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

“A space western? Space cowboys?”

Haydorian, Archanis Sector
2399
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Bloomfield General Hospital
Ward 9, room 14

Stirring gently, T’Ael felt like shit. Thinking was hard, her thoughts coming slowly as she tried to figure out where she was and what had happened. Everything felt heavy, a chore to just move her head, or open her eyes. This wasn’t sickbay, was it? No…a hospital perhaps? She spotted two people she knew, both sitting in what looked like comfy chairs, dead to the world and her awakening.

One was her brother? He looked familiar enough. Yes, R’tin, her brother. Her younger brother. Her dependable, loyal, younger brother. The other was…green. She knew green people. Two of them. Both of them were pretty though, but which one was this? She tried to think about it but she just couldn’t make the connections.

“Ah, our wayward soul stirs,” came a soft voice from the end of the bed. “Shh…you’ll wake our sleepers.”

How had she missed someone perched on the end of the bed? It was all she could do to move her head, roll it really, to see this figure. Short cut brunette hair and a dark red lipstick. Stylish clothing to match. She knew this person too, but thoughts were slow.

“I know you,” she stated to the figure, who turned to look at her. Actually look at her. Something deep inside said that that wasn’t possible. This person never looked at people, but here she was making eye contact with her. “You’re…you’re the princess.”

The other woman smiled, a hand coming to rest on T’Ael’s lower leg, patting at the blankets there briefly before settling. “Oh my dear, they warned us you’d be a bit slow waking up.” The other woman slipped off the bed and onto her feet, taking the few steps to move down to her end of the bed and check a display above her head.

The Princess can’t see though, she thought to herself.

“Your blind,” T’Ael stated once more.

“Was,” was all the reply she got. “But don’t tell Sidda just yet, yes?”

“The Captain?”

“Yes dear,” the Princess said, “the Captain. Oh, I do hope this is a result of the drugs and nothing more.” The other woman leaned down and kissed her lightly on the forehead. “Rest T’Ael, we’ll still be here when you’re ready.”

The invitation to rest, to perhaps go back to sleep, was powerful and so inviting. Just the little bit she had done had tired her out, mentally and physically. Perhaps just a few minutes to regain her strength.

****

When she awoke the Princess and the green woman where gone. Her brother had moved however, now with his arms folded on the bed, his head laying across them facing her as he slept. She blinked a few times, then a few more as her eyes finally registered that it was sunlight streaming through a window into her face.

She didn’t feel so dim-witted this time. Thoughts were slow to come to her but they came at least. She moved her head side to side, forward and backward slowly to get a feel for her range of motion. Stiffness came to her, but no pain, no nausea. Just stiffness.

Then her brain registered it. The Princess and the green woman – Revin and the Captain.

Okay, that took longer than it should have, she thought to herself, a hand coming up to rub at her forehead gently, as it to try and help her brain process faster. What happened?

Jostling her left leg she was able to rouse her brother, who was never a morning person and took his sweet time registering that she was awake and trying to get his attention. “Oi,” she said quietly, finding her throat dry and sore.

“Hey sleepy head,” R’tin responded as he rubbed sleep out of one eye as he sat up in the chair he’d dragged over. “Docs said you’d wake up soon.”

“What happened?” she asked, actually unsure of anything past her last breakfast. Or was it dinner?

“We got boarded by some diehards after torping their base. They made a run for Engineering and you got caught in some crossfire. Pretty bad head wound so Bones induced a coma till we could get you to a hospital. Docs fixed you up good but said Bones’ klingon drugs would keep you a bit loopy for a while, even after a detox.”

“Oh, so nothing major then,” she joked, forcing a smile, which oddly enough hurt. A shot of pain across her forehead which she rubbed at.

“Oh, yah, nothing major. Just…well…we lost the Thorn.”

“What? But how’d we get here then? Where is here?”

R’tin smiled, perking up and seemingly fully awake now. “Haydorian. Some hospital in their biggest city. As for how we got here, well, I’m not going to say, I’m going to show you when you’re discharged. We’ll take a shuttle. Trust me, you’re going to love it.”

****

Sargento Ski Lodge

“So she’s being discharged now R’tin?” Sidda asked of the empty room as she stood facing huge floor to ceiling glass window overlooking the expanse of snow and mountain peaks before her.

“Yah Cap,” R’tin’s voice came back to her over the room’s in built audio systems. “We’ll be heading for the starport where I’ll rent a shuttle and take her up to the Rose. Want me to record her expression?”

“Why not,” she said, smiling to herself. “And by the way, thanks for kicking me out of the hospital once she woke up.”

“Hey Cap, you need a break as much as the rest of us. T’Ael and I will get a holiday after all this craziness is over.”

“I’ll see to it R’tin. Now, get going, Sidda out.” She heard the familiar click of the comm channel closing on her voice command and sighed. It was a mix of relief and tiredness. She’d spent three days in that hospital with R’tin waiting for T’Ael to wake up.

Three days of not quiet sleeping properly, not really taking care of herself and worrying about one of her crew members. She pointedly didn’t worry about Kevak as the old man had firmly told her not to, especially after checking himself out of the hospital after a single day there, claiming that Bones’ tender mercies had been enough.

But now here she was, locked away in this chalet with Revin located in a ski resort only accessible by air or transporter. All of the chalets were turned such that none could see the others from their primary windows or decks, giving the impression of lonely wilderness unless one went looking for the others present.

It also afforded freedoms of decorum that she typically didn’t get elsewhere on most Federation worlds as she stood there with only a blanket wrapped around her being, held closed by a single hand, the other curled around a warm cup of cocoa. Somewhere in this expansive building, coming from someone who had for a few years now lived solely out of the cramped quarters of a bird of prey, Revin was about, probably more dressed than she was. But right now the world was her, this warm blanket, a cup of sweet cocoa and an expanse of white ruined only by what looked like an approaching snow storm.

Oh dear, how she’d regret being stuck here with just Riven for company for another day or two. Woe was her life and struggles.

She smiled, sipped at the cocoa and then turned to go hunt her lover.

****

Vondem Rose
Main Bridge

“Jesus, look at them all running around,” Diedrick said as watched the tactical overlay he’d thrown up on the main view screen. They’d not been able to do much about the klingon operating system aboard the Rose, but they’d been able to at least change the display languages so he could read the screen without relying on his admittedly bad klingonese.

“Bunch of rats scurrying around,” Orelia said as she offered Diedrick the bowl of popcorn she had brought to the bridge.

They were the only two crewmembers aboard ship, the other souls running around being Starfleet engineers from the Endeavour, as promised, to help bring the ship up to fighting fit versus their rather haphazardly ‘run away!’ standard. So far they’d only been pestered a few times, or had to call Gaeda for command codes.

Today however was movie day using the best screen in the house. But of course while Orelia had gone to fetch much needed supplies between movies, Diedrick had decided to watch the sensor feed and see what was going on all around the system. Five minutes she’d been away and he was on his feet in front of the viewscreen reading the tags on blips.

“Shuttles, runabouts, a couple of small craft. More ships on long range sensors coming in at warp. It’s like a Starfleet get together and all the children are running around cleaning house before the family arrive…”

“Must be a fleet action,” Orelia said as she took the bowl back after he had taken a handful of the stuff. She had to admit, humans did seem to have a decent variety of ‘movie snacks’ and offered thanks to which ever primitive human had decided to pop corn. “By the way, who is this Jesus woman you keep mentioning?”

“What? No,” Diedrick said, looking confused. “Jesus was a man, or wasn’t maybe? A religious figure in the past. His name kinda just entered into the popular lexicon as an exclamation at some point.”

“Language is weird,” Orelia said as she turned back and stalked over to the command chair, plopping herself down in it and thereby forcing Diedrick to accept the other chair they’d brought to the bridge for the movies. After all they had to be close enough to each other to share snacks. “So, what’s next?”

“Oh, classic movie time, trust me, you’ll love this. It’s old Earth science fiction about a rag tag crew on a spaceship, but also a Western at the same time,” he said, taking the only seat and the padd from the arm of the command chair to bring up the movie catalogue.

“A space western? Space cowboys?” Orelia asked, actually interested, excitement in her voice. “Love me some cowboys. Why don’t humans dress like that more often? Some of those men on Ayer’s Rock…” She trailed off as the movie started and the bridge lights dimmed.

“Earth that was…” the movie started to silence, save for the rustling of snacks.

****

“Seriously Hank, we’re the ones doing all the work on this klingon barge and the actual owners are all either planetside or sitting on the bridge watching fucking movies,” Ensign Charlotte Taversham complained while running another diagnostic on the ship’s life support systems, if you could call them that. There was only a single backup system, not the triple redundancies of a fleet ship. There was only half as many isolators and shut off valves as she was expecting as well.

“Hey, they did the Captain a solid, he promised we’d help. Besides, this ship is hardly a barge. She’s pretty new actually and in great shape,” Hank Shin, another Ensign from the Endeavour replied as he finished his work and closed up a nearby access panel. “We’ve been getting pretty good technical scans the whole time. This ship is a bit of a goldmine if you will on current KDF designs.”

“It’s a barge. It carries guns and crazy half-tamed pirates. They’ll be begging for more repair work within a month.”

“Wow…you’ve got a pretty low opinion of these folks don’t you Charlie?” Hank asked as he went about packing up his toolkit and closing it up. “Maybe you should do some research on these folks when you can. Sure, pirate probably isn’t inaccurate, but they bailed our asses out, then cleaned up for us. Plus they’ve been in this area way longer then we have, they know the locals and are, from what I can tell, tolerated at worst, liked at best.”

“Still pirates. Should arrest the lot of them and seize the ship until this whole thing is sorted. Then surrender it to the KDF afterwards.”

“Christ Charlie, you need to cool your jets.” He stood and collected his tool kit. “And besides, technically they’re now licensed salvage operators. Best way to deal with pirates is to give them something legitimate to do instead. Captain’s probably solving half a dozen problems across the sector by having us get this ship up and running.”

****

Sargento Ski Lodge

Having a visitor up for the day had meant dressing, at least enough to entertain, which Sidda was beginning to regret. Not so much the having the dress mind, but having a visitor. But some things needed to be done and today, her second to last day before returning to her ship, was the best day to it.

And by having visitors here meant she didn’t have to go elsewhere. So here she was, seated on one of the couches in the lounge, opposite a bolian woman of advanced years on the other couch. She wore an exquisitely tailored suit, for whom Sidda had already asked for the name of the tailor for later, that worked well with her skin tone. She was also one of the best lawyers on the planet for the task she had in mind, according to multiple reviews she’d read before calling.

“So, you’re wishing to register a company within the Federation in order to conduct business? May I ask what sort of field of work?” the woman, Frenlia Gormel, asked as she activated her padd and brought up a couple of forms to take details.

“Salvage and restoration,” Sidda said softly with a smile forming on her lips. “I’ve already received an operating license from Starfleet for salvaging conflict zones, but would like to set up a company to help handle assets, hire additional staff and use to purchase equipment as needed.”

“Requisition equipment if possible, you mean. This is the Federation after all.”

“Yes, of course,” Sidda responded. She had gotten so used to working with those outside the Federation’s borders that thinking in the post-scarcity way of the Federation had slipped from her.

“Very well Ms Sadovu, we can certainly help in this regard. We’ll need you to answer some initial questions, provide that license of course and I’ll get one of my staff to draw up the initial documentation.”

“That sounds acceptable.”

“Good,” Frenlia said. “Let’s start with the questions and then I can be on my way. First off, what are you wishing to name your company.”

She smiled, then laughed once, drawing a raised eyebrow from Frenlia. “Oh…yes…this will make some people cringe. Totally Legitimate Salvage Operations,” she said, that wicked smile forming on her face once more.

“As you wish,” the bolian woman said after giving Sidda a moment to change her mind. “Now, company type…”

****

“That was tiresome,” Revin said as she laid her head down in Sidda’s lap only a few minutes after the lawyer had left. “Two hours she spoke on about this or that.”

“That’s the Federation for you love. Rules and regulations and forms for days. It’s why I like the border worlds.” Sidda found her fingers playing in Revin’s hair in quick order, gently stroking through the short locks of hair, fingers occasionally brushing over Revi’s ear tips. “What changed your mind? About your eyes that is.”

She’d figured out Revin’s little secret before they’d even left the hospital, but hadn’t asked about why until now. She’d been suggesting such surgery for over a year now and Revin had denied her at each opportunity. ‘I’ll think about,’ she’d say. But then while she and R’tin had been worrying over T’Ael, she’d used the time to get her eyes done, having disappeared for a few days in the middle of things.

“I…I wanted to see your face,” Revin replied as she reached up and ran her fingers gently over Sidda’s face, closing her eyes as she did so. “It’s as beautiful to the eyes as it is to the touch.”

Sidda caught Revin’s wrist in her grip and held the hand there, Revin cupping her face in response as Sidda pushed into those fingers slightly, her own eyes closing before she let go. Revin’s hand stayed there, just holding Sidda’s face.

“You are at once the best and worst thing to happen to me,” Sidda finally said, her voice barely a whisper.

“Oh?”

“You make me a better person, but you’re so distracting. It’s why I banned you from the bridge during battlestations.”

“Distracting?” Revin asked, having played this game before. But now she could see that look on Sidda’s face when higher thought left her but as putty to Revin. She loved this woman, this rescuer of her’s and vowed to herself, and to Sidda though never spoken to her, to never abuse such power. Unless of course it resulted in pleasure for the both of them.

And so she moved to sit up, then moved herself around on the couch to straddle Sidda’s lap before cupping the woman’s face in both hands and kissing her deeply, fully. When she finally broke for a breath, Sidda’s hands had wormed their way under her shirt, wrapping around her body.

“Let me show you distracting,” Revin stated and kissed Sidda once again.

****

Vondem Rose
Main Bridge

“…and there was only so much purple paint Captain,” T’Ael was saying as she walked onto the bridge with Sidda. “As well as only so much of me really. So we haven’t been able to paint the hull purple, but R’tin and I did paint over the KDF symbols. Ever threw down a logo of my own design.”

To that the eager engineer, now back to her former self, much to the relief of the entire crew, indicated the main viewscreen. There was no windowed view to the outside world, or system tactical display, just a field of purple with a black silhouetted rose within a similarly black circle. On the stem was a single thorn, done in the same style as the old Vondem Thorn’s logo.

Sidda nodded in approval and turned to the romulan engineer. “Love it T’Ael. You’ve done good work.”

“Eh, was mostly the fleeters that did all the work. R’tin and I are going to have to train more folk, even you Captain, on engineering processes until we can hire some more folks.”

“Sounds fair. Work with Gaeda on who and what and I’ll submit to your tutelage oh sage and wise engineer,” she mocked a bow to other woman.

T’Ael for her part just returned the bow with a smile and then turned to depart, having done what she wanted in briefing her captain on the way from the transporter to the bridge by way of her quarters. Lucky she had been there as well with the number of bags of new belongings that Sidda and Revin had brought aboard.

“So Gaeda, how’s my ship?” Sidda asked as she continued for her chair. The bridge was only populated by Gaeda, Trid and Orelia at the moment, all of them running checks on various systems, checking for any bobby traps the Fleeters might have left for them.

“Seemingly in good order. No sabotage, no obvious bugs or tracking devices. R’tin says it does look like someone took the entire cloaking device apart and put it back together again but his diagnostics show that if anything it’s working better than before.”

“Huh…Starfleet Engineers. Can’t help but make improvements. Right,” she said as she settled down in the command chair. “Let’s see what the Rose can do. Contact system control and lets go for a jaunt amongst all those shuttles running around out there. We’ll engage the cloak once we’re out past the second moon. They know we’re here, so will be good practise for them to try and keep tabs on us. We’ll mull around for a few days, get the feel of the Rose and see where we go from there.”