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Part of USS Endeavour: Falls the Shadow and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Falls the Shadow – 10

Bridge, USS Endeavour
March 2401
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‘Runabout Cornwallis, you are cleared for landing in Shuttlebay 3.’ Lindgren fought to keep her voice neutral as she pressed her finger to her earpiece.

But her expression doubtless belied the tension roiling in her gut when a voice answered her. ‘Acknowledged, Endeavour. We’re coming in.

Her eyes snapped shut. ‘Tar’lek, is that you?’

A pause. ‘Elsa, I have a job to do –

She spun her chair away from the centre of the bridge so Shep couldn’t see her. The XO was, at least, too busy pacing near Tactical to pay her much mind. ‘It’s not that simple, Tar’lek. Arresting the captain?’

Tar’lek Arys had sounded at first like he was trying to brush her off, but now she could hear the burst of frustration in his voice. ‘He disobeyed orders of the squadron commander. In a time of war. There’s no excuse for that. I would have thought you’d know better.

‘No, Tar’lek.’ If she kept saying his name, maybe he’d remember they’d been friends for a long time, maybe he’d remember he’d been one of them, once. ‘No, I think we just saved hundreds of lives by rescuing the Cardassians.’

At the cost of Starfleet officers. Officers I had to watch die. But caring about my feelings was never your strong point, was it? Cornwallis out.’

She’d been horrified at the idea of officers coming to arrest the captain, and hurt at the idea Tar’lek Arys, who’d served on Endeavour for years, would be one of them. But the personal bite should have cut deeper, she thought; the idea that he was in any way motivated by pain she’d caused him.

And still Elsa Lindgren glowered at the indignity of the universe as she pulled off her earpiece and muttered to herself, ‘Men.’


Kharth hadn’t been sure what to make of Eli Gault, prodigal son of Starfleet, Fenris Ranger back in uniform. But the fact his first move upon learning of the impending security squad from Triumph was to grab his phaser made her like him quite a lot more.

‘We knew it was gonna go down like this,’ he said, springing to his feet and buckling up his phaser belt. ‘That’s why Matty wanted bastards like us on his team.’

For a long time, she’d wondered why Rourke valued her. He’d insisted that he didn’t trust just anyone as his chief of security, made it clear that he considered it perhaps the most important role aboard his ship. They’d clashed over his actions at Teros, and he’d worked hard to demonstrate his faith in her, culminating in her promotion and elevation after Agarath. In an age where the Romulan people were on the back foot, for a Starfleet captain to trust her like this suggested he had one eye on a bright future.

But as she nodded and gestured for Gault to follow her back into the corridor, Saeihr Kharth couldn’t help but suspect he was right. Rourke valued her because he knew she’d claw and scratch and bite to get the job done, come hell or high water. Even against other officers.

‘So, what’s the plan?’ said Gault as they stormed down the corridor towards the turbolift and Rourke’s quarters. ‘Who’ve we got on our side?’

‘Shep’s got the bridge and the ship,’ said Kharth. ‘So nobody up there can lend us a hand. Airex tipped me off in the first place, so if we get that far, we can trust him.’

‘Captain first,’ said Gault. ‘Worry about the bridge later. We should call in Harrian.’

‘He’s not answering. I’ve got Kowalski, T’Kalla, and Griffin coming down. They’re all loyal to the captain or loyal to me. We secure the captain, then he calls the next move.’

‘Agreed.’

The turbolift ride across a handful of decks only took about ten seconds, but with Kharth’s heart thudding in her chest enough to deafen, it felt longer. When the doors slid open to show a gold-uniformed figure standing waiting, her heart lunged into her throat, but then she recognised them. ‘Griffin. You’re quick.’

‘I was in my rack,’ the young security officer admitted, but fell into step beside her as she and Gault pressed on. ‘What’s the emergency?’

‘Officers from the Triumph have come to take Captain Rourke into custody. We’re here to stop them.’

Will Griffin was not even twenty-two. He could not, she thought, possibly have an idea of the stakes when he blinked, said, ‘Oh,’ and adjusted his holster. ‘Alright, then, Commander.’

‘I told the captain to not leave his rooms. Let’s see.’ The captain’s quarters were not far, and she gestured for Griffin to advance the far side of the door, watch that end of the corridor, as she slipped up and rapped the metal sharply. ‘Captain? It’s Kharth.’

When the doors opened and she found Matt Rourke stood without a phaser in sight, her heart sank. ‘What the hell are you doing here?’ he hissed.

‘Protecting you! Of course! What did you think my message meant?’

‘To keep me in one place so the team from the Triumph doesn’t have to roam all over the damn ship looking for me, implicating more officers?’

‘Oh, hells,’ Gault hissed. ‘He’s being noble and shit.’

‘Crewman.’ Rourke’s eyes snapped down to Griffin. ‘Return to your post. Do not interfere with the lawful duty of the Starfleet officers boarding this ship.’

‘Don’t you damn well move,’ Kharth said to Griffin brusquely, and the young crewman faltered, short-circuiting at the conflicting orders despite Rourke’s seniority. She glared at the captain. ‘You put us together to back you up. Told us that we had to eat it from Jericho so that we were in a position to, one day, fight back. And today he’s sending officers to take you into custody and you’re just going quietly?’

‘Play this one out for me, Commander.’ Rourke looked her in the eye. ‘We stop the team from the Triumph. Then what?’

‘Then,’ said Gault with a cocky grin, ‘we take the bridge and kick Shepherd into the brig with them.’

‘And then? Take Endeavour and leave the squadron? Abandon the operation to Izar? I can take my chances with Command for rescuing the Cardassians. I will not subject this entire crew to charges of mutiny.’

There was a chirrup from her hip, and she looked down at the PADD sticking out from her belt. It was a message from Airex, short and simple: THEY’RE ABOARD. Kharth’s lip curled. ‘That’s why Harrian didn’t answer.’

‘I’m about to be taken off the board, Commander,’ Rourke pressed. ‘That part cannot be changed. There’s no need for everyone else to be taken out, too.’

She stared at him. ‘Then we’re still on the board. To do what?’

‘Commander -’

‘Compromise after compromise, and now we end up with Shep as captain, Jericho’s puppet. You say our only option in fighting means we take Endeavour and leave? I say we kick these assholes off our ship, take the bridge, and then tell Jericho to wind his damn neck in. If he cares about Izar so damn much, he can compromise.’

Rourke stared as she talked, eyes scraping over her expression, but he didn’t immediately disagree. Gault stepped up beside her. ‘She’s right, Matty. We don’t have to run from him. We just don’t back down. Then he’s got to escalate even more, and how does he justify that if there’s supposedly a bigger picture?’

But before the captain could answer, she heard the distant sound of the turbolift doors, the thud of booted footsteps. She went to push him back inside, let them secure the door to his quarters, but he didn’t move, so all she and Gault and Griffin could do was line up before their captain, phasers raised.

A heartbeat later, Lieutenants Sterlah and Arys rounded the corner with three security officers. Their phasers were in their hands, and they, too, raised them at this greeting.

‘Stand down,’ growled Sterlah, the big Andorian’s antennae twitching. ‘Captain Rourke, I am here under the authority of Fleet Captain Jericho, Commander, Endeavour Squadron, to place you under arrest and take you into custody.’

Kharth’s eyes landed on Arys. ‘Tar’lek, you little quisling, what do you think you’re doing?’

‘My duty,’ the young Andorian snapped. ‘Without prejudice or bias.’

Captain,’ Sterlah pressed again. ‘Order your officers to stand down now, and I only need to arrest you. Tensions are high. They don’t need to be.’

‘Like hell they don’t,’ spat Kharth, but then a heavy hand landed on her shoulder.

‘Saeihr.’ Rourke’s voice was low. ‘Put your phaser down.’ He looked up at Sterlah. ‘I want you to know, Lieutenant – as I will say to Captain Jericho – none of my officers knew we were disobeying orders when we separated from the squadron formation. They thought this was the plan.’

‘As you say. Do they think this is the plan?’

Rourke looked down the line. ‘Eli. Christ’s sake, put it down.’

Gault adjusted his grip on his phaser. ‘I didn’t come back to Starfleet, Matty, just so assholes could keep on saying being the asshole was the “grown-up move” and get away with it.’

‘Listen to your captain,’ called Arys, but his clear voice held the hint of a waver. ‘Continuing this is madness.’

Kharth opened her mouth to snap back, then the grip on her shoulder tightened, and she felt Rourke push her to one side. It was a simple, firm move; not rough but strong enough that she hadn’t braced against it, and then he was stood between her phaser and Sterlah, his hands raised.

‘I surrender, Lieutenant. Bring me to the Triumph.’

Gault swore. ‘Matty, you shit.’ But with Rourke blocking Kharth’s line of fire and a Triumph officer advancing at Sterlah’s nod, he gave a groan of frustration and lowered his phaser.

Then it was over. Rourke was flanked by two security officers, who roughly cuffed him, and Sterlah advanced on the three of them. ‘I’m going to choose to overlook this insubordination,’ the Andorian said in a low, icy voice. ‘Make sure I don’t have to raise it with Captain Jericho.’

‘Or what,’ growled Kharth, shoving her phaser into her holster with a glower. ‘Then you might have to start arresting half the senior staff of Endeavour, and she can’t operate? That was my plan.’

‘Then be glad cooler heads prevailed,’ said Sterlah, ‘and Endeavour is in a position for us to save the lives of millions by liberating Izar. Don’t be children.

Kharth’s lip curled. ‘That’s “don’t be children, sir,” to you, Lieutenant.’ But that was all she had by way of come-backs, and then the team from Triumph were bundling Rourke down the corridor. In the emptiness, all she could do was stare and sigh, ‘This was a total clown show.’

‘Just the whole damn circus,’ Gault groaned, rubbing his temples.

But young Will Griffin stared at the corner around which Captain Rourke had been taken and looked much smaller and younger than Kharth normally thought of him. ‘But…’ He stopped and shook his head, and looked at Kharth almost pleadingly. ‘What do we do now?’

Comments

  • Uh, wow. Just wow. I mean I knew the arrest was coming, but didn't see it unfolding like that. That was an amazingly lovely tense piece. From Kharth's willingness to start a firefight right there in the hallway to Rourke's force of will in preventing it from happening. I do love Kharth's limited comeback through "Don't be childen, sir" is just wonderful. At least she knew and understood just how powerless she was. And Will Griffin in with the question a lot of us left asking "what do we do now?" because dang it, this is good drama.

    May 20, 2023