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And we're back

Posted on Tuesday 30 January 2024 @ 22:35 by Captain Melody Jones & Ensign Charlie Cooper & Civilian Sansa Draxx-Jones & Commander Seklar & Lieutenant Commander Ras th'Zaanaq & Lieutenant Nir’anyar & Ensign Tridi

Mission: The Search
Location: USS Merlin
Timeline: MD 1 2104 and 50 seconds.
2581 words - 5.2 OF Standard Post Measure


Captain Smith was pacing the bridge. "Computer. Time"

"The time is 2104."

It was almost 5 minutes he thought to himself. The ECH stood off to one side, a neutral expression on her face.

"It looks like they were not successful..." Smith said to himself, dejected.

Melody's voice came from behind him "I wouldn't say that Captain."

There had been no noise, no light and now most of the senior staff of the Merlin stood on the back of the bridge including Sansa and Ras. With the exception of Melody, the others were looking around slightly confused as to how they got here.

"Welcome back Captain Jones. I was just keeping your seat warm for you." Smith said as he came over to her and extended his hand which Melody took and gave it a firm shake.

"Thank you Captain." Melody replied. This next part she was not looking forward to. The entity in the Nexus had told her that her crew had the choice of whether to stay or return. Now it was time to find out how many had chosen to stay.

"Computer. What is the current crew complement?"

The Computer responded, "There are 1000 members of the crew of the USS Merlin and 30 crew members from the USS Freman Dyson."

Melody's heart sank a little. That was just over 70% of the ship's complement. About 500 had chosen to remain in the Nexus.

Melody turned to those who had returned. "Are you all ok?"

Sansa nodded and smiled, happy to see her mom on the bridge of her ship again.

Ras saw the disappointment in Captain Jones' body language. "I'm sure they made a conscious decision to stay behind. The Nexus is powerful when it comes to playing with emotional states." The Andorian said softly, his words trying to reassure the Captain that there was nothing more she could have done.

Melody nodded in acknowledgement and picked up a nearby PADD. She punched in a few commands and then spoke to the Computer again. "Computer, transfer a full list of all crew members that are absent to this PADD starting with the senior staff."

The Padd filled up with a long list of names which Melody studied in silence for a moment, her face betraying no emotion.
Finally, she turned to Ras. "Well, Commander it would appear that I'm presently without an XO. I'd like to offer you that position."

The Andorian's antenna lent backwards with surprise. "That's a very kind offer, Captain, but you don't know anything about me. How could you offer me a position without researching the officer you're asking?"

Melody held his gaze for a moment before tapping her comm badge.

"Bridge to engineering. Report. Are we all back down there?"

Meanwhile, In Main engineering....

Ensing Cooper was just getting her bearings. One minute she was in the Nexus and now she was back on board the Merlin. All the engineering staff looked similarly confused.

She went over to Seklar. "Are you... Ok, Commander?"

A blank look was all she got from the Vulcan as he held two near-teenage children to him. Only seconds before they had been infants and he had been carrying them over to their mother. The blank look turned to sorrow as he came to the realization that Jadhen was gone again. Finally he realized someone had spoken to him and he turned his head to look at his protégé. "No," he answered softly, "but I will be, in time. Who did you see in the nexus?"

She thought for a moment before responding. "I... I saw my family..." She lied. "We were having Christmas dinner together. She turned to the warp core readout. "Who started the Warp core? The plasma stream is going to need realigning for starters," she said, picking up an engineering kit.

Just then Ensign Carlile entered. "Well, it's good to see you all back!"

Seklar narrowed his eyes and shook his head minutely at Charly as an indication he knew she wasn't being truthful. However, he said nothing about it and turned towards the newcomer. "How long exactly were we gone?" He asked as he held his disoriented children to him, "and who are you?"

Cooper turned and looked at Seklar surprised. "She's only been off the ship since we left DS21 and you've forgotten her already?"

Ensign Carlile's face remained pleasant, not showing any sign of annoyance. "I was assigned to the engineering team here on the Merlin for 18th months Commander, obviously I need to try to make more of an impression. I was scheduled to return for my next tour but the disappearance of the crew sort of accelerated the timetable. To answer your question, Commander, all contact was lost with the Merlin 3 weeks ago. A distress call was received by Starbaase 185 early this morning."

Three weeks! Seklar's mind was reeling even though within the nexus there had been no sense of time at all.

"Dad, I want to go home," Ishara whispered while still clinging to her father." please, take us home."

Melody's voice suddenly came over the comm system. "Bridge to engineering. Report. Are we all back down there?"

"I am not certain captain," the unsteady chief engineer answered, "I have not had time to inventory who is here and who is not. This may take several hours to complete."

"Commander, I want you to send out an engineering team and inspect this ship from stem to stern, making any necessary repairs then report directly to me. Make a note of anything out of the ordinary and if there are any more signs of sabotage. Jones out."

"Once everyone has had a chance to get their bearings, certainly captain," the Vulcan answered, somewhat coldly, "from what I can see from those in my immediate surroundings, people seem unsettled."

in sickbay

Zirvell stood right where he had been in the nexus, near one of the businesses, and the shift was almost seamless. Except he was facing his boss, where before he thought he had been treating a patient. He reached out carefully towards her. "Doctor, are you alright?"

She still looked angry and reacted instantly by pinching his arm sharply. "If this is another one of those blasted illusions then count me as entirely unhappy and annoyed!"

"Ow!" The Cardassian exclaimed, yanking his arm back. "Why did you do that? And where did Lieutenant Oakham go? He was just here..."

"What!" Anya retorted a little more than confused. "Is this not another illusion?" she asked as she quickly landed a slap on the cheek of the young Cardassian.

Zirvell reeled back, his hand covering his cheek. It was still stinging and his eyes watered. "Doctor!" He exclaimed, visibly hurt by her course of action. "Why did you do that?"

"Oh... Zirvell its good to see you again and man up would you. It was a slap!"

Back on the bridge....

".......Make a note of anything out of the ordinary and if there are any more signs of sabotage. Jones out."

She turned to Smith. "Would you mind watching the shop for a moment captain?"

Smith shook his head and smiled "Not at all."

Melody turned back to Ras. "With me Commander." and headed for her ready room.

As the doors closed behind them Melody addressed the computer as she sat at her desk. "Computer, bring up the service record of Lieutenant Commander Ras th'Zaanaq."

Her monitor came to life.

"Commander. Where we've just been is a place without time and it's made me realise even more that the time we have here is most precious and should not be squandered. When an opportunity presents itself, you should seize it, before confusion and doubt can cloud your judgement. On the bridge, you asked me how I could offer you the position without knowing anything about you. I consider myself to be a good judge of character and although we've never met before, your actions so far tell me a great deal.
You risked yourself to save someone you've never met by beaming into a place that we have very little knowledge about, not even certain if you would make it there or be able to get back. You kept your head and acted professionally in most unusual circumstances which to me marks a good Starfleet officer. It also shows me you're not afraid of risk or a challenge, something else I look for in the people I work with. I set the highest standards for my crew and I expect them to give me their best. Being my First Officer won't be easy and I'll expect the same high standards from you but I'll be fair with you and give you a chance to prove to me and the crew that you are indeed worth to be their Commander. I will, of course, read through your personnel file as well. So..." She stood and walked round her desk coming to a stop right in front of him.
"What will it be Commander? Do you want the job or not? Are you up to the challenge?"

"Captain, I was ordered to find you and bring you back. I follow my orders to the letter as long as I agree with them." Ras said proudly extending his chest ever so slightly. "I meant no disrespect when I questioned you inviting me to be your executive. I want the job on the merits of my career not because I showed up and pulled you out of a sticky situation. To serve as Executive Officer of a Starship like the Merlin would be honourable."

"I would like to accept your offer, Captain. It would be a privilege and an honour."

Melody smiled warmly at him. "Good, I'm glad to hear that Commander. Welcome aboard. Now, down to business." She picked up the PADD from her desk and made a few entries on it before handing it to Ras.

"Commander I need you to go and speak with all department heads, I've made all the necessary information available to you. There are a few department heads who... didn't come back, you'll have to speak to their assistants. Get a general status report and go through any other personnel issues they might have and then get back to me. We'll have to discuss finding a new chief operations officer, new chief of security and counsellor. Any questions?"

Ras took the padd as the Captain spoke and briefly thumbed through its contents while he listened to Captain Jones. "I understand, ma'am. Do we have anyone on board that could step up to those positions in the meantime?"

"For the time being the assistant chief operations officer and assistant chief security officer will have to fill those roles. Once you've spoken with all the department heads, you and I will have to sit down and make a formal decision."
Lwoldi took a breath before continuing. "Also, as you might have overhead, we have a saboteur onboard. Now, I don't know if they were transported into the Nexus with the rest of the crew and if they were, if they chose to come back. That's something else we're going to have to discuss. I'll be on the bridge if you need me. Dismissed."

Ras took a moment to let that sink in. Potentially anyone on board could be the saboteur. This worried Ras, he felt the need to question the Captain's cavalier approach to a potential intruder. "Forgive me, Captain, but if there is a risk to this ship by a saboteur I must suggest we lock down the ship's systems and post security teams at vulnerable places."

Melody thought for a moment then nodded grimly. "Sabotage. On a Federation starship. It's almost unthinkable. A good idea number one. Could you coordinate that with the assistant chief security officer? We need to nip this in the bud as soon as possible. Also, we need to see if they left any clues to their identity which hopefully they did."

"When I speak to the Assistant security chief, I'll have them start making arrangements for making the ship safe. I'll also suggest security teams working in pairs or threes. Safety in numbers." Ras replied, nodding his agreement with the Captain.

Melody stood. "Very good Number one. Proceed." as they headed for the door.

The Commander gave a stern nod, before turning on his heels and exited the Captain's ready armed with many jobs, but it first would be to visit security.

Having finished assisting in Main Engineering, Ensign Tridi had decided to take his normal position on the Bridge of the Merlin. Having only been a commissioned officer for a short while, the Jyracan Ensign felt a bit out of place in his new skin. As the only member of his species in the entire Federation, he felt even more like a fish out of water.

Stepping onto the Bridge, he tried to sneak to his position but knew his lime green fur probably made that impossible.

Melody stepped back onto the bridge at that moment and stopped as she spotted a new face. She had seen the new crew files that had been expected to come onboard.

"Ah, you must be our new Chief Flight Officer. Welcome aboard Ensign."

Having reached the Helm, the Jyracan heard the greeting from the Captain and realized he'd been spotted. Turning away, with a wide grin atop his face, the Ensign greeted the Captain kindly, "Thank you, Captain, I'm happy to be here." He had hoped not to be a spectacle on the Bridge, but he also knew it wasn't necessarily an avoidable situation when one was late for their duty shift. It was better to just deal with the fallout and get it over with, "I apologize for my tardiness, Captain. There is no excuse."

Melody smiled. "Ensign, most of the crew have just returned from a place where time has no meaning. I think we'll let it slide this time."

Graciously nodding, the Helmsman took his station at the front of the Bridge.

She turned to Captain Smith. "I think it would be prudent if we returned to Starbase 185 so I can brief Admiral Jackson. We'll follow you back, say at Warp 5. Thank you for your help once again Captain. "

"It's no problem Captain Jones. I'll return to my ship and we'll get underway. Safe journey Captain." And Captain Smith headed for the transporter room.

Melody turned back to Tridi. "Helm, make preparations to follow the Freeman Dayson back to Starbase 185, Warp 5."

Typing on the console, Tridi looked over his shoulder at the Captain, "Yes, Captain." Accessing the preprogrammed navigational points, the Ensign opened the menu for Starbases and selected 185 from the list of nearby locations. The computer automatically uploaded the course onto the display, looking for the most efficient route. Inputting a second variable, the Merlin's computer updated to keep a 1,000 meter distance from the Freeman Dyson.

"Course and speed laid in."

Melody sat in her chair as on the viewscreen, the Freeman Dyson jumped into warp.



●●●● Captain Melody Jones
Commanding Officer
USS Merlin

Ensign Tridi
Flight Control Officer
USS Merlin

●● Lieutenant Nir’anyar
Chief Medical Officer
USS Merlin

Commander Seklar
Chief Engineer

Lt j.g. Zirvell Khen
Medical officer
pnpc Seklar


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