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Part of USS Cardiff: Thagomizer // Lost Fleet and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Paxtar

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Captain’s Log, Stardate 2305.13: The unthinkable has happened. The Dominion has returned. After all this time, the Dominion has returned. The Fourth Fleet has been summoned to the Deneb Sector. The Cardiff has been tasked with scouting for resources to aid the war effort. 

 

  Reva watched as her crew filtered into the briefing room, taking customary seats. She shared a look with Commander ap Gareth. He’d heard the priority briefing with her. Knew the truth. The Fourth were going to be alone in this fight. Starfleet wanted to pretend this wasn’t happening, that the Dominion couldn’t return. Because ignoring a problem always resolves it…

     “I’m going to be brief. The Dominion has returned. They, and their Breen allies have begun attacking colonies and worlds in the Deneb sector. Starfleet is choosing to deny the presence of the Dominion, attributing the attacks solely to the Breen. 

     It is not known exactly how they are here, as they did not come through the Bajoran Wormhole. These Jem’Hadar believe the Dominion War never ended. No time has passed for them at all. Admiral Ramar has summoned the Fourth Fleet to the Deneb Sector. We are taking this seriously, even if the rest of Starfleet wishes to deny the threat.”

    “The… Dominion?” Kaalir asked. Of all Reva’s primary crew, Kaalir was the youngest, at age 30. Young enough that she’d not faced the formidable force that was the Dominion.

     “Aye, it appears the fleet reported lost in the wormhole all those years ago has finally arrived. In the Deneb Sector, of all places. Starfleet is treating this as Breen incursions only.”

     “Trying to keep panic down before Frontier Day, no doubt,” Gareth said.

     “No doubt.” Reva did little to keep the disdain she felt for stuffy self-aggrandising ceremony out of her voice. 

     Ch’Shraoness gave a slight huff, antennae twitching in annoyance. “Well, if this is war, surely they’d call off Frontier Day?”

     Rrr’varric laughed a throaty Caitian laugh, “Now, Commander. You are not so naive. It won’t get canceled. Should, but won’t.”

     “Our task is resource hunting, looking for anything to aid the war effort,” Reva drew the conversation back to the task at hand. She steepled her fingers, growing still. “To that end, we are going back to Paxtar.”

     “Paxtar, Captain?” Commander Gareth asked. “Are you sure you should return there? Wouldn’t the forensics crews have found anything of military interest by now?”

     “Well no, I certainly don’t want to go back. But since these orders came through, I have had a growing pull to return. That there is something useful still there. The planet is closed to all but the forensics crews… and us, now. I am certain there’s something of use to us on Paxtar.”

     There *is* something there. 

     Reva rubbed her right temple. A slight depression there, and persistent headaches were all she had to show for her abrupt sojourn to Paxtar. Well, that and a new captain’s yacht, seeing as how the Rhiannon had been destroyed in the crash. The planet was a veritable ship graveyard, shrouded by persistent ion storms that made landing difficult and would pull ships in and fling them planetward. They’d named the storm region the ‘Maelstrom’. 

     “Gareth, I know you aren’t going to like this, but I need to be the one to go down.”

     Gareth grimaced. “You’re right. I don’t like it. It should be me going.”

     “Kaalir, you are with me. Faarn, assign a pair of security officers to our away team. Shrao, likewise, assign two engineers to accompany us. Doc, line us up a field medic or two, as well. Breckin will round out our team. We’ll need some more fancy flying to get planet-side and back.”

     “Aye, Captain,” Faarn said. Rrr’varric and Ch’Shraonness echoed the security chief.

     “Good. We’ll reach Paxtar tomorrow. Let’s be ready.”

     The others filed out of the briefing room, all except Gareth.

     “The Dominion, Captain? Brings back nightmares.”

     “Truth, Gareth. Nightmares beyond counting.”

     “And you really believe there’s something to help the war effort on Paxtar?”

     “I know there is, Gareth. What that is, exactly, remains to be seen,” Reva replied. The image of the Cardiff flashed in her mind, morphing into a much larger Galaxy class then shifted into a massive ship of unknown origin. Pain throbbed behind her eye. “I think I’m going to have Shrao add a few more engineers.”

     “I still think you should allow me to go instead, Captain.”

     “Noted,” Reva said with a slight smile.

     “Bah, there are times I wish the Vulcan half were a wee bit more dominant in you.”

     Now Reva laughed, then drew a solemn face. “Commander Gareth, it is logical that I am the one to go.” 

     “An’ why might tha’ be, Captain?” Gareth asked

     A sly smile. “…because my intuition has never led me wrong.”

     “Bah. A Vulcan with intuition. What’s the world coming to?”

     “I’m also half Rihannsu, and Vulcans *do* have intuition. Most have just buried it deep and let it wither, in favour of logic.”

 

                                       *********************

 

     Ezill sat on her bunk, stomach in knots. She’d been a youngling during the last war with the Dominion, but she remembered the news. Remembered the family that never returned home. She’d studied the Dominion as part of her xenoanthropology studies. An implacable foe who’s motto was ‘Victory is life.’ The Jem’Hadar were said to be fiercer than Klingons. 

      /Kaa, I’m scared./

     /That’s understandable, young one. But we are together, and we’ll get through this./ The symbiont felt thoughtful. /It’s interesting, though, that these forces don’t seem to have tried to contact what remains of the Founders, who would no doubt call them off./

    /Do you think we’ll really find something on Paxtar?/ Ezill asked

    /I trust the captain, and her intuition. She’s rarely wrong. It’ll be interesting to see what we find on Paxtar. Might even change the war./

    /I hope so, Kaa. I hope so./    

 

                                      *********************

 

     “Captain! I didn’t expect to find you here. You should be asleep,” Rrr’varric rumbled. “And this is beginning to border on unhealthy obsession.”

     Reva looked back at the Caitian CMO, before her gaze returned to the drawer table before her. Waist-high, it was filled with the mummified body of the one-legged giant that had been found near Reva’s crash site on Paxtar. She was determined to bring him back to his people herself, should they find them. She found herself increasingly drawn to the morgue stasis to stare at the puzzling body. 

     “I’m not that bad yet, Doc. But I can’t help but think that someone pulled me out of the wreckage, and the only body out in the open where I was found was this one. And no other life signs but mine.”  Reva pushed a button and the drawer slid back into the wall.

     “I guess, tonight, I’m wishing he could tell us what we might find. And as always, who he is, who his people are, it’s the anthropologist in me.”

     Rrr’varric handed Reva a cup of chamomile tea, steaming gently. She took it, inhaling the soothing fragrance. 

     “Are you sure you’re not using it tonight as a distraction from the Dominion news?”

     “Maybe a little, Doc. Maybe a little.” Reva sipped the tea, then cocked her head. “Fresh, not replicated. Hint of marshmallow and spintal root. You never cease to amaze me.”

     “My delight, Captain. And now that you’ve finished that, you need to go lie down. It kicks in quick.”

     Rrr’varric chuckled as the Captain drained the cup, thanked her, and left. The Caitian gave a long look at the closed stasis drawer, before heading back to where she’d been setting up field kits for her two medics. For Murr, who had been with her nearly as long as Kensi, she was including some of her more unusual medicinals. 

     Wherever Rrr’varric had gone, she’d set up a small herbarium that also housed terrariums with small critters that had value in her surgery. The Caitian doctor had been in the forefront of many battles and skirmishes, been assigned to low tech colony world’s being set up, and worked among refugee groups. She’d developed a strong preference for natural medicinals as a support for tech and processed or replicated drugs. Murr and Kensi had become excellent apothecary students. When she was done, Rrr’varric settled behind her desk with another cup of tea, to get some work done. 

     Rrr’varric woke with a guilty start. She hadn’t meant to fall asleep at her desk. Curse of the neuroimmune condition she suffered from. But what had woken her. An ear twitched towards a faint noise. Someone was in the back. Had she been so asleep she’d missed someone coming in? That seemed unlikely since Rrr’varric was a very light sleeper.

     She stood and prowled on silent feet, searching for the sound’s source. Reaching the area where the stasis chambers were, Rrr’varric was… not… surprised to find the Captain back again. She hung back, just out of sight.

     But Sarrik looked out of it. She had the drawer open again and had uncurled the fingers of one hand on the body. As Rrr’varric watched, the mummified hand seemed to shrink, matching Reva’s hand. After a moment, she recurled the fingers of a hand now obviously larger than hers, and closed the drawer.

     Reva looked up briefly, her injured eye glowing a warm grey. An eye normally purple was now glowing grey. The Captain turned and promptly disappeared. 

     What the hells? 

     Rrr’varric tapped her combadge, calling the Captain. A sleepy voice answered her. 

     “Sarrik here. How can I help you at this early hour?”

     “Captain, where are you?”

     “Where am I? What the hells, Doc? I’m in my quarters, trying to sleep. Been here since I left you. Why?”

     “We’ll, you just left my sickbay again. After looking at that damned mummy again.”

     There was a long pause. “I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve been asleep. I’m up now, though. I’ll have security search the ship for an intruder. Was anything taken?”

     “No, Captain. Nothing was taken. I heard noise, followed it to the stasis room and found you… found your doppelganger with the drawer open. She put her palm against the mummy’s, which seemed to shrink to match size, but when she pulled her hand away, it was unchanged. Then she closed the drawer and vanished. 

     

                                       ******************

 

    “Chief, is it true? Are the Dominion really back. And we’re leaving the fight?”

     “Ensign, don’t be so eager for war. We’ll be in it soon enough. Our task is acquiring resources, which we are going to do,” Faarn chided. Ensign Meilill nodded, returned to cleaning and servicing phasers and phaser rifles, making sure they were charged.

     “What was it like, sir? The first Dominion war?”

     The Tellarite security chief grew still. She stopped working for a beat. 

     “It was hell, Ensign.”

     {Smoke filled the corridor. Faarn ran through it, followed by her team. Sounds of battle rang out ahead. An explosion cut behind her. Faarn opened her eyes, trying to figure out what happened. The area she and her team had just passed through was now a gaping wound in the ship. Forcefields shimmered over the exposed areas.

     As she stood, a figure loomed out of the billowing smoke.

     “You will die, Federation!” A Jem’Hadar soldier pointed a phaser at her. Faarn dropped as the beam sizzled over her head. She raised her own phaser and fired. 

     “Not today, fugly,” Faarn yelled, as the body dropped. She gathered her remaining group and jogged towards the action. Tremors and explosions continued to rock the ship. More Jem’Hadar thundered down the corridor, yelling, phasers blazing. From there, everything was a jumble of disjointed images. Every flashback Faarn had began clear and quickly jumbled as it progressed.}

     Faarn shook the cobwebs of memory from her head.

     “It was hell. One I hope you won’t be called to visit. Now, let’s get this gear together for the team tomorrow. Captain called down, said she wants climbing gear for the group.”

     “Climbing gear? What could they possibly need that for?” Ensign Meilill.

     “No idea. But regions are mountainous. And plenty of caves. Captain’s gear list suggests cave spelunking. Grab some torches for the packs, would you please? Let’s get this done,” Faarn said. 

Comments

  • Returning to Paxtar, a planet that has claimed many ships and lives; almost including that of the Captain, so its understandable why the Commander is concerned. Then you have the mystery of a second captain Sarrik on board! Changeling, or something connected with the alien body. I wait for what comes next.

    May 27, 2023