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ST:END104 | "Who counsels the counsellor? Part 4"

Updated: Apr 21, 2023


(17 November 2417)


Today, Captain Quint will be leading a task force, you, to enter and occupy an uninhabited system claimed by the Confederacy. Given their previous stance on border security, we fully expect them to send a force to remove you. When you encounter the Azedi, your orders are to deliver the message that the Federation does not recognize their claims in the Kelterre and Doza Sectors, and then to dig in and hold that system for a minimum of thirty minutes..."


Admiral Perim's voice bounded around Tasha's head like a torpedo rattling down the barrel. It made her feel uneasy. It made her feel scared. The Endeavour was a battleship. She was designed to hold the line when things went wrong. She was designed to dish out as much firepower as she could withstand. She was designed... For Sam. Not for her. Not... for her...


Tasha balled up her fist around the handle of the turbolift, screaming internally as the walls seemed to close in around her. Not now... not here...


She tumbled out of the turbolift.


"Riomi, link up with the USS Victory to receive the task force comms codes," Tasha's voice was calm.


"Yes Commander,"


Yes. She was a Commander. Not a Captain. She was not the Captain.


"Kuris, Sejanus. Run another scan on our weapons and shield systems. I do not want them to fail on us,"


"Yes sir,"


"Pips, lay in a course for the Tower Keep system. Maximum warp. On Captain Quint's orders,"


"On it Commander,"


There it was again. Commander. Tasha neared the centre seat. Sam's seat. Kannys stood by the centre, expectantly. He should be in command. He was a Commander too. Tasha wanted to slap him for looking so calm. He handed her a PADD.


"Report from Starfleet Intelligence. Might come in handy,"


"Might?"


Kannys didn't reply, instead moving to his own station and began to tap away. Tasha fought back the intense urge to fling the PADD at his head.


"Gab..." she caught her mistake in time. "Kuris, you have the bridge, I'm going to review this information in the ready room. Call me when we near the system,"


Kannys half fell for Tasha's bait. Being the next ranking officer on the bridge, he should have taken command. He turned to Tasha.


Question me you ridge nosed bastard Tasha thought. Kannys did not fall that far.


"Commander, I just wanted to tell you that there is another PADD of information if you wanted more. I filtered out the unnecessary details, as I normally do for Captain Bishop, but just in case you wanted to full report, I have it here,"


Tasha was taken aback that he didn't fall for her bait. "Thank you Commander, this will be sufficient..." God, why was everyone so formal all of a sudden? They were never like this for Sam. Everyone was so relaxed, so comfortable, like a well-oiled machine. Tasha opened her mouth to give a small morale boost but words failed her. She ducked into the ready room. As soon as the doors hissed shut, she slumped against it and slid to the ground. She fought for every breath. Tears began to run rivers down her face.


"Please...not now..." she struggled, crawling away from the door and hauling herself up onto the desk. "Not...now," she begged herself. She reached up to undo her uniform top, to ease the air into her lungs. It was as if she had forgotten to breathe. "Please..." she begged, as tears dripped onto the desk. "I CAN'T DO THIS!" she suddenly yelled at the top of her lungs, grateful that Sam had made sure that the room was soundproofed. "I. CAN'T. COMMAND,"


"Of course you can..."


Tasha turned around. That voice...


"Hello, Natasha,"


"Je...Jenny?" Tasha wiped the tears from her eyes to make sure she wasn't seeing a ghost.


"Yes. I am Jenny. Or rather, a holographic version, of someone called Jenny," HoloJenny replied. She wore an unzipped Captain's uniform, her hair braided back, exactly as she would have done when she was in command.


"What...how...why?"


HoloJenny smiled. "Sam worked with a computer scientist, Mana, and the Chief Engineer, T'Lyra, to recreate a holographic replica of me, for his ready room,"


"He..." Tasha snapped into counsellor mode. "This is... not healthy,"


HoloJenny shrugged. "That's what I said. And Mana. And T'Lyra. They put in a failsafe though; we need to make sure that he stays sane. I'm programmed to inform you straight away if there's any change in his mental health. He seems to be coping,"


"This is why he didn't need a yeoman..."


"A great demotion for me right? From Captain to Yeoman,"


"Huh..."


"Why are you crying, Natasha? I note from the ship's computers that you are Acting Commanding Officer. Is everything alright?"


"Yes..." Tasha felt herself staring at Jenny and turned around to face the door.


"Can I give you some advice?"


"I...er..."


"Trust yourself. You are better than you know,"


That voice... that... voice... "Jenny..."


"Natasha," came the simple reply.


"Is this what you do for Sam?"


"Sam rarely ever comes to me when he feels unsure of command. He goes to you. Most likely for a reason,"


"Me?" Tasha smiled a little, and stood a bit straighter.


"I can offer you a hypo, for your anxiety, if you would like,"


Tasha looked up at Jenny. She held out a hypo spray to her. "You're linked to the replicators, aren't you?"


"I am a hologram. Replicating isn't that much of a step up,"


"Can I ask you a question?"


"Of course, Natasha,"


"Does he ask you to make his tea?"


"Tea, Earl Grey, hot? He is a lazy man,"


Tasha struggled to keep a straight face and chuckled. HoloJenny grinned. "I won't need the hypo," Tasha said after recovering.


"Noted,"


"Commander, we are nearing the Tower Keep system. Holographic comms are ready for you," Kuris' voice came out.


Tasha tapped her badge. "Noted, I'm on my way,"


"I have a feeling that you're going to be rushing into danger. I am classed as a non-essential system so I will be turned off when we go to red alert," HoloJenny said.


Tasha nodded. "I can see why. I should..." she glanced at the door.


"Sam comes to you when he needs help in Command. For a reason,"


Tasha looked once more at Jenny. "Thank you,"


"A pleasure. Until next time, Natasha," HoloJenny shimmered away. Tasha found herself looking at the stars for a split second before she took a deep breath. Her hand was shaking. Her breaths were still ragged. Her heart rate was still erratic. She was only a Commander.


Tasha made her way to the bridge and took Sam's seat. It was uncomfortable, too big for her. She glanced at her seat, on Sam's right. With a exhale, she looked forward and nodded to Riomi.


"Hologram online, Commander,"


Commander...


"Commander Larson of the USS Endeavour reporting,"


"Akagi online,"


"Baton Rouge, in formation and ready for orders."


"Saraswati, standing by."


"Dallas standing by."


"Polaris standing by."


Tasha observed Captain Quint acknowledge the Task Force reporting in.

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