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Until the Fat Lady Sings

Posted on Thu Jun 11th, 2020 @ 4:58pm by Captain James McCullen & Commander Temerant Bast

Mission: Shadows
Location: Ready Room, USS Sentinel
Timeline: MD1, 0930 Hrs

Captain McCullen smiled as he settled back in his chair, a hot coffee in one hand and a PaDD with a letter from his wife in the other. She had always enjoyed writing more than sending recorded transmissions and it had become a ritual between them, writing back and forth to each other on a regular basis. She was in the middle of telling him all about her new aide, a youngish half-Bajoran, half-Klingon woman who apparently had the temperament of the Klingons and the hotheadedness of the Bajorans - and her particular way with words, she wrote exactly as she would have spoken, was making his morning a pleasant one.

Being done with the Stakoron mission was a relief, he'd slept soundly for the first time in weeks without worries and stresses beyond what a captain faced on a day-to-day basis and he was looking forwards to whatever mission Starfleet was going to give them next. He was personally hoping for a nice, quiet patrol, a scientific survey, or even an exploratory mission, though those were as rare as Ferengi philanthropists and were generally reserved for the big Galaxy and Nebula classes. Still, a captain could dream.

He was, thus, doubly perturbed when his door chime chirped - interrupting his peaceful morning, his letter-reading and his absent-minded dreaming about going where no-one had gone before. He sat up, putting away the letter and the momentary scowl that had sneaked onto his features before pressing the 'enter' button, watching Bast come in and trying not to imagine him as the harbinger of doom. There was no rest for the wicked, the weary or for Starfleet captains, it seemed.

"Commander Bast, come in. What can I do for you this morning?" He asked, trying to maintain his good mood despite leanings otherwise.

The Trill Executive Officer walked in and stood in front of the Captain's desk. He could see that the old man felt rested, and felt a twinge of jealousy - as they warped out of orbit, it had been the Captain's prerogative to get some rest, while Bast had assumed the night shift - in all, he'd been onduty for close to forty hours straight. He handed the Captain a data PaDD. The Trill felt exhausted, and wasn't in much mood for banter or preamble.

"Lieutenant Bergen's report on the Stakoron," he said. "Looks like the Dominion, in their infinite generosity, let them grow completely dependent on a rare mineral that can be found nowhere in their system - xirdalium. And the icing on the cake is, the Stakoron didn't even know it."

"That sounds about right for the Dominion," McCullen mused as he took the PaDD, his good mood fully fading as he read over the details. Without deuterium fusion generators in quantity or a supply of xirdalium, whatever the hell that was, they'd be almost entirely without power on a planetary scale. A voice in the back of his head whispered to him 'not your problem, Jim,' the New Hope was already on scene and they'd have to deal with it, but he had a strong suspicion that even now, wheels were turning at Starfleet. Neither the New Hope or her escort the Tornado had the legs or equipment to first find and then collect whatever this rare mineral was, and they were the most likely candidates to end up playing go fetch.

After a few moments reading he looked up, it was hard to miss the tiredness on Bast's face and he felt a twinge of guilt for the man, "sit down, Mr. Bast, you look about ready to fold. As soon as we get this... report sorted out, you're taking at least twelve hours off and getting some proper rest."

"Thank you, Sir," replied Bast, landing in the chair a hit harder than he'd intended. "Mr. Bergen searched the Federation Mineralogy Database for any sources of xirdalium. He found three - one deep in Romulan space, another on a world ravaged by an ongoing civil war, and a vague report of a possible source inside a nebula, on the edge of Dominion space."

McCullen pinched the bridge of his nose, he was guessing that Bast had already come to the same conclusion that he had just arrived at. "Great. Just great. This should be the New Hope's problem, but she'll have her hands full already and neither she nor her escort is equipped for this kind of mission. I'm almost certain that Starfleet's going to send us looking for it when we put this report in, if they're not already aware. We should prepare the crew for a quick turnaround at Opaka, if we get that far before Starfleet comes-a-calling. You go ahead and send the report to Starfleet, I'll get in touch with..." The captain caught Chisae on the tip of his tongue, Onigawa Chisae had been at his house in Scotland several times for dinner and such, back in the halcyon days when he had been on a two-year medical leave playing lazy house husband to an Admiral wife. "... Admiral Onigawa and Chief Ganador and share what we've found."

Bast bit the inside of his cheek to keep from making a snarky remark - the crew was in dire need of shore leave after such an intense mission at Stakoron, and it was looking like they wouldn't get that. If they were lucky, they might hope for twenty-four hours. He brought up the report on his data PaDD, and punched in the codes to transmit the report to Gamma Quadrant Operations. Admiral Maxiel would have it on his desk within the hour, and have it transmitted to Ambassador Kilvin, who would then surely be in touch with Bast before lunchtime.

"We might get lucky," offered Bast. "While we were at Stakoron, maybe a fleet of Science vessels, with Norway-class escorts, came through the wormhole, ready to take on a mission like that." his tone made it clear that the remark was completely sarcastic, and that he was convinced the mission would fall on them.

"Hhm," James grumbled, grinning at Bast, "we could ask the Dominion to fetch it for us, they probably know where it is." His tone was equally sarcastic, "and I'm sure they'll have no problems at all with us poking around on their borders for rare resources."

"They'll probably invite us over for tea," nodded Bast. "Tea with a Vorta, now there's something I'd like to see..."

The image of Bast sitting at a little table with a Vorta and a little child's tea seat popped unbidden into McCullen's head and he couldn't help himself, he smirked, then grinned, and broke into a rolling laugh that wrinkled the bridge of his nose and made him look, momentarily, ten years younger.

Bast grinned at the Captain's reaction. He knew the last few weeks had been trying on his commanding officer, and if a little self-deprecation was all it took to get him to unwind, it was definitely worth it.

He stood from his seat, ready to take his leave and get some much-needed sleep. "I'm sure the Ambassador will be in touch with us before the day is over," he said, "ready to send us searching that nebula with a fine-tooth comb for any microgram of xirdalium that we can find - and the Ambassador will be the one supplying the comb."

James calmed himself, putting his business face back on and standing with the commander. He hadn't had a good laugh in longer than he cared to remember, and it had done him good. The captain felt... not less stressed, but more at ease. "No doubt, but until that inevitability enjoy your rest, you've earned it, and... thank you, Temerant."

"Any time, Sir," replied Temerant, before turning to walk out of the Captain's Ready Room, and heading for his quarters for some much-needed sleep.


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