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PRIORITY ALERT

ATTEN: STARFLEET COMMAND

U.S.S. MERVEILLE, NCC-91221

Merveille was just attacked by unidentified vessels in the Gamma Orionis sector near the Vega system. All ships were small unmanned craft. We've taken damage to non-critical areas of the ship, and no casualties or wounded to report. If these things couldn't stand up to a medical ship, then they were either duds or already wounded when they found us.

Included are the readings we took on the ships. Let us know if you need more information.

Captain Taggart

===


Chapter 3

"It figures the stupid things would work again
after I eat..." Justine shook her head, her purple hair looking frazzled. Her shift was over now; otherwise, Jessica noted, the doctor had gotten very relaxed with the uniform code and decided that not even an undershirt was necessary while on duty.

"Aww...seriously?"

"Oh well..." She lifted a mug to her lips and took a long drink. She smiled, setting it down on the desk in front of her. "Mmm...At least I got some good coffee."

Jessica laughed, zipping up her own uniform. It was just about time for own duty shift, this time on the bridge. It was her first bridge shift, and she certainly didn't want to be late. But Justine had called once she had gotten off, and Jessica owed it to her friend to at least say hi. "The real thing not cutting it for you?"

"They burned it. Again."

Jess laughed again at her friend as she took another drink of coffee. "So, how did the rest of your shift go?"

"Just got off... Halfway through eating, we were under attack and I had to go prep a few tables, just to be ready."

Jessica stopped, her eyes going wide. Obviously, nothing had happened; Justine was still there chatting with her, and she only looked tired, not crying, so no one died. Still, the way she just brushed off the fact that her ship had been attacked...

"Under attack?!" Jessica practically leapt from her chair. "What happened? Where are you guys?"

Justine shrugged, not looking all that interested. "Just a few stray unmanned craft. We didn't end up needing to send anyone to sick bay." She yawned. "But man... That wakes you up pretty fast."

"Unmanned craft? From who?"

"Dunno whose they were. Didn't make contact other than firing at us. Our crew was damn quick. It was all over before I finished prepping the third table."

No wonder she was so relaxed.
"Oh wow. Any debris?"

"The crew's working on it, but it's nothing anyone recognizes straight off. So it might be a while..."

That was odd. "Where are y'all again?"

"Alpha Quadrant, Vega System now."

"Huh...that's strange." It was deep in Federation territory; there was no way it could have been Klingon, Jessica decided. But who else could it be? "And just went after you out of nowhere?"

"Like I said, looks like strays. We've got nothing else around here. Captain's probably gonna want to stick around and patrol for a bit just to be sure, though." Justine sighed, propping her head up on her hand, looking disappointed.

Jessica was probably a mirror image. "I don't blame him, for sure."

"I know it's what I'd do."

Jessica frowned, sinking back in her chair. "So unless the rest of the fleet gets assigned to help out...I probably won't be seeing you any time soon, aside from calling, huh?"

"It's looking that way...Sorry Jess."

Stupid aliens.
"It's ok. I'm sure I can handle it." Jessica sniffled loudly, trying her best to pout as hard as she could. The image brought Justine to giggles quickly, and Jessica soon joined in.

"I'll see you soon, I'm sure." The younger woman smiled, clearly daydreaming again. "It'll be great...There'll be shore leave, and rainbows, and we'll all play volleyball."

"There you go." Jessica smiled, nodding. "I think that sounds marvelous."

===


Lieutenant Seymour Sonia was at his post near the back of the bridge when the turbolift opened. He looked up to see the blue alien practically sprint off, looking frazzled as she worked to tie her hair in a ponytail, and shook his head.

"You're late, Jess."

St. Peter nodded, blushing dark purple. "I know, I'm sorry! I got caught up," she stopped, looking around the bridge. No one else had turned to look at her. She moved closer to Sonia, lowering her voice. "How bad is it?"

Seymour grinned, chuckling a little. "No one noticed. I wouldn't mention it." He shrugged. "I also wouldn't do it again."

"Right. Thanks." She relaxed instantly and put an arm on the back of his chair. "So, what do I do?"

Sonia shrugged. "Not too much, since this is your first time at Ops." He stood up, offering the chair to the woman. "Go on and get set up. I'll let you know what I'm looking for once you're ready to go."

Jessica sat down, punching in her access codes. Seymour watched her, his eyes slowly moving away from the console to the blue woman's body. He felt his face grow hot, and he coughed, moving away to the small hall that connected the bridge to the turbolift. A food replicator was recessed into a wall, and he input the commands for a mug of coffee.

Sonia had been on the Rafale since his graduation two years ago and had quickly risen to his position as Beta-shift Ops officer. It wasn't the varsity team, sure, but being JV was better than bench-warmer - he got to be the big fish in the small pond of his peers, and he liked it that way. With the position came an additional duty: training new bridge officers on his duties at ops. It was never very hard, especially with officers like St. Peter. A leering grin spread across his face; besides being able to show off for them, the women definitely made the additional duty less of a chore. And of the female crew members on the ship, the lieutenant sitting at his station was definitely the most well endowed.

He returned with his mug, taking a long sip before standing over the woman and looking at the screens she had brought up. He pointed with his free hand in front of her, doing his best to keep his eyes straight ahead. "Alright, I can definitely tell you wear a blue uniform. 'Environmental controls,' while important, aren't so critical that the display needs to be this huge, or dead center. Also, I don't usually care about sensor status until something is wrong with them; allocation of sensors, however, definitely good to have up. Crew duty lists are good, since you're responsible for making sure posts are manned when necessary. Let me show you how I usually run." He reached down without looking, brushing his hand against hers as he tried to manipulate the screen. His face went hot again and he stammered, still trying to work the controls.

Jessica giggled softly, sitting back as far as she could in the chair to let him work. After a minute or two, Seymour had successfully brought up his own display preferences. He stood back up, wiping his sweating face with his hand. "There."

Jessica nodded. "You dip a little everywhere, it seems like."

Sonia grinned. "Well, as Operations Officer, you kinda need to be a 'jack of all trades.' Science, engineering, personnel, communications; just a bit important." He leaned in a little so that he could speak in a lower voice to her. "You know, the operations officer is usually the most senior bridge officer, aside from the captain and the first officer? I'm only a J-G, like you, and look at where I am." He winked when she looked up at him. "Pretty cool, huh?"

Jessica sighed, looking back at the screen in front of her. "Yeah. Really neat." Her voice was flat, and she clenched one of her hands underneath the console in annoyance.

Seymour didn't notice the change in his companion's demeanor. "Oh yeah. It's no big deal, of course. I started out in engineering, but I wanted to get on the bridge, where the action is, you know?"

"I bet you feel really important up here."

Sonia grinned. "See? You get it." He put an arm on the back of her chair, then pointed as an alert message flashed on the screen. "Ok, so see here, sensor control is asking for more power for a second look at an object we just passed."

Jessica nodded, punching in commands. "I see that. So, message goes back saying 'sure' and then get engineering to transfer down?"

Seymour nodded. "Not much to it, especially on a slow night like now. If there were more scans going on, or if we were at a higher warp, or even just in the thick of a fight, we'd probably tell them to buzz off, but this works for now."

Jessica laughed humorlessly, looking behind her at the man. "'Buzz off?' Really? So you're the bastard that sent that message to me the other night?" She turned back to the screen as Seymour's face froze in panic. "Nice job."

Sonia smacked his forehead with his palm. "Damn. I didn't realize that was you. Sorry."

"Would it have made a difference? Or are you saying that because you can't keep your eyes off me?"

His ego deflated, Seymour turned around and leaned his back on the chair. "I guess lunch is out, then."

Jessica laughed, shaking her head. "I wonder what clued you in, Sherlock."

===


The Akira-class starship Rafale slipped silently through space at warp speed, her travels taking her to the Klingon front. Because of the recent activity, her route had been ordered to take her near the Gamma Orionis block to investigate the reports of unprovoked attacks on her sister Starfleet ships. Despite her significantly smaller weapons load-out compared to others of her class, Rafale could still put up a fight.

Fighting wasn't her purpose here though; her upgraded sensor suite, fit for a ship five times her size, was capable of looking deep into the region of space, while her escort-type hull could potentially deter any would-be attackers. At least, that was the hope.

Rafale sped through the star-dotted expanse, searching. Her nacelles flashed as she increased speed and veered off course.

She had found something.


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