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A Sad State of Affairs

Posted on 29 Aug 2016 @ 2:26am by Captain Harvey Geisler & Ensign Shay Mitchell & Senior Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin & Ensign Kelly Khan

Mission: Click Three Times
Location: Various
Timeline: MD 7 || 0800 Hours

Senior Chief Petty Officer Mila Rasputin marched into Harvey's Ready Room with a fresh stack of what seemed like never-ending PADDs in a small basket instead of the few that she normally brought him. The Yeoman looked tired as if she had been running around the clock since the gravimetric distortion and in truth, that's what she had been doing since that event had happened with the exception of a series of one hour naps. "Captain," she gave him a nod. "Where am I to be putting these?"

For the first time since they'd begun repairs, Harvey had returned to Deck One. The fire that had consumed the bridge hadn't breached the door to the Ready Room, leaving it perfectly intact, save for the mess the impact had created. Harvey took one look at the yeoman, noticing instantly that she looked tired. He hadn't slept much himself, but he at least felt rested enough to continue driving the ship. "Over here's good," Harvey said, gesturing to the clean area of his desk.

A pitcher of water sat nearby. With the ship still recovering, replicators were offline, and resources were still pushed towards critical areas. For Harvey, that meant no coffee today. Though, looking at Mila and thinking that the rest of the crew would look just like her, he'd have to locate the chef and order him to brew everything in his stash for the crew. After all, they could always restock at Unity.

His eyes then wandered towards the door that led out to the bridge. He still hadn't stepped a foot on it since returning to Deck One. After all, he'd taken advantage of the private access area that led to the Ready Room, rather than a turbolift ride to the ruined bridge.

Mila set the basket down and looked longingly at the chairs on the visitor side of his desk, but closed her eyes and shook her head. "I am needing to back to Administration," she said. "I am seeing that repairs are being done, but ship will not be same after this." With a sigh, she forced herself more erect. "Are you to be needing anything else, Captain?" she asked him.

"They never are," Harvey remarked, thinking of the many vessels he'd served on since the Dominion War. He thought about asking her to walk with him out onto the bridge, but that was still something left for a different time. Who knew what awaited him on the other side of that door. The fire had claimed all of the oxygen on the bridge, but with the ventilation system closed, all of the smoke and horrible odors were locked behind the door. Succumbing to whatever awaited him over there was not how he best imagined experiencing this day. "Do you know what time Cadet Khan will arrive?"

"Da," the Yeoman said and reached for the top PADD and activated it. She focused her tired eyes and glanced at the list. "She is to be here at zero eight thirty hours, Captain, but is fifteen minute window either way on your discretion." Mila wondered how he was taking the near destruction of the ship, but from the personnel that she had already seen, many of them were focused entirely on getting it back to its former glory instead of moping or hiding from what needed to be done.

"Fifteen minutes," he muttered, mulling the flexible window in his head. Sooner certainly sounded better than later, especially since he wanted to get out of the nebula as soon as possible. "I think I'll take the earlier flight and get this over with," he said, picking up another PADD which happened to be a progress report on the repairs. "Looks like they'll be able to attempt to reinitialize the warp core in a few hours."

"Cadet Khan reported that they are having warp core, power and computers operational on Chimera but not much more," Mila said as she made a note in the PADD. "I will have message sent to inform her." She paused and looked at him before the Senior Chief Yeoman got pushed aside for a personal moment. "How is your integrity field holding up, Harvey?"

He looked up at the use of his name. It suddenly occurred to him that the last time she'd seen him was in the security complex in between interrogations. "Yesterday was one of the hardest days of my life," he told her. In fact, if he had to rank his worst days, it would likely fall in the top five. "But, somehow, Joey and I managed to have a good night, albeit a short one, and that made up for a lot of it." Setting down the PADD, he focused his attention on her for a moment. "How about you, Mila?"

Mila took immediate note of how he says Joey and I and immediately put two and two together, a cat-that-ate-the-canary look flashing across her face for a moment. "If I am to be honest, I am not sleeping more than hour at a time," she told him. "There has been much to do and I am doing it because it is needing to be done. Many people depend on Administration to keep things moving and I am making sure that the moving is being done properly."

It was impossible to miss Mila's expression. Harvey raised an eyebrow, wondering why she'd don that expression in reaction to what he shared. Were it not for Joey, Harvey's sleeping pattern would have been exactly like Mila's or else be non-existent. In fact, he was sure most of the ship was operating the same way. The last thirty hours had been rough for all, and he now questioned if he had taken too much time for himself overnight.

Brushing that thought aside for now because he had to, he replied to Mila, "Thank you for that. Between losing as much as we did, there's bound to be a lot of gaps in the system."

"Da," Mila agreed sadly. "I am having runner sent to every deck and department as they available and they are doing same for Administration. We have lost too many and too much and we are going to be limping back to Unity. I am sorry this has happened, Harvey. Is not right and is not fair to have to fight our own when there is so much yet to be explored. When is it to be stopping?"

"I wish I knew," Harvey found himself instantly and honestly responding. "We've been victorious on three occasions now, and each time hasn't felt like it. At least, this time, we get to go home with a prize. I just hope the brass have been cooking up a battle plan while we were out."

"I am hoping same" the Russian brunette agreed wholeheartedly. "If you are to be excusing me, I am informing Cadet Khan that you will be ready soon."

Harvey gave her a smile and an agreeable nod. "That face, you made earlier," he asked before she could depart. "What was that?"

Mila hesitated for a moment, then gave in. "Is because I am happy that you are getting sleep and happy that you are with Joey," she said. "You are needing sleep so you can be light crew needs. Joey is like sister to me and is needing sleep because of all she has been doing. Together, you are both getting what is needed and it pleased me."

Harvey grinned in response. "Hopefully, this crew will get what it needs. A reprieve, and a chance to explore the stars once again. As for you," he said, approaching her to put a hand on her shoulder. "After you inform Cadet Khan, I want you to get some shut eye. If I need to be the light the crew needs, then I need my help rested as much as possible."

"Help, he says," she sniffed. "I am remembering that...after I am waking up next. Then I am serving Borscht soup to Captain to show him what help gives to overbearing command officers." She gave him a sideways look with a sly grin to show she was kidding, but she may be tempted to do just that. "Good night, Harvey," she said as she brought her hand up to rest on his for a moment. "And remember, we are here for you as much as you are being here for us." With that, she turned and headed out to inform the Cadet the Captain was on his way and she headed for her quarters.

"Good night," Harvey replied as she disappeared into the tunnel. It would be a while before Cadet Khan arrived, so Harvey returned to his desk and began to sift through the PADDs Mila had brought him.




The previous day could only have been described as hectic, although to the young brunette who held the name and rank of Cadet Senior Grade Kelly Marie Khan, it had a million other terms associated with it. She had taken the Command School while at Starfleet Academy and had ran her through every possible scenario and while the near destruction of a starship had been covered, the reality was far, far different. She had found herself climbing up and down Jeffries Tubes and running all over the ship, helping fallen crewmen, giving orders to personnel who far outranked her, calming others and organizing teams to critical areas. She had been back to the Black Hawk for an assessment briefing as if she were senior staff - a point she was extremely proud of and gone back to the Chimera.

Kelly had found the time to delegate certain responsiblities to senior members of the Chimera's crew, some no higher than a Lieutenant JG and set up a command center where she could assimilate the flood of information that was brought to her attention and made decisions that only those with real Command experience could have made. Entire areas of the ship had been sealed off and non-essential personnel were now crowded in other areas while anyone with experience in Engineering and Operations had been tasked to setting things right. The warp core was operational now after an extensive check, life support and gravity was fully restored, the computer core was up and running, albeit with a million error reports that she had basically ignored if the Enginering and Operations staff didn't seen worried about it, and the ship interior was now bathed in light.

She had found a red uniform that was roughly her size and made the time to get herself as presentable as posssible, which was basically brushing her hair out and checking to make sure she didn't have grease on her face and hands. After she transferred her cadet rank to the collar of the new uniform, she handed command over to Lieutenant Road and made her way to the shuttle bay. She had received a message from a shuttle communication system since they had not been damaged that none other than Captain Geisler had requested her to pick him up in a shuttle to take him on an inspection of the Black Hawk and the other two ships.

After a brief search in the shuttle bay of the Chimera, the young cadet selected a Type 9 shuttlecraft, ran through the checklist and took it out to meet up with the Black Hawk. She had been shocked and dismayed to see the damage to the Akira class ship, but knew other personnel were already in progress of getting her put to rights. Upon her arrival, she asked for permission to land and came aboard. The Flight Deck was in better shape than it had been the previous day and made her way up to deck one where the Captain awaited her in his ready room. In an odd twist, she found herself in an unknown tunnel that now had personnel coming and going and was suprised when she came out in the head of the Captain's Ready Room. A brief joke crossed her mind about a Captain's Log, but she dismissed it and entered the small room where one Captain Harvey Geisler spent the majority of his time making decisions that affected the entire ship.

"Captain Geisler, Sir," Kelly said as she brought herself to his attention. "Cadet Senior Grade Khan, reporting, Sir."

Harvey looked up from the PADD he'd been reading to see the young cadet standing before him, Though she was at attention, he could see on her face how the last day had been for her. He would make no mention of it, after all, it was irrelevant at this point. What mattered now was what happened in the next hour. With both Captain Suresh and Captain Kylar deceased and the command teams of both starships eviscerated, it fell to him to make decisions about all three Starfleet vessels. Now it was time to find out how good, or how bad, things really were.

But it was the command uniform she wore that struck him. It was a logical decision, after all, the Chimera's crew wouldn't take too kindly to one who wore a cadet's uniform. Harvey knew he would have had a hard time doing that. "At ease, Miss Khan," Harvey said, setting the PADD on the desk and standing. "Ready to go?"

Kelly relaxed into a parade stance with her hands behind her back and her attention still firmly on him. "I am, Captain," she said. "I'm afraid that things are still a mess on Chimera, but the warp core and primary systems are online and the bugs are still being worked out at this time. There was extensive damage to the ship and personnel." She paused for a moment. "One of our Security personnel..." Kelly tried to remember the young woman's name and failed. "...was injured when everything went black and she's being kept medicated until she can be properly treated."

Harvey couldn't help but frown. Though he didn't have the woman's name, he didn't think of her as another line on the causality list. They'd lost too many people during the ship's worst tragedy under his command. He gestured for her to follow him. He would have been content to continue their discussion in the Ready Room, but there was plenty of time to do that on the shuttle. He also would have asked her how extensive the damage was, but that was the point of the visual inspection. "Hopefully she won't have to wait too much longer for treatment," Harvey replied. "We may have to medivac her back here and get her to sickbay."

"Yessir," Kelly said as she turned and headed back for the not-so-secret passageway now. "The last I checked, she was in Chimera's Sickbay and stabilized. Oh! Her name is Mitchell. Ensign Shay Mitchell," she said as the Security woman's name came to her. "She hurt her back in Security when things went sideways. What happened anyway, Captain? I was on the bridge of the Chimera firing at the Romulan ship, then everything went white and black and I woke up licking the deck."

"We don't have any idea," Harvey replied, leading the way and thinking about the security officer. He didn't think he'd met her, but he knew he needed to make it a point soon to visit the crew in sickbay. Perhaps after the inspection he'd do that. "We beamed a tricobalt device on board the Valdore since we couldn't fire it. It went off and took the warbird with it. What happened after that... Well, hopefully we'll see if the sensors picked up anything when we get those fully back online."

"A tricobalt?" Kelly's eyes went wide at the mention of the deadliest weapon in the Federation's inventory. "That's...some firepower. I heard they're only used in times of extreme emergency." She commented as she continued to walk down the tunnel inside the ship. "I have a type nine shuttle waiting for us in the flight deck, Captain. It'll be a short trip to the Chimera unless you prefer to see the Cochrane first."

"It was either us or them," Harvey told her. "I don't think I need to tell you that the Thalaron weapon was going to be used on all of us."

"Is that what turned people into ash?" Kelly asked softly as they came out of the tunnel onto a regular deck. "I saw quite a few on the Chimera but no one seemed to have answers."

Harvey nodded as he fell into step beside her. "It was highly unstable, but even unstable Thalaron is just as dangerous as the stable kind. We're just lucky we saw the Valdore in time." Returning to her earlier question, he answered, "We'll start with the Cochrane." He still had a mental image of the peppering the fighters had done to the hull of the Chimera. Harvey already had a sinking feeling about the ship, and wanted to save the inevitable news for the last.

"I'm glad it's gone," Kelly said firmly. "Something like that doesn't deserve to be in anyone's hands. Ever." The cadet may not have had the Captain's space view on things nor the experience, but her moral beliefs were very strong. She led the way to the shuttle she had brought from the Chimera and opened it for him. "Captain," she said, allowing him to enter it first.

He was thankful for Kelly's black-and-white opinion on the matter, and even more appreciate that it lined up with what he thought. Even if he had found the Valdore before the Chimera and Cochrane, he would have destroyed the Valdore without hesitation. "Thank you, Cadet," he said as he boarded the shuttle. The Black Hawk featured a couple Type-Eight shuttlecraft, but he'd always preferred the sleekness of the Type-Nines. It was nice to finally be in one again. He took his seat next to the pilot's chair, and began to access the shuttle's sensors, including a video camera to document their flight. He was certain Teixeria, Bast and Sulvai would like to see what awaited them.

Kelly entered and shut the hatch, then went to the pilot's seat where she began a pre-flight rundown with fluid efficiency. The young woman may not have had much experience behind her cadet tabs, but her knowledge was first rate. Once the pre-flight was complete, she requested take off clearance from the Flight Controller and smoothly exited the Black Hawk's Flight Deck and set a course for the Cochrane. "Do you wish a slow fly by or a circuit around it, Sir?"

"Let's go slow," Harvey replied, looking up at the Intrepid-class ship beyond the window. He couldn't believe how far off the three ships had drifted from each other after the explosion. They had been in close formation when attacking the Valdore, but now they could be barely seen from one another. Maybe he should have put a better emphasis on getting the RCS thrusters back online.

She nodded and closed the distance to the Cochrane until it was larger than life and she could see the battle damage that had been inflicted to it by the Black Hawk. It was an impressive amount of damage, but she could see where the weapons had been targeted in particular. "It looks like she took less damage than the Chimera did during the battle. There's holes that were vaporized in places on the Chimera but I don't think it was from the fighters. It looks like someone was in a phaser fight on there, Captain."

"Let's stick with the Cochrane for a few minutes," Harvey told the cadet, not wanting to go into Joey's escapades on the Chimera, at least, not yet. He trained the camera on the ship in front of them. The hull breaches were plentiful, and thankfully, they existed only where phaser banks were placed. "You know," Harvey said, still looking at the ship in front of them. "You have to wonder whose idea it was to have strips of phaser banks. A couple well placed shots can disable an entire array."

Kelly didn't know if his comment was rhetorical or not, but she elected to respond to the best of her knowledge as she moved the shuttle on a slow course along the Cochrane. "They were actually placed in strips for the best possible arc coverage and the design allows the banks to concentrate the energy on a focal point for maximum damage. It also requires minimum repair time in the even they are disabled." She paused, having given a stock answer, but she wondered if it were enough or he wanted more on what could still be an idle observation. "However, I'm inclined to agree that centralization does present a target to be eliminated quickly in a battle. It all comes down to who the better tactical officer is and response time. Decentralization of the phaser arrays would require better targeting and faster response time but would sacrifice power."

He chuckled. "I see your Academy studies are still fresh," he remarked. "Still the hull breaches are a cause for concern, especially in this nebula. We get out of here, we can restore forcefields and fine tune the SIF generators to stabilize the hull. That'll hold long enough to get back to Unity. Other than that, the Cochrane looks flyable."

The young brunette flushed at his remark about her Academy studies; of course she had been textbook in her responses, but she didn't have enough real experience to give an answer that wasn't standard and she wasn't certain how much personal opinion she should interject. Anything and everything she said could be entered in a report that could make her or break her before she even made Ensign. She did note that he didn't say anything about the theoretical phaser battle on the Chimera that she had mentioned and opted not to bring it up again. "Yes. Sir," she said with a dip of her head as she kept her eyes focused on the controls. "The Cochrane is undoubtedly more suited than the Chimera as much as I hate to say it. There's only so much that can be done with a ship that took heavy damage when there's other options available."

"Why do I feel like you're preparing me for the worst, Cadet?" Harvey asked her, not necessarily expecting a response. "Let's go ahead and swing around..." his voice trailed off, spotting something small and bright far behind the Cochrane. It had to be several hundred kilometers away, but it was a small pinprick of light. "What's that?" he asked, pointing at it.

Kelly started to respond, then turned her attention to what the Captain had pointed out and engaged the long range sensors. "It appears to be a subspace distortion, Captain," she said at last. While the Captain hadn't been responding to her comments directly, she figured it was his prerogative and reminded herself that she was just a cadet who didn't require responses on some matters. "Shall I take us closer?"

"Not too close," Harvey commented, straightening in his chair. "One third impulse, cadet. Nice and steady." He then accessed what he could of the shuttle's sensors, hoping to get enough readouts for his science teams. "I've only seen Romulan ships a handful of times in my life, and I've never seen one do this. Any ideas?" Harvey of course had a few ideas of his own, but he was not an astrophysicist or an engineer.

"Aye, Sir. One third impulse," Kelly responded as she entered the change of speed and approached the distortion. "I would speculate that the effects of the tricobalt device in combination with the singularity has produced a new phenomenon unlike anything that's been seen before, or at least isn't in our records. It's a shame we can't access the main LCARS back on the ship for referencer at this point in time." She continued to check her sensors.

"Or even get a clearer reading," Harvey remarked, frowning at the static he was seeing on the readouts. "There appears to be some gravimetric distortions near the distortion. Seems like a miracle we drifted this far. Let's not get any closer. Maybe when this is all over, we'll come back and give it a better look."

Kelly cut impulse power and looked at the readings. "In theory, a tricobalt is powerful enough to open a rip in space/time. Could it have used the power of the microsingularity to create one powerful enough to cause the blackout and extensive damage that everyone and the ships experienced?"

Harvey looked at the young cadet, impressed by her speculation. "Toss in whatever background radiation, thalaron or otherwise, plus whatever is in this soup, and who knows what really acted as the catalyst." He entered a command to do a full spectrum sweep, a procedure that would take about five minutes with the shuttle's limited sensors. "How's the crew of the Chimera holding up?" he asked her, thinking of how the crew of the Black Hawk had performed after learning what side their orders had been coming from.

"Some of them are a bit resistant, but everyone is working towards restoring the ship, Sir," Kelly responded, then looked down at her uniform. "I hope this Command uniform doesn't mean that I'm impersonating an officer, Captain. It wasn't my intent, but my other uniform was nearly in shreds and I didn't want to present myself as a wreck."

Harvey was a bit surprised at her feelings about the uniform. Back in the Ready Room, he assumed it had been a calculated move. "And here I thought you'd donned that uniform for a different purpose," he told her. "The men and women on the Chimera thought we were the adversary. Adjusting to that is one thing, but to have a cadet from the Black Hawk assume command is another matter entirely. I thought you donned that uniform for their benefit, not yours."

"Surprisingly, I didn't have trouble with the crew of the Chimera at all," Kelly said. "Command training pays off. I did, however, have a little trouble with Doctor Road, but she had been knocked out and I gave her a dose of Tricordrazine to revive her and I guess five cc's was a little much. She told me I needed to repeat the medic extension courses and I sort of snapped on her, but she followed my orders."

He raised an eyebrow at the mention of the drug. "Five cc's of Tricordrazine for a human is a bit much, unless they're in cardiac arrest or shock. Two or three would have been sufficient." He paused, considering now was not the time to lecture a cadet, especially one who'd been doing everything she could to hold an entire ship together. "Sorry," he said. "I was a Doctor in a former life. That training doesn't exactly leave you."

"I understand, Captain," Kelly said, her voice apologetic. "I admit that I panicked and wasn't sure of the exact dosage. I'll brush up on my medications more in the event of another emergency. You went from being a Doctor to being a starship Captain? That's a huge step in another direction." She observed before she glanced at the sensors again and attempted to clear up the background clutter to attempt better resolution.

Harvey chuckled. "It's... a long story," he admitted. It was a story that he not only not had time for, but one he was still uncomfortable discussing in front of others. "But most Captains don't come up through Command training. Jean-Luc Picard was a scientist first. Benjamin Sisko was an engineer before becoming the legend at Deep Space Nine."

"Does that mean that people who do take Command training are less likely to become a Captain of their own ship, Sir?" she asked him, wondering if the track she were taking had to be modified. She still had time for it, plus two other areas to fall back on, but, she reminded herself that her real goal wasn't to be a Captain of her own ship.

"No," Harvey said, glancing down at the scan's progress bar. "It just means that people change. You can plan and hope for the best, but... life happens. Just because one wears the uniform of a Starfleet officer doesn't mean your life is any more dangerous or unpredictable. Things just... change."

"My dream has always been to fly the newest ships of the fleet," Kelly said. "I want to know everything about every inch of them. It's why I took Flight and Engineering and in order to be a test pilot, I have to be a Commander or higher, according to what I've researched. I have a lot of wiggle room to make adjustments, but it's my dream."

Harvey nodded, having heard the Cadet tell him her dreams before. "We're going to have to get you back to the Alpha Quadrant soon if you're going to have a chance at that. Otherwise, you mind find yourself permanently stuck aboard the Black Hawk with the finest runabouts in the galaxy." It was a bit of joke, Harvey thought. After all, the Danubes were quite outdated now. Maybe he'd get a chance to replace those soon too.

"I'm sorry if I'm repeating myself, Captain," Kelly said when she realized that she'd already had talked to him about her goals. "I'm actually a little nervous. You're the first Captain I've ever officially served under and you've given me so many firsts before I've even officially started my career with Starfleet. I can't thank you enough, Captain Geisler. As for getting me back to the Alpha Quadrant, I have a lot more to learn from you before that time comes."

He just hoped she had a chance to learn more and not join the growing number of deceased. Before he could say anything else, his console beeped, indicating the scan had finished. "I think we've got all we're going to get here," he told her. "Let's turn our attention to the Chimera."

With a nod, the spunky brunette cadet turned the shuttle around with a fancy flourish and engaged full impulse away from the distortion. "You got that right, Captain," she said. "I know for a fact that we'll figure it out. As for the Chimera...brace yourself, Sir."

Harvey leaned forward as the shuttle approached the blackened ship. "Oh my word..." he muttered as soon as he was close enough to see detail. The damage from the fighters was extensive. Entire phaser banks were missing, as were entire sections of hull plating and sensor palettes. One of the folding nacelle pylons sported what almost looked like welds to the joints, locking it in place. In areas, he could actually see exposed warp field coils.

In that moment, his greatest fears from the last few days had been realized. There was no way he could bring both ships back to Unity. Were they in the Alpha Quadrant, he could easily leave the ship and contact the nearest starbase for a tug. The ship was completely repairable, as long as it had at least six months docked to a starbase. Thanks to the Consortium, that was an impossibility.

"I've had Engineering and every other department with qualified personnel working on it around the clock, Sir," Kelly said as if it were her fault the Intrepid class ship was in the condition it was in. "There's so much damage in places that we couldn't do more than erect force fields and seal off the areas with breaches. The warp core is operational, the life support and gravity are stabilized and the main computer is online. Other than that...." her voice trailed off.

Harvey placed a hand on her shoulder. "You did good, Cadet," Harvey declared. "You took an impossible situation head on, managed to wrangle an entire crew, and kept things moving. An excellent first command," Harvey complimented with a smile. "The first of many, I'm sure."

While the Captain's praise was welcome and important to her, Kelly couldn't help but feel that she could have done more to make the Chimera worthy of flight and battle ready again. "Thank you, Sir," She said. "Thank you for giving me the chance to actually command a ship and crew. It meant a lot to me. I just feel that I've let you down."

Harvey offered a reassuring smile and looked out the window. "Kobayashi Maru, Cadet." He leaned back in his chair and looked out the window again at the blackened Chimera. "Well, it's pretty close. There's at least a hundred people over there when there could have been zero, including yourself. The way I see it, you didn't let anyone down."

Kelly smiled now. "You're right, Captain," she said, feeling a bit better. "When that Romulan warbird appeared, I gave the order to close and fire and my orders were followed to the letter. I don't think I've ever been more scared in my life, but at the same time, I felt as if I were in complete control." She brought the shuttle out of impulse and used the RCS thrusters to get a bit closer.

The damage seemed even worse up close and personal. Harvey could only frown. In his mind, the fate of the Chimera was sealed. Still, he would have to confer with his Executive Officer and figure out a plan of action. "Can you take us to the bow?" he asked Kelly, knowing he needed to see the deflector dish and the other sections he couldn't see.

"Certainly," she responded and maneuvered the shuttle around until she brought it about to face the bridge of the Chimera, already having see what the damage was herself on her trip out. She had been amazed that her and the entire bridge crew hadn't been killed and had given thanks to the star she was born under. "She's not much to look at, but she can limp if needed."

"It's a miracle the bridge is still there," Harvey remarked, seeing the burns of weapon discharges underneath the bridge module. He also spotted what could be stress fractures all along the deck. "You might consider relocating bridge functions for now. You don't want Deck One torn off while at warp."

"I'm thinking about transferring it to Engineering, but it was such as clusterfest down there when they were trying to get it back in order," Kelly said. "I think the Lieutenant Junior Grade I had put in charge would have led the mutiny against me if I had asked for more at the time. I'm learning that diplomacy is a very important part of commanding others. He didn't appreciate when I was giving him Engineering advice, so I stayed out of his way and asked for progress reports."

"You can't stay too far out of the way," Harvey cautioned, making sure the camera was still recording everything. "If you do, the crew will think they can get more and more past you. But, you're right. Diplomacy is important, but you have to balance it. Too much, and you hinder results. Too little, and your crew will resent you."

"Oh, I wasn't any further away than a runner and I was touring the decks myself, Sir," Kelly said. "I don't like sitting on my backside doing nothing. I wanted to be seen helping others and doing my part instead of simply ordering everyone else around. I also know Engineering and engineers well enough to know that they sandbag estimates on when something is going to be fixed so they can look like miracle workers by doing it in a quarter of the time. Captain Montgomery Scott wrote the book on that and I read it."

Harvey nodded. "Just one of the many secrets of being a Captain," he told her. Sighing, he added, "I think I've seen enough, Cadet."

"Yes, Captain," Kelly said and immediately turned the shuttle away from the sad sight of the Chimera. "Are you ready to go back to the ship?"

"I am," he solemnly answered. He had to share this information with his command team and make final decisions and plans. "Just out of curiosity, do you have a finalized casualty list?"

She took a breath and closed her eyes. "Between ninety and one hundred, Captain," she said almost too quietly to hear. "I'm uncertain of who died during the batter and who was left on the ship when we first took it, Sir."

Harvey closed his eyes. Nearly a third of that crew was gone, a much higher casualty rate than what the Black Hawk had suffered. While the Black Hawk lost roughly the same amount of people, they were a larger ship with a larger crew. Still, he held a moment of silence for the lost souls, for those who died for the wrong reasons.

Kelly opened her eyes after a minute and looked over at the Captain; he seemed to be in a moment of reflection or a form of mourning for the lost crew as much as she had been. Without disturbing him, she turned the shuttle and headed for the shuttle bay so they could pick up the hurt Security Ensign who needed medical treatment.

Harvey opened his eyes a few moments later and was surprised to see that the shuttle was entering the Chimera's shuttlebay. "What...?" he started to ask before he saw the medical team through the window, along with the occupied stretchers in the bay. "Do we have enough room?" he asked, turning behind him to take a look at the space.

"We can fit four passengers normally, but with stretchers, I'd say two," Kelly responded as she brought the Type 9 down for a landing. "If we take the Aerowing Shuttle, we can fit five per trip and we won't need a full flight crew of five people since we're just ferrying personnel. It's already been prepared and ready to go, Sir."

He nodded. "Begin evacuating all critically injured. If a person can move well enough, they need stay here. I have a feeling you'll need them shortly."

"Understood, Sir," Kelly said as she exited the shuttle and began to organize the personnel who had been watching the critically wounded and stepped in to help an exhausted medic who nearly dropped one end of a stretcher. She gave him a reassuring smile and put her back into the effort as the teams began to load up five people onto the Aerowing who were the most injured first and making certain the stretchers were secured.

Harvey stood in the background, just watching the orchestrated chaos. It would be so easy to step in and take command of the situation, especially since he was the only Captain left alive between the three ships. He also knew that every crewman aboard these two ships were told that he was the enemy. Cadet Khan did a fine job of leading the Chimera, and to disrupt that now could be more disastrous than good.

What he saw of the Cadet though was impressive. Maybe he'd give her a chance to run the bridge on Delta Shift once in a while.

Kelly went over to one stretcher in particular and nodded to a crewman on the other end of it. "Ensign Mitchell? We're going to load you onto the shuttle now. Do you need another sedative?" she asked softly.

Shay turned to look at Kelly when she spoke. "No. I should be okay. Besides... if I get dumped over, I won't even feel it," the young woman joked. At least she hadn't lost her sense of humor. "Seriously, though, I'll be fine. Thank you, though."

Kelly gave her a smile and braced herself as she took her end of the stretcher and gave a nod to the crewman on the other end. She smoothly lifted with her legs while the crewman took the other side of the stretcher with Shay on it and moved her into the Aerowing Shuttle and set her down carefully. "There we go," she said as she placed the restraining straps on the stretcher. "We'll have you back at the Black Hawk and patched up in no time," she assured Shay before she went to the hatch.

"That's all for this trip," she called up. "Load up the other shuttles, two people per shuttle. Anyone with flight experience and not to injured to fly, you're up."

Once Shay was loaded up, she closed her eyes. Kelly was right... she would be patched up, but with all the other injured from the three ships, people were going to be waiting. It didn't seem fair that she was one of the first group to go when she couldn't really feel much of anything below her waist anyway, and what she could feel was nothing more than a dull ache from the pain medications they were giving her like clockwork. Choices had been made, and she wasn't part of those. All she needed to do was keep quiet and attempt to enjoy the ride back to the Black Hawk.

Harvey boarded the Type-9 shuttle he came in. The engines had been left warmed from their earlier flight, so he didn't have to do much with the pre-flight procedures.

When every shuttle, including a bulky Type-9a cargo shuttle was loaded up, Kelly went back to the Type-9 and opened a comm to all the other shuttles. "This is Conga and we're moving out. Take them slow and steady," she said before she lifted the shuttle off the deck and headed out towards the Black Hawk with the three type-9, two type-6, one type-9a cargo shuttle, and the Aerowing following behind one at a time.

"Conga?" Harvey asked, checking his controls. "You know," he told Kelly, "we seem to have skipped taking a look at the Black Hawk." Even now as he spotted the Akira-class ship in the distance, he could tell she was going to need some time in a docking birth.

"Sorry, Sir," Kelly said. "That's been my call sign since I was in Academy Nova Squad. We have time to do a trip around her, Captain." She activated the comms again with the other shuttles. "Continue on to the Black Hawk," she ordered them and moved out of formation before she sent a message back to the ship that there were shuttles inbound full of patients who needed treatment.

Harvey looked back to the two stretchers behind him and frowned. His medical training was conflicting with his command duties, and he didn't exactly like that. Still frowning, he shook his head. "I'll send an Engineering team to inspect the outer hull. They'll have to come out and take a look at it anyway. We've got to get these wounded to sickbay."

"Yes, Captain," Kelly responded as she brought the shuttle back in line with the others and requested clearance to the flight deck where Medical personnel were already beginning to gather. "Once we get them offloaded, we can take a trip back out, Sir." She approached the Black Hawk straight on and gasped when she saw the damage to the front of the ship and where the bridge was. "How....did you survive that?"

He didn't immediately reply, taking a look at the damage for himself. Part of the Observation Lounge wall had been ripped away. He could tell the furniture had been sucked out, and he wondered how the bridge had been unaffected by that. Strong doors, he supposed. Other bulkheads had been wrinkled, likely from the tricobalt explosion. "I try not to ask those questions," he said softly, as the question made him think of other situations where he thought he wouldn't have survived. Perhaps he still had a great purpose in this universe he had yet to realize.

"Understood," Kelly said as she slowly swung back around to the flight deck and waited in the queue until it was her turn to land, giving the Captain time to absorb the damage done to the Black Hawk. Finally, she landed the Type-9 shuttle and opened the hatch where Medical and other personnel were waiting to take the wounded. "Will you be staying aboard while we finish picking up the rest of the personnel from the Chimera, Sir?"

Harvey withdrew an isolinear chip from the nearby access port. Since they'd began, he had recorded the video of the trip and the sensor readings to that chip so he could take it with him for further review. "I'm afraid not," he said, rising to his feet. "I've got a few matters to attend to. Round up the rest of the pilots if you can to keep the shuttles moving."

"Yes, Sir," Kelly said as she put the shuttle on standby and waited for the Captain to exit the shuttle first while she messaged the Flight Operations center and requested every available pilot. "Are we completely evacuating the Chimera, Captain?"

"Time will tell, Cadet," he said, following the stretchers down the ramp. "Get back to the Chimera and await orders. For now, just get the wounded off of Chimera. Nothing more."

Kelly nodded. "Yes, Captain," she said and waited for clearance before she launched the shuttle back out of the flight deck while another came in for a landing and headed back to the Chimera. A half an hour later, the last shuttle of wounded came from the battle wounded Intrepid class and Kelly set down in the shuttle bay and sighed. "Now...now to see what else can be done." With that, she got up and headed to the command center she had set up the previous day and started going over reports.

 

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