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Part of USS North Sea: The Blood Prince and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Prologue

Delta Quadrant
75300.06
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Captain’s log, Stardate 75300.06. Now in the Delta Quadrant, the North Sea is on its way to rendezvous with the USS Iowa to investigate the sudden appearance of blood dilithium. We know little about the mutant form of our most valuable crystal, but one side effect is a form of psychosis among telepaths. Worrying as that is, what concerns Starfleet more is what we don’t know about blood dilithium. The commander of the Iowa, Captain Pim, believes he has discovered a clue to the origins of the strange crystals. However, as of 1300 hours, all contact with the Iowa has ceased. 


“Come in,” Fawkes said, pruning the bonsai tree on her coffee table.

Mira entered the ready room. “You wanted to speak with me, Captain?”

Charlotte looked up; a pair of small scissors dangled from her index finger and thumb. “Any news from the Iowa?”

“None.”

“Have a seat, Mira.”

The Romulan did as asked.

“I understand your desire to stay aboard, despite the possible hazards from the blood dilithium.” Fawkes cleaned soil particles from her tools, placed them neatly back in their case, and moved toward the desk. Her finger traced a framed photo of her fiancée. “As you are part Vulcan, I expect you to inform me of any problems you may experience with paranoia, unusual thoughts of hostility, or anything out of the ordinary.”

“I will do so, Captain,” said Mira with a puzzled look. “However, we have discussed this before. Is there a reason you wished to reiterate your instructions?”

“Yes.” Fawkes picked up the photo and held it briefly before she returned it to the desk. “You are Rey’s best friend, and she doesn’t have many. Of course, I’m concerned for the safety of the whole crew, but for peace of mind, I needed to speak with you on this matter.”

Mira remained seated on the sofa for several seconds, a pensive look on her face. Finally, she rose to her feet and gave Fawkes a sharp nod. “Crewman Ford is my friend. I would not wish to cause her or any other crewmember harm.”

“You don’t understand,” Fawkes shot back. “My concern is not for my fiancée but for you. Rey doesn’t trust easily, but you have won hers. If something were to happen to you, she would withdraw again.”

“Captain,” Mira began, her voice softening. “May I speak candidly?”

“Of course,” said Charlotte. She sat on the edge of the desk, her arms folded over her chest.

“Rey is –” Before Mira could speak further, the baritone voice of Commander Mas broke in over the comms. “Captain. We are coming within range of the Iowa’s last known position.”

“I’ll be right there, XO.”

Fawkes hustled onto the bridge as Mas relinquished the chair. “There’s still no response to our hails,” said the Klingon, and took the seat on her right.

“We’ve received no updates, no distress calls, no communications of any kind,” added Mira as she took the ops station.

“Keep trying,” said Fawkes.

“Aye, ma’am.”

Within moments the Century-class vessel, orbiting a small moon, appeared on the North Sea’s viewing screen. Fawkes rose from her seat to approach the conn.

“She looks to be drifting,” added Conn Officer Mendoza.  

“Indeed, she does,” Fawkes replied.

“I am detecting no malfunctions. However, her shields are raised to full strength,” added Mira.

“Energize shields and go to yellow alert. Scan the era for any possible hostiles.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

Each console on the bridge pulsated with a yellow alert as the view screen strobed the same caution lights. Fawkes leaned against the upper railing and eyed the Science Officer. “Ev, could the blood dilithium affect the scans?”

Lt. Evelyn Sommers shook her head as she studied the sensor data on the drifting ship. “I doubt it, but it could be a new wrinkle we don’t know about. I am detecting a small quantity of the blood dilithium on the Iowa.”

“I hope you’re wrong, LT,” started Charlotte. “We don’t need any more wrinkles in this dilithium shitshow.”

Mendoza couldn’t help but do a double take at the Captain’s language. Fawkes took note.

“You may need to cover your ears from time to time, Lieutenant,” Charlotte quipped and moved back to Mira’s console. “Scan the moon and planet as well.”

Mira complied. “The planet is Class J, a typical gas giant comprised mostly hydrogen and helium. The planet is Class K, comprised of iron, nickel, and sulfur, but adaptable. I’m detecting a significant amount of affected dilithium on the moon’s surface, but it appears to be concentrated in one area. I recommend we send a probe.”

“Ev, prepare probes for the moon and its host planet. I want to be thorough,” ordered Fawkes.

With the confirmation of blood dilithium, the Captain gently touched Mira on the shoulder. “How are you doing?” she asked in a hushed tone.

“I am five by five for the moment.”

The Ops Officer wasn’t Fawkes’ only concern, as the crystals were known to initiate a strange paranoid psychosis in telepaths. Charlotte tapped her combadge. “Sickbay, I want a check on Ambassador Mosuk, Ensign Cholek, and Yeoman Ada every quarter hour.”

Sickbay confirmed the order when Mira’s console lit up. “The Iowa is powering weapons.”

Fawkes took the chair. “Shields up, weapons at the ready,” she announced. A red siren replaced the yellow pulsating thrum on the bridge as all hands went to red alert.

“Shields up, phasers and photon torpedoes at the ready, Captain,” reported Mira. The Iowa fired her phasers. The bridge crew braced for impact. Fawkes gripped the back of Mira’s chair. Then, nothing. The Century-class Type-XII phasers had shot across the North Sea’s bow.

“A warning shot?” asked Mendoza, ready to warp the ship out on the order.

“Apparently,” replied Fawkes.

“Captain,” exclaimed Mira, “I’m getting a hail from the Iowa, audio only.”

“Patch it through!”“North Sea, this is … this is Captain Elisha Pim. You need to leave this system now. Warn Starfleet. It — We can’t let it escape.”

“Pim? What the devil are you talking about? Why did you fire on us?”

Rattled by the friendly fire, Fawkes held onto the back of Mira’s chair. She took a quick breath and mentally kicked herself for the burst of anger as the bridge waited on Pim’s reply. None came.

“Captain Pim,” Charlotte started. “This is Captain Charlotte Fawkes. You said you had information on blood dilithium. Is it connected to your current crisis?”  

Mira shook her head. There was no response from the Iowa.

“Elisha. It’s Charlotte Fawkes. You fought with my father during the Dominion War.”

The Ops console lit up again. Mira stared at the flashing light but quickly shook it off. “Captain, the Iowa has initiated a five-minute countdown to self-destruct.”

“XO, ready a rescue team. Tell Commander Stoddard to remodulate the transporter to match the Iowa’s shield frequency.”

“Aye, ma’am.”

Charlotte took the chair. She knew the risk of sending an away team to the Iowa, and five minutes was a short window, but she had to do something. “Captain!” Mendoza screamed.

“I see it, Geneva.” Captain Fawkes stared at a view screen filled with nothing but stars. There was no ship nor any explosion. The USS Iowa had issued no warning of any kind.

“it’s not an illusion, Captain,” said Mira. “The Iowa is gone. Sensors report nothing where the ship once was.”

Flabbergasted, Fawkes inched toward the view screen as if that would bring back the ship and her crew of 500.

“Gone? What the bloody fuck?”   

Comments

  • Thank you for this engrossing puzzle-box of a story! Friendly fire, self-destruct and then a ship simply vanishing?? You sure know how to keep someone hooked for chapter two. Of course, it's your character relationships that I always come for. You really drew me in with the way you unwrapped Fawkes' labyrinthine concern for Mira vis-a-vis the effect her harm would have on Rey. That's such a human reaction to the friends of our partners. Ahhhhhh, but then you had to go and leave Mira's response unspoken. Now I need to know more than ever what she thinks!

    November 29, 2022