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Chapter 4

“I think it’s going well, at least in Security.”

Dossu smiled and nodded at the blonde ensign next to him as he took his tray of food from the replicator. The ensign was also taking a tray out and, turning to face him, smiled up at him. His smile widened slightly as he tilted his head towards an empty table. “Oh?”

“Well, for one, the new people that followed you from the Merveille know their stuff. You meds aren’t as soft as they say.”

Dossu laughed, placing his tray on the table and sitting down in the chair. “We’ve had our share of crazy patients, I can tell you that. By the fires, I want to know who started that nasty rumor.”

“Well, it certainly wasn’t me.” Another security officer sat down next to Dossu with his own tray. He glanced across the table at the woman and nodded in greeting. “Kaitlyn.”

Ensign McMillan struggled to quickly swallow the bite of food she had taken before the newcomer addressed her. She smiled in embarrassment before managing a quick “Craig” in between chews.

Dossu laughed a little at McMillan and turned to the other officer. “And what do you think? How are the Merveille officers meshing with the Rafale’s?”

Craig Mcclaran shrugged, bringing a hand up to stroke his trimmed beard. “I’d say we’re doing ok. There aren’t that many of us, so it’s not like it’s a full invasion. Granted, Kurinka is probably enough of an invasion in this quiet, happy place.” He winked at Kaitlyn, who shuddered at the mention of the Klingon officer.

“I’m pretty sure she has it out for me.” McMillan took another bite, frowning a little. “Assault squad members usually don’t interact with us, sir.”

Dossu took a sip of water, swallowing his food quickly. “I don’t see why not. If we get boarded, they’ll wind up working shoulder to shoulder with you anyway. Besides, there’s nothing that says you can’t work up to that level.”

Kaitlyn laughed lightly, rolling her eyes. “I don’t mind the quiet, happy place, sir.”

“What the hell are you still doing in security anyway, Dossu. I mean…Commander.” Craig amended when the Bajoran looked sideways at him. He shrugged. “Old habits. Sorry.”

“Yeah, I know the feeling.” Obruz smirked a little and shook his head. “Anyway, it’s not like I have a comfy chair on the bridge, unless the captain isn’t sitting down. My specialty is security; I’m her security chief.”

“Kinda odd, don’t you think?” McMillan took a quick sip of her drink before she continued. “Jess…I mean…St. Peter would probably be better off having a full time first officer and a full time security chief, rather than one officer with two hats.” She shrugged. “You’d be able to do more for her, and a security chief would be able to focus more on us.”

Obruz nodded. “I agree completely. I just need a volunteer now.”

Mcclaran slowly raised a hand in the air, prompting the Bajoran to laugh and shake his head. “Craig, really? No way.”

The human scoffed, bringing a hand to his chest as if he had been stabbed. “I’m serious!” Craig straightened in his chair a little, doing his best to look dignified. “I think I would do an outstanding job at it.”

“And I’m serious when I say ‘no,’ Craig. Unless you think you can rein in Kurinka.”

The bearded man considered that for a moment before slowly lowering his hand. “I respectfully retract my nomination for security chief, and nominate McMillan instead. Sir.”

Kaitlyn giggled from her side of the table. “No, thank you. You couldn’t pay me enough.”

Obruz lifted his fork and pointed at the woman with it. “It’s a good thing I don’t pay you.”

McMillan grinned, bringing her own laden fork to her mouth. “Then it’s a good thing I’m not volunteering.” She quickly took the bite of food, still grinning as she chewed, watching Obruz.

There was a crash, accompanied by a few gasps. Craig glanced over and groaned before elbowing Dossu. “I think we’ve got trouble.”

The Commander rose from his chair, trying to see what had happened. Two officers were squared off with one another, both in red Operations uniforms. He recognized one of the officers, an Andorian woman who had come with him from the Merveille. Her antennae were curved forward in a sign of hostility to match the expression on her slowly darkening face. The other he didn’t recognize immediately, deciding he must have been a member of the original Rafale crew.

Dossu sighed. “Yeah, I’d say we do.”

“My money’s on Dassen,” Craig replied, slowly standing as well.

Obruz shook his head. “I’d agree, except I can’t legally let her kill him.” He stepped around the table as the two came closer together.

“Watch where you’re going, Mosz!”

The human man laughed and turned behind him to the small group of officers that had come with him. “Look at that, the Merv’s got nerves.” The posse laughed as the man turned back to the Andorian, shoving her hard. “Outta the way, blue, we need to eat too.”

Dossu bristled with anger, but decided to stall. He knew the Andorian assault squad officer well enough to trust she wouldn’t retaliate too far out of proportion.

Sure enough, Dassen staggered back from the shove just enough to swing her arm wide, catching the arrogant human on the side of his face and sending him spinning around into the arms of his friends.

Battle lines were quickly drawn as more people stood from their tables, Rafale officers and former Merveille officers coming up behind their respective fighters. Obruz quickly moved in between the two as Mosz came back around, wiping blood from a gash on his lip and fuming mad. Dossu put his arms out to stop them and shouted above the noise, “Enough! All of you!”

Dassen straightened immediately, bringing her fists down to her sides. She still watched her attacker, grinning as he slowly shook his head. The human looked indignantly at Obruz.

“You saw what she did, Commander!”

Obruz rolled his eyes. “Yeah, and everyone saw what you did, Crewman. Your point?”

Mosz threw his hands in the air in disgust. “You gotta be kidding me!” He turned to his snickering friends. “Even the First Officer is one of ‘em.” There was some laughter before he turned back to face the glaring visage of the Bajoran. That took some of the wind from his sails as he stammered a little. “You’re just taking her side because she came here with you from the Merv.”

“What’s your name, crewman?” Obruz asked, ignoring the bait.

“I don’t answer to you, wannabe.” He laughed, turning again to his friends. This time, however, they simply stared wide-eyed, no longer wanting to support the man. He turned back to find Dossu inches from his face.

“I won’t ask again. Name. Now.”

The man gulped loudly and blinked a few times, finally coming to his senses. “Crewman Mosz, Terry S.”

“I believe you owe Crewman Oltydyv an apology, Crewman Mosz.”

The human took in a deep breath before looking past Dossu at the Andorian, who was grinning like a Cheshire cat. “I’m sorry.”

Obruz lowered his voice, moving closer still. “Mean it, or I’ll make sure your life is so miserable for the rest of this trip…”

“The bug clocked me, you saw her! I don’t have to say a damn thing to her!”

“After you hit me, Mosz. After knocking my food down.” Dassen crossed her arms in front of her.

“Enough, both of you, or I’ll throw you both in the brig,” Obruz snapped, glaring over his shoulder at the Andorian. “We’re not Merveille, and we’re not ‘old guard’ Rafale officers anymore. We are Starfleet officers, got it? I want this stupidity to end. Here, and now. Copy?”

Dassen nodded obediently, frowning a little. “Aye, sir.”

Mosz rolled his eyes before turning and walking away. “Sure.” He waved his friends to him and together they left the chow hall.

An uncomfortable silence filled the air as the remaining officers stared at each other, former-Merveille and original Rafale, not sure what to do.

Mcclaran shrugged and walked to the replicator. “Cake, anyone?” Dossu looked over at the man, who smirked a little. “To celebrate us going through the ‘storming phase’ of team building. This is a big accomplishment.”

There were a few chuckles from the rest of the crew, who slowly took their seats again and returned to their meals and conversations. Obruz shook his head. “You’re insane, Craig.”

“Some things never change.” Dassen stepped next to Obruz and lowered her head, whispering to the first officer. “Thank you, sir.”

Obruz nodded. “Don’t mention it. I figured you needed that. Just don’t let it happen again.” He glanced around the mess hall as the noise slowly rose again from the many conversations. “Have a run in with him before?”

Dassen shook her head. “Not me personally, but a few of us have. He’s not the only one, either.” She looked around the room as well. “Not too many of them are keen on us coming aboard for some reason.”

“Just more ghosts to deal with. They lost a lot of people over Vega, too. Most to save us.” Dossu sighed. “We replaced friends, fallen comrades, that were lost to help our ship. We’re just another reminder of those who aren’t here.”

Dassen nodded. “Thank you, sir.” She moved back towards the replicator, and Dossu returned to his own seat. Kaitlyn smiled apologetically to him.

Obruz shrugged at the woman. “It happens. We’re a new crew. They all have growing pains. It’ll just take some time to…”

“Bridge to Commander Obruz.”

Dossu tapped the communicator on his chest. “Obruz here. Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“Sir, we’re approaching the Bassen Rift. ETA fifteen minutes.”

Obruz stood and picked up his tray, walking towards the recycler as he continued talking. “Understood, I’m on my way. Bring us to Yellow Alert, Sonia.”

“Aye, sir.” The channel closed as Obruz exited the mess hall. Lighting stripes on the wall glowed steady amber as the ship prepared for her first mission.

Prophets, I’m not worried about this ship. But, please keep this crew together. At this rate, if whatever is out there doesn’t get us first, we’ll be our own death.

===


“Approaching the Bassen Rift now, Commander.”

Jessica sat forward in the command chair, anxiously watching the bright green nebula grow larger on the viewscreen. She took a deep breath: she’d seen this plenty of times on the bridge. Now if she could just repeat the litany without looking like an idiot, she’d be golden. Quietly clearing her throat, she began.

“Full stop, Wirstowx.” Without a break, she turned her chair around to where her Trill science officer was manning her station. “Lieutenant Sano, preliminary scan of the rift. I don’t want to fly into a pocket of thalaron radiation.” She continued her spin so that she could see Sonia at the operations station near the turbolift. Her first officer was just stepping off the lift as she said to the operations officer, “Lieutenant Sonia, hail the Warwick and let them know we’ve arrived.”

As the chair spun back to face the front of the bridge, the three officers replied in a chorus of “aye ayes.” She caught Obruz glancing at her as he walked past her to a station at the front of the bridge, doing his best to keep from grinning at her. She rolled her eyes at him.

Well, so far so good. I hope.

“Reading all stop, Commander.”

Seymour spoke next, sounding slightly frustrated. “I’m getting an earful of static on the comms, I can’t tell if I’m getting through to them.” He turned his head to look at the viewscreen and grunted. “We’d have to be right on top of them to transmit clearly and get a reply we can make sense of.”

“Alright. Once we get them on sensors, try again Seymour.” St. Peter turned her chair around again, certain she heard a stifled chuckle from her first officer as she did so, and addressed her science officer. “Nizeri?”

“I’m reading…stunning amounts of thalaron radiation in the area. A few concentrated pockets that we can avoid, but from what I’m seeing, the rift is full of it.” She glanced up from her displays, her expression horrified. “Why would anyone even think to build a weapon that used this?”

“Revenge is a hell of a motivator,” Dossu replied, walking past Jessica and standing next to the Trill woman, looking over her shoulder at her readings. “As long as we avoid the heavy concentrations, we should be alright with our shields raised. Still,” he looked up at Jessica and shook his head. “We shouldn’t stay in here for longer than we have to.”

St. Peter nodded before turning around to face the viewscreen again. “Understood. Wirstowx, raise shields.”

Nizeri called to the helmsman from her place at the back of the bridge. “Wirst, I’m sending you the search pattern Command gave us for our survey of the rift. It should give us a good idea of the rate of spread of thalaron radiation without putting us in too much danger.”

The warrior tapped his console for a moment before nodding his head. “Received. Course laid in for the first waypoint.”

Jessica took in a deep breath and closed her eyes for a moment, centering herself. “Wirstowx, ahead one-half impulse.” She opened her eyes to watch the bright green gasses grow larger on the screen as they welcomed the Rafale inside.

===


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