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Part of USS Nestus: Lost Memories and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

New Eyes, New Lenses (pt.1)

2.5 Lightyears outside the Oromal Cluster, the border between Federation and Dominion Occupied space.
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In a dusty corner of a street, the bright noon sun bleaching the brown architecture even paler, a young Cardassian wrapped his coat close his chest as the thud of Jem’Hadar soldiers began echoing between the walls. The voice of Gul Damar seeped from the walls like a ichor as he announced the new security procedures in effect, more curfews, more inspections and less restrictions on searches; more tyranny from central command’s tan spire of authority. As the grey skin of a dozen commandos came into view around the corner the breeze coursed down the long avenue, threatening to whip the young man’s coat asunder and expose his starving frame to the encroaching troops. Gripping the long trench coat’s seams he begged them to close even tighter, to mask him from the all-pervasive eyes of the troopers. The heavy rhythm of boots crashed ever closer, a tidal wave of perfectly engineered enforcers that threatened to carry the young man away with them, into darkness, inescapable. For an eternity his beath paused, his mouth dry from the dust, or possibly fear, he dare not even wet his lips lest the Jem’Hadar take it as a sign of offense. Clinging to the wall like a limpet the young man turned his gaze down toward the cracked street; avoiding both the soldier’s eyes and rifle muzzles. Eventually the wave passed and the young man felt the pressure of the wind and the sun and the Jem’Hadar ease as they all pressed forward to the town square and their newly built, ominous watchtower. Finally taking a shallow breath the young Cardassian reached inside his pockets; taking hold of the explosives hidden amongst the folds of his coat headed northward in the wake of the patrol. 


Zaya’s hand massaged their the ridges across their collarbone, fingers and thumb easing the tension in their shoulders, simultaneously their other hand reached for the cup of Raktajino in the cup holder affixed to the edge of their desk. A minor infringement of Starfleet policy it had been a gift from the young Tellarite engineer Log, who after Zaya’s 4th spilled drink had quietly fitted the holder in an effort to avoid having to make future repairs to the console. It had been the start of a good friendship and a sign of their welcome to Theta Squad. With a sigh Zaya’s attention returned towards the screen which provided a pillar of support to the stacks of padds that towered threateningly across the small desk, each another sensor report from a different members of the Fourth Fleet deployed throughout the sector. Idle fingers danced across the panel whilst the latest round of Nestus’s sensor readings were compiled, they replayed a short instruction message from command. 

The face of Admiral Beckett appeared, “Theta Squad, your mission is imperative…” Zaya began scrolling, Nestus’s  missions were always imperative, it was the nature of the job. Lifting a finger from the desk the Admiral was allowed to continue”…You must find this Breen research facility. There is no telling what upgrades they may have made to the dampening weapon, especially with the Lost Fleet’s resources. Do not allow them this advantage.” The message finished, hovering momentarily on the fatigued face of the Admiral. 

“I’ve finished those upgrades to the sensors for you Zaya” a low voice offered from the open door. The short frame of Log, the Tellarite engineer, appeared. Almost silhouetted by the light from the corridor behind him and shuffling his feet awkwardly as was his nervous habit, Zaya was transported to their father’s study on Cardassia watching another young man hover awkwardly at the door awaiting the Zaya’s tuition to be done so they could play in the garden. Zaya had loved playing in that garden. It had been a long time since they had thought of their brother, Kyem, with anything but sorrow following his death during the war, a victim of the Dominion’s draconian presence. Perhaps they were finally ready to discover a path to healing, ironic that it should be whilst hunting for the same threat. Zaya had spent most of their adult life working to further the dream that her brother had shared with them, of a Cardassian people free of military influence, doubly so after Kyem’s death during an attempted sabotage of a Jem’Hadar police tower. Unfortunately their paths had diverged many years before the war following a disagreement over each siblings preferred path to the cause; Zaya had never really known the truth of his rebel activities more than cryptic communiques from fellow attachés when reports of anti-authoritarian incidents occurred on the home world. The news of Kyem’s death had only reached them after the war was over and unfiltered information began filtering back into the de-militarized zone where Zaya worked with the colonists. Had they made more of an effort to keep in contact, perhaps Kyem would still be alive. More than once Zaya had wished they could return to the joy of playing in the garden, ignorant of the reality of the galaxy.

“Thankyou Log.” Zaya uttered, their mouth dry with the growing sadness that inevitably came with remembering the loss. “That was much quicker than you expected?”

“It was nothing. We had a frank conversation and the sensor palettes came around, eventually.” Log replied, a wide smile beginning to spread across his wrinkled face. Waving the spanner still in his hand in mock accusation “You’re not working your hardest are you? I said.” The smile grew ever wider, as was common when Log spoke about feats of engineering. “I think we can get a bit more out of you. I said.” 

Zaya found their own mouth slipping into an appreciate smile as the Tellerite continued his tale, anyone would think that he had battled against a leviathan from the effort of his re-telling. Each modified relay held the same important as a dangerous duel and the challenge of balancing the EPS conduits for a higher power draw sounded akin to the most difficult game of Kal-Toh. 

“So in the end it wasn’t that bad. They saw their full potential and now you should get a clearer picture of whats in the cluster.” Log finished. His smile almost as wide as his round face. 

Turning their attention to the small cabin window, Zaya and Log both gazed upon the cluster of young stars that hung a few lightyears away, technically inside occupied territory. Drawn together by their massive gravitational forces the cluster was an minefield of stellar gasses, destroyed planets and subspace eddies. Cursory examination even suggested the presence of micro-black holes and gravitational anomalies that could crush a starship before they were even noticed. The large stellar radiation of the dozen stars bathed the area in a wide spectrum of electromagnetic interference, whilst the variety of exo-planets caught in the stars grip caused random sensor ghosts and dark spots in the ever shifting tempest of the cluster. It was dangerous, unpredictable and unforgiving; the perfect place to hide a secret if you could find a safe port to anchor yourself. The cluster had long been used as a hiding place for pirates and was well known to local traders and Federation patrols as a bolt hole for the less reputable members of the galactic community. An inscrutable and almost unassailable dead spot right on the border of your enemy, if Zaya wanted to hide a secret research facility its where they would put it. 

“It’s scary. The Jem’Hadar might be right there and we wouldn’t know.” Log quietly uttered, his smile fading. 

“You weren’t old enough to remember the war were you?” Zaya responded, neither of them had turned from the small window. 

“No. I was a child on Tellar Prime.” His tone becoming staccato. Log had heard many stories of the war, particularly when he moved to Utopia Planitia, it seemed every member of Starfleet had lost someone. More than once Log had helped officers back to their quarters after one to many drinks had opened old wounds, the sadness and anger dripping from every mumbled word. Log had never repeated their stories. Log had never wanted to. 

“I was working on the border colonies when it began.” Zaya began, the usual mask of confidence slipping to this young man who reminded them so much of Kyem. They motioned Log into the office and toward an open seat across the desk, closing the lid on the Admiral’s face they continued. “I was helping a small colony on Cirdan improve their independent agriculture. I always loved being outside, my brother and I used to climb this giant tree in our garden…” they continued as Log took a seat. 

Bathed in the light of the nearby cluster Zaya began to speak once more of Kyem and the joy they had once shared. 

Perhaps, the Dominion had inadvertently provided the first step on the path to healing. 

Comments

  • I love this - an opening scene with tension and mystery...and then the true intention of the boy is revealed! Then we're back on the Nestus with the crew as we get to know them bit by bit. Each of them is interesting in their own right. I love the character of Log and the way he talks about his ship! Ready to see where this crew goes in the next installment. Nice work.

    May 16, 2023
  • As my introduction to Zaya, I appreciate the choice to make this such a personal story. That flashback was so evocatively-written, I could imagine it all so clearly in my mind, almost like a tragic music video. As the loss of Zaya's brother weighs so heavily on her, I can't help wondering how that might impact her decision-making as the mission goes on. As for Log, "We had a frank conversation and the sensor palettes came around" is a lovely bit of dialogue I must say!

    May 18, 2023
  • Ahh a great intro the campaign for the crew to deal with the Lost Fleet. It creates tension, it creates an atmosphere of what the situation is and the secrets. I look forward to see how Zaya deals with all this, because Beckett give them some weight to succeed on. Look forward to more!

    June 14, 2023
  • Log

    Ship's Engineer

  • Zaya

    Cardassian Union Liason