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Tomorrow is Yesterday

Posted on Friday January 1st, 2021 @ 2:41pm by Lieutenant Caspar Matero 'CJ'

Mission: Episode 1: Maelstrom
Location: DS5 / Nogura
Timeline: Day 3 at 1615

Caspar John (‘CJ’) Matero sighed as the USS Talwar's airlock took an age to link with DS5. He found himself, alone and about to be unceremoniously dumped at the starbase, thinking back over the last week.

----

It had begun, he realised with yet another mournful Denevan ceremony. There was, he knew with another sigh, a heaviness to life there (and not just figuratively: the air there was thicker than most Class M worlds). Something about Deneva, probably its history, lent itself to a morbid obsession with mourning. They had recently commemorated Ordeal Day, the day of remembering the tragedy that had befallen this world back in 2266, and that day a week ago CJ, his mother, and his sister had gathered to mark the anniversary of his father’s death. A committed pacifist and humanitarian (odd that such a humanoid-centric term was still used in the diverse UFP, he thought), he had been a senior member of the Denevan Refugee Corps, and one of the most strident voices for taking aid to the Romulans in the aftermath of the supernova. When Starfleet, faced with a Mars burning brightly, had turned its back, his father's wariness of Starfleet had intensified and he had led the Denevans in one of several unofficial relief efforts.
That commitment to non-violent engagement with other species had cost him his life, as he had intervened in a private fight between two high profile Romulan evacuees on the desolate world upon which they had been dumped. Over replicator credits, of all things.

His mother, stoic and with a tight grimace, had stared fixedly ahead as the celebrant (another ironically awful term, he thought) muttered his intonations. There was a moment of silence, during which CJ reached for his commbadge before remembering that, to respect his father’s pacifism, he was in civilian attire, and it had been done.

Later, after bidding a tense farewell to his sister and her boyfriend (he wanted to like him, but had never really invested in this the latest of a slew of relationships), and enjoying a piping hot plomeek soup (his roomie at the Academy had been Vulcan, and the two had swapped cuisine ideas; CJ smiled at the memory of the Vulcan’s reaction to a turkey dinner) with his sixth coffee of the day, ever dutiful, checked in with Starfleet. His role, a secondment to the Daystrom Institute, had been interesting but hardly taxing. He had a small team of JGs and Ensigns, as well as some civilian designers, acting, essentially, as a think tank on future Starfleet warp engines. Hardly ‘the tip of the spear’, he mused, as the think tank had to present its theories to junior and then senior Daystrom boards, before they would let it go anywhere near Starfleet admirals.

There had been one message, an urgent request to contact Karl Silraev. CJ gleefully tried to reach him at Starfleet Command. Silraev had been, along with the Vulcan Takir and a Terran female named Ariadne Bose, part of the “fab four”, the best of the engineer officers intake in his year. Their friends had called them the “fab four” while the less welcoming elements of the student body had called them “the collective”; CJ winced at the recollection of his nickname, “Two of four”. And now “One of Four” was in touch. With a smile, a chime had indicated that his classmate had answered the call.

“Ah, Number Two,” Karl said in his harsh Eastern European accent. “Resistance is futile, you know,” he said with a warm smile. Wherever he was, it was raining heavily. “This line secure?”

“I’m with mother so we can’t discuss too much,” CJ said, ruing that he had been too serious. As ever, his natural inclination to seek order and efficiency had beaten his joy at seeing Karl. Their careers had been weirdly alike and yet different. Both had served on Sovereign Class vessels out of the Academy, Karl to the prestige appointment, USS Sovereign (of course) and CJ to the USS Venerable. Both were now in ‘broadening’ jobs outside of their core specialisations (and again the parallels were weird, CJ was a warp field specialist with a growing interest in damage control while Silraev was an impulse expert who dabbled in transporter theory). “How,” CJ said, trying levity, “are the rest of the drones?”

“Well Ariadne is at ship design, very busy and shouting at admirals,” Silraev said in wide-eyed awe at their kick-ass former classmate. He suddenly chuckled. “And Takir...”

“Tell me.”

“He’s had to go back home, to Vulcan.”

“A bereavement?” That felt like the wrong word, as Takir would be brutally realistic about the body ceasing to function.

“No,” Silraev said with a smile. “It’s his time. Y’know, his time.”

CJ felt like a dolt for being so slow. “You mean?”

“Yeah, Vulcan sexy time.”

There was something about the way in which he said it that made CJ feel tawdry, ashamed even. Takir wouldn’t ever know that the Denevan was aware of his reproductive drive, but he still felt embarrassed for the Vulcan. “Poor guy,” he said weakly.

“What about you? Decided whether to chase the Romulan girl or poor old Krissy?”

Now CJ had been annoyed; if Silraev and CJ had one difference it was that while CJ was guarded, almost introverted, Silraev was a braggart, an extreme extrovert. Everything, every detail, was ripe for gossip. Trust him, CJ rued, to pick on his recent romantic woes. CJ’s love life, which had been (well, pick your word: dormant, stagnant, non-existent, all applied) had never been worthy of comment, until recently. It had been classically awkward, his on/off ‘will they / won’t they’ ‘thing’ with Chrissy Kerni, Venerable’s stellar cartographer, and the Romulan scientist with whom he had worked during Venerable’s patrol of the Romulan border. Chrissy ‘got him’; she was a natural listener whose infectious good humour had brought the silent, brooding CJ out of his shell. But they just hadn’t broached the ‘something else’ beyond friendship. And then he had gone down to the camp with the away team to help a Romulan community with some radiation shield repairs. The Romulan scientist, Oonac, was one of their team and was something else. Poised, elegant, and utterly serene. He had returned to Venerable utterly confused and rather happy that his transfer was coming up.

“Well?”

“The past is the past,” CJ said softly.

“Well,” Silraev said, clearly now seeing a way to get to the point, “not entirely. I’ve been asked by Command to sound you out on a return to space. We have a Sovereign Class that needs a good EO. Your name has come up...”

“As did yours,” CJ quipped.

“Yeah, but I’m too busy making coffee for the Admiral. They can’t spare me, but they can spring you out of the Daystrom team. There’s more.”

“Oh?”

“I can’t risk it on this channel, but we think you’d be perfect. There’s a story to this ship.”

For the first time in a while, CJ Matero had been intrigued.

----

That intrigue had seized him, overpowering his natural caution, and finding him stood at an empty airlock in the Sabre Class USS Talwar as she finally docked. The prospect of a department, the first of the ‘fab four’ to achieve that goal, was exciting. He knew virtually nothing of his new CO apart from her pretty potent reputation; Nilani Azulas had been commanding starships when he was commanding nothing more compelling than his childhood toys. As the doors hissed open and he strode to the adjoining dock, his natural composure took over again and the smile faded, the earnest, slightly aloof look took over. Seeing the sleek lines of Nogura looming, he realised that this was just how his first time on a starship had begun. Tomorrow, he thought, is yesterday.

 

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