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Difficult Conversations

Posted on Feb 25, 2020 @ 5:00am by Lieutenant Eve Dalziel
Edited on on Feb 25, 2020 @ 5:00am

Mission: Last Days of Empire

“Difficult Conversations”

(Continued from “Oops, I Did It Again”)


Scene: Dalziel’s Office
Stardate: [2.20] 0222.1451

After a briefing by Captain Kane, based on Kass’ recon, Eve had begun the process of readying herself for a meeting with Ensign So’Mior Howards, a Science Officer aboard the SATET. His untapped knowledge was perhaps one of their best chances for finding out what may have happened to the errant vessel and the remaining crew. Doctor Samson and the entire medical team had been working to ensure the health and recovery of the survivors; the ones (like So’Mior) that did not have critical injuries were then given temporary quarters and an opportunity to rest. Eve knew that the psychological effects of imprisonment wouldn’t go away after a solid meal and a good night’s sleep, but their timetable was more urgent than that. They needed answers.

Jake slid into her office, looking a little tired. Normally, Eve would have one her assistants sitting in with her, but she felt it was important to have a second set of eyes and ears that were interested in and geared towards the bigger picture.

“Coffee?” she asked, already suspecting she knew the answer.

“Yeah,” he said, as she replicated some for both of them.

They sat across from each other in silence for a few seconds, sipping their caffeine. The Counselor felt the urge to ask Jake how he was doing, but it felt like a hollow question. She knew something was up. Normally the ExO was very approachable, but whatever he and Kane had gotten into, either with each other, or the mission itself, it hadn’t settled well with either of them. Eve found herself on the defensive, which wasn’t the typical place for her to be.

“Is everything okay?” Jake asked, noticing the tense look on her face.

She set the large cup down. “I know it’s not a good time, but I’m glad you’re here. I need to talk to you about something.”

His facial expression didn’t change. She wasn’t certain he was paying attention, but they *were* the only ones here, and something inside of him must have acknowledged her statement, because he answered. “Sure.”

“Because of our search for Book’s ship, I tried to have this matter taken care of with Iphie, and I would have, but Owen said she directed him towards you in no uncertain terms, and-”

“Eve?” he stopped her.


“Since when do I bite?” he asked pointedly, attempting a smile. “Speak freely.”

“Regulations require that if a minor child wants to receive counseling, that we obtain permission from the parent or guardian before proceeding with said session.”

Crichton blinked, looking down into his nearly empty mug. Maybe it hadn’t kicked in yet. “Say that to me again, but this time, let’s try Federation Standard.”

“If a child comes to our department requesting psychological help, we have to get permission from the parent. In this case, that would be you.”

He considered this. Dahlia was still doing a mighty good job at being an angsty teenager, but her visitations with the Q had seemed to temper her perspective. Maybe it was time. “I’m fine with Dee going to counseling. No need to tiptoe around the issue on my account.”

“Actually, it’s Ben that asked.”

Jake let that sink in a moment. He felt like he had been kicked in the gut. The kid was only nine. “I wouldn’t think he would understand something like that.”

“He might not,” Eve admitted. “Children are incredibly resilient. They have the ability to absorb a lot. But everyone has limits. You have to admit a lot of things have happened, if not to him directly, then around him.”

Jake felt a tightness in his shoulders. The circumstances leading up to the divorce, Xana’s illness… he wasn’t even sure if he had fully recovered from that yet. But the kids had been there, too, and he could no longer hide from it, even though everything seemed ‘normal’. “What did he say?”

“He came down here, with his big sister for support, and spoke to Owen about it. He then let himself into one of the rooms and spent some time with Smooshy.”

Jake cracked a real smile this time. “And how did that go?”

“Ben seemed to enjoy it. I had to talk Owen down from a bit of a proverbial ledge, though- it’s bad enough that Smooshy outranks us, without one of my right hands thinking the pug does a better job.”

“I guess that will be our little secret then?” Jake nudged.

Eve laughed, in spite of their reasons for being here. “Don’t encourage him.”

“Benito or Smooshy?”

“Either one, actually,” Eve mused. “So, is that a yes?”

They were interrupted by the arrival of a tall, almost lanky Vulcan hybrid in a crisp uniform. He seemed to notice the dark-haired woman first, then the higher ranking man, so he greeted them cautiously in the same order. “Lieutenant? Commander?” He stood gracefully, at a relaxed attention.

“Ensign So’Mior. Thank you for joining us.” She gestured to an empty seat in front of her desk, next to where Jake was sitting. “Counselor Eve Dalziel, and this is Commander Jake Crichton. I apologize for the short notice.”

“It was necessary,” he answered calmly, taking the seat that was offered to him. While the young Ensign may have been half human, He projected a mostly placid demeanor.

Without being prompted, she made some hot Ivantha tea, trying to make him feel welcome. “As you understand, we’re trying to locate the SATET. But your wellbeing is also a priority. I want to make that perfectly clear. This conversation is not meant to cause undue stress.” So’Mior wasn’t the enemy. And neither were they. Eve wasn’t even sure if Book was an enemy to them. His agenda hadn’t been fully established. “Do you understand?” Dalziel wanted him to feel safe above all else.


Jake began by asking for what he thought was the most vital piece of information. “Were you made aware of the SATET’s mission when you were assigned?”

“I know the ship’s profile is of an Intelligence nature, Commander Crichton, but my level of clearance does not allow me further knowledge.”

The Counselor nodded. This wasn’t exactly a surprise. “Did your duty assignments include any activities that you could use to extrapolate details about the ship’s purpose?”

So’Mior shook his head. “I was not given any.”

Eve thought she heard a touch of disappointment in his voice. There was no way this experience could have met his expectations for his first tour of duty. “Were you the only crew member singled out in this way?”

“I don’t believe so. Most of us who were kept at Gran’Kothar were what I would classify as junior officers.”

“And what about Lieutenant Fal’Kir?”

The young man thought for a moment, perhaps paying silent respects. “He was the highest ranking officer among us. His position was the head of Stellar Cartography.”

Jake thought that might be a solid lead. “Did he discuss any aspects of his job?”

Another pause. Was So’Mior holding back? Or just nervous? “Not to me. His preferred subject was his upcoming retirement.”

Eve leaned in. “If you can, I’d like you to trace back the steps of what happened prior to you and the others leaving the ship on the escape pods. Any detail, no matter how small, may be important.”

He clutched the tea cup, took a measured sip, and began. “We had come to a full stop in open space. The Captain did make an announcement, but it was only to explain it was a part of our mission. I deduce this was near the Alcyonus system, based on our eventual retrieval point.”

“How long were you there?”

“Approximately six hours...then something happened. We went to Red Alert, and an immediate order to evacuate was given.”

“Was the ship being attacked?”

He put down the cup and closed his dark brown eyes in reflection, somehow making it easier to remember any movement or impact aboard the ship. “No… it was not. There was a Klingon ship in the immediate vicinity, and a heavily damaged Orion vessel listing nearby. The SATET was not visible.”

“Do you mean it was gone?”

“I am not certain. It may have had non-standard cloaking. In any event, there was no indication of debris belonging to our ship.”

“And what is your conclusion regarding that?”

So’Mior sighed. “We were sacrificed to protect the SATET’s mission. Logic dictates that if there was a legitimate red alert, there would be signs of an attack, or signs that the ship was in distress. There were no such signs.”

Eve looked to Jake. The Science Officer had been able to corroborate much of what was established, but there were no solid leads.

“So, were they trying to escape the Orions, or the Klingons?” Eve hypothesized aloud.

“If the Klingons felt we were a threat to them, they could have easily destroyed the pods. They took us prisoner instead. That is not typical,” So’Mior countered.

“The Orions then,” Jake concluded.

The Cardassian-born woman gestured. “But the Orion ship was put out of commission, presumably by the Klingons. If that's right, the ship wouldn't have needed to leave. The enemy of my enemy is still the enemy?” Eve said, butchering the saying.

“No,” So’Mior said finally after observing their banter. “That is not correct.” He was trembling slightly. He eyeballed his tea, wanting more, but thought better of it in light of his emotional state.

“Which part?” Eve asked gently. She wasn’t sure if he was having a post-traumatic stress episode or simply didn’t trust them. Maybe it was both.

“I mean, I know who the threat is. It’s the Tal Shiar.”

“What do you mean?” Jake asked.

“The Senior staff of the SATET knew that the Romulans were helping the Orions to gain the upper hand in the conflict. If the Orions supplanted the Klingon Empire, it would change the balance of the Federation Triad. The ship is trying to evade the Romulans until they can report the proof of this. And the escalating conflict has made it impossible for them to find a way out.”

The Exo remembered the Triad- it was basic Civics for all Academy graduates. The Federation, the Romulans, and the Klingons had been the original, if at times unsteady, balance of power. This type of ‘invisible’ support by the Tal Shiar could allow the Orions to gain the Klingons’ old spot. “The Romulans would have a two against one scenario, with us being the one,” Jake clarified. “But I thought you said nobody had told you anything.”

“That is correct. But someone on the Senior staff was unknowingly providing information. All I had to do was prepare, calm myself, and listen.”

It was the most uncomfortable that Eve had seen the Science Officer. She followed a hunch. “You're a telepath.”

He hung his head. “Yes, but untrained… and undisciplined.”

“Also quite useful,” she replied, hopefully easing his embarrassment. “If that’s the case, why did Book let you be imprisoned with the others?”

So’Mior turned his heart-shaped face upward and regarded her with a piercing gaze. “Because he didn’t know. Nobody knew.”

NM: I can’t explain how hard this was. Rusty doesn’t begin to cover it.
Shawn, Jamie: as always, I hope I did your characters justice.

Distant Horizons: I promise, you’re next.

Susan Ledbetter
Writing for
Lieutenant Eve Dalziel


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