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Oops, I Did It Again

Posted on Feb 22, 2020 @ 9:14pm by Captain Kassandra Thytos
Edited on on Feb 22, 2020 @ 9:15pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire

"Oops, I did it again"

(Cont. "Harrad Tor, we need to talk")

Location: USS Phoenix
Stardate: 2.20.0220.2017
Scene: The Vulgar Tribble

Kane was seated in his habitual lunchtime spot, a pile of Iffy’s “proper” fish and chips in front of him, properly greasy, thick, and always dressed with just malted vinegar, with nary a sign of ketchup or, god forbid, mayonnaise, on the plate. To anyone else, it looked like he was deeply engrossed
in Very Important Business a stack of PADDs on the table in front of him but in reality, he was listening to the conversations of the crew around him. It had taken a while for the crew to get used to his presence, but now they paid little attention to him after their obligatory greetings and salutes, and chatted away largely as though he wasn’t there.

It wasn’t that Kane was a creeper, it was just that, as Captain, no told him the mundane, the trivial. They’d let him know if the ship was burning down, but not if two crew members were having minor friction, if one of the science departments was having issues with their science experiments, and the general mood on the ship, and so he used his lunch hour as an opportunity to get a small snapshot of the small picture.

A small cluster of Marines came into the Vulgar Tribble, dressed in off-duty clothes, but still distinguished from the rest of the ship by the presence of overdeveloped muscles and a general overconfident swagger. As a specialized force, they were the only personnel who’s entire job consisted of staying in peak physical condition and had the luxury of transforming their physiques into Adonis-like shapes. Kane often wondered if the amount of oxygen needed to power the Marine’s bulging muscles ended up reducing the amount going to their brains, because certainly, the majority of them didn’t seem to be the sharpest pencils in the box from his limited interactions with them. He recognized two of the Marines, they’d been part of Kassandra’s original team and had been defectors from the mutiny, and there was a bony, fox-faced woman that he was certain had joined them on limbo, and a young, rotund Asian woman that Kane had seen before but knew nothing about.

“Bam, right through the brain pan, I’m telling you,” the rotund woman said animatedly.

“Yeah, but with a TR-118, that’s practically a gimme, even at a mile off,” the lone male of the group objected. The woman next to him cocked her head and smirked slightly. “Okay, a gimme under normal conditions, but still-”

“Moving target. Crowd. Chaos,” the fox-faced woman said, holding her palms upwards and shrugging. “Night sleeping on ground. Do better?”

“Yeah, you tell him Win-win,” the rotund woman tossed her head. “You think you can do better, Massimo, you challenge the Dragon Lady to a snipe-off.”

The woman next to Massimo scoffed silently.

“I’m not too impatient, Kuenzi!” Massimo said with irritation. Kuenzi raised one eyebrow. “Fine, slightly impatient, and also not so much of an idiot to challenge the Major to anything. She hates losing, and so she never loses, even if she’s slowing down a little on the combat front- hey, don’t give me that look, we’ve all noticed she’s cut back on the footwork recently and is relying on her sensor nets to give her time to get out of the way and the fact that she’s still got more than enough stopping power in her punches to win sparring matches.”

Kane filed that bit of information away into his mental folder for Kassandra Thytos, although the fact that a 50 year old woman was starting to show her age was hardly breaking news.

“Anyway, you’re stepping all over my story,” the rotund woman said, a note of complaint in her voice. “SO. Thytos takes one shot, and BAM, that Klingon chikushou’s frickin’ head explodes like a bottle of coke and mentos.”

Kane’s ears twitched at that and he sighed, looking down at the plate of food in front of him now destined to remain uneaten, what he’d just heard, he couldn’t ignore. He stood and swept up the PADDs from the table top, indicated that he was done to the Bynars that staffed the Vulgar Tribble, and headed down to the Marine’s deck.

* * * * *

Scene: Marine Armory

Having let Midori off the hook for post mission procedures Kassandra was busy checking in equipment and filing the mission paperwork in the Marine ready room when her sensor nets suddenly picked up a commotion in the Marine common areas. She reloaded the sniper rifle she had been cleaning and reloading, and was about to exit to see what the fuss was about, when Kane walked into the room with a look on his face which she could only describe as fire and fury. Kassandra sighed inwardly. She still had sand everywhere, she had a nasty sunburn, and she hadn’t bathed in two days; in short, she was in no mood to be dealing with an angry commanding officer.

“Yes, Captain?” She said in her mildest tone.

“A word with you, Major?” Kane said, an irate glower on his face. Kassandra winced.

“Sure, why don’t we step into my office?” She was definitely about to be chewed out, and she didn’t want it to happen in front of her Marines. She stepped out of the ready room, and opened the door to her office, which was little more than a glorified coat closet of an antechamber to her her quarters. She gestured to the cushier of the two chairs. “What can I do ya for, sir?”

“Exactly when were you going to tell me that you took out one of the Klingons?” Kane growled. Ah. That was the bee that was in his bonnet, although he was taking it worse than she had anticipated.

“It’s in my report, which was on yer desk half an hour ago,” Kassandra pointed out. “And I filled out the proper fire discharge forms fer Marine Command at the same time, an’ those are also there, awaitin’ yer approval an’ any redactions you’d like ter make. SIR.”

“You bloody well weren’t supposed to shoot anyone, Major,” Kane snapped at her, giving her one of his commanding glances that might have worked on her in her younger days, and if he wasn’t almost a decade her junior. “Given that, don’t you think it ought to have warranted a face to face notification as soon as you came aboard, rather than me hearing it through the rumor mill?”

“Not supposed ta shoot anyone?” Kassandra’s dander was up. “You’re such a hypocrite, *sir* if you didn’t want the option of havin’ *someone* shot, then why the hell did you send me down there? You know me, you know how I operate. You *wanted* the option for lethal force, but with plausible deniability. You *always* use me an’ my Marines to get what you really want and need done, but then act surprised when we do what we need to do. What did you want me to do, sit by an’ let Yu get her brain splatted across the sand? You know that ain’t me, an’ you know damn well if you send me out, either yer people’ll come out alive an’ well, or I won’t. An’ I’ll remind you again, I followed reportin’ procedures, so you wanna tell me why you’re really bustin’ my balls, cos this don’t seem like regular reprimand for breach a’ protocol shit you’re givin’ me, pardon my french.”

Kane’s face darkened further, but Kassandra maintained her version of eye contact and kept her face impassive. She privately thought that Kane didn’t get enough pushback from the others, and she, being half outside his chain of command was the perfect person to both provide it. He seemed to tolerate it slightly better coming from her than others, probably because he half expected it, but she knew eventually she would cross the line. Fortunately today did not appear to be the day.

“I talked with the Klingon commander after the jailbreak. I told him that we took no Klingon lives in that escapade.”

“An’ now I’ve made a liar outta you. I get what the bee in yer bonnet is, but why the hell didn’t you wait until I’d made my report to make a damn foolish statement like that? For all you know, one of our jailbirds mighta needed to brain one of the jailors with a rock, or somethin’ like that.” Kassandra put one hand on the desk and leaned on it.

“What I forgot was your endless capacity for death and destruction,” Kane said dryly, but he seemed to be calming down a bit. Which was good. The man needed to learn how to relax. She’d love to get him good and drunk sometime, he’d probably be lots of fun if he ever cut loose. “The question is what do we do about it now?”

“Nothin’. He certainly ain’t gonna kick up a fuss about it, ‘specially not with the Orions breathin’ down his neck. Goin’ t’ the Federation and complainin’ about one guard gettin’ offed in the course of freein’ improperly held citizens of the UFP would make ‘em look weak, an’ suggest to the Orion’s that they got chinks in their armor that might be easy targets. Nah, they probably won’t say boo. Though your man might hold a personal grudge, which may, someday, come into play.”

“And when it does?”

“IF it does, an’ I’m still of the opinion that pigs’ll fly before it does, you offer me as a bondsman for a single service to the Klingon Empire, as long as it doesn’t involve taking an action against the Federation as a blood price, or somethin’. Looks good for him, and his underlings love havin’ a human to boss around,” Kassandra shrugged, and sat down in the small chair in front of her desk that she kept for visitors. It was as uncomfortable as it was when she’d first replicated it with the intention of using people to get in and out of her office as quickly as possible. Kane stared at her over the top of her desk.

“Fine, but I’m still not pleased with being put in that situation. I’ll go over your reports and file them with Starfleet Command once we’re back in Federation space, but this is not me letting you off the hook. When you have orders, I expect you to follow them. You’re still under my command, you don’t get to go off the rails and make your own rules,” Kane said sternly. It took all Kassandra had to not roll her eyes and kiss her teeth at him.

“Duly noted, sir, and feel free to put that on the record so you can slap me with an official reprimand then next time I do what needs doin. Speakin’ of what needs doin’, we got anythin’ useful from the Satet’s crew?” Kassandra changed the topic quickly.

“They’re still in medical, being checked out by Doctor Samson and being given treatment. Mostly garden variety complaints, but we’re waiting until they’ve been cleared to talk to them,” Kane looked at her with a calculating eye that made Kassandra squirm slightly. “From what Lieutenant Dalziel has said, they all seem fairly traumatized, but you’ve talked to them on the flight back to the Phoenix, any opinions on who we ought to start with?”

“The Vulcan boy, So’mior,” Kassandra said promptly. Kane raised an eyebrow at her. “I’m not just sayin’ that because he’s a Vulcan. Kid’s got a good head on his shoulders, he’s the one who sent out the distress call. An’ there was quite a bit of chatter from the crew when we were leavin’, often happens on rescue missions. The crew we’ve picked up seem fairly junior, not even sure they were in the loop enough to know why they were even out here in the first place.” She hesitated. The Satet’s crew’s chatter had been confusing, but she’d cobbled together a narrative from the jumbled story they’d told. Nothing that she’d take as a formal debriefing, everything needed verification from someone who could get the crew to slow down for two darn seconds.

“What is it Major? I know that look, it’s the ‘Ah got somethin’ ta say, an’ even though I’ve usually got no problem mouthin’ whatever’s on my mind, I’m gonna choose this inconvenient moment t’ be circumspect.’ At this point, anything you think you can tell me is still more than I have at the moment.” Kane might have been teasing her, she wasn’t sure. His face was deadpan.

“You’re not one t’ be pokin’ fun of funny accents, if you don’t mind me sayin’ so, Sir.” Kassandra wrinkled her nose at him. “Fine.”

She started to tell him what she thought she’d pieced together from the conversations of the Satet’s crew, relieved to have a safe place and sympathetic ears to discuss their ordeals of the last few days. The Satet had arrived at the location where the Orion vessel had been found, for what reason none of the crew seemed to know, only that in order to fulfill their mission they needed to stay in place for several hours. As their bad luck would have it, they were interrupted by a Klingon warbird. The Captain of the Satet deemed whatever their mission was to be so important that he wouldn’t give the order to drop to warp and instead sent out a broad communications blast to let the Orions know there was a Klingon warbird in disputed territory. An Orion ship had gotten there with impressive speed, and a full pitched battle commenced between the Orions and the Klingons over who would take the Satet as its prize, perhaps to use as a magnanimous gesture to force the Federation to acknowledge them as a legitimate galactic government. The Klingon vessel eventually destroyed the Orion vessel, and started coming for the Satet. The rest was chaos. None of the Satet’s crew knew why, but the order to evacuate the ship was given by the Captain, and the crew launched, only to find the Satet jumping to warp, and themselves abandoned to the Klingons, who took their escape pods on board and brought them back to Alcyonus.

“They didn’t know why, but I got an inklin’ I think the Captain sacrificed em so himself, the ship, and whichever of the crew he deemed necessary were able to escape. This is all conjecture, like, but what are the odds of the Orions being close enough to interrupt the original encounter with the Klingons?” Kassandra propped her feet on the desk and leaned back, waiting for Kane to pick up her chain of thought.

“You think they were already nearby to meet the Satet?” Kane frowned.

“An’ when the Klingons destroyed the Orion ship, they still had their mission to complete, so they sacrificed a few of the crew, knowing that pickin’ em up would slow the Klingons down and give them a head start, so they could finish their mission.”

“That’s awfuly cold, isn’t it? Leaving their crew to the tender mercies of the Klingons?”

“Maybe they thought it was an awfully important mission,” Kassandra said, with a frown. “An’ if they were in league with the Orions, an’ they knew the Orions were planning that little junket to Alcyonus to rescue their own people, well maybe they figured that it would be just fine, and they’d rescue them soon.”

“But they only could have known about the rescue attempt if they knew about the Romulan transmission, which would imply that perhaps they delivered it, or provided the introductions.” Kane stared off into the distance, his fingers drumming on her desk.

“As I said, just pure conjecture on my part. The crew of the Satet is eager to talk, if you an’ Eve sit down to debrief them, they’ll be more than happy to talk your ears off for hours. Start with the Vulcan. Maybe I’m just jumpin’ at shadows here, with all this intel/spy shit gettin’ into my brain,” Kassandra stood, and moved next to stand over Kane he looked up quizzically. She said nothing, and coughed. “You’re in my chair, Sir.”

“It’s too short to be comfortable anyway,” Kane shot back, standing. “And don’t forget-”

“I know, no shootin’ people, an’ if I do shoot someone, make sure to tell ya before someone else does. Got it,” Kassandra saluted.

** * *

NRPG: Phew, long time coming, need to get back into the swing of writing.

Alix Fowler
Kassandra Thytos
The Reason Kane Has Gray Hairs


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