The trials of an aging starship
Posted on Thu Apr 1st, 2021 @ 8:06pm by Captain Romaes Anjin
Episode 1: Requisitioned
Timeline: Day 1 at 1800
The wall mounted clock was nothing short of irritating as those present at the morning briefing, in the observation lounge aboard the aging starship waited patiently to speak with their commanding officer about a great many things. This was the third day in a row that they had gone through the same process, waiting to discuss matters with the Old Man, who would undoubtedly be pissed off because he didn't have the answers that they sought.
It was no coincidence that this period of relative stagnation had coincided with the once mighty Galaxy-class starships arrival at DS9 just over a week ago. A small facility by Starfleet standards, the station had lost some of its gravitas in recent years as the galaxies focus steadily moved away from the politics of the Bajorans and the their former oppressors, and on to the situation with the Romulans. In recent times, Venture had been relegated from her usual mandate of exploration and had spent months ferrying dignitaries and passengers around the Federation. During their last trip, the ship had experienced some engine trouble which would have prevented her from getting back to Earth for her next mission had they not been able to get to the facility for some repairs. The problem was not the repairs though, it was the fact that none of Venture's crew enjoyed sitting on their backsides doing nothing whilst the repairs took place, and now they were three days into what was becoming increasingly more like a refit layover than a quick repair schedule. They were all in their prime, or worse, in their youth, which meant they were eager to keep going, keep working and keep training - not sitting around and waiting for the refit to be completed. Nor had they signed up for cruise liner duty.
The only person who seemed remotely thankful for the layover was the 'Old Man' himself, and with each passing day that Venture remained at Deep Space Nine his smile seemed to grow. No one was brave enough, or stupid enough, to say anything to a man of his experience and reputation. Captain Romaes Anjin had been in command of Venture for over five years, and in that time he had seen so much change. So many people had come and gone, including all of his trusted advisors. So many had come and gone in fact that he now seemed to distance himself from those under his command, for who could tell when they would move on again. Despite being only forty-three, it was tradition on Venture to call the commanding officer 'Old Man', a tradition that had originated with Admiral Hastur in the early seventies. Romaes hated it more than anything else in his life, but lately he was starting to show signs that maybe he was turning into an old man; he was happy to sit still, not go anywhere and to read. Although his crew seemed restless while laid up, he was quite the opposite.
Soon enough, after what seemed like an eternity for those waiting, the doors to the observation lounge opened and the Captain made his way through the entrance into the officers’ meeting room. As he made his way to his seat, the officers in attendance rose and stood in silence until he had assumed his seat at the head of the table. Once he was seated, the rest lowered themselves into their seats and waited to be spoken to.
“Anything to report, Commander?” the Captain queried, his eyes firmly fixed on the PADD he was scribbling away on with a funky new stylus.
“All quiet on gamma shift sir,” the man directly to the commanding officer's left answered, “the only event of note was a dilithium refining ship, the Mahjong, arriving to dispatch some cargo. She departed the station at oh-five-hundred hours en-route to Bolarus Four,” Commander Jonathan Kilmartin concluded. As the ships second officer, Kilmartin had been tasked with overseeing the night shift while the ship was at the station, and would be heading to bed soon after the morning briefing.
“Lieutenant Kenly?” the Captain asked, still transfixed on his recording device.
A few seats down, a moustached man with a receding hairline nervously shifted in his seat. “Repairs continue apace, Captain. The station engineers report they will be done on schedule,” he revealed. Alden Kenly had every right to be nervous; as the ship's Chief Engineer he was responsible for keeping the ship running long enough to make it back to Earth but had failed to do so - not that Romaes had blamed him though, not personally anyway.
“On whose schedule, Lieutenant?” Romaes fired back, finally looking up from his PADD with a glare that elicited more than a few gulps around the table. “It’s certainly not my schedule,” the commanding officer frowned as he sat back in his chair and tossed his stylus onto the device before him. It seemed, at last, that the Captain was as tired of sitting around as the rest of the officers. “Does anyone have anything pleasing to report?” he enquired, glancing around the table.
Silence engulfed the room until a single cough indicated that someone towards the far end of the table had something to say. A tall, brunette woman looked down the table at the commander of Venture. “We received word from Commander Farrell’s Runabout. He finally rendezvoused with the Solaria and is thrilled to be taking command,” she mustered the best smile she could as she fed back the update on the ship’s former XO.
Commander Sebastian Farrell had been the XO to Captain Romaes ever since the Bajoran had taken command of Venture. When the news had been received of the ship’s apparent decommissioning at the end of the year, Romaes had put his XO forward for promotion and a command of his own. Farrell had been lucky, passing at the first attempt before subsequently being granted command of the Polaris-class Solaria. Solaria was a massive step up the ladder for the Commander; it was newer and state of the art compared to Venture, and was to be involved in significant anti-piracy missions around the former Romulan neutral zone. The only saving grace for Venture's crew was that upon their return to Earth, the ship would likely be decommissioned and they would be transferred over to her successor, with rumours circulating that one of the brand new Odyssey-class starships would be waiting for them upon their return to the homeworld. In truth, for now, they were stuck where they were.
Romaes let out a sigh. “I know you are all frustrated by the layover,” he began, “and so am I. Just keep doing what you are doing; keep morale up, keep your people busy and we’ll be underway again soon,” he said as he rose to his feet. “You’re all dismissed, apart from Commander Kilmartin.”
There was a smattering of chatter as the room was vacated by the near dozen or so crewmembers who made up most of the ship’s senior staff - only Commander Kilmartin remained, as requested.
Once the room was clear, the Captain looked at his acting XO. “I thought you should know that I plan to submit your name for the permanent XO position,” the Bajoran revealed to the second officer.
There was a look of shock on the Commander’s face. At first he thought he was daydreaming, or maybe even having a nightmare. Perhaps he was hallucinating because of a lack of sleep? But after literally pinching himself behind his back, the Commander nodded in response. “Thank you Captain. I would be proud to continue to serve with you,” he smiled before firing off a respectful salute and leaving the Bajoran to the silence of the briefing room.
[Five Weeks Later...]
What Venture's Captain had hoped would be a minor set of repairs had turned into a major refit as more and more issues cropped up with alarming regularity, and the chances of them getting a new ship diminished rapidly. In that time, the Captain had seen so many of his people move on. Kilmartin had never taken on the permanent XO position, instead choosing to transfer to an Intrepid heading towards the Gorn Front. Lieutenant Kenly had left not long after the refit had been confirmed, unhappy with being sidelined by the yard engineers and clashing with the Captain. In fact, in the last five weeks, virtually every member of the senior staff had moved on.
On the lower decks of Venture, ill discipline seemed rife. Crewmembers were making the most of shoreleave, and of having no senior officer to report to, and a commanding officer who seemed content to just sit back and let chaos reign. One such crewmember was Ensign Kiandra Lee. Stood twiddling her thumbs whilst the Transporter Chief watched with curiosity, Ensign Lee was beginning to feel nervous ahead of their great adventure. But where the hell was her partner in crime?
Skidding around the corner from the turbolift alcove, his lanky frame unruly as always, Robin damn near collided with a young woman in operations gold. Apologizing profusely over his shoulder he continued until he’d reached the transporter room. He had such a good head of steam going that the doors barely opened in time to keep him from slamming into them, and then he was there, finally. “I… Am… So… Sorry…” he gasped out, leaning against the transporter console and holding his side where a distinctly painful stitch had formed.
“You need to come jogging with me in the mornings,” the officer laughed as she grabbed her colleague by the arm and dragged him up onto the transporter pad. “Alright, Chief! Two to transport to the station, please,” the Ensign requested as she took her position.
Chief Petty Officer Tomkins, bearded and grumpy as usual, stood with his arms folded across his burly chest and glared at the younger Ensign. “And what is the purpose of your visit?”
Kiandra stood their wide-eyed and like a rabbit in headlights.
Robin effortlessly took control. “We are planning on causing untold mischief and shenanigans,” he replied with a perfectly straight face, and then pretended to glance at a watch on his wrist, and back to the man behind the console, with his eyebrows raised as if he was waiting impatiently.
“Wise ass…” Tomkins growled to himself before taking a step forward and moving his hands to the controls. “If you get in any trouble over there, I ain’t beaming you back…” he remarked with a sadistic smile before sliding his fingers up the controls. “Energising!”
Moments later the pair of junior officers rematerialized on the transporter pad aboard DS9. Robin had a bit of a stunned look on his face, and slowly turned his head to look Kiandra in the face, eyes wide, “You don’t think he was serious do you? About not beaming us back…”
“Well, if he is, I’m beautiful enough to worm my way out of anything,” she grinned as she skipped down from the pad before looking back at her companion, “not so sure about you though…”
Robin gave her a wicked side-eye. “I see how it is,” he said with a slight grin.
“But trust me, I flash these pearly whites,” he added, pausing to give her his cheesiest fake smile, “and give ‘em a little of this,” he went on, doing his best impression of puppy dog eyes, “and I might get a berth on this station and never even have to worry about transporting back to that old rust bucket. Not sure what I’d be able to get you though… Might wanna make sure you work on using that 'pretty' thing to your advantage.”
“If you’re staying here, I’ll take the nearest airlock and leave you behind…” she countered with the utmost sass before stepping towards the rather bemused looking Crewman at the transporter station. “Hey, Crewman. We’re here to see someone from your science department. Any ideas where we might go?” she asked confidently as she leant on the console with her right arm, looking up at the Benzite.
“Ummm…” the poor soul looked like a train had hit him while he tried to find the words for her question, “habitat ring, level three… section four…” he finally mustered.
Reaching out and clapping the man on the shoulder Robin smiled, “Thanks, appreciate that!”
Less than five minutes later they’d made their way to the appropriate section of the station, and as they approached the doors, Robin felt nearly giddy. “Well, it’s almost upon us!” he said, smiling widely at his accomplice.
“Calm yourself,” she shook her head. “If you blow this thing, I’ll beam you into space at the next available opportunity,” she told him with her trademark smile before surging towards the doors and stepping inside. What she didn’t expect to see, although probably should have these days given Starfleet’s more inclusive recruitment strategy, was a pair of shorter beings. The first, noticeable by the elaborate piece of headwear on the back of their cranium (not to mention the sizeable lobes) was a Ferengi. The second? Bushy brown hair, a pig like snout and a grunt that would make the burly Transporter Chief on Venture jealous could mean only one thing - a Tellarite. Both wore the old grey shouldered uniform, and neither looked as pristine and smart as the two officers from Venture in their teal coloured shoulder patches and largely black numbers.
“Well hello there,” Kia stepped forward, immediately on the charm offensive as she approached the Ferengi first. “Ensign Kiandra Lee, from Venture,” she smiled as she offered out a hand. “This is my assistant, Petty Officer Robin Jackson,” she lied; not about his name of course, but his job. She’d always fancied an Assistant of her own.
Robin fell into the part smoothly, standing to Kia’s side, looking as subservient as he possibly could, and not saying a word. Granted there were plenty of words he’d like to say, plenty he planned on saying later, when they weren’t in a situation that could land them in a whole lot of trouble. For now, however, he would hold his peace.
“I knew they were going to send some people, but didn’t think it would be so soon…” the Tellarite grunted whilst he watched his Ferengi counterpart make eyes at the Terran female. “I’m Norek Dar. This is my colleague, Brozic.”
“Well, hello Brozic,” Kia flirted with the Ferengi, “we’re here to see if you fine gentlemen can help us with some enquiries? Do you think you could help us, Brozic?”
After so many years of living and working around humons, Brozic had finally grown used to females in clothing, and even being addressed directly by them, but their brazen flirting still discomforted him. Not that he minded, he was perfectly happy to be flirted with by a beautiful woman such as the one standing before him, but it still just felt wrong in some ways.
“We would be happy to help you,” he said, letting his eyes travel over her trim form, taking note of the snazzy new uniform they would hopefully be getting on Deep Space Nine soon. “What can we do for you?”
“My assistant has a list of things we need,” she smiled, lifting her hand gently to the Ferengi’s ear and employing a trick she had learnt from a friend a while back, gently running a finger across the rim of his sizeable lobe.
A rather ecstatic looking Ferengi took the Terran female by the hand and led her over to one of the aft consoles whilst Robin remained in a stand off of sorts with the Tellarite, who was most upset at the intrusion.
“So, as you can see, Captain,” the Ensign frowned as she leant over and pointed to a specific point on the data PADD to draw her commanding officers attention, “we've narrowed down all the chatter and we've come to one conclusion, sir.”
“We're being decommissioned,” Petty Officer Jackson blurted out, shooting off an apologetic look at the Captain and his commissioned companion.
“Our source thinks that Venture will be ordered to Earth for decommissioning once the repairs are complete,” Ensign Lee frowned as she stood beside her blue-shouldered colleague.
Captain Romaes spun ever so slightly in his chair, back and forth, as he looked over the data he had been presented with by the two junior officers from the science team. It was, he hoped, a breakthrough. Even if it wasn't one he had wanted. “That gives us, what? Three days? Maybe four?”
“Yes sir,” Kiandra nodded, her black bob of hair moving freely around her head, “the repair estimates are four days, but work is ahead of schedule,” the Ensign nodded, a look of sadness on her face. She, like the others in the room, recognised that this was a dark day for the Venture crew.
Finally, the Captain rose to his feet. "We'll continue as we are until we know for certain. Keep your eyes and ears open for any more information though, ok? And keep this between us."
In unison, the two junior crewmembers responded with an 'Aye Captain" before departing the ready room and leaving the Captain to his thoughts, of which there were many as he wandered over to the ready room window and stood, gazing into the wilderness of space.