Sunday Spotlight – Obsidian Command

Written ByCalliope
Published On
Oc 2023

This post was suggested for a spotlight, “for the intense description of a fierce negotiation between two strong Orion women. A testament to strength, wit, and unwavering will.”

While the Pathfinder was on patrol, a shipping vessel, USS Virgil, requested help dealing with pirates. As the Pathfinder’s away team is out of touch searching out the hidden USS Virgil in the rings of a gas giant, Calliope sets up some neutral ground on the first pirate skiff she’s just captured, in order to meet a another Pirate captain, Revana Nazar of the Revenant, in person and try to run down the clock until conditions turn more in her favor for recovering her away team. There’s little hope for a compromise as the Starfleet Captain won’t budge on her ethics, and the Syndicate Captain who has come to try and collect a Virgil crewer with a price on her head, won’t settle for less than blood.

Ultimately, it’s understood that there will be no understanding between these two Orions who may share blood, but not ideals…

Posted on 06 Mar 2024 @ 8:49pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Lieutenant Commander Christophe Leblanc & Senior Deputy Marshal: Sven-Erik Lofthammer – FMS

Mission: M4 – Falling Out
Location: Pathfinder, On Patrol
Timeline: MD 25
3556 words – 7.1 OF Standard Post Measure

When the transporter sparkle died back, Calliope got her first in person view of the skiff. It was a tight bridge, but she supposed there were a couple of swivel chairs in the back they could settle into. She’d hurried to transport aboard first, eager to make sure she got the lay of the land before Revana.

Lofthammer, the salt-and-pepper haired six-foot-four Marshal on Security detail rotation, did a quick security scan of the bridge, along with a visual to satisfy his own baby-blue eyes. “No loose weapons on hand, Commander.” He didn’t especially like this situation, even if he understood the Commander’s goal to stall for time. The first objective was the rescue of the civilians from the freighter. Everything they were doing now was to that ends, even if he had to let a couple of bloodthirsty criminals waltz in and out of this room.

“Thanks Sven. Good job on the five-o’clock shadow.”

Lofthammer rubbed his stubble. “Thanks?”

“Just… look serious, okay?”

“I’m always serious.”

“Like, intimidating.” She made a faux scary growling face. “Menacing. Squint a little. There you go.” Calliope clapped him on his buff arm.

Lofthammer would have laughed at her if they weren’t actually about to meet up with a couple of murderous pirates. It was killing him inside, knowing that he wasn’t going to be able to apprehend them either.

“You take some of Steiner’s anti-pheromone meds?”

“They’re standard issue in the marshal’s service, Ma’am. I’ve been on them since I’ve been on your crew.”

“Perfect. If she doesn’t try pressing her cleavage in your direction, I’ll owe you a tenner.”

In a blue haze, Revana arrived with another figure. She was of average height, but was dwarfed by another Caramel-skinned Human who had to stand at least 7 feet tall. He was incredibly muscular, bald, and had a severe expression. His huge arms were crossed over his chest, and his eyes were locked on Calliope. Revana stepped out in front of him slowly, her hips swaying with each step.

“Unarmed, as requested. I trust you followed your own rule, Calliope? I’d hate to discover my new playmate was a cheater.”

“I only brought these guns.” Calliope kidded, loosely forming a flex with her right arm. Out of the corner of her eye she caught the slightest of nods from Lofthammer, confirming that the pirates checked out as actually unarmed on the Deputy’s scanner. She looked up at the tanned fellow. “You remind me of a kid I put credits on in a parrises squares match. I don’t remember his name. After the match everyone just called him Slayer. He broke the rules and put his opponent in recovery for the rest of the quarter. Disqualified from the league. That guy had anger issues. Was somethin’ to see though. You know it’s considered a forfeit? I never did see those credits back. Ah, gambling. Rarely ever works out, huh?”

The huge man returned her comments with a harsh, intimidating glare, like he would rip her in two if he could get his hands around her. Revana, on the other hand, looked quite calm and pleasant, if one didn’t account for her dangerous stare. Her left leg was slightly toward, completely exposed by the design of her dress.

“Sorry, darling. My big bear doesn’t talk on the job. He’s a bruiser, and these days, he’s only sweet to me. But, if memory serves, you did something like that once, didn’t you, Des?”

She looked at the man who nodded curtly and lifted his jaw, his gaze settling on the security officer behind Calliope.

“Yes, I’m a sneaky little devil.” He said with a deadpan expression.

Calliope was pretty sure Des was ‘Slayer’, making him a former Fleeter. And obviously cracked in the head somewhere along the line. She maintained her easy smile, though she was simultaneously afraid of him and sorry for him. “Not even sports talk huh? That’s a shame.”

“Shall we have a seat, Calliope Zahn? There’s no reason us girls working up a sweat just standing here, glowering” Revana said, pointing her long red nailed first finger to the chairs at the back of the room. “You look ravishing, by the way. Your body is totally wasted in that confining prison you call a uniform.”

Calliope led the way to the seating and tried not to think too hard about the level of cleanliness the last captain left behind. She plopped into the chair. “Well, you know how it is. Value goes up with rarity. Put it on display all the time and everyone just normalizes to it. Expects it even. Then you can’t ever leave your quarters without all the makeup, outfit, hair, and heels. I admire your commitment to it.”

“Beauty and greatness take pain.” Revana said, sitting down in a slow and elegant fashion, folding one leg over the other and turning sideways. Her perfume was feminine and deep with sweet and spicy combinations. “Not everyone has it in them. I haven’t found people expecting me to have myself in order a burden.”

Revana placed her hands on her lap and smiled at Calliope, looking at the woman squarely, blinking quite rarely.

“Let’s play a game, Calliope. We’re two ship commanders, two Orions, two women. I will guess what you want in this interaction and you can guess what I want.” Revana said. “Does that sound fun?”


“My guess is that you want to waste my time. You have men on the Virgil, and you want them back so you can escape. You are outclassed by my ship several times over, and you can’t yet escape.” Revana said, turning her head to the side in a curious and conversational manner. “How’s that?”

“Outclassed is a strong word.” Calliope said, her pride a little damaged, even though it was partly true. The Pathfinder was more science oriented than built for a fight. But that didn’t mean she couldn’t hit back. “I just don’t want to see anyone get hurt today if I can help it. Kind of puts a damper on the mission.”

“The best way for us to do that is to ensure we can both leave here with what we’re after.” Revana said, but watched the woman with curious eyes, clearly waiting for her to make a move.

“Oh, is it my turn? Right. Well. I haven’t quite put my finger on what you’re after. At first I thought it might be this skiff, but then, as you said, you weren’t particularly interested. I wasn’t sure how aware you were of the Virgil, but since you brought it up, that breaks the ice there, so to speak. Clearly your interest lies there.”

“Yes, I am dropping little crumbs all over, aren’t I?” Revana asked, her eyes still expectant. “Go on, darling.”

“That’s as far as I got. Something your Daddy’s on the lookout for. Did I miss a crumb?”

“No, I think not. I wanted to see if you could put it all together yourself.” Revana said, seeming disappointed, and showing it with a dramatic pout. “I’m looking for someone, and all I want is to take them back with me to pay the debt they owe. I can tell you they are nothing but a petty criminal.”

Calliope’s eyes narrowed. “Someone?”

“Yes, darling. Someone.” Revana answered. “Can I have them, pretty please?”

“That kind of deal is above my paygrade. Where I come from, people enjoy due process. What’s this person owe?”

“60 bricks of gold-pressed latinum. So, around 300 thousand of your credits.” Revana answered.

Calliope whistled softly. “That’s a lotta shine.”

Revana grinned and nodded. “Yes, it is. The little thief has a lot to answer for. We have a process for dealing with people who break our laws too. Her name was passed down from the head of our Syndicate Family, and there is a bounty on her head worth that amount. As you know, supplies to maintain a Defiant class escort aren’t cheap.”

“Quite the situation.” Calliope exhaled and scratched her head for a moment. “Nothing and no one on that ship is mine to cut you a deal with. But I gotta level with you. Once I recover my team and the civilians aboard that vessel, I personally won’t have a lot of capacity or interest in hanging around to take inventory on the Virgil. Someone else will be by to do that. I heard she’s on a parts haul from one of the Grazer colonies. So it’s all techno guts and gimbals.”

“No no, Sweetness. That won’t do at all. I have been asked to take care of this problem child, and that is simply what I have to do.” Revana said, looking at Calliope with a fading smile. “I need her gone. I hoped I could do that without any collateral damage. Can you help me with that or not?”

“Yeah, that’s just not something I’m willing to discuss. You have to get a lawyer and go to court to recover your financial losses. Everyone on that boat is a Federation Citizen. I’m sure you understand.”

“Revenant.” Revana said, her smile completely collapsing and being replaced by a very serious expression, as hard as the one her bodyguard was wearing. “In a few minutes, a Federation Shuttlecraft will clear the rings carrying our contract. As soon as it’s within firing range, blow it out of the sky.”

“Copy that, Boss Lady.” Came the tenor voice of a man on the other end of the comm link.

Revana looked at Calliope, no longer projecting an ounce of friendliness. “I’m going to be crystal clear for you, Calliope, since our friendship is on the rocks. If you don’t find a way to make some comforting promises to me, your people are going to die along with my mark.”

If Revana expected her to get twitchy it didn’t have the desired effect. Calliope trusted her crew aboard the Pathfinder to run cover for the shuttle. And they’d already sharpened their teeth on the skiff, building targeting with multiple triangulated probes to overcome the system’s refracting interference. They even had multiple attack and retreat patterns developed in this specific ice field. They’d start with a major tactical advantage. Not to mention the shuttle itself was armed. And Revana had a defiant class ship, not a death star, after all. She looked scary, but to Calliope it sounded equal parts terrifying and petulant. She looked… young. Maybe that was just Calliope’s own life experience catching up to her. Maybe she should have been scared, but it just wasn’t sinking in that deep.

“So it’s not about the money? It’s to be this person’s life or guns out? That’s the play you want to draw?”

“Didn’t you hear me at the beginning, Commander? The stakes are high. I have worked incredibly hard to get where I am. I’ve suffered things you can’t even..well, no, I shouldn’t say that. Very likely, with skin like yours, you know what I mean..” Revana said, looking at the older woman seriously.

That’s what this was. A very deadly fit. Some daddy issues. A woman in a pressure cooker that Calliope could understand the shape of if not the specifics. “I’ve worked pretty hard myself. I’m actually on something of a probationary period right now. It’s rough with everyone looking for you to slip up.”

“Everyone has always been looking for me to slip up.” Revana said, crossing her arms. “I delight in disappointing them again and again.”

“Same here.” Calliope waved to Lofthammer. “You boys still run your witness protection gigs?”

“Yes Ma’am,” said the Marshal, still playing his staring contest with ‘Slayer’.

Calliope looked back at the woman. “What happens if we don’t recover this mark of yours at all? What if he? She? They? Who are we talking about?”

“She.” Revana said, her green eyes remaining still on Calliope’s.

“What happens if we fix you up some DNA evidence or some such to satisfy your Daddy and we make sure she’s off the radar from here on out. Ceases to exist for all intents and purposes.”

“And why should I settle for a lie when I could tell my daddy the truth? That she is dead and her debt has been paid.” Revana said. “I don’t think there’s much you can do for her. That is unless you have 60 bricks to loan the poor woman.”

“Well.” There it was again. The money was an out. Calliope was a little baffled by the circle in the negotiation, but Revana was not… entirely stable. “Like I said. I’m not going to go counting the Virgil’s cargo today. Whatever the bean counters find later in the recovery inventory is what they find. There’s easily more high-tech parts on that freighter than you can possibly fill your pockets with. I can’t outright sign it over to you, but I’m not going to hang around shooting and getting shot over spaceship parts.”

“Dangerous.” Revana said simply, tapping her foot again and looking over at the two sidekicks they had brought along. “I complete my assignments, and anyone who gets in my way is at serious risk of death. If I do it a different way, I plan to deceive my boss.” Her eyes went to Des. “There are witnesses. This one is very loyal, but not all of them are.” She smiled and pointed at Calliope. “You are trying to get me in trouble, Commander.”

“I figured you couldn’t afford to bring anyone you don’t trust implicitly” Anyone on her crew outside of her trust would likely as not kill her if they got her alone like this, looking to rank up themselves. You could count on backstabbing among Pirate and Klingon crews. Although the latter would at least give his crewmate the chance to turn around and put up a fight… “And like you said at the beginning, the object of this game is arriving at something we can both be happy with. You need a mark. I need nobody getting dead.” Calliope smiled while forming an open hands gesture. “Compromise.”

“Compromise is a funny thing, really.” Revana said with a curious expression, “you and I aren’t playing a zero sum game; you want to leave with your crew and I want to leave with my mark. There’s no reason I can see that we can’t both have what we want. All you’d have to do is leave her behind, really.”

Calliope sighed. Revana never intended to compromise Jack shit. She thought she had the bigger gun and that was all that counted. Revana also thought he didn’t have anything to lose herself which made her cocky. She’d gotten comfortable in just a few short months on stolen property. “You live on a razor’s edge. I couldn’t do it. It’s this kind of thing that reminds me why I never wanted to look up my father. I’ve probably always been better off not knowing.”

“Family is complicated.” Revana said with an almost sober expression, but it was mingled with the dark amusement she liked to maintain. “But everything I’ve ever done has been me, Commander. My father wanted me to be a good little girl like you. I wouldn’t have it. That was a zero sum game, and I won.”

“I think you’re underestimating me here. I’m gonna let you have the chance to reassess. So, do you want to call off your dogs now? Because if you and your bosses supposedly know so much about me, then maybe you heard— I don’t start fights, but I don’t back down either. Start shooting and find out.” Calliope dished out her own playfully edged if you dare glare.

Revana chuckled, folding her long fingers together and smiling as if she found the threat the funniest thing in the world.

“So messy, Calliope. I prefer to be more surgical than that. But, if you’d like, we can both beam back to our ships and start now. It will be such an unfortunate surprise if your people return and find you a smoking ruin in space.”

The woman leaned forward as if she had a secret to tell.

“Obviously you’re not the type to just hand over the woman I’m looking for, and I bet a bribe won’t do it for you either.” She said with white teeth showing themselves like fangs as she growled. “You’re straight, so that eliminates some of our options. And I’m obviously not going to leave here without the woman or Daddy will be mad at me. I haven’t seen a… compromise that will work, and you’re running out of time. Think, Calliope,” she seemed to beg playfully, “think…”

“Zahn to Pathfinder.” She said lazily, just shy of a yawn over the diatribe while looking at the time on her wrist.

“Yes, Commander?”

“Did you break the comms interference through the rings?” She knew they were due to, as they had been trying to crack the refraction problem since they arrived in system some hours ago. Which also meant they could get a signal out of the system and Pathfinder would have updated the Texas. Stanton would be on his way, if he wasn’t already.

“A few minutes ago, ma’am”

Edgerton. Pulling through on his promises. “Let the team know to stay hidden. ‘Revenant’” She said the name with obvious air quotes, “thinks they’re going to be on a turkey shoot.”

“Aye, captain.”

Calliope ended the link and clapped her hands on her knees. “Oh wow. We have a lot more time now!”

Revana looked at the woman opposite her like she had genuinely told a joke, but didn’t seem tempted to respond verbally. Instead, she simply waited.

“It’s okay, you know, I’m very used to being underestimated. It’s an easy enough mistake to make, meeting me, thinking you’ve got one over on this face. But I’ve been in the defense business a long time. And I really think you should take my deal.”

Revana stood, her shoulders back and chest forward like a Queen. She had a look on her face that signaled calm disappointment. Inhaling deeply, her chest rose as she looked down at Calliope.

“I should have just destroyed your ship as soon as I knew the situation, Commander. I guess I’m just a sucker for a green face.” She said, her voice full of regret, before she turned and started back toward the body guards. Placing her hand on the security guards arm, she smiled up at him, “I know a few ways a man like you could make a lot of money.”

“Yeah? Look me up if you ever want to testify against your father.” Lofthammer offered, his eyes not straying. “I’m sure we can cut a deal.”

“And trade my riches and power for an orange jump suit? With my figure?” She said before releasing his arm and walking back to the larger man. She looked at Calliope one more time. “Those principles of yours will make you a victim every time, Calliope.”

Calliope was still seated, confidently relaxed. She gave Revana a genuine look of pity. “My principles protect me. You live in a world where your friends all want to stab you in the back. I live in one where mine all have me covered.”

Revana frowned, her eyes lingering on Calliope for several silent seconds. It seemed like that comment, at the very least, made an impact somewhere in her. There was no coy smile and nothing but sadness in her expression.

“Revenant. Beam us back,” she said, her voice weaker than before. Within a second, the pair disappeared in a haze of blue.

With Revana no longer aboard, Calliope knew the skiff was a deathtrap and tapped her shoulder for the transporter to sweep them off as well. Sure enough, through the haze of the transporter beam, she could see the glowing fireball that had been the bridge of the ill-fated pirate skiff…

In the void of space, the Revenant turned toward the skiff and sent blasts of orange phaser cannon fire. The powerful blasts tore through the hull of the smaller vessel and cracked it open like an egg, causing its superheated contents to spill out into the black.

The Revenant then arched toward Pathfinder, it’s compact, battle-ready hull menacing.

“Surrender or die, Commander.” Revana’s voice sounded over the comms. “You and your little friends.”

As she rematerialized on the bridge of her own ship in time to hear the threat, Calliope pulled her jacket straight. “All hands, battlestations!”