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Part of SS Vondem Rose: Archanis Campaign – Vondem Thorn and Bravo Fleet: The Archanis Campaign

“We need info, we’re going to get it.”

Archanis Sector
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Vondem Thorn
Mess Hall

There was an air of general silence hanging over the people that surrounded the table. A heavy, thick silence that even the continued operations of Kevak in the galley didn’t seem to penetrate.

Deidrick, Orelia, Telin, Gaeda and Bones were all sat at the table, a collection of shot glasses before them and an uncorked bottle of some dark amber spirit, the bottle lacking any label to identify it. No one was looking at each other, no one was really looking at anything.

“I…” Telin broke the silence and the others either turned to look at him, or at least angle their ears to hear him better, for the large orion man spoke with an oft used quiet. “I’ve killed men with my bare hands even. Cause I was paid to, cause I wanted to, cause they fucked with my family…but that…”

“Was a massacre,” Bones said as she lifted the bottle up and poured herself another shot, then one for Telin as well, using the bottle to push his glass closer to him to motivate him. “Doctor’s orders, drink.” The other glasses were repoured in short order. “Fucking barbarians.”

“They weren’t barbarians,” Orelia whispered. “They fucking slaughtered women and children. Is there a word for what they did?” She, perhaps more then the others, wasn’t handling what they’d seen very well.

They were planetside for only fifteen minutes, enough time to check for any potential survivors, to safely shutdown any equipment that posed a threat and then leave. There was no burial detail, no tagging or collecting the dead into one place. There was simply to many for them to deal with. Get any living out, of which there was none, and then make the place safe for however the Federation sent out there to investigate.

Sonic devices had been beamed shortly after their return to dissuade any native scavengers. No one questioned Sidda’s order about that. It just felt…right. Respectful. Leave the dead until someone could come and deal with them, but leave them unmauled, unmutilated by the wilds that would creep in quickly.

When they had returned Gaeda had led them straight here for what he called a debrief. It had started with him uncorking the bottle and hadn’t gotten much further than that. It didn’t need to. Seeing such a sight on a screen was one thing, seeing it personally, smelling such a scene, a living witness to the tragedy – there were little words to adequately describe it, but these five people would forever share that experience with no need for words.

“Terrorisim,” Bones said, her eyes focusing on the middle distance. “They strike like that knowing someone will see it, striking terror in them. Then they talk about it, they share that terror and it spreads like a disease. It festers in…”

Bone’s rapidly growing morbid rant was halted by a crash of a large pot set down on the table by Kevak, the ladle handle present for all to see safely hooked on the pot’s rim. “Temric stew,” he pronounced, turned and grabbed enough bowls for everyone and sat them on the table with a crash as well. Then both fists crashed down as he leaned forward to bring himself to eye level with everyone present.

“Drink, eat, sing songs of the honourable dead, for those people faced the void and if Sto’vo’kor won’t take them in for that alone, then I will lead the charge to force open the gates and escort them in myself.” A meaty paw then swiped up the bottle, took a swing, one gulp, then another and then, satisfied, Kevak proceeded to pour what was left into the stew pot.

“I will get you a warriors drink,” he pronounced and walked away back to his galley.

“That fucker just pour the liquor into his stew?” Bones asked, incredulity breaking the solemnity of the moment, though it seemed to be on the edge, threatening to return. No one answered her as they contemplated the last shots still before them, save for Telin who didn’t need to be told twice to drink.

Another crash, then a second as two bottles were set down. A bottle of bloodwine, bearing a house seal of the Empire that few outside of connoisseurs would know, the other a bottle with a similar dark amber to the label less bottle, it’s label proudly pronouncing it a product of Scotland. “Drink, eat, sing. The honourable deed the people of Kemron did was to fight a fight they couldn’t, wouldn’t win. I will hear no dishonour.” The klingon’s tone of voice hid a barely contained anger, as if something about this situation was riling him up. His last command given he then left the mess hall to those who needed the space to process what they had seen.

****

T’Ael and her brother both looked over the contents of the ship’s limited cargo hold, dominated by ill gotten gains they had plundered from Kemron. Intellectually she could understand the Captain’s insistence on collecting what they could carry and more, for the hallways of the ship had become an obstacle course. But emotionally it just felt wrong to use scanners and transporters to pick over the belongings of a dead colony.

“There’s enough polyferranide to redo the warp coils,” R’tin said quietly.

“Yes.”

“We’d have to take it offline for a few days though.”

“Yes.”

“You,” R’tin said as he nudged his siter with his shoulder, “okay there sis?”

“I…I looked over some of the visual scans of the colony. Mama always said klingons were a primitive, barbaric race, but what I saw…it was worse than any of the propaganda videos as a kid.”

“Should I watch the footage?”

“Only if you don’t want to sleep again,” she answered. “I’m…I’m going to catalogue all this.”

He didn’t need to answer, just joined in with his sister. She’d talk when she was ready and he wanted to be there for her when she did.

****

Four hours.

They’d been in orbit of Kemron IV for four hours now. She could hear the singing and shouting from the mess hall, even through the bulkheads. Her crew were unwinding. This was good. They needed to after uncovering the tragedy that had been waiting for them. First it had been the ground crew, then the engineering duo, then her helmsman had joined in. She couldn’t hear Kevak’s singing, so obviously not him.

Sidda turned to face the only other person on the bridge, her questionable helmswoman Jenu Trid. The very likely Federation spy who had supervised the transporting of materials from the colony aboard ship – whatever polyferranide that hadn’t been raided, some water reclamators, a couple of industrial replicators, mining equipment, survey gear and whatever else that wasn’t nailed down and would fit aboard ship.

But during that time Sidda had beamed herself planetside to take a look at the true horror the D’Ghor could, would and now had inflicted on the galaxy. Broken forms littered the streets of the colony. Signs of barricades set up to try and defend families, the inevitable charnel house inside when the barricades had failed. Evidence of people cut down running away, others who had thrown themselves at the obviously more skilled attackers wielding whatever weapons they could.

“Trid, hit up the local subspace relay station. I want to talk to the USS Sunshine Coast. Should be operating in and around the Starbase 514, near Berengaria.”

The bajoran’s nose wrinkled even more then their physiological nose ridges gave them naturally as she started to raise a question, then stopped, turning to do as she was ordered to do.

“Revin dear,” Sidda said after pressing a singular button on her chair’s comm panel, “could you come up to the bridge. I’m going to need your skills.”

****

USS Sunshine Coast
Berengaria Sector

“Would you repeat that please for me Mr De Santos?”

“We’re being hailed ma’am from a ship in the Archanis sector. An independent merchant ship hailing us, identifying themselves as the Profit’s Prophet.”

Captain Tisa Sadovu turned to look her Operations officer over, as if the man had suddenly sprouted a third arm from his forehead. “Archanis? That’s on the other side of the Federation. What’s the comm delay on this hail?”

“Bordering on five seconds one way ma’am.”

“Well, put them on screen De Santos, let’s not keep them waiting.”

The viewscreen on the bridge of the Parliament class cruiser switched from the streak of stars at warp to a dark klingon bridge with only two people in shot. Both were seated, though one was in the lap of the other.

“Doesn’t look much like a merchant ship to me,” her XO, Commander Charles Gervais, said as he looked at the two women on screen before the bridge crew.

Tisa was on her feet in quick order and marching towards her ready room. “De Santos, transfer this,” she threw a hand out to indicate the viewscreen, “through to my ready room right now. XO, you have the bridge.”

The orion woman and her romulan or vulcan companion disappeared from the viewscreen as Captain Sadovu disappeared into her office, leaving the bridge in silence before the most junior officer present spoke up. “Uh…just me, or did that woman look a bit like the Captain?”

“Oh…oh shit,” Gervais muttered to himself and then stood. “Well…today’s just gone to shit.”

****

Vondem Thorn
Archanis Sector
Mess Hall

Bones, as the crew called her on her insistence, found herself sitting on the floor, back to a bulkhead, next to Telin. The big orion lad was, for the first time in her recollection, driven to near speechlessness by what he’d seen. He didn’t go into detail, but she didn’t need him to.

She’d served, done her time. Even fought too. The Dominion War had been her generations crucible and she’d been some wide-eyed youth back in those days. But that was 25 years ago now. She’d barely lasted another five in uniform, then gone frontier doctor, bounced a bit from ship to ship and finally for the last few years been the travelling doctor on this ship of…misfits? She was also the most skilled doctor on no less then ten different worlds whenever they pulled in.

“I…gods doc…I…” Telin had basically repeated those words, or others to those effect, for the better part of a few hours now. She’d plied him with alcohol, hoping to dislodge a feeling or too and get a response, but he’d swung in the other direction. So now she was having to talk instead of listen.

“Saw some shit, I get yah kid. Least the Jem’hadar had the decency to fight for something.”

“I…could be like those things…” Telin said. He hadn’t said the word klingon since beaming back from the colony, his brain likely pulling tricks and trying to disassociate the two.

“Nah.”

Telin turned to look at her. “You’re always yelling at me for shit I say, or shit I do.”

“Which is why you won’t end up like those D’Ghor bastards. People might not like you, but they care enough to beat you back on the right enough path. Besides, you go full psycho like those bastards, I’ll put you down myself.”

He mulled that over and she swear she could hear the cogs in his brain grinding against the rust. Rust that needed lubrication from the mug of ale he started to chug. When had the keg been tapped?

“Promise?”

“I mean, I’ll likely have to fight your brother and cousin first, but I’ll do it if I have to.”

“Sidda’s a bitch, but if someone will do something for her, she’ll let them.”

“So, just your brother then. But yes, promise. Just…do me a favour. Be less of an ass.”

“I…maybe…” he trailed off. “I need another drink.” He moved to stand before he stopped, but she reached out a hand and pulled him back down, then offered a hipflask with her other that she pulled out of a labcoat pocket. “Bajoran brandy,” she offered by way of explanation and he needed no further encouragement to sit back down.

****

Bridge

“Utter fucking, principled, self-righteous bitch!” Sidda shouted as she paced across the front of the bridge in the space between her chair and the viewscreen. She went from the helm to the engineering station and back again, back and forth, adding to the deckplate wear that multiple klingon captains had set before she had claimed the IKS Choq’st’tu as her own.

Ten minutes of hell she’d spent talking to her mother, to listening to the speeches and suffering the interminable ten second round trip communications lag. The pleasantries had disappeared quickly enough when she demanded to know who Revin was.

A response that such matters wasn’t up for discussion and she called asking for a favour had turned into other questions, a speech about how she’d already have the information she wanted if she had just joined Starfleet like her mother wanted her to do, instead of galivanting around the galaxy pretending to be a pirate.

Tisu had blamed Sidda’s father, the one parent who actually cared about her as a person, not a reflection on her career and status, for indulging Sidda’s playful thinking.

“You could be in the fleet Sidda, making a real difference!” That part had been shouted in anger.

The call degenerated into a shouting match at that point. The request for all of Starfleet’s intelligence on the D’Ghor, on their movements, personnel and locations had been shouted.

Counters that she’d never send her daughter into a warzone had issued from Tisu, that if Sidda really cared for Revin she’d get the Thorn out of the area immediately.

“Just send me the fucking data you bitch, or get me someone who can!”

“You want to die playing fucking pirate, fine! Maybe then you’ll learn something about responsibility!”

The last words from an angry mother who had killed he line, leaving Sidda to stew and fester in her anger as she paced. Riven had simply taken to lounging in the command chair, waiting for moods to change before she struck to truly change things.

It took nearly as long as the call itself had before Revin stood and approached, interrupting the pacing by grabbing Sidda’s hand as she passed and tugged lightly. “Love.”

The touch, the pull, the one word all worked to break Sidda out of her cycle and she looked Revin over, then pulled her close and buried her face in Revin’s neck. “I hate that bitch.”

“Then why did you call her?”

“There are monsters in this world love and I want to kill them. I need information.”

Revin simply held her and she was thankful for that simple enough action, that reassuring aura coming from the romulan woman. “You need a crew love.”

“You’re right,” Sidda said, then straightened herself up. “I need a crew.”

****

Mess hall

The chatting, the singing, the consoling of others all ended when Sidda paced in, Revin drifting in behind her like the shadow most had come to expect her to be. Their captain walked to where her seat was at the head of the table and pushed her chair aside to stand there instead.

“I intend to hunt down whoever we can of House D’Ghor and to kill as many of them as we can. They’re animals to be put down.”

Everyone was silent and looking at her. So she pulled her knife out of it’s scabbard, looked the blade over and then stabbed it into the table top. “Rabid animals are meant to be put down, this time with prejudice. We need information to fight these bastards though. Trid,” she said, looking towards the Bajoran woman who had only recently arrived here and started drinking, “find me the nearest Federation starship and set course, maximum warp. We need info, we’re going to go get it.”