((Bridge – USS Narendra)
The chair. The chair. Getting her feet wet. The idea had seemed strange and even while she was physically sitting there, it was all so surreal. The question had been asked so quickly, and Alora wasn’t quite sure when she had actually said “yes”. Had she said it? Or had it just been assumed? Maybe a little bit of both? But there she was, directing people like she had some sort of authority. And she did, though subject to Sal’s authority, as it should be.
It was just so odd.
She’d been in Starfleet for seven years. She’d been Chief Science Officer twice. She’d led away teams, directed agricultural projects when on Limbo, had dealt with altercations between officers. Alora was no stranger to exerting authority. She’d told people what to do and when to do it - not because she was superior, but because they had a job and she was the one put into place to oversee that job.
Now, however, she was on the Narendra, occupying a spot that had, until that moment, been reserved for someone else - someone else who had, until that moment, had authority over her. When she had been promoted to Chief Science Officer the first time, Alora had been excited. It felt right, natural, something she had aimed for even before graduation. This? This was never on her radar, and all of a sudden she found herself in that chair, still clad in her science blue that would soon enough turn to red.
When had she said yes?
Outside, a sparkling of dust glimmered beyond them. Yellows and pale blues were punctuated by asteroids that floated lazily next door, uninterested in their neighbor. A moment later, another object could be picked out from among the giant space boulders. At first glance, it seemed innocuous, but sometimes, appearances could be deceiving, and first impressions inaccurate.
And the captain? Still like that kid in a candy shop. It wasn’t as if he was jumping up and down for joy, clapping his hands in glee, but he might as well have been. Even for someone who wasn’t exactly an empath, his eagerness flowed like waves. The way he stood, his gaze intense upon the ship, the sparkle in his dark eyes. How could anyone not know? A fleeting thought flitted through her mind and brought it with a stab of...jealousy? Longing? Quickly, Alora shoved it aside, shaking her head and put her attention back on that ship - but then the Captain turned directly to her, his smile as warm and bright as ever.
Taybrim: Signal the shuttle we’re ready for transport and drop shields per the reply.
Alora complied quickly, conveying the message with a speed and efficiency that surely would have made a Vulcan proud. Or at least, would have found it amenable.
Taybrim: Hold here until we can confirm transport
DeVeau: Yes captain. What had gotten him so animated? Or who rather? They were meeting someone, and this someone meant something to the captain. Something important. A moment after their message was sent, the ship replied, and light shimmered, bringing with it a large form. As the light faded away, it left in its place a Gorn who towered over both of them by almost two feet. Alora’s chin lifted as she studied the new arrival, not with fear or loathing, but interest and curiosity. She was knowledgeable about the people, had even heard of some who served in Starfleet, but never had she personally met one.
Taybrim: Major Tatash! ::He smiled broadly.:: Welcome onboard the USS Narendra.
Sal knew him. Sal knew many people. And if he didn’t know them, he generally seemed to enjoy getting to know someone. That was one of the ways in which they were alike, meeting new people, finding out their stories. This, however, wasn’t an introduction, but a reunion - for him at least. Said new arrival clasped Sal’s hand, shaking it warmly She had the sense he might have greeted the captain with something more enthusiastic, but was holding it back.
Tatash: It’s my pleasure to be here, Sir. Have to admit, I didn’t expect to be smuggled like Romulan Ale.
Taybrim: I mean you could have come directly to StarBase 118, but we had a routine shakedown cruise scheduled and Starfleet Intel loves to be mysterious.
Immediately, a smile came to Alora’s face, first because of his simile, then brightened at the man-creature’s own toothy grin as well as the happiness both men exhibited at being met once more.
Tatash: Well, at least it’s more exciting then just appearing in your office with a duffel bag and transfer papers.
Alora had remained silent in the wake of their greeting, but the captain didn’t let things remain that way. Once their initial welcome and howdy dos had finished, the captain motioned toward her. The woman’s smile remained unwavering.
Taybrim: May I introduce Lt Commander Alora DeVeau, she is our new First Officer.
New. Very new. As in, new within the last hour or so. Or was it more? Maybe less? Everything was happening so quickly, Alora couldn’t really keep track. The new arrival offered his hand and Alora took it, her own dwarfed, but what little grip she could get in that massive paw firm and pleasant.
Tatash: A pleasure to meet you Commander.
DeVeau: Likewise Major.
The little shuttle vanished in a flash of light, one minute there, the next gone, a ghost leaving no trail behind it.
Taybrim: I’m thrilled to see you. I mean beyond the fact that you’re one of my oldest and dearest friends, Major… I know you have heard about the turmoil between the Klingon empire and the Gorn Hegemony.
Tatash nodded and canted her head, listening intently. There was a lot going on in the sector, particularly with the Klingons and the Gorn.
Tatash: I have. I also know the Federation is taking it very seriously, I’ve been watching the defences of Cestus being beefed up like they were expecting the Borg to turn up on their doorstep. Understandable really, a conflict on that scale would be a problem locally.
Problem? A big problem. And their home would be smack dab in the middle of it.
Taybrim: Commander ::he turned towards Alora:: Plot a course back to StarBase 118. Routine cruising speed. ::and to both:: Join me in the ready room and we can speak of what is brewing in the Trinity sector.
Alora turned, executing the commands without delay. The helmsman complied as well, and a moment later, the ship had turned and was on its way back - though not at warp. Sal wanted to have some time with Tatash yet.
Tatash: Don’t suppose you brought uh..
Taybrim: ::With a grin:: Of course there are pasties…
Alora didn’t move as the captain and his friend started off. Then she realised that she had been included in that invitation. She called for someone to take her place in that chair that when she had sat upon it, seemed gigantic, surrounding her as if it might swallow her whole. Turning, she hurried after the two men, passing through just before the doors closed.
There, in his ready room, were pasties. Several of them. Enough for all of them to have a couple to enjoy. Glancing between them, Alora hesitated then another realisation hit her, that she should sit down. So she did so, crossing one leg over the other.
Tatash had already helped himself to a pastry, and Alora accepted the one offered to her with a smile and a soft -
DeVeau: Thank you.
Immediately, the Gorn pulled a PADD out from a satchel, so that he had that in his hand now that the pastry was in his mouth. The sight of a Gorn noshing on such a delicate treat was amusing and Alora attempted to hide it by taking a bit of her own.
Tatash: My briefing was fairly sparse on some details, but thick on others. What I know for sure is the Gorn are taking this threat very seriously. They have a Ihgomas-class cruiser with troops on standby to commit to our operation if anything is required beyond Starfleets mandate but they are… reluctant to be too blatant about it in case it’s seen as a provocation. Plus, they are Gorn, calling them in would be like dropping a sledgehammer on an egg.
He paused for a moment to sweep his finger down the page. Alora’s amusement faded with the more serious matter being discussed and she continued to nibble on her pastry.
Tatash: From an Intelligence perspective, Starfleet want’s this resolved rapidly with finality. Any conflict that erupts between the Klingon and Gorn would be extremely violent, costly in lives and has unlimited potential to spill out of control and hit neutral worlds, which will likely result in uproar in the Federation and may end up dragging it into the fray in a self-proclaimed peacekeeping manner under the pressure of popular opinion. Neither the Gorn or Klingons would stand for Federation ‘peacekeeping’, likely viewing it as interfering for one side or the other, so there is the risk of a three way conflict.
Which Starfleet wanted to avoid if at all possible. While they did engage in military maneuvers when need be, they were not first and foremost a military organisation. Searching, exploration, those were things that were at the top of their interest. Resolving conflicts peacefully was another. Alora was also supportive of a quick, decisive, and peaceful resolution to the brewing hostility.
DeVeau: How can we help?
Tatash: My only requirements would be to have access to a unit as needed to support any ground operations. Charlie company is ideal and Intel has earmarked them. They are used to operating in small teams, clandestine operations, watchful waiting. However, big catch, any intelligence gathered is to be shared verbatim with the Gorn -and- the Klingons as a vector for de-escalation.
Sharing intelligence. Alora didn’t have the authority to authorise that, such was Sal’s domain. Glancing at the captain, she finished off her pastry, then plucked a napkin from the table to wipe her hands, expression thoughtful.
DeVeau: I admit, I’m not as up to speed as some about what’s been happening. I’ve read about fairly recent events, the Cult of Molor. I’ve been given a bit more information this morning.
She inclined her head to her captain.
DeVeau: I’m assuming from what has been said that things are only escalating and conflict is imminent.
Alora’s verdant gaze turned toward the ceiling as she mulled over not only the information Tatash had given them, but the bits and pieces Sal had supplied just that very morning as she had joined him on the ship. Conflict was something that happened. In a galaxy of peoples from all walks of life, all with interests specific to their own kind, it was inevitable. Add in the desire for power, there was just no way to avoid it. Alora had been involved in a variety of types of conflict, but somehow, this seemed weightier. They were on the verge of war it seemed, and with them lay the burden of trying to stop it before it really started.
And Janul? What was going to happen to him in all this? Surely Sal wouldn’t just hand him over without a fight. Surely. The man didn’t deserve to be a prisoner. He was one of the good guys.
DeVeau: Sounds like we’ve got some preparations to make.
-- Lt. Cmdr. Alora DeVeau Chief Science Officer Starbase 118 Ops al...@blar.net M239008AD0