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Part of USS Polaris: Entropic Foliations of the Galactic Fabric and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Stretched and Strained

Bridge, USS Diligent
Mission Day 2 - 1010 Hours
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“What do you think, boss? Is this really gonna work?” Commander Kerrigan asked as she stared at the planet below. It looked deceptively peaceful given the armageddon that awaited it. “We don’t have enough to do this on our own, do we?” In the distance, she could see the Serenity, the Ingenuity and the Polaris hanging still in the night. They looked peaceful too, but again, it was deceptive. She knew that, on each of those ships, hundreds of officers were currently rushing about, doing their individual parts to execute on a plan that felt nigh impossible.

“All things equal, no, we don’t,” Captain Vox admitted. “But don’t count Allison out too quickly. She’s made more from less before…” His mind drifted back to Nasera, when she’d led them into what looked like an impossible battle, only for them to see victory in the end. Sure, the Lost Fleet was small in comparison to a sixty six stellar mass singularity, but it had the cunning of the Vorta and the ruthlessness of the Jem’Hadar. This was just a faceless stellar anomaly. “We’re going to do all we can to save those people before their world burns.”

“But we don’t have enough space for them all. Across the entire squadron, our emergency capacity is what? About 25,000?” There were six million people on the planet below. Even if they spent the next eleven days ferrying boatloads of people to the nearest habitable planetoid, they’d save barely a fraction of that total.

“30,400 based on Captain Devreux’s latest calculations, if we clear every cargo bay, corridor and far away corner of our ships,” Captain Vox corrected, but that wasn’t really the point was it? This was about something bigger. “But remember, Jordyn, that this is not about our emergency capacity. Yes, we’ll take on every last soul we can at that final moment, but for now, it’s about the infrastructure Commander Lee is working on, the infrastructure that will keep them alive where they are now.” Commander Lee had repurposed the Diligent‘s small craft maintenance bays to build climate control satellites that would extend the habitable lifespan of the planet, and she’d had tasked the Polaris‘ industrial replicators with fabricating environmentally-shielded shelters that would protect a not-insignificant number of inhabitants from the unlivable heat. As he thought about it though, Captain Vox wondered how Admiral Reyes would decide who would be welcomed into those shelters though, and who would be left to the elements. There wouldn’t be enough space for everyone in those shelters, just like there wouldn’t be on their ships.

“Sorry Cap,” Commander Kerrigan apologized. “This sort of mission is just a bit foreign to me.” She’d spent her career on frigates and corvettes assigned to borderlands patrol duties before graduating up to the Alita class heavy escort she now managed alongside Captain Vox.

“I get it,” Captain Vox nodded. “I really do.” Jordyn Kerrigan was a fine officer, one who could manage the most complex of battle spaces alongside him, but there was nothing here to shoot. This was a different type of crisis. She, and he himself as well, if he was honest about it, would need to adapt. “Have we received word of any ships responding to the Reyes’ mayday?”

“We’ve got two FMS cargo trawlers and a mid-range passenger transport inbound,” Commander Kerrigan reported with a frown as she reviewed the latest on her PADD. “But that’s all I’m seeing so far.” That would barely make a dent in the numbers they needed to evacuate from the planet.

“That’s better than nothing,” Captain Vox smiled meekly. Still, he’d hoped for more. Significantly more. “What about Sector Ops? Have we heard anything from Archanis Station?”

“Yep, looks like it just came in… finally,” Commander Kerrigan replied hopefully as she swiped across the PADD and pulled up the message. “It looks like… ummm…” A mix of confusion and worry washed over her face. “It looks like they’re busy… What the fuck?!” How could they be busy when Polaris had called them about a planetary apocalypse?

“Busy with what?”

“Have a look for yourself.”

Commander Kerrigan passed the PADD over to Captain Vox. He read it quickly. “I don’t believe in coincidences,” he said firmly when he was finished. “Get me the Admiral.”

A moment later, the face of Admiral Reyes appeared on the main viewer. She was standing in what looked to be one of the labs aboard the USS Polaris that belonged to the Advanced Science, Technology and Research Activity.

“Have you seen the latest from Grayson?” Captain Vox asked, cutting straight to the chase.

“Yes I have,” Admiral Reyes nodded distractedly before looking over her shoulder at someone offscreen. In the background, they heard something unintelligible, and Admiral Reyes shouted in the direction of the voice: “Lockwood, I told you. I’ll be right back.” She then turned back to the Captain and the Commander on the viewscreen.

“And?” Captain Vox pressed.

“And I think it might help us with our situation.”

“How so?” Captain Vox was more than a bit confused. How did it work in their favor that Archanis Sector Operations was currently searching for four missing ships and running investigations of two other stellar anomalies that had suddenly appeared out of nowhere? This was Archanis, not Sector 001. There was very little infrastructure available to support so many simultaneous operations, and that meant they would get even less support than they’d hoped.

“I’m not exactly certain yet,” Admiral Reyes admitted. “But I’m down with the boys in the lab.” She looked over her shoulder again. She wanted to get off the call and get back to them. There was a mystery waiting to be solved.

Captain Vox still didn’t understand, and the frustrated look on his face said as much.

“Relax Dorian,” Admiral Reyes assured him, seeing he wasn’t going to leave this alone unless she gave him a bit more. “We can only worry about that which is in our control. I just got word that Commodore Agarwal is enroute with the Pacific Palisades. Between Amit and Commander Lee, they’re going to have your airspace jammed up with shuttles and infrastructure before you know it. That’s where I need you and Commander Kerrigan focused, making sure we get the climate satellites deployed in orbit, and that we get our people and supplies down to the surface as quickly as possible.”

“Understood ma’am,” Captain Vox nodded. He knew when a conversation was over. “Diligent out.”

“Well, that was certainly odd,” Commander Kerrigan observed once the link was closed. “Isn’t the admiral usually a little more communicative and, ummm, inspirational?”

“The message was clear, Jordyn,” Captain Vox replied firmly. “She’s busy, and we need to focus on what we do best.” He looked out at the empty space between their squadron and the planet below. “We pack this airspace to the brim, and we make sure everything gets where it needs to go as fast as it can get there.” They had their mission, and he was going to get it done.

Commander Kerrigan looked less than fulfilled.

“Hey, on the plus side,” Captain Vox added. “The Palisades is enroute.”

For a moment, Commander Kerrigan thought he was joking. But he looked serious. “That old Cali clunker?” She’d met Captain Kenji Saito, its commanding officer, during a meet-and-greet on Archanis Station. He’d hardly been a confidence-inspiring figure, and the California class was hardly a confidence-inspiring ship. It didn’t even significantly add to their emergency capacity. Maybe it could at least ferry colonists out of the system?

“It may not seem like much, but that ‘old Cali clunker’ comes with a detachment from the Corps of Engineers,” Captain Vox noted. “If anyone can help make Commander Lee’s ambitious plan a reality, it’s Commodore Agarwal.” He knew him from a mission years prior when he’d played escort to his Corps unit out past Freecloud. Amit Agarwal had spent his career accomplishing impressive feats of engineering with little more than shoestring and bubblegum, and that was exactly what they needed right now.

Comments

  • Honestly, I think the best part was your characters remarks about the Captain of the Palisades and its Captain. Do not ask me why but it made me laugh probably harder than I should have. As always though I enjoyed the story as a whole you did a good job of painting the bigger picture and the issues the ship would have when it came to trying to save every inhabitant of the planet.

    June 20, 2024
  • I do love the optimism of Vox about the victory at Nasera. The fact remains, Nasera was a lucky win by all accounts if some sacrifices were not made. The worries about if the plans gonna works is legit a good worry and insanely to execute for sure. There is still so many unknown parameters, and I share that worry with Kerrigan. Great post I truly love the command level interaction between Kerrigan and Vox

    June 20, 2024
  • This has to be the toughest situation any one has ever had to face. Time, resources, and capacity; just about everything is against them. They seems no possible way to save everyone. But what is the difference between gauging success and failure? I look forward to how this continues to unfold.

    June 21, 2024
  • Old Cali Clunker! The Paci-Pali is gonna save the day. That's my headcanon, I'm sticking with it. Lots going on here and setting up for future shenanigans. I do wonder what's set fire around Archanis Station though. Oh fun and games!

    July 6, 2024