== Parthes, Fleet scrapeyard ==
== MD 13 ==
There was no way this could take place on the Flambeau. Bruno stood in the facility’s commander office and released command codes to Master Chief Angola. The view through the port felt ominous, ships parked in the grip of claw-like space docks, being actively dismembered. The Flambeau stood in the waiting line, secured at station-keeping by a a double ring emitting a quarantine field.
“We won’t be long tackling her, Sir,” Angola stated. “That’s really no big deal to us. We’ve seen them in worst shape.”
His commander was almost jovial. “Your ship will be clean as a whistle in no time. Long while since we saw those bugs around. Some of the young hands will learn something. Normally we’d even do some repairs while we’re at it, but we got orders to send your ship straight to Mandukar for the big refit.”
“Would you do me a small favour,” Bruno said as they shook hands. “If you ever trace the point of origin of that infestation, I’d like to know.”
They shook hands and he strode to the nearest transporter room.
== Avalon, Diplomatic quarters ==
== in transit to Farlong Reefs ==
All department heads had handed their final reports. In the case of Lt Ashara Brenn, the report was more than final. A near miraculous opening, for one of their own, had come in and Bruno was glad he hadn't needed to encourage her to take it. He hoped that Damon would cope well. Brenn would leave the next day, on arrival at Mandukar.
The Avalon was headed back to their home port, where the Flambeau crew would start on shoreleave so well deserved, a few weeks were made compulsory.
Bruno considered his desk. He had a few hours to hand over his own final report, now that ship logs had been downloaded. That was more than he needed. He toyed with the idea of strolling down the Avalon promenade again. The ship class was rather unique. But as he scrolled through ship logs, he felt that something else needed closure.
+ Captain Marini to Lieutenant Tamad +
“This officer is not aboard” the computer responded smoothly.
Bruno was startled then he rolled his eyes. This ship's computer knew their official roster, not their small arrangements with it.
+ Captain Marini to Lieutenant Chiratamad sh'Kasuv. Please report to my quarters +
== Elsewhere aboard ==
Tamad was standing in one of the viewing areas, among a small crowd of Flambeau crew, watching as their home was towed into position. Some people had their arms around each other; more than one person had tears in their eyes. Even she, cynical though she knew herself to be, couldn't deny a pang as their faithful ship was maneuvered by docking clamps and worker bees. She hoped the old girl would be repairable and not just mothballed or scrapped. She supposed Chase or Ash would know, but she hadn't seen either of them since disembarking the Avalon. She was beginning to worry about the Chief Engineer, who had been withdrawn ever since their timely rescue.
The sudden chirp of her comm badge interrupted the silence like a gong, causing multiple crew near her to jump. =^=Captain Marini to Lieutenant Chiratamad sh'Kasuv. Please report to my quarters.=^=
Tamad felt her antennae wilt at the summons, and was very aware of the eyes on her as she turned to the nearest turbolift. She knew what they were all thinking and couldn't blame them, for it was forefront in her mind as well: now that the crisis was over, the ship had been turned over for repair, and the crew and passengers were safe, the captain could turn his attention to other matters. In short, her time of reckoning was at hand.
She entered the nearest turbolift and, as the doors closed, realized she had no idea where she was going. "Computer, locate Captain Bruno Marini," she ordered. There was a chirp, and the computer responded. "Captain Marini is-"
"Just take me there. Please." she cut it off wearily, resisting the urge to slump against the turbolift wall as it began to move. All too soon her journey came to an end, however, and she found herself pressing the chime to announce her presence outside the Captain's door.
== Avalon, Diplomatic quarters ==
Bruno stood by the viewport in the main area of his stately suite. It reminded him of much older days, when he would be the DO meeting with ambassadors and their escorts. When Tamad entered, he remained there at first, turned to her.
"Congratulations on your latest successful surgery, Doctor. I can only hope for this much skill when they handle our ship."
She looked in better shape than he had seen her for days, that was certain. So did they all for sure. Inside was another mess. A part of him welcomed the rest to come. The timing also meant difficult personal decisions that he was going to have to consider. Holidays were never easy.
"Thank you, Captain," Tamad said. "You'll be pleased to know that both our patients will make full recoveries." She paused, allowing her gaze to linger on the Flambeau, over his shoulder. "I also hope the Flambeau finds such a promising prognosis."
"I'd like to settle a disagreement we had recently over the welfare of the crew and passengers," Bruno stated next, showing a lounge seat and taking another. "Your last report makes no mention of my incompetence, carelessness and faulty decision making endangering lives. Did I about cover your professional evaluation?"
Taking the offered seat, Tamad felt her antennae droop even further. Somehow the captain's gentle demeanor was just making this worse. "I, ah," she stammered, then collected herself. "In light of what happened after our...conversation, sir, I modified several of my earlier opinions. Given the end results of said decisions, I felt it was...unnecessary to include my prior objections in the official report."
"Things can be said in the heat of the moment that shouldn't be said, Lieutenant. We are officers trained to operate under heavy and prolonged stress. It doesn't make us impervious to it but it should make us better at coping with it. All the more so when important decisions stand to be made. We need to settle this because I hope to get my ship and my crew back. And I'm not about to ride a detonating torpedo to settle another argument with the chief medical officer."
Tamad smiled faintly. "Gods forbid," she said, before growing serious again. "If this situation has taught me anything, sir, it's that your judgement is to be trusted. While I stand by everything I said - if not the way in which I said it - the fact is that your decisions saved our lives. I can't promise never to object to a plan again, but I'll always back your play. You've earned that from me, captain."
Bruno considered the peace offering, at least a definite sign of appeasement coming from an Andorian. It called for something of note to seal the moment... He was on his feet, opening a well-stocked cabinet - courtesy of Jules Cormack - where he fetched a particular bottle and two glasses.
"Since we're both off duty for weeks to come, we may as well indulge in a tradition of mine, with an twist," he suggested, showing the recognizable ringed blue bottle.
The doctor's antennae perked up as she read the Andorian symbols on the bottle and took in the deep blue hue of the liquid. "I'd be a fool to turn down such a vintage," she said, rising and crossing to his side.
When she agreed, he dumped two large ice cubes in their glasses, sloshed a dose over it and handed her the short drink. "To the Flambeau," he toasted.
"Long may she burn," she added.
Never underestimate a Canadian, he thought as the ill-named "ale" coated his throat with an especially frozen feel, only reinforced by the brief exposure to ice. That was the actual stuff, not an imitation for exports. Only experience with strong spirits helped bury a cough. He breezed a blizzard through his nose instead and rose the glass to look at it.
"Holy..." he rasped.
They managed a conversation. He had an opener ready, the still recent discovery, helped by the USS Ariadne and Captain Danvers, of a highly-important Andorian relic that rewrote a legend into a startling discovery regarding their past.
They rounded back to the crew. A slew of birthdays had been celebrated in November, with a general do in the improved messhall, including hers and Bruno's. December would be a miss, she mentioned in passing, which was a shame since Lt Brenn....
".... is leaving us in a few hours, to reassign with Starfleet's Corps of Engineer," Bruno informed her mid-sentence.
That seemed to put a freeze on the conversation. Their glassed had emptied and when Tamad set hers down, Bruno walked her to the door. There was room for manners in his captain's manual and they had just shared a moment.
"Will you travel to Andoria for shoreleave?" he remembered to ask.
"At least two of my spouses will hunt me down and kill me for sport if I don't," she replied, tongue perhaps slightly loosened by the wonderful ale. "Not that I need such incentive. It's been a long time. My children are different people each time I see them." She paused at the open door. "And you, captain? Will you be spending the holidays with family?"
"I probably will, if I can fit everyone in. Lots of people to see and it's not like they're planning around me, go figure" he joked.
"I'm sure they'll find room for you. Family is good that way." And with a smile and a nod, she made her departure.
OFF: Thanks for the JP, Mickey! :-)
Capt. Bruno Marini
CO, USS Flambeau