“You are to report to Deep Space Nine first,” Chakotay replied, “Captain Kurland has been briefed and ordered to provide the needed refits for your ship. I will have all the required information for your mission transferred once you report to him.”
“One last thing,” Chakotay added, “This mission is Top Secret. You are not to mention or discuss any details with anyone.”
The Last Days of the USS Starlight Pony (Chap 3)
As Commander Fludicus left the ready room for the bridge, he noticed two Andorians in the middle of the bridge, both seemingly waiting for Fludicus to report.
The female was the First Officer Lieutenant Commander Mirra Asiura, clad in Command red. She saw Fludicus and then stood at attention. The older Andorian male with her was Commander Thron Altodav, clad in Engineering yellow. He regarded Fludicus with a straight face and a nod. He happened to have a PADD in his hand.
Had appearances told the story, it would say that Thron was the most senior officer aboard the ship. He easily had more experience serving Starfleet than Fludicus and Mirra combined. After all, he had served aboard numerous vessels across his career as chief engineer.
What was not so obvious was that Thron has turned down many an offer to command a starship on his own, often preferring to take the position of Chief Engineer under the command of other officers becoming captain.
Time and again, he turned down the offer of being a captain despite reminders from Starfleet Command that he may not get the chance again. The last time he did was for the Starlight Pony, joking that he would rather keep the ship together rather than command the 'bucket of bolts'. The Admiral in turn reminded that this may be his last chance for command.
Thron did what he did before. It was his 13th time. He wanted to follow the path of many famed Chief Engineers, from Charles Tucker III to Montgomery Scott to more recently Geordi La Forge. It was no surprise: some of the best engineers often never transferred out of their division to work on the new versions of engines, shields or weapons for the future.
“Fludicus,” Thron began, “Engineering reports all is normal.”
“Noted,” Fludicus replied. He looked at the Mirra and Thron, and then asked, “Are you only here to report?”
Fludicus knew it was a lie. After all, everyone on the ship knew they were courting one another. But he simply accepted the reply, “I am only here to report on Engineering sir.”
Fludicus decided to mete out some 'punishment' to those two lovebirds.
“You two are relieved,” Fludicus announced, “and confined to quarters, together – immediately.”
A chuckle rippled through the bridge. Everyone knew that it was a joke, less of a punishment and more of Fludicus' way of granting leave to the two.
Fludicus leaned toward Mirra and Thron and whispered, “you two deserve some time together.”
“Thank you,” Mirra replied in a similar manner. She turned to Thron and whispered, “See you inside,” before she turned around and left for the turbolift. Meanwhile Thron seemed not to have moved at all, seemingly trying to put together what just happened.
“Permission to speak sir?” Thron asked.
“Go ahead Thron,” Fludicus replied, “I could use your counsel.”
“I figured out that you were contacted by Starfleet Intelligence,” Thron said.
“That is true,” Fludicus replied, “But I cannot reveal any details at this time...”
“Typical Starfleet Intelligence secrecy...” Thron remarked.
“I know what you are thinking,” Fludicus said, “but this is... Big.”
Thron seemed to have an idea what it could entail, “Would it have something to do with the True Way?”
“Fludicus knew better than to feed the speculation, “Keep it to yourself. No discussions. Not even with Mirra. Understood?”
“Go have fun with Mirra. That's an order.”
As Thron left the bridge, Fludicus took the Captain's Seat. All he could see was just him and all the junior officers now stationed aboard the bridge of his ship. It felt lonely to be honest. Thron and Mirra were the closest in Starfleet he had for most of his Career in Starfleet thus far. Not many officers stay long with him. Not as long as the two Andorians.
Who knows if the two decided to settle down. Then again, they would settle down by serving him on in Starfleet. There were some interesting examples...
“Helm, set a course to Deep Space Nine,” Fludicus ordered.
“Aye, sir,” the female Tellarite ensign replied, “what speed sir?”
Fludicus thought for a second, “What is our maximum speed?”
“Warp 8.3,” The Tellarite replied, “and you still say that's too slow.”
“It is too slow indeed for what I got in mind,” Fludicus replied. He wished that he could go a lot faster. But the war with the Klingons were directing all the resources needed for better warp cores, and Bajor, despite its newfound membership within the Federation, was now a backwater for Veterans to be rotated out.
“Should I complain to engineering that they are taking too long to improve the warp core?” the ensign asked, “They claimed they optimised it just 12 hours ago.”
“Feel free to at the end of the shift,” Fludicus replied, “I too feel tired of travelling this slow.”
“I never thought you would let me sir,” the Tellarite remarked, “Course laid in. Set to maximum warp. Just to tell you, the engineers are going to have a hard time to re-optimise the engines after this.”
“You are the one complaining about the engines, we all hate the speed. Go debate with engineering if it helps them rebuild it,” Fludicus said, “Engage.”
“Warp drive engaged,” the Tellarite reported as the USS Starlight Pony jumped into warp, “Are we going to meet with the Intelligence folks again? I look forward to arguing with them. They seem to think to I am hiding some secret when all I am doing is...”
Fludicus thought that the Tellarite was just saying it for the sake of it. But then again, no one so far had liked the sessions by Starfleet Intelligence.
“Spinning a yarn? Keep at it. And let's hope they seek to debrief less often after that,” Fludicus began to feel tired, more out of the burden of the daily grind than everything else,”Ensign, take the bridge. Inform me when we arrive at DS9.”
As soon as Fludicus entered the ready room, he sought the closest couch. He fell asleep on the long couch as the doors closed behind him.