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Cptn Swain

An Early Summons

Asher turned in bed, covering his head with a blanket. Maybe, he thought, if he ignored the chime they would just go away. A fourth round of beeping disabused him of this notion and after a heavy sigh, he sat up in bed and turned on his bedside light.


“Captain,” it was one of the junior bridge officers -- Ravi Malek -- who’d apparently been given the task of rousing Asher.  

Must have drawn the short straw. “Yes, Ensign?”

To Malek’s credit, he remained unphased by the obvious displeasure shown by his commanding officer at being woken in the middle of the night. The stout, brown haired human stood at an easy attention just inside the doorway to Swain’s quarters. His eyes shifted occasionally across the room, the only sign of nervousness. 

“I am sorry to wake you Captain, I know it’s late.”

“It’s fine. I just haven’t been sleeping well, my apologies for keeping you.”

“Commander Stanton sent me to let you know that Admiral dos Santos called to schedule an early morning appointment.”

Asher’s frown deepened. Starbase 46’s martinet commanding officer Rear-Admiral Carlos Gil dos Santos Puerto was notorious for his early morning briefings. Asher had hoped to avoid one of them as neither he, nor Excalibur, were in dos Santos’ chain of command. 

“I see, any particular information the Commander wanted you to share about that?”

Malek nodded and produced a PADD. “Yes, sir. This should have everything.”

Asher motioned him over and started reading,, leaving Malek to stand awkwardly at Asher’s bedside before coughing to get his Captain’s attention. 

“Oh, you’re still here. Was there anything else?”

“No sir, just that the meeting will be at 0530 on the station.”

What deity on what planet did I annoy? “Thanks. I am sure you have other duties to attend to at such an hour. Or maybe restful sleep.”

Malek stifled a laugh and saluted crisply before leaving Asher alone to ponder the contents of the PADD. Asher closed his eyes and laid back down. “Computer, time?”

The melodious computer voice chirped back the reply all too happily. “The time is oh-three-hundred hours and thirty-two minutes. Your alarm will go off at oh-seven-thirty.”

Sighing heavily, again, Asher forced himself out of bed and headed for the replicator. “Coffee,” he said almost growling, “black, double strength.”

Taking the cup, he started reading the PADD again. The initial message from dos Santos conveyed Starfleet’s appreciation for the information they had gathered from their probes and even more so, apparently, on the data concerning the alien device. Apparently, it independently confirmed a theory Starfleet Intelligence had been shopping as to their nature. 

“Well,” Asher said between drinks, “I suppose it’s nice to be recognized.”

The rest of the missive concerned new orders for Excalibur. So much for the vacation, Asher considered. 


A few hours later, Asher and Jalen Stanton made their way to the expansive briefing facilities aboard Starbase 46.  dos Santos was waiting for them. He was tall, lean and his slicked-back hair had just a touch of grey at the temples. His deep blue eyes conveyed little in the way of emotion. Asher forced a smile. 

It had been nearly thirty years and he still found the man distasteful. “Admiral.”

“Captain, Commander,” dos Santos said with a sweeping gesture. “Thank you for coming, please have a seat, I am afraid we don’t have much time this morning, so we’ll get right to it.”

Jalen tossed a glance at Swain and then nodded before sitting down. Despite dos Santos passive demeanor, there was clearly something grave about the situation.

“I assume you both read the short document I sent you this morning?”

Asher wanted to say something rude to the effect that he was a little old for pop quizzes, but just  nodded. “Yes, sir. Though Toren III is a little out of the way from here, isn’t it?”

“Still the same Asher, I see. Somethings never change.”

For his part, Jalen made a note to ask Asher about his relationship with the Admiral. 

“I didn’t mean --” Asher half-lied.”

Holding up a hand, dos Santos waived him off. “It’s fine. You’re right,  it is a bit more in your old neighborhood, but Admiral Tersan asked me to brief you so that you could get underway as soon as possible. She knew you were hoping to get back to 39 Tango, but this is a bit of an emergency.”

Asher felt a little silly, but nodded. Maybe dos Santos had changed. 

“As you know Toren III is situated in the Paimpont, close to Tamaran space but also the Romulan Neutral Zone. As a protectorate of the Federation, we’ve traded with them for years. Over the last several months, though, there have been increased tensions on the planet as they debate applying for full-membership.

“Last month separatists staged a massive demonstration in the capital, demanding Tolen independence. Their government has asked us to mediate the dispute.”

“I’ve been to Toren III,” Asher said, leaning back in his chair. “Though it was a long time ago aboard the G-W.”

“That was why Excalibur was chosen, ”dos Santos nodded before continuing. “As I am sure you’ll remember, Toren III is not only in a strategic location for Starfleet to monitor Romulan activity but it is also rich in dilithium, tritanium, and trillium-D.”

“So what are our orders, sir?” Jalen said, giving Asher another sidelong glance. Asher nodded his own approval of the question. 

“First and foremost you are to try and prevent armed conflict between the two the two opposing sides. The leaders of the two groups have agreed to talks mediated by the Federation. Your orders are to provide whatever security resources are necessary and to mediate the dispute.”

“And I assume Starfleet has a preferred outcome?” Asher said with a bit of a frown. 

“While Command would obviously prefer Toren III to remain a Federation protectorate, and would welcome their application for Federation membership, you have a duty to be impartial.

“I would suggest you start with a reception aboard the Excalibur. You’ll want to show them that the Federation can be trusted with security, and---”

“And be a neutral arbiter despite our obvious interests.”

dos Santos grinned. “Something like that.”

Jalen smirked slyly, though his head was already filling with a list of things that would need to be done to get the ship and crew ready for the mission. Biting his lip, he glanced over to Asher. 

“We’ll need a few more days at least to get the computer core untangled,” Asher said, taking the cue from his executive officer. “And I’d like to give the crew a day or so of leave at your rec facility. I’ve heard it’s one of the best in quadrant. We could also do with a thorough resupply. My operations officer is still fuming that we didn’t get the chance before we left Elasia.”

Nodding, dos Santos stroked his goatee. “Yeah, I read the initial report on the issues with your computer core. I’ve informed my engineering staff to give Excalibur top priority. As for the other things, of course. And you’re right, it is one of the finest rec centers in the quadrant, even has a parrises squares arena. I don’t suppose you’d like a rematch, Asher?”

Jalen’s eyes widened. Oh dear.



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