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Comings And Goings

Posted on May 28, 2017 @ 4:37am by Captain Michael Turlogh Kane

Mission: The Romulan Way


(Continued from "Welcome To The Jungle")

Location: Starbase 56, public rec area
Stardate: [2.17]0527.2050
Scene: Main thoroughfare

Michael Turlogh Kane was still on his way back to the Phoenix. The size of the Starbase was impressive, and he moved at a slow pace, trying to take in as much of the place as he could. He had served on a space station for a brief period, as commander of Gateway Station, but that was ten years and another lifetime ago. There was a certain kind of staticity about places like this - he realised that he preferred the mobility of a starship, more free to seek out new sights and experiences, than to being cooped up on a starbase. Military starbases like this were even more restrictive, and what with all the work being done around here in attempting to reconstitute the Neutral Zone fleet, Kane imagined that there wasn't much fun to be had except having the odd drink.

He stopped walking. He had found his way to the main thoroughfare of this part of the starbase - he was on the concourse that led from the main 'stem' of the giant station to the docking ring where the Phoenix lay waiting. There were several dozen people - well over a hundred, he thought, milling around, seemingly with purpose. All of them were Starfleet, wearing variants of the uniform, and almost all of them were wearing gold. Kane must have stuck out, doubly so that most of them were enlisted personnel.

"Good evening, Captain Kane."

The voice, from Kane's left, was low, but pleasant and warm, soupy like treacle. He turned to see who was speaking to him. In the shadow of a nearby bulkhead stood an older man dressed in a long coat, holding a walking stick in one hand. The man's features were lean and sharp, but two bright eyes glinted under his hat, and he smiled a smile of blades in an alley. Behind him, hovering at shoulder-height in the air, was a small, spherical droid, little green lights flashing over its metallic skin.

Kane frowned. The man certainly knew how to get attention. The tunnel that led to the bulkhead was no more than five paces long, but it held the shadows well, and that was where the old man had chosen to stand while hailing him. Kane nodded a greeting. "Hello. You know me."

"Indeed I do!" The man extended a bony finger and beckoned Kane forward. "I remember you from Gateway station ten years ago. The wormhole closed. The Orb of Judgement was deposited into our world, and there were wars and rumours of war." He smiled, showing clean white perfect teeth. "My name is Maury R. Tee. I owned a little shop on the Promenade." He gestured to the hovering droid. "My unliving underling, H.W."

Kane tried to think if he knew the man. It seemed like there was a memory hanging in the darkness, right at the back of his mind's eye, but try as he might, he couldn't summon it forward into the light. It hung back, as if in fear.

He stepped forward, putting one foot inside the bulkhead's tunnel. "I see. That was a long time ago, Mister Tee."

"When one has a memory like I do, Captain, it was just yesterday," said Tee, smiling a maddening smile. "Your starship - the Phoenix - is a magnificent vessel. I was admiring it from the viewport earlier. If anything can make the Romulans think twice about extending their empire in this direction, it is that machine of war. And, of course, those who crew her."

Kane wasn't sure where this was going. He threw a glance at the droid. "The Phoenix has the finest crew in the fleet."

Tee chuckled sagely. "No doubt, Captain, no doubt. And you are a fine leader of men. Then again, not all of them are men, are they?" He hefted his walking stick. "Your new pilot, for instance. Tomas Vukovic."

Kane shook his head. "You know more than I do, Mister Tee. I haven't seen any transfer orders because I've been here all day. You know this man, Vukovic?"

Tee leaned forward. "I'm afraid he's not much of a man, Captain Kane, but yes, I know him. He also was on Gateway for a brief period all those years - or moments - ago."

"Well, I've never met him."

"You'll know him when you see him, Captain. He's a Borg, you know. Not a soulless robotic zombie like his ancestors of a half-century ago - oh no, not him. Tomas Vukovic is outwardly almost entirely Human. It's what's inside that I'd keep an eye on."

Kane was growing impatient. "If Vukovic is a Starfleet officer, then I'm sure he's been cleared to - "

"No doubt," Tee was nodding. "Read his service record. He volunteered to become a Borg. Wasn't assimilated - volunteered. He went looking for them, asked them to put their machines in him, begged them to violate him with their unnatural cyberware. I ask you, what kind of a person might do that?" He clicked his stick on the deckplate. "What runs in his blood, Captain Kane? What's in his heart?"

Kane held up a hand. "This conversation is over." He turned his back on Maury R. Tee and his silent, hovering droid, and moved away from them both. Whatever the old man was selling was just bullshit. Poison words from a poison tongue. Kane wanted no part of it.

And yet, as he moved away through the throng of Starfleet personnel, Kane made a mental note to keep an eye on this Tomas Vukovic, whoever he was. There was nothing wrong with being a Borg, per se - modern Borg society was just as cosmopolitan as any of the Federation's core worlds - but Maury R. Tee might have had a point. Cyberware changed a man - Kane ran his fingers over his own prosthetic eye and along a skinjob that wasn't his own. People said that the more machine you integrated into your body, the more soulless you became.

He gritted his teeth against those feelings, and glanced back to where Tee and his droid were standing, but there was nobody there now, only shadows pooling around the bulkhead. Kane shuddered involuntarily, thinking dark thoughts about smiling old men with knives for teeth and ancient, bad eyes, whose metal familiars hovered at their heads like armoured spiders dangling on a line, spinning cocoons of shadow that enveloped their masters' prey no how far away they hid. He looked up into the bulkhead's gloom, imagining an eight-metallic-legged H.W. creeping along the wall, billions of poisonous computer bytes dripping from its maw, falling away into the darkness in a series of hissing binary toxins, eight chrome eyes relaying whatever it could see back to its master who dwelled at the centre of the web, who plucked each strand like a twisted harp-string, seeking new atrocities to mete out to an unsuspecting galaxy.

The encounter had only lasted a couple of minutes, but had ruined his whole day.


Location: USS Phoenix, docked at Starbase 56 nearby
Scene: Primary Sickbay - deck 12, saucer section

Sickbay was empty, and Aerdan Jos and Sofia Andersson were in their office, working. Well, Sofia was - she was poring over a long list of medical supplies that was scrolling across her desktop computer screen - but Aerdan was half-heartedly reading over a paper trumpeting a potential new software upgrade for sickbay biobeds. It wasn't that he didn't care, but his mind was focused on Romulans. If there was going to be some sort of military confrontation with a Romulan starship or two, then there would have to be some serious planning for casualties. He might have to requisition a few cargo bays to use as triage centres, but that would mean co-ordinating with Cantor Von and Malin-Argo. One he didn't mind, but the other - the irascible Grazerite who made his lair in the bowels of the ship - would ask many questions that Aerdan might not be in the mood to answer.

Still, not long until the Phoenix detached herself from her moorings and headed out into space again. In the meantime, he could -

The door to sickbay hissed open, disturbing them both, and a man walked in. Aerdan didn't recognise him, but he was wearing a black Starfleet jumpsuit with a gold band across the shoulders, and the rank pips of a full Lieutenant on his collar. He was well-built, like a power-lifter. He was bald - no, his head was shaved - and there was a bionic apparatus on his right eye that emitted a piercing green strobe-light. His left hand was laced with a network of glistening lines that ran up and down his fingers, that put Aerdan to thinking about Kassandra Thytos' subcutaneous sensor network. The newcomer paused in the empty sickbay, looking around him.

Aerdan looked at Sofia, and have her a quick 'you or me?' look. Coming to a decision, he beckoned her forward, and they both got up and went outside.

"I"m Doctor Jos, chief medical officer," said Aerdan in his best bedside voice. "Doctor Andersson, my assistant. How can we help?"

The man looked them over for a moment. "I'm the ship's new flight control officer, and I'm reporting for my mandatory physical." He looked uncomfortable. "My name is Tomas Vukovic. I am Borg."

Aerdan felt his antennae shoot straight up in the air. "A Borg! Wonderful!" He shot a glance at Sofia. "I don't think either of us have ever medically examined a Borg before - am I right?"

Sofia nodded. "First time."

"Well then!" Aerdan gestured to the nearest biobed. "Shirt off, Lieutenant Vukovic, and sit up there. Doctor Andersson will examine you, and I will supervise."

Sofia looked at him in surprise, but quickly recovered. "Yes, sir."

While both of them prepared for the physical, Aerdan moved to the nearest workstation and called up the service record of this newcomer. From a medical point of view, this was going to be interesting.


Scene: Captain's ready room - deck 1, saucer section

Kane had made it back to the ship and up to his ready room. There, on his desktop monitor, were the confirmation orders from Starfleet transferring Stavik off the ship and replacing him with this Vukovic character. It was signed off by both Admiral Stiles and some other admiral back on Earth. Nothing to be done, then.

"Kane to Lieutenant Stavik. Report to my ready room."

[[On my way, Captain.]]

There was work for Stavik on the Starbase, no doubt, and this was part of life in the fleet. The door buzzed. "Come."

The Vulcan entered, crossed the room and stood stiffly before the desk. There was no point in beating about the bush, so Kane let him have it. "I'm sorry for the short notice, Lieutenent, but I've received orders that you are to be transferred to Starbase 56 immediately." He downloaded the orders to a PADD and handed it over.

The Vulcan perused the contents and raised an eyebrow. "These are in order, sir."

Kane nodded, and thought about saying something profound, and discounted that notion. Vulcans were a direct sort of people. "Thank you for your service to the Phoenix, Lieutenant Stavik. It is appreciated."

Stavik inclined his head. "Captain."

"Dismissed," said Kane, and watched Stavik go, another officer on the endless merry-go-round of comings and goings in Starfleet. He sat back down again, seeing that Aerdan had logged a physical exam underway in sickbay for Stavik's replacement. He made a mental note to ask the good doctor about his first impressions whenever he was finished.

In the meantime, there was work to be done. The Romulans were waiting.


NRPG: Stavik is off to pursue his career elsewhere, and Tomas Vukovic is our new FCO. There might not be too much time to meet him socially, because we're heading out in the morning.

In the meantime, remember that the Borg have changed a lot in the past 50 years. Read this short article:

Jerome McKee
the Soul of Captain Michael Turlogh Kane
Commanding Officer

"He speaks an infinite deal of nothing!"
- Shakespeare's "The Merchant of Venice", Act 1, Scene 1.117



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