Back on board the Harvest, Anthony had ordered Sonia confined to her quarters until the captain returned. He entertained the idea of having Kendi station a guard outside of her cabin, but thought better of it. Sonia was already angry, it seemed, and that would probably just ensure that she’d find some way to retaliate against him. He also didn’t want his first official order at the conn to be imprisoning his sister.
The squeaky turbolift opened and Anthony stepped out onto the bridge. His bridge, for now. Unlike a few hours before, he felt more at home this time.
“How’s it been going, Carmichael?” Anthony asked of the helmsman who’d been left in charge while the senior officers were away.
“Mostly quiet,” Carmichael replied as he left the captain’s chair and returned to his usual station. “One of the boneheads in the bay knocked over a crate of Saurian brandy that was destined for Starbase 17, so someone’s going to have to explain that one once we get there, but otherwise, just watching the stars.”
Having command all to himself was one thing; having to deal with the ramifications of the actions of the crew, internally or outside the ship, was something else entirely. Although he was pretty sure Darcy would smooth things over, Anthony wouldn’t put it past her to make him issue the apologies at Starbase 17 just to teach him how a commanding officer could be humble as well as decisive. He sighed, but said nothing.
He took the captain’s chair without a thought. Unlike many officers and crew that he’d met over the years, Anthony held no superstitions about the seat or act of command. Some revered it as an almost mystical object, like a sword that could grant immeasurable power to any who claimed it. Anthony had been sitting in it for almost as long has he’d been alive; it was worn, lopsided, and — truth be told — not that comfortable; it was just a place to sit that afforded the best, most useful view of the bridge. Command authority, his parents had always said, didn’t come from the chair. It was one part granted, but also one part earned. Some crew would willingly follow anyone who outranked them out of fear or training or a bullheaded sense of duty, but the goal of any command should never be “blind loyalty” from the crew, they said. The best commanders are followed because their crew believes in them as an ideal, as a person, and maybe, on some occasions, as a friend, and in return, they must trust that their crew are competent enough and skillful enough to do their jobs to the best of their ability.
Drake, the comms specialist, interrupted Anthony’s reflection. “Sir,” she said with a knitted brow. “I’ve been monitoring the chatter between the ships.” Unlike Starfleet vessels, private starships often kept in constant communication with one another on their travels through the galaxy. The Harvest was fitted with a dedicated subspace transceiver array that approached military grade, which allowed it to communicate at distances far beyond most ships of its class. Comms specialists were like the operators of old; waiting for a call was boring, so they’d usually be chatting with comms officers onboard other merchant ships on a regular basis. Captains usually allowed this because it often revealed more information about the sector than a sensor sweep. “It’s been nothing but the usual bored conversations, but now I’m picking up something weird.”
“Define weird?”, Anthony asked.
“It’s like…there’s a pattern repeating just underneath the normal public carriers.”
Drake closed her eyes briefly as if it would help her concentrate on the audio from the earpiece. She shook her head. “No. At least, not Starfleet, not Vulcan, Romulan, Klingon or any other organization that we have on record.”
Anthony arched his eyebrows and felt the hairs on his arms stand up. A mystery! On his watch! Sure, they were a freighter and as a rule they never deviated from their mission of hauling goods back and forth unless they received a verified distress signal — which was Federation law, not their choice — but no captain worth their salt would ignore the chance at possibly making a name for themselves by checking out ‘something weird’.
“Can you pinpoint the source?” Anthony rose from his seat and stood beside Drake at the comms station. While he could operate all stations on the bridge with some skill, he was no expert at any of them. He had always been least confident about comms, as it was also the central hub for the ship’s universal translator, and was therefor larger and more complex than any other station on the bridge. He watched Drake attempt to dial in the signal, but had no idea how she was doing it.
She suddenly paused, her hand hovering over the console. She leaned in a bit as if straining to hear. “It’s not coming from any of the ships in the flotilla, I know that much, and it’s not coming from deep space. I think…”
“You think?” Anthony repeated.
“Yes sir,” she continued, removing the earpiece from her ear and looking up at Anthony. “I think it’s coming from the planet.”
This scene wasn’t really intended to be Anthony’s reflection on command, but it seemed like a good place to put it. I’m splitting up posts along the lines of a “scene”, where action takes place, so very much like if this story were an episode of a TV show. Here, we’re back on the bridge of the Harvest. Some activities have taken place off-screen — Anthony’s sequestering of his rogue sister in her quarters, specifically because (spoiler alert) Sonia doesn’t have a role to play in this story, but her character was interesting enough to introduce here in case she shows up in other stories.
This post is more or less a bridge between the intro scenes and the start of the “actual” story. Consider mentally ending this post with Anthony and Drake looking at one another in surprise as the dramatic music swells, and we cut to commercial. Go get a drink and a snack.