SEASON 2: EPISODE 10
SECTION 214C: Part Four
As soon as Doctor Carol Murphy entered the holodeck Ensign Frank Cole could tell she wished she had brought a jacket. Her feet made soft crunches as she stepped on the holographic snow towards him.
“What’s the medical emergency?” she asked.
Lieutenant Aimee Wessling gestured down to Cole laying in the snow. “That would be Frank. He had a small accident.”
Lieutenant Terri Letac chuckled as the doctor pulled out her medical tricorder and scanned him. Cole imagined his face was paler then usual and it was not just because of the cold, he tried to keep the look of concern from his face. He looked up at Ensign Autumn Bailey who had half propped him up on her knees in the snow. So far this was not one of their better dates.
“What happened?” asked Murphy.
“He ran into a tree!” said Letac trying not to laugh.
“You ran into a tree?” asked Murphy.
He gave her a ‘not you too’ look. “It’s not like I planned to do it.”
“You would think it was a fairly basic thing to know that you should not run into the trees,” joked Murphy.
“Well, not all of us can be downhill skiers like Aimee.”
He flicked his hand in the direction of Wessling who was not wearing the same bulky cold weather gear as the others. She was in a much tighter and form fitting outfit.
“You did skiing at the Academy?” asked the doctor who had obviously spotted the emblem that was on the breast of her outfit.
“Yes, I was part of the winter sports team in my second and third year. I didn’t win anything but it isn’t always about that now is it?”
“No it’s not. Well, Frank. You have a broken leg, two cracked ribs and a nasty cut to your head. Nothing that I can’t fix right here.”
She pulled a hypospray and gave him something for the pain before she got out the dermal regenerator and quickly healed up his head wound. She then set and repaired his damaged bones.
“You’ll have a bit of bruising, so I suggest you don’t try to tackle any more trees.”
Cole immediately started to feel relief. “Don’t worry about that, I think this is the last time I do this.”
“Oh, come on Frank. You didn’t have a good time?” asked Wessling.
“A tree nearly killed me!” he exclaimed.
“Oh, you’re over exaggerating.”
“Next time let’s do something safer like shark baiting or Klingon prodding,” he suggested snappily.
“Frank, I think you nearly had the hang of it before your…accident,” said Bailey. Who was now a lot calmer then she had been after the accident. “This isn’t too bad. It’s like Aimee said, there’s something freeing around skiing down a snow capped mountain.”
“Come on, you can fly a four hundred metre long starship, I’m sure you can learn to get around on two planks.”
“Just not today,” said Murphy. “Maybe try walking around in the snow. Now, that I’m done I have to leave before I freeze to death.”
Cole thanked Doctor Murphy as she made a quick exit out of the holodeck. He stretched out his leg and upper torso to make sure he was not suffering any side effects.
“So what do you want to do now?” asked Letac. “Skiing is out for the moment thanks to Frank.”
“Hey!” said Cole as he stood up. “I wasn’t the one to lower the safety settings to make the experience more real.”
“Let’s not argue,” said Bailey. “How about we go to the Fire lounge and get some warm drinks. I can’t say I’m too use to the cold.”
They all managed to agree on that and the four officers made their way to the one of the Swiftfire’s two main lounges. It was evening, ship time, and the lounge was not that busy as the main body of people who would have dined had already passed through. Cole spotted Commander Core and one of the Marine officers sitting at a table at one of the windows talking. He was not sure of the Marine’s name but recognised her as recently she he had often seen her in one of the lounges having a meal with the captain. Word was that the captain and her were an item.
“Next time I get to choose the holodeck simulation,” said Cole as he sat down near one of the fire sculptures, while it was holographic and did not radiate much heat it still seemed to warm his battered bones. “I don’t know what you two are into but I prefer my dates not to end with broken bones.”
“I’m pretty sure Klingons would consider it a bad thing if their dates didn’t involve someone ending up in hospital.”
“The Klingon’s idea of courtship is my idea of grievous bodily harm!” he grumbled.
“Oh, come on, Frank. You know what they say, ‘Any date you can walk away from’,” said Letac.
“That’s the pilot saying about crash landings not dates.”
“Which you combined perfectly well on the holodeck, Frank,” joked Wessling.
“Oh, shut up and give me my drink,” he said taking his drink from Wessling who was smiling widely. He mumbled into his hot chocolate. “Last time I let you two come along.”
Rachel Daley stirred her spoon in her soup. She had left it long enough that a decently thick skin had formed on the top. She knew she should not be mopey; she had spent meal times alone before. She just did not realise how much spending time with Captain Masters had come to mean to her in the last two weeks. Since been marooned together she had come to realise how silly she had been when she found out who the captain was. She had never considered herself an overly cautious person but for some reason in this case she was. She was not the type of person to leave the ball in someone else’s court. For some reason it was important that she let him be the one to decide, not her.
“Common practice is for you to eat your food not just stare at it.”
Daley looked up at Commander Core and smiled.
“Let me guess, you’re one of those officers who doesn’t know what to do with themselves when they have spare time outside of their duties,” said Core as she took a seat opposite her.
The commander lent forward. “It’s just there isn’t a high ranking Starfleet officer to keep you company in the evenings,” she whispered.
“Don’t play coy with me, Rachel. You two seem to have a meal together here every other day. Despite your efforts to make it look like a coincidental meeting the rest of us have caught on. You two should just make it official and stop the scuttle bug.”
“What scuttle bug?” asked Daley concerned.
“You know how it is. My personal favourite is that you are actually the captain’s daughter and that is why he spends a lot of time with you.”
She wrinkled her brow. “How does that work? He’s not that much older then I am!”
Core lent in. “Apparently, the captain travelled back in time and got stuck there for a while. He placed himself on a quiet world to keep out of the way of events, so not to mess with the future. While there he met a local woman and settled down. They had a child before he realised there was a way to get himself back to his own time…”
“Won’t that make him a lot older then he is now? And our genetic heritage is totally diff…” Then she noticed the look on Core’s face. “You’re joking.”
Core gave her a playful smile. “I got you going though. Seriously, you two should just make it official. You going to eat that?”
Daley shook her head and passed the bowl to Core. “To tell you the truth we’re not even sure what we are doing.”
Core sampled the soup and rolled her eyes. “Don’t tell me you two are still going by that ridiculous agreement you made!”
At first she was surprised that Core knew about their agreement but then realised that given how close she and the Captain were that she should not be surprised at all.
“No…Yes…I don’t know,” she sighed. “We’re still trying to figure that out. When did relationships get so complicated?”
Core gestured to a quartet of young officers who had just walked into the mess. Three of them were dressed in clothing as if they were expecting it to be cold, which was odd given they the lounge they were in. The Fire lounge was the same temperature as the rest of the common areas of the ship but people swore that it was warmer and cosier; Daley put that down to the fire sculptures around the room.
She easily recognised Jim in the group. Ensign Cole was a legend among the Marines for his near friendly-fire incident before she joined the crew. She also recognised two of the women as the ship’s counsellor, Lieutenant Wessling. Wessling was wearing a sportier outfit then the other two and the Bajoran science officer, Lieutenant Letac. The third women she could not recall her name but given their behaviour she guess it was Jim’s girlfriend.
“The kids don’t seem to be having any problems. But don’t ask me, I’m single.”
“Not surprising, you don’t seem like the type who wants to be tied down.”
“Actually, there are occasions when I enjoy just that,” said Core with a wink. “It’s not that I’m a career woman, it’s just that I’m not looking for the whole commitment thing, I have too much troubling keeping my captain around, let alone a partner!”
Daley laughed. “Let’s hope this time he has better luck with his shuttle then last time. But if it is alright with you can we not talk about the captain. The more I think about it the more it confuses me.”
“I don’t see how it’s confusing at all. I can give you tips on knot tying that is really gentle on the wrists.” She glared at Core who shrugged. “Fine! We can talk about something else. How about you tell me about your last mission?”
“I can’t, it’s classified.”
“That’s not what I meant. I meant your last mission before you joined the Swiftfire. I can’t remember you ever mentioning it before. From what I read you were part of a rapid response unit.”
“Mobile response Force, the Rapid Response Team is a Special Forces unit. MRF is basically a battalion sized force that can be deployed in a short amount of time, though not as fast as the RRT. Before the start of the war my battalion was joined with two others to make a larger group. The force also was joined by a dozen other starships, half were large ships with multiple transporter systems, large shuttle capacity and the ability to ferry a large number of people and the other half were escort vessels. The idea was that our force could be used to quickly evacuate worlds and outposts if they were threatened by Dominion invasion. All good in theory, the only thing is the Dominion pushed into Federation a lot further and faster then we expected.”
“A lot faster then anyone expected,” added Core.
“Anyway the last mission I took part of was at…I can’t remember the name of the world now. It was your typical Federation colony. M Class planet, mostly water and with a single major landmass. There was one large capital city on the coast and a number of smaller cities and towns inland based around agriculture. The world was built around exporting agricultural produce to other worlds and as such had a population in the tens of thousands. Our force had set up in orbit over the capital. At this time we had a ship that transported large defensive platforms that we would set up in orbit around our forces as a very limited defensive perimeter.”
“You had defensive satellites?”
“No, platforms. Like the ones at Earth, big bastards with a lot of torpedoes and phaser banks. The Dominion forces usually didn’t have the firepower to easily remove us from orbit thanks to the platforms. Add to the fact these worlds were hardily priority targets we didn’t often had to deal with huge invasion fleets. So it usually came down to them landing forces away from our zone of control and then a ground campaign against us as we tried to get people out.”
“What if they had the space forces to easily dislodge you?”
“Then we stayed as long as we could and evacuated as many civilians as we could. Anyway, the Dominion had landed forces in the north of the continent given the capital was in the south and we controlled the space over much of the south. The problem is despite the number of ships we had, the Marine force was only around two and a half thousand beings, and most of the space was needed to transport civilians and some of their belongings. The Dominion however could easily throw tens of thousands of Jem’Hadar against us with the support of heavy armour. We are trained to deal with been outnumbered since we’re a small force, but we can only take on so many of the enemy.”
“I take it this was one of those cases as well?”
“Yes, plus the Dominion was also threatening to force us out of orbit. I actually commanded a company of over two hundred at the time.”
The commander appeared to be surprised by the revelation. “Wow, a platoon of thirty seems like a under utilisation of your skills.”
For a brief second Daley regretted mentioning it. It was too late now and she would have to explain. “The 83rd is unusual. The colonel’s rank actually means he should be in command of a regiment or even a brigade. Captains usually command companies. This company is unusual because of the relatively high ranking officers that command the break down of units. 1st Lieutenant’s usually command platoons but in this case we have captains. I’m actually not sure why this is in this case, but I think the colonel has managed to somehow get his superiors to let him have this unusual setup.”
“So how do you feel about commanding a much smaller unit then you did before?”
“I’m fine with it,” she said with a shrug. It really did not bother her too much to only have to deal with a platoon; it meant she had fewer problems to deal with.
“What would happen if you were transferred?”
“I’d definitely be given command of a company and maybe a battalion. It would be up to my superiors to decide which my skills suit. Though if this war continues for long enough you’ll probably see most of the senior officers in this company on the Swiftfire disappear as they are given commands that suit their rank to replace losses suffered elsewhere. Once that happens this force would return to the status quo.”
“That’s interesting to know. Anyway, back to what happened on that planet.”
“My company was given the task of evacuating a town and the surrounding area at the edge of our control zone to the north. The town sat close to a wide river, which was to the north of the town and only had one bridge crossing it close to the town. We had a Landing Zone behind the town to the south and we set about evacuating the civilians. There were around three thousand in the town and the surrounding area. We had set up three defensive lines. One on the north side of the bridge, which we were to hold as long as possible before falling back to the second position on the south side of the river. We would then blow the bridge and then try to slow the enemy’s crossing of the river. This is not easy when you have vehicles that skim over the ground or can deploy a combat bridge in mere minutes. The third line was around the northern perimeter town. Holding the north side of the bridge did not last long once the Jem’Hadar appeared but the second line was better as we made it hard for the Jem’Hadar to get any significant forces over the river. But in the end we had to fall back to the town…”