OOC: the mission end is packed with a succession of events happening over a mere couple days. This two-parter fills a couple steps between my last and Mark's post. Next a JP with Mickey will take us a bit further and I'll do a final post when we arrive at Mandukar (over the weekend), so we can be officialliy on shoreleave over the RL holidays.
== DS 13 ==
== MD 12, a few hours after "Avalon" ==
"I never imagined, in my worst nightmares that we would come to this" Captain Mundis said in disgut. “Elements know how word got around. Everyone was piling up to leave by the time we deployed full Security to impound ships. We had to use anti-riot measures until reinforcements arrived.”
“The ships on the search party,” Bruno guessed.
“They didn’t stop at DS-13 on the way in so they were safe. The USS Demeter is here now. HazMat teams are all over the place. It’s going to be a few days before we can reopen for operations. It had better work out that way. Because if they find anything, it’s going to be a mess all around Nordström.”
“Captain Beaumont and her CEO went over the ship’s logs again. It seems fairly clear that the problems they started having before reaching DS-13 were caused by the bugs. In which case they didn’t have much time or opportunity to migrate aboard the station.”
“That would make us one of the safest place in the Federation then,” Mundis said in irony.
“We owe you a whole lot, Lydia,” Bruno said.
He was standing by the viewport with her. Hazard Teams aside, a skeleton crew remained to man the station, easy enough to evacuate by transporter to the USS Demeter if incidents started happening. They had not, and Bruno felt about sure they wouldn’t, but nobody could be certain until the station and impounded ships had been nit-picked all over, literally.
One reassuring fact, now confirmed by Federation experts, was that the bug didn’t attack – or attach to – upper mammals. The pricklings Bruno remembered feeling were literally an allergic reaction, personal to his own physiology, at their contact. He still had to restrain himself from touching his neck whenever collar rubbed against skin.
Multiple transfers from ship to ship were in progress out there, where vessels remained at station-keeping. The company owning the SS Biglow was bending over backwards to appease the angry, bedraggled passengers. Of all surprises, the somewhat depressive poet that Bruno had heard about turned out to have some connections; the entire crew of the SS Biglow, Captain Beaumont had reported in awe, was going to be vindicated “or else”. They had put passengers’ lives and safety ahead of their own during the evacuation.
There was such thing as poetic justice, apparently.
She had been running a tight ship and if the trend held, Bruno could imagine she would ride in style again. “They had better offer me the best,” she was grinning over their parting handshake. “The Latinum Leisure Planets run – beautiful cruise ships doing Risa, Carthage, Camino... Maybe our paths will meet again, Marini.”
Bruno’s recollections faded. Lydia was offering him a glass of something strong. Koslov’s tea was a distant memory.
“Just what the Doc didn’t order,” she nodded to him, before tossing her head back.
Bruno did the same before he looked again. They were lucky, he supposed. The Flambeau was still structurally sound. The test run to DS-13, or rather the test haul, had confirmed it could take the longer trip ahead. That one would bring them to Parthes, a Fleet scrapyard, because the facility was best equipped and staffed to handle a starship quarantine and rid it from the infestation.
“Where does that leave you all?” Lydia asked, her chin pointing to the Norway-class.
“Waterford will hang around here to finish the job... He’s aboard the Demeter for now. With the civilian scientists you sent me,” he added, shaking his head. “They’re still not going home. We are. Medical is putting us on leave for a few weeks. We are temporarily reassigned to the Farlong Reefs sector pending new orders. Their yards at Mandukar Moonbase are going to do a refit job on the Flambeau.”
“I thought you came in fresh from one, only 3 years ago?” She understood. “The ship’s getting a QSD.”
“It seems that was in the cards. Under the circumstances, the Flambeau is being bumped up the line.” The Fleet was pushing ahead, along with the Federation. Now that converting warp ships to QSD came with a full body of experience, smaller fleet shipyards were being equipped to help along.
“I suppose you are getting your command back afterwards?”
“Probably,” Bruno agreed, rather more certain than he had been before this unplanned rescue mission. Points had been earned. “Where we get assigned next is a different matter. But they’ll move fast on Nordström now...” He looked back at her. Her own future was a complete unknown. “Like I said, we owe you a whole lot. You made the right call when it mattered.” He set his glass down.
“Unless it’s my chance,” she said with a shrug. “I spent a long time around here, Bruno. Maybe it’s really time for change.”
Bruno’s eyes narrowed. That was too different from before not to mean something. “What kind of change?”
“An old friend of mine has set up a cargo business in Outer Perseus. She’s looking to expand. New places, new faces, new start. It’s beginning to sound good.”
“I can see how it would,” Bruno acknowledged. “Our loss for sure. Their gain, for certain.” He stuck his hand out, preparing to say the usual things.
“Until next time, Bruno,” Lydia Mundis said briskly, not one to linger on goodbyes, her hand strong and quick. “Good luck.”
Captain Bruno Marini