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

From Being – 1

USS Constellation, Bridge
March 2401
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In the fifteen years Taes had been leading everything from starship science departments to 900-strong science ships, she had never been accused of micro-managing.  If anything, during her command training at STC, she had been challenged to lead with more accountability and less emotional support.  It was a lesson, Taes realised, she had been forced to learn again and again in command of Nesuts, Dvorak, and Sarek.  There was a Deltan aphorism that still sung out in Taes’ memory.  She always heard it in the sound of her dearly departed mother’s voice: “True connection can only be forged when the heart has spoken.”

On this day aboard the starship Constellation, Taes wasn’t overly concerned with what Nova’s heart had to say.

“Crash our subspace transceivers!” Taes screamed over Nova’s shoulder.  The Deltan commanding officer gripped the back of Nova’s chair with one hand and braced her other hand against Nova’s operations console.  Taes’ eyes kept watch over Nova’s every tap, every gesture on the LCARS interface.

An away team from Constellation had travelled to the Kholara Observatory, aboard the runabout Rubenstein, to retrieve sensor logs that might locate the origins of the Dominion’s lost fleet, somewhere beyond Federation space.  For all their cluster of conflicts and past hurts, Taes implicitly trusted Executive Officer Kellin Rayco to lead the away team of science officers Flavia, Yuulik and Navok on this critical mission.  Taes had stopped listening to even what her own heart had to say when the observatory began transmitting the Constellation’s prefix codes to the Dominion battle group that was on a deadly intercept course.  In possession of the starship’s prefix codes, the Jem’Hadar would have the power to remotely control every command system aboard Taes’ cutting-edge Constitution III-class starship.

If, and only if, the Dominion computer systems made even the briefest of contact with the Constellation’s main computer.

Shouting to be heard over the red-alert klaxon, Taes went on, “A system shut-down of every transceiver assembly on the hull is not enough.  Lock out every EPS flow regulator that’s feeding plasma to every transceiver.  Each individual iris and magnetic switch gate needs to be shut.  Fuse them if you have to!”

“Understood, ma’am,” Nova called back, already implementing Taes’ orders.  Under Taes’ supervision, Nova demonstrated every month of her intensive re-training on advanced starship operations had been time well spent.

Keeping watch over Taes intently from the forward tactical console, Lieutenant Commander Ache clearly waited for the right moment to report, “The lead Jem’Haddar battle cruiser will drop out of warp in less than two minutes.”

 


 

Watching a very different countdown of her own, Sootrah Yuulik flicked at the side of her tricorder, wishing the spinning circle on the tracking display would spin faster.  Each centimetre of colour that changed on the circle indicated a greater percentage of sensor logs from the Kholara Observatory’s computer core had transmitted to her tricorder.  She held her tricorder closer to an open panel of optical transtator clusters, hoping to reduce transmission time even fractionally more.

The computer core’s access compartment felt claustrophobic to Yuulik; it was about the size of a type-14 shuttlecraft’s interior.  The overhead lighting had burned out as the result of a previously unknown attack on the observatory.  Even the emergency lighting was only at fifty percent.  Yuulik was practically working back-to-back with Doctor Flavia, who was only visible from the glow of the LCARS panels.  Flavia was manipulating the widescreen access and retrieval display, searching the sub-processors for sensor logs that had been discarded for being corrupt or lost in transmission.  Given the low lighting, Yuulik immediately noticed an increase in illumination in her limited peripheral vision.

Upon darkened segments of the glossy-black LCARS panel, status displays popped up, representing the observatory’s main tactical and communication systems.  A string of numbers scrolled across the communication display and the tactical systems locked onto the Constitution III-class starship crossing the Kholara system at full impulse.  The tactical display caught Yuulik’s eye because it was the first time she had looked at the silhouette of her new home, really looked at it.  There was something graceful about the tapered sweep of the secondary hull and an imperfect beauty from the notches that cut into the otherwise perfect circle of the saucer section.  The Constellation was an enchantress and she was about to have to bare her teeth and claws.

In a flash of warp deceleration, a Jem’Hadar battle cruiser appeared from relatively beneath the Constellation.  Leading from its forward pincer, the warship charged for the underside of Constellation’s engineering hull.  It had already launched a volley of torpedoes as it came out of warp.  Although Constellation quickly dodged into a defensive spiral, the wide volley from the cruiser still managed to strike Constellation’s shields with two of the torpedoes.  

As much as the animalistic fear swelling in Yuulik’s chest told her to remain aware of her attacker, her higher nature returned her focus to her tricorder.  She slapped the damnable thing again on its backside.

“Come on, come on,” she muttered.

When that didn’t do any good, she yanked another dozen isolinear chips from the computer core, manually shutting down redundant computing processes that were slowing her data transfer.  Yuulik forced her gaze towards the spinning circle on her tricorder but only for another ten or twenty seconds.  She looked back over her shoulder at the tactical display, watching five Jem’Hadar fighters warp out of the ether to join the chase of Constellation.  Those vicious beetle-shaped warships shot at the Starfleet starship with enough phased polaron beams to keep the shield bubble of Constellation flared up and distorted on a constant basis.

Spinning on her heel, Yuulik turned to Flavia and asked, “Exactly how much longer do you need? I’m about ready to get on the runabout and bolt in the night.”

Although nothing Flavia said was dismissive on the face of it, her tone conveyed that Yuulik was only being afforded less than ten percent of Flavia’s attention.

“Cowardice won’t serve us,” Flavia said.  It sounded oddly bland, dismissive.  It didn’t have the intentional bite Flavia often reserved for Yuulik.  “Our mission… is done… when it’s…”

Squinting at the interface panel under Flavia’s ministrations, Yuulik looked for how much progress Flavia had made in transmitting additional sensor logs to her own tricorder.  Yuulik had to blink at the sensory overload of Flavia’s console.  One of the latest advancements of LCARS was the three-dimensional layering of displays and controls.  While the surface of Flavia’s console was devoted to plucking sensor snippets from the buffers, the observatory’s communication system was visible three layers down.  The transmission being broadcast by the observatory contained absolutely nothing that looked like sensor packets of astronomical data and it was directed nowhere near the Constellation.

Yuulik took hold of Flavia by the shoulder and she roughly spun the Romulan around to face her.

“Tal Shiar traitor!” Yuulik screamed at her.  “We never should have trusted you!”

“It’s not me!  I didn’t send that,” Flavia pleaded.  Yuulik had to grant her: the acting was believable.  Flavia sounded desperate and panicked, but she still betrayed her guilt by already knowing exactly what Yuulik had seen on her console.

Firmly, Flavia asked, “Where would I even get Constellation’s prefix codes?”

“So you know what they are, huh?” Yuulik accused.  “Dammit, I was fooled by your trickery and glamour.  The Dominion is attacking us out of time and it’s not the Tal Shiar the Jem’Hadar worship.”

Recalling the training her mother had drilled into her from childhood, Yuulik swept her free hand down to snatch the Argelian ceremonial dagger from her boot.

“You’re a Changeling!” Yuulik cried and she swept the blade across Flavia’s shoulder.  Her movement across the body was so swift that when Yuulik yanked the blade back, a splatter of green blood splashed across Yuulik’s face.  That same green blood was pooling at the new gash in Flavia’s field jacket.

Crying out in pain, Flavia cursed, “Imirrhlhhse!”  She gasped and she added, “Kellin was right, you’re crazier than ever!”

“No, you’re a liar!” Yuulik shot back at her, raising her dagger in a defensive posture.  “You sent the prefix codes and you shut me out from the Dominion investigation because you knew I would see right through you.  I’m a brilliant Starfleet Lieutenant!  Why wouldn’t you let me help you?”

“He told me not to,” Flavia said.

From the dark of the passageway, Kellin Rayco swept into the computer control room.  His face and his hair were drenched in Romulan-green blood.  He opened his arms wide –impossibly wide– until the sleeves of his field jacket rippled and bubbled like he was boiling from the inside.  His arms squished into a reddish-orange gelatinous substance, emitting steam from the transformation.  Those arms grew so big, he easily swatted them both from across the room.

Comments

  • Technobabble so often lands badly, just some gibberish that doesn't fit the story but magically answers it. Here though, you weaved it artfully into the post, creating depth in the universe without damaging flow or believability. The same could be said for your description of the battle, which is just enough to create pressure and make clear how bad the situation is, without being over the top and losing the reader in procedural stuff that pulls them from the core focus. And then, as usual, Flavia's role steals the show for me. Did she send those codes or did she not? This could be Tal'Shiar deception, or she could be a changeling, or she really might not have done anything at all... you can feel for the struggle Yuulik is going through. As a reader, I hope all the Flavia fears are wrong though, because I want her to stick around. Just adds such an interesting extra dynamic to the proceedings.

    May 21, 2023
  • Firstly, well done! We so often get tempted to write battle scenes up close and personal, but you expertly describe what it would be like to watch from afar as someone's home suffers under fire. Mixed in with Yuulik's entirely relatable frustration at not being able to conclude her task quickly enough, the suspense of the first part of the post was perfectly created. I was on tenterhooks right up until Yuulik identified (who she thought) was a traitor. I was never convinced, though. Flavia was too perfectly Romulan to be a Changeling, but I certainly didn't expect it to be Kellin when you started all of this. Sooooo many questions, but I guess the most important one is 'Where is our boy?!'

    May 21, 2023
  • I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! There was definitely something wrong with Kellin in the last story - there were a few subtle clues you left us, but that last paragraph in this story was amazing! Filled with so much drama, grit and action! I am so pleased that Yuulik did attack Flavia; there was always some tension between them that needed them to release some steam between them. Now, I hope the two of them survive the Kellin changeling attack and become the saviours of the Constellation. PS - you best not have killed one of our favourite himbos!!!

    May 21, 2023
  • I feel the discussion of subspace transceivers may have more than just excellent colour and detail to the scene - how far is Nova going to have to go to secure Constellation? Is this going to have long-term implications for the ship's capacity to communicate during this mission that's sending her off into far-flung reaches behind Dominion lines? Just a guess, but I'm very curious. The Changeling reveal is excellently done, partly because I think you belabour the red herring of Flavia JUST enough with Yuulik's tirade. "I'm a brilliant Starfleet lieutenant!" she insists, being Absolutely Wrong. Still, Kellin was top of my suspicion list mostly out of process of elimination - other characters had been too uninvolved, or you'd written from their POV in a way where revealing them as Changelings would have felt like a bit of a betrayal of your audience, or Flavia doesn't need to be a Changeling to be a dodgy bugger! As a reveal, it still makes me want to trace back through past chapters to see how it was set up. My recollection feels like Kellin has been a *presence* while still being *subdued*, which feels like, well, how a Changeling would be while impersonating him. They knew enough to do press-ups on the bridge, after all. ;) Good stuff! Let's see how they get out of THIS scrape.

    May 21, 2023
  • Holy smokes! I had money on someone in the Romulan delegation being a Changeling, if not Flavia directly, but Kellin? Wasn't prepared for that one! And dang, Taes really takes the 'secure communications' line to the extreme. No way at all that isn't going to come back and bite them all in the backside later on. Someone at a window with a signal light seems like their best outward communication method now. Is this a setup for a Regulation 46A situation? And Yuulik, really, a brilliant Starfleet Lieutenant? Brilliant perhaps, a Lieutenant certainly, but together the words just don't ring right. A healthy dose of humility might help.

    May 24, 2023