Admiral Reyes, Commander Lewis and a small team from the Polaris blazed onto the bridge of the Serenity with fire in their eyes and determination in their step. The rest of the Polaris’ crew still toiled on their ship and the planet below, but whether it was to avenge the tragedy of Nasera or the scars of a war long past, these zealots were restless and ready to strike back once more. They were hand-picked by Reyes and Lewis, battle-tested and non-relevant to the humanitarian mission the rest of the squadron was involved with.
Before anyone could announce her arrival, Admiral Reyes had already swiftly cleared the distance from the turbolift to the command island. “Lieutenant Commander Eidran,” she said briskly as she extended her hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you.” Before the acting CO could even respond or shake her hand, the admiral cut right to the chase. “Let’s get this ship ready to depart. It’s time to get on with it.”
Lieutenant Commander Ekkomas Eidran’s was mouth agape, speechless at the whirlwind that had just blown onto the quiet bridge. All around him, the officers that Admiral Reyes had brought with her were making themselves right at home, introducing themselves to his bridge officers and settling in at empty stations to get up to speed.
“You okay there Mister Eidran?” asked Commander Lewis from behind the Master Systems Display as he quickly assessed the combat readiness of the ship. “Admiral said let’s get this bird ready to fly.”
“Oh yes, yes, I’m sorry,” Lieutenant Commander Eidran replied as he tried to get his wits about him. “I… I just didn’t know we were departing so soon. Or at all honestly.” Commodore Jori had been vague about what the Serenity would be doing in the Nasera System.
“War doesn’t wait for anyone kid,” said Commander Lewis gruffly as he sized up the young officer. According to his dossier, Ekkomas Eidran was a cracked Tactical Officer who had just been promoted to Executive Officer, and then tragedy struck, thrusting him into the Captain’s Chair after their Commanding Officer was killed. Lewis was not impressed by how slow Eidran seemed on the trigger thus far. “Let’s chop chop,” Lewis insisted, looking around the bridge and clapping his hands as if to encourage the crew to get their hustle on. “You heard the Admiral.”
Admiral Reyes took in the bridge and its officers. The bridge’s downtempo demeanor stood in sharp contrast to her energized team, and its officers looked melancholy, shocked and subdued. This was going to be a problem. “Commanders,” she instructed, pointing at Commander Lewis and Lieutenant Commander Eidran. “Ready Room, now.”
Reyes headed for the Ready Room, followed by Lewis and Eidran, while the rest of their people got comfortable with the Serenity’s systems.
Once the door shut behind them, Admiral Reyes looked straight at Lieutenant Commander Eidran. “Ok Commander, give it to me straight,” she demanded. “What the hell is going on here?”
“I’m sorry ma’am,” Lieutenant Commander Eidran apologized with an embarrassed expression. “No one gave us any details about the mission. Since the Serenity is not a warship, we all sort of figured we’d be helping with Nasera. I heard from Commodore Jori that the planet is in pretty bad shape?”
“Yes, that is an accurate description,” Reyes nodded regretfully. “And we are going to strike back at the enemy to make sure they can’t keep doing this.” She paused for a moment to study the young man. He had stellar reviews from all his past Commanding Officers, including the recently deceased Captain Mark Gilliam. She had respected Mark. He ran a tight ship, and if he had good things to say about this young man, she wanted to give him a chance. “Frankly though, what I’m worried about right now is why the bridge looks like someone’s throwing a wake?”
“Admiral, it’s just that the crew has been through a lot,” Eidran explained. “We got rammed by a Jem’Hadar fighter while coming to the aid of the USS Kison. Captain Gilliam, and thirty of our friends and colleagues, perished in that moment. We limped back to Farpoint for repairs, but it’s all been pretty hard. Mark was like a dad to us all.” There was a deep sadness in his eyes. “I guess none of us really gave any thought to the fact we’d be going back up against them so soon. I’m not sure we’re ready.”
Commander Lewis looked like he was about ready to rip the Betazoid’s head off for such a pitiful statement, and the Betazoid could sense Lewis’ unrestrained emotions, adding to his discomfort.
Admiral Reyes took a more graceful tact. “War is a terrible thing,” she offered gently. “Never is the will of an officer more tested than when the battle goes south. We can either shrivel up and succumb to our pain, or we can use it to strengthen our resolve, to avenge the fallen, and to ensure that no more have to suffer the same fate.”
Lieutenant Commander Eidran looked torn as he debated those words. They made sense at a literal level, but he was having a hard time accepting them at a practical one.
“Nine hundred and twenty eight officers gave their lives here,” Admiral Reyes continued as she looked out the window at Nasera II beneath them. “But they did it so millions would be free once more. And they did it for each other. A young Petty Officer gave his life rather than turn his team over to the Jem’Hadar. A Lieutenant Commander gave his life to ensure the planetary defense system would not fall back into Dominion hands and be used to destroy our squadron. Two brave men gave their lives to ensure we didn’t have to ram the Polaris into an orbital station. And I could go on and on. Your story is not all that different. The Serenity came to the aid of her fellow officers. Mark knew the risks, yet still he answered the call. Do we not owe it to Mark, to your fallen friends, and to all those who gave their lives here in the Nasera System, and all across the sector for that matter, to finish what they started and to answer the call once more?”
It was a lot to take in. Ekkomas Eidran had not thought of it that way up until this point. He was still in that stage of grief where the world was just a blur.
“Or, if you want to think about it another way,” offered Commander Lewis. “Let’s go get even with those assholes. Revenge is sweet.” The aged spook with weathered skin smirked.
Lieutenant Commander Eidran was shocked by the candor. It was not what he expected from a fellow officer, but it was refreshing. Yes, he thought to himself, he was a fighter. It’s why he’d gone tactical track in the first place. “I guess I can get with that,” he said, his posture straightening. “For Mark, and for the others.”
That was as good as they were going to get from the young man at that moment, so Admiral Reyes turned her attention towards the rest of the crew. “How have you addressed this with the rest of the crew?” she asked. “Morale and all of that.” If the acting Commanding Officer was in this state, it did not bode well for those who served under him.
“Honestly, we haven’t really,” Eidran admitted. He was only weeks out of the Command Academy, and although he knew morale was paramount to a successful command, the courses hadn’t prepared him for this situation, one where they’d lost the ship’s Commanding Officer and a tenth of their colleagues. “And our Chief Counselor was among those we lost too.”
“Well, lucky for you, we brought someone along to help,” Reyes smiled. “Commander Lewis, please see to it that Dr. Hall puts together a game plan to get this crew ready to fight.”
Commander Lewis nodded. Dr. Hall was absolutely going to adore this assignment, he thought to himself sarcastically. There was nothing the twisted psychologist hated more than being a shoulder for kids to cry on.
“And Commander Eidran, once we’re underway, please arrange a banquet in the officers’ mess, a meet-and-greet, if you will, and a rallying call for what lies ahead,” Reyes instructed. The request might have seemed odd to Lieutenant Commander Eidran, given that they were about to go to war, but Admiral Reyes knew they’d only succeed if they changed the hearts and minds of these officers. She’d have Commander Lewis seed his operators throughout the mess hall to prompt conversations with the staff where they could push their message, and she’d come up with a little speech to get everyone in the game for the fight ahead.