|Star Trek: Phoenix - Maelstrom S2 E1|
|Written by Andy Davenport|
JUNE 20TH 2380.
Since the return to Earth, there had been very little cause for celebration. Today was definitely ranked amongst one of the many bad days that the senior staff of the former starship Phoenix, had recently endured. The hill overlooking the bay, in the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters was usually a popular tourist spot for people relaxing, having a picnic, or students studying. The vibrant multi coloured hues of the vegetation, with the sun overhead regularly beaming through a cloudless blue sky, made it the ideal spot to take time out. But today none of this rang true, as it was devoid of the usual activity including the usual joggers. The weather grid was offline, as requested in the Admiral’s will. She had requested that on the day of her burial, or memorial, that it was her desire to let the weather occur naturally, and to let mother nature decide the day.
The memorial sculpture of Talaxian granite and gemstones had a bronze plaque with details inscribed of the deceased and respectful passages from her family. Although most of her family were deceased, or unable to attend, her family of seven years were all present and correct. Some of the Voyager crew looked a bit worse for wear, although lucky to be alive following the recent Borg invasion, and what the media had dubbed; ‘The Borg Supercube Crisis.’ The irony of the whole disaster was the fact that, for seven years in the Delta Quadrant, the then Captain and her gallant crew, consistently defeated the relentless advance of the cybernetic zombies. However, this time her luck had finally run out, culminating in her untimely death.
As the rainclouds gathered overhead ready to unleash a downpour, one by one, Starfleet Admirals, Ambassadors, the Voyager crew, and people who knew Admiral Kathryn Janeway, made their way through the standing crowd to the podium, to deliver anecdotes and eulogy’s. Not a single person attending wore their uniform, as another request in the will had been for each species to dress in their traditional attire reserved for such an occasion as this. All Terrans present were dressed in traditional black clothing, whilst the various other species present wore more colourful attire. Commander Andrew Davenport had optioned for a black overcoat, as he gave an anxious look skyward at the gathering dark clouds. He promptly lifted up the collars of the coat, fastened the neck buttons, and hunched his neck inside of his jacket in preparation of the rain. However, without an umbrella, there would be no escape from the imminent drenching that those like him would receive. Standing next to the First Officer of the former Phoenix, and prepared for such weather and the lack of control the weather grid provided, Captain Simon Hodgkinson had his umbrella close to hand. Lo and behold, the heavens opened as a sea of umbrellas sprouted in the crowd.
The only sheltered area was the gazebo covering the podium, which covered the different attendee’s paying their respects, as well as protecting the electrical equipment. Not all of the Voyager crew were present, as conspicuous by his absence; Tuvok delivered a eulogy live on a viewscreen, from his posting aboard the Titan. Following the speech, which was very emotional even by Vulcan standards, Ambassador Neelix made his way to the podium. The looks between the guests seemed to indicate that they all expected a long winded speech. Upon the conclusion, there was a certain surprise amongst the attendee’s, as the eulogy was short, and to the point, unlike the EMH’s earlier passionate, enthusiastic and detailed delivery. As Chakotay took the podium, Simon gazed past the memorial sculpture as his eyes followed an invisible trail to the bay. He could imagine that the skippers and crew of the many yachts, as well as the water and jet ski enthusiasts, were cursing as they were battered by the showers. But then he thought to himself that a keen enthusiast would be prepared for all conditions in the love of their hobby.
The sky now appeared to be grey and dismal as an unending cloud front continued to move in and cover San Francisco in a blanket of rain. Although representing the Senior Officers of the Phoenix crew, Simon had been disappointed that the others hadn’t been able to make the funeral. All of the senior staff of every ship under her jurisdiction as Admiral had been requested in her will to attend the funeral. Amongst the crowd of respectful mourners were a number of living legends such as the bridge crew of the Enterprise E, as well as the Voyager officers. Even Reginald Barclay with his Pathfinder Team was present to pay their respects. All ships initially launched under her command on the five year missions had been recalled for reasons as yet undisclosed, as the crew of those ships were attending the funeral as well. The rumours were rife amongst Starfleet as to the reasons why there had been a major recall, such as the loss during the recent crisis. Also, a new, and as of yet, unknown Admiral had been given the role of the late Kathryn Janeway’s assignments.
The homecoming for the Phoenix crew had been bittersweet with a seemingly never ending list of meetings, briefings, finger pointing and reluctance to update the crew on their next assignment. That’s if there was going to be one. The most frustrating aspect of all was the reluctance to give Simon and his crew a sip, and put them on the front lines to assist the now deceased Admiral and the fleet, during the crisis. The Phoenix crew had been left with the agony of having to hear and watch events unfold, as the Borg conquered territory after territory with ease. Starfleet had made it clear in not so many words, that the officers were grounded on Earth, whilst those allowed off-world were officers confined to their own homeworlds, except in special circumstances. Granted, the crew were more than well aware that they had a lot of answers to give with regards to the loss of the Phoenix, the Athena Sirius incident, the acquiring of the U.S.S. Exeter, and the discovery of a once thought extinct, ancient species. The loss of the Phoenix and those who didn’t make it was one that reverberated throughout the survivors, and for some, especially the bridge crew, was a loss that was hard to keep emotionally in check. The list went on and on of questions and accusations which they were all well prepared for.
The main concern of Simon was how Starfleet would view the murder of Admiral William Ross, albeit in self defence. As eggs is eggs, it was still the murder of a superior officer, and in his experience, Starfleet could be incredibly unreasonable. He had no doubt in his mind that the higher ups who would trial the crew would be officers who hadn’t seen the other side of a desk for decades, and probably couldn’t even remember the last time they logged a single star hour. Captain Chakotay had concluded his speech, and pressed a button on the podium, that lit a flame atop the monument. Flickering brightly, defiantly, and refusing to be snuffed out in the stormy weather, Andy found the metaphor very apt. “Although you are no longer with us to explore, Kathy, you now chart and explore a new frontier. All rise.” Chakotay commenced a round of applause and encouraged all those attending to do the same. As the crowd eventually dispersed, so did the two Phoenix officers. There had been a wake organized, but this was more a personal event for the Voyager crew, friends, and family. With the memorial service over, the officers made their way to a bar nearby where they had pre-arranged meeting up with Lieutenant Duco Dantuma and Ensign Craig Markey.
The Core Breach bar was notorious in many ways. It was popular amongst Academy students, tourists, and officers. It was also notoriously popular for the cocktails and beverages the staff concocted. The name of the bar was apt as some of the strength of the drinks would make one feel like their head was literally undergoing a warp core breach. As expected, as they entered the bar the ambient noise level dropped a number of decibels, as the officers shook off the rain from their overcoats and headed for the bar. Most of the eyes in the place, (and Andy noticed at least one client of the bar had four eyes alone!), seemed to follow their every move. It seemed though that it could have been a lot worse as although the media and people were talking about them, the words that were more so on everyone’s lips were the Borg. It also seemed that the assumption amongst the media and the citizens of the Federation that were there one errant, disconnected cube, there would be others.
The bar was busier than normal, as Simon surmised that the rain had driven many off the streets and into the bar for sanctuary, to which worked in the Ferengi owners favour, no doubt. As they both sat on stools, Simon ordered their regular poison, as Andy scanned the bar. The place was packed with students, officers, and species from all over the quadrants. He chuckled to himself as two Pakled traders were losing out on a hustle by two seemingly savvy senior year cadets, who had the merchants convinced that it was they who were doing the hustle. On the opposite side of the centrally positioned bar, a set of Miradorns placed their orders with the Denobulan barkeep like they were a Bynar set. One twin was saying a word followed by the other twin, followed by the other, which was a completed sentence stating their order. The Denobulan appeared to hit his head, shake it, and mutter to himself as he turned to prepare the Miradorns drink.
Simon laughed to himself as the couple sat to his right consisting of a freshman cadet from Earth, and an alluring female from Draylax, hastily left their seats and headed for the door. “He’s going to find out that it’s really good things that come in three’s, and not bad things!” The bars music choice for the afternoon was laid back electro jazz, playing lazily in the background. As Fly Me To The Moon emanated from the speakers, Andy harrumphed. “Only if Starfleet deem necessary!” Simon sipped at his synthehol, (which was flavoured to give the impression that one was consuming Jack Daniels and Coke), as he gave a puzzled look as a response to the comment. Andy gestured to the music from the speakers, as Simon realised the meaning of his sarcasm laced comment.
The bar was literally a Federation of its own as he noticed Klingons, Deltans, Coridanites, Pandrilites, Andorians, and some species whom he had never seen before. Andy had spotted a table nearby which seemed to have an increasingly animated discussion taking place. The former first officer of the Phoenix pointed out the traders to Simon. “Tarkaelean, Xaranite, and Phinian. Phinea recently joined the Federation and i believe the relationship, although new, has been very fruitful. Notice the sharp, fin-like ridges starting at the brow and protruding all the way down his spine. They also have retracting fins down their arms and legs too.” The conversation seemed to intensify in heat, as all three traders suddenly rose from the table. The Phinian showed his increased anger by displaying his razor sharp arm fins and row of perfectly sharp teeth.
Andy necked the remainder of the glass, put it on the bar, and indicated to the barkeep more of the same, whilst then proceeding to rise from his stool. “Save my seat Simon. Oh, and watch and learn.” Simon’s fears were realised as Andy approached the table and a feeling of dread entered the pit of his stomach. He hoped that a full blown bar brawl wouldn’t swiftly follow. Considering recent and current events that they had experienced, it would be additional unwanted attention and the icing on the cake. Simon watched intensely as now all eyes that had followed the two officers initially into the bar, were now on the alien traders and the approaching Starfleet officer.
Some officers of the security division, situated on the other side of the bar rose from their seats to get a better view of the unravelling events. It was clear that these fresh faced security officers were eager to climb the career ladder, as they reached for their phasers, leaving their hands resting on the holsters. As Andy approached the table, he managed to catch the conversation and the source of the disagreement, which had clearly ruffled Phinians fins. “....i know Ferengi....and i know that your unscrupulous contact has narrowed your profit margin by increasing theirs....do not insult me with lies and counter lies....i am Phinian.” Andy grabbed the dilithium crystals off the table which had been previously thrown down in disgust by the Phinian, who was the potential buyer.
“Mr Tarkaelean. Mr Xaranite. If you make a deal with a customer, it is a contract that has to be honoured. How are you meant to keep a good reputation? It seems to me that your supplier has hiked up their selling price which has clearly shortened your profit. Also, these crystals have a life of fifty years, not a hundred.” Simultaneously, the Phinian slammed a fist down on the table, whilst his other hand patted the Starfleet officer on the shoulder. “Gentleman. First rule of business is know your customer. A Phinian instinctively knows if someone is telling the truth, or in your case, a blatant lie. So, to summarise. Your supplier has lessened your profit margin, which is tough for you, but the deal still stands with your client. Good day to you all.” Andy headed back to Simon, and the drink that awaited him.
As he left though, and turned his back, the Tarkaelean grabbed one of the crystals with the intent of burying it in the officers skull. As he threw his fist, the Phinian trader caught it in mid punch, and proceeded to crush the crystal whilst still within the Tarkaeleans grasp. The aggressor howled in pain as the Phinian swiftly silenced him with a lighting quick headbutt. The Xaranite quickly tried to come to the defence of his colleague, but walked into the Phinians fist. Witnessing the near attack, Andy was thankful for the Phinians intervention, who approached him and patted him on the shoulder. “Starfleet. It is true. You are honourable at heart. I never supported my governments expansionist policies and border skirmishes last year. Starfleet! Good!” Bellowing the last two words for the entire bar residents to hear, he made his way out of the establishment, taking the two semi-conscious traders with him. Simon shook his head at Andy, even though he knew he wouldn’t have put himself in a situation like that if he was unsure of a favourable outcome. As he sat on the chrome stool with its worn red Andorian leather, he raised his glass in a mock salute to his friend and commanding officer.
The music suddenly stopped as the hourly news bulletins lit up the video screens, highlighting various breaking stories of the hour. Simon groaned as the media were still pulling ratings by showing footage of the returning Exodus, Exeter, and surviving Phoenix crew. As they both chose to ignore the newscast, they hadn’t noticed the arrival of Ensign Craig Markey and Lieutenant Duco Dantuma. Drinks in hand they joined their fellow officers and also chose to ignore the media report, as it showed secret footage of the officers attending Admiral Janeway’s funeral, and the recent release from a Federation stockade of Craig and Duco.
Slamming down the glass on the bar, Andy could contain his frustration and anger no more. “I’ve had enough of this crap. Is nothing sacred to these vultures?!” As his fellow officers tried to calm him, the truth was that they were all in agreement. A couple of cocky senior year cadets approached the officers whilst pointing at the screens. “Smile fellas. Your famous!” Andy swivelled around on the worn stool which had seen better days and stood. “What can i do for you Cadet Half and Cadet Wit?” Before the situation could continue, Duco decided to end it. Looking at Craig and tipping him a wink, they simultaneously planted a fist on both of the cadet’s jaws. Simon groaned again at the thought of this incident being fuel added to the fire. Both of the Academy students picked themselves up from the floor and squared up to the four officers, who were now on their feet. Suddenly, an ear piercing whistle rang out in the bar, whilst some of the Starfleet officers in the Core Breach announced the persons as the colour drained from their faces at the same time. “It’s Admiral Kane!”