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"Saturn's Ring Part 3"

Updated: Mar 18, 2023

“You’re going on leave now?

Meghan was the first to speak after Captain Snow made his announcement. She could see around her that the other senior officers gathered in the conference room did not react as strongly as her. But then again, this turn of events impacted them much less than it did her. Besides, she had been taught that it was the first officer’s duty to criticize the captain’s decisions. Nonetheless, Meghan kept her tone calm and inquisitive as she had learned to over the years, rather than something aggressive or panicked.

Captain Snow however, was much more perceptive than she thought, “You’ll do fine. I wouldn’t have picked you as my first if I didn’t think you could handle taking over for a few days.”

“I, uhh…” Meghan hesitated in one of the rare moments she was caught off guard before responding with a simple, “Thank you, sir.”

The Captain’s gaze darted to Commander Val- he must have observed something in the Chief Engineer that even the El-Aurian had not picked up, “Believe me, I want to be here at this time more than anybody. I oversaw the Saturn from the earliest conception of its idea, and I’ve been waiting to see how practical she ends up being on the field. If this situation could wait, I’d delay it for as long as possible.”

“You’re entitled to leave time for family emergencies, just like every other officer in the fleet,” said Lieutenant Owa Hoss, the head of the Saturn’s counselling department. “Nobody can blame you for this.”

“Can’t we just hold back on the field test until the Captain gets back?” the Tellarite chief tactical officer, Lieutenant Commander Skagror, also chimed in.

“The damaged ships and station need all the help they can get,” replied Commander Michael Guittone, the dockmaster who would be the one to oversee most of the repair work done by the Saturn once the ship began fulfilling its primary duty.

“He’s right,” Captain Snow nodded. “And besides, we aren’t going to get a better chance to test the Saturn’s repair abilities anytime soon. Or at least, I really hope not- Starfleet’s seen enough battles in the past decade.”

“As much as I like to see how she’ll handle crisis situations,” Commander Val spoke again, “I think I’m speaking for everyone here when I say I’d much rather have her fixing up distressed freighters than see the amount of tragedy that comes with things like this. For your loss you have my condolences, Tamen.”

“Thank you,” the Captain responded. “I’m more concerned about this katra business myself.”

“I was just about to bring that up,” Lieutenant Owa sat straighter as all eyes on the room turned to him. “I’ve always been fascinated by different religions and I studied Vulcan culture fairly in depth, and the subject of katras came up more than once. It’s amazing how much Vulcan beliefs are tied up with not just psychology but physiology. But that’s beside the point. From what I understand carrying a katra is no easy burden. Not only does it require a special ritual, but it’s like having a whole other person inside your mind. That sounds like something that can be potentially, well…traumatizing for lack of a better word, and your record doesn’t say you’ve had any prior experience with anything like this.”

“I’m sure an esteemed Vulcan doctor like Admiral Se’Lai knows how to do this ritual, else she wouldn’t have asked me to do it,” Captain Snow reassured him. “But you’re right that I have no experience with this. To be honest, aside from a few mind melds, some of them not even intentional, I don’t know a damn thing about Vulcan telepathy.”

“Even a full human can carry a katra for a period of time without lasting effects,” stated Lieutenant Commander Violaine Delcroix, the chief medical officer. “I am confident that you will be alright.”

“I know the precedents. But my mother isn’t just any other Vulcan. I’m not sure if this family idea is so good of an idea.”

“Maybe I can go with you, keep an eye on you,” Commander Val suggested.

Upon hearing the idea of another command-level officer leaving the ship, Meghan instantly objected, “Absolutely not.”

“I’ve got experience dealing with the memories and emotions of other people inside me, I’m a Trill joined with a symbiont,” the Chief Engineer argued. “And I know the Captain well too. I could help him deal with this.”

“We are not losing two of our senior engineering experts,” she persisted.

“She’s got a point,” Captain Snow sided with her, and Meghan breathed a silent sigh of relief.

“And I have to admit, as does he,” she raised her suggestion now that she knew Val’s had been rebutted. “It’s not a good idea for both you and our Chief Engineer to leave the ship at the same time, especially now, but it could be dangerous going alone, too.”

Meghan looked to Commander Val to ensure that her compromise was acceptable, and the two nods from the pensive engineer confirmed it. Captain Snow too was deep in thought as he contemplated the idea. Leaning forward with his hands folded, his gesture was a perfect reflection of this, but Meghan’s instincts told her something was off. It was almost as if the Captain had an idea he was contemplating on his own without any intention to share it. She wondered if it would be prudent to question him, but Commander Delcroix took the spotlight before Meghan had a chance.

“I’m sure we can spare one of the doctors on the off chance that something goes wrong. Medical aid is something we provide with our repair services whenever we can, but we’ve got the Idenna, a dedicated hospital ship, in the region and assisting with the aftermath of the battle.”

“That won’t be necessary, Commander,” Captain Snow smiled warmly, suddenly appearing free of his worries. “But I appreciate your offer. Unless anybody has any other concerns…?”

The Captain glanced across the conference room, his eyes jumping from officer to officer. He was met only with silence or shaking heads, and it was clear that this meeting had covered everything that was needed. With a tug of his uniform Captain Snow rose from his seat, giving one final moment for his crew to address outstanding issues before he talked again.

“Alright then, you’re all free to go. Everything’s going to proceed according to our original plans, just with Commander Suran in charge for the time being. I’ll be back before you know it.”

He exchanged a brief look with Meghan, and it was all the two needed to pass a message. After another smile, Captain Snow turned and exited the conference room. The rest of the senior staff followed suit and the meeting dispersed. Meghan did not scatter off to carry on her work though, but tailed the Captain as he moved through the hall and onto the bridge.

By now, Meghan knew that Captain Snow was an expert at subtlety, both in reading them and utilizing them to give small signals that only people around him could read. His look and the way his eyes glided in the direction of the door while shifting his gaze away from her told her to follow him with the tiniest of gestures. However, she had expected that he would’ve wanted to speak to her in private, and was surprised when he did not turn into the ready room but stopped directly in the centre of the bridge, resting a hand on the back of the captain’s chair.

“She’s yours now, Commander Suran,” he patted the seat. “I know you can do it.”

“I’ll take good care of her, sir,” she replied with a faint smile.

“You better,” he held a serious expression for a second before chuckling. “Nobody’s ever truly ready for their first command. Just like a first…anything, really. I can see you’ve got the makings of an excellent captain. You have to see it too.”

“People always say that. I don’t say that to discredit you of course; I appreciate your belief in me. I know I have centuries of experience and knowledge, but I…in all my time alive I’ve never held this degree of responsibility before.”

“Oh, but you have. You have, you just don’t realize it yet. You’re a kind, helpful person and you enjoy giving advice to others around you, whether they’re friends or strangers in need of a friendly ear. You’re an exemplar to the moral standards of El-Aurians.”

“That…might be going a bit far,” Meghan chuckled. “But I try my best. The same can be said of almost anyone in the Federation.”

“Every single piece of advice you gave; every little act of kindness. It changes somebody’s life. It could be something small, like a kid deciding whether or not to skip homework, or something big, like somebody deciding their career choice, maybe even their loyalties. And sometimes something small turns into something big. You don’t always see it, but everything you do- it shapes the world around you. Over the centuries you’ve been living, you’ve probably determined the courses of more lives than the Saturn holds. From the moment you were conceived, you’re changing the world. The only thing you can do is learn to control these changes; not just do what feels right at the time, but think about all the ripples that action is going to have. That’s what taking responsibility is about.”

“An interesting way to see it,” Meghan nodded. “I suppose that’s why we have rules like the Prime Directive, because sometimes doing a good thing for other people can lead to terrible results.”

“Exactly. But there’s no one perfect rule set that can cover everything; otherwise, what are people like us for?”

“You’re doing this on purpose, aren’t you? Leaving me in charge so I can learn these lessons.”

“Of course,” Captain Snow affirmed with a casual smirk. “Well what’re you waiting for?”

Meghan cast him another glance. Suddenly, it all made sense. How could she have not realized why she was chosen for this position? All she knew about Captain Snow, and about herself, all clicked into place. Though the exact circumstances were not accounted for, the Captain still managed to shape it into his plan.

The chair was less daunting now; less like taking over a massive spacefaring vessel and more like taking a pen from a teacher. She remembered the first time she had learned to play the piano, back when she was but a child. She remembered how she sat on her father’s lap and his experienced hands guided hers across the keyboard. Slowly, Meghan rested her hands on the side of the chair and lowered herself into it.

“Comfy, isn’t it?” the Captain gave her one final smile and a pat on the shoulder before he turned and headed for the turbolift to leave the bridge.

Meghan was left wondering what further plans he had for this trip to Vulcan…

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