U.S.S. Corsair - NX-011979
Nebula II Prototype
“Sic Parvis Magna”
(Greatness From Small Beginnings)
“Specters Of Astate”
== USS Corsair – Along The Romulan Neutral Zone ==
For once in a long while the bridge and the decks of the USS Corsair were quiet with the repetition of routine and the welcome monotony of normal patrol duty. The mysterious Corsair and its clandestine activities under the umbrella of Starfleet Intelligence often led it where angels feared to tread. Danger was engrained into every atom of the ship and her captain was a perfect match fearless, cavalier to a degree, and fiercely unapologetic. However, despite the Corsair’s usual knack for finding or being assigned to trouble the last two months of duty had been oddly quiet.
Wagers had been placed on the time and date of their next brush with death, but with the passage of time the crew’s nonchalant attitudes had slowly changed. A slow routine had developed aboard with the days filled with the normalcy of sensor scans, reports, and general maintenance. With each passing day the Corsair seemed less and less the covert intelligence starship and more and more another ship of the line. Some of the crew had grown to like the certainty each day brought while others longed for the unknown, the unpredictable, and the smell of danger from missions past.
If there was any one person aboard weary with normalcy it was the captain himself. While few of the crew had the fortitude to confront the captain it was clear to all that he alone seemed to be taking the monotony the worst of all. Confrontational, irritable, moody, anxious, and depressed seemed to describe the captain’s slowly souring mood. As the days slowly slipped one into another the captain’s mood became more unpredictable than the Corsair’s own unorthodox and volatile assignments.
No one dared question the captain’s actions. He was master and commander of the Corsair and in a way treated the ship as if it was his own, personal possession. To those few who knew the intimate details of the captain’s past – that much was nearly true. He had been given a starship during the last dominion war and had retained it by accepting the jobs and missions others feared, rejected, or that were deemed too dangerous or worse, impossible.
However without a steady stream of assignments the captain had withdrawn from the crew and his duties. Hours on end he spent locked within his ready room. Scuttlebutt had a dozen possibilities for his behavior. Those who knew him best prayed for fresh orders as each passing day only weighed down the increasingly despondent captain of the USS Corsair.
== Bridge – USS Corsair ==
Stepping out of the turbolift, Intelligence Commander Zane Akina approached the captain’s command chair only to find it empty…again.
“Where is he”, Akina muttered looking around at the bridge crew.
“Ready room, as usual”, Lt. Alex Redstone replied from his station at tactical. “He’s been in there for over 18 hours.”
Akina nodded reaching up to rub the bridge of his nose. If they didn’t get orders soon he feared the captain might very well require a long vacation. The kind where white jackets are provided free as is medication.
Moving to the ready room doors, Akina stopped as they suddenly swooshed open revealing a haggard looking captain who looked like he had lost a fight with an entire Klingon battalion.
“Helm steer 112 mark 6”, Ramius shouted barely acknowledging Akina’s presence before him. “We are two hours behind on our assigned patrol route. We are not out here to see the sights and this is not a pleasure cruise along the Romulan border. Fleet expects us to be on target at scheduled dates and times. I will not have this ship slacking off!”
“Aye sir”, came the helm officer’s instant reply.
“Speaking of running behind – where are the current intelligence assessments I requested Akina? They were due half an hour ago. We get a quiet patrol assignment and everyone on this ship seems determined to take advantage of it and slack off.”
“Captain, may I have a word”, Akina asked calmly as the crew looked on at the captain’s latest outburst. They had grown accustomed to the captain’s moody demeanor as the weeks ticked by on the Romulan border.
“If you must”, Ramius muttered turning and retreating back into his ready room.
Akina followed the captain as the doors hissed shut in his wake. His eyes grazed the captain’s room which was unusually messy even by Ramius’s standards. Padds littered his desk, the couch, even the floor. Dishes cluttered his desk from a prior meal or perhaps several. A few discrete sniffs of the room’s air revealed traces of stale food and drink interwoven with perspiration like that of a gym or locker room. The scent was unpleasant, but faint enough to be only mildly intrusive. It was however unusual for Ramius and somewhat unbecoming of the ship’s top officer.
“What do you want Captain”, Ramius asked taking a seat at his desk and activating his computer.
“Here are the intelligence reports you requested.” Akina handed Ramius a padd which the captain reviewed with only a glance before tossing them into a pile of nearby padds on his desk.
“Would you care to review them?”
“Well I don’t know. You are the one who requested them.”
“I’ll review them later.”
“Why did you request them if you have no intention of looking at them?”
“ I said I will review them later captain. Thank you. You’re dismissed. I have much work.”
“What has gotten into you Ramius”, Akina stated picking up a nearby cup and cautiously sniffing its contents. Akina winced before setting the cup down. “You’ve practically barricaded yourself in here for the past two weeks. The crew is beginning to worry not to mention fear you. And so am I. What’s going on? What’s wrong?”
“Wrong? I don’t know what you mean. I have much to do especially since we appear to have additional free time patrolling the Neutral Zone from the omnipresent threat of the Romulan Empire.”
“Some down time would do you good Ramius. The crew appears to be enjoying our respite from our typical missions. Why can’t you?”
Ramius briefly looked up from his terminal before resuming his work. “Some of us do not have the luxury of leisure Akina. You of all people should know this given the circumstances.”
“Nonesense. Every man and woman requires periods to rest the mind and body. Vacation and time off are just as essential as duty and possibly just as important.”
“You sound like the doctor. Did he put you up to this speech?”
“No. But I know he isn’t the only one concerned. You’ve hardly spoken to anyone in a week except to bark orders.”
“Akina, your concern is unwarranted. You’re dismissed. I have much work to perform.”
“Ramius I’m not leaving until you agree to take some time off and clean up this place. In the past week the only thing we’ve seen is a class 2 comet, a two-bit smuggler, and oh the crown jewel of our mission thus far – unexplained spikes in background radiation levels.
Moving over to the captain, Akina reached over the turned off his computer terminal to the instant irritation of Ramius. “If we run into a Romulan invasion fleet, aliens from another dimension, or the Borg then I’ll give you a call. You need some time off away from…well all of this.
We’re on a nice, quiet patrol. Nothing is going to happen for the foreseeable…”
“Captain, to the bridge”, the communications officer’s voice suddenly rang out across the ready room.
“You were saying something about nothing Akina”, Ramius quipped as he stood and headed toward the door.
“What did I do to offend the fates”, Akina muttered to himself following Ramius out onto the bridge.
Ramius and Akina approached the communications station on the bridge as the officer seemed to be having difficulty hearing something of some importance from her earpiece.
“Sir, there is a lot of comm. traffic in the vicinity of Vulcan. Intelligence channels are suddenly awash with news of a Romulan incursion. Details are sporadic, but there has been a battle between Romulan and Vulcan ships.”
Akina and Ramius looked at each other before returning their gaze to the communications officer.
“Channels are being flooded with reports. Almost a gibberish of overlapping transmissions, distress calls, and general chatter on nearly all frequencies. Subspace relays in the area are at capacity.”
“How does a Romulan fleet slip into Vulcan space unnoticed”, Akina asked. “It just isn’t possible. Let alone the question of why they would do such a thing.”
“They’ve tried to conquer Vulcan before”, Ramius replied. “I wouldn’t discount anything at this point.”
“Anything else Lieutenant? What is fleet intel saying about the incident?”
“Pretty active sir. Nothing official as of yet. Fleet is dispatching several starships to assist the Vulcans. Scattered reports of some kind of vortex or wormhole. Wait, a starship was in the area and took heavy damage. One of ours. Exploration ship, USS Charon?”
Ramius’s eyebrow jumped at the utterance of the starship’s name.
“Where have I heard that name before”, he whispered quietly.
“Ops, what do we know about the USS Charon?”
“Pulling it up now sir. Let’s see. Exploration ship. Luna Class. Captain is a former Romulan soldier. Orders have her on an extended mission in Beta Quadrant.”
Akina turned from communications his brow contorted into something resembling confusion mixed with disbelief. “How does a starship make it from deep assignment in Beta Quadrant to Vulcan?”
“Perhaps the same way our Romulan invaders did”, Ramius replied. “There’s something else about that ship that’s familiar. I can’t place it though.”
“Hmm. Wait a second”, Akina suddenly said snapping his fingers. “Wasn’t there an exploration ship assigned to Romulan territory just after the incident on the Astate colony?”
Ramius nodded. “Yes! That’s it. There was someone involved in the Astate investigation who had been assigned to the Charon. We had some questions for them.”
Akina leapt to a nearby science terminal and retrieved their records and notes of the Astate incident. “Here it is captain. One of our loose ends. Charon had already been escorted into Romulan space two years ago to begin her assignment. Does the name Ian Lamont ring a bell?”
“Lamont? Indeed! Diplomat if I recall?”
“Yes. Before being assigned to the Charon he was the diplomat responsible for the area which included the Astate colony. His intelligence dossier indicated he had relationships with Starfleet top brass, Federation council members, planetary leaders, industrialists, and…several NeoDyne executives.”
Ramius’s eyes flashed open at the mention of the connection. “I remember. Status of the USS Charon?”
“Nothing confirmed sir. Extensive damage. Vulcans assisting.”
“Keep your ears open for any mention of the Charon lieutenant. Oh, and inform command we’re taking a detour from our patrol route.”
“Helm, alter course. Destination: Vulcan. Compute fastest course and engage at Warp 9.”
“A bit rash Captain”, Akina asked leaning against the science station.
“I’m not letting the Ambassador slip away again. Mr. Lamont still has some answers to provide on exactly what occurred two years ago on the Astate colony. I am not convinced his assignment to the Charon on a two year deep space mission occurred purely by chance.”
“Are you saying he engineered his reassignment to avoid investigation or responsibility”, Akina asked.
“We won’t know that until we ask him, will we”, Ramius replied with a smirk.
Ramius headed for the turbolift.
“Just where are you headed now”, Akina asked.
“Well as you stated earlier, I believe I need some time off. Vulcan is a few days away and I could use a hot shower. Call me if there are any new developments.”
The lift doors slid closed as Ramius disappeared behind them.
Akina grabbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. He turned to face the Corsair’s executive officer, Commander Novada who had been silently listening to the incoming news from the center of the bridge. She simply shrugged and returned to her seat with a pleasant smile.
Akina managed a slight chuckle. It appeared the latest news had helped to lift Ramius’s spirits. Though he wouldn’t admit it to Ramius, he too was becoming quite bored with their patrol duties. A fresh assignment was indeed welcomed news.
[ To Be Continued… ]
Captain Taverain Ramius
Commanding Officer, USS Corsair
Captain Zane Akina,
Starfleet Intelligence Operative
Commander Alanis Novada
Lt. Alexander Redstone