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

From Being – 4

USS Constellation, Bridge & Sickbay
March 2401
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Raising her voice, Taes urgently asked, “Can someone please tell me what happened aboard the observatory?”

From the forward science station, Leander Nune spun his chair around to face Captain Taes directly.  He tilted his chin up to meet her eyes, given where she was sitting on the bridge’s raised command platform.  Despite Taes’ vocal escalation, Nune responded even more softly and slowly than before.

“Based on the tricorder data, there’s no indication that Yuulik or Flavia were scanning their environments aboard the Kholara Observatory,” Nune said.  He shrugged helplessly.  “We can’t begin to guess at what they experienced.”

At the operations console, Nova was using both hands to zoom into the holographic data visualisation before her.

“Flavia’s data packet was partially corrupted by gaps and errors,” Nova reported, summarising her analysis.  “Constellation must have been out of range of the observatory when she pressed the emergency dump command on her tricorder.” 

A sense of awe rounded the vowels in Nova’s voice as she continued, “Yuulik’s data package looks fully intact!  We received everything her tricorder collected from the observatory.  Lieutenant Pagaloa only found the data packets when he started disassembling the comm system aboard one of our rescue shuttle for parts.  Shuttlebay two must have come into range before Yuulik hit the emergency command and before I locked down the shuttles’ transceivers.”

After nodding briefly at the new information, Taes braced the side of her face with the outstretched pads of her fingertips.  Perhaps redundantly, Taes ordered, “Nune, Laken, I want first impressions on the observatory’s logs presently.  Mister Door: time check?”

“It has been one point seven-eight hours since we arrived at the rendezvous point we arranged with the away team,” Cellar Door replied.  He mimicked an LCARS error sound before he said, “There remains… no sign of the USS Rubenstein on long-range sensors.”

The bridge crew remained deathly silent for over a minute.  The space was filled by the gentle chiming of LCARS tellales, the continuous cycling of life support, and a couple of muttered “hmmm”s and “ahhhh”s.

From the science II console, Laken cleared his throat to break the silence.  When he spoke up, the Romulan civilian sounded remarkably similar to an FNN journalist.  The cadence was nearly a perfect match.

“The computer has identified the oldest sensor log of a Dominion battleship that Yuulik was able to recover.  Although the observatory’s sensors detected the ships themselves, I’m seeing no indication of mechanisms or spatial anomalies that could explain how they travelled here from the past,” Laken reported.  

On the viewscreen, three small icons appeared, representing the silhouette of Jem’Hadar fighters.  The outline of a star system, with a pulsar at its heart, emerged around the Jem’Hadar ships.  The representation further zoomed out to place the star system in the context of the Deneb Sector at large.

Laken explained, “In the Ianua system, those three Jem’Hadar fighters passed through the outer reach of the Kholara Observatory’s long-range sensors.  They were travelling under their own impulse power.  The Ianua pulsar is out past Saxue, well beyond Federation and Breen territory.  And captain, look at that.  Look at the proton emissions from their hull plating and then look at it in reverse.”

The holograms on the viewscreen zoomed in close to one of the Jem’Hadar fighters.  To the left and the right of the sensor composite, four columns of sensor data details scrolled onto the screen.

“Neutron beta decay,” Taes remarked in recognition.  “When these sensor readings were captured, the Dominion ships had been exposed to neutrino emissions.  Very recently.”

Looking up at the viewscreen, Nune surmised, “The lost fleet had freshly escaped the Bajoran wormhole in the Ianua system… nowhere near where we would expect them in Denonrios belt or the Idran system.”

 


 

While Constellation made best speed to the Ianua System, every molecule in Taes’ being wanted to hunker down with the science department and scour through every mega quad of sensor data they had recovered from the Kholara Observatory.  In the absence of Flavia and Yuulik’s leadership, one of the voices in Taes’ internal chorus told her the science department wouldn’t be able to function without her guidance.  They would miss a key insight into the lost fleet that only her own perspective could bring.  

Such thinking was a folly, she recognized, given Constellation was staffed with a large science department, even for an explorer.  Between the Starfleet and Romulan scientists, they were more than capable of the task.  It was far more likely that Taes’ thoughts would fixate on the sensor logs collected by Yuulik and she would spiral into a fugue state of guilt and shame over abandoning Yuulik and Kellin to fates unknown, in the clutches of the Dominion.

Instead, Taes opted for sensory overload.  She wanted to be bombarded by the sights, sounds, scents and emotions of her crew: anything would be preferable to sitting alone with her own thoughts.  A tour of the ship took her through secondary sickbay and then the main sickbay ward.  One by one, Taes met with each patient, thanking them for staying at their posts through the battle.  She asked each of her officers to tell her about the family members they were fighting for back home.

One of the nurses, Rals Yevel, was telling Taes about his only family being his husband, assigned to Constellation’s engine room.  While he spoke, Taes’ eyes were easily distracted by his dangling earring.  The earing was of a design that, most commonly, represented a Bajoran’s faith in the Prophets.

“How would you respond,” Taes then asked him abruptly, “if I asked you a question of a metaphysical nature?”

“I would thank you,” Rals replied with no small enthusiasm.  He reached a hand behind his own head and slowly applied enough pressure to stretch his neck.  “Doctor Nelli hasn’t needed much from me other than waving a dermal regenerator over scrapes and bruises, what with the state of this crew.”

Abruptly, Rals’ blue eyes widened at Taes and he made a brief sputtering sound at the back of his throat.  His posture straightened in that way junior officers were prone to do whenever they saw the number of pips on Taes’ collar.

“No offence intended, captain,” Rals tacked on.

“None taken,” Taes said and she held his gaze until she was sure he understood that she meant it.  “What would you say if I asked why the Prophets are punishing the Federation?”

Rals squinted at Taes and her question.  He didn’t answer immediately.  At first, his lips thinned.

“Punishing?” he echoed her word as if she had spoken an alien language.

“What else would you call it?” Taes rhetorically asked.  “The Prophets rescued us from the Dominion’s lost fleet decades ago, only to unleash them upon us here and now.  Was there something unthinkable we did during the war?  Has Starfleet wronged the Bajoran people?  What makes us so unworthy?”

After breathing out through his nose, Rals gaze shifted as he searched for something on Taes’ face.  He kept searching and searching before he answered her question.  When he spoke, his voice went reedy.

“I don’t claim to be the most devout,” Rals said with a tight shake of his head, “but punishment doesn’t show up in my scripture of the Prophets.”

“How can that be?” Taes asked.  She could feel that critical wince crossing her face; she couldn’t even try to hide her expression of confusion.  “I’m certain I’ve read about–“

Rals offered a nod of intuation.  “At times the Prophets may request a penance, but a penance is voluntary.  One makes the choice to repent from a wrongdoing with penance.  Respectfully, I wonder why you brought punishment into a conversation about the Prophets?”

Taes didn’t know how to answer that question and she soon discovered she wouldn’t have to.  From behind her, pairs of vines began wrapping around each of Taes’ arms, gently tugging her away from Rals.

“My apologies, Nurse Rals,” said Doctor Nelli while they pulled Taes in the direction of their office.  “A casualty report for Captain Taes is significantly overdue.  As is your meal break; you should go.”

As Rals offered Taes parting pleasantries, Nelli maintained her grip on Taes until they had shuffled Taes into the office of the chief medial officer.  The rounded compartment was designed with narrow window panels that offered glimpses into the intensive care ward, a recovery room and a life sciences laboratory.  Nelli drew Taes’ attention to none of those areas.  Rather, they untangled their vines from Taes’ arms and then used one of those vines to tap a command on the office’s replicator.  A squat glass of pale blue liquid materialised in the replicator and Nelli proffered it to Taes.

“Your casualty report,” Nelli said.  Just this once, Taes thought she heard something sardonic from the device that mechanically produced Nelli’s voice.  Nelli explained, “Antarean brandy.”

Letting out a single chuckle of surprised delight, Taes accepted the glass.

“I didn’t think you approved of alcohol, doctor,” Taes said before she took a sip of the synthehol.  “Shouldn’t you be prescribing me meditation and exercise for my stress?”

“Joining Starfleet was my introduction to your concept of discipline,” Nelli replied.  “Disciplined thoughts, disciplined bodies, disciplined chain of command; none of these conceptions exist as you know them on Phylos.  There is no one right way to grow on my world.  I still believe in that principle, even after all this time in Starfleet.  Living a life of total discipline, with the expectation it will make you stronger, is a false promise.”

“Life is too short,” Nelli said, “to live without vice.”

Comments

  • The scientific mystery of this post pulled me in, but the discussion between Taes and Rals almost made me forget about it. Their interchange was solid, leaving us with much to think about, and my only regret was that Nelli plied Taes away before the conversation could continue. But circling back to the science lead in, this post left me wanting more. It did a great job at hinting without overtelling. And as usual, you weaved the technobabble thoughtfully without making it feel overwhelming or like a magic want.

    May 24, 2023
  • I second Reyes - more! I like the little philosophical break that happens here. Religion and Faith in 2401 is both complex and simple and the exploration of the Bajoran faith here is a welcome respite from the dark nature of what's happening outside the doors. I appreciate the lack of knowledge about how they got here, leading to questions about the Prophets and their role in this. I hope we get to see an answer to that or at least a hint of an answer as this story continues. And your Chier Medical officer piles on the philosophical debate with one of their own - leaving us as readers wondering if that bit of advice will come back in the future.

    May 25, 2023
  • There is certainly something about Nelli that makes them the perfect person to be the CMO for Taes and the rest of the crew. Interrupting the captain to provide her with a distraction from the burdens of command is certainly clever and expected of Nelli's character. They are certainly more aware of what is needed than they demonstrate. It's what probably makes them a fine CMO. I'm intrigued further with the whole Bajoran faith arch you've introduced, and this is certainly a theme that should be explored more. Did the Prophets have a hand in all of this, or are they innocent bystanders? I think the former with a twist of the latter.

    May 27, 2023
  • What an excellent post that adds a new dimension to what we have read so far. Having Taes chat with a Bajoran and ask about the Prophets punishing the AQ was an ingenious move. I mean, maybe they are? It is a very valid question and has enabled us to explore a different dynamic to things. And then we get Nelli weaving her way into another philosophical question. It almost made me forget there was a war on for a minute or two. Even this far away, Nova is still very attached to Yuulik, easily seen by the excitement with which the Starfleet officer's findings were received. We're starting to find some answers, answers we maybe wouldn't have got if Nune was still banished to engineering, so his presence on the bridge is important. What will happen next? We need more!

    May 27, 2023
  • Your description of Nelli was wonderfully alien as always. Vines wrapping around arms, untangling to tap commands - all wonderfully done to continue the trend of reminding of their alien physical nature. I love it every time. Nelli is just a gem. And then prescribing brandy was a wonderful McCoy School of Medicine move. I really enjoyed this entire peace for the calm before the storm that it is, letting Taes actually have a moment to catch her breath, get her head in the right place before plunging into the fire. As a character study I really really enjoyed this.

    May 28, 2023
  • Oh my, I hadn't expected we'd be going this long without hearing from the away team - all the way to Ianua without recovering them, it seems! That's a cruel and excellent way to ramp up the tension and the uncertainty after where you left us with them. This mission really is Taes's show, and she's rocking it. The conversation with Rals was wonderful; I am always a fan of well-written discussions of spirituality and faith in these contexts of higher stakes, and this did more than ruminate on the massive power of the Prophets, but told us a lot of Taes's state of mind - or perspective on the world - that we otherwise might have not had. Others have gushed about the great Nelli, so I shan't add to it, only to say more, more! Great stuff.

    May 28, 2023