Part of USS Century: 1. Videre Invisibilium

A brief, a reconciliation, a hard reset

USS Century
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Captain Gar’rath walked onto the Bridge of the USS Century following a long night of filing reports and a rather short and somewhat fruitless slumber. Though his didn’t exhibit any outward signs of fatigue like most of his crew when they had trouble getting rest, he was a bit slower making his way to the central chair, which until his approach had been occupied by the Watch officer.

“Lieutenant,” Gar’rath nodded to the woman who vacated the chair.

“Good morning, Captain,” came the standard greeting before the woman launched into her pass down, “It was a fairly quiet shift. Engineering reported an outage of several replicators on deck seven, but they’ve already completed the maintenance and had them back up by 0200. We crossed back into Federation territory at 0453 and are currently resuming our patrol course. Standing by for any questions, sir.”

“No questions, Lieutenant,” the Gorn responded, “Thank you. Please get some rest.”

The woman nodded and made her way off the bridge, passing by some of the relief crew members who had arrived just as the turnover period began in full swing. With the exception of Science and Engineering, within 30 minutes the crew had fully changed over from the night watch to the morning watch roster. Lieutenant Commander Sorreth was the only other senior officer that had reported for the early morning watch rotation, as was his usual routine. 

“Anything in the message traffic this morning, Commander?” Gar’rath asked after the Vulcan had had sufficient time to sift through all of the communication logs that had come through since the night watch took over.

“Nothing significant to report, Captain,” the Operations officer replied without looking up from his console.

The Gorn sat back in his chair for a moment, running through a list of things he had yet to tackle, administratively at least, and began to push himself out of his chair when his thoughts were interrupted by the Ensign manning the communications console.

“We’re receiving a message from Gateway Station, Captain,” the man reported.

Easing himself back down, the Captain swiveled his chair toward the communications officer, “Is it a hail or just a message?”

“Text only, sir.”

Gar’rath nodded and committed to leaving his seat finally, “Send it to my Ready Room. Mister Sorreth, you have the Bridge.”

“Understood, Captain,” the Vulcan replied without leaving his station.

Once the Captain was inside his office, he brought the message up the message and skimmed the contents of it, gleaning the relevant information from the rather large block of text that had been sent out en masse to vessels in the area. In essence, an autonomous mining platform in a nearby system reported several mineral transports falling off the transport route. Given the proximity of the platform to Romulan space, it wasn’t being ruled out that the installation had been the victim of a clandestine raid into Federation space by members of any number of factions operating in the contested regions of Romulan space that weren’t under the direct control of either the Republic or the Free State. And because their patrol route carried them through the system in question, Capt. Gar’rath decided to send a reply back to Gateway Station indicating that the Century would look into the matter on their way through.

After a brief pause to ensure the message had been received and acknowledged, the Gorn made his way back onto the Bridge, making his way to the flight control console rather than his own position on the bridge.

“Lieutenant,” Gar’rath addressed the junior grade officer sitting in the seat, “change course to the coordinates I sent to your station and increase speed to Warp Eight.”

“Yes Captain,” the woman responded as her fingers began dancing over her workstation.

With a nod of satisfaction, Gar’rath turned toward the center of the bridge and began to move toward it, “Gar’rath to all Senior staff, report to the Observation Lounge for a mission brief.” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth swung himself out from behind the console he was manning and walked quickly behind the Captain as he continued past the command chairs and headed for the rear of the Bridge. The two officers climbed the stairs in lockstep and each took their positions inside the Observation Lounge.

“Might I inquire as to the basics of the mission prior to the meeting, Captain?” the Vulcan asked, resting his arms against the surface of the table in a contemplative manner.

“An autonomous mining platform appears to have been the target of some manner of raid, as it has lost three automated cargo haulers in the last twenty-four hours. Because it was along our patrol route as it stood, I informed Gateway Station that we would look into it,” the Gorn explained briefly.

“I see,” Sorreth said, his right eyebrow arching upward as he considered the information but kept his thoughts to himself as he waited patiently for the others to arrive. 

Scarcely two minutes slipped silently by between the pair before the Observation Lounge saw a flood of new occupants. First to arrive was Commander Peters, followed almost immediately by Lieutenant Commander Odaim. A brief pause saw Lieutenant Khar and Lieutenant James into the room, with Lieutenant Commander Brak bringing up the rear. Once the staff had finally taken their places and exchanged the token greetings that usually came from seeing one another for the first time in a day, Capt. Gar’rath brought the meeting to order with a sharp clacking of his clawed index finger against the table. Silence swiftly settled in the room and all eyes drifted to the owner of the clawed hand.

“Good morning to those of you just arriving,” Gar’rath offered a formal, if brief, greeting before moving straight to business, “Gateway Station sent a message to ships in the area regarding missing cargo haulers from an autonomous platform along our patrol route. As we were already headed in the general direction of this installation already, I accepted the task of investigating the incident. We will need to do most of the ground work in piecing together what has transpired, as there were no actual witnesses and the cargo haulers haven’t been received by the outpost they were headed to.”

“Were we provided with any leads or suspects?” Lt. Khar asked from his place at the table.

“We have only been given the bare minimum of information so far. Three transports have gone missing from their intended transport route, and neither the station itself nor the outpost they were headed to have been targeted by follow up raids. It is plausible that this was not a raid, and merely a malfunction in the guidance systems or something similar, but it would be premature to rule anything out until we have investigated the area,” Gar’rath responded to the question.

Lt. Cmdr. Brak pulled up the schematics of the haulers in question from his seat at the table and grunted a few times before speaking up, “These are fairly old models. A navigational computer failure isn’t so far-fetched with something like this. And depending on how stingy they are with maintenance cycles, it might have only been a matter of time before they lost a few of them.”

“That is a fair assumption,” Lt. Cmdr. Sorreth remarked, “Thought it is possible that this was indeed a raid carried out in such a way as to not draw attention to the culprit’s illicit activities. Given our proximity to contested space, it is not illogical to assume that there is a responsible party and said party is taking precautions to avoid scrutiny.”

“It certainly is something to keep in mind once we get there,” Cmdr. Peters offered her agreement.

“Do we know what they are mining on that platform?” Lt. James inquired after a short pause in the conversation.

“That was not included in the message,” the Captain responded after a moment’s contemplation, “Given the location of the platform it might be harvesting various materials simultaneously. We will simply have to check the installation’s logs once we arrive and proceed from there. Any other questions?”

The gathered officers glanced at one another, but it seemed that everything that needed to be said had already been addressed. Once sufficient time had elapsed without commentary, Gar’rath pushed himself away from the table and stood up, “Then let us prepare for our arrival. Dismissed.”

The majority of the staff followed the Captain’s example and rose to their feet, departing the Observation Lounge to return to their respective stations. Only two people other than Gar’rath lingered within the room, the Executive officer and Medical officer. The latter of the two was giving the former a rather stern look from her chair in the room, which perplexed the Gorn greatly. Cmdr. Peters, for her part, was attempting to avoid both the stern glare as well as the Captain’s curious gaze.

“Is something the matter, Doctor?” Gar’rath asked after watching the tense display for a few long moments.

“I wouldn’t go that far…” the Betazoid woman said with an icy twinge to her voice, “But I wouldn’t say things are great either.”

“Can we not do this right now?” Abigail grumbled.

“If not now… when?” Reli countered in exasperation, “We talked about this yesterday. If I don’t make you hash this out, you’ll just let it fester and I’m tired of having to hear about it already.”

Gar’rath’s brow drew down in what was the Gorn’s best imitation of a frown, “What exactly is in need of hashing out?”

The doctor looked up at the Captain before returning her gaze to Peters, “Are you going to tell him or shall I?”

“This is hardly the time and place,” Abby tried to sound stern.

Odaim only snorted in response. After a pregnant pause, the doctor shrugged and turned fully to Gar’rath, “It would seem that Commander Peters is upset with your decision not to violate contested Romulan space. She can’t reconcile your actions with her feelings and it’s resulted in her pouting and moping around like a child.”

“Hrmm…” came the grumbled reply from the Gorn as he took in what was being said. He knew that the two officers were friends, and had often seen the two of them sharing meals together in their off hours. The Captain could visualize them sharing their private thoughts and opinions with each other, but he hadn’t expected that to carry over in a more professional setting. 

“I’m not pouting or moping…” Peters grumbled, though her words didn’t seem overly convincing given the delivery.

“And I am to take it that I am the cause of this… moping?” Gar’rath ignored his XO in favor of addressing the more cooperative participant in the conversation.

“Indirectly, yes,” Reli nodded, “Personally, I agree with your decision, given that it was in the best interests of not just the crew, but our fragile relationship with the parties that would have been involved had we just brazenly waltzed in and started digging through the wreckage after the Borg attack. Unfortunately, my friend here is overly compassionate at the strangest of times and hasn’t been able to get over the fact that not every well-intended action is met with positivity all the time.”

Gar’rath let out a long sigh after listening to the explanation before turning to the Commander, “You believe me to be unsympathetic to the suffering of others because I am reptilian rather than mammalian, is that correct?”

The woman flinched at his words, which was more than enough of a reaction to validate the statement. Again the Captain forced a great deal of labored breath from his lungs, as if to mimic the frustrated sighs of the doctor earlier.

“You aren’t the first to think that,” the Gorn said before sinking back into his chair finally, “And likely not the last.”

“I’m sorry, Captain…” Peters started to apologize before being cut off.

“Stop. I wasn’t looking for you to apologize for having those thoughts,” Gar’rath said as he held up his left hand, “I was merely stating what I believe to be the obvious. I am different from the majority of the crew in ways that aren’t easily reconciled. Logic and well reasoned arguments only go so far. I’ve only really found a few species outside my own that are willing to accept my presence with minimal resistance, and Humans have not historically been one of them. I have accepted that my appearance alone is disturbing to people who don’t know me personally. I understand that some species have a visceral fear of reptilians given their history with them, and more specifically with the Gorn. My people are not innocent in our dealings with other cultures, and have done a great deal to earn our reputation for being dangerous, bloodthirsty predators. It would be foolish of me to deny these things, as they are irrefutable facts.”

Lt. Cmdr. Odaim continued to stare holes into Cmdr. Peters while the Captain spoke, and Abby continued to shrink into herself as she listened to him speak. 

“I would remind you, however… that I am not like most Gorn. I purposely left my people to join the Federation. I did so knowing full well the history my kind have had with yours, knowing that to live among the many species of the Federation would mean running across people who could not see Gar’rath, the individual, and only saw a Gorn waiting for his chance to pounce.”

Cmdr. Peters crossed her arms pensively, her eyes cast toward the floor as her Captain carried on. While he didn’t know the contents of her conversation with Reli the previous day, it seemed that her baseless fears were far from unique. It brought into sharp contrast the rebuttal she had received from her friend regarding their shared ignorance of what he had experienced on his path leading up to his taking command of the Century.

“While it doesn’t make up for it, nor do I speak for any who have seen you that way… I am sorry that you endured that kind of prejudice, Captain,” Dr. Odaim cut in.

“I appreciate the sentiment, but you are correct in that it neither makes up for, or had anything to do with you personally. I have always found our interactions to be genuine and I am grateful for it.”

Cmdr. Peters sucked in a breath, an attempt to calm her nerves, before finally looking up from the floor to lock eyes with the Captain. A storm of different excuses and different apologies raged in her mind, but none of them felt anything other than hallow. The longer she stared into his eyes, the fewer words came to mind until she was left with her naked emotions.

“I was scared…” she finally spoke up, “I was scared that if it had been our people who needed to be saved, that you’d turn away just as easily as you turned away from those Romulans. I was afraid that you didn’t really see us as… as equals…”

Gar’rath leaned back a little in his chair, his gaze never shifting away from his XO as she finally let loose the things that had been weighing on her mind.

“Somewhere in the back of my mind, you were this… this monster that didn’t really care… you were just pretending to. I didn’t give a single thought as to how you even came to be where you are. I’ve heard stories of people joining the Federation despite their people either being on bad terms with… or even being at war with the Federation because they personally believed that their people were wrong about the Federation and that they could co-exist with us peacefully. But I never really believed you were one of them… not really. And then Reli and I started talking about it and she put the idea in my head that maybe I had the wrong idea this entire time and I just… started feeling guilty and stupid and…”

“You are hardly stupid,” Gar’rath said when Abby couldn’t find the words to continue, “If I were to assign any fault to you at all, it would be that you waited this long to confirm your fears… or even give me an indication that you had them at all.”

Reli leaned an arm on the table and held her head up with her hand, “It’s almost like he wasn’t given a manual on how to deal with emotional crew members…”

The offhanded comment forced a laugh out of the Commander despite her best efforts to suppress it. While Gar’rath wasn’t entirely certain what was so funny about the comment, he could appreciate that it had lightened the heavy atmosphere that had settled on the room.

“If only I had been. It would have made the last dozen years of my career a lot smoother,” the Gorn remarked soberly.

“You’re right, Captain… I should have talked to you about this a lot sooner… and definitely before I made a spectacle of myself in front of the crew. It’s not hard to imagine that Reli wasn’t the only one that saw my behavior for what it was,” Peters admitted.

“As long as we have corrected your misconceptions and are able to move forward from here, it was worth the temporary loss of face,” Gar’rath responded.

After a brief silence, Dr. Odaim clapped her hands together, “Great, now everything is out in the open and I can stop playing counselor.” The Betazoid rose from her seat and strolled casually out of the Observation Lounge as if she hadn’t just forced an intervention between her superiors. Her abrupt departure caused the two left behind to look at one another with their own versions of confused faces before they both broke out in laughter at the absurdity of it all.