Fludicus was lazily sitting on the Captain's Chair when the USS Malinche called back. It was a few moments after that Commander Achebe went onto the viewscreen of the bridge.
“Commander,” Commander Achebe said, going straight to the point, “I am here to inform you that Captain Kurland has cleared you to proceed.”
“Thank you,” Fludicus replied.
“All I can say now is... good luck and happy hunting. Achebe out.”
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 7)
Sirol Ri'vena, Romulan Refugee-turned-Astrometrics Scientist. Born in a far-off colony amidst the ruins of the Romulan Empire, she was a little girl when the feared Tal-shir raided and razed her home to the ground. A Starfleet relief force rescued her and a handful of survivors. She took asylum in Vulcan, but eventually graduated from Princeton University on Earth in the sciences of astrometrics.
Thanks to the Vulcan training during her formative years, Sirol was able to mask her origins being among her foster family and then her adopted home. The only thing that betrayed her heritage was the occasional letting her hair down during social gatherings, complete with Romulan Ale. Her foster family on Vulcan did not object: after all, emotions and indulgence do have their place, and she had every right to explore those around her as much as herself as a Romulan.
Despite being offered (and accepting) Romulan Republic citizenship, Sirol chose to remain in the Federation, taking a job in Starfleet Cartography. She had became the go-to person for the Romulan Republic when D'Tan asked for maps of the Federation and recently for the Alpha Quadrant, one of the many concessions gained from Romulan-Federation partnerships during the search for New Romulus.
Such was her work that she gained the attention of Starfleet Intelligence. She was asked by (no less) the head of the Agency itself, Admiral Chakotay, to participate in her most precarious assignment yet. The Badlands near Bajor was becoming an issue with the True Way using it as staging grounds. Would she be willing to lead a survey team to remap the Badlands while gathering intelligence on the enemy?
Thus she found herself on the bridge of the Starlight Pony. Few Romulans had gone this far from their home region of space. Only one partnership between the Romulans and the Federation had existed before in this part of the galaxy. While that had been filled with suspicion and xenophobia, this partnership is that of cooperation and openness, both her Vulcan training and D'Tan's study under Spock had done much to make this possible.
It has been ten hours since Fludicus had left the bridge to the Starfleet Cartography survey team. The commander had retired to his personal quarters in a rare moment to rest well. Mirra and Thron were off-duty on one of their courting sessions. The only presence of the ship's command was the conn officer Ensign Gepba, who took the Captain's seat while Sirol roamed around the bridge gathering and analysing the data from her survey team.
“Senior,” a female Bolian called from one of the bridge stations (Sirol preferred others calling her such or 'Senior Sirol' to denote her position in the science team), “Preliminary scans are complete. No sign of anomalies detected.”
“Noted,” Sirol replied, “Are you comparing our scans with the maps we have? Any discrepancies so far?”
“I am already on it. None so far.”
The Bolian nodded and resumed her work.
Sirol then noticed Gepba being bored on the Captain's Chair. Giving a thought for the Tellarite, Sirol approached Gepba and asked, “Feeling bored?”
“Part of the job,” Gepba replied, “It's Starfleet procedure for one bridge officer to keep watch while the others are off-duty.”
“Does it stop you from chatting with others?”
“Guess not,” Gepba replied with a smile, “Thanks for waking me up.”
“It's ok,” Sirol returned the smile, “I am inclined to chat in order to keep us up and ready any time.”
“Sounds like something to do other than sitting here doing nothing.”
The two were quiet for a moment before Gepba decide to make the next move, “How's your assignment going?”
“Worse than I hoped, better than I feared,” Sirol replied, before tapping a few things on her PADD before continuing, “I am wondering if the assignment would attract any action soon...”
“I can assure you that if we find any action,” Gepba said, “you and your crew would be the first to get off the bridge.”
“My survey team is already having so much fun...” Sirol remarked, “Would you be that ruthless to spoil it?”
“Maybe my commander would.”
“Speaking of your commander,” Sirol remarked, “I believe he has has not come back to the bridge for the last ten hours.”
“Commander’s prerogative,” Gepba explained, “He has been leading the ship for the past two days. He needs some down-time.”
“Understandable...” Sirol nodded in agreement, “He would want to be ready for any situation that could arise, whatever it may be.”
Before they could continue with their chat however, a male Vulcan placed at sensor station within the bridge cleared his throat, “Senior, Ensign, I have detected up an abnormality on our sensors. It is moving at sublight speeds...”
Gepba and Sirol quickly reached for the Vulcan’s station, “explain...” Sirol asked.
“It seems to have some high concentrations of alloys and synthetic materials...” the Vulcan, Romulan and Tellartie seemed to look at each other as they reached the same conclusion, “It’s likely a ship,” said the Vulcan in a usual stoic manner.
Sirol and Gepba looked at each other, “The commander briefed me that no ships were allowed into the Badlands...”
“Indeed,” Gepba confirmed, “This could only mean that its a True Way ship.”
“Very likely,” Gepba replied gravely, “I need to alert my crew to prepare for the worst.”
“I suggest you let my team complete their work first,” Sirol said, “We have made a lot of progress since we started our survey and we want to make this all count.”
“I would need to determine how bad the situation is,” Gepba said, “Specialist, has that ship detected us?”
“At this range, it would be hard to discern this possibility,” the Vulcan officer replied, “However, judging their trajectory and velocity, they seem to be continuing on their present course.”
“Looks like I got to make the call,” Gepba said. She finally went on the horn, “All hands stand by for possible tactical alert. Commander Fludicus and First Officer Mirra to the bridge.”
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