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Part of USS Polaris: The Voices of Deneb (The Lost Fleet – Part 2) and Bravo Fleet: The Lost Fleet

The Moments In Between

Mess Hall and Deck 7, USS Serenity
Day 5 - 1900 Hours
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“None of us wanted this, but here we are,” Fleet Admiral Allison Reyes said to the crowd assembled in the mess hall. “Our old enemy continues their rampage across the sector. We have seen the face of their evil, and yet now we are called to face them once more.”

Behind her, the stars streaked by as they headed for the war torn regions of the Deneb Sector still held by the Dominion. In front of her, the officers of the USS Serenity, plus her own small team from the USS Polaris, sat at tables arranged banquet style for this gathering. They’d filled their plates with food, but before anyone began to eat, Admiral Reyes had risen to address the officers who’d soon be marching into battle with her. The room was silent as everyone listened intently.

“We have suffered painful losses and said far too many goodbyes these past few weeks, but we must answer the call,” Admiral Reyes continued in an impassioned tone, each word bathed in conviction. “We answer the call to avenge our fallen. We answer the call to protect those who serve alongside us. We answer the call for those who go to sleep tonight under the yoke of the Dominion. And we answer the call for those all across the quadrant who rely on us to stop this menace. The survival of our great Federation depends on what we do, here and now, today and in the days that follow, until our enemy is no more.”

Just a few weeks ago, the crew of the USS Serenity had lost their captain and thirty of their friends and colleagues to the Jem’Hadar, and just days ago, the crew of the USS Polaris had gone through hell on Nasera. But her words rang true, and the officers nodded along.

“We answer at our own peril, but still we must answer. Peace and freedom, our colleagues and those colonies that depend on us, these are things worth fighting for,” Admiral Reyes concluded. “Tonight we feast, and tomorrow we press on!”

The admiral raised her glass in a toast, and all around her, the officers responded in kind, raising their own glasses high in the air. “Here here!” came their response, in unison with energy.

And then they ate and drank and chatted among themselves, sharing stories of the past and talking about what lay ahead. The message had landed. Admiral Reyes didn’t know whether it was to avenge their fallen, or to defend those still in the line of fire, or to protect the ideals of the Federation at large, but whatever their reason, she could tell she’d done what she needed to do. These officers would rally and rise to the call of their duty.

When at last the plates were cleared and everyone began to retire from the gathering, Commander Jake Lewis, Chief Petty Officer Ayala Shafir and Ensign Elyssia Rel made their way down to Deck 7 where they had each been given temporary accommodations.

The three operators, who had been through so much, walked together. They discussed what had happened, and what they’d soon be doing, and then the conversation drifted towards Commander Drake and his investigation of their actions on Nasera.

“Elyssia, you should have seen him,” Chief Shafir remarked to her Trill counterpart as she recounted what had happened in the starboard stardrive computer core. “Jake lifted that pompous piece of shit right off his feet and pinned him up against the bulkhead. If security hadn’t shown up when they did…” She started to laugh at the thought of what the Commander might have done next, but then, as she thought back to that moment and the JAG’s unrelenting attacks, she got all serious and looked over at him. “But really boss, thank you for having my back,” she offered sincerely.

“It was no biggie,” Lewis shrugged. He didn’t need credit for that. “Any of you would have done the same for me.”

“Yeah, but still, you got thrown in the brig for me.”

“In a cell with greater comforts than the sleeping arrangements we had aboard the Lucre,” Lewis laughed, referencing the Ferengi trawler they had used to slip past the Jem’Hadar two weeks earlier. “I’d hardly call a few hours hanging out in those plush accommodations any sort of real punishment.”

“What did the Admiral say when she came to let you out?” Ensign Rel inquired with curiosity. Outside of large gatherings, the young flight controller did not have much experience with the admiral. “Like how much of an ass chewing was it?” Admiral Reyes seemed like the sort of woman that could take a real chunk out of you.

“Eh, Allison gets it,” Lewis replied nonchalantly. “And besides, she needs me. She needs us. Don’t worry about Commander Drake. He’s just an impotent idealogue sitting in his ivory tower pontificating on topics he does not understand. None of his bullshit will stick.”

“Not that I’m complaining, but if not for his investigation, why’d you attack him?” Shafir asked as the trio came to a stop in front of the Chief’s quarters.

“Because he made you cry,” Lewis answered genuinely as the door to her quarters opened. “It’s the last thing any of you needed to deal with after all we went through down there.” His team was the closest thing he’d ever had to a family, and that was what family did for each other.

“Well, thank you.” Shafir gave him a warm hug before retreating into her quarters. 

Commander Lewis stood there looking dumbfounded as the door shut. He could blend into any environment, break into any place, and kill any target, but a simple act of affectionate gratitude was completely foreign to him.

“How is that what causes you to freeze?” Ensign Rel asked with a laugh. “Good thing the Jem’Hadar don’t know that all they’ve got to do is give you a hug.”

Commander Lewis shot her a look, and the pair started to walk again.

“You really don’t think this Drake thing will stick?” Ensign Rel asked. She believed they had made the right decisions, but she wasn’t as confident as the Commander that they wouldn’t suffer consequences for what they did. The allegations the JAG was leveling were not insignificant, nor completely inaccurate. In fact, that seasoned investigator seemed to have developed a surprisingly comprehensive picture of what had happened on the planet.

“Not one bit,” Commander Lewis answered, his mind drifting to the impossible choice that Elyssia and Ayala had made to blow up the command center while Lieutenant Commander Jordan was still inside. Brock Jordan was one of his closest friends, and a mentor to both Elyssia and Ayala, but if they hadn’t done what they did, thousands, including most of their shipmates, would have died. “You guys made the right call down there.”

“What about what you did? You worried about him sticking that on you?”

“Nope, that won’t stick either.”

“Jake, he’s calling it a war crime,” Ensign Rel cautioned. That was a pretty hefty accusation. Not in her short life, nor in all the past lives her symbiont had lived, had she or anyone she’d ever known faced such an accusation.

“And what would you call it, Elyssia?”

“I would call it necessary to save the lives of hundreds of our officers locked in a bloody battle with the Jem’Hadar,” she answered confidently. She did not for one second question what Commander Lewis, Dr. Hall and Lieutenant Morgan had done. She believed to her core that it was right. “But Drake is going to throw the book at you that says the Vorta was a prisoner of war and should have been afforded certain rights.”

“We act like the law matters, and most of the time it does, but there comes a time when laws must be compromised in order to protect them,” Commander Lewis said as he shook his head. “And this was one of those times.” 

The ensign still looked nervous. “I agree, but I worry a tribunal won’t.”

“You may or may not know, but back in the eighties, I allegedly killed a Romulan senator,” Commander Lewis shared. “Yet here I am with a red collar and three pips. Do you know why? Because those in power know that, if the ends matter enough, any means are justified.”

The bit about the Romulan senator caught Rel by surprise. He’d never talked about it before, and she’d been far too young to have heard about Algorab during its brief moment in the spotlight before the newscycle moved on. Out of pure curiosity, she wondered if Lewis had really done it but, even if he had, she was sure he’d done it for the right reason. She had seen his soul in the rubble of Nasera.

“You should know that Lieutenant Morgan is nervous,” Ensign Rel warned. “He was talking to me and Ayala about it earlier while you and Hall were with Reyes.”

“Did Drake speak to him too?”

Ensign Rel nodded.

“Did Morgan say anything?”

“No, he kept to the script,” Ensign Rel assured him. “Morgan told Drake that if he had any questions about our mission, he needed to speak with you. Drake unloaded on him with accusations though.” Lewis quirked an eyebrow. “He said he ran a full panel on the Vorta and found torture drugs in his system. He also said he knew we executed the Vorta.”

“Cute theories,” chuckled Commander Lewis with a coy smile. “But they’re all just theories. It’s just as likely that the Vorta was seeing someone for his mental health issues, and who’s to say one of the colonists didn’t kill the Vorta after we left?” If the JAG had Commander Lewis’ phaser, he could probably have matched the resonance frequency, but their weapons had arrived with the Lucre, and departed with it as well. There was nothing to tie them to that act of retribution.

“I just hope you’re right,” Ensign Rel said as they came to a stop in front of her quarters. “This team, we need you.” He was the glue that held them together. He never cracked and he never wavered in his commitment and his dedication to them and to the mission. Ensign Rel felt safe with him.

“Look Elyssia, I’ve been at this a long time,” he assured her. “The call was right, and at the end of the day, as reprehensible as I am, I am also necessary.”

“You are not reprehensible to me,” Elyssia Rel offered gently as she looked at him with her bright blue eyes. His weathered skin and deep scars were evidence of just how much he’d given for others. “And I wish you’d stop saying things like that.” This was a man that would go to any ends for his team, his shipmates and really the entire Federation.

Elyssia stepped through the threshold of her quarters, but then she paused. She looked back at the Commander as he began to walk away. She saw a man who gave so much, who cared so much, and yet was so very alone, not just in that corridor, but in life itself. She just wished he could find some peace.

“Hey Commander,” she said. He stopped and looked back. “Before you go, how about a nightcap?” She gave a warm smile and gestured for him to join her in her quarters.

Comments

  • A good and warm characters development between each other after such hard and long campaign. It is wonderful to see this kind of interaction. And I notice that Lewis and Aya are getting....quite close, especially after the events of this battle. Looking forward to those certain sparks *wink*. Great post!

    June 7, 2023
  • Man, Lewis walks that line between being liked by the reader and worrying that his cavalier attitude about everything will get him caught and locked away for the rest of his life! He's a compelling character, and complexity is the name of the game....but in the end, is he just a swagger-filled badass able to kill without remorse? He throws out that he killed a Romulan senator a lot these days. And what about that nightcap? Here's hoping that Lewis and his arc trend towards reflection...but given what he's said and done so far...that may not be possible. Looking forward to how his character continues to develop!

    June 7, 2023
  • Great story enjoyed the interaction between Elyssia and Lewis, how concerned she was that Drake will be able to get things to stick and they lose him. Which could be forever, but I highly doubt it and probably will be made to go away by someone. Though I am surprised by the ending of this chapter could there be sparks flying between the two or is it just a friendly nightcap? Great story and can't wait to see what you have planned next!

    June 8, 2023
  • I like how this post told me more about how Allison sees herself and how she wants to be seen. There's a frisson of contradiction there; the way she can't help but pronounce speeches with gravitas, and yet she wants to bring the members of her crew together family-style. Similarly, it's always intriguing hearing re-tellings of events, such as the ones between Lewis and Shafir. There's always good nuggets of looking for unreliable narrators and learning what's important to the characters through the way they emphasize the details in their stories. You did that well, and such a telling storytelling choice it was! Their debate on war crimes is the stuff DS9 was made from, truly.

    June 10, 2023
  • Allison Reyes

    Squadron Commander
    ASTRA Director

  • Jake Lewis

    Squadron Intelligence Officer
    USS Serenity Commanding Officer

  • Ayala Shafir

    ASTRA Staff Researcher, Computational Systems
    Intelligence Specialist & Hazard Team Operator

  • Elyssia Rel

    Flight Control Officer
    Hazard Team Operator