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[2006: MAR-APR] A Poignant Memory...


Salak
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(This story is based on a Wallace plotline in Spring/Summer 2005. During that mission, I wrote for both Henderson and Salak.)

Deep in the outer realms of Federation space, it was a relatively normal day on the remote outpost of Deep Space 17; the turbolifts were malfunctioning again, the antiquated USS Wallace was undergoing yet more repairs after being damaged on its’ latest mission and the First Promenade was as full of visitors as it had ever been. Hidden amongst the encircling crowd of the through-fare was a former member of the Wallaces’ crew, a Vulcan who had many years previously served as the vessels Chief Engineer.

Salak was sitting in his old corner of the Twilights’ Edge, tucked away from the crowds of the bar. Only a single wall seperated him from the bustling First Promenade beyond it. The bar seemed as busy as Salak had ever seen it, reminding him of it's popularity with the crew during his time on Wallace so many years before. He had not particularly understood the enjoyment that could be obtained from consuming synthehol, nor was he comfortable amongst crowds such as those on the Promenade. Such discomfort had led Salak to spend the majority of his time on the Wallace, even whilst the rest of the crew enjoyed shore leave. It had however been this bar which had been host to the ships promotion ceremonies; this bar where he had first been promoted, where he had also gained his first commendation…

As he sat in the corner he had made his own, his thoughts strayed back to the events of the mission which led to that first promotion; a rescue mission… The Vulcan had been a member of the ships crew for no more than a few months, yet had already become the Acting Chief Engineer. His two superiors within the department had departed within his own first few months in the fleet. His memories of the mission itself focused on two particular events; the destruction of the P’Kothla and the betrayal of one of the key members of what had just become his own Engineering team…

The betrayal had ultimately led to the destruction; the damage caused by the sabotage could not be repaired and the P’Kothla had already been in a poor state. Badly damaged after an attack by the Grendellai, increasingly fragile bulkheads collapsing and the over-stressed engines leaking plasma; the engineers had a lot of work to do by the time the Wallace had arrived on the scene answering the helpless frieghters distress call.

As the Acting Chief Engineer, it was Salak who organised the Repair crews. Given the danger, he had chosen people he could trust to assist on the P’Kothla, opting himself to work on the Engines and assaigning Crewman Henderson to lead the team working on the vessels structural integrity. Marcus Henderson had been a competent engineer, a valued member of the department with experience behind him. He had a good record behind him; his disciplinary record was very good, whilst his experience on old vessels had led to Salak trusting him and choosing him ahead of Ensign McLoughlin to lead 'Team 2' for the mission…

With the advantage of hindsight, it was clear that trust had been misplaced. Reviewing the events of those distant times, Salak wondered how he had failed to see the potential for Marcus to act as he did on the P’Kothla that day. Henderson willingly and deliberately endangered the lives of everybody on the P’Kothla with the actions he took, working not to repair the SIF as asked but to undermine it. Salak recalled how he turned from his own work to find a P’Kothla crewmember wrestling Henderson away from a console, the siren going off as Henderson input his final commands… commands which triggered an explosion towards the front of the ship, in the direction of the majority of the Wallace away team.

The renegade’s reasons remained unclear for a while after that. They were still unknown after he escaped later that year, bombing Salaks quarters on the Wallace before fleeing from Deep Space 17 in a Type-8 shuttle. He later claimed to have grown tired of Starfleet, dismayed at having a relatively inexperienced Ensign as his senior officer. He knew he was more experienced, but he felt such was not being recognised within the department. The Wallace was in the middle of nowhere; There was no easy way out so he tried to end it by force, hoping to take his senior officer with him…

Henderson’s actions did have consequences for the P’Kothla; the damage caused by his sabotage further weakened the Structural Integrity of the crumbling vessel. The P’Kothla had already needed a large repair operation when the Wallace arrived to assist but Henderson’s work had pushed the ship beyond that… Despite the best efforts of repair teams and the P’Kothla crew, the possible failure became the inevitable as the balance between holding the ship together and keeping her power systems from overloading became a thinner and thinner tightrope…

The power needed to maintain the SIF grew with each bulkhead collapse, with each passing moment, providing a growing strain on the already damaged Warp Core. With minutes to spare, the Wallace beamed its teams and the P’Kothla crew back to the Wallace, Salak holding the FTU vessel together long enough to enable everyone to get to safety. It was not long after Salak became the last person to beam back that the P’Kothla was destroyed, the victim of simultaneous failure of the SIF and the Warp Core, collapsing from the outside and exploding from within.

Of course, such events were far in the past and thus Salak could do nothing to change the way in which they had unravelled so many years ago on the P’Kothla. Conscious of the emotions Salak was suppressing, his wife had come from their quarters and joined him. They had not known each other at the time of the P’Kothla incident; at the time, she hadn’t even seen Deep Space 17. However, she was able to understand Salak in a way few others could, knowing about the events in his past from conversations and mind-melds.

She knew the better times that he had experienced too, herself a part of many of them over the years. She sat next to her husband, the table cluttered with little more than a solitary PADD and Salak’s untouched cup of Spice Tea. The presence of his wife brought happiness within Salak although he did little to express it, his Vulcan discipline preventing it. Sat in his corner; their corner of the Twilight’s Edge, she consoled him, reminding him of those many better times…

Edited by Salak
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