Obsidian Command

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Refractions: Unexpected Arrival

Posted on 06 Mar 2024 @ 7:46am by Commander Calliope Zahn & Captain Corvus DeHavilland & Lieutenant Commander Christophe Leblanc & Lieutenant Ethan Gunnarsen

Mission: M4 - Falling Out
Location: Pathfinder, On Patrol
Timeline: MD25
3472 words - 6.9 OF Standard Post Measure

Although less than twenty minutes had passed since losing contact with the away team, from her perch in the command seat, Calliope felt the pressure to do something. They were still holding off the stinging fly that was the pirate skiff. It hadn’t answered any of her authoritative hails telling them to stand down. Calliope was entirely ready to compound the ship and arrest anyone aboard, but naturally, they weren’t especially interested in anything she had to say.

Seeing as the skiff wasn’t likely to disable the Pathfinder— thanks to Ms. Vega’s adjustments to shield modulation, which allowed for the shields to regenerate faster than the skiff could scratch at them— Calliope had reasoned the continued fruitless attack runs to be a stall tactic. The pirate skiff had to have their own people on the Virgil already. And she could imagine Noah and Sergeant Bondieux’s team would have that situation in hand when they discovered and got to the Virgil in her hiding place in the ice rings.

“Any progress on improving our targeting accuracy, Mr Edgerton?”

“I think so,” Chief Edgerton nodded, focused on this terminal, but looking up briefly with a half-smile. “I’ve been able to repurpose the probes to assist our targeting systems and feed us with some extra data,” he explained. That wasn’t his primary function in life, but he felt like he’d accomplished something impressive to have turned them into targeting beacons as opposed to spatial scanners.

“A little while longer and I might be able to use them to clear up the signal jamming in play,” he went on, giving her a nod and going back to his terminal.

“Wonderful. Mr. Gunnarsen, drop Ms. Sabba a flight pattern. Let's use the landscape to our advantage.” She pointed broadly to either side, indicating the ice they were hovering over.

“Will do, Commander.” His jaw locked in concentration, Ethan began keying in the desired pattern, setting the Pathfinder at the right trajectory for Sabba to work her magic.

“Ms. Saaba, I know you’re plenty annoyed by now, but go for the kneecaps, not the throat.” With their new targeting advantage they were now in control. In truth, they'd been the heavier ship since the skiff had picked the fight. Only now the blindfold was off. “I want a decisive run, take out the engines before they can re-evaluate their chances and decide to bail.”

Glancing at the tactician, Ethan nodded as he kept the course steady in preparation for the coming attack.

Saaba watched the simulated pattern play out on the tactical console. It was a weave and dodge move around two icy asteroids that would appear to be avoidance, likely with the skiff giving chase, until the Pathfinder would kill forward momentum, hit the space brakes, and spin on her nose, giving Saaba the skiff in forward phasers with the improved targeting lighting up the skiff for her. She reset phaser intensity, dialing it back because if she went too hard on it, they’d be lucky to identify remains, let alone get any arrests. And she really wanted to make her first arrests.

Calliope glanced around; seeing her crew ready, she motioned with two fingers. “Execute.”

The Pathfinder executed a graceful loop as it maneuvered around the second asteroid, the skiff pinging steadily on Ethan’s back-line as he prepared for the about-face that would put them on the spot.

Calliope watched as the asteroids grew in the forward viewer. “Are they taking the bait?” She’d barely asked when aft shields started lighting up with phaser hits. “Not too fast, don’t want to lose them,” she said as Gunnersen yawed around to port to weave between the next rock of ice, then angled starboard again in orbit of the asteroid. Even though the effect on inertial dampeners was minimal, Calliope felt herself leaning into the view ahead and grinning as the skiff must have thought they had them on the run.

With a move that otherwise would have felt like the vessel was bending in on itself, the Pathfinder drew to a hard stop and pivoted with the last remaining inertia directly into position. He felt his stomach tighten in response, unsure if it was the effect of the hard curve or anticipation of what was to come as the Skiff found itself facing the business end of the Arrowwing. “They’re all yours,” he told Saaba, his grin nearly as hard as her own.

As the inertia of their tail end continued to swing around, the inertial dampeners were momentarily taxed and the crew braced against the momentum. The stars and the asteroids quickly spun across the viewer until the skiff was centered and the computer lit up like a christmas tree with highlighted targeting on every one of their systems.

Saaba burst the skiff’s shield bubble with one long concentrated phaser shot and as it began to roll away from it’s ill advised chase, she punched it twice in the undercarriage, puncturing a nacelle which erupted in a spark of light on the viewer and then left the little pirate ship spinning with a spiraling trail of plasma.

As if they’d just made a goal for the team, Calliope sprang to her feet. “Hail them again. Let’s see if they’re ready to take the call, now.”

Rieblin nodded, “Yes, ma’am.” Putting through the hail once more, the Ensign bit back a crow of victory as the call went through. “Incoming on display.”

There was a brief pause and then a viewer display of the small bridge of the skiff. At first the connection was a little static fraught, as the interference and signal jamming continued to plague the connection, but it cleared appreciably as the computer ran a signal filter. Calliope wasn’t familiar with the man’s species on sight alone, but his fin-like earlobes sticking out like sails certainly made an impression. They were torn and pierced, ragged on the edges, which generally matched the rest of his aesthetic. He was squinting at the bright light of the viewer, and Calliope guessed making an assessment of her bridge as well. When he finally spoke, he wheezed first, taking in air through his thick lips and then hissing out words like a bellows that started strong before winding itself and ending higher in pitch than when it had begun.

“Starfleet has no interests in this sector. Mind your own!”

“This region is a trade corridor under UFP protection.” Calliope declared, not bothered with giving names any longer as she was certain he’d heard her earlier cease and desist hails. “Further, you’ve had the audacity to attack us without provocation. Power down your weapons and prepare to have your ship tractored and impounded. You will be beamed into custody and processed, once you’ve turned off your jamming signal.”

“Like hell, I will!” he bellowed, and then laughed, the pitch climbing comedically.

“Do you have a boarding party on the Virgil? Is that why you’ve been goalkeeping here?” When he wasn’t forthcoming, Calliope continued. “Best hope your party can stand up to my Marine Fire team.”

The skiff captain’s eyes darted around, and Calliope took that for nerves as he was probably checking for updates on his boarding party, as well as updates on engine repair status. She knew she had him pinned. He just didn’t want to admit it.

“You’re just wasting my time.” Or maybe just biding his time while someone else was working on the broken engine, and hoping his people would have control of the Virgil and come to his aid any moment now. Calliope walked a wide circle back to her chair and leaned forward, her hands steepled. “Saaba, take out his weapons and his deflector. Then beam his ass into the brig.”

“Aye, Captain—” Saaba was easily able to target the skiff’s systems with pinpoint accuracy and when the tumbling skiff was facing them again, she burned them out with a series of quick stabs of phaser fire. “The jamming signal is down. I’m reading three life signs. Lowering shields and beaming them to the brig now.”

Calliope watched as security reported their newest prisoners. “Let’s pick up the trash. Tractor the ship.”

“Yes, Skipper.”

Calliope turned around to look at Saaba. Was this a joke courtesy Mister Tilmer? He wasn’t even on this run, and he was pranking her, probably telling Saaba to call her Skipper before he signed off duty for his leave time. Afraid that drawing attention to it might just make the term all the more popular, she left it be for now and looked back to the front of the bridge to watch the viewscreen display Saaba’s work with the tractor beam capturing the skiff, and stabilizing the spin before drawing the ship into their tailwind.

Saaba’s tactical alerts started buzzing. “Uh, there’s another ship in orbit, coming in at oh seven hundred mark twelve. Sensors are reading a Defiant class.”


“It’s cutting the atmosphere of the planet. I guess between that and the refraction in the system, I’m not getting a transponder confirmation.” Saaba replied.

“Must be the Texas” Calliope smirked. She and Captain Rayce ‘Bear’ Stanton had been crossing paths and trading notes on their routes for the past couple of weeks. They’d both been searching out the Virgil and she’d messaged that Pathfinder had a fresh trace of her going into this system before heading in. “ Put me through.” When Ops nodded that the channel was open, she continued. “We’ve almost got this one wrapped up, Stanton,” Calliope said over audio, crossing her legs and tapping at her armrest as she waited for Captain Staton to return the comm link. “Just waiting to hear from our away team. You’re late to this party.”

“The party doesn’t start until I arrive,” came a voice in return over the comm link. It was female, low, and full of syrupy sultry. The listener could hear the smile in the speaker’s voice. Whoever it was, it wasn’t Stanton. A moment of silence lapsed between the first sentence and the one that would follow it. Her voice whined and sang like a villain in a story. “What is Starfleet doing cracking open ships in this sector? I know some serious people who would be quite deeply offended.”

“What in the…” That voice was about the furthest thing from Bear’s that Calliope could picture. It didn’t sound like a Fleet Captain at all, let alone Stanton’s voice. Not to mention this lady seemed averse to Starfleet altogether. Something was off. Very off. She motioned for shields up and watched as Saaba raised them. “This is Commander Calliope Zahn, USS Pathfinder. Identify yourself.”

“I assume you have visual capabilities.” Came the reply in a calm, almost languid voice. “I like to see who I’m talking to.”

When Reiblin looked at her to confirm, Calliope nodded. There was nothing she had to hide. The Pathfinder’s bridge was well ordered, every station manned and readied.

The screen transitioned from the view of the approaching Defiant Class ship to the appropriate interior of the ship’s bridge. It was darker than they were typically kept, and the figure perched on the command chair like it was her personal throne was certainly different than any Starfleet captain. A woman with a dangerous figure sat with full, toned thighs barely covered by a deep-red velvet dress which rode up more on one side in a dramatic circular cut. The neckline plunged almost to her belly button, revealing an eye-catching path between her full breasts. Long black hair hung about her shoulders, and piercing green eyes stared at Calliope. Two colors almost successfully drew the eye from her curvaceous and barely covered figure: the dark red of her lips, and her smooth, creamy green skin.

“What do we have here?” she purred, smiling through perfect white teeth as she deigned to lean forward in her chair, her eyes locking on Calliope's like a tiger surveying her prey. “You must be on the wrong ship, darling.”

“I get that a lot.” Calliope said drily, not as amused while Saaba was updating everyone’s station displays with the entry on file of the woman on screen. One Revana Nezar, a known Syndicate operative. The ship returned finally as having been the USS Resistance, reported captured by pirates four months previous, and now rebranded as the Revenant under Nezar. There was a file of testimonies from former members of the crew— the ones who had made it back to the Federation upon payment of ransoms, at least.

Calliope only glanced down long enough to get the gist. She contemplated what to do with this new information. While she wanted to set the wrong right and take back the Starfleet vessel, she didn’t have the muscle to take on a Defiant alone, at least not without significant damage and loss, and she couldn’t duck out before her away team returned and the Virgil was safe, either. Unless the Texas really did come checking up on them in the next few minutes, putting up a fight was not on the table of wise moves.

Looking back up from her display, Calliope resettled into her chair, wearing a neutral expression. “This is a UFP transport corridor. But, seeing the make and model of your vessel, you clearly aren’t interested in the legal vestments of the defense claim. I presume I’m speaking with Ms. Revana Nazar?”

“In the flesh and bone.” Revana said, her eyes remaining still and unblinking, her face turned into a devious smile. She leaned back again, resting on the seat more comfortably. “The Federation puts down claims on space itself, even with no planets in proximity. A girl can’t even stretch her legs without stepping on a pair of one of your freshly polished boots. I’ve been told all my life that the Federation was friendly. Imagine my surprise when I come checking on my friends, only to find them being roughed up by you. What was your name again?” she asked, not seeming to be genuinely wondering about the answer. “Calliope, was it? That’s a Terran name.”

“Greek, I’m told. I don’t build the roads, just police them. Your so-called-friends are rude, annoying, and answer hails with phasers. I’m sorry but there’s not likely to be a buy back price for them.”

“Greek, yes.” Revana said, lowering her head, though her eyes remained on the other woman. “My last name is Arab, though you wouldn’t know it if you’d had a look at my father. Pale, powerful, with haunted blue eyes.” Revana’s high-healed foot tapped. “And, you’re correct. They are rude. I have no interest in saving them from you. In fact, I’m just here to get what I’m after and, perhaps, even to make a new friend. Wouldn’t that be nice?”

Calliope did some quick math. If Revana wasn’t about to try to wrest back the captured skiff or its crew, that meant she had an interest in the Virgil. Calliope needed to stall the situation long enough for her away team to finish securing it. Besides, she could see what she could gather on Nazar, even if there wasn’t a chance of taking her in. For one thing she had an obvious appreciation for her own father, on some level. And for another, Revana seemed interested in her specifically. Those were inroads to extending the conversation.

“Can’t say I knew my dad.” Calliope shrugged. “And my mother isn’t Greek or really into reading Greek mythology. So I reckon she just liked the sound of it.” She sighed lightly and left some dead air, not rushing to dig into the question of Revana’s business in the system. She picked some fuzz off her duty jacket. “Or just liked the carousel music at the fair. I have no idea.”

“Calliope is the Chief of All Muses, and taught Orpheus himself verses for singing. They said she has a sweet voice.” Revana said, remembering the character from Greek mythology without any visual indication of effort. “You should learn your history, darling. That is, unless, you rather identify with your father. I assume he was the Orion one?”

“I assume so. I never met the guy. He didn’t stick around after Mom’s shoreleave. Kinda hard to identify with.”

“Men plant where they will, and then, so often, they move on. Speaking of which..” a man in a tight grey shirt with caramel skin, large muscles, and a handsome, though scarred face approached Revana, speaking in her ear. She closed her eyes as she listened to him, a look of sensual enjoyment on her face. When he was done speaking she opened her eyes and placed her hand on his cheek. “Thank you, Johnny.”

The human man grinned at the screen before retreating from view, leaving Revana sitting alone again. Her eyes found Callie’s once more and her high-heeled foot started tapping again.

“My father didn’t leave me, I have to admit. But he does use me like a junkyard dog from time to time.” she said. “I am after something important to him which I know, for a fact, was on the Virgil. I absolutely must have it, or else I risk upsetting him. And, if I upset him, he might kill me. The stakes are quite high, I’m afraid. I know,” she said, rolling her eyes and smiling brightly, “so dramatic.”

“I gotta wonder how you manage to recruit with stakes like that.” Calliope sat forward, leaning her elbows on her knees. It seemed Revana was going to press talking about what she wanted on the Virgil, and Calliope felt sure that Koroushi and the Marines were going to need more time. She snapped her fingers. “Let’s meet!” she said, having a eureka of a moment. She sensed the confusion of her crew at the sudden suggestion. If she wasn’t mistaken, Saaba had gasped behind her, barely refraining from objecting outloud to her captain meeting with a dangerous pirate. “You know, woman-to-woman. I mean, friends should meet in person if they can. You can tell me what it is you’re looking for.”

Revana’s eyes darkened more as she chuckled lightly.

“Your place or mine, darling?” She asked, as if she were talking about something as simple as a lunch between friends. “You are, of course, most welcome here. My cell seniors are dying to see you in person. I have to admit, I share their…curiosity.”

That sounded odd to Calliope. She’d had brushes with pirates on several occasions in her time serving on the border, but she didn’t think any of them significant enough to put her by name on any Syndicate radars. “Ah well see, there’s a lot of people in starfleet looking to have some sitdown time with you too. That’s not going to do for either of us.” She hitched her thumb aftward. “But I do have this derelict skiff on hand. What say I cut it loose, we move our ships equidistantly from it and beam aboard. Just you, me, and one of our closest unarmed security friends each.”

“Unarmed? What’s the fun in that?” She asked, cradling her own cheek with her hand as if she had been made bored. “Very well, Calliope. I’ll meet you there. Unarmed, as you say.”

“Zahn out.”

When the feed was killed Saaba just about exploded. “You can’t, Commander!”

“Cut the tractorbeam. I need a pattern enhancer on a fixed lock and a signal encryption to prevent kidnapping.” She turned around in a circle taking in everyone’s faces. “We have to buy the Away Team time. As soon as they’re safe this charade is over. Until then, we drag this out. Now if only I hadn’t sent both my diplomat and my Marines to the Virgil….” She chuckled. “Saaba, assign me somebody from your team who isn’t a womanizer and who you wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Send him down to the transporter room.” Speaking of womanizers… “Zahn to sickbay. Doc. I need you to come man the bridge for a few minutes while I step out…”


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