“Nero, who has destroyed my home planet and most of its six billion inhabitants.
“While the essence of our culture has been saved in the elders who now reside upon this ship, I estimate that no more than ten thousand have survived.
“I am now a member of an endangered species."
-Commander Spock, USS Enterprise
Brian was only vaguely aware of the electronic beeping that had slowly filled the room. His eyes never opened; he just rolled over onto his stomach, extending an arm reflexively so that it would hit the top of the shelf next to his bed. His hand stung from the force, but it still wasn’t enough to wake him; he had hit his alarm like this since grade school.
Still the beeping persisted. He frowned and his eyes slowly opened, trying to adjust to the low light in the room. He smacked his hand on the shelf again before opening his eyes to stare at the clock display.
Not my alarm, he thought. Dammit.
The door to the washroom opened, and a figure ran to the opposite side of the room. There was a dull beep as he tapped the control surface, and the alarm turned off. The figure let out a held breath, and turned toward his closet.
“Carl, so help me God, if you wake up before your alarm again…”
The figure stopped mid-step, then slowly turned around. Brian tapped a control on the shelf next to him; the light in the room increased so that he could better see his roommate. He had a sheepish grin on his face, and was rubbing the back of his head nervously.
“Oh, good morning, Brian! Yeah, I’m sorry, I really had to go and…” Brian’s glare stopped the other officer, who swallowed down the lump in his throat. “I forgot.”
“Yeah. No kidding.” Brian tapped the control surface to dim the lights again. He closed his eyes. “I’m going back to bed.”
“Ok.” There was more movement; Brian knew it was Carl working to get dressed for the day. The engineer was short and hefty, so quiet was not something he was good at. Brian turned onto his side, giving as much distance as he could between them.
Carl’s breath became ragged and quick, and he grunted a few times. More movement in the room. There was a loud pop, and then a sharp gasp of breath.
Brian flung himself upright in the bed. In one fluid motion, he had reached into the drawer under the shelf next to him and drew his phaser, sat up in the bed, and turned to face the noise. The phaser whined as it charged.
“Whoa! Mayfield, it’s just me! Morning exercise time!”
Brian cursed, powering off his weapon but keeping it pointed at the engineer. “The hell was that?”
“I stretched my back. I didn’t realize I needed a pop but man, did that feel good. You ever have one of those…”
“Enough!” Brian turned and flung the phaser back into its drawer. He grabbed his pillow and bunched it into a ball before falling back onto the bed. “No exercises in the room! Get to the gym!”
“So, you don’t want to-“
Brian was back up, the phaser drawn and powered again, leveled at Carl. “I will count to five; you had better be out of this room and in the gym by that time.”
“Mayfield, I don’t think this-“
“One!” He flipped the phaser mode selector; the center piece of the weapon rotated so that the red discharge area was now facing Carl. “Two!”
The burly engineer got the message; he bumbled quickly around the room, gathering up his red uniform and boots before running out the door. Brian smiled; he powered off the phaser again, remembering to reset the setting to “stun” before he stored it again. He lay back on his pillow and closed his eyes, satisfied.
There was a small chime, and then a boatswain’s call. Brian opened one eye.
“Lieutenant Mayfield, this is the bridge. Please report to the conference room immediately for a mission report.” There was a second chime and an audible crackle as the speakers in the ceiling turned off.
“Dammit to hell!” Brian flung his pillow across the room.
Lieutenant Mayfield stepped off the turbolift with a yawn, rubbing the stubble that he had left on his neck. It annoyed him that, in his rush to get ready, he had missed a spot while shaving. He just hoped that the dim lighting of the ship wouldn’t give away that fact. He strolled the narrow corridor to the bridge, already hearing the familiar pings and whistles that were present on every bridge in the fleet. He rounded a corner and stood at the edge of the heart of activity on the ship.
The bridge of the Whiston was circular, with half a dozen stations lining the walls, their operators facing away from the center command bank. On the far side was a sweeping vista of space, separated from the interior of the ship by a large pane of transparent aluminum. Various tactical and system displays cluttered the outer edges of the main viewer, framing the dark expanse of stars as the starship cut through the darkness; at the very bottom, the leading edge of the Newton-class starship’s saucer was just visible.
A railing separated the top level from the lower command area, where the captain’s chair and the navigation and helm console sat. A center chair was elevated so that the captain clearly sat above the rest of the bridge.
The chair turned around, and the balding man that occupied it looked up and grinned at Brian. Mayfield quickly straightened himself and brought his hands behind him, coming to a position he likened to being between at attention and at ease. “Captain Harrison.”
“Brian, hope I didn’t wake you up too early.” The captain winked, then stood from his chair. He turned to look over his shoulder. “Schmidt, you have the bridge. Senior officers, conference room.” He stepped down from the center platform and hopped over the railing so that he was on the upper level of the bridge. Brian pressed his back to the wall to let the other man pass first.
Harrison let out a slight chuckle. His arm flew out, smacking Brian in the stomach with the back of his hand. Brian coughed and staggered to the side, caught off guard. The captain just laughed more as he kept walking down the corridor. “How many times have I told you, Mayfield? Stop standing at attention for me.”
Brian coughed again, a small smile creeping across his face. No matter how many times he did it, Harrison always managed to get him. “Too many times, sir.” A few of the other officers began to snicker as Mayfield turned his back to the bridge and followed the captain.
Mayfield entered the conference room behind the captain, taking his usual chair on the left of the small table, next to the chief engineer. She gave him a small smile and a nod as he sat down. “Ho, Brian.”
He smiled courteously at the woman. “Ho, Rebecca.” He turned to look at the rest of the table; he knew the woman’s bright green eyes were quickly boring holes into the side of his head, eager to catch his attention again. The two had met years earlier, while she was a more junior officer and he was just finishing with college. It had been a fling, Brian admitted, and he hadn’t reciprocated any more feelings after that night. Still, Hadley had been obsessed. On more than one occasion, Mayfield had been sure she was watching him, hacking into a surveillance system or two just to see him. He was certain the computer-savvy woman had rigged his orders so that he would be on the ship with her.
Across the table from them sat Tyler and Ricky, the navigator and helmsman of the ship. The two were nearly inseparable, from what Brian could tell, always working out in the gym or eating together. They routinely finished each other’s sentences, and on more than one occasion coordinated without talking to each other to finish a task that was presented to them. There were rumors in the lower decks - as there always would be - about the two, but Mayfield had never seen them together outside of public places on the ship. Still, the bond between the two was enough to make them a formidable pair on the bridge when they worked together, a trait that quickly brought them to Captain Harrison’s attention. There had been no questions when he made them part of his command crew.
At the far end sat the first officer, Lieutenant Commander Raal. The Caitian had been recently reassigned to the Whiston when the previous first officer, Commander Kim, transferred to his own command following the bloody Battle of Vulcan. Mayfield didn’t miss Kim, who had spent his career as a security officer; the two had constantly butted heads about ship’s security, and on more than one occasion had come to blows (in the boxing ring, of course) over disagreements in policy. Raal was a science officer, and so he often trusted Brian’s judgment on matters of security. He was a likable man, and morale had improved significantly since he had taken up the position as Captain Harrison’s right hand; even Harrison, who was by nature a very laid back and casual individual, seemed to unwind when Raal came aboard.
Next to the purring Caitian sat Doctor Maria de la Reina. The good doctor was the oldest one at the table, seen as a source of wisdom and comfort to the rest of the command staff as well as the ship. The Martian had, very lovingly, been dubbed “Abuela” by the rest of the crew, a title she took great pride in. She smiled sweetly at the Captain as he took his seat at the head of the table; the two were often seen together. Unlike Tyler and Ricky, however, there was no question that Harrison and de la Reina were much closer than simple friends.
Harrison sat down with a sigh, looking around the table. He tapped one of the controls in front of him; the triangular monitor in the center of the table, which had three faces on its three sides, came to life with data. The gathered officers leaned forward to study the displays.
“About five hours ago, an Earth Cargo Service vessel, the Horizon, released a general broadcast requesting assistance. They are having engine problems, and asked for anyone in the area to just stop by and check on them, and see if we can render any aid.”
Hadley shifted in her seat, frowning. “That’s it? Engine trouble? If it’s an ECS, the thing is probably almost a century old. No wonder they’re having issues.”
Ricky laughed a little at that, nodding in agreement. Raal silenced him with a low growl in the back of his throat before tapping one of the controls in front of him on his side of the table. “They included a flight-path authorization number in their transmission.” The screens on the monitor shifted to show the extra information. There was a string of numbers and letters.
De la Reina covered her mouth with a hand. “Dios mio.” She looked around the screen to Harrison. “Do we know how many?”
Brian leaned forward, studying the data. He didn’t see what the doctor had, and voiced his confusion.
Captain Harrison shook his head. “Communication has been sparse since Command received this message. The last thing we want to do is announce to the quadrant the cargo that ship is carrying. But, from what information I could gather, anywhere from four to six-hundred.”
Mayfield raised an eyebrow. “Four to six-hundred what?”
“Vulcans, Brian.” De la Reina frowned sadly. “Refugees.”
An uncomfortable silence fell on the room as the officers paused in shock. After a minute, Harrison spoke again.
“Mr. Shipman, lay in a course to rendezvous with the Horizon. Mr. Crusher, you are clear to engage at maximum warp. We have orders to aid the Horizon and then escort her to her final destination. Doctor, have your staff ready to treat any injured or sick.” He looked around the table at his staff. “Any questions?”
No one moved or said anything. Harrison nodded. “Dismissed.”