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Part of USS Resolute: Protect Arriana and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

7 – Keepin’ secrets

Morninstar / Resolute
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“You’ve gotta be shitting me,” RJ murmured to himself as the Morningstar hit the Arriana System, and Arriana Prime and the Starfleet ship in orbit came into view. 

“What the hell is that?” Aya barked out a laugh and leaned over his shoulder to rub at the little dot on the viewscreen with the edge of her sleeve. “Did it like… shrink in the wash?”

“No…” He swatted her hand away. “It’s a sodding Rhode Island.”

Between Burton’s call and hauling ass over here, he’d caught up on the news. The official fluff piece FNN were running as well as reaching out to his contacts to find out what the hell was really going on. None of it would make for a good night’s sleep. 

Half his contacts said there was absolutely nothing to worry about, that someone had seen some cut-and-shut Dominion junkers the Breen had mackled together and freaked out, but the other half said that something really weird was going on and Fourth Fleet had gone solo to deal with something going on out here. But the real kicker was the message from one of his real dark intel sources, the type of contact whose name he didn’t even know. Four words blinking in green on the screen. 

Trust only the fourth.

“So… it’s a mini ship?” Aya looked down at him. “What would they even use that for?”

“They’re fast,” he replied, altering the Morningstar’s course to bring them into a parallel orbit with the Resolute. The Morningstar being the size it was, he had to start the turn practically on the edge of the system. “Like, really fast for their size and well armed. Not as balls-out vicious as the Defiant class but you still wouldn’t want to tangle with one. The Defiant is basically weapons strapped to an engine. This one is weapons strapped to a sportscar… with luxury carpets.” 

“And ho—“

“Sshhh,” he told her, opening a comms channel. “This Commander Reese-Riggs of the Morningstar, to the Resolute. We are in system and coming up on your position.”

The screen in front of him crackled, and a garble issued from the speakers. Pressing his lips into a straight line, RJ whacked the screen at the side, twice. Hard. The image on the screen resolved to show a man, but not the one RJ was expecting. 

Instead of Burton, this man was tall, hard-faced and wore the pips of a full commander. RJ only just managed to lock his reaction down.

“Mason of the Resolute,” he introduced himself. “It’s good to see you… Commander, did you say?” 

RJ nodded. “Currently on leave, helping out with family,” he said, ignoring Aya’s pointed look. “So we were close by. I gather you have a little situation you need our help with.”

Mason inclined his head. “We do, so I’ll get straight to the point. My XO has briefed me on the capacity of your transport there. We have a planet under attack by Jem’Hadar but as you can see, they have no ship backup. They are limited to the surface which gives us an opportunity to evacuate the civilian population.”

“What?” RJ almost squawked. “All of them? There’s like… What… a hundred million on that planet? I don’t know what the Resolute is like, but the Morningstar is not bigger on the inside. We’re not going to be able to take that many people.”

“We’re not going to evacuate everyone,” Mason said, his deep voice low and level. “Just those in immediate danger…”

“But?” RJ asked. Mason’s eyebrow lifted so he said, “There’s always a but.” 

“To make sure we keep the Jem’Hadar contained, there are transport inhibitors in place. We can’t transport the civilians from the surface, and the Resolute only has two shuttles and one runabout.” 

RJ nodded, a frown between his brows as his mind whirled. “We could detach the two rafts,” he said across the Morningstar’s tiny bridge to Aya. They’d both been born aboard, and knew the big craft’s capabilities like the backs of their hands. 

She nodded. “That could work, it would give us way more lift capacity than the livestock transporters anyway. If we stay in orbit above the pickup point, we can operate them like elevators, one up, one down, using the primary load dock to offload.”

He looked back at Mason on the screen. “It’s going to take both of us, which means we have no one to man the bridge here. There’s only the two of us on board.” 

“You have no other crew?” Mason asked in surprise. “Is that normal for that size of transport?”

“No,” Aya leaned in and smiled at the big commander. “Hey handsome, I’m Aya. This one’s my brother,” she said, jerking her head at RJ. “Needless to say, I’m the brains of the operation.”

“I can see that,” Mason smiled, his eyes twinkling. The expression changed his fierce appearance completely. “I would say what’s a lovely lady doing in a place like this but I am really glad to see you.”

“The only problem—“ RJ elbowed his sister out of the way, glaring at her for good measure. “Is that if my sister and I are operating the rafts, then we have no one here on weapons. If the Dominion come knocking, we’re going to be sitting ducks. As will your civilians.”

Mason grinned. “Oh, don’t worry. That’s where the Resolute shines. We’ll keep them off your back. Right, I’m going to hand operational command over to Burton.”

RJ frowned. “Why? Where are you going?” 

Mason’s grin changed, became menacing and he moved. For the first time, RJ realised he was armed, and not in an ‘away party prepared’ sort of way, but in a ‘one man army’ sort of way. 

“We’re headed down to the surface to create the clear zone for you guys to pickup from. Get your rafts ready, Burton will give you the go-no-go.”

The screen went dead and RJ leaned back in his chair with a thump, running his hands through his hair. 

“Well… fuck!”

Aya slid him a sideways glance. “What? The fact that you’ve just essentially flown us into a war zone so the Dominion can take pot shots at us? You do know Nana’s going to have fucking kittens over this?” 

He rolled his head on the headrest and looked at her. 

“Nope. Mason.”

“What about him? He’s cute. Big and growly but cute.”

“Cute, yeah. And a fucking war veteran.”

Aya shrugged. “So? Seems like he’s exactly the kind of guy you want in this situation. Seems like the sort to kick ass and not worry about taking names.” 

“Yeah… that’s the problem,” he groaned and shoved his hand through his hair. “I’m a dead man. He’s gonna kill me.”

Ryder James Reese-Riggs!” Aya snapped, using his full name as she slammed her hands down on the armrest to spin it around so he had to face her. “What the fuck did you do?”

He grimaced. 

“Slept with his wife.”

 

Comments

  • I love the feel of civvy ships - there's just enough order in the chaos to keep us on something resembling the straight and narrow but not enough to make this feel like a pristine bridge and ship with crisp lines. It feels rough; it feels a bit old and outfitted with rejects from the Island of Misfit toys. But they're lovable but also dangerous. I enjoy the flirty moment with sister and how Ryder is annoyed by it. And that ending? Ohboy.gif and more! It's either gonna turn into a buddy cop movie or a nightmare flick with revenge on the mind - and I wouldn't mind either. Loved this entry as the story continues!

    May 24, 2023
  • True to form, you continue to offer great stories featuring an enthralling mixture of action, dark humor, and a fascinating cast of characters that hold peoples' attention. The interactions between the brother-sister duo, RJ and Aya, make for a dynamic relationship. Their banter is a constant source of levity in an otherwise tension-filled mission, providing a delightful contrast to the grim realities of interstellar warfare against an implacable foe. The unveiling of the situation in the Arriana System, where the population of the planet is under attack by the Jem'Hadar, sets the stage for the crux of the plot. The dire situation is further amplified by the mysterious message from RJ's anonymous contact, "Trust only the fourth," adding another layer of intrigue to the narrative. Your characters are clearly fleshed out, each with their distinct traits. RJ is portrayed as a decisive, knowledgeable, but somewhat nonchalant commander. Aya is portrayed as a strong, smart, and fearless woman who isn't afraid to speak her mind. The character of Mason is enigmatic and formidable, sparking curiosity about his role in the unfolding events. The story thrives on a fast-paced, high-stakes plot that keeps the reader engaged. The plan to evacuate the civilians from Arriana Prime using the Morningstar's detachable "rafts" while combating the Jem'Hadar is both creative and exciting. The tactical details and the logistics of the plan are laid out logically, ensuring credibility. You artfully intersperse elements of humor throughout the story, preventing it from becoming too bleak. This is seen especially in the dialogue between RJ, Aya, and Mason, which helps to balance the high-tension atmosphere with some comic relief. The surprise twist at the end when RJ reveals he has had a relationship with Mason's wife raises the stakes even further. This personal element of drama complements the larger-scale conflict unfolding in the Arriana System, enriching the story immensely. Looking forward to the next story!

    May 27, 2023
  • Oh man, that ending is just wonderful. Had me giggling. I got what Ryder was saying a few lines before Aya is shown as. "Nope. Mason." made me immediately think there was something up, some history. And then it was delivered and I cackled. Oh this has the room to be beautifully deliciously dramatic and I'm waiting for it now!

    May 28, 2023
  • Oh I was wondering what McGig meant with his comment and I read that last line and burst laughing....oh RJ you gonna run boy when Mason finds out its actually him. Wonderful post and great interaction, RJ sister on flirting while RJ is shitting his pants. Love it!

    May 28, 2023
  • RJ certainly is in a pickle. What are the odds in the vastness of space he runs into the captain that he slept with his wife. Really cool to see the civilian side of the Star Trek universe here. And the and The Sibling interaction between brother and sister, pure gold. was a fun post and I look forward to reading more.

    June 2, 2023