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Part of USS Shepard: Arsenal of Democracy and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

Chapter 8

USS Shepard
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“Splash four,” Tallera said with a relieved sigh and a smile as the bright glow from the raider’s warp core explosion dissipated into the dark void of space. Vic cackled with glee, and Zelenko nearly collapsed into her captain’s chair as she let out a sigh of her own.

“Commander, the Romulans are hailing us again,” S’Geras said.

“Onscreen,” Zelenko replied, sitting up and straightening out her uniform. The viewscreen switched to a view of the Warbird’s bridge, where a crew of Romulans in olive-drab Republic service jackets looked eagerly back at them.

Tallera had really missed seeing that uniform.

Shepard, this is Commander Veraka of the Demorax,” the man seated at the Warbird’s command chair spoke up, formal in tone but wearing a warm smile. “Are there any other enemy vessels on your sensors?”

“Negative, Commander,” Zelenko replied, smiling in turn. “That was the last of them. We managed to take out the other three before you arrived.”

“Four cloaked raiders? It sounds like you had a rather rough go of it. Any losses?”

“Yes, three convoy vessels were destroyed,” Zelenko said, her tone switching to a mournful one. “The transports Loran, the Peraxi, and the Chandra. 349 souls in all.”

The Romulan Commander nodded respectfully. “Rough go of it indeed. The Republic will remember their sacrifices. Who was it that attacked you? That vessel we destroyed isn’t showing up in our databanks.”

“Hazari pirates or mercenaries, we believe. From the Delta Quadrant. If they were hired to do this, we do not know by whom.”

“Delta Quadrant?” the Commander scoffed. “Well, you’ve certainly had a unique expedition, Shepard. Hopefully your next one’s a bit simpler.”

“One can only hope,” Zelenko said with a soft smile. “How were you able to find us, Commander? The Hazari were jamming our subspace communications.”

“We’d already been sent out to perform search and rescue once your convoy didn’t arrive on schedule. We detected an anomalous subspace pulse from this area about eight hours ago, and came to investigate.”

Zelenko nodded. “That was a little something put together by one of our comm teams to try and pierce the signal jamming. I’m glad to hear it worked.” 

Well done, T’Vrin, she thought.

“Indeed,” Commander Veraka continued. “How are you holding up, Shepard? You said your impulse engines and phasers are down, do you have any other issues?”

“Other than some power system failures and damage to the rollbar, we’re all in one piece. The other escorts are in better shape than we are.”

“Would you like us to tow you the rest of the way? Our engineers can help fix you up on Virinat.”

“That would be much appreciated. Thank you.”

“Commander, it is I who should be thanking you. Prepare for tractor beam towing and warp jump in 20 minutes. Demorax out.”

Without another word, the viewscreen switched back to starfield as the Warbird took position in front of them. The Shepard jostled slightly as Demorax locked tractor beams before returning to smooth sailing.

“Contact the flotilla,” Zelenko ordered S’Geras.

“Channel open, Sir.”

“Convoy RN-775, this is ComEscort. All threats to the convoy have been eliminated. Shepard will be towed the rest of the way by the Romulan Republic Warbird Demorax, who is relieving Shepard of the ComEscort position. Thank you for your cooperation in this endeavor.”

“ComEscort, this is ComConvoy,” the gravely voice of Captain Fletcher of the SS Ranek replied. “Thank you for your protection. You can’t hear ‘em, but our lads are chanting the Shepard’s name over here.”

Zelenko smiled. “Just glad we made it in one piece, Ranek. Shepard out.”

She closed the channel, then reclined in her chair. “S’Geras,” she ordered. “Contact the relief bridge staff, tell them their shift begins in five. Shepard bridge crew?” She turned her attention to the other three officers. “Thank you for your exemplary service these past few days. You stand relieved.”

One by one, the exhausted bridge officers made their way off the Shepard’s bridge and back to the residential decks. Tallera and Mack were the last to leave, taking the turbolift to their quarters on deck 4.

Tallera looked over at the helmsman, who seemed to be fighting to stay awake.

“Hey, congrats on finally getting to split the throttle,” she said with a halfhearted smirk. “Guess you were right about how useful that could be.”

“Well, you were right about how dangerous it could be, too,” he replied with a chuckle. “If it wasn’t for your people coming to save our asses, we might’ve been dead in the water after the engines croaked.”

“Eh, that only happened because I overclocked the aft EPS with the defensive prox blasts.”

“You mean when you saved the ship with defensive prox blasts?”

“Well, I guess we both saved the ship by tearing up the power systems,” Tallera smiled. Mack responded with a laugh.

“Hey,” Tallera continued, feeling uncharacteristically socially bold. “Me, Vic, and a couple officers from the lower decks hang out in the Chief Science Officer quarters after our shifts sometimes. You want to come? I mean, not now, of course. I think we all need to sleep. But, next time.”

“Yeah. You bet,” Mack smiled as the pair approached his room’s door. “Sounds like fun. I’ll see you around, Tallera.”

“Later, Mack.”

The flight officer trudged into his quarters and shut the door behind him, leaving Tallera blissfully alone for the first time in far too many hours. Standing a little straighter, she began her walk home.

Walking further down the corridor and turning a corner, Tallera found herself face-to-face with none other than T’Vrin. The Vulcan’s appearance made Dreval look well-coiffed by comparison; she had dark shadows under her bloodshot eyes, her hair was a wreck, and her uniform wasn’t even sitting correctly on her shoulders.

To be fair, Tallera doubted that she looked any better herself.

“Ensign,” T’Vrin flatley greeted her, not bothering to make eye contact. 

Perhaps it was the high from surviving combat, perhaps it was the increased confidence from finally breaking the ice with Mack, Tallera didn’t know. But she decided to offer an olive branch.

“Well done on that communications breakthrough, T’Vrin,” she said with a weak smile. “You might have saved the ship more than anyone else.”

“That is an irrelevant compliment,” T’Vrin replied.

Tallera rolled her eyes and prepared to complain, but the Vulcan continued.

“Because it was my early detection of the plasma decoy that cost the lives of all 157 crewmembers of the SS Loran. Had I been more skilled at my station, I would have identified its true identity and not left the convoy under-defended during the initial attack. That is not something that can be outweighed by simply being part of a team that helps break through a communications jam.”

Tallera raised her eyebrows and scoffed, completely unsure how to respond.

“Nevertheless, your attempt at commendation is appreciated, Romulan,” T’Vrin continued. “As I understand it, you performed admirably at the tactical console during this operation.”

Without another word, T’Vrin turned away from Tallera and strode off to her room.

Comments

  • I enjoyed this closer for the Shepard mission, I like the fact that the Republic ship is towing the Shepard the rest of the way and offering to assist with repairs once they arrive. I enjoyed the fact that Tallera and Mack finally got that breakthrough they so desperately needed, hopefully, it only looks up from here. Now that this mission is over I wonder what is next for the crew of the Shepard.

    December 6, 2022
  • Oof, the relief from the bridge crew when they finally get to log off --mission complete-- was palpable. You characterized that paradoxical feeling of exhaustion and exhilaration beautifully. As always, you find these crystal clear small moments to illuminate your character, like Taller's quick pang of nostalgia at seeing the Romulan Republic uniforms. The real show-stopper was, of course, Tallera's olive branch to T’Vrin. You got me with the double-punch of T’Vrin shrugging off Tallera's complement, but then revealing the only did so because she felt(?) like such a failure. Heart-breaking. We'll have to keep reading to see what this means for their working relationship going forward.

    December 10, 2022