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Part of USS Polaris: Infiltrate and Liberate Nasera (The Lost Fleet – Part 1) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

Harsh Realities of War

USS Polaris
Mission Day 14 - 0240 Hours
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The weight of the Admiral’s pips felt heavy in his hand. Allison Reyes had thrown them on the floor before she charged into that brawl on the streets of Nasera, and Captain Devreux hadn’t let go of them ever since. They were a symbol of what every officer was putting on the line down there.

Logically, Captain Devreux knew his dearest colleague was safe. The battle had ended hours ago when the Jem’Hadar gave up the fight. But his apprehension still remained, and he didn’t really know why. Gérard Devreux was not a soldier. Everything about their current situation was foreign to him. Sure, he had trained for combat and had some scuffles in the borderlands, but holograms and raiders didn’t typically leave your sailors in gurneys and coffins by the dozens, or hundreds.

When at last Reyes rematerialized in Transporter Room 3 at 0240 hours, Captain Devreux was standing there waiting for her. He exhaled, the first real exhale he’d had in the last nine hours. He wasn’t sure if it was because his friend was back or because he’d no longer be the one in charge. It was probably both.

“Got the old girl all fixed up so we can get right back out there?” Reyes asked as she stepped off the transporter pad. Devreux could hardly believe it. She had to be joking. Covered in dirt and blood with bruises on her skin and a couple rips in her combat fatigues, the first thing out of her mouth was when they’d be ready to get back in the fight? They had barely survived this one. “Relax Gérard, I know she’s a dumpster fire after what we put her through tonight.”

“That’s a bit of an understatement,” the Captain warned. “It’ll be another day before we have the breaches even all sealed. Parts of seven decks are currently uninhabitable, and we’re barely making emergency power. It is a logistical nightmare just prioritizing getting the right supplies to the most needed places.”

The Admiral nodded. In their pursuit for victory, they had gotten beaten up badly. She had run the Polaris headlong into a hellstorm, pushing one of the largest and most advanced starships in the fleet to the edge, and almost over it. The situation Devreux described was to be expected. “And the crew?”

“Doctor Henderson’s got cots lining the corridors outside of Main Sickbay. Even with a cargobay repurposed, we’re still 45 patients over capacity,” he answered. “And that doesn’t even account for those who didn’t make it.” He took a deep breath before he shared that number. “126 of ours up here, and another 152 down there with you. Plus another 50 or so on the edge. Henderson just lost 4 more in the last three hours.”

Admiral Reyes took it all in. She knew it would be bad. She’d been on the bridge when the Polaris had taken those hits. She’d given the order, willing to give up the entire ship to prevent a genocide. She’d also been down on the ground when they engaged the Jem’Hadar down there, fighting for every inch. Nonetheless, even having been there for all of it, those were still staggering numbers. 282 dead and more still likely to succumb. That was over one sixth of the Polaris’ entire crew complement. Every single sailor would have a colleague or friend that died tonight. They’d all have quite a task ahead of them to heal.

“What about the rest of the squadron?”

“Not any better,” Devreux admitted. “Norway is gone, Steamrunner is probably going to end up in mothballs, and the others, save for the Ingenuity, are all weeks from being spaceworthy again. Commander Lee’s ship is really the only one that’s still all in one piece.” The Ingenuity being in one piece had been a lifesaver too because she was basically producing everything the other ships needed to get their holes patched and most critical needs met. One little light cruiser could only do so much though, and it was going to take time to get the surviving ships fixed up.

“And casualties?”

“Over 850 across the squadron.”

If the Polaris’ number had not already done her in, that number absolutely did. But her response was not grief. It was anger. She looked down at the sidearm on her hip. Every death tonight, she knew who was responsible. There was only one appropriate response. “Gérard, I don’t care what it takes, but we need to get this ship ready to fight, and fast. Until the only Jem’Hadar are those in the Gamma Quadrant, we do not rest.”

Captain Devreux shook his head. “Not going to happen Allison.”

Admiral Reyes shot him a glare, but it wasn’t the playful or frustrated sort that she often aimed in the direction of her Executive Officer when he brought logic or reason to a discussion. No, this look was the look of a zealot, filled with fire and rage, and it scared the living daylights out of Captain Devreux.

“It doesn’t matter how much you will it,” he replied carefully, trying to stay as calm and collected as he could. “This ship is being held together by shoestring and good intentions right now. Even if you were parked at Avalon Fleet Yards right now with the full might of Starfleet Engineering at your disposal, it’s not going anywhere for weeks. For fucks sake, we’re eating MREs and boiling soup right now because we don’t have the power to spare for the replicators!”

Yes, that did sound a bit problematic, Reyes thought to herself. Maybe she did need to give it some time. She started to come back to reality, but it was hard. She could feel the adrenaline coursing through her veins and the hatred she had for the enemy that was currently running rampant through their space. It was hard to think logically after what they’d just been through.

“Plus, we have a planet to heal,” Devreux added forcefully. “That’s what you were doing down there these last few hours, wasn’t it?” He quirked his eyebrow at her. He wasn’t backing down from this. They still had responsibilities here.

Reyes nodded, remembering that their mission in the Nasera System was far from over. They had freed eight million Federation citizens tonight, but a long road lay ahead to rebuild Nasera City. That work did have to happen, both for the people that lived there, and for the industrial capabilities it would provide to the war effort. Strategically, the Polaris was needed here over Nasera II to help with that hard work, but it didn’t mean she didn’t want to get back out there.

“I’m tired, Gérard,” Reyes said, relenting to his point. “If you want to continue this conversation, let’s do it on the way to my quarters.” She had been in the fight the last nine hours, and she’d been awake at least twice that. With her adrenaline now dwindling, she was done.

Captain Devreux nodded and followed her out of the transporter room. “Command has sent several messages asking for an update,” he explained as they walked towards the turbolift. “Are you going to call them tonight?”

“No,” she replied flatly. “Just give them something short over text narrowband. Tell them… tell them: Mission accomplished. Nasera in Federation hands. More to follow.”

Captain Devreux looked at her skeptically. That was hardly an update.

“I’ll call Commodore Jori in the morning,” Reyes assured him as they stepped into the turbolift. “I just don’t have enough gas left in the tank tonight.” She could wait until tomorrow to talk to those who sat pretty on their starbases and flagships far from the fight. As the door shut behind them, she looked over at the Captain. “It’ll be fine. I know these folks, and they know me. As long as they know Nasera is ours, the rest can wait until morning.”

Captain Devreux wasn’t going to argue with her on that procedural point. It would be her hide, not his, that got grilled for that. But he also suspected she didn’t care. She’d just come through hell, and even before that, Admiral Reyes wasn’t exactly one to care much for bureaucracy. It was, and always had been, about the results for her.

There was one other thing Devreux was curious about though. “Not to look a gift horse in the eye Admiral, but whatever did happen down there?” he asked as the turbolift began to move. “One minute, you guys were calling in airstrikes and reporting engagement after engagement with the Jem’Hadar, and the next minute, it was just kind of over.”

“Commander Lewis.”

That wasn’t an answer. “What did he do?”

“I didn’t ask.”

Still not an answer. “You’re serious?”

“Gérard, come on,” Reyes said as looked at him with a serious expression. “Do you really think you, or even I, need to know how it was that he compelled that monster to give up the fight? And for that matter, do you really even want to know?” The Vorta would not simply have agreed to call off the Jem’Hadar. Commander Lewis and Dr. Hall almost certainly would have crossed ethical and legal lines to get him to that point.

The turbolift door slid open and Admiral Reyes stepped out.

“Plus, he’s not going to tell us anyway,” she said as she started to walk towards her room. She knew Commander Lewis well enough to know she would never hear what really happened, or at least not until the two were on a distant, nonaligned world somewhere, sharing a drink in a shady establishment where there’d be no risk of prying eyes.

Devreux just shook his head. Everything about tonight had been so heavy, so strange, so alien to him. He hustled to catch up to the Admiral, just as she neared the door to her quarters.

She turned back to him as the door opened. “Gérard, I know this isn’t your world, but you did damn good today. Thank you.” She meant it with all the sincerity in the world. The lifelong explorer had risen to the call today. He’d done his duty.

As she stepped through, he stopped her. “Wait.” Captain Devreux extended his hand, and in his palm were her pips. “You forgot something.”

She smiled for the first time in hours.

Comments

  • This was a real down to earth post, facing the reality of what a battle could do and seeping in the harsh truth of the choices they made. Reyes has her fire build up to face the Dominion head on, only to forget to realize that her squad is not in any type of shape to follow her into that combat. Plus Devreux is right, they have the planet back that needs all the help it can get.

    May 31, 2023
  • Well done Devreux for putting Reyes in her place and bringing her back to reality. Polaris will be in no fit state for some time and she has a responsibility to those around her, to make sure that number doesn't increase anymore than it has between posts. Harsh realities indeed. I sense the Dominion are not just going to go away, so she'll have her day, again. Bravo on a great end to the mission. Compelling from first to last. I'm glad I chose Polaris to stick with. Thank you for the inspirational moments and the emotional pull on the old heart strings. Now I will take what I have learned from you, and put it to work on the liberation of Un'gar. Can't wait to read about the fallout.

    May 31, 2023
  • From the very start to the finish, this has been one epic rollercoaster of an adventure. You have a wonderful knack for story telling, and the ability to put a reader right in the middle of events, and you make each character seem like a unique and believable person.

    June 22, 2023