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Chapter 4

Captain's log, Stardate 84268.34.

Rafale has received confirmation orders from Seventh Fleet to do what we can to minimize the impact of the comet Praxt-a-loot. While I'm not sure I'm...comfortable...with the amount of "free reign" we're being given...

Dammit, this is just insane. We're in no position to mount an evacuation of a civilization, and
Rafale is under-gunned compared to her true Akira sister ships. The nearest evacuation ship is still a few days away - as is the nearest Typhoon dreadnaught, for that matter - and the comet is scheduled to make planet-fall in less than a few days, now that it's picked up speed from slingshotting around the Allebin star.

And right now, the only plan we have...is Seymour's plan. Everyone else is onboard with it - they seem to think it should work, which makes it even crazier.

This isn't how I expected my first First Contact mission to go.



"Enter."

The doors to her ready room parted, and Jessica glanced up from her desk monitor in time to see Obruz walk in, lips curved down and his brow furrowed in frustration. Jessica took in a breath; she'd been waiting for this conversation.

She waited for the doors to hiss shut before she spoke. "Let it rip."

"Sonia?" Obruz asked, his voice stern. "Are you out of your mind, Jessica?"

Jessica narrowed her eyes. "Obruz..." She sighed, shaking her head as she leaned back in her chair. "I probably am. Me and everyone else on the staff, for that matter. It's the best we've got right now, and worse, my senior staff actually thinks it could work." She raised her hands in surrender. "What am I supposed to do?"

"Find another solution!"

"So give me one!" Jessica put her hands in her lap and shook her head again. "If you can give me something - anything - else, I'd listen in a heartbeat. But I have nothing else! Besides..." She stopped for a moment, thinking about how to word her next sentence.

Obruz waited for a second before prompting her to continue.

"Sorry...it's just that..." She bit her lip. "Do you think we've...been too hard on him?"

Obruz blinked incredulously, sinking into the chair across the desk from her. "You're joking, right?" He squinted. "Who are you, and what have you done with my captain? This is Seymour Sonia we're talking about, Jessica! Insubordinate, misogynistic, general pain in the..."

"And we haven't exactly done anything to give him the benefit of the doubt, Dossu!" Jessica interrupted. "When he has a job to do, he does it. And he's damn good at his job, too."

"He routinely does just the minimum to get by!"

"And yet, here we are, with something that he actually took an interest in!" Jessica brought a hand up, squeezing the bridge of her nose. "He volunteered a viable plan that goes well outside his expertise. He's been working non-stop to get it right! Dossu, he wants to do this! How can I tell him no?!"

"Easily. 'Seymour, shut up and color.'" Obruz shook his head. "Jess, this is a whole frinxing race we just trusted him with, not a handful of people on an away team!"

"Then give me something, Dossu!" Jessica stood, smacking her hand on the desk. "Tell me anything, any alternative at all, and I will pull the plug on Sonia's mission!" She jabbed her finger into the air, pointing at the door. "Admit it; you had the same damn idea he did! Wirstowx did! I did! The only reason you're fighting this is because it was him!"

"You're absolutely right that's why!" Obruz stood as well, resting both of his hands on the glassy-black surface of the desk so that he could lean over it. "Everything he touches is poison; he's bad for this ship, and I'll be glad to be rid of him when we get back to Sierra Station. Jessica, please--don't let him run this mission."

Jessica shook her head. "I'm giving him the chance, Obruz." She looked at her first officer square in the eyes, straightening upright on her side of the desk. "That's my decision, Commander."

Obruz nodded. "Yes ma'am. I'm logging my objections."

Jessica nodded back. "Noted. Dismissed."

===


Seymour tossed the PADD onto the desk in front of him and leaned back in his chair, rubbing his eyes. He'd been staring at the data for hours it seemed, and his eyes were burning.

I don't think I've focused this much on a project since the Academy, he thought. Actually, scratch that. Never. I would be drinking if this were the Academy.

He took his hands away from his face, looking at the small couch in his quarters. Trinity was sitting on one side of it, bent over a PADD reading and looking bored. "Let's get something to drink."

Trinity glanced up, confused for a moment. She finally frowned and rolled her eyes. "I'm a bartender, Seymour. The last thing I want to do is drink on my time off."

Seymour laughed and shook his head. "That's a lie. C'mon."

Trinity shook her head, looking back at her PADD. "Don't you have to save the world or something?"

"I can't think." He stood from the desk, stretching for a moment. He walked over to the couch, standing above the woman. "C'mon, Trin."

"Synthale is going to help you think?" Trinity scoffed, putting the PADD in her lap and looking up at Seymour.

He shook his head. "No synthale on board, remember? Captain's allergic."

Trinity stared dumbfounded at him. "So alcohol then. Really, Seymour?"

Seymour bent down, interrupting her with a kiss. Trinity pushed half-heartedly against his chest, which made him lean in further, putting a hand under her chin. They held the kiss for a few minutes, slipping their tongues into one another's mouths and biting each other's lips. Seymour slowly moved onto the couch, straddling Trinity's body, pushing his hands underneath her shirt.

Their mouths parted for a moment, and Trinity whispered, breathless, "Don't you have a planet to save?"

Seymour kissed her quickly before replying. "Right now I have other responsibilities."

===


Seymour opened his eyes, wincing slightly as he tried to move and found his arm pinned underneath something. Groggily, he turned his head to the side to look at what was pinning him down; after a moment of recognition he smiled a little.

Trinity was laying next to him in the bed on top of his arm, her head resting on his shoulder. She was fast asleep, shifting slightly as he moved but otherwise oblivious that he was awake.

Carefully, he pulled his numb arm out from under her, guiding her head down to the pillow before sliding out of the chaotic tangle of sheets. He bent down to retrieve his boxer shorts and pants and strode unsteadily into the bathroom.

The holographic display on the mirror read 0434, causing Seymour to frown. He had slept for too long after fulfilling his "responsibilities" with Trinity. St. Peter would be expecting his plan in three hours, and he still didn't feel comfortable presenting what he had. He turned on the faucet, filling his hands with warm water before splashing it on his face.

Right now, it's the only plan we've got. Comfortable or not, we have to go with it. Seymour frowned, taking in a deep breath. He still wasn't sure why Jessica was trusting him with this; he was very confident in his knowledge that she did not like him as a person or as an officer. It was a sentiment shared by much of the senior staff, he knew.

He shook his head and filled his hands with more water to splash on his face. I don't know why I'm still here, he admitted quietly. I don't fit in with this group. They work well together, they trust each other. I'm the only one they don't completely trust. He looked at his reflection in the mirror. If I stay here, I'll kill my career.

Pull this off, and I might have a good leg to stand on when I go looking for a new job.
He grinned a little, bending down to pull his shorts up. Comfortable or not, this is the plan they agreed to.

Now, I just have to sell it.


===


"This is insane!"

Seymour took in a deep breath, doing his best to appear calm and confident, despite Obruz's objections. "Sir, this is the best option short of firing wildly at the asteroid and praying it breaks apart."

Obruz shook his head. "That was your original idea, Sonia. Where did this plan come from?"

Seymour bit his tongue, not wanting to yell back at the First Officer. "Commander, Rafale doesn't have the fire power needed to blast the comet apart. From the analysis on record of Praxt, the kelbonite and magnesite deposits alone would be enough to dissipate our phasers, and torpedoes wouldn't be able to completely break apart a rock of that size." He motioned to the spinning hologram of the comet that floated above the conference table. "We have to bury explosives in this fault line. It will break the comet apart, hopefully into more manageable pieces that we can then destroy with the ship's weapons. Worst case scenario, it breaks into only two pieces that spin away from the planet. Either way, Etam should be safe."

Obruz shook his head. "I don't like that word, Sonia. Will the planet be safe, or not?"

Nizeri leaned forward, peeking out from behind Wirstowx. "Yes, Commander. Inertia will make this work. Even if the comet breaks into two parts, one will go off course away from Etam. The second will make a very close pass, but it will be pulled in by the gas giant Etam orbits; again, the planet will be safe." She looked over at Seymour, who nodded in thanks to her. "It seems a little farfetched, but I've gone over the results of the Lieutenant's simulations. It will work."

Jessica sat forward in her chair, pressing a control on the table to remove the hologram. "Captain Yala; what are your thoughts?"

Seymour looked over to where the tall alien sat, her long neck helping her look down the length of the table without her having to lean out of her chair. Her pitch black eyes were narrowed in thought, and the corners of her mouth were raised, an expression he had learned was meant to show frustration or anger, rather than happiness. He sat down, waiting for her to shoot his plan down as well.

In slow, warbling tones, Yala began to speak; the universal translator drowned her out for the most part, choosing a soft, melodic feminine voice for the alien. "I'm terrified, Commander St. Peter. Similar plans were made on my planet nearly a decade ago, when we first charted this course for Praxt-a-loot. It will be difficult to land; we lost three ships trying to get close to the comet."

Seymour leaned forward then, looking from Yala to Jessica. "We will need to make modifications to a runabout to be able to fly in the tail of the comet. I've already coordinated with Commander Seurer to start the modifications."

"Then you'll accomplish something my people could not, just landing on the comet." She shook her head, the sail behind her flapping. "I am still scared. The lives of my people are in your hands; we are no longer in control of our fate." She looked down at the table and let out a low, warbling cry that the translator couldn't recognize. "It was our hope, all along, to find the Romulans or you to save us; now that we are here, I am finding it is much more daunting an idea than I first imagined."

"If you aren't comfortable with this, we can find another option."

Seymour glared at Jessica in disbelief. Another option? These people don't have the time!

Jessica glanced at Seymour and shook her head at him, discouraging any objection from him. Yala, meanwhile, looked up from the table and out the viewports on the far wall. Finally, she turned her head to face Jessica again and dipped it forward. "No; as I said when we first spoke, this is the most hope my people have had in years. We will continue as planned."

Seymour smiled a little, still looking at Jessica and waiting for the final order.

The blue alien sat back in her chair and looked around the table. "Any other opinions, ideas, thoughts, now is the time to voice them."

Obruz shook his head, looking at Jessica. "I'm still not confident in this."

Jessica looked at the Bajoran and nodded silently in reply. After another moment, Obruz turned away from her and looked at Seymour. Frowning, he nodded. "Proceed, Lieutenant. We'll be within range of the comet in three hours."

===


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