“Captain, we have cleared the perimeter of Starbase 629 and are coming up on Repair Station 23,” reported the young pilot to the shuttles only other occupant. The tall, dark haired officer sitting next to them continued reading the padd in his hands before realising that the pilot had addressed him. Looking up, they nodded, “Oh. Of course. Carry on,” he remarked before pulling down the front of his black service jacket as it had ridden up since the small craft dropped out of warp.The shuttles passenger brushed the tips of his left hand against the four gold pips on his red skivvy; two things he still was getting used to. After three decades in Starfleet, he was surprised that several grams of gold could weigh so much. ‘Captain. The promotion only came through two weeks ago. It’s still going to take some getting used to.’ Talloc Hagen thought as he returned the padd to its case sitting on the seat behind him. He had read the document, ‘the Not so Silent War’ a dozen times, and knew the story verbatim, but he still enjoyed reading the first novel his sister, Iliana had published. Now that young girl was an embedded reporter with the Federation News Service, covering the war. ‘She’s safe, she wasn’t on Betazed when it fell.’ He thought fondly of his younger sister before frowning as he recalled the fact that not all of his family was as lucky as he and his sister was.
He mourned the fate of his beloved Betazed. He had heard of the horror stories of what had happened to peace-loving population from the Federation forces that liberated the planet following two years of bloody Dominion occupation. The newly minted captain was so distracted by the scars that the Dominion had caused to his home that he didn’t notice that the front viewscreen of the shuttle had began to show the skeletal superstructure that was Repair Station 23. Cradled under the care of articulated repair arms and Worker Bees, was the carbon-scored hull of an Akira-Class starship, one of the few survivors of a costly raid against the Dominion in the Tethys system the week before. Large sections of the ships primary hull were simply missing, showing the latticework of girders and compartments open to vacuum underneath. EVA suited engineers worked to repair the damage. “Shuttle Tico to Docking Control, we are making our final approach, VIP is aboard, ETA five minutes.” The pilot reported as the shuttle passed over the saucer section. Amid the battle scars an automated sprayer repainted the ships name: USS Olympia.
“Confirmed Tico, Commander Jackson is enroute and will meet Captain Hagen on the flight deck. Docking Control, out,” “Captain, care for an inspection tour before we land?” the pilot asked, hands dancing over the crafts control surfaces.Talloc shook his head, “There will be plenty of time for that, and I don’t want to keep the crew waiting any longer than I already have. This won’t be easy for them as it is.” The pilot nodded before manoeuvring the small craft between the twin booms leading out to the cruisers catamaran-style warp nacelles. Slowing, the pilot brought the shuttle onto the Olympia’s central flight deck.
Talloc stood, and picked up his paddcase. “Thank you, Ensign, you have been an excellent escort,” he commented while the pilot shut down the shuttle’s engines and lowered the rear access ramp. Squeezing himself past the cargo pallets that filled the rear compartment of the shuttle, he came to a stop on the lip of the ramp. Taking a breath, Talloc closed his eyes and let his mind wander. He could detect an overriding sense of exhaustion and perseverance coming off the ship like a haze, with a slight undercurrent of anger he attributed to the ships current damaged status. Opening his eyes, he stepped off the ramp and onto the deck.
Standing at the foot of the ramp, he took in the scene around him; a team of engineers rushed past him with anti-gravity carts to unload the shuttle while work crews used the ships downtime to overhaul two of the ships four Mustang-Class Runabouts. Moving out of the way of the engineers, Talloc suddenly felt self-conscious. Standing in a freshly replicated duty uniform, having showered before coming aboard, was standing amongst a sea of crumpled, torn and incomplete uniforms of the engineers that pieced the ship back together. Jacket sleeves were rolled to the elbow, grime and sweat was a standard skin colouring. ‘I feel like such a sham,’ he thought as the doors to the entrance of the expansive flight deck opened, revealing a woman with long, mangled sandy-brown hair and her service tunic open, showing a bar of maroon skivvy underneath. She was leading a pair of men with mustard-coloured skivvies, a Bajoran and a Vulcan, both men towered over her, but it was clear that she was in charge. Talloc noticed that most of the anger he felt coming from the ship seemed to come from this one woman.
The two groups met halfway across the deck before coming to a stop. “Captain Hagen?” the woman asked, exhaustion and annoyance clearly coming through in her voice, when Talloc nodded she held out her hand, “I am Commander Hope Jackson, executive officer,” looking around the flight deck, she noticed the new captain’s uncomfortable posture before noticing the captains attire, “You will have to excuse the mess, sir, I don’t think any of the crew has slept since we’ve returned to port.”
Talloc nodded solemnly, he could see the grime and ash that coated the commander’s face, and noticed how it failed to hide the exhaustion that he heard in her voice. “I commend the crew for their duty, especially in this trying time, but we can’t have the crew passing out from lack of sleep. And that goes double for her executive officer.” Hope nodded slightly in acquiescence, before holding her arms out from her sides and made a half circle, “This is the Olympia, she isn’t much to look at the moment, but she’s gone to hell and back already.”Talloc nodded once more, “And no doubt she’ll be called upon to do it again.”Commander Jackson nodded, “She’ll be ready.” While she was pleasant, it was obvious that she wasn’t happy with the circumstances. Taking a step towards the Captain she turned to face the two senior officers, pointing to each in turn, “Lieutenant Commander Kala Anjar, Operations Chief. Lieutenant Xonak, Security Chief.”Talloc nodded in greeting to the two officers before turning to the commander, “Shall we?”Hope sighed before gesturing towards the interior of the ship, “After you, sir, the rest of the senior staff have assembled on the bridge.”
After a brief sojourn through five decks, Talloc stepped out of the turbolift onto the sparsely appointed bridge. Dull gunmetal panelling covered every surface and rigid metal chairs sat at each station. The echo of his footsteps as he walked over the bare metal deck plates reminded the Captain that this ship had been built during wartime. The normal warmth that was built into ships of the fleet had been replaced by mere utility. The Olympia’s senior staff moved to the front of the bridge, leaving the Betazoid captain standing in the expanse behind the wooden handrail that housed the tactical console, as it sloped down to the raised command dais in the centre.
He stood there for a couple of minutes, taking in the sight of the command centre around him, before Hope cleared her throat, capturing his attention. Crossing the bridge, Talloc joined her at the base of the command dais. Hope signed off on a report a junior officer handed her before looking over to the officer manning the communications console, “Open the channel to the crew,” she ordered while looking back at the captain. From his position, Talloc couldn’t make out the wording on the padd, but the emotions coming from the Commander told him everything he needed to know. Hope stood at attention, the bridge crew around her did likewise.
“Attention to Orders. From Starfleet Headquarters; Office of the Admiralty, to Captain Talloc Hagen. As of this date you are requested and required to take command of USS Olympia. Signed Vice Admiral William J Ross, stardate 52861.5, authorisation given by Commander Hope C Jackson. Computer, transfer all command codes to Captain Hagen.” Hope read directly from the padd, her inflection neutral.The female voice of the ships main computer replied instantly. “Command codes transferred.”
Hope held the padd out to the captain. Talloc noticed that the small metallic device felt heavier than the ones he had previously used. Looking back at the commander he nodded, “I relieve you, Commander.”She let out a defeated breath, before gesturing towards the command chair. “I stand relieved.”
Talloc approached the raised command chair and placed a hand on it before standing straight, addressing the still open channel and the officers present, “I know Captain Wallace was a good officer and I have big shoes to fill, but I will endeavour to do proper honour to his memory. Keep up the excellent work, Bridge out.”The captain stood near the command chair as the hum of shipboard activity resumed before turning to the grouped senior officers, “I would like a rundown of the ships status in the briefing room, now if possible.”The five grouped officers nodded before as a unit they moved to the rear of the bridge, Talloc lingered slightly before joining them.
The senior staff were already seated by the time Talloc entered the briefing room, pausing for a moment to compose himself, he crossed the expanse between the door and the chair at the head of the long metal briefing table and sat down. He noticed how hard and uncomfortable this chair was. Looking over the collection of officers, the three men and two women, how they all wore the same exhausted and crumpled expressions. He acknowledged them each in turn before taking a breath, “So, what is our status?” The human officer seated next to Lieutenant Xonak, and like the Vulcan, he wore a mustard skivvy under his unclasped service tunic, spoke up, “Nathan DeSora, Chief Engineer. There isn’t a lot to tell you, sir. Thanks to supply issues and the Starbase’s backlog, our own repairs are going slowly, but they are progressing. We are currently on station power as the warp core is out of calibration and required repairs. Unfortunately with all the repairs we need, we aren’t going anywhere for at least a week until I can get on top of it.”Talloc nodded, “I noticed the Repair Yard has its hands full, but I would like you to focus on getting that warpdrive back online. We don’t know when the Fleet will want us back in the fight.”Nathan nodded, “Understood, sir, I’ll get on that right away.”Talloc looked over the other members of the command staff before continuing, “How has the crew been fairing since the battle?”
The woman seated next to Hope, wearing medical teal leant forward, “Doctor Sarratt, Captain,” she moved her wavy, copper fringe out of her eyes. “Aside from Captain Wallace, we lost eighteen other members of the crew, with another thirty injured. All of whom are now recuperating in their quarters.” Commander Kala looked up from the padd in his hands, as if answering the captain’s next question. “At the moment, Captain, there is no word from the Fleet Resource Centre of when we are to be assigned new officers.”The captain frowned, “They will come, but with the momentum the fleet is having I’m not sure when that will be.” Hope shook her head but said nothing, the movement caught Talloc’s attention, “Problem, Commander?”The commander sat upright, startled by the captain’s comment, “Nothing, sir.”Talloc raised an eyebrow slightly before looking to the other members of the senior staff, “I know this change at the top will cause some getting used to, but I hope it can be as painless as possible.” He pushed back his chair, “I’ll let you get back to work, dismissed. Commander, you have the watch, I will be in my quarters if I’m needed.”
“Understood, sir,” Hope replied as the senior staff stepped away from the table, returning to their stations as Talloc headed away from the bridge.
Talloc stood in front of the closed doors of the space allocated as the Captain’s Quarters. Taking a breath, Talloc activated the door controls and stepped inside. The expansive space was quiet and empty. Work lights from the repair cradle outside the large window panels illuminated the room, casting harsh shadows on the standard issue furniture, giving the room a foreboding appearance. The Betazoid swallowed hard as he looked around the main living area, noticing his standard issue footlocker sitting on the desk. “Computer lights full, decrease external illumination by 80%,” he commanded before unclasping the front of his service jacket, letting it site comfortably at his sides. As the windows polarised, and the light returned to a more comfortable level, the captain approached his footlocker and opened it.
As he sifted through the meagre trappings of a career Starfleet officer, and decided what went were, the door-chime sounded. Placing a case containing isolinear data-chips next to the footlocker before turning towards the door, the mental exhaustion he felt on the opposite side was almost draining, “Enter,” he stated before turning back to the footlocker, removing other trinkets.
A tall statuesque woman with long black hair held back in a simple ponytail entered the captain’s quarters. Like the rest of the crew, her uniform was grime encrusted, but Talloc could easily see the teal skivvy peeking over the top of her dishevelled jumpsuit.“Captain, I’m Doctor Cassidy Taylor, ships counsellor. I was in the neighbourhood and I wanted to introduce myself,” she remarked, extending her hand to him. While she smiled pleasantly, it was clear by the sunken state her eyes appeared that sleep was not a recent occurrence.
Talloc nodded before crossing his quarters to shake her hand, “Counsellor, it is a pleasure to make your acquaintance. No doubt you are doing an excellent job here,” he remarked before turning towards the seating area sitting under the large windows. “Please take a seat, can I get you anything?”Cassidy nodded before crossing the living area and taking a seat, “Takarian tea, please.”
Approaching the wall mounted replicator Talloc repeated the counsellor’s beverage request before requesting a cup of coffee for himself. As the two beverages materialised on the platform, he looked back at the woman who appeared barely able to stay awake, noticing the three gold pips on her collar, “I have not encountered a lot of counsellors in the fleet holding a Commanders billet,” he remarked before handing her the beverage.
Cassidy held the glass container in both hands, staring intently at its contents. It took her a moment to register the question. “That is because not many members of the Counselling Corps are tenured psychiatry professors at the Takeris Institute.”
Talloc raised an eyebrow as Cassidy took a long sip of her tea before sitting next to her, “How did Starfleet coax you away from that position?” The counsellor smiled weakly, as the tea started to take effect. “I answered the call. When Starfleet came to the institute inquiring about utilising our students in managing the psychological cost of the war, I realised that I would serve a greater role if I was at the front of the issue, not at the back.”
Nodding, Talloc took a sip of his own beverage, “That is a noble sentiment, Commander, you honour us by being here,” he replied as Cassidy waved off his compliment with her glass. The two sat in silence for a moment before he asked. “How is the crew?” “Tired,” she laughed hollowly, before taking another sip. “But then, who isn’t these days,” she looked over to Talloc, “The crew will be ready when the ship is called up, but at the moment the death of Captain Wallace has taken the wind out of the crew’s sails.”Nodding, Talloc took a sip of coffee before looking out of the window behind him as a Worker Bee moved passed carrying a piece of hull plating, “I can understand that, for what I’ve read, he was quite popular.” He took another sip, “Counsellor, what can you tell me about the executive officer.”
Sitting back on the sofa, Cassidy enjoyed the aroma of the beverage, “Speaking frankly, Captain. Commander Jackson is a good officer, she comes well recommended. She can be a little cold, but when it comes to the pinch, she knows what to do to get the job done.”Talloc smiled, “That is the impression I got from her, she also doesn’t seem to like sitting around,” he remarked before downing the remains of his drink. Cassidy laughed in agreement.
“Commander Taylor, please report to sickbay,” emanated from Cassidy’s combadge.
Rolling her eyes, Cassidy stood before tapping the silver delta on her jumpsuit, “I’m on my way, Taylor out.” She turned back to Talloc, “Thank you for the tea, Captain, but duty calls,” she remarked before turning to leave. Talloc stood, and collected the counsellor’s glass and returned it to the replicator, “Keep up the good work Counsellor, this crew needs you more than it needs me right now.”Cassidy shook her head as she crossed the living area to the door, “The crew will warm to you, captain; just give them time.” Standing in the corridor she turned back to look at Talloc, “If you need to, I keep regular hours in my office, but I should be able to squeeze you in.”“I will keep that in mind, Counsellor, and thank you,” Talloc remarked. “I wouldn’t thank me yet, you haven’t seen my bill,” she replied while laughing as the doors closed.
Hope sat apathetically in the command chair as technicians from the nearby Starbase 629 continued their repairs on the ship, inwardly she was fuming. While technically the ship did not need to have a watch while undergoing repairs, the appointment of a new commanding officer left her rattled, and of late the only place she could centre herself was on the bridge. She had come a long way from the start of her career as a helm officer, piloting light frigates, then transferring to the fledgling fighter corps at the beginning of the war, to finding her way in the centre seat of a heavy cruiser.
“A new captain, can you believe it,” she muttered under her breath. Around her engineers kept out of her way, repairing components and damage from the ships last encounter with the Dominion, if they were paying attention to her irritated comments, they were doing their best to not show any reaction to them.
One of the few Olympia officers on the bridge was Xonak at tactical. The tall, tanned Vulcan was reviewing tactical scenarios from the Tethys System raid, formulating new strategies the Akira-Class cruiser could implement against the Dominion and their new Breen allies. Hope looked behind her at the rail supporting the tactical consoles, “Xonak. What do you know of our new captain?”
The Vulcan looked up from his station, his normal stoicism appearing unaffected by the ships current state. “Captain Hagen’s service record is a matter of public record, Commander. Prior to his appointment to Starfleet Tactical Operations he served as the Chief of Security aboard the USS Charleston under Captain Arthur Norfolk where he was noted to have an ‘exceptional tactical mind’. He was assigned to Tactical Operations at the beginning of the war at Captain Norfolk’s recommendation. While there, he worked to formulate strategy and fleet movements under Admiral Nechayev. He joined Admiral Ross’ staff prior to the recapture of Deep Space Nine and was part of the team that planned that operation and the attack on Chin’Toka. He was promoted to captain two weeks ago on Stardate 52832.1.”
Hope laughed hollowly, “He was promoted on Halloween, this is going to end well,” she remarked sarcastically. Xonak raised an eyebrow, an expression Hope had long realised was the equivalent of a confused look. “Commander, I do not see the connection between a Betazoid officer receiving a commission and an archaic Earth pseudo-holiday.” He asked while waiting for the results of his scenarios. Holly laughed again before dismissing the comment, “Never mind, Xonak. Now how are those scenarios going?”
The Vulcan nodded, “They are progressing as expected, Commander, but it will be two days until I will have something presentable to report on.” A faint beeping from the communications console brought the two officers attention to the far right-hand side of the bridge and the tall Efrosian manning it. He turned towards the centre of the bridge, while removing the communication earpiece.
“Commander, there is an incoming hail from the 17th Fleet Flagship addressed to the Captain,” Lieutenant Fel Ra-haresilo, reported, “Shall I patch it through to the Captain?” Hope raised a hand slightly to pause the communications officer, before tapping the intercom panel in the command chair, “Bridge to Captain Hagen, you have the 17th Fleet Flagship on comms, shall we patch it down to you?”There was a brief pause before Talloc answered, “Yes, Commander, I’ll take it down here.” Hope nodded towards Fel Ra-haresilo. “Connecting you now, Captain,” Fel Ra-haresilo reported before Talloc closed the channel.
Talloc activated the desktop monitor as he sat at the bare metal desk. Unlike the built-in terminals he used at Tactical Operations, this was an older desktop model. The display screen showed the Federation seal before changing to show an older officer wearing the two pip and box insignia of a Starfleet Rear Admiral.“Admiral Mayhew, this is a surprise, what can I do for you?” Talloc asked noticing the timestamp on the Admiral’s end, and noticed that it was in the middle of the night.
Rear Admiral Chester Mayhew nodded curtly, “Captain Hagen, firstly, congratulations on the promotion, but more importantly, now that you have assumed command it is time you were brought up to speed. The Olympia participated in the Tethys raid under the banner of the 194th Tactical Wing. As of this morning, the remains of the 194th have been absorbed into the 17th Fleet.” Admiral Mayhew folded his hands on the desk in front of him, Talloc sat upright in the stiff metal chair. “Understood sir.”
Admiral Mayhew reclined his chair before reaching for a long glass cylinder of tea and poured some of its contents into a ceramic cup bearing the signage of the USS Lockhart. “Because of this, the Olympia is to make preparations to depart Starbase 629. You have four days and then you are to rendezvous with the 17th Fleet at Deep Space Nine.”
Talloc didn’t need to make use of his telepathic abilities, the Admiral’s expression told him all he needed to know, noticing the unsecured status of the transmission; Talloc raised his chin slightly. “My chief engineer has reported that it will be a week before we can get our warp drive operational, but I will speak to him about expediting repairs.”Mayhew took a sip, “Get on top of those repairs, captain, otherwise you will find yourself late for the party.” Talloc’s eyes widened slightly, “Do you mean?” Mayhew nodded but said nothing. “Understood Admiral, the Olympia will be ready.”Mayhew took a sip, “Make sure it is, Mayhew out.”
Only as the screen returned to the seal of the Federation, did Talloc finally relax. He pressed his combadge, “Hagen to the Senior Staff, there will be a briefing at 0830, out.” Leaning forward, he rested his head in his hands, taking a deep breath. ‘They’re going after Cardassia.’
Nathan DeSora stood leaning over the large ‘billiard table’ style master systems display in Engineering, observing the power flow from the repair station that ran through the ship as his work crews continued their repairs. Behind him was the ships horizontal warp core, the normally pulsing heart of Olympia, currently sitting dark and silent. To the veteran engineer, a ship never felt right unless he could feel the hum of her warp core through the deck plates, but the calibrations being conducted by hazard suit wearing engineers couldn’t be put off any longer. As the readouts scrolled past his vision, the chief engineer pondered what the new captain would have to call a briefing first thing in the morning, especially as they had had a debriefing on his arrival.
Shaking his head he studied the external cameras tracking the EV-suited repair teams as they worked out on the hull. He pressed the intercom panel on the display table. “Suvok, how are those crews doing outside?” “Lieutenant, repairs to the wing struts are complete, at the current rate of repairs, the dorsal section will be completed in 53 hours,” reported his assistant chief, the slight echo a tell-tale trait of the EV suit helmet he was wearing. “The repairs to the ventral hull should be completed at around the same time.”
Nathan smiled, before clapping his hands, “Excellent news, Suvok, keep up the good work, Engineering out.” An engineer approached carrying the results of a systems diagnostic they had been working on. He acknowledged the engineer before skimming over the readouts while reaching for a nearby cup of coffee while inspecting the systems display as a red icon flashed on it. “Stevenson, Gobulan, I’m noticing a power drain in relay 22-Alpha on deck nine, compartment twenty-seven. I can’t figure out the cause from here as that section is supposed to be empty, so I want your team to investigate.” He ordered before taking a sip from the cup, screwing his face at the revelation that it was cold. “Damn it,” he muttered while looking of his expansive domain. “Computer what is the status of the warp core diagnostic?” “Level three diagnostic to the… core is seventy-t… percent complete.”
Nathan frowned at the computers distorted response before turning to a nearby computer technician, “Bek, take a look at that, I don’t want to know we have an issue with the main while we’re trying to get the warp core back online.” The Tellarite engineer nodded before collecting a tool kit from a nearby locker and left engineering. Approaching a nearby replicator alcove, Nathan ordered himself a fresh cup of coffee. Picking up the insulated cup he returned to the diagnostic table. “Jenkins, how is the phase calibrations going? I don’t want to have to report to the captain and tell him that we won’t be able to fight once we’ve gotten the warp core back online.”“The calibrations are complete, sir, and we’ve commenced replacing the phase coils on the port phaser array, but it won’t be until the warp core is back online before we can perform a power flow diagnostic.” Petty Officer Jenkins reported looking up from a diagnostic screen in the shadow of the idle warpdrive. “Outstanding, Jenkins, keep it up, if you need do, bring the auxiliary generators online to perform the diagnostics. The power from the station should be sufficient to initiate a pre-fire state.” Nathan replied as the main doors to engineering opened as a repair crew exited to carry out allotted task, before it closed, the captain stepped through.
“Captain, welcome to engineering, what warrants this visit?” Nathan remarked while crossing the bullpen to join the captain at the entrance.Talloc looked around the expansive room, “Just having a look around. I wanted to see how the repairs were going personally.” The engineer sighed, he had been around the fleet long enough to realise that when captain’s uttered those words, something bad was about to happen. “How long have we got before they want us back in the fight?”Talloc laughed slightly, “Three days,” Nathan shook his head, “I will be going over the particulars at the briefing tomorrow but I wanted you to know in advance so you could prioritise repairs.” Nathan nodded, “I appreciate the warning. I’ll have a proper itemised list of repairs by then.” The captain turned and stepped away from the diagnostic table the two were standing at, “In that case, lieutenant, I will leave you to it.” Nathan picked up his coffee cup and raised it slightly before turning back to his duties as the captain exited.
Sighing, Nathan turned to the engineering teams that were still in the expansive chamber. “Well we have a deadline now people, I want updates on all projects so we can focus on what we can do now with the repair station, and what we can do in the field.” He could see a few shoulders slump before shaking his head, “Break out the coffee folks, we aren’t done yet.”
Leaving engineering, Talloc continued his journey through the decks of the Olympia, his footsteps rattled off bare deck plates making the Betazoid feel as if he was on an ancient ocean-going warship instead of a 24th century spacecraft. Shaking his head, the captain realised that he had become too accustomed to luxury with the accruements of modern starships, the unnecessary pleasantries that made shipboard life so comfortable. ‘They say the first casualty in war is comfort,’ he mused before remembering back to his Academy days, learning about the early space explorers surviving with a lot less than what the Olympia had even now. “I can survive with no carpet,” he remarked under his breath as he turned a corridor to return to his quarters.
Continuing his tour, he noticed a door in the next compartment, sealed with a physical magnetic lock and amber warning lights on the door seal. Raising an eyebrow, Talloc stopped outside the sealed room and tapped the control panel next to the door, to bring up its designation. [Science Lab 1. No Module Installed. Do Not Enter.] Stepping back, the captain frowned before tapping his combadge, “Hagen to the Bridge.”
Hope’s voice answered, “Bridge here.” “Commander, I’m outside Science Lab One, and there is a notice on it saying the lab hasn’t been installed,”He could hear Hope breathe outwardly, “In order to get the Olympia launched as quickly as possible, systems deemed not essential to the war effort were left out of construction with the decision that at the end of the war, those modules would be installed,”Talloc’s frown deepened, “That doesn’t sound encouraging.”“You’re telling me, makes it almost sound like the ships expendable. Is there anything else captain?” Hope’s flat reply made Talloc frown.
Sighing slightly, he shook his head, knowing that the commander couldn’t see it, “That is all, Commander, I would like to speak to our Chief Science Officer when they are available.”“That may be difficult, as we don’t have one.” Talloc started to ask a question before Hope interrupted him, “You’ll notice we don’t have a science department either.”“Let me guess, personnel deemed not necessary to the war effort?” “That is correct,” there was a beeping on the bridge, “Captain, you have an incoming hail from the SS Sequoia, I’m having it piped down to your quarters.”Turning on a bootheel, Talloc headed for the nearest turbolift, “On my way, Hagen out.”
Upon entering his quarters, Talloc approached the wall mounted display, trying to recall if he knew anyone aboard the civilian transport. Activating the surface, the black screen changed to show a comfortably appointed stateroom. A slim woman wearing a grey utility jumpsuit entered the range of the room’s communication receiver. Her below-shoulder length black hair was tied in an ornate braid that Talloc immediately recognised as a style originating from his Homeworld before they turned to face the receiver.
“So I had to read about your promotion in a news piece instead of hearing it directly from my brother?” the woman remarked, her black iris’ still showed a warmth that betrayed the angered expression etched on her porcelain features. “Iliana, my sister, I do apologise on not telling you, it has been an eventful two weeks,” Talloc replied before taking a seat on the office chair as his sister sat on an overstuffed couch.Iliana’s frown deepened, “Have you learned anything new?”
Talloc’s smile disappeared as he shook his head. He could already see his sister’s eye’s well. “I wish there was something to tell you but the relief force hasn’t reached every part of the planet yet.”
The battle that had waged on and over Betazed had been costly, not only to the Alliance fleet that had liberated it, but to the normally pacifistic population on the surface. Talloc had seen the casualty lists, both from the battle and from the barbaric experiments by the Cardassian, Crell Moset.
“Have you heard from mother?” he asked morosely, he was silently dreading the answer.Iliana paused, before shaking her head, Talloc hardened his expression, telling his sister all she needed to know. Lowering her head slightly, “I was hoping you had. I haven’t heard from her since before the fall.”“You do know what that means, right,” Talloc commented before standing to approach the replicator, he needed some calming tea if he was going to keep talking to his sister.
His sister took a deep breath, “That I’m now head of the household? Yes, the thought has crossed my mind. But brother, it is not a thought I wish to entertain, as I am convinced our mother is still alive. Unless you have something to tell me.” Shaking his head Talloc took a sip of the tea that materialised in front of him in the alcove. “No, I have nothing new, they are still tabulating casualty numbers, and as I said there are still parts of the planet they haven’t reached yet.”
Iliana curled her long, tapered legs under herself on the couch, “Just tell me she’s alive.”Talloc returned to his chair, “All I know right now, my dear sister is that there is no confirmation that she’s not, and besides do you think the Dominion could take down our mother.” She laughed hollowly, “You have a point there, and that is why I am I no hurry in taking her place.”Talloc nodded, “I am glad to hear that, Iliana.” He paused, “So why are you on the Sequoia?”“Following the war,” Iliana’s reply was instant. “Admiral Ross removed all press from his command ship about four days ago, citing operational reasons, and the last time he did that was before Operation Return, so all I know is something big is about to happen, but I don’t suppose you know anything about that.” The grin she bore spoke volumes, this was a regular game the two had played since Talloc had been assigned to the Tactical Operations Department. Talloc raised a hand, “And if I did, my dear sister, I wouldn’t be able to tell you, but I’m not part of the planning process anymore.”
Iliana shrugged, “To bad, I was hoping to get this story finished before we got to Deep Space Nine.” A notification sounded on the Sequoia, “Well brother, I must cut this short.”Talloc raised an eyebrow, as Iliana stood to deactivate the monitor. “When are you reaching the station?”“Five days, why?” Iliana asked, pausing her movement. “The Olympia will be there in four,” he replied, choosing his words carefully. “You do know something, don’t you?” Iliana took a step back, reaching for a padd. “Goodbye sister,” Talloc smiled as she relaxed her stance, “We’ll talk soon.”“Fine. Oh and congratulations on the promotion, it would have been nice to hear about it from you and not from some news wire.” “I will keep that in mind. Take care Iliana,” Talloc remarked before standing. “Just stay safe, okay,” Talloc nodded, “I’ll talk to you soon.”
As the image of his sister disappeared, Talloc stood and approached his footlocker. Reaching inside he removed a holo-photo frame. Holding the frame out in front of him, he activated its display surface. The blank canvas changed to show a picture taken nearly twenty years ago, back when the entire Hagen family was all on Betazed, to celebrate Iliana’s appointment to the Federation News Service. He caught himself smiling at the fresh faces staring back at him. Talloc was only a Lieutenant then, and had just been assigned to the USS Charleston. Running a finger over the image, he frowned before placing the frame on his desk.
He did have access to more information than his sister did. He was well aware that his parents were among the list of missing Betazoids on his Homeworld. Before he transferred to the Olympia, he had tried to trace their whereabouts following the occupation, only to find the trail go cold after they were placed in an internment camp. Picking up the cup of tea, he took a large sip. While he remained hopeful that they would be found, he was also a realist. Considering the horror stories he had heard from the 20th Fleet that liberated the planet, he was amazed anyone survived.
Looking once more to the photo on his desk, the hope-filled face of his sister and the loving wisdom of his mother, he wondered if he would ever see either of them again.