1,576 words; about a 8 minute read
Prologue: Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
Location: Bellwether Station
Tilo Riehl stretched as the transport exited warp. He reflected at the end of the short leg of the voyage from Starbase 514 he was one of the lucky ones. No need to head to Deep Space Three and double back, he mused in a fog of tiredness. Or cadge a lift on a tramp freighter.
No, for him it had been Starfleet vessels all the way from Earth. He had been extremely lucky in his transfer that there had been a scheduled re-supply run out to Bellwether station just as his transport from 39 Serpentis had docked.
In truth, it had been a long few weeks. Warp Five speed restrictions across Federation Space meant that the journey from Betazed had taken several weeks. With a short layover on Earth to receive a briefing from a harried-looking Lieutenant-Commander from the Personnel Division, it seemed to Riehl he’d been on the move for far longer.
I’ve been on the move since I entered Starfleet he mused as he looked out of the functional viewport of his transport. He knew Bellwether was something to do with Ionic Nebula, Nebulae? but he wasn’t certain. The brief had been plain and short from Lieutenant Commander Harried: Bellwether needed a Security Officer and someone who could double as a comms officer in a pinch.
Space was at a premium on a relay station, it seemed.
He couldn’t see any nebulae he reflected. Straining his eyes he couldn’t see a station either. Seemed they’d dropped out of warp at the system’s edge. Riehl sighed. It would be a while longer while they navigated to the station, then.
Not that he was uncomfortable. Starfleet’s transports were functional, but positively luxurious compared to the freelancers and tramp freighters he’d heard other officers cadging lifts on to obscure postings.
As the starfield beyond the viewport shifted around him, Riehl reflected on what had brought him to this point.
Oh, he knew that rationally that what had brought him here was Command’s decision to break up the Eidolon’s crew following her tour of duty along the Tzenkethi and Talarian borders. But he wondered at all the small decisions he had made in the years since deciding to join the Academy while on Trill all that time ago that had led him to this transport and this place.
He pulled out his PADD, and lay back on the functional bed. Bellweather Station, eh Riehl thought to himself as he rolled the title around his head a little, trying to get a feel for his new posting. More romantic than Relay Station Ninety-Seven anyhow. Small place. Wonder what the other crew will be like?’ Starfleet had not really thought about placing information about his crewmates. He supposed it was a secondary concern for a naval-scientific operation like Starfleet.
Still the Commanding Officer sounds interesting, he thought, flipping to his own few pages of notes. Bolian. At least we won’t be short of a conversation while we’re there.
As the ship banked to approach the station, Riehl began to read up on the technical specs of the Warbler-class facility. Oooh we’ll be sending out buoys. Riehl wondered if he’d need to be sent out in the station’s lone shuttle at any point.
The intercom buzzed, summoning him to the transporter room. A brief farewell with the transport’s operator, and Riehl beamed over.
… To an empty transporter room.
Riehl looked about, more than a little confused. Must not have bothered telling the CO. He tapped his chest delta, ‘Commander Brott. Lieutenant Riehl, your new Chief of Security. Permission to come aboard?’
Lieutenant Commander Brott was in his robe, sitting peacefully in his cabin and reading a PaDD when the communications badge he often wore, presently resting on an end table beside him along with his partially consumed Jumja tea had begun chirping a little.
Of course, he had grabbed it to respond, learning that it was from Lieutenant Riehl. "Saffron cakes!" he shouted and immediately sprung to his feet, his robe swaying a bit and revealing a bit too much of his blue Bolian physique. "Of course you have permission. Are you here?" asked Brott.
'I, uh, yes, Commander. Already in the transporter room,' Riehl replied hesitantly as he looked about the small, cramped room. More like a transporter nook really.
The Bolian shook his head. Not again he thought. "I'm sorry, lieutenant. I will be down to Operations lickety-split," Brott replied. Ops was only a short walk down a corridor. The man's sudden arrival was both a delight and a problem.
Brott tightened the belt around his silk evening robe and slid his feet into his slippers. He made haste towards ops, having slapped his combadge onto his robe he tapped it. "Brott to Ensign Astor," he said a bit huffy, not angrily, but a bit out of breath. "Please run a diagnostic on our proximity sensors. Our Security Chief has just arrived without any notice his transport was near."
There was a brief pause to ensure he didn’t hear the true unfiltered response before Astor’s voice replied, “aye sir, on it.”
The large bombastic Bolian quickly illuminated internally seeing the man. "Lieutenant!" he shouted emphatically. He came near the man and it was a split-second decision: handshake or hug...it ended up Brott opted for the latter and wrapped his arms around the man in a bear hug. "Lieutenant Commander Brott, Commander of the station, and I am so sorry nobody was here to welcome you."
Momentarily taken aback by the unexpected hug, Riehl stood, arms akimbo for several long seconds, before returning his Commanding Officer's hug. 'Quite alright, sir. Can't be helped. I'm sure everyone is busy on a facility like this.'
He was still processing the fact the Commander had welcomed him aboard in his robe.
"Ah well, yes, you have a point there," replied the Bolian with a chuckle. "The station is rather small. There are more Jefferies tubes and maintenance chutes than living space," teased Brott. It was not entirely inaccurate. "Things are constantly falling apart and needing replacement parts."
'Sounds like quite the experience serving here,' Riehl said with a smile as he disentangled himself from the Bolian's grip. 'At least I can formally report for duty, now Sir. Lieutenant Tilo Riehl. Your new Chief Security Officer. I hope we have a pleasant time aboard Bellwether, while it lasts.' He cast a glance about. 'I understand space is a luxury as you said. We're to share quarters?'
"You and me? No," Brott replied with a small bit of blushing on the Bolian's part. "I have my own cabin, but the crew does have shared quarters aboard the station. There are two suites. Crew compliment has worked out that one is currently for males and the other females. So far, it is just you in the one suite, but I have been working on acquiring a shuttle pilot."
Riehl chuckled, 'a qualified pilot would be an asset to the station no doubt - trouble hiring, sir?'
"Not exactly," replied the Bolian. "I am looking for the right person, but that is a bit difficult to come by. I want one with a decent technical background as well. A lot of things break around here of need maintenance. She's a high maintenance station, shuttles included."
Looking about the corridor at the state of it, Riehl smiled and leaned in slightly. 'The high maintenance ones are always worth it Commander Brott. Would you mind if we head over to stow my gear?'
"Not at all," Brott said pleasantly. "Bring anything interesting with you, Lieutenant?" inquired the Bolian. He himself had accumulated a lot of personal items during his time aboard.
'Not too much,' Riehl admitted. 'A few knickknacks, a wrestling trophy. I prefer to travel light, you see, Sir. You never know when you'll get your marching orders.'
"That is true...you never know. You also cannot know if your next posting will be as large and luxurious as a Galaxy class or as cozy as this old place. I guess packing lightly is essential."
Riehl pulled a face, 'Galaxy-class is no fun, sir. Too cozy and comfortable. Nothing like a good, cramped, Centaur-class. I'll take one of them any day,' he laughed. He nodded in the direction of the corridor, 'shall we, sir?'
"We shall, oh certainly we shall," the jovial Bolian replied with gleefulness. Lieutenant Commander Brott lead the way, a relatively short journey, and gestured to the man as they reached their destination.
The Bolian chuckled deeply. "Home sweet home, or at least I hope you come to see it as such."
The Trill smiled, clapped the Bolian on the shoulder, 'I'm sure I will, Sir.' He poked his head into the bunkroom, 'seems ... cozy,' he observed with a short laugh.
"Splendid," replied Brott. "I'll let you make yourself at home - get settled in." Lieutenant Commander Brott gave a nod before departing from his new officer's side. He wanted to let the man have time to take everything in, if the sight of a large blue-skinned Bolian wasn't jarring enough, life aboard the small station would be.