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Lt. Jg. Geoffrey Teller - This isn't my chair.

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This is a compilation of several sims by @Geoffrey Teller, showing his first time in the Big Chair. Some edits have been made to include responses from others.

((Bridge, USS Veritas))

Rahman: =/\= Bridge to Dr. del Vedova. =/\=

del Vedova: =/\= ::terse:: Del, go ahead. =/\=

Rahman: =/\= Del, we’ve just beamed aboard the survivors of the Solaris, including its captain, Commander Wynter. =/\=

::Teller was glad to know the Captain of the Solaris had made it.  He had fought his ship well and probably prevented the destruction of the Vertias.  Teller hoped he could buy the man a drink someday soon.::

del Vedova: =/\= We'll be ready =/\=

Rahman: =/\= I’ll be down there shortly. Bridge out. =/\=

::She looked over at Delano, Kelrod, DeVeau, and Orrey.::

Rahman: You four with me. ::She turned to Teller.:: Mr. Teller, you have the conn. Focus on damage control and check in with Commander Moonsong and Lieutenant G’var on their progress with the computer core.

Teller: ::Teller gulped hard.::  Aye ma'am.  I'll keep your seat warm.

::Teller stood from the Engineering station as The Captain, XO, and rest of the senior staff filed into the turbolift.  As the doors closed, Teller looked suspiciously at the Captain's chair, as if it were a dangerous animal that would bite him given the smallest provocation.  Suddenly the bridge seemed enormous and Teller himself felt very small.  His dreams of some day being in command had never included a damaged ship in dangerous space surrounded by unknown enemies while their one escort burned in space nearby.  Hesitantly, Teller sat in the Big Chair for the very first time.::

Teller:  oO Stop daydreaming, there's work to do. Oo

Teller:  Ops, drop our alert condition to Yellow and continue coordinating with the damage control teams - have them prioritize tactical systems until further notice, the Tholians that hit us were less than 5% of the force that suddenly went missing.  You see anything else on sensors, bring us back to Red immediately.  Helm, move us clear of the debris field, we don't need any more scratches on the hull.  Once we're clear, give me a slow orbit of the area and keep an eye out for anything moving.  

::With that done, Teller tried to formulate a list of all the things the ship and crew needed him to be on top of for the next few minutes.  As his shoulders tightened, he realized this was the most uncomfortable chair he had ever sat in.::


//Ships Log, Supplemental, Chief Engineer Geoffrey Teller Reporting//

It has been two hours since the Tholian attack and the destruction of the Solaris.  Our damage control teams continue to mend the ship as the medical staff attend to the wounded from both crews.  We haven't seen any sign of Tholian reinforcements yet but the ship remains at yellow alert.  The wreckage of the Tholian ships that we've been able to analyze is baffling - many show signs of recent battle damage that we can't account for, and as far as we can tell, not a single one of them was crewed.  We haven't been able to locate any Tholian remains in the debris field and the energy signature of the ships themselves doesn't conform to anything our computer recognizes.  Further compounding issues is our hitchhiker, the alien probe that has embedded itself in the ship.  We've been able to prevent it from further intruding into our systems but all efforts to dislodge it have been fruitless.   Engineering and Science teams are setup around the computer core, attempting to analyze and formulate new strategies to excise it.  Most of the senior staff is engaged in the effort, along with several officers from the Solaris.  Main Engineering has been successfully decontaminated and repair crews are working feverishly to bring the ship back to full readiness before another Tholian attack.   

//End Log//

::Teller realized he was pacing again as he reviewed a PADD with damage reports.  He desperately wanted to be back in Main Engineering, working on any of the hundred repairs the ship needed at the moment, but the Captain hadn't relieved him yet so he continued to do what he could from the bridge, coordinating repair teams with their young Operations Officer, Ronen Pragus, and periodically checking in on the team attempting to disentangle the alien probe from their hull.  With a conscious effort, Teller forced himself to sit down in the Captains chair.::

Teller:  oO I never appreciated how maddening it has to be for the Captain to be removed from the work like this.  She has to sit and process reports and delegate tasks so she has enough time to process more information from more reports so she can delegate other tasks so she can sit and process more information.  Being in this chair is like being half traffic cop and half processor array.  My head hurts. Oo


::As Teller thumbed through another damage report, he realized his eyes had glazed over at some point on the last page and started again.  He had generated more than enough of the reports in his role as an Engineer but never before appreciated just how many of them fell to the Captain for personal review, approval, notes, amendments and suggestions.  More and more he was realizing just how much work went into the day to day role.  Rubbing his eyes and trying to refocus his attention, he got two paragraphs in before the newly arrived Lt. Vistain, standing at the Engineering console Teller longed to be back at, interrupted his train of thought.::  

Vistain: Lieutenant, engineering is reporting that it looks like warp drive is offline for at least several hours until they can repair the PTCs.

Teller: ::Smirking:: Very well but you tell Loupaz that padding her repair estimates isn't going to work with me - she can get those fixed in an hour.  Anything else?  

Vistain: Impulse power has been restored.

Teller: Excellent.  Keep me appraised of the repairs as systems come back online.    

Vistain: Aye.

Macedon: Sir, I’m picking up a Tholian battleship approaching fast.

::Teller sprang to his feet, very much aware of how precarous their situation was.  The last thing they needed right now was another brawl with a wing of these new Tholian droneships.::

Teller:  oO It's all on me till the Captain gets back.  I have to protect the ship and the crew, and we still need to figure out what the hell is going on here.::

Teller: Red Alert. Tactical - raise shields and arm all weapons.  Helm, increase your speed to full impulse and bring us closer to the debris field, we may need to use it for cover.  

::The bridge filled with flashing ocre lights and the deep klaxon of the alarms.  Teller glanced around and saw people looking to him for leadership.  He could feel sweat forming under his uniform.:: 

Macedon: Sensors are registering it as a previously identified vessel: the T'kath Tholis. We encountered them during the Artemis incident.

::At the mention of the Artemis, Teller's heart lurched in his chest and he had to fight a moments panic.::

Teller:  oO Have a breakdown on your own time Oo

Teller: On screen.  Ops, try to hail them, lets see if this one feels like talking.  

::On the viewscreen, weapons ports began to glow bright orange.::

Macedon: She’s charging weapons!

Teller: Guess that's a no.  Helm, evasive pattern theta 3.  Tactical, target weapons and engines.  

::The first shots from the Tholians blasted the Starfleet cruiser’s shields, rocking the bridge as sparks flew.::

Teller: Return fire!  Vistain - what's our status?

::Teller sat back in the Captains chair and held on as the ship lurched.  Apparently the inertial dampeners were still on the 'to-do' list.::

Vistain: Shields holding, but I’m reading power fluctuations across the ship!

::Teller could see their phaser fire connecting with the Tholian ship as more of the Tholian plasma torpedos headed towards them.  The ship rocked as another made impact with their rapidly draining shields.::

Teller: Continue firing.  Helm keep us moving, get some of the debris between us and our attacker, it should confuse their sensors.  

::After another barrage of Tholian weapons fire, the captain’s voice chimed in over the intercom.::

Rahman: =/\= Rahman to Bridge! What’s going on out there? =/\=

Teller: =/\= Captain, we've been engaged by a Tholian battleship.  We're in a defensive posture and returning fire.  What's your status? =/\=

Rahman: =/\= Commander Delano and I are trapped in a turbolift. I’m not sure what deck we stopped on, and- =/\=

::The comline was abruptly cut, and Danielle looked back at her schematic of Veritas with a grimace.::

Teller: Captain?  Commander?  Vistain - what the hell happened?  

Vistain: Lieutenant, turbolift systems have lost contact with turbo car 7.

::Teller felt a profound cold crawling into his guts.  Turbolift systems had dozens of redundancies and safety features but the ship had been battered twice now.  He tried to imagine any scenario where losing contact with a lift car suddenly wasn't catastrophic for the people inside and couldn't think of one.  The ship rocked again as another shot from the Tholians hit the shields.  Teller turned slowly in the Captains chair.::

Teller: Vistain, dispatch a damage control team and an emergency medical team to the base of lift tube seven.  If they don't find anything, they're to work their way up deck by deck until they find the Captain and Commander.  

::Geoffrey Teller could feel eyes on him from the officers on the bridge.  The situation had gone from grave to cataclysmic in the space of moments.  These people needed leadership and somehow, he was it.  Teller thoughts briefly turned to young Natalia, hopefully in her crib below decks, probably terrified by the banging and shaking.  He could see her tiny eyes as if he was standing in the room with her, desperate and scared, and the cold in his gut turned to fury.::

Teller:  oO This is our home you Tholian [...]s.  You're not taking her from us. Oo

Macedon: What are your orders, sir?!

::Teller briefly studied the tactical plot.  The Tholians were pressing hard behind behind them in pursuit and we're pouring shot after shot into their faltering shields.  They wouldn't be able to keep soaking damage like this for much longer.::

Teller: Helm, we're going to try a kickstop.  When I give the order, I want you to reverse your thrust and bring us to full stop as quickly as you can.  At the same time, I want Z axis minus 5000 meters.  The Tholians will pass right over us before they know what's happening.  Macedon, that's your window - you've got to disable their weapons and engines as they pass us, this'll only work once.  

::As he laid out the plan, a science officer Teller didn't know spoke up::

Brosa: Sir! The ship is showing massive damage along the starboard side. 

Teller:  Analysis?  

Brosa: ::hands searching over the panel:: If it was Starfleet ship I would say there are hull breaches on seven the equivalent to seven decks.

Teller: Macedon - focus your fire there.  Something already took a bite out of them, lets use it to our advantage.  Prepare to execute on my order.

Teller:  oO If this doesn't work we're dead. This has to work. Oo

Teller:  =/\= Teller to all hands, brace for severe maneuvers. =/\=

::Teller watched on the viewscreen as the Tholian ship drew closer, weapons still spitting furious death at the fleeing Veritas.  Teller wasn't sure what he was looking for, but some instinct urged him to draw the Tholians as close as possible, even as the shields began to collapse and shots struck the hull.  When it seemed like the entire viewscreen was full of the Tholian ship, Teller felt the moment deep in his gut.  When he spoke, his voice was oddly quiet and dispassionate.::

Teller:  Helmsman....now.

::The ship stopped like it hit a brick wall in space and almost everyone on the bridge lurched forward as the inertial dampeners tried to compensate for the wild shift in momentum and direction.  On the viewscreen, the Tholian vessel hurtled towards them and seemed to be within centimeters of collision as it passed overhead close enough for Teller to see seams in their hull.  A moment later, the Tholian ship was sitting fully exposed to their forward weapon arc and Macedon didn't waste the opportunity.  Phasers, pulse cannons and torpedoes ripple fired in perfect unison and tore into the Tholian vessels exposed, damage segments.  Their shields almost immediately overloaded under the full point blank onslaught and explosions played over their hull.  Within seconds, the Tholian ship was dead in space, trailing multiple streams of atmosphere and drive plasma, tumbling out of control.::

::On the bridge, Teller let out a breath and slumped into the Captains chair.::

Teller:  Hold your fire but keep an eye on them.  They so much as twitch a crystal in a way you find offensive, put a full volley of torpedoes in their side.  

Macedon: ::checking the tactical console again:: …they’re, uh… they’re hailing us, sir.

Teller:  What, now they want to talk?  On screen.

::The main viewscreen cut from its image of the crippled Tholian warship to the orange and amber of one of its crew members.  Teller didn't know much about the internal layout of a Tholian ship, but he was fairly confident their bridge didn't usually feature that much smoke and fire.::

::Teller stood from the Captains chair and examined the 'face' on the viewscreen.  He hadn't seen many Tholians and, for a moment, was struck by their surprisingly beautiful coloring and facets.  He had no reference for facial expressions, but his gut reaction was that the one addressing him was pained to be doing so.::

Vamuwene: =/\= Federation ship. You are victorious. Allow me to evacuate my crew and I will surrender myself to you. =/\=

Teller: oO I...uh...have no idea how to accept a formal surrender. Oo

Teller: =/\= This is Lieutenant Geoffrey Teller of the USS Veritas, to whom am I speaking? =/\=

Vamuwene: =/\= I am Admiral Vamuwene of Battleship T’kath Tholis. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Admiral, I don't know much about your people but if you wanted to talk to us, you should've tried that before firing your weapons.  Since we arrived in this space two hours ago we suffered an unprovoked attack by your drone ships and then by you.  I demand an explanation. =/\=

Vamuwene: =/\= Our last encounter with your ship made it clear surprise was our only chance for survival. =/\=

::Teller's eyebrows shot up.  He had read the after action report of the Artemis incident and didn't think anything about the ships behavior there would've caused the Tholians to think that a surprise attack was their only hope for survival.  To the contrary, the Veritas had saved them from the destruction of the Artemis.  Something else was going on, and Teller needed to learn what, quickly.::

Teller: =/\= Admiral, on my word as an officer, the Veritas has never engaged your vessel before now.  We were sent here by Starfleet to investigate unusual energy readings, not to escalate the conflict between our peoples.  =/\= 

::Teller made a gesture to Vistain and the channel was temporarily muted::

Teller:  I'm open to theories or suggestions.  My gut says he's not trying to play us.

Vistain:  The question is what is his gut saying.

Macedon: Do Tholians even have a gut?

Vistain: ::ignores Macedon:: Maybe we should hear more about this “last encounter.”

Teller:  Good idea, but you keep an eye on those sensors.  Could be reinforcements on the way.  

Macedon: Aye.

::With a nod, the channel was reopened.::

Teller: =/\= Admiral, could you describe the Starfleet vessel that attacked your ship?  =/\= 

Vamuwene: =/\= A 4-nacelled Starfleet ship of the same design as yours attacked us shortly after we entered the system. =/\=

::Teller's head was spinning as he tapped at the library computer controls in the Captain's chair, and quickly drew up a list of the Veritas's sister ships.  Only one, The USS Minerva, had ever been anywhere near the Menthar corridor, and it was listed as destroyed months ago during the fall of Astrofiori 1.::

Teller: =/\= Admiral, considering our tactical situation, we've got no reason to lie to one another.  I'm telling you right now, we never fired on you, and that's a Good Job Guarantee. =/\=  

Vamuwene: =/\= Then it would appear that we have a common enemy, Lieutenant Teller. =/\=

Teller:  =/\= Admiral, have your people had any contact with a small, probe sized device?  Possibly something that attempted to compromise your computer systems?  I'm sending over some of our sensor readings on it now. =/\= 

Vamuwene:  =/\= Not us, but other ships in the task force heard a strange song during the battle. =/\= 

Teller:  =/\= Admiral, I'm starting to agree with you on that 'common enemy.'  I propose we start working together on this problem. =/\= 

Vamuwene:  =/\= It would seem harmony is our best hope for survival. =/\= 

Teller:  =/\= Very well.  Have your crew prepare for evacuation while we reconfigure one of our cargo bays to your atmospheric needs.  We'll contact you again as soon as we're ready to begin transport. =/\= 

Vamuwene:  =/\= We will make the arrangements. =/\= 

Teller:  =/\= Admiral, Starfleet prides itself on finding peaceful solutions whenever possible but we will defend ourselves vigorously when provoked.  I'd encourage you and your crew to bear that in mind.  Teller out. =/\=  

::Teller leaned back in the Captain's chair as the viewscreen returned to its view of the crippled Tholian battleship.::

Teller:  What'd you guys think?  Too much?  

Brosa: It was effective at the least, a strong hand is needed sometimes.

Teller:  Thanks...now we just have to make it work.  Stand-down from red alert, but keep us at yellow for now.  Start prepping one of the cargo bays for our house guests and inform security....

::Teller didn't manage to finish the sentence before the comm came alive again, this time with the concerned voice of their security chief.::

Kelrod: =/\= Kelrod to bridge, what’s our status? =/\=

Teller: =/\= Bit of a long story Commander, but the ship is secure and not in any immediate danger.  What's your status? =/\=

Kelrod: =/\= I was on my way to deck eight along DeVeau and Solak from the Solaris. Do you need me up there? =/\=

::Teller looked around at the men and women who had suddenly become the command crew and realized they shared one anothers complete confidence.  Teller smiled for the first time in what seemed like hours.::

Teller: =/\= Negative Commander, we've got it under control up here for the moment.  =/\=

Kelrod: =/\= Do you have contact with Lieutenant G’Var or Moonsong? =/\=

Teller: =/\= Not since before the battle.  Proceed to deck eight and do what you can.  Additionally, I need you to dispatch an armed security detail to Cargo Bay 2...we're about to have some guests. =/\= 

Kelrod: =/\= Understood. Kelrod out =/\= 

::With preparations underway and the ship as secure as it could be, Teller tapped his comm badge.::

Teller:  =/\= Teller to Del Vedova =/\=

del Vedova: =/\= Del Vedova. Go ahead.  =/\=

Teller:  =/\= Doctor, I need an update on the Captain and Commander Delano. =/\=

del Vedova: =/\= All conscious, and all alright, for the moment. We're trying to pull them out of the fallen lift now. I'm sure we'll have them back to the bridge shortly. =/\=

Teller:  =/\= Thank you Doctor, that's a relief.  I won't keep you from your work.  Teller out. =/\=

::Teller felt the stress evaporating slightly.  It was an enormous relief to know the Captain and Commander Delano were alright, even if they had been injured.::

Teller: oO Wonder what the Captain will think of how I handled the ship in her absence.  I'm probably going to be busted back to midshipman. Oo

::Teller could feel a headache forming behind his eyes as he watched officers work their stations and prepare for the imminent arrival of their unexpected guests, the surviving crew of the Tholian ship T’kath Tholis.  When the Captain had placed him in command a few hours ago, Teller never would've imagined that his brief time in the big chair could've involved so many complex and possibly critical decisions.  The ship had been attacked, the Captain and XO were out of contact, they still had an alien device embedded in their computer core, and last but certainly not least, they were about to play host to a group of aliens that were trying to kill them very recently.  Somehow, it had fallen to Teller to make the pieces fit together and he hoped that, in the absence of most of the senior crew, he could keep the ship afloat.  As he scanned the status display, an alert cleared and the comm opened.::

Core: =/\= Core to the Bridge--the gravity short-circuit's been corrected. =/\=

Teller: oO That must've been fun.  We're going to be putting the ship back together for a month after this mission is over. Oo

Teller: =/\= Good work Commander, glad you're in one piece.  Please report to the computer core as quick as you can and assist the team trying to analyse the alien device.  We need answers, quickly.=/\=

Core: =/\= Alright. Give me a couple minutes--we've got minor injuries down here. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Understood, how bad?  Do you need us to dispatch a medical team?  They're stretched a little thin right now. =/\=

Core: =/\= Oh, you know. Minor spats with inverted gravity in triple story engineering work areas. The usual. ::He huffed, straightening a little when a muscle in his chest strained.:: It's been sorted. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Glad to hear it.  See what assistance you can offer Lt. Ukinix and his team and give me a report in an hour.  I'll let them know you're on your way.  Teller out. =/\=

::Teller closed the comm and glanced around, again feeling the need to pace.  His hands were restless, desperate to be back downstairs doing something tangible.  This calling and waiting for status reports was absolutely maddening.::

Ukinix: =/\= Ukinix to Bridge.  The probe is transmitting on both random rotating subspace and non-subspace frequencies.  We’re trying to disrupt it from down here, but anything you can do ship wide will be helpful.  Ukinix out. =/\=

Teller:  =/\= Teller to Ukinix - I'm sending some additional help your way.  Commander Kelrod and Lt. Cmdr. Core are en route now.  How's our visitor? =/\=

Ukinix: =/\= We’ve uh – Raissa’s um – well, Commander Moonsong’s using her head to fight it.  I mean *literally* using her head. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Raissa's doing what?! =/\=

Ukinix: =/\= Using telepathy to shore up the firewall. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Amazing.  It seems to be working, we haven't had any other system intrusions since the engines went offline. =/\=

Ukinix: =/\= We’re working now to keep it that way. =/\=

Teller:  =/\= Might help you to know our Tholian friends had a run-in with one of these things as well, and it sounds like it went even worse for them than it did for us.  We need answers, badly. =/\=

Ukinix: =/\= We’re on it, Chief.  Might have to get back to you though.  It’s a bit – a lot – nuts down here at the moment mate.  =/\=

Teller: =/\= Understood.  Do what you can once Kelrod and Core get there and give me an update in an hour.  Teller out. =/\=

::There were so many details to keep on top of from here it was easy to lose track of all the moving pieces aboard the ship, especially during a crisis.  He had two more calls to make at least and a mountain of damage reports to cull through.  He realized he hadn't had a chance to keep appraised of the many injuries the crew had sustained and felt the need to reach out to their medical staff.::

Teller:   =/\= Teller to MacKenzie.  =/\= 

MacKenzie: =/\= Go ahead, Lieutenant. =/\=

Teller:   =/\= I need a casualty report, Doctor  =/\= 

MacKenzie: =/\= The last update I got was about 20 minutes ago. At that point, we had 12 dead and 56 wounded, 22 of whom are critical. That doesn't take into account any hands lost on the Solaris. =/\= 

Teller: oO A dozen dead in a few minutes.  How many of those are my fault?  How many of them are people I know?  Did I let those people down?  How does the Captain handle the doubt?  The guilt? Oo

Teller:   =/\= Understood Doctor, thank you.  Anything to add?  =/\= 

MacKenzie: =/\= I'm on my way to the science lab to work with Commander DeVeau and Lieutenant Solak analyzing the Tholian wreckage. =/\= 

Teller: =/\= Good, keep on top of it Doctor.  If you don't hear from Doctor Del Vedova within the hour, give me an updated status - we need to have as many able crewmen back at their stations as soon as possible.   =/\= 

MacKenzie: =/\= We're patching them up and getting them to their posts as soon as we can. We'd appreciate it if you'd hold the ship still. I'd hate for anything unfortunate to happen while I'm holding an exoscalpel...   =/\= 

Teller: =/\= Understood Doctor, I'll try to avoid any more sudden stops.  Teller out.  =/\=

::Ship and crew were both on the mend, but their situation was still perilous at best.  They didn't understand what had happened here yet, or why, only that a third party of unknown but extremely advanced capabilities seemed hellbent on destroying any ships it came across.  Just one more mystery to add to the pile, Teller thought ruefully.::

Teller: Vistain, how're the transporters?  We about ready to bring the Tholian survivors over?  

Vistain: Still offline, sir, but I can have our shuttles ready to begin ferrying the Tholians in the meantime.

Teller: Good, signal the Tholis to standby.  

Vistain: Aye.

Teller: How's the 'guest suite' coming along?  Cargo bay nice and toasty for them?  

Brosa: Everything is set to Tholian norms as we understand them sir.

Teller:  Good work everyone.  I know this isn't what we expected when we came on duty today, but that's Starfleet.  Macedon, make sure that security team is in place but remind them the Tholians are our guests right now.  Fighting a battle on two fronts is the easiest way to lose it.    

Macedon: Yes, sir.

::Teller leaned back in the chair and looked at the hulk of the Tholis in the viewscreen.  Since the fury of the battle had subsided, Teller felt slightly ill at the sight of a ship he had helped wreck so thoroughly.  It was only by the narrowest of margins that the same thing hadn't happened to the Veritas herself.  He sincerely hoped to make it though the rest of the day without being pressed to such critical choices again, but somehow he suspected he wouldn't get his way.::

Brosa: Sir I have adjusted the outgoing sensors to trace the transmissions that were reported from the computer core. While it doesn’t go far, due to the interference, if we start to follow it then I can continue to give us a path.

Teller: Understood.  Helm, coordinate with Mr. Brosa and plot a course - half impulse, I want as much warning as possible before we run into another surprise.  

Brosa: With the signal dipping in and out of subspace, if we are to follow it then it will have to be soon before the signal degrades to far.

Teller: I appreciate that Mr. Brosa but we've got Tholians to rescue and I don't want to stumble into a fight we can't handle.  Helm, once the Tholians are on board you're clear to execute. 

::Teller squinted at the viewscreen, willing himself to see whatever strange danger lurked out there.::

Teller: oO Lets see, we've had spooky drone ships, a probe making improper overtures to our computer, and a shipful of vengeful Tholians.  What's next, universe!? Oo

Vistain: Lieutenant Teller, sickbay is calling. They have the captain and the others from the turbolift, and they are being treated.

Teller:  oO I shouldn't have asked. Oo 

Teller: Very well.  Have the damage control teams start work on turboshaft 7 as soon as possible.    

Vistain: They also say that the captain wishes to speak with you — in person.

Teller: Understood.  Vistain, you've got the conn.  Keep us at yellow alert and keep following Mr. Brosa's sensor readings.  Anything changes, I'll be getting demoted down in sickbay.  

Vistain: Aye.

::Teller stood and gave the Captains chair an affectionate pat before heading to the turbolift.::

Teller: oO Thanks for keeping us safe. Oo 

(( Sickbay )) 

::As Teller walked into sickbay, he couldn't help but notice that every biobed was full and other, only slightly less injured crew members, were propped on chairs and the floor as medical staff hurried back and forth.  Between the drone attack, the destruction of the Solaris and the Tholian attack on the Veritas herself, they should've been able to consider themselves 'lucky.'  As Teller's stomach churned uncomfortably, he didn't feel very lucky.  He felt guilty and wondered how many of his friends were here or in the triage center, fighting for their lives.  He hadn't had the time to look at the full casualty report yet but the numbers were already enough to make him queasy.  Forcing the thought away for the moment, Teller squared his shoulders and found the Captain.  Near the center of the room Teller saw Doctor Del Vedova checking the results of a scan on the Captain's arm, who looked aggravated enough to chew raw duratanium.::

Teller: How's the Captain, Doctor?  

Rahman: Mmm, that’s a good question. How am I, doctor?

del Vedova: Ready to get back to your chair, as long as you don't fall down any more turboshafts.

Rahman: Thanks.

del Vedova: I mean that.

Teller: Glad to hear it.  When we lost contact with the turbolift car, we all feared the worst.  

::The Captain moved her arm experimentally, testing her range of motion with a few grimaces.::

Rahman: More importantly, how is the ship?

Teller:  Overall, we're still in fighting shape but she's going to need another new coat of paint.  Warp engines and transporters are offline. Ship's at yellow alert and once we recover the Tholian survivors, we'll be on course following some unusual subspace transmissions Mr. Brosa picked up from our hitchhiker.   

::The Captain's brow furrowed as some of the details settled in.::

Rahman: I see… and the Tholians?

Teller: Their ship is dead in space.  They're bringing over their command staff as a formal token of surrender.  Sensors show they've dispatched their shuttlecraft with their remaining crew on a course back towards Tholian territory.  They should be aboard within the next few minutes.  Cargo Bay 2 has been converted for their use as best as we could on short notice.   

::The Captain seemed to let this sink in, then addressed the CMO::

Rahman: It looks like you and Dr. MacKenzie are going to have your hands full. You should go oversee the care of our new guests.

del Vedova: ::soberly:: Yeah, I'd say so. 

::The Captain looked at someone behind Teller, and as he turned he was relieved to see Commander Delano joining them.::

Rahman: Number One, Mr. Teller has just informed me we have Tholian survivors coming aboard as well.

Delano: I take they aren’t going to be here as prisoners? 

Teller: That's correct sir, I've instructed the security team to treat them as our guests.  Based on my conversations with them, I genuinely believe we've both been attacked by an unknown third party.  One that's technologically advanced but that so far seems unwilling or unable to communicate with us.  

Rahman: Yes, it seems things are a bit more complicated than we first thought. What’s the status with the probe?

Teller: Still embedded like a splinter, sir, but apparently Lt. Cmdr. Moonsong is...supplementing our computer defenses telepathically.  It made the difference.  

Delano: Do we know exactly what it’s trying to do? 

Rahman: If this technology isn’t the Tholians, then we need to figure out *whose* it is — and how to defeat it. ::Her gaze darted back and forth between the other two men.:: Ideas, gentlemen?

Teller: The signals we're picking up have to be part of this somehow.  I know we just lost our escort and got our teeth kicked in, twice, but all of that....all of this ::gesturing to the injured in sickbay:: was for nothing if we don't find out what happened.  I say we keep looking till we find out what did this.   

Delano: My first thought is that we should shut down the computer, but I have a feeling that won’t matter at this point. 

Teller:  The probe has actively resisted all our efforts to excise it so far, and if we shut the computers down completely, we'll be defenseless out here.  Commander Kelrod is pursuing a plan to retrieve wreckage from the Solaris that might aid in our investigation.  I've also asked Lt. Cmdr. Core to offer what assistance he can with the computer.  He should be with the team there soon.  

Rahman: If we can’t shut down the computer or remove the probe directly, perhaps we can make our systems a bit less palatable to its liking. I’m reminded of an old engineer’s trick: “souring the milk” when a ship encountered a spacebourne lifeforms. We might not be dealing with a “lifeforms” here in the traditional sense, but we could try a similar approach.

Delano: Right. Then the way I see it, we can either taint whatever it’s after - either with misinformation or some kind of virus. Or, we try to overwhelm it in some way. A power surge, perhaps. Or phaser rifles. 

::The Commander crossed his arms in frustration.  They were in a bad spot and didn't have a lot of good options at this point.::

Delano: Whatever we try, it’s a risk. We simply don’t know how this thing will react. Or, for that matter, what will happen if we leave it alone. :: Beat :: You say Commander Moonsong was able to make some kind of telepathic connection? 

Teller:  I wasn't able to get a lot of details from Lt. Ukinix, but it sounded like she was keeping it from pushing deeper into our systems.  You should know - the Tholians ran into one of these things as well.  And they lost a 200+ ship fleet to it.  

::She held a long look at Teller.::

Rahman: Believe me, lieutenant, that fact is not leaving my mind anytime soon.

Delano: I suppose we also have to consider the possibility that we're dealing with some kind of sentient artificial life form then. We might be able to communicate with it. 

del Vedova: Excuse me, but are you talking about the team with Alora and Raissa?

Teller:  Respectfully sirs, this thing has had ample opportunity to chat if it wanted to strike up a conversation.  Call it engineers instinct, but I feel like we're dealing with a defense system of some kind.  Very advanced technology, definitely, but very simple operating instructions - anything violates some established perimeter or threshold and bam - disable it, sequester it or destroy it.  If the Tholians are to be believed, they were hit by a Starfleet ship that got the same drone-retrofit as the Tholian vessels that attacked us and the Solaris.  Identical tactics, very nearly identical results.  

Rahman: A Starfleet vessel?

::She furrowed her brow and looked over at Delano.::

Rahman: We need to talk to these Tholians as soon as possible to learn more.

del Vedova: I'm also prepping Cargo Bay 1 for any Tholian patients. How soon can we expect them?

Teller:  We've got Cargo Bay 2 retrofit to their environment standards and they should be coming aboard now.  I didn't want you to have to deal with them around the rest of the casualties - aside from the environmental challenges, I was a little worried about putting the Tholians and our people in close proximity so soon after a fight.  Someone could have strong feelings and we don't need that kind of trouble right now.  You'll have more room to work and a security detail nearby just in case the Tholians aren't as gracious as they claim to be.

::She frowned at the hypothetical the chief engineer had just painted.  

Rahman: Are you concerned of bigotry aboard my ship, Lieutenant?

Teller:  Begging your pardon, ma'am.  At the time, it seemed like the best course of action.  I'm prepared to give you a full report on my actions during and after the fight, but you should know, the performance of the crew was exemplary.  I think you would've been proud, Skipper.   

::She remarked back with a straight face.::

Rahman:  I’m always proud of my crew, Mr. Teller. Including a certain chief engineer with a predilection for shore leave mischief.

Delano: I believe she’s trying to say you did a good job under difficult circumstances, Mr. Teller. 

del Vedova:  She's not disappointed, anyway.

:: There was a slight pause, and then the captain urged them back into action. ::

Rahman: Right, let’s get to the matter at hand. Number One, Doctor, head over to Cargo Bay 2 to meet our Tholian guests. I’ll join you shortly.

Delano: Understood. There should be EVA suits in the supply room near Cargo Bay 2, so I suggest meeting there first. Shall we go together, Doctor? 

del Vedova:  Ready when you are.

::After the two left, she turned back to Teller, who spoke up eagerly.::

Teller:  Just tell me what you need, Captain.

::She nodded before holding up a finger at him to pause as she tapped her com badge with her other hand.::

Rahman: =/\= Rahman to Tristam Core. =/\=

Core: =/\= Core here, Captain. =/\=

Rahman: =/\= Commander, I’m told you’re heading to the computer core? =/\=

Core: =/\= It's on the list, yes. =/\=

Rahman:  =/\= I want Lieutenant Teller and engineering to work with science and security on developing some countermeasures into our computer systems, both for the current probe and in case we encounter any others that try to breach our systems. There must be a way we can make our system incompatible with however this technology is able to commandeer other ships. =/\=

Teller: =/\= From what I'm told the team hasn't had much luck so far, so I think we need to cook up something radically different. =/\=

::Teller tried to think of an angle Wil, G'var and Raissa wouldn't have explored.  That pretty much ruled out hacking it, hitting it and telepathically bonding with it, respectively.::

Core: =/\= I'll have to think on it. Anything else? =/\=

Rahman: =/\= I’m going to speak with the Tholians, but they’ve apparently encountered another Starfleet vessel that’s already been compromised. We’ll have to assume all of our current safeguards are ineffective. =/\=

Teller: =/\= Tholians said it was almost identical to us as well.  Fleet records said one of our sister ships, the Minerva, was lost near Astrofiori One a few months ago.  Only other ship of the same class anywhere for a thousand lightyears.  Maybe we can use that - disguise ourselves somehow?  =/\=

Core: =/\= Worth a shot. =/\=

Rahman: =/\= Good, give me a plan within two hours. That’s not too much to ask, is it? =/\=

Teller: =/\= I'll meet you in the Engineering lab. =/\=

Core: =/\= I'm on my way. =/\=

::Once she closed the comline, she hopped off the biobed, ready to go join Dr. del Vedova and Commander Delano. Still, she gave a nod of appreciation at Teller before she left.::

Rahman: You’ve got your work set out for you, Lieutenant.

Teller: Wouldn't be the first time, ma'am.  

::Teller felt an odd kind of relief to be back working on the problems he was used to facing - equally impossible, but almost purely technical.  Still, there was a lingering desire to check in on the ship as a whole, to make sure all the pieces were in place and performing properly.  At some point, the Big Chair had apparently made an impression on Teller.::  

Rahman: ::smiles:: I told you that you should have taken full advantage of your shore leave when you had the chance.

Teller: Maybe next time I'll go to Pacifica.  I hear they mix a mean [...]tail there.  

::She raised her eyebrow as she began to walk out.::

Rahman: Just make sure we still have a ship to fly back to base for the next shore leave.

Teller: Yes ma'am, although I'd appreciate it if you were there to explain to the yardmaster why he's gotta rebuild this ship...again.  

::She looked back over her shoulder at the chief engineer when the doors to sickbay parted.::

Rahman: Oh, and good work, Lieutenant. Not bad for your first time in the chair. Maybe next time it’ll be longer.

::Teller blinked at the unexpected compliment.::

Teller: Thank you ma'am.  I never expected this, but...I'm starting to understand why you made the jump from engineering to command.  I appreciate your confidence in me.  

::She gave him a wink and then headed out towards the cargo bay.::

[End for Teller]

Lieutenant JG Geoffrey Teller
Chief Engineer
USS Veritas - NCC 95035
Capt. R. Rahman, Commanding

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Thanks Skipper.  It's really fun to read back through these as a single coherent narrative, as they were originally spread over at least a week and a half of posts.  It was a very interesting way to experience 'command' for the first time, both as a character and as a writer, and it gave me a greater appreciation for the difficulty senior officers face when they need to engage a full crew and coordinate their responses effectively.  Definitely a fun if stressful educational experience.  

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