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Story Notes: My thanks to the wonderful Little Black Dog for all her help with beta checking.

This short story was written for Ad Astra March 2014 Story challenge.

USS Copperplate

‘Before the dying of the light,
And more of the lying night,
And gore of the crying blight,
Fund lore of love ideas, implying right.’

The old poem ran through Emmylou Galyaski’s head as she lay on her bed, staring up at the ceiling of her quarters on the Copperplate, thinking about the past day’s events.

The Copperplate was a Cardassian Galor Class cruiser that had been transferred to Starfleet as part of Cardassian Union Dominion War reparation. As such it was a dark and gloomy place even at the best of times.

Emmylou knew she had technically gone against the orders of Admiral Alyanna Nechayev to rescue the Enterprise, rather than just gather data on the strange sub-space aliens’ ships.

The problem for Emmylou was even with hand on heart, she couldn’t say why she had disobeyed her orders. Was it to save the Federation Flagship, or to obey General Order three to save the civilians on the Enterprise, or was it a selfish act to save her dear friend Xenktid’s life?

An electronic chime from her quarter’s doorbell suddenly interrupted Emmylou’s private musing. Emmylou pushed a button on the bedside table and the door slid open to reveal Captain Xenktid of the USS Enterprise. With her usual grace Xenktid walked into the cabin and sat herself down in the chair opposite the bed.

Emmylou sat up and looked at her friend. It was odd because despite Emmylou’s dark disposition, Xenktid always brought light into her life and lifted her mood. Xenktid had her usually mischievous smile on as she said, “Hi Em, I thought I would come and look at this rust bucket command has given you.”

“Hi Xenktid, I’m glad you are prepared to slum it with me, but won’t your dear wife Dathar get jealous and suspicious?” said Emmylou.

Xenktid winked as she said, “Don’t worry about Dathar, she is very understanding and besides, I made it clear to her you’re on my famous ten list.”

“Your what list?” asked Emmylou.

Xenktid tilted her head to look at Emmylou before saying, “You know, the private fantasy list between married couples of ten famous people from outside the marriage they’re allowed to sleep with without getting in any trouble from their partner, because they know they’re never going to actually meet them. We all did these lists when we were in high school …”

Xenktid realized her mistake just in time and shut up. Emmylou had shut her eyes and was trying to banish her bad childhood memories.

Xenktid had so many happy childhood memories that even after twenty odd years of friendship with Emmylou, she tended to forget her friend’s childhood hadn’t been as happy as hers. Instead of riding ponies on daddy’s estate, Emmylou had spent it as a slave of the Orion Syndicate and her only fantasy would have been freedom and not what top famous people she would like to marry.

Xenktid mentally kicked herself; she had come over to cheer her friend up and thank her for help today and instead her big mouth meant she just dug up a very sore subject.

“I’m sorry Em, that was thoughtless of me…” started Xenktid in apology.

However, Emmylou held up her hand and said from behind her now closed eyes, “Nice to know someone wants me. Besides, I thought I was just infamous in Starfleet circles for destroying Earth Space Dock,” answered Emmylou.

“Dathar and I agreed to make you the exception from normal rules, Em. As for the ESD--I’ve no idea what happened to it,” said Xenktid.

“I thought I saved your light today but instead I’m getting more of the lying night aren’t I?” said Emmylou.

“Yes you did save my light and that of my crew. On top of which you stopped those sub-space aliens’ gory experiments and their blight on the local shipping lanes,” said Xenktid.

“Are you actually paraphrasing old poems, Xenktid? Those aliens did seem to like their gory experiments, didn’t they? I take it that Doctor Pulaski has given you a clean bill of health?” asked Emmylou.

“Yes thank you, as did Councilor Troi. I’ve got to say that I didn’t appreciate the sub-space aliens’ close attention or being helpless on their table, so thanks for the save Em,” replied Xenktid.

“Isn’t that what friends are for, because if we don’t stick together, then neither will the Federation. So don’t feel you need to be the tough captain here, I’m listening as your friend without judgment, just as you did for me, back in our freshman year,” said Emmylou.

“Back then I was trying to put into practice my ideas about implying the right way to behave.” Xenktid stopped for a moment before finding her voice again. “I’m here because you’re my friend and I’ve not seen much of you of late, plus I want to know how you’re holding up,” said Xenktid.

“Holding up?” asked Emmylou, failing to meet her friend’s eyes.

“You know what I mean. You’ve been withdrawn since the end of the war, and you’ve let ordering the destruction of the Earth Space Dock and all the negative comments from the ignoramus peanut gallery get to you.” said Xenktid.

“Well I’m going to have to live with it, just like Pike and Kirk had to live with failing to save the old Vulcan homeworld,” replied Emmylou.
“Yes, but hiding from your friends and family won’t help you live with it,” responded Xenktid.

“I’m not hiding, I seem to recall leading the mission to save you,” answered Emmylou.

“Professionally maybe, but privately I’ve got to say that your inner light does seem dimmer. You’re not even answering your mail,” said Xenktid.

“I’ve been busy. You command a starship, you should understand,” said Emmylou.

“I do understand, but in the height of the Dominion War you still wrote to your sister and me more often than you do now,” said Xenktid.

Emmylou leaned back and stared at the ceiling. “What do you want me to say Xenktid? That I now seem to be public enemy number one to the media after I took the initiative to recover the situation following the failure of the Home Fleet? So Admiral Nechayev’s only instructions to me were ‘just follow orders!’ So what did I do? I broke her orders and rescued you and your crew, because you’re my last true friend and I’d rather see my career end than lose your light,” said Emmylou.

“The old Vulcan statement that the good of the many outweighs the need of the one? Don’t go second guessing yourself. You just saved the flagship, just like you salvaged the war effort after the fall of Sol. Why do you insist on beating yourself up over this?” asked Xenktid.

Emmylou was saved from answering by the intercom whistle: “Bridge to Galyaski and Xenktid,” came the smooth voice of Glinn Macett.

Emmylou tapped her comm badge and said, “Gul Galyaski here, I’ve Captain Xenktid with me, so please report, Glinn Macett.”

“Sorry to disturb you but we’ve just received a recorded message from Admiral Nechayev for you both,” said Macett.

“Please transfer it to quarter’s station,” said Emmylou.

“Of course Gul, transferring now,” said Macett.

“I can confirm receipt of the file, thank you Glinn, Galyaski out.” Emmylou closed the comm channel.

“Shall we see what Ms Happy has to say?” asked Xenktid.

“Nechayev, happy--I’m not sure those words go together in any format,” said Emmylou before adding, “Computer, please play back Nechayev message zero-two, authorization code is Galyaski-blue-six-kola.”

“Authorization code Xenktid-indigo-four-kite,” added Xenktid before the computer asked for it.

The computer beeped in acknowledgement and then the message started playback with the symbol of the United Federation of Planets, which quickly gave way to the face of Admiral Alyanna Nechayev.

The Admiral’s demeanor was icy as always and she simply said, “Captains, I’ve reviewed your reports of the incident in the Teneebia Proxi system with interest. I’m satisfied that you both acted in the appropriate way to the threat. Your orders are to return to Starbase Fourteen with the remains of the alien ship for analysis, where you will link up with the Galaxy and Thoth and Admiral Moq’ta will grant you new fleet orders.”

The message ended and the UFP logo appeared on the screen again.

Xenktid smiled and whispered to Emmylou, “See Em, she does like us. Thus it seems our light isn’t dying just yet and we will shine brightly once more.”


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