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Part of USS Endeavour: I Burn and Bravo Fleet: The Archanis Campaign

Return of the Rose

Vondem Rose
June 2399
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“Well, we seem to have got their attention,” Gaeda said from Ops, with what Sidda labelled as mirth in his voice. “We got four different sets of active sensors on us and our transponder has been interrogated…fifteen times now.”

“Any automated traffic vectors yet?” Sidda asked as she turned the chair to face the Ops station. She’d found the one single useful feature of the chair – a working swivel mount. Motorised even. Still didn’t like the rest of it.

“No, but I suspect it’s been turned off, what with the gaggle of broken Fleet ships in system.” He brought up a tactical overlay of the system on the main viewscreen and highlighted all the ships in the system, specifically the two that the Rose’s sensors could tell were pretty badly damaged from this distance.

“Return the favour, but just once. I want to confirm who is here. Oh, and scan them as well. What’s good for the gander, is good for the goose.”

Lewis groaned from the helm at her unintentional mangling of a human idiom.

The tactical display on screen soon updated as each system was identified and labeled as such by the Rose’s computers. Specifications that Sidda didn’t have before came up on screen beside each ship. Clearly the KDF had kept the Va’thu’s computers up to date while she sat in dock. This…this could be handy. And potentially profitable to non-state actors.

Endeavour is here in system ma’am.”

“Excellent,” she said, turning back to the viewscreen. “Open a channel to them, in the clear. I don’t care if the other ships hear us.” A moment later, Gaeda confirmed the open channel.

“This is Captain Sidda Sadovu of the Vondem Rose. We’re in need of medical and minor technical assistance.” She highlighted her point by drawing notice to the sling on her left arm. “And payment for services rendered.”

“Christ, you’re enjoying this aren’t you?” Gaeda said as the message was sent, waiting for a reply.

“Damn straight I am!”

The face to greet them from Endeavour’s bridge was not Rourke, but the most lantern-jawed, clean-cut officer imaginable. It was as if he’d fallen out of a recruitment poster or was, quite possibly, some sort of holographic greeting programme designed by a dozen committees to envision the most perfect, idealised image of a Starfleet officer.

His polite smile in greeting was all bright courtesy and caring, Betazoid-black eyes. “This is Lieutenant Rhade, USS Endeavour. I’m notifying Captain Rourke of your arrival and I’ll patch you through to him as soon as possible. Are your medical needs emergencies? I can have a team beamed to your ship momentarily.”

“I have one comatose crewmember and multiple injuries aboard ship that onboard supplies are woefully inadequate for. I’ll have my doctor forward a list of requirements you can have ready when we come in range. Some field surgery will require something a bit more than a klingon infirmary can provide to properly fix.” She knew that Bones had been working on a wishlist of supplies she’d want to stock the ship with and now was as good a chance as any to get some of those supplies. “We also need a couple of engineers. We had to make this ship ready with only a handful of people and could do with some help polishing off those endeavours for continued operation.”

“Unless your technical difficulties are causing a threat to life situation, it’ll have to be Captain Rourke who clears sending an engineering party over. If your medical needs are this severe, Captain Sadovu, I’d encourage you to let us beam your injured crewmembers to our sickbay.” Lieutenant Rhade’s smile grew tense, but sincere. “I understand you may be reticent, but that will provide the best and swiftest medical care we can give.”

“We’ll beam over our critical crew shortly. If you’re offering, I’d like everyone to pass through your sickbay at some point Lieutenant and make good our ills, if just to take the pressure off my doctor.” Sidda noted the few nods of approval she could see in her peripheral vision at that. There was no insult to Bones, but more the situation that Bones found herself in with a stripped bare klingon infirmary.

“I’m sure that can be arranged. I’ll inform our Chief Medical Officer and she’ll contact you for an overview of numbers and injuries to arrange treatment.” Rhade had a PADD in hand, quickly tapping up notes. “I’m arranging you a traffic vector to the drydock’s visiting airspace; you’ll be flagged as a civilian vessel receiving Starfleet aid. Comply with the traffic instructions and the Haydorian authorities have no grounds to move you along until your business with Endeavour is concluded. If that’s all for your ship’s immediate needs, Captain Sadovu, I’ll patch you through to Captain Rourke?”

“That will be acceptable Lieutenant,” she said as stepped back to her command chair and sat down on the leading edge, placing her one good hand on the arm. While she waited a hand gently settled on her right shoulder, the chair twisting slightly as someone sat on the chair arm.

“Must I go over?” Riven asked as she used her other hand to brush some of Sidda’s hair back behind her ear.

“I’d like you to love, but I’ll escort you. I’m not letting anyone take you.”

With a smile Riven leaned in and kissed Sidda lightly on the cheek just as the viewscreen switched from a standby image to Captain Rourke.

The captain’s gaze was implacable as it appeared, though it was impossible to disguise the exhaustion in his eyes. “I’m getting the impression everything went really well, really badly, or both,” he rumbled. “How’s your crew, Captain? Lieutenant Rhade assured me your medical needs are being seen to.”

“We’re well enough all things considered. I’ve got two serious but stable crewmembers. Bones put one of my engineers in a coma for her own good and my chef could do with some followup surgery. After that it’s nerve damage and reconstruction work for the rest of us.” This was emphasised by Riven’s hand running along the back of Sidda’s shoulder to her left shoulder and her sling encased arm.

“But yes, things went well enough and poorly enough. We had a perfect opportunity to rid the galaxy from what we think was around a thousand D’Ghor, but a handful of survivors had the perfect opportunity to beam aboard.” There was a predatory grin on Sidda’s face.

“You ran into more than the Kut’luch if you had time to pick up a new ride.” Rourke’s voice was flat. “What did you find?”

“An old Duras depot we knew about that the D’Ghor were using. Wasn’t as abandoned as we thought. I’m guessing resupply and rally point. They were making ready a ship they’d recently procured, lifted straight from an excess yard. Once the Kut’lach arrived we waited a bit for them to start repair work before we robbed them of their ship, their base and their trained maintenance techs.” Such a polite way to say killed them all with nary a thought but the desire to hurt them.

He nodded, jaw rather tense. “So I understand the whole situation, Captain. Why did you launch an assault instead of report back with their location?”

“I wasn’t going to let a trained, experienced pack of murderers transfer to a new ship and sail forth once more. I had the perfect chance to eliminate a threat to the sector so I took it. I did what was needed.”

“That is to say,” Riven spoke up from her spot right next to Sidda, “we are not hindered by your fleet’s need to sign off on every action.” She didn’t even wince when Sidda clearly gripped her leg tightly, just rested her free hand on Sidda’s in acknowledgement.

“I don’t care about the protocol of it. I’m asking about the gamble when you stuck your neck out, lost a ship, and came back with a new one.” But Rourke shrugged, gaze flickering to something else on his display screen. “I assume you had only a limited chance to sweep the area for survivors? Don’t get me wrong, Captain, the Kut’luch and a depot being gone is more than enough. But there are D’Ghor leaders I won’t scratch off the list without confirmation.”

“Our second volley of torpedoes and the Kut’lach’s own magazines detonating, moments before her warp core detonated while inside the depot’s primary docking slip, ensured there were no survivors,” Sidda said, relaxing backwards in her chair and into Riven as well. “We did however check while we were making our new ship ready to sail and suffice to say, found no survivors. Either vaporised or irradiated beyond even klingon tolerances.”

Rourke sat back with a low huff, eyes fixing on a distant point, brow furrowing. At length he nodded, though despite the news, despite the confirmation, his frown didn’t fade. “Alright, Captain. That’s good work, and good intel on the sorts of facilities they’re using. What’s your bill?”

“I still want an update on any publicly announced missing persons notices from the Romulan Republic, as well as any of the sensitive ones issued for missing senatorial family members. Would still like a Federation replicator, or now simply your databases and components to make klingon ones a touch more…refined? And I would like any computer voice packages you can spare. The klingon ones are rather brusque. A list of medical supplies should have arrived by now with my crew members who should have beamed over by now. Wouldn’t mind that being filled out too.” Then Sidda smiled and relaxed. “And one photon torpedo, expended when defending the Endeavour the first time.”

Rourke’s snort sounded begrudgingly amused rather than dismissive. “I’m sure my tactical officer can reassess what munitions we expended in all the chaos of Elgatis. Voice package is fine. Your medical needs and supplies will be fulfilled at the discretion of my Chief Medical Officer, but I’ll make it clear she can be generous. I’ve got the public missing persons notices; Senatorial will take… a little more time. But not more than you’ve got here, I wager.” He scratched his beard. “The replicator. What’re your more ‘refined’ needs?”

“I wouldn’t mind being able to replicate a decent meal, or certainly one better than the basic nutritional ration packs klingons keep on file. Clothing and furnishings. Engineering spare parts, the occasional weapon components. Nothing truly dangerous I assure you Captain.”

“I see you also requested one of my engineering teams, help smooth the rough edges on your ship.” He sighed. “I’ll forward that to my Chief Engineer. See who she can spare and what she can recommend. I know it’s best if improvements can be done directly to your replication systems rather than installing Federation hardware into Klingon power and computer systems. That’s it for your equipment needs?”

“A new wardrobe for my entire crew, tailored of course. A couple of nights rest and relaxation. But I think that should just about do us Captain. Oh…and any holoprojectors you can spare. We’d like to convert a spare cargo bay into a holodeck and we’d like a running start on that project. Unsurprisingly klingons don’t keep holodecks on their warships, outside of a firing range.” Sidda smiled, it spreading up to her eyes. “And perhaps Captain, when my chef is feeling better, your presence for dinner some time, though I suspect that’ll have to wait for now.”

His shoulders relaxed an iota, the frown turning to something more rueful. “Motivation for Doctor Sadek to see to your chef. I can’t promise a quick turnaround on the engineering work; as you can imagine, my crew has a warship to get ready, and I’ve no intention of letting the civilian workers of Haydorien’s drydock poke their noses onto your Rose. I’ll make a request of one of the leisure spots on the surface, swing you as civilian contractors in need of a couple nights’ R&R. I’ll try to include a stop at a tailor’s,” he added wryly. Then the wry expression turned to an amused smirk. “I can also make no promises on the equipment. But I’ll do you one better.”

He hit a command on his side, transmitting over a file. Simple but extensive documentation, its purpose was nevertheless plain from the heading: AUTHORISATION: PRIORITY SALVAGE RIGHTS, SECURED D’GHOR CONTACT SITES, ARCHANIS SECTOR.

“Now that Captain Rourke, certainly seems promising. I do hope I’ll be contacted by someone in Starfleet when such sites are…discovered? To best clean them up and prevent illicit cargoes getting into civilian hands. Wouldn’t want teenagers in their parents runabouts coming across torpedoes after all.” She chuckled slightly at the absurd imagery she’d suggested, it drawing the same from a few of her crew on the bridge. “Oh, and while your engineers are over here, I have no problems with them taking a copy of the ship’s databanks. I’m sure you’ll turn up something in there.”

“Once Starfleet’s confirmed there’s no more danger at any battle-sites, first pickings are yours. Plenty of responsible officers will make sure operations like yours are notified to ensure secure disposal of munitions, equipment, so forth. It’s the least we can do for a privateering operation.” Rourke gave an exaggerated shrug. “I’ll make sure my engineers take those copies. No telling what that’ll show up for my strategic analysts.”

“Oh, and if you ever come across any D’Ghor intelligence of them coming after me, I’d appreciate a heads up. Seems only fair, yes Captain?” Sidda asked.

“Only fair indeed.” Rourke sat up. “My Chief Medical Officer should be contacting you shortly, and I’ll speak with my Chief Engineer about who she can spare.” He hesitated, then his expression went sombre. “My engineers have been performing miracles non-stop for the last week on little to no sleep, lost four of their own, and the end isn’t in sight for them. I expect them to be given every courtesy as they make time to help you.” He sounded cautious rather than accusing, but the tension in his eyes was clear enough.

“I, Captain, have a deep respect for those who keep my ship working. I shall treat them as if they were my own. When they are done, I’m assuming I can have any gifts I wish to send them forward to your ship’s quartermaster for distribution?”

“Petty Officer Bekk will be, I’m sure, delighted at such a responsibility,” said Rourke, disguising any opinion he might have of his quartermaster. “If that’s all for now, I’ll let Doctor Sadek get to work and talk to Commander Cortez about a repair team.” He hesitated, before his eyes met hers, and drew a deep breath. “Good work, Captain.”

“Just make sure my mother hears about this,” Sidda said as she tapped the arm of her command chair. “Starfleet contractor! What next, you people going to start handing out commissions?”

“Sounds like the sort of thing that’s delightfully above my grade,” Rourke rumbled. “I’m sending over some immediate supplies right away, but expect more as my officers make their assessments. We’ll speak soon. Endeavour out.”

There were certainly to be more essential supplies shipped over – medical equipment, engineers and their gear, everything to put the ship and crew alike back on their feet. But Rourke was right, as one crate was transported to the Vondem Rose immediately after their meeting. It was fairly small, fairly unassuming.

Nestled at the top was a PADD listing as much information a Starfleet captain could gather on missing Romulan Republic citizens, including the senatorial family, and with added information on any who remotely matched the profile of the young Romulan woman Rourke had so often seen draped over Sidda.

And beneath it, the rest of the crate was filled with bottles of Islay single malt Scotch whisky.