Part of Starbase Bravo: The Homefront and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

In that Space of Time

USS McGreevey, Lower Deck
Early March 2401
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There was a cautiousness to Lieutenant Elegy Weld as he climbed down the access ladder from the runabout’s upper deck.  Until his boots touched the deck, he assumed his Academy-trained posture of maintaining three points of hand or feet contact with each careful step he took.  What awaited him was the medical patient transfer module that had been installed aboard this New Atlantic-class runabout back at Starbase Bravo.  Although he saw a nurse and a security officer inspecting equipment at each of the enclosed biobeds, Weld strode across the compartment to join Ensign Dalaa in particular.

“I suppose it’s too late to ask you your opinion of the infirmary’s layout, huh?” Weld asked.  “They had to mix-and-match two different modules to provide each patient their own, uh, treatment suites.”

Although Weld called them treatment suites, each brig had clearly been positioned within individual, heavily-shielded brig cells.  The Elba Two colony had been terribly curt in their instructions: because their patients were all incarcerated criminals, they each required isolation while in transit to the hospital aboard Starbase Bravo.

Dalaa had taken on the role as defacto security chief for this little soiree and had spent the best part of the last few hours going over all the security precautions to make sure everything was as it needed to be for their adventure. In truth, the conditions were far from ideal, and had they been given the choice, they could have used a proper starship of literally any design and they would be in a better position than they were now. But, this was the hand they had been dealt.

“Given the limited resources at our disposal, this is as good as it is going to get…” the Orion nodded slowly, hands on hips as she surveyed the cells. “I’ve ensured the security systems are all functioning within normal parameters since I don’t particularly want to be murdered in my sleep by these nut jobs.”

Weld shook his head when she said that.   He set his jaw into a serious expression, but there was still something of a smirk at the corners of his lips.

“That shouldn’t be a worry,” Weld said.  “Most of them haven’t been convicted of violent crimes, at least.  We only have to get them from our rendezvous point back to Starbase Bravo.  Every proper transport ship in Bravo Fleet has already been dispatched to the Deneb Sector.”

“A lot can happen in that space of time Lieutenant,” the Orion shrugged, moving off to take a seat for a few minutes, having been on her feet for what felt like an age. “Next you’ll be telling us we need to make multiple runs,” she smirked, then fixed him with a glare as if to say ‘don’t you dare.’

Weld took up a seat on an uncomfortable stool, facing Dalaa.  He mostly suppressed an impish smile in return.

“I expect these will be our only,” Weld started to say, and he paused to find the right words, “high-maintenance patients.  The other facilities who have asked Starbase Bravo to take their patient overflow plan to send their own hospital ships.  But this may only be the beginning.” –Any whisper of a smile was gone from Weld’s face– “The reports I’ve seen offer no indications of the Dominion slowing their invasion or giving up any territory.”

Strategy was obviously her go-to subject, and the youngster usually felt a surprising sense of ease, even when discussing developments with the fleet in the Deneb sector. That was strange for most to understand, the fact that she found it easy to talk about a conflict, but it was just something she was accustomed to. But this time was different. Slouching back into the chair, she folded her arms defensively. “Everything I’m privy to suggests that the worst is yet to come. And that is frightening,” she confessed to the doctor.

Weld listened to Dalaa’s assessment with his well-practiced counselor’s nod, but the admission of fear gave him pause.  He winced at that and then he tilted his lead to the left.  He tapped a finger on his knee, a nervous habit.

“And what,” he asked, “might ‘the worst’ look like in this scenario?

Dalaa shrugged, swinging on her chair somewhat playfully. “Oh, I dunno…” she pondered, “maybe the complete destruction of Starfleet forces in the Deneb sector? Or the complete withdrawal from the region,” she suggested, “nothing major.”

Because Weld lived with his own emotions not terribly deep beneath the skin, he openly gaped at Dalaa.  A heartbeat later, he rubbed the back of his neck and he tried to hide his reaction with a wince.

“It can’t be all that bad,” Weld said, almost pleadingly.  “With all of our technological advances in the last twenty-five years; all that we learned from the… the last Dominion War?”

“Let’s hope not,” the Ensign shrugged, turning away to grab a bite to eat and a slight smile creeping over her face. While a lot of what she had said was true, she was taking an almost perverse pleasure in playfully antagonising the doctor. He, of course, probably wouldn’t see it that way, or appreciate it for that matter, but if it helped him see reality, then she wasn’t too worried.

As she was about to pick up her plate, the console she had been using chirped with an update. Scooting over on her wheeled chair, the youngster began tapping away. As she did so, her expression changed. “Here’s your answer, Doctor…” she whispered, turning around and ‘throwing’ up a hologram of her update. “The hospital ship from Elba Two? The one we’re meeting? It’s been attacked by the Jem’Hadar,” she frowned, folding her arms across her chest defiantly, no longer in the mood for her steak and onions.

Protectively crossing his arms over his abdomen, Weld groaned in frustration at the situation.  “That’s terrible,” he muttered, as he read over the provided information in the holo-projection of the report.  He raised an index finger to point at a star chart in the corner of the report.  “We’re still five hours away from rendezvous,” he said, shaking his head fitfully.  “There’s nothing we can do.  Either they’re going to meet with us… or they won’t.”

“Let’s hope her escorts are more than up to the task,” she frowned, pulling the plate in front of her at last and picking up the cutlery on the tray beside it. As she began to slice into the perfectly cooked steak, she looked at the data one last time.

“If they’ve still got an escort, anyway…”