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Part of USS Sarek (Archive): Illogical Flock

Illogical Flock – 2

USS Sarek, Bridge
February 2401
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Like the slingshot effect in action, Taes took the long route from her ready room.  After arcing behind the bridge’s freestanding master systems display, she picked up speed in her stride down the portside ramp.  Her arms were crossed over her chest while she walked; her right hand idling stroking her left wrist.  Only as she passed by the engineering hub did she reach out and gently squeeze Lieutenant Nune’s shoulder.  Her touch was electric, incendiary, and then just as quickly she had moved on.

Reaching the flight control well, Captain Taes stood at attention between the CONN and the viewscreen.  She waited silently until, gradually, all of the eyes on the bridge were upon her.

“I have a disturbing report to share with all of you,” Taes said, in a kind preamble.  “Under the protection of the Romulan Free State Warbird Vishatha, the USS Olympic returned to the planet Ullho to complete the excavation we began last year when the Sarek was diverted to the Delta Quadrant.  Upon arrival, the Olympic was attacked.”

The wave of vertigo that washed over Chief Engineer Nune would have dropped him to the deck if he hadn’t already been seated at the engineering hub.  This feeling wasn’t unfamiliar.  He hadn’t felt like himself since the Sarek’s mission to the Delta Quadrant.  Nune had been sitting in this very seat the first time he had heard the ghosts of slaughtered Brenari echoing from the blood dilithium they were studying.  Their cries from beyond the grave had dragged him into a panic attack that had escalated to disassociation, altered perceptions and violence.  Since returning to the Beta Quadrant, Nune had separated himself from the USS Sarek to participate in in-patient mental health treatment until he had returned to duty on this very day.

Continuing her report on the USS Olympic, Taes said, “Captain Holmgren is… ah… incapacitated.  As Sarek Squadron’s commander, I have assigned Commander Elbon to take command of the Olympic.  They have escaped the Ullho system and Elbon will guide the crew back to Deep Space 17.  Commander Rayco, therefore, will step in as Sarek’s Acting Executive Officer once again.”

A Romulan raised her hand.  Nune didn’t recognize her by name.  Judging by her face, framed by a severe bob of black hair, the Romulan appeared of advanced-middle age.  Given she was seated at the LCARS horseshoe of science consoles, and she was dressed in a black and orange jumpsuit of the Romulan Free State, Nune could imagine she was one of Flavia’s civilian scientists.  She hadn’t served aboard Sarek during the blood dilithium campaign.

She asked, “What is Sarek Squadron?”  Her question about Sarek Squadron, rather than the Olympic crew, landed as especially tactless given the emotions Nune could feel from most of the bridge crew through his Betazoid perceptions.  A ripple of whispers trickled across the bridge.  He felt an overwhelming ember of concern for their colleagues aboard their sister ship.  

“When the USS Sarek was launched as a multi-discipline mobile research platform, Ketris,” Taes replied to the new Romulan crew member, “the USS Olympic underwent a refit as our sister ship.  She serves as the publisher of the Olympic Journal as well as a diplomatic hub for academic discussion and debate between the Federation and the Romulan Free State.  Doctor Flavia and I share mission oversight over Sarek Squadron.”

Taes drummed her fingertips on the flight control console.  “Mister Door, what can you tell Ketris about our mission to Ullho last year?”  As soon as the question was asked, Taes rounded the console on her way to the captain’s chair.

Hovering above the flight control console with his anti-grav boots, the exocomp Cellar Door self-replicated the multi-tool stylus he used for most of his LCARS input.  He tapped at the controls, which activated a translucent holographic projection over the viewscreen.  A Starfleet star chart of the Typhon Expanse appeared on one side and a green star chart described in Romulan characters on the other side.

Despite his synth origins, Cellar Door spoke with all the dramatic gravitas of a Vorta.  He said, “The very name Ullho comes from the incomplete star charts provided to us, by Flavia, to locate a centuries-old outpost she believed to have been abandoned in the Typhon Expanse by the late Romulan Star Empire.  We searched several star systems and finally located the outpost in the Ullho system.  The outpost was identified on the only M-class planet in this system, located on the spinward outskirts of the Typhon Expanse.”

Although she said it softly, Nune heard Ketris say, “Outpost Dha’mne.”

Silently, Nune waggled an index finger at the star charts.  His mind wandering, he loosely plotted the USS Sarek’s course through the expanse, and beyond, since her launch the previous year.  Starfleet had ordered the Sarek from Tenope to Fincycle to Ullho, let alone the Dyson Sphere and the Delta Quadrant.  Nearly every research mission had been interrupted by the urgency of the next, putting the crew in a position to solve imminent science mysteries, rather than the type of long-term research Captain Taes had conducted aboard the USS Dvorak.  Nune’s counselors had put him in a reflective mood, these past weeks, and he couldn’t quite picture the strategy behind their movements.  Was each successive mission truly more important than the last or were they pushed in a hurry to leave one of them behind?

Pointedly, Cellar Door asked, “Captain, did the warbird Vishatha attack the Olympic?”

Seated beside Ketris, Science Chief Flavia was the first to reply with an unimpressed, “No.”

“Captain?” Cellar Door asked again.

Having reached the base of the command stairs, Taes spun back in response to the plea in Cellar Door’s voice.  Reassuringly, she answered, “No, ensign.  Without warning or provocation, the Olympic was attacked, while her shields were down, by an Antares-class freighter.”

The way Security Chief Kellin Rayco was gripping the edge of the tactical horseshoe console, he looked like he was using the solid surface to stretch his triceps.  He had a tendency to fidget when he was anxious and had admitted to being self-conscious about it at times.  Nune suspected Kellin was forcing himself to remain still, to emulate Taes in his own way.  Kellin’s eyes were half-lidded when he spoke.  In fact, little to none of Kellin’s typical boisterous energy shone through his inflection.  Perhaps he was still for a different reason.

“Nearly a dozen different governments and organisations operate freighters of that class,” Kellin tentatively said.  He crossed his arms over his chest.  “Doesn’t exactly narrow down the number of possible suspects.”

Looking only at Flavia, Nune chimed in to ask, “Did the Vishatha defend the Olympic?”

Flavia only answered with a resolute, “Yes, of course.”

Sitting in the captain’s chair, Taes patted the executive officer’s chair beside her as a reminder to Kellin to vacate the tactical station.  She looked back over her shoulder to catch Kellin’s eye.

“Commander Rayco, you’re on the case,” Taes ordered.  “Find out who attacked the Olympic and, more importantly, find out why.  Coordinate with Elbon; he’ll discover what information he can from their crew.”  –Wincing in discomfort, Taes shifted her posture in the captain’s chair– “Flavia will support, even if it means putting independent research on hold.  I want the science department digging through every individual quad of sensor data we collected on Ullho.  By the end of this shift, I want at least ten theories on what we may have done that could have caused such distress to that Antares freighter.”

“Aye, Captain,” Kellin said.

Taes shifted her weight again and, with a quiet huff, returned to her feet.  She crossed paths with Kellin as he ascended the command platform.  Taes clattered down the stairs to join Nune at the engineering hub.  Standing behind Nune’s chair, Taes clasped both of his shoulders.  He could physically and psychically feel the strength she was openly sharing with him.

“Welcome home, Lieutenant Nune,” Taes said encouragingly, “and now we have you with us again, I want the warp core prepared for emergency speed.  Don’t hesitate to ask for any resources you require.  If that freighter was waiting for Olympic, she could have a sister ship looking for us too.”

“You can count on me, captain,” Nune said, elated to have her trust after the blood dilithium messiness.

Taes was already rounding the tactical horseshoe and waggling an index finger at the Edosian officer who had taken over Kellin’s typical posting.  Nune’s Betazoid senses could feel the strength of anxious energy boiling under Taes’ skin.  Even as she walked away from him, he could sense her so clearly.

“Lieutenant Jurij,” Taes ordered, “work with Operations to triple our forcefield redundancy.  Start shutting down labs and non-essential sensor arrays if you must.”  Darting in a new direction, Taes adopted a path of travel that would take her directly to her ready room.

“Commander Rayco, you have the CONN,” Taes said, leaving Kellin in command of the bridge.

Despite the clarity of Taes’ intention to excuse herself from the bridge, Lieutenant Yuulik jumped up from her seat at the science hub and scampered to catch up with Taes.  Yuulik long-jumped the entire set of stairs down from the science hub and remained on her feet well enough to stride apace with Taes.

Breathlessly, Yuulik said, “Captain, I hoped to speak with you about my report on the USS Brigadoon affair…”

Taes didn’t spare Yuulik a look, nor did she slow her pace.

Instead, Taes flatly said, “I asked you for no report, lieutenant.  Flavia is my Chief Science Officer.”

Nune took notice of how uncharacteristic it was for Taes to refer to one of her crew by their rank and their rank only.

Yuulik must have noticed it too because she sputtered, “Yes, but– or, and you’re my captain?”

The double doors to the ready room parted for Taes.  She stepped through the opening even before the doors had fully receded into the bulkhead.  Taes spun on her heel to face Yuulik.  Not only did Taes face Yuulik, she breathed in deeply to expand her ribcage, expanding her body to block the path through the hatchway.

Speaking softly, Taes remarked, “If you need to confess someone, you have a department head and you have a counselor.”

Taes stabbed at the manual door control with a finger.  She didn’t blink once.  As the doors closed between her and Yuulik, she spat out her final words on the subject.

“Take your pick.”

Comments

  • Daaaamn Taes! No one puts Yuulik in the corner (well, actually, I suppose Taes could - she is the captain!). There is certainly something appealing to the whole inclusion of the Free Romulan State in the adventures of the Sarek. It's almost like the Romulans are there for the sake of being there in keeping the peace between the two states; however, they don't want to be there (or are using the opportunity for their advantage). It creates perfect tension, and I enjoyed how much Flavia is quick to ascertain how much the Romulans were there to help the Olympic. I wonder if that's the actual case though?!

    April 8, 2023
  • Also - yay to more Cellar Door involvement! :D

    April 8, 2023