Obsidian Command

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Cold Words

Posted on 02 Mar 2022 @ 10:26pm by Captain Markus Hawthorne & Commander Thaddeus Zayne
Edited on on 11 Mar 2023 @ 11:36am

Mission: M2 - Sanctuary
Location: CiC Deck - Obsidian Command
Timeline: MD12 - 0951HRS
1764 words - 3.5 OF Standard Post Measure

It was hard to believe that only seven hours ago he’d been fast asleep in his quarters, not at all concerned about anything other than the next days business. Yet in that short span of time he’d rescued a downed pilot, scuttled a shuttlecraft, searched for a missing Officer and mounted a full scale rescue operation to recover her and a gaggle of civilians. It seemed impossible that all of that could have happened so quickly, yet it had. As Thad stood in the turbolift, riding up to the CiC with Ensign Pettigrew and Chief Petty Officer Gosling, he found the feeling surreal. For them, it was business as usual. They’d gotten up, gotten ready for their shift and come to work all while he’d done so much more.

On the one hand, it was liberating to get out of the day to day grind as the stations Executive Officer. But of all the kinds of excursions he could have had, this would have been last on his list. People had died, and not just those who had earned such an end. Plenty of innocents had gone down in this. Commander Zahn had very nearly been one of them. It wasn’t an ending he’d have wished on anyone involved, but so it had been. All he could do now was sort through what was left and try to find any information that would help them prevent it from happening again.

That was going to be his task until Captain DeHavilland could return and then there was no real telling where their path would lead. But he had enough information right now to dig into what had just happened on the planet and try to find out more about these people and what they were doing. Both for the good of those on the planet that might be at risk, and for the sake of Starfleet’s mission here on Obsidian. This sort of thing couldn’t be happening in their own backyard.

Thad stepped off the lift into the CiC and instead of climbing the stairs up to the main deck, and the huge holotable that would have all the details and data points he needed to get started, he opted to go to his office instead. It wasn’t a place he spent an inordinate amount of time in, but he felt he needed a few minutes of silence, something hot to drink and a comfortable chair to sit in. He wanted to decompress for a few minutes before jumping right back into things. He figured, with a two am start, he was due that.

The Executive Officer’s office wasn’t usually an overly palatial space on a starship, but things on a Starbase were a bit more luxe. He had plenty of room to himself in a space that rivaled the Captain’s in size. He hadn’t decorated it and made it his own the way Captain DeHavilland had her office, but it still felt more at home than anywhere else on the station aside from his quarters. Thad stepped through the doors into his office, seeing a stack of data PaDD’s waiting for him on the desk taller than what he’d left it the night before. He wasn’t looking forward to going through that, so instead made his way to the replicator.

“Coffee. Black,” he grunted.

The replicator hummed in answer, creating the cup of coffee that he picked up off the pad and then turned away with, walking towards the viewport now to have a soothing sip and settle his mind. Thad had only gotten three steps away, the cup barely to his lips, when the chime to his office rang. He closed his eyes with frustration, then grunted to the door. “Come.”

The doors swished open as he turned around and saw a silver-haired Captain walking through the doorway. Thad’s frustration melted at the sight of a ranking officer, despite being the stations XO, and he perked up a bit. The man was a little bit taller than Thad, and much older, but seemed to have an air about him that almost commanded the room, even though he hadn’t said anything.

“Good morning, Captain,” he managed tightly, but politely enough. “Can I help you?”

“Morning,” the Captain answered, stepping forward to offer his hand. “Markus Hawthorne, of the Ardeshir,” he introduced himself.

“Thaddeus Zayne,” he answered, moving his coffee cup so he could shake his hand. “Apologies, Captain. Commander Kensforth asked me to reach out to you when I got back, but I’ve only just got in.”

“I know,” Hawthorne answered, “I just left the Infirmary myself, you only just left before I could catch you,” he said. “I know you’re a busy man. I just wanted a quick debrief. I’m sure you understand.”

Thad nodded, “I do,” he said, gesturing to the chairs in front of his desk. “Have a seat,” he grunted. “Coffee?” He added as an afterthought, gesturing to the replicator.

“No thank you,” Hawthorne replied quietly, taking the offered chair. He waited until Thad was all but in his chair to continue, “I’m looking for details on why my First Officer was down on the surface, totaling a second shuttlecraft in less than a week,” he outlined immediately. “As well as further details about his initial incident also involving your predecessor, Commander Zahn,” he declared matter-of-factly.

Zayne had his coffee in hand, but he didn’t sip it. Something about the simple way the man had outlined the issues he wanted to know about, without emotion and without any detail as to why. Just the way he said it conveyed to him that the outcome of this conversation would be of significant importance to Bruce’s career.

He heaved a slow sigh and set his coffee down, electing instead to sit on the edge of his chair, arms folded on the desk top. “As I understand it, Bruce and Calliope are friends, of a sort. Calliope was following up on a lead she had about something going on with the locals. She asked Bruce to go with her to a… dive bar, for lack of a better term,” he explained, “She was able to find her lead there, but in the process… got a little bit tipsy. On top of that, a pretty heavy storm moved in. Bruce couldn’t get her all the way back to the shuttle on his own, so he left in her in a spot big enough to land the shuttle and went to go get it.”

Hawthorne held up a hand, “You’re telling me my First Officer had a relapse, got drunk at a dive bar on Obsidian and then crashed his shuttle trying to find his drunk friend?” Hawthorne asked, not at all hiding the anger bubbling to the surface.

Thad shook his head, “No. We got to Kensforth’s crash site pretty quickly after he’d gone down. Corpsman Mamello took preliminary scans. Bruce didn’t have so much as a buzz. He crashed because of the weather. Because he was flying by visual reckoning and stayed up too long trying to find his friend, who had purposely left where he was to meet her, chasing a lead.”

The Captain seemed to settle slightly and sat back to let Thad continue. It was weird, but even though Hawthorne hadn’t said anything, Thad felt the silent command to continue.

“I can have the flight recorder data sent to you,” Thad offered, “I have a pretty high rating for most shuttlecraft, but given the readings I saw, I doubt I could have kept that shuttle aloft long enough to find Calliope missing, let alone conduct an aerial search for as long as he did.”

“I’d like to see it,” Markus replied, adjusting in his seat a bit, “And the incident earlier this week? It’s my understanding that the arrow runabout was all but totaled?”

Thad gave a non-committal shrug, “It was totaled,” he countered. “The structural damage was too extensive. It was scrapped for parts and decommissioned.”

“That’s not filling me with warm fuzzies, Commander,” Hawthorne deadpanned.

“I wouldn’t classify the incident earlier this week as anything less than pilot skill saving their lives,” Zayne replied with a shake of his head. “Everything was above board. Commander Zahn just needed a pilot and, being friends with Bruce, they went together on a simple scouting mission. I’ll send those logs to you as well, but in my opinion they’re both alive because Kensforth knows how a fly a shuttle better than most,” he offered in explanation. “I can’t say I know too many CoNN officers that have that kind of skill.”

“He’s a fighter jock,” Markus answered quietly, looking past Thad out the viewports at the inky void beyond, clearly in his own head. Hawthorne didn’t speak and left a long bit of silence between them, the kind that Thad would leave in his conversations with people simple because he didn’t feel the need to fill dead space with pointless words. But it was the first time he’d been on the receiving end of it. “What is your opinion of Commander Zahn?”

Thad stared silently back. What a loaded question, and not one he’d really delved too deeply into, mostly because he didn’t want to. He’d taken on this posting in the wake of her very public collapse, and he’d been fighting uphill a bit ever since to carve his own place in this job. He hadn’t really had the time to sit and debate the pros and cons of Commander Zahn, but it was hard not to have some passing thoughts.

He too let a long silence draw out between them and then let out a slow breath and shook his head, “I’m not sure Commander Zahn is someone I’d be spending time with, were I Commander Kensforth.”

Hawthorne stared back quietly then said, “Ok.” He stood up and offered his hand once more across the desk. Thad got up quickly, surprised at the sudden movement and shook his hand. “Thanks for your time, Commander,” he said, and with that, he turned and left.

Thad watched him go, staring at the door long after the door had swished closed behind him before finally sitting down. He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and frowned.


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