Discovery’s trip to the Deneb sector hot zone had been relatively quiet, and most of her personnel had been left behind to make room for what they suspected would be the evacuation of key facilities or worlds around the region. One department that was fully staffed, however, was the medical team down in sickbay. To say that the medical facility aboard Discovery was state-of-the-art was probably a significant understatement. It made use of all the latest technologies available to Starfleet physicians and was a facility to behold. It also had a specialist in unique physiologies, which was exactly what was needed at the current moment in time.
Doctor Sebastian Fornell was a veteran of some thirty years in the medical field and had served on the front lines during the Dominion War. It was a no-brainer to respond to the call of Captain Zephra when the time came for a response in the shape of the mighty Odyssey-class starship. He’d expected to get his hands dirty pretty early on, but not within hours of the ship’s arrival. That had changed when the urgent plea for help arrived from the Hathaway earlier that day.
“Okay people,” he addressed the team he had picked for the medical assessment of their patient. “In a few moments, we’ll be receiving a patient of some significance. All we know is that the patient is a joined Trill, and was hurt during their mission. Since Hathaway is without a lead physician, they need us to save their colleague’s life,” he instructed the team around the bed. “We’ll conduct a full assessment of the patient upon their arrival here, but needless to say, the concern is grave enough that they have had to not only sedate the patient, but they have found that the use of an EMH is not sufficient for the need. They need us, and we shall not let them down.”
Rolling up his sleeves, the Doctor had a hushed conversation with his assistant as they went about their business, being ready just in time to receive their patient. The familiar blue transporter beam of Starfleet technology soon filled the bay, a figure materialising on the main surgical bed at the centre of the diagnostic area. Picking up his tricorder, the Chief Medical Officer began his analysis.
“So, we have a Trill female, joined, approximately fifty-years of age,” the Doctor revealed, running his tricorder over the woman who had appeared on the biobed between him and his assistant. “She’s suffered blunt force trauma to the abdomen, specifically in the area around the symbiote pouch.” He stopped his dictation as the tricorder hovered over the area where the symbiote was located. “Isoboromine levels are decreasing. Symbiont is showing signs of distress,” he confirmed, voice lowering as the severity of the issue gripped him.
“Doctor…” the assistant chimed in, leaning over the sedated body. “I know this woman. This is Captain Nazir, their commanding officer…” she trailed off, making tense eye contact with the senior most doctor in the room.
“Captain or no Captain, she gets the same treatment anyone would,” he advised his subordinate, “even if it might go a little quicker,” he smiled.
“Don’t worry Captain,” he whispered to the prone figure, a gentle hand on her shoulder, “I’ll get you back on your bridge in no time.”
Wandering into the sanctuary of the observation lounge, Lieutenant Commander Noli sidled up to the table and pulled out the chair to Giarvar’s right-hand side. The XO had been in the room ever since Discovery’s arrival, preparing himself for the meeting with whatever member of the brass they deemed it appropriate to send over to debrief him. And boy, did he have a lot to divulge.
“Sickbay has reported Captain Nazir has been beamed to Discovery,” the Bajoran revealed, relaxing in her chair and holding the arms as she glanced at the XO. “How are you holding up?” She asked him, perhaps the first time she had been so personal with the XO since, well, ever.
Rubbing his eyes, the Trill stifled a yawn. “I’m exhausted,” he smiled sheepishly, “as is everyone. We should start rotating people off to get some rest while we’re in Disco’s backyard,” he advised her, the Bajoran essentially the defacto XO in the absence of the Captain and the Trill’s newest confidant. They didn’t have a lot in common, and they had had their differences in the recent past, but he was going to have to rely on her for the moment. He couldn’t deny, she got results. It was no surprise that Captain Gor had recalled her to his crew at the earliest opportunity.
“Already underway,” the Bajoran smiled, proving to be more than useful to the XO. “We’ve also got repairs underway on both ships. Prida seems to think she can have the Breen warship fully functional by the end of the week if she is allowed the chance,” the tactical chief advised the Commander.
“That won’t be necessary…”
Taken aback by the sudden appearance of a familiar figure at the port entrance, the two Hathaway officers rose to their feet, following the newcomer as he strolled up to the table. Coming to a standstill to Giarvar’s left, Captain Romaes Anjin offered a hand to the Trill, and then leant across to do the same to his fellow Bajoran across from him. Sliding into the chair, the Task Force Executive Officer clasped his hands together on the tabletop. “I want to start by saying congratulations,” the senior officer smiled. “You’ve secured us a significant intelligence asset, and while it may not be Rodyn himself, the chances of us garnering something of use from the ship is far greater anyway.”
Noli and Giarvar shared a glance with each other as Romaes continued. “Fourth Fleet Command have authorised Discovery to tow the Breen warship to Deneb for analysis.”
“That won’t be necessary sir,” Giarvar shook his head, “we can take it and free up Discovery for other operations.” He didn’t mean to sound like he was disrespecting the TFXO, but it made more sense to him, especially with the Captain injured.
“Actually, it is,” Romaes countered, leaning forward and utilising his best, authoritative tone. “Hathaway has a new objective,” he told, throwing his hands up when he sensed the response that was coming. “Yes, I am aware of Captain Nazir’s condition, and while the absence of Captain Gor makes things trickier, we do have an easy solution,” the Captain smiled as he slipped a data PADD across the table. “In recognition of you assuming command following the injury of your captain, and successfully completing your assigned mission objective without loss, Commodore Ekwueme has authorised me to grant you a battlefield promotion. Hathaway is yours until further notice, Captain.” the Bajoran grinned.
For once, Giarvar was lost for words. Assuming command had been a no-brainer given the captain’s condition, and completing a mission was ingrained in him, but actually being given command was something entirely different. He would not only be responsible for the entire ship, but also the crew and the outcome of the mission. Lifting a hand and running it through his hair, the newly minted captain looked more than a little shocked. “Not what I expected, but greatly appreciated. Thank you,” he nodded in acknowledgement.
“Good. Now let’s talk business because things are about to get deeply personal…”
“…and while we obviously wish the Captain a speedy recovery, I’m afraid there is no rest for the wicked,” Captain Kauhn concluded the first part of his brief, stood behind the chair that Nazir so ably occupied, the very chair the Changeling imposter had called his own during the initial days of the Dominion invasion. It was as if the Trill was finding it difficult to sit in the seat. “Captain Romaes has relayed orders from Fourth Fleet Command. This one comes from the very top, people,” he told the team, before tapping on the control and bringing up a holographic representation of a planet in the middle of the table. “Akaria, please.”
Sitting forward, the resident scientist began her part of the briefing. She took a minute to compose herself, knowing what she was about to say would hit home for one of the team in particular, but given his expression, he already knew what was coming. “Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to Uviri,” the Risian told in the most jovial manner she could muster. “For those that are unaware, Uviri is a beautiful planet; a hot and humid world which has caused much of its flora and fauna to become tough, rubbery and fibrous through centuries of evolution. Many natives live in villages that practically blend into their environment, almost as if the villages had been constructed so as to not obscure or take away from the natural beauty of the planet,” the scientist told, her eyes locking on with another individual around the table.
“Or to keep them hidden from invaders,” Or’uil finally spoke up, head bobbing along with each word. “Uviri is my homeworld, and an Ungeat colony,” the Ungeat finally revealed, drawing nods of understanding and silent expressions of sympathy from his colleagues.
“Or’uil will correct me if I am wrong, but farming is an important aspect of society here, and they can be found scattered across the planet’s lush and vibrant landscape. While many idyllic farms have spent their best years being tilled and cultivated, many now bear the scars of battle, however…” Akaria let out a sigh as the hologram changed, the planet’s atmosphere apparently darkening as she passed over the briefing to the team strategist.
“On the surface, as beautiful as Uviri may be, she is a relatively unspectacular world,” Lieutenant Tuca sat forward now, hands clasped together on the surface as he looked about the table. “Until you acknowledge the sizeable dilithium fields on the northern continent, and the refineries built there, that is. That made the planet a tempting target for the Dominion. So much so that Uviri was one of the first worlds to fall during the Dominion’s initial assault on the Deneb sector,” the strategic operations officer revealed, explaining to all, but especially Or’uil, why they had been struggling to contact the world. Things were finally starting to make sense.
“As important as these refineries are, they are not our main target,” Tuca told, changing the display before them. “First discovered by Ungeat settlers a century ago, the Eerie Mountains is an inhospitable region almost entirely unnavigable through technological means. The exact reason for this is unknown; Starfleet scientists have been conducting research into the phenomena for a few years now and getting nowhere. It’s for this reason that our main objective is so significant,” he revealed. Once again, the image changed. It now displayed a network of open-air caves that ran along the base of the mountains. As they followed the path along the cave network, they came to a larger site.
“I know this place,” Or’uil looked a little livelier now, his voice coming through the voice synthesiser a little higher pitched than before. “It goes by many names, but the loosest translation into Federation standard would be the Sanctum,” he told, a smile on his face as he finally seemed to take pleasure in talking about his homeward, forgetting for a moment that it was at least partially under Dominion occupation. “It’s located in a set of ancient ruins located at the base of the tallest mountain in the range, and at the end of a labyrinth of underground, open-air caves. It is so secluded that it would take an incredible stroke of luck to come across it by accident.”
“It’s also a Starfleet listening post,” Tuca revealed, drawing a look of exasperation from the Ungeat across the table. “Until the invasion, the listening post was monitoring Breen relations with the K’zinti. It went dark after the initial invasion.” Sitting back in his chair, the Alzek looked across at the Captain, still stood behind the chair at the head of the table.
“Our mission is threefold,” the Trill began, pointing to the wall-mounted display. “Hathaway will engage Dominion forces in orbit, whilst the Hellhounds will take out Dominion defences established around the dilithium refineries. This will all be a diversion from our main objective,” he changed the screen. “A small, heavily armed covert team will reach the listening post and ascertain its status. By Runabout if possible, on foot if needed.”
The mission was bold and incredibly dangerous. It was also a chance to properly go on the offensive and deal another blow to their enemies. But, there was something further that needed to be discussed before they could proceed.
“Captain Romaes has stressed that my promotion is only short term until Captain Nazir is well enough to resume command. He has, however, given me permission to make any adjustments I need for this mission,” he took a deep breath now, unsure how the next few moments would unfold. “We’re going to have a little reshuffle. Commander Noli has agreed to step up to the plate as acting First Officer during this period. As such, I am moving Or’uil to tactical as her replacement. Tuca will be our new second officer, while Prida, you’ll be returning to the bridge at Ops for now. Lieutenant Udal will take over from you in engineering. Any questions?” He knew there would be plenty, eventually, but that now wasn’t the time for them. His people knew it too. His people? When had they become that? “Our replacement medical officer has yet to be appointed, so Lieutenant Iddar will continue to deputise, with the support of her team.”
“I’m not going to try and give some rousing battle cry,” the Trill smirked, shaking his head as he changed tact. “I don’t need to. Everyone on this crew gives one hundred and ten percent every time they walk out of their quarters. Let’s do this for the Captain, for everyone who’s lost their life so far, and for Or’uil,” the Trill’s gaze settled on the newly appointed tactician, “who deserves the chance to go home, to a place he recognises.”
Nodding in thanks to the Captain, the Ungeat adolescent’s eyes watered themselves. Once again, these people were going out on a limb for him, and it meant more than they would ever know.
If only they knew the truth of what would await them several lightyears away…