Part of USS Constellation: Nothing Comes From Being Right and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Nothing Comes – 2

USS Constellation, Astrometrics
March 2401
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Rieko cleared his throat.  It was a vulgar noise.

Just like that sound, Rieko’s broad body acted as an obstruction, blocking Yuulik’s view of Nova DeVoglaer.  Since she strode into the astrometrics lab, he perpetually remained in Yuulik’s way.  Rieko twisted his torso to an uncanny degree, turning back to make eyes at Yuulik.  Silently, he pantomimed a single word at Yuulik:

Manners!

Even though Chief Engineer Rieko was seemingly making small talk with Nova and Flavia, his posture shifted.  The way he rounded his shoulders and curved his arms, Rieko looked like he was holding court at the Tetrazona Palace.

“Pardon me,” he said, “Lieutenant DeVoglaer, may I introduce you to Lieutenant Yuulik from our social sciences section.”

Yuulik started to reply with, “I… uh…”

For once, language escaped Yuulik.  Cognitive dissonance lapped upon the shore of her consciousness.  Two opposing truths battled for dominance and Yuulik didn’t know how to function until she settled on which truth was true.  For seven years, Yuulik went to bed every night dreaming up the scientific miracle that would save Nova from the temporal inversion fold that had claimed her for over a century.  Their paths had first crossed on Yuulik’s cadet cruise and her failure to rescue Nova had awoken something in Yuulik she had never felt before.  Yuulik had flirted with obsession over other research projects throughout those seven years, but she had never known love like the love she had felt for that first temporal anomaly.

Stepping closer to Nova, Yuulik found herself faced with a stranger.  Nova’s dark bouffant was the same, but her Klingon War-era skant had been replaced by a modern Starfleet uniform of mostly black.  Even the way Nova carried herself in the new boots was unrecognizable.  Odd, what difference a pair of boots could make.

It did not compute that the same woman who Yuulik had pined over rescuing for seven years could stand before her as an utter stranger.  Yuulik didn’t know the first thing about the journey that had brought Nova aboard the Constellation and there wasn’t even a temporal inversion fold keeping them apart.  It was a cloud of paradox.  And yet Rieko was choosing to insert himself into this paradox by introducing them to one another, as if for the first time.

Nova smiled softly.  “We’ve met.”

A few paces to Nova’s side, Science Chief Flavia waggled a hand in Yuulik’s direction.  Somehow, the movement conveyed both pleading and condescension at the same time.

“Yuulik, dear,” Flavia said and then she pointed at Nova pointedly.  “She offends my space.  Take her away.  Give her the petty work.”

“Excuse me?” Nova sputtered at Flavia’s assertion.

Simultaneously, Yuulik offered a begrudging, “Understood.”  Why she assented to Flavia so easily, Yuulik herself was uncertain.  Did she hope to uncover some new scientific mystery at Nova’s heart, Yuulik wondered.  Or was there a part of her that wanted to protect Nova from Flavia’s wrath?  There was no time to ponder it.  Their mission was too dire.

Despite Nova’s flare-up at Flavia’s dismissal, she followed Yuulik out of the lab without any further objection.  Unintentionally, Yuulik adapted her pace to be in unison with Nova, their footfalls synchronised perfectly.  Yuulik took the lead, guiding them into the corridor.

“We’re sifting through a massive quantity of intel, hundreds of gigaquads of data,” Yuulik explained.  “We don’t know from where the Dominion Fleet has come or for how long they’ve been stalking the Deneb Sector.  All we have from Fourth Fleet Command are fragments of sensor data from any Starfleet vessel that’s engaged the Dominion.  And survived.”

Quickly interpreting what Yuulik was telling her, Nova inferred, “Our mission is to track their movements for the past few days, weeks, or even months?  Maybe find the very oldest sighting of the Dominion Fleet, even if it’s from the fuzziest edge of long-range sensor scans by a fleeing starship or subspace relay?”

Yuulik nodded briskly at Nova with a satisfied grin.  “It’s how we’ll know where to look for their point of origin.”

“Heh,” Nova breathed out, smirking.  “From whence they came.”

Coming towards them from the opposite end of the corridor were the Constellation’s captain and first officer.  Kellin’s eyes lit up and his mouth gaped open, as if he needed to pant to cool off his excitement.  Being promoted to first officer had done little to change Lieutenant Commander Kellin Rayco’s demeanour.  His personality remained as big and gregarious as his frame, despite trading in his security uniform for command crimson.

“Hey, Nova,” Kellin encouragingly said.  “Looking sharp in that uniform.  Welcome aboard!”

Captain Taes, meanwhile, looked right through Yuulik and Nova.  She brushed past them without a nod and she led Kellin into the astrometrics lab.

 


 

Flavia heard the arrival of Taes before she saw her Deltan colleague, commanding officer and sometimes rival.  By all appearances, in the half a year they’d been tied together by their joint mission of scientific diplomacy, Taes was a being of profound awareness of her own body.  Not only was she athletic of build, her every step, every movement, appeared to be intentional.  Perhaps calculated. There was never a scuff or a rustle or hiccup out of place.  Not ever would a Romulan choose to present themselves like that because it appear to be an obvious pretence.

Doctor Flavia,” Taes called out in a sing-song.  As far as Flavia could remember, Taes very infrequently referred to her by the title she used with the Federation.  Flavia had to assume the flattery served as foreplay to a reprimand or request.

“You’re out of time.  I need a course,” Taes said, as she approached the wide console where Flavia was working.  “Starfleet has entrusted us with this capable new starship.  We can’t remain at Farpoint.”  –Taes lowered her voice, the affectation faded– “It’s not safe.”

Flavia was quick to point out, “Your computer has analysed all the sensor logs but even her best guess isn’t much clearer than ours.  I’ve assigned crewmembers from every department to continue parsing the data, looking for the types of patterns artificial intelligence isn’t programmed to notice.”

Something in what Flavia said appeared to pique Taes’ interest.  She furrowed her brow in a thoughtful expression and, more than that, Flavia thought she saw a flash of fear cross Taes’ eyes.  When Taes continued, she maintained a soft volume, barely above a whisper.

Taes asked, “The sensor package we were sent has been collected from Dominion encounters with the Fourth Fleet in addition to other starships outside the Fourth Fleet, yes?”

Flavia maintained a neutral presence, when she answered, “Most of the oldest sensor logs are from Task Group 514 or civilian freighters who were travelling beyond Federation borders.”

“How would you respond,” Taes asked, “if I asked about the veracity of those sensor logs in particular?”

A saccharine smile came to Flavia and she said, “You needn’t ask.  My entourage has methods for verification.”

The fear behind Taes’ eyes appeared to abate.  She nodded subtly.

There was something tight in Taes’ throat when she said, “I always knew our partnership would prove advantageous.”  And she stared at Flavia.  “Still.  That takes time.  I need a heading or a relative bearing.”

Sighing petulantly at Taes’ impatience, Flavia swiped her hand through the holographic LCARS controls.  In response, everything cleared off the astrometric viewscreen aside from the star charts of the Deneb Sector.  

Flavia said, “The earliest sightings we assume to be from the Dominion fleet were here, here, here and here.”

As she spoke, Flavia added Dominion icons to identify the locations she was describing.  They were well beyond the Deneb Sector’s Federation border, well beyond Dominion-occupied territory, and even beyond Saxue.  She drew a tight yellow oval around those locations.  As Flavia went on, she drew a larger purple oval that encompassed even more space.

“Assuming they were travelling at warp seven when they were noticed, the Dominion fleet’s point of origin could have been anywhere within this area.  If the Constellation is working alone, it would take us weeks to survey every star system within this swath.”

“The last time you kicked me out of this lab…” Taes emphatically said, making a blatantly hyperbolic statement, “you told me you would handle this.  You told me I could trust you with the fate of the Federation.  The entirety of the Fourth Fleet has been dispatched to fortify the Federation’s borders.  Our deep-space telescopes in the Gamma Quadrant saw no sign of this fleet.  We weren’t prepared for an invasion of this size with no warning.  Especially with so much of our fleet re-deployed for Frontier Day.”

Ever the fist in the velvet glove, Kellin Rayco added, “Our best hope of driving back the Dominion is uncovering how and why they attacked us here, rather than emerging from the wormhole in the Bajor system.  What is their strategy in coming at us sideways?  For all we know, the ships we’ve seen may not even be the entirety of their fleet.  Do they have the capability to produce even more warships from some secret reserve?”

While they spoke, Flavia nodded incessantly, because that usually soothed Federation types.  It made them feel heard and important, even if she wasn’t really listening.  When Kellin let that dreadful question hang in the air between them, Flavia tapped at her console twice, causing a new Starfleet arrowhead to appear on the map.

“We need more information, clearly,” Flavia said, “and I have another source of intelligence in mind, but you’re not going to like it.  The Kholara Observatory is a tiny Federation space station.  It was originally commissioned with a crew of five but it’s been fully automated for years now.  Normally, the observatory studies stellar phenomenon and spatial anomalies, but what’s important is that its sensors are trained right across the star systems where the earliest sightings of the Dominion Fleet were spotted.”

Kellin scoffed.  “Flavia, the Kholara Observatory is right on the Federation border, what’s now the heart of Dominion-occupied space…”

That location,” Flavia said, “is exactly what makes it our best source of intelligence.  All of your other Starfleet installations are too far inside Federation territory.”

Taes’s gaze remained fixed on the representation of the observatory on the screen.  She offered no commentary on the dangers of its location.

“Why are its records missing from the sensor package we were sent by Fourth Fleet Command?” Taes asked.

Flavia answered, “Your network of subspace relays can secure no contact with the observatory.  It may have been damaged by a Jem’Hadar attack or the Dominion is interfering with our subspace signals throughout their occupied territory.”

“Or,” Kellin added darkly, “the Kholara Observatory has been destroyed.  Is it worth taking our crew behind Dominion lines for a database that may not even have the sensor logs we need?  There could be nothing there but ash and stardust.”

“Taes to Bridge,” she said, opening a communication channel to the bridge.  “Set a course for the Kholara Observatory.  Maximum warp.”  And she grinned at Kellin, plainly thrilled for the chase.  “Let’s find out.”

Comments

  • Ahh wonderful character development <3 I love the tension of hate/love between Taes and Flavia. They know they need each other but rather shove into a airlock haha. Looking forward what they find in deep dominion territory

    May 6, 2023
  • Loving that one of our favourite himbos is in command red at long last!! Being the ships new first officer is so right for him. Kellin has that innocence of wanting to do good by his captain, protect his crew while always wanting to see the good in people. I hope he gets to develop more in this storyline - maybe the impact of the Dominion invasion may challenge him beyond what he is expecting. I’m surprised that Taes hasn’t knocked Flavia out cold on her Romulan ass. She is such a tease, I swear she does it for pleasure!!

    May 7, 2023
  • You wouldn't, would you? Reading this story I get the distinct impression there is something... off... with Taes. Hell, she's even thrilled to be heading behind enemy lines. That's not the Taes we all know and love, is it? And what about Yuulik? She's not exactly operating on all thrusters either. I'm sensing something amiss with, perhaps, the most important ship in the fleet right now. Whatever you have got planned, I can't wait to find out. Don't forget those sensor readings we sent you, though! Oh, and Flavia? Yeah, I think I love her more than Yuulik now. Just saying. One slight critique - where is my dose of Ensign Cellar Door?! Man, I love the creativity behind that little critter. Keep up the excellent work! But quicker, I neeeeeed more! :D

    May 7, 2023
  • I would agree something seems a bit off with Taes, right before entering the astrometrics lab, she seemed a bit rude brushing past Nova without anything. Not even a hello or something, Kellin seems concerned about where they are heading. What do they expect to find out there, will they get answers or chase ghosts in a sense? Can't wait to see what happens next!

    May 7, 2023
  • This paragraph completely caught me: "Cognitive dissonance lapped upon the shore of her consciousness. Two opposing truths battled for dominance and Yuulik didn’t know how to function until she settled on which truth was true... Yuulik had flirted with obsession over other research projects throughout those seven years, but she had never known love like the love she had felt for that first temporal anomaly." It may have been just a small piece of the opening, but enjoyed the art of that paragraph enough I wanted to call it out specifically. As far as the plot thrust of this post, I am very much enjoying the interplay between Flavia and the rest of the command staff. I liked her attitude in the first post, and in this one, I love how her Romulan boldness and fearlessness collides with the skepticism and discomfort of the Starfleet command staff. I look forward to more stories about the Romulan.

    May 7, 2023
  • Okay… this I seriously loved. The whole section with Yuulik where she is literally speechless and she’s analysing everything about Nova. For me, that’s next level observation and I LOVED it, and the look into Yuulik’s mind. The rest was awesome, but that part took it for me. Looking forward to reading more!!

    May 7, 2023
  • I'm starting to think there is a himbo convention of officers that needs to be organised. Or is it like some ancient Starfleet secret society? Kellin as XO is a good fit, his more open, bubbly personality will be a good fit with Taes' own. And Flavia, oh Flavia, still a wicked witch. She'll never die, she's to busy for such unimportant matters. Still though, loving her commitment to getting things done, if not her methods.

    May 8, 2023
  • 'Give her the petty work.' I laughed. But what a delicious tension in this reunion between Yuulik and Nova. I enjoy the double-duty of Yuulik's explanation of the situation here - it both provides the necessary exposition, but also conveys Yuulik's feelings with her preferring to discuss the work than anything else! But the battle of wits with Flavia and Taes - Flavia usually having the edge - is another great use of dialogue driving plot and characterisation at once. And I am EXCITED for a venture to an observatory behind enemy lines! This was exactly the kind of intense exploratory adventure I was hoping for to kick off this mission. I shall fetch the popcorn.

    May 8, 2023
  • Yep, continuing to love Pagaloa. Something about Yuulik observing the unnatural bend of his torso really sticks with me for some reason, maybe something to do with the contrast of his rigid cybernetic body and his more reactive personality. The Flavia POV provided some deeply amusing insights, from the “nodding as appeasement” note to viewing Taes’s physical self-control as an obvious pretense (the catty side of me just loved that sentence). And plot-wise, brilliant choice for their next destination: perfectly justifiable for all the reasons Flavia stated but still riddled with complications. Love it.

    May 13, 2023
  • Nothing I can say that hasn't already been said. Great chapter with a fantastic build up.

    May 21, 2023