Part of USS Mariner: M1: Into The Gamma Quadrant and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

8) Trust is Hard Earned, but Easy Broken (Part 1)

USS Mariner - Engineering
March 2401
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The day was long. It felt long. The idea of being in the Gamma Quadrant was one thing that was difficult to swallow for the crew. Some feared the Dominion being so close and others had a history that was a black mark on their life. Be it losing a friend or family member, facing the horrors of what the Dominion could do, and more. But the tension worsened when the Captain’s announcement came over ship-wide communication.

Ladies and gentlemen, you might have doubtfully noticed a change in our direction. We are now on a safe distance to start our real mission. We are heading to the Dominion borders. Please resume any of your duties, I advise anyone to refrain from asking questions. This mission is put on a classified level and thus the senior staff is not allowed to share any information. That be all” 

Fear, anger, frustration, and more were growing among the crew. The crew didn’t understand why the sudden change in their direction or mission. Did something happen in Alpha Quadrant? Was it a setup from the start? Is there are reasons why the Captain would have lied against them? The hallways became spots of rumors and tension. Adrian could see it in their eyes. The weight of blame was on his shoulders too. People looked away, showed respect where needed, but refrained from asking anything. They were scared and it was a rightful feeling. 

Adrian smiled back as he always did and greeted them. He tried to keep the humor in his Engineering as he was known to be a joker. But even now, he had difficulty cutting this tension. Entering the engineering, he noticed how empty it was. It was after all a graveyard shift. He wanted to get some distraction as his eyes wouldn’t close. He grabbed a tool from his desk and moved to the warp coil, jumping down onto the platform and opening the shaft seeing all the cables. “This will keep me occupied for a while…”  He bent forward to begin his work. 

After a while the door opened with two people entering “I am telling you, with the additional speed we are going now we will arrive at the Dominion borders tomorrow” Keeyiro spoke up while walking to a console. “But I was right from the beginning. I WAS RIGHT” She felt relieved by the feeling of being right. 

“Yea yea, it’s still mind-blowing that it just happened” Drata stops near the warp core and taps on a console. “I just am stunned that the Captain never spoke a word about it” He stopped for a second and looked over his shoulder at Keeyiro. “Why would she keep this information from us? We have a right to know about this” He blinked a few times while thinking about it.

“Not really”  Keeyiro replied without looking at him. “As the intelligence officer on this ship, I can confirm that holding out on information in the name of keeping the crew safe for example is within the rights of the Captain. Heck, she could be overruled by her leading peers for all you know” She points a lecturing finger up. “You may not speak about this mission. It will endanger the crew and safety of Starfleet” mimics a man’s voice as she laughs a bit. 

Drata shook his head. “Who is that supposed to be?” 

She looked at Drata. “I believe his name was Captain Barrington is his name I believe. He is that new hotshot of Task Force 86 Command. Actually quite cute I say. I wouldn’t mind smacking his ass” She giggles a bit as she slides a file to the side and looks at the next.

“Please keep your perverted ideas out of this area, Commander Valerio likes jokes, but those are not his cup of tea”  Drata shrugged a bit looking at the console. “I wonder if the Commander knew about this change before we did?” 

Meanwhile, Adrian was before Drata at the platform on his knees, hiding and listening. “Oh good grief why are they even here….I gave Drata free of this shift” He whispered as Adrian looked confused for a second “Why am I even whispering or hiding from my juniors?” 

A laugh came from Keeyiro’s side. “Commander Valerio is the biggest perv I have ever seen. He always checks me out” She looked at Drata. “If I am not allowed to make dirty jokes, he should stop with those perv eyes. I mean rumor that he had his sight set on the Captain. What the F*** is up with that?” She shook her head at that. 

Looking at his side “I don’t do that…” Adrian shrugs and now self-doubts it. “Do I?” Hearing the comment about Sazra made him look more confused. “I would never…” He gets flashbacks from moments he was too close to Sazra and such and rubs the back of his head.

“Additionally on your question, of course, he would. Seeing his service records, he has served with the Captain for quite some time. I would be surprised if Captain Kobahl didn’t blindly trust him already. Aside from his immature charms, he is a reliable force on the ship right?” Keeyiro crossed her arms. “You served with him with the Blood Dilithium Operation, so you of all people should know” 

A pause came from Drata’s side as a beep came from the console. “I know both his sides Keeyiro….his goofy side makes it very pleasant to work on this assignment. But …” Drata leans on the console “The moment the Damascus was in trouble, I became stunned by what I saw” 

Leaning against the wall, Keeyiro narrowed her eyes. “Well, it is understandable. From what I have read it was a terrifying experience. So no hard feelings man. You did great, and it got you a promotion” 

Shaking his head “I was stunned because of what was happening. The bridge was on fire. People were injured, and chaos was there. I had flashbacks of the horror stories that my uncle told me. Did you know that the Dominion slaughtered my parents at the Battle of Cardassia?” He shrugged and looked down at the console.

“I….didn’t know” She quietly replied in his direction.

“It is not something someone wants to talk about. But more crew members have this relationship with this curse quadrant somehow. But getting back to what I was saying” Drata took a deep breath. “I was not stunned because of that. Sure it was terrifying to be a young Ensign thrown to the dangerous animals. No, it was the calmness of the command team that stunned me”

Keeyiro looked confused. “What do you mean by that?” 

Feeling that moment of how it felt back then, Drata felt emotional “They were calm, focused, and experienced. Even though I am raging my feelings right now that I want to kill every Dominion member. I am furious with the Captain that she withheld the information from us and disappointed that Commander Valerio didn’t trust me enough to know about this. I…”  He paused as a tear dropped on the console. “I trust them with my life. I was not supposed to be standing here because of what happened in that mission. We should be dead….but they managed it, they saved us” 

Placing a hand on Drata’s shoulder, Keeyiro walked to his side. “Look I …understand how you feel. They have a lot of things to explain. When I arrived at this ship, I was prepared for whatever it would throw at me. My presumption of the command team was quite off. I felt like the Captain was too unstable after the bombing, the first officer had no experience in command and Commander Valerio has his record known to Starfleet that makes things questionable.” 

Noticing Drata wanted to comment, she raised her finger to keep quiet. “But, like I said. I was wrong so far. I also want to kill these Dominion. Heck if every one of them gets on this ship I will have to show some restraint regarding their presence”  She smiled trying to cheer him up a bit. Taking a deep breath “But, Captain Kobahl showed the professional image, handling the crew and making daring choices. Commander Ruslanovna might be a medic at heart, but she is a leader in the making. She showed courage against the Devore Imperium and even rescued her without question Captain from those Romulans. Commander Valerio…” Taking a deep breath “Might be a perv….but has his heart in the right place, and it kinda leaves a mark on you. Even on me”  She shrugs a bit feeling her cheeks getting red.

“Are you blushing?” Wiping away his tears as Drata gave a teasing smirk at her.

Giving Drata a hit on his shoulder “No I am not….I am trying to make a point here” Keeyiro smiles back while walking to her console. “They are an experienced command team. They know their shit. So whatever their reason is to withhold the information about the real mission and the Dominion is something we have to entrust them with. I have my doubts…sure, but they will surely have a reason” 

Giving the nod back as Drata’s eyes finally met that of Adrian slowly stood up from the platform as his jaw just felt open being in shock that the Commander was there all this time. 

“So yea, Commander Valerio is a piece of work for sure. I still think his googly eyes should focus more on his work than some female bodies. I mean did he ever have a girlfriend? I think he is sexually frustrated and thus giving us the looks”  Keeyiro puts the finger on her lip while thinking and turns to Drata. “Would his fantasying about others be considered a sexual harr….” Her words stopped as her eyes met that of Adrian who had already climbed out of the platform and passed her.

Not replying to that question, Adrian kept it brief and without looking at her “Carry out Ensign, your shift is almost over”  He waved and exited the engineering. 

Her eyes followed him out of the engineering and stayed locked on a closing door. Then breaks her focus looking at Drata who is also looking shocked. “Oh crap…he heard that right….he …oh shit”  Keeyiro rubbed her templates in panic. “He heard everything of our conversation….I am going to be reassigned”  

Drata blinked a few times and looked at Keeyiro. “Why….was he” He looked over his shoulder to the platform seeing the shaft. “The defective coils….oh I was supposed to do that” Looking back at the door “I was quite direct with my opinion also…but he didn’t comment? He just left” 

Looking up at Drata and then back at the door “You are right, that is even worse….we got a silent treatment”  She lets her head fall a few times onto the wall. “I am so stupid, I thought he was off shift! Why did you not say something? Oh shit this will be the end of my career….mom is going to kill me”  

“I just saw him myself….but”  Drata felt that his Commander’s reaction and facial expression were different. It was not anger, it was more sadness. He said some hurtful things about his Chief and his friends. “I think we hurt him, his reaction says pages by itself. He was hurt. We hurt him….I need to talk to him and clear this up” 

Drata wanted to leave but Keeyiro jumped in front of him. “Don’t if I learned anything from those useless social classes is that talking during high emotions is not the best moment. Let it sink in and we have to calm down also” 

He hated it that Keeyiro was right at the wrong moments. “Fine…but it is difficult with such hatred and anger present on the ship while we fly to the source of those emotions. I need to let him know I trust him. He saved my life and its the only reason I am still here” Drata bolds his fist. 

Placing a hand on his shoulder “I know, but as a friend of mine, could you help me pack my stuff” She looked with teary eyes at him “I am screwed…” 

Rolling his eyes back at her “Yes Keeyiro, you are…maybe a demotion to Fleet Cadet would suit you”  Drata smiled a bit.

Meanwhile…

Turning against the window and looking at the stars passing by, Adrian took a few breaths. That was more intense than he had hoped. So this was the painful truth of rumors that could make a man shake his legs. He had put an example image to show his crew, and his team that they could relax around him, trust him and work with him. But he didn’t expect that he would make some uncomfortable with the stares he sometimes does without realizing it. Or wrong jokes that make some folks upset. 

This mission was like a light beacon, shining the problems of what the crew was experiencing. Sazra had alerted him and Silina about the given announcement and to be prepared for the recoil of it. But still, he never expected it to be this bad. “And that were only two of them…”. The additional steps of gaining favor with the Dominion were the other part of what will be challenging. The crew would be put against each other in their opinions, thoughts, and feelings. Sazra was walking a slippery road and it was up to Silina and himself to keep her on that road with any support they could give her. He looked at his side seeing two female officers walking by and giving a nod to them. They respectfully gave the nod back, but again with those glaring eyes of disapproval. 

“The night before nights….tomorrow is going to be a long day” Adrian spoke to himself as he took a deep breath and returned to his quarters. Some sleep would be good for him now, but his mind was racing about what was happening around him. 

Comments

  • I was like, "Oh no... Don't stand up... no! Awkward."

    May 18, 2023
  • A nice juxtaposition of some light hearted friendship in the face of a very unsettling unknown. And great to see more of the team struggling with thier own issues whilst on the verge of this unknown task.

    May 18, 2023
  • This went from light-hearted banter and gossip to serious very quickly. It’s a great exploration of how harmful gossip can be, and also that those eavesdropping (however unexpected and unintentional) often hear things they really don’t want to. Through it all, you managed to hold that tension and suspicion of the situation and aboard the ship, while also adding a bit of a devil’s advocate. Nicely done!

    May 30, 2023