi’s remains in the cavern.  I recommend we beam them back where you found them in the first place.”

Szerda rose from her seat at the engineering hub.  Since their days of serving together on the Nestus, she had never stood on ceremony with him.  Kellin turned to look at her, at least, when she spoke up.  The way her eyes cut into him –cut through him– Kellin knew this day was no different.

“Sir, why are you making recommendations?” Szerda asked intently.  “You’re in command of the Sarek.”

As a new recognition dawned on Kellin, he threw his arms in the air and he squeezed his head between his palms.  Kellin spun on the command platform to glare at Flavia.  He threw down his arms, but only to point at Flavia with an accusatory jab of his index finger.

“Ohhhhhhhhh!  There was no cave-in!” Kellin blurted at Flavia.  “Dilithium doesn’t spontaneously explode.  You lied to me!”

Flavia raised her hands to her chest and she clapped for him.

“Catch up, commander,” Flavia taunted.  “You wouldn’t have been sloppy –or at least not this sloppy– if I hadn’t feigned an emergency.”

Rising from the science console on his anti-grave, Cellar hooted at Flavia: “Holy shit, you’re definitely Tal Shiar!”

Standing on the other side of the console, T’Kaal said, “No,” and she shook her head.  Unlike the rest of the bridge crew, she spoke at a moderate volume and pace.  She offered her opinion as if she didn’t care who hear or believed her.

“The Kadi remains cannot be merely returned to the ground,” T’Kaal advised.  “Evidence of our interference remains everywhere.  The ground has been disturbed and Taes touched the remains.”  –T’Kaal gestured to the bones scattered across the deck– “Romulan collection protocols are clearly substandard; Flavia has probably touched the remains too.  None of that evidence goes away through burial.”

From behind Kellin, Jurij offered his recommendation from the tactical station: “Now that Taes is incapacitated, we must return to the Markonian Outpost at maximum warp.  Commander Elbon can determine the best course of action to assuage the Kadi ambassador.  But we go.”

Glancing back over his shoulder, Kellin grimaced at Jurij.  On top of everything else, it stung that his assistant chief of security had so little faith in Kellin’s command.  But Kellin didn’t have time to ponder that lack of loyalty at this junction.

“If that damage is already done,” Szerda said, “The Romulan Free State can take responsibility.  It’s not Starfleet’s problem.  I vote with Flavia.”

Kellin scoffed.  “There is no vote!

Dropping himself into the captain’s chair, Kellin closed his eyes.  He couldn’t look at the bridge littered with bones.  He didn’t want to see all the faces waiting for him to do something — something smarter, faster, better.  But when he closed his eyes, all he could see was Captain Taes behaving as if she were possessed by an anguished spirit.  Kellin hadn’t recognized her at all.

Shutting it all out, Kellin opened his eyes.  He said, “Beam the away team and their findings to the Romulan’s private laboratory.”

“Aye, captain,” Szerda said.  “Energising.”

Flavia winked at Kellin.  As the transporter’s annular confinement beam began its swirl around her body, Flavia said, “I knew Captain Taes chose you for a reason, commander.”

Comments

  • Oh boy, they're in trouble now! How big of trouble has yet to be seen but I am voting bad, now that Taes is incapacitated and relieved of duty what will Kellin do? How is he going to explain everything? How are the Kadi going to react? So many questions that I am wondering the answer to. I can't wait to see what happens next and how this story will go!

    November 19, 2022
  • Okay that was an unexpected opening for sure! It wasn't what I expected, but was within the same neighbourhood of -bad shit- at least. Kellin's response in there of recommending vs ordering definitely sold his newness to the position. He's used to giving a well-informed opinion, not reaching a decision and going with it. I'm looking forward to him growing as a commanding officer more and more. And with how Flavia acted, I can't wait to see what sort of revenge he's brewing for her. It's going to be well deserved for just how condescending she's been to every one. Heck, I'm surprised the ship's computer itself hasn't beamed her into space. Really selling the villain vibe!

    November 23, 2022