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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 10: Blood Dilithium Part II (A Price Paid in Blood) and Bravo Fleet: Blood Dilithium

CH18: Here at last, on the edge of Federation space… comes the end of our Fellowship

Bridge
Stardate 240012.1, 1300 Hours
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A little over a week after tragedy had struck the Ulysses crew, life had pretty much returned to some semblance of normality. Telepathic visitors and guests had departed, thanking their Starfleet friends for their efforts, and apologising profusely for their loss. Basic repairs had been completed while in orbit of the Markonian Outpost while the crew had enjoyed some much needed down time away from the ship, with some being given permission to make use of the ship’s auxiliary craft to visit nearby worlds. ‘Anywhere but here’ was often the words used when crewmembers were asked what they were going to do, or where they might go for their short break.

When the time came for the opening of the Barzan wormhole, crew across the ship had greeted the event with an overwhelming sense of relief. Everyone on the ship was done with the Delta quadrant, and none more so than the Tellarite who had accepted the moniker of Acting Captain. His final job was a simple one, to get the crew home safely one last time. And now, as he watched the ship maneuver through the mammoth bay doors of Starbase 38’s upper docking bay, Vasoch finally let himself take a deep breath and he gave a sigh of relief.

Soon enough, the Galaxy-class starship came to a complete halt. The flight controller at the front of the bridge turned in his chair and looked at the bushy bearded face in the command chair. “We’re at all stop, Captain. Docking umbilicals are connected at multiple connection points,” Henry smiled at the Tellarite.

It had been eight days, and still the diminutive, hairy Tellarite bristled every time someone addressed him as ‘Captain’. Pushing himself up and out of the command chair, the man scanned the room methodically, ensuring he made eye contact with every single person present.

Henry and Linn, reliable as always, sat in their forward chairs and looked at their leader. Either side of the bridge, Akaria and Prida were sat back in their seats, rocking slowly from side to side in an almost mirror image. At the tactical Arch, with arms folded across her chest, Commander Noli had recovered from her attack and had taken her rightful place on the bridge. Perhaps the most pleasing appearances were that of Commander Zinn and Counsellor Chiera, both sat either side of the command chair and fully recovered from their recent ordeals themselves. The senior staff had been joined in the command center for the journey home by a number of their colleagues. Matheus stood behind Akaria at the science station; Mayr Bellur and Ensign Valesa stood either side of the Bajoran at tactical. Lastly, the Aenar Ensign, Tempestava th’Zorati, stood near the engineering station. All had their eyes trained on the Tellarite. From the looks on a lot of their faces, sadness and regret was the order of the day.

“I’m not entirely sure what to say,” Vasoch told them, opting for honesty with the team. “We’ve been through a lot in the last month, and we’ve suffered an unimaginable loss,” he could feel himself welling up as he looked around the room. “I didn’t know the Captain as long as some of you, but in the time that I knew her, she showed herself to be a woman of the utmost integrity and she displayed kindness on a level I’ve never experienced before. I gave her such a hard time when she first came aboard, blaming her for the departure of Captain Ruas, and I will regret that for the rest of my life,” his words were from the heart, and evoked strong emotions from many around him. He lowered his head for a moment as he composed himself, sadness threatening to overwhelm his fragile person.

“We all deal with grief differently, and I want all of you to take some time for yourselves over the coming days,” he took a deep breath in before breaking his news to the team, “and when you get back here, I want you to give your new commanding officer the same respect, courage and dedication you showed the Captain.”

Those sat back in their chairs sat forward, whilst others looked at each other aghast at what they had just heard.

Biting the bullet, the flyboy at the CONN sought the clarification the rest desired, but suspected they had the answer to already. “You’re leaving?!” Henry queried.

Nodding slowly in confirmation, hands tucked into the pockets of his duty uniform, Vasoch bit his lip for a moment or two. “My resignation was transmitted to Starfleet the minute we entered the Alpha quadrant,” he explained. “I’ve been in Starfleet longer than some of you have been alive,” he smiled at Chiera and Henry,  “and I’ve been through so much, but this is one step too far for me. I need to go home, see my family.” He wanted to tell them what he really felt, that Starfleet used to be about exploring, about new civilizations, but how it now seemed that they were in a constant fight for survival. And this time, they had very nearly lost everything. He couldn’t, of course. His job now was to keep them stable for the final days of his service.

“Before I do, Tempestava and I have made arrangements with the Captain’s family to travel with her remains to Andor. There, she’ll get a suitable Andorian farewell,” Vasoch smiled at the silent Aenar stood at the side of the bridge.

His words were like a hammer blow to some around the room, but others had expected as much. Partially because they felt the pain of his loss as dearly as he, and partly because they, too, were planning similar moves.

Sharing a look with her Bajoran counterpart at tactical, Prida smiled and turned to the Tellarite. “Noli and I are leaving too,” she blurted out, to the surprise of many. “At least for a while,” she paused for a second, nodding slowly as she elaborated further, “we’re going to go home, to Bajor, meet each other’s families and deal with things in the Bajoran way.”

“Matheus and I are taking our son to Risa for shoreleave,” Akaria told from the science station, holding hands with her once estranged partner. “We’ll be back… when the time is right,” she added, smiling through the tears as Prida strolled over to her friend and shared a sweet embrace.

“Well since it seems we’re all abandoning ship,” Zinn blurted out from the XO’s seat, “I was offered a posting at Starfleet Medical before this crisis. I’ve decided I’m going to take them up on the offer,” the Deltan explained, a nod of respect shared with the Tellarite.

“Well I guess I’ll be staying here,” Henry frowned, arms folded across his chest in disgust. “Someone’s got to keep the old girl ticking over while you lot are gone.”

“I’ll be here too,” the bald-headed Bolian smiled at his counterpart next to him, a pact they had made long ago, held up at the last.

Smiling in appreciation at the two men and their loyalty to the ship, the Tellarite raised his arms, then dropped them to his side. “As we stand here now, I’m reminded of a quote from a book that the Captain leant to me shortly after she came aboard,” the acting Captain smiled, tears in his own eyes as he recalled the words. “Farewell… my brave Hobbits. My work is now finished. Here at last, on the shores of the sea… comes the end of our Fellowship. I will not say, Do not weep… not all tears are an evil,” he recalled, looking around the gathering one last time. “We may not be hobbits,” he smiled, “well, not all of us.” He joked, eliciting a laugh at his own expense, “but for now, this is the end of our fellowship.”

“I am proud with what we accomplished, despite the cost. Hundreds of people given their freedom once again; I’d give my life for that, and I am confident in saying that the Captain would have gladly given her life for such a cause’” the Tellarite continued until his gaze fell on the holographic viewer at the front of the command center. Looking into the viewscreen, and the safety of the docking bay that surrounded their ship, he smiled one last time. “While we may not be hobbits saving the Shire, or on a quest across Middle Earth to banish the ring of power, we have been a fellowship,” he told his people, “and what a fellowship we have been, my friends.”


The countryside beckoned. Almost two months on from the tragedy aboard the Starship Ulysses, today was a day of sunshine and rambling for Prida and her friend, with way too many apples packing out their bags and flowers in their hands. The sunshine was brilliant but not yet with the heat of the late Bajoran autumn. The air had more warmth and more fragrance than anything they had experienced in months. The music to meet their ears was an auditory painting from the winged artists as they called, sung and raised their new families in the treetops. It would soon be winter, but judging on the weather of today, there was still time to brace and prepare.

But for the two Starfleet officers, that time would be cut short. As they walked the rest of the way home to Noli’s family villa, a low flying shuttlecraft caught their attention, causing the two young women to up their pace. They arrived in the grounds of the Noli farmstead a few short minutes after the shuttle landed in the north field, just a matter of feet from the old villa her family had built over two centuries earlier. A lone officer in a crimson uniform stood with a data PADD, waiting for their approach.

Concerned glances between the two demonstrated their discomfort at the unexpected appearance of the Starfleet crewman. Their shoreleave still had at least three weeks to run, and so far they had gone the entire holiday without so much as a peep from anyone in the fleet, not even their colleagues from Ulysses. That was what they had requested, and what had so far been respected.

“What’s the meaning of this intrusion?!” an elderly man with a kane he waved freely above his head queried of the pilot, hobbling over from the ornate doorway to the garden beyond.

“Nonni,” Noli smiled as she intercepted her beloved grandfather (and no doubt protected the poor, unsuspecting fleeter in the process), but she soon looked at the younger man with a raised eyebrow. Beside her, Prida took care of Noli’s nonni, watching and listening.

“I’m sorry to disturb you both,” the Ensign looked genuinely sympathetic as he held out a data PADD to the blonde officer, “but you’re leave has been cancelled and you have been recalled. You are to report to Deep Space Seventeen in three days, ma’am.”

The youngsters explanation was quite clear, but one thing puzzled the Bajoran when she took ownership of the PADD. “What is Ulysses doing at Deep Space Seventeen?” she queried.

“I am not at liberty to discuss your orders, ma’am. I am simply here to relay your message as Starfleet Command has had difficulty contacting either of you,” he added.

A sheepish exchange of looks between the two women followed, and then a nod from the blonde, fair skinned senior of the two nodded to the Ensign. “Alright Ensign, thank you for your time.”

Watching as the man boarded his shuttle once again, Noli joined Prida on supporting Nonni from the other side, turning to guide the ancient man back inside. “I wonder what’s going on…” she mused, looking at her counterpart.

Prida shrugged, with one arm still wrapped around Nonni for support. “There’s only one way to find out.”

Noli let out a sigh. “I’ll reach out, see if anyone I know can get us out to Deep Space Seventeen…”

Comments

  • If not for the tag at the tend, this one really felt like a series finale. The crew's sentiment of "anywhere but here" gave me a chuckle, but it had an extra dramatic irony at the end of the Ulysses era. The completion of Gor's story was well told. I felt the pathos as he STILL felt guilty for giving Tharia a hard time and the way he bristled at being referred to as captain. I wasn't sure if he would take up that centre chair, but I surely didn't anticipate he would resign! These are times of change indeed!

    December 22, 2022
  • "He wanted to tell them what he really felt, that Starfleet used to be about exploring, about new civilizations, but how it now seemed that they were in a constant fight for survival." OOF. What a melancholy ending for this ship and crew, but one I enjoyed nonetheless!

    February 11, 2023