UT: Taskforce Vanguard-Dark Territory: Kilkenny Cats

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by DarKush, Jul 18, 2017.

  1. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Historian's Note: This story takes place several months after the events in the Taskforce Vanguard-Dark Territory story "The Quality of Mercy".

    TASKFORCE VANGUARD: DARK TERRITORY

    KILKENNY CATS

    Delta Quadrant

    Late 2378



    “Out of the frying plan, literally,” Lt. Commander Winsor Jarratt shook his head.

    Leaning forward, Captain Meera Prabhakar chuckled. “The warp sled ride wasn’t that rough,” she surmised. “More like a good, long nap.”

    Jarratt chuckled, before yawning. “I was thinking more about that distress call sir.”

    “Yeah,” Prabhakar’s smile receded. She sat back in her chair and tugged on her uniform. The younger man wasn’t exactly wrong. While the crew had been in stasis for the long journey from the Alpha Quadrant and from what she had gathered from the ship’s readings the ride had been relatively smooth. Now they were barely awake before receiving a distress call: from a Federation starship.

    “The Enzmann,” the captain said, recalling the name of the ship calling for help. “What do we know about that vessel?”

    Lt. Triese quickly rattled off the information she had culled from the ship’s computers. The captain nodded along at the Vulcan-Orion science officer’s recitation. “Miranda-class starship,” she muttered, more to herself, “Commander is Raul Gomes.”

    “Only a commander’s rank?” Jarratt interjected. Prabhakar buried a smile. The Australian would look for any excuse to engage in conversation with the taciturn science officer. “For a mission of this importance?”

    “Our records show that Commander Gomes has a lengthy Starfleet career, most in the employ of Starfleet Intelligence,” Lt. Brayan barged into the conversation. The Farian tactical officer was oblivious to the deflated look on Jarratt’s face. “It’s like that Gomes, despite his rank, is one of the most experienced, if not the most experienced command officer in Intercept Group Four.”

    “Thanks for that Brayan,” Prabhakar said with mock hurt.

    “Present company excluded of course,” the dark-haired Farian gave the captain a slight smile.

    “I find that an inaccurate assessment,” Ensign Saxton interjected. Brayan frowned but Prabhakar nodded, encouraging the woman to continue speaking. Saxton didn’t notice the Farian’s irritation as she continued, “Captain Awokou has the most experience of any Starfleet commanding officer in Intercept Group Four,” she said before she began rattling off the man’s lengthy career.

    “That’s enough,” Meera said, holding up a hand. “We get the picture Lieutenant.”

    The woman stopped abruptly and nodded tersely, before resuming her duties. “Well, that’s technically true,” Brayan said, not letting it go. “But the Aldebaran is still stationed at Eonessa Prime, overseeing that protectorate, which necessitated Command sending us and the Plongeur to replace them.”

    Saxton tilted her head to the side, considering the man’s retort. Before she responded, the captain spoke up. “That’s enough,” she repeated, with authority. Prabhakar frowned at her tactical/security officer. Brayan normally wasn’t the kind of person who just had to be right, but she sensed that the true motive for his behavior was his discomfort with Saxton.

    The woman had recently returned to the Federation, after spending over a decade as a member of the Borg Collective. She had been on the Borg sphere that had interceded at Aaamazzara. Saxton, along with some of the other disconnected, and now liberated Borg had decided to remain in the Federation.

    Though many of her external Borg augmentations had been surgically removed, the woman’s bald scalp bore the heavy scarring left by the removal of the Borg implants. So far, Saxton had declined to have any doctor, including CMO Reseda restore her full appearance to what it had been, when she had been an ensign aboard the USS Princeton, one of the many ships lost at Wolf 359.

    The captain wanted to get the bridge crew back to the mission at hand. “What’s our ETA to the Enzmann?”

    After Triese’s reply, Meera stifled a yawn as she toggled Main Engineering. “Mr. Dexel, increase warp speed 9.7.”

    “Captain,” the Hekaran’s response was quick. “I caution powering up the engines to our max so quickly,” the engineer balked. “We are still in the midst of performing a level-one diagnostic on the propulsion system.”

    “As we are with other ship systems,” Prabhakar cut in, while nodding to Saxton. The woman did not return the gesture. “Have you discovered anything so far that merits repair Chief?”

    “Well, no, but…”

    “Alright,” Prabhakar cut the man off again. “Suspend the diagnostic and take us to maximum warp. I can’t think of a better way to test the engines, than to actually use them, wouldn’t you say?”

    “Well, I, uh…”

    “Great,” Meera smiled. “Prabhakar out.” She turned to her XO and caught Jarratt chuckling. “Stow it mister,” she admonished with a grin. “I’m going to my ready room. Inform me when the Enzmann is in sensor range. Until then, the conn is yours.”

    ***********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Captain’s Ready Room


    Meera made a circuitous path to her desk, stopping at the display of models along one of the walls. She ran a finger along the hull of the Ambassador-class and thought of her previous command, the Shallash. The Shallash had been one of that venerable line.

    It had been her first command and she had been fortunate to guide that ship and crew through wars with the Klingons and Dominion, and even the Talarian Incursion, only to lose it due to perfidious Crimson Shadow militants.

    It wasn’t a day that went by that Prabhakar didn’t think about the crew she had lost. She moved on to another vessel, this one the Norway-class model that was a recreation of her ship. The Norways were newer, smaller, and sleeker than the aging Ambassadors. Despite their smaller frames, the Norway-class was a formidable vessel, one of a newer generation of ships, along with the Sabers, Akiras, and Defiants, designed to take on more dangerous threats like the Borg.

    The Califia, under the previous CO, had even fought against the Borg at the Battle of Sector 001 five years ago.

    Meera had never fought the cybernetic monstrosities and hoped not to encounter them in the Delta Quadrant as part of Taskforce Vanguard, though she was fortified by the fact that she commanded a vessel that had survived a battle against them before, and also by the presence of Ensign Saxton.

    Many captains had passed on Saxton’s application, but Prabhakar believed in second chances. She also thought it prudent to have a member of the crew that had actually lived in the Delta Quadrant for a number of years, even if part of the Borg Collective, once Califia had been assigned to the taskforce.

    Though Saxton hadn’t displayed much emotion, Meera hoped that she was pleased to be serving aboard a starship again, even if Califia’s mission sent her right back into the place of some of her worst nightmares.

    Prabhakar finally sat down. She picked up the latest holographic picture of her husband Bhim and their son Anosh. Her throat tightened and her eyes crinkled as she looked at her family. She missed them, and she felt the old twisting of the guilt knife in her stomach.

    Like many other Starfleet officers, she was torn between her duty and her love of her family. She wanted to be with them, yet, also wanted to be among the stars. Families on starships were a tricky thing, and had been receding in popularity since the Dominion War. And Meera would never subject either Bhim or Anosh to the dangers of space.

    Even though Bhim would protest otherwise, the captain knew that her art historian husband did not have the training to survive the various threats lurking in the cosmos.

    She sighed at her son. She had been carrying him during the war with the Klingons, bringing him to term between that war and the one with the Dominion. Bhim had been angry when Meera had told him she was returning to starship duty after the massacre in the Tyra system.

    The Fleet had lost too many ships and too many good commanders during that slaughter, and the ones that followed, for her not to step forward. The rift between her and Bhim had never really healed after that. Her husband had held out hope that after the war Meera would walk away from the service, or at least take a space station assignment.

    However, the fight against the Dominion had left Starfleet in a precarious state. She couldn’t walk away. She owed it to the men and women who had fought by her side.

    Meera just hoped that Bhim would still be waiting for her once she returned from the Delta Quadrant. She was both heartened and saddened with the receipt of each new holographic picture or each new message her husband and son sent her. Bhim was trying, and maybe it was her that needed to compromise more. Bhim was shouldering the burden of raising Anosh alone while also attempting to keep their marriage afloat.

    Whereas she was gallivanting around the galaxy, expanding Federation knowledge certainly, but at what personal cost?

    Meera knew she wasn’t ready to answer that question, per usual, so she dived into her work. The captain only resurfaced at the sound of Jarratt’s voice.

    “Captain, we’ve identified the Enzmann on long-range sensors,” the man said, “You’re going to want to see this.”

    “Acknowledged,” the captain tersely replied. The man’s tone didn’t sound good. Meera took on more glance at her smiling family before steeling herself. She got out of her chair and stepped onto the bridge.

    *********************************************************************
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2017
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  2. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
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    *********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Main Bridge


    “This isn’t good,” Prabhakar breathed as she stepped behind the flight control station. She grabbed the back of the chair, her eyes riveted to the screen.

    “Full magnification,” Jarratt said, taking the words from her mouth. The screen filled with the image of the burning ship, its roll bar super structure half shorn away. The portside nacelle was also missing.

    “What happened to that ship?” She heard Dexel mutter. The man had taken up position at the bridge’s engineering console sometime while Meera had been in her office, but she ignored the Hekaran.

    “I think that’s pretty obvious,” Jarratt replied, drawing a sharp glance from the captain. The man came to full attention. He was standing beside the vacant captain’s chair.

    “Can sensors detect life signs on the ship?” Prabhakar asked.

    Triese replied. “We are detecting…97 life signs.”

    “My God,” Jarratt muttered. “That’s over half of the ship as casualties.”

    “Sensors also detecting that the warp core is failing,” Dexel said before looking up, concern etched across his face, “A breach is imminent.”

    “Get us within transporter range,” Prabhakar ordered. “Now!”

    “Any idea who attacked them?” Jarratt asked as the captain claimed her seat.

    “Unfortunately no sir,” Brayan glowered. “We have several warp trails leading from the scene however.”

    “We’ll worry about that, once we’ve recovered the survivors,” the captain said. “Helm, Dexel, what’s our status?”

    “Twenty seconds to complete warp core failure,” the Hekaran said, beginning a sober countdown.

    “We’re within range now captain,” Ensign Ojim crisply replied, doing an admirable job of papering over her anxiety. Azaba was fresh out of the Academy and this was her first posting.

    “Get them out of there now,” the captain ordered.

    “We’re initiating a full transporter sweep,” Saxton replied. “We have successfully transported forty-three crewpersons thus far.”

    “Grab the rest of them!” Prabhakar didn’t mean to snap, but she was on edge.

    “Captain, antimatter containment has been lost! It’s only a matter of seconds now,” Dexel said.

    “How many more left?” The captain barked.

    “Fifteen are left, close to engineering,” Saxton said. “Our transporters are failing to gain a lock.”

    “Get them out!” Meera’s fingers dug into her armrest. She swiveled around to glare at Saxton. “Do it now!”

    “Captain, the breach has begun,” Dexel said, his voice tight.

    “Get them out of there,” Meera ordered again, ignoring the engineer.

    “Captain,” the Hekaran pressed.

    “Captain,” Commander Jarratt was at her side. He leaned down, his voice quiet, but firm, “We’ve run out of time.”

    “Damn it,” Prabhakar pounded her armrest. “Get us away from here, full warp!” Ojim immediately brought the ship about before it thundered away from the destructing Enzmann.

    **********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Sickbay


    Captain Prabhakar rushed into the infirmary. She had been speaking and comforting the survivors from the Enzmann. Most of the survivors had been placed in the main cargo bay, with the most severely injured beamed to sickbay. Among the patients was Commander Gomes.

    Dr. Reseda had informed her that Gomes had regained consciousness. It had been hours since they had escaped safely from the wake of Enzmann’s destruction. While the captain had had Reseda dispatch medical teams to take care of their new guests, Meera had ordered the helm to follow the warp trails that had led away from the doomed starship.

    Presently, Commander Jarratt was on the bridge, overseeing the hunt while the captain was tending to the wounded. Meera took stock of the situation immediately upon entering the room. All the biobeds were full, with the Enzmann crew in various states of injury. Many of them were prone on beds, except Gomes. The man was sitting on the bed as the Kobliad medic ran a scanner over his head. Gomes was waving the woman off when the captain approached them.

    The medical officer stood up straight, her lips even in a straighter line. “I recommended that Commander Gomes remain in bed.”

    “I can rest when I’m dead,” Gomes rasped, in obvious pain. Prabhakar saw that half of the man’s face was swaddled in dermaplastic grafts. Much of his uniform was charred, and half his hair had been burned off, or cut away by the ship’s medics.

    “Your injuries are quite extensive,” the Kobliad pushed back. The doctor had already informed Prabhakar that suffered severe plasma burns in addition to several broken ribs and internal bleeding.

    The Kobliad’s ministrations had brought the human back from the brink but Gomes seemed to be rushing right back to another surgery with his macho display.

    Meera didn’t approve, however she wanted to know more about who attacked the Enzmann at the moment. “Don’t sedate him just yet Aala,” Prabhakar said. Gomes squinted with his one good eye; the other was covered in bandages. He attempted to straighten his back, wincing with the effort. “At ease commander,” the captain said as she grabbed a chair and sat down by his bedside. She didn’t want the man to strain himself by having to look up at her.

    “What happened out there?” Meera didn’t see the need for small talk. And thankfully neither did Gomes.

    The man’s eye hardened along with his voice. His one word reply confused and frightened her. Staring at the woman, through her, and then past her, Gomes muttered, “Tzenkethi.”

    *************************************************************************
     
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  3. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Hey everyone,

    I got a big case of writer's block on my last Four Years War so I put it to the side. Hopefully I will finish it one day, though I will likely revise it. Thanks for reading and commenting on it and I hope you enjoy this story I'm working on now. It's a work in progress, though I've gotten a good deal of it written.

    This story picks up after "The Quality of Mercy" and briefly mentions the events of that story, but the focus is on a new ship, the USS Califia. However the ship's captain is a Dark Territory veteran: Captain Meera Prabhakar, who was last seen in the Dark Territory story "Pride Goeth" which took place during the Second Federation-Klingon War.

    I would like to thank Gibraltar for creating the Operation Vanguard concept, Intercept Group Four, Alpha Weapons, and the character Banti Awokou. And I want to thank Galen for allowing me to use the USS Empress, Captain Erasia, and Commander Shepherd for the Dark Territory story "No Win Scenario." Captain Erasia is briefly mentioned in this story.
     
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  4. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Off to a great start here. Didn't expect the Tzenkethi in a TFV story but considering how underserved they have been as a race, I'm looking forward to learn more about them.
     
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  5. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Thanks as always CeJay for reading and commenting. Also thanks to tax1234 for liking the story so far.
     
  6. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *************************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Briefing Room


    The cramped room crackled with tension. “I had heard the scuttlebutt that the other quadrant powers were planning similar Delta-bound taskforces like Operation Vanguard, but the Tzenkethi?” Brayan was incredulous. The man rubbed his bearded chin. “Of all the aggressive species out there, I would have considered them last.”

    “Even our ‘allies’ the Alshain have been involved in galactic affairs over the last decade than the Tzenkethi,” Jarratt ventured, not hiding his disdain for the Federation’s erstwhile allies. The good relations brokered during the Exarchate’s role in the alliance against the Dominion had dissipated due to their postwar atrocities against the Son’a, Munzalans, and others.

    “The Tzenkethi had thus far pursued an isolationist course, not even joining the Dominion War, on either side,” Triese pointed out.

    “Not isolationist,” Saxton corrected. “The Tzenkethi Coalition suffers from a severe technological gap with surrounding galactic powers which impedes any territorial expansion. Even avaricious entities like the Orion Syndicate and Ferengi Alliance refuse to sell the Tzenkethi weapons and the various raids for weapons and territory conducted by the Coalition have netted small gains.

    In addition, the intense, near constant political infighting among various factions in the Coalition contributes to the small…paw print…” The woman scowled as Jarratt chuckled at the pun. The captain smiled herself, not sure if Saxton was attempting humor or not. The woman’s chilly reaction made the pun likely unintentional, but no less funny.

    “As I was saying,” Saxton said sharply, “the lack of technological parity and political instability has presently made the Coalition a relative nonfactor in galactic affairs.”

    “That appears to have changed,” Brayan said warily, “If the Tzenkethi somehow got to the Delta Quadrant and successfully attacked the Enzmann.”

    “Not only attacking and destroying the ship, but specifically targeting the ship’s first officer,” Jarratt’s good humor had evaporated. His expression was as dark as Brayan’s looks.

    “Lt. Commander C’Rora,” the captain pointed out. “According to our files, C’Rora is Caitian.”

    “Which would make sense, in a twisted way,” Triese explained. “The Tzenkethi do share an ancestral tie to the Caitians, similar to the Vulcans and the Romulans, and Tzenkethi transgressions have often targeted Caitian colonies and ships.”

    “We’ve got to alert Command about this,” Brayan said. “This changes the game significantly.”

    Prabhakar raised a hand to motion for silence. “I’ve spoken with both Captains Awokou and Erasia, and both suggest we gather more information before alarming Starfleet Command and the Federation Council.”

    “With all due respect, what more information do we need?” Brayan challenged. “Hundreds of our comrades are dead, Enzmann is space dust. This is a provocation not seen since the Tzenkethi War.”

    “It could very well be the first shot in a new conflict,” Jarratt’s expression was uncharacteristically sober. “Since the Dominion War, we’ve been facing myriad challenges, small ones, biting away at our resolve, and we need to respond strongly.”

    “We will,” Prabhakar promised, “Once we confirm who attacked Enzmann and why.”

    “Commander Gomes identified the Tzenkethi,” Brayan riposted.

    Meera composed herself. Both she and Reseda had insisted that Gomes not attend the meeting. Prabhakar had done her best to recall everything he had told her. “The commander also said that the assailants mainly communicated with them by audio and that the ships that attacked them did not resemble any known Tzenkethi design. Further, the other crew who engaged in combat with the boarding parties described assailants who look nothing like the Tzenkethi.”

    “The captain is correct,” Triese pointed out. “The eyewitness accounts described the attackers as large reptilians wearing heavy armor.”

    “It could be that the Tzenkethi had employed or impressed this species into their service, like the Romulans did to the Remans,” Brayan suggested.

    “Perhaps,” Prabhakar considered. “Though it appears that these reptilians had weaponry greater than anything the Tzenkethi Coalition possesses. So this presents quite the conundrum.”

    “With all due respect again, I see no conundrum here Captain,” Brayan’s expression was grave. “We’ll get the answers out of these reptilians, even if we have to beat it out of them.”

    ******************************************************************
     
  7. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Interesting, so maybe the Tzenkethi are not behind this after all. If they are, I wonder how they got so deep into the Delta Q with their apparent technological handicap.

    Brayan's belligerence could become trouble down the road. Then again he is the tactical officer. You'd expect a certain level of aggressiveness from that position.

    Liking where this is going.
     
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  8. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Admiralelm11, CeJay, and Tribble puncher thanks for liking the story so far.
    CeJay,

    I always appreciate your comments. I'm keeping quiet about if the Tzenkethi are involved or not. I will say that I think it was a big missed opportunity that DS9 never brought them onto the show. They at least had more of a connection, due to Sisko and his part in the war, to the show than the Breen did originally. Though I did like the Breen on the show.
     
  9. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ******************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Astrometrics Lab



    Meera was content to allow Ensign Saxton her space to work. The warp trails had been following had finally dissipated, leaving the crew in the dark as to where the Tzenkethi had absconded. The captain had allowed the operations officer to sequester herself inside the stellar cartography lab to conjure up a figurative lamp to light their way again.

    In truth, the captain gave the woman her space because Meera’s mind was reeling. She was still unable to accept the idea that the Tzenkethi had not only made it to the Delta Quadrant but had also revived their warring ways against the Federation by attacking the Enzmann.

    It was more than a little similar to how Tzenkethi aggression had sparked the war between the Coalition and the Federation two decades ago. Prabhakar had been a very green young officer aboard the Cassiopeia at the time.

    The Cassiopeia engaged the Tzenkethi near Gauran Ja-Tem in a brutal battle that left Captain Shaalas permanently in a support chair. Meera had fortunately never fought against the Tzenkethi hand-to-hand, but the few skirmishes she had been involved in during the war taught her all she needed to know to never underestimate the Tzenkethi.

    The Challenger-class vessel hadn’t even been assigned to the Cardassian border for the time Prabhakar had been aboard so Gauran Ja-Tem had been a true baptism of fire; one that had seared her soul and was still teaching her lessons. That had been Meera’s first regrettable taste of war.

    Usually the felinoids usually did their own dirty work, whenever they deigned to leave their own space, based on past actions. If the Tzenkethi were now employing mercenaries it was a new and unsettling development.

    “Captain,” the woman’s emotionless voice cleared the wool Prabhakar had been gathering. “I have completed my calculations.”

    “Yes,” the captain absently replied as she put her memories away. Meera looked at the large screen that took up half the wall. A colorful holographic recreation of the Delta Quadrant was projected from the wall.

    “I have input the data from the warp trails of the attacking vessels and have extrapolated several destinations.” Saxton replied. Meera tried not to stare too hard at the fine scars crisscrossing the woman’s hairless scalp. By this point, Saxton was used to the gazing, but still the captain didn’t want to increase whatever discomfort or self-consciousness the ensign might be experiencing. The seemingly nonplussed woman showed the captain the options, projected in holograms. Prabhakar looked intently at the various sectors of space.

    “Which path is closest to Tzenkethi space in particular?” Meera asked.

    Saxton used her hands to move planets and systems around. “This path leads to the Gon’cra sector where the Tzenkethi do have far flung mining operations.”

    “What about the Federation?”

    “The Temecklia system,” The operations officer answered after moving around more stars. “However that journey adds an additional two lightyears to the journey, if the armada is equipped with the equivalent of warp sleds.”

    “What about the other options?” Prabhakar asked, “Where do they lead?”

    “The Klingon Empire, the Talarian Republic, and the Phalkerian Domain,” the former Borg replied. “However if the attackers are in fact Tzenkethi it makes little sense that they would seek safe haven with any of those potentially hostile powers.”

    Meera tapped her chin. “Yeah, I agree.” She continued looking at the path to the Gon’cra system. Without being asked, Saxton produced a PADD with the data for a new heading. Prabhakar smiled. The ensign was becoming more intuitive.

    The captain touched her combadge. “Bridge, this is the captain. Alter our course,” she ordered, relaying the calculations Saxton had devised.

    “Aye captain,” Jarratt said. Seconds later, Meera felt a slight tremor beneath her feet. She cocked her head, her practiced ear hearing the shift in vibrational pitch from the engines as Califia changed course. She smiled when she noticed that Saxton was now staring at her, with a curious expression.

    Prabhakar chuckled. She flicked one of her ears. “One of my many tricks; I can hear the warp drive,” she answered. “My family used to joke all about it all the time. Some of them would call me Vulcan Ears. My cousin Jeet even took to calling me T’Meera for a time.” The woman chuckled again at the memory. She had hated the nickname as a child but now she it sounded quite innocuous.

    Saxton frowned. “I don’t understand,” the woman said. “You are clearly not a member of the Vulcan species. Was your relative Jeet ocular challenged?”

    “Oh he was challenged all right,” the captain laughed.

    “In what way was he challenged?” Saxton asked. Prabhakar’s laughter filled the room.

    “Did I say something in jest?” The ensign asked, her confused expression drawing another chuckle out of the captain.

    “No, you didn’t,” Meera said. “I was just being silly.”

    “Why?”

    “Because sometimes it’s good to laugh,” the captain replied.

    “Why?”

    “Well,” Prabhakar shrugged. “It…uh…relieves stress, douses fear, oh, I don’t know.”

    “Then why do you do it?” Saxton asked. “Why do you laugh?”

    “After this is over we’re going to have a few drinks at Charnock’s Comedy Cabaret,” Prabhakar promised. “And then you’ll see what I mean.”

    The woman’s brow wrinkled. The captain knew she was searching the massive LCARs in her cranium. “I am not familiar with that establishment.”

    Meera grinned. “Then you’re in for a treat.”

    ******************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Ready Room

    Captain Prabhakar felt the weight of command on her shoulders as she slumped into her chair. The hours since they had been on this new course were starting to mount. Meera had been in this head space before, she knew, on the eve of battles with the Klingons, Cardassians, Jem’Hadar, and the woman had hoped not to be in this place again so soon.

    The positive face of Operation Vanguard was supposed to divert the oncoming masses away from the overburdened Federation as humanely as possible. However, many threats besides the Borg resided in the quadrant, and both Califia and Plonguer had been outfitted with terrible Alpha Weapons to combat any severe threats.

    The previous iteration of Intercept Group Four had not been given any Alpha Weapons. Command had been skittish to use the weapons within proximity of Romulan or Tholian space, which is where IG-4 had been dispatched.

    The fateful encounter with the ravaging Kothlis’Ka armada had forced the brass to rectify their previous oversight. And President Satie had informed the Romulan praetor about the alien armada that IG-4 had slowed, but been unable to stop, from making its inexorable way toward Romulan space.

    Satie wisely knew she couldn’t inform the Romulans without also informing the Klingons and Alshain about the oncoming crush of Delta Quadrant species. Even though she was less certain than Brayan, it would stand to reason that the Tzenkethi, as well as other powers also knew about the mass migration. The president had done her best to get out in front of it, but Meera didn’t know if it had built bridges or walls between the Federation and the other galactic powers. Politics had never been her forte.

    Her door chime thankfully took her imagination away from the political machinations at the Palais de la Concorde. She couldn’t help wrinkling her brow at her visitor. “How can I help you, Lieutenant…?”

    The dark-skinned, short-haired younger woman limped up to her desk and stood at rigid attention. The woman was wearing operations gold beneath a fresh uniform. “Lt. Brenda Tshego, captain.”

    Enzmann’s security chief,” Prabhakar nodded. “Please, relax, take a seat.”

    The woman gave a quick smile before gingerly taking a seat. “How are you recovering?”

    “I’m fine sir,” Tshego replied. “I’m more concerned about Commander Gomes and the others still in Sickbay.”

    “Understood,” the captain said. “The last I checked with the CMO, Gomes had received fresh dermaplastic grafts and was recovering at a good pace. The other members of your crew are at various stages of recovery I’m afraid to say.”

    “Thank you for checking up on them and for telling me about it,” Tshego nodded.

    “You’re welcome Lieutenant,” Meera replied. She pushed back from her chair, stood up, and made her way to the replicator alcove. She created a steaming cup of Fanalian tea.” She placed the cup and saucer to the side and turned to the security officer. “Care for a beverage?”

    “Leaf tea with a pinch of milk, Captain,” Tshego offered.

    “I said relax Lieutenant,” Meera pursed her lips before smiling. She programmed the replicator to recreate the South African beverage. She served the younger officer before taking her own cup to her desk. Prabhakar took a sip of the hot drink, savoring the taste before she continued.

    Tshego did likewise, though the captain was experienced enough to know that the woman wasn’t taking her time to enjoy the taste of drink, but was stalling for time, and that immediately got her hackles up.

    “Lieutenant why did you come to see me?”

    “Sir,” the woman’s hesitancy was uncharacteristic, Meera could tell. The woman’s lithe, sinewy frame twisted with frustration and doubt. “Did you recover any of Enzmann’s logs?”

    “No, unfortunately we didn’t,” Prabhakar answered. “We didn’t have the time. Where are you going with this?”

    The security officer’s lips worked, but no sound came out. Her expression contorted, as if she was wrestling within herself. Prabhakar put her cup down, the beverage instantly forgotten. She reined in her impulse to order the junior officer to spit out what she wanted to say. It seemed like Tshego had fought herself just to visit her, so it made little sense to browbeat her now. Whatever had compelled her to make this trip would work its way to the surface.

    “While I was recuperating, I read some of your file. I saw you were in Nova Squadron, with Admiral Glover,” Tshego managed a smile. “I served with him aboard the Aegis.”

    “Ah yes,” Meera’s smile was a bit forced. “The admiral and I go way back.” It was good hearing a mention of her old Academy friend, but the mention of the Aegis, which had also been destroyed by Cardassian militants, brought back memories of the Shallash. “When was the last time you saw Terrence…Admiral Glover I meant.” The title still felt odd to her. “Admiral Glover” had always been Terrence’s father to her, but Samson had been lost too, executed by the Romulans. She shook her head sadly. There had been too much loss over the last several years.

    Prabhakar pushed away the gathering negative thoughts, and focused on the good times she had shared with Terrence. “Yes, Admiral Glover and I are old acquaintances. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to attend his father’s memorial service…”

    “I wasn’t able to either,” Tshego shook her head. “But some of my old Aegis crewmates did.”

    “Have you seen Terrence…Admiral Glover since then?” Prabhakar asked.

    “No, I have not,” Tshego replied. “Have you, Captain?”

    “I wish,” Meera said, “I’ve tried contacting him, but he hasn’t returned my calls. I know he’s very busy with his new responsibilities, and I heard that he suffered some grievous injuries attempting to rescue his father, but still, it just doesn’t sound like my old friend. Yet, everyone processes grief differently and I’ve given him space to hopefully come back to being the Terrence I know.”

    “I didn’t know the admiral as well as you did,” Tshego said. “I only served with him briefly, but during that time I came to respect him and trust him, and he trusted you, then I think I can trust you as well.”

    The younger woman was walking out on a limb, taking some kind of chance meeting with her. “You can,” Prabhakar urged. “There’s something that’s bothering you, something you want to talk about, but I won’t push you. I am here when, if, you are ready to reveal it.”

    Tshego took another sip of her tea. “Thank you for that Captain.”

    Meera remembered her own beverage. She took a drink. Thankfully the tea was still hot. Tshego sat back in her chair and sighed, and the captain saw the woman was carrying a weight all her own.

    “After the Aegis was destroyed,” the Enzmann security chief said softly, “I didn’t grieve, I hurt, and I was angry, so angry.” The woman’s gaze looked reflective, as she recalled those dark days. “And my anger crystallized around the Federation Council and its weak response to the Cardassian situation. Even though I thought Admiral Satie would be a welcome change for president, I knew the problem ran deeper than that. The Federation Council was inviting provocations against us, with their weak positions, at least since the Xindi attack. So many lives could’ve been saved if we had been more muscular in our responses.”

    Meera fought to keep her expression neutral. It wasn’t the first time she had heard such sentiments expressed, or even an alternate take on United Earth and Federation history. She disagreed, but she respected differing views, and the captain also knew if she provided a counter argument at this point she would lose Tshego.

    “I came to find I wasn’t alone in my opinions,” the security officer continued, “There were others out there, some in the Fleet, some in the government, or elsewhere, and I’m not sure if they found me, or I them…

    The door chime clinked again, and Tshego stopped abruptly. Prabhakar smothered her annoyance at the interruption. “Enter,” she said.

    Commander Gomes eased into the room. “Commander, you’re looking better,” Prabhakar said, rising to greet him. Tshego did likewise.

    He stood at attention. “Thank you captain,” he replied. “You can thank the talented Dr. Reseda for that.”

    “I will be sure to pass along the commendation,” Prabhakar said. “How can I help you?”

    “Actually captain, I didn’t come here to talk with you, I needed to converse with Lt. Tshego.”

    “Oh,” Meera’s eyes narrowed. She looked at the security officer and saw that the other woman’s expression had become blank, as if she had suddenly walled herself off, or in. “Commander, Lt. Tshego and I were just in the middle of a discussion. It appears we share a personal tie.”

    “Ah yes, Admiral Glover,” Gomes replied off handedly. “Your old Academy acquaintance.” Prabhakar scowled at the mention of her longtime friend. How did Gomes know about her friendship with Terrence? He had been recuperating for much of his stay aboard the Califia and hadn’t had access to the ship’s LCARS.

    Gomes saw the questioning look on the captain’s face and quickly added, “Once I learned who would be joining our band, I took some time to do some research on the senior officers aboard both Califia and Plonguer.”

    “I…see,” Prabhakar said, deciding whether to press or not. Gomes did more than a cursory look through her file if he learned about her Academy friendships.

    Still sensing her distrust, the commander smiled and shrugged. “Decades in Starfleet Intelligence,” he offered. “Old habits die hard.”

    “I bet,” Meera replied.

    Gomes nodded before placing a hand on Tshego’s chair. The woman flinched slightly, though her expression remained neutral. “As I was saying captain, I really need to talk with Tshego.”

    “Well, we were in the middle of a discussion ourselves Commander Gomes,” Prabhakar said. The woman was looking at Tshego, looking for any hidden looks or indications of what was really going on with her and Gomes. But the woman was stone faced.

    “Is it something that can wait Captain?” Gomes’s tone was pleasant but insistent.

    “Is it Lieutenant?” Meera asked, hoping the younger woman recognized the life preserver she was tossing to her.

    Tshego looked up at the still smiling Gomes and then back at the captain. Her expression still blank, the security officer stood up. “My apologies Captain, for wasting your time.”

    Prabhakar stood up as well. “Lt. Tshego, it seemed like you really needed to talk about something.”

    “I-I can be…overdramatic at times,” the security officer said. “I am sorry I misled you.”

    “No, don’t apologize,” Meera said, before pinning Gomes with a hard glare. The man’s smile seemed etched on his face.

    “We must be going now,” the commander said. He gestured toward the door. “After you Lieutenant.”

    Still standing, Prabhakar gave them a good fifteen seconds before she called Jarratt, Brayan, and Triese to her office. Something wasn’t right with Gomes and she wanted to get to the bottom of it.

    *******************************************************************
     
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  10. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *******************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Ready Room


    “So the good commander is hiding something,” Commander Jarratt succinctly said after the captain had summarized her interrupted talk with Lt. Tshego. The three officers sat around the small table in the office. Before her subordinates came in, Meera got a refill of tea. Brayan had politely declined her offer, while Jarratt clutched a sweating mug of iced raktajino.

    “Gomes was in Starfleet Intelligence for decades,” Lt. Brayan pointed out. “Perhaps it’s a habit for him to be less forthcoming.”

    “Fair point Brayan,” Prabhakar nodded, “but such hesitation seems a bit odd, especially since we just saved his life and rescued what we could of his crew.”

    “Yeah,” Jarratt nodded, “Seems like that would make someone a bit more…I don’t know, grateful.”

    “I concur Winsor,” the captain said and then took a sip.

    “So, what are you going to do Captain?” The executive officer asked.

    “Good question,” Prabhakar replied. “I think I’ll start out with just asking the commander point blank if he is hiding something and what that might be.”

    “And if that doesn’t work?” Brayan asked. Meera frowned. She didn’t like the thoughts starting to swirl in her head.

    “I’ll have him confined to his guest quarters, and if necessary, placed in the brig,” the captain said.

    “That’s not going to go over well with his crew I’m guessing,” Jarratt replied.

    “I would expect not,” the captain agreed. “That’s why I want you both to work up a plan to corral his crew in the cargo bays in case things go south.”

    “I can’t believe we’re really having this conversation,” Jarratt shook his head.

    Meera smiled. “Winsor, sometimes I forget how young you are,” she shook her head.

    “I grew up pretty fast during the war captain,” Jarratt rejoined, showing the steel behind his usual unflappable demeanor. The man had risen quickly in the seven years since he had graduated. And his position as first officer was based as much on his skills as the dearth of the officer corps due to the wars and conflicts of the last several years.

    “I know, and I didn’t mean to suggest otherwise,” the captain replied. “I was just thinking of the too frequent occurrence of rogue admirals and captains, even in recent times.”

    “The greatest malefactor being Admiral Leyton and his coup,” Brayan added.

    Jarratt’s expression darkened. “I’m very familiar with Leyton’s coup,” he said. “I was one of the dupes who believed it. I was part of the security forces on Earth at the time.”

    “You were fresh out of the Academy,” the captain said. “You shouldn’t be so hard on yourself.”

    “Right,” Brayan replied. “I supported Leyton’s actions at first myself.”

    Jarratt’s eyes widened. “I didn’t know that.”

    “It’s true,” the Farian said. “It wasn’t like I had any involvement in it though. I was posted out way out at Starbase 234, far from the action, but I had agreed with Leyton’s point of view all the same.”

    Shallash had been assigned to Vega-Omicron sector, after fighting the Klingons in the Oberoi sector,” Prabhakar replied. “By the time the news got to us, the coup attempt was over.”

    “I get the point you were trying to make though captain,” Jarratt said. “Just because a person wears the uniform doesn’t mean they uphold the principles of the Federation.”

    “A sad truth,” the captain shook her head. “But one we all need to keep in mind.”

    “Acknowledged,” the XO replied.

    Meera imbibed more tea and then sat back, contemplating. The two men waited her out. Eventually the captain said, “So Triese wasn’t able to recover any of Enzmann’s logs?”

    “Not even a log buoy,” Brayan said. “Enzmann wasn’t able to get one off once the attack commenced.”

    “What about the readings we got of the Enzmann before the warp core breach?” The captain said.

    “What about them sir?” the Farian parroted.

    “I want to Lt. Saxton to take a look at them,” Prabhakar said.

    “Captain, Triese was quite thorough in her review of the records,” Jarratt replied. “I reviewed them before sending them to you.”

    “I know, and I’ve read them,” Meera said. “As usual, Lt. Triese does good work, but still I want a fresh perspective on this.”

    “I can’t see what kind of different insight Ensign Saxton can bring to those readings,” Brayan added.

    “I don’t either, and that’s why I want her to take a gander at them,” the captain said. “Perhaps she can see something we’ve missed, or that Gomes might not want to be seen.”

    “I don’t see how…” the security officer began.

    “And Triese will not be pleased,” Jarratt interceded.

    “She’ll get over it,” the captain said. “Now, get those readings to Saxton and have her inform me when she has completed her analysis.”

    “Aye captain,” Jarratt said tightly. Brayan nodded in silent assent. Meera couldn’t allow Winsor’s crush on Triese or Brayan’s bias toward the Borg blind the captain as well. Saxton was a walking LCARS, possessing almost the whole sum total knowledge of the Federation and countless alien species in her cranium. It was a resource Meera would be foolish not to use.

    If anything, Prabhakar found herself holding back from involving Saxton in everything. She didn’t want the woman to become a crutch. And she also didn’t want to underutilize the rest of her talented crew.

    The captain knew that giving Saxton this assignment would likely add to resentment among the crew, and she certainly didn’t want to make Saxton’s life any harder. The woman was struggling to reclaim her humanity and integrate into Starfleet life enough as it was. Still, the safety of the Califia was on the line and Prabhakar would do everything she could to insure her ship did not wind up like the Enzmann.

    *********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Holodeck One



    “I thought you and the other captains had agreed not to discuss this with the Admiralty,” Admiral Terrence Glover barely missed the quick thrust of the dagger. His snarling attacker had been so intent on Glover that he ignored Meera completely.

    She moved quickly from behind Glover and blasted the man full in the chest, the laser melting the man’s black armor. The anticipated fearsome death growl came out more like mewling.

    The two Starfleet officers stood back to back, eyeing the thickening pincers of slowly advancing Klingons. Both sides were weighing their options. The air was stultifying, a result of the power outage caused by the Klingon attack. Emergency lighting colored everyone blood red. Eerily the klaxons had stopped blurring and the screams of the dying had been silenced. Before the battle had been joined, communication had been abruptly off with the starship that had beamed them down to the outpost.

    Prabhakar suspected that the starship’s crew was destroyed, murdered like the rest of the landing party. Meera and Terrence was the only Starfleet crew left alive.

    “I’m not discussing this with Command,” Prabhakar had one eye on Glover and the other on the Klingons. The program’s safety protocols were off. Uncharacteristically, Terrence had disapproved of that action. And it saddened Meera that it was another example of how different Glover was now, since his ordeal with the Romulans. “I’m talking about this with an old friend.”

    She had heard that the man had lost large swaths of memory, and to expect the lapses and changes in behavior and personality, but still, it was hard for to accept that her old friend was truly gone, and someone wearing his face and resembling him somewhat had taken his place.

    Meera just hoped there was enough of her old friend still inside the admiral’s damaged psyche to be both a sounding board and a defender back at headquarters. Glover wasn’t the only one acting out of sorts. These Klingons hadn’t pressed their advantage yet. It wasn’t the only thing atypical about them she had noticed; these Klingons were seemed rougher hewn, almost like proto-Klingons compared to the various members of the species she had encountered during her travels. And their spiky armor was of a kind she wasn’t familiar with at all. Then again, the royal blue Starfleet uniforms both she and Glover were wearing Meera also wasn’t familiar with.

    Granted she wasn’t into history as much as Terrence, and certainly not into Klingon history or culture as much as him, but she trusted his judgment, and was frankly just glad to see that her old friend retained some of his previous interests.

    “Of course,” Glover said with a grunt. He sprayed the Klingons with an arc of laser fire once they began charging. Meera did likewise. Glover grunted again. “One of the bastards nicked me.”

    That prompted Meera to check on her friend. Despite the fact that it was a holographic recreation and the real Glover was safe in the Federation, the concern was instinctual.

    “Meera don’t,” Terrence groused a second before she was cuffed against the back of her head. Prabhakar dropped to her knees. For her, the pain was very real as she fought back a black tide that was threatening to wash her away.

    “Ha’DlbaH!” Glover snarled, turning to shield her. Seconds later the man fell at her side, three blades sticking from his sides. The Klingons smelling victory began plunging their blades and polearms into the writhing admiral.

    “Terrence, damn it! No!” Prabhakar yelled, restraining herself from shielding the man. She had to remember that her friend wasn’t really getting skewered, but she could.

    “Get out of here Meera!” Glover shouted between groans. “Or stop the damn program before you really get hurt!”

    The man’s yelling had opposite the intended effect, drawing the Klingons to her. They turned from the downed admiral and Glover struggled to rise, but couldn’t. Blood poured from the man.

    It was hard for Meera to remember it was all artificial. She crawled backwards, trying to avoid the Klingons. They snarled and laughed among themselves, swinging their polearms at her, pushing her back further.

    They didn’t see her as much of a threat as they did Glover. That realization only made her want to prove them wrong. “Later,” she promised, before saying loudly, “Computer end program.”

    The Klingons looked at each other in confusion seconds before they all disappeared. Glover disappeared as well before reconstituting himself seconds later. Now he was in his standard black and gray flag officer’s uniform. Similar to the standard duty uniform, the flag officers’ had a longer service jacket and an oval belt embossed with the Seal of the Federation.

    Meera’s gaze was drawn to the gold laureled, blue Seal, and Glover frowned. “Something wrong with my holographic recreation Captain?”

    “Oh, I, uh no,” Prabhakar jumped with a start. She tried to laugh, her cheeks warming. “No, I was…”

    Glover inspected himself. “The holographic integrity appears intact.”

    “No, I…was expecting, I don’t know, an inappropriate joke from you,” the captain said.

    Terrence tilted his head to the side, inspecting Meera just as he had done his holographic form. “Joke about what?”

    “Well, me, ah, looking at your belt buckle,” Prabhakar felt more embarrassed spelling it out for the admiral, and her sadness crept back in. The Terrence she knew would’ve made a saucy joke that Meera was looking at more than his buckle.

    Meera’s smile faded as she thought about her old friend. “Are you well Captain?” Glover asked, his concern as artificial as his form.

    “Yeah,” Prabhakar said. She rubbed her head. “Took a little hit that’s all.”

    “Do you need medical assistance?” The admiral asked. The man looked so much the like Terrence of old, just slightly fuller, and with a trim beard and mustache. The sprinkling of gray in the beard was the only sign of the years that had passed since their Academy days, many spent in tangled in bed sheets.

    “No, I’ll be fine,” Meera said. Her head was pounding, but she would stop by Reseda’s later. “I really need that personnel file on Commander Gomes.”

    “There is already one present via LCARS,” the admiral countered.

    “You know that’s not the file I’m talking about,” Prabhakar replied.

    “This is highly unusual,” Glover said. Meera had hoped a sparring session in the holodeck, based on an incident during the Federation-Klingon Cold War would’ve restored some of the admiral’s memories of similar sojourns they had enjoyed in the past. And that it would make him more amenable to pulling whatever strings needed to be pulled so that Meera could get a look at Gomes’s history in Starfleet Intelligence.

    “Why do you need access to that information?” Glover asked.

    “Should it matter?” Meera kept the hurt out of her voice.

    “This request will cause a stir,” the admiral replied.

    Prabhakar sighed. “We’re out here, far from the Federation, and Gomes’s ship was just attacked allegedly by the Tzenkethi.”

    “Tzenkethi?” Glover’s eyes widened. “How is that possible?”

    “That’s what I want to know,” the captain said. “The idea of the Tzenkethi making it out this far, with their level of technology, is highly doubtful.”

    “You think Gomes is lying?”

    “I don’t know,” Prabhakar answered honestly. “Doesn’t it sound highly suspicious to you?”

    “Hmmm,” was all Glover would say. He scratched at his beard. “What do you think would be in his file that would ascertain his motives in the Delta Quadrant, if he is lying?”

    “I’m not sure, but I can at least get a gauge of the kind of person I’m dealing with,” Prabhakar replied.

    “I see,” the admiral scratched his chin again. His gaze was hooded, as if his eyes had receded into the sockets of his head. Meera kept from tapping her foot as Glover contemplated her request.

    After what seemed like an eternity, he said, “I’ll get my assistant on it. I’ll get you the information.”

    Meera smiled. Perhaps her old friend was still in there after all. “Thank you Terrence.” He waved away the thanks.

    The man moved closer to her, despite the distance and photons, Glover still had presence. He leaned over and said, “Listen, I…know, things are different now, I’m different now.”

    He tried to smile but couldn’t. “Listen, Terrence, I get it, these kind of things, recuperating, takes time,” Prabhakar said. She grasped one of his hands. His fingers stiffened and she feared he might pull away, but after a few seconds his fingers relaxed and he allowed her to grip his hand.

    “I do wish I remembered more, about our time at the Academy together,” Glover admitted. He shook his head. “It’s so…difficult seeing people I once knew, seeing that light of recognition in their eyes and I not being able to match it. And then that light just dims, as the smiles slowly disappear, and then that light…evaporates. It’s one of the reasons I just throw myself into my work these days, to avoid those encounters.”

    “Terrence, your life is different now, and I wish it wasn’t to be honest,” Meera admitted, “but you have the opportunity now to make a new life, with new memories, and new friends. But you better not forget about me.”

    “How could I?” Glover’s smile was hesitant. “You are quite remarkable.”

    “I am?” Prabhakar blushed.

    “Why yes?” Glover said, rattling off several of her best career accomplishments.

    “Oh,” Meera said, unable to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

    “Did I say something in error?” Glover asked.

    “No…no,” Prabhakar put on her best game face. “I-I think, uh, that the headache is getting to me.”

    “You should see about that, that’s an order,” Terrence said and the woman wasn’t sure if he was joking or not.

    He pulled out of her grasp. “I have to go anyway. My exercise routines don’t go much longer and I don’t want to raise any questions about my time in the holodeck. I think being surreptitious is the way to go until I get you the information you seek.”

    “Thank you again Terrence,” Prabhakar said, feeling Glover pull away from her even though he his simulacrum was still standing next to her. “Take care of yourself, okay?”

    “I’m fine,” Glover looked at her curiously. “My meeting with the Anticans, over repatriating some of the Delta refugees in their space, is relatively less dangerous than what you might be facing out there. Once I’ve finally been able to convince the Antican ambassador not to eat the new arrivals then most of my work will be done.”

    “Is that a joke?” Meera smiled.

    “Not sure actually,” Terrence replied. “Time will tell. In any event, be careful and bring your crew home.”

    “I will,” Prabhakar said. Glover nodded before deactivating the connection. Meera stood in the empty holodeck, replaying the conversation in her head. The captain had a sudden desire to talk to Bhim, to make sure her husband hadn’t also become a new person like her former paramour had.

    She was thinking about what message she would leave for her husband when she crossed the threshold and hit a wall. She bounced off and gave a startled cry. Commander Gomes grinned as he reached out to steady her.

    “Are you alright Captain?” The man asked. Prabhakar forced herself not to knock the man’s hands away. She nimbly avoided his grasp. Smoothing her tattered blue tunic, Meera answered him.

    “I’m fine Commander.”

    “Good,” he nodded. “I would hate to have frightened you.” The woman’s eyes narrowed. She knew a lie when she heard one, and Gomes’s grin widened because he knew that saw through his insincerity.

    “What do you want Commander Gomes?”

    “We need to talk,” he said, his expression becoming businesslike.

    “About what?”

    The Enzmann commander looked up and down the corridor before saying, “The truth Captain. The truth.”

    ********************************************************************
     
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  11. admiralelm11

    admiralelm11 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 17, 2009
    Location:
    Vancouver, WA
    Gomes seems like the fish type.
     
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  12. Galen4

    Galen4 Commander Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 2007
    Location:
    Sol III, within the universe of United Trek
    There's a lot of intrigue here so far. I'm still curious about the Tzenkethi myself, but we'll need to see how this all unfolds. Like most DT epics, there are layers within layers, so a careful re-reads are always required.
    Glad to see you back in action!
     
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  13. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Oh, something's a miss. Gomes has one of those dirty little secrets and clearly, it's not sitting right with Tshego. She was so close to spilling the beans too. I'm fairly sure that whatever it was she was going to reveal, she won't be the one revealing it. Not after her 'chat' with her commanding officer.

    The point about rogue captains and admirals is all too true. It's a bit of an old trope which Trek is particularly guilty of, the notion that other captains or ranking officers are somehow corrupt and working against the common good. In fact, I have been guilty of employing that very same device myself recently. I guess there is something inherently fun about the good guys not being all that good after closer inspection.

    Great to see Terrence make an appearance here as well, even if just as a photonic representation and in his damaged, post captaincy state.

    Looking forward to finding out what Gomes has to say for himself. Don't think Prabhakar is going to like it.
     
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  14. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Admiral, Galen, and CeJay,

    Thanks again for reading and commenting.

    CeJay, as for rogue captains, the idea of duality, of having two Starfleet commanders with the same training and who have made the same oath to the Federation can see or act in completely different ways, has always appealed to me. I'm not going to say if that is actually the case here. The story will reveal that as it goes forward.

    With Meera and Terrence being old friends I did want to include him in the story in some way to shed a little more light on where he is in his life at this point since I haven't written a proper post-Dominion War story for Glover in quite some time. I also wanted to nod to Star Trek: Discovery with the uniforms and facing off against Discovery Klingons.
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2017
  15. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ********************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Security Office



    Lt. Brayan grunted with displeasure. “What do you want?” The man was abrupt. He knew his visitor wouldn’t mind.

    “Lieutenant, a word,” Lt. Triese asked, unfazed by the man’s brusqueness. The Farian put his PADD on top of the rest of them.

    “Please,” he gestured to an empty chair across from his desk. “Have a seat.” The woman dipped her head in acknowledgement and took the seat. “What do….how can I help you Lt. Triese?”

    “In the conference room, you were adamant that the Tzenkethi attacked the Enzmann even though the Coalition has not produced any propulsion system that would transport them to the Delta Quadrant, even as relatively close to the Alpha Quadrant border as Intercept Group Four is.”

    “You know that is unwise to underestimate a determined foe,” Brayan countered.

    “The Tzenkethi have not been a foe, determined or otherwise since the end of the conflict with the Federation,” the woman rejoined.

    “They’ve just been biding their time, looking for a moment to pounce,” the security officer declared. “They are rank opportunists.” He gestured at the small mountain of PADDs covering his desk. “I’ve been looking back over the history of the war and other encounters with the Tzenkethi. They are bold, when they have the numbers or the advantage.” The Farian shook his head. “All this time they could have been building an arsenal while we’ve been getting picked apart by the Cardassians, the Borg, the Maquis, the Klingons, the Dominion, these Drai, and even the Talarians,” he snorted at the thought. “The frinxing Talarians of all people!”

    “Aren’t you now underestimating the Talarians?” Triese asked. The man scowled at the green hued Vulcanoid. He could’ve sworn the woman’s lips were slightly curled up in what almost resembled a smile.

    “Yes, I am,” he admitted. “I made that mistake with them. I won’t make another one in that regard. Not when we are out here alone, with no backup,” Brayan said. “The closest ships to us are Plongeur and Wyoming and both are over a week away at maximum warp. We’re just spread too damn thin. All the intercept groups needed more ships.”

    “We’re out here to help the incoming refugees, not to invade the Delta Quadrant,” Triese chided.

    “Perhaps we should,” the security officer retorted.

    “You can’t be serious,” the woman said.

    “I don’t know,” Brayan admitted. “The Borg and the Kothlis’Ka are just the tips of the iceberg. There’s the Voth, Nacene, Species 8472, Hirogen, and who knows who else is out there preparing to overwhelm us?”

    “We can’t very well build a galactic barrier to rebuff these refugees, or future threats,” the science officer scoffed.

    “I wish we could. If we had blockaded or mined the Bajoran wormhole there wouldn’t have been a Dominion War for example,” the man suggested.

    “We can’t shut ourselves off, or keep others out,” Triese replied. “That’s antithetical to the Federation’s values.”

    “But it’s not antithetical to you, or me,” Brayan riposted. The woman frowned, immediately catching his meaning.

    “That is completely different,” she said frostily. “That is a matter of personal preference.”

    “Is it?” The security officer said. “Both of us are exiles, refugees. You rejected your Orion heritage, identifying with your Vulcan side, whereas I left behind my family on Farius Prime.”

    Brayan paused, remembering his home. He would never see Farius Prime again. The security officer knew his life would be forfeit as soon as his feet touched the soil. It could be no other way. He had broken a cardinal trust.

    The neutrality of Farius Prime in galactic affairs had made it a haven for all kinds, everyone from members of the Bajoran resistance to later the Maquis. And Prime had also been a den for all kinds as well, like the Orion Syndicate, the Cizor-Toff and Asfar Qatala cartels, and homegrown Farian crime families.

    Brayan had been born into one of those families. And he had become the young lieutenant to his uncle, as the slightly older man had sought to establish himself within the family by cultivating ties Bajoran rebels. “I was a member of one of the most powerful crime families on Farius Prime. My uncle, really more like a sibling, was the head after my father had been murdered by Valerians. That elevated my uncle and he put a lot of trust in me,” Brayan paused, momentarily caught in the past. “Things turned sour between us after I refused to sell out the Bajoran resistance fighters to the Cardassians, defying the orders of my uncle. I had nowhere else to go after such a betrayal. The Federation welcomed me, and gave me a new purpose, a second chance at life.”

    “You know nothing about me,” Triese’s voice had dropped several more degrees.

    “I know enough,” Brayan said. “Far more than what is in your file. I know that your mother was Melinoe, one of the great amahs in the Orion Syndicate, and I know the real circumstances of your birth.”

    The woman stood up. “You had no right!” She shouted, displaying a rage that unsettled even Brayan.

    He held up both hands. “It’s not personal. It’s my nature to understand who I’m working with, all of the crevices of their lives. Call it a habit, one that saved my life countless times when I was working for my uncle.”

    “That doesn’t justify what you did,” Triese’s voice had returned to normal but the woman was still standing and now staring daggers at him.

    “You’re right,” he admitted. “And I understand how Vulcans are about their privacy; however I wanted you to know that I knew, so you don’t have to pretend around me.”

    “You know nothing Farian!” The woman said, her tone filled with disgust.

    “My people’s reputation isn’t the highest, though it still is better than being Orion,” he shot back.

    “This conversation is over,” the woman turned quickly on her heel and crossed quickly to the exit. Without looking back at him, she said, “I don’t know why I came here.”

    “I don’t either,” Brayan replied. “And I would like to,” he added as he stood up.

    The woman paused at the door. With her back still to him, “I wanted to ascertain why you felt so certain that the Tzenkethi were involved.”

    The Farian sighed. He really hadn’t meant to insult Triese. He felt they shared a lot in common, both of them having to deal with the wrong assumptions others often made about them because of the biases about their races. His attempt to reach out to her, to connect on that level of understanding, had not gone as he had intended.

    He certainly didn’t want the woman to be angry with him, or to not trust him. Brayan knew how essential trust was to any working relationship.

    “I…shouldn’t say this,” the man began, struggling with his secrets on the tip of his tongue.

    “Oh?” The science officer pondered. She turned around slowly. Her arms crossed her expression a mix of curiosity and trepidation.

    “Yes,” he sighed again. “Frinx it,” he exhaled. “I’ve been to Tzenkethi space before.”

    “When?” Triese’s left eyebrow arched. He saw the tension drain from the woman and be replaced with curiosity. "And for what purpose?"

    “Yes,” He nodded. “Starfleet Intelligence commandeered our ship.”

    “The USS Wuuf?” The science officer asked. “Achilles-class.”

    “Yes,” Brayan answered. Normally the woman stating obvious information would annoy him, but he kept his gruffness in its holster. Triese was attempting to reassert her emotional control, by grasping on to facts and details. And the woman was also holding out an olive branch for him, one he likely didn’t deserve, and he didn’t want to dishonor her gesture. “It was shortly after the war. The Intelligence agent informed us that the Dominion had established a legation on Tzenketh. That the Dominion had attempted to establish an alliance with the Tzenkethi Coalition before the war ended, likely to replace the Cardassians.”

    “The extermination of the Cardassian people was preplanned?” The woman asked, shuddering. At the end of the war, the vengeful Changeling in charge of Dominion forces had ordered the Cardassian people wiped from their own planet. Before they could be stopped, the Jem’Hadar had massacred nearly a billion men, women, and children.

    “I can’t say,” Brayan admitted. “But it wouldn’t surprise me. The Founder was one cold piece of work.”

    “To say the least Mr. Brayan,” Triese nodded.

    “It’s just as likely that the Dominion feared that they would not be able to stamp out Legate Damar’s rebellion,” the Farian offered. “And they would need a new home.”

    “It is also possible that the Dominion was seeking to widen the conflict by bringing in the Tzenkethi and staving off their eventually defeat,” Triese suggested.

    “That was a likelihood as well,” Brayan nodded.

    “Fascinating,” the woman muttered as she sometimes did, but this time there was no wonderment in her voice, just disbelief.

    Brayan had seen too much to know sapient beings were capable of any atrocity. Few ill deeds surprised him, though the magnitude of the Dominion’s slaughter on Cardassia Prime was still tough for him to wrap his head around. Less tough was the idea that the Changeling would save her own neck by sacrificing Tzenkethi lives in a futile war. Thankfully the Coalition hadn’t bitten that poisoned apple dangled before them.

    “After the war the Vorta envoy didn’t want to return with the retreating Dominion forces. She would likely have been executed. She worked with the Tzenkethi Argosy to overtake the Jem’Hadar ship that had come to retrieve her.”

    “How did agent learn about the goings-on on Tzenketh in such detail?” Triese asked.

    “Tzenkethi politics are very fractious. Some factions wanted to grant the Vorta asylum while others didn’t. One Tzenkethi noble reached out to Starfleet. They wanted to extradite the Vorta for certain concessions.”

    “And what were those concessions?” The science officer asked.

    “The agent wouldn’t say,” Brayan frowned. “Believe me, we prodded and pressed the man, but he remained tight-lipped.”

    The Farian continued. “We were ordered to take up position on the edge of the M’Kemas system inside Tzenkethi space. Captain Chau stayed an extra 14 hours, over the strenuous objections of our first officer, and also in defiance of the operative who wanted us to continue waiting on a Tzenkethi ship to arrive with the Vorta. Suffice it to say, the ship nor the Vorta ever showed.”

    “What happened?” Triese asked.

    “We never found out,” Brayan replied. “We suspected that our potential ally was exposed and eliminated. Coups and political infighting are quite common on Tzenketh. It’s amazing that anyone would want to be Autarch.”

    “The Tzenkethi have Dominion technology,” Triese said.

    “That what we surmised,” Brayan nodded. “What and how much, there’s no answer to that. But there’s no doubt that the Tzenkethi have Dominion weapons and propulsion systems at their disposal.”

    “Which makes the Tzenkethi reaching the Delta Quadrant not so incredulous after all,” the science officer finished.

    “That's right,” Brayan nodded brusquely. “How these reptilian soldiers factor in, could be like Old Earth Janissaries,” the Farian said. “The Coalition could be expanding out into the Delta Quadrant to build their empire.” He paused and looked squarely at the woman. “But I am certain that once they are confident of their chances, they are going to attack the Federation again.”

    ***************************************************************
     
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  16. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    ***************************************************************



    USS Califia

    Ready Room


    Commander Gomes put down the glass of Altairian water. “I know your Borg is looking into what happened to my ship.”

    Prabhakar bit back a retort. “Ensign Saxton is a member of my crew who deserves respect and you will speak of her with such from this point on, am I clear Commander?”

    “I was there, you know, Wolf 359,” Gomes said, his gaze hardening. “I was on the Bonestell. It was transporting me back to Federation space when the ship got diverted to Wolf 359. Bonestell was a science vessel, an Oberth, completely unprepared to fight the Borg. But none of the ships that gathered there were really.”

    The steel-haired man took another drink. “So many ships were lost that day, so many lives; it’s a miracle than any of us survived.”

    “Ensign Saxton was one of those lost too,” Prabhakar pointed out. “She was abducted from the Princeton and assimilated into the Borg Collective.”

    Gomes shook his head and muttered something too soft for Meera to hear. “Don’t you think I know that? She’s as much a victim as any of the rest of us, even more so for what those bastards subjected her to, but still, when I see her, it makes my skin crawl. It’s like looking into the abyss all over again. I’ve been to dark places, I’ve done dark things, but to be in the presence of such…emptiness, such soullessness…it is horrific.”

    “You said you wanted to talk Commander,” Meera pressed, “So talk.”

    Gomes scowled at her before reining in his emotions. A blank expression settled over his features. He put the glass down on the table, but remained perched on the edge. “I shouldn’t be having this conversation with you, first off, but I wanted to get ahead of whatever revelations the Borg…Ensign Saxton, would uncover.”

    Gomes paused, seeking a reaction from Meera but she kept her cards close to her vest. “Go on,” she prompted.

    Enzmann’s inclusion as part of this mission wasn’t merely to make first contacts, render aid, and divert the oncoming hordes away from the Federation like the other ships. Starfleet Intelligence also charged us with a secret mission, to discover any potential threats to the Federation. The higher ups did not want a Kothlis’ Ka armada bearing down on the Federation, at least without foreknowledge.”

    “During our first contact with some Rachis pilgrims we learned of a territorial species attacking any vessels that coming in proximity of their caravan. It was shades of the Kothlis’Ka all over again. We investigated, and came to discover that the antagonists call themselves Tzenkethi.”

    “The lizard-like race called themselves Tzenkethi?” Prabhakar asked for clarification. Gomes nodded in affirmation, which only perplexed her more. She didn’t hide it. “I’m confused.”

    “I was too,” the man admitted. “I spent time behind the lines during the Tzenkethi War. I had seen Tzenkethi up close; I still got some of the claw marks. I know what Tzenkethi look like, I’ll never be able to forget, but yet, inexplicably a completely different looking species was claiming the same name. We didn’t know what that would portend for the Alpha Quadrant.”

    “Before we knew what they looked like we speculated that somehow the felinoid Tzenkethi had made it to the Delta Quadrant, which meant they had more advanced technology than we knew about.” The commander added.

    “And that also would have been another unfortunate scenario,” Captain Prabhakar replied.

    “Yes,” Gomes replied. “I sent my first officer, C’Rora, Lt. Tshego, and my science officer Etienne, in one of our shuttles to the space port on the edge of the Nocoma sector to learn more about them. Suffice it to say, it didn’t go well.”

    “What happened?” Meera asked. She wanted to get as full an accounting as possible.

    “My away team was discovered and they made it back to Enzmann with the Tzenkethi on their heels. Our ship was attacked and boarded, the Tzenkethi made certain to execute C’Rora,” Gomes’s voice was tinged with bitterness. “I failed him, and the rest of my crew.”

    “We’re going to get to the bottom of this,” Prabhakar promised. “We’re going to find these alleged Tzenkethi and find out who they really are, what they are really after, and if they pose a threat to the Federation.”

    Gomes’s harsh laugh sounded like scraping metal. “C’Rora’s and most of my crew are already dead,” he said, “what more proof do you need?”

    *************************************************************************
     
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  17. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Interesting dynamic between Triese and Brayan. Triese clearly has a temper even if she tries to defer to her Vulcan side more often. Brayan is an astute investigator and his experiences with the Tzenkethi give credence to their possible involvement.

    As for Gomes, I'm sure what he shared with Prabhakar is one version of the truth. I wouldn't be surprised to learn if there is another one, or if he omitted some salient facts from his accounting.
     
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  18. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Glad you liked that scene with Triese and Brayan. I remember an Orion scientist from Peter David's excellent novel Imzadi who was struggling to defy stereotypes about Orion women and that character stuck with me and she is a definite influence on Triese. I thought it would be interesting to have a person with mixed Orion and Vulcan heritage, almost too opposite ends. The Orions known for sensuality and abandon and the Vulcans with their logical, robotic precision.

    As for Gomes, its like Obi-Wan once said, "From a certain point of view."
     
  19. DarKush

    DarKush Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    *************************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Holodeck



    “You’re just telling us this now?” Commander Jarratt was incredulous. The man wiped his face with a towel before bending over. Winsor was still catching his breath.

    The Velocity match had been furious, with the captain besting him six to four rounds. Prabhakar had invited him to join her, and Jarratt knew that meant that Meera was working through something and preferred to exert herself in physical activity.

    It took some time before the captain opened up about her meeting with Gomes. What the Enzmann commander had said sounded plausible to Jarratt, but the captain had doubts. And now this…

    Brayan’s expression was contrite. “I was under orders,” the man said, an unusual penitent tone to his voice.

    “Yet you revealed this mission to Tzenkethi space to Lt. Triese?” Jarratt got enough wind to ask. He didn’t mean to upbraid the man or did he? He hadn’t known the Farian to confide in anyone, and now he’s telling Triese what happened on a secret mission to the M’Kemas system. Was something there between Brayan and Triese? Something he had missed?

    And was his opportunity with the science officer over before it began? The thought was petty and embarrassing, but it was honest. Jarratt acknowledged its existence and then reined it in.

    “Put it in park Mr. Jarratt,” the captain said. “Eventually though I would have appreciated learning about this earlier, at least he came forward now.” Jarratt was amazed that the woman was barely perspiring after the hard fought match. He on the other hand felt like a waterfall. “Long story short,” Prabhakar added, “The Tzenkethi Coalition has Dominion technology.”

    “This makes it a good possibility that they have reached this part of the Delta Quadrant,” Jarratt said, “and that they did attack Enzmann.”

    “Let’s not jump to conclusions,” the captain replied. She tapped her phaser against her hip as she pondered the security officer’s revelation. “Just because the Tzenkethi have some Dominion technology doesn’t mean they have developed a propulsion system to journey this far away from their space. During the war, their propulsion systems were comparable to ours.

    And we’re only in this part of space due to the warp sleds. If they have the standard warp of the Jem’Hadar vessels from the war, the Coalition would still need even more of a boost.”

    “As I was relaying to Lt. Triese, the Tzenkethi should not be underestimated,” Brayan said. “We didn’t know about their ties to the Dominion, which means they could have forged other ties we don’t know about.”

    “Well, there’s a literal murderers’ row that wants to take us out,” Jarratt said. “The Breen, Tholians, Romulans, Son’a, Alshain.”

    The captain wagged a finger. “The Exarchate is still our allies,” she reminded him.

    “Yeah,” Jarratt didn’t hide his disbelief. “I’ve been to the Tonkean Belt. I’ve seen how vicious the Alshain are.” Before joining Califia, Winsor had participated in repatriating survivors of the Alshain pogroms. After the Dominion War the Alshain had begun a massive campaign of species cleansing from their space, or the territory they deemed belonged to them.

    To his shame, the Federation had largely let the Alshain run roughshod over the Tarlac, Ellora, and Munzalans. The Federation Council only intervened when Alshain atrocities attracted the notice of Federation news outlets.

    “Be that as it may,” Prabhakar said. “And I’m not discounting your view about the Alshain. But the Exarchate is currently embroiled in a civil war, which makes them less likely to incur the wrath of the Federation by helping the Tzenkethi.”

    “The competing Alshain factions could be seeking allies in the Coalition,” Brayan replied.

    “True,” the captain nodded, “However, Alshain technology isn’t on par even with the Klingons. The Tholians, Son’a, or Breen are more likely suspects, if the thesis that the Tzenkethi have new allies holds any water.” Meera said. “And right now, I don’t think it does.”

    Jarratt thought about disagreeing with his commander but kept his mouth shut. His emotions were running hot today. He didn’t know where he stood with Triese; or rather he knew exactly where he stood and didn’t like it. Plus the discussion had delved into his memories of the horrors he had witnessed in the Tonkean Belt.

    What had started out as a simple and fun game of Velocity had turned into demonstration of his futility. His guilt and sense of powerlessness as the Federation had allowed the Alshain free reign and his own inability to connect with Triese on more than a professional level.

    Things had gone so swimmingly with his career and women before the damned war. He absently ran his hand through his hair, his fingers getting tangled in the damp, dark locks. He pulled his cold wet hand out and wiped it on his pants leg. Winsor was certain he never used to sweat, at least not this much. He used to have things under control, knew where he was going in his career, in his life, but now, after the war had shaken everything up, he was truly venturing into the unknown. His personal life mirrored the whole mission of Taskforce Vanguard and the central mystery confronting them now.

    They didn’t know who these alleged Tzenkethi were, or what they their true goals were. The commander hoped that they could at least solve that puzzle first. “I hope you’re right Captain,” Jarratt said. “I hope this is all some big misunderstanding where the Tzenkethi are concerned. We’ve got enough problems with all the Delta Quadrant ships heading our way; we don’t need hostile greeting parties from our side of the pond.”

    “My sentiments exactly,” Prabhakar said. She looked at both men, her dark eyes full of fire. “Whoever or whatever attacked the Enzmann we will find. Commander Gomes’s grief and concern about the wellbeing of his surviving crew is admirable, but if are going to prevent even more deaths, more loss, we need to find these marauders and quickly.”

    ***************************************************************************

    USS Califia

    Astrometrics Lab



    Ensign Saxton didn’t look up even though she sensed the person’s presence. Though her back was turned, Saxton knew who the person was from the sound of her footfalls. The operations officer continued working.

    “Jamie,” the other woman called. Her voice was soft, hesitant. Saxton’s eyes remained on the terminal’s screen. The other woman cleared her throat and spoke louder. She repeated Saxton’s given name, her human name.

    Saxton swung her chair around. “How might I assist you Ensign?”

    The ebon-hued woman smiled nervously. Though they bore the same rank, Azaba Ojim was a decade younger than her. In fact, she was almost the same age Saxton had been before she had been assimilated. Saxton pinched her lips, growing impatient as the woman continued hesitating.

    She squinted, her brain searching for a reason for why Ojim had interrupted her. It took her .00000001 seconds to arrive at the answer. “Ensign Diggins,” she surmised.

    The woman’s expression brightened and then she looked down, unable to meet Saxton’s gaze. Ojim nervously played with her dark hair, pulling back curls to reveal her slightly elongated ears. Ojim had told her that a maternal grandparent had been Vulcan.

    She blinked, caught in the memory of pale fingers running through vibrant red hair. It took the woman moment to realize the follicles had been her own, before Wolf 359. Various medics had offered to restore her locks, but Saxton had refused. She couldn’t go back to who she had been, and she wasn’t sure she wanted to.

    “Are you okay Jamie?” Ojim was a perceptive one at that. She had noted the operations officer’s momentary distress.

    “I am functional,” Saxton said coldly.

    “Oh, well,” Ojim didn’t hide the stung look on her face. She took a step back. “I thought you were off duty and I…well…”

    “I am off duty, however the captain requested that look into a matter,” Saxton replied.

    Ojim stopped backing away. Her eyes sparked with curiosity. “Something I could help with?” She took a step forward.

    “The captain requested my expertise,” Saxton said crispy.

    “Oh,” the woman stopped again. “Listen, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bother you.”

    “You have not been an impediment to the completion of my assignment,” Saxton said. “I’ve continued mental calculations while we have been conversing.”

    “Glad I had your undivided attention,” Ojim huffed.

    “I can divide my attention in infinite ways,” Saxton explained.

    “That’s great,” the other woman said. “Listen, I’ll just be going then.” Saxton watched the younger woman leave the lab, her head hanging down slightly.

    “The date request,” Saxton said into the quiet. That was the reason Ojim had visited the lab to discuss her burgeoning for one of the ship’s engineers. For some reason, the ensign thought that just because she and Saxton shared a room that she should also unload her feelings to the former Borg.

    The woman’s disconcerting cheeriness at first had made Saxton long for the solitude of a Borg alcove. The ship’s counselor had eventually convinced Saxton that listening to Ojim, of developing a connection with the younger woman, could be beneficial to Saxton’s integration aboard Califia, which in turn would make her more proficient in the execution of her assignments; though the Klingon’s language had been far more colorful. His alternative suggestion was to challenge Ojim to fight to the death, which was less optimal.

    So Saxton had listened to the younger woman talk about her infatuation for the engineer and she had sought out Saxton’s advice. There was little the woman could provide. Her last romantic relationship had been over a decade ago. However she could access the memories of countless relationships stored within her cortical array, and she had done so, relaying various memories and examples of romance across the stars.

    In their last conversation before Saxton had begun her duty shift, Ojim had declared that would finally approach Ensign Diggins and transmit her feelings to him.

    Her roommate must have ventured into astrometrics to share what had occurred. “Oh,” Saxton muttered, realizing now why the woman was disappointed. For .0000000005 seconds she considered going after Ojim to bring her back, so she could recount what had transpired.

    But then she remembered her work. The captain had entrusted her and that was more important than some likely temporary romantic entanglement. So Saxton remained seated. She turned back to the console.

    Her forehead creased at the new findings. “Protomatter residue in the space around the Enzmann,” she said again to the empty room. “This bears further investigation.”

    ****************************************************************
    Author's Note: With this being a work-in-progress I've been refining as I'm writing it. Here are some changes I've made that will be reflected going forward.

    -The ship Ensign Saxton was serving aboard at the battle of Wolf 359 will no longer be the USS Princeton. I changed the name to USS Bonaventure in honor of Reannon Bonaventure, the female Borg who had broken free of the Collective in Peter David's novel Vendetta.

    -I've changed the name of the Gon'cra system to the Rakshasa system in honor of Trek writer Jimmy Digg's Star Trek: Beyond the Stars series and his efforts to make the Kzinti a live-action reality on Trek. Hopefully Mr. Diggs will continue those efforts with Discovery. Ensign Diggins is also name in honor of Mr. Diggs. The title of this story also was inspired by Star Trek: Phase II's "Kilkenny Cats", which had been another attempt to bring Diggs's Kzinti into live-action. I thought it was a cool title and appropriate to use for the a story based on the UT Tzenkethi which are inspired by TAS's Kzinti.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2017
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  20. CeJay

    CeJay Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 5, 2006
    Loving those little character vignettes. Trek has always been about characters trying to find their humanity. For Saxton that will be an uphill struggle.
     
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