Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by Gibraltar, Apr 27, 2020.
Well, that was brutal.
Got caught up on this.
Trujillo continues to impress after her her episode of carrying out some Klingon-style diplomacy in the earlier story.
In was particularly refreshing to see her acknowledge her inherent starship captain arrogance where she simply assumed that she was doing the right thing to steal Garret away from the assignment of her choosing. Her introspective in that moment was one of my favorite moments of this story so far and really showed us what kind of person Trujillo really is. Yes, she is excellent at her job, but she also makes mistakes, and she'll do what she can correct them. Awesome.
And seeing a young Rachel Garret, and seeing the early glimpses of the starship commander she will one day become, were also pretty darn cool.
As for this mystery and the brutality of it all ... yeesh. That was pretty harrowing stuff. Trujillo makes a great call here bringing her away team back early. Now the question is what the hell happened to this crew and how can Reykjavik avoid this same, brutal fate.
Or like the "giants" of Taurus II have gained spaceflight capabilities since the visit by the shuttlecraft Galileo.
Color me intrigued.
You are all very kind but, while I did once write a lot of fiction, I'm afraid my creative writing abilities have long since atrophied. I am now capable of writing only in legalese.
Finally caught up. Good grief, you write some visceral stuff. I would probably have been like the guy on the hero ship and ran for the nearest private place to upchuck. Then again, I've witnessed an autopsy in person, so maybe not...
In any case, I am as invested as everyone else in learning what happened, as well as admiring your integration of a canon character we knew/know so little about.
The atmosphere in the conference room was dour, as was expected after such a harrowing discovery. Trujillo had called the meeting to order while she herself struggled to cast out the mental images of those slaughtered aboard Esau.
The conference had been held two hours after the away team’s return. Those officers who had participated in the mission were appearing via video-feed from the isolation laboratory and dormitory structure built in their now depressurized shuttle-bay. They sat in a cramped dining module, still dressed in the tan form-fitting bodysuits worn under their EVA’s.
DeSilva nodded to Glal, Dr. Bennett, Kura-Ka, and Garrett on the viewscreen before turning to address the captain. “Sir, we’re now holding position five-thousand meters from Esau. We’re at yellow alert, our shields are up and weapons systems are on hot-standby. We’ve compiled preliminary reports on the Esau, both from remote scans and the away team’s findings.”
“Very well,” Trujillo intoned. She nodded to DeSilva to continue.
“Scans of the ship indicate no hull breaches, nor were any of the exterior airlocks accessed. However, the away team found no residual transporter signatures onboard, though depending on the type of transporter used, these may have degraded by the time we arrived.”
Trujillo acknowledge the information and then turned the briefing over to Glal and the away team members. They each gave a brief recitation of the information gathered so far from their respective specialties. The captain couldn’t help but notice the haunted thousand-meter stare on Garrett’s face when she wasn’t speaking. Trujillo knew from her own experiences that the young woman’s mind was struggling to place recent events into some kind of contextual framework.
Dr. Bennett offered, “On scene scans and further analysis of the atmospheric samples we brought back with us show no signs of any pathogens, Captain. I think it’s safe to say whatever killed Esau’s crew, it was limited strictly to the macro-level.”
Glal asked Garrett a question and had to repeat himself before she heard him. “Sorry, sir,” she said, obviously drawing herself back from her dark reveries. “Yes, initial analysis did confirm no cellular traces on the arrows, spears, or obsidian residuals recovered from the victims. However, Dr. Bennett and I have determined that the arrowheads and spear-tips were coated in a broad-spectrum neurotoxin, one that appears lethal to a surprising number of humanoid species.”
“Our first real clue,” Jarrod remarked approvingly.
“Correct,” Bennett added. “Thanks to the ensign’s efforts and Starfleet’s comprehensive remote biological-surveys over the past few decades, if this toxin has a biological component, we may be able to trace it to a specific sector or even star system.”
After a few more questions and answers regarding ship’s business, Trujillo asked if anyone had anything else to add. No one had anything further to offer and she brought the meeting to a close. “Given Dr. Bennett and Ensign Garrett’s findings, I’m cancelling the quarantine. We’ll re-pressurize the bay and you can all return to your quarters for some well-deserved rest. Engineering personnel will disassemble and stow the quarantine structure.”
The collective relief on the faces of the away team was evident.
“I’ve alerted Command to what we’ve found here and forwarded our findings so far. Our next move will be determined by what we hear back.”
Glal raised a hand. “Captain?”
“The two-hundred and forty bodies of our brothers and sisters remain aboard that ship. They deserve some kind of… interment.”
Trujillo inclined her head towards her XO’s image on the viewer. “I fully understand the feeling, Mister Glal. However, we’re going to have to determine when and if it’s safe to return to Esau for a complete forensic analysis of this… crime scene. Only after that’s been completed can we see to the remains of our comrades.”
Glal dropped his chin in resignation. “Yes, sir.” He understood the reasons behind her answer, but he was not required to like them.
“This meeting is adjourned.”
* * *
Lines of static and momentary image freezing garbled the comm-link with Deep Space 2, grating on Trujillo’s already taut nerves.
Commodore Jiemba, a mocha-skinned Human of Australian Aboriginal descent stared out at her from across several light-years. His salt and pepper hair was wavy, nearly unkempt, and his brown eyes had an intensity that even Trujillo occasionally found unnerving.
“We’ve run all the data you sent us through our tactical simulator and we believe there’s a high probability that whatever attacked Esau may be awaiting a response from you. Either that, or with your shields up you’re not vulner—” the image froze, flickered, and resumed “—ame kind of attack that overwhelmed them.”
“We’d come to much the same conclusion, sir,” she confirmed. Trujillo leaned closer to the screen, consternation evident on her features. “I’d planned to take Esau under tow and return her to DS2 for a full forensic analysis, stem-to-stern. You know I hate to admit it when I’m in over my head, but we lack a dedicated science vessel’s resources in that regard.”
“I’d send you some help, Nandi, but our nearest science asset, Calypso, is more than two weeks away at top speed. You’d be almost back here with her by then. Best you tow her in.”
Trujillo nodded reluctantly. “If you can find who did this, and if it’s deemed actionable by Command, I want first crack at these bastards.”
Jiemba offered a cautious, patient grin. “Who else would we send?” His expression grew more somber, and Trujillo intuited where the discussion was headed. “Unfortunately, you know as well as I that this will almost certainly earn the Abemeda system a warning buoy and a hazard marker on our star-charts. They’ll chalk it up to a disastrous First Contact overreaction by a heretofore unknown and highly xenophobic species.”
“The system’s Class-M planet was charted seventeen years ago by probe and scanned multiple times by Esau since they arrived. No sentient life that we can detect.”
“It could be a yet-to-be-contacted regional power,” Jiemba riposted. “All the better reason to back off and demonstrate that we’re not invaders.”
Trujillo sat back in her chair, suddenly infused with a surge of energy that she had no immediate outlet for. “How long can you give me here before we tow Esau back?”
“Nandi,” Jiemba cautioned, “please, despite the horrible circumstances, don’t make this personal.”
“Three days, Jemmy,” she pressed. “I promise that if we find anything concrete I’ll call it in before taking action. You know I won’t strike without official sanction.”
Now it was his turn to inch closer to the screen. “Here me well, Captain. I have the highest regard for your capabilities and professionalism. That being said, I am ordering you not to place yourself into a situation where Reykjavík provokes an attack by whomever this is. You forget, I know how you think.”
She opened her mouth to reply and he cut her off.
“This is already a tragedy. The only thing that would make this worse is if you start an unnecessary war that someone else is going to have to finish. Sometimes when these things happen, galling as it is, it’s our duty to walk away to prevent something even worse.”
She closed her eyes, dipping her head in an abrupt nod. Her familiarity with those words sat in her chest with the weight of a stone.
“I served under an outstanding captain who taught me that,” Jiemba offered conciliatorily. “You may be familiar with her.”
“Is this where you remind me of my bad luck in serving under my former XO?”
“From where I’m sitting, Captain, you’re very lucky indeed.”
She raised her gaze to meet his, locking eyes through popping static, distortions and across multiple sectors. “Meaning?”
“Three days, Captain, and not a minute more. And Reykjavík doesn’t come off the leash until I let it go. Are we clear?”
“Perfectly clear, Commodore.”
* * *
Uh, Trujillo's immediate superior is her former first officer? Awkward.
But clearly the man has been thought well since he's absolutely right. If this is the work of some previously unencountered species, there's little that can be accomplished by confronting them and forcing a war to further deteriorate relations. The galaxy is an inherently unfair place, and more often then not, it doesn't care one iota about justice.
Now if this was somebody else, some bad but known actors, God help them all whenTrujillo's gets a hold of them.
USS Reykjavík – Captain’s Ready Room
Glal blinked at Trujillo, either truly not comprehending or putting on a very good show. “So you hurt her feelings?” he asked incredulously.
Trujillo scowled at her exec before taking a sip of her tea. “It took a lot of guts for her to confront me. Credit where credit is due.”
“Bah,” he waved a hand dismissively. “She’s brand new, right out of the package. She’ll go where she’s assigned and she’ll like it. The fact that they’re now allowing the top five percent of their class to choose their own assignment is ridiculous. The needs of the service should outweigh personal preference. We’re coddling these kids. Next thing you’ll know we’ll be handing over starship commands to raw cadets!”
In contrast to the tea she’d prepared herself, Trujillo had poured Glal a glass of Deltan brandy from a bottle he’d gifted her on her last birthday. Thus, his tongue was somewhat more free than he’d typically allow. However, Trujillo knew a brace of the liquor would also help the old Tellarite to relax and provide a much needed distraction. The away mission to Esau had affected him deeply, regardless of his willingness to show it.
“You have a unique perspective,” Trujillo observed. “You’re one of only a handful of command officers currently serving who started as an enlisted rating.”
“Too old to quit, too stubborn to die,” Glal said with a smirk.
“What’s your take on all this?” she asked him, waving in the general direction of where Esau now held station.
“A bad business, Captain,” he muttered somberly in reply. “That crew wasn’t just murdered, they were butchered like animals.”
She nodded silently, staring into her cup. Finally, she said, “The commodore gave us three days to solve... whatever the hell this is. After that, answers or no, we tow her back to base.”
Glal’s eyes narrowed and his large nostrils flared. “What’s his definition of ‘solve?’ Does it include excessive numbers of photon torpedoes?”
“He doesn’t want a war,” she explained.
“If you don’t want a war, don’t kill our people,” was Glal’s retort. He drained the glass with a dissatisfied grunt. “They threaten us and we sue for peace. They attack us and we fall back. They slaughter a ship full of peaceful explorers and we slink away with our tails between our legs.”
“We’re soldiers you and I,” Trujillo sounded a confessional note. “We share the same uniform as the explorers, diplomats and Border Dogs, but we’re an altogether different breed. A dying breed.” She cast a faraway look out the ready room viewport, towards the glare of Abemeda’s twin suns. “Our days are numbered, Glal. I can see the direction the wind’s blowing with the Security Council and Starfleet Command. The reason Reykjavík is dispatched all across the Federation is because there’s so few dedicated warships left. We’re a shameful necessity, an uncomfortable reminder that diplomacy doesn’t always work. We simply don’t fit their new narrative.”
Glal reached out to grasp the bottle and pour himself another half-measure of the brandy. He gestured towards Trujillo’s cup with the bottle.
She turned to pour the lukewarm contents of her cup into a nearby potted plant and accepted a shot from the bottle.
Glal raised his glass in salute. “To the warriors. Reviled but necessary. Long may we serve, because gods help them if they rid themselves of us all.”
“To the warriors," she echoed, and they drank.
* * *
DeSilva found Garrett in the science lab on deck four, despite Dr. Bennett having previously ordered the ensign to a minimum seven hours restricted to quarters for mandatory rest.
The lab was an abbreviated affair, nothing like what one would expect aboard a ship dedicated to exploration. The fundamentals were present, however, and that would have to be enough.
The lieutenant turned a wary frown on her younger counterpart. “Mister Garrett, if the XO finds out you’re playing hooky from rack-time, there’ll be hell to pay. Commander Glal doesn’t mess around. And may whatever deities you worship take pity on your soul should word get past Glal to the captain.” DeSilva mock-shivered as she made this pronouncement.
“Couldn’t sleep,” a bleary-eyed Garrett replied, not bothering to look up from where she was studying what looked to be a start chart with various graphic and text overlays.
“Okay, all warnings of your imminent demise aside, what are you looking for?” DeSilva plopped down in a seat next to Garrett.
“Are you familiar with the concept of panspermia?” Garrett asked her.
“Yes,” DeSilva nodded. “Biological material, primarily DNA or its precursors, is ejected into space from an asteroid strike on a life-bearing planet. Said genetic material becomes dormant in absolute zero and floats for eons until the galaxy’s rotation swings other star systems through that same patch of space. The debris carrying the genetic material from the first planet is drawn into the gravity well of other planets where it survives atmospheric entry and introduces those genetic building-blocks to the new host planet.”
Garrett pointed to her screen. “Precisely. We’ve seen it throughout the explored galaxy, with examples far too numerous to count. Now, the doc and I have isolated DNA-markers in the toxin used on the weapons in the Esau attack. It appears to be a plant-based toxin that’s likely been artificially modified to make it more lethal. Taking advantage of Starfleet’s volumes of bio-sampling information from our deep-space probes, I’ve plotted out a map of Class-M worlds in this and neighboring sectors where similar genetic markers to the toxin have been identified.
Garrett called up the graphic, displaying a roughly elongated cone-shaped swath across the nearby sectors. The focal point at the narrow end of the cone lay squarely on the Abemeda system. “The farther away from this system our samples get, the larger the degree of genetic drift, indicating that the original genetic material has become more diluted by the individual evolutionary processes of these planets.”
DeSilva appeared surprised. “So… you’ve confirmed that this toxin may have originated in this system?”
The ensign turned in her chair to face DeSilva. “No, and that’s the problem,” she exclaimed, her voice tinged with frustration. “Our records show no genetic sampling has ever been gathered from the Class-M planet here in the Abemeda system.”
“I thought you said all the Class-M worlds in this region had been sampled?” DeSilva asked.
“Two different probes have transited this system in the past forty years, and both of them launched genomic-sampling drones into the atmosphere of Abemeda II. Neither of those drones ever sent telemetry back to the probes that launched them.”
“Coincidence?” DeSilva posited, not believing it herself.
With a definitive shake of her head, Garrett said, “I don’t trust in coincidences, Lieutenant.”
“Nor do I. Why don’t we send one of our own probes to the second planet?” DeSilva offered.
Garrett pondered that. “We should. Only…”
The science officer sat forward, toggling a different display to reveal a course-chart of Esau’s journey through the system.
“Given that Esau hadn’t entered orbit around the second planet yet, my guess would be she was still engaged in in-depth system scans. That’s done in order to chart all asteroid and cometary activity in or near the system. No sense dropping a colony on a planet if a massive asteroid is going to cause an extinction-level event six months later.”
DeSilva studied the young woman. “Okay. Where are you going with this?”
Garrett now seemed infused with a manic sort of energy, no doubt fueled by her exhaustion. “We need to scan Esau and see if she’s missing any probes.” She initiated a sensor sweep of the derelict vessel, eyeing the results. “Damn,” she murmured. “One Class-I probe is missing from their inventory.” She gave DeSilva a wide-eyed look of realization.
“Someone or something down there doesn’t want to be found,” DeSilva speculated, deducing Garrett’s line of reasoning. “They jammed the previous probes’ drone telemetry, but they couldn’t do that with Esau parked just a few au away in the same system. Esau launched a probe into the planet’s atmosphere, one that the locals couldn’t spoof, and that must have provoked the attack.”
DeSilva tapped her combadge, “DeSilva to the captain…”
* * *
Ah, the plot thickens! Kudos to Garrett (who will probably still answer to Glal or the Captain for not staying in her rack). She definitely has a laser-like focus on figuring out what happened to the crew of Esau. Looks like that persistence has paid off. But who or what doesn't want to be found? And is Trujillo and crew about to poke the hornet's nest to find out?
And the plot, as they say, has been thickened. We have one question answered -- sort of -- but it has only opened up another layer of the mystery. Oh boy, as Jonathan Archer's alter ego used to say.
It suddenly becomes abundantly clear why Garrett got the E-C gig
A compelling mystery entwined with a good character study. Count me hooked!
Giving starship commands to raw cadets? Don't be silly. Oh wait ...
Looks like we've got our first clues to this mystery. No surprise that they're coming courtesy of Garrett, the reluctant wunderkind. Curious to see what's what. Although, I do wonder. If somebody didn't want to be discovered, leaving a ship with a butchered crew was probably not the way to go. At least we know they were serious.
Good thing Trujillo is made of stern stuff. She may need her warrior's resolve before all this is over.
* * *
“May I presume you’ve had the chance to look over our working hypothesis, Commodore?” The comm-link to DS2 was much clearer this time, as Trujillo had moved Reykjavík out of the Abemeda system in order to make the call.
Jiemba inclined his head in acknowledgement. “I have, Captain. It’s an intriguing theory, but your evidence is circumstantial at best.”
“No arguments here, sir. However, it’s the best we’re going to get without launching a probe of our own. Given the situation, that might instigate the very confrontation you’d warned me against.”
The commodore sat back in his chair, his expression thoughtful. “You believe the second planet to be inhabited, despite multiple probe scans and Esau’s own sensors saying otherwise?”
“We think it likely, yes.”
“Some kind of underground civilization, or are they spoofing our sensors?”
“Impossible to say,” Trujillo admitted. “I’d almost hope for the subterranean option. The power requirements necessary to effectively trick our sensors on a planetary scale would be tremendous. Hell, at that rate, you might as well just cloak the whole thing for as much energy as they’d be expending.”
“It sounds very much as if someone or something down there wishes to maintain their anonymity badly enough to kill to prevent even the possibility of discovery,” Jiemba countered. “We’d ought to leave well enough alone.”
Trujillo gestured expansively with her hands. “I’m absolutely prepared to warp out of here immediately if that’s your order, sir. However, if you’ll allow me to play devil’s advocate?”
The hint of a smile crossed Jiemba’s features at her request. “You always entertained my arguments aboard the Phobos, Captain. I’d be happy to return the favor.”
“In that case, sir, I’m sure you’re aware that there are at least two other systems in this sector that have been provisionally selected for colonial settlement. Now, given that Esau is bristling with sensor arrays, I think we can agree that nobody simply snuck up on her. The attack likely came from one of two places. Either she was surprised by a cloaked vessel, or the attackers transported directly from the planet, over three and a half au away from the ship. Either way, we have a potential hostile force that could soon be in striking distance of multiple Federation colonies. Are we prepared to simply roll the dice and trust that whatever attacked Esau will simply ignore colonies just a few light-years away?”
“The Bureau of Colonization may have to reassess its priorities in that sector,” Jiemba offered.
Trujillo cocked her head with a raised eyebrow for emphasis. “Do you want to be the flag officer who informs the bureau that they’ll have to scrap decades of survey efforts and years of planning and logistics prep for an entire sector because Starfleet is afraid to send a probe down to what at least appears to be an uninhabited planet?”
Jiemba sat with that idea for a long moment, clearly not savoring it. “I see your point,” he finally conceded. “What would you like to do?”
“I want to maintain battle readiness and attempt communications with the planet. I’ll leave a reconnaissance probe behind to monitor our progress so that if we’re ambushed unexpectedly as Esau was via some means we’re not able to defend against, at least you’ll know how it happened this time.
“If there’s no response to our hails, I intend to launch a probe from two au out from the planet. If the probe is destroyed or its telemetry is jammed or appears to be altered, I’ll take Reykjavík into orbit and begin full sensor sweeps at maximum power. Let’s see them try to jam that.”
Jiemba cleared his throat. “That seems very aggressive, Captain. Very provocative.”
“I disagree, sir,” Trujillo returned. “It’s a proportional response to the murder of two-hundred and forty Federation citizens engaged in a mission of peaceful exploration. Killing those people without warning, without giving them the chance to leave or prove their non-belligerency was the provocation in this equation.”
The commodore sat in silence, a pose Trujillo remembered well from his days as her XO. It was Jiemba’s habit when weighing the potential outcomes of a course of action on those occasions when he had the luxury of time.
“And if they attack, Captain?” he prompted cautiously.
“We’ll defend ourselves, of course,” she answered. “We’ll use only the amount of force necessary to repel the attack. I will continue to try to open communications throughout, in hopes of averting further unnecessary violence. Failing that, I will withdraw Reykjavík from the system and tow Esau back to you. Then, at the very least, we’ll know.”
Jiemba nodded as though to himself. “Understood.” He tugged unconsciously at the bottom of his uniform blouse to straighten it, another old habit of his she recognized. “Captain Trujillo, I hereby authorize your proposed course of action. May fortune favor you and your crew.”
“Thank you, sir. I hope to speak to you again, soon.”
Trujillo leaned back in her chair, deep in thought. She silently vowed to try and keep an open mind, whatever happened next. Despite her warrior ethos, she had a duty to her crew, to the fallen aboard Esau, and to the Federation to try and make this situation right somehow. In the coming confrontation, that might take the form of listening rather than acting, or perhaps withholding fire in circumstances that seemed to call for retaliation.
Yes, she was a soldier, and Reykjavík was a warship, but Trujillo was convinced they could both be more.
* * *
Bloody loving Trujillo as a character, definitely more to her than meets the eye. For a mission like this, where a simple probe can lead to slaughter, I can think of no one else I'd rather have in the big chair.
Risky . . . Trujillos makes a good argument, but if these beings can use a transporter to cross 3 AU of space, they may be a force beyond their abilities to fight. The Commodore is also putting his career on the line if this mission goes south. Still, it's prudent to learn as much as possible about these mysterious antagonists.
And what kind of beings are these, who apparently developed highly advanced technology, yet brutally slaughter peaceful beings? Hopefully, you will provide an answer that doesn't require the destruction of the Reykjavík and her crew.
Well, fortune does favor the bold and risk is our business and ... so on and so forth.
Thing is, all those sayings are nice and all until you have a shuttlebay filled with flag-draped torpedo cases.
Here's hoping Trujillo and Jiemba, who signed off on this, aren't adding any more of those in the near future.
As for me, I can't wait to find out what happens next.
Better than many Star Trek novels.
High praise indeed. Thank you.
* * *
“Bridge to captain.” Glal’s voice over the intraship brought Trujillo instantly awake on the day bed in her ready room.
“Go ahead, Commander.”
“We’re at two hours, sir. We’ve broadcast over everything from subspace to old RF channels with no response.”
“On my way,” she said. Trujillo stood to pull on her uniform jacket over her white command undershirt, belting it at the waist and fastening the shoulder clasp. She smoothed out any wrinkles in the fabric and then checked that her braided hair was still in place. She picked up a phaser pistol from atop her desk, checked its setting, and attached it to her uniform belt via magnetic coupling.
After a quick double-check in the mirror, she headed out onto the bridge.
She stepped around a heavily armed security officer holding a phaser rifle across his body-armored chest plate.
“Captain on the bridge,” Glal called.
“As you were,” she replied by rote, sliding into the command chair Glal had just vacated.
“Class-I sensor probe ready to launch in forward tube one, Captain,” DeSilva advised as Trujillo seated herself.
“Thank you,” she replied. She activated the ship’s PA from her swing-arm LCARS interface. “This is the captain. There has been no response to our hails, and now we will launch a probe towards Abemeda II. This may provoke a violent response. All hands should have been provided phaser sidearms at this point. Make sure those are set to level nine, and report to your battle-station assignments. Security personnel armed with phaser rifles have been stationed in all mission-critical areas of the ship. Stand to red alert.”
The alert klaxon warbled three times as the status indicators throughout the bridge switched to red.
“Weaps?” she called out.
“Shields up, weapons hot, sir,” Jarrod replied.
“Nominal, sir,” answered Kura-Ka from his station.
Trujillo turned to examine Garrett at the Science station. “Ensign, status of the probe’s comms array?”
“We’ve uploaded the latest encryption matrices into its array, sir. It should prove very difficult to jam or for its telemetry to be altered. The Klingons and Romulans would have a hard time with it, at any rate.”
That brought a slight smile to the captain’s lips. “Very good."
She cast a quick glance around the bridge to ascertain her people's readiness. "Launch probe,” Trujillo ordered.
“Probe away,” Jarrod advised.
“ETA to planetfall is two hours, fifty-two minutes,”
“Well,” Trujillo remarked, “this could take a whi—”
The ship lurched slightly, buffeting the crew in their seats.
“Hold that thought,” Trujillo added.
“Shields registering kinetic impacts,” Jarrod noted from the Weapons station.
From Ops, DeSilva called out, “Multiple impacts detected along the shield perimeter, but no sensor contacts with incoming ordinance.”
Reykjavík trembled again, a series of jolts with a noticeable increase in intensity.
Trujillo stood and moved around the perimeter of the bridge’s upper level to Garrett’s station. “Ensign, let me see a visual representation of those impacts.”
The younger woman took a moment to enter a series of commands into her station, producing a rotating graphic of Reykjavík encased in her ovoid shield bubble. At random points across the shield blister blossomed waves of kinetic energy, the surges lasting less than a second each.
Trujillo turned her gaze to Garrett. “What’s causing that?”
“A trans-spatial energy transfer, but it’s not transporters,” Garrett observed. “At least, not as we traditionally understand them.”
“Shields holding firm,” Jarrod offered, swaying back and forth at his standing workstation.
Garrett pointed to a sensor display showing energy analysis equations. “The energy signatures from those ‘blooms’ suggest some kind of trans-dimensional extrusion into our subspace domain.”
The next series of impacts felt like the blows from powerful energy weapons against the shield grid, forcing Trujillo to lose her footing and grasp the safety railing behind the Science station for purchase.
“Can you predict their appearance based on the pattern we’ve seen so far?” Trujillo asked.
“I’ll try, sir,” Garrett said, setting to work.
Trujillo turned to send a concerned look towards Jarrod at the Weapons station.
“Holding at eighty-eight percent, sir,” he replied to her unasked query.
“DeSilva,” Trujillo called to Ops, “if the attacks continue growing in intensity at the same rate, how much time do we have before shields are overwhelmed?”
DeSilva ran a quick series of calculations. “Six minutes,” she said. Another powerful jolt shook the ship, causing a number of bridge consoles to flicker troublingly. “Possibly less,” she added hurriedly.
“We are experiencing some moderate power interruptions in secondary systems throughout the ship,” Kura-Ka said from his place at the Engineering station. "EPS feeds are beginning to show some strain, but primary systems are being given priority allocation.”
“I… I think I have a working predictive algorithm,” Garrett spoke up, calling Trujillo’s attention back to her console. “It’s a bit rough, sir, but I—”
Trujillo cut her off. “Can we use it to fire a phaser burst through one of those blooms before it closes?”
“I’d have to slave phaser control through the algorithm at my station, but yes, sir.”
“Do it,” Trujillo said before using the railing to navigate her way safely back to the captain’s chair.
She sat down and activated the safety restraints in her chair that extended across her waist and shoulders to secure her in place as the ship bucked around her.
“Engineering, route all auxiliary power to shields and the structural integrity field.”
There were more impacts, this time powerful enough to challenge the ability of the inertial dampeners to compensate. Standing crew or those not strapped into their seats were thrown to the deck.
It took a considerable amount of self-control to prevent Trujillo from staring expectantly at Garrett. She knew the talented young woman was working as hard and fast as she could. Adding more pressure in a critical situation wasn’t going to help anyone. Trujillo pulled her swing-arm console interface to her and began working on her ‘Plan-B’ in case Garrett couldn’t deliver.
As Trujillo pondered the probability of surviving an in-system warp jump to near orbit of Abemeda II, Garrett called out, “I think I’ve got it, sir. It may take a couple attempts, though, to get the phaser emitters synchronized with the appearance of the blooms.”
Trujillo wondered silently at the ‘I think’ part of Garrett’s pronouncement, but kept her reservations to herself. She was sure she must have qualified a few statements of her own in her time as a junior officer, decades prior.
Trujillo gestured towards the ensign. “Execute.”
The Weapons board’s customary warbling came from the Science station this time, indicating out-going weapons fire. On the viewscreen, blazing twin bursts of phaser energy shot out just an instant too late as a vortex of energy along the shield’s perimeter vanished. Another bloom assaulted the shields just after a phaser discharge had terminated at that spot a second before.
“Shield strength at sixty-four percent and falling.”
Phasers lashed out yet again just as a bloom erupted and the blazing twin beams vanished into its swirling maw.
There were two more blows against the shields, both of considerably lesser magnitude than before. Then the bridge was suddenly silent and still, bereft of anything but the continued trilling of the active phaser alert.
Trujillo looked around and found confused expressions staring back at her. “Cease fire,” she ordered.
DeSilva finally spoke up. “Negligible hostile activity, Captain.”
Determined to take advantage of the situation, Trujillo said, “Mister Naifeh, lay in a course for the second planet and engage at full impulse.”
She didn’t know if Reykjavík had hurt their attackers or merely outlasted them, but she decided it was time to take the fight to Abemeda II.
Glal left his customary place at an aft auxiliary station and stepped over to Trujillo. He moved close and spoke in a low tone, asking, “What now?”
“Now we go and pay them a visit in person,” she replied coldly.
“At this speed we’ll get there long before our probe does, sir,” Glal noted.
“I trust our full sensor suite will burn through any sensor trickery,” Trujillo said with what even she had to admit was exaggerated bravado.
Glal shot a glance at the doors to the ready room. Trujillo nodded fractionally and stood. “Mister Kura-Ka, you have the conn. Keep me apprised of any changes to our situation.”
Glal followed her into the ready room, but Trujillo didn’t move to the desk, instead rounding on him as soon as the doors closed.
“What is it, Glal? We haven’t much time.”
“We’re two au from the planet, an hour away at full impulse,” he countered. “We have time.”
She sighed impatiently. “Proceed.”
“We’ve ascertained what we set out to, sir,” Glal pressed. “It’s clear by what means and for what reason Esau was attacked. We've even tried to talk to them, and they refused. If we go further, we become the aggressors here.”
Trujillo met the old Tellarite’s eyes. “I have to know why, Glal. Walking away at this point means leaving with more questions than answers. Captain Ngư and his crew deserve better.”
“Will adding the lives of this crew to that equation make it balance out, sir?” he asked sharply.
She turned away, bracing a hand on the front of her ready room desk. “What you’re asking…”
“Walking away goes against everything you hold sacred,” he finished for her. “I know you well enough to realize that.”
Trujillo straightened, turning back to face him. “Glal, I’m taking the ship to that planet. The Federation has plans to establish colonies out here. If we don’t claim these systems, someone else will.”
“It appears someone has, Captain,” he rejoined.
“Perhaps,” she allowed. “Depending on what we find when we get there, I’m planning on leading an away team down there.”
Glal’s tusks quivered. “I would argue against that in the strongest possible terms, sir.”
“I knew you would.” She reached out to place a hand on his upper arm. “Glal, I trust you implicitly. I’m… trying something new on this mission. If I fail, I need you up here to carry on. Fight them or walk away as you see fit if I’m… removed from the equation.”
“Now it’s you that’s asking me to go against my better judgement,” he observed.
“So it is, Commander.” Trujillo looked to him expectantly. “Will you?”
“You’ve never had to ask, sir, and I’d rather you didn’t start now.”
* * *
Trujillo pulled on her durable landing party boot, tucking the pant-leg of her sturdy cargo pants into the footwear. The locker room adjoining the transporter room had been filled with landing party members gearing up for their forthcoming excursion to the surface. The last of them were now donning their specialized clothing and equipment.
Upon entering orbit, Reykjavík had encountered a sensor scattering field that attempted to fool their scanning equipment into registering no sentient life-signs on the surface. The starship’s robust sensor suit had burned through this ruse and revealed a humanoid pre-industrial agrarian society of some fifty-million individuals spread across the planet. There were no signs of any technology more advanced than windmills apparent in this seemingly peaceful society.
The sole high-output energy reading they had detected was coming from a cavern system located under the foothills of a large mountain range. The readings were sporadic, as if the energy source was damage somehow.
Trujillo stood and turned to find Garrett struggling with her science kit. She stepped over and helped the young woman to place the various equipment properly into the carryall. Trujillo then checked Garrett’s phaser and the placement of her other gear onto her away team field jacket.
Garrett blushed fiercely. “Thank you, Captain.”
Trujillo chuckled. “No problem at all, Ensign. Everyone aboard gets a little mother-hen treatment on their first away mission, isn’t that right Mister Jarrod?”
The security officer looked up from calibrating his phaser rifle, speaking in his peculiar, Oxonian-English accent. “Oh, yes indeed, sir. I remember it like it was just yesterday. I had my phaser holstered backwards and my pants on inside out before the captain fixed me up. It was awkward. I may have cried.”
Garrett burst out laughing and Trujillo rolled her eyes. The captain gestured to the ensign and pointed at the doors to the transporter room. “Off with you, young lady. I’ll catch up.”
After Garrett had headed out of the compartment, Trujillo looked to Jarrod, her expression softening. “I need you watching out for everyone down there today, not just me.”
Jarrod slung the rifle over his shoulder and busied himself servicing his assault phaser pistol. “Are you suggesting I don’t know how to perform my duty, Captain?”
“I’m reinforcing that I need you at your most professional, Lieutenant.”
He stepped over to her, looking down into her brown eyes with his piercing green counterparts. “Is this a captain and lieutenant conversation, or a Nandi and Gael conversation?”
“Fine,” Trujillo said with a pronounced sigh. “Nandi needs Gael to get everyone back in one piece.”
“Gael needs to get Nandi back aboard safely so that the XO doesn’t blow Gael out an airlock,” he replied with a smirk.
“That’s fair,” she responded.
“This isn’t like you. You’ve never commandeered one of Glal’s landing parties before.”
“New situations, new solutions,” she countered.
He holstered his phaser pistol and held his hands up in a gesture of surrender. “I’m capable of safeguarding the team and professional enough to put my feelings aside for the duration of this mission.”
“Thank you,” she said. Trujillo opened her mouth to say something else but instead she turned abruptly and walked through the hatch into the transporter room beyond.
Jarrod closed his eyes briefly, emitting a sigh of his own as he rested his back on the bulkhead behind him. Captain Trujillo was an easy captain to follow. Brave, daring, and forthright, she inspired loyalty from her crew. Nandi Trujillo, however, was a difficult woman to love. And yet, love her he did.
* * *
Well that little titbit of Trujillo's personal life came out of nowhere
Good to see that she has someone in her life who loves her, we should all be so fortunate.
Separate names with a comma.