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Part of USS Atlantis: Journeys and Bravo Fleet: Labyrinth

Journeys – 3

USS Perseus
September 2401
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“So, this new captain, good people?” Rachel Garland, captain of the starship Perseus, asked as she stood in the main shuttlebay of her ship next to Tikva Theodoras.

“Oh, you’ll love him,” Tikva answered, smiling broadly but refusing to look at her friend as the latest shuttlecraft to arrive at Perseus pierced through the atmospheric shield. “Spoke with him a week ago. Think he’ll fit right in.”

“She’s up to something,” Charles MacIntyre said from Tikva’s other side. “You can hear it.”

“Yeah,” Rachel agreed. “Who’d you say it was again?”

“I didn’t,” Tikva answered.

They watched as the brand-new Type 14 shuttle, the name Pieri in red block letters on it and Sagan-1 in large black block letters aft, hovered over towards the assigned landing spot, spinning on the spot before settling down the deck. In the bays either side sat Atlantis’ and Republic’s shuttles. It only took another minute before the rear hatch opened and a young officer stepped out, scanning around.

“Bit young,” Rachel commented.

“Not him,” Tikva muttered. “I told you to get a yeoman.”

“Dibs on Fightmaster first,” Mac cut in before Rachel could say anything and earning himself a chuckle from Tikva.

“Him,” Tikva finally said as she spotted the visitor they were expecting. Or more precisely she was expecting. “Captain Stenz, a pleasure to meet you in person again,” she roared, closing the distance and leaving her compatriots in her wake.

“Oh fuck me,” Rachel grumbled as she and Mac gave chase in unison.

“PTSD as well?” Mac asked.

Rachel nodded in agreement as she came up alongside Tikva, turning on a welcoming smile. “Captain Stenz, welcome aboard the Perseus,” she announced, extending the formal invitation to the recent arrival. “Hope your trip was gentle enough.”

Martin Stenz was easily the oldest of the four assembled captains, enough to be the father of any of them. His hair had long past gone from streaks of silver and more to any colour left giving a fighting retreat in a doomed conflict with age. While he’d been grim-faced at first, it slowly transformed into an easy smile that just touched his eyes as he stepped off the shuttle and onto the deck, formally passing into the realm of another captain.

“Captain Garland,” Stenz said, his voice solid and with just enough power to be heard clearly by all in the immediate vicinity. “It has been some time since astrophysics 102. Still causing trouble?” What could have been a dressing down from a teacher however wasn’t. Stenz’s inflections were warm and jovial, this smile widening a touch. “And Charles MacIntyre. A promising student who went into operations instead. I believe you still owe me a paper.” The edge was taken off of this comment offered his hand to Mac, giving a warm shake when Mac responded.

“Can I get an extension?” Mac asked, testing the waters.

“Ha!” Stenz responded. “Give me a tour of that fancy new ship of yours at some point and we’ll call it even.”

“Well, glad I don’t need to do introductions then,” Tikva said. “Surprised they got you back in the uniform again, Doc.”

“I retired because of you,” Stenz said to Tikva. “Well, your year to be precise.” He turned to Mac. “Your year was much better behaved.” Then he went back to Tikva. “But after Frontier Day I called up and asked what I could do to help. Turns out Starfleet is in need of experienced officers, so I re-upped. Gave me the Sagan after a refresher course and a senior staff who barely know how to walk.”

“And then assigned you to me,” Tikva continued.

“Indeed they have.” Stenz glanced over at Rachel and Mac, then shook his head, amused at the looks on their faces. “You aren’t cadets any more and I’m not Doctor Stenz, the terror of the physics department any more. You can relax.”

“You uh, left a decent impression, sir.” Rachel took in a deep breath, then let it go before taking a half step forward. “Perhaps introductions are in order then? Rachel Garland, captain of the Perseus.”

“A pleasure captain,” Stenz responded with a proper handshake. “Martin Stenz, USS Sagan.”

The tension didn’t quite evaporate, but it was broken up by the simple ritual. “Now, while I’d love to say my shuttle trip was fine, it was a shuttle trip after all. Perhaps an old man could get a drink before we sit down to any sort of squadron-related business, hmm?”

“Sounds like a tour of Ten-Forward is in order then,” Rachel said, holding out an arm to direct her fellow ship commanders away from the parked shuttle and into the depths of her command.

“Ten-Forward,” Stenz said. “I haven’t been on a Galaxy-class since my lieutenant days. Not many of these beautiful old girls are left around. Now I think about it…”

 


 

“Doctor Stenz,” Rachel half-growled as she came up on Tivka’s left at the bar. They’d left Mac and Stenz at the table they’d been sitting at, the two of them getting along rather well, and sought out refills of their particular drinks. “Seriously Bug, Stenz?”

“Wasn’t actually my call,” Tikva said. “I asked for another ship, was offered the Sagan, four-nacelled freak that it is, and was only informed about Stenz when he’d arrived at DS47.”

“Bullshit,” Rachel muttered.

“Go ask the Bureau of Personnel if you don’t believe me.” Tikva took her drink from the bartender and turned to her friend. “It’s been over a decade. You’ve changed, he’s changed.” She leaned in. “He’s not your teacher any more, he’s a fellow captain.”

“Twice retired, twice returned.” Rachel sighed, collected her own drink and started back with Tikva. “Next you’ll be telling me the old Academy groundskeeper is joining your crew in botanical sciences.”

“Oh, no. He’s working the parks on DS47.” And with that Tikva stepped ahead, leaving Rachel to glare a dirty look into the back of her head.

 


 

“… and the recent skirmish between the Tzenkethi and the Breen doesn’t seem to have ramped up tensions any more than usual. But there have been a few more reports of those high-speed Breen interceptors we ran into.” Mac finished off his contribution to the squadron meeting and set the padd he’d been reading from down.

In truth, the meeting has been just him and Tikva bringing Rachel and Stenz up to speed, but they’d both been able to give readiness reports of their own ships at least.

The conference room they’d utilised for the meeting wasn’t one of the usual ones used by the crew for their day-to-day, but one reserved for diplomatic services when Perseus was called for such duties. It was near enough to the VIP quarters each of the captains had been assigned to and a damn sight larger than any quarters they had upon their own ships.

“Perks of the Galaxy-class,” Rachel had answered to statements about room sizes.

Yesterday had been introductions and drinks, followed by a break before a short afternoon meeting and dinner. Today had been all work, with a break for lunch where the concept of work had been banned from the discussion, outside of a comment from Mac about finally seeing the benefits of a yeoman and Rachel having to agree as Stenz’s yeoman and Fightmaster had been diligent in ensuring the meeting ran smoothly and attended to all needs as required.

“How are the Tzenkethi dealing with those things?” Tikva asked.

“I’d like to take Republic closer to the borders and watch to corroborate but everything we’ve been told is they’re smacking them down aggressively when they can, or otherwise just blitzing multiple ships in their paths until the Breen get the message and turn around before they lose another ship.”

“Sounds like Jem’Hadar scouting tactics to me,” Stenz said from his seat, taking the chance to push the glasses he wore back up his nose. “One ship screaming in at high speed and either reporting everything it can until it dies or fleeing back over the border where the other side won’t dare pursue.”

“If you’ve got a mad enough crew,” Rachel said, not bothering to finish the statement fully. “What’s the likelihood the Breen and Tzenkethi go to war in the next…year?”

“Unlikely,” Tikva answered. “The Autarchy is after all pretty conservative. Raids over the border though are a near-certainty. And likely happening a few steps down the B-T Corridor and just out of sensor range.”

“B-T Corridor?” Stenz asked.

“Breen-Tzenkethi Corridor,” Mac answered. “Captain Theodoras here –“

“Fleet Captain,” Tikva interjected, a solitary finger raised and wearing a haughty mask at the correction.

“Fleet Captain Theodoras,” Mac continued with a shaking of his head, “is a certifiable lunatic for making Atlantis run the damn thing during the Deneb Crisis.”

“Did it work?” Tikva asked.

“Yes,” Mac agreed.

“Doesn’t mean it wasn’t any less crazy,” Stenz posited. “Brave, but crazy.” He leaned forward, smiling. “I have a niece living on Deneb by the way. Thank you.”

The mood in the room had sobered quickly at that. “Just doing my job,” Tikva replied. “We all were.” She let it hang for a moment, then continued. “Do I think the Breen and Tzenkethi are going to go to war? No. Do I think they’ll be sniping at each other and testing to see if they should go to war – yes. The Tzenkethi smell weakness and the Breen need to look strong. Or at least the Breen along the border need to.”

“I can see why Starfleet is sending some reinforcements out there then,” Rachel said. “Though Perseus is the old girl of the pack.”

“She’s not that –“ Tikva’s counter-argument was cut short by a gentle ‘thud’ that reverberated throughout the ship. Enough of a shove to slosh coffee out of a cup, send a padd scattering to the floor and for Fightmaster to half-stumble as he’d been walking around to collect empty plates while his colleague swept up any crumbs that had littered the table.

“Garland to the bridge,” Rachel ordered with a tap of her commbadge. “Report.”

“Sorry about that Captain,” came the response. “Small subspace shockwave just washed over us moving at,” there was a pause that stretched on a little long, “warp nine point nine nine eight.”

Mac and Stenz both looked to Tikva at that, who was muttering quietly before she spoke. “Twenty thousand one hundred twelve times light speed,” she said when she was finished with the math in her head.

Republic can push point nine nine at best,” Mac answered. “That wave was over twice as fast.”

Sagan too,” Stenz added. “And more like two and a half times as fast. Point of origin?”

Rachel repeated the question to her distant officer. “FH-257 ma’am. Right on top of Atlantis.”

“Hail them,” Rachel ordered as all four captains were on their feet and heading for the door in quick order.

There wasn’t an officer alive aboard Perseus willing to get in the way of four starship captains moving with haste and in silence down a corridor. There wasn’t any brave enough to stay in a turbolift car either, a young lieutenant opting to exit and let his captain and guest commandeer his mode of transportation.

By the time they arrived on the bridge, a young lieutenant was already waiting for them. “We’ve tried hailing Atlantis and gotten no response ma’am. They aren’t showing up on long-range sensors either.”

“Debris? Signs of an explosion?” Tikva demanded as she walked past the young man, heading straight for one of the science stations where a blue-shouldered woman was pushing herself back to allow multiple captains access to her station.

“No ma’am. There’s no sign of them at all. Elevated tachyon count, subspace turbulence in the wake of that shockwave and that’s about it. We only felt the subspace shock because of our warp coils anyway.”

“Alright Mr Sanchez,” Rachel said to the officer who had greeted them. “Helm, plot a course for FH-257, maximum warp.”

“Aye ma’am, maximum warp for FH-257,” came the response from the front of the bridge.

“Engage,” Rachel ordered.

“Ra’s got this,” Mac said to Tikva as he placed a hand on her shoulder.

“He’s not on the ship,” Tikva confessed. “I left Gabs in charge.”

Comments

  • I just want more of this story! I want to know what is going to happen. I love the way Tikva didn't share who the new CO was it shows her mischievous side and I enjoy it. Especially the fact that the reactions of the other Captains was just golden. This was such a good piece and as always I cannot wait to see more! Great work as always!

    June 21, 2024
  • Not your average class reunion! After Frontier Day, there is an evident void in the command structure, and experienced staff are going to be needed to fill in some of the gaps, because you can just promote everyone upwards and cross your fingers. Stenz seems a perfect person to step back into command, and I think he'll work well with the others. So lets see how the 'new/old' gang handle what's ahead. Great work.

    June 23, 2024
  • The interplay between the four officers is delightful to read, as ever. And it was interesting to watch Stenz begin to integrate himself whilst trying to reframe an old relationship and simultaneously being brought up to speed. The dialogue between the 4 was really smooth but I particularly enjoyed the way they switched to professional (with some added mental maths to boot) when things started getting serious. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new quartet handle things.

    June 25, 2024