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|September 14 2014, 02:36 PM||#1|
Location: Deep Space 9
Star Trek: Four Years War: Renown - Filling the Ranks
Star Trek: Four Years War
Filling The Ranks
Infirmary, Starfleet Field Office
New Tokyo, Drakonis IV
Kosk Okoga sat on the biobed, his feet hanging in mid-air, looking down at left arm and the stump that rested on his lap. He had been in impulse control when a lucky Klingon disruptor hit had crippled the Ptolemy’s sublight drive. He had pushed Crewman Bartlett clear of an explosion and taken the full force himself, which rammed him into a bulkhead (snapping off half of his left tusk when he’d hit) and ultimately pinned his left hand under a pile of debris. In order for a rescue team to save his life, they’d had to sacrifice his hand. A fair trade—at least, that’s what he’d been told.
Vobilite were nothing if not robust. He’d adapt to the loss of his hand and the artificial one he was being fitted with, it would just take time. The silly thing was that he was bothered more by the loss of half a tusk than his whole hand. In the two weeks since the battle, he’d spent many hours, cross-eyed, looking at the offending protuberance from his jaw. Whereas his right tusk was a good thirty-four centimetres long, the left was barely eleven. For such a distinguishing feature to be out of balance was like having an Andorian without any antennae, or a Vulcan with curved ears. Of course it would grow back, but it would take time and even then he’d still be uneven—he’d have to work on the longer tusk until the matched again, which wasn’t a pleasant thought.
Doctor Quinn Ryden, the facilities biophysicist who was working on his hand, returned to his bedside. The petite blonde human had been making a few alterations to the artificial appendage, so that it would work better with his physiology. Ryden was a woman who looked far too young to be a cadet, let alone a fully-qualified doctor and highly-regarded expert in her field. He liked her however. Her manner was pleasant and breezy, she always greeted him with a smile and a joke (as the days they had spent went by the jokes became ruder), her touch was gentle and considered, whilst her examinations were precise and thoroughly explained. Though he knew nothing of artificial limbs before now, he was an engineer and interested in technology of all sorts, so he had pestered her with question upon question on the device, how it worked and what it would be capable of; all of which she answered without a pause.
After she slipped the hand in place and connected up the sensors, she sat back and looked up at him. “There we go. Like I told you before, the interface will take some getting used to and you won’t have full range of motion for a few weeks. This is just a final test to make sure that everything fits and feels right, if it’s alright with you then we’ll go ahead with the operation tomorrow and get it connected up properly.”
He nodded and looked down at the artificial hand. It was nothing like his original, far too pink and pale. It stood out against his mottled red skin like, well, a sore thumb—as humans said. Ryden saw how he was looking at it and rested a hand on his right forearm.
“I have put in a requisition request for a Vobilite-compatible model, but it will take time to get here, longer now with the war on. This one will get you used to how it works, then once your permanent replacement arrives, it is easy to change them over—by which time you’ll be into a physical therapy regime and have a better handle on it.”
“In the meantime, I’ll just have to buy some gloves.”
Ryden giggled for a moment before focusing once again. They spent the next hour putting the hand to the test, making minute adjustments and checking the readouts of their session. By the end, they were both pleased with the results. She removed the prosthetic and ran a scanner over his arm, after which she gave him a reassuring smile.
“Everything looks good. Any discomfort on your end?”
“Other than the back of my hand having an itch?”
“Yes, other than that.” They had discussed phantom limb syndrome many times in the last fortnight; he knew just what it was and how it affected his mind, but that didn’t stop the niggling itch.
He shook his head. “I’m feeling fine.”
“Good. If there’s nothing more, I’ll go make sure everything is prepped for tomorrow and I will see you at oh-nine-hundred.”
Ryden patted his shoulder as she rose to leave. He sat on the biobed for a moment longer, then hopped off. Looking up he was surprised to see a familiar figure standing before him,
“Comma—sorry, Captain. It’s good to see you.”
“You too, Lieutenant,” Captain Naya replied with genuine warmth. “How’re things going?”
“I get a replacement fitted tomorrow, then some time spent undergoing physiotherapy, getting used to it, building up my dexterity and getting used to the interface. After that, I’ll be fit to return to duty.”
“Oh,” she said, a moment of dismay crossing her delicate features. She shook it off and focused on him fully once again. “I’m glad to hear you’re on the road to recovery.”
“Something wrong, sir?”
She was about to answer him then paused, seemingly thinking better of it. After a pause for thought, she shrugged her shoulders. “If you were due to return to duty soon, I was going to offer you a new assignment.”
“You got a new command?”
“The Renown. She needs a chief engineer, you were my first choice.”
“How long until you depart?” he asked, his curiosity peaked—like many engineers, he didn’t do well with sitting in one place for too long, especially without the hum of a warp core to sing him to sleep.
“Admiral Chang says it could be as early as the end of the week, it depends on how quickly the Klingons reach the Draconis sector. Once they do, we’ll be tasked with escorting a convoy of civilians to relative safety.”
He leaned against the biobed and pondered. Quinn had told him how important the next few weeks were, that he needed time to make the adjustment to using his new hand and that until he was done with his therapy that it’d be next thing to useless. But this was his former CO, a woman he had nothing but respect for, who was offering him his own engine room. The thought of passing up on his treatment and making do on duty went against his very nature, he hated to be rushed when working miracles in engineering—even when circumstances demanded it.
Just then he saw Ryden go past the door. “Hold on a minute, Captain,” he said to her. “QUINN!” he bellowed after the petite physician.
Hurried footsteps followed and she appeared at the doorway, looking worried. “What is it, Kosk?”
“This physical therapy I need, surely I can do it anywhere. It doesn’t have to be here; does it?”
* * * * *
Cargo Bay 2, U.S.S. Nebraska
The d’k’tahg slashed at her throat. As the vicious blade cut through the air to deliver a killing blow, Elke Vogel snapped her neck back just seconds before metal touched skin, then swung her momentum forward, grabbing the wrist of her would-be killer, applying pressure and twisting, before slamming her knee into his solar plexus. He bent forward, winded, and then she smacked her elbow into the back of her attacker’s neck, which dropped him to the deck instantly.
She stopped and looked around at the circle that had formed around her, a dozen pairs of eyes watching everything she did. Sweat beading on her forehead ran down her temples, matting a few stray blonde hairs to her skin. She locked eyes with each of them, all likewise armed with the savage Klingon dagger.
“Questions?” she asked her voice strongly accented with her native German elocution, which bounced against the bare bulkheads. The training rooms and gymnasium were all fully booked, which was why she had taken her advanced martial arts training session to the cargo bay.
There were numerous shaking heads and averted looks, as though to question her would lead to them being her next victim. But she had chosen her opponent well, Chief Nur Hadden knew how to take a punch and make it look convincing, even if their moves were improvised and tactics changed every time—it was as much training for them as it was the others who observed their movements.
“Spit into pairs and practice dodging the d’k’tahg, we’ll focus on disarming and overpowering your opponent after you’ve proven that you won’t get yourself gutted.”
The group spread out, pairings that had long since been established finding each other again. As the collection of officers and non-coms set to task, she nudged the chief with her boot.
The bronze-skinned Rigellian looked up at her and gave her a wink. “It’ll take more than that, Commander.”
“Good. If it was the end of you, that would be…inconvenient.”
He flipped up onto his feet, a mock hurt look on his square face. “‘Inconvenient’? Surely you mean ‘devastating’ or ‘harrowing’ or ‘soul-crushing’.”
“No,” she said simply, then moved off to inspect the first sparing couple, a sly smile tugging at her lips. She wiped it from her face as she started pointing out flaws in technique or execution of moves, correcting them and watching as the partners perfected what she had told them. Nur Hadden was doing the same, as he always did during the sessions, after herself he was the best martial artist onboard. He was wasted on the Nebraska, but then again so was she.
The Iowa-Class ship was primarily a scout and survey ship, spending months charting star systems and conducting planetary studies. Which left the security chief with little to do, other than the occasional run in with a wild animal; she wasn’t getting the challenge she needed.
However, now the Federation was at war. Within an hour of the news reaching the Nebraska, she had gone to Captain Taul and submitted her request for reassignment to a more combat-orientated ship. With the Klingons charging into Federation space from multiple angles, she needed to do her part and get into the fight.
She was helping Ensign th’Praan and Crewman St. John with their footing, when the intercom whistled. Leaving them to it, she trotted over to the panel by the door.
“Cargo bay two, Vogel here.”
“Lieutenant Patel, Commander. You have an incoming message from the U.S.S. Renown.”
She scowled. There was no one she knew onboard the Renown. “Patch it to cargo operations, I’ll take it there.”
“Understood sir. Patching it through now.”
“Vogel out.” She looked back at the training group, all except for Nur Hadden were focused on their exercises. He was looking at her. “Chief, take over, I’ll be a moment.”
She stepped over to the ladder and climbed up to cargo ops on the second level, where it overlooked bays one and two. The room was empty, so she sat in the first empty seat and brought up the waiting comlink. The Nebraska emblem was displayed for a moment before it disappeared, replaced with the face of a striking Deltan woman. Her almond eyes were warm and smile friendly.
“Lieutenant Commander Vogel?” the Deltan asked, to which she nodded. “Good. I am Captain Naya of the Renown. Your name was on a list looking for transfer and, as it happens, I am in need of a chief security officer. Having read over your record, I like what I see, so would like to offer you the billet.”
Vogel was surprised by many things. Chief among them was that a Deltan had received command of an Armstrong-Class ship, under the right commander they were ships to be reckoned with. She was also unaware that any Deltan had reached the rank of Captain—there had been a male in her year at the Academy, but he was a botanist. She had heard of two more being accepted the following years, with the first Deltan female enrolling when Vogel was a third year. If Naya was that woman, she had somehow advanced far faster than Vogel had, being two full ranks above her.
She wanted to get involved in the fight, but under a Deltan CO she wasn’t sure just how much action she would see. There were rumours abound that the Saladin Wolf Packs would be in need of experienced officers, which could see her serving as executive officer as well as security chief—a bit of a jump, since at present she was just third officer, with the Nebraska’s exec and second officers very comfortable in their roles and unlikely to jump ship anytime soon.
“Can I have some time to think about this, Captain?” she asked, trying not to sound as if she were stalling for time.
“I can give you a day, but we’re on a tight schedule and I can’t afford to take too much time.”
“I understand, Captain. I will contact you with my answer within the next twelve hours.”
“I would appreciate that, Commander. Naya out.”
The channel closed and she deactivated the monitor. She sat and mulled over the offer for a moment, before standing and sliding back down the ladder. The training session was still in full swing, under the watchful eye of the Chief, who also spotted her return.
“Everything alright, Commander?” he asked.
“Yes, I was being offered a new assignment,” she told him matter-of-factly.
“I take it you won’t be going for it.”
She shrugged as she mused on it again. “It’s onboard the Renown, though under a Deltan called Naya.”
“Commander Naya?” Ensign th’Praan interrupted as St. John helped him back to his feet.
She scowled at the Andorian for eavesdropping. “Actually it is Captain Naya, but yes. How do you know her?”
The junior comm officer looked flabbergasted. Looking from her to the Chief to St. John, none of whom looked as excited as he was. “None of you have heard of Commander Naya? Naya of the Ptolemy?”
“The Ptolemy?” Nur Hadden perked up. “She was its commander?”
Th’Praan nodded emphatically. He toned it down when he saw the less-than-impressed look on Vogel’s stern face. “Sorry Commander. Naya was the CO of the tug Ptolemy. When the Klingons invaded the Tighe System, aiming for I-7 and the Rihnaa Colony, she took out almost a dozen ships with just one shot!”
As he told them the highlights, she suddenly remembered hearing the details, though hadn’t known what ship it was or who her CO had been. She found it hard to believe that such a demure-looking woman had undertaken such a risky plan and succeeded. If that was what she could do on a tug, how much more effective could she be with a more powerful ship behind her?
“You have to take it, Commander,” th’Praan told her.
She looked at the others, who had all stopped their sparring and were listening to the exchange, heads shifting from one officer to the other. Even Nur Hadden was looking at her, expectantly. Hesitating for a moment, suddenly feeling uncomfortable being surrounded by so many subordinates, her usual confidence slipped and she found herself on one of those rare occasions when she didn’t know exactly just what to do.
Taking a breath, she looked at the Andorian again. “Your footing is still sloppy, Mr th’Praan. If you go into battle with footwork like that, the Klingons will dice you up into mincemeat. Chief, make sure he gets it right. I’ll be back in five.”
With that she turned on her heel and headed for the exit, planning to make her next move with a little more privacy.
“Will do, sir,” he called after her. “What if someone is looking for you, what should I tell them?”
“Tell them, I’m making a call,” she replied, passing through the opening doors and heading for her quarters.
* * * * *
Mess Hall, U.S.S. Renown
Orbital Dry-Dock, Drakonis IV
Lieutenant Tirinathorshan ch’Vahras (‘Thor’ to everyone but his parents, who still insisted on using ‘Tirin’) stifled a yawn as he set his tray down on the table and flopped into the seat. His compatriots looked at each other and then him.
“Late night, buddy?” Lieutenant Nathan Munro asked sitting opposite him, before picking up his cutlery and tucking into his steak, eggs and hash browns.
“It’s this damn refit,” he said, slurping on the strong black coffee he’d ordered—a beverage he usually found revolting.
“Oh right, one of the tactical sensor relays is right behind your quarters,” stated Lieutenant JG Robbins, who scooped out a segment of Rigellian grapefruit.
“With only the thinnest sheet of duranium between it and my bed. You would not believe the racket that hyperspanners and sonic screwdrivers make at oh-three-hundred. I am just happy that we aren’t due to go into battle anytime today, I doubt that I could even keep my eyes open.”
“Don’t be so sure,” Munro muffled with a mouthful. The distasteful looks from his companions made him stop and swallow before continuing. “When I was down on New Tokyo last night, I heard a couple of officers from the Ticonderoga talking. According to them, the Klingons are due to hit this sector in the very near future.”
“Get serious, Nate,” scoffed Robbins. “Rumours travel at warp twenty at times like these, don’t believe all you hear.”
“How would you know that? Fought in a couple of wars the universe forgot to let us in on?”
“No, but I have family who did. My great-grandmother used to tell us stories of what it was like during the Romulan War. She always said that as soon as war drums started, rumour mills went into overdrive. If you believe the rumours, then you weren’t born on Earth, Nate, but rather New Romulus, since it was meant to be invaded at least four times a week.”
Thor stirred his honey-laden porridge (the abundance of sugar to help him stay awake) and nodded with Robbins. “I’d have to agree. You’d be amazed at the significance of communications during war; a drop of disinformation here, a propaganda flyer there, can be more effective than all the disruptors and torpedoes on Qo’noS.”
“Well, of course you’re going to say that.”
“It’s true. And don’t even get me started on the process of peace talks.”
Munro held up his hands. “Trust me, I won’t.”
The three lieutenants laughed. They had been serving together for the last three years, since Robbins joined the Renown, and in that time they had been through a fair bit which had cemented a connection between them—one more substantial and important to him that with his own bondmates. Though now they faced war, with an all-new command team and senior staff, there wasn’t much the three of them couldn’t get though as long as they had each other.
As they ate, Thor couldn’t help but watch the others who were coming through the canteen. Most of the engineering and weapons specialist (all dressed in coveralls) came in, went to the food slots, ordered ration packs and then left again. There was a great deal of pressure on them to get the work done as quickly as possible, since no one knew when the ship was being relaunched. He could only imagine the strain they were under, which would only get worse once they actually left dry-dock. No one was under any illusions; this war was going to be a long and bloody affair.
After finishing his breakfast, he was in the process of putting his tray back and getting another round of drinks for the table (another black coffee, though this time with only four sugars in it, an orange juice for Munro and a camomile tea for Robbins), when he spotted perhaps the most stand-out member of the crew enter the dining hall. Alnschloss K’Bentayr was the only Chezkenite onboard—in fact the only one of his/her/its kind Thor had ever met—so tended to stand out in any crowd.
They’re normal state was essentially gender neutral, but every few years they entered a “fertility cycle” during which time they developed the necessary plumbing to produce children, after which they would either remain whichever sex they’d been during the cycle or shift back to neutral—though during their next cycle they could become the other sex. It was all a little confusing and, as an Andorian, Thor knew all about confusing reproduction; it also meant that it was difficult to tell just what gender K’Bentayr was, even after a year onboard there were still bets being taken.
K’Bentayr had joined the ship after a prolonged leave of absence for its latest cycle and served on the beta shift, so Thor had had little interaction with the tactical specialist. With the departure of Commander Hashimoto, Captain Naya had promoted the Lieutenant to weapons chief just a couple hours after she’d assumed command yesterday afternoon. That meant that he would be seeing a lot more of K’Bentayr.
Picking up the tray of two mugs and a tall glass, he headed over to the tall and willowy officer. He smiled and bowed his head slightly, a gesture K’Bentayr returned.
“Lieutenant, congratulations on your promotion.”
“Gratitude, Lieutenant ch’Vahras,” it replied. “I just wish that my role was not so crucial now.”
That surprised him. “It’s rare to meet a tactician who doesn’t like to fight.”
K’Bentayr made a strange gargling noise, which drew a few odd looks. “A fight is one thing, Lieutenant, this is war.” It gargled again. “That was most amusing. Gratitude.”
“You’re welcome.” He looked over at his table, where Munro and Robbins were watching him curiously. “If you’ve got time, we’re just finishing up with breakfast but you’d be welcome to join us.”
“Apologies. I cannot stay; I have to run a full diagnostic on the new tactical sensors.”
“Of course. Just know that the offer is always open.”
K’Bentayr bowed its head once again. “Gratitude.”
With that, Thor headed back to his table and sat down with the tray, faced with the puzzled looks of his human colleagues. He lifted his mug and took a sip, noting the slightly more bitter taste compared to his first cup. The other two hadn’t moved.
“What? I was congratulating him. Her. Him?” he mused more to himself, then shook it off. “Like it or not, he’s joining us on the bridge, so we might as well get to know him/her.” He paused and thought again for a moment. “Is it too rude to call K’Bentayr ‘it’?”
Munro picked up his glass. “You tell us, you’re the communications expert,” he commented with a grin before proceeding to down half the glass in a single swallow.
“I think it’s only proper, well done, Thor,” said Robbins, taking her tea.
“I’m still not sold on K’Bentayr,” Munro said softly, watching the scrawny alien head out the canteen. “‘Its’ not what I picture when I think of a weapons officer. Like a Deltan captain in a war.” Thor’s antennae shot up in surprise at that, whilst Robbins scowled over the rim of her mug. “I know what she did at Tighe, but that was the desperate act of a madman—I mean just look at the outcome. I don’t doubt that she’d make a fine captain of a survey ship during peacetime, but Deltans believe in making love not war—literally!”
“I, for one, like her,” Robbins stated, setting her mug down. “I suspect that ninety years ago there were a lot of races out there that questioned human ability, and look at all we’ve accomplished.”
“Humanity has known war and violence for centuries, it’s encoded into us to adapt and cope with whatever comes our way. I’m just not sure Deltans have that in them anymore.”
Thor looked between the two of them. They both made valid points, though he had not yet made a decision on their new CO, and wouldn’t until he saw her in action. Deltans themselves said that they were a peaceable race, who believed in non-violence, but there were always those that broke the mould. In order to get to Captain, Naya would’ve had to have shown that she was capable of taking action when the situation called for it. Now they were at war, she would have to set aside her cultural ideals—if she couldn’t she would never have accepted command of the Renown, would she?
The whistle of the intercom interrupted them. “Lieutenant Robbins, please report to sensor control. Lieutenant Robbins to sensor control.”
Robbins and Munro continued to stare for a few moments more, before she stood up. “If you’ll excuse me.”
They watched her go—Thor noticed a few others looking after the junior lieutenant as she walked past them. Though he had never been into non-Andorians in the past, he could understand what drew so many to stare at her.
“Phew,” Munro gasped, slumping back. “If she’d stared any harder, her eyes would’ve bored straight out the back of my skull. I’d never suspect that level of intensity from someone that looks like her.”
“Thrown off by a pretty face?”
Munro chuckled and blushed slightly. “Something like that. Don’t fret, Thor, you’re still prettier,” he said patting the back of the Andorian’s hand.
Their laughing filled the canteen and had everyone looking at them, not that they paid the slightest bit of attention.
* * * * *
Sickbay, U.S.S. Diana
Never, in the three years she had been onboard the Diana, had Doctor Tahani Raal seen sickbay so full. Every bed in every ward was occupied, all by refugees—Federation colonists forced to flee their homes as the Klingons reduced cities to rubble for orbit. It was heart breaking to see.
The refugees were from a Sirius-Class transport with engine problems the Diana had stopped to assist. But once the repair teams beamed over and saw how bad it was, the large number of injured and sick, they had called for medical support. Raal knew that she would never forget the smell. So many tired, worried and demoralised people crammed into such a small space with little in the way of provisions, and nothing left by way of hope. They had seen their homes obliterated, friends and family killed, their livelihoods vaporised in seconds.
The transport had been repaired, but before they went back to warp, she had had the worst off transferred to the Diana and proper aid and relief supplies sent back to the refugees. It was too little too late, but it was all she could do for the time being.
After having spent years out on the frontier, meeting and studying entirely new and wondrous forms of life, this incident was a shocking wake up call to the harsh realities they were now facing. What made it worse was that she knew this was just the beginning.
A monitor chirped and she quickly quashed such thoughts as she responded to it. Nothing serious, just an increase in a young man’s heart rate as he slept—probably reliving the terror of the attack. She could give them something to help them sleep, but there was nothing she could do to stop the nightmares they would undoubtedly have. Looking down at the humans face, she softly stroked his forehead, hoping to soothe some of his ills. Strands of her auburn hair fell over her eye and she tucked them back behind a pointed ear.
The man’s heart rate slowed and his breathing relaxed. The worst had passed him by. It was during hard times such as these that she was glad she didn’t have any sort of telepathic abilities (it was one of the characteristics that distinguished her race of Rigellians from Vulcans) as she didn’t think she could bear the collective sorrow and grief.
She finished her rounds and then headed into her office, the only room in the entire medical complex not to have an injured person in it. Setting down her PADD she opened up the patient files and started entering her latest round of updates and observations. A combination of concentration and tiredness left her oblivious to the figure standing in the doorway, until he cleared his throat. Startled, her head snapped up to see who was there. She winced at the sudden strain of her neck muscles, massaging them she gestured Captain Grant to the empty seat opposite her.
He accepted it and sat down with a heavy sigh. It had been a trying few days for all of them.
“How’re things going down here?” he asked his bushy moustache dancing as he spoke.
“As well as can be expected. I’ve got two of the refugees in surgery as we speak, though the prognosis for one isn’t good. There are three others who won’t make it through the night, their injuries are just too severe—I’m surprised they’ve survived this long with nothing but a box of bandages on the transport. The rest are as stable and comfortable as I can make them, until we reach New Tokyo.”
“I dread to think how bad things would’ve been had we not picked up their distress call,” he lamented. “They’re making good speed, considering their baffle plate is being held in place with baling wire and good intentions.”
There was a moment’s pause, during which all she could hear were the collective breathing of all the patients in the next room and the normal beeps and pings of the life-sustaining equipment. There was something Grant needed to tell her, something that he didn’t like—she had served with him long enough to know this little routine. As always, she didn’t try to jostle him along, he would come out with it when he was ready.
“How’s Abigail and the boys?” she asked, knowing that Grant’s delightful wife would be worried sick.
“I spoke to her a couple of hours ago. She’s holding up well, but was asking if there was any news on Archanis—she still has a few friends there and hasn’t been able to get through to them. I said I’d try and make a few enquiries, but with the Klingons flooding subspace with a dampening field, its only top priority Starfleet signals that they’re pushing through.”
She gave him a supportive smile. “If there’s a way, Captain, you’ll find it. Next time you talk to her, give her my regards.”
“I always do. You made quite an impression that Christmas, every time we talk she asks after you.” He paused and took in a big lungful of air, which was the sign he was ready to say what he’d really come to talk about. “I’m not sure just what I’ll be able to tell her after today.”
He handed her the tablet he had come in with but been trying to keep hidden. “I got these transfer orders through just thirty minutes ago.”
She took the datapad. “You’re being transferred?”
“I’m not. I’m sorry to say, they’re for you.”
“Me?” her brow creased deeply.
“Once we get to New Tokyo, you are to disembark and transfer over to the U.S.S. Renown. She is in need of a new CMO and so they’re giving the job to you.”
“But I’ve not asked for reassignment, I’m very happy here.”
“I know, but this is war and there will be a lot of this going on, resources being redirected to spread out experience and skills. The Diana is going to be tasked with reconnaissance work, which means we’ll be avoiding conflict as much as possible. That, combined with no new lifeforms to examine, means that a physician and surgeon of your calibre would be of more use on a combat ship.”
She listened carefully and then let out a long breathe. She could understand the logic, but that didn’t mean she had to like the outcome. Raal was going to miss the old Hermes-Class ship and all those she had had the good fortune of serving with, especially Colin Grant, who was the big brother she had never had.
“When do we reach Drakonis four?”
“Twenty-five hours. Not much time to give you a proper send-off,” he said with a sad smile. “This’ll mean that Doctor Rosenberg will take over for you here, is he up for the responsibility?”
“He’ll do just fine. I taught him all I learnt from you.” They both chuckled softly. “Would it be alright if I told him?”
“Of course, this is still your sickbay for one more day.”
“Thank you, Colin.”
“Don’t mention it.” He rose from his chair and headed out the door, but paused and looked back at her. “Don’t think this new job gets you out of the poker game tomorrow, and I’ll expect all my winnings to be paid before you leave.”
“I’ve been going easy on you all this time. Tomorrow, I’m bringing my ‘A’ game.”
“Yeah, yeah. You Rigellians are all talk!” Laughing, they parted company, leaving her with a mountain of things to do. Rosenberg was in surgery, so she’d have to wait to tell him. Before then however, she could try to clear out the backlog of reports and patient charts, ensure that the inventory was up-to-date, sign over all the CMO-eyes-only records and files to him. In between which she’d have to find time to pack and say several dozen farewells.
* * * * *
Sensor Monitoring Suite 14, Starfleet Field Office
New Tokyo, Drakonis IV
Lieutenant JG Teg chim Farog sat at the sensor console and watched as the Alexander, Hannibal, Siva and Molock warped out of the Drakonis system, heading towards the approaching Klingon forces. Just before his elevation to captaincy, Commander Xa-Haghaarn’s last act as Farog’s CO was to recommend him for promotion, which had quickly been approved. However, what should’ve been an accomplishment didn’t feel that way to the young Tellarite. His stupidity had led to the Ares being destroyed, because he hadn’t thought to monitor a disarmed battlecruiser. No matter what the Commander or any of the others had said, he still saw it as his fault and vowed never to make such a grievous error again.
Xa-Haghaarn was now Captain of the Alexander and in charge of his own Wolf Pack, Keeva, as always, by his side—though now as the Commander of the U.S.S. Siva. Both ships had lost some of their staff and Ares crewmembers had been assigned to fill the gaps, however there weren’t enough vacancies for all the survivors, which meant that some were left on New Tokyo, awaiting new orders.
Though the fifty-two former crewmembers of the Ares were officially on leave until they got their new assignments, he was determined not to just sit around. Though the Field Office wasn’t in need of his scientific knowledge, he was another pair of eyes to monitor sensors, which was a welcome trait with the war edging steadily closer.
A blip entered his screen and he immediately set about running a full sweep and analysis. It was only after every scan came back showing the same result, did he let the comet go on its way. His eyes flicked back and forth on the display, looking at everything that moved. Every dot had a Starfleet transponder ID next to it, showing just who was out there. A number were clustered in orbit of Drakonis IV, one for every orbital dry-dock, starship, shuttle and workbee that was above his head at that very moment.
It was most likely he would be leaving the system on one of those ships, but just where he’d be going after that was a mystery. A scout ship to help with reconnaissance and monitoring Klingon fleet movements, or a cutter to help with the extensive search-and-rescue operations, or a frigate bound for the frontlines? There were some of his friends and former-shipmates who were eager to get back into the fight, to show the Klingons “what for”. Farog however wasn’t quite so keen. As a member of Starfleet, he knew that he would have to take up arms to defend the Federation, which he accepted, and knew that there may come a time when he could be asked to give his life in the line of duty—that prospect terrified him.
He was only twenty-four, other than schooling and preparing for the Academy, followed by two years of active duty, he hadn’t done anything else with his existence—he didn’t even have enough experience to really call it a life. The thought of going to meet his makers at this point just seemed unremittingly cruel. In the name of Hgnaur, he hadn’t even known the companionship of a female!
An exasperated sigh escaped his lips, followed by a derisive snort. Fortunately he was alone in the monitoring room or he may have caused offense. He rubbed the tiredness from his sore eyes and pushed the thoughts of his own mortality to the side, refocusing on the bank of monitors before him. The work was long and monotonous, so typically operators were on four hour rotations, meaning half their shift was spent at a sensor console and half attending to other duties elsewhere on the base. Farog, however, was fast approaching the end of his eighth hour in the chair—just as he had spent yesterday, the day before, and every day since he’d asked to assist. The sensor chief, a human by the name of Verov, had tried to get him to ease off on the full shifts, but until such time as he could make amends for the loss of the Ares he would stay exactly where he was.
Behind him, the doors parted and he was hit by the pungent odour of spice root tea. He turned away from screens to see a Deltan female in a gold tunic enter, carrying a mug in one hand and a flask in the other. A friendly smile curled her small mouth, as she approached the large console that dominated the small room.
“I thought you could use something to help keep you going, Lieutenant,” she said, setting the mug and flask down on a flat surface. Only then did he notice the two braids around her wrists.
With a splutter, he scrambled to his feet. “Yes Captain, thank you, sir.”
Her smile widened. She perched on the edge of the console and clasped her hands in front of her. “At ease, Lieutenant.” She looked at the screens, as he eyed her up wondering what he’d done wrong. “How are you finding it in here?”
“I am pleased to be doing my part, Captain,” he said, keeping his posture stiff as he sat back down. Of course he knew this was Captain Naya, who had saved his butt (and everyone else’s in the Tighe system) only a couple of weeks ago. He had only seen her in passing and not spoken to the stunning Deltan before.
“I can imagine it gets a little dry after the first couple of hours.”
He wasn’t quite sure what to say. Was he being tested for something? Was she here to chew him out for his error with the battlecruiser? Admittedly, Captain Xa-Haghaarn was a far more intimidating individual but he hadn’t blamed anyone but the Klingons for the loss of the Ares. It was entirely possible she looked upon the battle in a different light, and wasn’t happy with him getting away with it—and a promotion as well.
“I’m used to in-depth telemetry analysis, sir.”
“Mr Farog, you can relax. I’m not here to grade your performance; this is more just an informal chat.”
“Oh…um, ok sir.”
“I’d just like to get to know my chief science officer a little better, before we have to ship out.”
“What? Who? Me?” he asked, tripping over his own tongue.
“I spoke to your former CO and he speaks very highly of you. You graduated third in your class, advanced degrees in high-energy physics, astrogeology and biochemistry. Nothing but glowing performance reports from Lieutenant Van den Berg of the Ares, with several citations for dedication to duty and a commendation for bravery on Espen two. All of that sounds very impressive to me, just what I’m looking for in fact.”
“But what about the battlecruiser?” he blurted out, then immediately kicked himself for.
“Were you the only one on the bridge with access to the sensors?”
“No,” he said slowly.
“Several, more experienced, officers missed it as well. When in battle it’s easy to get tunnel vision, you can be so focused on one target that you don’t notice what’s going on around you. What you have to do now is learn from that…miscalculation, so that you won’t do it again. Such is life, Lieutenant, we must all learn from our own mistakes.”
He paused and thought about her words for a moment. They were no different than what anyone else had said to them, but there was something in her tone, a sincerity and a honesty, that made them ring true.
Farog nodded at her. “I will try, Captain.”
She rested a light hand on his shoulder. “That is all any of us can ask of ourselves.” She held his eyes for a moment longer then looked at the screens. “As I understand, your shift comes to an end in about twenty minutes.”
“Is does, sir.”
“Good. Once it’s over, get packed and be on the Renown by the end of day. Get settled in and rest up, we still don’t have a launch date yet, but expect it to be very soon.”
She pushed off from the console. “Enjoy your tea,” she said before leaving him alone once again.
Farog reached for the mug she’d brought, lifted it to his snout and took a deep soothing breathe. He was still trying to wrap his mind around his new promotion, now he had to deal with being the new science officer on a cruiser. Sipping the tart and zesty dark liquid, he turned his attention back to the sensor screens—the last thing he needed was to let another Klingon ship slip through on the eve of his reassignment.
* * * * *
Transporter Level, Starfleet Field Office
New Tokyo, Drakonis IV
Her meeting with Lieutenant Farog completed, Naya was heading for a transporter room to return to the Renown. The constant state of uncertainty was wearing thin, even to be told they had to depart within the hour would be better than sitting around and waiting for it. Perhaps the only benefit it brought was that she was able to pull together her new crew, one she would be proud of.
She was just nearing one of the public platforms when her communicator buzzed against her hip. Pulling it from her belt she flipped it open. “Naya here, go ahead.”
“Captain, this is Thor. We’ve just been contact by Admiral Chang’s office. He wants to meet with you ASAP.”
Stopping in her tracks, her mind continued to race forward. Was this it? Would this be her new orders? She still had to select a first officer, whilst Commander Vogel wouldn’t be in the system until tomorrow afternoon. Would she have time to round out the last two posts on her senior staff before they needed to depart?
“Thank you, Lieutenant. I’ll be in touch once I’m out of my meeting. Naya out.”
Slipping her communicator back into place, she veered off from the main thoroughfare and into a side passage that led to a turbolift. There were several others waiting, so when the doors open the piled into the carriage. She noticed they were heading down so politely declined the welcoming gesture of a leering human. He looked disappointed as the doors closed, whilst she was relieved—in her experience there were some humans who would benefit from taking the Oath.
Moments later, an empty car arrived. She stepped in and ordered it up to the command level, her mind fixated on what she’d have to do once she got out of the meeting. There were all the system status reports to go through, picking an XO (even a bad fit was better than not filling such a key role), briefing the senior staff, addressing the crew, co-ordinating with whatever task force they were being assigned to, running weapons tests, battle drills, and dozens of other matters that would all require her attention.
When the lift arrived, she was feeling anxious whilst her neck muscles were tightening up—as they always did when she felt stressed. As she stepped into the anteroom for Chang’s office, his admin officer waved her straight through, net even pausing to page the Admiral. She was expected and it was definitely something important. Keeping her pace steady, she headed straight through the double doors to Chang’s practically outfitted office.
Inside, she found him sitting at his desk, whilst opposite him was a Tellarite with the braiding of a flag officer. She was entering a room with two senior officers present. The knots in her neck formed their own knots.
“Captain Naya,” Chang said by way of greeting before she reached his desk. The Tellarite stayed seated, looking her up and down, though his face was unreadable—a hard skill for most of his race to master. Chang gestured to the second chair. “May I introduce you to Commodore Benq, he is the new Starfleet Intelligence commander for the region.”
“Commodore,” she said with a bob of her head.
Chang looked from her to him. “Commodore, you asked for this meeting, so I’ll let you kick things off.”
“Thank you, Admiral. As you both know, the Klingons caught us off-guard. They were able to move a full third of their entire military into position and strike, without alerting us to what they were up too. It is clear to me that if we want to turn the tide of this conflict and ultimately win it, we need better and more robust intelligence, with experts in the field to study and analyse the results—so that we know when and where to commit our resources.”
“Which is why,” Chang picked up, “we have been assigning a number of intelligence operatives to ships along the border. They will be the ones who will gather and co-ordinate all the information we have on the Klingon strategy.”
She nodded in agreement, it was a logical approach.
“Which is why we called you in,” he added.
“I see that you haven’t selected a first officer yet,” Benq slipped back in, almost as though they had rehearsed their tag-team. “To this end, I’ll be assigning one of my top operatives to the Renown, he is a full commander so has all the necessary training and experience to double up as your exec. In fact he should be here in a moment.”
Naya was a little taken aback. Of course as the two ranking officers in the sector, they could assign whoever they wanted to the Renown; she had just hoped to have had a little say in who was to become her right-hand-man.
Chang’s intercom buzzed once. He pressed it and stated, “Send him in.”
A moment later the doors parted. Naya rose and looked towards the door at the man who would be her second-in-command. The man looked human, tall, broad in the shoulders and across the chest, while slim at the waist, dark skin smooth over chiselled features, whilst his hair was only a few millimetres long. Physically, he was a very impressive specimen, but whilst she took all of his dimensions in in only a few seconds, it was his eyes that drew her attention. They were almost onyx black, radiating intelligence and guile, but also with a sorrow and soulfulness that locked onto her.
As she was looking him over, he was doing the same to her, his brow slightly creased ever since he first saw her. He came to stop just before her. He was yet another human she had to look up at, though still not quite as tall as Lieutenant Munro.
He extended a large hand and she clasped it. “Commander Kanu Shanthi, Starfleet Intelligence.”
“Captain Naya, U.S.S. Renown.”
She half expected him to say something about the Tighe system, but he uttered nothing more. The handshake lingered for a few seconds longer than it should have, before they both released each other’s hands. Once separated, he looked at Chang and Benq, hands loosely clasped behind his back. She turned back to the flag officers as well, though kept Shanthi in her peripheral vision.
“You understand your new orders, Commander?” Benq asked his operative.
“Yes sir. From the Renown, I am to covertly collect and analyse all available sensor and communications data pertaining to the Klingon Imperial Navy. All my findings are to be routed directly to you; I am then to be on standby in case further actions are required.”
“Nicely summarised, Commander.”
“‘Further actions’?” she asked.
“Commander Shanthi may have to undertake mission specific special operations, which could see him off-ship for several days or possibly weeks,” stated Benq, in a manner than made it sound like he’d be popping out to fetch a loaf of bread.
“So I will be without my XO for weeks at a time?”
“Potentially,” the Tellarite replied, sounding irritated she was bringing it up. “He’ll be undertaking vital work for the war effort. Other than that, you aren’t cleared for more details.”
Before she could ask anything more, she noticed Chang shake his head. He must’ve known this wasn’t a discussion that would go anywhere productive. So as to direct attention away from it, he stepped in and changed the subject.
“How long until the Renown’s refit is complete?”
With one last look at the Commodore, she focused on the Vice Admiral once again. “Diagnostics are underway on our new sensors and deflectors. Phasers will be ready by twelve-hundred tomorrow and torpedoes by twenty-hundred the following day.”
“And your crew replacements?”
“My science officer will be onboard later today and Lieutenant Commander Vogel will arrive tomorrow afternoon.”
“I’m glad to hear it. From what Commodore Benq has told me, the Klingons will enter this sector within the next two or three days—when they do we’ll need every available ship.”
She gave him a single nod. “We’ll be ready, Admiral.”
“Good, well I won’t keep you any longer. Dismissed.”
Naya turned to Shanthi, who followed suit and politely gestured to the door. She led them out of the Admiral’s office, through the reception area and into the corridor in silence. Walking side-by-side the headed for the nearest turbolift, both remaining stoic—she was trying to understand the point of assigning her an officer who might be gone as often as he was onboard, whilst she suspected that he was used to keeping quiet. It was only once they had a crumb of privacy in the carriage that he finally looked at her again.
“I always suspected you would do great things.”
“Excuse me?” she asked, taking a half-step back. “Since when was I on Intel’s radar?”
A slight smile softened his face. “You don’t remember me, do you?”
She studied his face again and shook her smooth head. “Should I?”
“I didn’t think you would, no one paid that much attention to me at the Academy. I was a skinny kid good with computers and majoring in communications, nothing all that special, but everyone knew who you were.”
“We were at the Academy together?”
He nodded. “Even had a couple of classes together, but I was always pretty quiet back then. But even just seeing you in a lecture hall, I knew you would be great—I’m just glad I was proven right.”
“So how did a ‘skinny kid majoring in communications’ wind up working in Starfleet Intelligence?”
“Intel likes experts in the fields who don’t draw attention to themselves, since no one ever noticed me I was perfect for what they needed.”
She smiled at the thought of him somehow going unnoticed now. But it faded as she thought about what Benq had said. “I suppose that means you can’t tell me just what the Commodore meant in there?”
He looked truly remorseful. “I’m sorry, Captain, but I have my orders. I would like to say I’d never leave you in the lurch, but there are times I might only get an hour’s notice before I have to leave.”
“It was worth a shot,” she said and smiled softly. On the panel by the door, she saw they had gone past the transporter level. “What floor did you press?”
“There’s a special piece of hardware I need to take with me, which can’t be beamed up.”
“Where is it?”
“The spaceport.” He caught her scowl. “It’s mentioned in my transfer order that Commodore Benq forwarded to you.”
“I supposed I can’t ask about this either?”
“No. In fact, this is when I stun you and put a bag over your head.” The ominous
statement hung in the air for a long moment, before a toothy smile spread across his face. “Sorry, couldn’t help it.”
“Commander Shanthi, you would be welcome to try, though I assure you, it would not end well for you.”
He chuckled. “Noted for future reference.” His smile faded slightly and demeanour became a little more professional. “Intel has given me use of a captured Orion shuttle for when I need to leave the Renown, so that both sides will just overlook me.”
“Orion shuttles aren’t much larger Starfleet’s. We may have to offload one of our own to fit it in, but that shouldn’t been too much of an inconvenience.”
“Thank you, Captain.”
The turbolift slowed as it neared the ground floor. Naya turned back towards the doors, hands interlaced in front of her, ready to head back up to her new command with Shanthi beside her.
“Don’t mention it, Number One.”
* * * * *
Commander Austin Harris, First Officer, Deep Space Nine (by FltCpt. Bossco)
8.01 - Darkest Before Dawn (Chapter 8 added, 12/09/2015)
Last edited by Bry_Sinclair; September 15 2014 at 07:16 AM.
|September 14 2014, 10:21 PM||#2|
Location: The void between my ears
Re: Star Trek: Four Years War: Renown - Filling the Ranks
"You are beginning to damage my calm." - Jayne Cobb
|September 15 2014, 02:18 AM||#3|
Re: Star Trek: Four Years War: Renown - Filling the Ranks
|September 15 2014, 07:29 AM||#4|
Location: Deep Space 9
Re: Star Trek: Four Years War: Renown - Filling the Ranks
Commander Austin Harris, First Officer, Deep Space Nine (by FltCpt. Bossco)
8.01 - Darkest Before Dawn (Chapter 8 added, 12/09/2015)
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