- II –
She awoke with the first light and much to her distress following a rather vivid dream featuring her captain and commanding officer in a much more ambiguous role than as her closest friend.
The thoughts had been stirred after Srena’s comments about relationships and her mistaken assumption that because she was Tenarian, she must have been involved with somebody on Eagle
She didn’t resent the young ensign for those errant thoughts. What she did resent, were her confusing feelings for her captain, ones she had carried with her for over a year now and she had either tried to ignore or otherwise rationalize as nothing more than natural affection she had for him.
There was, of course, no time for this, she told herself. Not while there was war going on and certainly not while stranded on a rogue planetoid inside a nebula. Besides it was clear that there couldn’t be a future between her and Owens. He was almost twice her age—not that she felt that should matter—and more importantly her commanding officer and also, quite obviously, interested in another woman altogether.
Deen quickly dispelled all those thoughts like she had done plenty of times before. She got out of her bunk inside the tiny crew compartment and pulled on her pants and her mustard-colored uniform shirt.
“Srena, let’s get up and get repairs underway, we’ve got a busy day ahead of us,” she said as she finished zipping up. But when she turned to look at the other bunk she found that the ensign was not there, the sheets seemingly untouched.
She allowed herself a smirk. The ensign had been a true surprise already, her eagerness and efficiency rather unexpected considering that she was a wartime recruit and as such never having enjoyed a complete training at the Academy.
Deen left the small compartment and found Xylion stepping out of the one he shared with Leva opposite hers. As expected the Vulcan was already dressed in full uniform, looking flawless all over. “Good morning, Commander.”
“What’s the plan?”
“Following ascertaining full structural integrity yesterday we were able to further determine that the impulse engine is beyond our facility to repair. However the remaining thruster modules should be sufficient to take the runabout back into orbit. As the thruster control module has taken no damage, we will have to focus on repairing the six workable RCS packages,” he said as they walked towards the cockpit together.
She nodded. “With all four of us we should be able to get the packages firing again within a day. Perhaps two.”
“Allowing time for rest and regeneration, I estimate repairs will be completed in 11.23 hours.”
Deen smirked at that. “I’m so glad your allowing for sleep.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “6.2 hours for you, Commander Leva and Ensign Srena. 2.1 hours for myself.”
“Right. Well, I hope you do realize that I get real grumpy if I don’t get my eight hours worth.”
Apparently he had no words to offer to this.
“Listen, Xyl, about yesterday, I’m sorry if I came across a tad tasty. I was out of line. I know you only have our best interests in mind and to suggest otherwise was uncalled for.”
“Your apology is noted but not required, Lieutenant. I understand your concern and that our focus must be on completing repairs in the most timely fashion possible.”
A large smile came over her lips. “Say, you’re not getting soft on me in you old age, are you?”
Another eyebrow climbed towards the ceiling. “Soft?”
“Never mind,” she said.
That’s when Leva stepped into the cockpit to join them, like Deen, wearing his uniform in a more utilitarian manner sans jacket and with the sleeves of his golden shirt rolled up. He rubbed his hands together. “Alright, people, let’s get to work and take this hunk of steel off this rock.”
Xylion retrieved a padd. “I completed a repairs assignment schedule last night to maximize efficiency and tailored to our individual strengths. Commander Leva and I will carry out repairs to the external thruster components while Lieutenant Deen and Ensign Srena will calibrate the internal couplings.”
“Speaking of Srena, anyone seen her this morning?” said Deen.
“She’s not in the back,” said Leva.
“Perhaps she has already commenced external repairs,” said Xylion.
Deen headed for the airlock and the two others followed her outside. Even though it had only been light for a few minutes, the temperature was already close to thirty degrees centigrade, thanks to the massive subterranean vents close by, filling the atmosphere with superheated gasses.
“Srena, are you out here?” Deen called out.
When she got no response, she looked at the others, concern now etched into her beautiful features.
“Spread out and find her,” Xylion said.
The three officers headed out, each into a different direction.
Deen stayed close to the hull and walked towards the bow. It didn’t take her long to find something. “Over here,” she called out and then picked up the pace when she thought she saw the top of her boots, a sickening feeling spreading in her gut.
She rounded the runabout and found the Andorian lying face down on the ground. “Srena?” she said with palpable concern and knelt next to her. She immediately reached for her neck and felt immense relieve when she found a pulse. But it was far too weak. She carefully turned the short woman over and onto her back and gasped at what she found. Her face was severely bruised and swollen. Azure blood was trickling down the corner of her lips and from her nose. “Srena?” she said again, more forcefully this time, but the ensign didn’t even stir. Deen looked over her shoulder. “I found her. She’s been injured. I need a med-kit, right now.”
It didn’t take long for Xylion and Leva to converge on them, Leva arriving with a first aid kit and immediately offering it to Deen. “What happened?”
She shook her head as she retrieved a medical tricorder. “I don’t know, I just found her lying here.”
Xylion walked passed them and inspected a hatch on the bow of the runabout.
“She’s got multiple lacerations, a fractured skull and a severe concussion. It’s a miracle she’s still alive,” said Deen and then quickly found a stabilizing agent, injecting it into her neck.
“What could have done this?” Leva asked. “Some sort of animal?”
But Deen shook her head. “It looks like she was beaten.”
She looked up, her eyes brimming with anger.
“There appears to be an additional complication,” said Xylion, following his inspection. “Somebody removed the thruster control module.”
Leva retrieved a collapsible anti-grav stretcher from the Nebuchadrezzar
and they carefully lifted her onto it before returning her to the ship. The runabout was a fully modular vessel and could be outfitted with a complete surgical unit if necessary. Unfortunately their mission had not required extensive medical equipment and so they were forced to improvise and placed her into a spare cot in the large aft compartment. It was not a bio-bed but Deen found some neural monitors which she attached to her forehead and which hopefully would keep her stable.
“We don’t have anything here to treat injuries of this scale,” she said with frustration. “We need to take her back to Eagle
as soon as possible.”
Xylion was working on his padd. “If we reduce rest periods, we may still be able to complete repairs within fourteen hours,” he said and looked up. “However without the thruster control module we have no means to produce sufficient escape velocity.”
“I don’t understand this,” said Leva as he looked down at the still form of Srena, her slowly raising chest the only indication that she was indeed still alive. “Why would they attack her and take the module?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Deen said. “They don’t want us to leave. They already made that much perfectly clear. Srena tried to stop them and they beat her half to death for it.”
“We should not make assumptions without further evidence,” said Xylion.
“What more evidence do you need?” she said. “This was no animal. And who else but the settlers would have been able to remove a part of the ship? It’s obvious they are responsible.”
“They are Vulcans.”
“One upon a time perhaps,” she shot back. “But not anymore. Look at her,” she added and pointed at her swollen and bruised face. “Is that the work of Vulcans?”
“She’s right, Commander,” said Leva. “They clearly didn’t take no for an answer and this is their response. They intend on keeping us here at any cost.”
“That is not logical,” he said. “If their aim was to assimilate us into their society, why would they cause life threatening injuries to Ensign Srena?”
“Who knows,” said Deen. “Maybe they don’t like Andorians. Maybe they don’t know their own strength. Maybe they lost control,” she said and walked over to a weapons locker to retrieve three phasers. “It doesn’t matter, really. We need to get the module back and get off this planet.”
Leva accepted the weapon but Xylion hesitated.
Deen shot him a dark scowl. “We need to take action. Now.”
Xylion nodded and took the weapon. “Very well, I shall go and talk to them.”
“I’m coming with you.”
“I do not believe that to be a good idea.”
“I don’t care. They attacked us, Commander. In the most vicious and cowardly manner possible. I know I’m normally the last person to call for arms and I have no intentions of escalating this conflict but if they do, you’d be on your own against an entire settlement.”
“I’ll go with Xylion,” said Leva.
“We need somebody to stay with Srena,” said Deen.
Leva nodded when he spotted the fire in the lieutenant’s eyes. She had been right to say that she wasn’t the aggressive type. In fact quite the opposite was the case. DeMara Deen was by her very nature a pacifist who abhorred the use of violence to settle a dispute. Nevertheless she had come to learn how to use it in her time in Starfleet and the last few years of war had changed something within her. It was that anger, now clearly awoken and shimmering underneath the surface which required her to go and face those responsible for this unwarranted crime.
“Very well,” the tactical officer said. “But don’t get into a fight you cannot win. In fact, try to avoid a fight altogether. If you think it may come to one, get the hells out of there and fall back to the runabout. If you have absolutely no other choice, set your phasers to heavy stun and don’t be afraid to use wide-beam setting if you get surrounded.”
Deen and Xylion adjusted their weapons as advised. Moments later they were on their way. The Tenarian taking the lead.