Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Jan 4, 2023.
That's some tasty plot thickener there!
Just now tuning in and, love this story. The characters are rich, the actions make sense, the plot builds without giving itself away. I see a diplomatic solution on the horizon in contrast to a military one.
Mine too. I always love a story that does that to me. Granted, I do that more easily than most, but these are stories of personal heroics and sacrifice out of the care for others, so... yeah!
Thanks for writing, Gibraltar. Looking forward to reading more of your writing.
-Will the Serious
* * *
Task Force Alamo
USS Excalibur – Excelsior-class heavy cruiser – Captain Alexander Marshall
USS Relentless – Tempest-subclass (Miranda) torpedo cruiser – Captain Chuul
USS Ahwahnee – Constitution-class cruiser – Captain Talra Zha'Thaal.
USS Shackleford – Avery-class frigate – Captain Millicent Chang
USS Proxima – Al Salemi-class frigate – Commander Ta’anva Uresh
USS Yucatan – Larson-class destroyer – Lt. Commander Chiyo Watanabe
USS Stalwart – Oberth-class scout – Commander Lucas Kelley
* * *
Captain Alexander Marshall stepped out of his ready room onto the bridge of the starship Excalibur, his expression a stolid mask in the face of Admiral Saavik’s disturbing news.
He was a large man, standing 6’2”, and if the captain’s rank insignia on his uniform hadn’t commanded instant respect, his bearing would have. He possessed piercing green eyes, thick brown hair and an athletic build that he was proud to have maintained well into his forties.
His Caitian executive officer, Commander Tristienne D’Vorr, emitted a quiet growl in recognition of her captain’s poker face. She rose to vacate the command chair, her mane of feline hair, so like that of a Terran lion, flowing out and away from her face.
“Sir?” she hazarded.
He leaned in, speaking for her ears only. “We’ve been selected to lead the task force to head off the Tholian incursion.”
Her growl grew louder, this time more predatory than alarmed. “Isn’t that a good thing, sir?”
He shook his head fractionally, glancing around to assure their relative privacy. “Seven ships, and Excalibur’s the largest. This isn’t a counter-offensive, it’s a suicide mission. Saavik gave us the code name of Alamo, a tragic last-stand defense from Earth’s 19th century.”
D’Vorr’s whiskers bristled. “Understood, sir. We will all do our duty.”
“That was never in question,” he replied heavily. “However, I have no intention of throwing all of our lives away needlessly. There has to be a way to slow the Tholians down without killing ourselves in the process. It’s up to us to find it.”
He handed D’Vorr an iso-chip he’d been clutching in his hand. “I need you to make notifications to the CO’s of these six ships. Have them rendezvous with us at the coordinates I’ve selected. I need this done quickly and discretely, then join me in my ready room so we can confer with the other ships on route to our assembly point.”
She palmed the chip, offering a slow-blink, the Caitian variant of a nod. “When do we inform the crew, sir.”
“Soon,” Marshall said, before turning on his heel and returning to his ready room.
* * *
Commander Davula entered the ship’s windowless briefing lounge, located behind the bridge under the same ablative armored blister that protected the command center. The briefing room was being utilized as a C-&-C for the task force, with portable workstations having been set up around the perimeter of the conference table.
The XO held up a data-slate, her expression one of curiosity tinged with concern. “Update from the Diplomatic Corps, Commodore. It appears the Tholian ambassador to the Federation is unable to explain what’s happening along our mutual border. The DC says it’s the closest they’ve ever seen to a Tholian completely losing it. It appears the Tholian delegation is having difficulty even making contact with their government, and what they’re getting back apparently doesn’t make much sense.”
Trujillo took the slate from her, adding it to the growing collection of similar devices arrayed before her on the tabletop.
“That jibes with the lack of strategy we’re seeing from them so far,” Trujillo observed. “No feints, no attacking secondary targets, just a straight run in towards the Longlax-Teko system.”
“What’s there?” Garrett wondered aloud.
“Not much,” Shukla answered. “One Terran colony established in 2167 by some of our first warp-capable colony ships that left Earth in 2146. They tried to make a go of it on a marginal Class-L planet, but eventually had to be evacuated by the 2180’s. There’s an automated lithium cracking station on the fourth planet that was also abandoned in the 2290’s after we switched over to isolinear circuitry.”
“Longlax-Teko isn’t the problem,” a gruff voice issued from the end of the table opposite Trujillo.
Lieutenant Titus Helvia, a great brute of a man, had come aboard just an hour before departure, the commodore’s selection for their new chief security/tactical officer. A native of 892-IV, he had been raised on a world unaccountably similar to Earth, a fact that still defied explanation from the finest Federation minds some fifty years after its discovery.
It was a planet upon which the Roman Empire had never fallen and had instead gone on to conquer the globe. Helvia’s family had fled Magna Roma, as it was known to its population, victims of one of the planet’s endemic political power struggles. A refugee in the Federation, his file indicated that Helvia had joined Starfleet as an honorable avenue by which to repay the rescue of his family from their pursuers.
He stood 6’4” with a muscular build that seemed to threaten the seams of his uniform tunic. Sandy blonde hair, cut so short as to constitute mere stubble, only served to accentuate the ferociousness contained in his deeply set blue-grey eyes and his pronounced jawline. Helvia was the end result of countless generations of patrilineal eugenics in the upper echelons of Magna Romanii culture, sorting for traits of intelligence, guile, and physical prowess.
Just below his Starfleet combadge on the left breast of his uniform tunic was a religious emblem that had received special dispensation from command. Three joined gold links of chain, the symbol of the Children of the Son, were displayed prominently.
Helvia called a computer image to life on the compartment’s main viewer, showing the projected course of the Tholian fleet nearly intersecting with another star system on its way to the Longlax-Teko system.
He continued in his gravelly voice, “Draius Prime and Draius Secundus are populated planets in the Draius-Arigulon star system. Both worlds are warp-capable, and the Draiians have begun exploring the possibility of Federation membership. The combined population of both planets is eight-point-seven billion. The Tholian fleet will come dangerously close to that system on its approach to Longlax-Teko.”
Davula directed an appraising expression towards Trujillo. “Is Task Force Alamo going to intercede in defense of the system, sir?”
“Unknown,” Trujillo replied. “I haven’t spoken with Alamo-Actual as yet.”
“Who is leading that task force, sir?” Shukla asked.
“Alex Marshall of the Excalibur,” Trujillo replied. “He was our XO on the Athena at Tomed. Got us safely through that shit-show after Captain Urum was killed. He came away with a medal and a promotion.”
“So, he’s good in a fight?” inquired Davula.
“None better,” Trujillo confirmed. “If anyone can slow down the Tholians with a handful of ships, it would be him.”
“Given the number and type of ships under his command, sir, it would seem a head-on assault is out of the question,” Helvia postulated.
“Inadvisable, yes. Impossible, no,” Trujillo countered. “There are possibilities for ambush or flanking maneuvers, dependent upon whether the Tholians slow to sub-light at or near either of those systems.”
Garrett raised a hand, still not completely comfortable with speaking up without acknowledgement after a year aboard.
Trujillo smiled despite the circumstances. “Yes, Ensign?”
“Sir, has Starfleet done a comprehensive assessment of the Longlax-Teko system since all this kicked off? There has to be something they’re after, something that might not automatically occur to humanoid sensibilities. The Tholians are so vastly different from us, not only physically but mentally and culturally, that the answer could be right out in the open. Perhaps we’ve just missed the obvious?”
The commodore inclined her head in Garrett’s direction. “I can think of no one better qualified to make such an assessment, Lieutenant.”
Garrett blinked. “Sir?”
Trujillo looked to Davula, as if on cue. “Commander, I don’t believe Starfleet would be inclined to take the word of a mere ensign, should she make an important discovery in this endeavor. Don’t you agree?”
“Oh, absolutely, sir,” Davula acknowledged with a smirk.
“Let’s do something about that, shall we?” Trujillo prompted.
Davula stepped forward, presenting a small case that everyone in the room instantly recognized aside from Garrett.
“Ensign Rachel Garrett, step forward and be recognized,” Trujillo said, rising to her feet.
The rest of those seated followed her to their feet as Garrett stepped up to her, still looking somewhat dazed.
“I have determined that whether or not you choose to pursue a post on the Yorktown, by virtue of your bravery, tenacity, and professionalism, you’ve more than earned a promotion.” Trujillo opened the case, producing the new rank insignia. “By order of Starfleet Command, you are hereby promoted to the rank of lieutenant, junior-grade, with all the rights and privileges thereto. Congratulations.”
There was a round of applause and Davula and Trujillo busied themselves replacing Garrett’s ensign chevrons with her new lieutenant’s insignia on her shoulder clasp and left forearm. There were handshakes all around before Trujillo announced, “Alright, people, back to work. We have a potential battle to plan for.”
* * *
Alexander Marshall inclined his head towards his superior who was still light-years away, though heading in his direction with all due haste.
A decade earlier aboard the Athena when Marshall had been the ship’s executive officer, Nandi Trujillo had been a bright but headstrong security/tactical officer, one that he’d had to snap into line on more than one occasion. He had never had cause to doubt her abilities in a fight, but she had often sought battle when other, more diplomatic possibilities were present.
Now by some weird twist of fate, she was his superior. Last he’d heard, Trujillo had run afoul of Command by bucking orders during a recent confrontation with the Cardassians. Now, suddenly, she was Starfleet’s golden child after facing down the Klingons in their home system and garnering a promotion in the process. Marshall smelled political patronage all over Trujillo’s advancement. In his experience, career opportunists were seldom shy about sacrificing others in order to continue their rise up the ranks.
“Captain Marshall,” she said with the appropriate solemnity. “Though I’m glad to be working with you again, I wish the circumstances were different.”
“Likewise, Commodore,” Marshall replied, having elected to address Trujillo by rank rather than as ‘sir.’
“I won’t pretend this isn’t awkward for the both of us, Captain. My first XO from my first command on the Phobos, Bayan Jiemba, made commodore three years ago. I don’t think the ink was dry on his captaincy before he made flag rank. I ended up taking orders from him on several occasions, so, I can empathize.”
“Thank you, Commodore, but that isn’t necessary. I fully appreciate and abide by the chain-of-command.”
Trujillo nodded approvingly. “May I enquire as to your plans vis-à-vis the Tholians?”
“We’re still firming those up on this end. They’ve proven very direct in this push, and it doesn’t seem they’re after any identifiable class of target. This doesn’t seem to involve territory, per se, and they’ve passed right by a couple of frontier Starfleet outposts only a few parsecs off their course that they could have easily moved to attack.”
“Agreed, we’ve seen the same on our end. None of this is adding up, and I’ve got my best people trying to divine what their ultimate goal might actually be. The Tholian ambassador even insists he doesn’t know what’s happening or why, so I don’t think a diplomatic solution is in the cards, at least not through official channels.”
“You don’t see any point in opening a dialogue with them?” Marshall asked, his tone a bit sharper than he had intended.
Trujillo paused, sensing the emotional undercurrent to Marshall’s question. “I believe talking is always preferable to fighting, Captain. I’m simply pointing out that it may be up to you to open that dialogue, as doing so through official diplomatic channels isn’t possible at the moment.”
“I… see,” Marshall answered, not having expected such a response from her.
Trujillo sighed. “Look, I won’t pretend I wasn’t a phaser-happy action junkie when we last served together. We both know I was. Despite my having made my career running from one hot-spot to another for the last decade, I’ve learned the value of avoiding avoidable fights. I very much hope you and your task force won’t have to open fire on the Tholians, and that a different solution to this crisis can be found.”
“That’s good to hear, sir,” Marshall answered, surprised to have utilized the suffix unconsciously.
“I’m also not trying to override your command prerogatives here. I’m only asking about your plan to better coordinate with you upon our arrival.”
Marshall inclined his head, accepting this additional olive branch. “Understood, Commodore. I’ll loop you in as soon as we’ve settled on a plan of action. At present, they’re a little over three hours out.”
“One last thing, Captain,” Trujillo said, appearing conciliatory. “If this all goes to hell despite our best efforts, I’ll take the hit regardless of whose plan it was. If political cover is all I’m good for, at least I’ll have had some utility.”
“That’s very kind, Commodore, but unnecessary. I stand behind my decisions and my actions, come what may.”
Trujillo nodded. “Something I learned from your example, Captain Marshall. Good hunting, should it come to that. Perhaps ‘good talking’ is more hopeful?”
Marshall grinned at that, despite himself. “I’ll take it. Thank you for checking in, sir. Excalibur, out.”
* * *
Fascinating. I enjoyed this installation. If there's anything I can offer to help, please let me know. I really enjoy your works, Gibraltar.
Great interactions - particularly between Marshall and Trujillo. A lot of character development in a fairly small package. I also enjoyed the off-the-cuff promotion of Garrett.
Quite the mystery you're building here and I have no doubt Garrett will have a pivotal role in solving it. Really liking the additional layers due to the deep physiological differences of the tholians. I'm a huge fan whenever there's science in science-fiction...
Excellent chapter. I enjoy reading it.
I greatly enjoyed this part, as well.
It is always a welcome mental reset to run into those who have grown into a self-awareness of their flaws. Even more welcome to realize they are working to change.
My favorite part of the first Ender book was the unusual awareness Ender had of the dynamics of different personalities and how to use them to lead. As a newcomer to this series, I can already see that the details of leadership are being handled extremely well.
Great science fiction shouldn't just be an exploration into possibilities, but should also teach us about ourselves.
Great chapter! You may have written Alexander Marshall better than I do. Excellent work. I'm curious to see where things go from here.
USS Reykjavík, Briefing Room/C-&-C
Trujillo and her senior officers watched the second wave of Tholian ships cross the border over a live sensor feed. This time it was thirty-seven craft, again a strange mix of classes that eschewed any standard fleet formation, more a gaggle than an armada.
Starfleet had attempted opening communications with the Tholian formations repeatedly, with no response whatsoever. Even the entreaties of Tholian diplomats carried over Starfleet and Tholian frequencies went unacknowledged.
Having grouped all available starships into Trujillo and Marshall’s two task forces, Starfleet could only challenge this second incursion with a squadron of automated tactical drones.
The seventeen drones made a single pass at impulse speeds, firing photon torpedoes timed to detonate directly in the path of the Tholian ships at warp. This netted three ‘kills’ and a half dozen vessels damaged to varying degrees, which began to lag behind the others.
The drones then accelerated to warp and began high-speed kamikaze runs against the Tholian stragglers. This culled another five ships from among the laggards but exhausted the remaining drones’ propulsion systems. They dropped out of warp and out of the pursuit.
“They didn’t divert any ships to defend against the drones’ attack,” Lt. Helvia noted. “And none of the stragglers came to each other’s aid.” He shook his head as if in disbelief. “Tholians typically display some of the most elaborate and aggressive mutual-defense tactics we know of, but not in this instance. They act like moths…” he murmured the last few words, causing Garrett to glance up at him from her station.
“What?” she asked. “What did you say, Lieutenant?”
“It was nothing,” Helvia demurred. “I merely said they were behaving like moths drawn to a flame. No external stimuli appears to matter, only their forging ahead.”
“Moths to a flame,” Garrett repeated, her eyes widening fractionally. “Thank you,” she offered cryptically, diving back into her sensor returns and analysis.
Captain Marshall’s Task Force Alamo had fallen back to assist in the protection of the Draius-Arigulon system, joining forces with the small native Draiian navy to safeguard their population against a potential Tholian attack.
Trujillo and the others switched the viewer over to a real-time display of the first Tholian incursion group as it approached the Draius-Arigulon system.
The invading ships seemed to crawl past the system with an agonizing torpor, despite actually being at high-warp. Trujillo awaited any sign of the Tholians angling in towards the system which they were passing at less than four au from the system’s Oort cloud. An abrupt course change now could bring them into firing range of Alamo and the Draiians in a matter of minutes.
Trujillo looked away from the display, fixing her gaze on the newly promoted Lieutenant(j.g.) Garrett. “Mister Garrett, any progress on re-tasking the Shar’ar Array?”
Garrett tore herself away from her sensor returns to respond. “Yes, sir. Command pulled some strings and the Vulcan Science Academy is reorienting the array as we speak. We should have the initial scan results in a few minutes.”
Shukla looked up from his makeshift Operations station, unconsciously touching his communications earpiece. “Commodore, we’ve received a hail from the Fortitude, she’s on her way from Langston Yards and is asking to join up.”
A brief smile flitted across Trujillo’s features. “The yard superintendent said they couldn’t have her ready in less than a week, but Captain Breklar insisted he would have her underway in twenty-four hours. Good as his word.” She cross-checked two of her ubiquitous data-slates. “Alamo needs the additional firepower more than we do. Tell them to join up with Captain Marshall and the Draiians.”
“Threat Formation One has now passed the Draius-Arigulon system,” Helvia observed.
“No signs of incursion,” Shukla confirmed, “they are maintaining course and speed for the Longlax-Teko system.”
Trujillo opened a channel to Excalibur, the image appearing onscreen was that of the starship’s auxiliary bridge, currently being employed as Marshall’s own Task Force Combat Information Center.
Marshall nodded toward the visual pickup. “Hello, Commodore. Looks like we might be in the clear.”
“That increasingly appears the case, at least from this first group. We’ll be adjusting our destination to Longlax-Teko to investigate and possibly contest TF-1’s arrival there. Our ETA to the system is a bit over six hours now. Will you be joining up with us or remaining at your present location, Captain?”
Marshall appeared to mull that over for a long moment before responding.
“Given the Draiian military’s shortcomings, if that second threat formation decides to attack here, the locals don’t stand a chance without our help. I’m not willing to gamble the lives of eight billion beings on the actions of Tholians who’ve proven anything but predictable the past three days.”
Trujillo nodded approvingly. “Absolutely, Captain, and I fully support your decision. We’ve got the Vulcans’ Shar’ar Array coming online to give us better eyes on Longlax-Teko. Hopefully we can figure out what they’re after, or at least what they’re up to there before we arrive.”
“I wish you good fortune then, Commodore. If the next wave bypasses this system, we can join up with you there in a little over three hours.”
Trujillo made note of that on a data-slate. “Copy that, I’m not shy about calling for help when it’s needed. Speaking of that, you’ve got Fortitude inbound to join you.”
“So I’d heard. I can’t imagine what Breklar owes his chief engineer, but I’m guessing it’s expensive.”
“Amen to that, Captain,” Trujillo said with a half-smile. “Gauntlet, out.”
She turned away from the viewer to see Garrett looking expectantly at her from the Science station.
“Give me the word, Lieutenant,” Trujillo prompted.
“Initial sensor telemetry coming in from the array, sir. I’m running comparisons against our baseline scans of the system in our databanks.”
“Keep me apprised,” Trujillo said, standing and moving to the makeshift Tactical station staffed by Helvia.
“Lieutenant, any strategic or tactical assessments so far?”
Helvia came to attention at Trujillo’s approach, his right arm twitching involuntarily with what Trujillo was certain was a purely reflexive impulse to offer her the traditional Roman salute. He loomed over her like a piece of overly muscled statuary.
“At ease, Lieutenant,” she coaxed.
He relaxed, however fractionally. “Difficult to say, Commodore. With the Tholians behaving so erratically, trying to predict what they’ll do in a given situation is highly problematic. They’ve displayed no impulse to spin their energetic-web defenses, nor have they directly engaged any craft or emplacement opposing them with weapons fire. The border outpost they destroyed was the result of an apparent suicide-run, a warp-speed collision.”
She inclined her head, acknowledging his appraisal. “Expect the unexpected, eh?”
“A fair summation, sir,” he replied stoically.
“Well… that’s new,” Garrett said, her face radiating both excitement and bewilderment.
Trujillo approached, sliding behind the makeshift workstation to look over Garrett’s shoulder. “What have we got?”
“Something that absolutely shouldn’t be there, sir.”
* * *
Fortitude won’t let you down. Nice installment, Gibraltar.
Sweet cliffhanger - not a CeJay style cliffhanger (which would typically involve an actual cliff) - but definitely revelatory page-turner...
Really liking the focus on Garrett and also particularly liked the exchange between Trujillo and Marshall. I like Marshall's reasoning. I'm also appreciating that the Draiian have their own protective force, a detail almost always ignored by the franchise and equally by most fanfic writers.
I'm also getting a kick out of He-Man Helvia.
I'm enjoying the organization, and, as rbs says, the cliffhanger that deepens the mystery before the curtain is pulled back. I get the feeling it will be one of those moments that causes me to kick myself... "Of course. I should have guessed."
Good cliffhanger. I also enjoyed the exchange between Trujillo and Marshall. I definitely see some story possibilities if I were to write a companion piece to this.
I've read enough Gibraltar to just about guarantee you whatever's coming may have some predictable elements built into it - at least thematically - but it's still going to come out of left field and knock you for six.
These Tholians are not quick to give up their secrets, are they? We've got a couple of hints already, mostly thanks to Garrett, but that could turn out to be a red herring in the end. So very curious.
Don't get entangled in the Tholians webs. Something big is a coming.
USS Reykjavík, Briefing Room/C-&-C
The viewscreen showed a computer enhanced image of Longlax-Teko, an orange K-type main-series star. The image drew back to display a circular pattern of spherical structures, thirty-two in all, arrayed in a ring formation parallel to the circumference of the star.
Trujillo frowned reflexively. “What in the hell are those?”
“Artificial satellites of some kind, sir. Metallic composition, similar to monotanium, each of them measuring ninety kilometers in diameter. They’re giving off exotic gravimetric energy signatures,” Garrett described, absorbed in her readings.
“I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that these structures weren’t here when there was an active Federation presence in this system?”
“No record of such, sir,” Shukla provided.
Helvia glowered at the screen, voicing the obvious question. “How do structures of such size simply appear without someone noticing?”
No one had an answer for that.
“Ops, transmit this telemetry to both task forces and Starfleet Command.” Trujillo surveyed the readings over Garrett’s shoulder. “Anything like this in our database, Lieutenant?”
Garrett failed to answer for a long moment, then realized Trujillo had been addressing her by her new rank. “Uh… sorry, sir. Checking.”
“It takes a little while to sink in,” Trujillo said softly for Garrett’s ears only. “It’s the same when you make lieutenant commander and captain.”
Garrett blushed, “Yes, sir.”
A series of images appeared on Garrett’s abbreviated console interface, and she split the compartment’s main viewer image in two so as to display the new information culled from their database in an enlarged format.
A giant metallic sphere materialized on one side of the screen, pixilating slightly before the image firmed up and resolved into an object nearly identical to the ones they were observing in real-time from the star system ahead.
Its mottled, striated surface spoke of its artificial origins.
“The image on the right was taken one-hundred sixty-eight years ago by the starship Enterprise, NX-01,” Garrett offered. “One of the Delphic Expanse spheres that helped to create and maintain a zone of spatial anomalies that prevented most FTL travel in the region. The image on the right is what we’re seeing in orbit of the Longlax-Teko star. They appear largely identical visually, though the ones in Longlax-Teko are ten times the size of those encountered by Enterprise.”
“The Sphere Builders,” intoned Shukla, a hint of near reverence in his voice. “They’re supposed to have provoked the Xindi attack on Earth.”
“Fables, exaggerations and propaganda,” Helvia muttered. “Many accused Captain Archer of embellishment in order to impress the Vulcans with Human ingenuity and tenacity.”
Trujillo silenced the larger man with a raised hand in his direction, her focus still on Garrett’s displays. “I don’t want to confuse correlation with causation here. We don’t know if these objects have anything to do with the Tholians and their actions, but we have six hours until we’re in-system to make that determination. This is now our primary focus, am I understood?”
A litany of affirmations followed.
She gestured to Garrett. “For once we have ample scientific resources. I want you coordinating with the science personnel from ships in both task forces and whatever science or historical assets Command can bring to bear on this.”
Trujillo looked to her assembled officers. “Get me answers.”
* * *
“How goes your first command, Mister Glal?” Trujillo asked over subspace from the privacy of her ready room.
The grizzled old Tellarite smiled behind his scraggly beard, tusks twitching with amusement. “I’ve got a crew that’s nearly half starbase castoffs trying to figure out what to do on an emergency shipboard assignment and green-as-grass senior staff trying to corral them. So, overall, it’s a garden party of celestial delights. How are things with you, sir?”
Trujillo laughed aloud at that, secretly cherishing her former XO’s acerbic wit.
“You know what I don’t get from Commander Davula? Sass. I don’t get sass from Davula.”
“You miss my sass!” he protested.
“I do, in fact, miss your sass. Your punching Klingons, not so much.”
“He had it coming. He knows what he did,” Glal offered dismissively. “Is this a social call, sir, or did you need something? I’m supposed to be minding the kids on the bridge while your husband is on his sleep cycle.”
“You’ve seen the updates on the mystery spheres?”
He nodded curtly. “I have, sir. Bad business, that. Tholian incursion is dicey enough without throwing more exotic alien technology into the mix.”
“I agree, but we play the cards we’re dealt. As it happens, the Gol is likely the fastest ship in our formation. I may need to send you in-system to reconnoiter the situation and to assess the Tholians’ response. They’ll beat us to Longlax-Teko by a good two hours. If all this is because they want first crack at that technology, we may have to disabuse them of that notion.”
“We’re at your disposal, sir. My chief engineer is the most experienced out of my senior officers and was overseeing Gol’s refit when we scrambled the task force. She assures me the engines are running at peak efficiency, though she’s coping with an inexperienced deck gang she inherited from the refit.”
“We’re all doing the best we can under the circumstances, and I appreciate your flexibility,” Trujillo said.
“He’s doing well, sir. I know you won’t ask about him, so I’m volunteering the information. He’s going to make someone a first rate XO,” Glal offered with a smirk.
Trujillo almost played dumb but then decided against such a disingenuous response. “I’m glad to hear that. I know he’s excited at the opportunity, sudden though it was. I’m relieved he’s getting the chance to serve under someone he knows.”
“It wouldn’t have made any difference, Nandi. He’s a damn fine officer, regardless of who’s sitting in the big chair.”
She nodded, smiling. “I have to go. Time to go and prod the big brains about what’s waiting ahead of us.”
“Yes, sir. Just give us the word and we’ll dip in-system and see if the Cry-Lobs want to play.”
Trujillo blinked. “Cry-Lobs?”
“It’s what one of my ensigns called them, short for crystal-lobsters. I just about spit coffee all over my helm officer when I heard it.”
“Heavens save us from the children,” Trujillo beseeched sardonically.
“From your lips to the Great Hoof’s ear, Commodore,” Glal laughed.
* * *
Love having Glal's sass back in the saddle...
Glal's humor is one of the best features of this series.
Really interesting callback to STE. I wonder if it might turn out that the Tholians are being helpful - or at least useful. That would create an interesting diplomatic situation considering the reception they received on their way to visit the spheres. Whether the Tholians are helpful or malicious - Glal will be the first to know. Fantastic little mystery going on here - I'm hooked!
I also like the callback to Enterprise. I have to say that I didn't see it coming, but I'm glad that you did that. There's definitely something going on with the Tholians, and I find that interesting to me now that the sphere builders maybe involved. I like your explanation that Archer may have embellished a bit.
The mystery deepens. Very nice and additional kudos to the Enterprise call back. Now what could the Cry-Lobs ... I mean Tholians want with the Sphere Builder devices? Last time those showed up, things didn't go so well for most involved.
And Glal continues to be a delight. So glad he stuck around.
Separate names with a comma.