– V –
“It’s amazing, isn’t it?” she said as she took in the marvelous sight outside the large floor-to-ceiling windows. “That in such dark times full of suffering and ugliness we would get a chance to see something to marvelous and beautiful.”
Michael Owens yawned.
Deen aimed an annoyed look at him
“Sorry,” he said quickly. “It’s not you. And certainly not the amazing view,” he added as his glance wandered towards the dancing specters of color just outside the Nest’s observation windows. “I just didn’t get much sleep last night. In fact, I don’t know if I got any sleep at all.”
Her features turned into a frown of concern. “What do you mean, you don’t know?”
The captain rubbed his forehead, clearly having a difficult time to explain what had happened to him last night. Even to himself. “It’s as if I went to sleep and before I even had a chance to dose off, it was next day already.”
“Could this be related to the Hyterian phenomenon?” she asked, referring to an incident in which Owens’ mind had inexplicably been linked to a long-dead civilization which had manifested itself through dreams and nightmares.
He shook his head. “I haven’t had one of those episodes in nearly two years. It would seem like odd timing if they were back again. Besides I didn’t experience any of the Hyterian themes this time. Nothing about light and darkness.”
“Do you remember dreaming?”
“That’s just the thing, I don’t,” he said. “Even though I have a nagging feeling that something happened. There are images flying around in the back of my head but they are so fleeting and blurry, I can’t make sense of them at all.”
DeMara’s worry lines deepened.
Michael noticed. “It’s probably nothing,” he said quickly. “Just a bad dream.”
She was not convinced. “That’s what you said last time,” she said. “You should talk to Counselor Trenira to see if–“
“Commander Xylion,” Owens said when he noticed the Vulcan science officer approach their table, happy to change the subject. “How are you doing today?”
“I am well, thank you, sir,” said Xylion as he came to a halt in front of the table, adopting his usual stiff posture with his hands behind his back.
“Would you like to join us admiring the nebula?” he said with a little smirk.
“Unfortunately that will not be possible,” he said. “I have come to ask for the lieutenant’s assistance.”
Deen stopped frowning at the captain and his not so subtle attempts to end their conversation and looked up at the Vulcan. “Oh?”
“I have obtained permission to put together an away team for a survey mission of the Aphrodite nebula. I have already begun to adapt the Nebucadrezzar
with the necessary shield modifications and expect to be able to depart within the next few hours. I would greatly appreciate if you would join the away team.”
Her face turned into a beaming smile. “I’d love to.”
The Vulcan acknowledged with a curt nod. “We have been given limited time to complete this survey. I would therefore suggest that you make your preparations as quickly as possible.”
“Wait a minute,” said Owens. “How exactly did you obtain said permission?”
“Commander Star authorized the away mission,” the Vulcan said with a raised eyebrow. “I assumed she would have informed you of this.”
“She has not.”
“Michael?” Deen said, her voice making it clear that she would not be pleased at all if he threw a wrench into an opportunity for her to study the nebula.
The Vulcan presented a padd. “I have produced a comprehensive report detailing the benefits of this survey mission. Commander Star agreed with the inherent logic of this proposition. If you wish you may review this yourself and I am certain it would alleviate any objections you may feel towards this mission.”
“He has no objections,” said Deen and shot the captain a pointed look. “You don’t have any objections, right?”
He took the padd off the Vulcan but after realizing that it would take him hours to go through the hefty document he handed it back to his science officer, his face mirroring a contemplative expression.
“Commander,” said Deen to the Vulcan. “I’ll be joining you in the shuttle bay within an hour.”
Xylion glanced the captain with one last look but when he didn’t appear to have any further words to offer, he nodded. “That should be sufficient,” he said. “Captain,” he added before he swiftly left the Nest.
“I don’t like this,” he said once the science officer had left.
“Michael, this is an amazing opportunity for us to study Aphrodite in detail. I guarantee there’ll be people back at Starfleet Sciences who would give their right hand for this chance.”
“I’m not denying that.”
When he didn’t say anything right away, she thought she knew what troubled him about this mission. “You’re upset he went to Star instead of coming to you, is that it? You think she was more likely to green light this than you’d been? If it had really been about that, he would have come to me first to try and get me to talk you into this.”
He shook his head. “Xylion? Not a chance. The man is nothing if not by the book. He wouldn’t even consider exploiting our friendship for something like that.”
“You’re probably right.”
Michael took a sip from his tonic water. “Star should have checked in with me first before making this decision.”
Deen leaned back in her chair with a knowing smile. “That’s what this is about, isn’t it? Commander Star. Michael, she’s the first officer, last time I checked authorizing an away mission falls squarely within her remit.”
“Perhaps but she’s still new around here. She doesn’t really know how things work on Eagle
. She doesn’t understand how I like to run things.”
“She’s been onboard for four months now,” she said. “I’m pretty sure she’s got the basics covered.”
But the captain did not look convinced at all.
“Let’s face it, Michael, if this had been Gene making the call you wouldn’t have thought twice about this. You still have a trust issue with her.”
“And why shouldn’t I considering her past.”
She leaned forward. “It was your decision to keep her here. You need to start asking yourself why you made that call. If you really can’t find a way to trust her to do her job, you better start thinking about replacing her as your first officer. Otherwise take her off that leash you’ve kept her on ever since she became your permanent XO. You’re not doing yourself or this crew any favors with the current state of things. And if you ask me, it isn’t fair to her,” she said and stood. “Now, if you’d excuse me. I’ve got to go and pack.”
* * *
Read the writer's commentary for this segment here