“Warp over colonies, that’s what we are!”
Gabriel Lorca looked up at the man. The governor had been ranting for the better part of an hour as he led them through the colony marketplace.
“We’re not important, we don’t have dilithium mines, we don’t make starship components-”
Gabe nodded. “Governor Grewal-”
“Our fate decided by people who live three days away on warp! Meanwhile, the Klingons could invade any day! Then where will we be?”
“Well, that’s why the Buran is here, we’re on patrol in this system-”
“One starship! Is that all we’re worth to the Federation?!”
“Resources have to be allocated-”
“This is just what happened on Tarsus IV!”
Gabe straightened up. The young science officer with him was a Brit name Addy Kent. She looked quizzically between the two men.
“I know what happened on Tarsus IV,” said Gabe. “I was there.”
“Earth man, what do you know about it?!”
The governor marched away muttering to himself in a long line of Urdu.
“Productive conversation,” said Addy.
Gabe shrugged. “He wants to rant, let him rant. God knows I want to.”
“Well, I should be on leave still, for one thing. Then Michael Burnham had other ideas and two days at home was all I got...”
“I sympathize. I had finally booked my trip to Risa. I only got to go to my grandfather’s for tea.”
He walked over to a stall displaying jewelry with gems indigenous to the colony. He held up a bracelet.
“It doesn’t go with the uniform,” Addy offered.
“It’s Letty’s birthday. I haven’t had a chance to get her a present.”
“And how old is Mrs. Lorca?”
Addy frowned. “Wait, wasn’t she thirty-nine last year?”
“And here I thought humanity was past obsession over aging.”
“How old are you, Lieutenant?”
He nodded. “Yeah, that sounds like something a twenty-six year old would say.”
“Why is she worried? She’s still very fetching. I’d-”
Gabe looked back at the lieutenant. “Yes, I am aware of how fetching my wife is.”
“Then why don’t you tell her that instead of going on with the lie about her age?”
“And now you sound like someone who’s never been married.” He looked back at the merchant and pointed at the necklace. “I’ll take this one.”
He took the necklace and put it in the zipper pocket of his uniform pants. They walked further down the market.
“By all estimates, the colony has only enough supplies to maintain a month’s siege...” said Addy. “Less if Federation supply lines get cut off before then.’
“Well, their shields won’t hold up to a month of Klingon siege so maybe we shouldn’t worry...” said Gabe, watching as the people milled about their regular business. “Maybe we should start talking about evacuation.”
Addy shook her head. “I mentioned it in passing. The locals nearly strung me up.”
Gabe tsked as he watched some children play ball. “It’s practically negligence to raise your kids this close to the Klingon border.”
“Did you send your wife a comm?”
“It’s her birthday. Your gift won’t be on time, but did you send a comm?”
“Shit.” He reached in his other pocket. “Give me ten minutes and we’ll go back to the shuttle.”
Gabe walked away from the crowd, pulling out the small video transmitter that he carried. The idea was that all captains carried one for when it was necessary to have face-to-face conversations when a viewscreen wasn't available, but he figured it was his prerogative to use it to send quick comms home.
Besides, the admirals sure liked to pull out the holo-communicator at every opportunity.
He found a pretty enough vantage point with less noise on the bridge overlooking the city’s river and held up the video transmitter.
“Letty, happy birthday!” He smiled. “You just get more beautiful each year. Sorry I’m not there. I hope someone’s taking you out tonight, though. Just promise me you won’t stay at home watching Orion reality shows.”
Gabe paused. Always terrible to have a one-way conversation.
“I love you. I love the kids. Kiss Emmy and Jacob for me. Hopefully, Jacob will have taken a bath first and yes, I will work on that first thing when I get home. Just set the computer to turn on the irrigation system while he’s in the yard for now.”
His communicator chirped.
Gabe balanced sending off the comm and getting out his communicator.
“Lorca. Go ahead.”
His first officer, Alexandra Nori came spoke. “Captain, we were detecting several warp signatures but that have disappeared.”
“Well, it’s not like three Starfleet ships would have just disappeared-”
“Commander! Klingon scout ship!”
“What are you waiting for? Blow it out of the sky, Lieutenant!,” his XO shouted.
A moment passed as Lorca waited anxiously, listening to the frenzy happening on the bridge without him.
“Klingon scout destroyed, Captain.”
“Yeah, but big brother will be on his way. Beam me up.”
“Captain, the ion storm, it’ll be safer to take the shuttle-”
“We don’t have time for that and we’ll be sitting ducks anyway. Beam me up, that’s an order.”
The transporter energized and he began to feel dizzy.
He was holding someone’s hand.
She fell away and he found himself in the transporter room.
Only it wasn’t.
In the mirror- that also didn’t belong in the transporter room- he saw he was in different clothes. Black leather, gold armor, medals, gauntlets.
Nori was waiting also dressed in the ridiculous armor. She and the transporter chief gave him some kind of salute. He mirrored it back.
They were staring. Was this a dream? A hallucination?
Was he dead?
“Status report,” he said.
“We lost Burnham, sir.” Nori glared at the frightened transporter chief. “And the Shenzhou is on to us.”
Gabe supposed he might as well say something.
“Well, let’s get the hell out of here then.”