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Part of USS Centaur: Episode One: Getting our Footing

Chapter Three: Trouble…

USS Centaur
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CHAPTER THREE

[En route to New Romulus]
[Federation Space – Near Romulan Republic Border]
[USS Centaur]
[Deck 3 – Maintenance Hatch]

Just at a junction on Deck Three, there was a pair of legs sticking out of an open Maintenance Hatch that belonged to Ensign Gomez, who was currently doing her rounds by scanning various EPS grids and secondary systems with her tricorder from engineering, designed to do extensive scanning due to having to manually diagnose essentially everything to determine what kind of maintenance is required. Plus she had her tool cases on the floor of the jefferies next to her while she was laying on her back running her scans, ready to perform the maintenance required if it was just simply a realignment or a small adjustment here and there. “I didn’t take you for being lazy, Ensign.” Gomez blinked and then lifted her head to look down to see Ryker with a boyish grin on his face.

“I am busy, Ryker. What do you want?” Gomez asked as she laid her head back down and looked over at her scans.

“I’m hurt. I can’t pay a visit to one of my colleagues that I know all so well from our previous, suicidal mission together? Plus I am your superior after all.” Ryker told her.

She scoffed and giggled at the last part. “Oh you’re my superior officer all right, by rank and position but you are still a young and childish little boy to me.” She said as she opened up one of her kits and grabbed a tool to do a quick realignment, watching her scans to make sure she did it right.

“I don’t know whether to take that as a compliment or as an insult.” He said as he placed his hand on his chest where his heart was.

Gomez lifted her head and looked at him, smirking more when she saw him like that. “Relax, just pulling your leg…sir.” She emphasized the last part before returning to her job, only then to pull herself right out when she was done and started collecting her things.

Ryker took a step back to give her room. “I know, just pulling back. And you don’t have to be formal with me, Ryker is just fine. Or James. Or Jim, my friends call me Jim.”

Gomez raised a brow at him and smirked again. “I did not realize that we were on a first name basis.” She said as she closed the maintenance hatch and then started walking, heading to her next destination, Ryker soon right at her side.

Ryker shrugged his shoulders. “Well even though we only worked together for such a short time as it were, I’m used to us just being colleagues. Not this, formality between us. You know what I mean?”

Gomez looked at him. “I do, it just seems like you’re moving a little fast with it, don’t you think?”

Ryker smiled, “Well I mean, first names, yeah sure but I have my reasons.”

Gomez laughed, “There it is. I knew there was a reason somewhere.” She stopped and knelt down as she opened up a panel and started scanning.

Ryker stopped and knelt down beside her as he watched her work. “It’s not what you think, honest.”

Gomez looked at him and rolled her eyes as she smirked. “It is exactly what I think. Look, I’m flattered but again…you are my superior and the way things are going, you will always be my superior. Unless I transfer to a different ship, which I may not be able to, considering our First Officer will definitely want to keep us together.”

Ryker’s face flushed. “As I’ve said before, I don’t want us to be all…formal about this. I don’t care if I am your superior. I rather treat you as an equal. Well, treat everyone as an equal. But you know what I mean…”

Gomez sighed and lowered her tricorder as she looked back at him. “I do but you also have to understand, that’s just not how it works. There’s risk of favoritism or hesitation or…there’s just risks. It’s not worth taking.”

“I completely disagree with you there.” He told her and they just knelt there staring into each other’s eyes. He wasn’t sure if he was getting to her or what, but he was exploring, trying to figure her out more, hoping that her eyes would give her away and give him some sort of sign. Of course, he felt like she was doing the same, trying to figure him out and why he was acting this way or being so stubborn.

Gomez licked her lips, “Look…Ja-” She was cut off when the lights dimmed and the bars of red began flashing along with the ‘red alert’ klaxon going off.

“Red Alert! All hands to battlestations!” Was Vakai’s voice that came directly from the Bridge.

“Damn. Rain check?” Ryker asked.

“Just go, ya dork.” She told him as she closed up the panel.

He looked at her a bit longer before getting up and took off running for the nearest lift.

[Bridge]

It only took a few minutes but Ryker was back on the Bridge and heading straight for his station, his relief handing it back over to him.

“Ah, welcome back, Lieutenant. Did you enjoy your stroll?” Gomo asked.

“I did, at least until the call to duty came.” Ryker replied as he checked his sensor display, seeing three blips. “Looks like we got company.”

“Indeed we do. They will be here in five minutes.” Vakai told Ryker. “I need a status report.”

“Phasers charged, torpedo tubes loaded and shields are online.” Gomo reported.

“Engines and maneuvering thrusters are responding adequately, no sign of lag from commands.” Ryker reported.

“What about the escorts and the convoy?” Vakai asked the comms.

“All ships have raised their shields. Escorts are in formation and weapons are armed.” Replied the comms officer.

“Are we certain that these visitors are hostile?” Ryker asked.

“This is where the convoy gets frequently attacked, Lieutenant. Most definitely by the Orion Syndicate.” Captain Carter answered. “And if you’d check your sensors, you’ll know that those are Orion Raiders on the way.”

Ryker swallowed as he double checked his sensor display. “Understood, sir.”

Vakai looked to the comms officer again. “Hail the Orion vessels. Tell them that they are violating Federation Space and they are to break off at once.”

The Comm officer shook their head. “No response, Commander.”

“Their weapons are hot, Commander.” Gomo reported.

Vakai focused his attention onto the view screen. “Then I guess we have no other choice. Inform the convoy to divert all power to their shields. Then notify the Escorts to only fire to defend. We do not fire first.”

“Here they come!” Ryker announced.

Three raiders dropped out of warp and were immediately moving at full impulse towards the convoy. Knowing that the Starfleet vessels wouldn’t fire first, they took the opportunity to unleash a barrage of disruptor fire onto the convoy, followed by half a dozen torpedoes contacting shields of a couple freighters. Now that their intent was clear, the three escorts stayed in formation and chased down the raiders one by one, focusing all their fire power. But as they were focusing on one raider, the other two were free to target the convoy, so the Centaur broke off to engage the remaining two raiders, as the two escorts pressed their attack on the one.

The area of space around the convoy was now riddled with weapons fire of disruptors and phasers lancing out across space at one another, spitting out torpedoes that would home in on their targets and clash into their shields. The battle would not take long though, with the Centaur as an extra escort, the two remaining escorts were able to eliminate the raider that they were focused on, which spun out of control before secondary explosions caused a full meltdown on it’s warp core which took the vessel out entirely. Now with three escorts against two raiders, it was only a matter of time. But after the two raiders suffered enough damage that they retreated from the fight and jumped to warp, leaving the convoy alone entirely.

Vakai stood from the command chair and looked at everyone. “Good work. Damage report.”

“Shields are down to forty-eight percent, but shouldn’t take long to recharge them. The two escorts appear to be in better condition than we are, but of course they weren’t fighting two raiders alone like we were.” Gomo reported.

“What about the convoy?” Vakai looked at Comms.

“Most of the freighters took minor damage, but two are reporting major shield damage, and one of the two are reporting that their warp drive is offline.” Said the Comm.

Vakai looked at Captain Carter. “Think we can spare a couple engineers, sir?”

Carter nodded his head. “That would be wise. Faster we get their warp drive online, the quicker we can cross into Republic space. How far away are we from their border, Lieutenant?”

Ryker entered a couple commands before answering. “We’re just about a couple lightyears, sir.”

“Terrific.”

Vakai pressed the intercom button on the seat. “Bridge to Engineering. One of the freighter’s warp drive went out. Think you can spare a few to help them get it fixed?”

“I’ll send them over to the transporter room now, Commander.” Voice came from Engineering.

“Thanks, Chief.” Carter replied over Vakai. “Let’s hope they don’t come back with more friends.”

[Twenty minutes later]

Ryker was readjusting the ship’s course for the tenth time as they were simply circling around the convoy of six freighters while waiting for one of them to get their warp drive back online. That is until his sensor display started sending out a warning sound, which he looked at and saw five blips just entering their long range sensors. “Sir. Looks like our friends are back.”

Vakai stood up from the command chair and went over to the helm station to see the blips on Ryker’s sensor display. He then turned to look at Gomo. “Signatures the same?”

Gomo nodded his head. “They indeed are, sir.”

“Hail our team on the freighter.” Vakai ordered.

“Channel open.”

“Centaur to Gomez.”

“Gomez here, Commander.”

“Our friends are back and are about to be here in five minutes.”

Gomez sighed audibly. “I don’t know what the hell they did to this freighter the last round but the warp drive here is…well was…being held together by paper clips and chewing gum. The freighter Captain told me they haven’t been in a shipyard for a proper refit in years, I’m surprised anything works anymore.”

“Is that your way of saying you can use your miraculous engineering skills to bring their warp engines back online or…?”

“It’s my way of saying, it is going to be longer than five minutes. Sorry, Commander.”

Captain Carter stepped up to Vakai’s side. “Don’t worry about it, Ensign. We will provide cover, you get those engines back online. Centaur out.” With that, the comm link was terminated. “Do you know what circle the wagon means, Commander?”

Vakai raised a brow. “No sir.”

Carter grinned. “My family and I are huge fans of western novels and entertainment. One thing that I found particularly interesting was when a group of settlers that went out west to establish a settlement or were simply looking for a new home in the grand west of America, this was back when humanity was still exploring the vast continents of Earth, long before they started exploring the vast depths of the oceans. Anyways, when they were certain that they were being threatened, the line of wagons would then begin to ride in a circle, creating a defensive formation, making themselves a moving target that was difficult to target. Sometimes, they would even put the most valuable ones of their group in the middle for protection, like women and children for one.”

Vakai took the pause given to think and then answered, “You want us to circle the disabled freighter?”

Carter clapped Vakai’s shoulder. “Now you’re thinking. We’re going to take the freighters that we have, and have them circle around the disabled freighter. While we actively engage the Orion vessels.”

“But, space is three dimensional, they can simply just go up or under.” Vakai told him.

“Not if we stagger the freighters. I know we only got five freighters to circle the disabled, but if each and every one of them were at random Z levels, with their shields set to maximum and bubbled just to the point that they’re almost touching, we could prevent them from getting through, especially if we chase and pressure them away from the only two ways in and out.” Carter explained.

Vakai shrugged his shoulders. “I will do whatever it takes to ensure this cargo gets to New Romulus, sir. But since you know this idea better than I do, please, take the lead.”

Carter grinned and then went over to the Comms station and started speaking to the officer, at which point he was explaining the entire plan to the convoy Captain and the Escort vessels.

In the meantime, Vakai looked at Gomo. “I want a full payload of photon torpedoes set to proximity mode so that way we can do some damage to their shields. Have the Escorts do the same. I want to make our odds a little brighter.”

Gomo acknowledged and began coordinating by sending text messages from his station to the stations of the tactical officers on both Escort vessels while signalling the team in the torpedo room to start making modifications and reloading the tubes with proximity torpedoes. “You want maximum yield, right Commander?” Gomo asked with a grin.

Vakai grinned back. “Damn right I do. We’re going to shake them out of their seats.”

Moment everything was put in place and everyone was in position, the five freighters circling around the ‘wounded’ one, while the three escorts were waiting, the five Orion raiders dropped out of warp and were like before, moving at high speed towards the convoy. But because two of the five raiders bore the same signature of the two that had fled earlier, the three Escorts immediately knew what was coming and did not wait for them to engage first. Technically they already had in the first raid attempt, so this time, the three Starfleet vessels had full reign of returning fire with full punishment at the five raiders. A full salvo of photon torpedoes from all three vessels, a total of twelve, were fired and sailed across the space between them only to explode just before impacting their targets.

“All five raiders are reading around fifty percent of their frontal shields.” Gomo reported.

“All ships, fire at will!” Vakai ordered.

Now various weapons of phaser beams, disruptor beams and bolts, as well as a torpedo here or there from either side, filled the void of space between the two groups as they engaged each other. As they grew closer to each other, the raiders broke off and attempted to make a run for the convoy but the three escorts wouldn’t have it as they chased and continued to engage the raiders, even if it meant one escort against two raiders or three. With the order given, three escorts focused on one raider and destroyed it before proceeding to the next one, and any time a raider tried to reach the disabled freighter from the top or bottom of the circling formation, an escort would break off and pressure them away. The battle would last for about ten minutes, a second raider destroyed and the three remaining raiders, wounded as they were, retreated.

“Report.” Vakai ordered.

“Shields are down to thirty percent. It’s going to take almost an hour to recharge them.” Gomo reported.

“The two escorts are reporting minor hull damage, and shields around fifteen percent. They also state it will take them an hour to recharge.” reported the Comms Officer.

“What about the freighers?” Vakai asked.

“The freighters in the formation report some shield damage, and the disabled freighter no damage at all. But good news, they got their warp drive back online.”

Carter smirked. “It’s about time.”

Vakai smirked as well. “No kidding. Inform the engineering team to stand by for transport. Then notify the convoy to get ready for warp. As soon as our engineering team is back on board, we are resuming our course for New Romulus at maximum speed.”

Ryker turned in his seat to look at Vakai. “Most of these freighters can only go Warp Six, maybe Seven.”

Vakai nodded his head. “Then we’ll proceed as such. But I want to get into Republic space as soon as possible. Maybe the Orions will think twice once we’re in someone else’s territory.”

Carter shook his head. “I wouldn’t count on it. They’re pirates. Scum of the galaxy. Well, not all of them, but these bunch certainly are. They will be back.”

[Thirty Minutes Later]
[Convoy Fleet at Warp 6.7]
[En route to New Romulus]

“Have we crossed into Republic space yet?” Vakai asked.

Ryker checked and then turned in his seat to nod his head. “Indeed we have, about fifteen minutes ago.”

“Any sign of outlaws on our sensors?” Carter asked, which showed just how much he did enjoy the western part of Earth’s history, which gave him some looks but mostly smiles.

Ryker took a look but Gomo beat him to it, “Negative, sir. Those…outlaws…seem to have been scared off.”

But then the sensor display gave out a warning sound from both Gomo and Ryker’s stations. “Speaking of outlaws.” Ryker beat Gomo this time. “We got six of them.”

Vakai sighed. “Just had to jynx us.” He smirked at Carter, who eventually shrugged his shoulders.

“I told you they wouldn’t care about whose space we are in.” Carter told him.

“Still.” Vakai looked at the Comms Officer. “Can you get a message out to New Romulus and tell them that we got outl…Orions intercepting our Convoy.”

The Comms officer nodded their head and went to work but then turned in their seat. “Comms are being jammed sir.”

Carter frowned, “Orions don’t often jam communications. Not that I know of.”

Vakai turned to Gomo. “Are they close enough to get a detailed scan?”

“Just about, let me boost our sensors here for a second.” Gomo said as he entered some commands and then a few seconds later, he looked and stared right at Vakai. “Three of them are the same raiders from before, but the other three are not Orion. They are Klingon.”

“Aww hell.” Carter huffed, “Can we get some sort of message out to New Romulus?”

“Sorry sir, but I can’t get anything through.” Said the Comms Officer.

“What about the convoy?” Carter asked.

“Short range is working.”

“Tell them that we need to go faster, now.”

Vakai shook his head. “It won’t matter, sir. Even if they can get to Warp Seven or surprisingly, Warp Eight…those ships will travel at Warp Nine and catch up to us before we even reach New Romulus.”

“Then where the hell are the Republic ships? They certainly can tell that they got intruders in their space.” Said Carter as his voice seemed to grow more frustrated.

“What are you thinking, Captain?” Vakai asked more quietly after he approached him.

Carter looked around and sighed, “Don’t worry about who hears, Commander. We’re a team, might as well hear it.” He stepped towards the very center of the Bridge. “I think that I know where the damn Hunters of D’Ghor have been getting some of their supplies from. How many times has this convoy going to New Romulus been hit?”

“Reports said that they have been hit almost every time for the past two months.” Ryker replied.

Carter turned and pointed. “Someone’s been reading. Good. Just what I expected from my Second Officer.” He then turned back around and looked at everyone. “As much as I wish we had participated in the defense against the Hunters of D’Ghor, we could not. This ship is old, everyone knows that. And as I have told you,” Carter pointed at Vakai. “I don’t even know why Starfleet keeps her around anymore. Not saying I want them to retire her, I love being on this ship and I love the fact that she still flies to this day. But those Klingons, those…?” Carter looked at Gomo.

“Oh.” Gomo looked down at his sensor readings, “Two Birds of Prey and a K’t’inga Class.”

Carter pointed again in gesture. He was about to explain how they will eat up their shields and tear through their hull but he remembered that that was not the best motivational speech to give, especially when it was true. He sighed and looked at everyone. “It will not be easy. We will certainly have a more difficult time than the last two confrontations but we are Starfleet. Despite all odds thrown at us, we do not give up.”

Vakai stood before the command chair. “Then what do we do to prepare?”

Carter smiled, “What do you think we should do?”

“Shut down all non-essential systems, go straight to emergency lighting. Shut down stations that we don’t need, focus entirely on combat only. Shut down anything we cannot use, that includes long range communications and might as well include long range sensors. We know they’re coming, we might as well focus strictly on battle.” Vakai then looked at Gomo. “Think we can risk losing a couple phaser banks?”

“If you’re talking about shunting more power into them so that they deal more damage to our enemy, then yes, I think we can risk losing a couple, maybe a few.” Gomo told him.

“What about photon torpedoes. Can we increase the payload somehow?” Vakai asked.

“If we get rid of the guidance systems and maybe one of the two deuterium tanks, we would have enough room to install a couple more antimatter containers for the matter-antimatter chamber to potentially increase the yield even more.” Gomo replied.

“Do what you can and on how many that you can.” Vakai told him.

“You do realize that we will have to rely on lining up with the target in order for those torpedoes to hit their target, right?” Ryker asked as Gomo left the Bridge to head straight for the Torpedo Room.

“We do what we can, Lieutenant.” Carter told him. “Maybe we should petition Starfleet to allow us smaller guys to carry quantum torpedoes.”

“Good luck with that.” Vakai told him. “Tell the Escorts of our plan, and if they wish to do the same, be our guest.”

[Ten Minutes Later]

The Convoy fleet had dropped out of warp, where the Escorts and their slight modifications to their weapons, with increased power to the shields and phasers, were ready for the fight. In a single moment, three raiders, two birds of prey and one K’t’inga dropped out of warp but this time, instead of approaching the convoy at maximum speed, they were approaching in a more calm manner.

“Sir. The lead ship is hailing us.” Said the Comms officer.

Both Vakai and Carter looked at each other with both surprise and curiosity before Vakai looked at the Comms. “On screen.” And just like that, a Klingon face appeared on the main viewer.

“So you are the one who has been making it difficult to raid the convoy.” Growled the Klingon.

“I am Commander Vakai of the USS Centaur. You are in Romulan Republic space, friends of the United Federation of Planets. I highly recommend that you leave at once before any more lives are lost. Quite frankly, I am not at all surprised that some of Mo’Kai had escaped from the Klingon Defense Force. Guess that means you ran away like a coward.” Vakai stared at the Klingon.

The Klingon laughed before looking at Carter, and noticing the pips he had, the Klingon knew who was in charge. “Captain, tell your Romulan pet to keep his mouth shut. Or I will have your ship disabled, have him brought on board my ship, cut off his ears and feel them to my targ!”

Carter was about to say something in response to that threat when a new voice came through their speakers, “You will have to go through our vessels first, Klingon scum.”

Both Vakai and Carter turned to Gomo who spoke quietly, “They just appeared out of nowhere. Three Romulan Republic vessels, right behind the raiding group.”

The Klingon growled. “I will not be leaving without my cargo!!”

Vakai took a step toward the view screen. “Face it, Klingon. The Mo’kai have lost. They are outnumbered and outgunned now. They simply do not stand a chance. You will just have to run home, with your tail tucked in between your legs, and find someone else to prey on for supplies. But hear this, Starfleet is always watching and we will stop your reign of terror on the innocents.”

“And if you enter Romulan Republic space again, we will not be so kind as to converse with you. We will destroy you and every single vessel that threatens our people. Do I make myself clear, Klingon?” Came from that voice again, a female Romulan Commander as Vakai suspected.

“So you have two options. Leave. Or be destroyed.” Vakai told him.

The Klingon began to curse in native tongue before slamming his fist on his arm rest, which must have been a button that cut the transmission. Then, with the viewer displaying the six raiding vessels, they turned and took off into empty space before jumping to warp.

Vakai let out a sigh before looking at the Comms Officer. “Inform everyone to stand down. Gomo, feel free to reset those torpedoes back to standard configuration.”

“Incoming transmission from the lead Romulan Republic ship, sir.” said the Comms Officer.

“On screen.” Vakai ordered, and as such, the viewer flickered to reveal what he had suspected correctly. A female Romulan Commander.

“I am Commander Pitroma.”

“Commander Vakai. It is a pleasure to meet you, Commander and I must say, impeccable timing.”

“Pleasure is mine, Commander and we have been monitoring your situation since the first two raids just outside our border.” She told him.

Vakai raised a brow, both him and Carter looking at each other, before they both looked back at the view screen. “You’ve been aware since the first raid? Mind if I ask why you chose now to assist?”

“As much as we are friends with the Federation, we wanted to continue respecting each other’s borders. Granted the convoy is bringing supplies to our homeworld, but we also felt that you could handle yourselves just fine. And you did, at least until now.” She told him.

Vakai sighed, “Yeah, when the odds stacked against us and were in your space.” He frowned at her.

She licked her lips. “I understand, Commander. But we were also tied up with another matter, coming to you to assist in escorting the convoy was out of the question. At least until now.”

“Why didn’t you simply just say that in the beginning?” Carter asked.

She tilted her head, “And you are?”

“Captain John Carter, Commanding Officer of the USS Centaur. I have left Commander Vakai in command for the purpose of preparing him for his future. Long story. Regardless, you haven’t answered my question, Commander.”

“The matter that we were busy with, is classified Captain.” She told him. “That is why I did not bring it up in the first place.”

Carter sighed, “Typical Romulans.”

“I’m sorry?” Pitroma asked.

Carter raised his voice, “I said, ‘Typical Romulans’, Commander. We treat each other like allies, provide supplies to help each other out, and yet when it comes down to needing your help, you’re always busy with some ‘classified’ matter, so classified that you can’t even tell your friends. You know how many times this convoy has been raided? Where were the Republic ships then? Busy with another classified matter?”

“Captai-”

“No, I don’t want to hear it. Nothing you say, will change my mind on how I feel about the Romulans, all Romulans. You are all the same before the Dominion War, during the Dominion War and after the Dominion War. You never change.” Carter ranted.

Vakai stepped up and patted Carter’s shoulder, a way to calm and tell Carter to let him take over. “Look. Point is, Starfleet has been working very hard to get New Romulus these supplies and to get the supplies that New Romulus offers to the Federation. But Starfleet has been the only one escorting and defending this convoy since the beginning. That’s not entirely how this friendship works between us.”

Pitroma sighed, “I do understand, Commander. But none of which is my call. I simply follow orders. Right now, we are ordered to assist in the escort of the convoy to New Romulus.”

Vakai nodded his head. “Thank you, Commander. Then if you don’t mind, we should resume our course and get these supplies delivered.”

“Of course. Take the lead, we will cover the rear.”

“Understood. Centaur out.” And with that, the transmission was cut and the view screen blinked to reveal the three Romulan Republic vessels. Vakai sighed and looked at Carter. “A little harsh, sir?”

Carter turned and looked at Vakai. “I don’t envy them. I do wish that the supernova never had happened, and that they never had lost their original home. But it doesn’t change that they are still the same, no matter what Government they are. The Free State or the Republic or the Star Empire. They are still the same, and they certainly act the same. You have any idea how close we were to losing the Dominion War, if they had continued to sit back and watch with their pretty little Non-Aggression that they signed with the Dominion? You children,” Carter looked at every one of them on the Bridge. “None of you know what it was like. None of you had to sit on the edge of your bed, reading report after report of your friends, colleagues, or even just acquaintances having died. Every day, I find out someone I knew had died. And these Romulans sat there and did nothing for most of the war. And yet, here we are again, secrets being kept from us while we fight for them.” There was a long pause on the Bridge after that, and then Carter sighed before walking into the turbolift, realizing that he may have ranted too far and needed to go for a walk.

Vakai looked to Ryker, “Get us back on course.” He told him.

[Later that day]
[Captain’s Quarters]

Carter sat there behind his desk, rotating the glass full of synthahol whiskey over and over as he stared at it. He had spent several hours walking around the entire ship, changing deck every so often to make it appear he was on a simple inspection run, wanting the crew to think that there was nothing wrong, nothing wrong at all. He was deep into his thoughts that it took probably the tenth chime from his door to get his attention. “Enter.”

In came the Chief Medical Officer, Doctor Summer Pearce. “So, I heard that you had a bit of an outburst on the Bridge.”

Carter grunted and then took a sip, only to set the glass back down and resume rotating it. “I may have over done it this time.”

She sighed and sat down across from him, taking the glass out of his hands so that he would divert his attention to her, and not ignore what she was going to say. “You have got to let go of the past, John.”

He looked up into her eyes. “How can you ask me that, Summer? We are the last two who have been on this ship when we were simply just Ensigns. We’ve been through it all.”

She placed her hands on his. “I know. But I live my days by looking forward to the future. I don’t dwell on the past, as it will start to rot the very soul.” She spoke softly.

John grunted. “But these kids need to know about our history. The history where we could have lost…all of this.”

She smiled, “They already know, John. Do you really believe that schools and the Academy would simply brush history away and pretend it never happened? They know, and they don’t need to be reminded.”

John sighed, “You’re right. I’m just a damn old fool.” Lowering his head.

She took her right hand and placed it on his cheek, making him look at her again. “You’re no fool. Just an old man who needs to retire, like I am.”

He took her right hand and gripped both of them. “I don’t want you to go, Summer.”

She chuckled softly. “I am not leaving for another month or two. But I am going to retire. We’ve been at this long enough, John.”

He shook his head. “Starfleet still needs experienced Captains, and crew.”

“So what? You’re going to stay Captain of the Centaur until they mothball her and drag your wrinkled ass out of here?” She then smiled at the end.

John chuckled and shook his head. “I don’t know, honestly. But she’s the only ship I know, Summer. Someone’s got to keep flying her. They don’t need to stick some baby face in command of this old girl, not when they got fancier and newer starships for that.”

She smiled with a nod of her head before giving him his glass back and grabbing one for herself. “I still think you should retire with me.” She told him as he poured her a glass.

He set the bottle down, “I will retire when they retire the Centaur.”

She smirked, “Or when Starfleet decides to retire you.” She said as she took a sip.

He shook his head with a smile and took a sip of his own. “They would then have to drag my wrinkled ass off of her.” And with that they both laughed.

———————————
– With the raids finally over, the Convoy is back on course to New Romulus, with a few more escorts in tow.
– A little more character development about the Captain who hasn’t let go of the past and still feels like the Romulans will never change.
– Next Chapter will be arriving at New Romulus and Vakai learning a bit more about his parents
– And is Ryker making a move on Gomez? If so, will his ship sail or sink? Stay tuned!