– VI –
The two people DeMara Deen hadn’t expect to be part of Xylion’s little excursion where So’Dan Leva and their young Andorian beta shift helsman Srena. The half-Romulan Leva, the ship’s chief tactical officer, was usually not the first choice to join an away team as his expertise were most valuable on the bridge during a combat engagement.
“Not many of those to be expected while we’re hidden in this nebula, constructing a fancy spy array,” he had told her after she had joined the rest of the team in the shuttle bay. “Besides, I don’t get nearly enough of a chance to get off the ship. Change of air will do me good.”
Srena had been even more excited. The perky Andorian made up for her inexperience with pure enthusiasm. “This is a great opportunity for me, sir,” she told her. “I’m honored Commander Xylion chose me for this assignment. How deep into the nebula do you think we’ll go?”
After reminding the ensign not to call her ‘sir’, not only because she didn’t much care for titles, but also because she always found it strange when people close her age caller her that, she tried to rein in some of their expectations. Deen had been part of a number of survey missions in her career as a science officer and where Leva and Srena were apparently expecting some sort of glorious away mission, the reality oftentimes was very different and meant spending long hours going over sensor data and analyzing the results.
“I took a year of astrophysics at the Academy,” Srena had said, unwilling to compromise on her excitement. “Perhaps I’ll be able to help out with the survey other than piloting the runabout. And the view is going to be absolutely gorgeous.”
After spending about an hour to load supplies onto the runabout Nebuchadrezzar
and helping the deck crew installing the sensor and lab modules required for this specialized mission, they cleared Eagle
’s shuttle bay on a pre-planned flight plan which allowed them to cover the greatest amount of real estate in the time they had been given.
“Transphasic shield module is active and functioning to expected parameters,” said Leva from his console. “Shields at one-hundred percent efficiency.”
Deen who occupied the co-pilot chair turned towards the Vulcan behind her. “Explain to me again how you managed to convince Rosenthal to borrow this module?”
“It was a simple matter of making the professor understand the breakthrough scientific discoveries his shield technology would be able to make possible.”
Deen smirked. “In other words you bribed the man with credit on our survey.”
The Vulcan raised an eyebrow. “That term is incorrect and inappropriate,” he said. “However Professor Rosenthal seemed indeed very interested in having his name associated with this expedition.”
“The man is a glory hound, if you ask me,” said Leva.
“Regardless of his personal values, his transphasic shield design is both highly effective and ingenious,” the Vulcan said.
“Uh, sirs, I’m reading an unusual gravimetric disturbance at two-three-four mark nine-five, approximately eight-hundred million kilometers.”
Deen quickly brought up her findings on her own console. While their shield modifications did a great job to protect them from the nebula’s radiation, their sensors and communications systems were still greatly affected, especially over range. It was almost impossible to know for certain what the sensors had detected. “I see it,” she said. “Looks unusual for this kind of nebula. Worth a peek, I’d say.”
But Xylion didn’t appear as convinced. “The coordinates are well outside our planned flight plan.”
“You telling me you’re not even a little bit curious as to what this could be?” she said with a little smile.
She could tell from the expression on his face that he was at least considering it. She had known him long enough to be able to notice the subtle nuances playing out on his usually carefully neutral facial expressions. He had put together a meticulously detailed flight plan which would have allowed them to give them the most time to study Aphrodite in the given time and one which did not allow for distractions such as this unexpected discovery. But then of course, making discoveries was the reason they were out here in the first place.
“Tell me we’re not passing this up just because of your obsessive needs to stick to a plan?” she said with a little more fire in her voice, understanding that sometimes you had to needle a Vulcan to get them to see your point.
“I vote for going to see what this is,” said Srena.
Xylion regarded her with a stern look. “This is not a democracy, Ensign. I am in command of this away team and therefore the decision lies with me alone.”
The young Andorian nodded quickly, obviously chastised for her out of turn comment.
Deen frowned. “Come on, Xyl, we’re science officers. Out here to explore,” she said. “This warrants exploring.”
She had only recently taken on calling the Vulcan by this shortened nickname even if it was clear that he didn’t appreciate this at all. It all went back to her needling theory.
“Ensign, change our heading to two-three-four mark nine-five,” he said even as entered new parameters into his station. “We will allocate twelve hours and twenty-six minutes to investigate this disturbance. I will make the required alterations to our flight plan to allow us to complete our survey in the allocate time.”
“Aye, sir,” she shot back and exchanging a beaming smile with the Tenarian woman next to her. “Changing course now,” she said and then made eye contact with Deen again. “Looks like this mission is on its way to becoming much more exciting than you anticipated.”
“I really hope not,” she said, mindful that ‘more exciting’ didn’t necessarily mean the same thing to her as it did to the young Andorian.