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Part of USS Hathaway: Episode 1: Breathless Skies

Alert: Condition One

Stardate 24015.6, 1430 Hours
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Mason fidgeted with the pips on his collar as he attempted to straighten them out in the reflection of the turbolift control panel. He ordinarily was always at least fifteen minutes early to all of his shifts, but today he was running a little late, and would probably not get to his station but with a minute or two to spare. The lift came to a halt and Mason quickly made his way to his station, almost clipping the doors before they could fully open and let him through. He nodded to the bridge crew to say hello, then relieved the young ensign at the conn. 

A few seconds of working the controls, Mason called out an update, “We are moving into position, sir. Approaching the outer edge of the asteroid field.” 

Ephriam looked up from his station as he heard the familiar ‘swish’ of the turbolift doors. He noted the hasty entrance of Lieutenant Commander Henry and gave the man a quick nod in return as he made note of his rather impressive dance to his station and immediate entry to focus. His own attention returned to the workstation in front of him and he continued to review and analyze live sensor information that was incoming to the ship.

Stood at the tactical operations station with his arms folded, Romaes was reviewing several sensor readings in discussion with Ay’dar when Mason’s voice carried across the bridge. Turning his body, the Captain leant on the rail surrounding tactical and peered down at the helm. “Slow to one-quarter impulse power and move us into the asteroid field. Lieutenant Adrasin, find us the safest place to stop for launch manoeuvres and relay coordinates to the helm and the flight deck,” the Bajoran instructed, a sterner than usual tone to his voice as he pushed himself away from the rail and crossed towards his chair.

“Aye, Captain.” Ephriam replied swiftly and moved his hands across his console. His display brought up several different sensor maps of the area. As he entered commands to triangulate the data, they all merged into a single diagram with several blinking green indicators. “Relaying coordinates now,” he continued as one of the green indicators turned red, showing what the computer system determined would be the optimal location for their operations. After his monitor showed the data was forwarded to Lieutenant Commander Henry, Ephriam looked over in his direction to see if received it.

Mason nodded as he saw the notification pop up on his console from Lieutenant Adrasin, “Coordinates received and input, speed one-quarter impulse. We’ll arrive at the location in fifteen seconds, Captain.” He continued to press different controls on his console, but managed to look over his shoulder to Ephriam and nodded with a small smile and said, “Nice parking space, Lieutenant.”

“Excellent work,” Romaes nodded, his stern expression failing to betray the happiness he felt at having his orders so ably followed. “Alright people. Yellow alert. We’ll watch, and wait. It’s over to the squadron now…”

Several decks below, news had swiftly reached the flight deck that Hathaway was in position within ‘The Gauntlet’ and it was now over to the squadron to begin their part in the next training manoeuvres. With the deputy squadron leader banged up and grounded until further notice, Lieutenant Varru had taken over preparations alongside the Commander. Orys watched the team going about their business, calmly and professionally. That wasn’t what he needed. He needed to know that they could cope under pressure.

Stepping to one of the wall-mounted LCARS display, he pressed a series of buttons that triggered an alert klaxon across the deck. “Alert, Condition One. Launch all available fighters.”

Emagyn hadn’t needed to remind her squadron to be ready. They were all in flight gear; some had load-bearing vests attached. Most had the various tools and other tiny comfort items that could be stuffed into a cargo pocket or attached to the vest, in or out of the attachment pack.

It was the habit for them to congregate in the pilot’s briefing room. Some listened to music—others played poker. A few even slept. Anyone who was a combat pilot rarely slept deep right before a mission.

Half the room was already headed for the shuttle bay at the crack of the scramble warning. As they filed out, Ema spotted the crew chief Enna. Checking her PADD, she asked, “How are we looking, Chief?”

Enna had her own PADD tucked in the crook of her arm, and a constant eye on the readouts for the flight deck systems.

“All good on this end, Ma’am,” she replied with a smile. It was a small one, given this was the first test of the systems on the flight deck since the adaptions. She’d had her crew crawling over everything, but the real test was the first flight.

“Thanks, Chief, the effort is always noticed and appreciated.” She told Enna.

Climbing into the cockpit of his Valkyrie, Squadron Leader spotted his deputy in conversation with the Deck Chief and summoned the two towards him with a wave. “You know the plan. We’ll do a couple of hours in the field and then we’ll practice combat landings,” the Andorian told, taking his helmet from the deckhand on the other side of the craft. “Any problems here, you’re in charge Chief.” 

Enna inclined her head. “Of course, commander. We’ll keep monitoring you so we’re with you all the way.” Especially with those combat landings. Add speed to anything and the risk factor increased massively. 

Ema and the rest of the crew cleared the landing floor in the shuttle bay. In her sling still, mostly to remind herself that light duty meant not aggravating her healing injury. Tapping her comm badge, Emagyn announced,  “Time to go for a walk, Hellhounds.” 

She wanted to be in the mix. Most pilots did. Ema couldn’t deny she loved the exhilaration. There was more. Knowing she was good at what she did and doing what others couldn’t. The Gauntlet was one she’d done before. Technically challenging, but she also would have reservations flying combat missions with anyone who had trouble flying it.  Once they left, she would head for the bridge to assist in the mission. 

One after another, the Valkyries of Hellhound Squadron lifted from the deck plating of the recently retrofit hangar bay and sped through the forcefield protecting those inside from the elements beyond. Last to leave the ship, the Squadron Leader gave a silent salute to his injured deputy and then hurtled into the ocean of space at great speed.

Cerberus One to Hathaway…

A voice on the open commline caused the Captain to look up from the data PADD he’d been reading, and place it on the empty chair to his left. “Go ahead Cerberus One,” Romaes instructed, glancing at Jinaril.

Starfighter deployment complete. Moving into positions for flight manoeuvres,” the stern Andorian informed the Captain, much to the Bajoran’s relief.

“Affirmative Cerberus One,” Romaes smiled, relaxing into his chair again, “maintain comms with the flight deck and let us know when you are ready to return home.”

Understood Captain. Cerberus One, out.

“Things are going smoothly,” Jinaril remarked, nervously toying with his fingers. “I don’t envy them, that’s for sure.”

Ephriam had already begun to occupy himself with modelling how this area had formed over the centuries, certainly in keeping with his interest in astrophysics. Several modelling algorithms were being used and the display of his station was a buzz with a mixture of raw data and visual simulation points. To the right of him, he maintained sensor telemetry of their position and the fighters as well.

Everything was going smoothly, but on the edge of the system, trouble was brewing.