USS Vesta

A Play-by-Nova roleplay game.

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Blue Solutions

Posted on Thu Oct 15th, 2020 @ 12:42pm by Commodore Yoshi Minawara & Isabella Cerin

Mission: When the Bough Bounces
Location: Izzy's Quarters
4698 words - 9.4 OF Standard Post Measure

It was one of the best bottles in her collection: Of the highest quality, produced on Romulus before its destruction, bottled in an elegant faceted cut-crystal bottle that made it clear that even before it had become valuable for its rarity, the contents had been intended for consumption by the highest echelons of society. At the moment, Izzy had it sitting on the coffee table that sat between the couch and pair of arm chairs in the living room of her quarters, surrounded by a decided more human set of accompaniments: Little fried tex-mex style "eggrolls", pizza, and other foods geared far more towards comfort and enjoyment than doctor-approval...especially since they'd come from the replicator at work, not the more standard one here in her quarters.

She'd spent most of their recent stop at the starbase doing exactly what she had unfortunately suspected would happen, once she had been cleared medically: Attempting a few times to go out and about on the base, getting ambushed by reporters, and abandoning such attempts altogether. On the plus side, the media wasn't blaming either of them for their capture, if anything they were seemed to have decided they were the heroes of the entire affair. Which had its own problems. Headquarters had wanted to capitalize on that take to mitigate other damage, public affairs wise; she'd narrowly avoided being dragged back to Earth for a presentation ceremony for some sort of award, unwitting star player in a dog and pony show. Not to mention the broader problems for the Federation overall from the incident, both domestically and in how the events as framed could weaken their position in galactic affairs. She set down a pair of glasses as elegantly chiseled as the bottle, glared at them slightly as if they were the cause of the entire affair, then flopped back on the couch just before the door chimed.

Izzy glanced at the readout nearby on a PADD showing her a scan of the visitor outside the door--a recent addition and precaution she'd only gotten back into the habit of following recent events. Rather than rise for more formal greetings, though, she stayed where she was, tapping the PADD to open the door. "Come in!" She called out.

As the doors parted, Yoshi cautiously stepped through the door. He'd taken to doing that lately, moving around sudden corners a little slower, watching people in a room as they moved around. Not trusting food. He was due for a psychologists appointment after all was said and done, but until the Vesta got a new Counselor, he was going to have to make due with the next best thing; a few drinks with a friend. A smile spread across his face as he pushed the sleeves of his sweater up a little further, and he crossed fully into the quarters. "I hope I'm not too late," he said, glancing across the room at the selection of food.

"Nah. Late is for meetings, and I'm sure you're as thoroughly sick of those right now as I am." The loose, casual shirt she was wearing flared at the wrists, leaving visible what appeared to be a new accessory of sorts; a small watch-style wrist unit. What wasn't visible about it was the fact that it held a fairly sophisticated computer system, capable of covertly scanning a variety of items and reporting on them via a series of silent vibrations against the wearer's wrist...or should more detail be required, via a tiny hidden audio unit that could be paired and placed deep inside the wearer's ear. It was a similar model to the one she had been issued and worn on Romulus years before, though that one had been a more sophisticated model, hidden inside a silver bracelet made from a material meant to deflect scans of itself. "Have a seat. I'm afraid I'm not going to bother with the sort of elegance and ceremony a Romulan official might put into dispensing this stuff", she reached for the bottle and unceremoniously broke the seal, before pouring a measure into each of the two glasses, "As I suspect you might be tired of ceremony and protocol, too." She rolled her eyes as she passed him one of the glasses and took a sip of the other herself.

Alighting upon the couch, he settled in and reached for the glass. Taking a moment he considered the fluid, watching it move around the glass carefully, the small chases of alcohol around the edges of the glass. Finally he took a slip, and his face twisted a little at the taste. It wasn't bad, it was just strong. "I can now understand why the Romulans always say our alcohol doesn't sit right, and now I can finally understand why," he said with a laugh, finally allowing himself to relax. "As for meetings, I am terribly over them. If I have another Admiral or Fleet Ops person, or even news reporter try and blow up my communications lines, I will throw my comm badge out an airlock," he said with a chuckle.

"Kairishana caught most of the reporter calls for me. But they definitely swarmed me in person the couple times I tried to go out on the starbase. I considered getting "No Comment" printed in big block letters on a t-shirt to wear..." She took another sip of her drink, clearly accustomed to it after having spent years drinking with the species of its origin. "Thinking of getting Jack to write an algorithm for us that automatically forwards all news calls we get to our respective public affairs folks back on Earth instead. Let the punishment fit the crime. Though by the time the echo chamber gets done with itself there we'd probably get painted as people we wouldn't recognize at all."

"Oh I asked about that, apparently we aren't the first to consider that," he said with a chuckle, taking another restrained sip. "Apparently for a while, Admiral Janeway had all of her Press and Media related messages go to a hologram version of her that replied to them as though it were her. She just had to update the information in the system with new facts and let it go. At one point the hologram got overwhelmed, replied with 'From now on all messages will be directed to this address,' which was a hologram that it had created to offload the issues to. The potential for the system to be infinitely self replicating was deemed and danger, promptly erased, and staff were told to never try again." There was a part of him that understood both sides now, but it was still taught in school as part of holographic safety. "Short answer is, Starfleet says we have to do it ourselves."

"Oh that's brilliant." Izzy raised her glass a bit before taking the tiniest sip, like in a mock toast to the ingeniousness of the idea. "Pity about the technical risks getting it banned. Honestly it would probably be perfectly safe as long as you didn't allow for the hologram to create it's own subroutines and just made overflow go to a message storage queue. My headquarters actually often prefers questions be referred to them for many things, to keep consistent messaging...but they also expect those of us they entrust with representing the Federation far and wide to other governments to be able to keep the party line in mind and in mouth when answering Federation press questions ourselves." She paused for a moment, mouth twisting unpleasantly and sighing. "None of this is going to end well. Domestic fallout aside, I expect every opposing power to take advantage of this incident; whether by manipulating and stoking said fallout, to actively using the incident in their own propaganda, to allied powers who might start to rethink things...or be encouraged by others to do so, who would prefer to take our place."

Yoshi pounded the rest of the drink, grimaced, and placed it down on the table. "Do we have any allies left? If we do, someone should tell Starfleet," he spoke out harshly, face still twisted. "Intelligence has reports that both the Romulan factions are rebuilding their warfleets, the Klingons have reallocated resources to the Federation border, the Typhon Pact is building a new starbase on the edge of our space, and the Cardassians are looking to up their manufacturing. We've been allocating new resources to the Fleet to spread these out, but of course we lost Utopia in 2384, so we're missing so much from there. We've turned many of our remote yards to producing massive fleets and recruiting so aggressively you'd assume we were at war. Don't even get me started on projected piracy rates..." he trailed off. "At this point the Federation is spending more on building up Starfleet than the Federation is spending on any form of civil efforts, and you can tell. The Sons of Cheron have been calling us out more than ever..."

"We have allies on paper." Izzy pinched her ridged nose for a moment, the stress showing on her face, before giving her glass a 'fuck it' look and downing the rest all at once the way Yoshi had. "But that's a dangerous game of it's own. This certainly won't lead to any chance of changing that for the better, and will almost certainly change it for the worse. The Sons of Cheron..." She poured another measure of ale into her glass, and then reached over to refill his as well. "If this happened here, with this colony, it may have happened elsewhere. Probably did. Ton of worlds we evacuated during the war or its aftermath. People like the Sons of Cheron will start looking for those other places it happened. Other empires will too, depending on their goal. At best, we have new embarrassments and tragedies for them to hold up against us and ambush us with the existence of. At worst, we have a new Marquis, or worse."

"The Sons have a hard enough time keeping a new Maquis from forming in their ranks, so I can imagine enough fringe groups out there are looking to join. Ultra-nationalists, speciesists, people demanding an increase to internal reliance while cutting out trade partners. If we have people poking around causing further issues, and you and I both know the Romulans are for sure, there is bound to be more issues with insurgencies." He spaced, looking at the wall for a second. "Apparently we're thinking of adding Marine garrisons on colonies, and adding two whole new training camps. Additional facial recognition training, and a focus on further security efforts. Marshals are going to be reactivated, and further training is being considered for civilian law enforcement. All in the name of increasing our security," he said, adding a heavy sigh. "Rumours have already started of black operations to hunt down any remains colonies that we've left, secure them, and silence them before another incident like this occurs." Without looking, he picked up the drink and look a long sip. "But hey, we're the good guys."

Despite having turned off her detox implant for the night, and feeling the first effects of the drink, the inner voice of caution of what was said, and where and to whom, still stopped Izzy for a moment, before apparently she decided to disregard it. "....Used to have a thrill of pride every time I put on my badge and lapel pin. Every time I saw my name on papers embossed with the Federation seal. Every time I spoke for us, even if I was speaking positions I might have not all agreed with personally. That I was part of it all, part of what made the Federation work, part of what kept it protected and helped it and all its citizens thrive. But things like that now...Hard to look yourself in the eye sometimes anymore some days, isn't it?" She took another sip of her own second glass. "Wondering what we've become, or are becoming. And so then wondering when you catch your image in Federation regalia now, what you've become or are becoming, then."


Yoshi thought back to the remnants of the PaDD he'd swept off the floor a day prior, and the people who had stood in his office. He thought to the look of shock that they were being reprimanded for stopping kids, their own feelings called into question. "I'm not worried about us," he said finally, taking another sip. "I'm worried about the people we are pushing out into the Fleet after the propaganda engine that has become the Academy and most of our recruiters. I can still look myself in the eye, but so many of them are looking for another war, another fight to prove themselves like we did in the Dominion War. 'Defend the Federation, join Starfleet,'" he quoted the ad he'd seen on the station in the bar. "I joined to explore space, seek out new life and new civilizations, and to boldly go. I boldly went to watch my friends die." He sighed, then laughed.

"One bad mission and look at us both, sitting around, lamenting the Federation as bad as the colonists did. My therapist is going to have a field day," the Commodore added, hanging his head to look at his feet. Sitting upright, he settled more comfortably into his seat, and looked at the woman across from him. "Tell me more about you Izzy, I want to know you better."

"...Not sure where to start, really." She admitted, taking a sip of her second glass. "I grew up on Luna, with my mom, dad, grandma, and an annoying younger sister." She grinned for a moment at that. "And much to our annoyance in my younger years every time a doctor wanted to write a paper on us, Sofia and I are currently the oldest know human/Bajoran hybrids." This got an eyeroll. "...I decided I wanted to be a diplomat after hearing grandma's stories about the things she did in her career, before the Cardassians ended it...When I was 16, I started studying galactic affairs at University of Luna in 2371. I got myself an internship with the diplomatic corps in '73, but we were in the thick of the Dominion War and the alliances and issues it spawned, and that all turned fast into a "train-on-the-job permanent junior staff" situation by the time '74 rolled around."

"Oh man, I cannot imagine having been around diplomatic in the end of the war. I was too busy pulling ships together and trying to make warp engines out of things that shouldn't be be functional," he said with a chuckle. "We ferried a few diplomats around though. Not exactly the comfy conditions many were used to. I remember once setting up temporary quarters for one in our shuttlebay in a shuttle. We lost our VIP quarters to an attack and just abandoned the section."

"I'm sure I can't fully understand what it was like to be in the fleet during the end of the war, either." Izzy took another sip. "But from our side of things...the Dominion's bad faith efforts to engage our forces in combat and our negotiators at the same time deliberately as a tactic to try and muddy the waters enough to draw things out, or split our leader's opinions, or outright trick the Federation or our allies...They ran us ragged. While the fleet started shipping out cadets, the diplomatic corps started accelerating training periods, skipping normal courses and training on the job, hiring people who hadn't even finished their degrees yet in some cases. Dominion continued to run us ragged, honestly, even once the preliminary 'surrender' was over and all the details had to continue to be haggled over. 'Surrender.'" Her voice held a good deal of scorn and scoff. "As if. They only surrendered the territories they'd taken from us in the first place, and went back to keep what they started with, minus a few agreements on rights of passage and the like." The next sip she took was appreciably larger. "As for conditions they were used to...Well. The war and its experiences weren't what you and yours had signed up for or were used to. They weren't for me and mine, either." She paused for a moment. "I was working the day the Breen attacked Earth. After they hit Starfleet HQ and the Academy, they took potshots at a few other places and cities. Tried to hit some other government targets like us; and a lot of just civilian population targets too. Out for maximum fear. Hid in the basement with the other staff and prayed to the Prophets like I'd never prayed before, while the building shook." She shook her head. "I stuck around headquarters until early '77 while the bickering on the technical details of it all continued, and if I ever see another Vorta again it will be too soon."

A dry, humourless chuckle escaped the Commodore. "The Vorta were a nightmare. I remember after the war, giving a tour of a damaged engineering facility to one, part of the 'this is why we want you to pay'. Had to be polite and cordial with her, and I remember the look in the Marine's eyes. We had a brief moment, just me, two Marines, and this Vorta on a lift. I probably could have stopped the lift, claimed it attacked me, and let the Marines tear it limb from limb. Her," he corrected. It was amazing how easy it was to dehumanize many of the 'enemy' after they were no longer that. "Though, the Jem'Hdar had done a number on our ships, and the way they denounced the surrender and cease fire, claiming it was only a matter of time. I remember the success of the pulse weapons, and the way the Federation considered putting rotating turrets on ships so we could broadside future Dominion ships. When I got into Intel, there was always talk of the Dominion showing back up. You wouldn't believe how many deep-space telescopes are actually intelligence outposts. Or maybe you would, you are all probably told they exist. Keep the shock value off."

Izzy's nod as she topped off their glasses confirmed knowledge of that fact. "Useful for watching the other Alpha and Beta quadrant powers. Unfortunately not so fucking great for watching the Gamma quadrant. Once they went back to their territory, we lost our easy eyes on them. Sometimes...sometimes I still wake up at night, afraid they'll come back someday." She shook her head and took another sip. "And I know enough I can't tell myself it's just an idle fear. Just one I've had to learn to live with, instead. Not that our own quadrant doesn't give us enough to worry about. Tzenkethi, for example."

"Breen have been up to something," he added offhandedly, remembering the recent reports. "Romulan Free State and Republic are testy, and like to try and use us to fight with one another, the Klingons are being cold, the Cardassians a little too warm, and the Ferengi have been smuggling more than usual. Oh, and apparently there have been attacks from Tholians lately, just to make matters more exciting." He sipped from the refilled glass and sighed. "Can't build bridges if the sparks of your welder will ignite powder kegs."

"Well. You could. If that was your endgame. Romulans are famous for that, historically, for example." She bit off a third of an eggroll and swallowed. "They were my third posting. On Romulus. After headquarters and Qo'nous. Before Ferenginar."

Nodding again, Yoshi cracked a smile. "During my time with OLYMPUS we had a Romulan liaison we dealt with. A good will initiative, basically designed to keep the Romulans from getting mad if we poked our noses where they don't belong. We found derelict Birds of Prey well past Romulan space where they should have never been. I remember the look on our CO's face when we dragged them back across the border, swearing up and down that we hadn't taken them apart at all. We of course, lied. The Romulans were in such a bad state that they refused to trust us, and just destroyed them once they were in their space." Scooping a piece of the pizza, he folded it inwards for a bit of stability and bit in. "Our liaison was a Free State supporter, and as he left, simply told us if we found anything else to salvage what we wanted and destroy it, rather than give it back to the Republic. Doubt the sentiment would be the same now," he shoved a few more bites into his face.

Leaning back a bit, he stared at the ceiling for a bit. "What's your take on the crew's position after all this?" he asked, not looking from the spot he was staring at. "I have been feeling more and more isolated after all this, I barely get the scuttlebutt anymore."

"I may not have that scuttlebutt either, at least from any sources saying things they don't want to reach your ears due to or about such things; considering the other person involved in 'all of that' was me." She shrugged. "Outside read, I think there's probably a variety of opinions on it all. Most of them probably hold any blame or anger at the situation for the colonists, or for the officials who abandoned things. Undoubtedly there's a few who blame you for it somewhat. Equally undoubtedly there are at least as many who blame me, for having 'gotten you into it'. Given the timing though, I'd question whether any...isolation...you've been sensing or experiencing lately is because of recent events, or rather as I would suspect more the natural if in some aspects regrettable evolution of changes in rank and the like."

Change in rank. That still felt odd, being a Commodore was odd. "God, the rank change is terrible on it's own. A lot more people calling me sir. Captains I consider friends calling me sir. I don't think I could do with another. Let me keep the ship nice and easy." He downed the last bit of his drink again and suppressed a hiccup. "I think it was Captain Montgomery Scott who once said 'Never let them take you from your ship.' I don't want to leave the Vesta if I can help it, danger and all."

"...Are there plans in discussion for you to do so?" Rather more practiced at the beverage in question, Izzy was entirely devoid of hiccups or such of her own yet and she poured more into their glasses.

Laughing, Yoshi shook his head. "They'd be crazy at this point to promote me, considering the functional new asshole that Sepandiyar handed me, and the bad PR I have brought the fleet. No, I think I get the distinct pleasure of being a Comfy Commodore for the foreseeable future." He took a second to consider if he should have another glass of the potent liquor, shrugged, and carried on, popping a few more snacks in his mouth. "If I am really lucky," he said, chewing behind a hand through his words, "I will see the Vesta till the day she is settled to be scrapped."

"How many ships did you serve on before her?" Izzy stuffed a tex-mex eggroll into her mouth with perhaps less grace and poise than usually associated with her type.

"USS Kittyhawk and Andromeda in the fields of Warp theory and engine specialist. Became the Chief Engineering Officer of the USS Ticonderoga until she was damaged. Then I served with Starfleet Intelligence as a Xenotechnologist, working a few assignments, from the USS Fort Hood to Leto Colony. Then I worked with Project OLYMPIA, before moving to the VESTA project." He listed them off in a series of functions. A frown crossed his face, thinking on it. "Was assigned to Utopia Planetia, was luckily on Earth during the attacks," he said, a little sourly, thinking back to the video feeds of the old workshop adrift in space. "If you want to spilt hairs, I also served as Mission Commander for NXQ-Beta, Delta, Gamma, and Sigma, which is like serving on a ship, but it's an engine with a couple of seats strapped to it."

Izzy laughed. "If you want to split hairs, then, after my posting on Ferenginar and before the second headquarters stint that preceded Vesta, I actually had another posting. I served on a special team engaged in negotiations with the Tzenkethi. Since it all completely and spectacularly fell apart within less than seven months, it was possibly one of the most expensive and complete wastes of time in Federation history that didn't involve technological development and failure."

"I dunno, I feel like the awkward meeting I had with an Admiral that went "I'm sure it'll turn up sometime went about as well," replied the man with a laugh. "Delta fell out of phase with our timeline, and while the pilot managed to successfully engage his transport eject and be recovered, the sled was eventually found inside an asteroid. A month after we launched Gamma." It was a fond memory of sorts, as it had helped prevent exactly that kind of accident from happening again. Or it was supposed to, and involved some tinkering in the future. "Though, I wish I could have taken a picture of her face when we told her we'd found the prototype, but needed a mining ship to extract it. Ewan suggested we tow the whole rock home for examination."

"Just suggest they re-christen the prototype from 'Delta' to 'Rocky'." A vicious grin spread over Izzy's face.

A laugh escaped the man faster than he'd expected that shook his body. "It was so badly damaged," he said, looking up at the ceiling and shaking his head. "Our teams were surprised it stayed together, the amount of stress it's internal sensors recorded were amazing. Like being stuck inside a black hole, but just barely protected." A smile spread onto Yoshi's face and he just shook his head, a slight stupor having settled in. He hadn't drank in a while, and the strength of the ale combined with his recent come down from meds was hitting him a little harder than he'd anticipated. "Bet I could design a slipstream sled, basically a delivery of whatever you needed on an engine bed. Disaster relief, emergency survey, science services. Probably fighters the Fleet would want too, or a weapons platform. But still," he trailed off, ending with a sigh.

"Miss Cerin I dare say you have succeeded in getting me drunk," he said with a chuckle.

She shrugged. "I spent too many years drinking in places where drinking your opponent under the table is a professional goal." She took a long pull from her own glass and grinned again. "Just means I'd better start working harder on catching up to you...."

Reaching and picking up the bottle, Yoshi drained what remained between the two glasses. "I think you are a little behind, so let's catch you up," replied the Commodore with a sly grin. "I would be a terrible Minawara is I didn't ensure you were properly served first," he said with another subdued laugh. "Worst case, I think I can convince Karrun to drop off some of that beer she has hidden under her bar from Haumea." Leaning back into his spot on the couch, he let out a heavy sigh. "Lord knows we both deserve this," he ended with, as the two carried on for the night. Karrun did deliver the beer, a case of it, which itself was ended before the night was through, which would end up being closer to 0300 than either had intended.

 

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