There was a natural kind of calm over the officers that had gathered in the briefing room, they were talking about all kinds of mundane day to day things. They knew the Captain was going to come in and talk to them about their new mission, the ship had already set out on maximum warp to their destination, but for a couple of minutes more it seemed like any other normal day aboard the vessel.
The doors parted and the Bajoran commanding officer stepped inside, a PADD in hand, the XO in his wake, “Thank you all for coming,” he tapped a few buttons on the device he was carrying and it prompted the holo-display in the middle of the table to fire up and show a planetary system, “this is Tripp 901, it’s a pre-FTL civilisation within Federation borders,” he made a pre-saved presentation play out, “that is until 0724 FST this morning.” The holo showed a sudden burst and the telemetry clearly indicated that the civilisation in the system had achieved faster than light travel.
Shairo leaned forward, this was exciting, a new civilisation that they got to make first contact with? She would be the first one in the fleet to lay her eyes on another novel way to create faster than light travel. The Isoroku weren’t normally assigned to FC missions, that wasn’t really within the role of the Akira-class. She looked around to confirm what she already knew, they didn’t have a diplomatic core on board. This was all going to come down on the shoulders of the Command staff.
“This is the catch though, the vessel upon leaving their solar system set up a deep space communications array and started broadcasting a message,” Captain Kinsho pulled up the audio recording, “it was a novel language so it took some time for the comms department to translate, we won’t know for sure until we have more input but we believe it says the following.” The recording started to play, a soft spoken, sing-song voice started to talk in a language that none of them understood, “Sorry, one second.” the Captain activated the universal translator on the recording and restarted.
“To all, help we need right away. We have been in fights with the planet Kalvade for ten years and our two planets have given up. Peace negotiations between our two firefighting planets have been completed and are preparing to invade Kalmose, our hometown. Millions of people are died.”
The excited buzz of getting to make first contact immediately died out around the table. Lieutenant Commander Galin, the flight commander of the sizable fighter wing aboard, immediately got up from her seat, “permission to be dismissed sir, it sounds like I’ll have to put my air group on high alert.”
“Granted, Commander, best to be prepared,” The Captain looked as the Trill walked out, knowing that she wasn’t going to be adding much to the discussion following this revelation and he needed too well prepared and confident out there in her fighter. It had been two months since the incident with the Liev’at, but everyone knew that she was still struggling with it. She’d never admit it, not even during the mandatory counselling sessions, but it was clear that she wasn’t quite the same.
“So, I’ll just come with the most obvious objection to this,” The Cajun drawl immediately tipped everyone off that the science officer, Nicholas StCroix, was talking, “Prime Directive.”
“This communique was received by a local outpost, went through fleet command, they see it as an aide mission. We’re not interfering, we’re simply responding to a distress call from an early FTL civilisation. For all we know the two planets are really burning and the rest of the translation is botched,” The Captain really didn’t want to get involved in their political games, but perhaps an objective outsider was just what was needed to get the two sides of the conflict talking again, “I need you to be doing some preliminary analysis on the system, see what we’re dealing with.”
“Planetary profiles, extra-planetary non-natural object, natural objects, weapons signatures, weh, we can do that,” Nicholas nodded at the request.
“Now please, Commander,” The Captain knew that there was little time to waste and keeping their people here in the briefing room was pointless, “share your findings with Lieutenant Wu, so that they can properly prepare for whatever it is we’re facing.”
“Check, weapon signatures first then, allons,” Nicholas pushed himself out of the chair and made his way over to the exit.
The Captain looked at Shairo, “if there has been a decade long war there’s probably widespread devastation on both planets, we need to make sure that we can help them. Get what you need to set up aide for two planetwide campaigns.”
“We still have two industrial replicators in the cargo hold, it’s not much but at least it’s an even number,” young Orion woman gave a small smile, it was things like these that always made Shairo nervous. She knew it was well within the expected range of assignments on a Starfleet vessel but conflict and combat weren’t her strong suit and the idea of having to walk around on the surface of a planet under siege didn’t really sit well with her, “I’ll see what else we can manage.”
The Captain nodded, “And Commander Galin has requested a level one diagnostic on her Valkyrie. Can you please find some time to indulge her? Reassure her that everything is in order? I need her at her best.”
Shairo gave a bit of a nod as she stood up from the chair, “aye sir,” there was clear hesitation in her voice.
“Lieutenant, is there something wrong?” The Captain immediately picked up on it.
“Nothing sir,” Shairo shook her head a bit as she grabbed the PADD from the table, making sure that all the relevant available information was transferred over.
“Out with it, Lieutenant.” He clearly had very little time for this.
“Two engineers have already checked it and the reports all came back clean as a whistle. There’s nothing wrong with the fighter,” Shairo didn’t like how that implied that there clearly had to be something wrong with the Commander, “I don’t want to say that Liliah, I mean Commander Galin, that something’s wrong with her, but, I mean, I trust my Engineers, they tell me the fighter is in the best condition since it rolled off the assembly line in Alpha Centauri, I just don’t know what to tell her.”
Kinsho smirked a bit, “Fighter pilots are a rare breed, Lieutenant, sometimes you just have to indulge them, when the Flight Wing Commander asks for an inspection on her fighter, always make sure that the Chief Engineer conducts it.”
Shairo frowned, she had better things to do, and it was clear that there was no added value to it, the engineers that she had sent were experts in small craft, much more so than her. They had been specifically assigned to the Isoroku to take care of the fighters and shuttles, she simply nodded, “aye, sir, but I’m sure I won’t be finding anything.”
“That’s quite alright, Lieutenant, then it shouldn’t take you more than fifteen minutes.”
“Yes, sir, I mean no, sir,” Shairo nodded again, “I’ll go there first, sir.”
[Twenty minutes later, Fighter Bay One]
“I’m telling you, Liliah, there is nothing wrong with the fighter,” Shairo had spent the last five minutes trying to convince the flight wing commander of her findings, and those of the specialised engineers that she had sent in the days prior.
The Trill’s expression became cold, “You must’ve missed something,” she was sure to emphasise the next word, “Lieutenant.”
Shairo felt taken aback by the iciness that the woman was showing her, they had never been really close but they were both senior officers on the ship and it wasn’t odd for them to call each other by their names rather than rank. She chalked it up to stress or trauma, “It’s really hard to miss something if there’s nothing there, Lil-… Commander.”
“Check it again,” Liliah demanded, “there has to be something, it feels off. It feels sluggish, it feels jittery,” she balled her fists to contain some of the frustration and annoyance at these incapable engineers, “or perhaps I should call Beau, he might’ve been a hick but at least he knew what he was talking about.”
There was a lot that Shairo was able to take from people that wanted things repaired or checked in certain ways, but she was not about to let someone imply that she was not a capable engineer, “I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the fighter, perhaps there’s some defect in the organic component,” she bit back.
“What?” Liliah took a moment to process that remark, she knew that the fighters didn’t have the gel packs that some of the newer vessels in the fleet were using, then she realised what the Engineer meant and stepped up to her menacingly, “would you care to rephrase that statement, Lieutenant?”
“I stand by my conclusion, and that of the two engineers that checked out your fighter before me, Commander, if there is anything wrong with how the fighter handles then perhaps it’s the person handling it that is to blame.” Shairo wasn’t intimidated, she grew up in a big family with several big Orion brothers and their friends, “is there anything else you’d like me to spell out for you so that your fighter jock brain can comprehend or can I go prepare my team for a planetary aide mission?” She took a moment to allow for that to sink in with the woman looking down on her, “Commander.” She added out of spite.
The Trill was beyond words, seeing the scrawny Orion woman defy her so bluntly and openly, there was a strength in the normally so timid and insecure young woman that had her at a loss for words in that moment. With a huff she stepped away from in front of the green skinned engineer, not saying another word, but starting her pre-flight checks.
Shairo quickly started to walk away from the situation, her heart pounding loudly in her chest, for a moment there she was sure Liliah would take a swing at her. It wouldn’t have been the first time her big mouth got her slapped around. She was just glad that the Trill showed restraint because it was clear that she would’ve been no match for an angry fighter pilot.