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Part of USS Bellerophon (Archive): This Far, How Further? and USS Odyssey: This Far, How Further?

This Far, How Further? – 9

USS Bellerophon (NCC-74705), Avalon Fleet Yards, Avalon System, Grazer Sector
Stardate: 78275.4
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“To distant friends.”

“Hear, hear,” Jarata and Corben said in unison, agreeing with Jirani’s sentiments as they all raised their coffee mugs into the air. 

“Cheers!” Hilgan added. 

“Indeed,” T’Penni stated.

They all then took a swig of their drinks, and an uncomfortable silence filled the room.

Corben sighed. “I can hear what you’re all thinking and feeling.” The Betazoid doctor stated. “And you’re all right; this sucks.” She was not referring to the coffee but their situation.

Besides T’Penni, everyone chuckled slightly. The Vulcan chief engineer was glaring at her coffee. “This coffee has an unusual taste.”

Jarata explained what it was. “It’s a Risian blend; it has a different kick than a raktajino.”

“It is offensive.” T’Penni said, which forced a few smirks from the others before she put her mug down on the table before her, “Fortunately, taste is irrelevant.”

Always appreciating the Vulcan’s blunt and straight-to-the-point approach, Jirani grinned as she got out of her chair. They were all sitting in the mess hall. Well, what was left of it. Most of the crew had moved off the ship while they were docked. The senior staff (again, what was left of it) had remained onboard for the moment. She couldn’t blame any of them for wanting to get off as quickly as they could. The Bellerophon was still in the same mess it was in when it arrived at Avalon. The Intrepid Class wasn’t going anywhere fast, and Starfleet didn’t seem bothered about rushing to fix her. Only a handful of yard engineers had been assigned, and they were working incredibly slow from her perspective. Jirani looked out the nearest window to see other ships, shuttles and support craft darting across the Avalon system. Turning back to everyone, she spoke up. “Well, it’s been some time since we’ve all got together. Now’s a good time to see how we are doing. What’s the latest with repairs?”

Jarata spoke up first. “There’s nothing new to report.”

“Humour me, Rubon,” The Bajoran commander insisted. 

“All right, let’s see,” The pilot replied, “The warp core is still offline, the plasma injectors have not yet been replaced, and we still have multiple hull breaches.” He turned to T’Penni. “Did I miss anything, Lieutenant?”

T’Penni raised an eyebrow, noticing Jarata’s sarcasm in his tone; nevertheless, she did reply. “I received an update this morning that a new port nacelle will not arrive for several days.”

“When will it arrive?” Jirani asked.

“It will not be installed next Tuesday.”

Jirani sighed heavily. For such a massive installation, she was expecting a bit more from the Avalon Fleet Yards. Instead, everything she and her crew did to expedite the repairs was met with barriers. “What about the power grid?”

“If we had a fully staffed operations team, it might be a different matter,” T’Penni stated.

Hilgan then interjected. “We don’t need to be assigning blame on our situation, Lieutenant.” The Trill counsellor didn’t look best pleased with the Vulcan’s remark. However, he had taken over temporarily at operations while they were towed to the fleet yards; since then, he had long left that job to the experts who were meant to be looking after the ship for them. They were missing Bronden, though. The former Chief of Operations knew his stuff and had kept the Bellerophon together for many years. 

“I was not assigning blame, Counsellor, merely stating the fact,” T’Penni replied before returning to the previous subject matter and directing her attention to Jirani. “However, the power grid is at forty-two per cent efficiency. I believe the yard engineers plan to bring it up to fifty, but they will need another six more days.”

“So much for the Bellerophon joining any of the Frontier Day celebrations,” Jarata stated. 

Jirani nodded in agreement as she put her mug down on the table. “I promised the captain we would be finished and ready for him after he had finished babysitting the Triton. It looks like we’re far from it.”

“At the present rate of how repairs are conducted, I estimate that the ship will be fully operational and functioning at peak efficiency in three months.” T’Penni shared.

“Three months?” Hilgan repeated with a heavier sigh. “Well, we certainly won’t return with the Odyssey and the others to the Delta Quadrant at that rate.”

“Maybe I can speak with the repair supervisor after Frontier Day to speed up whatever is happening,” Jirani said with some hope.

“Commander, you are in error,” T’Penni stated in her usual short and sharp tone. “The likelihood of the supervisor changing their approach to our repair schedule is improbable.”

Jirani looked at the Vulcan and was not appreciating her pessimism. “Thanks for the maths lesson, T’Penni, but I disagree that we just sit here and allow Avalon to become our permanent residence.” 

Jarata interposed to break the tension between the two women. “Listen, perhaps we’ve got the wrong perspective on all of this.”

Confused by Jarata’s suggestion, Hilgan looked at him. “What do you mean, Rubon? Surely you’re not saying we should consider this a vacation?”

“Why not?” The pilot replied with a shrug of his shoulders. “Avalon is a beautiful planet. It’s no Risa, but then at least it’s not a Demon-class planet!”

Jirani sniggered at Jarata’s optimistic approach before finishing her mug of coffee. “Listen, why don’t we all take a break from this and come back together after the Frontier Day celebrations? I’ll see what I can do from my end.” she looked at them all and thanked them for their time before leaving the mess hall.

After T’Penni had left the mess hall, she walked down the corridor of deck three when Doctor Corben called for her. Stopping in her pace, she turned around to see the Betazoid woman jogging towards her. “Doctor, is everything okay?”

“It will be,” Corben said as she slowed down to join T’Penni by her side. “Can I give you some advice?”

T’Penni looked at her for a second before looking back down the corridor. “Proceed.”

“It is inappropriate, no it’s not helpful,” Corben started by correcting herself, “for you constantly bringing a negative tone to our staff meetings.”

“That was not my intention,” T’Penni responded. “Nor is it my continued intention to have a negative tone in my interactions with the crew; however, the state and the future of the Bellerophon does not appear positive.”

“In your view, currently,” Corben remarked.

“And yours, Doctor,” T’Penni stated. “I know your ‘dry wit’, as Lieutenant Jarata refers to it, that you agree with my assessment.”

“Then you should also know that I’ve known Commander Jirani for some time now, and I trust her explicitly, but you presenting our situation in such a way that brings everyone down is not helping anyone, especially her,” Corben advised. “Jirani is doing a role she does not want, especially as she is still mourning the loss of Commander Jaz. They were best of friends.”

 “I am aware of the social structure of the senior staff, Doctor, before the deaths of Commander Jaz and Chief Bronden and the impact it has had on everyone; nevertheless, I do not see the logic in mixing that with the status of the ship,” T’Penni countered back.

“They go hand in hand, Lieutenant,” Corben instructed. “Just remember that non-Vulcans struggle to deal with multiple traumas. Especially Jirani, her faith in the Prophets is important to her and right now, I can see it is at an all-time low with what we have had to endure and what she has been asked to manage.”

“Your logic appears flawed to me,” T’Penni said as she looked at the Doctor one more time. “But, I do not want to impact further on the efficiency of the ship, so I will re-examine my approaches for future interactions.”

“Thank you, Lieutenant,” Corben said, relieved she got somewhere with the chief engineer before they turned down another one of the Bellerophon’s broken corridors. 

Upon entering the turbolift and after the turbolift doors closed, Jarata wasted no time pulling Hilgan towards the wall. With an intense look in his eyes, he wrapped his arms around him and pressed his lips against his in a deep, passionate kiss. Hilgan eagerly reciprocated, his body responding to Jarata’s touch as they pressed against each other in the confined space. The heat between them was palpable, and neither wanted the moment to end.

And then Hilgan gently pushed Jarata off him. “You’re such a jerk, Rubon.” He said, wiping his mouth with the back of his uniform sleeve. 

Jarata knew the counsellor was not referring to their on/off relationship but to his behaviour in the last staff meeting. “Hey, I’m not the one getting defensive for a role I tried to do.” Jarata mocked Hilgan’s attempt at being chief operations officer. He knew the counsellor had not liked being shot down by T’Penni.  

“You’re meant to be setting an example to the others now you’re acting first officer,” Hilgan retorted, emphasising on the temporary assignment that Jarata had. Jarata had already shared with Hilgan that he didn’t like how their commanding officer, Captain McCallister, had left him in this position. Though McCallister had confidence in him, Jarata wasn’t feeling it. 

Hilgan and Jarata moved closer to each other, their bodies almost touching. Jarata smiled seductively and asked, “What example should I set then, Counsellor?” He leaned in and kissed Hilgan on the neck. “Perhaps you could show me?”

Hilgan smiled back and ran his hands through Jarata’s hair, returning the kiss. Hilgan then ran his hands towards Jarata’s shoulders. “Not like this,” He whispered before pushing Jarata off him. “You promised something a bit more romantic last time.”

Jarata looked up and wrapped his arms around Hilgan’s waist just as Hilgan did the same around his neck. “Fine, but you promised me you would leave work here on the ship while we took a break together.”

“Then let’s do it,” Hilgan insisted. “The ship isn’t going anywhere fast, and it’s not as if anyone can invade Avalon anytime soon.”

“Don’t say that; you may curse our break!” Jarata said.

“Then the only way to get around it is to find that Horga’hn of yours and see if we can use it anywhere on Avalon!” Hilgan said seductively as he started to kiss Jarata’s neck.

“Didn’t you hear me in that meeting?” Jarata said, smiling as Hilgan started to pet kisses on his neck. “This is no Risa!”

Hilgan paused his gesture by a gentle push off him. “Then let’s bring Risa to Avalon!”

“Sounds good to me, Counsellor,” Jarata replied with a grin before calling the lift to take them to his quarters at once. 

The turbolift sped off, with the two officers continuing their romantic encounter. 

Upon Lieutenant Commander Jirani’s arrival to her quarters, she was met with a rather unkempt and disordered space. The collapsed bulkhead and inadequate lighting were the culprits behind the chaos that greeted her. Her carpet had burnt patches, and the glass coffee table was shattered into small pieces. She took a moment to contemplate her next move. 

Jirani had already boxed up her belongings to keep them safe once the engineers started the rebuild. Two recently lit candles flickered softly on the windowsill, serving as a solemn tribute to her dear departed friends, Jaz and Bronden. Daily, she prayed that the Prophets tenderly looked after their souls and guided them to the sacred Celestial Temple.

“Incoming transmission for Lieutenant Commander Jirani,” announced the computer. 

Snapping out of her thoughts, Jirani told the computer to transfer it to her only working terminal in her room. She tapped her clearance code in before it flickered to show the image of her commanding officer. “Captain McCallister, it’s good to see your face.” 

“Likewise, Commander,” Captain Horatio McCallister said with a smirk. Jirani could see that he was sitting in the observation lounge on the Triton. “I just wanted to check how things are going on the Bellerophon.”

Appreciating him touching base with her, Jirani sat down in her armchair and gave him an update. Maybe, she thought, she could get McCallister to step in and say something to the yard supervisor over the repair timetable for the Bellerophon.