"A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Authors Note: This story takes place in the years 2354 and 2374, the latter portion on Stardate 51149.8, just after the Deep Space 9 episode “Behind the Lines.” The USS Naptown’s maiden voyage would prove to be baptism by fire, as the vessel would participate in Operation Return as seen during “Sacrifice of Angels.”
“A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One.”
Sran stared at his reflection in the small viewport, taking note of the streaks that lined his face. He was supposed to be going home. That’s what Captain Keel had told him. But as he fought back more tears, Sran waged an equally futile struggle against the gnawing in the pit of his stomach, the feeling that he would never see his home again.
The visit to Starfleet Headquarters- a rarity for a Romulan in this day and age- had started innocently enough. His mother was a member of the Romulan Diplomatic Corps and the only ambassador willing to deal with the Federation in any capacity following the Tomed incident of 2311. She did not attend diplomatic functions as frequently as most of her colleagues, but the woman was always willing to visit Earth. And as Sran harbored a similar inclination toward humans, he was allowed to accompany his mother on such visits now that he was old enough. Diplomacy bored him, but the adolescent relished the opportunity to observe Earth’s people up close. Their behavior puzzled him to no end. After his first visit to Earth more than three years earlier, Sran had told his mother that he was surprised a group of people could be so open about everything. “They don’t have any secrets,” he’d said, to which his mother had replied, “That’s why I work with them.” Sran hadn’t understood exactly what his mother meant by those words, but they sparked a curiosity that burst into an open flame in the years that followed.
A dedicated and eager student, Sran read anything and everything about humans that he could get his hands on- not an easy task for a child raised in the heart of Ki Baratan. What he read told him of a violent and protracted struggle nearly two centuries before, a struggle ended in an uneasy truce hatched by subspace radio, of all things. Sran recalled a school field trip to the Ki Baratan Historical Museum, the highlight of which had been an enormous mural depicting a squadron of Romulan birds-of-prey flying among a formation of Federation starships. Of course, his teachers knew of his obsession. One even threatened to turn him over to the Tal Shiar. His mother had been furious then, one of the few times he’d seen her angry. “You’d throw my son in jail over a painting? A painting! Is this who we are now?” Her outburst probably saved him from further punishment, but it also led to him being home-schooled the following year after his educational enrollment papers mysteriously disappeared en route to the school superintendent’s office. “An accident,” they’d said. Sran scowled. Despite his youth- he was barely thirteen Earth years of age- he knew better. Romulans didn’t believe in accidents.
Humans did, apparently. That was what they were calling the hovercar mishap near Starfleet Headquarters that claimed his mother’s life nearly a week earlier. But was it true? Sran couldn’t’ be sure. He again found himself on the verge of tears.
“Romulans don’t cry.”
Sran bit back a sob and forced himself to keep his chin up. He father was always saying that. He believed tears were a sign of weakness. And a Romulan never showed weakness. Sran knew what his father would think if he saw him just now, could picture the look of disgust and disappointment- of resentment- on the older man’s face. His father was not a gentle man, the product of a lifetime’s service to the Praetor in the Imperial Romulan Fleet. Commander Tavix would no more approve of his son’s tears than he did his fascination with humanity. As far as Tavix was concerned, humanity and weakness were one and the same. Indulgence in either did not befit a loyal Romulan citizen. Sran wiped a single tear from his cheek, determined to keep his grief at bay. His father would see that he had strength in him yet. His vision clearing, Sran’s eyes scanned his surroundings.
He was aboard the USS Horatio, a Starfleet vessel commanded by Captain Walker Keel. After his mother died, the Federation contacted the Romulan Senate to return Sran to his people. Arrangements were made for the Horatio to rendezvous with the IRW Tarex near the Romulan border to make the hand-off. But when the Horatio arrived at the intended coordinates, they found only debris, material Horatio’s science officer concluded could only have come from a Romulan ship. Keel was unwilling to accept that Sran’s mother’s death and the destruction of the warbird were not related and apprised Starfleet of the situation. Even now, Starfleet Intelligence was investigating the matter and promised Keel that they would inform him as soon as they learned anything. And so Sran waited quietly in the captain’s ready room just off the vessel’s main bridge. From where he was seated, Sran could easily hear the sounds of normal bridge operation beyond the room’s exit. He looked away from the door and focused instead on a strange model near the room’s far wall. Curious, Sran stood and crossed the room. Nearing the model, he crouched slightly to get a better look at it and discovered that it bore traditional Federation markings. He read them aloud:
“USS Enterprise. NCC-1701-C.”
“A fine ship if ever there was one,” a voice behind him said. Sran started. He hadn’t heard the door open.
Captain Walker Keel stood at the room’s threshold. A man of near middle-age, Keel’s face was a study in contrasts, a puzzle unto itself. His large piercing eyes seemed to see everything, a trait Sran supposed every ship’s captain should have. They were almost raptor-like, not only looking at something but also looking through it at the same time. The memory of the mural from the museum came back to him, for what did raptor mean but bird-of-prey. Sran wondered if Keel could see through him as he turned to face Horatio’s master. Meeting the older man’s eyes, he found that they held not the familiar scrutinizing stare but instead an expression of inviting warmth that that reminded him of Earth. Were all humans like this? Somewhat uneasy, he started to move away from the ship.
“You go on and have a look,” Keel said. “It’s alright. Actually,” he continued, a small smile playing across his features, “there’s a story behind that ship. She was very special.”
Sran furrowed his brow, looking from Keel to the ship and back again. Keel motioned for the boy to join him on the room’s lone couch. “That ship was the last one to be called Enterprise,” Keel began.
Captain Sran stared at his reflection in the small viewport, taking note of the fourth pip that lined his uniform collar. Captain, he thought to himself. It’s almost beyond belief. But then, so much of my life has been since the day I met Walker Keel, since he told me about the Enterprise. Sran allowed himself a small smile, a stark contrast to the tears that had come so easily on that day more than twenty years ago. Keel was dead, his ship victimized by sabotage as part of an alien conspiracy to infiltrate the highest levels of Starfleet Command. Sran thought Keel’s death senseless and regretted that the man who’d sponsored the first Romulan to apply to Starfleet Academy couldn’t be present to witness such an important event, both for Sran and for Starfleet. His eyes moved from the viewport to stare at the large object beyond it- Starfleet’s newest vessel- a ship Sran would not only command but had named, as well. And Captain Keel would love the name, Sran thought.
During their first meeting, Keel had told a then-heartbroken young man about the brave crew of the Enterprise-C, a ship destroyed while fighting a battle against impossible odds, odds in the form of four Romulan warbirds attempting to destroy a Klingon outpost on Narendra III. The story resonated with Sran because it was a tale of courage and heroism in the face of certain death. That it involved humans didn’t matter, as Sran had long ago come to respect their culture and values, a distinction he owed to his mother, to Captain Keel, and to Captain Rachel Garrett, the Enterprise’s commanding officer. Garrett had been a close friend of Keel and the reason he kept the Enterprise model in his ready room aboard Horatio. That the two vessels were of the same starship design was what humans called a coincidence, but Sran didn’t believe in coincidence. “Nothing happens by accident,” he often said.
A pang of sadness hit him just then. It was at times like this that his thoughts invariably turned to his mother and father and the life he’d left behind. As he’d suspected, his mother’s death was no accident at all. It was, in fact, an act of sabotage engineered by the Tal Shiar. The destruction of the Tarex had been their design, too. But neither fact troubled Sran as much as the awful truth discovered by Starfleet Intelligence. Both incidents happened at the behest of his father, who sought to punish Sran for allowing himself to become enamored with humans, and Sran’s mother, for exposing him to their way of life in the first place. He never saw his father again after that. The death of his mother and the attempt on his life ended that chapter of Sran’s existence. Captains Keel and Garrett began the next.
After Keel shared the story of Enterprise with his young charge, Sran studied the lost ship with the same fervor and passion as he did the Earth-Romulan War. His studies revealed many interesting facts about the vessel. It was launched in 2332 and was the fourth starship to bear the name. Captain Garrett commanded the ship for all twelve of its years. She was from Earth and grew up in Indiana.
Sran found himself watching a small shuttle circle the primary hull of the new Akira-class vessel. Its path brought it near the ship’s name and serial number. When Admiral Ross had told him that he would be able to choose the ship’s moniker, Sran spent several days considering an appropriate identity for the new vessel. In the end, however, he decided to go with the only name that made sense to him. His earlier research told him that the capital of Indiana was Indianapolis, and although he’d briefly considered that name for his ship, it didn’t seem right. An ancient naval ship of the same name had met a disastrous end during Earth’s World War II. Sran thought it unwise to tempt fate lest the Jem’Hadar try their own shark attack and devour the vessel whole. Nonetheless, he sought to honor both the state of Indiana and Captain Garrett’s memory, so when he’d stumbled across a reference to Indianapolis’ Midwestern culture and lifestyle, he knew his search was over. He continued watching the shuttle.
Its course took it up and away from the hull, but not before it passed once more over the ship’s identification: USS Naptown. NCC-65465. “A fine ship if ever there was one,” Keel had told him so many years ago.
Not yet, Sran told himself, but she will be if I have anything to say about it. His face now a mask of quiet determination, Captain Sran turned on his heel and strode toward the nearest turbolift. Enterprise-C made her mark on history by helping to usher in an era of peace between the Federation and the Klingon Empire. Now, that peace in was danger of being lost forever to the might of the Dominion’s war machine, a reality Sran refused to accept. History remembered the Enterprise. The Dominion would remember the Naptown.
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Excellent beginning. You've given us a real good sense of your protagonist in a short and concise way. A Romulan in Starfleet is a tough sell but Sran's history is both believable and compelling.
Also enjoyed how you've managed to weave plenty of canonical history in here, from the Romulan war, Captain Keel and the Horatio to the Enterprise-C.
Perhaps the only thing stretching believability here was the fact that Sren got to name his own ship or the round about way he settled on the name.
Regardless, looking forward to more.
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Author’s Note: I’d intended for “A Fine Ship If Ever There Was One” to be a single-post short story, but I’ve been inspired to write further. The following events take place during the Deep Space 9 episodes “Favor the Bold” and “Sacrifice of Angels,” concurrent with the actions of Captain Sisko and the crew of the USS Defiant.
Terrell Mayweather’s fingers danced across the helm console attempting to get a feel for the layout. The Akira-class vessel differed significantly from the Galaxy-class ship he’d previously served on. But Mayweather knew that any anxiety he felt would dissipate as he became more familiar with the Naptown’s systems. After all, he’d wanted this assignment. It wouldn’t do to complain about a problem that was correctable. The pilot suppressed a giggle as he brought Naptown into formation alongside the USS Sarek. If the forthcoming battle with the Dominion was any indication, he’d be much more familiar with his new vessel by the time the conflict was over. The Jem’Hadar and their endless supply of attack fighters would see to that.
“Something funny, Lieutenant?”
Mayweather felt his commanding officer’s eyes on him. He’d forgotten that Romulans had excellent hearing. “Sorry, sir.” He felt his shoulders hunch slightly in embarrassment. It wouldn’t do to anger his new captain, either. The Luna native kept his eyes on his console, both pretending to keep busy and hoping that his CO’s vision was less discerning. Captain Sran was highly thought of, but Terrell supposed he’d never be completely at ease serving under a Romulan. He decided to run another diagnostic on the phaser controls. It wasn’t his responsibility, but it would distract him long enough to get over the mild rebuke he’d received. He suddenly felt another pair of eyes watching him. Glancing to port, he found the familiar gaze of the ship’s tactical officer. Also human, Thea Baumgart offered him a sympathetic shrug before returning her own attention to her work.
If either officer was being watched, it wasn’t by Sran, who’d temporarily vacated the captain’s chair to confer with another crew member on the starboard side of the bridge, but by Naptown’s chief medical officer, Dr. Elizabeth Schultz. Nicknamed “Hawk,” the attractive woman’s deep blue eyes seemed to see everything. Schultz herself supposed they made her good her job, but she also knew they could make people uncomfortable. Still, she watched the interaction between her new shipmates with interest, hoping to glean whatever insight she could into their respective personalities. She preferred to do so by conventional means- coffee, conversation, and cookies- but that would have to wait for another time. The Jem’Hadar didn’t eat, she knew, so she surmised they probably had no appreciation for anything made with peanut butter. A shame, she thought. They don’t know what they’re missing. Her eyes found the captain’s, who offered her a polite nod as he returned to his seat.
Sran supposed this would be a good time to address his crew via the comm system, but the honor for big speeches wasn’t his today. That responsibility fell on Captain Sisko, the erstwhile commander of Deep Space 9 and the architect of the mission to reclaim it. The Romulan had never met Sisko but knew him by reputation courtesy of his tour of duty as executive officer aboard the Lakota. Captain Benteen worked with Sisko to defend Earth from a possible Dominion invasion in 2372 after the bombing of a diplomatic summit was found to have been caused by a Changeling. There had been no invasion, of course. The entire affair that followed the bombing was fabricated by Admiral Leyton and several subordinates as a means of wresting control of Earth’s government away from President Jaresh-Inyo and the Federation Council. Benteen herself was thoroughly investigated by Starfleet Intelligence but was ultimately found to have committed no wrongdoing in the matter. That she willingly stopped her attack on the Defiant and agreed to cooperate with Starfleet’s subsequent investigation likely saved her command. Sran hoped his former boss didn’t miss his services too much. Lakota was assigned to the third fleet, so she’d have time to break in another first officer while keeping watch over Earth. Sran’s thoughts were interrupted by a flashing blue light on his starboard console, the fleet-wide signal from Defiant. A man’s voice followed.
“To all ships,” it began, “this is Captain Sisko. Assume attack formation Delta 2.”
Sran’s own voice followed in crisp, clear tones. “Red alert! Raise shields and stand by all weapon systems.” Looking again toward the helm, he added, “Mr. Mayweather, how many ships are there?”
The younger man consulted a small readout monitor before turning to look at Sran. “Over twelve hundred,” he said, his voice betraying his astonishment. He stifled another giggle.
Sran paid his theatrics no mind. The captain looked to tactical. “The Dominion fleet is a mix of Jem’Hadar and Cardassian vessels,” Baumgart was saying. “The Cardassians are already on the move. Two Keldon-class cruisers are engaging our first wave of attack fighters.”
Sran nodded as he recognized Sisko’s plan. The Jem’Hadar wouldn’t be baited into a confrontation so early in the battle, but the Cardassians were less disciplined and might be coaxed out of position. It was a dangerous strategy under normal circumstances, but this battle would be different. Starfleet didn’t need to beat the Dominion so much as they needed to avoid them in order to reach Deep Space 9 before the minefield blocking the wormhole could be disabled. As the Federation fleet was facing an almost two-to-one disadvantage, any opening they could find would dramatically increase their chances of getting ships through the Dominion’s line. “Follow the Sarek, Lieutenant,” he said. “Match her course and speed.” Sran felt the deck-plates shift beneath his feet as Naptown accelerated to full-impulse power, the thrum of her engines increasing slightly in pitch with the change in velocity. The battle was joined.
The sound of another exploding console made Colos wish he’d stayed home. This isn’t going well, the Andorian science officer thought to himself. He ducked to avoid a piece of shrapnel flying in his direction, relieved when it missed his antennae. “Primary sensors are offline!” he called out. “Auxiliary circuits in danger of failure. Captain,” he said, “I recommend shunting additional power from the…”
“Not possible, Commander!” Sran shouted back. “We’re going to need the warp drive if we want to reach Deep Space 9 in time!” Rising, he stepped toward the helm console occupied by Mayweather. The dark-skinned human was sweating profusely, his hands moving at an almost frantic pace. Sran rested a hand on the back of his chair, leaning forward slightly. “Terrell,” he said, keeping his voice even, “adjust our heading to travel beneath the next set of Cardassian warships.”
Sran continued, his tone patient. “I want to keep our ventral section from sustaining further damage until we can repair the shields in that part of the ship.” An impact nearly knocked him off his feet, but he remained standing. “Make sure each of your course corrections minimizes how often it’s exposed.”
“Understood, Captain.” Mayweather wiped his brow and continued working as Sran stepped back toward his chair. Another impact sent him tumbling backward into it. Annoyed, he tapped at a control on his port side console. “Bridge to engineering.”
“Engineering here, Captain.”
A voice he didn’t recognize. That wasn’t good. “Where’s Lieutenant Blix?”
“He’s in Sickbay with severe plasma burns, sir.”
“What’s the status of our starboard torpedo launcher?” he asked. A well-placed shot from a Cardassian cruiser had damaged Naptown’s forward torpedo launchers and guidance system. The port would need repairs at a starbase, but the starboard was still salvageable.
“We’re working on it, sir. Estimate two more minutes before it’s sufficiently repaired.”
“We don’t have two minutes, Engineer. You’ll have to work faster.”
“Understood, Captain. Engineering out.”
Sran leaned back in his chair, his fingers steepled in front of his face. The battle unfolded before him on the main viewer, the choreographed movements of Federation, Klingon, and Dominion vessels intermingling with one another in a complex and deadly dance of precision and skill. He watched as a Cardassian Galor-class destroyer raced past in pursuit of a Klingon bird-of-prey. The arrival of the Klingons couldn’t have come at a better time, as the Federation fleet now nearly matched the Dominion’s numbers one to one. From what he could tell, Starfleet’s ships were more heavily damaged than their Dominion counterparts, but the shift in momentum spurred by General Martok’s intervention had forced the Jem’Hadar to change tactics and widened an opening in their lines. If they applied enough pressure…
“Ghuy’cha’!” That came from Baumgart to his left.
“I don’t approve of crude Klingon curses on my bridge, Ensign,” he said. “Report!”
“A Jem’Hadar fighter is making a direct run at the Defiant,” she said.
“Go, Lieutenant!” Mayweather was already dialing Naptown’s engines to maximum.
The Naptown sprang forward as if shot from a cannon. Angling around two smaller vessels, Terrell continued to feed more power into the ship’s impulse drive. The ship in question was growing larger on the viewscreen, but so was the Defiant as the latter tried to shoot the gap in the Dominion formation. It was going to be close.
Sran’s console chirped. “Engineering to bridge. Starboard torpedo launcher and guidance system back online, Captain.”
Sran’s eyes whipped to Baumgart. “I have a clear shot,” she said.
An explosion filled the forward viewer accompanied by an enormous tremor that rocked the bridge once more. The majority of the light was filtered out by the ship’s computer, but that didn’t prevent most of the bridge crew from shielding their eyes until the explosion dissipated. When it finally did, nothing was left of the enemy vessel.
“The Defiant?” Sran questioned to no one in particular. Again it was Baumgart who broke the silence.
“They’re clear, sir. It looks like they’re going to warp!”
Sran allowed himself a moment to relax, finally easing his grip on the twin armrests of his chair. There was still work to do, but the day might be won after all.
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Enjoyable read so far. I'm curious, though: is this a slightly-alternate universe where the Enterprise-C was the last in the line? Capt. Keel's comment would seem to indicate this.
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Author’s Note: This part of the story takes place in the days immediately after the conclusion of “Sacrifice of Angels.” You’ll note Sran’s interaction with members of Deep Space 9’s crew and civilian population, as well as more details about how the war affected life for other Federation ships involved in the engagements we’re already familiar with.
Sran absentmindedly tugged his uniform collar as he listed to Colos’ report of the ongoing repairs to Naptown. The ship was visible through the viewport just behind him, its hull sporting several scoff marks courtesy of Dominion and Cardassian weapons fire. Operation Return had been successful. Deep Space 9 was once again in Federation hands. But the venture proved costly, seeing the destruction of over 150 Starfleet vessels. Dozens more- Naptown included- were in need of immediate attention due to damage incurred in the now-concluded engagement.
“The starboard torpedo launcher is fine,” Colos was saying, “but the port will need to be replaced. It’s pretty much what we thought when the damage first happened.”
Sran nodded. That the torpedo launcher had been repaired enough to be useful was a minor miracle in and of itself. It was no surprise to him that part of the system would need replacement after the battle. Such a thing might have bothered him under different circumstances- the Naptown was brand new. But he was willing to live with a few scratches and damaged systems for the time being. It was worth it to know that the Alpha Quadrant would not be overrun by Jem’Hadar ships. Sran didn’t pretend to understand how or why an entire fleet of fighters could vanish into nothingness. In fact, the former science officer scarcely believed anything could happen without reason, but he wasn’t about to look a gift-horse from Bajor’s Prophets- if that’s what they were- in the mouth. He was too suspicious he’d find a Changeling hidden there.
Colos continued his summary. “Engineering estimates at least a week of repairs before we’re fully operational,” he said, “but we could be space-worthy in three days if need be.”
The captain nodded again, pleased with the Andorian’s concise report. He’d never worked with Colos prior to choosing him as first officer, but he was already optimistic about how the pairing would work out. He would need more time to reflect on the overall performance of the crew in the coming days and weeks, but his first impression of his people was a positive one, no small accomplishment given his heritage. Arrogant and prideful by nature, Romulans were quick to judge and slow to forgive. They were even more stubborn when it came to acknowledging others’ prowess. Sran had lived with humans for two decades, but some habits were hard to break. Perhaps this crew would be the catalyst for such a reaction.
He strode across the small Cardassian quarters he’d been given and approached a computer terminal as Colos wrapped up his briefing. “Is there anything else?” he heard him query.
“No, Commander,” he said. “That’ll be all for now. If you don’t mind, route the full damage report to my quarters here on the station. I’d like to have a look at it myself.”
“Will do, Captain. Colos out.”
Sran leaned over the console to call up the casualty report from the battle, relieved that only a smattering of names was listed. The most significant injuries were those of the chief engineer, Lieutenant Blix Aran. Hawk’s description of his plasma burns as “the worst I’ve ever seen” was ominous enough, but when the Naptown’s skipper had seen the injuries for himself, he knew his CMO wasn’t exaggerating. Still, Blix mustered enough strength to tell his commanding officer that he would be on his feet as soon as possible, a declaration that drew a glare from Dr. Schultz and more giggling from Lieutenant Mayweather. Perhaps it was fortuitous that Hawk decided to assist Dr. Bashir in DS9’s infirmary, as she wouldn’t have to concern herself Blix’s delusions of grandeur. Not for a few hours, at least. Sran thought to head that way himself. Bashir was an old friend from the Academy. It would be nice to see him again. He started for the door, only to be halted by the sight of his honor blade on a nearby couch. Pausing, he stooped to retrieve the weapon and inspect it.
As the number of Starfleet vessels needing repairs was significant, Admirals Ross and Coburn assigned selected captains and other officers of command or flag rank to temporary quarters on Deep Space 9 to plan the next phase of the war. The retaking of the space station was a major achievement, to be sure. But an opponent only fought harder once wounded, Sran knew. That was the first lesson he’d learned upon being awarded his honor blade as a boy. The Dominion was tasting blood, perhaps for the first time in its history. No one could predict the response that taste would surely provoke, but if the Dominion’s prior history was any indication, the fighting with the Federation would become much more intense. With Starfleet already on the defensive, such a prospect didn’t bode well for the Federation’s military.
Elizabeth Schultz was smiling, a rare occurrence when she was inside an operating theater. But the physician was used to performing cases herself. To have an assistant as capable as Dr. Bashir made her job that much easier. She was glad of it, knowing that even the temporary luxury of another doctor to work with wasn’t something to be taken for granted. She blamed the war for that, too. Because the Federation was facing a manpower shortage, physicians with more than three years’ experience were being asked to fly solo. The Naptown’s sickbay and crew compliment called for a minimum of two physicians on duty at any given time, but Schultz and Dr. Martin Caruso were the only medical practitioners assigned to the vessel at present. Elizabeth had complained to Captain Sran with no success, though she supposed such a thing wasn’t his fault. Maybe I should have a word with McCoy, she wondered.
As if on cue, she noticed Sran entering the room at the far end. He was careful not to wander too near the operating table, something that would send her flying at him in anger. The days of scrubs, caps, masks, and surgical gowns were long past, but Elizabeth believed that the OR was her space. To enter into that space wasn’t something one did on a whim, especially if the offender wasn’t a physician. She supposed Bashir wasn’t that way: he gave the impression of a much more easygoing person, even when he was working. But she was nonetheless shocked to see him practically bursting with excitement as he noted the room’s newest occupant. “Sran!” he exclaimed. “I had no idea you were here!”
Her captain answered, “Well, I wouldn’t be much of a Romulan if people noticed me, now would I?” A smirk was playing at the left side of his mouth.
Bashir said, “I thought I was the spymaster these days.”
“Only in your holodeck fantasies, old friend,” Sran offered. He was still smirking.
“What ship are you with, Sran?” the doctor asked. “Last I’d heard, you were on the Lakota.”
“I’ve been promoted,” Sran said. “I’m commanding the Naptown, one of the new Akira-class ships. And,” he added, looking at Schultz, “I’m her boss.” She blushed.
“Fantastic!” Bashir cried. “I had no idea you were a captain now. As you can see,” he said, “I’m still sporting a blue uniform. We don’t get a cushy command chair where Elizabeth and I work.”
“Definitely not,” Sran said. “But you know what comes with the chair, don’t you, Julian?”
Bashir shook his head.
“Gray hair. Lots of it.”
“Well,” Bashir said, “I’m afraid I wouldn’t know about that. Captain Sisko hasn’t had hair for quite some time.” He finished suturing and handed his instrument back to the scrub nurse.
“Indeed,” Sran said, “though I’ve never actually met him. I know what voice his sounds like after yesterday, however.” The implication was clear.
Bashir nodded. “I was there, and I still don’t believe it.”
“But the reports are accurate, Doctor?”
“Absolutely,” Bashir said. “The entire fleet vanished inside the wormhole.”
“With no indication of where they went?”
“None. It’s almost as if they weren’t even there to begin with.” He took a clamp from Schultz.
Sran nodded, turning to leave. “I’ll leave the two of you to your work, but we should definitely catch up.”
“Definitely, Captain.” Bashir called after him, looking up from his work. But Sran was already gone. “Romulans,” he muttered to himself.
Schultz could only raise an eyebrow. “I don’t know how he does it, either,” she said.
Sran didn’t think he was trying to avoid being noticed. It was his experience that people who attempted such a thing tried too hard and had the opposite outcome. And as the only Romulan in the entire sector, he should have been attracting a fair amount of attention, Starfleet uniform or no. But as he walked the short distance from the infirmary to the popular dining establishment known as “Quark’s,” he realized that he wasn’t attracting any attention at all. He paused at the main entrance, the sounds of a strange gaming table spinning audible through the opening, before going inside.
He stepped up to the bar, locking eyes with a Ferengi he supposed was the bar’s owner. “What’ll it be, Captain?” he asked. “Can’t say I’ve seen many of your kind around here lately,” he added.
Sran ignored the second remark. “Mountain Dew,” he said.
Quark gaped. “Not you, too,” he said, a scowl forming on his face.
“Nevermind,” he said. Darting into an adjacent storage area, Quark returned moments later with a bottle of the popular yellow-green liquid, adding, “Pretty soon all I’m going to be selling around here are Hew-mon drinks.”
“You’d rather sell to the Cardassians?” Sran asked, slightly annoyed. What did this Ferengi care if he ordered what the humans called a soft-drink?
“No,” Quark said. “If I never see another bottle of kanar, it’ll be too soon.”
“Then I don’t understand…”
“Let me put it this way, Captain,” Quark said, “I liked it better when people ordered what I expected them to order. Your people order Romulan ale. Klingons order blood wine. It makes sense.” Indicating the bottle, he continued, “Nowadays, Klingons are ordering prune juice. My nephew orders root beer. And you,” he said, pausing, “you come in here and order Mountain Dew.”
“In that case,” Sran said as he rose from his seat, “I’ll take my business elsewhere, Ferengi. I don’t need to listen to your yammering any more than the Jem’Hadar need to eat. But it seems you’ve already been down that road.”
Quark watched him go, shaking his head. “Mountain Dew,” he repeated. “A Romulan comes into my bar and orders Mountain Dew. Is it too late to go back to selling weapons?”
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
Okay, I hadn't realized that this had been planned as just a short story. I had mistakenly assumed this was the beginning of a new series.
I'm glad you decided to add to it and it would certainly be great to read more about this crew and, especially, this captain.
Too often we tend to see humans as the protagonists so it's refreshing to see the world from an outsider's perspective. And you can't be much more of an outsider than a Romulan Starfleet captain. We already see that this guy has no patience for Quark and able to engage people in the most unlikely places.
And how exactly did the Dew manage to survive into the 24th century? No doubt at a cost of countless rotten teeth ...
Re: "A Fine Ship if Ever There Was One."
^Thank you for your comments, CeJay. Feedback is always appreciated, as it helps me to become a better writer. Glad you're enjoying the story, too!
You're right in that Sran has a unique perspecitive on humanity. Even at this juncture, you can clearly see that he's been able to intergrate well into human culture: he wouldn't have succeeded at Starfleet Academy without being able to do so.
Yet, it's also not hard to miss traditional Romulan traits he exhibits: constant vigilance, slight impatience with people of more rigid cultures (like the Ferengi), and suspicion of everyone and everything around him. His paranoia is much more subdued after years of living with humans, but it's there.
I haven't completely worked out the direction I'm going to take this story in, but there will definitely be more coming. Thanks again!
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